In the days following the group's return from the Drownyard in the Precipice Quarter, it became apparent very quickly that the article in the Tattler had turned up the heat on Russ: as he recovered from his wisdom drain, and spent the time haggling and selling loot, the local Guard were trolling the Eastgate District, looking for him for questioning about his involvement with the Tragar Grimvald escape at the docks in Escadar. By the end of the week, Russ came to the inevitable conclusion that it might be best for him to leave the city for a while – fortunately, an opportunity to do just that came from Zenari. Newly reunited with a legally papered Lupo, the druids in Evergreen Park needed someone to find out what was going on with the new fort being established in the interior by the Kortos Expeditionary Force, who had been meeting stiffer than usual resistance trying to establish a new post in the dry wilderness north of Absalom, in the hilly uplands between the Kortos Mounts to the west and the open sea to the east. The new fortification was located at a spot some 24 miles north of Fort Iccanor, which was getting a re-supply via a civilian caravan very soon. As several druids and scouts who assisted the KEF's new fortification were killed, the Shepherds Crux wanted to know what was going on.
Also during this time Svala discovered that Jayne Seoni, the younger artist sister of Calistria priestess Rosemund Seoni, had been visited again by Jakke, the young hotspur of House Dureanz, this time with several of his family and friends, and that she'd been assaulted in public by him. Not having the time to investigate the incident properly, Jayne moved from her home in the Ivy District to stay with her sister at the Small Temple of Calistria in The Petals District.
By the end of the week, the group enlisted with Zenari to go out with Erlin Dumatrov's caravan out to Fort Iccanor. For the journey, Cowen purchased a riding goat from shifty halfling Reeko Barrelbottom at Reeko's Critters, whom he promptly named Gruff. The trek started off with a brief stop over in Copperwood, where sandwiches and ale were purchased from the Pampered Poodle Tavern for the journey. During the trek, the group got to know some of their fellow companions hired to see the caravan safely north, including Erlin, his half-elf bard wife Varella, their sons Rao and Pioter, and fellow guards Aliya, Lexo, and Maverick. Also accompanying the caravan was young KEF Platoon Sergeant, Karl.
All was relatively quiet for the first couple of days; but on the third day the skies opened up and the rains came down, making the hard journey through the broken hills even more difficult because of mud and flash flooding. As the caravan was mired in a deep muddy spot, it was attacked by a group of 13 gnolls! A fierce battle ensued, and things looked grim for both Varella and Maverick, but in the end the caravan guards won, and there were 13 dead gnolls lying in the steaming mud at the end of the day. And here is where Chapter 9 came to a close.