With the peeping dwarf cornered by Lyr in the cellar of the Crusty Tankard, Emere, Rowan, and Fayad stepped forward to interrogate him. He looks like a seasoned thief, and indeed, gives them shifty answers as he steps backwards towards a second set of stairs leading into the city. From behind them, the cellar door opens and Elmo enters, having recognized his companions. He had been drinking in the bar as part of his head trauma recovery plan. Alongside him is a black-haired man, who watches the scene unfolding with great interest. Elmo, seeing the group surrounding the dwarf, rushes forward and grabs the offending dwarf. Though he reveals he was indeed hired to watch them, intimidation and diplomacy both fail, so Fayad shoves a wraith pepper into his mouth and holds it shut. The dwarf’s eyes bulge, and he sweats profusely, trying his best to throw the two off of him. Rowan intervenes and gives the dwarf enough time to shift away and spit out the pepper, but not before it swells his mouth and tongue, rendering him unable to talk. He slobbers red-hued saliva onto the floor, and grunts and groans at his aggressors, unable to answer his questions. Rowan puts her foot down at the violence, and manages to help mitigate the damage. Her kindness earns the group a gesture at a group of barrels in the corner, and the dwarf shoves Elmo and heads out into the city.
The black-haired man introduces himself as Mason, and suggests that diplomacy might be a better option in the future. The group heads over to investigate the barrels, and discovers they have the symbol of the Brackwater Clan stamped upon them (a blue field, with a brown and yellow river running through it). The beer they brew, says Elmo, is subpar, but incredibly cheap – they are likely rivals of the Stoutbarrels. On the way out, Mason grabs a Stoutbarrel keg and brings it upstairs. He drops 100 gold on the counter, and begins to hear the stories of the party so far, and questions them as to why, exactly, they burst in and peppered that dwarf. They shrug (perhaps somewhat wary), and call themselves dwarf chasers. The group laughs, and suggests that they should name their adventuring troupe after the phrase. With the beer flowing, Mason becomes a fast friend of the group, and being out of work at the moment, asks to accompany them. They agree, and head into the street to try and locate the Brackwater Estate.
Arriving at the Brackwater mansion, the group are greeted by a pair of gruff guards, who refuse to allow them passage. As the group tries to gain access to no avail (“What are ye doin’ here?” “We’d like to see who is in charge.” “I’m in charge.”) Mason slips away and back to the bar, bringing his keg with him. He offers the dwarves some booze, claiming that he wants to buy more of this delicious drink, and he’s here to do just that. The dwarves finish their drinks, look at each other, and promptly burst out laughing. They allow the group to pass and enter the home, guffawing all the while. The group enters, and Mason tries once more – he’s here to purchase more of this delicious beer (unaware of the different brewers in the area). The dwarf (knowing full well that what he has available is inferior) looks him over, and, ignoring his flowery speech, goes straight to Elmo. “Are you here to buy beer?” “Yes.” “Good. Come this way.” A few attempts to describe their prisoner from earlier or perhaps ascertain his identity or purpose are met with no satisfying response and a tense exchange, so the group excuse themselves and leave. As they depart, the gate guards laugh at them once more.
Thinking it time for some sleep, the group bunk up for the night at the Fort. Before bed, Emere looks through his book once more, and discovers a stone similar to the one he is carrying – this one red, with black lines. They awaken and speak briefly with Kerad, informing him they intend to take the Caravan job, and head back into frozen north seeking the place of magic that Elias had mentioned. They arrive easily from his directions, but see a patch of blood in the snow alarming number of large black birds circling overhead. Rowan identifies them as carrion bird called Neha (after the cries they make). The party enter into the rock outcropping, and find a pair of ogres (but six beds) lying still on the ground. They do not stir, nor do they have any visible wounds. Emere takes note of a strange and cold magic emanating from the ground. The ogres, presumed dead and lacking anything of monetary value, are ignored, and the group turns down towards the other path. Here, they see a rudimentary wooden holding cell (with no current prisoners) and a circular stone cut with a crude spiral pattern which is also spattered with blood. The entrance to a cave is also noted, though it is not yet entered. The Neha “NEEE-haAA” in increasing volume and frequency. The party look up in response, and as a stone whizzes past Elmo’s head, two angry ogres jump down from the canyon walls, armed and angry.