Hearing from the Gunnery Veterans on the East gate that a wagon with a white pony had left on a Wednesday morning two weeks ago ( but Reiner Holtz, as local farmer, driving) WITHOUT Florian, we felt that the trail was getting warmer. We learned that the Holtz family lived on a farm to the south, on the west edge of the Obserlecht, a foul swamp to the southeast of the town.
Going back to the Tavern, we decided that perhaps an extra sword might be useful and convinced the drunk Estalian Eduardo to join us. For a promise of a cask of Ale, he will do anything. He is good for comic relief, if nothing else. But given his stories, perhaps given some time to sober up, he might be useful.
Geared up, we headed out the gate and on a path to the south. As we walked, we noticed a red glow in the distance. Coming over a hill, we saw below us a disturbing site. A farmstead burned to the ground, fires still burning but little but a foundation remaining. A sign laying on the ground identified it as the Eigel Farm – not the Holtzes. There were no bodies, but clear sign of beastmen hoofs.
The chimney stack was still standing and among the soot and ash on those grey stones was an eight pointed star, dabbed in blood and dung. There were no corpses, animal or human. Knowing the habits of beastmen, they unfortunately were likely being feasted on as we stood there.
Over another was another farm with no sign of being attacked. Odd that two farms would stand so close, one attacked and its family taken away, the other untouched. As we got closer, we saw an altercation between two men. One was tall and gangly, with too long limp blond hair and a pug nose. His clothes were torn and smeared with soot, mud and blood. The other was shorter and darker, with close set eyes and a weak chin. The tall dirty blonde was yelling at the shorter one, yelling that it was all their fault that his family was dead. The other one was protesting, saying “I told you not to stop Tristan. I warned you, but you never listen!”
Surrounding them was a family. A remarkably ugly looking family. A shared ugliness that was often a sign of inbreeding. They watched silently as the argument got more and more heated. Knives were drawn, at which point we stepped in. Dietrich has such a talent for dealing with people! Just a few words and he was able to separate them. Tristan collapsed on the ground, sobbing, crying out his despair at his lost kin.
We started to question them, but the obvious matron of the family, a woman with dark hair with streaks of grey and a face lined with grief and worry, sternly told the others to go about their work, and they obeyed. She pulled us aside. It wasn’t hard to get her to reveal that the reason their family was spared was that they had a deal of sorts with the beastmen. They gave them sacrifices of animals and food, and they left them alone. At our look of horror over collaboratng with the beasts of chaos she protested “What is so wrong with what we did! If it weren’t for us, they would have gone for the town long ago. We’re the saviors of the town! You should thank us!”