"Ah, aye. Best get you out of here. He whispers something to one of the guards, who begins moving through the crowd, having a word with the angriest looking (or perhaps the known trouble-makers?) The sergeant gestures, and leads the group back toward the west end of town to the marshal's post. "We haven't space for all of you, but the barn is big enough, and dry, or the muster field if you prefer. I'll see you have some food and fodder for your beasts." He gives Mageta a look. "You'll have to tend that thing yourselves."
He walks on for a dozen paces, "I'd advise you stay away from the market while you're here. People like the alderman, and you've done a proper job of stirring things up. If you have any desperate supply needs, I'll see what I can do about obtaining them. How long are you staying anyhow?"
When the party expresses their plan to rest for the day and head for Auslaug in the morning, the sergeant appears relieved. "Trouble enough these days without adding oil to the fire," he mutters.
"Trouble? What sort of trouble?" asks Dagmarten.
Sergeant Algot gives him a hard look (perhaps wondering how he couldn't know, or perhaps remembering the cleric's previous status as a known poacher). Finally he says, "You have been gone a while. There's war in Gorsebonn, Baides are at it again it seems. Lot of strangers around. Well, you'll see soon enough if you're headed to Auslaug."
The sergeant settles you in the barn and field and then returns to his patrol. He agrees to deliver whatever goods / gear / coins you want to the Leatherfoots [see below], though he suggests doing that tomorrow to give things time to settle.
After the party sets up camp and draws lots for watches they relax around the fire, which wards off the faint autumn chill. As light fades, two servants bring out a pot of stew, pitchers of ale, and fresh (mostly) bread, the first real food the party has seen in weeks. The village is quiet, shuttered windows showing the faint lights of candles and cook fires within, but the scant streets are mostly empty. Well fed and full of ale, the party beds down for the night.
The next day is warmer, and light clouds drift in, carried on a gusty breeze. The party packs up quickly and makes their final arrangements with sergeant Algot as they eat lumpy porridge. With all that settled, they're off, escorted through the village by the sergeant, just in case. The group draws a few glowering looks from the laborers heading to work, and merchants opening their shops, but there are no problems. The sergeant takes his leave on the east side of the village, advising the party to stick to the main road, and to keep alert, which is surprising, since the Wood Road is usually very safe.
The first part of the journey is uneventful. The Wood Road runs through open country, mostly farm fields and grazing lands for sheep and cows. There is little traffic on the road, a few wagons heading to Hustwood, several riders heading both east and west. All give the group as wide a berth as they can. In the fields, farmers pause in their work to watch the group pass, but none approach. "Word spreads fast I guess." says Durego.
Tesso shakes his head. "I think they're suspicious of anyone that looks like us. Armed parties aren't that common here, or they weren't when I left."
"The sergeant mentioned trouble too. I haven't seen anything overt, but I wonder..." Ohwatoo trails off as he is inclined to do.
The setting sun sees the party out of the settled lands and into the wilder country between Auslaug and Hustwood. As they begin to look for a camp site (there are clearings cut beside the road here and there), they see signs of what the sergeant was talking about. Small camp fires in the woods, well away from the road. The first clearing trampled and fouled by heavy use. A corpse, hung from a gallows tree. "Best keep a regular watch tonight," says Ingvild as they pass the corpse.
The party finally settles in at the second clearing they find, and spends an uneventful night. Near dawn the wind picks up, bringing with it warmer air and light rain. The party rises with much grumbling. "It always rains when we get close to Auslaug," says Rawon.
Trudge trudge trudge turns to shlorp, shlorp, shlorp as the day progresses and the rain continues. Traffic on the road is sparse, though a small group shows itself on a low hill midday. They must not like what they see, they quickly disappear when the party gets closer. The group crosses the west branch of the Hembard on the stone and plank bridge (recently repaired), and as night falls they make a miserable wet camp in the scrubby woods beyond.
The next day, the 25th, is a repeat of the 24th, but with more rain. Torrential rain. At least it's warm. The road is a quagmire, even when the party reaches the better sections near Auslaug. Dusk, if you can call anything so wet and dark dusk, finds the party in the farmland surrounding the town, where the road turns to cobble. Dim lights gleam in the darkness ahead, though the intense rain hides the looming mass of Highcliff Keep. Everyone and everything is soaked through.
"Well, we made it," mutters Tesso.
Decide what you're going to give to the Leatherfoots. Tesso is willing to give up all Locky's gear he possesses. That pretty much leaves him with nothing but a pair of boots and pants.
Yay, town! For those who haven't gone through this before, prepare for administrivia! We will likely not have a regular turn Thursday, depending on progress. We have a few things to deal with:
Treasure! You guys need to decide what you're doing with this, so far as Locky's family, and Tesso. Be specific! The sooner you decide, the sooner we move on to...
Experience! I'll send out individual XP tallies for everyone, based on the loot division, the accumulated XP from encounters, and participation awards. Once that's done we can deal with any leveling individually.
You need to decide where you're going to stay. There are three inns / taverns in Auslaug with rooms, but you need to deal with Mageta too. Last time you rented field space from a nearby farmer. It would be good for my planning process if you could give me some idea how long you plan on staying in town.
- Treasure divisions for Tesso and Locky's family. Note that by table agreement, party members get a full share, hirelings (Gorvil, Jonquil, Saurabh) get half-shares.
- XP. That's mostly on me once #1 is done.
- Basic planning for your stay, where and duration.
Let's try to get the above cleared up ASAP, before we move on to additional stuff.
For those reading along
There probably won't be another turn this week, because of the above. It usually takes a couple rounds to get everyone's characters, gear, levels, and transactions all squared away. I doubt the viewing audience cares about the What's on the Mules (TM) game.