Welcome once more to the land of Dungeons & Dragons!
I am, of course, your humble, omniscient, omnipresent Dungeon Master. I’ve introduced you all to the would-be heroes, to these traveling adventurers, and so I’ll assume you’re well versed with their names and histories. If not, take the time now to brush up, for the journey begins!
Our adventure takes place in the Forgotten Realms.
A Dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker sought out the willing in the city of Neverwinter to protect his wagonload of provisions to the rough-and-tumble settlement of Phandalin, a few days travel southeast from Neverwinter. Gundren was quite excited and very secretive about the trip, only saying that he and his brothers had found something big and he’d pay each of our adventurers ten gold pieces for escorting the supplies safely to Barthen’s Provisions, a trading post in town.
Gundren set out ahead of our travelers with a warrior escort named Sildar Hailwinter, telling the unlikely adventurers that he has to arrive early to take care of business.
Our companions traveled a few days along the High Road south from Neverwinter until they veered east onto the Triboar Trail. The territory is known to be dangerous, but they’ve encountered nothing of note yet. They’ve traded insults and jokes along the way, with undercurrents of racism often on the lips of young Eric, who drives the two oxen led wagon. Barents of the Mountain scouts ahead with Ewomir Rastenfir and Benik Battlebeard near the wagon.
After half a day on the Triboar Trail, our adventurers come round a bend to find two dead horses. Each horse has several black-feathered arrows sticking out of it. The trail narrows here, the woods pressing close, steep embankments and dense thickets on either side.
Benik the Mighty immediately rushes forward, “We’ll eat horse for days!”
The others shake their head as Benik barrels towards the dead horses.
Benik finds the horses looted and turns to his companions, “This is Gundren Rockseeker’s horse. And this must belong to that warrior.” Benik notices a leather map case near the horses and as he bends to pick it up, arrows sing from either side of the trail, narrowly missing Benik’s head. The company sees the four goblins, two hanging back to notch their arrows while the other two run for Benik.
Benik turns to meet them, deflecting their wild blows easily, then responds by swinging his mighty axe through the necks of both. As the blood rains from their bodies, Ewomir casts acid after the other two Goblins, melting one to an awful green soup, and ripping through the ankle of the other, who screams and attempts to run deep into the forest.
As the goblin hobbles away, the companions follow, nearly mirthful at the sight. Barents easily catches the goblin. “Why did you attack us?”
“Gwyahr! It hurts so! Ah, my fecking foot, you awful creatures!” The goblin spits at Barents, who responds by punching the goblin in the throat.
Benik approaches, “I know how to deal with goblins,” he says, cracking his knuckles.
“Wait,” says Ewomir as he levitates the goblin high into the air, pressing against the trees of the forest, the goblin’s screams stifled by the thick canopy. Ewomir then lets the goblin fall, breaking both its legs, leaving it near Death.
“GWYAHR!!!! You awful fecking elves! Kill me, you sick pigfuckers!”
“What happened to Gundren?” Benik shakes the near-dead goblin.
“Fuck you and your burrowing bearded mother!” the goblin spits.
Benik beats the face of the goblin and they begin torturing the goblin who only hurls insults, even after his feet are cut off. Much of the torture is instigated and encouraged by Ewomir, who cannot seem to stop laughing at the poor beleaguered creature. The torture continues and the goblin faints only long enough for the echoes of the screams to dissipate until the torture resumes. Finally, Eric steps in, but not out of kindness or empathy. Only practicality.
“Listen, little one,” he says, and Benik scowls furiously at him. “We’ll never get anything out of him like this. We don’t have all day to rip this thing apart” Eric casts a soothing spell, to assuage the pain the goblin feels while Ewomir casts a charm upon the miserable creature.
The goblin blinks, its screams evaporating in the forest air. It sees Ewomir and smiles widely, “Why hello there, master elf. What brings you to these trees?”
“What happened to Gundren?”
“That ugly little dwarf? Oh! We took care of him and his stupid human. Yes we did. But, say, what are you doing later? Want to head off into the woods for some real fun?”
“Why did you attack him?”
“Oh, see, King Grol told Klarg he needed that dwarf for the Black Spider. The Black Spider pays us to watch for a dwarf, capture him, and send him along to King Grol. Klarg laid an ambush and we took him, all his shit, and his map. The dwarf and the map went to King Grol and we’re keeping the human in the eating cave.”
“Where’s King Grol?”
“You sure you wouldn’t rather ditch the human and dwarf and get into a bit of mischief out amongst the trees, or deep in a cave? It’d be a real fecking good time! No? Okay, well, see, King Grol is in Cragmaw Castle, about twenty miles northeast.”
“What about the human? What’s this eating cave?”
“You know, for a beautiful seductive elf, you’re sure curious about a lot of dumb shit. The human’s in our hideout up ahead. About twenty of my brothers are watching him with Klarg.”
The goblin sighs, “Is it so wrong to just fuck in the woods? Don’t you know I love you? Can’t you see that? Okay, well, Klarg’s our leader. A bugbear, a right big fecker. He’s in charge here but he belongs to the King. So it goes.”
The interrogation over, the companions decide to help the human. They hide the wagonload of supplies and head down the goblin path to the Cragmaw hideout. They carry the goblin, still charmed, begging for Ewomir to love it back, and the goblin points out the many traps on the way to the hideout.
After five miles of the chattering goblin, the charm begins to wear off along with the soothing spell of Eric the Undefeated. A large cave opens up with a shallow stream flowing out of it. A narrow dry path leads into the cave on the opposite bank. As the companions decide what to do, the goblin sees its hideout and screams for help.
Through the thicket, goblin arrows sail over the heads of the adventurers, who laugh at the pitiable attempts of the goblins. Eric mocks the screaming goblin while Barents unleashes arrows into the thicket, which are deflected by the thick growth. Benik, weary of the screaming footless goblin, swings down his axe and severs its head. As the blood pools about their feet, Ewomir throws fire into the thicket, which quickly catches blaze. The screaming of the goblins is drowned out by the towering inferno.
The would-be heroes laugh about the destruction and Ewomir only shrugs, “Seemed like the easiest solution.”
“Come along, little one,” Eric says to Benik while patting him on the head. “Let’s get to that cave.”
Benik seethes and grips his axe, “You fucking human child. Benik the Mighty is not to be mocked!”
Eric nearly falls as he tries to hide his quaking but Ewomir only pats Benik on the head, “Don’t be such an angry little creature.”
Benik only shakes his head, fury pounding between his temples.
They enter the cave which stretches before them. Quickly on their right, they come to an opening with two wolves chained to a post. The wolves are ravenous, pulling with all their might against the post. The post jostles but the wolves remain chained.
Eric approaches and soothes them. “I’ve spent most my lives with animals,” he tells his companions. “There’s nothing I can’t tame.”
Benik sees a chimney past the wolves. As he walks past he drops some biscuits for the wolves, “See that you keep these mongrels tame as pups. I’m going to see what’s to be seen up that chimney,” he points towards the opening.
“Be careful, little one,” Eric says, holding in laughter.
Benik clenches his fists and grinds his teeth, then climbs the chimney. As he climbs, Barents looks deeper into the cave, where he sees a bridge with a goblin sitting on it.
At the top of the chimney, Benik sees the bugbear known as Klarg with two goblins and a wolf. He cannot hear what they say due to the sound of rushing water. On one wall he sees a mountain of supplies and treasures.
He comes back down and reports what he’s seen, and the companions discuss whether they should climb the chimney, giving themselves the element of surprise, and attack the bugbear, or if they should avoid the bugbear altogether and find the human warrior, Gundren’s companion.
After a long debate full of hurling insults all around, with much of the sting directed at Benik the Mighty, the only dwarf in the company, they decide to avoid the bugbear.
The elves and dwarf see in the darkness of the cave and Eric follows behind. Ewomir casts levitate on the goblin on the bridge and slams it into the stream beneath it. Ewomir begins cursing because the stream is too shallow to drown the goblin in and he rages about this as Benik and Barents rush forward to kill the goblin, who’s easily dispatched.
Eric casts a spell of illumination so he can finally see. Ewomir pouts and continues raging about the fact that he couldn’t drown the goblin mercilessly. The others laugh at his frustration, but they secretly wish, in their heart of hearts, that they could have watched the creature drown. For, remember, these would-be heroes spent nearly an hour torturing the brethren of this newly fallen goblin.
They pass under the bridge and the rushing of a waterfall reaches them, drowning out the sounds of all else, except their thoughts of torture, which brings a wicked smile to their lips. Barents creeps ahead and sees a cavern filled with two large pools of water. A narrow waterfall feeds them, draining into the stream. The pools are dammed by small stone walls that appear easy to undo. Barents also sees three goblins in the cave milling about. He returns and explains what he’s seen, explaining how goblins are a weak and lazy species.
As a discussion about what to do begins, Benik the Mighty takes his axe and rushes into the room, surprising the goblins who only blink at this unexpected guest. Benik swings mightily at a goblin who doesn’t even bother to dodge and misses wildly. So wildly, in fact, that both his companions and the goblins now surrounding him are completely stunned into inaction.
Barents, holding in laughter, notches an arrow and kills one of the goblins. Eric rushes in and attack the third goblin with his knife. Ewomir, too, attacks this third goblin with his knife, killing it. The goblin standing before Benik still hasn’t recovered from its astonishment, the fear of Death surely deep inside it. It appears introspective, as if its brief and tortured life of cruelty and thievery flashed before its eyes. As words form in its lungs and mouth, Benik swings once more. The only surprise on this second swing is the amount of blood that pours into the thick cave air.
The rushing waterfall drowns out the sound of all else and the companions discuss what must be done.
“The next room ahead is where the bugbear, Klarg, waits.”
“A lot of booty to be had in there.”
“Ever fought a bugbear?”
“I’d never fought a goblin before today,” says Eric, “and I’ve seen how easily they die. Even falling to our jestering little one, the mad fool Benik!”
“Is this how it’s going to be? You all laughing at me?”
Barents smiles, “Don’t worry, Benik. The human’s only a child. He’s too afraid to really do much of anything but jibe at you. He’s a small minded, bigheaded boy.”
Eric backs away from the elf, unsure of Barents’ motive. Ewomir only grumbles about how unfortunate it was that he couldn’t drown that one goblin.
The companions decide to cross the bridge to the west, rather than enter the bugbear’s lair.
They cross the bridge one at a time, due to it’s shabby design and threadbare knots.
Past the bridge and round a corner heading south, they find what must be the eating room, described by the previously tortured goblin. The large cave is divided in half by a ten foot high escarpment [a word none of the adventurers know]. A steep natural staircase leads from the lower portion to the upper portion. The air is thick and hazy with smoke and the pungent smell of poorly cured hides and unwashed goblins. On the lower level, five goblins tend the fire, yawning, laughing, fighting, paying little attention to anything. On the upper level is a sixth goblin. Behind it, a human warrior, Sildar Hallwinter. He’s bound and beaten, quite close to Death.
The adventuring torturers debate on how to save the human and they decide on a plan they now enact.
Hiding in the darkness, Ewomir conjures flame and casts it into the five goblins, immediately incinerating two, and badly burning the other three. As Benik rushes in, axe raised high waiting to fall, the goblin from the upper ledge shouts, “Stop, or I gut this fucking human!”
Benik keeps his axe high, aimed at the remaining goblins, but he stops and turns to the other goblin glowering down at him, his hand pressed to Sildar’s throat, a knife in his free hand.
The goblin smiles, “My name is Yeemik! Let’s make a deal.”
Benik scowls, “What kind of deal?”
Yeemik grips Sildar tighter, the knife presses against him, “We’ll speak when the rest of your company come into view.
The company emerges and Yeemik laughs, “Good, good. There should be enough of you. Listen well, I intend to take this cave and tribe for myself! I want you to kill that fucking bugbear, Klarg. That’s why you’re here, yeah? To kill him and get his treasure? If you do what I ask, I’ll spare your little friend here.”
Sildar’s voice comes weak and gravely, “Don’t listen–”
Yeemik shakes him roughly, “Shut the fuck up!” It turns to the company, “Well?”
Glances are exchanged, words are muttered, Sildar begs them not to trust the words of a goblin, and Eric, in desperation, takes control of Yeemik for a moment while Benik kills the three burned goblins with a single swing of his mighty axe. Barents rushes towards Sildar and Ewomir races towards Yeemik.
Eric tries to force Yeemik’s movements, but Yeemik shakes his influence and stabs Sildar in the stomach, kicking him below and preparing to fight the adventuring torturers.
Barents bends down to give first air to Sildar who gasps for air, clinging to life.
Benik quickly jumps up the stairs and brutally knocks Yeemik to the ground, nearly killing him. Ewomir finishes him off with a simple knife thrust as Barents and Eric care for Sildar.
Once Sildar is stable, he tells his story to the accidental heroes, who find his clothes and weaponry nearby.
“Thank you all so much for saving my life. I never thought I’d live to walk on my own again. My name is Sildar Hallwinter and I come from Waterdeep. I’m an agent of the Lord’s Alliance and a griffon cavalry member.”
“I think I’ve heard of you,” Eric says.
Sildar nods, “Many have. I was accompanying Gundren to Phandalin because I had business to attend to there. Iarno ALbrek, a wizard and fellow member of the Lord’s Alliance, disappeared recently there and I need to discover his fate.”
“An ambush, clearly. That bugbear, Klarg. He had orders to capture Gundren. I heard the orders came from the Black Spider, whoever or whatever that is. Gundren was taken to the king of these goblins with some stupid fucking goblin name.”
“Glorb,” Benik says.
“Grol,” Barents says with wink to the dwarf.
Sildar waves his hand, “It doesn’t matter. Gundren had a map to the secret location of the Wave Echo Cave. The goblins took it and surely sent it, along with Gundren, to that Grol. You’ve all entered into some serious business here.”
“You’ve never heard of the Wave Echo Cave?”
The companions exchange looks and shrug.
“Stupid but strong. That’s the best hired muscle there is, I suppose. Gundren had an eye for it. Listen up, the Rockseekers, Gundren, Tharden, and Nundro, discovered the entrance, which leads to the mines of the Phandelver’s Pact. More than five hundred years ago, clans of dwarves and gnomes made an agreement known as the Phandelver’s Pact, by which they would share a rich mine in a wondrous cavern known as–you guessed it–the Wave Echo Cave. Along with it’s mineral wealth, it contained great magical power, or so they say. Human spellcasters allied with the dwarves and gnomes channelled the energy into a great forge, the Forge of Spells, where magic items could be crafted. Times were good and Phandalin prospered as well. But orcs brought disaster, laying waste to the north.
“This powerful force of orcs reinforced by mercenary wizards attacked Wave Echo Cave to seize its riches and immense magic treasures. The wizards aligned with the dwarves and gnomes fought valiantly to defend the Forge of Spells, but few survived the battle that took place there, and the location of the Wave Echo Cave was lost. Until now.”
Ewomir yawns, “That’s some story.”
Sildar exhales loudly through his nose, “If you help me out of here and take me to Phandalin, I’ll pay you fifty gold pieces.
The apathetic heroes accept this but decide to defeat the bugbear, Klarg, as well.
They creep to his lair, Sildar in toe, and prepare their attack. Eric and Ewomir begin chanting while Barents notches an arrow aimed at the bugbear.
The bugbear towers over the goblins beside it. It’s laugh is a terrible noise against the rushing of the waterfalls of the room behind them. It carried an enormous club, nearly the size of Benik the Mighty. Behind Klarg are sacks and crates of looted provisions piled high.
All at once, the adventurers unleash their attack. First the stunning pelts of Eric’s magic darts, then the lightning of Ewomir, then the arrow of Barents. Benik sprints to the bugbear and with a brutal strike, defeats the monstrous Klarg before it can unleash its fury.
The goblins, shocked at what’s just occurred, do the only thing they know how: they fight.
Benik takes two arrows to the back, dropping him to his knees as the wolf pounces on top of him. He holds back its snapping jaws while the others enter the room and quickly take care of the remaining enemies.
As all great adventurers do, they load up the loot and dance in the blood of their fallen enemies. Many smiles and jokes fill the cave full of dead goblins and one dead bugbear. Ewomir smiles, but mentions several times how disappointed he is that he could not drown that one miserable and now dead goblin. He curses the shallowness of the stream as the others carry the loot back to the wagon.
They set their course for Phandalin.