13 Calistril – 16 Calistril, 44NC
Snot returns from a constitutional convinced that the party is being followed. The group finds a suitable ambush point and hunkers down to wait. Snot scouts their backtrail and finds evidence that a party of 6-8 people, with at least one horse, one elf-kin, and two halflings are pursuing them – but the trail vanishes mysteriously shortly north of the party’s previous camp. The party waits out the remainder of the day but nothing happens, so they proceed North the next morning.
The next night, the party literally stumbles into a very well-hidden trapper camp and it’s lone attendant, a wiry old man calling himself Billy Bones. His story, that he was doing some late winter trapping out of Giles’ estate (including the provenance of his two horses, which he claims he won from Giles’ stable-master in a game of cards) is thin but not clearly disprovable. The party is suspicious, and asks if Billy will escort them the rest of the way to Giles’ estate for a small sum of money – he agrees.
Billy is incredibly curious about the party (they are a curious lot), and is very interested in why Volkov would be raising an army again after the Emperor Severin was killed, and he presses at every opportunity. There is some verbal fencing, but nothing clear from either party.
The night before arriving at the estate, Snot attempts to drug Billy with a truth serum, and it appears to work, but he doesn’t talk about much but his wife he lost back in Teribain during the invasion – which triggers a vague memory in Jacob. Before passing out, Billy seems to come to a revelation:
“Joseph Altair had a daughter…” he exclaims before passing out, “whatever happened to Anastasia Altair?”
The party gathers a short way away from the camp to discuss what they should do about Billy – at one point Matten suggests they may have to kill him to keep the secret of their mission. At one point, Jacob becomes incredibly agitated, having discovered that not only is Billy not drugged but may not even be asleep, and he leaves the camp in an attempt to warn the party.
Somehow, during the distraction, Billy vanishes completely. Horses, gear, everything.
In a panic, the party pushes through the night the rest of the way to Baron Giles’ keep. They come to a rise and discover it in a shallow valley, an ancient Elven longhouse attached to a more modern humble northern keep. The keep is lit by the watch-fires from dozens, if not hundreds, of soldiers’ tents. The banners of Westergarde flutter in the breeze.