At this point, Kern and Erijay were joined by Lomar (and his retainer Guy), bringing the news from Stonehell. Which made them all think that perhaps the best place for Duncal was back in the dungeon, in the care of the SRA.Combining Sir Janus' band with the SRA would give them a bigger force, and keep Duncal out of trouble as a bonus. Duncal just about scuttled that idea though, insisting he was not about to go in 'that hole' again. Choosing bribery over force, a deal was struck with Duncal. Agreement as reached that everything would come to fruition 'soon', and that once Duncal had been placed in charge of Westmist, he would stay just 3-4 months before taking his money and heading for "more civilized lands". Kern, Erijay and Lomar also agreed to pay him 100gp for incidentals in the interim, and 5000gp as his final fee once he was free to go. In return, Duncal would go to Stonehell with the SRA and not run again.
That concluded, they carried Duncal back to Sir Janus, and then confronted the knight with the plan. Sir Janus was not happy at first, feeling it beneath his dignity to serve amongst such rabble rousers and lower class men. He agree to the plan only in the understanding that he, Sir Janus of Lacewood was in command. Which was agreed, but Kern wrested the agreement that there would be no romantic cavalry charges to fight the enemy in the open field. Sir Janus agreed (and Erijay confirmed he was being genuine with a little ESP), and so the whole band broke camp and headed for Stonehell.
When everyone assembled once more in Stonehell, the party prepared for the winter trek across the Untamed Lands to find the Horn Tribe barbarians and the hidden halls of the Gann. Heading out of town, they first bargained an old man out of his riverboat, and so the party took to the water. Slipping past the fortress of Amrath in the dark (and silence thanks to Lomar), the turned north up the Great River, assuming from their map that it would take them to the foothills of the Black Spine Mountains. It unfortunately didn't, but instead led them back to the Western War Peaks from whence they'd just returned with Janus and Duncal. So they hauled the boat ashore, and struck out overland, following the edge of a dark, coniferous forest until they struck the Black Spine some days later. Following the mountain front north for several more days, they were passing through a boulder field when suddenly they were surrounded by an ambush of shaggy, wooly humanoids ...