The caravan continues on toward Majanele, but the beastmen encounters have taken there toll, on the emotions of the caravan and also seemingly on the weather itself. The wind shifts; a cold breeze starts blowing from the north and the sky is overcast and grey.
A few days travel have passed uneventfully when Zolor’s chief scout returns with reports that something has attracted the attention of a huge flock of carrion birds a few miles ahead. Jenetta, Sigrath, Anotisa, and Valan scout ahead to check it out while Zolor brings in the rest of his mercenaries to protect the caravan.
The scouts find the scene of another massacre. There were numerous beastmen as well as a black-robed man and several humans who appeared to be mercenary guards. In addition to wounds from bronze blades, stone weapons, and some form of possibly magical fire, several combatants on both sides were apparently brutally bludgeoned to death.
Not everyone was dead, though. Seeing a dead vulture, Jenetta notices that one of the mercenaries still breathed. She has Sigrath heal him enough to question him, and he claims to be a Nimothian mercenary named Vlthor. He was hired by a wizard of Thran’s Black Circle to act as a bodyguard on an expedition, but they were attacked by beastmen. They fought back with blade and the wizard’s magic, but he apparently was hurt and could not remember the rest of the fight. The scouts take a few weapons from the dead, along with a handful of coins, and wait for Zolor to arrive.
Zolor leads his caravan to the battle site and allows the newly-unemployed Vlthor to accompany them to Majanele. The mood is even more tense the remaining trip; everyone sees beastmen behind every bush, but the caravan manages to safely arrive at the trading post.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Majanele more resembles a fortress than a normal marketplace. It is surrounded by a high octagonal palisade of logs, with eight towers marking the corners. Outside the walls are fields and pastures, but no one seems to be working the crops and the herds are guarded by armed men. Nearer to the walls are burned-out ruins, with charred wood and occasional stone chimneys marking where men once lived. The shepherds claim that no one will go into the forests because of beastman attacks, and that they need to protect the flocks from wolves. When Jenetta tried to question them further, they just refer her to the “boss” in Majanele.
They find the trading post itself to be an armed camp. The guards at the wall admit Zolor and the caravan, but hostile eyes stare at them as they make their way inside (except for a fan of the Bride of Tarhun who recognizes her). Zolor leads them to the guildhouse and they meet the man the guild left in charge of the post, Darek Earo. While surprised to see the caravan, Darek explains that the post has been plagued by beastman attacks and that the workers are refusing to go into the woods.
The mercenaries go to the guild tavern to find relax while Zolor and Darek remain in the guildhall to review the post’s books. In the tavern (between arm wrestling matches), they decide they want to capture a beastman alive for interrogation. They learn that there is a trio of Dhari hunters who have been hired to cull the local beastmen, and set out to talk to the hunters, finding them in the small shanty they share near the town wall.
The hunters’ leader, Aklaq, hesitantly invites them in around the fire, while the other two hunters, Kakortok and Onartok watch silently from the shadows. After warming up to the party, Aklaq shares that he suspects that the beastmen are being fed information from within Majanele, and mentions that their best hunt was a day that they went the opposite direction from the guildhall’s orders. He suggests that if the company wants to capture a live beastman, that they should set a trap in one of the meadows, pretending to graze a flock of sheep. He says that his hunting ground the next day will be west of Majanele, so he suggests that the trap should be set to the east.
The next morning, the company gathers about twenty sheep and takes them west, before cutting back to an eastern pasture. As expected, a group of wolves and beastmen attack; the fight is bitter and somewhat desperate, but through the use of enlargement magic the beastmen are defeated, and one, a young brave, is taken alive, though nearly all of the sheep are lost.
The captive, while initially not responsive, is persuaded to answer a few questions. He does acknowledge that his tribesmen seem to be receiving orders from somewhere else, though he does not know from whence they come.