DM Note: Get comfortable…
"Guys, I heard a noise. Over there. It's that damned bugbear, Klarg. He's moving and not dead!"
Klarg is lying there in a pool of his own blood begging for us to spare his life.
He weakly stands up, but can only manage to lean against one of the stolen crates in the back of the room. "I can help you, yes. I can bring you the prisoner man. I will give him to you and then you can leave. Oh, and I can help you more. I can tell you where you can find the ugly little dwa….ugh…"
I guess Varrus became impatient with the bugbear's attempts to bribe us, as the warrior hacked into Klarg with his great sword right across his neck. As the bugbear was falling, I noticed something in it's left hand. A green bottle falling from his grasp crashing onto the floor. I tried to catch it, but it happened all too quickly. In a flash, a green mist engulfed the room. I couldn't see a thing. All I could do is cough. And cough. And cough. I have to try and get out of this room. Where is everyone else? Oh my. I'm fading…
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Oh that stench!! Thankfully my Inquisition training prepared me for this. I (Varrus) can't see anyone. I need to get out of here. I climbed out the small passage back to the room where we encountered the wolves. The mist doesn't seem to be coming into here. Maybe I should go and help… Nah, they will all make it out I'm sure. See there's Krystiana now crawling through the rubble. Hmm… She's stopped moving… Let me drag her in here to safety. I don't see the others. I'll just prop her up against the wall here and she'll be just fine. Now to find another way to that room.
Heading north into the passage, it's getting really dark. So I light a torch and venture forward. Up ahead I see an overpass. There are 2 levels to this place? I think I'll just take the passage I saw going west. Ah nice! There are stepping stones made just to cross the water to that passage. Heading across, I clumsily slipped on the last rock and fell into the water. Aghh! I hit my face on the wall and it freaking hurt!
Just as I was recovering from my little mishap, I hear a strange scream from the northern passage. I don't know what that could have been. More goblins maybe? Then a few seconds after, the loud sound of rushing water! I lost my torch in the fall so I really couldn't see. I just know I need to climb. I think that western passage should be right around here. Just managing to avoid a rush of water coming down the main passage, I climbed up into the passage. Drying off, I attempt to light another torch. My stuff is soaked! It took a few tries, but I finally got one lit.
The western passage led to a dimly lit room with a small pit of fire towards the back. There are 2 goblins in there. As luck had it, they didn't know I was there yet. I battled the 2 goblins, then a 3rd one appeared on a ledge in the back of this cavern. Proceeding further into the cavern, I now see a human prisoner. Time to be a hero! Battling and defeating the 3 vermin, I manage to save the prisoner I later learn to be Sildar Hallwinter. Isn't this that fellow who was traveling with the missing dwarf, Gundren Rockseeker? They must have been ambushed down the Triboar Trail where we found the cart remains.
Sildar is badly beaten. But luckily his gear is here and he has some sort of drink that made his wounds heal. Huh. Convenient. Sildar wants me to help him get back to Phandalin. But I insist I will help only after I find the rest of my group.
After exploring this wretched hideout and dispatching of another couple of goblins, we finally find the room adjacent to the other side of the room where the poison mist was dropped (Brain bender there). Thankfully my friends are all there. They managed to crawl out to safety. But man, they look awful. They are barely conscious, extremely disoriented, and they just don't stop vomiting. And they aren't getting any better.
Sildar and I help the group out of the cavern, and start heading down the trail towards Phandalin. About an hour after getting to the main road, a merchant cart stops and offers assistance getting back to town. We gladly accept.
On the ride to Phandalin, Sildar informs me of the following bits of information:
- The three Rockseeker brothers (Gundren, Tharden, and Nundro) recently located an entrance to the long-lost Wave Echo Cave, the site of the mines of the Phandelver's Pact.
- Klarg, the bugbear who leads this goblin band, had orders to waylay Gundren. Sildar heard from the goblins that the "Black Spider" sent word that the dwarf was to be brought to him. Sildar doesn't know who or what the Black Spider is.
- Gundren had a map showing the secret location of Wave Echo Cave, but the goblins took it when they captured him. Sildar believes that Klarg sent the map and the dwarf to the chief of the Cragmaws at a place called Cragmaw Castle. Sildar doesn't know where that might be, but he suggests someone in Phandalin might know.
- Sildar's contact in Phandalin is a human wizard named Iarno Albrek. The wizard traveled to the town two months ago to establish order there. After the Lords' Alliance received no word from Iarno, Sildar decided to investigate.
Once arriving in Phandalin, Sildar insists we head to the Lionshield Coster. I wait outside trying to care for my friends the best that I can. Inside, I can see Sildar talking to some woman. Then someone else enters the room. Sildar receives some coin from one of them. Finally after what seems an eternity, Sildar comes back with a wizardly looking fellow wearing red robes. He is introduced to me as Iarno Albrek. He says he can help. After examining the ill party, he offers to go get a cleric to assist.
Sildar knowing the town fairly well, escorts us all to an inn. I notice the name, "Stonehill Inn". Hmmm… We get the largest room available. Then about an hour later, the wizard returns with a cleric named Durgold Lightbringer. After careful examination, (which includes skin, blood, sweat, and saliva samples), he claims that he and Iarno need to carefully test the samples to try to figure out any possible remedy.
So we wait. The group is looking worse and worse. I'm starting to wonder if they are going to survive this? Finally the cleric and wizard return. Durgold informs us that he believes he can create a cure, but is missing 1 crucial ingredient. He describes it as "Troll birth fluids". My lord, I think I'm going to hurl just imagining that. "Without this, no cure can be made". Then Iarno offers me a large jug. He claims it's unbreakable and can withstand the elements it needs to contain.
But where the hell do I find a troll? A PREGNANT troll?
Some crazy wizard spell later, I have directions to the Yartar Bridge, a little over a days travel east of here. Fascinating…
Renting a few travel horses, we ride at a feverous pace. Sildar and I are likely getting very close, but we are also losing light. And I am so very tired. So we agree to setup camp and continue at 1st light.
But the evening would not pass without incident. I apparently dozed off during my watch, as I awoke to the realization that something was going on! Sildar was being dragged into the forest by 2 cloaked figures. I began to chase them down when an arrow whizzes by my head from behind! Battling these bandits proves to be extremely challenging. Every time I think I'm about to deliver a death blow, they manage to dodge my blow ever so slightly to lessen impact of the strike. It's uncanny! We manage to kill 1 of the attackers, but the other 2 manage to escape into the forest. Returning to our camp, we notice that they must have gone through our bags!! Missing are some coins and, more importantly, the unbreakable jug!
There was no tracking these rogues down, so we rested the remainder of the night until sunrise. Traveling little more than 2 hours, we see what looks to be a huge bridge about 500 feet ahead. Scouting it out, 2 trolls have made a makeshift home beneath the bridge. Curious as for what to expect, I sent my horse running forward towards the bridge. Closing in about 50 feet from the bridge, a large rock comes flying towards the my horse. Unable to avoid the deadly accurate aim, the horse is struck and killed instantly. What am I going to tell the stablemate?
I go to get a closer look to the west side of the bridge, while Sildar enters the woods out of sight to the east. Seeing no other options, I start firing my crossbow at the male troll who appears to be guarding the female. In return, the troll starts lobbing nearby boulders at me. Getting nowhere, I begin to close in on the bridge. Just as the troll looks like he is going to engage me, I see an arrow come flying and sink deep into it's back. On the other side of the bridge, I see Sildar shoot his bow and then start running into the woods. The male troll begins to give chase east after his ranged attacker.
Sildar glances at me directing me to the bridge. But instead, I give chase to the troll who, in turn, is chasing Sildar. After a few missed crossbow shots and about 100 foot of chase, I feel a strange sensation in my head. I "hear" the voice of Sildar in my head, clear as if he were mere inches from my ear. "You moron! Get to the female troll. We can't possibly defeat them both in combat!" I'll lose the male in the forest.
Getting the hint, I make my way into the underbelly of the bridge. Inside I see the female troll. She is extremely pregnant and her breathing is greatly labored. In my typical style, I take my great sword in hand and begin attacking her. Battling her, I see she is lashing out at me frantically but obviously suffering with being in labor. The female troll is cradling her stomach with every attempted defense. Seeing this opening, I slice open her stomach with my blade. Oh what a mess! Blood, mucus-like fluid, and what looks like a dead embryo now lie in a thick puddle on the ground. The strike heavily staggered the female and she let out an awful scream falling to the ground. Taking my opportunity, I emptied my water skin and refilled it with some of the awful afterbirth that poured out of the creature's belly.
— Krystiana: Ok, the horse sacrifice was bad enough. But it's a good thing I wasn't conscious, as I couldn't protest more as to how this situation with the female troll was handled!!!
Having filled my water skin with this disgusting missing ingredient, I begin running up the path back in the direction we originally traveled. Seconds later, I see Sildar approaching me on horseback from behind. In one short swift move, he reached down and pulls me aboard the horse. Looking back over my shoulder, I can see the female troll crawling towards what was once her ready to be born infant and the male rushing to her side. Both letting out heart wrenching screams of anguish looking down at the remains.
— Krystiana: <crying>
Arriving back at the inn, I deliver the last needed ingredient. Administering the doses, both Iarno Albrek and Durgold Lightbringer assure me that after a good night's rest the group will awake to feel like new men (and a woman). So the wizard, cleric, and Sildar leave us to recover. Quickly I fade off into a deep sleep.
I wake to a calming light breeze coming in through the open window, the sounds of townspeople going about their business, and the peaceful chirping of birds playing in the trees. I head out early to gather some fresh food. The mainroom sign reads "Priest's Bane Inn – Best food in town". Priest's Bane Inn? I could have sworn was called the Stonehill Inn. Hmmm… I gather the best of the food available and return to the room. I look around the room. I first see Bareic lying face down on the makeshift bedding. The skin on his neck and arms, once a yellowish purple, now appearing pale but without foul tint. They must be getting better!
Feeling a sense of relief I head over to the sink. Running water over my hands and face, I reach for the towel. I clear out the crust from my eyes. Looking up into the mirror, I… "OH MY GOD!!!"