After reaching Red Fern later in the afternoon, the party is forced to stay at the local Inn for the night. While eating a large and more expensive than usual meal, the party notices a man stealing glances at them from near the fireplace. Marble Riches, after watching the man for a moment, quietly informs the party that the man has what appears to be a magical “hole in his head”. The party consults each other and decides to invite the man over for a bit of food and drink to see if they can figure out why this odd fellow is apparently watching them.
Upon sitting down, Moonchaser begins questioning the man. He turns out to be a former farmer come looking for work in Red Fern. He has few details to give, and even seems to not really know what he himself is doing there. After eating, the man is allowed to return to the fire, but the party suggests watches and is wary of him.
Finally, the man falls asleep. He begins having what could only be called nightmares, and the party, still sitting at their table, ponder what to do. Billhook decides to try an experiment. He sneaks over to the sleeping fellow and using the pommel of his dagger, pops the man in the head, causing his sleeping form to drop from a light sleep to a deep unconscious state. Looking up towards Marble and nodding, Marble agrees that the hole seems to have disappeared from the man’s head. The group then retires near the fire for the night, keeping watches going.
Early the next morning the group departs, but Marble decides to remain behind to try and find out more about the farmer. Upon awakening, the farmer has an obvious bump on his head and staggers around for a bit before exiting the Inn. Marble notices the “hole” has returned in the man’s head, though not as defined as it was last night.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party has gathered a wagon of supplies for Emerald Shines and sets off back towards Tail. They rotate walking a man in front, one behind, and one driving the wagon which is being led by pack horses.
Not making it very far down the road yet, they spot what seems to be a patrol of four men on horseback coming towards them. With no room to move the wagon off the road, the group stops and waits for the patrol to pass.
The patrol pulls up, led by a large man identifying himself as a Captain of Red Fern (Bear’s Rage) and asking if the party is in the employ of Emerald Shines of Tail. The party acknowledges this and the Captain orders the party to lead him to the cave where they had the recent fight with the bandits. Bill, stepping up to the Captain, explains that they have a duty to do their jobs and return their cargo to Tail before they can do what the Captain requests. A heated discussion follows with the Captain finally relenting, and the party continues on with promises of returning and taking the Captain and his men to the cave.
The trip back to Tail is quiet for the party with only a single altercation with a spying bandit during the second night. Red Earth managed to spot the hidden man while on watch and awoke Bill, who stalked the man down and, with the help of Moonchaser, dispatched him.
The party also passes the logging/clearing crew on the third night, sharing a campsite with them.
The following day, the party pulls into Tail, sells the remaining items they had collected from the bandits, and reports to Emerald. Quite shaken that they did not go with the Captain as he had requested, Emerald agrees to supply horses for the return trip so the party can get back to Red Fern post haste.