Sometimes it’s not about an epic adventure. Sometimes you just need a good dungeon crawler. (Or in this case – cave crawler). It was a feat that, even though successful, left us with more questions than answers.
We were employed by a dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker to deliver his cart of assorted goods from Neverwinter to Phandalin. It was supposed to be an easy two-day travel, so I took the job to finally end this adventure dry spell we’ve been going through for the past few weeks. A couple of my comrades had the same idea, so Dragar took the reins, with Argetlam by his side, while his brother Tarian and I sat in the back, him practicing his flute playing, me studying the most recent book on the arcane I got from the library. In case Gundren is not there when we deliver the goods (as he’s supposedly travelling around with a friend), we were instructed to leave them with ‘Barthen’s Provisions’ (probably his business partner). We harnessed a couple of oxen, hooked them up to the cart and did some last minute shopping. I bought a healing potion this time, and Argetlam bought some locks again, together with a couple of meters of chain (which he immediately used to close the barrels of ale shut – so that we don’t even think of trying to “just taste it”). And we were off.
The first day went by. As the sun was setting we’ve reached a waystone just off the road, a place where many a traveller rested their weary selves, knowing they would be safe. We put up our tents, made a fire and quickly scouted the perimeter (just in case). Dragar took first watch, followed by Argetlam and Tarian. This time I got to sleep through the night. Thanks, guys. We woke up at the break of dawn to make the most of the day. We dismantled the campsite and continued onwards.
After a couple of hours we’ve reached a fork in the road, with a sign pointing us left towards Phandalin. Dragar suddenly stopped the cart shortly after. There seemed to be an obstacle in the middle of the road, but we couldn’t distinguish what it was from this distance. We got off the cart and carefully approached what we could now see were two dead horses. A classic highwaymen ambush. We heard rustling from the bushes on the left side of the road, so Argetlam took his bow and fired up an arrow smack dab in the middle of it, which resulted in a scream filled with utmost terror. Filthy goblinses. Tarian quickly followed with a soothing tune aimed at that same bush that put however many of them were there to sleep. I was just about to cast my own sleep spell on the suspicious looking stirring shrubbery on the opposite side when I noticed that I somehow forgot my staff back in the cart, so I quickly dashed back to get it only to find out that Argetlam (in his infinite wisdom) chained it down to the ale barrels. Goddamnit, man. While I was trying to dislodge it, four more goblins started shooting arrows at us from that very bush, luckily mostly missing, as Dragar quickly put his shield up, making a decent cover for himself and the oxen (because I certainly wouldn’t want to drag this cart on my back). I finally managed to get my staff back, so I got behind Dragar and put the goblins to sleep. Well, three of them, at least. One of them resisted and started to run away, so I hit him with a Ray of Frost to slow him down and Argetlam managed to take him down with a swift arrow to the skull. We’ve gathered the rest of the sleeping party and put them out of their misery. All but one. A grotesque little creature named Fizz. He told us how they caught a dwarf and a human travelling on this road, killed their horses, and took them back to their cave. After a bit of convincing from Dragar (and a lot of shrieking from Fizz) he agreed to take us to the cave (but he’s not going in, as the others will kill him). Before we embarked towards the cavern, we searched the dead horses for some useful items, but the only thing we found was an empty scroll case. Hm… We chained the goblin up, cleared the road of the horse carcasses and pulled the cart aside and a bit into the woods, to keep it away from the curious gazes of the passers-by, and made our way north towards the cave. (Just before we continued onwards, Tarian cut the ears off the dead goblins – as a trophy, he said.)
As we were closing in, Fizz became increasingly restless and jittery, out of fear that we’ll take him with us, so that even Dragar had difficulties containing him. Once we got the view of the cave’s entrance in the distance, we chained the goblin up to a tree and shoved Argetlam’s sweaty, smelly sock in his mouth, so that he can’t scream and warn the others. Needless to say, Fizz was thrilled. There was a stream coming out of the cave, so we hid in the bushes on the left bank and slowly sneaked towards the entrance. As we approached it we heard a murmur coming from across the creek, again, from the bushes. No doubt a sentry crew. We couldn’t distinguish how many of them were there, so we tried to lure them out in plain sight. I used a Minor Illusion trick to produce a sound of footsteps stomping through the water, but they hadn’t noticed anything (dumb animals), so Tarian sneaked a bit closer, with his brother covering him from behind and lulled them to sleep with another gentle tune. The chatter died out, and the goblins followed in the same fashion.
We approached the entrance and heard growling coming from an opening to the right, a few steps in, so Argetlam put a couple of spike traps right at the exit, just in case whatever’s in there decides to chase us out. We saw two worgs chained up in a dark chamber, roaring and snarling, trying to yank away. For now we seemed to be safe, but we were still being careful so Argetlam got one with an arrow, so Dragar could engage them in close combat. He tried to hit one right across its mug, but the beast somehow managed to catch the chain in its mouth and jerk it away from him. I managed to hit one with a Ray of Frost, so Dragar finished it off with a swift blow with his shield. While this was happening, Argetlam decided to check out the size of the chamber, so he started wrapping one of his arrow tips in cloth, so he can light it up on one of the torches. We eventually got them both, and Argetlam shot his flaming arrow across the room, driving it in a pile of rubble on the other end. The said rubble lead upwards to a small opening, barely big enough to fit a person through. Tarian brought out his grappling hook, so Dragar and Argetlam could climb up. There was only enough room for two people on the small platform above. Tarian and I turned to watch the entrance. There was light coming through the hole and the guys saw a worg sleeping by the campfire. Not wasting any time, Argetlam shot an arrow and hit it in the shoulder blade, sadly just missing the eye. The beast howled in pain and started thrashing around throwing cinder all over the place. Right then a gigantic figure emerged in the firelight. It was, of course, a bugbear. No doubt the leader of the goblin crew. A decision had to be made; target the bugbear and try and take him down or finish off the worg. Dragar suggested they take out the worg first, so Argetlam shot another arrow at him, bringing him down. Of course, now the bugbear knew exactly where we were, so the guys were quick to squeeze through the hole and onto the platform on the other side and Tarian and I quickly climbed the rope and did the same.
The bugbear ran back through the passageway and we heard more goblins closing in, but none came out. They were waiting for us on the other side, but we couldn’t determine their position, as their voices were drowned out by the thundering sound of streaming water, so Argetlam decided to dash across the room and throw a quick glance towards the darkness with his elf eyes. As he was lurching across, a couple of arrows and darts came flying at him. Luckily he managed to catch two of them mid-air, otherwise he would now be dead. This gave us a general idea of their positions, so Dragar turned the corner with me right behind him and while he was deflecting their salvo with his shield I managed to put them all to sleep. Tarian ran over to his brother to mend his wounds, while Dragar and I went to investigate the knocked out goblins.
In this next room we saw a waterfall on the right side, turning into the stream that we saw coming here. We were just about to relieve these worthless fiends of their miserable existence, when yet another worg came rushing through the entrance on the other side. Dragar pulled his shield up and engaged the beast with his flail, while I quickly shot a Ray of Frost at him to slow him down. While the two of them were in a skirmish I took the chance and bashed the skull of the dozing goblins in with my staff, just so there are no surprises. Tarian and, now partly healed, Argetlam joined us just as Dragar bludgeoned the worg to death. We continued through the other exit and reached a bridge stretching across the stream, with two new goblins waiting us on the other side. They started shooting arrows and darts at us and this time not only did Argetlam manage to catch one of the arrows, in split second he turned it around and sent it back flying towards the goblin, knocking him down. Dragar dashed across, his shield up and tackled the other one down. We quickly managed to take care of both of them, so we moved on through the next tunnel.
On our way we passed by another dark cavity on the right side, from which yet another two goblins leaped out and ambushed us. Tarian and I started casting various spells, while Dragar and Argetlam dealt with them in a more… physical manner. They, of course, couldn’t stand a chance. A couple of steps forward we saw light coming from the next chamber. We decided to rest for a bit so Argetlam could meditate and heal, and get his ki back, but not long after we heard goblin chatter accompanied by the bugbear’s angry growls. We carefully peered around the corner and saw a half a dozen of them on a platform, taunting us, luring us out. “We came for the dwarf!”, Dragar shouted. There was no (coherent) answer, so I tried my hand at it: “All your friends are dead! Be smart and surrender! Don’t suffer the same fate!” Still nothing. Dragar then peered around the corner and a whole bunch of arrows started flying towards us, a couple of which found their way to Dragar’s flesh. I again stood right behind him, while Tarian and Argetlam were in the back (Argetlam still meditating). We closed the narrow pass with our bodies so that Dragar could take them from the shadows as they rushed us, I managed to put a couple of them to sleep again. Thankfully the commotion jolted Argetlam from his meditation, but now he struggled to find a good position with a line of sight, so Tarian lifted him on his shoulders as he wielded his mighty bow. They managed to take a couple of them down this way, but soon enough the bugbear decided to charge at us. He suffered a couple of swift blows from Dragar, and a couple of arrows from Argetlam in the process, so luckily he decided to make a run for it, darting right past us and disappearing through the gap on the left. The terrain in the narrow passage was rough, riddled with boulders and rubble, so we had to be careful when descending. Argetlam jumped off Tarian and immediately followed after the bugbear, with Dragar right behind him. The walkway lead back to the stream which, of course, lead outside, so we heard the huge beast charging towards the exit, only to be met by Argetlam’s cleverly-placed traps which slowed him down considerably. I was considering checking out the interior, while the guys are dealing with (now weakened) bugbear, but Tarian decided to go after his brother, so I played along.
We descended the dangerous path and just as we’ve reached the stream we heard a shriek from behind us and after a few moments saw the one remaining goblin tumble down into the water. He was pretty beat at this point so, in hindsight, maybe this was an overkill, but I chose to finish him off with a Chromatic Orb spell. For some reason my casting failed miserably, but that wasn’t the entire problem… I felt a sudden surge of raw magic pulsing through my entire body. This hasn’t happened in quite a while, but it seemed as if though my wild magic was acting up again. I’m not sure what happened next, but all of a sudden I look over at the goblin who suddenly morphed into this gargantuan,vomit green beast with teeth the size of a small saber and horns that looked like they could bring down a tree, staring at me with its hellfire eyes. Needless to say I freaked the fuck out and ran away screaming bloody murder, stumbling across the boulders back to the safety of the dark corridor. I’ve no idea how much time I spent there, but the commotion suddenly quieted down, so I mustered up what remained of my fragile courage and peeked down at the stream. The goblin, now back to its original form, was dead, and Tarian obviously got out of the cave by now. What the hell happened here?? Anyway, I followed the brook outside the cave and found my comrades in arms standing over the dead bugbear. They told me how Argetlam had jumped it from behind and started beating it to a pulp with his silver fist, alongside Dragar wielding his trusty flail. Now that we’ve successfully cleared the goblin cave, we came back inside and searched it top to bottom.
We returned to the final chamber (the one where the bugbear charged us) and climbed the stairs leading up to a room overlooking the area. In there we found a dead human, but no sign of our employer dwarf whatsoever. We then traced our steps back, and when we got to the area with the pyre we found some crates with a blue lion silhouette on them, near the back wall. Inside we found an assortment of goods, some money (which we, of course, shared equally among us) and, what seemed most interesting, a jade frog statuette with golden eyes. We couldn’t figure out its exact origin, but it must’ve come from the far east. It was way too cool to sell it, so we’ve decided to keep it and display it at the guild for everyone to enjoy. That was pretty much it, with regards to the cave, so we headed back towards the cart.
On our way back we found Fizz still chained up (meaning no one passed by this whole time) and, as agreed, let him go. We were just about to tell him he better warn the rest of his filthy goblin pack about us, but he already disappeared among the trees. We got back to our cart, harnessed the oxen and made our way towards Phandalin.
We reached the city a couple of hours later and, you’ve guessed, Gundren was nowhere to be found. We left the cart with ‘Barthen’s Provisions’, as agreed, and got our pay (10 gold per head, yay). Some questions left unanswered, though… Who was that human? What ever happened to the dwarf? And why did he hire a band of sellswords to deliver a simple cart of goods from A to B? What was in the empty scroll case? Something’s not right, here…
End of Elthanias’ adventure log.