About a week passed in Brindenford allowing the party to get settled in the Bridgeman and work on paying off creditors. The final creditor showed, a guy who goes by the name Count Black, a late middle aged albino with alopecia who has a reputation for getting whatever you want when you need it. Essentially, he’s a distributor. The guys were speculating that he was black market, but I made it pretty clear that, since every establishment in town works with him, its a stretch to call it that.
Anyway, while they were paying their debt, Count Black mentioned that one of his suppliers, a man name Chester Phelps, hadn’t been heard from since about 3 weeks ago when he headed east down the Dawn Way to Drellin’s Ferry to pick up the latest load of Dawnbrew Mead. Drellin’s Ferry is about 80 miles away, but even so, he should be back by now. Black asks the guys, them being explorers and all, if they might be willing to scout out the road and find out what’s gone wrong with the delivery. When asked for compensation, Black offers to allow them to buy half of the delivery. Normally, he disperses the mead equally among all of the establishments in the city, keeps things fair with such an expensive and precious drink (and it is good for his rep). Allowing them to buy half of the delivery gives them the option to corner the market for at least a little while. They agreed that it was a good offer and accepted the mission.
They did a little asking around and it slowly became clear that no one had come trading from that way in about a month. Also, maybe half a dozen or so residences of Brindenford have friends or family who have gone missing down the Dawn Way within that time. They approached the sheriff about the missing folks, and he pretty bluntly explained that he has enough to worry about in regards to keeping the peace in his own town and that if they are worried about dangers on the roads, they should take it up with the queen since they are her roads. He was kind of a dick, but he doesn’t like them much anyway, especially Gaius.
Satisfied the mystery is worth their time, they headed out, expecting to make the trip in just over 3 days. First day was really hot and muggy. They were forced to rest the horses and take their time and also extend that ETA. Other than the heat, it was uneventful.
2nd day, it was hotter. Only event of note was a dead cow in the road. They got close enough to see the animal’s skin was stretched and something was moving beneath it. Fortuna threw a rock at it and the skin exploded into a roiling mass of centipedes. They wisely retreated about a mile and went the long way around through heavy brush.
A nature check revealed that the surrounding area was all abandoned farmland, anywhere from 60 years to a century fallow. Other than the road, it consists mostly of rolling hills (left by glacial deposits) with thick, high brush and little to no trees.
At this point, they aren’t expecting to get to Drellin’s Ferry until day 4.
Day 3, started uneventful, but dark clouds could be seen ready to roll in, and by the afternoon, they were drenched by the torrential downpour. They came across a ruined farmhouse with smoke coming from the chimney. Fortuna and Guy broke off and decided to explore it from two different directions. Based on the heavy rain and thick brush, I kicked everyone out of the room and only ran each scout individually until they either stopped scouting to wait (as in Fortuna’s case) or ran into the other (as in Guy’s case when he stumbled across Fortuna’s hiding spot).
Due to some noise from Fortuna’s wolf, one of the individuals inside investigated, and it became obvious that the party was dealing with someone armed and armored. The scouts weren’t spotted until Fortuna tried to climb up the wall of the farmhouse to look inside and slipped, falling noisily, and alerting everyone inside. They fought a pretty good battle against a bunch of hobgoblins with class levels. They found bodies in the house, a merchant, her guards, and a local farmer. They spent the night in the farmhouse, the rain cleared up, and they spent a good chunk of the next day cremating the humans and mutilating the hobgoblins. They remained another night at the house and finally arrived in Drellin’s Ferry on mid afternoon of day 5.
They settled in at a bustling inn called “The Old Bridge.” They made quite a scene being armed and armored, mud and blood spattered travelers when no one had arrived in town for weeks. They finally got to try Dawnbrew Mead, which was as good as reported. They learned that the hobgoblins had been ambushing travelers on the roads for several weeks. Their local guard would attempt to root them out, but either they were gone when they arrived to the ambush spots or, assuming they killed the hobgoblins, they were simply replaced by fresh raiders in a few days.