The party hears screams from the south. Racing toward the sound, they spot a human figure clad in black leather and cloak at the entrance of Gruul Dorga’s cave. Battle ensues. In the end, the heroes discover that a small group of Zentarim operatives had come to pick up the “son of Kavorkian,” which the party deduces was the bundle carried out by an escaping Zentarim slaver during the melee. Inside Gruul Dorga’s cave lie the bodies of several dead half-orc women and a number of slain Zentarim members. Gruul Dorga himself is also dead. In a shocking revelation, Dinsdale recognizes one of the lifeless half-orc women as Dvora Grimbane, one of his sisters. Her abdomen had been cut and her baby stolen from her womb. Eve Nightsheer sends a messenger bird. The session ends at 3:00 p.m., Monday, September 21, 1372 (DR) Third Age.
Dinsdale performs a thorough search of the area and finds a small, crumpled piece of parchment with some strange writing on it, probably in the goblin tongue. Without the means to translate the message, Dinsdale tucks the note away. The party continues onward. After about a half hour of travel, the heroes reach the mouth of a huge cavern. Upon entering, they see a stone guardhouse and two dwarf corpses lying on the ground before it. The bodies each wear the colors of Ostohar’s royal forces. They were recently slain by bladed weapons and their valuables taken. The group finds a young dwarf looking around the guardhouse. He introduces himself as Drathgar. He explains that he is an apprentice weapon smith looking for quenching oil. Drathgar agrees to join the party. Dinsdale finds a map of the immediate area and tells the group that there is a tower near the center of the cavern.
As the adventurers travel further into the enormous cavern, they encounter a lone dwarf who refers to himself as Atrium Alesteiner. Initially hostile, Atrium becomes friendly when Thorak introduces himself as a paladin of Moradin. Atrium offers to sell some of his “cap leather” wares, and warns the party of a series of risks in the nearby area, including: a group of monks to the northeast; a group of fungus men to the east; a slave trader to the southeast; a clan of cave bears to the southwest; borgul or “chamber birds” to the west. He also reveals that the City of Ostohar proper was just recently attacked by warrior skeletons and that a red wizard had passed by only an hour before with a retinue of ten to twelve. Thorak builds a skiff to drag the dwarven corpses along so that they may receive a proper “burial in stone.” The party moves slowly southward through a forest of giant mushrooms. They come to a broad chasm with a single narrow pass to the other side.
Scouting ahead, Dinsdale is intercepted by Eve Nightsheer who explains that just ahead, the red wizard is selling female half orc slaves to a half orc slaver of the “Black Network,” named Gruul Dorga. Eve explains that she does not condone sex slave trafficking, but has a specific directive to observe and not to engage. She agrees to step aside while the party plans an ambush. In time, the red wizard concludes his business with Gruul Dorga and heads north with seven of his guards. Using a combination of fireball and flammable oil, the party is able to kill the guards and subdue the wizard. Oriseus interrogates the wizard using telepathy. The party learns that the red wizard is a low ranking operative of the Red Wizards of Thay. His immediate supervisor is Adkin Thormadra. He says that the Red Wizards really do not keep a presence in the dwarven halls, but that he comes every so often to deliver slaves to Gruul Dorga. He warns Oriseus that he had better bury the red wizard’s body deep and travel far from here because if Himon Tarhun discovers their treachery, he will “stop at nothing to eradicate your presence from the face of Toril.” Dinsdale cuts the wizard’s throat and his body is thrown into the chasm. The session ends at 12:45 p.m. on Monday, September 21, 1372 (DR) Third Age.
Having put down the last of their foes, the party moves southwest after the last of their known enemies – the hill giant and winter wolf. Reaching the sitting giant, the party discovers that his name is Gorgo and that his job is to watch two nests of griffon eggs. The party befriends the giant and his pet wulf and decide to leave Gorgo and his eggs where they are. Finding the entrance to the caverns leading to the dwarven kingdom of Ostohar, the party opens two huge stone doors and enters a reception chamber filled with a contingent of dwarf ghosts. The guards stop the heroes’ passage until they can evaluate each one. Some of the party is let through. Other’s must pay a fee to get past. Beyond, there is a bridge over frozen water to a small island inside a faintly glowing cavern.
Arrakes casts a water walking spell and the group moves forward to a passage beyond. There, they encounter a lone dwarf, Bukhunri or “Buck,” and his goat, Phoebe. After being questioned, Buck reluctantly admits that he assisted a Red Wizard and his entourage into the dwarven caves even though he was pretty sure that the group was probably an enemy of the kingdom. Buck agrees to serve as a guide to Ostohar in exchange for the party’s protection. Buck leads the group to a secret entrance to the dwarven caverns. Before they enter, however, a few of the party runs back and retrieves the eggs, distracting the giant and the wolf with meat. As Gorgo and his pet hungrily devour the gift, Oriseus, Thorak and Dareus put eight griffon eggs into their bag of holding and walk off. Poor Gorgo, not understanding what happened to the eggs and distraught over his failure to effectively safeguard them begins to sob pathetically. Feeling a little guilty, the trio returns to the secret cavern entrance. After a few hours of travel underground, the party encounters an old, decrepit dwarven mine. There, inspecting the abandoned equipment, the adventurers find a small band of dwarven miners, scouting the area for unnoticed veins of ore. They do not mention what kind of ore they are searching for, but agree to allow the party to camp at the location for a long rest, which the party is grateful for.
Before sleeping, the heroes speak with another dwarf who appears to be experiencing heightened intestinal distress. Between odiferous emissions, the dwarf also reports that just an hour or two before, he witnessed a wizard dressed in red with his retinue travelling further into the caverns toward Ostohar proper. He then asks for lothfelag. Buck explains that lothfelag is a powerful subterranean flower with medicinal properties that would most likely cure the dwarf’s embarrassing ailment. Waking the next day, the adventurers embark on their continued journey. Soon, they come to a flooded cavern. High upon the opposite wall grows a patch of lothfelag. Dareus offers to retrieve the flower and learns from Buck that brewing the sap from the roots of the flower and also the flower itself creates something akin to a healing tonic. The party pauses as Buck runs back to deliver some of the precious remedy to his suffering cousin.
The party moves beyond the flooded cavern to a point where the narrow passage opens up again, with a small rivulet running across their path. To their right, the cave floor elevates on two separate, progressive escarpments. With some effort, the party manages to get across the first of two watery barriers. While poised precariously between two running currents, the party is ambushed by a pack of crazed goblins wearing the insignia of the “Skull Crusher” clan – the very same clan that had occupied Tallow’s Deep. Yelling “infidels!” the goblins jump from above and attempt to take the heroes down. Some of the goblins fall or are thrown into the rushing water. Others are slain on the spot. The session ends with the death of the last goblin at 9:45 a.m. on Monday, September 21, 1372 (DR) Third Age.
Dareus retreats to a cave opening. The roof above the cave is a relatively thin layer of stone, atop which Dinsdale has perched himself. Ogres, dire winter wolves and a hill giant charge the cave mouth. Arrakes casts flaming sphere and slams it against the hill giant that has reached Dareus. Oriseus pulls out his wand of paralyzation and directs a beam of magical energy at the giant. The giant falls forward onto the flaming sphere. Moments later, it is dead. Winter wolves leap at Dareus and Thorak. The fighting continues as wolves fall dead before the party. Without warning, two ogres come sliding down the mountainside, out of control and landing in a heap. One breaks through the rock ceiling of the cave tunnel. Both are slain.
Ultimately a frost giant approaches the cave opening, shoving the wolves aside, and with a series of mighty swings, turns the cave ceiling to rubble. Dareus is knocked unconscious. The party moves in retreat, back through the tunnel. The frost giant continues to pursue them, systematically smashing the rock above, causing an ever-advancing cave in. The party is just about to flee when suddenly, behind the frost giant the flying figure of a black leather-clad woman appears and casts a fireball spell into the frost giant’s back. Wounded, the giant turns his ire onto the flying woman, knocking her from the air and stepping on her. As Oriseus and the others watch, Eve Nightsheer disappears from view. Footsteps appear in the snow heading to the south after a retreating hill giant and winter wolf. The heroes ultimately kill the frost giant and his remaining minions – at least those in the immediate area. The session ends at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 20, 1372 (DR) Third Age.
The party pauses in a clearing outside the goblin tunnels to eat and then heads north toward the cave entrance to the Ostohar caverns. After a few hours of travel up and further into the mountains, they come upon a clearing. At the clearing’s edge lie five slain Dwarven soldiers. Thorak recognizes them as soldiers in the royal army. Each appears to have been slain with carefully placed slashing wounds. These killings were not perpetrated by amateurs. Abruptly, a woman drops out of a tree to stand before them. She introduces herself as Eve Nightsheer and explains that she is investigating the area on behalf of her “employer.” She declines to reveal exactly who her employer is. However, after discussion, she does reveal that there is likely a Red Wizard of Thay that has been organizing giant kin in the area – possibly for the purpose of opposing the advancing Mulhorandi army in the east.
She explains that there is an encampment of giant kin (and possibly the Red Wizard) at the opening to the dwarven caverns. She names the wizard as “Tebaud Saurshout.” She also says that he likely has a personal retinue travelling with him, the members of which were likely the real killers of the dwarf corpses. After some persuasion, she agrees to accompany the party northward, at least until they reach the giant camp. The group buries the dwarves and takes a long rest until dawn. When they awake, they resume their travels, coming to the outskirts of the giant encampment at midday. The party sends Dareus and Dinsdale ahead to scout. Ultimately, the two discover a clearing inside the maze of slot caverns in which a group of ogres, hill giants and dire winter wolves have gathered to listen to a larger, blue skinned giant. To their great relief, they hear the blue giant announce that they will be leaving in an hour. However, at that moment, a wolf spots Dareus and charges. Battle ensues. The session ends at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, September 20, 1372 (DR) Third Age.
Two worgs form a barrier against the aggressing adventurers. Meanwhile, Grishog and the other surviving goblins flee through the secret door to the south. The human captives cheer for whom they hope are their liberators. Dareus gives chase to the north. He finds the Black Orc dead, its body lying halfway out of the secret door. Dareus goes through into a hallway. Peering around the corner, he can see the fleeing goblins running at full speed straight for him. Dareus turns and runs the other way, ultimately rounding a second corner and holding there. The frenzied goblins find yet another secret door and run through to the north. Dareus leaps out behind the group and puts a few down. Meanwhile, the rest of the party deals with the worgs. Dinsdale heads north to help his monk companion. Oriseus too. Grishog is killed while fleeing. The rest of the goblins are slain.
Dareus finds a finely crafted helm, longsword and shield – likely of elven make on Grishog. He takes them. Using a detect magic spell, Oriseus finds another secret door leading into a storage area. There, amid crates of soap, grain and other sundries, the party finds a chest containing what they later discover to be a bag of holding with some amount of gold coins inside. Also found is an ivory chest containing six vials – two empty and four containing potions of healing. Finally, a crate contains silver ore. A goblin is captured and through interrogation, reveals the location of another secret door. There, in a small room, rests a huge stockpile of goblin weaponry along with a map to Tallow’s Post. Dinsdale frees the two chained men. The others appear dead. All have been badly beaten and starved for days. The freed men equip themselves with goblin weapons. Arrakes fashions a makeshift suit of studded leather from the armory.
Dareus explains to the men what they saw at Tallow’s Post. Surprised by this news, the men explain that Mulhorandi soldiers are famous for enslaving their captives. They say it is likely that the townsfolk will be made to work the silver mines and the precious metal shipped back to Mulhorand. When asked what they will do next, the men explain that there is a dwarven kingdom to the north in the mountains by the name of Ostohar. They will likely go there and seek refuge. They describe the kingdom as being full of trustworthy and generous dwarves, famous for their metallurgy. They have a temple to both Moradin and Helm. It is revealed that Ostohar is actually Thorak’s home city. He trained there under the priest of Moradin and is a person of some influence there. Then, there was a discussion of the political events and structure of the neighboring nations. Arrakes, having lived more than 3,000 years ago, explains that Enlil was a god-king of Unther and was a powerful and benevolent force in the region. However, explained others, Enlil abdicated the throne centuries ago to his son who was profoundly corrupt. Also, the old Pharaoh of Mulhorand recently died, leaving divine rule to his child son.
Due to the oppressive nature of Untheric governance, the populace had become difficult to placate. Paired with new aggression from its eastern neighbor and ancient enemy, Mulhorand, Unther is now at risk. As the Mulhorand armies have swept westward across Unther, it is likely, according to the party’s new found friends, that the Untheric people will view the Mulhorandi forces as liberators. Since all of Unther’s main cities lie in the northern most region of the country, occupation of the southern three quarters of the nation would be comparatively easy as opposed to an invasion of the rich and heavily populated north. The party next discussed their next steps. Acknowledging that they had originally planned to travel due east, they are now concerned that such a path would take them directly into the Mulhorandi forces. Afraid that they would be overtaken and enslaved, the party discusses the possibility of travelling north with their new friends to Ostohar. In the end it is agreed that they would do just that. Exhausted by weeks of travel and combat, the party exits the goblin caves and sets up camp to prepare themselves for the long and potentially difficult journey northward. The session ends at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, 1372 (DR) Third Age.
The party watches as three worgs retreat down an long passageway. The group discovers that this passage leads out of the complex. The heroes decide to go outside and take a long rest. During their rest, the group hears the sounds of a battle from the direction of Tallow’s Post. Dinsdale is sent to investigate. As he peers over a nearby rise, Dinsdale discovers that the town has been overrun by Muhorandi soldiers. A few of the townsfolk lie dead and the others are being rounded up and bound. Dinsdale returns with his report. The party finds these events odd, as the Mulhorand/Unther border is many hundreds of miles to the east. To find Mulhorandi soldiers here must mean that they traversed the whole of the Unther southlands and all of Dinanean Pass to get here.
The adventurers decide to go back into the goblin caves to see if they can find the goblin leader, which they do the following day. Upon entering the dark caves and weaving their way through the piles of dead monsters, the party catches a glimpse of a goblin to the north, ducking into what must be a secret door. The heroes follow and, after finding some gold in a trapped chest buried in the goblins’ garbage heap, open the secret door. Beyond lies a throne room. A large goblin sits amid dozens of goblin warriors of all types – bombers, alchemists, priests, rat runners, worgs, poison dart throwers and others. He announces himself as Grishog, king of the realm. Grishog demands that the adventurers kneel before him. Also in the room is a large half-ogre creature with obsidian black skin, huge fangs and a breastplate adorned with the image of a ram’s skull in sloppy red paint.
The party deduces that this must be the “Black Orc” referenced earlier by its goblin captive, despite the fact that the creature is not an orc at all. The Black Orc refers to Malebranche and, pointing to the altar at the back of the room, reveals itself to be some sort of acolyte of the evil demon. The altar appears to have been recently constructed from fresh corpses. While most of the flesh has been stripped away, pieces still cling to the white bone that makes up the construct. On the altar’s flat surface rests the skull of a ram with short candles in its eyes, nostrils and mouth. To the left of the altar stand five motionless zombies. To the right of the altar, five men are chained to the wall at the wrists and ankles. Two appear alert. Three are unconscious or dead.
Oriseus notices that Grishog appears to be a little afraid of the Black Orc. He reaches out telepathically and tells the goblin king that the adventurers can help free his tribe from the evil clutches of the Black Orc. A power struggle ensues, unfolding right in front of the party. In the chaos, touched by the party’s magic, a goblin in the back drops a bomb at the foot of the Black Orc, sending flames bursting in every direction. Arrakes takes the opportunity to loose a fireball in the same direction. The Black Orc darts to the north wall and opens a secret door, flames billowing off his back behind him. Countless goblins perish in the flames. Most of the survivors run to the south wall and flee through a secret door found there. Others try to run past the heroes and are slain. The session ends mid-combat at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 19, 1372 (DR) Third Age.