The party took a moment to regroup and plan their next move on the Eastern road before returning to Westerfield. Osrik came up with a plan to split the group to settle as many affairs in town as quickly as possible, and smuggle Ilsa to safety in the Dwarven city of Anvilhold.
Osrik and Ol’ Grig would meet with Sir Eric Viridian while Sybil and Hollis met Ilsa at the Bronze Buzzard. Tuan was to secure horses and a carriage for the journey. It was a good plan, until Tuan noticed a parliament of 24 Owlbears running through the woods. Tuan thought that sounded like cause for concern. Nobody else cared. Tuan decided to stay behind while the others made the journey back to town. He discovered that the Owlbears seemed to be fleeing, and that several of them seemed to be poisoned form giant spider bites.
Sir Eric Viridian was anxiously waiting at the town gates when the party arrived back in Westerfield. He was shocked by the deaths of the Longmeadow boys and Silas Silvermane, and decided that it was urgent to report this to Lord Hornwood. Sir Eric asked Osrik and the party to stay and help him protect Westerfield, since he believed a war party of thirty well-armed orcs, a troll, and the death of the toughest warrior in town were a bad omen. He offered the party jobs with the city watch, and to be deputized by Lord Hornwood, giving them the legitimacy and financial backing they always seemed to lack. Osrik declined his offer, and Sir Eric paid him the promised seven gold for investigating the fire in the woods.
Osrik took the bodies to the Ford & Son’s, the town undertaker. Ford explained that he could prepare the bodies with a spell, and charged Osrik a good amount of money for his work. He also mentioned that Boot Hill Cemetery was the traditional burial grounds of the Longmeadow family, and expressed some concern that the boys were cut down in their youth. Ford said that his father knew more about the Longmeadow’s family crypt than he did, but that their ancestors were buried in that graveyard. After a tense meeting, and a surcharge for a rush job, he took Osrik’s gold and went to work.
Meanwhile Hollis and Sybil went to tell Ilsa the bad news. Hollis proved to be the worst grief counsellor in the realm, but Ilsa took great comfort from Lady Sybil. Hollis told Ilsa that everyone knew she was pregnant and who the baby’s daddy was, that she was in mortal danger, that people were coming to kill her, that she had to abandon her bar, her home, her family and friends, and that literally no one could protect her. Then he really started making things up, so badly that several other players were legitimately confused as to what was going on. Ultimately, Ilsa demanded to see the bodies, and speak with Osrik. At Ford and Son’s she demanded to know why Hollis claimed she was in danger. Osrik explained that the party knew she was pregnant, and believe her child to be the last heir of the Longmeadow family. After a few moments alone with Gavin’s corpse, she agreed to go to Anvilhold.
Ol’ Grig went with Sir Eric to meet Lord Hornwood, only he didn’t. Lord Hornwood was indisposed, so instead he met with Carson Hornwood, Lord Hornwood’s son. Carson Hornwood wore too much jewelry and was a bit of a ponce. He seemed not to care about the orc threat that the party had taken out, but expressed tremendous grief at the death of the Longmeadows. Carson said that he trusted Sir Eric to protect Westerfield, and that dead orcs and rumors of dark forces were not enough to concern his family. Ol’ Grig gave Sir Eric the axes taken from the dead orcs, and told him about the 17 remaining horsemen from Calvera’s forces around Kitsumura. As he was leaving the Hornwood estate, Ol’ Grig heard the voice of the Queen of Bones say “Another piece moves in position.” He went back to the Bronze Buzzard to have a drink.
Tuan arrived in town much later, delayed by his investigation of the parliament of Owlbears. He met with Walter, the stable master in Westerfield. Tuan managed to haggle Walter down a bit, and bought a private carriage and a team of horses for six gold. Walter brought the horses to the Bronze Buzzard later.
Hollis met with Byron Redfoot who displayed that he had some kind of scrying or detect magic in his shop. While Hollis didn’t reveal the Stones of Stiglitz he was wearing, he did make mention of Lunacrist, suggesting he had hidden the axe with an illusion spell. Redfoot offered him 25,000 gold for the axe, but Hollis declined. Redfoot then registered the party as Oathenders & Co. an official adventuring company.
Oathenders & Co. made for Anvilhold the next morning, and arrived safely three days later. After a brief investigation, they were introduced to Faerber Silvermane, the Brewmaster of Anvilhold and cousin of Silas. Faerber brought them to the great hall of Anvilhold, and at last Oathenders & Co. met with Lord Stratton Silvermane. Almost immediately, Dugan Silvermane, Stratton’s most trusted advisor, detected the iron collar that Osrik carried. Dugan cast the collar into Stratton’s scrying pool, and as steam rose from the water, so appeared an image of the Queen of Bones. Stratton called her “Amriel” and said that her assassins had failed, and that the collars would not work on him, she would never wield him as a weapon, that his will was resolute. Stratton said that he knew she was responsible for the hit on Silas and the Longmeadow boys. He told her that he would kill a thousand spiders to pay for Silas. She laughed at him and asked if he still prayed by the pale moonlight. Stratton said that she could stab at him from the shadows, but that she would never return to the realm, and that if it wasn’t for that fool of a Barron and his Sun Wizard, he would have destroyed her years ago. She laughed in mockery and said “All in good time Stratton.” With that he smashed the collar with his hammer.
Dugan explained that the collars are used not only for control, but also for communication. Stratton asked how much of Oathenders & Co.‘s counsel she had overheard. Osrik was forced to admit she had heard everything. There was an awkward silence, and Stratton asked Hollis to give up the Stones of Stiglitz, calling them his mother’s necklace. Hollis hesitated, and when he consulted the stones for their wisdom his reply was “Why worry about your necklace, when your head is about to be cut off?” Then Hollis decided to give up the necklace.
Stratton asked if he understood the situation correctly, that Oathenders & Co. had brought a dangerous relic (that at worst could take control of his mind and at the least was an open channel to a mortal enemy) into his city, or rather into his hall, carrying his brother’s corpse, bringing news that two boys he had spent the last twenty years protecting were dead, while one of them was wearing his mother’s necklace and another (indicating Sybil) was wearing the sigil of his rival.
Tuan said that when he said it like that, it sounded stupid.
Nobody blew the horn.