Before heading out on the road to investigate the cause of the crop fires, the party (on Baetur Ethiri’s recommendation), visited the smith, Alang Baulial. Baulial, a stonekin, is well-known and well-regarded throughout the town, in spite of his ethnicity and “that funny way ‘e ‘as of makin’ ’is words sound.”
The smith met with the party as if he was expecting them. After some pleasantries (which included his exchanging Mardigan’s workmanlike sword for a simple but finely wrought, perfectly balanced blade), he said he could not offer the party any information regarding their mission (of which he had received word from Ethiri, along with an entreaty to help the group in whatever way he saw fit), but promised to keep his ear open for any word that might prove useful.
He also recommended that the party keep their own ears open for any word on a rumour, a ghost of a rumour about something called the Judgement, saying he’d be very grateful and inclined to offer favours for anything they may hear.
As the sun climbed higher in the clear sky, the party set off, making east along the Inaran Road. The road was lined with farms, a patchwork of fields and low stone fences so far as the eye could see. Several times the party stopped to ask questions of the locals; everyone had either seen a fire’s glow in the night, or heard cries for water or blankets from a nearby farm, or had had a cousin or a friend who had woken to fin one of his fields alight. One had actually had a fire in his field just two nights earlier; yes, of course they could have a look, “so long as they dirn’t fell any more o’tha stalks what aren’t already poorful.”
The party examined the burnt field. It was obvious to all the fire had begun in the middle and spread outward. A light rain had prevented the whole crop from being lost – about a third of the division was gone. Sniffing around, Holdfast gave Arthur the impression of something not right; something woody, but not at all familiar. Could this have been the fuel used to get the blaze started?
All in all, seven fires had been set in among the farms between Olari and Onivaro in the last eight weeks.
As the sun fell in the western sky, the party decided to find shelter for the night. A mile further up the road, the village of Onivaro offered shelter in the form of the (cringe) Prancing Pony Inn.
Immediately the PCs slipped into old habits. Durul engaged the publican and his wife in conversation, seeking information about the fires and details that may help bolster the family coffers in equal measure. Mardigan asked a comely bar-wench for assistance with a bath. Emlyn looked for high ground – settling for the winch-door of a barn – from which to survey the surrounding farms. Arthur and Holdfast took to the stables, where they noticed a familiar horse.
Just as the last of the locals were leaving and the last of the party, Durul, was getting ready to turn in for the night, the door opened and a little girl staggered in, exhausted and sobbing between gasps.
“Please it’s my family. They’re being attacked. You’ve got to help them…” to nobody in particular, before collapsing from exhaustion.
”That’s Tam Welangur’s girl,” Simm, one of the locals said. “Their farm’s a couple of leagues down the way,” he added unhelpfully.
After ensuring the girl was uninjured, the Durul sprang into action, collecting the other party members and their horses and following Simm and another local east into the darkening evening to toward whatever awaited them at the Welangur farm.