Characters: Alex, Angela, Bjorn, Dagmar, Dagny, Dudek, Elynnia, Fjola, Jarvan, Kethryn, Olaf, Ragnar
Last evening the party was attacked by a gang of goblins lead by the same bugbear that had escaped from the battle the prior night. After questioning the only surviving goblin, you executed him and set up camp a fair distance from the battle site. The night was uneventful and you are ready to continue your journey to investigate the spy in Dwarftown.
As the party is almost ready to break camp and leave, they hear the sound of travelers coming from the south. They ready themselves in case there is trouble but it is Dagmar and Kethryn from their party that traveled south to investigate the goblin camp. Three of the members are missing and it is learned that those members were wounded sufficiently that they returned to town for rest and healing. The reunited party travels for 3 more days without incident.
The reunited party travels for 3 more days without incident.
In the mid morning, the party encounters a caravan heading south with no guards. When questioned, they state that they are a trade caravan from the merchant Gerda heading to Jutland. They feel quite confident that they will not be bothered on their trek and therefore have no guards. They party warns them to be careful and continues north for another few days without encountering any goblins.
In the early afternoon, the party encounters the remnants of another ambush. The ambush is about a week old and it is clear that the Gerda caravan would have passed this site and failed to feel any concern about their caravan being attacked. Something strange is going on.
Around noon, the party hears the unmistakable sound of battle from around the next bend. They proceed cautiously forward and discover an in-progress attack on caravan - a caravan with bald guard! Overwhelmed and outnumbered by the goblins, only 3 defenders still stand and the party sees the bald guard fall under the attack of a bugbear. The remaining 2 defenders seem to be holding their own but are massively outnumbered so the party rushes forward into the battle to lend their aid.
After a long and bloody battle ending with one of the goblins failed attempt to escape, the party search the bodies of the fallen enemies and discover 1800 GP and one very nice short sword. They also discover another note in the same crude handwriting ordering a change in plans for the attack of this caravan:
Change of plans. Attack at Yew tree.
After they heal themselves, the party learns that one of the defenders is the daughter of the merchant that owns the goods being transported by this caravan. Fjola states that she overheard someone trying to sell her father insurance for the caravan and that he got angry and turned down the offer. Fjola had secretly hired Dagny to accompany the caravan. Fjola and Dagny had been disguised as animal handlers rather than guards only showing their true nature when the caravan was attacked. Unfortunately, the goblin party was twice as large as expected and it was only the arrival of the party that saved the caravan.
Everyone decides that the best course of action is to return to Dwarftown and investigate this insurance racket.
Shortly after dusk the caravan arrives in Dwarftown. They head straight to meet with the merchant Jonas where they learn that a local thug named Valdris was the dwarf that tried to sell Jonas the insurance. Jonas states that Valdris was just a two bit thug until recently when he seemed to rise in importance is a shadowy gang of thugs that operate in Dwarftown.
The party decides to seek out Valdris in the Mud in Your Eye bar, a local dive that seems to be his base of operation. Fjola and Dagny go into the bar to talk with Valdris while Bjorn and Dudek act as backup in the bar. The rest of the party is outside the bar in case of trouble.
Fjola and Dagny discover that Valdris is quite confident in his position and even brags that this insurance service was his own idea and that he is in charge of it. Fjola expresses that she is more practical than her father but would have trouble coming up with the entire insurance premium up front. Would Valdris be open to a down payment with the final payment after delivery? Valdris does not seem interested at first but might be willing if there was an interest payment on the delayed portion. He needs to think about it. Valdris suggest that they talk with Gerda, one of his best customers, if they have any worries about his ability to deliver.
Fjola and Dagny leave the bar and report their findings to the party. After much discussion, they decide to talk with Gerda in the morning.
The meeting with Gerda yields confirmation that Gerda is paying the insurance and has not had a single attack since he started. He is even able to ship goods with no guards. Given the size of his operation, this arrangement is cost effective even if it is a little questionable. After being pressed, Gerda states that Valdris seems to have come up with this service but is by no means a top official in this organization. "Valdris reports to someone and they report to someone," Gerda states.
Gerda is worried that in the long run that Valdris might expand his service to include insurance for his buildings. He does not like dealing with Valdris but for the short term, it is best for his business. He seems to express genuine concern for Jonas, someone he knows and respects even if they travel in different circles. Gerda wishes the party luck and offers to answer any other questions if they need more help.
The party returns to the Jonas warehouse and spends much of the day going over options. They finally come upon a plan to begin putting together a fake caravan. They will provide different details to different individuals (manifest tax office, teamsters, packers, guards, etc.) and hope to discover which details are relayed to the goblins as a way of determining where the leak is.