After a brief but hopefully nonserious discussion about leaving Gillian to her fate, the party charged in after her . . . only to come to the anticlimactic realization that the large carvern into which they stumbled throgh the mist was silent and did not appear to contain any danger.
The party set up some dancing lights and lit their lanterns, ever watchful for the least sign of danger . . . which Stumble found in the form of three alert, but caged, worgs at the southwest end of the cavern. The creatures seemed content to let the party go about their business without disturbance for the time being.
Meanwhile, during an investigation of the east end, Rabbit and Gillian discovered three sleeping watch goblins. Gillian, Esmir, and Lucien “incapacitated” the goblins as quickly as possible just as one was waking up from his drunken slumber.
Emboldened by their success, the party crept closer to the bearhide curtain covering the doorway deeper into the caverns. Esmir scrambled up the slippery ramp and listened at the door: There were some goblins on the other side, but they did not seem to be aware of the party’s presence.
Esmir pulled himself up to his full height, screwed his courage to the sticking place, and walked through the curtain. Using bits of the overheard conversation to advantage, he declared: “I’m an agent of ‘The Hand’ sent to save you from Noaak!”
The party listened briefly to a conversation (not a fight!) in Goblinygook, and then got a little impatient with the proceedings and rushed through the curtain, weapons drawn, to find three very scared goblins who’d been disturbed in the middle of a card game. After a surprisingly inept attempt by some members of the party to skewer said goblins, Rabbit managed to convince the party that the goblins weren’t a threat at the moment, and Esmir told them to get lost, which they did.
A huge door of Dwarven manufacture made the party even more curious about the goblin tribe (and one particular member of the party feeling very vengeful!). They made their way down the corridor, checking as they advanced for sneaky goblin traps
. . . and soon came to a desecrated dwarven temple.
Stumble was understandably a bit upset by this.
The party tidied up just a little bit, and in doing so found two interesting things: A ruined healing fountain under a broken statue, and a secret drawer in the altar that looked to hold a sword—almost certainly the one Gillian was carrying, and perhaps a helmet or crown.
Across the hall, meanwhile, Gillian, Esmir and Lucien had discovered a trap on a door the hard way. The healing fountain came in handy for this.
Down the same corridor, where the workmanship got rougher and rougher until it was natural cavern again, was a pile of rubble with a dangerous buggy smell beyond. The party declined to investigate this further, heading back up the passageway and straight to the door of a mutated, huge goblinoid that was very unhappy to see them. It hefted two huge axes, but some quick thinking from the party with grapples and a grease spell disarmed and restrained the creature. Dispatching him from there was, in the end, not difficult.
The party made its way deeper into the caverns, discovering the kitchen (more paprika!), and what appeared to be the barracks—And Lucien jammed the lock on the door to keep the numerous goblins in their place.
Finally our adventurers came to the last door in the caverns, behind which they knew they would find the goblin’s commanders. They prepared themselves, readied spells, and kicked open the door, arrows and spells flying, charged into battle, and made short work of the flower of goblin foot soldiery (which granted wasn’t very sophisticated). The goblin chief happened to be wearing a very nice helm of dwarven manufacture, which read “Goblin King.” This was without a doubt the helm to match the sword’s place in the dwarven altar. They tied up their captive chief and tossed him down the stairs into Noaak’s chamber.
Then the creature spoke in a frightening voice, cowering a few of the less hardy party members. But our heroes were not to be deterred. They walked down the steps into the creature’s lair.
Noaak, they discovered quickly, was a huge winged shadowy creature that looked like someone’s erotic dream gone horribly, horribly wrong. A beautiful woman’s body, but with the head and wings of some gigantic demon, it swung an axe as big as Sable and nearly took his arm off as he made his way into the cavern.
While the party’s strongest fighters confronted this horrible creature, Gillian and Rabbit snuck past(employing some magical distractions along the way) and found a pile of loot that no doubt came from the sacked caravan the party was searching for. They began tearing through the pile.
Meanwhile, the fighters were taking apart Noaak piece by piece, but the creature’s flight and exceptional strength, coupled with a fearful presence, made their success less than certain. Bringing to bear all their skill, though, they greatly wounded the creature, which retreated momentarily into the darkness above.
At this moment, Rabbit at last laid his hands on the scepter the party sought. He glanced back and forth between the monster, the scepter, and Gillian and quickly decided to hand the artifact over to the “herbalist”. Holding the scepter out in front of her, she called to the dream monster and declared that she could show “her” how to use it.
The monster was intrigued, and for the moment, the party seemed safe from further combat. It reached out its hand toward the scepter . . .
And Gillian trapped it inside a vessel, in this case a random coin purse that Gillian had. Rabbit cast sleep on Gillian to send her to the dreamscape, where she left the creature. The danger was passed.
Now the party was free to ransack the massive haul from the caravans: hundreds of gold pieces, some magic items, and other supplies. The party split some of the treasure but intend to send the rest back to town with the human captives.
Stumble reclaimed the Dwarven crown from the lead goblin and used it, along with some intimidation from his companions, to convince the rest of the goblin population to abandon the Dwarven compund that they had taken for their own.
Finding himself a bit stronger and more confident in his abilities, Stumble decided to give the Consecrate ritual a go in the temple, and found that he was able to cast it, Moradin be blessed. After a brief contest of wills, the goblin slaying sword and controlling crown were returned to the altar. When they were in place, Gillian heard a click and discovered another compartment below the altar. A beautiful suit of Dwarven armor, a mithral holy symbol, and a journal were discovered. The book detailed the how the Dwarfs who built this place had discovered an “evil from below”.
During the night, Gillian recieved a scroll from Queen Catharine in her dreams. The scroll was a Royal Decree to Lord Hasingstoke, instructing the noble to grant Knighthood upon Sable, creating him the leader of the Emerald Order.
The party again discussed checking out the rough buggy passageway beyond the temple . . . which might be necessary if they decided to maintain the caverns as a base of operation.