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(( GM note, on holiday for one week from today ))

"It does seem clear," Brenna agreed. But could only shake her head at Caitlin's questions. She had her suspicions, but didn't feel ready to start throwing accusations around.

She stood up and wiped her hands on the scarf tied to her belt, as if doing that would remove the feel of the rats and of possibly touching the poison. Uck.

"May I wash my hands back in the kitchen?" she asked, either of one of the bar wenches or the proprietor (whoever is closest). She did indeed wish to clean off any poison she might have come into contact with, but always wanted a quick look at the kitchen. It was doubtful there'd be anything as obvious as an empty vial laying out, but still, perhaps some small clue...

Brenna asks Betty. "You wash that stinking rat off your hands, love", says Betty, and opens the kitchen door. "Anyone got any water for this lass?"
"What do you need water for?" says Alfonce, "It is not fit to drink the water, only wine and beer."
"It's to wash her hands off those rats".
"Rats, what is the rats doing in the Inn?" Alfonce frowns, "very well".

The kitchen is small and dominated by a cooking stove, fuelled by wood. There is a sink piled with dirty utensils, and work surfaces which look like they have been recently cleared. There is an open store room leading out with hams and bags of flour and racks of spices.
Alfonce pours some water from a bucket into a pitcher, and gives it to Brenna, who splashes it over her hands.

Rosalind comes in.
"What;s she doing in the kitchen?" she says, "guests aren't allowed in my kitchen."

As much as Pint wanted to get on with it, he couldn't blame Brenna for wanting to go wash her hands. Probably a good idea to not let rat guts smeared all over the evidence anyway, plus the smell... yeah, better go do that.

He stood around waiting for Brenna to come back, tapping his foot impatiently. He kept an eye out for Dalin in case he came back too as he definitely needed that dwarf in one piece for him to get his reward.

"Washing away rat stink and maybe the poison that came out of your kitchen," she retorted as she finished washing off her hands and then wiped them on a towel, hardly believing the woman's tone. Here she was trying to be helpful and the woman was treating her like some kind of problem.

This woman was perhaps the least hospitable innkeeper Brenna had ever encountered. Maybe she was getting bent out of shape because she had something to hide, Brenna thought, adding Rosalind to her growing list of suspects. Maybe 'mom' was looking out for her son somehow.

She didn't wait for a reply and headed back into the main room. It was only as her eyes went to the steps, knowing that Pint wanted to go check out the watchtower, that she recalled the rather sick looking man that had been headed up as she'd come down. He'd slipped her mind with all the commotion.

She caught Betty's attention again. "Did anyone check on that man? The one who was over there before..." she pointed to the now empty spot where he'd been sitting earlier in the evening. "He looked pretty ill. Could be he caught a bit of the poison maybe..."

"Lieutenant Peter will question you now" says a soldier to Pint.
Lieutenant Peter has set up a imprompu desk at the far end of the Inn's main room. Another soldier is taking notes. Dalin is there.
"You can go" says Lieutenant Peter, to Dalin, "I want to question the other dwarf, in private".

Pint is led up to the desk.
"Just a few enquiries to build up a picture of what is happening" says Lietenant Peter, "You were the last, with the other dwarf, to talk to Captain Baring before he was poisoned. Can you tell me what happened outside?"

"Also," he adds, "the dwarf Dalin insists that he never lies. But he is the companion is Mistress Weather, an unreliable fortune teller. So it seems impossible, and I'm very suspicious of this claim. What is your view on it?"

Meanwhile Brenna catches Rosalid saying "How dare you bring her in here? What are you thinking of, you thick wench?" to Betty, as she leaves the kitchen.
Betty emerges a moment later.
"The old man?" says Betty, "Oh yes, he's been quiet and ill all day. Something with his stomach, I think. Maybe we should check he's not been poisoned. Things have come to a pretty pass if folks can't eat here without fear. Mistress Weather has an antidote, and lots of medical knowledge, maybe we should get her to see if he's alright."

"Eh!? I donna recall agreeing to being questioned!" Pint said to the soldier as he walked up to him whilst waiting on Brenna. What a bother, he thought, but he really didn't feel like killing the soldier on the spot for doing his job so he reluctantly decided to humor these annoying humans.

The dwarven warrior gave a nod to Dalin as he took his place in the shoddy office and sat with a huff. Without asking, he pulled out his pipe and lit it clearly not having much respect for authority figures.

"Aye, me and that lad Rin killed a big ugly pig orc outside. Shoot 'im the back with an arrow when he was trying to flee." Pint answered the Lieutenant, at least seeing no reason to lie.

Then as the Lieutenant asked what was his take on Dalin's policy of never telling a lie, Pint arched an eyebrow dangerously and stared daggers at Peter. "Lad, are ye somehow questioning a dwarf's vow to never tell lies?" Pint certainly didn't ascribe to Dalin's clan ideals but if that was their vows that was it and at least, as a dwarf, he wouldn't even dare question they were lying.

A dwarf's oath was sacred and that was that. Even a greedy cut throat mercenary like Pint knew that.

"Let's check quickly then," Brenna said, heading for the stairs. She'd rather have brought Pint than Betty, but the soldier was already leading the dwarf to the office for questioning. That can't be good.

So Betty it would have to be. If they happen to find the man dead, she'd rather not find him alone to avoid having any accusatory fingers pointed her direction.

"That boss lady always in such a good humor?" she asked sarcastically once they are well out of earshot of Rosalind.

"Look", says Lieutenant Peter, "Mistress Weather is my prime suspect. How could she not be involved, with her knowledge of poisons? But she's got a rock solid alibi, she was sitting down telling fortunes the whole time. So who else could it have been? Well her assistant, of course. And he went out, he had the opportunity. It must be Dalin. But I've questioned him, and of course he denies it. Then he becomes angry and says he never lies."

"But I'll tell you something else. I said 'You must know that Mistress Weather is a fraud. You must have lied about that.' 'No', he says, 'Mistress Weather is not a fraud, she can really see the future'. 'How do you know?' I said. 'Well this old man came in for a fortune' he says, 'And Mistress Weather says to him, 'Your daughter will be Queen of Westmoreland'. And he's shocked. He pulls off his disguise, and who is it? It's the King! So how could she have known that, if she couldn't foretell the future?' Well", continues Lieutenant Peter, "That's impossible. Or if she could foretell the future, she'd have foreseen Captain Baring's death."

"But we've got enemies within and without. We've got to find the murderer quick. We owe it to Captain Baring. And he or she might kill again."

"Rosalind the landlady?" says Betty, "Yes. It's her Inn you know, not her husband's. The Crown Prince, who is now King Duncan, gave it to her after Henry Fitzroy was born, to get her out of Great Whiteminster. She's a really horrible person to work for, but she's got the sense to be normally alright with guests. I think she's just stressed."

She leads Brenna upstairs.

"Here's the old man's room." she knocks, and a weak voice says "Come in."
"Just checking how you are feeling, Mr Swathmore?" says Betty.
"Oh, I'm not well" says Mr Swathmore, "I haven't been feeling well for quite some time. Maybe it's my age, catching me up. I hear a lot of commotion downstairs. What is happening?"

Pint makes a face at Lieutenant Peter. A scowling face, the one he does when people are barking orders at him like they're supposed to be in charge, when in reality he could reach over and cut their throat without too much trouble to make them stop talking.

He chews lightly on his pipe and leans on his chair whilst Peter talks, then blows smoke out of his nostrils.

"Nae, ye listen ta me here, mate. I donna owe nothin' to nobody! I'm a bloody mercenary. Ye want me to solve this case? Ye better fork over some gold! Ye know wot I'm sayin??" He scoffed, annoyed at the idea that Peter was trying to make him do his job for him. Sure, he felt bad for the death of the Captain, but that wasn't really his job was it? He had other things to do.

"Besides.." He managed to continue and puffed his pipe some more looking more calm this time. "If it really is Mistress Weather and she really can tell the future, that means yer dealing with a divination wizard and we're both way outta our playing field. Ye'd need some arcane support to solve this one."

"Or, ye know, an actual detective. Did I mention I'm a sellsword? Only cases I crack are skulls with me axe."

It dawned on her Mr Swathmore might just as easily be the culprit here too. Sick because he'd had some low level of exposure to the toxin while slipping it to Captain Baring. Yet another suspect in the ever-growing list.

"Captain Baring is dead," she reported, seeing no reason to keep it from the man, studying him closely for his reaction to the news and if it was a genuine surprise. "Poisoned, apparently. Just wanted to check and make sure you were okay."

rolled 1d20 and got a natural 17. After the modifier of +3, got 20

Lieutenant Peter looks at Pint. He seems slightly intimidated, but knows he can't show it.

"I see", he says, "you will never accept that the murderer could be another dwarf. I understand that, and in a way I admire it. But you can't think in that way. We as good as know that the dwarf Dalin must be the culprit, we only have to prove it and find the motive. Adn when we do, you must co-operate. You must not take the side of the guilty, just because he is a dwarf."

He sighs. "Mistress Weather may have bewitched us. But personally I think she is a fraud. How can a pack of cards foretell the future? It doesn't sound at all likely. Anyway, unless you've got any more questions, you may go. I must interview the other witnesses. We'll get to the bottom of this, don't you fear."

"Baring? Dead?" says Mr Swathmore. As far as Brenna can tell he seems surprised and upset.
"They'll be after me next," he says, "Oh but I feel so ill. I don't have the strength."
"Don't you worry" says Betty, "Lieutenant Peter is on the case. He'll soon find out who the culprit is. And we'll keep you safe."
'Shall we get Mistress Weather to see him?" Betty asks Brenna, "Mr Swathmore really looks quite ill. She has all sorts of medical knowledge."

By his reaction, it certainly seemed the man strongly suspected who the killer was.

"Wait a moment," she said to Betty, anxious to hear more from the man before they dragged Mistress Weather into anything.

"Who will be after you?" Brenna asked Mr Swathmore, moving into the room so that she could keep her voice down, concerned about the actual killer or an accomplice overhearing them. "Do you know who poisoned Baring?"

Pint could sense that he had cowed the Lieutenant a bit, but he decided not to pressure the lad any further-- if anything just out of respect of the deceased captain.

Instead, he scoffed when the Lieutenant assumed that Pint simply couldn't think a fellow dwarf was capable of a murder. What an ignorant human, he thought. "Now, that's not wot I said. Dwarves are capable of murder just like anyone else. I know plenty of dwarves that done it, and I've personally put them down too. I'm saying if Dalin says he didnae do it, he's not lying about it. But that donna mean he couldn't have helped Mistress Weather, he'd technically not be lying."

Pint then shrugged when Peter just refused to believe a pack of cards could hold such power. " Ey mate, I may not like the arcane arts, but I'd be a bloody fool to deny its power. I'd think twice about dismissing it like that."

He stood up as they appeared to be finished but just as he was heading for the door he turned around to look at Peter.

"Oh, aye, there's one thing. Whether Dalin and Mistress Weather are guilty or not.. I'm taking Dalin with me to the mainland. Ain't no two ways about it. I'll bring 'im back 'ere to be tried on my honor, but if ye try to jail or execute him first we're gonna have problems. Ye get me, lad?"

"THEY are after me" says Mr Swathmore, rising from his bed with one hand under his head, "That's why they killed Baring, because he would have protected me. I'm sure of it. Maybe we should break out of this inn, it's obviously been targetted. But I don't have the strength, I don't have the strength. It was a mistake to come here. I've signed death sentences for you all."

"I think he's delusional" says Betty, "Now now, Mr Swathmore, don't you worry. "

She takes Brenna aside. "I don't think we should tell him about the orcs" she said, "but orcs are prowling about. They might be after him in some way. We need to do something, Brenna."

Meanwhile Pint leaves Lieutenant Peter. "It must be that dwarf" he hears the lieutenant mutter to a soldier, as he turns away.
Dalin is looking disconsolate.
"They suspect me" he says, "but you were with me the whole time we were away. I only left you after Rosaldind screamed, after captain baring had been poisoned. So I couldn't have done it. I hope you told that to Lieutenant Peter. But he thinks it's just dwarf covering for dwarf. I think he might be an anti-dwarf person."
He sighs.
"You know we Firin never tell a lie" he says, "But even that has been turned against me. Lieutenant Peter, he says that Mistress Weather is a fraud, and I must be lying about that. So Firin never lie is in fact a big lie. But Mistress Weather is genuine, at least as far as I know - I'm not saying she's a Firin herself - but I personally have seen her power. And I told this to Lieutenant Peter, but still he didn't believe me. He thinks that because of her knowledge of poisons, Mistress Weather must have put me up to it. But why would either of us want to kill Captain Baring? It doesn't make sense. At least to that point, he admitted he was beaten. But he thinks I did it."

"We know it can't be you" says Caitlin, "Because if you wanted to kill Captain Baring all you had to do was to strike him down outside and claim he'd been killed in a fight with orcs. Who would have been able to disbelieve you? No, it can't have been the dwarves. But who could it be? Who hates Captain Baring so much that they want to kill him?"

"Plenty of people seem to have disliked him" says Lady Helena, "Can't say I cared for him myself, though of course I didn't kill him. Obnoxious, patronising, arrogant man. Lieutenant Peter, if I dare say it. Notice how keen he is to make clear it's him who's running the investigation? What better way to deflect suspicion?"

The bell rings. Bald Mick enters the common room. He looks scared.
"It could be a trap" says a soldier, "Orcs never go about alone, there must be more of them out there, prowling about. Besides, who would come in at this time of night?"
"I've got to answer it" says Bald Mick, "That's the King's regulation."
The bell rings again.
"No men in this inn?" says Lady Helena.

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