(OOC: seriously though, choosing to give away party loot without agreement from the group is similar to a thief getting caught pilfering from the treasure trove. Doughbert doesn't understand the logic of giving away treasure we risked our lives for to the person we risked our lives to save. Being saved should be reward enough for her. And, also, doughbert will kiss Paladins fleshy buttocks if those are 10 gp dresses )
Paladin nods sagely, Never anger a woman with a knife. He nervously fingers one leg. It never ends well. Paladin is quiet for a couple of minutes. Glad she wasn't in cahoots with pony tail. It would have been tough getting her hands off, he mutters. Crazy human customs.
Paladin rides along some more, almost nodding off under the pleasant sky. He then sits upright and calls over to Mandross. We need to look at your maps again. First, I'm really surprised that there isn't more writing on them. I doodle on stuff, and the fact that the maps aren't doodled on makes me think invisible ink or something. Let's look through them against the sunlight and maybe with heat behind them or something. See if they are written on with berry juice or what not, he says. But second, and probably more important, we saw pony tail leave and we know when he came back. We've got his horses, and we can tell their quality, or at least Hiker and Tannen can. So we can estimate how far the horses could have gone in half that time and use that to draw a circle around pony tail's hole in the ground.
The horses didn't have anything special on them, so pony tail wasn't collecting something. The same number left and came back, so he wasn't dropping people off some place. I think he was probably dropping something off somewhere or going to talk to someone. That explains the horses with nothing important on them and the number of folk he traveled with. We should look for some of those little crosses or some other artifact. Either pony tail put some stuff there, or people there are going to be looking for us later, concludes Paladin. The day looks a little less pleasant to him now.
Having checked for enchantments, you load your gear onto Alan’s cart and make a start for Marketstone. Some, such as Paladin, choose to ride on one of the stolen horses. Others, like Doughbert, prefer to sit with Alan, Alma and Hiker on the cart (the halfling is particularly excited when Alan lets him have a go at driving).
To avoid future complications, you drop the horse with the recognised brand back at the neighbouring farm. The farmer is very grateful, explaining that the horse disappeared overnight a couple of months ago. He gives you 30 gp for your trouble. One horse down, you carry on south along the Old Trail, the two halflings bickering about the division of treasure.
At Paladin’s suggestion, Mandross pulls out the bandits’ maps and checks them for any sign of invisible ink or hidden messages [rolls], but he can’t discern any.
It’s early evening when you finally roll into the yard in front of The Wheatsheaf. Alan helps Alma down from the cart and then leads the party into the inn. You find Kitchener leaning against the bar talking to two men - one a tall, rather gangly fellow with bushy brown hair and an unkempt beard, the other a much stouter gent with long black hair and piggy eyes. For a moment, there’s a distinct look of surprise on Kitchener’s face, but he quickly gathers himself. “Well, good evenin’ Mrs Grenewell. I see my team were successful. Will - drinks all round, on the house.”
Kitchener whispers in the ear of the sturdier of his two companions, who then disappears upstairs before returning shortly afterwards clutching a leather pouch. Kitchener takes this from him and hands it to Tannen. “There you go - my half of the reward as promised. Never doubted yer. Anyway, enjoy yerselves for a few days … I can recommend my poker table ... and get yerselves some rest. But don’t go wanderin’ off … I’ve got another little job that I think yer might be interested in ...”
The goblin and bandit caves featured in this adventure were slightly modifed versions of those presented by J.D. Neal in Basic Fantasy Adventure Module JN1 "The Chaotic Caves", which is available for download at http://www.basicfantasy.org/downloads.html.