(Written by grnmtnboy )
The guards returned to Penda’s house with the local constabulary. The party immediately tried to enlist Penda to speak on their behalf, given they had prevented the poisoning. He agreed to at least try to intervene, but acknowledged that it was up to the guards as to what sort of charges they may press. He would press no charges himself.
In the confused moments that occurred when the disgruntled guards started shouting that “those are the culprits,” one of them threw a rock and hit Alewine in the head. He was struck unconscious, ended up with a concussion, and therefore was indisposed for the remaining happenings.
The three tried to determine a way to swing the crowd in their favor. They entreated the mayor, since they had saved the grain and were working to defeat the mastermind. The mayor said “go fuck yourself.” Specifically, the mayor was very irritated to have to testify at all, and explain that he allowed the party to go poking around a respected merchant at all. They entreated Penda, and leaned heavily on their daring deeds in helping Dunross, playing on his guilt for his unwitting part in the town burning/grain crisis. Penda responded as he had in the past, in not pressing charges, being willing to speak in favor of the party’s good intentions, honorable motives, and general good character, but also stating that he could not keep his guardsmen from asking for redress. The party then attempted to gather as many survivors of Dunross as they could to testify to their character. Nearly a dozen agreed to do so.
In the hearing, the character witnesses did indeed sway the judge somewhat, but the ruling was still in favor of the injured guardsmen. The party was required to pay 400 gold shields in weregild to each guard – 1200 shields in total. They scraped together their money and only came up with 600. The paladin of Hothar asked if anyone was willing to put the party in their debt by loaning them the remaining coin, and Penda volunteered.
Once released from the hearing, the party studied their map with particular attention to the general northerly direction from where Penda said his contact had traveled. They found a likely spot to begin with an abandoned building of sorts on the map.
Travel in the direction of the abandoned temple/keep building was uneventful. Once they got to the building, they spied an orc in an upper tower window. Naga snuck inside, up the stairs, and decapitated the orc. His head went tumbling out the window, which Attis and Jarnefelt took to be the signal to converge on the keep.
Naga and Jarnefelt snuck in the open front gate and managed to get up to the inner building that appeared at the moment to be empty. However, Attis does not sneak well, and when he entered the inner courtyard, the noise he brought with him roused HORDES of rats, and four giant rats.
Attis and Naga did well in dispatching the giant rats, but the hordes of rats were harder to defeat. Attis fought his way out, stomping numerous little bitty rat skulls on his way. Naga began to succumb to the writhing mass of rattiness. Jarnefelt dove in to try to distract the rats and get them both out, with the aid of his snowshoes – giving him more stomping surface. Both Naga and Jarnefelt were engulfed, and managed to get out the front gate, but fell to the attack. Attis came running back up the hill and managed to drag them from the mass, but it was too late for Jarnefelt.
With one party member dead, and the other grievously wounded, Attis had to decide how and where to proceed next.