The party investigated for the better part of a day. Gux and Gâshek in their invisible eavesdropping learned that the settlement focused on the dead – specifically, on “departed” loved ones. Chatting locals expressed hopes that they might speak with their parents, wives, children, etc. when the Deathspeakers appeared again. But only the Oracle would know when that would be.
Feordin and Sender chatted with a few folks outside (woodsmen and goblins). Edane, Aranethon, and Sefu engaged the residents inside. Slowly, they began to collect a more nuanced picture of the impoverished community of Shadowswitch. While the wizened hobgoblin Chief and his human first wife governed day-to-day affairs, the Oracle and his acolytes kept separate quarters and addressed the true purpose of the community: speaking with the dead.
The community did not proselytize, but folklore in the region brought the brave bereaved by ones and twos, to live and work together in the hopes of attracting the Oracle’s attention, so that maybe next month (or year) they would see or hear the departed one more time – or at least pass a message.
Edane presented herself as a supplicant, seeking word about her long-lost (and probably dead) father. She, Aranethon, and Sefu (masquerading as a gnome) mingled with the inhabitants and exchanged stories. Edane and Sefu helped the women prepare meals, and Aranethon went to the infirmary to lend some much-needed healing magic.
In addition to the Chief and the Oracle, the locals mentioned a mysterious “General” who the Chief introduced a few months ago. The General did not address them directly, but the Chief explained, “Dangerous winds blow. Ravenous dragons scheme in the hills, shadows hunt the grasslands, and ghouls hunt the forests. The community must protect itself.” So they began to train with weapons and armor, improving their fortifications, and preparing for the coming fight.
Edane asked to speak with the Oracle as soon as possible, and they told her that the Oracle did not speak directly with newcomers. He would hear her story on his own terms, and when he next appeared to the people (usually once every week or three), he would address her request if he saw fit. And if it was really important, when the Deathspeakers next appeared, then they (and the Oracle) would have more information to share. They typically come four times a year, but do not observe a strict schedule.
None of the party wanted to wait days to speak with the Oracle, much less sit around for months to reach the Deathspeakers. They decided to confront the Oracle directly for answers.
While they hatched their plan, Sefu and Gâshek flew far into the air to inspect the still-circling pegasus. They discovered it was compelled to circle the settlement indefinitely, watching for danger. Day and night, with only breaks to eat and nap, it flew. Sefu managed to break the compulsion, and the pegasus flew away to freedom.