The travellers camp after a few hours of travel as the sun sets, and they are glad to see that no further trouble befalls them this day; the night passes without event, though Geesje Van Kuipers is unable to find some game to supplement that evenings meal, so heated up trail rations and preserved fare is the best that they can all have.
On the 16th day of the Fore of Spring, 520 AC
The morning is bright though some mist in the low areas persists, and the travellers set off again, eyes and thoughts to the road ahead. After 3 or 4 hours travel they see the walled township of Hesjen ahead, the first settlement of any size since the poor hamlet they passed the day before. A small line of people and wagons await their turn to enter the town past the watchmen at the gates and the travellers patiently await their turn. Commorry Tenksmann advises his fellow travellers that he has a friend who owns the Wayward Traveller inn just inside the gates and that a decent deal can be had for his fellows, and after he pays his coppers tax for his wagon (the others have so little that no taxation is levied) he leads them the short distance to the 3 storied building.
It’s a worn looking building, as so many are in Hesjen, but it looks good enough for travellers eyes, and they enter whilst Commorry settles his horses and wagon around at the side stable. Inside is a typical inn, with large fireplace and waiting innkeeper who greets them and arranges rooms for those who wish it and common room space for those who wish that. Hot food for the midday meal is ordered, and soon the travellers are at a long table and banishing memories of the lacking breakfast they had earlier.
During their meal, Calliszia Myinarra notices that a young man is watching them as a group and trying to make it look like he is not, pointing this out to Skal Dreissel and Zeru Otxoa. They try to catch a discrete look at him, with Zeru heading to the bar to get them all a refill, and he seems like an unarmed young man with loose fitting clothes. He returns to pass on his thoughts to his comrades, with Skal offering to rough the fellow up to see what he is up to.
The young man seems to have seen all he wants to and he departs, affording them all a chance to see his unusual footwear, soft soled as it is with hardened toecaps; his gloves seem hardened at the knuckles as well. Skal has seen this sort of thing before and believes such shoes and gloves are often worn and used by people who specialise in unarmed combat, especially Monks.
During this Fulica is at the other end of the table and spots a man come down the stairs, pay money to the barman and depart; she thinks to herself that he bears a strong resemblance to one of the 2 mercenaries pursuing the Inquisitor, though now wearing a decent disguise. She keeps this to herself though and once she has finished eating, retires to her room.
After lunch, the travellers decide to take in the town and do various things; Calliszia accompanies Romus Tachthorne to the marketplace to see if some of the herbs she has gathered can be sold to an apothecary or suchlike, whilst Skal departs with Jorik to see the town and its stalls, and Geesje leaves alone to do the same. Zeru and the family of Padron Baddros remain at the inn, enjoying a warm fire and a relaxing pipe. Commorry for his part has only been seen once, chatting with the innkeeper before leaving to the market on his own business.
Skal and Jorik pass a much more affluent inn called The Prodigal overlooking the half busy marketplace and by chance spot a large black carriage within the open doors of the inns stableyard; they immediately make a move away from it, heading into some side streets that lead them in a more circumspect route to the market.
Geesje continues to the market by a slightly different route, and spies the young pugilist who watched them from the inn sitting on a barrel eating an apple and regards him for a while. During this, Skal and Jorik enter the market at a different area and after wandering for a few minutes see Calliszia and Romus walking slowly past various stalls, though they are then surprised to see some man loiter very close to them, within close touching distance before moving off. Skals suspsicions are aroused and he leads Jorik over to speak to the pair, asking the young herbalist and the physician to check they have not been pickpocketed. In checking their belongings, a small folded piece of paper flutter from Calliszias clothing, and Romus seems to recognise something about it, for he turns pale and stands upon it immediately before stepping into a muddy puddle to pulp the paper.
He suggests they all get off the street and out of sight, whilst Skal curiously follows the “pickpocket” to see where he goes. He follows discretely (no mean feat given his singular appearance) and sees the man walk past the young man on a barrel, giving a sign before doubling back. The man on the barrel finishes his apple and hopes off the barrel, heading briskly towards the Prodigal Inn. Skal immediately heads to where his friends said they were heading (a leatherworkers shop); Geesje has also seen the man head to the inn, and feeling something is amiss, watches to see what happens; sure enough, a minute later, a large powerful man dressed very much like an Inquisitor strides forth from the inn, accompanied by 4 well armed men and the young pugilist. At this, Geesje sees them head into the market and then she heads quickly to find Zru at the Wayward Traveller.
Skal rejoins Jorik and the others in the shop, checking their own belongings to see if anything suspicious is to be found, though they find no further surprises. Skal does relay that they may be in some danger, and in typical no nosense style, barges his way past the shopkeeper and his counter to the rear of the premises and the back alleyway, followed by a plaintive Jorik trying to Bluff the shop owner into not making a fuss, and a thankfully more successful Romus soothing (with a few coins) the flustered shopkeep.
The 4 of them move as swiftly as they can along the twisting back alleys, hearing sounds from the leatherworkers shop as they go. After a couple of tense minutes they believes they are in the clear, but turning a corner they encounter the smirking figure of the pugilist and 2 musket armed men awaiting them. As they stand there they see him look up and respond to an agile figure on the roof nearby who had been tracking them, and at this they are marched under arms to the centre of the marketplace.
Back at the Wayward Traveller Geesje spots Zeru and explains what she has seen and what her suspicions are; conflicted by goodwill towards their fellow travellers and a justifiable fear of an Inquisitor, they decide to bribe the innkeeper to allow them access to the roof; it says much about the innkeeper that he does it for a silver piece with few qualms.
Atop the tiled and only slightly dangerous roof, they have a good view of the surrounds, and immediately see some kind of commotion is happening in the marketplace area, with what suspiciously looks like a public trial taking form a the speaking area; they also see a figure on the other large building around, hidden from streetview on the roof of the Prodigal. The figure seems to be watching the events in the marketplace, so at that, the 2 nimbly make their way to the street by whip in Zerus case and agile acrobatics in the case of Geesje.
Meanwhile, the 4 prisioners are led, none too kindly towards the sinister figure of the Inquisitor as he stands majestically on the towns public stage, surrounded by more of his Acquitants and a gathering crowd of rubbernecking onlookers. They are led onto the stage and with their weapons and belongings stripped from them and surrounded by very unsympathetic men, as the Inquisitor begins his impressive (and more than a little arbitrary and unfair) trial. As Geesje and Zeru draw closer to the crowd, InquisitorVergyl Sklene begins his charging and spicy rhetoric in the manner of one long accustomed to such moments. With charges of heresy and worse laid against the prisoners, he orders a search of their belongings. He seems oddly surprised that nothing is found upon their person, but he then calls for their travelling companions to be summoned to stand trial as well, and Zeru bravely identifies himself as one, along with Geesje. They too are placed on the stage and divested of their weapons, and shockingly, a heretical and seditious item of propaganda is found on Geesjes person.
With a triumphant shout, Sklene orders the rest to be brought from the Wayward Traveller whilst the prisoners are bound and made ready for questioning. Fulica is marched from her rooms shortly after by Acquitants along with Padron and his fearful family, and things look grim for the travellers, especially for Geesje as she is half stripped and made ready for Sklenes questioning tools (laid out nice and shiny in the pale spring sun). Fulica tries to say some words of offering to help Sklene, but he is immune to her words and merely smiles a chilling “I know child, you shall”…
As he chooses a particularily subtle bladed implement and bends towards his task with Geesje before half fearful and half tantalised crowd, a voice from atop the Prodigal interrupts Sklene. The disguised mercenary Fulica saw before makes his way acrobatically down by rope to the street before an outraged Sklene and a curious crowd, and marches confidently and more than a little intimidatingly to the stage as the crowd parts before him. He announces himself as InquisitorRuprecht Schalko as he removes his disguise, and throws an important rolled up document at Sklene, commanding him to read it and obey.
It appears this new fellow is known to Sklene and it is not a happy meeting, for the letter he is commanded to read is a summons by the Harmonious Lords of the Society to attend a hearing into his affairs, and that he has been suspended from his Inquisitor status for almost 2 weeks. If he or his men thought of any mischief, this is banished from their minds as a troop of Heidelen Light Cavalry ride into the town and the market, headed by Schalko’s Acquitant, later mentioned to be one Peter Sondus. Sklene has little course but to yield and depart, minus his carriage, for he has but 5 days to get to Greyguard, something that would be almost impossible even without his carriage. An angry and wrothful Sklene and his Acquitants depart quickly, but not before Skal mocks the monk, now named as one Tapper, to “run along boy”. The hate filled malice directed at the tall barbarian from Tapper indicates that Skal has made a foe for life there.
The travellers are freed, but not before Schalko casts Confess upon Geesje to make sure that she tells him the truth about her not knowing anything of the flyer she had on her person. Satisfied with her innocence (on that score at least), he bids the group (a polite way of saying come with me) to accompany him into the Prodigal, where he has them fed whilst he takes a deposition from a willing witness of all that they have seen of Sklenes handiwork since Hilltop (he remembers them well from there). Satisfied that Skal agrees with the deposition and has signed it, he bids them adieu after asking if they have seen anything of a Sarroyan nobleman and his guards fleeing in this direction. He advises that the man, one Ternouaud Viere, is a suspected Arcanist and is wanted for questioning. He also asks them if they head for Heidelgard City, and when they say yes, he wishes them the best and suggests they watch out for one another there. He also adds that a handsome reward of 750 gold is outstanding for the capture of the suspected Arcanist, before leaving a sum of 120 gold on the table as an apology from “his side of the Society” for their troubles.
He and Peter depart, leaving the largely shocked travellers looking at the gold and gathering their wits. They leave (some later than others despite the snotty comments of the snobbish yet fearful staff) and return to the Wayward Traveller, where Commorry sist at a table enjoying a beer. Some in the group look at him suspiciously, wondering where he was in those fearful moments earlier. Where indeed is all Commorry has to say, though he gets a round in for those who want it.
Their stay in Hesjen is likely to end the following day, for though cleared of heresy (for now), many locals look upon them now with suspicion, though not the Innkeeper and most folks in the Wayward Traveller (who don’t care a stuff about the townsfolk). No doubt more talk and discussion that evening about the days events will still occur over a drink and stew…