Sure enough, a young man came running into town saying that he was attacked on the old forest road, and he had to flee, leaving his brother and their entire crop of turnips for the season on the road. Ormando and Bendek hefted their weapons and jogged off into the northern forest road.
Road was a generous description; it was a very narrow set of two ruts, overgrown in the middle with grass, and shadowed by looming trees that grew just to the side of the path. It didn't take long to find the cart, sitting in the middle of the road. There was blood sprayed on the side of it.
It was eerily silent here. No birds or animals made any sound. Ormando caught sight of some footprints; booted ones and also bare, human-like prints with long claw-like toenails. Following the tracks, about 50 years into the woods he found a body lying facedown in the ferns. When he turned it over, it groaned. The kid's brother. He was still alive. They bandaged him up, but he was mostly delirious. Ranting about "the wrong people" while they worked, he didn't give them much to go on, but certainly creeped them out. They hauled him back to the cart and put him down carefully on top of the turnips.
That's when something attacked them. It looked like a person... kinda... except that it was very emaciated, had pale, grayish skin that was shrunken around its wiry muscles like a mummy, had glowing red eyes, and long teeth and claw-like nails. It clawed at them, and Ormando could feel poison seeping through his veins. Bendek tried to put it to sleep magically, but nothing happened. He changed tack and blasted it with a magical missile attack. Ormando slashed at it with his sword and axe. Another one loped out of the woods, making their case more desperate. They finally managed to bring the first one down, but now Bendek lay on the ground paralyzed by the poison of the creature's claws. Ormando fought well, but soon found himself feeling faint.
Bendek finally managed to shake off the paralytic effects and kill the creature with a well-placed spell, and then he had to bandage up the unconscious Ormando, load him on the cart along with the farmer (and the turnips) and the strange bodies of their assailants, and carry them slowly out of the forest.
In town, the brothers were reunited happily, and the two sherrifs were given complimentary bowls of chicken soup and told to take the rest of the day off, while their companion Jeffers took care of them while they convalesced.
They got a clue or two. The assailants were identified as guards that were with a merchant wagon that came through town about a week ago, before heading up north to try his mercantile luck up there. When they were in town, they looked like normal people, not weird semi-vampiric undead things. They were told that the merchant who had employed them was a frequent passer-by throughout the region, and they could expect him to come through again within a few days, after doing his usual rounds of the villages in the area.
I dunno. Any ideas?