Information learned from Emesha in Merylsward:
Who is Jaryn?
"Jaryn is a stalwart of our faith and a veteran of countless campaigns against the cult. He and a group loyal to him undertook a mission a year ago that would have struck a mortal blow at the heart of Naarash."
What was Jaryn’s mission?
"While our order defends the villages of the frontier, Jaryn and four companions sought to take the battle to the heart of the cult. Naarash’s faithful are based in a great temple in the Moonsfall Mountains. The Pillars of Night, they call it. Jaryn swore to break the cult by destroying its leaders."
What happened to Jaryn and his group?
"Our last contact with Jaryn was a sending ritual four weeks ago that placed him deep in the borderlands at the head of a trail he called the Black March. We have had no further word."
Who else was in Jaryn’s party?
"Four faithful of Pelor—Andressa and Annika, sister-clerics of our order; the fighter Kelma; and Dajani, a tiefling sworn to the Flame's cause."
Who is Naarash? What is the Hand of Naarash?
"Naarash is said to be a hobgoblin prophet of Bane but no history speaks of that name. The Hand of Naarash arose as a hobgoblin cult five years past, though it now counts all of the borderlands’ races among its members."
What activities does the cult engage in?
"They prey on the most isolated frontier villages for converts and spoils. Townsfolk are given the choice of joining the Hand or accepting the salvation of death."
Why do you need our help?
"Our own operatives are too well-known among the cultists. Two groups have tried already to follow Jaryn’s path. Neither returned. Acapable party unknown to the cult might succeed where others have failed."
Information and rumours found in the frontier:
"I saw this paladin of yours. He and his group were headed west. I told him all he’d find west was cult trouble. He was smiling as they rode off."
"The Hand’s enforcers were always after silver and gold, but that’s changed. More of their death squads are on the hunt for arms and magic now."
"Used to be, the cult’s hobgoblins were thugs that a strong threat and a pitchfork could drive off. Now, they fight like soldiers."
"We were hit by the Hand twice in the past year. Your Jaryn and his group came through, told us not to worry about the Hand no more. Cult came back just the same."
"I never saw him, but I heard about him from three different villages northwest. Jaryn and his band of Pelor faithful were going after a Hand chieftain named Larkazh—foulest hobgoblin Hell ever spawned."
"Heard about a fight between the paladin and a force of Hand members come down from the north to hunt him. Didn’t see it, but the crows were thick over the hills."
"That fight was eight months back. Naught there but hobgoblin bones now and three cairns on the field, each capstone painted with the Silver Flame."
"I heard a story from a refugee family out of the Harsmad that met a holy knight of the Flame. Said he looked like a wild man—mud and brambles in his hair, a string of hobgoblin teeth around his neck."
"Caravan of refugees came through four months past on its way south Refugees said they met a knight heading the other direction. Shared a campsite with him. Said he preached the faith of the Flame. When they woke up, he was gone. But there by the fire was his gear—armor, shield, and all. He took his sword and waterskin and naught else, heading straight for the heart of the hills and the Moonsfall Mountains beyond."
Clothes Make the Cultist
All the cultists you have faced wear the symbol of Bane— either painted in black on a loose-fitting gray tunic (worn over leather armor if applicable), or painted directly onto heavier armor.