3 Flamerule, Year of the Warrior Princess (1489 DR)
The Sword Coast
The four adventurers from Neverwinter came across a large cave in the hillside, some five miles from where they found signs of where Gundren and Sildar were ambushed.
A shallow stream flowed out of the cave mouth, which was screened by dense briar thickets. A narrow dry path led into the cave on the right side of the stream.
It was still early in the morning. The sun’s golden rays bathed the scene in a golden idyllic hue. The setting didn’t resemble a place where goblins would lair.
Randal patted Ghesh on the shoulder. “It’s good to have you back with us, friend,” he whispered. The paladin then moved to another thicket to hide himself.
It was just yesterday that Ghesh lay on the wagon. He had been badly injured when four goblins ambushed the others and him on the High Road where it forked towards the Triboar Trail. Although the paladin, Randal, had also been wounded, Ghesh was nearly lost to a goblin’s rusty scimitar. Fortunately, his friends had done what they could to bind his wounds and hope for the best. After a good long rest, the dragonborn soldier was as good as new.
Last night, the four adventurers discussed whether they should proceed to Phandalin as planned or follow the goblins’ trail to wherever they had taken the dwarf, Gundren Rockseeker, and his hired human warrior guard, Sildar Hallwinter. After much debating on the merits of what’s right over duty, Randal had convinced everyone of the importance of finding and rescuing his and Ghesh’s employer. Despite concerns that they were sorely outnumbered by the goblins, the four adventurers left Travarr to guard the supply wagon and headed northeast.
Along the way, the four ran into two cleverly hidden traps the goblins had set up along the trail. One was a hidden snare and the other, a concealed pit some ten feet deep. They were able to trigger the traps and continue on their way.
Ghesh quietly made his way closer to the cave entrance.
Xander kept a watchful eye for any goblins lurking about, while Osric stayed close by. The half-elf bard hid himself behind a tree and looked towards the cave entrance, ready to warn the others should any goblin come out.
Ghesh stopped in front of the row of thickets by the cave’s entrance. He suddenly stopped before pushing his way through the overgrowth.
He saw two goblins sitting on the grass on the other side. Both were dressed in leather and armed with scimitars. Shortbows lay on the ground right next to each one. They were too busy finishing off their morning meal to notice Ghesh and Xander’s presence.
Ghesh signaled to Randal who hurried to make his way to where the goblins were. But when the paladin tried to cross the shallow stream, the two goblins heard him.
Before they could react, both Ghesh and Xander charged through the thickets.
The dragonborn pressed the advantage as the goblins tried to stand and arm themselves for a battle. He brought his handaxe down on one of the goblin’s skull. It tried to roll out of the way. Ghesh’s handaxe cut it across its shoulder instead. He then followed the first attack with a second from his other handaxe. The handaxe bit deep, sending a fountain of blood spraying in all directions.
The other goblin couldn’t stand up fast enough. In desperation, it drew its scimitar and tried to slice at the dragonborn.
The goblin’s blade barely scratched Ghesh’s suit of chainmail.
Xander quickly drew his rapier and stabbed at the goblin’s chest. The sharp blade pierced the creature but it didn’t die. Bloodied, the goblin stood and retreated towards the cave.
Osric ran out of hiding and moved towards the fleeing goblin. He drew his dagger and threw it at the goblin. But his aim was too high.
The goblin was almost inside the cave!
Ghesh chased after the goblin. He swung for the goblin’s back and struck it right below its neck, killing it instantly.
With the two goblin guards slain, the four adventurers regrouped outside the cave.
The cave grew very dark after nearly ten paces in. If they were all going to enter the cave, they would need to light a torch. However, they knew well enough that a light source would also attract attention and ruin any chances of surprising the goblins inside.
“I could scout ahead,” Osric offered. “I don’t need light to see inside.”
“You can see in the dark?” the other three asked in unison.
Osric smiled. “It’s something I inherited from my elven side.”
While the others waited outside, Osric stealthily made his way into the cave. Just inside the cave mouth, a few uneven stone steps led up to a small, dank chamber on the east side of the passage.
The cave narrowed to a steep fissure at the far end, and was filled with the stench of animals. Osric spotted three wolves chained up just inside the opening. Each wolf’s chain led to an iron rod driven into the base of a stalagmite.
Meanwhile, the main passage climbed steeply upward, the stream plunging down past Osric emerging outside where his companions waited. The bard also noticed a side passage that led west across the side of the stream.
Trying to be as quiet as possible, Osric moved past where the wolves were chained up.
At a point where the main passage curved, Osric noticed the shape of a rickety bridge of wood and rope crossing over the passage ahead. The bridge connected two tunnels that were twenty feet above the stream and intersected the main passage.
He wasn’t certain, but he thought he caught a glimpse of a goblin moving about on the bridge.
Not wanting to tempt Tymora, the goddess of luck, Osric silently made his way back outside.
Once outside, Osric told the others what he had seen.
They were confident that the fast-flowing stream would mask any sound they made inside the cave, but any source of light they brought in would certainly alert the goblins inside to their presence.
And if they were going to find and rescue Gundren, and the sellsword, Sildar, they could not risk the goblins detecting their approach.
They decided to rush in and attack the wolves in force.
The wolves immediately became aware of their approach as all four ran inside. Xander held a the torch so they could see.
The wolves pulled on their chains, trying to escape their bonds and attack the intruders who dared enter their masters and their territory.
But the adventurers were well prepared for the wolves. No one sustained a bite, while they made short work of all three wolves.
Looking around the cave, they saw that the cave narrowed to a steep fissure at the far end. Further investigation revealed that the fissure formed a natural chimney which led upward at a steep angle through the cave’s ceiling.
Standing near the fissure, the group was able to make out voices coming from somewhere on the other side of the stone chimney.
They decided to have Osric climb up and see where the chimney led.
The climb up the chimney was precarious but Osric made it. At the top, he wedged himself against the rock walls and listened to the voices coming from a chamber beyond.
After a few minutes, the bard carefully made his way back down to rejoin the others. But just as he began his descent, he lost his footing.
He slid thirty feet down and landed hard, nearly breaking his arm!
The others helped him up while Randal healed him.
Osric told everyone what he had heard. He said someone named Klarg was ordering goblins around. He also heard what sounded like another wolf in the chamber.
The party decided to explore the side passage across from where they were before confronting whomever or whatever Klarg was.
The side passage was choked with rubble and barely had enough room for one person to walk through.
Several feet in, they came upon a 10-foot-high ledge blocking the passage.
Ghesh helped Osric reach the top of ledge. But as soon as Osric placed his weight on the ledge, it collapsed upon itself. Osric fell—again—nearly spraining his ankle this time!
The others were beginning to wonder if Osric would make it out of the goblins’ cave without breaking his neck, or worse.
The party continued on. The tunnel led them to a large cave. It was divided in half by a ten-foot-high escarpment. A steep natural staircase led from the lower portion to the upper ledge. The air was hazy with the smoke of a cooking fire. The cave also reeked with the smell of cured hides and unwashed goblins.
Several goblins inhabited the cave. One stood on the edge of the ledge and held a bound prisoner who was on his knees.
Ghesh and Randal immediately recognized Sildar Hallwinter, the sellsword hired by their dwarven employer and friend, Gundren. Sildar’s mouth was gagged with a cloth, while his hands and feet were securely tied behind him. It was also clear that Sildar had been badly tortured, by way he looked.
Knowing the goblins weren’t aware of their presence, the party rushed in to attack!
Ghesh moved up to where four goblins stood around the fire. He immediately breathed fire on all four, killing two instantly.
The others followed the dragonborn’s lead and attacked the remaining goblins.
“Truce, or this human dies!” the goblin who held Sildar yelled in common. To emphasize his threat, he pushed Sildar closer to the edge. The barely conscious sellsword let out a pained moan.
Everyone stopped their attacks, not wanting to find out if the goblin would carry out his threat or not.
“You…can’t…trust…a goblin,” Sildar spat in between bouts of bloodied coughs.
The goblin holding the sellsword pushed him closer to the edge. Before he could send him over, the party lowered their weapons.
“We came here for him,” Randal pointed to Sildar. “Let us take him and we’ll leave the rest of you alone.”
“He has value to us,” the goblin, clearly the group’s leader, said.
“Where is the dwarf who traveled with him?” Xander asked.
“Klarg sent him far away.”
“Where? And who is Klarg?”
“Klarg is a strong bugbear who is our leader. But me, Yeemik, wants to be new boss of the goblins! You kill Klarg and I will release this human.”
“Don’t trust him!” Sildar coughed out in Chondathan, the language spoken by people along the Sword Coast. He hoped the goblin coudn’t understand him.
“Sildar,” Randal said in Chondathan when it was obvious that Yeemik didn’t understand the language. “We will get you out of here. I need you to be ready to move when I give the signal to attack.”
Sildar nodded in understanding.
The attack on the goblins didn’t last long.
Everyone of the vile creatures had been slain. More important, Sildar was alive, despite having suffered under the goblins and their bugbear leader. Some of the adventurers had sustained minor wounds, but nothing Randal’s divine healing or a good night’s rest in Phandalin wouldn’t cure.
Sildar told his rescuers everything he knew including how the Rockseeker brothers, Gundren, Tharden, and Nundro, had discovered an entrance to the long-lost Wave Echo Cave, site of the mines of the Phandelver’s Pact. He also told of how Klarg had orders to waylay Gundren and bring the dwarf back to someone or something known as the Black Spider. Gundren had a map showing the location of Wave Echo Cave, but the goblins took it when they captured him. Both Gundren and the map had been taken to a place called Cragmaw Castle.
Sildar suggested they head to Phandalin so he can try to contact a human wizard named Iarno Albrek who was sent by the Lords’ Alliance to establish order there. After no word had been heard from Iarno, the Lords’ Alliance decided to send Sildar to investigate.
As it turned out, Gundren was looking to hire a bodyguard to Phandalin from Neverwinter. Sildar then took on the job since he needed to go to Phandalin as well.
Not wanting to risk running into Klarg or any other goblins, the group moved as quickly as they could back to the wagon.
From there, they followed the Triboar Trail to Phandalin.