Varros answers Harlon's greeting: "Thank you for the warm welcome Harlon. I believe a round of drinks is in order, I myself need one at least as we received quite a scare about a quarter mile back up the road!"
Duran follows Varros lead and greets Harlon in turn. "Thank you Harlon I could use something to soothe my parched throat." Seeing Varros' act, Gaven also greets Harlan and asks for some ale and meat, while Oloc listens on intently as Varros takes the lead.
Varros does his best to seem a non threatening traveller, all the while carefully assessing the three male patrons and the halflings.
The three men in the corner wear long cloaks, which keep them well covered, revealing little of their arms. From what you can see, all three appear to be wearing leather armor, and on one you spy what looks to be the pommel of a dagger. One man has a long bow and quiver leaned against the wall just behind his chair. They nod almost imperceptibly in acknowledgement of the round bought by Varros, and one quietly raises a mug to him. The three men return their attention to their cups and their whispered conversation. They appear decidedly unsociable.
The halflings both wear elegant traveling clothes, and each seems armed only with a dagger, and no armor. They are at any rate are more friendly than the men in the corner and thank you profusely. The man introduces himself and waves you over to his table. "Come, come, do draw up some chairs and join us. I am Filbert and my companion is Hazel. We are merchants on our way to Fairbrook. Please, please sit down."
You move to the halflings' table and Harlon sets down your food and drink. Taking his drink Duran settles into a seat with a view of the room, and Gaven sits quietly and carefully to hide his plate. Oloc waits for the right moment to pose a few discreet questions.
Once you've settled at the table, Hazel speaks: "A scare you say? Just up the road?"
Varros goes on to relate the story of the noise and embellishes a bit by also claiming to have seen a lone Goblin on the road earlier in the day. Shuddering he bemoans the fact that the roads are not safe to travel as of late, "Why a well met traveller earlier even told me that there are fantastic ruins near the kings road that are the home of an evil Necromancer and his fiendish retinue!"
Duran follows Varros' statement with a query: "Any news about the road ahead from fellow travelers?"
"Well," says Filbert, "We just came from Woodfield yesterday, and we saw no goblins along it. I don't know about any evil necromancer in the ruins, though we did ride right past them, and they gave me a most unpleasant feeling, I can tell you. Didn't see any goblins, though.
"But there was that one fellow here last night," says Hazel, "a local type, who said he'd been seeing shadows and hearing odd sounds the night before in his fields. Said he almost didn't come to the inn yesterday, they worried him so, and that he didn't fancy heading back home in the dark." She looks at Harlon. "What was that fellow's name again? That farmer?"
"Old Ned?" answers the innkeeper. "Yes, he said something was spooking him. I'm sure he made it home okay last night, though. His farm is only about six miles away down the east fork, and he had his son with him in the wagon."
Oloc asks Harlon if he's seen or heard word or sign of goblin activity in the area.
"Goblins? Well, there always could be. And it wouldn't be the first time either. Small bands of them come in all the time – they steal stuff mostly. They run in groups too small to do worse than that, as a rule. A lot of the local farmers are pretty handy with a pitchfork! But some years ago, I'd say, oh..." He scratches his beard. "Oh, what, about six or seven years ago? A great horde of them came through here. They burned farms, and a whole regiment of the guard had to come from Fairbrook to drive them off. That was back when Captain Turin was in command. But apart from that scare we haven't worried too much about goblins in recent years."
"Now those ruins," says Harlon, looking at Varros, "those are another story. There definitely is something dark in there. Always has been, long as anyone can remember. I don't know for sure what it is, and I don't want to either."
Oloc further asks if Harlon has any other information about the ruins, or if he knows anyone who has ventured in.
"I've heard plenty of tales," says the dwarf, "but I'm guessing they're just that – tales. Almost all the folk I've seen venture in I never saw again. The few who did come out never wanted to talk about it. Somber they were, changed somehow. They went on their way afterward. None of them were locals and none stuck around. But travelers like yourselves shouldn't have any trouble, heading up that way, if that's what you're thinking. If you travel in daylight and stick to the road, no harm should come to you."
As Harlon finishes his thought, the men at the corner table stand up having completed their meal. They drop a few coins on the table, nod at Harlon, then at Varros, and make their way toward the door.