It’s a gloomy afternoon in late autumn. The noontime bells are ringing in the temple as our heroes gather in the town square to undertake their solemn task. This is the first time in a few years that the quest for the Everflame has been designated as a rite of passage for the young people of Kassen. As the townsfolk slowly fill the square, the four villagers take each other’s measure.
Galvor has obviously been chosen to retrieve the Everflame because his father practically owns the town. Ezren, the nonathletic antisocial apprentice of the wizard Holgast, might have been selected for the quest out of pity. Chastity, outcast and orphan, stands on the edge of the group stroking her long scimitar. No one really understands why she’s there; she mutters something about magic. Valeros is excited to get outside town and have an adventure, and waves cheerfully at his proud family.
Galvor accepts the Everflame lantern from the mayor. The mayor gives them each backpacks and explains about how the map was divided among them. After some confusion, he hints that they will need to work together to achieve the quest. And then he just tells them to put the four pieces of the map together to figure out where they need to go.
The townsfolk wave goodbye quietly as the four adventurers leave the square. There’s no sound of celebration or encouragement; the whole ceremony is slightly depressing. “Wait, how dangerous is this supposed to be?” Valeros wonders as they walk into the wild.
After following the pieced-together map without incident for a couple hours, the four villagers encounter a fallen tree trunk blocking the path. From behind it spring 3 large, ugly orcs, yelling unsavory remarks about “pretty boys”. Ezren yells “I’ll get help!”, turns, and sprints back down the trail toward town. Galvor is at first worried that they’re targeting him, but no, it quickly becomes clear that the orcs think all the kids are pretty. Valeros, excited for some real action, meets the charge of the first orc and engages it hand-to-hand. Galvor and Chastity move to support him as the other two orcs close in. As Galvor slashes at the orcs with his weird short blade he realizes that they are an illusion. Without a word to his companions he leaves the fight and hops up on the fallen tree trunk to scan the surrounding forest. Leaves fall, squirrels hop, he can’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary.
Valeros slashes happily at the orcs, confident that his two-handed parrying and sturdy mail are enough to keep him safe. Inexperienced as the young villagers are, the orcs seem even more incompetent, and can’t land a hit on him before he fells two of them. Ezren, a good distance down the trail, suddenly realizes that there could be more orcs behind them, and that the safest place is with his companions. He slides to a stop in a cloud of dead leaves, turns, and runs back to the fight.
By this point, Chastity has realized that the orcs aren’t real, but her shouted warnings are ignored. Valeros is having too much fun chopping orcs with his sword to pay attention, and Ezren is pretty sure that he’d be able to recognize an illusion if he saw one. From a safe distance down the trail, Ezren launches two magic missiles which strike true and finish off the last orc. As it falls, all the orcs vanish. “See, that proves my hypothesis.” Ezren says.
The four companions spread out to search for the source of the illusion spell. They look really hard, but don’t notice anything besides a smell that might be pipe smoke. Galvor points out that if someone is tracking them, they’ll probably run into him or her again, and they continue on their way.
As daylight fades, the kids look for a place to spend the night. Valeros finds them an excellent campsite, carpeted with leaves and sheltered on three sides. They enjoy a meal of tasty trail rations and settle down for the night, with Galvor keeping watch 10’ up a nearby tree. Sharp as his eyes are, he doesn’t see the three wolves approaching the camp until they’re nearly on top of his sleeping companions. His cry of “Fear! Fire! Foe!” goes unheard, but the bites of the hungry wolves wake everyone up quickly.