Varros gives Karnak the command to return to Belloc. The raven clearly understands and takes off, flying south with unexpected speed. In just a few minuets he has disappeared over the horizon.
Oloc suggests the party backtrack to the Willis farm. "We can try and convince Ned and Tom to come with us to the Northstar. Then we can move out to try and intercept Belloc."
"I agree with Oloc," says Varros. "We should try to convince everyone to move south to avoid danger and meet Belloc."
Duran realizes the party have completed the task assigned to them agrees with the others to head back and warn the others.
Gaven nods in agreement with the rest of the group.
Given the urgency, you head back to Willis farm at a quick march,* covering the ground more rapidly than you did on the way out. You soon find Ned and Tom, who are in the process of gathering all their sheep in an easy to guard enclosure near the house. It takes only a moment explain the situation to them.
Ned rubs his face as he thinks over what you've said. Even from here the smoke can be seen rising to the northwest, though it looks thin and far away now. Tom looks on anxiously as his father makes up his mind.
"Alright," he says. "We'll head toward the Northstar and the main road, and from there maybe even south across the river. But not without my sheep! They're like children – almost as precious as my Tom here, and I'll not leave them behind."
When you point out to Ned that this will make the going very slow, he simply says he could no sooner leave them behind than he could his son. "I realize you need to meet up with Captain Belloc, and it won't do for you to be slowed down by a herd of sheep. So you just go on ahead. We'll make the best time we can."
Realizing the farmer won't budge on the matter, you turn and make another pressed march** westward along the track toward the Northstar. Again you make good time, arriving at the inn just before six o'clock.
Entering the common room, you find a group of about fifteen or so local farmers in a state of agitated excitement, chattering and yammering. "We saw the smoke! Is that Timm's farm? Was anyone hurt? Who did it? Was is the goblins? I heard it was ogres! Are you crazy? There's no ogres round here! I'm sure it's goblins! Are they coming this way? No, they'll never..."
You also note the two halflings you met earlier, sitting off to the side. It looks as though Filbert has a nasty wound on his forehead, with dried blood smeared from the wound down across his face. Both he and Hazel look disheveled and dirty. Harlon is trying to clean up Filbert's gash with a wet cloth.
When Harlon sees you, he hands the cloth to Hazel and the dwarven innkeeper rushes over to you. "By the light!" he says. "A stranger day I've never seen. Goblins to the north it seems, and highwaymen on the road south!" He casts a glance back at Filbert and Hazel as he makes the latter comment. "I sure hope Belloc is on his way – he'll set things right, no doubt!"
*I took the liberty of assuming a quick march – you guys are fit and uninjured, the ground is familiar and the distance is relatively short, so it has no downside of any sort. Given the lack of downside, I thought it OK to assume this. If not, let me know and I'll correct.
**Again a judgment call; the previous comments indicated you'd "try" to convince them to head south (which they are doing, albeit slowly) and then make for the Northstar to intercept Belloc. If I was wrong in this (i.e. if Ned's choice to head for the Northstar slowed by his sheep would change your course of action), let me know and I can edit.