At Gaven's suggestion, the party agrees to help the halflings, and you invite Filbert and Hazel to join the Company in traveling and lodging in Fairbrook to prepare for the investigation.
Gaven gives Harlon and Eric 50 gp to split amongst the farmers to help repair any damages to their properties. The two locals are most appreciative of Gaven's generous gift.
"Any time you come back this way," says Harlon quietly, so others in the room don't hear, "I'll offer you gentlemen my finest room and my finest ale, all for the price of my standard room and fare." He looks around then huddles over the table and quickly writes something on a piece of paper, which he hands to Oloc. On the paper, you see this:
"If you gentlemen are going to continue in this dangerous line of work, you may want to pay a visit to a friend of mine, named Cosmo. He has a curiosities shop in Fairbrook, just west of Barley's stable. Show him this paper and he'll know you can be trusted. He may have some special items for sale not normally available to the average customer."
With Harlon's paper in hand, and the halflings in tow, the party sets forth from the Northstar in the early afternoon. As you march down the road toward Fairbrook, Gaven asks the halflings to show the spot they were waylaid so that they can look for clues. Only about a half-hour's walk along the road, you come to a slight bend, with a small cluster of trees alongside.
"Just there," says Hazel, pointing. "As we came even with the trees, the three men stepped out from behind them, and surrounded us. Then they told us to hand over our valuables. After they got what they wanted, they made off running back up the road toward Woodfield. I helped Filbert up and we went back to the inn, where you found us."
Examining the area of trees indicated by the halflings, you find a small, torn strip of cloth – most likely from a cloak – hanging on the sharp end of a broken branch. You also notice a few boot prints in the dirt. Duran then suddenly notices two marks, carved into the bark of a tree. The mark looks like this:
None of you recognizes the symbols carved in the bark. Having made a note of the markings* there seems nothing left to do but to move on toward Fairbrook as planned.
You pass through the gate, then arrive not long afterward at the Red Tankard, where you are warmly greeted by Sadie and Sal.
*I assumed that your characters would do this, for future reference, or for attempts at identification.
Time: It's now about 3 p.m.
For any "mundane" purchases (things off the equipment list in the book), feel free to simply make them, subtracting the appropriate gold (and adding the appropriate XP+bonus for gp spent) as you do.
Let me know how many hirelings you'd like to pick up (and which types), and we'll work that out.
For any "major expenditures" again, just make a note of what your spending (keeping track so you can claim your perk when you level up) and of the XP+bonus for the gp spent.
Let me know if you'd like to go to Cosmo's to investigate his wares.