18 Flamerule – 1490 – Year of the Star Walker’s Return
At the end of episode 6 we left our heroes outside a door in a darkened hallway on Cragmaw Castle, having just dispatched some goblins. Ragnar heard something from behind the door that sounded like deep guttural voices whispering in a goblinoid tongue. Small Tec moved forward and deftly picked the lock of the door while, at the same time, Tristan the Barbarian pulled aside the curtain hiding whatever lay beyond the south of this L-shaped hall.
Immediately upon peeking through the curtain, Tristan saw a room being used as barracks, empty save for what he later claimed was a female drow elf. The elf smirked at him, and wrenched open another door at the opposite end of the room. She did not go through the door, however, but disappeared over a pile of rubble demarking a partially collapsed stretch of wall. From within the darkness beyond the door there was sudden animalistic screeching sound that echoed loudly through the room and up the hall.
Tristan immediately rushed forward to investigate, with his compatriots hot on his heels, and came face to beak with a huge Owlbear! The owlbear tore in to Tristan immediately, leaving him bloodied. His companions assisted as best they could with magic from behind him, but in the end Tristan used his barbaric rage to bury his axe deep in to the Owlbear’s head.
While they were attacking the terrified Owlbear, the PCs found themselves under attached from the rear, as Hobgoblins appeared from behind the formerly locked door and fired arrows. The battle then shifted back towards that end of the room, as more hobgoblins and wolf poured into the hall. Driving them on was a huge Bugbear with a terrific countenance. Clearly this was King Grol. Tristan and Grol traded insults, and attacks, as Tristan swung his axe, and the king swung his morning star.
As the last of his Hobgoblin warriors fell, King Grol surprised the party by slamming the door closed. As the heroes ripped the door open they discovered Grol had fled through a collapsed portion of wall to the outside. Ragnar and Tristan gave chase, and Tristan spied the fleeing goblin king running to the east. As Tristan bore down upon Grol, ready to finish him with his barbarian rage, an arrow from Tec’s bow flashed past Tristan, burying itself in the back of the king’s head, and dropping him heavily to the ground.
In the distance dark clouds were forming, and thunder began to rumble. With the king of the goblins dead, the heroes finished searching the castle, finding treasure, their friend Gundren Rockseeker, and his map. They roused Gundren with a potion of healing, and he could remember only the initial attack on the Triboar Trail, and occasionally being conscious while being beaten and tortured by Grol. He recalled a drow elf, whom Grol addressed as Vyerith, who was saying that the map must be taken to The Black Spider, but more than that he could not remember.
While Eamon questioned Gundren, Malfred and Tristan discovered two terrified goblins hiding in a small room, while Tec ascertained there were no secret passages or stairways, and Jortran and Ragnar skinned the owlbear, keeping its pelt, some meat, and its pineal gland, which Jortran had read could fetch a good price on the black market as a hallucinogen.
Some of the party wanted to let the two goblins go, so they could spread the tales of the Cragmaw Killers far and wide, hoping to deter other goblinoids from coming to the area, but Eamon insisted on trying the goblins for their crimes. He passed judgement on them, and after a brief struggle, summarily executed the poor wretched creatures, who were unarmed and scared out of their wits, their only crime being their enforced indentured servitude to the vile King Grol.
While Eamon was murdering the two goblins, Tristan washed himself in the heavy rain of the thunderstorm that now fell in the area. He then returned to the body of the fallen king, and lopped off the beast’s head to take back to Phandalin. Upon returning to his friends, they divied up the loot they’d found, and placed Grol’s head in the leather sack he’d had under his bed. Ragnar also retrieved Sildar Hallwinter’s belongings from one of the goblin storerooms, along with a very ornately carved quarterstaff, that he gave to Jortran.
Now the heroes plan to head back to Phandalin; the only question is, do they leave immediately and travel through the downpour, likely having to camp in the night, or do they stay the night in the leaking, cold, full-of-cadavers Cragmaw Castle?
UNTIL NEXT TIME…