[Dismantling the Redbrands]After having mopped up all the treasure that these gambling Redbrands had on them, the group moved on towards Glasstaff's laboratory, just at the other side of the corridor. They were immediately spotted by his familiar rat, alerting him to make his getaway, which he promptly does. Meanwhile, the Wizard is studying the distillery apparatus (determining that it is an attempt to create a Potion of Invisibility and that it will need a few more hours) and the contents of the bookcase, and only after some time does someone check the door leading to the sleeping chambers. Then they realise their prey has fled... The rat is summarily dispatched, and the chase is on! The whole party gives chase, but when they reach the 'packing area' north of the Nothic cave, they lose the Cleric and the Folk Hero Fighter, who choose to stock up on crowbars instead. When they reach the corridor next to the weapons room, the door to the crypt is closed, and they regroup to take on the challenges ahead.
The three skeletons in the crypt are dispatched quickly, and then the Wizard opens one of the sarcophagi to check if one of the skeletons was the original occupant. When they find the platinum ring amongst the remains, they of course need to open the other two sarcophagi just to make sure... This delay gave the two Redbrands at the holding cells enough time to prepare their assault, and when the Noble opens the door, they jump him! Everybody keeps missing their attack rolls, but the Redbrands keep making theirs (despite the Noble's high armour class). They do quite a bit of damage until they are finally defeated.
The Folk Hero and the Cleric put their newly acquired crowbars to good use in breaking the chains that hold the cells closed. Mirna and her children are grateful for their release, and after they straightened up, she asks the group to escort her and her children back home -- they do not dare to leave on their own. But the party is still busy clearing the hideout, so they leave Mirna and her children in the relative safety of the holding cells -- behind bars, but with the chains unlocked. If someone comes by, a cursory inspection will make it seem as if they are still prisoners. The party promises to come back for them!
Onwards they go, to the dusty corridor leading to the cellar. They spot Glasstaff's footprints hugging the wall at one section, and find the pit trap easily. With ropes and pitons, a make-shift ballustrade is created, and they cross the pit handily. In the cellar, all is quiet. They find a wet leather bag on the floor, next to the cistern. (This is Glasstaff's getaway bag, the contents are of course gone.) After poking around at the bag, the cistern and the crates, the Redbrands in the bunk room are alerted to their presence, and a (short) fight ensues. With nothing else interesting, the group doubles back to the Notic cave, to investigate the southern corridor leading off to the east. They are a bit dissapointed when they find out it ends with a secret door that leads back to the cellar...
Now that the Redbrand Hideout has been cleared of villains, the party returns to the holding cells to retrieve Mirna and her children. They decide to lead them through the Nothic cave and the corridor leading to the forest, then take them past Alderleaf farm back home. But when Mirna and her children see the partially-eaten corpse of their husband and father lying in the crevasse, they are stricken with grief and refuse to leave him there. Glasstaff's bedsheets are confiscated, a rope is lowered into the crevasse and the Noble descends and retrieves Thel's body. The body is wrapped in the sheets and taken with them. Then the procession proceeds towards the village, with Thel's body dropped off at the Townmaster's Hall to have someone prepare a proper funeral. Sildar is briefed about the demise of the Redbrands and Glasstaff's (presumed) identity... He is saddened by the betrayal of his former colleague, and gives the group his 200 gp reward for defeating the Redbrands.
Then they retire for the night into the inn, where soon many villagers come in to celebrate the end of the Redbrand reign of terror -- their mugs keep getting filled! The next morning, the group wakes up at level 3.
(I had invited people to look through the PHB and select a different specialisation if they so desired. The Folk Hero decided on switching from Champion to Battle Master, and I think this support role fits an archery specialist quite nicely. The rest stuck with the progression as detailed on the character sheets of the pregens.)
The next day, the group returned to the hideout. The Wizard wanted to see if the Potion was completed, and if they had missed something during their first sweep of the hideout. (This group is really treasure-oriented. And everything they find is immediately split amongst the party members.) He cast Detect Magic and they went in through the cave. Unfortunately for them, the liquid in the flask turned out to be worthless: a failed attempt. They did swipe the expensive alchemical ingredients... And now the Wizard saw the magic aura in the crevasse, which they investigated. The chest under the north bridge lit up like a christmas tree (a magic sword and a scroll!), so that was retrieved as well.
When the party was satisfied that everything of worth had been found and looted, they started work on dismantling the hideout. The bodies were taken upstairs through the cellar, and a mass grave was dug for the bodies of the Redbrands. (The Noble pointed out that unburied dead could be raised as undead, and after their encounter with the skeletons, they knew that there were undead about -- so it was not much of a stretch to want to get the Redbrands safely buried!) A few words were said, and that was that.
Meanwhile, the Dwarf Cleric got busy with seeing about the cave leading from the forest to the Nothic cave. With a few well-placed hacks, wooden wigs etceter, they collapsed the corridor leading in, sealing off that entrance. Afterwards, when everybody had evacuated, the earth from the grave was put in the stair leading to the cellar, as well as filled with ruble from the crumbling walls of the manor. It took them a whole day, but afterwards, the dead were buried and the hideout inaccessible! The next morning was the solemn burial of Thel.
And then, it was time for the heroes to start their search for Cragmaw Castle. Their best lead is the druid in Thundertree, and they decide to travel through Neverwinter so they can spend their hard-earned treasure! They reach Neverwinter without any encounters, and do quite a bit of shopping. The Wizard manages to buy a few spells (from the PHB), and the whole group buys horses (or donkeys) with enough feed for a few days.
On horse, Thundertree is only a single day away from Neverwinter. The path leading there is seldomly traveled, but since it's only a grassy plain, the going is good. The party ties their animals to a post at the edge of town, and march into the village, coming from the north-west entrance. They investigate the two ruined cottages there, and dispatch the Twig Blights without any problems. And then they thoroughly search the second cottage, because it seems like a rich man's house -- and unearth the treasure chest!