Baron Hawthorne has asked us, firmly, to remain in the barracks today. I get the sense that he will be speaking to concerned parties and summoning us when the time comes. He is understandably upset. The orcs came in peace with the promise of safe passage and instead were slaughtered. However, he also seems a just man. Rule of law would indicate that we are not guilty of murder, per se, as we did not know of the extenuating circumstances…or something. I admit that my mind often wandered when Master Iokles spoke of the Law. In any case, it is comforting to know that he places the Law above any personal feelings that he might have. This is comforting both for personal reasons (my neck is involved after all) and also comforting to know that the rule of law prevails in Grinadier.
We were awakened early and summoned to the commander’s tent. I suppose I’m glad that we were not made to wait indefinitely. However, we were confronted, not by the commander, but by an angry, arrogant man who demanded that we recount the story of our confrontation with the orc band. This was unexpected, and so soon after being tricked by a supposed government official, I openly questioned his authority. His replies were terse, and in the end I decided that there was little harm in telling the tale to even a malicious agent. Unlike the Baron, our story did little to appease the angry little man. He made noises about having us all executed, but I suspected that if he held that kind of authority then we’d already be in prison awaiting trial. After a long tense pause in which we refused to take his bait, Baron Hawthorne emerged from the shadows dismissed the man. I felt better knowing that he took his orders from the Baron.
One again, Oreus was pleasant and almost apologetic. He explained that the bureaucrat, a man named Westin, was responsible for organizing the peace talks and so was understandably upset that they had been derailed. Once my pique over the grilling passed I again felt the weight of responsibility for what we had done and said so to the Baron. Oreus then mentioned that if we were to salvage these efforts then we would need to send emissaries to speak with the leader of the Red Feather band of orcs. It was perhaps compulsive, but I offered to go. In short order most of the others agreed to the mission as well. Only Richard would not be accompanying us, and that simply because the baron had another job for him. We would leave first thing in the morning.
Following the meeting we went to the Naked Dwarf for lunch and some decompression. While there I recognized a man from my childhood sitting at a nearby table. Although I could not place his name, I’ll never forget his face. He was the man that the Zak and his boys reported to. Soon, another man, well dressed and with a tough-looking Dwarven guard at his side, came in and joined the first man. They spoke briefly and then parted ways. We had more pressing business, but Jalen sensed something was wrong and I quietly explained the situation. He offered to take some time to try to find out more about the men and later that afternoon returned with the news that the well dressed man was an associate of the Earl of Grinadier named Bentley Gold. Perhaps someday I can pursue this further.
For myself, I pardoned myself after lunch and went in search of my mentor, Gemedes. I found him in his study and explained the events of the past few days and about my intention of undertaking a mediation mission as a form of penance. Gemedes was not excited about the prospect and mentioned that this might be a one way trip. I am confident, however, that Diakris will either bless my efforts or accept me into the afterlife for refusing to let others suffer for my mistakes. Before I left, Gemedes gave me one of the small wooden carvings that he always seems to be working on. He said that he hoped the little Bob Cat figurine would bring me luck.
We all met up with a caravan heading to the mining camp of Silverton. The Baron also met us there and gave me a small sack full of gems as a gift for the Red Feathers. Hopefully this, along with returning the great sword of his son will calm Terran and allow us to reopen peace talks. The caravan was large and met with no resistance on the road.
A long and emotionally draining day.
We arrived at Silverton shortly before Noon and decided to eat lunch there. After discussing the rest of the trip, we the decided to leave imediately and make it as far as we could before camping. That way we would hopefully arrive at the Red Feathers’ camp around mid day. Fate had other plans.
Dusk settled, but between our map and Tanka’s path-finding abilities we pushed on, confident that we were heading the right way. A couple of hours later, around the time that we were looking for a good camp site, Tanka motioned for us to stop and be quiet. He heard loud drunken voices off in the distance. Faelyn sent his Raven to get a better look, but shortly after that the Raven cried out and struggled to make it back. There were three rough-looking humans around a large fire and one of them shot the familiar. I was able to carefully remove the arrow and Diakris healed the deep wound. A few moments later Jalen and Tanka returned from their own scouting and reported that the drunks had a captive woman and seemed to have ill intentions. One had said something about selling the woman, who was somehow valuable, and another was intent on defiling her. Although this was not our mission, we could not allow any nefarious plans to continue.
After a moment to formulate our plan, the two archers moved off to circle around and approach from the rear. After taking a few moments to ask Diakris’ blessings on our task, Nuan Shu, Faelyn and I approached directly. Such was the raucousness of the group (and intoxication) that they did not sense our approach until we were at the edge of their firelight and I called out to them. They were immediately suspicious of us, but did not attack until I asked about the unconscious woman. I felt that we had given them plenty of opportunity to explain themselves had their intentions been honorable. The battle was quick, but bloody. One of their number was a Priest of some ability and immediately held Nuan Shu in stasis. Our archers made good their stealthy approach, but the trio was nearly too much for us to handle. If not for the divine favor of Diakris I may have fallen. Several times as I fought their warrior I felt providence turn a blade that would otherwise have injured me. In the end, we were victorious, though Nuan Shu was gravely injured. Diakris’ power soon had her back on her feet, however.
It was only then, we would discover, that our true challenge would begin. We noted some peculiarities concerning the captive. Beneath her was a small pile of ash as one might find from burned rope. Also, when I awoke her, Jalen and Nuan Shu gasped. Jalen whispered to me that her eyes had flashed with a golden light as she opened them. Combined with the comments of her fallen captors, I suddenly feared that we were not dealing with a Human. There were many possibilities for what she might have been, some benign, but some quite malignant. Unfortunately, as we questioned her, still in manacles, she denied being anything other than she now appeared. She claimed to be a merchant from Grinadier named Jenni. No one could remember ever seeing her shop. Alas, I had not prayed for this sort of guidance today.
This began a dispute that threatened to tear apart our group. Jalen and Nuan Shu were insistent that the woman not be released until we knew more. I was obliged to agree. The cost of releasing a Devil or malicious Fey outweighed the temporary discomfort that an innocent would endure. It seemed wise to wait until morning when I could pray for the appropriate guidance. However, Tanka was adamant that the woman be released from her bondage. His argument that we were being complicit in enslaving her didn’t make much sense, temporary restraints are not slavery, but he would not be moved. When it was clear that we were at an impasse, I suggested that we return to Silverton, despite it being way out of the way, to enlist the help of the priest there. This made no one happy, but in the end that’s what we did. It was a long and very tense trip and Jenni would not stop her wailing. It made no sense that someone who was acting so soft would be out by herself in the wilderness, as she had told us initially. Her story had many holes. So on we traveled, and I was certain that she would attract dangerous attention, but eventually we arrived back in town, just as the sun was beginning to show.
Again, we had little luck. The guard reluctantly went in search of the priest, but in the end the priest had not prepared proper guidance either. Meanwhile, Tanka rushed the woman over to the blacksmith who made quick work in removing the shackles. To their credit, she and Tanka waited patiently for me to make my daily supplications and did not resist my scrutiny when I returned. I could not sense any evil in her, though I could sense that her heart disdained order. She then played the part of the vindicated martyr as I apologized for putting her through that ordeal. In truth though, I know that, given the information we had, I would do the same again. Nuan Shu and Jalen seemed relieved but slightly suspicious. Tanka was still silently seething, I believe. Hopefully we can repair this rift in our group before we are obliged to act as diplomats. It had been a very long day and I have denied sleep far too long. The Red Feathers will have to wait another day.