The party has an hour to rest before dinner, and spent the time in idle chit-chat.
Dinner was served to the unit, with Vladimir and Diego attending. When the porters conveniently neglected to serve dinner to Snot, Vlad got up and read the following from a parchment loud enough that everyone in the house could hear:
My name is Starry Night Over Trees, Stra’Chik of The People of Mud and Night.
Forty-five years ago, when the Waygate opened, my people were enslaved. It was as if our hearts were gripped by an invisible hand and white-hot rage was poured into our veins. We went mad. With others of the deeps, the Orcs, the elves of the night, the deep dwarves, who all, for their own reasons I do not understand, were filled with hate as well, we invaded the places of the Dwarves and killed. We drove upward, this invisible slaver lashing our backs with whips of fire. Some were made so mad they did not eat or sleep until they fell. Some turned on their kin. The Deep Things used us as chattel in their battles. We were as animals. All was dark. Many of us who survived remember little.
When the Waygate closed, we were released in an instant. Our minds were muddled and our hearts were filled with sadness. We were broken, but we were of the Mud and Night again and not of a Dark Lady of Hate. But then He came. He Who Kills With Stone marched ahead of his peoples and lay upon us with a dark vengeance. He slew entire clans with a wave of his hand, encasing them in hard stone to choke and die in dark and fear. His people murdered in their rage and raised the heads of The People on pikes by the hundreds.
We pleaded. We sent envoys and messengers. We left marks on the stone.
But in their sadness and rage, the Dwarves could not listen. The stone could not hear.
Thus we fled. Like the Halflings, my people have scattered across the world to become diffuse. To make it so The People can survive, in some way.
I have come to plead for our lives. To prove to the People of The Sun that while we live in dark places, we are not of darkness. My people are nimble, and clever. We see but are unseen. We work hard, and with precision. We have come from the deep and are just out of sight. In that hollow, beneath those rocks, in those places of shadow.
I came to beseech your Emperor, but he is slain. So I sought out Mengst: The Hero of Westergarde, but he is slain. So I come to help raise his kin, so I may beseech him for The People. We will work. We will serve.
And we will help you fight, in what small ways we are able. Because the Dark Lady has broken The People. And those who have fallen will be avenged.
Vladimir placed his dinner in front of Snot, and the rest of the dinner proceeded and the party retired early.
The party was awakened in the dead of night by a corporal who conveyed Smoot’s orders to assemble “quick, quiet, dark, and ready to travel”. They pack out their gear and meet Smoot at the farmhouse. He tells the unit that Jacob and Kagdir are in charge, and that Nimue is a superb NCO, and that they will be known to the Imperial army as Special Unit 3. A company of Tyr’s troops are approaching Harrowburg, and their outriders are advancing into the woods around the farmhouse ahead of them.
He reiterated that they need make all haste to Baron Giles’ estate, where, on the West end of his lands, sits an old Imperial watchtower. The team is to travel in secret, leavinig no witnesses as to their destintion, then check in with Giles and secure the tower until Smoot can arrive with his command.
Vladimir gifts Syl with a long rifle, previously owned by Alton. It was the weapon used in the legendary defense of High Guard fortress. He tells her it’s to ensure she accomplishes her mission.
The party departs the farm under cover of darkness, and within a few miles encounter a patrol in the night.