The lumber was unloaded from the wagons, and the town celebrated its brief bit of fortune. In those days in the north, any fortune was worthy of a celebration, and the arrival of the lumber for the new barn was certainly no exception.
Most of the party hung around for the festivities, with the exception of Chester, who seemed to have disappeared for the time being. This was hardly out of the ordinary for the rather aloof Chester, whose antics had always been a source of comedy (and sometimes annoyance) for the town elders.
Work on the barn began in earnest that next morning, and all of our heroes were expected to join in as they were able. It was hard work, but at least a cool breeze was blowing down from the mountains in the north, making it a good deal less oppressive than the previous few weeks. The barn’s frame would take a good week to get up, and after that the work of putting up the walls and roof would go much more quickly. As greedy and underhanded as Jallan was, he knew good timber when he saw it, and the oaken planks the party brought from the mill would likely last more than a century — even in the harsh weather of the Shires.
With a good days’ work done on the barn, and the first thick uprights put into place at the corners, our heroes end their day with some cool ale out on the banks of the fishing pond.
They decided to head back north to see if Morgan, the Shire-Reeve, had come to the mill to make his inquiries about the murder. Hoping to get some more answers (and that Morgan would raise a posse to find the murderers), the party headed north once again – this time accompanied by Hummel Stoutman, the town’s brawler and erstwhile drunk. A brief scuffle ensued, and poor Kellin took a bit of a beating from the brute. After clearing things up a bit, they headed north to The Olde Mill Inne once again. Upon arrival, they learned that Analiegh had been fired by Ral for her defense of the party on their last visit, and had gone north looking for work.
The answers they received from the Reeve were somewhat less telling than they had hoped. Morgan told the party to forget things, and to return home, as he saw no reason to look further into matters. A meeting with a mysterious gentleman at the bar convinced Melgin to look a bit further, and the party decided to head up to the town of Kalvan. Randall Thorn and Chester returned to Alder’s Creek to tell them the news that there would be no posse after all, and to question some of the farmers along the road that the girl must have taken to get this far north. The party agrees to meet up again in Kalvan in a little under a week’s time.
Hummel Stoutman proved to be a difficult and largely disruptive travelling companion, and the journey was a bit longer because of it for some of our heroes. After crossing the Green River, and many days of travel, the party finally reached the town of Kalvan. There, they met with Analiegh once more, who was now working at the tavern there. They also got dragged into a brawl that Hummel Stoutman started with some locals in the bar. Only Kellin’s quick thinking and priestly negotiating saved the party from certain arrest.
They also met old Haggar, the town’s resident expert on animals and plants. He identified the mysterious ‘seed’ that they had found in the woman’s wound as a casting from a falcon. Flynn‘s theories had proven sound after all, and now, armed with knowledge that one of the murderers was a falconer, they eagerly awaited Randall Thorn’s arrival so that they could proceed. Our heroes then headed to Lord Helvar’s manor to try and report these things as best they could.
Lord Helvar was receptive and welcoming to the party, and listened intently to their tales. After praising them for their bravery, he told them that he did indeed know a Malden- or rather that he once did. He gave them directions to the man’s house, and something else – the possibility of a reward being offered for the capture/killing of the men who murdered the mysterious girl.
It was here that Sylar, Lord Helvar‘s huntsman and scout joined the group, charged by Helvar with bringing the party safely to Malden’s house. Randall Thorn and Chester rejoined the group after learning that the dead girl had not been alone on her journey, and that there was another woman with her. He judged that the other girl had either been taken by the murderers or hopelessly lost in the wilds.
The party decided to go to Malden’s house, and deliver The Mysterious Letter carried by the murdered girl to its intended destination. They learn that the northern road is plagued by bandits – and worse, and the reeve posted notice that anyone heading north on the road should form caravans for safety. Hummel Stoutman disappeared about this time, and although few people in the party missed his presence, it did cause some concern when no one seemed to know where he had gotten off to. Finally, Randall Thorn decided to go ahead and leave without him, and the party set out with food and supplies for a long journey into the north.