Reed steals Coz’s money and gives it away, everyone makes it to Cago intact, and the party solves the city-crushing dilemma of where a few missing horses went.
- Reed managed to call a rest stop close to where Coz’s sketchy map indicates he has a buried stash of $500. While “scouting” he found it, with less cash than indicated and a whole bunch of rations and survival gear that might be worth $500 all together if you squinted a little. Reed gave the cash to Nan, who was personally annoyed at not being allowed to murder Coz in a grisly fashion.
- Returning to Cago, the party was delayed at the front gate as security seemed heightened in face of an impending invasion. Reed noted with almost no interest the presence of a new stable fairly close to the city gates, containing about a half-dozen horses of various types with almost no room for them to run and neglectful conditions.
- Upon entering Cago, the party managed to foist off the refugee Jameson clan onto Jacob Sterling-Forska, who escorted them back to his family compound inside the fort. Reed stopped by the site of his former job, where he found a pile of cooling ashes and a bunch of grunties hauling away debris, at which point he suddenly remembered that there was a salient point in the note he had received that may have been more important than he realized until this point, mostly a line telling him his stable had been burned and his old boss, Fineous Sumpter, had gone missing.
- Reed found Grumituk, a morag laborer who used to work at the stable. Grumituk explained that some people had sapped him on the night of the fire, which for a morag meant that they hit him repeatedly with clubs on the head until he fell over, and when he came to they were complaining about not finding the two people they were looking for, then decided to steal the horses and burn the stable. Fineous went into hiding shortly thereafter.
- The group then returned to the Spaulding compound, where the taciturn Lady Deanna proceeded to scold her son Lord Spaulding in a sarcastically polite manner that annoyed Nan, confused Reed, and went completely unnoticed by the target of her rebukes. During a formal dinner, Lady Deanna mentioned that in addition to the recent kidnapping attempt on Jillian and her sons, an order of a riding filly and a pony seemed lost, as the receiving stable had been torched. The party slowly made the connections, confirming their well-earned reputation as master detectives.
- Heading out again, they found Grumituk and brought him to the new stable outside of Cago, where some grunties were futilely pulling horses back into a too-small stable. Grumituk identified some of their stolen horses, as well as noticing a tiny, nigh-imperceptible clue that the horses were ill-gotten, mainly the presence of large splotches of wet paint on their coats. The group approached the stablemaster, a human named Mellik Miller, and with all the subtlety at their disposal told him his horses were stolen and he was either going to go before a magistrate or be tortured to death by Nan. After some feeble blustering and a claim that painting horses was totally normal because they got dirty, Mellik confessed and told the party that he bought the horses from four humand and a kharaz whom the others called “Fang.” Finding a reasonable compromise for all involved, the party had Mellik apprehended by a magistrate and took possession of the horses, satisfying all their needs except Nan’s need to kill.