When writing by the seaet of the pants, it helps to have a rough plan in mind, even if it's "get characters to plot point C." During NaNoWriMo 2015, I didn't even have that. I had characters in search of a plot. The more I could focus on their journey, the more time I had to figure out where the plot was going. The time at the inn helped buy a few days of thinking, usually while trying to get to sleep, about where the story was going. The planning the characters are doing? That's also me trying to work out the next bit of narrative.
What helps is that the group isn't familiar with each other enough to know what the others are thinking. That forces them to explain themselves. During NaNo, that's even more words! Yay, words! That also means I need to know where everything is in the setting, the setting that I was building as I wrote. Again, that's a bad idea when writing epic fantasy. Or any fantasy, really. Fortunately, British Columbia exists and was useful as a stand-in. If there's any TV producers reading the story with an eye on adapting it (ha!), filming in Vancouver and the BC interior gets you exactly the setting you'd need.
The goblins Jyslyn mentioned were originally just a placeholder, $humanoids_2, which I also used in the interregnum in Chapter 14. Even now, "goblins" is just a placeholder. I have an idea for a story in the same setting where one of the characters is a goblin treasure finder, so I may want to change things in The Elf's Prisoner a bit. That's getting ahead of myself here, though.
Kazi's idea is a good one. The Gashed Axe takes orders from Jyslyn's family. Having Jyslyn send them on a wild goose chase clears a path. Jyslyn, though, risks discovery by doing that, and Valenza not just holds grudges, she nutures them like they were babies. Valenza treats her grudges better than she treats babies, really. Never let Valenza babysit.
At the end of this chapter, did I have an idea of where I was going? Sort of. It's a very general idea - get the characters to the dwarven realm where they can keep investigating. I'll worry about what happens there when the story gets there. The journey is enough to carry things along for now. It's not the best idea, but it's working.
Friday, "Fire!" in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 20.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, exceptions.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, One Day at a Time.