After the ball, Aishe Malinova and Rad Longhammer return to the inn for a night’s rest. In the morning they are awakened by a courier with a letter to Rad from Chrysanthe Xene. In it she thanks Rad for a wonderful evening and also thanks Aishe for helping the fundraiser. She also mentions that she is worried about her brother, Praf Xene, a Pelor follower who has not reported back to the church after a simple errand in in Hawkden. Ran and Aishe decide to investigate.
Dorito is also at their door nice and early, eager to start an adventure. After some setup, Dorito goes to his former mentor Feyis Goldenflight, and requests a loan of 40gp for adventuring gear. The party later send Dorito on a quest for a +5 eraser, since Dorito has been taking too many notes, one of them being this group’s name, the Freak Squad.
Aishe is visited by Rodrik, and they travel to the Populace District of Timbermoor. They go into Rodrik’s friend’s tattoo parlor in a hidden alley, and after some conversation Aishe decides to get a tattoo that was not popular among the nobles. A demonskin tattoo with flowing dancing lines is applied to Aishe’s skin, and it melds into her skin among her other ink art.
After confirming Praf‘s location with the Pelor church in the Market District, the group gets some horses and head towards Hawkden with great speed thanks to Aishe’s travel aura. They arrive at the Eagle’s Nest Inn at night, and the next morning they visit the five outlying villages in search of Praf. They discover that apparently Praf had been recording new estates in the village of Flora, which might have been profitable farms that did not pay taxes. This leads the party to a small gated mansion, and they decide to scout it out at night after they are denied entrance by the owner. The owner’s wife leaves the mansion at night, deposits a rat’s corpse at the feet of a scarecrow in the middle of a grove of apple orchards, and then returns. The party starts investigating and is attacked by monstrous centipedes and giant fire beetles. When Aishe sets the scarecrow on fire, the orchards start grabbing Rad and Dorito. Rad is able to defend himself and meanwhile Dorito gets more used to battle. After seeing upturned earth under her feet, Aishe uses her chain to clear earth and orchard roots to reveal Praf Xene being feasted upon by tree roots. Rad steps in and carries Praf out, while Aishe sets the grove and scarecrow on fire, and they all escape into the village of Flora.
The next day the party and some angry villagers visit the mansion, only to discover the owner’s body hanging from a tree. He had written a suicide note explaining how making sacrifices to the scarecrow had provided him with bountiful lands, and at some point greed had taken over him. He apologizes and asks for his fleeing family to be left alone, since they were clueless about the human sacrifices he added to the scarecrow ritual. The Flora villagers reward the heroes, and Praf recovers, but unfortunately it seems like the harvest is lost and there will be less food to go around come winter time.