Venturing northward, the group finds themselves in sparsely populated territory. Fortunately, Bond and Amelia's critter manage to find enough game to keep bellies filled and grumbling to a minimum amongst the city folk in the group. A few days later, the circle spots a small collection of houses off the main road. They also spot two carts rolling away from the city with several people caged within the carts. A quick discussion results in everyone heading into town to find out what's going on.
The town is clearly not one frequented by traders, nor terribly prosperous. Once within the town, they're presented with the story of depredations by the Fair Folk and a mercenary group (The Black Hand) they hired to protect them from those depredations. Being such a ragtag collection of hovels, the townsfolk were unable to pay the mercenaries' protection fee and some of the villagers have been taken to be sold as slaves in lieu of payment. Some members of the mercenaries are posted into the town to act as sentries should the Fair Folk return (and tattle on the villagers).
The team decides to set off in rescue of the townsfolk and postpone deciding what may be done about the Fair Folk menace. With Amelia's creature following the scent of the mercenaries, they quickly gain on the cumbersome carts. Surprising the mercenaries, they manage to slay the guard and both drivers. This results in the freeing of 3 adults and 2 kids. They learn that more captives may be ahead at the camp and warn the townsfolk to remain where they are, armed now with a few knives from Lujan's collection.
Once again following the scent of unwashed mercenary scum, they group eventually reaches a camp. Soon realizing an inherent lack of war footing or even professionalism, they decide to wait for the camp to fall asleep before descending upon them. During the reconnoiter, the spot two more caged carts in the camp with 2 prisoners in each. Once the camp is asleep, Bond, Lujan, and the critter sneak into camp and begin silencing all of the sleeping mercenaries. They save the most opulent tent for last.
Entering the final tent, they bind the fellow sleeping within. City boy Lujan manages an impressive imitation of an owl, summoning Amelia to come and aid in the interrogation of the manacled oaf that Bond has managed to thoroughly intimidate.