The group has been in town for a day. Their first night back was spent drinking and carousing in the local inn, where a pair of strangers challenged Rawon and Raúguey to drinking / arm-wrestling contests (respectively). Could these be some new fodder for the Blackpool grist mill? The next day...
After the festivities of the night before, some of the group is slow to start the next day. Saurabh and Durego, both fairly sober individuals, get to business first, visiting Kramo's to sell trinkets and gems; the local tanner (the one that did the bear hide for you), to sell the furs; and stopping off at the general store to try and sell the spices.
When Maro arrives at the Stag, ready to go attempt an audience with Thambar, he's disappointed to find most of the party still abed, except for Tesso, who is quietly eating breakfast in the corner. When he hears the story of last night's celebrations, the elf shakes his head. "Not the best way to get things done," he says. He joins the man at the table, and, as agreed by the group, offers him a job as camp guard. Tesso seems interested, but he wants to give it some thought. He's been gone for ten weeks or more, right now a clean bed and good food is his first priority.
Finally Ohwatoo arrives from the Black Tree, and the others stumble down the stairs (well, most of the others). More food, more muttered conversation. Ohwatoo shares his impressions of the two strangers, wonder if they might be worthy additions to the party. Maro's patience finally ends, and he rises. "Let's go. We need to try and see Thambar. We can't waste all day waiting for Durego. I'm sure Ohwatoo wants to get back to identifying magic for us."
Maro, Ohwatoo, Tesso, and Jonquil head for the keep. As they wind their way up the steep road that leads to the outer wall, Jonquil points. "Guess they weren't kidding about the heads eh?"
There are eight tarred heads on spikes at the top of the wall. Behind them, several guards peer out between the merlons. Maro also notices something else, the gates are shut. "I don't like the look of that," he says. When the group gets to the far side of the little bridge that crosses the chasm in front of the main gate, one of the guards calls out, "Halt! State your business!"
"I am Maro Revane, these are my companions, Ohwatoo, Tesso, and Jonquil. We seek audience with Lord Thambar, concerning the survey party he dispatched to the west some months ago, and other events in the territories beyond his western border."
There's a pause, as two of the guards confer, then one disappears while the other calls down. "Send one across the bridge to the postern gate, unarmed mind you! You can speak to the captain. The rest keep your distance!"
"I don't like that," whispers Ohwatoo. "Do you think we're in trouble?"
Tesso shrugs, "Maybe they're just being cautious. I mean..." he gestures at the heads. "They have reason."
"I'll go," says Maro, handing his sword to Tesso. The elf crosses the bridge while the others move back to a rocky outcropping and find seats on the stones. They watch as Maro is searched by two guards, then taken in through the postern gate. Time passes.
Tesso and Jonquil are just starting to tell jokes about packing a picnic lunch when Maro reappears. "Uh oh. That didn't go well," says Ohwatoo as the elf gets closer, sour scowl on his face. "What happened?"
"They kept me waiting for half an hour, then one of Lord Thambar's councilors, one those lordlings from the feast we attended, came down. He said Lord Thambar was closeted with the captain, Judge Gara, and the mayor, occupied with matters of state and the border situation. He did not have time to deal with... how did he put it? Those who have already caused enough trouble for the present."
"I guess word has reached the keep from the Leatherfoots," says Ohwatoo.
Maro nods. "When I asked when Lord Thambar might be able to receive us, he suggested we submit a formal petition for an audience. The smug jerk."
"As Durego would say, I have a bad feeling about this," says Ohwatoo. "If the Judge is involved, that could mean charges are being prepared. We need to tell the others. Isn't Gara of Durego's order? Maybe he can find out something. We need to tell the others about this."
The others agree, and quickly head back to town, stopping at the three inns to round up the others before hiring a private room at the Stag to discuss things...