After the encounter with the bear, the friends continue traveling north. As they get closer to their destination, they find a group of dwarven gem merchants whose cart has broken down. Apparently their horses veered off the road and two of the cart’s wheels have broken. They ask for help as they need to get into town quickly to sell their wares. With dollar signs in his eyes, Daladium offers to help if they give him three diamonds. The dwarf is taken aback but agrees, as he has few options for help this late in the day. Daladium fixes the cart’s wheels in record time — under 2 hours — and ask for payment. The eldest of the three dwarves pulls out a jeweler’s loupe and inspects 3 tiny diamonds, giving each of them carefully to Daladium. He is frustrated and says that his work was worth more than this, but the dwarf says that they explicitly agreed to 3 diamonds, but did not agree on a size. Daladium convinces him to be more generous and he gives him 3 diamonds, each worth about 120 gold apiece. Daladium is delighted and the group departs.
Coming into the northernmost town slightly later than anticipated but much richer for the effort, the group looks for an inn to stay at. Daladium asks an older woman in the market who is selling rugs which inn is the best to stay at. She says that The Triad’s owner cheats people, so they should avoid that place. Bart’s is friendly to travelers but more expensive, and The Cauldron is not so friendly to outsiders but less expensive. The friends thank the woman and decide to head to Bart’s, the cost not being much of an issue.
They enter and Bart greets them warmly. He says that the wolf must stay outside but there is a place where he could sleep if he doesn’t bother anyone. Voran promises that he won’t. Bart says that one room for the three of them would be 40 gold. Astonished at this price, which is 4 or 5 times the normal rate, Daladium asks if it could be lowered at all. However, Bart stands firm on his price. Voran tries to convince him by saying that they saved the city, but Bart doesn’t understand. Voran goes on to say that they went inside the Wizard’s castle and found a bunch of keys. Daladium claps a hand over Voran’s mouth before he can say more, and explains that Voran was just making a joke. Bart seems to believe him. Daladium tries to convince him further but as he’s explaining how poor they are, he accidentally drops his purse onto the floor and at least 100 gold spill everywhere. He is mortified and gathers up his riches and runs out of the inn. Voran pays back his friend for the previous save by convincing Bart that they were copper pennies, not gold pieces. Bart seems to believe this as well. Voran and Elysant leave quickly.
It’s decided that they should have some dinner and then leave town as quickly as possible as they’ve embarrassed themselves enough here. Voran goes off to the forest to find some plants and berries to eat. He comes across a group of about 100 campers but doesn’t approach them. Daladium and Elysant go to a restaurant — picked by Elysant as the most expensive looking one — and she takes off her chest plate and sits down heavily at a table. Daladium orders a steak from the server, and Elysant asks for 3 steaks, potatoes, vegetables and a large ale. As per usual, she wolfs down her food much to the embarrassment of Daladium and disdain of the other patrons. Daladium pays and leaves a tip of one gold.
The friends meet up and travel outside of town a few miles. It is getting dark, but Voran finds a suitable camp site and quickly creates a shelter and a fire. The others are impressed. A watch is set up for the night, and it is uneventful. The next morning they break camp and quickly get to the ferry before 7am. They wait about an hour for the first ferry to leave, pay the fare of 9 gold for all of them and the horses, and the ferry departs. The weather is extremely calm and warm for mid-fall, and the trip takes under an hour.
The friends travel through the island toward the next ferry, but a bridge is out. They decide to travel north and find another bridge, continuing on. A few miles from their destination they come across a cart that’s been buried off of the road. After excavation they find 20 gold and a healing potion inside.
They reach the next ferry by noon and have lunch here, then take the ferry soon after. The wind has picked up now and it takes them an extra few minutes to reach Rock Island. It is about 2pm when they arrive.
Rock Island is aptly named, as there are huge sharp rocks surrounding it except in a few places. The land however is hilly and there are some trees. The friends immediately start seeing small houses dug into the hills. This is halfling country. There are dozens of houses but no one seems to be around. There are a couple of people tending their gardens, weeding and getting them ready for harvest time. They stop and speak to an older woman who is gardening. She seems skeptical of them but not scared. Daladium asks if she knows anyone named Swiftmark, and she says she’s never heard that name — it’s not a halfling name at any rate. Daladium presses further and says that he is looking for someone to help him get access through a door. She looks horrified and says that it sounds like stealing, which no halfling would do. She starts to ask them to leave but Daladium explains that it’s not stealing, more like exploration. She asks if they are the police, and he says no.
The friends ask the woman where everyone in the town is, and she says that they are all at the Digglebottom trial. She explains that Uncle Weasel Digglebottom always got into trouble in his youth and learned to be a master thief. The Wizard’s men heard of this and traveled to Rock Island. They kidnapped him and coerced him into doing many terrible things including breaking into places, thievery and spying. This went on for many years until he escaped and went back to Rock Island. His sister, Granny D, hid him away and when the Wizard’s men came back to get him she refused to give him up. In retaliation the men set fire to some of the buildings here and five halflings (including 2 of Uncle Weasel’s own family members) died as a result. The woman goes on to say that regardless if he was coerced or not, he did all of those horrible things and should be imprisoned for them, and the deaths are all on his head. She is glad that the young Hector Fungal, a halfling from another family, studied law and determined how they should prosecute Uncle Weasel. The friends ask where the trial is being held and she points them toward the town hall, which is about a half mile north. The friends thank her and head toward the town hall.
As the friends approach the hall, they hear voices from inside. On entering they see dozens of halflings filling the place. Two halflings stop them at the entry and say that they should’t be here. Elysant gives them a look and they back away, allowing the friends to sit down toward the back. They see a man — most likely the prosecutor Hector Fungal — proclaiming all of the same things the farm woman told the friends a few minutes ago. He is telling the tale of all the horrible things that happend, and pointing at the accused, an older halfling with white hair and lots of wrinkles who is sitting in the center of the room. He looks totally defeated and is looking down. There is also a jury and a steely-eyed old judge in the room with a large gavel.
Hector’s tirade goes on for a while, but suddenly someone stands at the front of the crowd and the friends hear him say loudly “I should go to prison, not my uncle!” Hector stops speaking and looks at the person. Looking carefully, the friends see that it is Swiftmark!