We continued on in the Dagger Forest and began to track down the encampment using Jekserah's crude map. It was well-hidden, but following the signs outlined on the parchment, we found a dense cluster of huts in a small clearing within the forest. All that was left was to head in and make the requested example of them.
Upon making ourselves known to the Inox we were immediately attacked by guards and archers as well as a Shaman. While most Inox stayed within their huts we did find that one heavily guarded cave entrance seemed to be their rally point. Pushing our way into the cave Yuge was faced with a half dozen crying Inox children. We had little opportunity to contemplate the implications of the development, however, as Yuge also found himself staring down the bows of several archers. The only option was to continue fighting. After laying out over 20 of the encampment's adult defenders we began to realize it was time to fall back. Running through the forest, fleeing the smell of burning flesh, we found more than enough opportunity to contemplate our actions.
How our actions sat with us must have been visible on our faces as we met once more with our merchant benefactor, Jekserah, this time in her manor. She handed us our payment with a frown. "They were thieves and murderers" she says blankly. "They deserved what you gave them and that is all I will say on the matter. I do have one more task I would like you to perform. I require a diamond of considerable size for a customer, but I cannot find one anywhere in the city. However there is a diamond mine in the southern mountains long since lost to the wilderness. I've heard reports that it is now overrun with Vermlings, no doubt with some other more intelligent force behind them. If you can fight your way in and grab the biggest diamond you can find I will give you a considerable reward. Now leave me in peace." Jekserah's two massive Inox bodyguards step forward, directing us to leave the manor.
Once outside, discussing our new task, a small voice drew our attention, "She's not looking for profit, you know?" We turned to see a female Quatryl step out of the alley beside the manor. She's clad in dark leather armor and holds a conspicuous contraption full of whirring gears and topped with a comical metal piece connected to a tube.
"Argeise, city guard." she says, introducing herself. "I know I don't exactly look the part but if anyone isn't what they appear to be it's that Valrath you've been talking to. Sure she's a merchant, but she's up to something far more sinister. Shes's been trying to overthrow the military in Gloomhaven for as long as I've been here, and we're all very curious about what her current machinations are. Look, you can go do her bidding like good puppies if you want, but if you'd rather actually help this town keep it's peace and not get overrun by the wilds, I have a different idea. We'll get to the bottom of Jeksarah's plans and expose her for who she really is."
A great revelry is underway at the New Market when we arrive to purchase supplies. Investigating further, we discovered the town was in the midst of a pie-eating contest. A group of large sailors sits triumphantly at a long table on a makeshift stage, crumbs and bits of fruit scattered all around. A man in the center stands and addresses the crowd.
"Can no one best our pie-eating prowess? Step up and test your mettle!" Being in horrible moods given our conundrum with our benefactor the [[M.O.B.B.B.]] headed up to the stage. The contest goes well for awhile as we matched the others pie-for pie, but soon our eating started to slow, and the sailors were still going strong. Yuge let out a battle cry and we all continued to eat. Pie after pie our willpower cannot be broken and eventually the sailors are forced to concede. However we couldn't even stand to shake our foes hands. Our legs were boneless and our stomachs felt worse than they ever had. We earned the glory, and the prize money, but all we wanted to do is lay down and wait for the horror to pass…