As the day dawned, Larchers streamed toward the Market Square, where most of the Highharvest festival was taking place. The Party streamed with them through a sudden and brief hot wind off the hills to the East, though Arizima and Medea were strangely silent for this and many more days. The Party got pretty chummy with a bard from town over the course of the day, and now Kara the half-elf bard is one of the gang!
In the center of the square was a giant pile of straw filled with many wrapped presents and treats to be found by the children scrambling through it. Around the square were many food vendors, people running games of chance, and organizers of the games of skill. Lizzie and Trym took part in the Hide & Seek tournament, which Lizzie won. Raiann won the dueling tournament, and Lizzie participated in the archery tournament. During the course of the day, they overheard many stray comments, including:
“You know as much about them as I do.”
“That blind monk that passed through town a week ago said he was seeking a priceless crown under a purple mountain. Sounds crazy to me!”
“I’m doing well, but the Tricklerock Treasure still calls to me; I’d never work another day if I found it!”
“I’ve got five coppers that says they don’t show; I think they went through Womford instead.”
“There’s a new bunch in town that might start poking around.”
“Naw, since the Watchers took away the night shift, the mister and I agreed to keep our purses sealed today; sorry!”
“That merchant from Waterdeep wouldn’t shut up about losing his enchanted lute in the heart of the forest. I bet he’d pay dearly to get it back!”
“We’re paid NOT to see it, and certainly not to talk about it!”
The Party heard them all with equanimity, and followed up on none of them. : – ) Trym and Kara noticed some hand signals made by people at the festival and connected them with symbols on the free maps handed out in town.
As dusk fell, the town elders recognized The Party for the good works they’d done in the past couple of days and those they would hopefully do in the future. Following Trym’s “We hate to see a town suffer” speech, hundreds of bolts of lightning struck somewhere to the Northeast, which many townsfolk took to be a sign confirming their hopes or fears about The Party, and the festival dwindled to a close soon afterward.
The next day, The Party resolved to find the source of the lightning, and headed two days up the Larch Trail. They did indeed find a hilltop scarred by recent lightning, and decided that the tight clustering of so many bolts was clearly unnatural and must be magical in nature. Unable to find any signs of people or unusual animal activity, The Party decided to return home. On the way, they notice that some rocks have shifted in an abandoned quarried they’d passed on the way out, revealing something. Upon further inspection it’s a cairn over four bodies, some of which are almost certain from the Mirabar delegation! They return to Red Larch to spread the bad news.
The next morning, they head out to Lance Rock to catch the plague! It turns out it creates zombies, as they meet a bunch of them…