Duran, in no mood to talk after the long walk in the rain, grunts and says, "We need to speak with Captain Belloc."
Varros looks around for Karnak while awaiting the guard's response, but sees nothing other than low-hanging clouds and rain bouncing off rooftops.
"Captain Belloc . . . " says the guard. "You must have pretty important business."
Following Duran, Gaven says, "Please take us to Captain Belloc straightaway. We have sacked the bandit group to the south and have news that he must hear."
To underscore Gaven's point, Stan holds out the sack containing Mackey's head. The blood-soaked cloth betrays enough of the human facial features pressing against it for the guard to quickly recognize what the bag must hold.
"Uh, of course!" he says, taking an involuntary step back from the head in the sack. "By all means. I'm sure you've been to the Captain's office before and can find your own way."
The guard has mixed look of fear and admiration on his face, as you walk past him into the town.
Oloc has stood by silently as his companions asked to be taken to Belloc. The Mage is tired and wants nothing more than a day's rest. He wonders if not having the bandit leader's body will be problematic in claiming the reward. With the other evidence on hand, it shouldn't be too much of an issue, he thinks.
"Yes, let's speak with Belloc and then get some rest."
You arrive at Captain Belloc's office in short order, and are bidden to enter without delay. Seeing your fatigued condition, he quickly sends his orderly to have benches brought in so that you can all sit down.
"I received your message," he begins. "That was very good work. I know you're tired, but if you could, I'd like your complete report."
The orderly scribbles away as you relate what you think are all the relevant details of your foray into Blackleaf against the Red Serpent bandits, including all the details about Alanna, her written communications with Mackey, and the grey men. The captain occasionally asks brief questions to clarify a point here and there.
When you have finished relating your tale, Belloc gives you an update of his own.
"The good news is that I've alerted several subordinates – of whose loyalty I am sure – to apprehend Alanna. The bad news is that she seems to have anticipated this move, and is currently nowhere to be found."
Seeing Varros' anxious tendency to look expectantly toward the window. Belloc adds: "Once Karnak came to me with your message, I gave him a brief rest and then sent him out with a few other ravens to alert my subordinates. He should be back some time today."
"At any rate," he adds, looking at the grisly sack in Stan's hand. "It seems you have something to show me."
With a nod from you all, Stan opens the sack, and Belloc looks inside. He nods and takes a hefty pouch of his own off the table, and exchanges it for the one with Mackey's head.
"I'm sure the mayor will be pleased to see this head. And I'm just as sure you'll be pleased to see this. You've certainly earned it."
Looking into the large pouch he hands you, you see the 500 gold pieces promised by the reward poster.
"As an added bonus, I'd like to offer you something else. I've noticed Karnak has become quite attached to you. I was thinking you might enjoy his services on a more permanent basis – he does make a rather good scout. I've spoken with him, and if you'd like to have him along permanently, I'll send him to meet you at the Red Tankard when he returns. What say you?"
Let me know if you have any questions for Belloc or any specific things you'd like to say to him.
Also let me know how you want to proceed. I suspect you'll want to divide treasure, rest/heal, possibly re-equip, make major purchases/donations (I'd be surprised if you weren't at least close to leveling up), talk to certain people, and so forth.
BTW: question. I've been thinking about the "XP for g.p. spent rule" and I'm wondering if it's not just more fiddly than it's worth. What do you guys think? In retrospect, I'm not sure that it really serves much purpose. When I originally put it in as a house rule, it was at a time when I had read a couple of blog posts about excessive PC wealth. But now over a year later, as I reflect on it, I'm thinking "how is it actually a problem if PCs have more gold than they can ever spend?" We'll go with a majority vote on this. If there is no majority (i.e., if nobody cares, or if the vote is split) we'll just keep that rule as is. If a majority say so, I'll drop it (with a retroactive recuperation of any "major expenses" you've noted on your character sheet, if desired).