We traveled back to Redlarch and I decided to report our findings to the local constabulary. He was a straight-forward man, I liked him. He took my report and was willing to accept any aid we could give the area. He has quite a few problems on his plate at the moment, one of the bigger ones being the disappearance of the Merabar Delegation. They were a group of 15 people, mostly scholars, but guards as well. The scholars were archeologists, interested in Dwarven ruins in the area. Their caravan traveled out of Redlarch to Belgard to resupply. From there they backtracked across the Stonebridge and headed south through the mountains along the river. They were supposed to arrive in Womford two 10 days past, but never arrived. I told the constable that we were going out in the morning with one of the farmers to investigate some 'graves' that had just appeared in his one field. Once that was completed we'd see if we could find anything about the delegation.
I then traveled back to the inn to meet the rest of the group. It turns out the inn's kitchen had suffered a fire and we had to go to the tavern across the street for supper. We sat, ate and discussed the information we had and made what plans we could. Then it was time to retire early.
In the morning, we met with the farmer and he led us out of Redlarch. It was about half a days travel to his farm, almost halfway to Womford. True to his story, his field did have four graves. Shallow things, a thin layer of dirt and then some rocks placed on top. It smelled bad and the vultures were circling. We exhumed them one at a time.
The first grave held a male dwarf in artisan's robes. He had a signet ring with the sign of Merabar upon it. He had been killed by multiple arrow wounds.
The second grave held a human woman. She had a black tabard with the Merabar emblem upon it. She had been crushed by some terrific force. A sword lie in the grave with her, it had the emblem as well, but it was chipped as though she had been swinging it at a mountain and twisted and bent as though it had been crushed along with her.
The third grave held a human man. He had a black coat and stone armor. He had been killed with arrows.
The fourth grave held another human man. He wore a white robe with feathers, the attire of the Feathergale Knights. He had also been crushed. The arrows that were recovered were similar to the ones used by the Feathergale.
Jinney examined the field while we looked at the bodies. She found the whole area had been a battlefield. Broken arrows, lances, torn fabric lay scattered about. Footprints were everywhere, however only four sets walked into the area, and none left. It seems we had found out what happened to at least two of the delegation. We decided to follow the footprints entering the area and see where they had come from.
The farmer allowed us to stable our horses and make camp in his fields for the night. So we set out and followed the tracks as far as we could before we needed to turn back. This area was starting to get close to the Feathergale territory, we could see their spire on the horizon.
We made camp at the farm for the night and set out early the next morning. We took the horses this time to move a little faster. The tracks were in two sets of two. The leading set held the dwarf's prints. The others were difficult to differentiate. They led us back to the river, more specifically, a keep along the river.
The keep looked old and in disrepair, but someone was working to repair it. Jinney snuck up close and checked things out. The footprints went right up to the front gate of the keep, there were bandit-looking guards about and a white banner with a blue gauntlet hung from the battlements.
Brahm, Mandrak, and I rode up to the main gate while Jinney and Arden watched from the shadows. We talked a little with someone hiding behind an arrowslit. We introduced ourselves and told him we were working on an investigation for the constable of Redlarch. He claimed not to have seen anyone in the area recently. They were Grimjaw's men, a military unit set to fight the piracy taking place on the river. Womford was nearly overrun with river pirates.
We continued on our way and met up with the others further up river. He was lying. We decided Jinney should attempt to gain access and see what she could find under the cover of darkness. So she spent the rest of the day watching their guards and figuring their patterns.
She made a successful infiltration and recovered some papers from the now desecrated chapel inside the fort. She also overheard some talking about dwarven texts selling for 30 gold, and the cultists paying well for their cooperation.
The documents were from the Cult of the Crushing Wave. They believe in the 'awesome power of water' and all living things should have their trapped water freed. Their leader is a Gar Shatterkeel and he has some special 'holy' weapon that is tied to something called the Alhydra.
We began planning our next assault on the keep. Clearly something was going on in there, and it wasn't good. At the very least the cultist need to be stopped, and the pirates need to stop pirating. There are more people in the fort than we were comfortable assaulting at night. During the day most of them head out on boats leaving the fort much more vulnerable. However, then we don't have the cover of night to hide our approach. Brahm has an excellent plan to with his Water Walking spell, we can just stroll in the boat dock area. The cultists will be put on alert as soon as they discover their documents missing, so we need to go in before that happens.
Our best bet looks like a raid at first light. The pirates were drinking and celebrating last night, we'll need to use the aftereffects of that to our advantage.