Two days after fending off a group of assassins, the current party of adventurers were resting, recovering, and relaxing at the Sleeping Wizard Inn. In fairly quick succession, they received two messages. The first was from Thoradin Ironstar, a dwarf paladin and friend of Luak, asking to meet with them. The second message was from Donnell Waynwood, the leader of the local Stone Hawks garrison, inquiring for their assisstance.
The party first met with Thoradin at the Grinning Dragon Inn. The dwarf explained that a few months ago, one of his kinsmen had set out and attempted to start a new mining operation in the Redstone Hills a few days travel to the west of town. They had set up their base in the ruins of an old tower, and things had seemed to be progressing well. However, few weeks ago, all communication from the prospectors had ceased.
Thoradin greatly wished to know what had befallen his clansmen. Unfortunately, his honor and duty called him away to help defend the dwarves of Bronzehammer Halls from some unknown threat that had attacked their underground patrols. Turning to Shivra with both caution and suspicion, he said, “We fear an incursion from the Underdark. My people suspect drow or the dark dwarves.” He could offer a small reward if they found out for him while he was away. Thoradin would return in around ten days, to hear back from them.
Thoradin needed a response from the party before he left town later in the day. The party told him that they needed to hear from Donnell Waynwood before agreeing to help Thoradin, since the Stone Hawk sergeant was also requesting their help. The party agreed to give Thoradin an answer before he left town.
When the party met with Donnell Waynwood, he told them of how some farms and hunters’ cabins to the south of town had looked like they had been attacked. All of their inhabitants had gone missing. The veteran soldier asked them to investigate these disappearances, doing what they could to keep the area safe. He couldn’t afford to spare any men, especially with the increasing threat from the minotaur tribe to the west.
Before leaving town, the party decided to gather some information. Stravo used his many skills to gather from a soldier in the Stone Hawks that most likely, the attacks to the south of Hawksbridge were perpetrated by some type of goblins.
The party then returned to Grinning Dragon Inn to speak with Thoradin. Stravo explained the situation to Thoradin of the situation to the south of town. After taking a moment to discuss their plans, the party made a final decision to help Thoradin. Meanwhile, Shivra sat at the table with Thoradin in a private conversation until the party returned. The party agreed to help and the dwarf gave them his thanks, as well as some gold and a healing potion.
Concerned for his parents that live outside of town, Stravo has Eth send an animal messenger to the half-elf’s parents. He warned them of the increasing dangers in the region. Then the party set out to the west, to find the dwarven prospectors.
Stravo performed a song, laced with a bit of magic, to help the group travel faster. They quickly traveled over the land, but the Redstone Hills are dangerous. The party was ambushed by a group of goblin raiders. After the initial shock wore off, however, the adventurers quickly composed themselves and defeated the goblins with little effort. Crono charged headlong into the goblins, dropping multiple goblins with each sword blast. Malroc proved his toughness, gathering a group of goblins around him and calmly withstanding the chill as Eth dropped a blast of frost on him, freezing the surrounding goblins. Everyone worked in concert to end the goblin threat.
The journey to the new mines continued, and the travel was uneventful. The group found the remnants of the dwarven prospectors’ camp, as well as the ruins of the old tower. The camp had signs of a struggle throughout, with much of the tents torn and shredded, with dried bloodstains all over the camp, but ominously, with no bodies to be found.
Nearby, there was a cave entrance, with heaps of earth and stone piled near the outside of the cave mouth. As the party approached, they heard some odd, high-pitched voices and the sound of some things moving around deeper within the cave, but as they drew nearer, the sounds stopped.
Hoping to surprise whatever was in the cave, the party’s melee combatants rushed into the entrance. It was they who were surprised, however, as they accidentally set off a tripwire, causing a load of rocks to drop on them, causing minor injuries. At this, from deeper in the cave, there came the sound of many voices giggling with delight.
The light from the outside didn’t enter very far into the cave, so while the elf, eladin, half-elf, and drow could see well enough in the low light, Malroc and Luak could not. The party broke out the sunrods, and the drow rogue moved ahead to scout, taking the point position. The cavern split into two different caves, one larger and one smaller. The larger one had a series of ever-higher ledges, each roughly five feet higher than the one before, while the smaller cave sloped upward more gradually. The noises they had heard earlier had come from the larger cave, so this was the one they chose to investigate first.
Shivra snuck through the first part of the cave without incident, reaching the first ledge. There, she saw a multitude of dead bodies and half-eaten corpses, appearing to be the remains of the dwarven prospectors. The rest of the party entered into the cave as Shivra vaulted up onto the first ledge.
These monsters were exceptionally sneaky, on their home turf, and well-prepared. As soon as the drow rogue got up on the first ledge, a small, reptillian humanoid lept up from among the bodies of the slain dwarves, screaming shrilly, and launched a javelin at Shivra. At this signal, nearly a dozen of his brethren leapt up from their hiding places, charging the surprised rogue before she could fully get her bearing.
The kobolds quickly swarmed the drow, hacking and jabbing at her with their jagged, rusty weapons. Shivra would have quickly been overcome, but thinking quickly, Stravo was the first to respond. The half-elf conjured a thunderous, magically-charged battle cry that blasted the kobolds surrounding Shivra to their deaths. Seeing an opening, he called for Shivra to dodge to her left, away from the kobolds, but further into the cave. Moving purely on instinct, the drow did as the bard hoped, leaping clear of the surrounding kobolds.
The rest of the party charged in, eager for blood. Luak was perhaps, too eager. While he sliced the legs out from under his first kobold, his ensuing bloodlust made him less accurate, frustrating the competitive goliath to no end. Malroc also waded fearlessly into combat. Again, Crono and Eth entered gleefully into combat, each one battering groups of kobolds into mush with their area effect spells.
Shivra fought viciously, using every trick at her disposal to fight off the kobolds and buy time for her companions to fight their way to her. Just as they were slaughtering the last few kobolds, shrill cries from further back in the cave alerted them to the presence of more enemies. More kobolds, including heavily armored ones, a spell-casting one, and even a small, hatchling blue dragon charged across the large cavern toward them.
This fight was much more brutal and dangerous. The druid and bard matched against the kobold wyrmpriest, with Stravo taking the worst of that exchange. The half-elf bard was blasted to within an inch of his life, and would have died if not for the timely aid of his companions. The minotaur, eladrin, and drow systematically hacked their way through the remaining kobolds and severely wounded the dragon, who fled further back into the cave. Luak took an undue amount of time before dealing with a couple of kobolds. Frustrated and angry, the barbarian charged into the depths of the cave, landing the killing blow on the hatchling dragon.
After the battle, the party searched the rest of the cavern. As they sifted through the bodies, they discovered a dwarf who wore a signet ring that bore the symbol of the Ironstar clan, likely Thoradin’s kinsman. On the body of the kobold wyrmpriest, they found a small book, written in a script that none of them could understand. In the back of the book was a note, written in Draconic. In the rooms under the ancient tower, they found crates bearing the mark of Bronzehammer Halls. Keeping the ring, they gathered all the remaining bodies of the dwarves into a pile outside and burned them, creating a massive funeral pyre.
Believing that they had accomplished all that they could and learned everything possible here, the party of adventurers returned home to Hawksbridge, thinking deeply about the events that had just occurred, as well as the the plans fate had in store for them . . . .