Hot on the heels of the Kobold kidnappers, the team made it into the Cloak Wood by late afternoon. Dara tracked them into the woods, only to also find a set of tracks made by a large group of humans and an elf. That elf turned out to be Mallon, a mercenary gathering employees from the area. He already had quite a few human thugs with him, and stopped the party to question them.
Nicodemus gathered info from the mercenary, but Mallon eventually requested parley with members of his own kind. Dara and Feydreth went with him, and he attempted to hire them for his upcoming mission, even going so far as to bribe them with gifts (and flirting heavily with Dara). He advised them that he would be staying at the Silver Unicorn Inn for 3 more days, and that if they survived their current mission, he would love to hire them.
Mika used the Animal Messenger spell to warn Lady Allande Markelhay of his supposed intentions, and the two groups parted ways. On Mallon’s advice, they decided to take the longer route to the keep, camping by the lake in a more secluded area to avoid the large Kobold raiding parties that pass along the main path.