1. Smoking Inn
Two more miles, and my worst fear was realised. The Troll and Maiden lay in ruins. There were men, the Duke's men by the look, poking through the still smouldering remains of the Inn.
My first thoughts were for Tia ad her child. I could see no others anywhere in the area.
With no sign of anyone else, I decided to go to the nearby temple of Chauntea, to see the priests.
That decision didn't help. The temple area was empty, though undamaged. A quick search of the area made it appear as though the priests simply abandoned it.
What happened to Tia? Where were the survivors? I was torn, I had a duty to those we had rescued in Scornubel. I also had a very strong need to find Tia. Duty won. It had to, though the question of her location would plague me for some time.
I went back to the ruins to converse with the soldiers there. Only Logan and I approached them, the others hid some distance off, though near enough if we needed them.
A conversation with them proved that they were there merely to investigate. We were told the in was attacked, by soldiers wearing cloaks in the colours of Baron Redhand. This was proved out when someone discovered a Redhand Knight's sword. Logan and I looked at each other. Someone was trying very hard to implicate Garrus' father in something. The whole thing smelled bad. I didn't believe the evidence, he definitely wasn't the type. So the question is, who was doing this and why?
We didn't dally. We had people to take home, safely, and night was coming, so we pushed on.
It took 2 days to get to Halfbrook, our final stop. There were only four people left. Two were the girls Wren rescued from the traders, and the last two were from village itself.
When we got to Halfbrook, we were greeted by the townsfolk, and an impromptu celebration was held at the Inn. Wren decided she would blend in as a rescued person, in an attempt to discover if the return of the girls was welcome by everyone.
Logan and I got to talking about the night of the raid. We decided to find out as much as we could about it, as a stepping stone to learning what was really going on.
As we interviewed everyone we could think of, the militia men involved in dealing with the raid, the parents of one of the girls- from the farm north of town, and staff members at the inn, we learnt many things.
The raid was clearly well planned. The door at the back of the stables was left unlocked. The militia were busy at the farm when the inn was hit, and Thoram's goods were a bonus and not the target. We knew the date was consistent with the information on our map from the bandit hideout,thus indicating the date was planned in advance, and wasn't changed because of the presence of Thoram's goods.
The unlocked gate gave the bandits free access to the inn. They had inside help.
By the time the investigation was concluded, day had turned to night. I wrote a quick note or Wren and slipped it into her hand, asking her to look check on the inn's employees. We narrowed it down to someone with a store room key. The owner and the night manager.
Wren did her thing. It was the night manager. She did a quick search of his room and Thoram's weapons were found.
We had the night manager arrested. Thoram was pleased to see his weapons. The armour, however had been taken by the bandits.
A hard interview with the night manager and we got a name. Miklaus. He was a hunter who had a lodge a ways north of town. A local hunter, eager to help, offered to lead us there. So, tomorrow, we would go.