The Innkeeper is an older halfling with thick gray hair, and a large smile. He nods as you all come in, seats you himself and helps bring you your food and drinks. As he is asked about what is going on, his smile falls and he nods, "Please, my brave friends, pull up a chair and I will do my best to speak to you about what has occurred here." He pauses and his eyes go distant. "First you must remember that Pineford is an old community, and we have grown close over the many years. First settled after the last barbarian migration from the North, Pineford has always been alone, always been dependent on each villager to hang in together against trouble. We have dealt with goblins, kobolds, and raiders, all together." He takes a sip of ale. "Then, many years ago, a dark form entered our world. Instead of the beautiful vistas to wake up too, we woke up to a dark being, a vile creature, an ancient magic-user who had risen from the grave by his own craft. He was powerful, and dark, and cast a pale over our valley. In terror we fled from him, though his interest was not in us. To the west is a temple, an ancient out post of warrior-monks who had fought against the Barbarians. Here the creature built up its dark power, twisting and torturing the forest and her creatures to serve its dark will. Salvation from this horror came in the form of a band of brave adventurers, much like yourselves, who had hunted the creature from afar. They gathered themselves and fought a pitched battle, raging against the creature and its vile defenses. It died. However, darkness had entered our heart and homes." He pauses again and drinks.
"Our village priest had long held this evil at bay, constantly bringing the will of the Shepherds Mother to bear against the evil born in the woods. Then the sheep began to disappear. Over and over this happened, no matter the prayers, the rituals, or the spells our lost priest sought to cast. Finally, hefting mace in hand, he left the temple and went into the woods to find this new threat. He was going to challenge it, fight it, and defeat it for us, to bring us safety. When he didn't return, the village elders organized a few brave souls, and they went into the woods. They did not have to go far. There, in a clearing, was our priest, his body was battered, drained of blood, and all that remained was his holy symbol and mace, and a dark trail of crushed plants and broken branches leading deeper into the forest. We do not know what is out there, but we know that the temple is the source of this evil."
He stops, his story finished, his eyes saddened. "If you can save us, I know the village elders would reward you. Please, do not leave us to the mercy of evil."