A town has a festival every year in the dead of winter. The festival of birds. The towns folk dress in feathery robes and beaked masks and dance and frolic in the belief that the changes of the seasons are controlled by the presence of birds. According to tradition, the festival tricks Spring into coming early because the birds have returned.
Five men are herding fifteen horses down the road. They won't be very talkative, but are willing to sell a horse, or more horses if the heroes are interested. These men are horse thieves. They are already sought by regional militiamen. Anyone with a stolen horse (all are marked) may get into trouble. If found guilty, horse thieves face prison or even a hanging execution. Similar thefts have happened only a month before, and a reward is offered.