16 Calistril, 44NC
The troops camped near the Giles manor appear to be a well-run company of Westergarde infantry. The officers appear to be billeting inside the manor and the entire manor and village is actively patrolled. The camp appears to be more than a week, but less than a month old. They have likely been encamped since before the party left Harrowburg. Several heads are on pikes on the wall.
Jacob recalls the name William Bonet – a cadre mage in the Imperial army, extremely loyal to the empire. He believes this Billy Bones is this man. This raises the question why Billy would be on the side of Westergarde, especially since Tyr was responsible for slaying three of the Imperial heirs.
Snot goes on a scout and overhears some soldiers discussing how their Captain believes that Giles knows where Volkov is, but if he doesn’t break soon he’ll likely just murder the Baron.
The party takes time to rest in shelter in the hills. That afternoon, they see three riders approach from the South and be let in to the manor, one is a knight, whose heraldry both Jacob and Kagdir recognize as that of House Darrow – a minor landholding in service to Duke Tyr – the other is the knight’s page or squire, and the third is Billy Bones. The knight and Billy appear to be riding as equals and having an animated, if not heated conversation. They are admitted to the manor without fanfare.
Shortly thereafter, small hunting parties of infantry soldiers are sent West and North – they appear to be game hunting parties but the team is dubious.
As evening approaches, Kagdir hears a sound in the woods nearby. Nimue stalks the woods for a time but finds nothing but evidence that a small creature, likely a Halfling, had been stalking the party within earshot for at least several hours – and it’s reasonable to believe that this stalker is now privy to the team’s overall mission and debate as to how and if to rescue Giles.
Pressed into a decision, the party swings North too follow the foothills to the Imperial watchtower to the west that was their original target, while Snot departs to sneak into the manor to determine if there’s any way to help the Baron.
We kept an eye on the keep and the soldiers for a day or so. They did not seem to be aware of us, but I was pretty sure they knew we were in the area. If nothing else, then because I suspected Billy would have told them by now.
It was afternoon when we noticed three riders approaching. One was a knight, one was probably a page, and the last was Billy. Of course. Shortly after, they sent out two hunting parties, but neither of them were heading in our direction, and so we waited.
A while later, Kagdir heard something. I looked around, and found traces of someone; most likely, a halfling had been watching us for hours. Meaning he, or she, would most likely have heard everything we had talked about. He was gone by the time I found his hiding place though, and so it was decided that we needed to press on to the tower, rather than trying a rescue.
Between Billy and our small watcher, though, I suspected they knew pretty much everything about us and our mission. Travel in secret, failed. Let no one know about our destination, failed. Check in with Baron Giles, failed. All that was left to fail was failing in securing the tower.
Oh, did I forget to mention, I can sometimes be a pessimist.