A large mercenary company that has very recently seized the town of Harken as well as the larger area of Harkenwold and has agents in the varied settlements of the Nentir Vale.
The Iron Circle mercenaries came to the Nentir Vale from the southern city of Sarthel roughly two months ago. Their mission: Bring the Nentir Vale to hell. The Circle decided that overt operations would start in the relatively isolated Barony of Harkenwold, a collection of hamlets scattered over fifty miles of the upper White River valley. A mid-ranked officer, a brigand captain named Nazin Redthorn, was tasked with seizing the region, while others of the Iron Circle hurried on to implement other plans for the Vale.
About six days ago, Nazin led a large band of Iron Circle mercenaries into Harkenwold in a surprise attack. The brigands have just recently stormed Harken Keep and took Baron Stockmer captive. Iron Circle sweeps and raids have quickly quelled any show of resistance, leaving Harkenwold a conquered land.