After six days of travelling from the scene of the battle, the party returns to Hillcrest with a poisoned Warder Erik and the bodies of Fern, Donus Farrier, and Warder Xander. Upon arriving, they are met at the infirmary by Warder Thomas, who casts a spell to heal the worst of Erik’s infection, allowing him to recover under Cedric’s care. The party reports to Stein and learns that the Warders had been sent to hunt down Sergei Volkov’s unit, who have gone rogue. They are suspected of months of careful sabotage of the Northland war effort. Stein has reason to believe that Volkov has fled to the Ar’Avarial forest to hide for the winter. Faced with disbelief from Alton, who knew and respected Donus, Stein admits that it is possible that, prior to being assaulted by the two Warders, the lower-ranking members of Volkov’s unit may not have known of their Sergeant’s treachery. He seems disinterested in Donus’ warning about Futz, however, and advises the party not to give much heed to it.
So naturally, the party visits Futz, who is in the middle of an experiment to breed his New Elves(tm). When the party finally gets his attention long enough, he reveals that Donus was probably not referring to the manufacturer of his long rifle (a man named Michaelson in Westergarde) but instead the Bubblesneezer cannon. He further reveals that he knows Vernon Bubblesneezer personally, having once taught at the University of Invention in Penshin, and even though Vernon is a shrewd bureaucrat, he’s a lousy scientist and couldn’t possibly come up with the cannon on his own. When pressed, Futz remembers a halfling student by the name of Corky Bogbottom who was curiously bright and capable of inventing such things as the cannon. It’s conceivable that Bubblesneezer has kept Corky under wraps since The Extermination and has been taking credit for all of the halfling’s inventions since.
After seeing to the remains of Donus and Fern, as well as attending Xander’s funeral pyre, the party briefs Mengst on their thoughts, and Mengst asks them to develop a plan to investigate this new piece of intelligence.
The next day, the party visits Itchy, who is still reeling from an uncharacteristically bold and organized goblin and orc attack on Hillcrest the previous day that saw several dozen Northland troops killed, but more critically, two of the army’s fully-stocked grain silos burned to the ground on the very cusp of winter. They present him with new requisition orders from Stein, and he obliges in refreshing the party’s gear.
The session ends with the party leaving the warehouse to prepare for the 2nd Battalion Archery Competition.