(Warning! This post contains spoilers about Icewind Dale. If that bothers you then just skip it. Also it is brought to you by... Goldilocks! Because she stole the key to my house and wouldn't give it back until I wrote it. Dang thieves!)
When we last left our heroes they were exploring the town of Kuldahar. There was just one more little thing they wanted to check before they rested and headed to the Valley of Shadows though. It also just happened to be in the same place where they could rest their weary bodies. Well, as long as they got lucky enough to not be kidnapped in the middle of the night or worse. Anyway, what they wanted to investigate were the rumors of how a halfling came to own the local inn, the Evening Shade. From the rumors the halfling, called Aldwin, just appeared right after the previous owner disappeared with a claim in hand. Only problem is the previous owner had the palsy which made it hard for him to write. That is if he even knew how to write! Something was fishy about that story so the party headed there to investigate.
As if circunstances weren't suspicious enough, Aldwin had a very terrible personality for someone whose living is dealing with people:
(If Aldwin's dialogue seems weird for someone just starting the conversation that is because I messed up, forgot to take a screenshot of it, quit the dialogue, tried again and this screenshot was the result of it. *sigh*)
Seems like the halfling had some attitude problems. That is ok. The party could play it rough too. And they wouldn't leave until they got some good answers! And a good night of sleep! But answers would have to come first.
They started with something light, innofensive even, just mentioning how they heard from a barmaid how Aldwin bought the inn from the previous owner, Eidan. The halfling made some insulting remark towards the barmaid and admitted that he had indeed bought the inn from Eidan. He also said that it was one of his worst bussiness decisions ever since with all the roads snowed in there were no travelers or caravans passing by, thus no money for him to earn.
Alright. There was nothing suspicious with that. They decided to to push things a little more by asking if that contract was written and signed by Eidan himself. Aldwin replied that yes, it was Eidan who wrote everything, it was all correct under the eyes of the law and why the hell were they asking so many questions? The party thought they got him then and confronted the halfling with the information that Eidan had the palsy and didn't know how to write!
Aldwin however didn't even blink. He just replied that someone else could have written it for Eidan. It was not something unheard of or illegal.
The party wasn't really convinced by it, of course. But for now there wasn't anything they could do so they just paid for a room. Before leaving to their room though Hansel made a motion with his hands that he had his eyes on the halfling.
Once they gathered in their room they decided to discuss the situation. There was something they could do to get to the bottom of this. Well, except for Goldilocks who decided to check the rest of the inn. You know, just to make sure if there weren't any traps, evil ninjas hiding in the shadows or lost goodies that she would certainly find a way to give back to its owners. Alas, she wasn't able to find any of those but she found something much better. It was a ring inside a locked night stand in one of the inn rooms. The ring had an inscription that basically said that Eidan was leaving the inn to the people of Kuldahar in case of his death or disappearance.
She quickly went back to the rest of the party to report the news. Someone would have be served some mighty justice that night and it wouldn't be her!
The party immediately went back downstairs and confronted Aldwin with the ring. The halfling protested against it saying it was a crime to go breaking into other people's locked belongings and wasn't Hansel a paladin? How could he go breaking other people's locks? Hansel admitted that he could not endorse such actions but he wasn't the one there who was trying to hide something. Plus Aldwin just admitted he knew that the ring existed all along and that it was in a locked container. What was his explanation to that?
Aldwin stumbled a little and tried to get away again with his usual attitude but Hansel just interrupted him saying that the halfling could just tell the truth right there or they could take the ring to the authorities and they could just bring the Eidan's shade to explain things.
Cornered, Aldwin admitted that Eidan was dead however it wasn't his fault. It just happened that one night, after barely going through the pass to Kuldahar, the halfing found Eidan's dead body in the floor when he came to inn seeking lodge. It wasn't the first time he dealt with the former innkeeper and he knew that Eidan didn't have any family members. So Aldwin thought he could use the rumors of missing people to his gain, buried the body outside the town and forged the claim. He also admitted that he stripped Eidan of his belongings and that he should have thrown away that ring but what he was doing wasn't anything particularly wrong. Eidan didn't have any family members and the town needed an inn.
They asked then why he did it, after all he couldn't sell the inn with all the roads closed off due to the snow. Aldwin agreed and wasn't even sure himself. He was just tired of travelling and wanted to settle down somewhere. So that seemed a good place and time as any.
Hansel still preached on about how what Aldwin did was wrong, that there was someone that probably cared about Eidan, how the inscription clearly stated that the inn belonged to the people in Kuldahar, that Aldwin should turn himself in for his crimes and always eat his vegetables.
Aldwin still tried to squeaze his way out of it by threatening to leave town if they were to try bringing the ring to the authorities. But Hansel, with a smug, reminded the halfling that he was stuck in there since all the roads were closed due to the snow. With much protest Aldwin agreed to turn himself in to the council of elders.
Case closed and the party were able to have a nice rest that night!
Next morning they went to check in with Aldwin. The halfling said he turned himself in to the council of elders right after their little "chat" last night. They were willing to let the whole affair to slide as long as he gave part of the profit to the town.
With all that behind them, the party was finally ready to face the Valley of Shadows! Which they will do in the next post of the series.