Burtonham Hamlet just south of marshes going north as far as eye can see. A river flows south from marshes through hamlet then heads to the southeast. Spanning west to east in the marsh, north of the main settlement are cranberry marshes.
Road goes down to Burtonham Hamlet then splits to northeast and northwest. The northeast branch crosses over the river with a bridge. Up a hill near the river at the bridge is Burtonham Keep.
Party walks through junction on their way to keep. It has a small cluster of buildings, the two most noticeable being a small steepled church and a small roofed area with tables underneath. At this time, just past noon, a couple men sit at one of the tables, chatting. As party walks by, one of the men looks over, shrugs then goes back to the conversation.
Guards let party into keep and call for a runner. Alfie arrives. He takes them to Gus, the notary of Burtonham Keep. Before letting them into Gus’s office, Alfie holds his hand out. Lofgren gives him a gold crown, getting an ear-to-ear grin from the boy. Boy opens the door to the notary’s office. Notary is a gruff man. He does inventory with party and notarizes it.
Party asks Alfie to take them to Lord Burtonham. Boy complies up to guards and doors to the Lord’s audience chamber. Party waits outside as Alfie runs to notify Lord of the party’s presence and desire to see if Lord will see them. Alfie comes back then puts his hand out before doing anything else. Party refuses, complains and yells a little bit. Alfie realizes no tip coming to him, so he walks away.
Guards have a small chuckle at party’s expense. Party tries to go into throne room but guards bar their way with halberds. Attempts at persuasion lead nowhere. Guards fall back on refrain that it’s the runners’ jobs and guards aren’t supposed to leave their post.
Lofgren gets so rambunctious that one of the guards whacks him with flat end of halberd. Force knocks Lofgren to ground with the wind knocked out of him. Party helps him up.
They wait for a couple hours until another runner comes along. Runner goes into audience chamber. Runner comes back with message that Lord has had his patience tried. Party can leave Burtonham Hamlet and come back tomorrow.
Party goes back down to center of Burtonham. Bunch of people under shelter, eating and chatting. Enoch approaches people and starts discussions without much luck. Village people reluctant to speak with them because they hadn’t gotten OK from Lord that they can stay in Hamlet. No matter how much party tries verbal communication, village people don’t get any friendlier.
Frustrated party takes out scrolls with messages from old adventurers stuck in Sern. Villagers present take a look at seals, mostly indifferent. One villager steps forward, Maria. She acknowledges that it comes from her uncle and asks party off to the side.
Maria reiterates that villagers not comfortable dealing with party since Lord hasn’t approved their presence in Hamlet. Countering party’s protests that they’re here to help the Hamlet in need to find stuff, Maria explains that even though the villagers want help, they don’t want to cross the nobles too much. They don’t want to ask for the nobles help, but they also don’t want to cross the nobles.
Exasperated, Maria invites party back to her house to meet her father. They arrive at her home a half hour later after taking a long way around. Party wants to look like they’re leaving the Hamlet.
Maria’s father is brother of an old adventurer in Sern. He had sent letter of his own to request help figure out where missing things going and deal with it. Things stolen started with small bits of food to bigger bits of food then small tools onto bigger tools. Most disturbing so far as been the disappearance of the Stromberg family baby.
Despite urgency of matter, though, village people still now willing to humble themselves to the nobles or cross the nobles. The cost could be so much more than getting the aid of an outside party, even in the case of losing a child.
Maria’s father allows party to stay night in their barn. Per his direction, Maria leads party to barn. Party settles in with the hay, secures the door, sets up an order for watch then get a night’s rest.
17th Day of the Sixth Month of the Korandish Calendar
Party wakes up early and stretches. Maria knocks on door to see if they’re awake then asks if they can depart their home. Family needs to start doing work, and they don’t want to attract any unwanted attention since barn doors usually open at this point.
After party gears up, Maria leads them back to the main southwest road that leads to center of Burtonham. Party heads up to keep, refreshed and ready for bureaucracy, but they reach the front gate too early. It’s closed.
Party waits a couple hours for guards to open gates and let party in. Guard calls for runner to lead party to audience room. Young girl this time. She leads party to door to audience room. Party waits as she goes in. Coming back, she reaches out hand. Enoch hands her a copper garn. She leads party to Lord Burtonham.
Lord Burtonham sits in a large wooden chair, his unimpressive middle aged body draping over chair in his fine clothing. Two sets of guards stand on each side of the throne, three to each set. Another man in unremarkable robes stands to the Lord’s left, closer than the guards. The runner introduces the party.
The Lord acts terse with party. They give him the scroll from Lord Burtonham. He scans it then has the man in robes look it over. The man robes nods his head in assent and hands the Lord a pen. The Lord signs the letter and tells the party that it will act as passport for their time in Burtonham Hamlet. They can act freely as guests, then he dismisses the party. The runner leads them out to the hall outside the audience room.
Party goes back down to shelter house at mid day. They wait around, dilly dallying the day away, only seeing a couple kids here and there passing through, practically just wearing burlap sacks, skinny but not looking unreasonably unhealthy or anything.
Awhile after the hottest part of the day, the two men the party saw yesterday under the shelter house yesterday walk up. One of them makes a crack about the party getting the runaround in the Keep yesterday. Ramtar growls then performs a mock Owlfang on a bench.
The two turn ashen, their jaws drop then they run away.
Two hours later. . .
Maria and her father arrive. They notify party that villagers disgusted and don’t want to speak with party at all. They look disgusted themselves. Having passed the message, they scamper off as best they can.
Party brainstorms to try coming up with what to do next. They don’t want to return to Earl Haydn with the big accomplishments of their mission being burning down a few square blocks of Monastery Doran then offending the peasants of Hamlet Burtonham. Party considers banditry. It might be more fulfilling than dealing with all this bureaucracy that even peasants put people through.
Ramtar glimpses the church and proposes they go in. They find a minister in it, neatening things up, burning incense and praying. Discussion of party explaining everything that has occurred. Minister lectures party on their bad behavior and how the peasants have to walk a fine line with the nobles. It’s a fragile balance of villagers trying to live independently as possible and how much it requires staying on the good side of nobles.
Sullen, minister comes back with a couple of the village people. He notifies party that he was able to calm down the village people enough to discuss the missing things and how to deal with it. Party follows minister out of the church.