The group celebrates their recent victory at the Hallow Pass by having a round or three at the local pub, the Minotaur’s Horns. They are so busy celebrating that they don’t notice the small tiefling girl stealing their purses until she already has ones from No Merit Venantius and Thadwick. The girl runs away when she is noticed, and the party gives chase. The group makes some unexpected moves, and nearly reaches the tiny thief, but she manages to escape around a corner. When the group comes around that corner, they see her slip down the alleyway, and are faced with a group of human, elven, and halfling thugs. The thugs are handily dispatched by the heroes, though, and the party takes the booty and a small set of magical leather armor from one of the halflings. Rounding the corner, they find the little tiefling girl crying with the party’s coinpurses lying on the ground next to her. The group retrieves their purses, and the girl tells them her name, Ea, and of how she and others have been forced into a child slavery ring of pickpockets by a local tough. She details the location of the hideout on the South side of town to the group, and leads them there.
Approaching the hideout, the group decides to bluff their way inside, with Olivine disguised as a child, and No-Merit the seller. Enna is transformed into a hunting boar outside. Successfully bluffing their way inside, No-Merit, Olivine, and the others catch the slavers by surprise, and make their assault, but are similarly surprised when the one slaver is revealed to be a wererat and calls in his rodent minions. All of the party except Arannis are infected with filth fever, but manage to take out the slavery ring. Olivine manages to calm some of the children down while Arannis manages to bore half of them to sleep with a history lesson. Having freed the children, No-Merit makes arrangements to have the children taken to the orphanage run by Veranis where he was raised. Looting revealed a medium-sized suit of magical leather armor.
Feeling good about freeing the children and giving them a future, the group headed to the Minotaur’s Horns to celebrate. This time, they are more wary of sneaks, and notice the halfling right away as he approaches them. He asks them to come to see his guildmaster, Warren, who wishes to thank them and offer them a reward.
The party passes up the Serpent River to the halfling encampment upstream, where they are taken to a large pavilion tent and meet with Warren, who is unexpectedly accompanied by Marius. The two are sharing a hookah and talking when the party arrives, and Warren gives the party a monetary reward and offers his thanks for breaking up the child slavery ring which was not only hurting the halfling merchant’s guild’s profits, but also morally reprehensible. Warren then turns over the floor to Marius, who once again thanks the party for saving him, and asks them to accompany him as paid guards on a mercantile trip to Knightsbridge. After some consideration, the party agrees to accompany Marius, but they have to wait for three days while Thadwick and Olivine recover from particularly nasty bouts of filth fever.
When the party leaves, they are comforted to find that Marius’s new wagon is protected by wards against fire. Heading south, the group is attacked by two stirges, but make short work of them before the stirges are able to lead the group into their traps.
A bit further down the road, the party encounters a tiny kobold scouting party, and manages to slay two minions, but a dragonshield manages to make a getaway. The party makes camp that night expecting trouble, but none arrives.
The next day, Marius’s wagon hits a cunningly placed divit in the road and throws a wheel, and the party is instantly surrounded by kobolds with a number of pet drakes. The drakes are fierce opponents, and the kobolds slyly evade a number of attacks. A spiretop drake, sensing its imminent defeat, makes off with Arannis’s climbing kit, which the group desperately tries to retrieve, but to no avail. The kobolds and drakes are eventually defeated, netting the group a magical brooch. As Marius attempts to fix the wagon’s missing wheel, the spiretop drake appears, mysteriously healed, and jingles the stolen climber’s kit, taunting the group. They give chase, and eventually bring it down, but are unfortunately lost in the process. With some difficulty, the group eventually finds their way to a familiar dried out riverbed, and from there to a nearby cave flanked with braziers.
The group approaches the cave warily, their caution proving prudent when they notice pressure plates. Arannis tosses a rock on one, and it is revealed as a spear trap. No-Merit and Thadwick attempt to knock over a burning brazier on the area to reveal all the traps, but get more than they bargained for, as another spear trap springs up and tips the brazier back on them, giving them minor burns. In response to the noise, some shuffling is heard in the cave, and the group hides behind the braziers. From above them, kobolds appear from hidden doors, squeal and run back inside. The group isn’t sure what to do, and the kobolds return to dump oil on the group, but don’t manage to complete their tactic before Arannis fey steps inside and dispatches them, triggering some more spear traps inside. Olivine manages to disarm a spear trap in the middle of the entry, and the group hurries inside before reinforcements arrive.
Coming to a large room with a 30’ pit in the center, the group triggers another pressure plate, which activates a magically shielded crossbow turret and alerts the kobolds inside. Half the group provides cover fire while the other half rushes to a side passage to reach the other side. Arannis is first, and is surprised and knocked unconscious by a kobold slyblade sneaking in the tunnel. No-Merit and Thadwick rush to his aid, and push back the slyblade and dragonshield before defeating them and pressing forward to the wyrmpriest and his minions on the other side. The group spends quite a bit of time trying to take out the crossbow trap, though, eventually finding its switch after trying to defeat its shields, whereupon a mysterious voice spoke, saying, “Xankfras awaits!’’ Taking a magical sword found on the dragonshield, the party pressed onward.
Traveling down the corridor, the dungeon became much colder, and very dark, prompting Arannis to activate a sunrod. Entering a large chamber, they first noticed very slick ice, and then a very large white dragon atop a pile of silver pieces. The party attempted to get the drop on Xankfras, but he was only pretending to sleep, and when attacked, shouted, “Who dares disturb Xankfras!” Getting no response, he decided to try to kill the party. The party experienced some difficulty with the icy terrain, but worked together to take down the mighty Xankfras, and make the road South of Mistlevale much safer for travel and trade. For their noble efforts, the group acquired a treasure trove of silver pieces, a silver ring with a moonstone setting, two gems, some potions, and a map of the area.
Using the map, the group was able to relocate Marius’s wagon, which was undisturbed, reset the wheel, and make it safely to Knightsbridge. Marius gave them their pay and was quite pleased by the results of his successful trip, offering to put the party in contact with some of his merchant friends to allow them to purchase items at a significant discount.