A light snowfall begins as the troupe emerges from the woods back onto the road to Carlshouse. A few hours into their journey they spot another traveler coming the opposite way. As this traveler approaches, they recognize him as Cassus, the priest of Avandra that they saved from bandits just a couple weeks ago on their first journey to Carlshouse.
Cassus, traveling all over in his capacity as a missionary of his deity, once again profusely thanked the troupe for their help. He pulled Millie aside and exclaimed how he wanted to thank her in particular. He deeply appreciated how Millie had prioritized saving himself and his companion from the bandits during the skirmish, and handed her a gift. It was a necklace bearing the crest of Avandra, blessed by Cassus' order, widely known as a charm of good luck. Cassus told Millie that he could sense her life had undergone many changes lately, but to embrace that change and trust in Lady Luck to guide her.
Parting with Cassus, the group trekked onward and arrived at Carlshouse at sundown. Solstice and B elected to retire for the evening while Kijani, Fern, and Millie decided the best way to clear their heads of their recent harrowing experiences was a drunken bender.
Awaking in the morning, Fern found herself modestly richer from some nearly-remembered gambling, and Kijani found a couple fresh welts on her body from a fight she couldn't clearly recall. A blushing Millie, still known to the group as Flamantha, could only remember meeting some dark, handsome figure that kept her company for most of the night.
The group convenes at the Felhorn Courier Company to report back to Captain Ramsey. Once there, the Black Rock is placed onto an altar, and a foggy images of the mission from Millie's perspective are displayed. Afterward, Ramsey leaves to go report to his superiors and requests that the group meet him at his office in the Militia Barracks that evening. As the group was leaving the office, Caelynn pulled Solstice aside, and handed over a package addressed to her. Inside Solstice found a book on herbalism and a letter from her parents.
While Solstice was off putting her new book to use, Fern and Millie set off for a pet store to fill the frog-shaped holes in their hearts. They eventually met and fell in love with Frangeline the frog, purchasing her and wasting no time in their attempts to bond with the little lady.
A bit before the troupe was set to meet at the Barracks, on a hunch Millie snuck back to the Felhorn Courier Company office. Once there, she asked Percy if his Black Rock had continued to record through last night, as she wanted to uncover the identity of the fellow that was with her. He said they could look, and the tape showed that a strapping young Owl in apparent guard uniform had found her in her state of intoxication and accompanied her for quite a while before locating Kijani and Fern and leaving Millie with them.
Reconvening at the Barracks, Captain Ramsey informed the group that he wished to hire them again. This time to fetch a man named Ichabod from the village of Crane's Hollow. Ichabod is an expert on the occult and a long-time ally of Carlshouse. Ramsey also informs the group that he'll dispatch one of his men to accompany the group, and in walks Basil, the Owl guard.
Millie and Basil immediately recognize one another, but before they can speak, Fern pipes up, questioning Ramsey's motives for sending them on such a simple-seeming quest. Ramsey informs the group that Ichabod is a known eccentric with a paranoid passion for security (enough that he'd driven off every other resident of his village), and that it's likely the group will encounter some resistance upon their approach. He also says that in the recent absence of the Men of the Hearth, there is a need for reliable adventuring parties in the area, hence his apparent eagerness to hire our heroes.
As the group departs Carlshouse, Basil approaches Millie, who he knows only by the name "Flask Slippers," to see how she's doing. Millie, trying to hide her blush, proceeds to avoid the handsome Owl as much as she's able. The group just reaches the top of the northern plateau before making camp for the night.
Early the next day, the group is set upon by a pair of giant scorpions. At one point, Kijani gets picked up and her unconscious body tossed around by one of the scorpions, but before long the group is able to dispatch the big bugs, mostly thanks to Basil and his heavy crossbow. Also with very little thanks to Millie, who could hardly keep her eyes of Basil long enough to hit any targets.
As the group locates Crane's Hollow, they see it littered with slipshod fortifications, as well as many animated skeleton guards. The group's attempt to sneak up on the skeletons was foiled when Kijani's foot snapped a porch floorboard, but thinking quickly B was able to activate a stonefall trap to crush several of the skeletons before they could strike. Following up, Solstice channeled an Entangle spell that successfully snared all the remaining skeletons, making the rest of the combat short work.
Just then, the group heard loud bangs and crashes coming from inside the main building, and rushing inside they find Ichabod cowering amongst several fires and a large Bone Naga. The group was able to dispatch the Naga and usher Ichabod out of the building as the fires brought the place down. Basil identified himself as a member of the Carlshouse guard and informed Ichabod that Captain Katrina has requested Ichabod's presence. Ichabod, who up until this point was looking quite desperate and scared, immediately perked up, and with a gleam in his eye promised to meet the group there, teleporting away without another word.
After an uneventful return trip, the group arrived back at Carlshouse just before sunset. Basil told the group he would go report in, and that they can all reconvene at the Barracks tomorrow morning. As he turned to go, Millie called out to him, asking if she would see him again, to which Basil coolly replied that he'd be around.
Just as the group was about to turn in, Millie felt a strange pulling sensation from her necklace of Avandra. Following this pull, she headed towards the marketplace, and just as she turned a corner, ran smack into a finely-dressed Fennec Fox lady. Angrily shouting at Millie from the ground, the lady identified herself as none other than Flamantha Swarthington.