- 1 Overview
- 2 Plot
- 2.1 Introduction
- 2.2 Delivering the Wagon
- 2.3 Exploring Phandalin
- 2.4 Exile and Incursion
- 2.5 The Investigation Begins
- 2.6 A Night Encounter, a Banshee and a Necromancer
- 2.7 Red Brands' Reprisal
- 2.8 Assault on Tresendar Manor, Pt1
- 2.9 Assault on Tresendar Manor, Pt2
- 2.10 Assault on Tresendar Manor, Pt3
- 2.11 A Town Now Freed
- 2.12 A New Day, A New Lead
- 2.13 A Marathon Effort, A Clash with Goblins, A Raging Flood and a Hard Fought Fight
- 2.14 The Investigation Stalls
- 2.15 A Hunt, A Rage and a New Venture Forth
- 2.16 Thundertree, Pt1
- 2.17 Thundertree, Pt2
- 2.18 Thundertree, Pt3
- 2.19 A Treacherous Cult, A Ferocious Dragon and A Dangerous Bargain
- 2.20 A New Sheriff in Town
- 2.21 Spy vs Spy
- 2.22 Castle Crashers
- 2.23 The Castle Crashes Back
- 2.24 The King and I
- 2.25 The Hunters and the Hunted
- 2.26 Make Yourself at Home
- 2.27 The Beginning of the End
- 2.28 Not Ready For The Jelly
- 2.29 The Spider's Lair
- 3 Loot, Treasure and Spoils
- 4 Key Outcomes
The Lost Mine of Phandelver is the first D&D Campaign to be played by the team. The main characters of this campaign include Ellaria Nightwood, Yamcha, Wobbly Killa, Gwendoline Wood and Ravaaga Laughshield. The campaign revolves around the exploits of Gundren Rockseeker and his mysterious disappearance. The party tangled with both the Red Brands criminal gang and the Cragmaw Goblin Tribe in their hunt for the missing Dwarf and as they closed in on the mysterious Black Spider. They learned of the existence of the long forgotten Forge of Spells, deep within the Wave Echo Cave, and sought to stop the Black Spider from claiming its power. The campaign came to a climax when the party confronted and attacked the Black Spider deep within the old mines of the Wave Echo Cave, where all but Wobbly Killa perished at the hands of the villains forces.
Other major characters include temporary party members Neesa Lanstrider, Christoph Narle and the Goblin Droop, as well as Dicklack Retardo for a short time. Major NPCs include Gundren Rockseeker, the Black Spider, Venomfang, Sister Garaele and Halia Thornton.
The campaign begins in the town of Neverwinter, on the Sword Coast of the Forgotten Realms. Gundren Rockseeker, a miner and one of the three Rockseeker brothers, is preparing to return to the frontier town of Phandalin, a few days travel to the south-east. In need of escort services for his goods, he hired four adventures whom he met while in town to travel with the wagon until they could deliver the goods to Bartrend's Provisions. Ellaria Nightwood, Ravaaga Laughshield, Yamcha and Stump agreed to the job for the price of 10gp a piece. Gundren, along with his bodyguard, a human warrior named Sildar Hallwinter, set out at once to "take care of business" before the party's arrival. Together, the party set out along the highroad and eventually on to the Triboar Trail. This is where the story began
Delivering the Wagon
As the party travels along the Triboar Trail, they come across the bodies of two slain horses in the middle of the road, blocking their path. The heroes descend from the wagon and with Ellaria staying behind to protect the equipment they approach the horses in order to move them. The party recognize the horses as those belonging to Gundren and Sildar, both slain by arrows and looted. While moving the horses to the sides of the road, the adventurer's are surprised by a Goblin ambush from the forest on the north side of the trail.
In the ensuing chaos of the ambush the party attempts to fall back to the wagon but Stump, slow to act, is left behind at the horses in the middle of the road. Ellaria and Ravaaga are both knocked unconscious by well aimed arrows from the Goblins as they crouch inside the wagon while an isolated Stump is slain by an arrow to the face. Yamcha, having killed three of the attackers, causes the last Goblin to flee into the forest. After clearing the road of the horses and Stump, the remaining heroes take a short rest in the wagon before continuing along the road to Phandalin. After arriving in the town, they hand over possession of the wagon and the goods to Barthen's Provisions. Here they learn of Gundren's disappearance and collect their 10gp before heading to the local Inn for lodging.
While at the Inn, Yamcha runs into an old acquaintance, Wobbly Killa. Together they strike up a deal to investigate Gundren's business dealing in the town in hope of some loot along the way. Wobbly officially joins the team the following morning after being introduced to Ellaria and Ravaaga. The party agrees to follow up on Gundren's disappearance for various reasons using leads learned from the Inn's bartender. Ellaria and Ravaaga head to the Townmaster's Hall where they meet with Harbin Wester, the man in charge. Unable to extract any information from him for free, they leave with a request to oust a band of Orcs from Wyvern Tor who have been causing trouble for the town, in exchange for 100gp.
Meanwhile, Yamcha and Wobbly head for the Lionshield Coster, a trading outpost where they speak to the proprietor Linene Graywind. She had nothing of worth to say about Gundren. However she ask the group to retrieve her lost property, which was stolen when the delivery went missing. After a negotiation she agrees to pay 60gp for the return of her merchandise. After meeting back up and sharing information, the party agree to try infiltrate the Red Brands, a local band of thugs, that night. While on the way to the local Shrine of Luck to passing time, the party is accosted by Red Brand thugs outside the Inn. The thugs demand that the party hand over their equipment and leave town immediately, not wanting people snooping around in their town. The party initially stands up to the thugs but are quickly beaten down. Wobbly, the last standing hero manages to beg for the party's safety in exchange for most of their valuables and coin. The thugs, once paid off, forcibly escort the adventurers out of town.
Exile and Incursion
Now in exile from the town, the party make camp a few miles out of town with the help of Ravaaga's survival skills. The party lick their wounds and rest up from the fighting of the day. Taking turns on watch, it's an uneventful night and day breaks without a stir. As the sun rises and Ellaria finishes her watch, a stranger enters the camp unnoticed. Looking up from her book, Ellaria comes face to face with a young Human woman. After introducing herself as a "Champion of Justice", Neesa Lanstrider questions the group on why they aren't staying in town. During the conversation, the camp is approached by an Half-Orc male in full armor. Stopping his advance at Neesa's signal, the man is referred to as "Crissy" and is fact the Paladin Christoph Narle. Though initially fearful of the duo's intent, the party's fear dissipates as the girl's wide-eyed curiosity and repeated use of the word "justice" makes her seem like she is no threat. During the conversation, Wobbly notices the symbol engraved on kite shield worn by Christoph as the symbol of Tyr, the God of Justice. He also notices the symbol drawn over Tyr's as being the same as the tattoo on the back of Neesa's hand. After the team reveal they have been forced out of Phandalin by the Red Brands, Neesa and Christoph agree to meet with them outside the town to exact justice or revenge (depending on your point of view).
After meeting up again at the entrance to town, the party and their new companions head straight for the first gang of Red Brands they see on patrol. Co-incidentally the Red Brands they meet were the same as the day before who are hassling a local street stall. After battle ensues, Neesa knocks out two of the thugs with her marshal arts skills while Christoph pulls one apart with a critical hit from his war-pick. Before being KO'd, one of the thugs receives a blast of acid thrown by Ellaria. Meanwhile Wobbly and Yamcha together corner the lookout thug but are unable to stop him from escaping after his companions are felled. Once combat ceases, Christoph loots a bag of 9gp form the corpse and passes it to Ellaria as "reparations" as Neesa takes a coin purse for 10gp from another thug laid out on the ground. The duo and the party decide to part ways so they can take care of business in town as the heroes bind the KO'd thugs and take them back out of town for interrogation
The Investigation Begins
After beginning the interrogation of the captured Red Brands, it is clear that only one is fit to speak, the second having been scalded across the face by Ellaria's acid spell. The one unharmed thug tells the gang all he knows about the Red Brands, knowing he can't go back to them without being killed. He tells them the Red Brands are led by a wizard known as Glasstaff (because he carries a glass staff). He also mentions the Red Brands have their hideout under Tresendar Manor, the old mansion on the hill in Phandalin. Finally, in exchange for his life he mentions the name "Black Spider" and that the thugs have been hired to rough up the locals and keep out adventurers. Once released, the ruffian makes a break for it running north, away from the town, and escapes the party. The second thug is left to his wounds outside of town.
Once back in town, the gang head for the Shrine of Luck in search of Christoph and Neesa, based on the assumption that "Champions of Justice" would be at a shrine. They find Christoph having a disagreement with the shrine's acolyte, Sister Garaele. After speaking to Christoph, the party learn that he and Neesa (who is currently playing out in the adjacent orchard) have concluded their business in town and will be leaving for important duties in Neverwinter and Luskan the following day. Once they share the information learned from their interrogation with Christoph, he agrees to meet the party outside after he gathers up Neesa. Ellaria and Ravaaga start their investigation of Glasstaff and the Black Spider by questioning Sister Garaele. Unfortunately she has no knowledge that can help them but offer them 3 Potions of Healing if they help her to find the location of a spellbook the Shrine desires by asking a banshee named Agatha about it. Meanwhile Yamcha and Wobbly use the distraction to Sister Garaele as cover so they can swipe 2 small ornate statues from a side alter.
After leaving the Shrine and meeting Christoph and Neesa once more, the party decide to put off dealing with the Red Brands until they are more thoroughly prepared. The party ask the duo to come with them to meet Agatha but Christoph reminds them of their pressing business in Neverwinter and that Agatha's lair is in the opposite direction. They will leave it up to the party to deal with the banshee. Agreeing to part ways, the duo head over to the Stonehill Inn for the rest of the day, but not before Neesa mentions her new friend from the orchard. Hearing he is an old adventurer, the party enter the Edermath Orchard to speak with him. Daran Edermath, a retired half-elven adventurer, helps the party further their investigation of Glasstaff and the Black Spider by allowing them to question him. Daren, having heard the name of Glasstaff and being a strong voice of condemnation for the Red Brands he encourages the party to rid the town of them. He confirms the party's info that the Red Brands have a base under Tresendar Manor. He also asks the group to investigate the happenings at Old Owl Well, where prospectors are being run off by undead. He fears somebody is trying to tap in to dormant magic left over from a long fallen empire known as Netheril. The party agree to check it out if they are in the area. As the day turns into the afternoon, the party pay a quick visit to the shopping stalls in order to prep for further adventure.
A Night Encounter, a Banshee and a Necromancer
The party set forth and head east along the Triboar trail that afternoon. Along the way they set up camp for the night and all seems peaceful. Each of them take a turn at watch and as the last shift takes place Yamcha sits by the fire. Unbeknownst to the Dragonborn a trio of Goblins creep into the camp but as they approach the centre of the field, the clink of the misfitting armor gives away their approach. Yamcha calls out to alert the resting party before being overwhelmed by the attacks of the Goblins. Upon waking in their respective tents, Ellaria casts Mage Armor upon herself while Ravaaga and Wobbly lay in await to strike out from the darkness. The light and sound of her casting however gives away her position in the darkness and the two melee Goblins descend on her with a flurry of slashing blows (their archer friend holds back to the west in the dark). They land a number of hits on her through the tent, including a critical blow, completely destroying the tent and knocking her out. Wobbly takes this opportunity to spring out of his adjacent tent and land a sneak attack on the Goblins, severely wounding both of them before fleeing back into the darkness. While helping up his now prone buddy, the melee Goblins lose track of the remaining party members. Ravaaga takes the opportunity to kill both of them but not without taking a serious slash across the chest herself. Meanwhile, Wobbly takes a chance at sneaking up on the archer Goblin from the front, to no avail, but manages to slay him once he regained his footing. Once combat ceases, Ravaaga uses the healing kit she loots from the KO'd Ellaria to revive both her and Yamcha without difficulty, then returns the healing kit to its owner.
After their night encounter with the Goblins the party set out once more to find the Banshee Agatha. In the morning the can see a large plum of smoke rising from the south east in the direction of Phandalin but they ignore it and carry on. After another day's march they reach the lair of Agatha. A small and cold hut build from intertwined branches deep within the forest, the party enter with a sense of fear for what become of them. Shortly after entering, a cold presence fill the air and a feeling of dread grips all in the small room. The banshee shows herself, detesting the group's intrusion to her home. Ellaria, taking the lead, uses the comb given to her by Sister Garaele to barter a question out of the Banshee. The party ask for the location of Bowgentle's tome, as per the Sister's request, and she tells them has been long since traded to a Necromancer in the far east over a century ago. Having learned what they needed from Agatha, the party leave unharmed in order to investigate Old Owl Well which is near by.
Once they reach the ruins at Old Owl Well, it is clear that trouble is brewing. A large tent is set up in the centre of the ruins and the smell of rotting flesh fills the air. Yamcha pokes his head inside the tent but his noisy action alerts the inhabitant to the party's presence. The man steps out of his tent and immediately Ellaria recognizes the tattoo on the man's face as a symbol of Necromancy and his robes as those of a person from Thay. The necromancer greats them with indignation and quickly tries to get the party to leave him be. He mentions only that he is doing research and wants to be left alone but will trade information to the party if they help him out. He wishes them to kill a band of Orcs at Wyvern Tor (the party is already aware of them) who recently scouted his camp and will no doubt return to raid him soon. He also wishes them to visit Agatha and find out the name of the wizard who built the tower at Old Owl Well. He warns them not to return without completing one of these tasks for him. The party leave, heading back to Agatha's lair, where they set up camp for the night. No matter what the party does however, they are unable to convince the Banshee to manifest herself again. In an attempt to help the group, Wobbly admits to stealing the statuettes from the Shrine, forcing Yamcha to come clean as well. However, Agatha doesn't take the bait. Giving up on trying to question her the party head back to Phandalin after deciding not to loot Agatha's lair.
Red Brands' Reprisal
After having spending 5 days on their trek to see the Banshee, the party return to Phandalin without incident. Upon arriving however it becomes clear that an attack by the Red Brands has happened in their absence. They speak with the bartender of the Stonehill Inn who tells them that on the night they left town the Red Brands set fire to the his building with patrons inside as a reprisal for the patrol they lost that day. Luckily for the town, Neesa and Christoph were inside at the time preparing to leave for Neverwinter the next morning, who help remove all the locals to safety before fighting back the Red Brands. The Red Brands lost 11 men to the duo that night as well as, what the bartender described, "a wolf-like monster". The whole town consider the duo's presence and victory as a divine blessing bestowed to them. Neesa and Christoph did not survive unscathed however and have had to stay in the town to recuperate their minor wounds for the entire time the party was away. The Red Brands, suffering heavy losses, have had to hold up in their hideout for that time as well. Having learned all they could from the barman, they leave to report back to Sister Garaele and Daran Edermath but not before being reminded that the inn is till open for business. Having discovered the information sought by the Sister, the parry is rewarded with 3 Potions of Healing as promised. Ellaria is entrusted with the potions and she quickly disperses them among the party. Daran also passes on his thanks for investigating Old Owl Well and is able to tell the group that the "wolf monster" that was helping the Red Brands during the attack on the inn was in fact a Bugbear, though he knew not how the thugs come into contact with it.
Having reported all they know to the Sister and Daran the party resolve to reunite with Neesa and Christoph and to deal with the Red Brands once and for all. They meet up with Neesa at the Stone Hill Inn where she shares news with the group that she has picked up while they where away. Thel Dendrar, a local woodcutter, had been murdered by the Red Brands a Tensday before for standing up to them when they leered at his wife. His family had also gone missing that same night, both his wife and his kids mysteriously disappeared. Neesa also mentioned that she learned that the Red Brands avoid the Miner's exchange, not wanting to cause trouble with the owner. After buying a replacement tent for Ellaria, the group spend the afternoon preparing for the raid on the Red Brands hideout by drinking at the Stonehill Inn while Neesa meditates on the small green in the centre of town. By nightfall the party meets up with Christoph who had spent the day prepping his gear and continuing his investigation of the grounds around Tresendar Manor. The six head down below to the cellar of the manor and begin their assault.
Assault on Tresendar Manor, Pt1
The party find themselves in plain basement cellar, about 15 feet below the earth, filled with barrels of goods and even a cistern of water against the far wall. Immediately the group spreads out to search the room. Christoph, sensing that the layout of the below room doesn't fit with the exterior of the manor, though he can't quite be sure in what way, tells the group such. As Ellaria begins to search the cistern, Wobbly, ever the prankster, pushed her into the cold water. While below the waterline she manages to spot a waterproof satchel that has been hidden in the water, containing a Potion of Healing, Potion of Invisibility, 50gp and a set of ordinary clothes. Pulling herself free from the water she collects the satchel for herself while Wobbly laughs loudly. Meanwhile, Yamcha and Ravaaga search the barrels on either side of the room finding various sundry goods within. Yamcha, after deciding to gulp down two cups worth of fine ale from one of the barrels, becomes sick from a mild Alcohol Poisoning having drank more of the stuff in the Inn before the raid. Done searching the room, the group turn their attentions towards the Western door at the back of the cellar. Checking the door thoroughly, Wobbly opens up the door to go through, however Ravaaga decides to take the initiative and pushes past him, entering first. When passing him, Wobbly intentionally trips Ravaaga who falls prone just inside the door. To the groups surprise, two Red Brand Ruffians jump out from behind the adjacent walls, having planned an ambush after hearing the commotion of searching, splashing, laughing and drinking going on in the next room. Both thugs lay into Ravaaga with their short swords, felling her and leaving her in a heap on the ground bleeding to death. Attempting to hold the ruffians back, Wobbly makes a short sword attack of his own but his strike was easily dodged, and he nicks the blade off the door frame causing it damage. All rushing to the fray, everyone gets stuck in a linear formation, unable to pass into the room where Ravaaga lies dying due to the thugs blocking the door. In an attempt to stop the profuse bleed Ravaaga tries to compress the wounds but the movement only increases the loss of blood. Ellaria tries to use her Magic Missile spell to push back the Red Brands but a stray projectile tags Wobbly in the back as well as the two thugs. The group decides to switch up their tactics and draw the thugs out of the doorway and into the main cellar hall in order to fight in a more open formation. From here Yamcha is able to slay one Red Brand after initiating his Rage while Neesa lays her barrage of kicks and punches into the second, knocking him out cold. Quickly Neesa scrambles over to the dying half-elf to administer medical attention but it is too late and Ravaaga's lifeless form goes limp.
Following battle, the team takes a short moment to mourn the fallen half-elf. Christoph, true to his holy training, lifts the body to a nearby bed and preforms a rite of passage for her soul. Ellaria and Wobbly search the bodies of the Red Brands, finding 28sp and 12gp. Ellaria also takes the gold from Ravaaga' coin purse. Wobbly trades his damaged shortsword with Ravaaga's and takes her Potion of Healing while Yamcha takes her shortbow and quiver. Before Yamcha and Wobbly set out with Ellaria to explore the the northern doorway, Christoph uses his Lay on Hands ability to cure the minor wounds sustained in battle. Staying behind, Christoph and Neesa search the cellar area to investigate Christoph's hunch. Following the door to the north, Ellaria, Wobbly and Yamcha find themselves in a 30ft hallway heading west. A double door made with ornate copper, now green with age, lay at the end of the hall. While approaching the doors, Ellaria walked straight into the centre of a booby trapped pit and crashed though the floor landing prone 20ft below. After using a Potion of Healing to recover from the fall and with the help of Yamcha and Wobbly she was able to climb out. The party manage to traverse the trap now that it has become an obvious pitfall. Upon reaching the doors, Yamcha tries to peer through the keyhole but accidentally bashes his head against it, taking damage and causing a loud bang. Wobbly, trying to open the left door with stealth, misjudges the weight of the copper door and crashes through it falling prone on the floor. Inside, the trio find a group of coffins of old Tresendar family heroes of centuries past, along with 3 upright skeletons guarding them. After a lengthy back and forth on if and when the skeletons will attack them, Wobbly takes the chance and attacks the nearest skeleton. A melee ensues as the skeletons animate in defense. Though the team struggles, they manage to make it through the fight, and Yamcha consumes his Potion of Healing. The noise of the struggle alerts those in nearby rooms, causing Neesa to come running to aid the party. Reunited she tells them Christoph has founds something of interest in his search and they should return to see him when they are done here. After combat the team take the opportunity to search the coffins, each finding a platinum Signet Ring of the old Tresendar family worth 50gp within. Afterward the party search the door to the North of the room while Neesa listens to the Eastern door thinking she could hear voices within.
To the room in the North they find a short 15ft hallway with a door on the right side at the end. While cautiously searching for traps after falling down the pit, Ellaria discovers a secret door opposite the wooden door blended into the stonework. Pushing through it carefully, Ellaria, Wobbly and Yamcha find themselves inside a small workroom used by the Red Brands to sort, store and prep stolen goods for transit and smuggling. To the South they notice a large cavern with a fissure running the centre of the room, from top to bottom. Before they could venture much further, Neesa calls them back to the tombs after hearing movement in the room to the East. As soon as the party return, Neesa rushes through the door and into an awaiting ambush by two Red Brands. She manages to roll out of harms way before the thugs' attacks connect. Pouring into the room, the party confront the Red Brands, killing one while Neesa KO's another. With the encounter finished, the party find themselves in a slave pen, where captives of the Red Brands have been held. Within the pens currently are four people: Mirna Dendrar, her children Nilsa and Nars, as well as a half-elven woman. Picking the lock on the cell doors, Wobbly frees the captives. Mirna, full of thanks for saving her family from a life in slavery, tells her heroes of her escape from Thundertree years before. She had left an emerald necklace in her old home which she happily gifts to them if they can retrieve it. Caring about the safety of the townsfolk, Neesa takes charge of them, leading them outside and back to town. Meanwhile Ellaria, Wobbly and Yamcha take a short rest inside the slave pen room as the Half-Elf introduces herself.
Assault on Tresendar Manor, Pt2
Gwendoline Wood, as the half-elf calls herself, is more than a little evasive as Ellaria and Wobbly question their new companion. They agree to work together to finish the raid on the hideout but first they must find her some gear. During the rest, Yamcha's case of poisoning took a turn for the worse as he passed out while lying on the Pens' floor. Taking the opportunity for another prank, Wobbly takes the box of chalk from Yamcha and uses a piece to write the word "Cock" in Giant across his forehead. Gwen, or "Woody" as Wobbly dubbed her, set out with Ellaria to retrieve the armor from Ravaaga's corpse while Wobbly interrogated the KO'd Red Brand in the Pens. Unable to retrieve much new or useful information other than that the slaves where to be sold to the Cragmaws, Wobbly leaves him lock up in one of the pen cells. On the way to the front cellar room, Gwen loses her footing while skirting around the pitfall trap, falling in. With the help of Ellaria she emerges and they continue to Ravaaga's body. Peering into the side room where they left it, they see Christoph kneeling by the bed in prayer while he preforms rites on the body. In the corner is a fully restrained and unconscious Red Brand from the earlier skirmish in the room. Christoph, once updated on the situation, allowed them to retrieve the dead woman's armor. Having heard of the skeletons deeper in the complex from Neesa as she passed though the room with the Dendrars, Christoph returns to the crypt area with the girls to investigate the necromantic magic that compelled them to animate. Before they leave, Christoph shows them both the secret door he found. On the way back, it is Ellaria who loses footing and falls into the pit once again. Almost ready to set out once more, Gwen only needs a weapon to be ready to fight. She takes Yamcha's prized glaive, causing a mix of amusement and annoyance to the rest of the party. Leaving Yamcha sleeping off his condition in the safety of the pens, the party head back towards the workroom through the northern hallway, after Christoph heals the wounds taken from the pitfall with his Lay on Hands.
The trio of Wobbly, Ellaria and Gwen head deeper into the Red Brands hideout. This time they don't let the door on the right pass them by. When Wobbly fails to pick the lock on the door and Gwen is unable to break down the door, Ellaria uses Acid Splash to weaken the wood of the door and Gwen tries a second time to force the door. This time she passes right through the door, taking acid damage as she does. Once inside, the party realize they have found the armory. Within is a storehouse full of spears, swords and crossbows that the Red Brands have been amassing with the aim to expand in the near future. Gwen loots herself a longsword as Wobbly takes a shortsword. Also found in the armory are several dirty red cloaks the Red Brands use to distinguish themselves. After much debate, the party decide to use the cloaks as disguises. Cloaks on, they head back to the large room with the deep crevasse. Within the room they find two bridges, one at the northern end of the room and one to the south. After careful inspection they decide to cross the northern bridge, believing it safe to traverse. After reaching the other side, the trio are confronted by a Nothic, a being both physically and mentally warped by long exposure to raw magic. The Nothic was aware of the parties presence before they were of it's and it made use of its Weird Insight to telepathically read the depths of their minds. Speaking directly to their minds, and between cackles and whispers, the Nothic requests a bargain. In return for letting them past unharmed (the Nothic was not exactly loyal to the Red Brands around it), it wanted a fresh body to feast on, one of a hero as "the taste of evil is too sour". To sweeten the deal, it offered information to the first of the party to ask, on "Lord Darkdew", "Hamato House" or the "Mad Rats" for Gwen, Ellaria and Wobbly respectively. The party resolve to feed it Ravaaga's corpse. They return to the entrance cellar via the passage shown to them by Christoph and much to their relief he was still in the Crypts. Together Gwen and Wobbly haul back the remains and toss it down into the crevasse for the Nothic while Ellaria looked away. After moments of hesitation over who will get the information, Ellaria speaks up and asks about "Hamato House". The Nothic tells her its to the South, "much further South than Baulder's Gate", but even the Nothic itself undermines the trustworthiness of its intel. With their deal concluded, the Nothic descends into the crevasse to eat as the party move on.
Finding three exits to the cavernous room, a smugglers tunnel to the South and two heading West, the gang decide to take the northern most of the Western exits. Pretty soon they find themselves at a junction with a large wooden door on either side. Picking randomly they decide to go through the door on the right (North) and they slowly peer through a small opening they make as Gwen softly pushes the door forward. It is clear that nobody is within and the party hurriedly head inside and out of the hallway. Concoctions, alembics, retorts and other alchemical devices fill the central table while sheets of paper and books are scattered over the adjacent desks. As the party enters, a lone rat scurries across the floor and under the table. Ellaria, being trained in Arcana, instantly recognizes the set up as an attempt to create Potions of Invisibility but the current set up is insufficient. Mixing some of the ingredients from the table into the set up she manages to brew herself a Potion of Invisibility, which she gives to Wobbly, and then pockets rare reagents from the table (including Powered Nightshade, Dragonbile and Mercury). While the others loiter about the room, Ellaria reads out a book in Dwarfen that its sitting on the table. Written by an adventurer named Urmon, his journal recounts the history of the Phandelver Pact, the Wave Echo Cave, the Forge of Spells and also of the magically forged mace named Lightbringer still thought to be held within. The trio spend a number of minutes absorbing the depths of this knowledge and speculating on Glasstaff's intents. Shortly after, the party notice a door leading Eastward which they had overlooked thus far. Wobbly stealthy checks the adjacent room and finds it empty, after which he heads straight for a footlocker clearly visible from the doorway. This new room appears to be the personal quarters of an important person, presumably Glasstaff. Another secret doorway on the back wall is ajar, the resident having seemingly fled before the party arrived. Wobbly loots the footlocker, taking various precious gems and coins for himself, leaving a share of the money and magic scrolls for the other two. Checking out the only other feature of note in the room, a pristine writing desk, Ellaria finds a note addressed to Iarno Albrek and signed with the mark of the Black Spider. The note mentions Gundren Rockseeker and the party, ordering Albrek to waylay or kill anyone who would upset their plans and "not to disappoint me".
Assault on Tresendar Manor, Pt3
Back at the crossroads that lead them to the Wizard's Workshop, the party decide to head through the left door (South). Listening at the door they hear the noise of drinking, gaming and arguing. Deciding to go in balls out, they walk in wearing the red cloaks and pretending to be a team coming off of watch. Within the room are 3 Red Brands, all of which are drunk and arguing over the latest rolls of the game of Knucklebone they were playing. Initially suspicious of the party, they are two drunk to see through the disguises once Wobbly joins the game. In an attempt to gain the chance to surprise attack the thugs, Ellaria and Gwen feign affection for two of the players and try sit in their laps. Managing to see them try draw their weapons, the thugs push the girls off them. In the commotion, Wobbly draws both his shortswords and attacks those Red Brands beside him. A fight ensue with both Ellaria and Gwen suffering injuries, but Wobbly manages to make short work of the drunks. Ellaria is forced to use her last Potion of Healing while Gwen is out of luck. Collecting his "winnings" from the table, Wobbly pockets all the loot on the table before the party head to the Southern most door. Heading out into the hallway, they see another door to the South and the passage that seems to lead back to the cavernous room. Listening to the newest door, they hear growling and shouting in an unknown language. Together the party squabble over their next course of action: whether they should enter the room and face the threat or return and convince Christoph to do it. Ellaria breaks the indecision with a plan of her own. They enter the room and find two Bugbears bossing a weak Goblin around for fun, demanding him to "lick the floor" and "roll like a dog". Interrupted, the lead Bugbear, an eye-patch wearing fright named Mosk demands the party to leave. The Bugbears believe them to be Red Brands since they spend all of their time away from "the filthy 'umans". Mosk makes reference to the fact that his "boss will beat down your boss" meaning his boss rules over Glasstaff. Ellaria enacts her plan at this point, telling Mosk she can lead him to the person responsible for killing his fellow Bugbear during the attack on the Stonehill Inn. The party leads the two Bugbears (the Goblin stays behind, passed out due to fright) back to the entrance cellar and into what they think is a trap, expecting Christoph to make short work of them.
Horror quickly spreads across the faces of the party as they enter the cellar area via the secret entrance used previously, only to find Christoph lying on his back amidst a pool of blood. Mosk speaks up at the sight, angered to think that his chance at vengeance has been stolen from him. In her shock, Ellaria lets slip that she was a friend of Christoph, inciting the Bugbears to attack. Within an instant, Ellaria is knocked to the ground unconscious, bleeding to death. In a panic, both Wobbly and Gwen who had been taking up the rear, flee back out towards the cavernous room with the Bugbears giving chase. Gwen and Wobbly being the quicker group, they make it back in moments. Gwen steps out onto the southern of the two bridges that cross the chasm and attempts to bribe the Nothic below into helping them fight the Bugbears, while Wobbly slides down the chasm walls in an attempt to hide. Upon reaching the bottom, Wobbly feels an overwhelming coldness emanate from the ground. Above, the negotiations with the Nothic do not go well. His hunger sated, he wishes for at least 500gp worth of treasure to intervene. To Gwen this is an unpayable ransom. Moments later, the Bugbears enter the room and spot Gwen. She immediately dashes across the bridge until it collapses under her weight. She falls 20ft to the bottom of the chasm and falls unconscious, dying. Thinking she's as good as dead, the Bugbears turn back to finish off Ellaria and investigate Christoph's remains. This time it is them who are surprised as they find both Christoph and Ellaria back on their feet and ready for battle. While they were gone, Christoph regained consciousness with a guttural growl belying his Orcish nature. Instantly he noticed Ellaria's body, even through the Red Brand cloak, and he used the last of his Lay on Hands to revive her. He also used his Aid spell to grant her temporary HP and help her withstand the fight. Together they best the Bugbears and Christoph takes Mosk's bejeweled eye-patch as a trophy. Back in the chasm, Wobbly faces a dilemma: to save Gwen or loot a chest at the other end of the chasm. Wobbly made it very clear he's not a fan of Gwen but in the end he decides to revive her by forcing her to drink his last Potion of Healing, fearing the Nothic might attack if he notices his treasure being looted.
With everyone back on their feet Gwen, Wobbly, Ellaria and Christoph, none of whom are in good shape. Meet up at the entrance to the previously discovered smuggler's passage leading out of the hideout from the cavernous room. Christoph, being in rather poor shape, completely fails to notice the Nothic or the sacrifice given to it earlier by the party. He tell the party of how he got his wounds: that he was returning to the entrance cellar when a small panicked man with a short, dark beard and princely robes emerged from the secret door carrying a glass staff. He was reaching in to the cistern for something when Christoph confronted him, They did battle there in the cellar for a number of minutes before Christoph managed to cause a grizzly wound in the mans left shoulder. It was then that he was struck at point black by a number of Magic Missiles and the wizard teleported away to safety, though he left a blood trail behind him. As Christoph finishes his story, the cowardly Goblin from earlier emerges from an adjacent hallway to greet the party. He introduces himself as Droop, though in a frightend and cowardly way, and proclaims the party to be his new masters now that they have slain Mosk. Giving little heed to the yellowish shorty before them, the party splits up one last time to retrieve Yamcha's, who is still KO'd, as look for any last pieces of treasure they can find. Once finished, the party as well as Christoph and Droop ready to leave the Red Brands hideout once and for all.
A Town Now Freed
Together the adventurers, with Droop in tow, follow the smugglers passage for a hundred yards or so. Ellaria leads the way while carrying Yamcha with the aid of Gwen while Wobbly defends the rear. In the middle, Chris holds himself together as his wounds remain open. They emerge in the open air of a dark forest, barely able to see the starlight above. Ellaria uses her Light cantrip to illuminate the area around them. Turning to Chris for direction he tells them that Phandalin should be close by, to the West. Following his advice they head West and shortly emerge from the woods at the rear of Alderleaf farm. As they make their approach, forgetting they are still wearing Red Brand cloaks, commotion can be heard from within the farmhouse, as the inhabitants flee out the front door. Fearing danger, the party take cover behind the farmhouse where Christoph collapses against the wall to rest and try staunch his wounds. The heroes also take the opportunity to prop Yamcha's still KO'd body against the same wall. Wobbly, taking charge of the situation, demands Droop to scout out the house for them, which he readily agrees to do. Climbing through an open window Droop enters the home but is unable to find any trace of danger. Wobbly decides to seek higher ground to scout the wider area and begins to climb the side of the house. After reaching the second floor however he loses his footing and falls the 15ft feet to the ground. The sound of his fall seemed to alert nearby townsfolk who come to investigate. In all, four sets of footsteps are heard drawing near. Ellaria, Gwen, Droop and Wobbly (now with a sore butt) climb into the darkness of the house through the window in order to take cover. Wobbly takes up position by the open front doorway, Ellaria under the stairs while Gwen and Droop hid under chairs in the backroom. Hearing a deep and gruff voice from in front of the house, Ellaria attempts to reposition herself in order to be able to gain a line of sight in hopes of using her Detect Thoughts spell. Unfortunately her heavy footsteps give away the party's presence and before she can even flinch, the figure of a short woman bursts through the open doorway. In the darkness, it takes Ellaria too long to recognize Neesa, and she is soon knocked unconscious once more by an open fist strike. Seeing only a red cape in the darkness Neesa strikes out at her. It is not until Wobbly pulls off his cloak and address Neesa that the girl calms down and hold her punches.
With the danger passed, the remaining awake party members step outside of the house and finally see the townsfolk that have gathered. Standing before the house are Harbin Wester, Sister Garaele and an unrecognized Human woman. Demanding to know where Chris is, Neesa runs out to the back to see him, leaving Wobbly and Gwen to speak with the town leaders while Droop cowards behind the door frame, as yet unnoticed.They recount their adventures within the Red Brands hideout to the townsfolk and the locals rejoice to hear they are finally freed of the oppressive thugs. Wobbly also warns Sister Garaele of the Nothic they left behind so the town can prepare for it when they search the now cleared out thug lair. As a thanks, Harbin Wester declares that the heroes may rest up at the Stonehill Inn this night, paid for by the town. It now being the early hours of the morning, this sounds like great news to the ears of Wobbly and Gwen. Before breaking for the evening, Droop's presence is revealed and a panic is about to spread once more. Thinking quickly, Gwen manages to calm Harbin and is able to keep Droop with the party while in town, as long as he is kept on a literal short leash. Taking 5 feet of rope from the KO'd Ellaria (and leaving her 2gp in return) she crafts a leash for the Goblin. The unnamed woman accompanying Harbin and the Sister makes an off of the party to take in Droop to her own home as a personal servant, but Gwen quickly refuses the deal. Ready to call it a night the party, including the unconscious Yamcha and Ellaria, as well as Droop, Neesa and Chris return to the Stonehill Inn for the night.
A New Day, A New Lead
As morning breaks the following day, the party descends the stairs of the inn at various intervals. Sharing breakfast at one of the small tables they discuss their next move. Yamcha has still yet to regain consciousness and the rest of the gang are beginning to worry. Also causing concerns are the suspected aims of missing Glasstaff and the now decimated Red Brands, namely the Wave Echo Cave as well as the missing Gundren Rockseeker. Catching Gwen up to the happenings, Ellaria and Wobbly also turn their attentions to her and why she was a captive. She tells them that her pursuit of her Elf father, a veteran warrior of "the war to the West" lead her to this town where she was abducted from her bed in the middle of the night. Eventually the come to an agreement to allow her to accompany them believing that her survival skills and strength may come in handy as well as cover for the loss of Ravaaga, though Wobbly is not completely convinced. Deciding to break up for the morning to carry out various errands, the party split up for a couple of hours: Gwen visits Barthen's Provisions for miscellaneous gear, Wobbly trades in his armor at the local smithy for some Studded Leather Armor while Ellaria makes arrangements with Sister Garaele to take care of Yamcha while they are out of town, leaving instructions behind in case he wakes. Once together again at the inn, our heroes decide their next move. Before they are seated however, Ellaria is approached by a familiar pair. Neesa and Christoph, ready to leave town at last, have stayed at the inn long enough for Neesa to apologize to Ellaria for the evening before and the unfortunate KO'ing she did. With bygones as bygones and no hard feelings, the "Champions of Justice" finally depart from Phandalin, Neesa running about wildly several dozen paces ahead of Christoph. Back at the table, the party decide to press Droop for answers and potential leads. He tells them he and his Bugbear masters were a part of the Cragmaw tribe of Goblins but he doesn't know why they were sent to aid a Human crime operation. He also tells them that they might be able to find a patrol of Goblins around the Triboar Trail who might know more as he is "merely a lowly servant Goblin within the tribe", or they might find one of the tribes hideouts near the trail either. When pressed if he will aid the party in combat he hesitantly agrees but protests that he has no armor or weapons of his own, a statement that both Ellaria and Gwen find suspicious. Agreeing to find out more on the connection between the Cragmaws and the Red Brands, the party set out for answers.
Heading back to the Triboar Trail, the heroes head West, back towards the High Road and the sight of the first ambush of many days before. A heavy stench of rotten flesh assaults the adventurers as they arrive at the scene of the ambush as dusk begins to set in. As Ellaria was the only person present during the ambush she searches for the trail of the Goblin who fled form the fight that day. Pretty soon she is able to find the tracks of about a dozen Goblins heading to and from the road and the woods to the North. It seems the Goblins lay ambushes here often. The party begin to follow the Goblin trial northward, with Wobbly at the head, moving at a stealthy pace. After about 20 minutes of tracking, Wobbly manages to spot a snare trap along the trail. They manage to disarm the trap after a number of tries and continue only the path once more, this time with darkness setting in. Another 20 minutes pass and another trap is found, this time unfortunately to late, as Wobbly falls into a shallow 10ft pit. Scrambling out under his own power, they move forward yet again. Not long after, now having traveled 5 miles or so from the Triboar Trail, the party exit the wooded area to a clearing, complete with stream and a cave. As the moonlight shines down on them, the party suspect they have found the Goblins hideout. Sending Droop to check out the cave entrance, he crosses the stream to the East bank and waves an all clear to the team. As they cross over the running water (only about 2ft deep at this point), they are set upon by a duo of Goblins hiding behind a bluff of hedges on the East bank, which Droop failed to notice. Combat ensues but the Goblin pair are clearly outmatched. Using Yamcha's glaive for the first time, Gwen tries to push the pair back but only manages to get the glaive anchored into the ground, after which she takes a lead role in ordering Droop in combat. Droop is similarly unhelpful during the battle, his attempts to slap his fellow Goblins are easily deflected. He takes a serious hit as he falls back when ordered to and is knocked unconscious and bleeding as combat draws to a close. Together Ellaria and Wobbly take out the watchmen Goblins, the first with Ellaria's Witch Bolt and other with Wobbly shortsword going through the face of the second Goblin (after Wobbly mistakenly lost the grip of his offhand weapon, sending it into the hedges, which he later retrieved). With the enemy Goblins taken care of, all that was left was Droop, who is down after receiving an arrow in the back. Ellaria stabilizes him with a use of her Healer's kit but he remains KO'd. While considering their next move, our heroes stand by the mouth of the Goblin's cave.
A Marathon Effort, A Clash with Goblins, A Raging Flood and a Hard Fought Fight
Earlier in the day, as the stalls and stores of Phandalin reopen after lunch, Yamcha awakes with a stuttering growl. With the aid of Sister Garaele's elixirs he revived from his catatonic state. Informed by the young acolyte as to his friends whereabouts and after consulting the instructions left behind for him, Yamcha gathers up his belongings and heads out for the ambush site. Noticing the absence of his beloved glaive and his chalk box, he sets out at a forced run. After a number of hours of continued sprinting Yamcha finally arrives at the site of the earlier ambush. Breaking to munch down an entire ration pack and half his waterskin he manages to shake off much of the exhaustion he suffered, though tired muscles still slow him down. Easily finding the fresh tracks the others made just hours before he is soon following the trail to the Cragmaws hideout and his friends. Fifteen minutes later, the Dragonborn emerges from the treeline to find the mouth of the cave, along with his friends. Ellaria, Wobbly and Gwen wave him over, having just finished a short rest for the last two hours. Droop, having regained consciousness was also present. In an attempt to avoid Yamcha's ire, Gwen offers his glaive back to him as well as told him about the writing on his face. Reunited, the party venture forth into the cave after Ellaria lends Droop a dagger for protection. They immediately enter into a room on the Eastern side where they find a trio of wolves, snarling as they pass by. Ellaria's Light shines through the cave as Gwen calms the beasts. An idea comes to Wobbly's mind like a flash of inspiration as he commands Wobbly to ride one of the wolves into battle. Scared and confused, Droop mounts the wolf, holding onto the fur for stability. Wobbly follows up by trying to pry the wolf, now dubbed Crota, using his shortsword only to bend the blade in the process. Instead Gwen pulls the rod holding the chains to the ground out of its stalagmite while Yamcha frees Crota's chain. To make sure the remaining wolves say pull, Ellaria uses Mending to replace the rod in the floor. The party, now with a Goblin on a Wolf in tow, head further into the hideout. Following the path of the stream, they come across a side passage leading to the West end of the cave climbing steeply as it goes. Ellaria and Droop/Crota climb the passage ahead of the others but to their surprise the floor begins to give way under their feet as they climb, though both are able to keep their footing. As Gwen, Yamcha and Wobbly begin to follow they are spotted by a Goblin on the bridge several feet upstream from them. They party climb the rest of the passage and emerge in a wide cavern filled with Goblins and their cooking equipment. Immediately ready for combat, the Goblins bear down on Ellaria, the groups lead, and lay into her with their scimitars. Just barely able to stay on her feet Ellaria retreats to the back of the group as Gwen, Wobbly and Droop create a front line of attack. Crota the wolf refused to fight his Goblin owners, wandered off once Droop dismounted (also unable to control the beast). Still unable to impact combat much, Droop is quickly KO'd, as is Gwen after she felled one of the Goblins. Together Yamcha and Wobbly tear through the Goblins while Ellaria tends to the wounded. As the tide of battle turns in favor of the party, another Goblin emerges from the cliff edge to the South dragging a Human male with him. Bound and beaten, the party recognize the man as Sildar Hallwinter, bodyguard to Gundren Rockseeker. The Goblin, calling himself Yeemik, demands the party call a truce or Sildar dies. The party refuse and the battle continues as Yeemik pushes Sildar from the cliff ledge causing him to begin to bleed out. The battle rages on and in the confusion Ellaria tags Wobbly in the back with a Firebolt as he kills off the last of the Goblins under Yeemik.Yamcha takes the fight to Yeemik but as he moves back and forth around the room he takes many attacks of opportunity. Finally Yeemik is dropped by the combined efforts of Yamcha and Ellaria and the party falls to the floor in need of a rest. Waiting for Sildar, Gwen and Droop to regain consciousness, the others take a short rest for another two hours.
After their rest, both Gwen and Sildar awoke from their KO'd state. Questioning him, the party learn from Sildar that he had be held captive here by the Goblins since he and Gundren where ambushed along the Triboar Trail, much like the party had been. He had spent the days being beaten and toured for fun by the Goblins but he surmised that they would soon have lost interest in him and killed him if they party hadn't arrived. He was also able to tell the party that Klarg, the Bugbear in charge of this Goblin group had specific orders to waylay Gundren for the "Black Spider" and the Dwarf and any maps in his possession are to be sent to the chief of the Cragmaws immediately. Sildar does not know what became of Gundren after that nor who or what the Black Spider is. Asking the party for help, Sildar requested that the party escort him to Phandalin when they finish up at the hideout. Together the party and Sildar, now armed with a scimitar scavenged from a dead Goblin and a dagger loaned to him by Ellaria, head out to explore the Eastern side of the caves leaving Droop behind still passed out. The group initially head out of the Goblin's common area through a passage they find curling Northeasterly but quickly turn back hearing the sounds of a Goblin ambush ahead. Turning back, they arrive back at the stream as it flows from the still unexplored caverns, are can see the Goblin ambush laying in wait ahead of them on the bridge. The Goblins, having spotted the intruders earlier, are ready for them as they start to hurl javelins down upon them. One of the Goblins calls out to his friends in a neighboring chamber but none of the heroes could understand what he was saying. Knowing they would be less than helpful in a ranged fight both Yamcha and Sildar fall back towards the entrance of the cave while Gwen makes use of the shortbow she recently looted from a Goblin and Ellaria sends spells towards the bridge. Wobbly also joins in the fight by tossing his dagger at one of the Goblins, causing it to cut deep into the little green man's throat, killing him. Despite their quick dispatching of the ambush, the trio are surprised to see a raging torrent of water gush towards them from deep within the cave as the Goblins earlier command is enacted. Yamcha and Sildar are easily able to react in time to avoid the path of the water while Ellaria and Gwen brace for the impact. Wobbly, unfortunately, is caught flat-footed and is swept away with the waves falling prone back at the entrance to the hideout. Wiping off the gravel and grime from the water, Wobbly picks himself back up only a little worse for wear and returns to his team as they regroup and ascend the steep stone steps to the Northeast of the complex. Arriving at the top of the steps, more Goblins await the party as well as the deafening roar of the waterfall that feeds the rock pools and the stream. Together the party and Sildar make short work of the treat, especially with the use of Yamcha's Fire Breath. All that remained now was to deal with Klarg himself who swells in the next room.
With little preparation and in relatively poor condition the party head into the room to the South, finding a large hairy Bugbear sitting by a warm fire, his pet wolf Ripper by his side. Also in the room where two archer Goblins who fled to the back of the large cavern upon seeing the party. Klarg, declaring himself the soon to be king of the Cragmaws, vowed to make a throne out of the party's bones for daring to intrude on his territory. Within moments, Ellaria is downed by the archer's arrows and the morale of the party is shaken. Thinking quickly, Wobbly consumes his Potion of Invisibility in an attempt to hide himself while Yamcha, hardly thinking at all, dives headfirst into the monsters with his Rage on full display. Yamcha and Klarg become locked in fierce combat as Yamcha unleashed many Reckless Attacks the Bugbear while the archers arrows continue to rain down on the party. Meanwhile, Ripper the wolf attempts to flank the party and attack those hidden behind Yamcha's large frame by taking a bite out of the barely standing Sildar. Though he tries to parry the blow with his scimitar, Sildar is too weaken form his days of torture to put up much of resistance and he is downed by Ripper's fanged bite. During all this Gwen had taken the healer's kit from Ellaria and administered enough first aid to stabilize her. However, with the fight too close to call Gwen decides to leave Sildar to his wounds and falls back to the waterfall instead of using the Healer's Kit on him. Shortly after Sildar succumbs to his wounds and dies. As the fight between Yamcha and Klarg rages on, the Dragonborn, still raging, begins to get the upper hand. As he holds Klarg's attention, Wobbly makes his move and strikes with his scimitar right at the bridge of Klarg's neck and spine. The blade pierces right through the bones and emerges from his throat on the other side of his body. Klarg is cut off mid scream as he falls lifeless to the floor. Ripper, seeing his beloved master murdered, strike out with his fangs at Wobbly but Yamcha bifurcates the animal in one downward swing of his glaive. The remaining Goblins are short work for the party after that and soon the Cragmaw hideout falls silent. Taking the time to rest, the party wake up Ellaria and search more of the cave complex. Within Klarg's room the find many boxes and barrels, all marked with the a decal of a blue lion, the sign of the Lionshield Coster. The boxes being to numerous to carry back to Phandalin by hand, the party resolve to return with a wagon. As Ellaria and Gwen return to retrieve Droop, Yamcha and Wobbly return to the wolves they met earlier, fearing that the chained up animals could in some way harm them, and killed them. The party then regrouped and returned to Phandalin, leaving Sildar's corpse where it lay within the caves. They arrived in town in the middle of the night and sought lodging at the Stonehill Inn once more. The following day, Ellaria, Wobbly and Yamcha split the cost of a wagon between them and returned to the Cragmaw hideout to retrieve the Lionsheild Coster's merchandise while Gwen stayed in town with Droop to recover from their wounds. While back at the hideout, Ellaria spent much of the time searching the rooms but found nothing, while the boys loaded the goods. While moving the boxes they came across Klarg's personal stash of loot which included two Potions of Healing, various copper and silver coins, as well as a small statue of a frog worth 40gp. After diving up the loot, the trio returned to the town. They arrived once more in Phandalin long after bed time and stayed again at the inn. As morning dawned and the town began to stir, they dropped off the Lionshield's good and split up the reward. As the trio headed back to the centre of town, Gwen and Droop appeared at the door of the Inn ready to start a new day. With that the party was rejoined.
The Investigation Stalls
With the party back together again the once more set out about the town to gather possible leads for their investigation, their search having been stalled with the untimely death of Sildar Hallwinter. Ellaria wishes to check out the Miner's exchange, one of the few places the party have yet to visit in town, while the boys decide it best to take it easy for the morning (having done a lot of heavy lifting the previous day). With Gwen and Droop by her side, Ellaria enters the miner's exchange with a signet ring in hand to sell. Inside she meets Halia Thornton, guild mistress of the exchange. Gwen recognizes Halia as the unidentified woman who was with Harbin Wester and Sister Garaele when the town leaders came to investigate the farmhouse after the raid on the Red Brands. While weighing up the ring Halia mentions to the party that their heroics have messed up the big plans she had for the Red Brands. Unhappy with the price offered for the ring, Ellaria refused to sell it and turned the conversation towards her investigation. Paying Halia a total of 3gp and 1sp between them, she told Ellaria and Gwen information about some the towns residents. She told them that Harbin Wester was until recently under the thumb of the Red Brands and too fearful to do anything about them. He now fears losing his job should the townsfolk find out he is weak to intimidation. Unable to recount anything on either Gundren's disappearance or on the "Black Spider" instead Halia told the duo about the info she had dug up on Sildar Hallwinter, mainly that he was a member of the Lords' Alliance and that certain powerful people will be angered to hear he has been killed. With business concluded at the Exchange, Ellaria, Gwen and Droop left to explore the house at Tresendar Manor but not before calling Halia a gossip. They spend only a few minutes check out the dilapidated manor, finding nothing but long destroyed food casks and rotting furniture. However Gwen did notice that while the building was in sever disrepair it was still structurally sound and could potentially be renovated. Next off, the gang left to seek out Daran Edermath once more, believing an old adventurer would know more about the Goblins and where to find their hideout. They encountered him again on the porch of his house overlooking his orchard. While he was unable to part any useful knowledge on the Cragmaws (as he told them his adventuring days were spent in the area of Waterdeep) he did tell them that a fellow member of the Order of the Gauntlet would be arriving soon in town at his request. Hearing of the death of Sildar Hallwinter, Daran admitted when the Lords' Alliance representative Gundren had told him of had failed to arrive, Daran had reached out to his contacts to have them send somebody to help defend the town until the could establish a town guard. He mentioned that a former college named Rahris Brandchet would be arriving any day now and he would know about the Cragmaws. Upon further questioning Daran told the pair more about the Lords' Alliance and the Order of the Gauntlet, though he was surprised to hear the had not heard of such important and famous institutions before. As the conversation continued, Daran once again showed signs of old age confusion and so Ellaria took that cue to leave him in peace. Upon leaving Daran, the pair visited upon Sister Garaele once more, leaving Droop tied up outside than bring him into the temple. She had little more to say that could help them other than that they could seek out a Druid by the name of Reidoth who sometimes visits the town. He is knowledgeable about the area and long time friends with Qelline Alderleaf who lives in town. Armed with this new lead on finding the Cragmaws' main hideout, the girls retrieve Droop and head over to speak with Qelline. They find her working in the fields next to her home, the farmhouse the party hide inside while dressed as Red Brands a few nights ago. After apologizing for the commotion they caused, Ellaria questioned the halfling on her relationship with Reidoth and where they could find him. He had just set out on one of his regular trips to Thundertree and they could likely find him there. Returning to the Inn to meet up with the boys, they found only Wobbly, Yamcha having gone off on his own earlier in the day. Wobbly refused to cease his lounging for the day and so the party decided to stay another night in town before heading for Thundertree.
A Hunt, A Rage and a New Venture Forth
With the midday sun still beating down on the town, Ellaria and Gwen decided to go hunting for the afternoon while Wobbly continued to lounge at the Stonehill Inn and Yamcha remained missing somewhere in town. Tying Droop's leash to a tree just outside the town, the left to follow the trail of a deer in the nearby wooded area. They continued to track the deer north, away form the town, for almost an hour. When they finally spotted the creature, a well placed arrow from Gwen's bow was enough to fell the beast as it critically struck the deer in the neck. While Gwen was busy carving the deer into venison steaks to be eaten that night, Ellaria remained on look out as she spotted 3 Goblins approaching them, weapons drawn. The pair made short work of the Goblins, with the help of Witch Bolt and Fire Bolt spells and aggressive longsword barrages. The last Goblin standing fled for his life before they could stop him. The girls didn't survive unscathed however and so decided to return to town before anymore trouble befell them. As they continued back along the wooded trail the deer had left them they chatted among themselves to pass the time. While distracted by their idle conversation both failed to notice the nest of Stirges they passed beneath until they were already set upon by the tiny winged beasts. Six stirges in total came out of the tree tops to feast on their blood and very soon the girls had been bitten. In the chaos of the swarming pests, Gwen missed with her bow and only one of Ellaria's Magic Missiles found its target. In a matter of seconds both were downed due to blood loss, made quicker by the wounds sustained earlier combating the Goblins. Both slipped off into unconsciousness out there in the woods. Gwen awoke several hours later to find both herself and Ellaria still alive, the bloodsuckers having had their fill and returned home. Not one to overlook such a blessing, she quickly woke up her companion and they both set out for Phandalin as quickly as they could manage. Arriving back at the entrance path to town, they collected Droop and made a bee-line straight to the Stonehill Inn, just as the evening sun began to set. Together they chowed down on the venison they had collected earlier, so quickly in fact that neither noticed the absence of both Wobbly and Yamcha at the Inn. Both girls called it a night very early as they still felt woozy from the blood loss.
The following morning, the girls reunite back down in the main lounge of the Inn, fully recovered from the previous day's encounters. As they prepare to get themselves some breakfast the bartender calls them over. "Ain't you friends with that Dragon fella?" he says to them with a inquisitive tone. He tells them of the incident that happened out in the town streets the evening before, after the girls had retired for the evening. It seems that Yamcha, in an uncontrollable fit of rage, flipped over a street stall and damaged it before running off with a howl into the wooded area outside of town. The pair did not know what to make of this news other than to explain to the bartender that he has anger problems and that they had nothing to do with it. Shorty thereafter Wobbly descends the staircase and joins with the girls. They share with him the news of Yamcha's outburst and quickly decide to leave him be. Over breakfast the gang decide to head out to Thundertree to find the Druid as well as follow up on the necklace Mirna Dendrar promised to them. Before long the trio, with Droop in tow, where back on the Triboar Trial, heading West towards the high road. After only an hours journey they ran into more Goblins, a patrol of four this time, out searching for signs of what happened to their hideout and fellow Cragmaws. Wobbly took charge of the fight slaying all four Goblins while Gwen used both him and Ellaria as human shields against Goblin arrows. They continued along the trail, and later the High Road, without further incident and three days later they found themselves in the shadow of Mt. Hotenow and in the abandoned town of Thundertee
As the party approached the ruined houses and overgrown woodlife of Thundertree from the Northeast they spot a sign post marked with a warning, "DANGER! Plant Monsters AND Zombies! Turn back now!" driven into the soil with a stake. Ignoring the warning, the group venture over to a side path from the one leading through the town in order to investigate a pair of dilapidated houses. As Ellaria, Gwen and Droop approach the front of the Western most house they see two small Twig Blights attempting to hide within the weeds. Though they attempt to interact with the plants, nothing they say or do can stir them into moving or speaking as the blights try to pretend they aren't alive. Wobbly, who cautiously looked into the house through wholes in the Northern walls, found nothing of note and so decided to rejoin with the others. Seeing the twig creatures he playfully pulled one up onto his shoulder in an attempt to coax it into moving. Setting her sights on the other house, Ellaria approached the front door as she signaled one of the others to move around the side and peer in the window. Wobbly did as requested and looked in the window as Ellaria scanned the room from the front door. Neither saw anything within except for more overgrowth and old foliage littering the floor. Wobbly, annoyed at his little twig pet's refusal to do anything, tossed it into the second house through the window. As soon as the creature hit the floor with a thud, six more Twig Blights, hungry and desperate for a meal, leap from the weeds within the house and attack Ellaria who had entered the room. All seven of the Blights within the house gang up on her and she is quickly brought down and knocked unconscious by the sheer number of jagged twig claws that assault her.
While the small blights overpowered the young sorceress, Wobbly and Gwen take up battle positions and both hack a blight to death each from the doorway before falling back to the open outdoor space. The remaining blights from within the house attempt to overwhelm Wobbly next but he is able to slip back inside the house without taking too much damage. The one blight remaining outside the western most house joins the fight and attacks Droop who had been ordered by Gwen to stay put where he stood. The others soon join and before he could defend himself he was laid out flat on the ground. While attacking the Goblin, Gwen took her chance to kill another of the Blights. As she retreated to the the East, further into town, the Blights gave chase. Wobbly takes this chance to stabilize Ellaria and staunch her bleeding before leaping over the wall of the house as the Twig Blights pass by. He cuts down another plant before the pack know what hits them and leaps back to the safety of the house interior. While Gwen tries to hold her ground and fight the monsters, Wobbly continues his attacks by flipping and leaping over the house walls with a deftness most surprising for a Half-Orc. Gwen eventually lost her fight and dropped to the ground but before the Twig Blights could begin to feast on her Wobbly managed to kill the last of the creatures. Leaving Gwen and Droop where they lay to stabilize themselves, which they did eventually, Wobbly returned to the house interior where Ellaria was still slumped to rest, his body bloodied but not broken.
After taking a short rest, the party regroup outside the houses. By chance, as they formed up, a familiar face appears from the edge of town. Yamcha approached the group when they came into sight and quickly the questions began. Explaining himself, Yamcha told the group the he lost control after the price of mead at a street stall reminded him of something from his past which triggered his rage. He told them that shortly after they left town he returned from the woods and helped clean up the mess he caused after which he set out himself for Thundertree in hopes of making it up to the his fellow adventurers by finding the lost necklace. His fast paced travel caused him some exhaustion. Wobbly asks a pointed question of Yamcha, "how can we rely on you if you run off in a rage at a moments notice?" but an answer never shows itself. Before setting out once more, Ellaria searched the nearby trees for some apples, which she found. Splitting the two fruit she picked into halves, she shared them among the others but Wobbly threw his at Droop who was still lying sprawled by the roadside. Ready once more, the foursome explored the building across the road from the houses, lead this time by Yamcha. Entering what seemed to be an old tavern in its day, Yamcha confronted two Zombies who looked to have been reanimated victims of the decades old volcanic eruption that ruined the town. Spilling in to the common room, the combined efforts of the party quickly ended the surprised zombies' shambling but not before puffs of ash from the walking corpses caused temporary blinding in some of them (and Yamcha getting his glaive stuck in the thatch roof). Seeing nothing of value they moved to the back room, an old kitchen area, where they found another zombie. While fighting the third zombie, which Wobbly's assassin skills make short work of, a fourth zombie appeared from behind the bar counter in the common room. Shuffling up from behind them, the fourth zombie slammed Gwen with a critical open hand slap which knocked her to the ground unconscious. Ellaria turn her quarterstaff to the last remaining zombie and soon it was no more. Though the building was sturdy nothing of value could be found in the old tavern. Seeing an opportunity for mischief, Wobbly and Yamcha retrieve Droop and place him in a teabag stance on Gwen's face, but not before writing "Cunt" and "Goblin Cock" in Giant on her face. Yamcha also took the extra step of tying her bootlaces together. Ellaria, turning a disheartened blind eye to the boy's events, focused on making sure the doors of the tavern were in good condition using her Mending cantrip so they could leave Gwen and Droop in the safety of the build as they continued into town. Moving on from the tavern, the trio of Yamcha, Ellaria and Wobbly (calling themselves the YEW formation) came to a fork in the road. While taking their time in deciding which path to follow, Yamcha explored the hovel of a house by the roadside where he found a chest of goods among the roots of a tree growing within the walls. Finding a number of copper, silver and gold pieces within, he shared the bounty equally with the others.
Deciding to take the path to the south, the trio quickly approach another pair of house as the path ahead leads back out of the town. The house to the Southeast of the path offered little but more rubble however the sturdier building to the West was a different story. From the outside, sturdy shuttered windows were visible, and Yamcha's attempts to open the door were met with the sounds of a lock and nothing more. Using her Detect Thoughts spell, Ellaria could sense the presence of a single person within. Speaking telepathically to the person inside, Ellaria questions their reasons for being out here among the ruins and requests help for their downed companions. As the occupant peered out through the shutters the trio can make out the form of a old, gaunt, white-bearded male Human. After opening the door he turned his back to the party as he waved them into his sparse home. The man revealed himself readily as Reidoth, the Druid they seek, as well as telling the heroes that he is a member of the Emerald Enclave. Working on behalf of this organization, and due to his own wishes, he explores the areas around Neverwinter Wood, monitoring the peace between the forces of Civilization and Nature. This was his reason for his numerous trips to Thundertree as well as his willingness to help the party find the Cragmaws' hideout. He revealed the location of Cragmaw Castle within Neverwinter Wood and told them the Goblins' growing numbers upsets the delicate natural balance. When questioned by Wobbly about the threats that they might face within the town, the Druid warned them of three things: a young green Dragon has made a lair in a tower to the North, Giant Spiders have occupied ruins within the town and recently some unsavoury characters have been spotted to the East. He also reminded them of his signs about plant monsters and zombies before warning them to make haste out of town before they all get killed. A final question about the origin of the Twig Blights quash Ellaria's suspicions that Reidoth is the creator of the vicious plants. Before leaving to head East, deeper into the village, Reidoth offers to allow them to rest in his secure lodgings should they need it.
Now at the centre of the village area, they once again meet with a crossroads, one path leading North to a tower and another leading East to the town square. Heeding the warning about the Dragon to the North, the group decide to head South through some run down building only to get caught up in the webbing of a pair of Giant Spiders. Unhindered by the silky strands, Yamcha used his Fire Breath ability to burn the webs as well as the first spider who scurried along the walls towards them, taking a viscous bite in the process. Ellaria's Magic Missile barrage weaken the spider enough for Wobbly to crush it's thorax with his shortsword. Again the teams combined efforts triumphed over the spiders but Yamcha once more took a powerful bite and Ellaria was taken down with poison. Deciding to hole up in the now dead spider's lair for a short rest, the party are eventually ready to venture forth. Searching the remaining webs Ellaria found herself a Potion of Healing among the withered body of an elf which she drank immediately. Yamcha also took a shortsword from the corpse. Meanwhile, back at the tavern, Gwen awoke to the sight of Droop's private parts resting on her nose. With a detached sigh she rolled the knocked out Goblin off of her and attempted to stand up. The ordeal caused the young Half-Elf ignore her surroundings which in turn caused her to trip over her tied laces. Crashing head first into the old cooking equipment of the kitchen she was knocked out once more.
Back at the spider's lair the trio once again head out, continuing out the back door and further Southeast in YEW formation. Yamcha once again lead the group stealthily into a house in the South East of the town surprising two more Zombies in the process. This time however, things did not go as smoothly as the noise of slaying the zombies drew the ire of eight Twig Blights hidden in a nearby thicket. The blights turned out to be little more than a nuisance this time around as they were cut down after only imparting a few scrapes on the heroes. Venturing through the house, which turned out to be an old smithy, they found themselves just Southwest of Thundertree's main square. Searching another run down shop, the party find themselves in what was once a herbalists store, though nothing of use remained. Recalling the words of Mirna Dendrar, Ellaria rooted around under the bookshelf and found the old Emerald Necklace as promised. Passing through more structures along the Southern rim of the town the gang come face to face with another reinforced house, complete with shuttered windows and barred doors. Curious as to who or what might be inside, Yamcha and Ellaria approach the front door while Wobbly, true to his nature, sneaks around to the back entrance.
A Treacherous Cult, A Ferocious Dragon and A Dangerous Bargain
Using his stealthy sneaking, Wobbly peered through the keyhole of the back door, seeing within a man on guard across the room. The occupant seemed oddly dressed wearing a long dark cloak cut into the shape of dragon wings as well as a leather mask styled to look like dragon horns. Holding his position Wobbly waited as Yamcha knocked heavily on the door. Voices from within the house raised up as words of Draconic are audible from within. Peering out from behind the shutters, more masked men can be seen as one calls out for a somebody by the name of Favric. Seeing a Dragonborn at the door, much to their surprise, the odd people within call out to question their visitors. The occupants were happy to see capable adventurers and open the doors to allow in the passing travelers. After leading them to the main room Favric continues the discussion now surrounded by his followers. Ellaria examined discreetly the garb of those within the building, noticing all six people seem to be wearing a uniform of sorts. She deduced that these are members of the Cult of the Dragon though never having met a member of the reclusive secret society she couldn't be sure. Favric questions Yamcha on why a Dragonborn would be interested in Dragons (since Dragonborn where slaves of the mighty beasts long ago) and in turn is grilled on why he is interested in the Dragon to the North. Favric explains he and his men are initiates of a certain group who believe Dragons, especially Chromatic ones, to be misunderstood noble creature that can impart a great wealth of knowledge. When pressed he would not speak more of his organization. Convinced by Yamcha's guise as a sympathizer Favric suggests that they could join forces and together befriend the Dragon with a tribute, claiming "It must be Bahamut's will that we crossed paths". Curious to meet with the Dragon, they agree to join Favric's attempts to parley, despite Reidoth's warning. Revealing Wobbly's existence, the trio accompany the cultists through the main square of Thundertree and up the hill toward the tower. Along the way to the tower they notice the withered bodies of Giant Spiders which Ellaria recognize as having been melted by a potent poison and gnashed by large teeth and claws, presumably by the Dragon as he fought for his new lair.
Arriving at the tower they find a dusty side cottage filled with webbing created by its former owners. The adjacent tower's roof is in part collapsed, giving the Dragon an aerial entrance to this lair. Immediately and without warning Favric passes through the cottage and enters the tower. Within a large beast of green stands tall in the centre of the tower, clearly awaiting his visitors, his small but valuable horde sitting against the far wall. As Yamcha, Wobbly and Ellaria enter the tower, the cultists surreptitiously form a wall behind them, blocking their retreat. With a tone of awe in his voice Favric addresses the Dragon, calling out to him in a sycophantic demeanor, proclaiming his delegation to be prospective servants and allies. Asking the Dragon to speak it's name, a booming voice bounces off the walls. "I am the great Venomfang, Lord of all of Neverwinter Wood and beyond. What makes you dare enter my lair!". Favric takes out a small box he was carrying and opens it to reveal a minuscule vial filled with a Potion of Flying and three small diamonds. Offering up the items for the Dragon's horde he then turned to the heroes and in a loud voice offers up their lives. "Eat them! Eat them oh great Dragon! We offer you their lives as tribute!" Favric yells as his cult members ready their weapons to stop any attempts to run.
As Venomfang raises up his body, Yamcha quickly attempts to bargain with the beast in Draconic, pleading for their lives. Offering the lives of the cultists and even a new lair in Cragmaw Castle in exchange for their survival he begs the Dragon to considered his proposition. Angered by offering lives of cultists which he already considers his, Venomfang brings his left forearm down to bear with a heavy crash, crushing Favric beneath his claws. The shock wave of the impact knocked everyone in the room to the ground except for Yamcha, which for just a moment impressed the Dragon. Running his bloodied claw through the mess that was once a man, leaving streaks of blood across the floor, Venomfang demands a better offer from "the pretender to the Draconic Blood". As Yamcha tries to think up an offer fast the Dragon inhales sharply, preparing to breathe poison on all in the room. Hastily spitting out a new offer, the party present the necklace found in the herbalist shop, 100 gold pieces, the frog statue obtained from Klarg's stash and the stole totems from the Shine of Luck in Phandalin in addition to the Cragmaw Castle and the cultists' tribute. With a cunning smile Venomfang agrees to spare two of their lives, demanding they present to him the one to die. At this point, the cultists still lying prone on the ground piss themselves in fear as the Dragon's fickle loyalty turns against them. Instead sending one of their own to their death at the hands of a young Dragon, Ellaria offer her Potion of Invisibility in hopes that the magical nature of the loot will sate the Dragon's lust for blood. "As an honorable Dragon of my word..." speaks Venomfang, "... you may leave my lair at once. I give you one month to secure my new lair. Do not disappoint me!". As he speaks, the Dragon inhales deeply, instilling the scents of each of the party in his memory. Not wasting a moment, Yamcha, Wobbly and Ellaria sprinted for the door and down the hill while behind them, screams of melting cultists drown out the pounding of their feet on the hill stones, not stopping until they reached Reidoth's squat.
A New Sheriff in Town
Now safe to take in a breath and to have a moment of clarity, the party begin to review their options. Once again joined with Gwen and Droop, the others fill her in on the deal with the Dragon. While she was angered by the boys pranks while she was unconscious she was not aggressive, even as Wobbly blamed Droop for the incident. Explaining their predicament to Reidoth, they seek his help in dealing with Venomfang but he was unable to provide more than advice at the current time. He suggests tricking the Dragon before it can take the new lair but told the party to secure Cragmaw Castle before trying anything. He agreed to meet with them again in Phandalin once they have the castle. After taking a short rest to gather their thoughts, the gang head out again for Phandalin. They pass farmland and even the odd traveling caravan on their return trip but otherwise the following three days are uneventful. However, the usual scenery on the road back to Phandalin was disturbed this time as the party notice a bloody head stuck on a pike a few hundred yards from the entrance to the small village. Taking a closer look they recognize the creature's head as being that of the Nothic from under Tresendar Manor, now looking a lot worse for wear. Beneath the pike was written a warning in a scrawled hand: "Bandits and Goblins beware! This town is under the protection of The Order of the Gauntlet". Curious as to how the townsfolk managed to slay the Nothic, Ellaria decides to check for any residual magic around the head, however her simple examination reveals nothing. Together the heroes take on the last few hundred yards of their journey and arrive back in town once more.
Still early in the morning, the sleepy town is just walking up, and so they party decide to pass the time until the shops open by seeking answers as to what happened while they were away. A passing townsman tells the group of a large armored man who came to town shortly after they left, declaring himself to be from the Order of the Gauntlet and here at the request of Daran Edermath to help protect the town. Shortly after setting himself up in town, the man lead a small party below Tresendar Manor to seek out the Nothic that was said to be there and after finding it in the process of eating two bodies the man killed the "evildoer". With a curt not, the townsman left to go about his daily business while the party continued on to see Daran and to learn from him more of this mysterious man. Finding Daran at his usual spot, he told them that the man was indeed Rahris Brandchet as he foretold of before. He vouched for his friend and for the Order he represents, though he stated it unnecessary as the Order of the Gauntlet is one of (if not the most) well respected groups in the known world. Now that the shops were opening up, the party decides to split up with Ellaria heading to the Townmaster's hall to meet with Rahris while the others head to the Lionshield Coster to resupply, buying a number of Potions of Healing as well as resupplying on rations.
Upon arriving at the Townmaster's Hall Ellaria was greeted by the sight of a large, burly red haired Human male dressed in a fine (but filthy) armor set and with heavy gauntleted hands. His short beard and bright red hair instantly stood out to her. On his back was a greatsword and by his left hip was a beautifully crafted longsword with the shape of a birds outstretched wings worked into the hilt, sitting in a silver-chased scabbard. With a booming voice he welcomed Ellaria to his station within the hall. Apologizing for his dirt covered appearance he told her that he had come to town directly from the Mere of Dead Men at the request of his old friend Daran. He is in town to help train a town watch but the lack of suitable candidates is holding them back with "only four or five able fighters available... anyone else who could swing a sword we're likely in the Red Brands". Rahris pledged to stay until a proper watch could be formed and trained, or until his Order calls him back. When Ellaria complemented the longsword at his hip, Rahris confided in her that it was not actually his own personal sword but that of the town's, having found it in the chest kept by the Nothic. He told her it was the masterworked sword known as Talon and it had once belonged to the Tresendar family many centuries ago. He is merely holding it for safe keeping until the town is secured at which point he will return it to the town. With introductions passed, Ellaria called upon Rahris to help them wrest control of Cragmaw Castle from the Goblins but he begrudgingly refused. Wishing to help slay evildoers he would have helped if not for his promise to Daran to watch over Phandalin. He made note to tell the sorceress that if Daran was convinced to release him from his promise for a few days he would gladly accompany the adventurers to battle the dangers posed by the Goblins. In consolation he instead gave Ellaria a small satchel filled with five Potions of Healing to aid in her journeys. Saying her farewells, Ellaria promised to buy the hulking man a drink at the inn if he should ever find himself there.
Spy vs Spy
With business concluded at the Townmaster's hall, Ellaria once again met up with the others. In need of added coin now that Venomfang has most of theirs, Wobbly wished to liquidate some of his gems by visiting the minors exchange. Accompanied by Ellaria he paid a visit to Halia's guildhall and she was more than happy to see the Half-Orc, while Yamcha waited outside. Changing her mind about the price of the signet ring she sold it to Halia for 25gp, who then put in a strong safe behind the counter. Wobbly tried to barter a better price for some of his precious stones but was angered by Halia's low price enough to yell Orcish insults straight into her face. Wiping the spit from her face and warning him "not to try intimidate me, darling", Halia began to speak in a long winded and rambling fashion, much to the annoyance of Ellaria who could not understand a single sentence. Wobbly on the other hand understood the message hidden within her Thieve's Cant and acknowledged her request to have him comeback alone, or bring the Dragonborn with him. Taking their leave, both Wobbly and Ellaria left the shop. Meanwhile, Gwen and Droop, who had been whiling away the time at the green area in the town centre noticed a small candle shrine had been erected at the place where Neesa was often seen meditating, a small reflection of the impression the young woman left on the town. When approached by Ellaria she agreed to visit once more the Shrine of Luck, the boys having decided to go off and pursue some unspecified need all of a sudden. Whilst Gwen was busy tying Droop up outside the Shrine, Ellaria recounted the latest events of their investigations, including the Dragon's deal to Sister Garaele who urged her to consider taking a subtler approach to Cragmaw Castle rather than storming the front gate.
Meanwhile, back at the Miner's Exchange, Wobbly and Yamcha both joined in an audience with Halia as per her request. She told them both she was well aware of their past reputations and even some of their deeds and was offering them the chance to become a part of her organization, the Zhentarim. Known as a widespread and highly successful group, Yamcha immediately took up her offer of a trial mission to test his worth. Wobbly, the more skeptical of the pair, was more interested in hearing what membership to this group would bring, eventually can around to the idea when told he would gain access to serious poisons and weapons for sale with enough recognition within the ranks. To sweeten the deal Halia even through in an extra 50gp to the value of his gems as a show of good faith in a "member of the family". Once a deal was struck, Halia was quick to point out that they we're not in just yet, after having screwed up he plans for the Red Brands only a few tendays before. To proof their skills worthwhile she asks them to dig up proof of her suspicions that Sister Garaele is not who she says she is, if act Halia claims she is an agent of the Harpers, an enemy group to the Zhent. If the can deliver to her proof of the Sister's involvement with the Harpers without implicating themselves or her, they will be initiated into the ranks of the Black Network. Both accept her terms.
Together once again the party discuss their next move over lunch at the Stonehill Inn. Both Yamcha and Wobbly keep silent about their latest deal with Halia. The group argue over whether to continue against the Cragmaws or follow up on the Orcs camped out at Wyvern Tor. Wobbly was alone in pushing for the later option believing that they would have an extremely difficult time in dealing with a castle full of Goblins and Bugbears, having had such trouble with Klarg but the others feel the pressure of being under the Dragon's foot. With a three-to-one vote, the party head out towards Cragmaw Castle. Its not long before they are off the beaten path and pushing through the thick tree lines of the Neverwinter Wood. After trekking through the trees for a number of hours, just as the sun begins to set, the party are accosted by a team of Orcs patrolling the forest. A battle quickly ensues but the Orcs fall apart just as quickly. Uncoordinated, the orcs fumble about, even revealing their presence in an attempted ambush far too early, and swinging their great-axes wildly. After Yamcha uses his Fire Breath to burn a number of the Orcs, his retreating form cause a burning Orc to lash out and cut down his comrade in the chaos. Capitalizing on the Orcs' instability the party push the advantage and the brutes crumble. Even Droop manages help the cause and punches one of the orcs at his masters' commands. Slaying all six of the Orcs, Yamcha takes a moment to search the bodies, finding the symbol of the Many-Arrows Orc Tribe on each of the corpses. Their questions as to why the Many Arrows are in this particular area have to wait as the party presses on towards the castle. After camping out under the canopy of leaves and hiking another day through the woods, the party reach the fridges of the area around Cragmaw Castle the following night. A quiet night passes as they rest and ready themselves for their date with the Cragmaws come morning.
As morning broke, the party wake early to begin their stakeout of the castle while the sun rises over head. Initial discussions on how to proceed all revolve around keeping their distance from the stone structure. Droop was initially planned to be sent in to investigate but fears that we would be either caught or sell them out (or even both) held the party back from going with that plan. As they continued their discussion the party was surprised to witness the return of a part of four Hobgoblins (recognized as such by Wobbly) with two prisoners in tow. These prisoners included a heavily armored Tiefling male and a female Human in clerical garb. Unable to do anything put watch and learn, the party turned back to planning their assault, hoping to gain the aid of the prisoners inside if they can. They ended up deciding to circle the structure, relying on either Wobbly or Gwen's stealthiness to avoid getting caught. After Gwen refused to do it, Wobbly made a lap of the glade from behind the treeline. About half way around, Wobbly's attention was caught by a rubble pile on the North side of the building. Climbing a tree to attempt to see over the 10ft heap of crumbled stone, Wobbly flipped his way up the branches until a rather spry branch caused him to loose his footing and fall to the ground with a painful thud. Picking himself up, worse for wear, Wobbly continued around the castle in a clockwise direction until he rejoined the group. He recounted his observations to the group upon his return, including passing off his injuries as the outcome of killing two Bugbears rather than falling, the unguarded doorway on the South side of the building. This was the party's way in, they thought, and after further discussion of whether or not it was trapped from the inside the decided to go for it. Again using Droop as a scapegoat they had him approach the door and open it for them. On his approach he stopped to listen to sounds of Goblin speech coming from the arrow slits above before continuing with his given task. A low rumble make it clear that the door was locked and so the party had to finally move from the safety of the trees as up to the castle for the first time.
Delegating the lock picking to Gwen, Yamcha gave her his thieves tools for the job as well as standing over her shoulder as back up should things go badly. Taking cover beneath the arrow slits with Droop both Ellaria and Wobbly also hear the sounds of Goblins above them. Asking Droop to translate, he told them those inside where discussing if the bowls were clean enough to use and that it seemed like three Goblins were talking, including Yegg, the tribes head chef. Asking how he knew that Droop told them in his broken Common that he used to live here until his previous owner Mosk took him to Tresendar Manor and the Red Brands. Questioning him further Droop told them that King Grol was the leader of the tribe and the only bugbear in the castle that he knew of and that he couldn't count the mount of Goblinoids within the hideout as it was "more than fingers and toes together" (more than 20). Their attempts to learn more from Droop had to wait as Gwen finally cracked the lock and the party could enter the fortress. As they pile in they are quickly confronted with a junction after only 5ft of hallway. Ahead of them lay a heavy curtain that blocked all view of the passage beyond, while to the left was a door that lead to the kitchen area where Yegg and some other Goblins are working away. Huddled in the doorway the party quickly debated their options, finally going with the plan to send Droop to check behind the curtain. Having peeked behind the heavy fabric, Droop stood waiting for his next order and an impatient Wobbly waved him back over thinking the Goblin would have figured out to that himself. Droop told all that there was nobody and nothing behind the curtain but that King Grol's throne room was in that direction. Wanting to avoid the throne room right now, the party file through the door to the kitchen, which once once in fact a grand hall, after Gwen's attempt to quietly open the door lead to it creaking on its old hinges. Jumping at the sight of intruders, Yegg and his Goblin minions (seven in total) prepare for battle. Tied and bound on the floor in the Northeast corner of the room the party found the Tiefling male prisoner unbeaten but prepped to be gutted and cooked.
With combat clearly errupting, Gwen cleared the doorway by rushing the nearest Goblin and cutting him down with a slash. She continued her rampage until after cutting down her third enemy she fell to the ground due to a hail of arrows. Yamcha turned to the opposite edge of the room where Gwen had gone and attempted to bring his glaive down on one Goblin but in his eagerness to end the fight quickly her brought the blade down right on the bound Tiefling, causing him a grievous wound which began to bleed out. Droop was seen with the invaders and labeled a traitors by the other Goblins as they fired arrows at him. Unable to land a punch against anyone at least he absorbed an arrow instead of the party. Ellaria took the chance to cast Mage Armor on herself before using Magic Missile on Yegg and two other of the archers, causing one to run away into the West of the castle. Meanwhile Wobbly dived his way through the crowd as he usually does, striking out at the Goblins but with less than successful attempts at times, but he did manage to kill more than one Goblin. Getting his senses back Yamcha cut through Yegg and ended the battle for a time. As more Goblins appeared at the Western half of the room, brought by the previously escaped minion, the party take the chance to heal up. Ellaria used two of her remaining three healing kit uses to stabilize the Tiefling and Gwen as well as giving them Potions of Healing each to get them back to their feet (Gwen was helped after the second wave of fighting). Together with the help of their new ally, who armed himself with Yeggs bow, Wobbly slayed the three remaining foes. Converging in the middle of the room the group begin to take stock of their situation as Wobbly, Yamcha and Gwen each chug a Potion of Healing, each anxiously awaiting for the Tiefling to introduce himself.
The Castle Crashes Back
"My name is Dicklack Retardo" said the Tiefling as they questioned him. Telling the others he was captured along with a female Cleric by the Goblins, Dicklack agreed to help overthrow the castle's occupants in return for helping to find his companion. He also refused to tell the party anymore until they were all safely out of the castle. In the midst of conversation, Gwen took the chance to retreat from the castle back to the trees without saying a word. As she made her move, all eyes in the room turn to her as she darts out the side door, she herself picked only moments ago. Moments later, a heavy crash rang out, it was the sound of the wooden door they had used to enter the kitchen hall being forced shut and seemingly barricaded. Deciding to press on through the Western part of the castle, the group formed up behind Yamcha as they opened the door to main entrance way. No sooner than he opened the door than the whole group caught sight of an obvious ambush, as two Hobgoblins led a band of Goblins in firing a hail of arrows at the intruders. The goblinoids positioning was set up as if to force the invaders into entering the central room of the castle via the doorway from the entrance hall but against all reason the party fought the ambushes head on. Racing into the fray, Yamcha went straight for the Hobgoblins while Wobbly and Dicklack both charged the Goblins holding the main door. Still weary from his capture and wound from Yamcha's strike, Dicklack was unable to land a hit on the Goblins but they were no match for Wobbly, nor was the Hobgoblin for Yamcha who skewered him on his glaive. Ellaria and Droop stood back as she fired spells at range and both were caught off guard when another Goblin stepped out of one of the side rooms to attack. Taking a small wound, Ellaria moved out of his reach before casting a Magic Missile spell at both ends of the room. As the other boys finished off the last of the known Hobgoblins, Dicklack came to Ellaria's aid but in his efforts to cut down the pest, got his scavenged scimitar stuck in the door. Leaving it where it was, the Tiefling fled back to the kitchen area with the Goblin giving chase. After only a few seconds, the trio of Yamcha, Wobbly and Dicklack had cornered the Goblin by a doorway but the little bastard wouldn't go down without a fight. None of the trio could land a hit on him until Droop, on his attempt, managed to force open the door from behind his Goblin brother and knock it prone, where Yamcha was able to finish it off. With the fighting concluded, the party regroup and head North to a supply room where the Hobgoblins had originated. Here the group found all of Dicklack and his cleric companion's stolen gear as well as some bloody chainmail, a heavy crossbow and a longsword with the emblem of Neverwinter worked into the hilt. They recognized this equipment as belonging to Sildar Hallwinter after having seen him wear and carry them back in that tavern in Neverwinter, in what felt almost a lifetime ago. Also found among the moldy sacks of grain was a cask of fine Dwarven Brandy which they also left alone. The group used this opportunity to heal up with the use of more Potions of Healing. After retrieving his things, Dicklack took the initiative and entered a room just off of the storeroom to the West, and it was here he almost met his end.
Walking into the room Dicklack was set upon by two more Hobgoblins who had been laying in wait since the initial hallway ambush was defeated. With a savage swing of his longsword, on of the Hobgoblins nearly took Dicklack's head clean off his shoulders, instead causing a deep gash in his throat. Dicklack fell to the floor dying as the Hobgoblins moved to bear down on the others. With a combined effort of Yamcha, Wobbly and Ellaria's Magic Missile they managed to kill the Hobgoblins here too but not before Yamcha took a severe beating. Using the last of her healing kit materials Ellaria stabilized Dicklack and the group moved him to one of the beds used by the Hobgoblins to recover. Barricading the door slightly in hopes of deterring unwanted enemies searching inside the party pushed ever onward as they head East from the most Northwestern part castle. Immediately they come to a small, almost completely dark room, dressed as some sort of chapel or religious site. Entering, the boys surround the main feature of the room, a waist high stone alter where lies a Human woman in armor and cleric robes bounded and ganged. Also on the alter were several golden ceremonial objects including a bloodstained cloth, a dagger, a chalice and a censor. As they moved to untie her, three Goblins, also dressed in tattered robes sprung out from behind the alter and attack. The first Goblin was made short work of but things got messy once one of the acolyte Goblins climbed on top of the woman as he fought with Yamcha. Unable to land a solid strike without risking killing another of the Goblins' hostages, Yamcha took a heavy blow from the vermin and was knocked unconscious. Ellaria and Droop joined the fray after having stayed in the safety of the hallway but after only a few strikes, Ellaria too was KO'd by the lead Goblin. This Goblin, Lhupo as Droop addressed him, proclaimed loudly that "Maglubiyet has blessed me!" as he struck down the sorceress. Wobbly used a Potion of Healing to save Yamcha who was on the verge of bleeding out and both took on the Goblins once more. Droop, having been ordered to fight, attacked Lhupo from behind and killed him with a scimitar which caused outrage and curses in the Goblin tongue from the remaining enemy Goblin. Having had enough of his using the woman as cover, Wobbly grabbed the creature and threw him to the ground where Yamcha dug his glaive into it. Thinking the fight was won, the boys both relaxed, giving the Goblin an chance to get back to his feat and make a dash at Droop in a last act of vengeance. Surprised by the Goblin's getting back up, both Yamcha and Wobbly tried to stop him from leaving their attack range but in the haste of their reaction Wobbly accidentally struck Yamcha with his blade, cutting off a piece of his ear and KO'ing him again. The dying enemy flung himself at Droop and grappled him but Droop shook him off quickly. Being sure to end the fight once and for all, Wobbly stood up on the alter (and on the woman) and stuck a killing blow against the acolyte Goblin. Wasting no time in freeing the cleric, Wobbly put her to work in reviving his friends, which she did using two Cure Wounds spells. Attempts at questioning the girl proved unfruitful as the ordeal of being captured and imprisoned by Goblins had left her hazy. She agreed to also help in getting vengeance for nearly killing Dicklack as well as for imprisoning her and once she was given back her gear from the store room the young cleric was ready to fight by their side.
With everyone apart from Dicklack up, but in poor shape, they ready to sally forth again. Wobbly, taking up the lead this time, peered into the adjacent room to the South through the heavy black curtains that separate it from the chapel area. Seeing nothing of note other than darkness in the room, Wobbly suggests making a pincer attack on anything hiding inside since they have met ambushes in every room so far, directing the others to enter via the main doors back in the hallway. After a debate on how to split the forces it is decided that everyone but Wobbly will go through the main doors. As the foursome of Yamcha, Ellaria, Droop and the cleric approach the doors from the hall and ready to enter, a misplaced foot from Ellaria broke a tripwire hidden beneath plaster and rubble from above. In their weariness from all the fighting they failed to consider the Cragmaws might have trapped their own castle and as Droop quietly begged his masters not to make him go into the main hall area the ceiling came down on all four of them. Wooden beams, plaster, heavy rocks and cobbles rained down on them. Pushing the debris off themselves the party found they had been caved into the short hallway with only the main hall as the way forward. Checking themselves for wounds, a wave of depression passed through Yamcha and Ellaria as they realize that Droop did not survive the collapse, his small body turned to mush much like a fly that has been swatted. Yamcha, as has become a custom, took a chunk of his body as a grim souvenir. Meanwhile, Ellaria and the cleric entered the pitch black of the main hall. Looking for traps now, Ellaria ran her hands across the walls and was able to make out a number of religious icons carved into the stone. She correctly identified the icons of those of Oghma, Mystra, Lathander and Tymora, clear signs that the original builders of the castle were indeed Humans. Distracted by the serious wounds suffered from the trap, the young cleric tried desperately to stay on her feet which made her an easy victim for the Grick hiding in the upper ledges of the hall. With a spine chilling slithering sound, followed by a heavy thump on its landing on the stone floor, the Grick impaled the cleric with it's barbed tentacle. Still in the dark, literally, Ellaria was unable to help a the cleric fell to the ground bleeding to death. Wobbly took this to be his moment to strike and dove into the room to stick the Grick (which he could see with his Darkvision). Slashing and stabbing into the thick hide, he found it difficult to damage the creature even after getting his blade deep into its body. Entering the room and the darkness, Yamcha used his Fire Breath to burn the creature as well as produce enough light for him and Ellaria to see what they faced for the first time. The trio unleashed hit and run tactics and a Magic Missile spell to finally slay the snakelike beast, but not before Yamcha was yet again KO'd. Ellaria was able to stabilize the Dragonborn but not before their new cleric friend passed the point of no return and succumbed to death at her wounds. Wobbly and Ellaria, with the unconscious Yamcha and the corpses of the young Human and Grick on the floor, collapse in the darkness of the hall, only Ellaria's Light cantrip illuminating the grand room.
The King and I
Not able to venture forward again in there current state the party return to the Hobgoblin Barracks where they left Dicklack in order to rest. Before settling in, Yamcha decided to cut the small toe off the left foot of Dicklack for unknown reasons and took it with him. With Wobbly on watch in the adjoining room, Yamcha and Ellaria rest up. After the passing of almost an hour Wobbly was alerted to the arrival of more Hobgoblins, lead by a lieutenant named Targor Bloodsword, in the main hall of the castle. In his attempt to spy on them Wobbly knocked over a number of barrels, including fine Dwarven Brandy, causing the Hobgoblins to investigate. He was quickly captured when he was pinned behind the door. After being taken to be interrogated by Targor he is reunited with Gwen who is in barely conscious, crumpled at the Hobgoblin's feet. Questioning Wobbly, Targor is quickly angered but is pleased to hear that King Grol is still alive so he can kill him himself and seize power. When told that a Dragon is after the castle as a lair, Targor decided to defer the issue to King Grol and took Wobbly and Gwen to see the King. They returned to the main hall to clean up the bodies when Ellaria and Yamcha recovered enough to continue through the castle. They sneaked through the rooms towards the throne room, finding on their way a room with a large fire, and soon they where listening at the door to the room with Wobbly and Gwen. Within they heard the sounds of a young female and an old Bugbear discussing this intrusion to their negotiations. While distracted by listening intently, the Hobgoblins in the nearby room on watch caught the pair and forced them inside as new captors. The grizzly old Bugbear King Grol, his fur turning grey and his shoulders stooped, was angered to see intruders.
Now all held as captors in the throne room, the party are reunited with their patron Gundren Rockseeker, who is passed out on the floor beside a young Drow Woman, he had clearly been tortured and beaten. The Drow woman introduced herself as Vyerith and proceeded to question the party about their sudden appearance. Believing the Dragon is King Grol's problem, she further questions them as to why the care about the Dwarf. She believes they don't care for him when they tell her and she accuses them of seeking his map to the Wave Echo Cave. She presses them on what they know of the Black Spider and divulges that he is himself a Drow as well. She also passive aggressively accuses King Grol of having the map and not sticking to their agreement to hand it over, instead trying to ransom it to her. She asks the party the final question "How did you expect to survive the wrath of the Black Spider and his partners?" and without waiting for an answer strikes a new deal with Grol, to help him kill the intruders as payment for the map. Combat quickly breaks out and everyone is caught up in the melee. Yamcha unleashed his Rage, going into a Frenzy, and in his furry he missed his target and instead of injuring Vyerith he cut through Gundren instantly killing the sleeping Dwarf. As the combat continued, the guard Hobgoblins attempted to enter the room but were held back by Gwen who pressed on the door to keep them at bay. Grol was slain by the combined efforts of Yamcha and Ellaria. With the loss of her only ally in the room, Vyerith fought her way over to Grol's body and searching his pouch was unable to find the map. She held the party at bay long enough to reach under the cloth skins of Grol's bed to grab at some form of paper or parchment before making a break for it. With the help of the Hobgoblins eager to enter the room from the other side of the door, Vyerith was able to push past Gwen and make a break for the secret exit in the North of the castle. She successfully escaped as the party tangled with the guard Hobgoblins before killing them. Yamcha used the taken toe from Dicklack and left it on Grol's corpse as a "calling card" an leaving the piece of Droop he took on Gundren's body. Meanwhile, Ellaria searched the room and found a number of coins under the King's bed as well as 3 Potions of Healing which she kept for herself. Gwen, who had damaged her longsword in the fight, switched it for Grol's morningstar.
Leaving Gwen to guard the throne room, Ellaria offered the boys a few gold coins to join her in searching the rooms of the castle for a Golden Elf statue she is searching for. In their searching they found the last unexplored room of the castle to the South East. Opening the barred door without any kind of caution, Ellaria came face-to-face with the darkness within as the screech of an Owlbear rings out. Ellaria is immediately rammed by the large beast, pushing her back. Ellaria and Yamcha both try attacking the creature with Fire Bolt spells and Flame Breath but both where severely injured by the backlash attacks. With both of them bleeding to death on the floor, Wobbly initially fled the scene and allowed the Owlbear to leave on its own (which it did through the Southern exterior door after avoid the fire to the North) and returned to help his compatriots once it had fled. Using his own last Potion of Healing he revived Yamcha, and both of them looted two more potions from Ellaria's body to rive her as well. Once back on their feet the trio searched the rooms without finding anything of note until the sounds of Targor and his troops closing in on them caused them to flee. Leaving the castle still in Cragmaw control, with everyone in pretty bad shape, they party (including Gwen) headed through the Northern exit hoping to be able to track Vyerith's path away into the forest.
The Hunters and the Hunted
The party head out in search of Vyerith's tracks towards the Woods being lead by Gwen. Pretty soon she picked up tracks leading to the East and the party follow her around the castle and back to the Southern entrance. After debating whether to go back in or not, they decide that they must have followed the wrong trail and return to the Northern edge to try pick up the true tracks. Before following a newly found path, commotion from inside the castle indicates that King Grol's body has been found. They head off into the woods, leaving the castle behind, and search for signs of the escaped Drow. After over an hour of tracking, the party arrived in a clearing only to find a badly wounded young Elf boy, appearing to be about 14 to 16 years old (by Human standards). Checking to see if he is alive, Ellaria engaged him in conversation hoping to learn more about him and perhaps persuade him to offer them sanctuary in his village. The boy, who called himself Ilfe (which nobody believed), was evasive and wouldn't give a straight answer when questioned on his village and claimed to be the last surviving member of a patrol who was attacked by Cragmaw Hobgoblin raiders. He was separated for the group when attacked by the raiders' wolfs but managed to fight them off. Before much else can happen, Wobbly warns of incoming movement from their rear and everyone runs to take cover in bushes. Yamcha moved the young Elf into a hiding place before trying to climb at tree, but his exhaustion caused him only to flail about. Soon, Targor and his men made their appearance and easily captured both Yamcha and Gwen. They were both marched back towards the castle after attempting to knock both out with an unarmed punch (only Yamcha remained conscious), leaving Ellaria and Wobbly behind to fight over what to do next. Ellaria set off on her own to rescue the duo after Wobbly asserted he wanted to "retire" and leave with his life. After taking a short rest, he came around to the idea of helping his "friends" and headed out for the castle. Ellaria attempted twice to infiltrate the castle but only roused the guards both times and was caught only a few paces inside. She was brought before Targor and bound up the same as the others.
Meanwhile, now reunited with Ellaria, Yamcha and Gwen where taken to the alter room in the castle as the sun began to set. Even Dicklack was brought to the room. They were all bound in rope while Targor and one other Hobgoblin stood watch over them. Targor began a monologue as he told the party he plans to make a throne for his new throne room out of their skin and hair. He also thanked them for their role in making him the new King of the Cragmaws. When Ellaria spoke up to him he silenced her with a sharp punch, knocking her our with ease. Targor then turned to Yamcha, the only awake party member, and gave him the choice of who they will kill first. He told the Dragonborn he admires a man who can take a punch which Yamcha immediately countered with sexual advances. When pressed, Yamcha chose Dicklack as the first victim, who was promptly taken away from the room. Wobbly, in his first attempt to infiltrate the castle, witnessed two of Targor's men carry Dicklack towards the throne room. His attempts to gain access to the alter room was unsuccessful and in his retreat he recognized the scream of Dicklack from the thrown room. His second attempt, this time from the main doors to the East, allowed him to reach the captives. Once face to face with Targor, the two got into a stand off, but for a moment the Hobgoblin was distracted shouting orders to his men and Wobbly attacked.
Initially Wobbly and Targor scuffled and fell to the floor but Wobbly was quickly kicked aside and set upon by the Hobgoblins. Unable to get away unscathed, Wobbly fought his way passed them in order to release Yamcha from his bonds. In a Frenzied Rage, Yamcha grabbed Targor and carried him across the room as they threw punches at each other. In the opening, the other Hobgoblin and Wobbly trade blows until Wobbly finally slew him. Turning over the Hobgoblin's weapon to Yamcha, he drove the longsword blade threw Targor's face, killing him. In anger, Yamcha took the blade and cut off Targor's head but his sloppy job left the head unrecognizable and left behind the lower jaw. Together the two regrouped and freed the girls and soon after Ellaria awoke. Together the trio set out to find their gear which was striped from them when they were captured as well as to kill the last of the Cragmaw Hobgoblins. Along the way they set up lights in order to see in the darkness of the castle and Ellaria discovered a golden statuette hidden in a brazier near the alter room. She could feel the magic within, even if she could not specify exactly what kind, and she knew this was the artifact she was looking for at the behest of Sister Garaele. The find caused great annoyance in Wobbly. Continuing with business, Ellaria acted as bait by throwing fireballs to draw the last two Hobgoblins out, who were promptly ambushed and killed by the party. With the last of the Cragmaws' at the castle dead, the party final gain control of the castle. Searching the throne room the party find both their gear, and the dismembered body of Dicklack Retardo. Staying the night in the castle, the party return to Phandalin at sunrise, leaving the Cragmaw Castle behind them for good.
Make Yourself at Home
The party make it back to the Stonehill in without incident and stay the night once again. The following morning sees Ellaria remain in bed most of the morning while Gwen took to lounging in the common area. Taking the time away fro the girls, Wobbly and Yamcha meet to conspire against Sister Garaele, as per Halia's request. They decide to break into her house while she is busy at the shrine and move out immediately to do so. After scouting the location, Yamcha returns to his partner to tell him the young elf is indeed at the shrine tending to the parishioners but Daran may be close enough to her home when sitting on his porch to hear any loud noises at hers. Yamcha decides to distract the retiree by conversing with him, telling him they found Cragmaw, cleared out the Goblinoids and found Gundren. He told them he didn't make it and asked where he could find any next of kin. Daran was worried to think the Goblins wanted something from the Dwarf but decided it best left to the party to handle. He told Yamcha of the other Rockseeker brothers and that they are likely still out in the hills but not having heard from them in nearly a month he fears they also met a terrible fate by now. Meanwhile, Wobbly found his way inside the Sister's home with ease. The simple dwelling was exactly what one would expect of a religious figure, sparse and tidy. He rummaged through her desk, wardrobe and under her bed without finding anything of note beyond a relic chalice of Tymora. Just before leaving, he decided to overturn a rug where he found a locked hatch, and after picking the lock, he found the proof needed within. Inside was a purple wax candle, a wax seal stamp marked with a Harpers' symbol of a crescent moon, a number of letters bearing the same symbol as a letter head, an ornate dagger and a Potion of Healing. Pocketing a few of the letters and the potion, Wobbly covered his tracks by re-locking the hatch and escaping the way he came in. Meeting back up with Yamcha they went directly to Halia to turn over their proof. She was delighted they completed her task and as promised she officially inducted them both into the ranks of the Zhentarim. She kept the letters of proof for her own reasons and sent her new underlings off out into the world. Reunited a few hours later, the party readied for their long trek to Wyvern Tor to tackle the band of Orcs out there.
The party head East along the Triboar trail again and the trip is mostly uneventful bar an attack on the camp one night by a small pack of wolves. They make it to the ruins of Conybery after two days travel and Yamcha takes a detour in order to visit the burial site of the chunk of Stump he left on his last visit. He gave the site a salute before pissing on it. They party headed out shortly after and by that night they arrived at the base of the Wyvern Tor. Deciding not to wait or make camp, the party begin searching for signs of the Orc camp. Initial attempts to locate the camp where fruitless but after a few hours, not long before midnight, they found the opening to the Orc camp. However they were caught by the sentry who was just able to warn the camp before being slain. Attempts to search the opening to the cave had the party inundated with javelins causing them to retreat. The stand off was finally broken when the group seel the entrance with a boulder. Their respite was short lived however as shortly after they blocked the cave the stone was forced back, knocking Ellaria and Gwen to the floor. Out stepped an Ogre, wildly swinging a greatclub, and with a massive swing he dropped Yamcha with downward swing, critically crushing him beneath it. Focusing their fire, Wobbly and Ellaria attack the Ogre and with a combined critical hit of his own from Wobbly as well as a Witch Bolt and Magic Missile from Ellaria they fell the hulk. Before he can make much of a recovery, Yamcha is set upon again by the Orcs that charged their position behind the Ogre, including what seemed to be the leader of the pack. He took another barrage of attacks but stayed standing even after suffering damage to his beloved glaive. With the distraction of the fallen Ogre Gwen was able to make use of her (formerly King Grol's) morningstar and kill one of the Orcs before the combined strikes of Wobbly, Ellaria's Magic Missile, and her final strike take down the leader. Just before that however, in an attempt to regain his footing, Yamcha lashed out with his Fire Breathe but caught both the lead Orc and Wobbly in the flames. The remaining Orcs fall back into the camp and the party recover the hole with the boulder. Pretty quickly they realize they merely prolonged the battle but take a few moments to reorganize, pop a Potion of Healing for Yamcha and mend their gear. They proceed to move the boulder away but in the efforts to do so Yamcha sprains his wrist and Gwen her back trying to move the heavy stone. Once out of the way, the boulder's protection was gone and the javelins rained out on them. Gwen took the brunt of the damage and then lead the charge into the dark cave, killing one of the enemies inside before being taken down herself. Again the team work of Wobbly and Ellaria take down the last of the Orcs just before Yamcha could be floored. Now alone in the darkness of the Orcs' cave camp the party collapse for the night.
The Beginning of the End
After reviving Gwen, the party decided to make use of the Orc camp and slept the night there, but not before looking around first. Searching the bodies of the Orcs showed they were indeed Many-Arrow Kingdom Orcs. Also found with was a loot of treasure (which was split 3 ways between the conscious members) and a map of the area with many marked locations and notes. Brughor Axe-Biter, seemingly the now dead leader of the group communicated with others via messages on the map, leading the party to believe the Orcs were scouting the lands for some reason. A small note at the bottom also makes note of lone Dwarf activity near the town of Phandalin. After reading the notes the party head to sleep and set off back to town the next day. On the way back through Conyberry, Yamcha returned again to Stump's "grave" where he buried along with it a toe he took from the Ogre. The Party make it safely back to Phandalin after three days of travel, only stopping to make camp and fight off Hobgoblin bounty hunters. Wobbly was thrilled to learn there is a 25gp bounty on his head from the Black Spider, even more so when her learned Ellaria only had 20gp on hers.
Back in town the party turned in the Orc bounty to Harbin Wester who tried to mislead them to thinking the bounty was for less. Pressing on him he gave them the full 100gp which was split 4 ways but when talk turned to the Red Brands Harbin was quick to say they were "not much trouble really". The party grew suspicious of him but Rahris vouched for him claiming he's still afraid of them and easily intimidated, that is all. Ellaria continued to talk with Rahris, asking if he could help them find the Wave Echo Cave. He was unable as the only active Order member in the field right now but her turned over a magical item, a spell-casting focus of a cleric of Silvanus who died recently in the Mere of Dead Men. The faint magic is fading but it may still help them in some way he tells them. He also told them maybe the Harpers could help. The Party then split up in search of leads, Ellaria turning to Sister Garaele and the boys to Halia while Gwen sought out local merchants and then Daran Edermath. Both Sister Garaele and Halia took on the job of helping their people find the Wave Echo Cave, Sister G for free and Halia with the condition of bringing back the Black Spider alive so he can tell the Zhentarim all he knows about the Forge of Spells. Halia also turned over a smoke grenade each to her charges to help their cause while Sister Garaele gave her protege a Tymoran coin wishing her "good luck when she needs it most". Gwen had no luck with the merchants but was surprised to find herself being followed on the way to Daran's. Carp Alderleaf, the young Halfling son of Qelline Alderleaf, approached the Half-Elf as soon as she spoke to him. He asked her questions bluntly including "Why do you wear a sack and armor?" and "Why is she always standing around?" before calling her "the Goblin Lady" and telling her his mom doesn't want him talking to her. He also asked how she is a Half-Elf, having never seen one before then left her when he heard his mother calling. After her confrontation, Gwen spoke with Daran who was also unable to help much beyond giving her an apple and a Scroll of Enhance Ability from his adventuring days. After securing the aid of their factions, the party decide to wait and hope to hear back from them. They loaded up on supplies and waited. While waiting, Mirna Dendrar and Qelline Alderleaf appeared to Wobbly while in the middle of a day of successful gambling and story telling, offering the Party a healer's kit they saved and collected for as a thank you for the Party's efforts. Meanwhile Ellaria took to her room to read while Yamcha did some errands for locals and Gwen spent her free time outdoors. On the third night after contacting the factions for help, Halia sent word for Yamcha and Wobbly.
Wobbly played down their connection by wondering why she would want to see them and his efforts where believed. They set out and where glad to hear Halia came through for them. They now know the general area Gundren was digging in with his brothers. Returning as if not much had happened, the heroes all turn in for the night and met up again in the morning. Now armed with knowledge of where to look, Wobbly suggests they change tact and stop waiting for something to happen. The whole party set out and after an afternoon of searching where Halia told them the party came across a mine shaft. A little hesitant to enter, they eventually do, and after a few minutes they find themselves in a large chamber. The main feature besides the deep pit in the other side of the cavern was the dead body of a Dwarf, left there at least a Tensday. After spending a few minutes in the darkness the resounding crash of waves from deep within the stone complex told them they had finally found the Wave Echo Cave at long last. Ellaria checked the body for wounds finding only a single stab wound. Yamcha however was more taken with the Dwarf's boots which stood out as more clean valuable than the rest of the mining gear he wore. Pretty soon after taking them Yamcha learned that the boots were in fact magical Boots of Striding and Springing. He attuned with them over the course of a short rest while the others prepare to delve into the cave.
Not Ready For The Jelly
After their rest and preparations, the party headed into the Wave Echo Cave. They descended into the cavern and found themselves at a junction with a passage leading North-West and another leading East. After a short debate they headed into want seemed to be mine tunnels lead by Yamcha, followed by Ellaria, Gwen and lastly Wobbly. The tunnels only reached 6ft in height so Yamcha had to crouch to proceed along the paths as well as use on hand to hold the lantern for light. After following a few turns, the party came face to face with an Ochre Jelly. Surprised by the slimy creature to say the least, the party threw everything the could at it, including many Yamcha's Fire Breath, Ellaria's Rays of Frost and melee attacks. Unfortunately for the team Ellaria's Wild Magic asserted itself at this dangerous time and the floor of the tunnels magically filled with grease. The Ochre Jelly avoided the grease by sticking to the ceiling while the part, particularly Gwen and Ellaria fell flat on their backs during the fight. The fight got even tougher when attacks from Gwen and Wobbly caused to make the Jelly split into multiple groups. They party finally managed to kill the Jelly but not without taking severe injuries and using two of their Potions of Healing. Cautiously they all pressed on.
Deeper into the cave the party found themselves in a natural cavern complete with a murky and dark standing pool. The fishy smell caused most of the heroes to avoid the waters edge expecting a creature to attack if they got close. However, Wobbly was not afraid. Jumping right in he waded through the water and ducked his head under in hopes of some loot, which he indeed found. Pulling a body onto the shore, he found the remains of a Wizard who had been slain by arrow seemingly centuries ago. On the body he found 2 platinum rings worth 75gp each which he put on immediately. He also acquired a wand of some kind from the skeleton's hand which he tossed disinterestedly to Ellaria. It was at this point that Yamcha decided to take a short rest to recover from the Jelly's attacks and Ellaria took the opportunity to try study the wand. Their rest was short-lived however as they were easy prey in their current position for a group of Stirges who attacked from the ceiling. The party managed to fight them back and remain standing but at the cost of even more health and 2 of Gwen's 3 arrows. Believing sitting still in an unsecured area would invite more danger, the injured party pressed on deeper into the cave.
Almost immediately after leaving the pool cavern the adventures found themselves back in the mine area and in a constructed hallway. Right across from them was a door which they decided to instigate. Taking up position on either side of the door, the party attempted to listen to the conversation they heard within. However they were not silent in their approach and were detected by the room's occupants, 5 Bugbears. A large fight broke out immediately and heavy losses mounted on both sides. Despite using his Frenzied Rage, Yamcha fell in the fighting, as did Gwen and Ellaria, but not before taking 3 Bugbears with them. Wobbly took flight when the flow of the fight turned against the team but it was all part of his plan. But before leaving he used the gifted medical kit he had on him to stabilize Yamcha. The remaining Bugbears gave chase back as far as the small tunnels before giving up. This is When Wobbly sprung his ambush, attacking both of the beasts with his smoke bomb given to him by Halia. In the confusion he land a few bows against his targets then slip passed them to return to his allies' aid. The bugbears did not go down quietly though and even trapped in the smoke Wobbly was hit with a very nearly fatal series of blows from them both. Luck shine on him that day as he managed to trip both the Bugbears as the smoke cleared and make it unhindered back to where his allies lay. While he was gone, Gwne had managed to stabilize herself naturally while a minor divine intervention through her Tymoran coin spared Ellaira's life. Having no Potions of Healing of his own, Wobbly looted one from Gwen and gave it to Yamcha to get him back on his feet. The Bugbears caught up with the boys once more and now a fair 2v2 fight kicked off. Once again Yamcha was KO'd while in Rage but he absorbed enough of the enemies hits to allow Wobbly to kill the last of the Bugbears and secure the team's survival for at least another few minutes. Dragging the unconscious bodies of his friends into the room the Bugbears where resting in, Wobbly crashed to the floor in exhaustion.
The Spider's Lair
The party, much in need of a rest, spend the next our holed up in the barracks liberated from the Bugbears. They ready themselves to press on and after looting the goblinoids corpses, Ellaria found and correctly identified a Potion of Vitality which she gave to Yamcha, who drank it immediately in order to quell his exhaustion. Read once more, they pressed deeper into the Wave Echo Cave. It only took a few turns until they found themselves at a set of large double doors. Wobbly moved closer and peered through the doors as he pressed them open with perfect stealth. Inside, standing in the shadow of an oversized statue of the Dwarven God of Mining Dumathion, stood a male Drow clutching a full length black staff engraved with a spider's motif, flanked on both sides by a pair of Bugbears as they looked over papers on a makeshift table. It seems they had found the Black Spider at long last. Wobbly returned to confer and strategize with the rest of the team, it clear they intended to strike while they had the element of surprise.
And that they did, when Wobbly appeared behind the closest Bugbear and attempted to assassinate him. The strikes were not clean and the Bugbear stayed standing. In his approach, Wobbly noticed webbing in the corners of the ceilings but felt the chance to end the Black Spider early too good to pass up. Losing the drop on their foe, the Black Spider fell back to the far wall of the room and took cover behind his bodyguards. The other heroes poured into the room at this time but to their shock, the Black Spider wanted to talk. He gave them an offer of alliance instead of a fight. He made it clear he wanted control of the Forge of Spells, name dropping only once when he called his group "The Shapers", and that he considered the party fodder to fight the defenses of the Wave Echo Cave. He did promise them free passage out once the alliance was completed successfully. He also offer to let them take any items of value for the forge as long as he retained the physical forge. Fearing they couldn't trust him, the party declined the deal and fighting continued. Giant Spiders came to the aid of the Drow and the tide turned against the heroes. They we're pushed back and Wobbly found himself entangled in webbing, which Yamcha narrowly avoided. Pretty soon Yamcha was calling out to the enemy to parlay and if the alliance was still an option. It was not, however the Black Spider showed his evil side clearly when he offered them a secondary deal... whoever killed a fellow party member would be allowed walk free with their life right then and there, and they would even collect ten times the bounty placed on that person's head by him. The room suddenly became tense as the heroes each contemplated the offer.
Things went for bad to worse as the party circled each other and refused to turn their backs on one another. Ellaria brook the stalemate first, turning her magic back against the Black Spiders forces, knowing full well it would likely mean her death rather than turning against her allies. The Black Spider returned in kind. It took some time but Gwen, Yamcha and Wobbly in that order returned to the fight against the villain, as things looked even more grim. The party managed to kill a Giant Spider and a Bugbear but it was already too late to turn the tide of Battle. The poisonous bite of the Giant Spiders force Ellaria into a coma which she would never awake from. Completely outnumbered, Gwen was over run by the spiders as well, gutted by the fangs of one of them and dragged to the web of the Spider, luckily having already passed on. Seeing it now to be an unwinnable war, both Yamcha and Wobbly set their sights on the door and make a run for it. Reinforcements from the next room gave chase along with a Giant Spider and in the bottleneck of the mine's aged hallways, Yamcha was cornered and killed. Shortly before hand and back in the Black Spider's camp, the Bugbears gathered up the sleeping body of Ellaria and dealt the final blow, decapitation her and releasing the necklace bound to her throat. Only Wobbly made it as far back as the barracks the party took their last rest in, chased by the Giant Spider... it took all his stamina and daring, but he outran his pursuers and escaped the Wave Echo Cave alive, the sole survivor of his party.
Loot, Treasure and Spoils
A number of treasured and valuable items gained by the party where lost to the Black Spider and his organization during the final battle. This includes Yamcha's 'Glaive' and Boots of Striding and Springing, the mysterious necklace worn by Ellaria and the wand found within the Wave Echo Cave.
This campaign has ended, but due to an almost Total Party Kill, the outcomes are unknown until uncovered in later adventures