The party reassembles at the cave entrance to the abandoned temple in the Katoran Hills, and plan their route to Fort Deeprun. It is decided to leave the wagon behind (but take its draft horse) to facilitate a cross-country trek to the river crossing a few days west of Breggan. (Aetadius is engaged in another bout of mandatory meditation and is unresponsive for the duration of the trip.) The trip goes uneventfully, but on the final approach to the ferry dock (from which the ferry is absent, being moored on the opposite bank) the party encounters a lone dwarf relieving himself by the side of the road. As he finishes and turns, he reveals he is wearing Iron Alliance garb. He takes in the party and gives them a knowing look before starting down the road in the direction from which the party came. Fearing that the dwarf is a point man for a larger force, Sim puts an arrow into him, and the party quickly finishes the job.
Noting with some relief that the ferryman does not appear to have noticed the altercation, the party strip the corpse, weight it, and dump it in the water. By the time this is completed, the ferryman has disappeared. Bud tries the rope-and-pully system that operates the ferry, but the boat itself is tied to the dock on the far bank and cannot be retrieved. There are shelters for passengers on either side of the river, and Kalissa settles down in the one on the near bank; Bud assumes the form of a remarkably robust freshwater crayfish and hides in the river, and the others withdraw to a nearby copse of trees. Thus, the party awaits the return of the ferryman.
It’s almost dusk before the ferryman returns to the far bank and starts the (as it turns out) lengthy process of bringing the boat across. While he is still midstream, the party is startled by the sound of approaching boots, whose owners are revealed to be an armored human on horseback and six armed dwarves on foot. Kalissa manages to slip away from the shelter without them noticing her.
From the short distance away, the party can tell that the newcomers had expected to find the lone dwarf here, and are concerned about his absence. The knight rides around a bit looking for signs and comes perilously close to the party’s hiding places, but in the deepening gloom he fails to notice them. When the ferryman arrives, Bud (still in crayfish form) manages to climb aboard the ferry and overhears the Iron Alliance troops quizzing the ferryman about their missing scout. After some deliberation, they decide to proceed across the river. Bud hitches a ride undetected.
On the far bank, the Iron Alliance troops refuse to pay for their passage, and march off up the road. After a short while, the ferryman follows before turning off behind some trees. Bud waits an hour before reverting to human form, untying the boat, and collecting the other party members.
The party camps a little way downriver from the crossing point, which works out as Sim can spot what is probably the Alliance patrol’s campfire some distance up the road.
In the morning, the party initially trails the patrol, with Bud in wolf form keeping tabs. Deciding that it might be best to reach Fort Deeprun before the patrol, the party bypasses then through the forest and reach Fort Deeprun with a lead of a third to half a day.
Fort Deeprun, it turns out, is not only a fort but a small walled city surrounding the fort. While keeping a wary eye out for any Iron Alliance presence, the party enter town and find lodgings, after which Kalissa and Paxton seek an audience with Lord Efferveld. They succeed and explain the party’s business to Lord Julius and his wife, Lady Yeselda. The latter takes Kalissa and Paxton to a library and has the rest of the party brought there as well.
Lady Yeselda informs the group that the Iron Alliance appears to be seeking a particular artefact which is thought to be hidden in the ruins of Elderburg. This is an ancient city in badlands to the south-west of Fort Deeprun, originally built by dwarves or possibly drow, with multiple subterranean levels. In the closing stages of the revolt that toppled the Corovian Empire, it was besieged by rebel forces, who are thought to have allied themselves with otherworldly powers. One of Emperor Clavis’ foremost generals, an elf named Florian, was killed leading an unsuccessful sortie and was buried beneath the temple of Lantira, a funeral which the emperor himself attended in spite of the risks. No maps of the city remain in existence, and the precise location of the temple is unknown, but the temple district is known to be on the city’s Fifth Level. It is believed that Florian was buried with a powerful artefact, and it is this that the Iron Alliance now seeks.
The party makes preparations to travel to Elderburg. Kasglan spends some time in the Effervelds’ library digging up information on hags and Elderburg, while Bud and Sim browse the market, finding what turns out to be Belt of Dwarvenkind (which goes to Paxton) and a sheaf of enchanted arrows. Meanwhile, Lady Yeselda privately informs Kalissa that she (Yeselda) will provide the party with assistance in exchange for the party eliminating the knight leading the Iron Alliance patrol.
Accordingly, the party puts the preparations for the expedition on hold while Bud, in wolf form, tracks the patrol. He returns at dawn the following day to report the patrol has left the road and is headed for Elderburg, and while he catches some much-needed sleep, the others prepare the pursuit. They set off a few hours after noon and catch up to the patrol on the edge of the badlands.
Kalissa manages to lure the knight into pursuing her into an ambush, while Bud slows the dwarves with an Entangle spell. The ambush does not go quite as planned, but the knight, caught without his support, is overpowered fairly swiftly. The dwarven troops, having allowed themselves to get strung out, are dealt with piecemeal.
As the party mops away their sweat and the few wounds they have incurred are healed, the session is brought to a close.