The weather is warm, clear and breezy. The moon is gibbous waxing, nearly full. The road is still a little muddy from the recent rains, so wheeled traffic is somewhat hampered. Peasants have been out in their fields weeding and scaring away flitters and fairies.
The party departed from the fortress of Landown in Est Izlon, taking a Bulwarkeen ship back to the port city of Vulngate in Leomundia. In that city they received further word that their matron, Lady Ulfrid of Clystre, had taken up temporary residence in the city of Camriel, where she hoped to see the Crown Prince during his visit. Thus, the mercenaries set forth on the northern road.
Peasants along the way had shown themselves fearful of the band, but one group told them of an inn on the road ahead, called the Plough and Star. They said to ask for Gaspard, the old Boar innkeeper.
Upon reaching the inn, Corvus Goldcrest and Jahiera went inside to partake in food, drink and merriment, while Ssireszlin Firescale waited outside, not wishing the appearance of a Reptilian to attract unwanted attentions. Ferus elected to wait outside with him, but was soon drawn to an impromptu archery contest being held behind the inn.
Ssiz was accosted by a young mule stablehand named Josse who accused him of being a spy and forced him at pitchfork-point to come with him to see the Bailiff, Landobald. The massive lizard was brought into the inn, where he was questioned. Corvus came to his defense, trying to keep the mob from taking unjust action against his ally. In the midst of these arguments, the door burst open and a blood-stained rhino clad in the Crown Prince's colors fell to the floor. Before he passed out, he declared that the Prince had been attacked on the road.
Meanwhile, the archery tournament was disrupted by the sudden appearance of a black-clad thief exiting one of the inn's second-story windows. Ferus pursued the creature as it attempted to flee through the trees, bringing it to the ground with a thrown axe. In the light of the bonfire set by the peasants, he saw that it was one of the Invae, a black-carapaced arachnid. The thief deftly dodged the barbarian's axe, squeezed some small creature in its fist, ingesting its juices, and fled into the woods. After it had taken a few steps, it vanished entirely from sight.
Ferus came to the front of the inn, finding a crowd gathering, and attempted to warn them of what he had seen. Yet they were preoccupied with the fallen guardsman's news, and the bailiff gathered them to rush to the Crown Prince's aid. Setting aside his concerns about the Invae, Ferus accompanied them.
The mercenaries – along with the bailiff and his deputies, Drewett the coyote and Bernizo the bull – reached the scene of the ambush first. Bodies lay strewn about the road, and the Crown Prince's wagon lay on its side. A few thieves were discovered rifling through the bodies' possessions; the mercenaries attacked them and brought them to heel, questioning them about their activities and their knowledge of (and roles in) the event that had transpired there. They claimed innocence, but admitted that they had seen a fight take place, and the surviving party making its way to the north-northeast. They believed that, if the Crown Prince was among them, he was taken.
Landobald guided his deputies in taking the apprehended thieves back to the inn, where their wounds could be tended to by Jahiera, who had remained behind to aid the rhino guardsman. Bernizo was to travel with the peasant mob as they arrived on the scene, making sure they safely returned to the inn. In the meantime, Corvus, Ferus and Ssiz decided to pursue the ones who had attacked the Crown Prince's escort.