Along the Triboar Trail, three unwitting travelers came across the aftermath of a raided caravan. Suddenly, arrows were sent flying from the brush, towards the trespassers. Tharivol noticed from the black feathers that these were Cragmaw archers. Lyle called for a hold, and offered to settle the matter at a game of dice. Caelynn attempted to distract the head goblin as Lyle’s fixed game pieces landed fives. Leaving with their lives, the three set camp. Tharivol recounted his noticing an empty map case, and realizing the deeper mystery at hand, they all decided to sneak back.
Tharivol awakened the goblins at the snap of a poorly procured arrow and a skirmish began. Fighting off scavenging goblins, they captured the straggler and brutally interrogated him for information of their hideout. Tharivol detested Caelynn’s treatment of the goblin, how they cut off his hand and eventually discarded his corpse in a pit trap. Lyle procured a simple game piece from one of the corpses. Once at the maw of the cave, Lyle swiftly slit the throats of two oblivious guards.
The travelers entered, following a musky scent that would lead them to two starved wolves. As they charged, Tharivol calmed the beasts and offered them rations from his pack. Satiated, the wolves allowed the three passage. Looking upwards, Caelynn noticed a natural chute ambling upwards. She assisted Lyle in constructing a pulley system with their dungeoneering tools, while Tharivol relied solely on his strength. Just as Lyle was unhooking his harness, a goblin leapt out of the dimness. A large shape arose, revealing the full stature of Klarg, the half-crazed bugbear leader. After a harrowing battle, Tharivol let fly the arrow to slay the beast. He kept the oversized jawbone to remind him of that encounter. Klarg kept his ill-gotten spoils close by, and among the supply boxes Caelynn noticed the blue lion of the Lionshield Coster, a trading post in Phandalin. In Klarg’s chest the recovered a small jade frog with gold eyes inset.
After a short recovery, the travelers curiously explored other passageways. They came across some goblins standing guard by a dam trap, and Lyle shoved one into the water. After a quick skirmish, he broke the barrier, sending the halfling and goblin tumbling down the torrent. Caelynn and Tharivol chased an escaping goblin across the arcing wooden bridge, and landed right into the den. After slaying his unwashed foe in the flood, Lyle ran to accompany his new companions. One hit sent the halfling down, and as he lay recovering, a goblin dangled the body of an aged, damaged man over the rocky ledge, threatening to let him fall unless a truce was decided. As Lyle recovered, another goblin cut him down, sending the elves into a rage. They fired spells and arrows at the charging goblins, piling up corpses where they once stood. The weakened man dropped from the goblin leader’s grasp, yet Tharivol dove and caught him in arms. One last goblin begged for his life, and Caelynn showed mercy, letting the creature flee the cave.
Once revived, the older man revealed himself as Sildar Hallwinter. He explained how Klarg had sent goblins to run him and his dwarven companions off the trail, after capturing them, they dragged them back to their hideout. He overheard from the goblins that a dwarf had been moved to Klarg’s lair, and begged the three rescuers to lead him there. However, upon searching behind crates and boxes they found not Gundren, but Tharden, his brother. Ungagged, the dwarf explained how he heard Klarg planning to send Gundren to Cragmaw Castle. Sildar offered to pay the travelers 60 gold pieces to accompany him and his weakened companion, Tharden, to Phandalin.
Once in Phandalin, Sildar asked the adventurers if they had come across a map in the wreckage of their carriage and they noted the empty leather case. Sildar Hallwinter noticeably lost interest with the adventurers and mentioned his need to meet with Iarno Albrek, a wizard in Phandalin who lost contact with his Alliance. They all proceeded to the Townmaster’s Hall, where he could pay his loan to the travelers. Caelynn exchanged some currency as well. She decided to finally reveal herself to Sildar, an old family friend, who questioned her motives for fleeing the family. He agreed that she was not fit for an arranged marriage, and would not rat her out to her father, yet believed she needed to take it upon herself to return to the Thalias’s, as “a soft word is stronger than a stone fist in these situations”.
Out of good faith and gratitude, Sildar invited the three for drinks at the Stone Hill Inn. Caelynn took this as an advantage to order them all sparkling evermead, on Hallwinter’s tab, of course. Sildar encouraged the three to try zzar, forgetting that elves generally detest the fortified wine, which sent Caelynn and Tharivol retching. Only Lyle found a taste for it, and spent the next moments discussing the qualities of brewery in the northern Sword Coast. Hallwinter recognized his tavern as Thistlebrew’s, in the trade district in Waterdeep. Reaching a certain kinship that only drinking fellows can have so early on, he shook the halfling’s arm, and as he pulled him close, whispered, “I trust you to tell you more. Find lodging for the night and meet me here tomorrow at dawn”.