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D&D 5E Goonalan's 5th Ed Games- The Union in the Red Larch Adventure Session #72 to #75 (12/04/17)


Note the text below is from my EU Campaign in Lost Mine of Phandelver, go to the Last Post for details from the here and now, from all of my 5th edition campaigns.

Chapter 1: About eight hours now.

Hellwhip kicked his heel hard against the side of the wagon, his leg dangling there, rocked by the steady gait of the oxen. The cart, and its contents, rumbled on towards Phandalin, two more days of this, the ranger thought, and then sighed loudly. The wiry human glared down at Grimm, his new companion, walking by the side of the wagon and whistling a cheery tune. The paladin of Tymora looked up at that exact moment causing Hellwhip to suddenly rearrange his grimace into a frown, and then eventually a thin-lipped smile. Grimm grinned back, and then for good measure waved at the now scowling ranger. Hellwhip cringed inwardly and quickly looked away- feigning interest elsewhere. He had been an adventurer for... well, about eight hours now, he hated it, particularly the having to be nice to people.

In the back of the wagon Zyler groaned and clutched at his stomach, the priest of Tempus was in a bad way- at times sweating and moaning, other times shivering and groaning- a fever gripped him. Which was doubly unfortunate as Zyler was the only one of the hastily assembled group with any medicinal skill. Hellwhip echoed Zyler's groan and shook his head- he needed a drink, the ranger had been off the bottle for... well, about eight hours now. He had a splitting headache and none of this- he waved his hand absentmindedly to indicate the beautiful countryside and sun dappled rolling hills that sprawled alongside the High Road, none of this was helping. His home was in the city, the city in question being Neverwinter; his domain the narrow alleys and sodden streets, or else the storm tossed seas- he hated all of this... land, and the depressing greenery. The ranger silently seethed for a while, trying to make sense of this new venture. It wasn't so difficult being an adventurer, he reflected- nothing had tried to kill him thus far. He just had to learn to put up with 'others', he wasn't used to having 'others' in his life, he was a loner by nature. He didn't have friends, he didn't socialise. When he had to interact with people, he relied most often on his ability to bully or cajole them into doing what he wanted, or else he reached for his blade. And yet here he was, an adventurer, and in close proximity to other adventurers- people he had to get on with, that he would have to rely on if things went bad- there were bandits on the road, everyone said.

Hellwhip looked down at Grimm again, and remembered the first words the paladin had said to him back in the tavern in Neverwinter, “What kind of foul name is Hellwhip?” He kicked his heel hard against the side of the cart causing Grimm to take notice of him again. It didn't help that the paladin's first question was followed by his second- “What idiot came up with a name like that?” Hellwhip had of course chosen his own name. On the streets of Neverwinter sounding tough is important, some days it can be the difference between life and death. His name clearly hadn't had the desired effect on the paladin, who was perhaps used to more refined society. The follower of Tymora's third comment to Hellwhip was just about the final straw, “You're very hairy, aren't you?” he had said. If it wasn't for the young lad Zalt's interruption he would have... who knows what he would have done, but it wouldn't have been pleasant. It was lucky for the paladin that Hellwhip had chosen that day to change his life forever, to flee the city and never look back, the paladin of Tymora was very lucky indeed.

Grimm grinned at Hellwhip again, and then winked- for luck.

Hellwhip ceased kicking his leg and got back to glaring intently at the road ahead. It would rain later, he'd put money on it.

Beside the ranger sat Zalt, the casual observer's eye would be drawn towards the rangy young man, if indeed he was a human, the curl of his lip, the aquiline nose, and - should he let fall his hood- the unmistakeable pointy ears, Zalt was a half-elf. And possibly the least likely looking of the companions, the three others- Zyler, Grimm and Hellwhip were all thickset and older, late twenties and rugged looking, perhaps even experienced. Zalt was smaller, more compact, and much much younger- not yet out of his teens. He attracted attention wherever he went, there was something about the lad that caused people to stop for a moment and stare.

Zalt shook the reins, more for effect- for something to do - it had no discernible effect on the pace of the oxen who plodded on. He didn't mind driving the cart, he'd never done it before and was hard pressed to gauge how good he was at it- the oxen seemed content to do their thing, they understood two commands- stop and go. Zalt could get on with that kind of logic. He had been an adventurer for... he swiftly calculated, about eight hours now, unlike Hellwhip however he was enjoying the ride, at least he thought he was. The open road, the smell of the sea to the west, the bucolic countryside... ah, he breathed it all in. It was good to be an adventurer, to be adventuring- he was certain. His mind however expressed two constant and nagging doubts. The first and by far the most important was- the men he shared a cart with, his new companions, could he trust them? His follow up thought was, of course, could he trust anyone? Which paradoxically reassured him a little. The answer being he couldn't trust anyone, this inevitable truth further reassured him. The second equally nagging doubt was- is this adventuring, driving a cart down a well-travelled road, is this it- he somehow doubted it. Things would, he was certain, get much worse, this last thought also made him smile.

In the back of the wagon the groaning priest of Tempus drifted in and out of consciousness, every now and then he reminded his companions of his presence, usually by farting. It stank, in fact- he stank, but the oxen didn't mind- they plodded on.

It didn't rain that night, but it did most of the next day and all of the next night, the summer downpour at its finale was accompanied by the roar and flash of thunder and lightning, the sounds of the gods doing battle. The priest of Tempus slept through the lot, his drool and some of his stink, thankfully, washed away by the warm cleansing rain.
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The EU in Lost Mine of Phandelver Chapter 2

Chapter 2: The Lord of Battle.

“Looks like two dead horses.” Grimm stated, and then grabbed out a javelin and strode forward.
“Should we wake...” Zalt started but Hellwhip hissed him into silence, the ranger was off the cart and bow in hand in less than a second. Somewhat reluctantly, and with much less grace, Zalt followed suit- clutching a light crossbow in his hands. A second or two later the weapon was loaded, his hands shook a little but he hung on to the device and swallowed hard.

In the back of the cart the priest of Tempus, the great lord of battle, dreamed of glory.

“Definitely dead. Arrows!” The paladin called back, and pointed at the arrows embedded in the flanks of the horses- it was the kind of thing he did, a lot, state the obvious and then point at it, just to make sure everyone was on the same page. Hellwhip frantically signalled for the paladin to quiet his noise but the warrior was no longer looking in the ranger's direction. Grimm's gaze was fixed on the goblin in a bush a little way ahead of him. The miserable creature was struggling to draw its bow, it didn't help that the bush was a bramble. The goblin yelped and sucked on its now bleeding thumb.

“Goblin!” The paladin shouted, pointing at the creature with his javelin, and then rushed forward to stab at it. The goblin was much too quick- it danced sideways and out of the bush, and then skittered a little way up the road. A moment later it stopped, as if remembering itself, and then turned and deftly fired an arrow into Grimm's left leg.

“It shot me!” The paladin declared, and then pointed at the offending missile embedded in his calf.

Hellwhip sighed loudly and shook his head, and then fired an arrow clean through the goblin's neck. The creature thumped hard into the dirt of the road, scrabbled furiously at the ragged hollow in its throat and gargled its last words to the world, but nobody was listening. Three more goblins launched themselves out of the surrounding foliage, two clutching scimitars, rushed to threaten Hellwhip- the ranger shaped and shimmied, and emerged unscathed and smiling from their assault.

The last goblin emerged clutching a shortbow, and standing no more than ten feet away from Grimm- it smiled at the paladin and then fired. The arrow thunked into the paladin's chain armour and instantly rebounded, landing a good six feet away, closer to the goblin than Grimm. “Missed” the paladin of Tymora stated, and then in one swift motion drew his greatsword, flung himself forward, and cut the creature in two. At the same moment Hellwhip dropped his bow, drew one of his two shortswords and gutted one of the goblins before him.

The other, the last survivor of the goblin ambush, was off and running.

Not fast enough, a grinning Grimm quickly in pursuit, ten seconds later it was dead.

And then silence, if only for a short while.

“They're dead” Grimm stated, and then waved his greatsword vaguely in the direction of the fallen.

A minute or so later Hellwhip put his hand on Zalt's shoulder, the suspicious half-elf span around- “What? What do you want?” he firmly stated, drawing himself up inside, ready for any threat.
“Why didn't you fire?” the ranger plainly asked, and tapped the crossbow still clutched in Zalt's hands.
“I did.” Zalt insisted, and then a moment later, when he had remembered, “Twice!” he stated, with a certain amount of pride.
Hellwhip moved off, smirking.

Zalt continued to stare at the ranger's back his thoughts racing- the words came to him as they always did- unbidden. No, not words- sounds in the shape of words that echoed, advancing and receding like the roar and shush of the waves. The warlock suddenly span around, his crossbow cocked and ready, reacting to the sound of movement behind him.

“Sorry... I just...” Zyler clutching at his nether parts stumbled and sprawled out of the back of the cart, picked himself up from the dirt and dashed for a nearby copse of trees. “I just have to... it's coming” he hollered and then fled for cover.

Is this adventuring? Zalt fretted, as the noises in his head grew quiet again.
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Chapter 3: Bovidae Caprinae.

I should stay quiet Zalt thought, if I say it they'll laugh at me. He repeated the phrase he was about to articulate in his head- yes, they will definitely laugh at me. “I...” he said aloud, his three companions instantly turned to look at him. I really shouldn't say it he thought again, don't say it- don't say it- don't say it, he repeated to himself like a mantra.

A moment later he said it, and then had to explain what he meant- which should have been warning enough, but instead he plunged on and dug himself in deeper.

And then they laughed at him.

He knew they would.

But by then he was no longer listening to their crude braying; the sound of the monstrous tide filled his ears, it grew louder until it was all he could hear, until all that he was conscious of was the dark tide in his mind.

In his mind. He had heard the call. He had been chosen.

And then it was gone.

Zalt smiled broadly and his three companions were momentarily reassured, they thought he was in on the joke- that he could see the funny side, this thought made him smile even more.

There will be a reckoning, he grinned.

Ten minutes earlier the four adventurers had quickly discovered a well-used track leading away from the goblin ambush site. They'd also quickly, and correctly, surmised that the two dead horses blocking their path were formerly owned by Gundren Rockseeker and Sildar Hallwinter. This was  particularly problematic because the former, Gundren Rockseeker, was their present employer. The dwarf had hired the four adventurers back in the city of Neverwinter, and then set out ahead of them with his bodyguard- Sildar. The adventurers' present task- to deliver the cart loaded with Gundren's gear to Phandalin - seemed to be quickly turning into a fool's errand, the prospect of them getting paid was fast receding.

The priest of Tempus, Zyler, was however now up and about although moving gingerly at times- it seemed the worst of the fellow's sickness had passed.
“Do we follow the trail?” Zyler asked, canvassing opinion. Zalt kept his own council, Hellwhip rubbed the back of his neck and worried over his answer - the ranger had greatly enjoyed the surge of adrenaline that had come over him during the goblin attack- the thrill felt like home, and yet...

“Come on!” Grimm called back, the paladin of Tempus was already ten yards down the newly discovered goblin trail, it seemed the decision had already been made.

Five minutes later Grimm suddenly came to a dead stop causing those following to concertina, he pointed with his sword at a coil of rope on the path ahead, partially hidden by grass and leaves.
“Ha ha!” he declared, “a trap”, and then without a second thought strode on.

“I...” Zalt said, causing the paladin to stop in his tracks and turn to listen, Hellwhip and Zyler likewise took note.
“I...” Zalt said again, all the while his mind repeating the mantra- don't say it- don't say it- don't say it.

“I can make a noise like a goat” the warlock eventually stated.
“What?” Hellwhip growled with as much scorn as he could muster.
“I have a spell that can be used to reproduce the sound of a goat”, a second later he added, “a goat in distress perhaps?”
Zalt's three companions looked confused- Hellwhip stared open-mouthed.
“To what end?” Zyler asked, and then to clarify things, if only for himself, “why do you want to use magic to make the sound of a goat in distress?” The priest of Tempus must have missed a meeting during his illness, he thought.
“We could stake out the trail, use my magic to lure the goblins in, have them believe that a stray goat had got caught in their trap.” Zalt explained, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Let me get this right”, Zyler continued to seek clarity, “we hide in the bushes, you make goat noises and the goblins come running, and we get them?”
Zalt nodded, some would say eagerly, “remember the goat would be in distress”, the warlock added, certain this last fact would sway the discussion.

Then the laughing started.

A minute or two later Grimm was off again, following the trail, and every now and then chuckling to himself and repeating the word 'goat' in a close approximation of Zalt's voice. Zyler wiped tears from his eyes, Hellwhip bringing up the rear stared at Zalt's back and shook his head, the ranger continued to fret- what the hell have I got myself into.

Ten minutes later Grimm found the second trap, a squarish section of the trail suddenly fell away as the paladin stepped on to it. The heavily armoured human danced adeptly to the side as twigs and branches splintered and collapsed to reveal a ten foot deep pit. The paladin of Tymora didn't even break his stride, he merely pointed behind him and in a voice full of certainty stated, “pit” and strode on.


The EU in Lost Mine of Phandelver Chapter 4

Chapter 4: The Lord of Battle, Part 2.

The goblin trail eventually meandered to follow a fast-running shallow stream which lead into a clearing. On the far-side of the clearing a cave- the source of the stream, and to either side of the subterranean entrance thick gorse and brambles. The four adventurers hung back at the tree-line and cautiously observed the cave, trying to find familiar shapes hidden within the darkness of the opening. To no avail.

Zyler's eye was drawn again and again not to the cavern entrance but to the bramble patch just to the right of it; there was something there, hidden within the flora, every now and then he was certain he could see movement. The priest of Tempus strained to see, a moment or two later and he was certain, he grinned and then, without turning, whispered back to his companions.

“Two goblins in the brambles to the east of the cavern entrance, about thirty paces from where we stand. The pair are hidden in the shadows beneath the jutting rock, they're a good way into the bushes, but I think we can get through to them. I will proceed directly towards the pair, I suggest you accompany me Grimm, we'll try to move forward quietly, but if they mark our approach we'll have to hustle. Hellwhip you should circle around, we'll give you thirty seconds to get to the cave entrance before we start in. Zalt... Zalt...” Zyler's soliloquy floundered and foundered as he suddenly became aware that Zalt was standing five paces before him, already within the clearing. Zyler glanced behind him, it was as he suspected, he was all alone and talking to himself.

Zalt gestured in the direction of the cave entrance where a great sheet of silvery white ice suddenly shaped and shimmered into view- sealing the cavern. A moment later his hand gripped tight to the stock of his crossbow, THWONG, the weapon jumped in his hands. One of the goblins yelped and clutched at the bolt that had plunged through the middle of its back, and now emerged from its chest. The second goblin lurched around just in time to see Grimm wading through the rough brambles that tore and clutched at the paladin's armour, the holy warrior's great blade flashed. The goblin's head now free of its mortal anchor- its body, spiralled into the air, the paladin deftly caught it.

“Howzat!” Grimm declared, grinning and holding his bloody trophy aloft.

Bastards, Zyler thought, and skulked forward to join his companions at the cavern entrance.


Chapter 5: Session #1 OOC.

Just a note to say we're playing using Fantasy Grounds, I (your kindly DM) have an ultimate account, while the players located in the UK, Germany, Serbia and Sweden have free accounts. Save for the time that my internet dropped then Fantasy Grounds has served us well, and for me proved to be an excellent aid to online game-play. Two of the players have played D&D 5th Edition previously, three have never played it before, I have also never played the game previous to this.

As a group we have known each other for about five years, we played a D&D 4th Edition campaign using Maptools previously, that ended 2.5 years ago. We've not gamed together since then- no bad feelings just other lives to lead. One of the guys, Pedja (see below) lured me back into the fold, I was happy that he remembered me, and eager to play 5th edition, the gang were eager to get back together.

We're obviously playing the 'Lost Mine of Phandelver' from the Starter Set.

The following are the notes sent to the PCs, a summary of the action from the first session which appears in story form above.

Session #1

Zalt, Half-Elf Warlock 1 played by Simon.
Grimm, Human Paladin of Tymora 1 played by Zoki.
Hellwhip, Human Ranger 1 played by Pedja.
Zyler, Human Cleric of Tempus 1 played by Christer.

The Action-

1. Meet individually with Gundren Rockseeker (Dwarf) in Neverwinter, hired to take a cart load of provisions to Phandalin (Fan-dal-in), a small frontier town. Quest #1 Deliver Gundren’s Provisions, get the cart and its contents to Barthen’s Provisions in Phandalin to receive (10gp each) payment. Gundren states that there may be bandits on the road- keep a sharp look out. Gundren and his bodyguard, Sildar Hallwinter (Human ex-Guard Captain) set off for Phandalin a day before your departure, travelling fast on good horses.

2. A day later adventurers meet for the first time, figure out who is driving the cart, and then head out of Neverwinter on the High Road. The provisions in the cart are mostly mining and camping equipment, the cart is being pulled by two oxen- slow going.

3. First day out of Neverwinter encounter a much larger merchant caravan heading for the city, and later a group of Road Wardens- all goes well.

4. Continue along the Coast Road on the second day of travel, the only excitement is a rain storm- the adventurers get wet. Reach the Triboar Trail, which leads to Phandalin, at the end of the day.

5. Third day of travel is interrupted when adventurers spot a pair of dead horses in the road ahead- it doesn’t look good. Investigations are curtailed by a Goblin ambush, all four of the evil humanoids are killed. The dead horses, you think, belong to Gundren & Sildar, your employer has been ambushed? Grimm is wounded in the fight. XP AWARDED.

6. A Goblin trail is discovered heading off into the wilds, the oxen and cart are hidden, the trail followed- a pair of traps en route are located. The trail leads to a cave entrance- lots of Goblin tracks. Time to rescue Gundren and Sildar (possibly). XP AWARDED.

7. A pair of (bored) Goblin guards are spotted hiding in nearby brambles, the pair are swiftly despatched. XP AWARDED.

Session #1 Ends.

Ongoing Quests- #1 Deliver Gundren’s Provisions
NPCs of note- Gundren Rockseeker (Dwarf patron) & Sildar Hallwinter (Gundren's bodyguard).
Enemies of note- Goblins.
New Info- Have Gundren and Sildar been ambushed and captured by the Goblins?

The story version of events has been spiced up a little because, well... that's what narrators do. That said Grimm really did say those things about Hellwhip in Chapter 1., and Zalt really did say “I can make a noise like a goat.”, as stated in Chapter 3, laughter and confusion followed. Zyler, the priest of Tempus played by Christer, was absent for the first hour or so of the session as he had in real life fallen off his motorbike and was stuck in A&E, hence the priest of Tempus being incapacitated at the start of the adventure. In Chapter 4, while Zyler was the only adventurer initially to spot the goblin guards in the bushes by the cavern entrance, he then proceeded to dither and rolled a '3' for his initiative. Zyler and Grimm killed the goblins before the adherent of the god of battle even got a chance to grab out his warhammer.

Note there is a fifth member to our group, another player, he will be arriving for Session 3, we hope.

Any questions- please ask, otherwise, read on...


Chapter 6: Two-hundred pounds of bad tempered muscle with an overwhelming desire to smash things.

Hellwhip continued to make a low, rumbling guttural sound in the back of his throat, his right arm stretched out before him- his hand open and empty, slowly he shuffled forward in a low crouch. All the while his mind racing, thinking- I can do this, I can do this, repeating the mantra. The closest wolf snarled, just once, and then dragged the dried meat the ranger had previously thrown to it closer, the other two wolves hung back content to gnaw and chew on their prizes. Thirty seconds later the ranger had edged past the three emaciated beasts who were now entirely engaged in tearing and gnawing at the ranger's trail rations. Hellwhip yanked the three metal pegs out from the ground, each peg secured a chain that stretched to the collar of one of the three beasts. Gingerly, at first, he rose to stand his full height in the centre of the pack, the wolves as one stopped eating and turned to stare up at the newly arisen figure in their midst, as if seeing Hellwhip for the first time. The ranger signalled with a gentle wave to his companions- Zalt, Zyler and Grimm, the three ceased marvelling and quickly shuffled away from the entrance to the cavern. The wolves still transfixed, staring up at the ranger. Suddenly Hellwhip clapped his hands together, just once but very loudly, and the wolves were off and running straight out of the cave and across the clearing, disappearing in seconds into the scrub and vegetation.

Performance over Hellwhip whispered, as loudly as he dared, “it's safe”, moments later his three companions filtered back into the cavern.
“That was...” Zyler searched for the right word.
“Very impressive. Very impressive indeed.” Grimm nods along with his fine words, and then chucks the ranger on the arm.
Zalt only smiles, unsure of what he can add to the moment. Hellwhip grins back at his audience and then remembers himself and does his best to look stern.

The adventurers take a moment to nose around the newly vacated cavern- empty, no other exits save perhaps a narrow chimney, quite a climb, heading east and at least thirty feet up.
“We'll head over to the other opening, on the left, see what's over there.” Grimm states to nods all round.

Back out and alongside the fast flowing stream, the ten foot wide stone passage slopes upwards, accounting for the increased flow of the waterway, the adventurers cautiously head forwards. Barely ten paces on, Zyler barks a warning and points ahead. A roiling wave perhaps four feet high, a mini tsunami, surges and roars down the rough stone corridor, the adventurers- as one, bolt for cover. Zyler, Zalt and Grimm race into a side passage a little way ahead, the exit they were making for as it happens. Hellwhip, at the rear, turns and runs back into the chamber formerly occupied by the wolves. Miraculously all four companions outrun the thundering tide which spews and froths out of the cavern, flooding - momentarily - the grass and scrub around the entrance. Zyler, Zalt and Grimm quickly dash back to the ranger, they have intelligence they wish to share.

“The passage to the left is a climb, but there's a light at the top- probably torches or a camp fire, and creatures, I think.” Zyler, the priest of Tempus, states.
“What creatures?” Hellwhip snaps back.
“Goblins.” Zyler and Zalt state in unison, the former guessing- the latter certain.
“There's a bridge ahead, spanning the river passage- about twenty feet further forward, and maybe twenty feet above, I think there's a watcher up there. Another Goblin.” Zalt states, before Hellwhip can shape any further enquiry.
The adventurers take a moment to consider the situation.
“Did the goblins cause the flood?” Hellwhip puts the adventurers' thoughts into words.
“They can't have”, Grimm states, absolutely certain.
“Yes!” Zalt states simultaneously, and equally assured.
“Perhaps.” Zyler adds a moment later, looking from Grimm to Zalt and trying to figure out which one to believe.
The moment stretches.
“Should I take a look up there?” Zalt breaks the silence and points towards the dark chimney they located earlier at the back of the cave.

Moments later the cavern is bathed in a warm bluish light courtesy of the priest of Tempus, whose shield now glows and shimmers, Hellwhip leans in to look up the chimney as Zalt scrambles upwards. The warlock's ascent doesn't last long, the half-elf comes tumbling back down, sprawls for a moment on the rough cavern floor, and then is helped back to his feet by Grimm.
“It can't be climbed” Zalt simply states, and wipes his bleeding hands on his clothes.

“Tempus guide me.” Zyler growls and then pushes Zalt aside, the priest of Tempus passes his glowing shield to Grimm and then flings himself up the chimney. His method of climbing is unconventional. The heavily armoured holy warrior uses his strength to surge up the hollow space, showers of pebbles, dust and loose rocks signal his progress. Hellwhip ducks back into the chamber to avoid the rockfalls.

Twenty seconds later Zyler pops his head out of a hole and into another chamber. The priest is happily wedged in place. Two large stalagmites block his view of the newly revealed cavern, they also greatly reduce his chances of being seen by the creatures laired there. A huge goblin, scratch that - a bugbear - lurches momentarily into sight; that's not good the priest of Tempus thinks. That's great- he finishes the thought, and grins to himself. Moments later there's a low growl, it seems there's another wolf in here the priest thinks- that's bad, and that's enough information. He descends at speed accompanied, as previously, by a shower of dust and debris. Safely at the bottom, and still grinning, Zyler shares his discovery with his companions.

“A bugbear!” Zalt gulps.
“A bugbear.” Zyler agrees, and then bumps fists with a smiling Grimm- the pair are seemingly delighted.
“Two-hundred pounds of bad tempered muscle with an overwhelming desire to smash things.” Grimm concludes, grinning still. “Can't wait”, the paladin of Tymora adds.
Zalt is not sure who Grimm is talking about- possibly himself. Although the description would suit all three of his companions.
Hellwhip shrugs, “the bigger they are the harder they fall”, he mutters and then grips tight his sword.
“A bugbear.” Zalt whispers to himself, and then he too smiles.


Chapter 7: Goblin tide.

The adventurers cautiously head back out into the main passage- once more they are alongside the fast running shallow waterway, however they have a plan this time. The quartet edge forward, upstream, on the look out for enemies, particularly on the crude rope-and-plank bridge ahead and above. Zyler uses his glowing shield like a torch, seeking to light the dark places ahead.

The four make it back to the side passage they investigated earlier, no sightings. The way ahead is rough terrain, a series of low rocky ledges like steps, and at the top a chamber poorly illuminated by a flickering light- probably a camp fire. Every now and then the light is occluded causing the rocky passage to be filled with giant emaciated shadows. There are creatures moving about up there, the sound of the stream alas prevents the adventurers from hearing them. Zyler proffers a thumbs up signal, Grimm echoes the sign- the pair grin at each other, in the background Hellwhip shakes his head and mutters to himself.

The priest of Tempus scuttles perhaps ten feet forwards, mostly in an upwards direction- the passage is even steeper than it looks. Alas the weight of the hefty human causes a swathe of loose rock to slide and tumble from beneath his feet; for a moment Zyler dances and then deftly lurches forward and onto solid ground. Grimm, still grinning below him, is less fortunate- the paladin is hit by a dozen or more falling rocks of various sizes, and hurt, he stifles cuss words and cradles his now fractured arm. The paladin's touch is however warm against the numb, a second later and Grimm's hurt is entirely forgotten. He grins up at Zyler, motions another thumbs up, and then turns to share his smile with his other companions.

That's when he spots the second tidal wave.
Much too late to warn Zalt, Hellwhip quickly rushes out of the wave's path and into the rocky passage, the warlock however is flat-footed and with nowhere left to run. The surging water picks the half-elf up, but only for a short moment, and then smashes him down again onto the rough stone of the passage. Zalt is sent spinning out of the cavern tumbling and rolling- battered and bloodied by the roaring tide.

In the same moment two goblins lope into view on the rope bridge, “Cragmaw Goblins Rule!” The pair scream in unison and then fire their shortbows at Grimm who ducks back just in time. Two more of the filthy humanoids come rushing down the shallow stream, shouting and hollering, with their scimitars raised above their heads.

Grimm and Hellwhip are swiftly into action, Zyler follows on a moment later after scrabbling back down the rocky slope. The trio at first prove ineffective- Hellwhip is cut badly when one of the goblins opens a six inch gash on his right forearm. Grimm takes an arrow to his side, the missile leaves a burning hot trail in his flesh. The priest of Tempus prays away Grimm's hurt, a moment later Zalt, only a little recovered, lurches back into the cavern. The young lad seems enchanted, else hypnotised- with staring eyes, Zyler notes; the priest whispers fervent prayers and the warlocks wounds are almost entirely healed.

Zalt doesn't stop or else acknowledge Zyler, he plods on- the rushing tide in his head, a glorious chorus of pulsing sound, he shapes and funnels the noise and then reaches out with his hand as if grasping. One of the goblins up on the rope bridge suddenly clutches at its head. A moment later the creature's skull explodes sending blood and bone fragments everywhere, the decapitated humanoid plunges off the bridge, and smashes into the stone of the cavern passage.

Grimm, Hellwhip and Zyler individually and collectively gawp, they also redouble their efforts and in scant moments the two goblins they are facing are cut down. The last goblin situated on the bridge, momentarily stunned by the death of his companion, shakes himself awake and runs screaming. Not fast enough- Hellwhip has already dropped his shortswords and has his long bow in hand, the ranger fires and thumps an arrow into the fleeing miscreant's shoulder. The force of the hit is enough to fling the goblin backwards off the bridge, it plummets to its death. The fast flowing stream washes all four of the goblins' bodies down to nestle at the feet of the adventurers.

“Nice shooting!” Grimm declares, and then winks at the ranger.
Hellwhip, before he can help himself, replies with a nod and a grin.
Zyler quickly mutters a short and sometimes loud prayer to Tempus- the Lord of Battle, Grimm tuts and shakes his head in the background. Hellwhip alas is still clutching at his side, blood pours from the wound, the ranger suddenly winces and then sags, “I don't think I can go on”, he declares, and then grabs at the cavern wall for support.

“We should retreat to the outside of the cavern, and rest- but keep a close eye on this place. They know we're here now, the next move is theirs.” Grimm plainly states.
The paladin's companions see the sense in this, collect up their ammunition and then drag the four dead goblins out of the cave to search. Minutes later the adventurers are mostly hidden in the bushes either side of the cave entrance, Zyler doing the best he can to staunch Hellwhip's wound.


Chapter 8: Woodwork.

Nothing happens for a good while, save that the four adventurers sharpen and clean, and rest, and make ready- every now and then stopping for a moment or two to stare into the empty darkness of the cave entrance.

That is until about thirty minutes have passed.
“Whoo are you?” Comes a gruff voice from the cave.
“Klarg?” Zalt asks his companions.
“Could be.” Hellwhip answers.
“Not a goblin.” Grimm adds.
“What do you want?” Comes the gruff voice again.
“We want the dwarf and the human?” Grimm shouts back.
“Gundren and Sildar.” Zalt clarifies, getting to his feet in order to do so, the young warlock even strikes a pose, which causes his three companions to chuckle.

“Whoooo?” Eventually the voice replies.
“The dwarf and the human, we followed their tracks here you dumb bastard.” Hellwhip offers, with added vehemence, he too gets to his feet to do his shouting.
“Klarg not dumb”. The voice, now known as Klarg, replies, sounding a little offended.
“Klarg study woodwork. Klarg have certificate.” Klarg adds with a note of defiance.

Which stops the flow of the conversation for a moment.

“What's up with this guy?” Hellwhip asks.
Zyler makes circling motions to the side of his head, “he's mad”, the priest adds.

“Klarg not dumb.” Klarg states again, with a harrumph.
“Okay. Okay. Got it, but here's the thing Klarg- you bring us the dwarf and the human and we go away; if not- we're coming back in and taking trophies. You get me.” Grimm declares.

Silence for a short while, followed by the sound of movement from within the cave- all four of the adventurers are on their feet now, still trying to stay hidden but also peering intently into the darkness, and clutching at their weapons.

“Klarg do deal.” Klarg whispers loudly, just audible over the sound of the rushing stream.
“Tempus does no deals, Tempus will put his foot up your arse!” Zyler is getting impatient.
“Shhh! Shhh!” Klarg hushes loudly- the bugbear seems to have crept closer to the adventurers, although still they cannot see him.

“Klarg give you human, dwarf gone- Klarg tell you about dwarf going if you do something for Klarg.” Klarg states.
“We're listening?” Grimm replies.
“You kill Yeemik, Yeemik bad goblin- Yeemik seek Klarg's power. You kill Yeemik then leave, Klarg give human and tell about dwarf.” Klarg explains his offer.

It's the adventurers turn to stand in silence, finally a whispered conversation takes place.
“Well.” Hellwhip asks.
“Tempus says we should kick ass.” Zyler clarifies his position.
“Tempus isn't here my friend, but we are- we want the human and the dwarf, I don't particularly care for the goblins and Klarg, but Tymora says 'be lucky', I figure we've just been dealt a good hand- I say we play it. Bless the Lady.” Grimm pointedly stares at Zyler throughout his speech.
“Tempus is everywhere!” Zyler states, and then brandishes his heavily armoured and muscled right arm, he grabs at his bicep- “Tempus is right here, paladin, and he has no need of luck.”
Which leaves Hellwhip grinning, adventuring is getting a lot more like home, there's always something and someone to argue about, and with.

“We should say yes to Klarg's offer, kill this Yeemik and claim Sildar, find out about Gundren and then, when the bugbear has told us everything he knows, we should cut his throat and slay the rest of the goblins.” Zalt finishes and then folds his arms, he doesn't look at all menacing- he just sounds it.

“We'll do it.” Grimm calls back into the cave a moment later, and then nods at his companions.

“Yeemik is in first passage on left- I will wait for you further in.” Klarg calls back, his voice growing fainter as the bugbear retreats.


Chapter 9: Yeemik

Rested, the adventurers head back into the cavern, second time around the crumbling stone passage is a much easier climb, all four make it up the slope without incident. The quartet are soon positioned on the last step, about three feet below the level of the chamber ahead. Within the natural cavern are five goblins- that's a bunch, they seem to be engaged in burning their lunch, the chamber to the right is divided by a raised ledge- with steps leading up onto it. Alas the flickering flame of the camp fire only serves to accentuate the darkness there.

“Which one's Yeemik?” Zyler, leading the group, whispers.
“Kill them all.” Zalt defiantly states- and is stared at by all three of his companions.
“To be certain.” The warlock expands on his previous answer.
“Reasonable.” Grimm states with a shrug, Zyler grins and nods his head wildly.
“Let's thin them out first.” Hellwhip finishes and grabs out his longbow, Zyler and Zalt follow suit- making ready their crossbows which leaves Grimm staring down at his greatsword clutched in his hands.
“Sod that, I'm not...” the paladin of Tymora begins, but is drowned out by the sound of his compatriots opening salvo.

Hellwhip is as always on target, the nearest goblin sinks to his knees and then falls face first into the camp fire, an arrow protruding from its back. Zyler fires wide, Zalt is however deadly accurate, a second goblin clutches at its forehead, the warlock's bolt embedded deep within it. It blinks once or twice, shouts “big horses” and then rolls its eyes and collapses- two down.

The three remaining goblins scream in alarm and grab for their weapons, at which point Grimm arrives on the scene, the paladin swats horribly with his greatsword and contrives to miss all of his enemies. The goblin furthest away from the paladin back pedals and grabs out its shortbow, it fires and sinks an arrow into Grimm's left thigh, “Tymora be... You bastard- I'm hit!” Grimm provides an ongoing commentary for his companions. A second goblin closes in on the paladin, armed with a scimitar, the two clash- Grimm keeps the creature at bay, but once again misses his mark with his greatsword, “Tymora you...”, the paladin mouths expletives, he seems a little upset. At which point Zyler rushes past the paladin, the priest of Tempus has his warhammer in hand- THUMP. The goblin menacing the paladin has its skull crushed by the warrior cleric- “Tempus is here to save you little brother, he protects the weak.” Zyler clearly enunciates while sporting a mischievous grin.

Grimm seethes, and swings again, and again his clumsy attack is easily avoided- the two goblins left alive are now retreating, although still with their weapons drawn. A crossbow bolt thumps into the furthest forward of the pair- it grimaces and staggers back limping badly, Zalt is getting the hang of the weapon.

“Hold!” A sixth goblin appears on the very edge of the raised ledge, grabbed in one hand a beaten and broken human- Sildar Hallwinter, Gundren Rockseeker's bodyguard.
“Throw down your weapons or I kill the human”, Yeemik the goblin states with menace, and then places the blade of his scimitar against Sildar's throat.

The adventurers instantly stop fighting, although they pointedly keep their weapons in hand.
“Looks like we've found Yeemik.” Hellwhip hisses.
“What the hell do you want?” Zyler asks Yeemik.
“Why are we stopping?” Zalt whispers to his companions, but is ignored.
“Well, what do you want from us?” Zyler asks again, clearly peeved.

“I am Yeemik”, Yeemik begins, striking a lordly pose, “I am the true leader of the Cragmaw Goblins, chosen by Maglubiyet to lead my people...”
“What the heck is it with these morons?” Hellwhip snarls, “Why do they all want to be in charge?” the ranger finishes, exasperated.

Yeemik goes on, “It is my destiny to lead the Cragmaw Goblins in victory after victory, to be feared by the weak humanoids and lauded by my kin, to be elevated to become the Goblin K...” Yeemik suddenly stops talking. The goblin gurns and groans seemingly wrestling with some unseen opponent, he stiffens, half-turns and then falls off the ledge- dead before he hits the ground.
Zalt grins and ceases whispering terrible words.

Nothing happens, but just for a moment.

One of the two goblins left standing screams “Cragmaw Goblins Rule!” and then cuts at Zyler with its scimitar, it misses by a mile. The priest, a little surprised by the creature's attack, shrugs and then screams back “Tempus Rules!”, and smashes the goblin down dead with his warhammer. “Foolish creature”, the priest of Tempus states.

The last goblin drops its bow and prostrates itself before the adventurers.
“Spare me great masters, I am not worthy.”, it intones - and prays it will survive the experience.


Chapter 10: Sildar speaks.

Zyler is quickly up onto the ledge and to Sildar, “he lives” the priest of Tempus shortly after declares.
“Grab that one.” Grimm adds, and points at the remaining cowering goblin which is attempting to tug a blanket over its head. Hellwhip complies and wrestles the creature to its feet.
“Who are you?” Grimm shouts at the goblin; not knowing the language, he contents himself with enunciating every word he speaks in common very clearly, and very very loudly.
“Catflap” replies Catflap the goblin.
Grimm punches the miscreant in the face, “answer me, truthfully!” Grimm yells at the creature.
“Cat... Flap.” The goblin yells back, mimicking Grimm.
The paladin raises his fist.
“I think he's telling the truth- his name is Catflap.” Zalt states.
“Oh. That's another stupid name.” Grimm declares and stares at Hellwhip, the ranger scowls back.
“I move silently like cat stalking its prey, and quickly like bird flapping its wings.” Catflap explains, “Catflap” the goblin declares.
Grimm punches the goblin again, “shut up and answer my questions”, the paladin roars.
Catflap shuts up.

A short while later, while Sildar is being cared for- the human is now conscious, his wounds have been cleaned and bandaged, Catflap tells all that he knows.

“Cragmaw goblins ambush dwarf and human - him”, Catflap points at Sildar, “ordered by Klarg. Klarg ordered to do this by hobgoblins who come to cave day before. Hobgoblins help, a little, with ambush. Dwarf taken by Klarg and hobgoblins, human - him”, Catflap points at Sildar again, “taken by Yeemik.” Catflap points at Yeemik- dead on the floor of the cavern.
“Who are the hobgoblins?” Zyler asks.
Catflap looks confused, “hobgoblins are hobgoblins”, he shrugs.
“Where's the dwarf, Gundren?” Zalt follows up.
“With Klarg.” Catflap offers, and then shrugs again.
“Why do they want the dwarf?” Hellwhip asks.
Catflap shrugs and looks utterly defeated.
“Where are the hobgoblins now?” Zalt asks.
“With Klarg”, and again Catflap shrugs.

Catflap continues to look confused by the adventurers questions, it seems the goblin was not involved in the planning of the operation.
“He knows nothing. Bag him.” Zalt states with a sneer.
Thirty seconds later Catflap finds himself gagged, secured and tied, very tightly, within a thick hessian sack.

“I know more of the story, I think.” Sildar states, the human is looking much better, with the help of Zyler he manages to get to his feet, he's helped down the stairs; the first thing he does is shake the hands of each of his saviours.
“My name is Sildar Hallwinter, I hired on to escort Gundren Rockseeker to Phandalin, although”, Sildar coughs, “I have my own reasons for making the journey. Gundren, and his brothers, Tharden and Nundro, have located Wave Echo Cave, I think- the cave has been hidden for over four centuries.” Sildar dramatically announces.

Grimm looks at Zalt - the warlock shrugs, then at Zyler, the priest shakes his head, and then at Hellwhip - the ranger smiles, “I have heard of it”, he adds. “It's a mine, or something like that, it was around here somewhere, in the hills or the mountains. I think it was said that the metal found there could be used to help to make magical weapons...” Hellwhip runs out of information.
“Not bad.” Sildar states. “The mine, and the forges located there, were worked by a collection of dwarves, gnomes and humans- the three races bound by the Phandelvers' Pact, an agreement to supply the magic weapons produced there to organisations devoted to fighting evil. Phandalin was a much bigger place back then, we're talking about half a millennia past, a busy trade centre much better equipped to deal with the dangers of the frontier.” Sildar concludes.
“What happened?” Zalt asks.
“Orcs happened- streaming out of the Sword Mountains, a horde- reportedly lead by an unknown sect of evil wizards. Phandalin was destroyed, Wave Echo Cave lost and for the most part forgotten, at least until the Rockseekers came along. I'm not certain they've found the place, I only know that Gundren has a map that he kept very safe. They”, Sildar nods towards Catflap, “or else the hobgoblins that ambushed us, were sent specifically to capture Gundren, they were waiting for us. They knew we were coming. I heard one of the hobgoblins say something about 'the Black Spider', I'm not sure if the foul creature was referring to an individual or else an organisation; regardless I'm certain that the Black Spider was responsible for our capture. I fear these events may take a little time and thought to unravel, and for that”, Slidar pointedly looks at the adventurers, “I will perhaps need more than a little assistance.” He smiles at his rescuers.

The adventurers whisper and chatter for a little while, making sense of this new information, eventually Zalt speaks up.
“What business is any of this of yours?” The warlock asks.
It's Sildar's turn to go silent, while he considers what to say next.

“I work for an organisation called the Lords' Alliance- an agreement between the rulers or governments of a number of cities on the Sword Coast. The Alliance seeks to defend all that it holds, to keep the Sword Coast safe, for the sake of civilisation. It is therefore vitally important that Phandalin survives, not only survives but prospers. We want to give the town a chance- a chance to rise again, what better way to do that than with the rediscovery of Wave Echo Cave. If Gundren has found the place... Well, that would be something, and it would make our task a whole lot easier.” Sildar finishes his speech.

The adventurers stop to think about things, Sildar takes the opportunity to sweeten the deal.
“I need to get to Phandalin, I have friends there. I will pay you 50gp to get me to the town safely, and swiftly- I've wasted too much time. Will you take me, today?”
Sildar's request is met by a sea of blank faces.
“Did you said that you'd pay 50gp?” Hellwhip eventually asks. The ranger is not enamoured with money or material things, but he swiftly calculates that if Barthen & Sildar pay him he will have 20gp- that's very likely the most money he has ever possessed.
Sildar nods by way of reply.
“I'm in.” Hellwhip states.
“He's not lying.” Zalt offers after staring hard at Sildar for a while, once again his companions take a moment to stare at the warlock.
“Of course we'll do it.” Zyler adds, “we would never leave you here. By the sword arm of Tempus I swear that you will arrive safely in Phandalin this day.”
“We just have to take care of Klarg first.” Grimm finishes, and grins at Zyler- the cleric grins back.


Chapter 11: Session #2 OOC.

The following are the notes sent to the PCs, a summary of the action from the second session which appears in story form above.

Session #2, Wednesday 12th August 2015

Zalt, Half-Elf Warlock 1 played by Simon.
Grimm, Human Paladin of Tymora 1 played by Zoki.
Hellwhip, Human Ranger 1 played by Pedja.
Zyler, Human Cleric of Tempus 1 played by Christer.

The Action-

1. Quest #2 Destroy the Goblin Bandits, make the road to Phandalin safe for travellers by killing or dispersing the Goblin bandits.

2. Check around the exterior of the cave, it seems to be the only way in- there are lots of Goblin trails here. A stream runs out of the cavern- time to investigate.

3. First chamber contains three emaciated angry Wolves, Hellwhip acts quickly- he feeds the beasts, calms them and then releases them into the wild. XP AWARDED.

4. Sudden flash flood surges down the cavern passage, adventurers dive out of the way of the oncoming tide- odd that the watery surge should happen just as you are investigating. A Goblin is spotted ahead, high on a bridge over the passage you are exploring. Did the Goblins trigger the flood?

5. Chamber that held Wolves is investigated further, a natural chimney leads up into another cavern- the newly discovered chamber contains a very big Goblin (a Bugbear perhaps) and some other creatures, including at least one more Wolf. The chimney however proves to offer poor access, you cannot safely attack this way. Zalt is wounded here- slipping and falling when he is only halfway up, Zyler takes over. XP AWARDED.

6. An ascending rocky passage is investigated- there seem to be lights ahead, more Goblins perhaps. Part of the passage collapses under the weight of Zyler- Grimm is bruised by the rockfall. XP AWARDED.

7. Moments later there's a second flash flood, Zalt is hit and swept out of the cave, and left badly wounded (on 2 hit points). Goblins arrive on the scene- two on the bridge throwing javelins, two charging into the adventurers with scimitars swinging. Fight! All four Goblins are killed but most of the adventurers are injured, several badly. Zyler heals but not enough. XP AWARDED.

8. Retreat. Exit the cave to take a short rest (one hour minimum) to heal up Hellwhip- he's still badly wounded (on 2 hit points). Adventurers watch the cavern entrance- make sure Goblins do not exit or attack.

9. During rest, adventurers hailed by a Goblin- “Who are you? What do you want?”, after a brief chat the Goblin gets his boss- Klarg, probably the Bugbear Zyler spotted earlier. Klarg is not stupid (he has an 'O' level in Woodwork), the Goblins do not have Gundren, but they do have Sildar. Klarg offers the adventurers a way out- kill a Goblin called Yeemik (his rival in the clan) and they can leave with Sildar, he'll also tell them what has happened to Gundren. Deal done- at least for now. XP WILL BE AWARDED LATER.

10. During above action Zyler receives the first Inspiration Point, basically Christer is playing the Cleric of Tempus (God of Battle) as Bruce Willis without his vest, it helps that his lowest dice roll in game so far is a '17'.

11. After rest, adventurers head back in again, and following Klarg's instructions, back up the rocky passage- they bust in on Yeemik and his Goblin friends. Fight! Adventurers cut down three of the six Goblins before Yeemik asks for parley while threatening to kill Sildar (he's on 1 hit point). The fighting stops for a chat, several of the adventurers are hurt in the combat. XP AWARDED.

12. Yeemik offers the adventurers a way out- if they kill Klarg he will allow them to keep Klarg's treasure and to take Sildar. The guys think about it, except for Zalt who blasts Yeemik- dead. Two Goblins left- one fights and is killed, the other bows before mighty Zalt. His name is Catflap. XP AWARDED.

13. Catflap tells the adventurers that the tribe ambushed and captured Gundren and Sildar, Klarg took Gundren, Yeemik took Sildar. Several Hobgoblins helped out with the ambush, but he has not seen them since- they headed off with Klarg. XP AWARDED.

14. Sildar tells the adventurers lots of stuff- a) Gundren and his brothers (Tharden & Nundro) have, he thinks, found Wave Echo Cave; b) Wave Echo Cave, centuries ago, was home to a group of Gnomes, Dwarves and Humans (known as the Phandelver Pact), they produced magical items there- Phandalin (the town) grew rich because of this fact; c) a horde of Orcs destroyed Phandalin and the cave's inhabitants (presumably) a good while back- the cave existed only as rumour- until now; d) Sildar when he was captured overheard that the Hobgoblins (see above) had been sent specifically to recover Gundren; they work for an organisation or an individual known as the Black Spider; e) Sildar is a member of the Lords' Alliance, an organisation which seeks to expand civilisation into the wild lands; and lastly f) Sildar needs to get to Phandalin today, Quest #3 Get Sildar to Phandalin, and is willing to pay (50gp). XP AWARDED.

15. The adventurers question Sildar a while, they are convinced that everything he has said is the truth. Sildar needs to get to Phandalin because the best chance the Lords' Alliance have of expanding Phandalin is to open Wave Echo Cave again, Gundren is in fact their best hope. Sildar has friends in Phandalin who can help him to find Gundren. XP AWARDED.

16. Adventurers are an extended rest away from level 2.

Session #2 Ends.

Ongoing Quests- #1 Deliver Gundren’s Provisions; #2 Destroy the Goblin Bandits & #3 Get Sildar to Phandalin

NPCs of note- Gundren Rockseeker (Dwarf patron)- missing? & Sildar Hallwinter (Gundren's bodyguard)- found.

Enemies of note- Goblins & Wolves, Catflap (surrendered Goblin), Yeemik (Goblin wannabe chief)- dead & Klarg (Bugbear chief)- not daft. Also Hobgoblins & the Black Spider?

New Info- Sildar has been found, Gundren (probably) has been taken by Hobgoblins to the Black Spider. Gundren may have found Wave Echo Cave, this would be great for Sildar, the Lords' Alliance, the town of Phandalin and the Sword Coast at large.

Any questions- please ask, otherwise, read on...


Chapter 12: Zalt the cynic.

Zalt moves close to Zyler, and then leans in and whispers in the priest of Tempus' ear. Zyler is a little spooked, unsure at first of the warlock's intentions, eventually he calms enough to allow the warlock to deliver his secret message. Zalt moves on, leaving Zyler readying his weapon and anxiously keeping watch on the exits to the chamber. He shuffles quietly to Hellwhip, and again delivers his whispered message- to nods this time, and then lastly to Grimm.
“That's ridiculous”, Grimm pointedly and loudly states, and is immediately shushed by his three companions who look round to stare at the paladin.
“Look I realise you're the suspicious type, a bit of a cynic, but there's no reason to believe that Klarg would want to attack us.” Grimm offers in slightly quieter tones, although just as impassioned.
Zalt goes to speak, Hellwhip to point, while Zyler shakes his head exasperated.
“No. I'm sorry, I can't believe it. I've tried to stay silent but... I'm sorry to say this Zalt but you have trust issues, you question every little thing. You expect the worst of people, what possible reason...”
Zalt quickly leans in, Grimm flinches- although covers it well, the warlock whispers in the paladin's ear again, and then leads the armoured warrior by the arm to the rocky passage the adventurers traversed to get to Yeemik's lair, their present location.

Zalt points down the passage, Grimm peers intently into the darkness.
“I don't see anything.” The paladin states with an added harrumph.
Zalt leans in and whispers to the paladin.
“Dark what?” Grimm snaps back.
Zalt whispers again.
“Darkvision!” Grimm enunciates, as if trying the word for the first time, “Oh, I see. You mean you can see in the dark. That must be a boon, well what can you see down there?”
Zalt sighs loudly- “a nasty looking wolf”, he flatly states. The warlock can't be bothered with the pretence any more.
“Really, it's all just black for me- I can't see a thing...” Grimm peers into the dark.
Hellwhip taps Zalt on the shoulder, the warlock spins around- “forget him, do it,” the ranger nods towards the passage.

Zalt begins to whisper again, this time in a low, barely audible voice, not words so much as the shapes and echoes of words, of sounds that shush and flow- of the tide. Grimm all the while pulls faces- not sure if he's supposed to be making sense of Zalt's garbled speech. Suddenly a loud growl from the base of the rocky passage, followed swiftly by a startled yelp- the wolf, in fact Klarg's wolf- Ripper, is badly hurt, barely able to keep on its feet, and terrified. Ripper flees the scene at maximum speed, down the passage and out of the cave- yelping all the way, and leaving its master to his fate.

“Ripper! Noooooo!” Klarg watching on from the bridge over the passage cries out, as if in mortal pain, the bugbear watches his only friend in this life depart.

A moment later the bugbear shouts again, this time his voice is raised in anger, and not loss- “Klarg very sad now. Klarg attack now. Klarg kill bad men!”

At which point two goblins come rushing around the corner and into the chamber in which the adventurers stand, and straight into the clutches of Zyler and Hellwhip.

The next event however takes a week to tell...


Chapter 13: Nothing happens to Ken Lee.

One week ago, in the city of Waterdeep, apprentice mage Ken Lee takes part in a short and humdrum ceremony, his graduation- he's an apprentice no more. Soon after nothing happens, perhaps not nothing- lots of events take place in the myriad lands of the realm, but nothing happens to Ken Lee- nothing at all.

The next day the wizard rises, does his chores, potters about his master's tower, and... well, accomplishes nothing much; and so it goes for the next two days and nights. Much as it has done for the last five or so years.

I should do something Ken Lee thinks, I should get out there and make something of my life, I should adventure- see the sights, learn new spells, I should... I should, and then he blows out the candle and goes back to sleep.

He awakes a short time later, it's not even morning- it's the middle of the night, he awakes to screams.

Perhaps not screams - shouts is possibly a better description- however some screaming is involved, his master is clearly very angry with him. The tirade goes on for quite a time, although Ken Lee chooses not to listen to much of what is being said. The wizard's attention is focussed instead on the fact that all of his possessions seem to have disappeared, replaced by an overfull and uncomfortable looking backpack, which sits forlornly in the centre of his now spartan looking bedchamber.

Six hours later Ken Lee finds himself part of a merchant's caravan heading for Neverwinter, sat astride a cantankerous mule- his funny bits hurt already; it's too hot, there are flies, and he's trying desperately to remember anything that his master said before he threw him out.

Two days later it gets worse.

He's on his own, save for the dirty mule, and watching the caravan train fade into the distance.

Ken Lee manoeuvres the mule around so that it faces down the Triboar Trail, which only takes about five minutes of pushing, shoving and swearing at the damned stupid animal.

Eventually he heads off- to Phandalin, he's remembered at last where he's heading.

He doesn't get far, just over an hour down the track he stumbles upon a scene of devastation, two dead horses- both swathed in flies, a quartet of ravaged goblins similarly clouded, and worst of all a trio of emaciated wolves feasting on the remains of the fallen.

The nearest wolf looks up and snarls. That's not good, Ken Lee thinks, and then remembers he is a wizard and readies a spell. A second or so later and the mule is off and the wolves are coming, Ken Lee alas has no time for spells, he's hanging to on to his mount for dear life.

He fails. The mule goes one way, he goes the other, the elf is quickly to his feet- two of the wolves dash after the fleeing equine, the third stops maybe thirty feet from him, and then snarls again.

Think now, Ken Lee thinks, followed by- I'm a powerful wizard, one wolf- that's all, just one wolf...

At which point the other two wolves saunter back into view, all three growl and snarl in his general direction.

Ken Lee stops thinking and starts running.

He gets maybe thirty feet.


“Yerk!” the high elf exclaims, and then a second later passes out, the last thing he remembers is staring down at three wolves leaping up to snap and bite inches away from his face.

He awakes a while later dangling a good ten feet above the ground, his right leg, ankle and foot a blister of red hot pain, he's caught in a snare and hanging upside down from the branch of a large tree. Eventually he figures a way to free himself from the trap.

“Oof!” Ken Lee exclaims as he thumps hard into the packed dirt of the trail, a moment or two later he passes out again.

An indeterminate time later he awakes once more, and a little while later staggers to his feet, still somewhat dazed, although now very aware that his backpack, waterskin, food, and well... all of his possessions are still strapped to the back of his former mule.

Ken Lee groans, and then stumbles forwards along the trail, heading back towards the road. Or so he thinks.

Ten minutes later the wizard arrives at a clearing with a cavern entrance on the far side, unbeknownst to him the lair of the Cragmaw Goblins. Water - he rushes to the nearby stream and drinks deeply, splashes water on his face in an attempt to wash away the curtain of grey and pain that seeks to smother him.

The wizard takes a moment- he stands and looks around him, this isn't right he thinks, his follow up thought- a cave! Ken Lee shrugs, looks around- still a little woozy, and then shuffles into the dark opening. “Hello?” he half-calls half-whispers, his voiced swathed in doubt. Something ahead in the dark growls- it can't be he thinks, simultaneously a much larger and nastier looking wolf- Ripper, pads forward and into the light, and snarls.

“Yerk!” Ken Lee yelps, and dashes to the nearest exit, into a dark cavern chamber. The only spot of light, visible thanks to his darkvision, is at the far end of the chamber- and up, as it turns out, a very steep rock chimney with a flickering light at the far end. The elf scrambles up in double quick time, the sound of the wolf making hard work of its ascent following on behind him. He stumbles up and out into a much larger chamber, lit by a camp fire- fire, the mage's mind does somersaults. He grabs one of the burning brands from the conflagration and returns to jab it repeatedly into the face and forelegs of the wolf as it tries to clamber up, and into, the chamber. The creature yowls once or twice and then descends the chimney at speed. A minute or so later the wizard is certain that the wolf has gone.

Where the hell am I? He thinks, his mind a flurry of activity- his senses sharpened, aware that he is in danger; and yet his thought process muddled- he's not been making good choices. Ken Lee takes a moment to look around- a rough cavern with lots of barrels and boxes- merchants' goods, a huge chest, a camp fire, a rocky passage leading into darkness, and the all pervading stink of unwashed bodies, filthy dirty unwashed bodies. Gods help me Ken Lee thinks, I know where I am- I'm in trouble.

And then a voice.

“Ripper! Noooooo!”

Followed a moment or two later by- “Klarg very sad now. Klarg attack now. Klarg kill bad men!”

The wizard follows the sound of the voice, creeping as quietly as he can, ten paces on and he finds himself standing on one side of a rope bridge, which crosses over the passage he first entered the cave. On the far side of the bridge stands a great hairy brute of a creature, a bugbear perhaps, although he has only pictures in books to rely upon.

A second later the sound of fighting, coming from further ahead, beyond the bugbear- yelps and cries, and... and... suddenly Ken Lee realises he's doing something, that he is taking action- he's adventuring. This is it- he thinks, and then casts a spell, his best spell, his most powerful spell.

“Sleep.” He whispers aiming the enchantment at the back of the ferocious-looking hairy giant before him.

Just for a moment he allows himself to dream, his mind races again, this time filled with the endless possibilities- he's an adventurer now, he's certain that this is his calling, he's here to save the day; perhaps the bugbear has trapped a gang of heroes, or else a quartet of dusky maidens. He will come to their rescue, with his magic, his prowess, his intellect- he will be feted, the women will swoon; Ken Lee hopes beyond hope that at least one of those he is about to rescue is a beautiful woman, he has read about the things they can do. This is it- instant fame and recognition. This is...

The bugbear suddenly lurches into action, “KLARG KILL!” it yells and with its great morningstar raised it rushes off around the corner and out of sight, oblivious to Ken Lee and his powerful spell.
“Oh!” he exclaims, and then inches back to hide behind a nearby stone outcropping, he silently prays that it will all go away very soon, and he can get back to doing nothing.


Chapter 14: Klarg & Ken.

The first goblin rushing in with its scimitar drawn to attack the adventurers is very quickly sent skittering back, a hammer blow from Zyler's, well... hammer, the poor creature looks as sick as a dog, and yet it lives- some consolation. The second goblin following on pulls up short, grabs out its shortbow and seconds later fires an arrow into Zyler's side, the priest winces. Grimm strides forward, to the priest, screams “FOR TYMORA!” aiming his words directly at the worshipper of Tempus, barely glancing at the wounded goblin which moments later he cuts in two. The paladin continues forward to menace the second bow-wielding goblin, at which point Klarg lurches around the corner, spots Grimm and rushes forward screaming. The paladin suddenly looks less sure of himself, he however ducks and dodges just in time to avoid the bugbear's morningstar.

Zyler steps up to join Grimm- the pair are blocking the enemies' path to their companions, the priest's warhammer comes again and shatters the remaining goblin's skull, like an over-ripe melon it explodes. Not to be outdone Grimm shapes and stabs Klarg in the gut, the bugbear wheezes and oozes blood. Grimm grins, too soon, Klarg rights himself and then flails wildly, the bugbear's morningstar connects with the paladin's shoulder. The knight is lifted off his feet and slammed into the cavern wall, all the air and much of his life gone from him. Grimm mouths a prayer and tries desperately to gulp down the pain.

“Klarg Kill” Klarg states, in a matter-of-fact manner, and closes in on the paladin; a second later the bugbear twists and turns, his progress halted, a crossbow bolt protruding from the creature's barrel chest, blood pumps and spurts from the wound. Zalt's hands dance in an effort to reload his weapon.

Enough is enough, Klarg is spent- he spills his weapon and sinks to one knee, one hand clutching at the crossbow bolt, the other out before him, either to defend himself from attack or else in supplication.
“Klarg yield. Klarg tell all- if Klarg live?”
Klarg looks up, gasping- a slick of blood from his mouth.

Zyler nods at the bugbear.
“You will live, if only for a short time more- until they stretch your neck and you dance on air.” The priest spits.

A minute or so later the broken bugbear has been lassoed and hog-tied, Grimm however still looks to be in a lot of pain, almost unable to catch his breath; alas the adventurers have no access to healing. The paladin of Tymora grits his teeth and gets on with it.

“Talk” Zalt states and steps in close now that the tall goblinoid has been secured, “tell us where Gundren is?”
“Klarg not know- truly. Dwarf taken by Targor Bloodseeker, hobgoblin warrior and his crew. Targor work for King Grol- lord of all Cragmaw Goblins. Klarg not know where King Grol. Klarg not know where Targor. Klarg speak truth.”
The assembled adventurers look less than impressed.
“That's it.” Zalt looks furious.
Klarg grimaces and cowers, and then remembers something.
“Klarg hear Targor say about Black Spider.” Klarg adds archly
“The what?” Zalt snaps.
“Black Spider.” Klarg repeats.
“What did Targor say about the Black Spider?” Zalt asks, and leans in to hear.
“Targor say...”, at this point Klarg adopts a strange croaky voice- his impression of Targor, “he says- something something the Black Spider”, Klarg takes a moment to think deeply, “and then he say- something something.”
Klarg nods and smiles, proud of his powers of recall.
“That's it?” Zalt fumes.
Klarg nods eagerly, very pleased with himself.
“And you, of course, know nothing of the Black Spider, whether it is an organisation or a person. In fact I'd put money on the fact that you have never heard of 'the Black Spider' before. Am I right?” Zalt snarls.

Klarg nods frantically, still grinning, assured that he is helping.
Zalt turns and stalks away.
“Klarg tell all Klarg know. Klarg tell true.” The bugbear nods his head furiously, agreeing with himself, hoping the others will too.

The interrogation is however interrupted - staggering from the passage ahead of the adventurers comes a very scruffy looking elf, clutching at the wall of the cavern to stay on its feet.
“I'm not doing nothing- I'm doing something!” The elf gabbles and then looks up and grins.
The assembled adventurers draw weapons and ready themselves for attack.
“Who are you?” Zalt eventually asks.
“I'm an adventurer. I've been adventuring.” Ken Lee states, and then briefly grins as he slides down the wall into an unmoving heap on the cold cavern floor.


Chapter 15: Rewards.

The four adventurers still standing accomplish a lot in the next thirty or so minutes, Klarg is made to lead them into his chamber, the area Zyler (and Ken Lee) visited at the top of the chimney. The merchant goods stored there are thoroughly searched, and very briefly catalogued, Zalt confirms from the markings on the crates that the items are the property of the Lionshield Coster, a merchant consortium. The warlock insists they take the smallest crate with them to Phandalin- there may be a representative of the Coster there, there may be a reward for their return. The young man is always thinking.

A large chest is also discovered, containing a smattering of coin- a mixture of copper and silver, also present a statuette of a frog with gemstone eyes.
“We'll sell this.” Zalt states and throws the thing in his sack.
The best find however is a pair of small flasks.
“Potions of Healing. We can use...” Zalt begins but is cut off in his prime.
Grimm grabs the first flask, unstoppers it and chugs it down.
“Nice.” The paladin wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, “minty”, he adds and then grabs the second potion and tucks it into his belt.
“Good work, lad” the paladin adds and then goes to ruffle Zalt's hair, stopped short by the warlock's visage- Grimm stutters, “I mean, good work Zalt”, and then quickly moves away.
A moment later he risks a glance back- Zalt is staring at him still, the paladin grins, swallows hard and moves off again.

With the cavern explored the adventurers, with Klarg carrying Ken's body, exit and head back up the trail- miraculously the oxen and the cart are still present and correct, although there are signs that wild creatures have been investigating the road kill. Also present is a sweet looking mule, standing less than ten feet away from the cart and oxen, munching on the long grass; the mule is saddled and loaded with an over-filled backpack, Hellwhip rifles through the gear, comes up grinning- he finds a journal.
“Says it belongs to someone called Ken Lee...” Hellwhip reads on, “he's a wizard, just” the ranger finishes.
The news is met mostly with shrugs.
“I wonder where Ken is?” Grimm asks, “perhaps we should take a look around to see if we can find this poor unfortunate, he's probably lost in the wilds.” The paladin stands with his hands on his hips, slowly turning on the spot like a lighthouse to shine the light of his vision on the thick green sward.
Zalt shakes his head, “Klarg is carrying Ken Lee, you fool”, the warlock states and strides forward to grab the journal from Hellwhip's hand. His companions mostly catch up with the warlock's thinking.
“Oh.” Zyler states.
“What?” Grimm adds, still slightly unsure of the order of events.
Hellwhip only smiles at Zalt and nods his head.

It takes the rest of the day, and much of the early evening, to get to Phandalin. About six hours into the journey Ken Lee awakes from his rest and makes sense of things finally for the paladin - Ken Lee is indeed Ken Lee, the mystery is solved. He's also a wizard, which is met with a great deal of suspicion. The five adventurers exchange stories, or at least four of the five do- Zalt doesn't say much, content instead to listen and file away his companions tall tales.

Ken Lee has business in Phandalin it seems, he's allowed a spot aboard the wagon, all the way to the town.


Chapter 16: An evening in Phandalin.

Miraculously Barthen's Provisions is still open, it seems the old merchant doesn't miss an opportunity for a sale, at least not until the sun goes down. The adventurers quickly deal with the old fellow, not being impolite but keen to make their way to the Inn, it has been a long day after all. Sildar, their patron's rescued bodyguard, goes ahead to secure lodgings and to prepare a table for his saviours' arrival.

The cart is unloaded, the oxen fed, watered and stabled- Barthen alas doesn't make a sale, although the adventurers promise to return on the morrow to take a nose around his wares. The provisioner also hands over Gundren's payment for the safe arrival of the supplies. The old man is more than a little worried however to learn that the dwarf has been kidnapped, or else taken captive, he urges the adventurers to make Gundren's recovery a priority- it seems the pair are firm friends. The merchant's last comment to the departing adventurers, “Phandalin has it's own problems”, intrigues the quintet, it seems their job prospects have perhaps increased dramatically, the merchant cannot be persuaded to say more alas.

The inhabitants of the Stonehill Inn however are much less reserved, a mixture of alcohol, good company and more than a little fear serve to loosen their tongues. The Inn itself is comfortable, the ale good and the food plentiful and well prepared. The Stonehill family; Innkeep Toblen, wife Trilena and young son Pip, are all excellent hosts. However the night will be remembered not for the establishment's excellent fare, or attentive service, but for the stories told by the inhabitants of the bar.

The adventurers take a moment, at the end of the evening, to recap for their mutual benefit all that they have discovered about Phandalin, and the present situation in the town.

First off, Zalt learns that there is indeed a Lionshield Coster located in the town, the merchant place is managed by a fiery woman by the name of Linene, the adventurers agree to visit the establishment in the morning.

Each of the adventurers has a story to tell about Harbin Wester, the Townmaster, or as he is most often referred to- 'that fat incompetent fool', it seems that Phandalin's leader is blind to the town's problems. Zalt, again, manages to delve further into the issue- the warlock learns that Harbin's folly is unlikely born of malice- the man is good at sums, but unable to deal with people, consensus is he's not the villain of the piece.

Grimm discovers from a tipsy farmer called Narth that a temple to Tymora exists only a short walk away from the Inn, the place is station to Sister Garaele. Narth further confides that the good sister was observed two days ago looking bruised and battered. The farmer is obviously greatly concerned for her welfare, he makes the paladin promise to visit with the priestess.

Zyler explains that Phandalin is home to an ex-adventurer by the name of Daran Edermath, he owns a nearby orchard using the fruit to produce “Edermash”, a much-loved local brew. The priest of Tempus asserts that the adventurers should perhaps look in on the retiree in the morning. Ken Lee agrees- the wizard remembers that his master mentioned Daran's name during his tirade. Zyler goes on to explain that he gained this information by close questioning the barmaid Elsa, the other adventurers remember a little more about the priest's encounter with the maiden, and giggle or smirk behind their hands.

Ken Lee recounts that while losing money hand-over-fist gambling with a gaggle of miners he learned that the diggers were sometimes threatened by orcs in the hills. Also that the aforementioned 'fat fool' of a Townmaster is offering a reward for the cessation of this menace.

The key piece of information, the real problem for Phandalin as elucidated by seemingly every member of the crowd at the Inn; the Redbrands- a local mercenary gang, initially hired six months or so past to protect the town. Of late it appears these ruffians have started to extract protection money from the town's businesses, they also seem to have got a lot better organised. Harbin, the Townmaster, has defended their actions, the 'fool' seems to be out of his depth and unable to cope with the situation. Rumours, reported to Zalt, are that one of the citizens of the town, a woodcarver by the name of Thel Dendrar, was murdered by the Redbrands a day or so ago. Trilena the Innkeeper's wife pleads with the warlock to go and see Halia Thornton who runs the Phandalin Miners' Exchange, it seems she knows what's going on, and is prepared to get her hands dirty doing something about it.

Lastly Sildar, before retiring to bed, informs the adventurers that he is going to visit with the Townmaster tomorrow, he has friends in Phandalin- he assures them. After hearing the complaints of the citizens in the bar this evening, he swears he will do what he can to inject a little backbone into proceedings - the Redbrands better watch out.

And so, after an exciting first adventure Zyler, Zalt, Hellwhip, Grimm, and of course, Ken Lee settle down to a night of much needed rest, to review the events and experiences of their journey, and to learn from their mistakes.


Chapter 17: Zyler in action.

Lying in his bed Zyler takes a moment to re-live his conversation with Elsa the buxom barmaid at the Stonehill Inn. The priest is slightly anxious, he feels he has missed some hidden meaning or secret message in their conversation.

“You're an adventurer then?” Elsa enquires, her eyes sparkling.
“I suppose. Yes,” Zyler finally agrees after considering his options.
“Oh. We have an adventurer in Phandalin, his name's Daran Edermath- he owns the orchard. He's very...” Elsa searches for the right word, “very fit- like you,” she finishes and then flushes a little.
“Oh.” Zyler adds, and then responds to the compliment, “I am, as you say, very fit. Thank you for noticing.”
“Yes, you are,” states Elsa coyly.
“Yes, I am,” the priest agrees again.

The moment lengthens as Elsa continues to smile at the priest, all the while pouring pints, and every now and then bending low to grab fresh tankards from beneath the bar.

“Is it hard work?” Elsa enquires, and then leans over the bar to brush away an errant lock of hair from the priest's face, “is it very hard?” she asks again and moistens her lips with her tongue.
Zyler smiles, awkwardly, and then takes a moment to gather his thoughts, is he being 'pumped' for information? There's something suspicious about the conversation.
“Very hard, at times,” he finally agrees, and then nods and smiles back at Elsa, deciding to play along.
“Perhaps I could visit your room later,” Elsa whispers, and then licks her lips again- a slightly off-putting habit Zyler notes, and then surfaces into the here and now.
“You want to come in my room?” he asks, a little sternly and loud enough for several other inhabitants of the bar to take note of the conversation, he's now utterly confused.
His question alas seems to generate only laughter and smiles.
A trio of farmers a little way along the bar raise their tankards and salute the priest of Tempus, one of the fellows even manages a rousing cheer. "That's nice," the priest thinks, and then turns back to Elsa.
“You want to come with me?” he asks, “to my room?” he clarifies.
“Oh yes,” Elsa flushes and puts her hand on his arm, she grip his wrist and then begins to rub, quite hard, at the spot- up and down his forearm.
Zyler watches this for a while, and then looks up- Elsa's face is wreathed in smiles, her eyes sparkle and dance, her lips at times open wide; the barmaid seems to be making a noise every now and then- a moan followed by the hiss of her in-drawn breath.

Zyler's brow furrows - what is... and then he gets it, or at least he thinks he does.
“Do you seek succour, fair maiden?” he asks, now with a twinkle in his eye too.

“Oh. Yes,” Elsa leers, and strokes his arm harder still.
Zyler grins back at Elsa, then wrenches his arm free of her caress and grabs her hand, with his other hand he reaches over the bar and lays it flat upon the now startled looking barmaid's forehead. Finally he bows his head and intones in a loud and clear voice.

“Lord Tempus, bless this child and keep her safe from harm.
Reach down from the firmament and touch this forsaken soul with your fiery love...”

The priest's prayer goes on for a while, a discontent and frustrated Elsa tries but fails to loose the priest's grip. She endures. Finally the words are said, Zyler opens his eyes and lets Elsa free, keen to see the effect his blessing has had on the now devout barmaid- his first convert.

Elsa scowls at the priest, which instantly confuses him. The barmaid tuts loudly, folds her arms across her ample breasts, and then moves off quickly leaving the priest alone with his thoughts. Zyler ponders a moment, a little lost. The bar around him is however now filled with laughter, the priest notices and smiles, such is the joy felt by others at the mention of Tempus, his holy lord.

Back in his bed Zyler smiles to himself and inwardly shrugs- he cannot for the life of him fathom the hidden meaning of the exchange. The priest resolves to keep a close eye on the wench, no great hardship he thinks- Elsa is a very beautiful young woman, alas an innocent in the ways of the world. Then he sleeps.


Chapter 18: Session #3 OOC.

The following are the notes sent to the PCs, a summary of the action from the third session which appears in story form above.

Session #3, Thursday 20th August 2015

Zalt, Half-Elf Warlock 1 played by Simon.
Grimm, Human Paladin of Tymora 1 played by Zoki.
Zyler, Human Cleric of Tempus 1 played by Christer.
Ken Lee, High Elf Wizard 1 played by Bob.

The Action-

1. The adventurers decide to exit the goblin lair, they'll be back to clear up the bad guys later- they also need to chat with Klarg, having killed Yeemik like the Bugbear asked, after that it's time to get Sildar to Phandalin, first however they take a Short Rest. Alas their plan doesn't work out.

2. As it turns out there's a very well fed wolf- Ripper, a pair of Goblins, and Klarg preventing the guys from leaving - the mighty Bugbear warrior has tricked the guys, it gets to fighting. At which point we recap Ken Lee's story, the Wizard is not having a good day - his mule has run off, he spent a little while upside down in a tree, and now he's wandered into a Goblin cave. The Wizard hears the fight and goes to investigate.

3. The adventurers scare off Ripper, kill the Goblins and capture Klarg - who is tied up; they also get their hands on Klarg's treasure. They do not however learn where Gundren has been taken, except that the Dwarf was given to Targor Bloodseeker, a nasty Hobgoblin in the employ of King Grol, the lord of the Cragmaw Goblins. Klarg also mentions the Black Spider, but he has no idea what it is. Klarg is not very well informed, although he tries hard to please. The adventurers have completed Quest #2 Destroy the Goblin Bandits. XP AWARDED.

4. The adventurers grab Klarg, and a crate full of merchandise from a Lionshield Coster consignment, they find a bunch of this stuff in Klarg's cave; and then head onto Phandalin with Sildar.

5. The adventurers arrive in Phandalin late evening and deliver the wagon and its contents to Barthen's Provisions, completing Quest #1 Deliver Gundren’s Provisions. They talk with Barthen awhile, the merchant is unhappy to hear that Gundren is missing - he points the adventurers to the Stonehill Tavern, and hints that things are not as they should be in Phandalin. The adventurers also learn that there is a Lionshield Coster merchant in Phandalin, she (Linene) will want to know that the Goblin cave contains a cart load of her goods, she's feisty, Barthen warns. The adventurers have also completed Quest #3 Get Sildar to Phandalin, although the bodyguard has yet to pay them for getting him safely to Phandalin. XP AWARDED.

6. The adventurers retire to the Stonehill Inn, Sildar has paid for their rooms and bought them dinner and drinks. The guys take a little time to talk with the locals, they cause quite a stir as they still have Klarg, the Bugbear, in tow. They certainly make an impression on the Inn's inhabitants, eventually Klarg is found a place to sleep in the town cells.

7. The adventurers learn lots of new things, including- a) the Townmaster Harbin Wester is a fat fool, according to more or less everyone they talk to; b) Sister Garaele, the local priestess of Tymora was spotted recently returning to Phandalin - she looked beaten up, this according to Narth a local farmer; c) Phandalin is home to a 'sexy' adventurer called Daran Edermath, Zyler it turns out is also 'sexy', according to the barmaid, Elsa- Zyler proves immune to Elsa's charms, the priest only has eyes for Tempus; d) there are Orcs in the hills, according to Lanar a dwarven miner, there's a reward for killing them- see Harbin the Townmaster for details; e) there's a local mercenary gang- the Redbrands, they were hired to protect the town, of late they have started to extract protection money from the town's inhabitants- Harbin the Townmaster has defended their actions, he seems to be out of his depth. There are further rumours that one of the citizens of the town, a woodcarver by the name of Thel Dendrar, was murdered by the Redbrands a day or so ago. Trilena, the Innkeeper's wife, pleads with Zalt to go and see Halia Thornton who runs the Phandalin Miners' Exchange, she knows what's going on; f) further chatter reveals that Halia (see above) is a doer, rather than a worrier like  Harbin the Townmaster, she gets things done, other citizens recommend the adventurers visit with her. XP AWARDED.

8. Sildar informs the adventurers, before retiring for the night, that he will meet them at breakfast for a chat, and that they should be careful who they share their 'information' with. The member of the Lords' Alliance also tells the adventurers that he will be moving into the Town Hall tomorrow- it's time Phandalin grew a backbone, he's going to bring a little order to the place.

9. The adventurers take an extended rest- Zyler, Zalt, Hellwhip and Grimm are all Level 2.

Session #3 Ends.

Ongoing Quests- None, but lots of places and people to check out (see above & below).
NPCs of note- Gundren Rockseeker (Patron)- MISSING, Sildar Hallwinter (Lords' Alliance), Elmar Barthen (Barthen's Provisions), Toblen Stonehill (Stonehill Inn), Tilena Stonehill (Toblen's wife), Pip Stonehill (Toblen & Trilena's young son). The adventurers have also been told about the following NPCs- Linene Graywind (Lionshield Coster), Sister Garaele (Shrine of Tymora), Harbin Wester (Townmaster), Daran Edermath (local adventurer), Halia Thornton (Phandalin Miners' Exchange).
Enemies of note- Klarg (Bugbear Chief)- captured; Hobgoblins lead by Targor Bloodseeker (took Gundren); King Grol? (Cragmaw Goblin leader) & the Black Spider?
New Info- Gundren has been taken by Targor Bloodseeker and his Hobgoblins to the Black Spider, or King Grol, or... Gundren needs to get found and rescued, remember he also has two brothers- Tharden and Nundro. Sildar is going to do some asking around and help the town if he can. The Redbrands are very bad people, rumoured to have killed a local - something needs to be done about them, see Halia. There are Orcs in the hills, pestering the miners, see Harbin the Townmaster - who is also a fat fool. Sister Garael got injured somehow, maybe she needs help. There's an adventurer living in Phandalin - Daran Edermath. The Lionshield Coster, run by Linene, will probably want their stuff back.

Lots to do in the morning.


Chapter 19: A new day.

The adventurers rise and shine in the Stonehill Inn, first stop breakfast and then out the doors into the town of Phandalin. Their tasks, divided up over the early repast, to visit with a variety of inhabitants of the town, and to gauge the mood. Particularly in respect of the Redbrands, just how bad are they.

Sildar Hallwinter joins them for the meal and asks to meet with them again for lunch at the Inn, at which point he too will have further information, and be able to pay them for getting him safely to Phandalin; he also cautions the adventurers to take care while they are on their travels.

This in mind, the quintet exit the Inn, and are immediately hailed by Pip, the eight year old son of their hosts, the Stonehills.
“Silver for a secret?” the young lad offers, his eyes gleaming.
Grimm is on familiar ground here, he ruffles the young lad's hair and proffers a shiny silver coin.
“This one's for the secret, the second”, he opens his other hand to reveal another silver coin, “the second is for you to keep your eyes open, anything you see and hear that sounds important, anything that you think we should now about. Got it?” Grimm smiles warmly down at the young chap.
Pip nods, and grins back.
“Good. Now the secret?” Grimm asks.
“My friend Carp says he's seen them Redbrands coming out of a tunnel in the woods, near the old manor house.” Pip grins up at the paladin, confident of the value of his information.
“That's the kind of thing we need to know.” Grimm nods and smiles some more.
“Now where can we find your friend Carp?” the paladin asks.
“The Alderleaf farm”, Pip grabs at Grimm and points with his other hand, keen to make the paladin follow his gaze.

A moment or two later, Grimm shares his news with his companions, a follow up is a priority, the Alderleaf farm is on the list of places they intend to visit.

The rest of the morning is spent circling the town, although mainly sticking to the centre of the settlement, a pair and a trio, the adventurers reconvene at the Inn for lunch. They all have tales to tell, as does their dinning companion, Sildar.

In no particular order they unearth the following information-

Sister Garaele, the priestess of Tymora, reported injured by Narth the farmer, is mortified to hear the rumour- she is, as Grimm candidly attests, in fine fettle. The beautiful elf is however clearly concerned with the situation in Phandalin, the Redbrands she states are “nothing more than brigands.” Something should be done about them, she suggests, Grimm nods conspiratorially, the priestess goes so far as to offer her healing powers to aid any group that seeks to accomplish the task. Very kind, Grimm promises to return with good news, the Lady willing.

The fiery Linene from the Lionshield Coster reiterates Garaele's feelings with regard to the Redbrands, the woman is over-joyed to also learn that the adventurers have located her missing shipment. She agrees to pay 50 gold coins and give a 10% discount on her goods for its return in full, Zalt negotiates the salary, the adventurers are it seems guaranteed further employment. Good work. Linene also directs the adventurers to Halia Thornton at the Phandalin Miners' Exchange, Halia may have further information about the Redbrands, she has her fingers in many pies.

Ken Lee, who has somehow insinuated himself into the group, without asking, does much of the talking when the adventurers visit the Alderleaf farm; a halfling farm as it turns out, and beautifully presented. Qelline Alderleaf, Carp's mother is a little suspicious at first- what has Carp been up to? Why do you need to speak with him? Eventually Carp is called to give evidence. After a good deal of chatter, most of it placatory, the adventurers are given a guided tour of the local woods, with special attention given to the hidden tunnel out of which a duo of Redbrands emerged. Carp even gets the chance to employ the 'silver for a secret' offer, Grimm repeats his routine and Carp tells them that he also saw three big hairy goblins enter the tunnel about three nights past.

Later, after lunch with Sildar, Grimm meets with the young halfling again, chaperoned by Qelline, and shows the young chap their captive- Klarg; Carp is amazed and a little frightened, however he identifies the figures he saw- three bugbears. The adventurers are less pleased with this news.

Daran Edermath, a half-elf ex-adventurer, is pleased to speak with the adventurers, and even more pleased to make the acquaintance of Ken Lee. The wizard was told to meet with the Daran by his master back in Waterdeep, he remembers now. Daran it seems has been keeping an eye on the Redbrands, and like many other inhabitants of Phandalin is keen for something to be done about them. He estimates that there are approximately twenty Redbrand ruffians, lead by a character called Glasstaff- furthermore the mercenaries are located in the cellar beneath Tresendar Manor, although a group of them also drink most evenings in the Sleeping Giant Taphouse- a dive, he advises. The ex-adventurer implores Ken Lee and his friends to take care of the problem, he would be pleased to offer further employment to the adventurers should they first take care of the Redbrand problem.

Last stop on the adventurers' circuit, prior to lunch with Sildar, is a visit with Halia at the Phandalin Miners' Exchange, the upshot of the meeting is the adventurers are offered 100 gold coins to rid the town of the Redbrands, to kill Glasstaff, and to locate any correspondence the leader has. Halia believes that the mercenary group are perhaps aligned with a larger organisation, she also repeats much of the information the adventurers have gathered about the gang already.

All of the inhabitants are also questioned about Harbin Wester, the Townmaster, their comments are universally negative, the man is somewhere between 'a fool' and 'a dangerous idiot.'

Next stop lunch at the Stonehill.


Chapter 20: The investigation continues.

Sildar is as good as his word, he pays the guys and then treats them to a hearty lunch; he's celebrating having accepted the post of deputy to the Town Master, it seems the power of the Lords' Alliance extends as far as Phandalin. That said, Sildar has another problem he hopes the adventurers can help him with, the Alliance sent one of their agents to Phandalin about three months back - the man Iarno Albrek has alas not been heard from since. Sildar has discovered that Iarno was last seen in the vicinity of Tresendar Manor, the hideout of the Redbrands. He fears the worst, however there exists a chance that Iarno is still alive- perhaps a prisoner of the ruffians. Sildar takes a moment to describe Iarno- a short, dark haired, bearded man in his mid 30s, a wizard. He will of course pay for Iarno's safe return, or else the return of his body. The adventurers quickly agree to take on the task, after all they have business with the Redbrands.

Sildar is pleased to hear this, and offers an additional reward for the destruction of the Redbrands, the adventurers smile with joy- they could end up getting paid twice, from Halia and Sildar. The adventurers also take the time to share with Sildar their findings from their time visiting with the inhabitants of the town.

The meal over, Sildar requests one last favour - for the adventurers to return with him to see the Townmaster, he wants the guys to meet the man and later share with him their impressions of the fellow, and so it comes to pass.

An hour or so later in a backroom of the Town Hall the adventurers meet with Harbin Wester, a fat bank manager type.

“And I am Grimm, follower of Tymora,” the paladin completes the introductions, the adventurers have decided to play dumb with the Townmaster.
“Adventurers you say, well that's most apposite- I have a task for you, if you're up to the challenge,” Harbin, the fat Townmaster waddles and gleams as he talks.
“Several miners have reported encounters with Orcs in the hills nearby, and further along the Triboar Trail towards the ruins of Conyberry.”
Grimm nods along as Harbin unravels his tale, the other adventurers watch on.
“There's a reward of course- 100 gold coins if you will eradicate this threat, of course you'd have to supply some proof of the dead.” Harbin looks up at the sea of expectant faces.
“Well? Will you take the job?” he finally asks.
“Yes, of course.” Grimm replies with a friendly smile, “we may need to rest a day or so, we've just fought and killed a nest of goblins on the road to Phandalin.”
“Of course, and thank you.” Harbin states.
“We've also located goods belonging to Lionshield Coster, a previous delivery ambushed by the same goblins,” Ken Lee adds.
“Remarkable. You've done remarkably well. I thank you again... but the Orcs?” Harbin turns the conversation again.
“We've said we'll deal with the Orcs!” Zalt snaps.
“Yes...” Harbin stammers, a little taken aback by the warlock's vehemance.
“Are there any other problems in Phandalin?” Zyler casually enquires.

Harbin takes a moment to think, or else consider his options.
“No, that is... No. I don't think so,” he finishes.
“Not even with the Redbrands?” Zalt fires back with a sneer.
“The Redbrands? No, I mean... There's a certain amount of... well, shall we call it- rough play, but surely that's to be expected. You need to understand the Redbrands are a mercenary outfit, they keep us safe...” Harbin is cut off in his prime.
“Safe!” Grimm and Zyler exclaim in chorus.
“They killed a man.” Zyler starts.
“The woodcarver.” Grimm finishes.
“More than a little rough play, wouldn't you say- murder?” Zalt ends it and stares daggers at the flustered Townmaster.
“I... I... That is...” Harbin flounders.
“They call you a fat fool.” Zalt twists the knife.
“I... I... Who does? Who calls me...” Harbin's anger quickly fades. The Townmaster looks like a broken man.
“The Orcs, please- you need to do something about the Orcs. Don't upset them- don't upset the Redbrands, they're dangerous- Phandalin needs them,” the fat man continues to flounder.

“Are you in league with these miscreants?” Grimm finally asks.
“No!” Harbin barks back, on safer ground now- the truth.
“I am good with numbers. I can make Phandalin work, on paper. I... I don't know what to do. I need help,” Harbin finally confesses and, unburdened at last, sighs deeply.

Zyler slides one of his massive hands onto the Townmaster's shoulder, he squeezes the spot.
“We will help you, with the Orcs, and with the Redbrands- Tempus will lead the way. Phandalin will be safe, I swear this to you.”

The adventurers stop for a brief chat with Sildar- they're convinced that Harbin isn't working with the Redbrands, only terrified of them - he concurs. Then it's time to head off, into action, next stop the Sleeping Giant Taphouse - time to set up an ambush for any Redbrands that make the mistake of heading there for a drink this evening.