We have a few days to loiter in Sodor while Talhier signs paperwork or whatever. The Baroness wants to recognize us for our good works and asks if we have a name. We, uh, haven’t given that a thought. We immediately veto “Lord Talhier’s Company.” Someone forgot to babysit Herm, who asks the Baroness if he can visit with an “Albino Thrift”. He can, so he asks that she visit at Riverr Run Inn. Crea suggests “Crea and the Figurines.” That also gets shot down. As does “The Harvesters.” Nessie makes a strong suggestion of “The Harvest House Gang.” Picking a name is harder than it seems like it should be. After like, a lot of conversation we settle on….
THE PURPLE FACTION! Picture it, Sebastian enters a room. He’s dressed in a little cape. “Ladeeees and Gentlemon! Zeeeee PURPLE FAC-SHON” and then smoke bomb, we all enter. Nice, yeah?
The next morning, at breakfast we overhear someone with a low voice speaking to Corby at the bar looking for Herm. Crea looks up, it’s the half-orc monk from Grassmere, Cane! Crea invites him to join us for pancakes. We’re in temple square, in a relatively fancy place. Herm possibly tries to not admit he’s the Herm in question, but Crea kills that plan. Cane says his employer is looking for Herm, who says “Yes, of course, let’s go!” and then walks off. He comes back because he doesn’t know where to go. Cane is confused. “Welcome to Herm,” we all say. Cane asks what we’ve been up to, and Crea gives a recap.
Cane had a complicated situation after Grassmere, then hired on with a merchant company for a while. Issana asks if he gets dental, then we mention that the Purple Faction is hiring. A town crier moves through and announces the great deeds of the Purple Faction, Heroes of Orlane! Herm and Cane head out to whatever business they have going on.
Up towards the citadel part of town, at an inn, Herm meets up with Albena in a private room. Albena’s an older dwarven woman, probably hundreds of years old. She’s very polite to Cane, too. Herm pulls out a binder of maps and ledgers and says he has a business proposition! He is aware of certain mineral deposits to the south, in particular, a copper deposit—he shows off a map. He has first-hand knowledge of some of these, but not all. She wants to know what he wants out of this. Something about trading posts and partnering with his company. She’s interested in hiring us out for prospecting out towards the northern deposits on his map. He starts talking about drawing up a contract, but she’s not ready to sign on the dotted line yet. Throughout all of this, Herm is serious and sharp, but when it’s time to go, he whackies it up for Cane again.
Talhier has more paperwork, including transferring administration of the inn. He gets to hang out with bureaucrats! Being an administrator sounds fun! Herm wanders off to the citadel a few more times. Eventually, a contract comes to the inn for prospecting services, accompanied by Cane! Issana: “What the ACTUAL FUCK, Herm?!?” This is not a popular idea. (Talhier: “That sounds like the sort of thing I’d hire someone to do.”) After reading through, Issana allows that this isn’t the WORST contract Herm could have stumbled into. Talhier has questions. Crea and Cael are actually heading in this direction…though Issana and Bingo are not. Talhier suggests we escort Herm there, and possibly Herm can do his own damn digging.
We head back to Orlane for a couple weeks to hire staff for the Bountiful Harvest and tell the alderman that Talhier’s in charge now. Alderman seems okay with that. We set Teagen up as town guard, with a salary including room and board. Town can approve a raise in the future. We show Cane around, he thinks we’ve gotten very fancy since last we all met. After a week or so of continued meditation at the Mallorn tree, Cael senses someone nearby. It’s the dryad again. She has something for Cael: a small package wrapped in leaves that contains a large acorn. “Is it a Mallorn seed?” Cael asks. “In a way. It’s a weapon—a way to summon the Nemarien.” (The Nemarien is the enclave’s version of siege weapon. You plant this seed and it grows quickly, destroying things around it the way a large tree would, growing through and busting apart stone and whatever.) Cael’s gonna meditate on what this means. Everyone buys garish matching purple garments so that everyone is on brand with the new organizational restructure.
Bingo breaks out the magic book and reads us back to Grassmere, then from there, we take the Sovereign's way to Fairhill. Crea heads over to introduce herself to the blacksmith. The forge, weirdly, is cold, and everything appears shut down. Off to the north, there’s some small houses, maybe guardhouses or shrines, and to the east is what looks like a main temple. Crea knocks on the door, but there’s no answer. Peeking in a window, the shop seems orderly, but there’s no person. She approaches a farmer (buys some carrots for Buttons) then asks if he knows where to find Vora the Blacksmith. The farmer kind of makes a face and says that Vora is maybe not in today? Maybe come back… some vamping a bit is happening. Crea explains that she’s here to study with Vora and all of a sudden the farmer has a laundry list of blacksmithing tasks that have gone undone lately. Turns out, about a month ago, Vora's daughter went missing, having taken off with a group of mercenaries and now Vora’s depressed. The daughter hasn’t been heard from since and they fear the worst.
In Fairhill, there’s an inn called The Cockatrice and a pub called The Flask and Flagon. Crea suggests Issana ask around about Vora’s daughter—did she take off for adventure, get kidnapped, what’s the gos? At the F&F, Issana asks about Vora. Apparently, Ariella, the daughter, left town with some unsavory types and hasn’t been back. Vora went looking, didn’t find her, came back and hasn’t lifted a hammer since. Issana asks, one adventurer to another, what barkeep thinks happened. He says, well, you know, things are safe in town, but less so once you head out, especially north which is the way they were headed. The group she left with seemed honest enough, barkeep thinks they were just kinda naive.
Back at the forge, Crea tries knocking on the door again—the back, house door this time. After a long silence, Vora opens the door. They’re a dwarf, apparently drunk, probably for a while. Crea mentions Aelric, and that we’ve heard of her troubles and would like to help. Vora says they spent 4 days looking for any sign and all they found was a backpack with a big rip and big bloodstain. It wasn’t Ariel’s, but it was one of her parties. They appreciate our attempt to help, but the party is all dead. Vora closes the door.
Nila picks up the abandoned backpack and investigates and realizes that, yeah, there’s something like a bloodstain, but there’s also the scent of a local herb that grows near water. The plan: we’ll head into the northern hills a bit, Nila will turn into a “wolf” and we’ll try to track where the adventurers or what remains of them.