The wilds of eastern Corinthia abruptly end as the main highway turns north, running between farm fields and pastures. Indeed in all directions it is regular rows of sprouting greens and stout yellow grains until reaching the town of Ridgeway.
At first blush, it seemed to our Heroes that Ridgeway was being evacuated.
Our Heroes ride into town to find a flurry of activity; carts and wagons loaded with goods head out of town to the north-west. In their place, empty carts queue up to be filled. Merchants direct laborers, laborers haul back-breaking sacks and barrels, and among their chaos a steady hustle of footmen make a perceptible flow towards the central garrison structure. It is mid-day, and the sleepy look of the town does not mesh with the haste and commotion in the market district.
The Ridgeway garrison is much more a fort than the one in South Bend; as the Heroes dismount at the palisade gates and carefully weave their way into the central hall, they are impressed by the size of the emplacement and the mobs of men within. Footmen and messengers bump past each other on ingress and exit; lower-ranked enlisted men confer with each other then shout and wave for the attention of fellows across the hall. And in the center of the melee is a stationary figure, standing but not still, unmoved but in constant motion.
He is grim, sour, quick with words and possessed of a shout that clears its own space in the din when brought out to do so. Our Heroes notice that he is missing most of one leg, and a hand, from old injuries. What remains of him is in demand from all sides. Two, three, sometimes four enlisted men or messengers will press him to attend the note they thrust at him. Each one he reads in an instant, and sends them where they need to be or grants assent to their request.
Sidling up to the eye of the storm, the Heroes catch his notice. He is Sergeant Dell, quartermaster of the Ridgeway fort and of this region of Corinthia’s military districting. He offers apology for his distraction, speaking to the Heroes in between the requests falling in at him.
Dell explains that in the last two days, he has received word that “about three Divisions” of Corinthian troops have moved east off the lines and set up camp in the plains north-west of Ridgeway. Now, their company commanders are burying him under requests for supplies. Enormous quantities of food, wood, and equipment are being sent to support the force as it settles into the plains. It is on Dell to co-ordinate the release of supplies both from depots in Ridgeway, and from reserves in Riverwatch Tower south of the town.
To verify the group’s authority before he hands over sensitive materials, Sergeant Dell asks to see the Heroes’ contract from the Lords of War and Commerce. He looks over the parchment and, while glancing at the bottom of the document, for an instant Spymaster Genive wonders if she saw him double-take on some detail he sees there. This reaction is brief; satisfied with the document, Dell gives it back. He then motions his assistant, who produces and hands over a schematic map to Moonwatch Tower for the Heroes.
Bringing the conversation to a close, Dell suggests that the Heroes locate SPECIALIST RENN in the next town, Meadowshade. Renn, he says, knows special details about the tower’s underground complex and she can provide critical tactical information. Dell, eyeing the Heroes’ equipment, offers extra advice. Metal weapons are selling for a considerable premium right now. Metal imports from Khör have fallen even more, and the going rate for metal weapons is about double the usual price. Dell advises moving surplus gear soon, as rumour has that if the supply of raw materials “from his (Lester’s) brethren” does not pick up, the military may start conscripting weapons from citizens and freelance mercenaries to meet its needs.
The sergeant is about to turn back to his business when his assistant steps up and quietly mentions something. Dell rolls his eyes. Annoyed, he tells the Heroes that the Mayor of Ridgeway, EMMETT PEARSON, had obtained word of the their imminent arrival, and insisted that Dell send the group to him as soon as possible. The Mayor is to be found at the town hall, not far from the garrison fort.
With that, the Heroes are ignored and the business of supply and demand continues.