The PCs return to base camp and receive a new mission from Captain Holbrook: investigate orc attacks and a cave spotted by another team which might be a lair.
Dorn finds the orcs’ tracks and leads them to the cave. It clear someone carved a stronghold out of this hillside centuries ago which has been occupied again very recently. Orc and human tracks cross the area, and a set of wagon tracks leads up to the entrance. A bloody handprint at the entrance suggests the new occupants are the same cult the PC’s faced a few days ago.
Dorn suspects the builders were human, but the design and engineering are dwarven.
The entry hall has a murder hole in the ceiling, crossed with iron bars. A crazy old man above calls through it, “give the word and I’ll open the door, get it wrong I’ll give ye what for!” When Ander announces they are from the Purge, the old man empties a sack of poisonous snakes onto his head. Torches and oil help dispatch the snakes, but not before everyone is poisoned and badly weakened.
With no other way to open the locked door, Dorn uses a crowbar and his immense strength to rip it down. While the cult raises the alarm the PCs explore quickly, looking for a defensible position.
Otter nearly falls into a covered pit trap. There is another murder hole above it and stains on the pit’s cover indicate victims were dropped from the level above into this pit.
The PCs decide to make a stand in the large room off the entry hall and battle 8 cultists, killing 6 and driving 2 away. Battered, they agree to take a short rest in a smaller, empty room with a door they can close. The voices outside suggest the cult thinks the PCs have fled and is searching the hills for them.