The heroes managed to rouse one of the two captured goblins, and after some intimidation, Malfred cast Charm Person and befriended the foul creature. They learned that its name was Butn, and in its friendly state it gladly offered to give the party the directions to Cragmaw Castle. Butn told them that there was a path from Cragmaw Hideout that bent North East to the southern tip of the Neverwinter Wood, and there they would find Cragmaw Castle. Butn also warned them to stay away from the old Giant ruins along the way.
In the course of questioning Butn, they learned that some of the goblins had survived their recent attack on Cragmaw Hideout, and were planning to re-establish themselves as raiders. The party decided to finish clearing out the caves for good, and to retrieve the stolen items there to return to the Lionshield Coster. They did not want to wait until morning (as it was already the deep of the night) and decided to push on on the dark up the goblin path. Along the way they found the remains of the rope snare that had caught Ragnar on their first trip. Further up the path they came to the pit, into which Ragnar had previously fallen. There they found a wounded deer lying broken at the bottom of the pit. Jortran insisted on helping it, and he scrambled down into the pit. He quickly deduced that the deer was mortally wounded, and after calming it, he healed the deer. With the help of his friends the deer was hoisted up out of the pit and sent off into the night.
The party then brutally murdered Butn and tossed his body into the pit, covering his remains with a pitiful layer of earth and torn foliage.
Reaching the Cragmaw caves, the PCs discovered 4 goblins remained alive and holed up in the chamber formerly occupied by the Bugbear leader, Klarg. The goblins surprised them with a flurry of arrows, and then battle was joined. In the end, all four goblins were killed.
After resting in the cleared caves until noon the following day, Tec insisted on scouting ahead along the path to Cragmaw Castle while the other members of the group moved all the stolen goods back to their cart on the Triboar Trail and returned it all to the Lionshield Coster in Phadalin. Lineane Greywind was so happy to have her goods back, she rewarded the party with 50 gold, which the five heroes decided to split among themselves, and not share with Tec.
Tec, meanwhile, headed along the lonely path through tall grass and rolling hills. As night fell he climbed up into the high branches of a tree to sleep. As morning dawned he climbed down from his perch to discover giant-sizes footprints in the dewy grass, which seemed to have been made in the night, and passed right by his hiding place. Following the trail a shirt way he spied in the distance atop a hill what appeared to be a hut of some kind. Getting closer he saw that it was giant-sized itself, and opted to head for a nearby copse of trees to keep an eye on the hut and the distant path for signs of his friends.
The rest of the party, after spending the night in Phandalin, met briefly with Sister Garaele before heading back on foot to meet up with Tec, making straight across the landscape roughly in the direction they thought best. They managed to avoid getting lost, and eventually crossed the goblin path. After some time along the path they too spotted the distant hut, and noticed a small light flashing from a copse of trees. Heading to investigate they found Tec, who told them of the giant-sized footprints in the grass. Malfred wracked his brain and remembered some lore about how all giants liked to live in shelters of some kind or another, and that such wooden huts were usually occupied by Hill Giants. It was decided not to go any nearer the hut for now, and instead they made for Cragmaw Castle.
They camped that night at the edge of the Neverwinter Wood, and in the morning set out into the dark forest. After a while the land began to ascend and a hillock rose out of the treeline, atop which sat a crumbling old castle from a bygone kingdom. Tec left his compatriots in the treeline and scouted around the castle. He noted two doors, and three areas of the wall that had collapsed. Through some of these openings he spied goblins and hobgoblins, but managed to go unseen. Of particular note were all the arrow slits along the castle walls, too high to see into, but from which death could easily rain down upon them. Tec returned to the party, and they fell into deep discussion on how best to assault the castle!
Until next time…