6 Years Ago…
Arroyo comes under attack by a tribe of Wyld Barbarians, out of the forests to the south. Matt’s character is offered a deal by the mysterious Duke. He will aid Matt, in exchange for a favor. Matt agrees, and the Duke gives him instructions which Matt is to follow exactly. Matt does so to the best of his abilities, and is given increased physical strength by the effects of the Wyld. The Ona and the people of Arroyo ally for mutual defense, as the Riders of Dark Wood make a final attack against the town. Ku Pulu’s new found strength is just enough to allow him to fend off the attack. In the battle, he is wounded, and barely survives. Young Danilus and Aldeus also fight in the battle, but their mother is slain by the Riders.

A man comes to Arroyo on horseback, badly wounded and unconscious. His horse has been ridden to exhaustion, and collapses dead shortly after arrival. After being treated by Liao Tsien, and his health restored, the man relates that his town has been attacked. A small group of four or so Riders attacked his town a week ago, stealing a few animals and generally scaring people. At the time, the people of the village counted their blessings. But now they know that be a scouting party. Yesterday, nearly a hundred Riders of Dark Wood came out of the forest, and killed many of his townspeople. He was only just able to escape on his own, and was shot in the back for his trouble.
His story is born out by the state of the village to the south. It has been all but burned to the ground, and the tracks show a battle involving a great many horses. More disturbing still is that no one remains alive in this village. The townspeople have either been slain, or have been taken away as captives, as made apparent by the hundred or so tracks leading away with the horses. Ghost, Spear, Ku Pulu and Aldeus take Garland and a few members of the Ona follow the tracks into the forest, to discover the fate of the villagers.

Kiara, Liao Tsien, and Danilus have stayed in town, when a report comes in of a scouting party in the area. Accompanied by two of Ghost’s subordinates from his days in the Tepet Legions, they ride out to meet the scouts well outside of town. The face the four riders in combat, killing three, and badly wounding the fourth. They let the wounded scout escape, in the hopes that it will tell it’s leaders that Arroyo is too well defended to be taken easily.

Meanwhile, Ghost’s group has ventured into the Dark Wood, and found the Rider’s encampment. Built around a network of caves, it’s hard to tell exactly how many barbarians live here, but four large cages on one side of the camp hold the captive villagers. The group executes a daring rescue mission, and with surprise and luck on their side, mange to rescue the villagers, and escape with their lives. In addition, they scared off or killed a great many of the barbarian’s horses. Hopefully, this will reduce the Rider’s ability to make mounted warfare for the time being.

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