The recovered prisoners consist of 3 adults and 2 children. They’ve been roughed up a lot. They tell us that the soldiers we killed are not the ones that captured them already. The death squads fight anyone who gives a resistance, beat the others to near death, and then leave a marker for others to pick them up. The marker is a pole or large staff that is left in the ground. It’s painted with 3 red marks near the top. There are several in the wagon. Tadamatreus Thorn determines they are magical and uncovers the paired shorter poles in a saddlebag. The short poles magically point to the long poles. Unfortunately, there are 4 short poles and only three long poles. The group suspects there are other badly beaten people waiting to be picked up. After much debate and a conversation with the freed prisoners who say there is another settlement only an hour away, the group dispatches with three extra horses to investigate while the rest carry on with the wagons.
finds a settlement with many butchered people, cut up with what looks like some sort of serrated blade. There are some survivors and she does her best to heal them both magically and non-magically to get them up and riding. She then heads back for the main group.
After a short while a arrow flies by her head and a voice yells out in common that it was just a warning shot and commands her to halt. After a bit of back and forthrealizes that is with them. The leader of the group is from the same refugee expedition as the party is and seems more concerned with remaining undetected then with saving the wounded and ensuring the return of the food.
After some tense moments at the door while Triss tried to convince Tad that these soldiers are on their side Kip eventually lets everyone in.
The leader explains that they are on an assassination mission and they’d like to execute it tomorrow while we stay put so as not to risk getting captured and revealing their mission. They are supposed to execute the leader of the enemy army and they suspect it may be a suicide mission. They also offer to let us help. After we agree to help, he tells us the plan.
The next day the group sets out. The enemy is attacking a fort that is a decoy (those poor, brave souls) while the combined groups infiltrate to the center division overcoming two small scouting parties with ambushes along the way. Upon seeing a signal from the fort, the captain pulls out an amulet and looks at it. Tadamatreus Thorn detects magic but cannot place the school as it is old and forgotten magic.