[Mopping up the remaining Redbrands]Back in Glasstaff's room, the group rummages through his papers and finds the letter from the Black Spider to Iarno Albreck. They quickly connect the dots, and even get a little angry when they discover that the Redbrands had it out for them specifically! The treasures get looted, and even the alchemical ingredients are looted. But then the group moves on: they decide not to follow Glasstaff's route through the dungeon, because for all they know he is invisible somewhere, and by now he must have had time to prepare an ambush for them. Rather, they decide to return to the Nothic cave and take the south corridor leading towards the east. They cross the south bridge, and it collapses, sending the Noble Fighter to the bottom of the chasm. Using a rope, they haul him back up quickly...
A corridor that ends abruptly is, of course, rather suspicious. But the secret door is easily found (it's secret from the other side, not this side!), and they enter the manor's cellars. I told them that a wet leather sack was discarded in the middle of the room, in front of the cistern (left there by Glasstaff who retrieved his getaway kit). The sack is examined and the rope in the water found. And then they start to rummage through the supplies stored in the cellar, alerting the three Redbrands in the adjacent bunk room.
After these have been dispatched, the heroes do not dare to take the stairs up: what if the ambush is set up at the top of the stairs? They'd be open for an attack from both sides that way, so they decide to take the door leading into the dusty corridor. There, they see footprints in the dust, leading from the large copper-clad doors to the room they've just exited. They do notice that the tracks hug the wall very closely at one section of the corridor, and they find the pit trap at that spot. With a rope and some Athletics checks later, they're all at the other side.
Behind the double doors is the crypt of the Tressendar family, and three skeletons spring to life to attack! They are dispatched easily, and the sarcophagi are examined. When the Rogue determines they haven't been opened, that's evidence that these skeletons were not of the people interred here, and the Noble Fighter insists that they remain closed. The rest agrees, and the dead remain undisturbed.
Then the door to the holding cells are opened, and the two Redbrands there immediately attack, surprising the party. (They heard the fight in the crypt and hence had time to prepare.) However, by this time two Redbrands are hardly a challenge for the party.
Then they discover Mirna and her children locked in the cells! They immediately spring into action, and while the Fighters try to force the bars, the Rogue picks the locks quite easily! The first concern is the health of Mirna and the children, but when they are satisfied that they are reasonably OK, anger takes over. Selling people into slavery is not something this party approves of! Mirna does not dare to return to the village on her own, but the group does not dare to take her with them -- there might be more Redbrands sulking around in the dungeon! (Of course, they have just killed the last two remaining ones, but they do not know that.) So they leave Mirna and her children at the cells so they can retrieve their clothing, and urge them to stay put while they investigate further. The only room remaining is the weapons room, which gets looted.
And then the group is faced with the decision of what to do. The decision is made to bring Mirna and her family to the cellar, where they can hide in the bunk room. The party will (cautiously) go up the stairs and see if things are clear (or to meet Glasstaff's ambush head-on). All prepped up, they ascend the stairs, only to find the ruins of the old manor: some walls are still standing, but other sections have crumbled. There's no roof, and the floor is overgrown with weeds. A quick scan of the area reveals there is nobody in sight.
Mirna is invited to come upstairs and walk down to her house, but she does not dare to do so: especially because she'd have to pass the Sleeping Giant, where the Redbrands are lounging about! But the party needs a short rest to replenish some of their resources before they can stage an assault on the taproom to deal with the remaining Redbrands. So Mirna stays downstairs, and prepares something to eat from the supplies that she finds there, while the heroes keep a watchful eye turned to the village.
When that's done, the group decide it's time for action! The Rogue sneaks to a tree with a good view of the porch of the Sleeping Giant taphouse and hides in the foliage, bow at the ready. The Folk Hero Fighter had donned one of the red cloaks, and would lure the Redbrands into an ambush that was set up at the top of the path leading towards the manor. So he jogs down and, at some distance from the taphouse, calls for them to follow him. Due to the dusk (and a Perception roll that was lower than the Folk Hero's Deception), three of the four Redbrands that were sitting on the porch follow him, thinking he was one of them and called to retrieve them because of some trouble at the hideout. The remaining Redbrand goes inside to call his companions.
The Fighter hoofs it up the path, trying to stay ahead of the Redbrands that are in hot pursuit because they think something bad is going on at their base. (Which is right, of course -- they're just four hours too late to prevent it.) When they are at the base of the path upwards, the Rogue shoots the last Redbrand in the back. Just as the ruffian is turning around to see who shot him, the Wizard lets go with the Fireball from the scroll they retrieved from Glasstaff's treasure chest. The first two Redbrands didn't make their saving throw, and hence get immolated. The third (who had just been shot) does make his saving throw, but due to the arrow in his back, he dies as well.
The three remaining Redbrands were just about to leave the taphouse and join their friends when this happens. They close the door and go into panic mode, throwing down tables as an impromptu barricade. But the party is merciless: they come down the hill, and simply walk into the taphouse through the front door. Before any of the Redbrands can do a single thing (bad Initiative rolls!), the party simply dispatches them. (Another Wild West-like scene: the Redbrands cowering behind their overturned tables, while the partymembers kept their cool and whacked them one by one.)
The owner of the taphouse, who is lying on the floor behind the counter, is spared. After making sure there are no more Redbrands skulking around, Mirna and her family are brought down from the manor, and they are walked towards their house by the party -- with the owner of the taphouse taken along. The Noble Fighter stays with Mirna and her children, sleeping in their living room, as extra security (which Mirna greatly appreciates) and the rest visits Sildar at the Townmaster's house. They turn the owner in ("for your own protection") and tell Sildar there's quite a few bodies to clean up at the taphouse...
Then they retire to the inn, and rest. The next morning, they all wake up as level 3 heroes!
[My GM notes]I ruled that Glasstaff is a selfish man, and would not alert his underlings of the invasion of their base -- keeping them in the dark would keep them at the posts, serving as a nice diversion for the attackers! And so he made a clean getaway -- perhaps he will surface later in the adventure, perhaps not. He will not be going to the Cragmaws for help: he has shown himself to be incompetent (he failed at all the assignments the Black Spider gave him!), and he does not fancy finding out what the Black Spider does with those who fail him. Rather, his first point of order is to hide for some time and wait for all of this to blow over.
There's also something funny with the timeline regarding Thundertree. The Folk Hero Fighter comes from that village, and he was an infant when his parents carried him away when Mount Hotenow erupted. That means that this character is in his early thirties. But Mirna, whose oldest child is eighteen, fled Thundertree because the village was overrun with undead. She must be somewhere in her late thirties or early fourties -- which means that this must have happened before the eruption! But that means that the Herbalist shop must have been empty for years in the meantime... And why didn't the Folk Hero's parents flee when the undead attacked? It would make much more sense if Mirna had fled the village with her parents because of the eruption, just as the Folk Hero did. Why didn't the writers of the scenario catch this inconsistency?