The tavern was empty apart from a single other patron and the staff, and the Bar Owner was gruff, impolite and large. After demanding the tall, slim barfly pay his tab, the short and round form of Gundren enters and pays the barman a sack of coins. Despite displays of acrobatics (leaping onto the barstool), Gundren is very drunk, and his tall and slim companion, the aforementioned barfly, explains why the party had been summoned.
The mission put forward was to escort a supply caravan (single cart drawn by oxen) to Barthen’s Provisions in Phandalin, where Gundren and his brothers would be able to make use of the supplies. Gundren needed to ride a day ahead of it to take care of some unspecified business. The offered reward was 10 gold coins each, but Torvath considered Garathna’s knowledge of the area, and concluded that since the cave system could potentiall weild great power, power which would be in the hands of Gundren and his brothers, that the reward for taking the supplies should be greater.
Confronting Gundren on this the following morning, when Gundren was hungover, provided the additional leverage needed; Gundren paid them each 15 gold up front, and an additional 20 gold each was promised upon their arrival at Phandalin with the supplies, along with a further 5 gold offered for the oxen to arrive in a ready condition to be put straight to work.
The party took the terms, ran some minor errands and set off with their cart south on the High Road. After a few days of riding, and turning east along Triboar Trail, the party then came upon Gundren and Sildar’s horses (Sildar Hallwinter being the companion of Gundren from Neverwinter).
The horses were dead and blocking the path, black-feathered Goblin Arrows sticking from their bodies. After inspecting closer, a Goblins troupe ambushed the adventurers and struck with arrows and spears.
Torvath drew upon his military training and returned fire into the nearby thickets from where the first volley came, and slew a Goblin outright, only to drop his bow and draw his Longsword to parry an overhead strike with a spear from another Goblin; the force of his return blow crushed the creature’s bones.
Ash leaped into action and readied his shield, watching the battle unfold and observing, waiting for an opening. Without warning, a Goblin from the northern underbrush erupted forth and thrust his crude spear into a weak flank of Ash’s armour, and managed to slash a small scar across his face before he could draw his Longsword and slay the foul beast. Turning to survey the battlefield again, Ash sees Garathna…
Garathna takes careful note of the initial volley of arrows that came from the roadside, and noticed that a second arrow came from the south; turning to let loose his gathered eldritch energies from his Elven lineage in a bolt of furious flame at the source of this second arrow, a third is launched into his chest, winding him. Garathna, launches his cantrip at the Goblin archer, the archer blocking the brunt of the strike with his bow. Another arrow knocks Garathna to the ground, his summoned magical energies diffusing back into his hands.
Ash leaped forward, shield first, drew his sword back and thrust into the neck of the Goblin archer, a deft twist removing the foul monster’s head from its shoulders. His rage sated, without a moment’s thought he ran to Garathna’s side and lay hands upon him, channeling the divine forces that fuel his powers and healing the wounds that lay low his comrade.
The Goblins deafeted, the party checked their surroundings. The saddlebags were looted, and all that remained was an empty leather map case. To the north of the trail were signs of a struggle, and two human-sized people being dragged northwest along a worn path. Evidence of around a dozen goblins using this area regularly to lay in wait and set this trap suggested that this may not have been a targeted attack. A look into the mouths of the Goblins revealed sharpened teeth, suggesting these are Goblins of the Cragmaw Tribe.
The party talked over their options, and decided to complete their mission to deliver the supplies. Another day of travel and they arrived at the frontier town of Phandalin: mostly wooden buildings of rough contruction along the main road, with stone ruins around the outskirts suggesting a town of former glory. Barthern’s Provisions was the first building in town along the trail road, and so the party went straight to Elmar Barthen to complete their mission.
Ash and Torvath enter the store emporium, more a warehouse than a shop, and mention that they have the supplies. While Elmar Barthen was ecstatic at the good news, he was worried that his friend Gundren hadn’t yet arrived. He expressed concern over recent Goblin attacks, and asked the party to help look for Gundren back along the path.
Ash ignored these pleas, and instead insisted upon receiving 20 gold coins for each party member, for a total of 60 gold, despite Elmar pointing out that 10 gold each was all he could afford, and was all he had agreed with Gundren. Fearing for his safety, Elmar offered to go and get the extra money, but Ash saw the potential for duplicity and that the local constabuary may be brought in, so Ash grabbed Elmar and smashed his face into the desk. Bleeding and crying, Elmar conceded that he could not get the money, but that Ash could have anything in the store.
Ash then left, tagged in Garathna and informed him of the free equipment, and stood watch by the cart. Garathna entered, tended to the head wound of Elmar, and then took a simple waterskin.
After unloading the cart into Barthen’s Provisions, the party then travelled back along the trail to look for Gundren.
Following the boobytrapped trail left by the Goblins some days before, Garathna tracked the Goblins and their two hostages, possibly Gundren and Sildar, to a small cavemouth with a stream flowing slowly from it. Upon trying to cross the stream, more Goblin arrows flew from a nearby treeline.
Ash readied his shield and sword, and stood in front of Garathna and Torvath, who both fired bolts of magical flame and arrows into the trees, to no avail; the Goblins were too well hidden. However when one of them made a dash for the cave, presumably to warn others, Ash charged and stabbed the diminutive creature through its head, removing an eye and its life. Turning, and remembering that two arrows were fired, he dashed into the trees and landed into a small clearing inhabited by a surprised Goblin archer. A strong swing of his sword soon ended this second Goblin, and the party continued unopposed into the mouth of the cave.
The pitch darkness of the cave lent minor advantage to Garathna, whose Elven eyes could see in such lack of illumination. Sneaking carefully along the stream and moving onto the path at the side, he saw that not far into the cave there was a chamber to the east, and ahead north another 60 feet or so the stream bends east, but a scalable rubble pile to the west could lead somewhere.
The eastern chamber was guarded by 3 wolves, starving and very loud upon sniffing Garathna nearby. While pitoned into a stalagmite, Garathna tried to calm the creatures but only incited them further into frenzy. He then threw 3 days of rations down, which the wolves devoured hungrily. Torvath then approached and calmed the wolves down further.
Garathna crept by the wolves and climbed a pile of stones up to a small fissure in the farthest corner of the room. Through this fissure he saw another chamber, much larger, in which stacks of barrels, crates and sacks lined the south wall, an opening in the north wall led to another chamber that couldn’t be seen, and a small bonfire smouldered in the centre of the room. A large, hairy beast of a creature, speaking Goblinoid, barked at two Goblins in the chamber, while occasionally petting a loyal-seeming wolf at its side.
What will the party do next?