Not far from the ogre’s camp, Penvice and Ulrich come upon a group of bandits that seem to be hunting a little girl. Soon the “girl” revealed herself by beheading one of the bandits with a Greatsword! She was Snowflake, a Halfling Knight Errant and part time Bounty Hunter. She quickly beheaded a second bandit, leaving only her main quarry, Skarr!
Skarr is an bloodthirsty bandit and cutthroat known for leaving no witnesses!( Ulrich remembered him from his days as a bandit on the High Road) Skarr has a good price on his head ( 75gp ) for his crimes. (His gang members only have a 10gp bounty each )
Snowflake is joined by the other two heroes and quickly subdue him.
The three travel the road together. Snowflake’s deadeye with a bow saves the day when they disturb a hive of giant Wasps! Ulrich dispatches a pair of malodorous forest imps with a single swing of his newly found Glaive. That night, they made camp. They were set upon by a huge pack of wolves. Penvice made quick work of them with his Lightning Fork spell.
The next day they came upon a crossroads. They found several men left to rot in crow cages. The heroes free the captives, after learning that they were farmers and craftsmen that refused to fight for the Crusader. One of the craftsmen told the party that his wife and son were being held at Fort Dread. Snowflake secured Skarr in a crow cage, and joined the others to free the captives from the fort.
They use the orders they found at the ogre’s camp to masquerade as couriers and gain entrance to the fort.Inside they find a skeleton crew. The Castellian of Fort Dread had taken the majority of the garrison to round up more recruits. Seizing the opportunity, the heroes took out the meager defenders and freed the captives.
They ventured into the ruined keep looking for the rest of the captives. Snowflake slid under a razor pendulum trap and found the switch to deactivate it. They head deeper, travelling down a steep stair down into a dark abyss. They disturb a massive colony of bats nesting in the stairwell. The bats nearly knocked the Heroes into the abyss, but Ulrich drove his axe into the stair to anchor a human chain to save them all. Later he triggered a gauntlet of poison dart traps. Using his Breath of the White spell he froze the mechanism solid, disarming the trap.
Finally they reached the Fort Dread Dungeon. They witness a massive disfigured Minotaur torturing one of the captives with a fiery brand. They used stealth to sneak up on the two guards watching the Minotaur, and slit their throats. The Minotaur smelled the fresh blood, pulled a red hot sword from a nearby brazier, and charged at the PCs, but since he was nearly blind, he missed. Snowflake and Ulrich kept the Minotaur busy while Penvice peppered him with spells from afar. Ulrich was nearly zapped by an arch of lightning from the sorcerer’s Lightning Fork spell.
After the beast fell, Ulrich recovered the cellblock keys. Penvice freed the man being tortured. Snowflake, sure that there must be a sizable bounty on a beast this foul, beheaded the Minotaur. Ulrich then freed the rest of the captives, but found not one of the captives knew a “Marta”. He also found the Fort garrison’s payroll ( 300gp, 3 sizable rubies [that he pocketed! yes the Paladin pocketed the gems ] and a healing potion that Penvice claims is just eye of newt, a magical reagent )
Once they again saw daylight, they found the fort in the hands of several soldiers of the Imperial Legion! They were taking orders from a Halfling in dark leathers, Marta! She revealed that her father was not taken by the men of Fort Dread, and this has all been a test to see if they are worthy to do further service to the Emperor. They passed. She rewards them with some gold ( 75gp ) and a healing potion. She then offers them a job rescuing a Half-orc treasure hunter from a Hellhole located in the Dire Woods. It seems that Jaxor Fell has a map of vital importance to the Empire. The Golden Griffons agree.