The Sword Coast Legends

Down to Earth.
Land Sharks!

The party awoke to the startling discovery that Hot’man was gone. Frantically, they ran to asks some of the Knights if they had seen him. “Oh yeah, I saw him taking a walk this morning, I think he walked up canyon a little ways.” With that knowledge, the party calmed down a little. As they waiting for Hot’man to return, Ben and Tallguy scoured through a library they found in the monastery. Tallguy quickly lost interest, but Ben kept digging. He came a cross a book that upon inspection, almost seemed to read like a journal. It referenced one Marlos Urnrayle, and the whisperings he heard from something called Ogrémoch. These whispers lead him to a place deep beneath the monastery, and ancient dungeon long forgotten. Upon arrival, Marlos discovered an elemental weapon, Ironfang. Slowly, Marlos began to gather followers to worship the earth with him, ultimately deeming them the Black Earth Cult. Accordingly, the ruins he had discovered became known as the Temple of the Black Earth. Ben scrawled notes into his journal, as this seemed to be quite important. Suddenly, a massive blast shook the monastery. Each of the party was thrown to the ground before rushes to the windows. Rusty was the first to speak up, “The hell was that?!”
As they peered out the windows, they saw a massive column of smoke and fire rising into the air from up the canyon a ways, somewhere beyond their direct sight. The Knights in the monastery began yelling, calling out to make sure everyone was OK. Tallguy whispered “oooh…I hope that wasn’t Hot’man.” Ben looked worried, “We should…we should not go out there. That’s some serious magic.” He turned to the guards, ’We’re going to explore further into this monastery, keep on watch, guard this place. Who knows what may be coming."
The party continued to quickly scour the monastery, not knowing how much time they had. Before long, after searching a room, Rusty noticed a key dangling from a hook on the wall. Curious as he is, he snatched it up and the party ran to the locked iron gate they had discovered in the mines below. At the stairs down to the mines however, Ben quickly stopped them. “Wait. Didn’t we leave some orcs down here?” Rusty and Tallguy thought for a moment. “Damn…we did.”
With that, the party moved more cautiously, peering around the corners of the stairs as they descended. They rushed into the guard’s room at the bottom of the stairs, weapons ready…and there was no-one.

Poor decisions, better luck.

As the party rested on the ground, light suddenly flooded the chamber as the trap door above them was opened. From above, the voice of Qarno sounded off. “Huh. Well I’m rather impressed. But you have yet to finish your trial. Further things await you down there. However, I need to speak with your Cleric.” Tallguy glanced at his friends, before stepping up the stairs that had reformed and into the light above. Before the others could react, the trapdoor slammed shut, and they were cast into darkness once again.
“Well…great.” Ben muttered in the shadows. “Well…let’s try that door over there.” Hot’man made his way to the door that was behind the cage that once housed the beast. As they emerged from into the shadows of what appeared to be a mine, they noticed a staircase heading downwards to the north. Rusty was having trouble in the dark down here, as they dared not light any torches, lest they be seen by some unknown monster. Ben quietly moved towards the staircase, and began to descend into the darkness. As he moved down them, they seemed to continue on endlessly, ever downwards. His senses became muddled as only the echo of footsteps filled his mind. The temperature grew colder with each passing step, and he wondered just how far he was going to have to travel to find the end. Suddenly, he turned a corner from one of the landings and found a gate barring his passage. Examining it, he found a lock. He rushed back up the stairs to find Rusty. Rusty smirked and quickly trotted down, lighting a torch since they knew nothing was around. Eventually, he reached the gate and began to work on the lock. To his dismay, there seemed to be something magical about this particular lock, and his efforts got him nowhere.
Giving up, the party trudged back up the stairs, into the darkness and maze of the mines. As they shuffled through the tight corridors, a strange sound reached their ears. The party quickly realized they were surrounded by several strange fungi. Knowing the poison they had encountered before, the party kept their distance and quickly dispatched the creatures. They continued onward, until the sound of voices reached their ears. “Quick, hide!” Ben ordered, half whispered in the caverns.
The party pressed themselves against the wall of mine, hoping against hope they wouldn’t be spotted. The voices were finally becoming understandable. About four of them could be heard.
“Do you think it killed them?”
“Of course it did. It’s an umber hulk. No one survives those.”
“He’s right, Qarno only sends people down there if he wants them dead.”
“What if they survived.”
“Relax, they didn’t.”
Ben’s mind rushed. How were they going to get out of this. Suddenly, he remembered the hulks eye, and he hatched a plan. Turning to Hot’man and Rusty, he quickly explained. “We’re going to scare them off, make them think there is a hulk still roaming around these halls. Then we grab one of them and find out what the hell is going on.” The others nodded in desperate agreement.
As the monks passed them, Ben cast an illusion spell, filling the mines with a horrifying howl similar to the one the Umber hulk emitted. The monks froze in place. “Oh no…it’s loose! RUN!” Three of them turned and escaped. But Rusty caught the last by the leg and caused him to fall. The party quickly restrained him.
“What?! What do you want? We have to leave, the hulk is loose!”
Ben dropped the eye upon his body. “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. We need to know what’s going on. That, or you die.”
The monk stared at Rusty, who was happily twirling his sword. “I…I don’t know. I mean we figured you were dead!”
“Oh, was that the plan?” Hot’man spoke through clinched teeth.
“Hey, I’m just an initiate, I don’t know what Qarno had in mind. Go talk to him yourself!”
The party nodded at each other. I think we’ll do just that. Now run upstairs and tell them the hulk is on the loose. We’ve only got so long."
They released the monk, who scrambled to his feet and bolted down the mine. “Quick, follow him!” Ben whispered to the others. They were hot on the monk’s tail before he sped through a door and out of sight. The party hesitated a moment before bursting in after him.
They found themselves face to face with several orogs, and an ogre. Both sides froze, staring at each other, before one of the orogs tightened his grip on his weapon and snarled. “What are you doing down here?”
They party glanced at each other. “We uh…” Hot’man stammered, “We are on our way to see Qarno, we passed our test.”
The orog loosened his grip. "Really…well, we’ll see about that. Head up the stairs and make your way to the altar chamber. The party passed by the group cautiously, their muscles tense and ready to spring into action. Thankfully, no fight broke out, and they made their way up the stairs. Confused about their current whereabouts, they poked their head into a side chamber. The room was covered in cobwebs and dust, but they felt a strange presence in it. Suddenly, a ghastly voice sounded out. “Why are you here?” Looking around the room, they watched as a lich materlized before them. It pointed its finger at the door. “You have 10 seconds to leave before I fill this room with a poisonous gas, which you will not survive.” Ben quickly spoke up “Well, uh, we’re here to kinda kill these guys. Are you…are you with them?” The lich dropped his hand. “I am not. And your proposition intrigues me. Why kill them?”
Ben shrugged. “They’re kind of dicks. Tried to kill us and all that jazz…Why exactly are you here?”
The lich sighed. “I have been here for a long, long time, trying to recover my brother’s body. But the casket is magically sealed, and I have been unable to access it. So, in hopes they will help me, I have tolerated the presence of this ‘Black Earth’ brotherhood. But I certainly would not mind them being removed from the equation.”
Rusty’s eyes lit up. “So you’ll fight with us!”
The lich wave his hand, dismissing the comment. “No…no. I have long lost my appetite for bloodshed. But I will give you this to aid you.” The lich float to a desk drawer and removed an amulet, handing it to Hot’man. This amulet can will help you in times of fear, giving you bravery and strength in battle.
Hot’man took the amulet, “uuh…thanks, cool.”
The lich spoke up again, “Now go. Rid this place of these pests so I may return to freeing my brother’s body to it’s rightful burial place.”
The party set off, passing through a garden on the route to the altar chamber. Standing menacingly tall in the garden, several extremely lifelike statues stood, silently guarding the vegetation. The party made their way through the over-grown landscape to a door that led to the chamber. Suddenly, three of the statues sprung to life, reaching for Hot’man and Rusty. Ben, moving quickly, burst into the altar chamber, lighting a bottle of alcohol on fire. Within a second, he came to grips that he just signed his death warrant. Stepping into the room and chucking the bottle towards Qarno, he saw at least 15 monks, along with several body guards. As the bottle burst and cast Qarno and his friends into screaming flames, Ben blinked to the far corner of the room, positioning himself to deliver further blows to the supposed leader. Hot’man and Rusty rushed into the room, ready for combat, with gargoyles lashing out at them all the while.
Ben unleashed another flurry of flame from his hand, singing Qarno and his guards further. Hot’man quickly found himself overwhelmed by several monks who clashed with him in hand-to-hand combat. Rusty managed to slink away and strike a blow at several other monks who were still deciding where to join the fray. In the chaos of it all, the party spotted Tallguy lying motionless on the altar. The battle raged on, the sound of snapping bones, screams of burning men, and clash of swords echoed ‘round the chamber. Ben was sent flying into a wall by a blow from Magic Missile, and began to bleed out on the floor. Whispering a prayer to a god he didn’t believe he, he begged for Tallguy to wake up. As he did so, he watched through blurred vision as Hot’man engulfed himself in flames in a desperate attempt to hold the monks at bay, and as Rusty tried furiously to put space between himself and his aggressors. Suddenly, a loud trumpet sounded in the room, and the doors to the chamber burst open. There stood Uthura Stormbanner and several of her paladins. The Knights of Samular had arrived just in time. “Knights, CHARGE!” They paladins burst into the room, following their fearless leader as she waded into the thick of the battle. Furious holy blows sent flashes of light across the room, one of them shattering a gargoyle in the air. Within seconds, the course of the battle had changed. The aura from the monks shifted from confidence, to fear and chaos. Yells filled the air as they were cut down by the Knights. Uthura found herself in close-combat with a woman none of the party had seen, but who very clearly was someone of importance. The woman delivered blow after blow to Uthura, knocking her to her knees. Just as she was about to succumb to this foe, a blast of light filled the room, and a scream was heard. When everyone regained their vision, they turned to find the charred skull of the woman lying upon the ground next to Uthura. And there, standing upon the altar, stood Tallguy. Ben’s prayer had been answered. The rest of the monks fell quickly, and mercilessly to the onslaught. Tallguy sent a pulse of healing across the room, and Ben felt his sinews begin to mend themselves, strength slowly returning to his body. At last, the room fell silent, and Ben sat up. The monks were dead, and the monastery secured. Uthura extended her hand to Ben to help him stand.
He gasped, “Thank the gods you came. We thought we were dead.”
She smiled darkly at him, “And you would have been, had we not discovered that the Black Earth cult was responsible for the kidnapping of the Miribar Delegation. I am glad we came. You should go and rest. We will stand watch and secure the area.” With that, the party nodded and limped off to the chamber of the lich to rest, and inform him of what had taken place.

The Sumber Hills
The Delegation

Sildar, a name that held quite a bit of interest to the party. Helvur continued, “There have been a lot of kidnappings lately, and when news reached me that you strange bunch were looking for him, I knew immediately what had happened. We have very few leads right now as to who, or what, is behind these kidnappings. But they are never simple disappearances, always they are accompanied by some kind of wreckage, be it a fire, or a sinkhole, or even a completely toppled home.” The party looked at each other, that perfectly matched the state Sildar’s home was in when they went to look for him.
Ben looked down at Larrakh, on whom they had put a gag. “Do you have anywhere private that we might…talk…to this man?” Helvur raised a brow, “Well, I have my store room I suppose. Just…keep it quiet. We have customers that come in here.” Tallguy idly tossed an iron bar he had found on Larrakh when they captured him. Helvur’s eyes lit up, “Where did you get that?!” Startled, Tallguy dropped the bar, a distinct ring sounded through the air. He quickly snatched it up and cut the ring short. “This? It was on Larrakh here, he had a few of them.”
“May I see them?”
Tallguy hesitated, “Just this one.” He handed over the bar. Helvur turned it in his hands before crying out, “Aha! I knew it! This is the best lead we’ve had in months! These bars belong to the Miribar delegation! See this mark here?” He pointed to a strange, unfamiliar shape on the bar. “This is the mark of Miribar. We have been searching for them every since they went missing two tendays ago! I bet this rat had something to do with it! Find out what you can, whoever took that delegation likely took Sildar as well.”
With that, the party dragged the now concious Larrakh into the supply room. Ben removed the gag, and as he did sent a surge of magic into it, causing spikes to burst out once it had left Larrakh’s mouth. “Oh dear! Forgot about that timer I put on there. Good thing we took that out, huh!” Larrakh sneered at him, “Do what you will, you do not scare me.” Rusty smiled, “Riiiight.” Thus began the interrogation.
“Tell us what you were doing down in those mines, Larrakh.”
He spat on the ground, “What did it look like I was doing? I was with the Believers.” Ben narrowed his eyes, and Tallguy pressed on the bandage that was over the site of the arrow that had pierced Larrakh’s knee." Larrakh cried out in agony, “Do what you want, I won’t talk!”
Ben thought for a moment, then pulled out a scroll he had in his pack. “Ok, first off Larrakh, I want to know where your spellbook is. You’ve got to have one, surely you don’t just have everything memorized.” Larrakh sneered, “Some wizard you are. I need no book, I am one with the earth. I speak, and she obeys.”
“Right, cute. So where did you get the trade bars. Those belonged to the delegation.”
“A little town called Womford, they were for sale.”
“Ok, you know what?” Ben whispered something to Rusty. “You just lay back, and relax, we’re going to find out what we need to know.” Ben opened the scroll, which contained the incantation to cast charm on someone and thus make them cooperative. Ben began to speak, and it was clear Larrakh was steeling his mind through gritted teeth. Just as been finished speaking he sent his hand forward, directing the invisible blast from the spell. Larrakh was prepared though, ready. That is, until Rusty landed a kick square in Larrakh’s crotch. The prisoner lurched forward, heaving, then suddenly straightened up and smiled. “Well, that wasn’t very nice. But then again, I haven’t been the grandest person lately.”
Ben smiled, the spelled seemed to have worked. Tallguy spoke up, “Alright, let’s try this again. What were you doing down in those mines?” Larrakh turned his gaze towards him, still smiling, “Why, I was controlling the Believers!”
“They’re a silly bunch. They seemed to think the stones were actually trying to them! So, I would move the stones occasionally, and tell them the meaning of their movement. Guiding them to do darker and darker things so I could eventually become the master of this little town. Bring it to heel under my command.”
“Why would you do that? What do you gain?”
Larrakh laughed, “I was hoping the Black Earth Cult would take me back in! I was exiled long ago, and had hoped to gain re-entry through proving my worth!”
Ben, Rusty, and Tallguy glanced at each other. Rusty spoke up, “Why were you kicked out? Too much of a pussy?”
Larrakh didn’t even flinch at the insult, “No, I simply failed in my duty to deliver an appropriate sacrifice to the earth.”
“As in…a human sacrifice?”
“Oh no, I never took part it those, that’s for the much more advanced members. I simply was unable to gather the needed supplies in time, so they kicked me out. Friendly bunch though.”
Tallguy glared at him, “Human sacrifice doesn’t sound much like a friendly bunch to me.”
“Well all you have to do is prove you want in and they’ll make you part of the brotherhood! They give you food, drink, shelter, training, all in return for something as wonderful as serving the earth!”
Ben was thinking, trying to decide what piece of information he needed next. Finally, he spoke, “So…where would one go to join this cult?” Tallguy and Rusty spun around and faced him, “What?!” Ben hushed them, and pulled them aside, explaining that they could find the location of the cult, and possibly Sildar and the delegation. They both nodded in understanding, and agreement. "Sorry, " Ben said, returning to Larrakh, “…go ahead and answer the question.”
Larrakh smiled gladly, “Absolutely! You can find them at the Sacred Stone Monastery, in the heart of the Sumber Hills, hidden in the canyons!” It’s about a five day march from here!"
Ben smiled, “Well, that’ll be all Larrakh.” Tallguy hit him with the hilt of his axe, knocking Larrakh unconscious. “Let’s get this scum to the constable for justice.”
After delivering up Larrakh, the party split up in search for more information about the surrounding area. Ben was finally able to collect on Sister Garaele’s promise of magic, and she gave him an ancient book in a language he could not understand. The others managed to find directions to various locations around the Sumber Hills. Though all of them were warned repeatedly about the dangers of the Hills. They discovered the last known location of the Delegation was a place called Beliard. Somewhere between that little town and Summit Hall, the delegation had disappeared.
The party gathered up their things, and rejoined with Hot’man to head off into the Sumber Hills. It was a fairly nice morning, the weather was clear and sunny, and the trail fairly easy east out of Red Larch. In the distance, the beginnings of the Sumber Hills loomed, slowly growing closer with each passing hour. The green fields of the valley began to turn to dull yellow bouts of weeds and various wild grasses that overtook these lands. The path wound gently between two of the hills, and with that, they finally entered the Sumber Hills. The party sat and rested for the night, deciding that it would be wise to be prepared for what lay ahead. As set up camp on the side of the road, a caravan passed them, heading for Red Larch. “Hey there! Where are you guys coming from?” Shouted Tallguy. One man stopped his horse and approached the party. “We hail from Waterdeep, heading to Red Larch for some trade. What are you three doing heading into the Sumber Hills, it’s not safe there you know?” Ben brushed some dust off his robe, “Well, you just came from there.” The man gestured back, “We have guards.” Looking behind the man on the horse, Ben did indeed see a good number of guards protecting the caravan as it traveled. "But, " the man spoke up again, " you four look like quite the capable bunch. I’m sure you’ll be fine. There’s strange things happening in these hills though. Lots of large birds up by Feathergale Spire, one of the old Haunted Keeps. Steer clear of there." Tallguy nodded and the man rode off to catch up with his caravan. It was, thankfully, a peaceful night, and the party felt well rested and prepared to continue quickly in the morning.
The trail led up the side of one of the hills, gently. Occasionally other travelers passed the party, but it was rare. Most the day was spent trudging along the dusty trail. When they reached the top of ridge, a cool wind replaced the stifling heat that lay near the bottom of the hills. They were greeted with a grand view. Far to the north they could see a large canyon, and among it a seemingly tall tower, likely Feathergale spire. To the east, the could see only more hills. They continued onwards, the sun beating down on them. After some time, Rusty cried out, “Look!” There, far in the distance, a slender tornado weaved around the canyon. "How odd, " Ben said, “…there’s not a cloud in the sky.” They watched the spectacle for entertainment as they continued onwards, though slowly the trail began to wind back down to the base of the hills below. As the party approached the base of the hill they had come down, the shadows were beginning to grow long. They chose to stop for the night and set up camp here, as it seemed as good a spot as any. As they rested that evening, Ben sat meditating over the book the Sister had given him. Suddenly a blast of wind hit him and he was flung backwards several feet. A clap of thunder filled the air, though there was no sign of a storm. The clap woke the party up, and then arose to see in the distance three men, donning wings upon their backs walking towards them. One had his arms outstretched, and from it came the blast of air that had sent Ben flying. Tallguy shouted, “Wow, nice to meet you too!” The man put his arms down, and the wind stopped. He seemed curious. “Not often people actually talk to us.” Rusty muttered sarcastically, “Gee, I wonder why.” Ben was incredulous, “Hell of a way to greet someone.” Tallguy put his arm up, indicating for Ben to shut up before he ruined this.
“So…why did you attack us?” Tallguy questioned.
“You are trespassing upon our land, it is punishable by death.”
“You uh, might want to put up signs or something, " Rusty quipped.
Tallguy shot him a glance, “So uh, are you guys from some kind of…”
The men straightened up some and lowered their weapons. “Yes, we are stationed in Feathergale Spire, and worship the air that all of us breath in. It is a powerful thing.”
Shifting on his feet, Tallguy took a stab in the dark, “Well, we were kind of interested in joining you guys, if you’re cool with that.”
The men perked up, “Absolutely! You can find us at Feathergale spire. Enter the front gate and state your intentions, and we shall treat you accordingly. Until then!” With that, dust swirled up around them, and a gust of air blew the party’s fire out as the three men took off into the night air.
Tallguy, Ben, and Rusty stared blankly at each other, before bursting into laughter. “I can’t believe that worked!”
“I figured they were going to try and kill us, considering how they showed up,” chuckled Ben.
After the laughter and cheers died down, the party retired for the evening. When the morning came, they trudged onward, the hot air swirling around them, kicking up the occasional dust devil. Luckily, they were in the shade for the better part of the day due to the every taller hills that surrounded them. The party came to a split in the road, the path to the right began a steep dive into canyons in the distance, whereas the left trail was flat, and remained among the hills. They knew that to the right lay the Sacred Stone Monastery, and the Black Earth Cult. There they might find some answers. So there they went. The followed the trail as the red sandstone cliffs began to slowly rise around them, looming bastions of the earth. Night came, and with it the party stopped to discuss their options. Should they approach in the night, or in the morning? Friendly, or hostile? After some deliberation they chose to the more friendly of the approaches, hoping to talk reasonably with the cultists. With the decision made, they set up camp for the night, and Hot’man Warmguy took first watch.
As Hot’man sat upon a rock in the dark, not far from camp, he heard a rustling in the gully just north of him, down the hill. Focusing, he was able to discern some deep growls…not a good sign. He rushed back to camp and woke the others, “Wake up, something is in the gully. Something big.” Rusty, Tallguy, and Ben groaned as they crawled out of their sleeping sacks. With the flick of a wrist Ben sent his owl into the air to scout out the area. Closing his eyes, fighting sleep, he focused on what the owl could see. Nothing, as it were. Simply the rustle of the bushes. Wanting to know the source of the sound, he sent his owl down into the dense thicket. As it landed, he saw the blur of three Owl Bears rushing from the forest, their hulking bodies moving at disturbing speeds. Branches snapped as the beasts roared forward.
The party quickly drew their weapons to meet the beasts. Ben sent forth a blast of fire, which struck one of the bears, singing its fur off. The other two bears rushed forward and Hot’man ran headlong to meet them. His fists connected time and time again, but not without paying the price of being close to the beasts. The two bears dug their beaks and claws into Hot’Man, and he stumbled backwards, blood pouring from his wounds. Tallguy rushed forward and a light shone around Hot’man as his wounds mended themselves. Tallguy swung his axe hard, breaking the jaw of one of the Owl Bears with a sickening crack. Rusty sent forth arrow after arrow, each one sinking into the hulking beasts. There was little they could do but fight desperately against the ferocious creatures. Owlbear Blood, and humanoid blood, mixed and pooled on the ground in a battle of its own as their owners fought desperately above them. Ben cried out as an Owlbear charged him, ripping a gash across his chest. He fell to the ground and released a blast of magic missile, crushing the creatures skull. This was the turning point in the battle. The heroes rallied and pushed back hard upon the beasts, sinking their blades deep into their muscle. The beasts howled and collapsed to the ground. Horrified, Ben crawled quickly into his tent to tend to his wounds, the others did likewise. Though they slept uneasy through the night, alert for every sound, they were prepared to begin again the next morning.
Ben however, expressed his doubts, “Perhaps we should look for the delegation first, and approach this group after we have done so?” The others discussed among themselves which course of action would be best, and ultimately they opted to hunt for the missing delegation before approaching the cultists. This choice, though seemingly insignificant, proved to be a saving grace for the party in the near future.
The party pressed northwards, retracing their steps on the trail, until choosing the northern path at the fork, taking them towards the Stone Bridge. As they approached, Tallguy gasped in awe. Before them stood one of the most renowned dwarven works in all the world. A Stone Bridge, perhaps 15 feet wide, bridged the gap of Dessarin valley far beneath them. With no supports, it was created of fused marble, and crossed 400 feet above the valley below, spanning 2 miles. The dwarves had apparently forgotten the guard rails, because there were none upon the looming landmark. Ben and Rusty looked down over the edge of the cliff where the bridge began. The wind whipped about them as they started into the valley floor far below. “Perhaps we should wait until morning to cross this…” Ben said nervously. The other’s nodded in agreement and set up camp. Tallguy chose a spot directly next to the bridge, his wonder apparent to all around him. He was clearly proud of his ancestors.
Come the morning, they set off the make the perilous crossing. The wind was strong near the top, and they watched their footing closely so as not to slip and meet a quick end. In the distance, they could see a great gathering of black clouds. “We need to hurry at get across before that arrives!” Yelled Hot’Man, drawing their attention to the coming storm. A powerful gust of wind kicked up, causing some of them to drop to their hands and knees to avoid being knocked over. Eventually, tediously, the crossing came to an end, and they were upon solid ground once again. Ben got to his hands and knees and kissed the dirt. The others looked far more relaxed.
Their travels led them through the town of Beliard, where they purchased some horses to speed up their travels. They then set out south to search for any signs along the trail of the missing delegation. Along the trail they found a small home where a man kindly invited them to stay for the night, away from the dangers of the road. The party gladly took him up on this offer. Eventually, the party reached the intended destination of the delegation, Summit Hall, with no sign along the way of where the delegation had disappeared to. As they approached the gates of this fortress on the hill, a voice called out to them.
“Halt! State your business here at Summit Hall!”
Ben glanced up, squinting against the sun, “We are seeking information about the Miribar Delegation! We have been sent by the Lord’s Alliance.” The guard stepped out of view, and a few moments later the large wooden gate creaked open before them. A woman in plate armor stood in the gateway, helmet at her side. ‘Greetings, and welcome to Summit Hall. I am Uthura Stormbanner, leader of The Knights of Samular. I hear you seek the delegation. Enter, and we may speak over such matters. With that, the party stepped into the safety of Summit Hall with hopes of finding more clues in their quest.
Once inside the compound, Uthura Stormbanner briefed them on the known situation. “We have heard reports of shallow graves near Feathergale spire. Perhaps, though I pray it not so, these grave might be the bodies of some of the delegation.” Tallguy reach into his bag and pulled out one of the delegations trade bars. Uthura’s eyes grew wide, “That’s…a trade bar from the delegation! Where did you find it? Who had it?!” Tallguy explained their encounter with Larrakh, leaving out some of the darker details of the interrogation. Uthura was clearly deep in thought. After a few moments of silence, she spoke up, “First thing tomorrow I shall move towards the shallow graves with a small troop of knights to find what we can. You should continue onward to the Sacred Stone Monastery, see what you can find there.” The group nodded in agreement. "Excellent, " Uthura seemed hopeful again, " you are welcome here tonight, and any night in the future. Eat, rest up, and prepare to set out come first light. May the gods be with you." With that, she showed them to the mess hall, and the barracks where they could rest up for the night.
Rusty slept in a bit, due to a heavy night of drinking, and the party got off to a late start. By the time they had arrived at the front gate to leave, they discovered that Uthura and her troop was already far ahead. They quickly grabbed their horses and headed north for Stone Bridge, at a quick pace. Arriving at stone bridge, they stayed for the evening, figuring it was safer to cross in the morning. Luckily, they had encountered little resistance on their current path. Come morning they set out again, and by the evening they were winding through the ever deepening sandstone canyons that signaled they were near to the Sacred Stone Monastery. They rested for the night, figuring it would be wiser to approach in the morning, so as to look a bit less suspicious.
The night in the canyon was cool, and the wind whipped about them as the heat from the rising sun burned at the canyon tops. The dust on the trail slowly turned to sand as they trudged onwards and slowly upwards through the canyon. Finally, they crossed round a bend and there before them stood and impressively old monastery, nestled in between a spot where the canyon opened up for a ways. They approached with caution, and with awe at the massive canyon walls which rose before them. As they approached the gate, a voice called out. “Who goes there? What business do you have in this sacred place?” The party glanced at each other, and Tallguy spoke up. “We seek to join the Earth cult, we wish to speak to whoever is in charge here.” There was no response. Rusty clenched his blade at his hip, ready for the worst. A loud clang filled the canyon as the doors to the monastery unlocked and swung inwards. There stood two monks, their robes barely brushing the ground, their faces covered with masks like gargoyles. “Enter, and you shall have audience with Qarno, who will determine if you are worthy to serve the earth.” The monks guided the heroes through the old monastery halls, and through an open-air sandstone gallery. They then swung open a pair of doors, beyond which lay a large room with an altar at the far end. The heroes stepped forward, stopping short of some stairs that descended in to darkness in front of the altar. There behind the stone slab, stood a man with no mask, but flanked by guards that donned stone armor and morningstars. The man looked grimly at them, “You wish to serve the earth? What makes you think you are worthy dwarf.” He pointed directly at Tallguy, who stood proudly and replied. “I am a dwarf, my ancestors have worked the earth since the beginning of time. I too wish to know how I may best serve the ground beneath.” Qarno remained expressionless as he questioned each of the heroes on their motives.
“I wish to learn magic, you clearly poses great powerful magic of the earth. I want to learn your ways!” Spoke Ben, intentionally withholding his identity as a wizard until necessary.
“I think the earth’s pretty cool. Rocks and stuff.” Said Rusty blunty. Qarno eyed him a bit longer than the others, before his gaze fell upon Hot’man. “And you, Genasi? You clearly are of the fire element. What business have you with the earth.”
Hot’man had figured a question like this was coming. “I have long wondered about the ways of the earth, as many of my people are among it. I too wish to come to a greater understanding of it.” Qarno nodded, and continued his line of questioning. The most strange of which was asking them what their greatest weaknesses were. Each party member thought for a moment before replying. After the slew of questions was over, Qarno smirked. "We have little use for more monks at this point, but you all seem fit to walk to the path of the warrior. If you wish, proceed down the stairs in front of you. If you pass the trial, you shall be deemed worthy to join the Black Earth.
The party stepped onto the stairs, prepared to face the unknown. Out of the corner of his eye, Hot’man noticed one of the guards reaching for a lever on his pillar. Within a moment the stairs collapsed beneath them, forming a slick stone surface that slid them into the darkness below. The sliver of light that remained from the room above was darkened as a stone slab slammed shut over the opening. They were cast into near total darkness. Hot’man set his hand ablaze so that they could see better, and to their side they saw the dim outline of a hulking beast behind a cage. It’s eyes glimmered in the firelight, its huge form standing 10 or so feet tall, which large pincers for hands. Suddenly, the bars of the cage dropped into the ground, and the beast roar forwards. Tallguy yelled at Hotman and Ben to move, but they simply stood there, staring blankly into the creature’s eyes. Some kind of trance had overtaken them. Suddenly Hotman rushed towards Ben, and with a crack connected his fist against Ben’s jaw. Luckily this impact snapped both of them out of their confusion, and they quickly set upon the beast. Yells went up as they tried to coordinate their attack, and blood sprayed through the air with each blow. To his friends dismay, most of that blood was Hot’man’s. His was being ripped apart by the beasts mandibles and pincers, barely holding on to life. He stumbled away when the beast let go, and leaned against a pillar. Tallguy sent a stream of light to Hot’man, mending some of his wounds, but he was still in rough shape. Rust sent arrow after arrow at the beast, finding soft spots in the shell of its body. The beast howled in anger as waves of fire from Ben and Hot’man rushed over it. Suddenly, it began to burrow at an alarming rate, and within seconds emerged behind the party, near Tallguy. Tallguy quickly raised his shield to block the creature’s onslaught, but one of the pincers caught him in the leg. He dragged himself away as Rusty leaped upon the beast and began to drive his sword into the soft parts of its skin. The battle went on for what seemed an eternity, with Hot’man and Tallguy barely clinging to life as the beast relentlessly assaulted them. Finally, Tallguy and Rusty found their chance. Tallguy cracked the beasts natural armor with a mighty swing of his axe as Rusty sunk an arrow into the monster’s eye. It fell to the ground with a shattering screech, before finally falling still. The party sunk down against the walls, and only the sound of their breathing and groans filled the cave.

The Tomb of Moving Stones
Secrets in the shadows

As the party moved deeper into this strange cave network, they came upon a large stone perhaps 5 feet tall which levitated in the air. Stopping to puzzle at this wonder, the party cautiously drew their weapons. All of them except Ben, that is. Ben sat and pondered at the magic causing this, looking around for the source. Out of curiosity, Ben pushed the stone. The stone began to slowly glide through the air, before suddenly plummeting to the ground, shattering with a loud crack. The others looked back at Ben incredulously, only to discover he himself was now floating in the air, laughing. As Ben returned to the ground, he explained what he had discovered. “There seems to be some sort of magical field about five feet wide that extends from the floor to the ceiling here, which causes anything in it to float.” Tallguy stared at him, before stating bluntly, “Neat.” Tallguy then proceeded down the hallway, and the party quickly followed.
After about 100 feet, the tunnel they were following opened up into a cavern, about 25 feet across, and perhaps 25 feet deep. In the middle stood a large stone, though this one was not levitating. As they stepped into the cavern to explore their surroundings, a voice startled them. “You there! You’re not supposed to be here!” An orc in robes came rushing towards them, axe at the ready. As the orc’s axe clashed violently with Tallguy’s shield, Hot’man noticed a young boy on the ground, who was being crushed beneath a pile of stones. “Hang on kid!” He cried as he rushed to Tallguy’s aide. Ben began to lift the stones off the boy as the orc grunted with each blow. Deciding it would be rather ironic, Ben began to hurl the stones at the orc, “How does it feel?!” The orc, now distracted by the stones flying at him, was run through by one of Rusty’s arrows, and he sank to his knees before spitting up blood and collapsing.
The party quickly rushed to the aide of the boy, and Tallguy began to tend to his wounds. “What happened here?” Ben asked the child. The boy, who could have been no more that 9, looked at the adventurer’s before lowering his head in shame. “I failed to fulfill my duty, so I was rightly punished.” Tallguy raised a brow, “Rightly? And what task might that have been?”
“To deliver a message to my father in a timely manner. I became distracted.”
Ben glanced at the others. “Well I mean that doesn’t sound like it quite matches the punishment. Maybe we should get you to a safe place, hmm?” The others nodded in agreement. “I’ll escort the boy out of here to make sure he reaches the constable safely,” stated Hotman. With that, he took the boy and returned the way they came. Ben, Rusty, and Tallguy pressed onward. They pushed aside the stone door on the far side of the room, and saw before them a very lifelike statue of a dwarf. At the base of the statue there was a ring of small rocks, and within that ring laid a dagger, some coins, and various herbs. “That’s…strange,” Tallguy said, cocking his head at the sight before him. Rusty rushed forward, “Dibs on the dagger!” Ben rubbed his chin, “Something seems off about this statue.” He closed his eyes and focused, detecting a slight, faint aura of old magic within the room, but was unable to discern exactly the source of it. Figuring the statue wasn’t worth the time to analyze, the party began to approach the door which stood on the far side of the chamber. As they approached, the sound of the door behind them being dragged open filled the room. Then turned and watched as six men in robes with masks of stone filed into the room, forming a line. One of them spoke, “We are the Bringers of Woe, we have come to reward your curiosity.” With that, they threw off their robes to reveal armor that appeared to be made of stone. Ben’s curiosity was aroused, he had never seen anything like that before. Before he could ask questions however, arrows were flying through the air, pinging off the walls, and several of the Bringers began rushing forward, swords raised. The clash of metal seemed to reverberate endlessly off the walls of the cavern. Tallguy rushed forward and dug his axe into the skull of one of the Bringers, shattering his mask. One by one, the Bringers succumbed to the party, falling either under sword, arrow, axe, or magic. All the while the taunting voice of Ben in their ears, “That’s some pretty neat magic armor you go there, shame it’s not strong enough!”
Standing over the lifeless bodies of the Bringers, the party watched as their armor seemed to turned to dust. "Huh…weird, " Tallguy shrugged as he turned to walk through the next door. It suddenly opened and five men came walking in, one of them was the wagon maker. This must have been the group they followed into this cave. They drew their weapons as the stunned men halted in front of them. “On your knees, all of you,” snarled Tallguy. Down they went, clearly having no interest in fighting.
“Please, please have mercy, we have done nothing wrong. We were merely here to consult the stones!” Rusty and Ben exchanged glances, “The stones?”
“Yes, yes…” the wagon maker spoke up, “…the stones move and change every so often. We come here to consult them, and gain wisdom from the gods! We are the Believers!” Ben had just about enough of this nonsensical crap.
He stepped forward and spoke up, “So, what do you guys know about the kid that was buried under the rubble in the other room?” Several of the Believers glanced at each other. The wagon-maker spoke up, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, we would never do such a thing!” Ben noticed one man in the back seemed particularly nervous. “You, speak up! What do you know?” The man began to quake as his comrades glared at him. He quickly caved, “It wasn’t me, I had nothing to do with it! I didn’t hurt the boy. I was against it!” The party turned their angry glance at the wagon maker again. “No idea, eh?” Rusty grinned as he drew his sword. Ben focused as Tallguy and Rusty kept the Believer’s under control. Extending his mind, he entered into the thoughts of the wagon maker. The world he saw was a blur, most of it out of focus, but he clearly saw the faces of two of the Believers before him. They were discussing how to handle the boy. He saw them dragging them into the cave, and heard his screams as they covered him with the rocks. Ben tensed his muscles, as righteous anger surged through him. Suddenly and image of a meeting with a strange hooded figure appeared before him. This man seemed to be in charge, giving orders to the Believers. He heard a name spoken in whispers during this meeting, “Larrakh.” Presumably, this man led the Believers. Ben’s mind reemerged from the fog of memory and the world around him spun back into focus again. He grabbed the wagon-maker. “Alright buddy, here’s what’s going to happen. I know you were in on hurting that kid, intent on killing him even, and that’s not going to fly with me. Tallguy, get the rocks.” The Believer’s began to scream and yell as Ben pushed the wagon-maker to the ground. Tallguy hesitated, but handed the rocks to Ben as he threw them on the man, slowly bludgeoning him to death, and burying him beneath the same rock used to crush the boy. The Believer’s grew silent, and only the sickening thud of each rock cracking against the man’s bones filled the cavern. After a few minutes, it was over. Ben glared at the others. "You two, " he said, pointing to the two with the faces he saw in the memory, “Tallguy, rusty, tie them up. The rest of you, get back to town and go to the constable. You’re only crime is ignorance. But if you do not go to him, I will know, and I will find you.” In horror, they other two Believers rushed for the exit. Ben sent his rat to tail them and make sure they did as he told them.
After business had been settled with the Believers, Ben and the party strode into the next room. What they found surprised them. As they stepped through the door, a massive chamber stood before them, over 100 feet long, and about 20 feet high by 60 feet wide. The chamber was lit with the dim glow of torches along the walls, and scattered all throughout the chamber were several massive stones, floating above the ground. Tallguy dropped his axe in awe. As it clattered to the ground, the stones suddenly dropped to the ground, thudding into place. Ben turned to Tallguy, “What did you just do?!” Tallguy shrugged, “I have…no idea.” He picked up his axe and they slowly walked onwards. Ben noticed some etching on one of the stones and began to study it. From these old markings, he learned how to mold the earth, to some extent. Tallguy walked forward through the massive cavern, glancing around at the stone as he went. Suddenly, a blast of thunder roared through the chamber. Tallguy and Rusty fell to the ground and covered their ears. They could hardly hear a thing by the time the noise was over, and their world was filled with ringing. A man stepped out from behind one of the stones, and probably said something menacing, but neither Tallguy nor Rusty could hear it after the massive thunder clap. Ben recognized this man. He was the one from the memory of the wagon maker. “Larrakh!” He yelled as he began to run to the aide of his friends. Larrakh looked up, “Ah, you know my name. How interesting.” A shield of magic snapped into existence in front of Larrakh as Ben sent forth a blast of magic missile. Each of the bolts burst in the air in front of the man, doing no harm. He cackled and stepped behind the rock again.
Tallguy rose from the ground, gripped his axe and rushed forward. He lept into the air, letting out a war cry as he soared over the top of one of the stones, slamming down on top of Larrakh. The startled man crumbled to the ground as the dwarf connected with him. Rusty began to rush forward, bow in hand, but was unable to get a clean shot beyond the rocks. Suddenly, Larrakh ran up the wall of the cavern, and the party found themselves staring at him as he stood upside down on the ceiling. Ben cried out, “Hey, that’s pretty cool. Can you teach me that one?!” Larrakh snarled back, “The way of the earth is the only path to enlightenment, wizard!” The ruse worked, and Tallguy sent a guiding bolt pulsing through the air. It connected with the distracted Larrakh and he tumbled from the ceiling, hitting the ground with a sickening crack. He cried out as he lay on the ground. Ben sent a fireball directly towards him, which found its mark. Larrakh cried out in fury and agony. “Fire! Such an unpredictable but powerful element! I respect that, wizard! But the earth is the TRUE power in this world!” With that, he slammed his fist into the ground, and a wave was sent through the floor of the cavern, the rocks cracking and bending with it. Tallguy and rusty fell to the ground, the cracking rocks gnashing at them, gashing them in several places. Larrakh arose, but was quickly met by an arrow from rusty which sunk deep into his thigh. He cried out and tried to recover, but not before Tallguy was upon him, sending blow after blow from his axe to meet him. Larrakh quickly dodged away towards a tunnel on the far side of the cavern. Ben cried out, “Stop him! Don’t let him get away!” Just as Larrakh stepped into the entrance of the tunnel, nearly out of sight, Rusty’s arrow whistled through the air and ripped through his knee. Larrakh grunted and fell to the ground, unconscious.
The party grabbed him and dragged him forward through the tunnel, which thankfully led to the surface, and into town. As they entered the square, they were quickly greeted by a large gathering of the villagers. In front of them, trying to stem the tide of the village, was the constable. Some in the crowd cheered, others cried out “Murderers!” Apparently the Believers they had sent up informed them of what Ben had done to the wagon maker. Rotten food began flying their way. Suddenly a man in ridiculous looking clothing approached them. “I heard what you dude, and good on you for doing it. Come with me let’s get you away from this crowd.” With that, he led the party to the local clothier shop. This man was clearly the owner, and brought them inside. “Welcome to our abode. I am Helvur Tarnlar, and this is Maegla, my wife.” He gestured to a human woman behind the counter. She glanced at the man the party had dragged in with them. “We,” the man smirked, “…are with the Lord’s Alliance. And I hear you have been looking for Sildar.”

Big Trouble in little Phandalin
The pursuit

A couple months had passed as the party had taken up temporary residence in Phandalin. Tallguy McClean-Shaven had taken up helping with the local mining operation in Wave Echo Cave, Quick Ben had become somewhat of a recluse in his pursuit of greater magical knowledge, and Rusty Blades had taken to doing odd jobs here and there to gain a steady income. Their reputation in the town was legendary, and they often were given gifts of thanks. Phandalin has slowly begun to grow, and was becoming a bustling little frontier town, thriving from the recent opening of Wave Echo Cave. Ben had been recently approached by Sister Garaele, who informed him of disturbing dreams that she was having of the Allfaiths Shrine in a town called Red Larch, a few days journey to the east. She requested that Ben and his friends escort her, as she felt it was a matter of great importance, and she would pay them in gold and magical knowledge (what she could find). The party readily agreed.
In the morning, however, the party awoke to the cries of “Fire!” and rushed from their rooms at the inn to find the home of Sildar Hallwinter engulfed in flames. Worried for their friend, the party joined the townsfolks in putting out the fire. In the smoldering wreckage, they searched desperately for Sildar, but found no sign of him until Ben discovered Sildar’s sword lodged firmly into one of the posts of the house. Sildar had been attacked.
Searching for clues to his whereabouts, the party discovered a symbol etched into a small unburned area on one of the walls: 17099081646_06720b0889.jpg

Pondering over the meaning of this sign, the party heard Reidoth call to them. "Quickly, heroes, over here!’ The party rushed over to find Reidoth kneeling in the grass behind Sildar’s home. Reidoth pointed to several sets of footprints traveling through the grass, towards the Triboar Trail, northeast of the town. He arose and faced the heroes, “You must find Sildar, he is the only protection this town has. In the meantime, I will do my best to keep them safe, but this town needs him.” The party nodded and immediately began to follow the trail at a quick pace. Ben sent his hawk familiar into the skies to scout ahead, though he could see no one within view. As the day drew on and the sun set, the party sought for a place to rest. When they rounded a corner on the trail, they saw not far ahead the warm glow of a fire. The party approached cautiously, only to discover a monk, mediating in front of his tent in the warmth of the fire. Quietly inquiring, the party asked the name of this stranger.
When the stranger opened his and drew back his hood, a pair of orange eyes stared back at them. The man’s hair seemed to almost be alight at the tips, and his hands emitted a soft glow as the burned orange in the night. Rusty spoke up, “Now just what the heck, and who the heck, are you?”
“I, " the stranger spoke calmy, ‘am Hot’man Warmguy. I am a fire genasi, from the Myrlock Valley.’ The party stood silent for a moment, before Tallguy spoke up, “So…why are you all the way out here?”
“I came here because I felt something trouble in the fire element. Something powerful. I have been travelling several weeks, both by boat and by foot, to reach my destination.”
“Which is where?” piped up Rusty.
“Red Larch, is the nearest location I have found on my map, " replied Hot’man.
The party’s ears perked up, “Well then! We are heading that direction as well! Care to join us?” Ben said cheerfully.
“It would be nice to have the company. I will gladly go with you.” As Hotman finished speaking, he gestured around him, "Feel free to set up camp here for the night, we can leave in the morning.
Come morning, the party broke camp and set out again along the trail. A storm rapidly formed in the air and driving rain soaked the party. They pressed onward, fearful of losing the tracks of the people that took Sildar. The rain however, slowly washed away any sign of the kidnappers. Frustrated, and worried, the party mumbled to themselves as they marched. Rusty quickly looked around however, as he thought he heard something in the distance. Suddenly, barreling through the rain came three ogres, javelins and clubs raised to attack. The party quickly reacted, and Ben threw blow after blow of magic at the beasts. Tallguy ran ahead with his axe to meet the ogres in combat, and Rusty unleashed a hail of arrows on them. As the fight continued on, with both the ogres and the party members occasionally slipping in the mud of the trail, Hot’man faced off with one of the ogres. He landed several powerful blows with his fists before stunning one of the ogres with a strong right hook. Hot’man spotted a javelin flying towards him, and he had only moments to react. In one graceful flow, he backflipped off the stunned ogre, snatched the soaring javelin out of the sky and flung it back towards his attacker. As he landed, he heard the howl of the confused ogre as its own javelin sunk into its gut.
One by one the beats fell, until there was only the distant rumble of thunder remaining. The party decided to set up camp and get out of the rain for the day, since they had long lost the trail of the kidnappers. Come morning, they set out again and passed through the small town of Triboar, where they discovered that a caravan of cloaked figures had traveled through just the day before and headed south, towards Red Larch. Off the party went, and within a day, they descended into a small valley where they could see the town of Red Larch.
Upon arriving, Sister Garaele thanked the party profusely and paid them each in gold. Ben grew frustrated that she had no magic to give him, and rushed to the inn to study his books. Rusty and Hot’man visited the blacksmith in search of weapons or armor, and Tallguy remained at the Allfaiths shrine, seeking information.
As the day wore on towards night, the party desperately asked around for any information regarding Sildar, but no one seemed to have seen anything. Rusty however, was drawn into a conversation with another halfing at the tavern, who informed him of some strange activity by his employer. Seeking an opportunity to rob the man, Rusty and the halfing plotted a time, and place, to meet after the robbery was completed.
Ben, Tallguy, and Hotman joined Rusty as they all laid in wait, crouched behind the wagonmaker’s shop. It was then they saw the owner step into his shed, retrieve a key, open a cellar, and step into the darkness. He did not re-emerge. Curious, the party waited longer to see what would happen. Within minutes, a group of cloaked figures stepped into the yard, and down into the cellar. The party glanced at each other as curiosity got the better of them. Rusty snuck forward and opened the hatch to the cellar, allowing Ben’s rat familiar to skitter down into the darkness. Visions of a tunnel filled his mind as the rat moved forward, until it reached a large open room with a door barring the way. Other than that, it seemed to be clear. So of course, the party descended into the darkness, seeking answers to questions they didn’t know they had. Tallguy approached the door, and much to his surprise, it slid easily open. They stepped in, one by one, and began to explore this strange cave network. The hall they entered seemed perfectly carved, most likely by dwarves long ago. Sure enough, on both sides of the hall the party discovered engravings of dwarven miners, behind each of which was another passage. They opted to take the northern passage, and it was there they encountered a number of large rats, which they quickly dispatched. Pausing to rest for a moment, the party prepared to press onward, to see what secrets this strange place held.

The Black Spider
The spider's fangs

As the party awoke, they rubbed their eyes, little use that it was in the darkness of Wave Echo Cave. They began wandering through the expansive cave network, its constant thrumming and booming filling their ears and shaking the cavern every few minutes. Seeing a different path that they had missed before, the party struck out in that direction. As they approached, a faint green glow began to fill the cave. Looking around the corner, spells at the ready, Ben saw before him a room filled with a strange glowing fungi. Several spores stuck up into the air, emitting the green glow. None of them had encountered anything quite like this before. Cautiously, Ben stepped forward. As he did so a green mist arose from the fungi he had stepped on, suddenly his throat began to seize, and he sputter and coughed before being pulled back by Tallguy and Rusty.
“Well…” Tallguy stated, “…let’s go another way.” And so they did. Back to the cavern where they encountered the ghouls, the part took a tunnel that led northwards through the dark passages. Eventually, they emerged into a huge room, the ceiling glittering like stars due to the minerals embedded across it. Not far from them, a channel was cut into the stone floor of the cavern, and a large water wheel stood dormant within it. The water wheel appeared to be connected to a smithy, where ancient weapons and tools must have once been forged. Ben grabbed the others and pulled them back into the tunnel. He had spotted a light gliding across the darkness. Looking more closely, he saw a flameskull, floating through the air, illuminating a large radius around him. From the light given by the demon, he could see the bodies of dozens of dead dwarves and gnomes. Ben stepped out from the tunnel, and sent a blast of searing rays at the flameskull. Each of the rays connected strongly, engulfing the monster in flames as they struck. Once the onslaught died down, much to the party’s horror, the flameskull looked unharmed. It turned on them with wrath, sending a haunting howl through the cavern. Bodies once slumped lifeless on the ground began to stir, and arose from their ancient slumber. At least ten zombies began to shamble towards the party, and the flameskull sent forth a blast of magic missile, which slammed into Ben. Struggling to remain standing, Ben blinked across the distant channel, and stood standing on the far bank, well out of the reach of the zombies. Tallguy followed suite with a sprint and a leap, clearing the channel with ease. Rusty, however, remained behind in the shadows, waiting for the time to strike. The zombies and flameskull all turned their attention towards the dwarf and elf which now stood far from them. The slow pursuit was on. Spell after spell whizzed through the air as Ben and the skull traded blows, and a guiding bolt shot from the hands of Tallguy. Meanwhile, the zombies were slowly cut down one by one as Rusty struck from the shadows again and again. Eventually however, he was spotted, and several of the zombies began their slow march towards his position. Meanwhile, the other zombies stumbled dumbly into the channel, and unable to reach Tallguy and Ben, were at the mercy of their blows. Ben slammed back into the wall as a sudden blast of flame struck him, and another crushed him further against it immediately after. “Alright…time to finish this.” Ben grimaced. Focusing all his energy, he unleashed a torrent of magic missile at the flameskull. Each blow took chunks of the demon’s skull with it, until finally it clattered to the ground, the red-hot coal’s of its eyes dimming to darkness. The rest of the zombies were easily dispatched as they shuffled around clumsily. Some however, had landed solid blows on Rusty, and he required healing by Tallguy.
Ben, curious Wizard that he is, picked up the remains of the flameskull and placed them into his bag for further research. This mistake proved a great danger to the party. As they slept for some hours to recover their strength and heal, Ben awoke to a strange glow filling the room. Before he could understand what was happening, the same awful howl filled the room with deafining power, and he was overwhelmed by an onslaught of magic missile from the reincarnated flameskull which had burst from his pack. The other’s awoke and sprung into action, weapons and arrows slamming into the flameskull in a desperate bid to draw its attention away from Ben. After several minutes of battle, the flameskull fell once again. Stunned, and frustrated, Ben grabbed a vial of holy water from Tallguy and poured it over the remains. “That should put the old cursed wizard to rest.” Tallguy winced. “Cursed Wizard? Man…I feel kind of bad now.” The party shrugged and moved onwards, hoping to find a way around a locked door they had earlier encountered.
They did manage to find the path, and it placed them in a grand place to ambush a group of bugbears that sat talking in the room.
From the bugbears point of view, it was over almost the moment it began. They sat happily around a brazier, enjoying the warmth it gave off in the cold, damp cave. Suddenly an elf burst into the room yelling “Surprise, SUCKBEARS!” Flames suddenly engulfed each of them, killing two of them outright. Arrows and handaxes quickly followed the burst of flame, and a magical sword appeared among them, cutting them down until only one remained standing. He rushed forward, roaring in anger for his fallen friends. In his fury he firmly planted his sword in Rusty’s gut, causing the halfling to stumble from the strength of the blow. His fury was quickly ended, however, as Tallguy’s axe sliced through his skull with a sickening crack. Again, the party healed and trudged onward. Coming upon a series of double doors,
Rusty crept inside, and there, about 80 feet in front of him besides rows and rows of pillars in the room, he saw two bugbears leaning over a table, discussing something with a tall drow. Rusty smirked; They had finally found him, Nezznar, The Black Spider. Suddenly, Nezznar looked up, and directly at Rusty. How had he spotted him!? Before Rusty could figure out the answer, the Black Spider spoke, rather annoyed at the intrusion, “It seems I must handle you myself. How unfortunate that it must end this way.” He sent forth a blast of magic missile towards Rusty. Each slammed into him, and in his pain he withdrew. Quickly, Ben and Tallguy rushed into the room. Ben sent a blast of fireball towards the gathered group. Upon impact, the flames spread like wildfire, engulfing the bugbears for a time, and burning Nezznar severely. He cried out, and suddenly vanished into thin air with a laugh. The bugbears meanwhile, prepared to attack. Before they could do so, they were both cut in half at the waists by Tallguy’s ethereal sword he had summoned. The party cautiously approached the room.
“Where is he?” Ben muttered, as he tossed a blast of water across the ground near another exit so he could see if Nezznar tried to escape them. Tallguy then tossed a flask of oil into the room, which Ben lit on fire. Suddenly several giant spiders rushed forward, intent on killing the intruders. The party dispatched them with relative ease in a blaze of arrows and blows. Still on the lookout for Nezznar, the party began to move down the pillar-lined corridor. On the far end, stood a large statue with emeralds for eyes. Suddenly, Nezznar’s voice filled the air. “Well, how about some negotiations then?” With that, he materialized on the shoulder of the statue, knife drawn at his side. “You help me, and I help you.”
The party stopped their advance, and looked at each other rather confused. ‘Why on earth would we help you?" Tallguy called out.
“Well, you see,” began the Black Spider, “I need to reach the forge of spells, so that I can further my research, and help bring order to this wild land.”
Ben responded, not believing a word of it, “And what does that do for us? What do we get?”
The Black Spider clearly had not thought this through, and stumbled in his response. “Well…gold. And magical weapons and armor, for as long as you like. Just get me past the beasts that guard the place.”
The party raised their weapons. “Enough of this useless chatter, time to die Nezznar!” Ben called out.
With that, Nezznar sighed, “It would have been so much more simple the other way.” He struck his knife behind the eye of the statue and pried. The emerald popped out, and with it a crack flew from the statues and across the ceiling. The cave began to tremble and pieces of the cavern’s ceiling began to slam to the ground. The party tried to dodge the debris, but each was hit by some part of the ceiling as it caved in. Of the three, Tallguy was not quick enough, he was caught beneath one of the pieces of debris and pinned. Ben and Rusty rushed to his aide, lifting the heavy stone from his body. As they looked around the room and the dust began to settle, they heard a weak cough from the area near the statue. They approached, and there found Nezznar, most his body crushed beneath a portion of the statue, his staff lay on the ground beside him. He coughed again, and blood speckled across the floor. “Blast…thought I had you…” Ben raised his staff, pointing it at Nezznar, “Stand back everyone.” Rusty looked at him, “Why, what are you going to-” Before he could finished speaking the air buzzed with the electricity and a massive bolt of lightning surged forward, singing the skin and muscle from Nezznar, until only his skeleton remained. "There, " Ben said, grimly looking down, “…it’s done.” Tallguy and Rusty looked on, wary of this dark fury their friend seemed to harness. Ben turned to them, “Now, let’s find that forge.” They all nodded in agreement. Before leaving, Tallguy approached a small room that was carved into an almost hidden chamber on the east side of the room. Upon opening it, he gasped. There lay his cousin Nundro. He rushed forward, casting a spell of healing as he did. Nundro stirred and sat up. “Tallguy…is that you?!” Tallguy nodded, “You bet. What happened? How are you still alive?” Nundro press a hand to his skull, a splitting headache washed over him, “Ugh…I think that accursed Black Spider assumed I knew more about the Forge of Spells than I actually do.” Ben stepped into the room, “Speaking of, can you get us there?” Nundro nodded, “I can try.”
As they set off through the cave, they had to walk around several portions of rock that had tumbled from the ceiling, crushing some of the local monsters that called this place home. A stench of fresh death filled each room they stepped into. They passed a large room, filled with massive body of water, of which they could see no end. Suddenly, the water began to boil and surge forward. The booming sound returned, and the rook shook with the impact of the displaced water against the cliffs. This must be the source of the sound, and the origin of the cave’s name.
Further on, they party found a structure that had been carved from the stone of the cave that looked as though it had been designed to house humans, among other races. The party stepped in, and a menacing voice confronted them as a wraith began to emerge from the floor. “You…are not welcome here…” The wraith hissed.
Rusty readied his weapon, but hesitated, asking “Uh…why not?” The wraith turned slowly towards him, “This is my home, my domain. I died defending it hundreds of years ago, and the treasure here is mine! I am Mormesk, last of the wizards of Wave Echo Cave!” The party thought a moment. Tallguy spoke up, “Well…uh…what can we do to help?” The wraith cocked its head at him, confused by the question. After thinking a moment, it responded. “Well…there is the matter of the spectator. You could take care of him for me. Then you’re welcome to whatever you find here, but leave the forge to me.”
Ben gave a sideways glance to his allies, “Uuuh…sure. What do you know about the Spectator?” The wraith hissed in response, “It is from another realm, and prevents me from accessing the magic that fills that room. Watching ever since the dwarves and gnomes called upon him to protect the wretched place.” Tallguy nodded, “Yeah, sure, we’ll take care of the guy and let you know. Meanwhile, what do you have for us?”
Mormesk extended his rotted, ethereal finger, “There, the chest by the bed, it’s yours.” Rusty quickly opened the chest and began shoving its contents into his bags. The wraith looked on, disapprovingly.
With that, the party moved south in the cave, Nundro leading the way. He stopped, the familiar green glow once more filled the room, and they party saw the fungi that lay before them. About 50 feet across the room there was a tunnel, with a door at the end. Nundro pointed, “There, that’s the Forge of Spells, behind that door.”
“Any idea how to get across this room?” Ben quivered, remembering the clenching feeling from his previous encounter with the spores. Nundro shook his head, “The only way is to hold your breath, as far as I know.” So that’s exactly what they did. Each member of the party drew a deep breath and sprinted across the poisonous mat of fungi beneath them. They burst through the door on the other end, drawing in deep breaths, thankfully leaving the green mist far behind. Their problems however, were not over. A large demon with one huge eye, a gaping maw for a mouth, and several tentacles each with an eye at the end of it, floating through the air towards them. “YOU DARE INTRUDE HERE?! I AM THE PROTECTOR OF THIS PLACE!” Ben stuttered, looking for a response, “Um…we’re here for the forge.”
The demon stopped and stared at them. “None have access to the forge, except the dwarven miners.”
Tallguy nodded his head quickly. “Yeah, yeah that’s us.”
The demon’s eye shifted towards him, “Truly? You have come to release me from this task?”
Tallguy blinked, “Uuuuh…yup.”
The demon sighed and cried out, "At last! I may leave this wretched existence. With a flash of light, he vanished from the room, into some unknown dimension. The party sat, silent and stunned. Ben broke the silence, “I…didn’t think that would actually work.”
“Yeah, neither did I.” Tallguy stated bluntly.
Examining the room, the party found a brazier standing, lit, in the middle of the room. A green flame licked the air as the brazier burned unceasingly. Nundro gasped, “The Forge of Spells! This is amazing!” He rushed forward and began to exam it, trying to understand how to use it. “We must hurry and inform my brother, so that we may begin utilizing this place once more! Gather what you want quickly, and let’s be gone.” In a dusty corner, Tallguy picked up a mace, and an ancient decorated piece of plate mail. They hummed with magic, and seemed of a much greater quality than the armor he currently wore. Ben and Rusty sighed in frustration, finding nothing of particular use. With that, the party made their way out of the ancient cave, and set a course towards Phandalin.
When they arrived, Gundren Rockseeker rushed out to meet them! “Nundro!” He cried, “You found him! He’s alive!” He looked around for his other brother, and his shoulders sunk. “He…didn’t make it did he?” Tallguy shook his head, “I’m afraid not.” Gundren sighed, “It’s a shame. He would have loved to see what is to come. I hope you made that Black Spider wretch pay dearly.” Ben spoke up, “He will be of no further trouble.” Gundren gestured towards the Inn. “Gentlemen, make yourselves at home. Everything is on me tonight.”
Ben, Rusty, and Tallguy stepped into the tavern and were met by cheers and slaps on the back. “TO THE HEROES!” voices shouted from the din of the crowd. Mug after mug of ale was shoved in their direction, and the down danced on into the late hours of the night. Tired from their journey, the party retired to their rooms. The ruckus downstairs slowly died out as the night wore on. Each of them slept restlessly, tossing and turning, as something ate at their minds. Ben sat up, put on his robes, and stepped out into the hallway. At the same time, Tallguy and Rusty emerged from their rooms. They glanced at each other, and nodded knowingly. Something darker, and far more evil, was stirring in the shadows…

The Lost Mine
Shadows in the Earth

The party arose the next morning, having recovered from the previous day’s events at Cragmaw Castle. Stepping out of the Inn, they found Gundren Rockseeker waiting rather impatiently on the patio. “Are you three ready?” he said shortly. He was clearly anxious to begin the trek to Wave Echo Cave, and recover it from the grips of Nezznar, The Black Spider. The party nodded in agreement, and they set out to the east, towards the base of the Sword Mountains.
As the day wore on, the Mountains slowly grew larger before them. Towards evening, they arrived at the entrance to Wave Echo Cave. Outside of it sat several wagons, many of them with rotting supplies of food and grain. Gundren sighed. “This is as far as I dare go. I need more time to rest and recover. Find my brothers, and kill that cursed spider if you would.” With that, he trudged off into the forest, back towards Phandalin. The party stood before the black hole in the side of the mountain, unsure of what awaited them inside this long forgotten place. Steeling their nerves, they stepped into the darkness.
The lack of light in the cave was no difficulty for Ben and Tallguy, but it proved a problem for Rusty, who muttered to himself as he lit a torch so he could see. They halted. Before them stood a cavern, with a ceiling perhaps 20 feet high. On the far end of it, the ground disappeared into a pit that was perhaps 20 feet deep. Peering over the edge the could see two tunnels leading out of the pit to the north, and east. A rope still remained anchored to the top of the pit, and looked safe enough to climb down. Tallguy broke the silence with a mournful cry. “Oh no…Tharden.” Ben and Rusty turned and saw not far from them, among the old supplies that littered the floor, a dwarf that had died perhaps a week ago. Tallguy knelt down next to the body. “He was my cousin…” Rusty, lacking the depth of the situation, began to rummage around the body, looking for supplies they could use. Tallguy and Ben sat stunned. With a heave, Rusty wrenched the boots off of the body, and examined them. “These seem useful.” Ben grabbed them and studied them, realizing that there was certainly magic in them. He spoke up with his analysis: “These appear to be enchanted with a spell that allows you to jump farther than normal, and carry far more than you should be able. Tallguy, you carry all the gold, and they were your cousins. Perhaps they would best suite you?” Tallguy reluctantly reached out and took the boots from Ben, sighing as he put them on, “I suppose he won’t be needing them anymore.” Rusty approached the rope and took hold, sliding gracefully to the bottom of the bit. Glancing around, he could see nothing of danger. “It seems to be safe, come on down.” he called, half whispered. Tallguy took hold of the rope next, and lowered himself to the bottom of the bit. Next came Ben, who being overconfident, dashed forward, grabbed the rope, and swung wide into the open with a chuckle. Before he could regain his composure, he slammed into the wall of the pit and tumbled to the ground, landing on top of Tallguy. The dwarf cursed as they both stood. Ben nodded his head, “Thanks for breaking my fall.”
“So…which way?” Rusty said as he tried to peer down the tunnels. Ben thought for a moment, “Let’s go east.” So off Rusty went, scouting ahead. Rusty traveled through perhaps 30 feet of tunnel before it suddenly widened and the ceiling shot up before him into darkness. He move cautiously forward. On a cavern wall in front of him, he found an engraving of dwarves, halflings, and other races, each bearing miners tools. As he examined the engravings, he heard a soft fluttering noise far above him. He turned and looked upwards. There, on the ceiling, in the dim light of his torch, he could see at least 10 stirges clinging like bats to the cavern’s roof. He quickly hid his torch and slowed his movements. They hadn’t noticed him so far, and he preferred to keep it that way, having had terrible experiences with one of those beasts before.
Slowly, Rusty moved across the cavern to another tunnel, at the end of which stood two doors, one on the right, and another on the left. Rusty chose the one on the right. As he pushed the door open and stepped inside, he saw a room that was filled with rubble, old weapon racks, and bones. As he examined the sight before him, looking for anything useful, a rattling began to fill the room. Glancing about, Rusty could not see where the noise was coming from, until suddenly the bones on the ground began to move and shake violently as they gravitated towards each other, forming skeletons which rose from the ground, gripping their ancient weapons. “Oh…shit.” Rusty bolted from the room, back towards the pit where Ben and Tallguy waited. His sudden movements however, alerted the stirges to his presence, and they rushed from the ceiling with shrieks and a torrent of flapping wings. Rusty ran with all his might. “Guys! GUUUUYS!”
Ben and Tallguy glanced down the tunnel, where they saw Rusty rushing towards them. “HELP!” he cried as a strige latched to his neck. He yelped and swung his sword, cutting the stirge in half as he tumbled into the tunnel. Ben and Tallguy were at the ready. A blast of searing rays shot forward and cut down several of the stirges, but they seemed to only push forward in greater numbers, wedging themselves into the tunnel. Tallguy stepped forward and formed a magical shield, hoping to block the onslaught of these monstrosities. As more and more of them packed into what spaces remained, Ben saw his opportunity. His hands began to swirl with fire, and he unleashed a wave of flames down the tunnel, which reduced several of the stirges to ash. Still more clawed forward into the tunnel, only to be met by Tallguy’s axe, and Rusty’s blade. It was silent for a moment, until the party heard in the distance a loud crash. “What did you do Rusty?!” Ben spun around to confront the halfling. Rusty shrugged. “I…maybe pissed off some skeletons?” Tallguy laughed as he readied his axe, “Great. Well done Rusty.” The party prepared themselves, using the choke point of the tunnel to their advantage.
Within moments, a line of skeletons begun rushing from the far tunnel that Rusty had been previously exploring. Nine of them in total ran forward, some with bows drawn, others with axes and swords in hand. A torrent of arrows whistled through the cave towards the party. Tallguy raised his shield, blocking some, but others pierced through his armor, shattering the magical energy he had around him. Ben ducked, causing several arrows to fly by Rusty’s head. “Nice Ben, trying to get me killed!” Ben chuckled as he sent forth a blast of magic missiles, shattering one of the rushing skeletons. Rusty responded in kind by sending an arrow back at the skeletons, catching one in the skull, causing it to tumble to the ground. Tallguy sent forward a volley of guiding bolt, bursting another skeleton apart as its bones rattled to the ground. Another volley of arrows, the clinks of the arrows slapping the cave walls and floor echoed around the chamber, adding to the battle’s confusion. One of the skeletons rushed forward, swinging its sword. It caught Rusty off guard, gashing him down his arm. He cried out and spun around, swinging his sword in fury. The blow nearly cleaved the skeleton in two, but it stood for a moment before Tallguy’s axe ripped through the menace, causing it to tumble to the ground, unmoving. Several more skeletons rushed into the small passage. Exactly what Ben had been waiting for. Tallguy and Rusty ducked into a side tunnel as a blast of fire shot across the cavern, incinerating the remaining skeletons. As their eyes adjusted to the dark, they could see that only small piles of ash remained on the cavern floor, along with the glowing red hot steel of several old weapons.
The party moved quietly forward, cautious of any movement in the dark of the cave. Suddenly the floor began to tremble, and small stones rattled against each other as a booming thunder filled the cave. “What on earth?!” Ben cried. Tallguy spoke up, “Waves, perhaps? I mean it is called Wave Echo Cave.” Ben tilted his head, “Huh, good point.” The sound subsided, and the tremors stopped. The party moved down the tunnel where Rusty had found the doors. Peering into the room that ounce contained the skeletons, they found only rusted armor and weapons. Leaving those to time, they turned their attention to the other door. Pushing the door open, they discovered what once must have been an office or storeroom of some time. A large stone counter bisected the room, and three dusty balances sat upon it. Cubbyholes were carved in the northern wall and filled with dusty paper scraps. Several dead corpses lay round the room, both gnomes, and orcs. Rusty quickly moved behind the counter, and there discovered and old iron lock box. With ease, he popped the lock, and discovered a large cache of money. He tossed the bags towards Tallguy, “Count them later!” With that, the party decided to rest for the time being. Tallguy slept with his back against the door, keeping it shut. He stirred in the night, hearing groans and scratches out in the hall behind him. After they subsided, he slipped into sleep once again.
They party awoke several hours later, though without the sun it was difficult to tell exactly how much time had passed. They ready their weapons and opened the door to step out into the blackness of Wave Echo Cave. The now familiar heart-beat of cave, those thunderous rumbles, sounded off once more as they moved cautiously through the darkness. After passing the room where they had encountered the stirges, they followed a northern passage, that had clearly been cut out of the stone with great skill. It stood 10 feet high, and was 10 feet wide. As they moved along, they discovered they were stepping into a near labyrinth of mines, with passages twisting off in every which direction. Most of these passages, however, were caved in. That simplified things. Rusty fell behind the group somewhat, peeking around various corners to see if he could spot any long lost treasures. This separation cost him. Without warning, he was engulfed by an ochre jelly. His skin burned with the acidic nature of the creature, and he tried to scream. However, his screams were muffled by the horror that now consumed his entire body. Luckily, they were enough that Tallguy and Ben heard the call of their friend. They bolted back around the corner, spells and weapons at the ready. Ben unleashed a blast of fire at the blob, causing it to tremble to the feet of Rusty. Tallguy threw one of his handaxes, but it slipped silently by into the darkness. The blob continued to sizzle on Rusty’s skin as he broke away. Turning around, he swung down hard with his sword, connecting and shearing clean through the beast. It turned out to be a poor choice. The jelly quivered and began to separate. For a moment, it seemed they had one. But rapidly the two blobs regains form and began their attack anew. One rushing towards Rusty, the other towards Tallguy and Ben. Blow after blow was sent out across the room, as the tunnel walls lit with every spark of the blade, and every rush of flame that went through its halls. Finally, the slime melted away, and silence filled the corridor once more.
Eventually, they found a set of stairs leading upwards, into a large cavern. Edging closer, they heard sickening crunches and groans, accompanied by an overwhelming smell of rot. As Ben crept forward and peered around the corner, he discovered several ghouls crouching in the darkness of the cavern ahead. Some stood only 30 feet in front of him, others were further to the east, crouched next to old decrepit tables and chairs in a lower part of the chamber. The party gathered and prepared themselves. A moment of quiet filled the air as none of them dared move, nor even breath. A weave of arcane energy slowly crackled around Ben’s hands, and he sent forth a blast of magic missiles into the room. A shield of light sprung to life in front of Tallguy, shimmering in the darkness of the cavern. Rusty sent out arrow after arrow as the ghouls rushed forward, shrieking in the darkness. One of them slammed into Tallguy, causing his shield of light to shatter and knocking him back somewhat. He retaliated with a swing of his axe, hewing the beast in two. The ghouls continued rushing forward, but were slowed in their progress by the narrowness of the passage. As the fight raged on, Ben saw several of the ghouls run off into the darkness of the cavern, beyond his sight. “They might be trying to get around us! Watch your backs!” He cried out. Blow after blow, the foul creatures slipped to the ground lifeless. After clearing the staircase of the blood-frenzied monsters, the party stepped into the gaping cavern before them, listening for any sounds of the approaching ghouls. Silently, they crept forward. Rusty spotted two of the ghouls down a staircase on the far end of the room. He and Ben approached them slowly. Rusty drove his blade into one of them, and it released a shriek of terror. Before it could react however, Ben blasted both the ghouls with a wave of fire. Tallguy, staying behind to guard the flank, was rushed by two ghouls that had gone around the caverns in search of them. He warded off their blows, calling upon a magical sword to aide him. The sword easily cleaved the beasts in two, freeing Tallguy to help his friends below. Seeing more ghouls rush out of the caverns towards Ben and Rusty, Tallguy broke into a sprint. The boots made him feel lighter, and much more confident. With a quick dash he leapedfrom the 15 foot cliff side, and traveled another forty feet through the air in a glorious display of power, before crashing down with a blow onto one of the ghouls. It fell to the ground, stunned, and Tallguy drove a final blow into its head. Ben dispatched the rest of the ghouls with a blast of searing rays, and again they were left in the darkness. Seeking shelter, the party returned to the store-room they had found earlier to rest for some time, and recover from their many wounds received in the recent battles.

The Forgotten Castle
The spider's web.

The party set forth from Phandalin, having received clear directions on where to find the ruins of Cragmaw Castle. After a day’s journey, they came to a clearing in the forest about mid day, and there before them stood a ruined castle seemingly forgotten by time, but certainly not forgotten by the goblins in the area. Clear signs were about that this place was not, as many suspected, abandoned. First and foremost, the smell of cooking meet that drifted through the air. Approaching cautiously, with weapons drawn and spells at the ready, the party inched forward the bottom of the stairs that led to the front gate. From there, Rusty Blades crept up the stairs. As he reached the top, he spotted two arrow slits in the ruined towers that were on either side of the broken gate. He chose to approach the one on the right, and lifted himself up slightly to see what was inside. As he did so, a shrill goblin cry filled the air, and he found himself face to face with a goblin sentry. The goblin raised his bow and launched an arrow, but in his panic it clipped the wall and missed Rusty.
Rusty dropped to the ground and drew his sword, cursing to himself. Ben and Tallguy rushed to the top of the staircase to prepare for the coming battle. As they did so, a flood of goblins and their larger kin, the hobgoblins, burst from the doors on either side of the entryway. Tallguy ran forward and arced his axe through the air, leaving a massive gash in the gut of one of the goblins before it collapsed to the ground screaming. The sound of battle filled the air as arrows whistled through the air and steel met steel. The rancid smell of singed flesh filled the air as Ben sent a wave of fire across several of the hobgoblins, melting their armor to them as they screamed in agony, unable to escape their molten prison. Tallguy yelled as a goblin sunk his sword into his gut while he retreated. Two more arrows found their mark as he desperately tried to parry the coming blows, it seemed as though the entirety of the goblin force was crashing down on him. Ben had retreated back down the steps, a two hobgoblins in hot pursuit. Seeing this, Rusty leapt from the stairs and drove his sword clean through the skull of one of them before sinking back into the shadows. Ben retreated further down a side path and unleashed a volley of searing rays from a safe distance. As blow after blow sunk into Tallguy’s shield, the rays proved to be a saving grace and blasted two of the goblins across the gateway. Seeing his opportunity, Tallguy leapt into the air and drove his axe downward, splitting the assailing hobgoblin’s shield in two and sinking his axe deep into his skull. Below, at the bottom of the stairs, Rusty gutted the hobgoblin that remained in pursuit of Ben. The coppery smell of blood filled the now silent entrance to the castle. Tallguy knelt and focused upon his wounds, the light from his hands slowly reconnecting the sinew of his body. Realizing they desperately needed rest, the party retreated some distance into the forest, wary of any patrols that might come. Before they left however, they knew they had to cover their trail, lest they alert the fortress to the true nature of their assault. So doing their best, the party left orcish marks and symbols around the bloodied stone entrance to the castle. After finishing their work, they set up a small camp.
As they party rested, Rusty kept watch. In the late hours of the night, he spotted torches and heard goblins talking in the distance. “Those wretched orcs, coming to our home, thinking they can take it from us! We’ll find them and show them. Cowards, running away like that.” A smirk crossed Rusty’s lips, they had taken the bait. His glee quickly turned to alarm as he heard the sniffing of wolves not far from him. “What is it mutt? You smell those rotten orcs?!” They were closing in on Rusty quick. He had to lead them away from the resting party. Dashing quietly into the forest, Rusty leaped for a branch on one of the trees. His decision however, proved poor, and the branch snapped almost immediately and sent him crashing to the ground. The wolves went into a frenzy and within moments were on top of Rusty, snapping and snarling. One of them managed to catch his arm, driving its fangs deep into his muscle.
Not far away at the camp, the yells of Rusty awoke Ben and Tallguy. Within seconds of waking, Ben unleashed a torrent of magic missiles, blasting holes in several of the goblins and one of the wolves. They fell to the ground lifeless. Tallguy rushed towards the wolf that was tearing at Rusty’s arm and drove his axe into its back. The wolf yelped, but refused to let go of his prey. As Ben sent out a blast of fire towards the other goblins, Rusty manged to free his sword and gutted the wolf the was pinning him down. The sickening sloshing of its entrails falling onto Rusty marked the end of the patrol that had ambushed them. The party slept the rest of the night, rather wary of ever noise that came from the forest.
When morning came, the party chose to approach the castle from the side. There they found an arrowslit they could peer through, and inside they found what the presumed to be the dining hall. They could see at least 8 goblins. One of them was cooking, and was significantly larger than the others. Realizing what had to be done, Ben used his magic to fan the flames of the cooking fire, catching some of the nearby material on fire. The goblins all turned to the noise, and with that Ben and Tallguy burst into the room, sending waves of fire and guiding bolts into the fray. Confused, the goblins quickly succumbed to the onslaught before they could even react. The chef collapsed to the ground as an axe that Tallguy flung at him struck him between the eyes. Rusty rushed into the room, bow at the ready. Aiming it, he realized that nothing at all was left moving. He sighed and lowered his bow, placing his arrow back in his quiver. From there the party began to explore the western half of the castle, which was eerily silent after the previous day’s encounter. Rusty unwittingly triggered a trap the dead goblins had long ago set, and rocks from the ceiling came crashing down. Being quick on his feet, he easily dodged them, but he was much more cautious pressing forward. As the party stepped into a nearby room, they found themselves in what appeared to be a cathedral of some sort. Statues line the walls far above the ground, and red drapes covered the far exits. Looking up, they noticed something seemed off about one of the statues. It didn’t fit in, didn’t match. Suspecting foul play, Ben sent flames spitting through the air. Suddenly, a mass slid from off of the statue, and slammed to the ground in front of them. There arose a gigantic worm like creature with four tentacles and a beak much like an octopus for its head. Horrified, the party struck first. A volley of magic missile, along with Tallguy’s axe and Rusty’s sword slammed into the monstrosity. It shrieked in agony as the onslaught proved far to powerful for it to withstand. The creature shriveled to the ground, the gut-wrenching smell of its singed flesh filling the cathedral. Stepping close to examine the engravings on the walls, Ben realized that this was the shrine he had been seeking for so long. Righteous fury filled him as he discovered the desecration the goblin’s had poured over it in the name of their vile god. He drew back the curtains covering part of the cathedral and sent a blast of searing rays into two goblins he found there. Rusty and Tallguy alternated entering the room, shooting arrows and throwing axes at the confused goblins. One by one they fell until only their priest, as it were, remained. He cried out and rushed forward, but was met by Tallguy’s axe and slammed into the wall, practically cleaved in two.
Ben stepped into the room, and anger by the vile worship of the goblin god sent a wave of fire forth, engulfing the room is hungry flames which lapped up every unholy thing in it. Content that his work was done, Ben beckoned the party to move forward into the castle, in hopes of finding Gundren Rockseeker. As they quietly explored the castle, they came upon two hobgoblins sitting in a hallway chatting, oblivious of what was around them. Rusty took their distraction as an opportunity, and sunk his sword deep into one of the hobgoblins. The other cried in terror as a round of magic missiles struck him in the face. With what strength he had left, the hobgoblin limped quickly into the room behind him. Tallguy rushed in after him, in quick pursuit. As he entered the room, before he could make sense of what was happening, he felt two daggers sink deep into his side. A female drow had caught him off guard. He stepped back against the wall and took a swing at her, his axe bludgeoning her side and causing her to stumble. A gruff voice filled the room, “You dare come to my castle, my HOME, and attack me?! You will perish as all the others for the trouble you have caused me!” There, on the other side of the room, was an old, battle-worn Bugbear. Not far from him, unconscious on the ground, Tallguy spotted Gundren. Seeing his fallen cousin, unsure of his fate, filled Tallguy with rage. He swung his axe again at the drow, cutting through her leather armor. She cried and stumbled back. Ben stepped into the room an sent forth a blast of searing rays towards the old bugbear, and the wounded hobgoblin that had escaped them before. The hobgoblin shrieked as death ensnared him, while the Bugbear merely grimaced with the blow and began to stride forward. Suddenly, a wolf they had missed was upon Ben, ripping and tearing at his arm. He managed to push it off and retreated back into the hallway. As the wolf bolted forward to latch onto him again, it was unaware of the sword that Rusty had at the ready. It took only a split second, and the wolf eviscerated itself on the sharp blade in its frenzy to reach Ben. It came skidded to a stop, its entrails spilled across the floor behind it. Ben and Rusty entered the fray in the room. The relentlessly pressed in combat against the drow, until she finally fell from a vengeful blow of Tallguy’s axe. As they turned to face the old bugbear, they found him standing with a spear over Gundren. “One more move and this dwarf dies! Kill me and this spear will cut clean through his skull as it falls from my hands!”
The party froze, and began to weigh their options. “What do you want, bugbear?” called out Tallguy.
“Want?” The bugbear snarled, “I want your heads on pikes outside my walls.”
Remembering a spell he had been taught long ago, Tallguy sent forth a volley of magic that rippled through the air and slammed into the bugbear. The creature’s eyes widened in horror as slowly his body began to freeze in place. Before he could contemplate his next move, he found himself completely paralyzed. The party walked forward, chuckling. “Boy, good thing you remembered you knew that spell Tallguy” said Ben, laughing to himself. Tallguy laughed as he pulled Gundren away from the paralyzed bugbear. “Now…what to do with you..” Tallguy glared at the bugbear. “Kill him,” stated Rusty bluntly. The party nodded in agreement and raised their weapons. There were no screams, no sound, other than the rending of flesh as the great bugbear king of the Cragmaw clan was cut down in place.
Tallguy awoke Gundren from his slumber with a spell of healing. As Gundren’s eyes opened he sputtered, “By the gods, you found me! Well done cousin. Where…where am I?”
Ben spoke up, leaning on his staff, ‘A place they now call Cragmaw Castle. Though who knows what name it will go by now. The Black Spider seems to have left you in the hands of this bugbear. ’ Gundren placed his hand on his forehead, calming a throbbing headache. “The black spider…we must hurry! He has certainly located Wave Echo Cave by now. Get me back to Phandalin!” Tallguy put his hand on Gundren’s shoulder, pushing him down as he tried to stand. “Slow down cousin, you’ve been through a lot. There will be time. Rest for now, we will finishing clearing the castle.” Gundren looked at him, and sighed in resignation. “I suppose you’re right. Come get me when you’re done.”
As the party explored the rest of the castle, they came across nothing particularly eventful until they approached a door that had something written upon it. Upon closer examination it appeared to be some kind of warning from the goblins. Slowly opening the door, Rusty saw in the room a massive Owlbear, resting in a beam of light that protruded from the ceiling. Sharply drawing in his breath, he closed the door again, more cautiously than he had opened it. “There’s uh…an owlbear in there.” Ben and Tallguy glanced at eachother. “Well…we can’t just leave it locked in there,” Ben spoke up. "Let’s just leave the door slightly open so it can leave if it wants to, " suggested Tallguy. They party nodded in agreement, and gathered up Gundren before setting out for Phandalin.
Once they arrived, they all settled into the Inn for a night of rest. It had been a long two days. Both a dragon, and a goblin clan wiped off the face of the earth. And now, they were preparing to enter a cave lost to the ages in order to stop the man that had set this chain of events in motion, The Black Spider. With that, each of the party members closed their eyes to rest and Gundren prepared for the coming journey to Wave Echo Cave.

The Defense of Phandalin
Fury of the Dragon

Tallguy McClean-Shaven finally awoke from his healing slumber, and the party set out in urgency to prepare Phandalin from the coming attack. Tending to some final business in Thundertree, the party dispatched a group of zombies in the old barracks. The encounter began with a bang as Ben tossed an oil flask through a window and set some of the old barrels alight. From there the building slow began to burn as the party tore the ash zombies occupying the area asunder.
At a hurried pace, in a race against time, the party set forth on the journey back to Phandalin. Thankfully, their travel back was unhindered and they arrived before dusk the next day. As they entered the town, a familiar voice called to them. “Heroes! Over here!” The voice was that of Sildar Hallwinter, and he was gathered in the town square with several of the villagers. Reidoth was there as well. As the party grew closer, they noticed that villagers were armed with spears and bows, what little the town had. Rusty Blades unrolled his travel pack, and handed out several short swords, crossbows, and leather armor he had found. Last but not least, he drew out an axe and held it out to Tallguy. “Here, take this. I found it in the dragon’s horde.” Tallguy grabbed the axe, and a strange uneasiness filled him as he glanced toward the forest. He had heard of this axe. It was know as “Hew,” and had long ago been used by the dwarves to effortlessly slice down many forests.
Sildar spoke once more. “Thank you for the weapons and armor, it will be much needed in the coming fight. There has been no sign of the dragon yet, but we have had all the villagers hide within the cellar of the inn, and in the town hall. Those that are able to fight stand before you.” There were no more than perhaps 5 villagers that had answered the call-to-arms. Glancing around at the small force they had mustered, Reidoth broke the silence. “We should all get some rest. We have set out sentries to keep watch for signs of the dragon.” All agreed, as the stress of the day had worn on them. The party retired to the main floor of the inn, steeling themselves for the coming battle.
Come the early morning, the sound of loud bells filled the village, and the cry of “Dragon! Dragon to the North!” could be heard above the din of the bells. Villagers in the cellars began to cry and scream, and the party gripped their weapons before stepping out in the cool morning air. The calm of the morning belied the graveness of the situation. To the north they could see the dragon gliding close to the ground, his thick tail swashing down the occasional tree. Grimly, Ben spoke, “We should spread out. That poison could kill us all in one swift stroke.” Nodding in agreement, all the villagers spread fourty feet apart, bows at the ready. As the dragon drew ever closer, every breath could be heard in the hushed square. Sildar notched a bolt into his heavy crossbow and took aim. "Sildar, " cried the villager closest to him, “there’s no way you can make that shot! It’s too far!” Without so much as a nod, Sildar pulled the trigger on his crossbow, and sent the bolt hissing through the air. His aim was true. The bolt tore a hole clean through the dragons wing as it approached. A furious howl could be heard. “Puny mortals! You dare confront the might of Venomfang, scourge of Thundertree!?”
In defiance, the villagers launched a volley of arrows at the winged beast. A sinking feeling filled their chests as each arrow fell short, or missed the mark. Suddenly, a fierce column of light beamed down from the sky as Reidoth called a moonbeam down upon the dragon. It roared in fury as the light sizzled upon his scales. Shortly after a volley of magic missile flew forth from Ben, each one successively tearing holes in the dragon’s wings. The heroes were intent to even the battle, and bring the dragon down to them. Rusty launched an arrow, and Tallguy threw a handaxe, but both flew wide of the target. With that, the dragon was upon them and swooped down upon a villager, grasping him in his claws. Venomfang heaved the screaming man into the air, and the sickening crunch of bones filled the square as the dragon’s jaws closed upon him. Upon seeing this, one of the villagers dropped his bow and began to run out of the village. Another villager’s bow string snapped as he drew to hard upon it. A moment later, the dragon drew a deep breath and exhaled a deep green breath of poison. The cloud engulfed Reidoth and another villager. Both of whom coughed and choked before collapsing to the ground. Whether they were unconscious or dead, the party couldn’t tell. In righteous fury, Tallguy unleashed a guiding bolt, aiming directly for the spot he had struck before in hopes to draw the dragon’s attention toward him. His gamble worked, and the bolt landed directly on the singed spot of the dragons neck as before. Venomfang’s roar rattle the windows as he curse Tallguy, “Wretched cleric! See how well your God protects you from me!” As the dragon adjusted his course, Ben unleashed his searing rays upon it, tearing several more holes in the dragon’s wings. The dragon began to tumble wildly toward the ground before impacting with a thundering crash, his body flailing and thrashing as a cloud of dirt consume the village. Rusty quickly dodged out of the way as debris from two of the wrecked buildings flew towards him, lodging themselves into he ground and walls around him.
A cheer went out from the villagers as the dust began to settle, but their cheers rapidly turned to cries of horror as the dragon’s claws slashed from within the haze and rent one of the villagers in two. “NO!” cried another villager as he rushed forward, sword in hand to meet the dragon. His sword struck the dragon with wrath, but it was not enough to pierce his scales. The dragon batted the villager aside, slamming him against one of the buildings, and the man slumped to the ground unmoving. “When this is over, we’ll throw a party in honor of that man!” Ben cried.
Within seconds the dragon was upon Tallguy. This time however, Tallguy was ready, and stepped quickly out of the way of the dragon’s mighty jaws. However, he was not quick enough to dodge his claws, which tore his chainmail apart and left a gaping wound across his chest. Rusty rushed forward and drove his short sword into the dragons leg, unleashing a torrent of blood that began to pool upon the ground. Ben, realizing he had to draw the dragon away from Tallguy, yelled out what infuriates most dragons to hear: “Hey, dragon! You’re horde sucked. It was barely worth picking up!” This did the trick, and Venomfang lashed out towards Ben, who in kind responded with a blast of Magic Missile. As the dragon was distracted, Sildar rushed forward and swung his great sword. It did the trick. The sword sunk deep between the dragons scales and sliced his tendons, causing the dragon to stumble to the ground. Seeing his opportunity, Tallguy arose and dashed up the dragon’s back. Standing upon the dragon’s skull, Tallguy raise his great axe into the air, the villagers watching in awe. “This axe is from your horde dragon! I figured you should have it back!” With that, he brought the great axe down with a might swing and a crack filled the quiet morning air. The dragon’s eyes rolled back in its head as its body twitched for a few moments. Venomfang breathed one last breath, and fell still. Wrenching his axe from the dragon’s skull, a cheer arose from the villagers, as others came rushing out from the Inn and town hall. “It’s done!” “The dragon is dead!” “Drinks on me tonight heroes!”
Sildar, however, was not celebrating, and rushed to the side of Reidoth. “He’s still breathing! Get him into the town hall and find the doctor!”
The heroes stood over the makeshift bed of Reidoth, his eyes closed and his body still. Only the gentle movement of his chest gave any signs of life. “It will be some time before he wakes up,” the doctor grimly stated," much less can go anywhere. His lungs and throat are blistered, it’s a wonder that he lived at all." Sildar pulled the party aside. ’Reidoth told me you were intent on finding Gundren Rockseeker. He handed me this map he drew for you of Cragmaw Castle before the dragon attacked. I hope it is of use to you. I would go with you, but there is much to be done here in town. I commend you for fighting a fight that is not your own. May the gods be with you." With that, the party set out to east, in search of the long lost Cragmaw Castle, and hot on the trail of The Black Spider.

Unwelcome Guests
A Dragon's Fury

The party emerged from another rest at Reidoth’s abode before venturing out again to locate and dispatch the Dragon. As they approached the eastern part of the ruins, they spotted another building which seemed, for the most part, to be intact. Rusty crept forward to examine the building, and find a way in. Noticing that all the windows were barred, he approached the front door, lockpick at the ready. Within seconds of him beginning to work the tumbler, a voice sounded from inside, “Bad idea. Go away.” Rusty, startled, stepped backwards. He silently crept his way to the door around the back. Again he tried the lock. “I said it was a bad idea. Now go away.” Frustrated, Rusty stood up. Seeing that they were spotted Tallguy approached one of the windows, hoping to speak to mysterious voice. “Can we come in please?” He asked, peering as well as he could into the window.
“No. Why do you want to anyways?” The voice replied.
“Well, we’re here to take care of a dragon, and are wondering if you knew anything about it.” Tallguy shuffled his feet awkwardly, trying to pry slightly at who the man was.
“Really? Well we wouldn’t much appreciate that.”
Tallguy’s brow raised. “We? How many of you are in there?”
The voice responded “Oh, four or five.”
That wasn’t the response Tallguy expected. “Huh…why are there so many of you?”
“We’re here to worship the dragon.”
“…worship? Is it…working?” Rusty shuffled back around the corner towards the front door as Tallguy continued on with his banter.
The voice sounded hesitant. “Well…sort of. I mean he let us get close…ish.”
“That doesn’t sound like it went so well.”
“Yeah…the dragon ate one of our buddies.”
Rusty stifled a laugh as Tallguy continued. “Why do you guys want to worship a dragon anyways?”
Almost incredulously, the voice replied quickly. “Because it’s a dragon. Are you blind? It’s all powerful, all knowing. Why WOULDN’T you worship a dragon?”
Realizing he had offended them, Tallguy quickly apologized. “Sorry, sorry. I’ve just never even met a dragon. What’s your name anyways?”
“My name is Favric. I lead this group.”
“Well, Favric. Perhaps we can help each other. We want to meet with the dragon. Can you help us with that?”
The front door swung open, and Rusty jumped backwards to avoid being hit. Out stepped a man whose face was covered in a leather mask shaped like dragon horns, donning a black leather cape which appeared cut to be dragon wings.
“Hah! Of course the Cult of the Dragon can help with that! We are after all, friends of the dragon!”
Rusty wrinkled his face. “I thought you said it ate one of your friends?”
Favir scratched the back of his head. “Ah, well, it’s a work in progress. None the less, perhaps today will be the day!”
WIth that, three more cultists emerged from the building. “This way then, the dragon’s tower is north of here, just beside the old town square.”
Tallguy and Rusty marched along with the cultists, the tower looming in the distance. Meanwhile, Ben hung back, waiting to trap the cultists. Little to the cultists knowledge, the heroes were planning on sacrificing them to the dragon, in hopes to bargain with it.
As they began walking up the winding path to the tower, their plan quickly fell apart. Three more cultists stepped out from the bushes behind them, weapons drawn. “Alright, shows over, drop your weapons and step up front to the dragon’s lair, he deserves a good sacrifice. And you, wizard in the woods, get out here.” Ben cursed under his breath and stood up, unleashing a wave of fire towards the cultists that were in the front of the marching party. They screamed in horror as the flames engulfed them, and quickly fell to the ground dead. Favir quickly dodged away from the flames and began to rush towards Ben. Rusty and Tallguy turned to face the three Cultists behind them. One of Rusty’s arrows swiftly dispatched a cultist, and he fell to ground lifeless. Favir struck out at Ben, only to slice through the air as Ben dodged out of the way, returning the favor with a blast of flames. Favir cried out as he crumpled to the ground. Rusty quickly gutted another ambushing cultist, leaving only one to deal with.
The last cultist quickly cried out, dropping his weapon, “WAIT! Please, spare me! I’m just a kid. A dumb kid! I ran away from home to join this stupid cult, I didn’t realize how ridiculous it was. Please, I just want to go home!” Ben lowered his arms slowly as the arcane power in his hands fizzled out. He couldn’t bring himself to hurt a kid, even if that kid was a dumb teenager. Tallguy and Rusty were less forgiving. Worried that the youth might run to tell others, they decided to act. Rusty swung his blade and gashed the young cultists arm. The cultist screamed and turned to run. It was then his skull met Tallguy’s warhammer with a sickening crack. The youth’s body crumpled under the blow, and remained lifeless on the ground. Ben shook his head, Tallguy paused for a moment as he contemplated what he had just done. Rusty, however, slid his sword back into his sheath and forged on ahead. “Well? Are we killing this dragon or what?”
As the party cautiously approached the ruined tower, they noticed slight wisps of smoke ascending slow into the air from a hole in the ruined roof. “Guess he’s home,” Ben muttered. They stopped to determine how they should proceed. Ultimately, it was decide that Rusty should sneak in and see what they were up against, taking the advantage of surprise to strike at the dragon if he could. So Rusty did just that. Creeping near silently into the tower, a pungent sulfur smell reached his nose. Within the shaded ruins of the tower, he spotted the young green dragon napping peacefully upon a small horde. Clearly this dragon had just begun his business around these parts.
Positioning himself, Rusty drove his sword into the thigh of the dragon, and it awake with a grand roar that shook the dust from the stones around him. “MEDDLING THIEF! Come to take my treasure?!” Ben and Tallguy rushed in the door, positioning themselves just down the hall. Ben unleashed a torrent of magic missile towards the hulking beast, and the projectiles arc wildly down the passage, connecting with the dragon as it roared in further pain. “You think you can simply walk into my domain and take what does not belong to you?! You will pay dearly!” His mighty claw slammed down beside Rusty, barely missing him. Sighing with relief, rusty was caught off guard as the Dragon’s other talons ripped into him, the force pummeling him against the far wall. Incredibly, he survived this brush with death, and dove beneath some old stones in order to hide from the growing fury of the dragon.
Tallguy stepped forward into the hallway, hoping to protect Ben, and mend Rusty’s wounds. However, Rusty was still beyond reach. Hoping to draw the dragon away, Tallguy resorted to his Guiding Bolt to even the playing field. Light began to weave its way down each of his arms, snaking along until combining at his conjoined hands before being unleashed in ball of righteous fury that struck the dragon in the neck, melting clean through its scales. The dragon’s blood flowed freely from its fresh wound, as all its anger became focused upon the dwarf. Suddenly, the dragon blast forth a green mist, poisoning the air. Ben ducked out the front door of the tower, and Tallguy pressed him back had against a far corner, holding his breath and hoping against hope. Incredibly, the mist began to quickly dissipate. Taking advantage of the moment, Tallguy rushed forward and swung his hammer hard into the skull of the dragon. It winced in pain at the blow, and in the blink of an eye retaliated and crushed Tallguy between his teeth. Succumbing to the immense pressure, Tallguy blacked out, the last thing he was able to consciously recall was the thud of his head against the wall as the dragon flung him aside. Ben and Rusty yelled in anger, rushing the dragon. Startled, it was unable to block the bite of Rusty’s sword, and the white-hot blast of Ben’s scorching rays. Realizing he was in a losing battle, the dragon burst through the roof of the ruins, and relayed his dreadful threat. ‘Scum! You must be from that blasted town of Phandalin. Let us see how THEY fare against my fury!’
As the young dragon flew into the distance, Northwards, Ben unleashed a final volley of magic missile, hoping to bring the beast to the ground. However, the blasts merely served to fuel the dragon’s anger, and its mighty roar echoed across the landscape as it faded into the distance.
Quickly, Ben and Rusty gathered up the limp body of Tallguy and rushed to tell Reidoth of what happened. As Reidoth tended to Tallguys wounds, they explained the situation to him. A look of horror grew upon his face as he realized what was about to happen. "I must go and warn Phandalin. Administer the rest of this salve to Tallguy in the morning, he will recover. Meet me at Phandalin as soon as you can. I must prepare the town for the attack! With that, Reidoth leapt towards the window, his size and form reducing to that of a chipmunk before he skittered out the crack with a squeak. Ben and Rusty looked at each other, quite unsure of what they had just witnessed. They then laid down to rest for one last time before the hurried journey back to Phandalin to stay the hand of the frenzied dragon.


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