Owen, one of the riders from Somergleam, is convinced by Cosima to provide escort not to the borders, but to Somergleam proper. It seems the threat of an oncoming skirmish with a Goblin tribe worries the small Gnome not.
Owen chats a little as they ride, clearing up that he would rather not reveal the augur’s predictions and cause a panic if it proves to be false, and the calibre of those involved give him pause. However, he does say that the person he was looking for appears to be an Elven noble, although they may appear shabby and as a peasant. Cosima whispers to him, however, and sweetly asks again why they were interested, her tongue dripping with honeyed words and reaching beyond the professional veneer Owen put on.
As they reach the base of the hill and make their way through the first gatehouses, Owen confides in Cosima, although she can tell he’s still careful about what he says. It appears she cannot win him over as easily as she does others.
“Jooren Besal, our augur and the court magician, has had various visions of late. He claimed that the northern farm crops would fail the last few seasons, and they would have were it not for outside aid; he deserves my respect and that of all Somergleam.” The last gatehouse opens, and a drawbridge covers the small gorge cut into the hillside at the walls. The last portcullis sits ready-raised. The town ahead looks of Halfling build for the most part; their iconic architecture, the upper floors jutting over the ground below, pepper the majority of the first few districts. The roads are covered in a layer of muck and leavings, but the layout seems pleasant enough. The palace lies ahead, the road to it lined with businesses and fine homes of stone and plastered frame. Floral arrangements sprout from most window boxes, and do wonders for the smell. Strongly scented elderflowers bloom by the side of various structures.
Owen leads the small caravan to the market square. “His other visions have been of a more disturbing bent. Enemies flock to our borders, it seems. Jooren has told of a coming evil in the North, battling a winged demon that takes the form of an Elven man. Another vision came to him last night; that this Elven man, looking of noble birth, appeared in the very field we found your group. While he may sometimes be awry with the details, the general is never wrong. I fear we may have been too late.”
When the group stops, the market stands around them. Brightly coloured fabrics hang from every flagpole, every tentpost and every signpost. The stalls lie open with wares to sell, fruits and vegetables and baked goods. The place heaves with activity, the wake of the wagons quickly filling in with people.
Laucian whinces at the sight of so many. He pulls his hood a little further over his face and finishes his business with the halfling man.
“And if you ever find yourself heading south… don’t head south. The villages there, I hear they’re becoming cursed places, my friend.” He tips his hat brim and looks fervently around the crowd before finding a gap in the throng and slipping in, disappearing easily.
He was quick to leave, but no matter: Laucian had what he needed from him. He unfurls the written note, upon which is scribbled the address of the augur. Angrily, he crushes the paper in his hands and drops it to the floor. ‘The Palace, Augur’s offices’ it read. The paper quickly gets trampled into the muck on the ground. Needing to find this augur and use his services was top priority, but how would he access the palace? He’s a simple Elf.
Furious, he punches the wall behind him and leans back into it, leting his eyes take in the massive horde of people before him, buying and selling and walking… A set of wagons escorted by town guards now sits in the middle of the square. They weren’t there before.
Owen begins to bid Cosima a safe stay when his voice trails off. His eyes look past her into the crowd. Suddenly, he leaps up and kicks off Cosima’s wagon with one foot and uses the momentum to flip over and onto the seat of his horse yet again. Squeezing his heels in, the mount powers forward into the crowd, the people dispersing quickly and getting out of the way. All eyes following the soldier, both Cosima and Laucian see that he is in pursuit of a masked man weilding a blade: it is dripping with blood. A scream erupts from one of the side streets ahead, presumably a citizen discovering a bloody body. It appears a murder has occured.
What do you do?