The party had gotten an information dump from all the paperwork that we absconded from the Brinster Offices, and in it we found some incriminating evidence but not enough for our patron to put the screws to Braddock and get recompense. The group needed one of 2 things: Sigurd to appear and confess, or the corresponding other paperwork that would show some of the details the Brinsters were up to but were absent from the Offices.
There was a miner's lodge that had been mentioned in some of the pages and the group correctly deduced that Sigurd could be holed up there. So they gathered their stuff and took the trip to the lodge.
I like overland travel and moreso in mountainous area since even though the distances are short as for a straight line, the difficulty in getting there makes the trip much longer. Plus there are tons of opportunity for ambushes, caves, and other dressings to make the place seem more alive.
Write up follows:
The party had a great time at the banquet, eventually getting to sleep back at the Darbeard Demesne. We awoke the next morn, Heatmonth the 6th, and after eating at the mess hall with the rest of the Demesne, found ourselves invited back to Tropor’s office where the Primacy and his adjunt, Savaris met with us. We gave him a very brief overview of what happened. Everyone was able to tell about the alarm going off, it was visible from the fairegrounds.
He paid us and our banquet counterparts for their efforts and then took possession of the log book as well as the pages we stole from Cain Brinster’s desk drawer. From there we were invited to stay and go through the pages with them and try to find the pieces needed to put this matter to bed. Einar, unable to read, was then asked/volunteered to go to the local tavern, grab a seat in the back, and listen to the gossip around town as to what the people of Thak were saying about the break in as well as whatever spin House Brinster had put on the entire situation.
As the hours passed by we learned ehe Import/Export Log does show the Brinsters have a normal activity of iron and stone stores that come and go, but 3 weeks ago there is a note in the Import Logs of “Surplus raw and dross sorted ore from unnamed source, 3,025#, acquired by Caravan Master Talbor Unmach and Controller Cain Brinster.” The logs never show the material hitting either Thak or the Brinster Demesne, instead there is an export log showing the material going right back out with the origin point being marked as RR Lodge and the destination of the League of Odin in Sorton. There is no cost for the material coming in, neither is there a cost for the material on delivery – if there wasn’t a line in the logs, it would never appear on the financial books and the Brinsters would not be responsible for the tax implication or any other costs or revenue. Effectively one big gift they acquired that they never took possession of and gifted right back to the League.
In and by itself, it is dirty but is not necessarily felonious although it is illegal. The logs are strangely absent regarding where the material came from.
This angers Tropor who was hoping that the log book alone would be enough to bring to the Lord Marshall and have the wrath fall upon the other house. He’s still furious over the 10,000 loss for the House, the 40,000 potential loss and year long drag on the Stoutbelly’s, and enraged that Sigurd is apparently free and living the life. This comes back to the fact that Sigurd showing up would give them the smoking gun they need to prove their case.
As for the scores of papers that were dragged from Cain’s desk, there are a number of receipts and purchase agreements that either are in process or had not been booked as of yet. Throughout the mess of pages with various acronyms and assorted truncated words, a few items stand out: 1) A receipt for a Subterranean Long Armed Noctus Gru to be delivered to an address of a hunting lodge identified as “Rolling Ridge Lodge” roughly 1 1/2 miles west of Thak. Delivery date is 1 month ago. 2) A payment stipend of 372 nobles identified as K’Morat Relations Fee. This is dated just over 3 weeks ago. 3) A housing ticket for “S. Thanglewood formerly of H Darbeard” at the same lodge dated just over 2 weeks ago. The ticket is open ended.
Sigurd’s last name is Thanglewood.
From here we wanted to know more about Rolling Ridge Lodge (there are some 30-40 smaller lodges that dot the area within 5 miles radius around Thak and the majority of them are for prospectors and gatherers who work the land that far from home) so Darius offered to go to the Lord Marshall’s Office and see if he could get some information from whatever real estate clerks might be there.
Meanwhile, Einar had spent almost 3 hours at the tavern, blending in and listening so when he returned to the Demesne, he let the group know that the news at the end of the day is that House Brinster had their offices broken into and someone tried to steal their operating funds but were defeated by what wards and guards were already in place. There is sadness at the passing of Gundank (one of the kennel workers) and 2 of the Brinster’s guard dogs, and there was talk of a fire but outside of some personal effects being stolen and the Controller’s office being ransacked, the funds in the vault were not touched.
It doesn’t go unnoticed that the Brinster’s did not mention the loss of the log books nor the other papers. This makes Tropor and Savaris confident that Braddock is not aware of what House Darbeard might know, what they are doing or how damaging this information could be to them.
As this was going on, Darius happened to get to the offices at around lunch time so the place was fairly empty. A talkative elder gnome was working the property offices and Darius gave the name “Diamondcutter” and that he was from Sorton (truths) to throw off why he was there asking about the Rolling Ridge Lodge. The cost of a single noble had the gnome talking and finding the books in question that detailed the Lodge.
A look at local lodges shows that Rolling Ridge Lodge was originally a hunting and waystation lodge for prospectors who were out in Western Thak and needed a place to stay. The mountains there are a series of ridge lines which means there is lots of surface area. The Lodge had originally belonged to a local mason collective known as “Four Picks” but when they had fallen on hard times, 50% of the lodge was purchased by Houses Brinster and Myr almost 25 years ago. Myr sold their 25% share to Brinster almost 6 years ago since the property needed numerous repairs and Myr was relocating most of their prospecting further south and east, making Rolling Ridge Lodge unnecessary. The management of the Lodge is and always has been the Four Pick Collective.
After thanking the gnome, Darius left the Offices, returned to the Demesne, and let the party and Tropor know what he learned. This had everyone satisfied that the information was all tying together and according to the housing ticket from 2 weeks ago, it was an open ticket and Sigurd could very well still be at the lodge.
Savaris went back through the log books and checked out anything that might have to do with the Rolling Ridge Lodge, noting that there is a semi-monthly delivery of simple food stuffs and low quality beer as well as basic raw goods and supplies to Rolling Ridge. In return there is an import from the same location 1-2 days later of raw unprocessed quality stone (Bluerail, Monk’s Granite, Quartian Basalt) and some furs. The quantities are typically small, never more than 40#’s or so of goods. As for the types of food – it always has the same: 20# of oats, 20# of barley, and 1/4# of salt – which Tropor laughs at and refers to as the ingredients of “Peasant’s Mush” – a type of gruel that will fill you up but tastes boring, more of a chewing exercise.
Tropor is willing to pay for half the group (6 of them) to go to Rolling Ridge Lodge and find Sigurd and/or any other paperwork or information that would help to prove the case against Braddock and House Brinster. He offers 40 nobles per, supplies them with 2 days of travel rations, and reminds them of the bounty still on Sigurd’s head. The group agreed and would leave tomorrow.
Avulstein made his way to the butcher where he dickered a bit on the price of a goat or a pig before buying one, getting it home, and then raising it from the dead. Ugh, necromancers. Bobkins recolored it with some magic so it looked “healthy” and the ragged cut throat was “stitched” up and disguised for now.
We left by 9:30 on the 7th and the trip to Rolling Ridge Lodge is pretty unclimactic. It was a mile or so down the main road out of Thak, and then there was a smaller cut off road that leads south and towards a series of ridges. The road shifts back and forth many times, making the trip from the road to the lodge another couple hours of hard walking even though it’s only about 1/2 of a mile as the crow flies. The road is in poor condition with many areas that have crumbled some or been washed away in the spring rains.
On arrival, they noted the Rolling Ridge Lodge is a large wooden structure that is made of huge trunks mortared and lashed together. The roof is peaked and shingled with a double layer of slate, overlaid with thatch for insulation. There is a small paddock for ponies or donkeys, currently empty. The windows are small and narrow, shuttered up tight to keep the wind out being that the lodge is near the top of a set of ridges. There is a wide porch that encompasses the entire front of the building, with two large wood bins currently filled, and three rocking chairs.
It was after 1 at this time and giving the place a look around as well as circling it (no back doors) we went back to the front and entered the place.
The main room was spacious, two tables (one large, one smaller), a couple of couches, had a variety of skins and mounted heads on the wall. A central fireplace was burning and a single figure was sitting in front of it, an obviously drunk man was at the table, and incongruously a kobold wearing a pair of pants and sporting an apron was scrubbing the floor. A dwarven woman in her late 200’s (50+) came out and heavily accented welcomed us to the Rolling Ridge Lodge.
She identified herself as Gerti, Gerti Greatpick and daughter of Farkis, one of the original founders of the Four Pick Collective and proprietor of the lodge. The kobold was Daggers and understands common was can’t speak it. He’s very fond of Gerti and the lodge as well. The drunk was a stone mason and prospector known as Thedge and the man at the fire was another mercenary, this one from House Myr.
We talked for a while. The merc was named Starfin Urish and had been asked to come here by his employers at House Myr due to an unfortunate incident with another man’s wife and a broken arm. He was asked to take a vacation and House Myr has sent him here to be out of the way for a few weeks while the man heals and then they can send him and his wife somewhere else to work.
We prevaricate a bit but Gerti and Starfin can pick up that we aren’t being honest at first. They are used to dubious people coming and going. And that leads to us coming clean and then Starfin bringing up Sigurd. He left 3 or 4 days ago after losing a bundle of commons and nobles to Starfin on some epic poker games. He mentioned he was off to Sorton where a job working for the League of Odin was waiting for him.
At this point, we learned that Gerti had two St. Bernanrd looking dogs as well, Fairly large and fiercely loyal – Tooths and Hood.
By this point in time the party had revealed their disdain for House Brinster and that opened an entire chapter for Gerti. She feels almost put upon by House Brinster who forgets that they do NOT own RR Lodge and should continue to include her in their dealings, housing, and plans for the lodge. She is willing to talk about the strange travelers that come and go, the deliveries that show up unannounced, and even the gall of “Old Man Braddock” and his “Dangerous Thug” he often sends here. Talks about the malevolence the man has and the sheer gall he espouses. (Squeeze).
There is also talk of the basement. Besides a cellar, there is a vaulted section that the Brinsters use as a meeting room along as some storage for paperwork. It’s locked by House Brinster and even though it’s her lodge it chafes her that the “thug” reminds her often not to go in for any reason. Starfin was able to Cant and was corroborating most of Gerti’s tale. We also could tell Gerti was able to understand a bit of Cant but couldn’t speak it. She was also able to understand Dagger’s kobold and the K’Morat had his own view on everything that also seemed to jive.
We took rooms on both sides of the Lodge (there were 8 rooms, 4 simple, 2 better, and 2 great (sleep 4)) and after enjoying dinner and drinks (the house special was literally Cold Mush) the night was getting on and everyone one by one was turning in. Daggers had a space in the kitchen he slept in but did wander the lodge, the same for the dogs – often times going both downstairs and across the main floor wherever the whim took them. Starfin was an avid reader of Perri Twinklebottom, a Halfling Courtesan who was written about from a Fleshhouse in Madar. We commented that we’d like to read the book when he was finished with it.
Once we were alone we discussed getting to the vault and looking in it. But the wandering dogs, Thedge, Starfin, Daggers, and Gerti made that problematic. So we talked about doing it that night after everyone went to sleep. It was 8:30 and we all went off to our rooms to rest and wait for the Lodge to get quiet enough to chance sneaking downstairs.