Plop leads us to the hideout and points out two traps at the entrance. The way Plop responds to Mystan makes Cloud doubt the goblin’s married.
Ahvin reveals to us that Plop is much smarter than he lets on.
The usual two sentries are missing and Mystan orders to tie Plop to her front to be her new shield. If they get attacked, Plop would be hit first.
Mystan and Plop argue until we remember we’re on a rescue mission. Ahvin moves near the bushes and finds nothing so goes back and offers to free Plop. Mystan acquiesces and sets him free after threatening his life if he double crosses us.
Naghan sings and three glowing orbs appear to give the group soft illumination as we enter the pitch-dark cavern. Mystan disappears, surprising us all as she and Ahvin creep in further. Next to follow is Cloud and Naghan. Zenadeera and Neela approach last as they announce their presence with clatters and clumps on their way in.
Mystan and Ahvin smell first before they see the pile of refuse in an opening around a corner on the right. Their concentration shatters when the bard strums his ukulele and declares in sudden loud triumph, “There’s F!” We shush him with frantic futility, our efforts adding to the clamor.
Cloud and Zinadeera move up, the first follows Mystan further into the malodorous room (we think it’s the latrine) where they find a ledge with a drop; it’s a shoot-like a drain and looks to be open to a couple more levels below. They ask Naghan to come further in and to bring his lights with him. Cloud tries to peer over the ledge and kicks over a rock which clatters down in noisy progression. She thinks she hears distant angry mutters and the sounds of flesh being beaten.
With a flash of inspiration, Cloud proposes to Mystan the climbing skill of a spider but the dragonborn refuses. With a light touch, Naghan strums his ukulele and sings in a whisper, “Spider dragon, spider dragon, doing the thing that spider dragons do.”
Neela still in the main hallway gets a whiff of a threat further ahead. She whispers as loud as she dares to everyone of the incoming threat. Unconcerned, Cloud offers to climb down with Mystan. This encourages the dragonborn who climbs down and immediately loses her footing and falls. She touches down a few ledges below; grunts aloud from the impact and groans in disgust when she lands on an extra rancid pile of poo.
Cloud forgets herself and guffaws at the sight. The echoes of her laughter draws a wolf’s attention below and a level above Mystan. It approaches the shoot and begins to growl up at Cloud with murder in its eyes. The dragonborn wrenches the wolf with angry force down to her. On the level the wolf was on, a bugbear barks in alarm and anger and his goblin goons join in. Mystan messed with his favorite pet and the unhappy bugbear halts the beating of our captured friend, Sylvar to face this surprising new development.
Cloud manages to skillfully drop down beside Mystan and imbues the dragonborn with wooden reinforcement to her armor. Ahvin plants his hooded lamp further down the main hall and Zinadeera joins him to prepare for Neela’s perceived incoming threat.
Neela and Naghan move into the fetid room, reluctant to leave either pair on their own. But when the wolf rips a chunk out of Mystan, Neela jumps into action. The half-orc mutters a prayer to Pelor, “Let your light be a tool against evil!” A mace shimmering with Pelor’s light bursts into the wolf. Neela follows up her prayer with an attempt to climb down to join her friends when she slips on the same rock Mystan did before her. The wolf yelps aloud when Neela lands on it. She turns and grins up at Mystan who, still soiled with putrid refuse, mutters at the half orc in irritation.
In an amazing show of skill and ease, Naghan parkours down to the level with the goblins, bugbear, and our captured friend. The goliath picks the first goblin he sees, strums his ukulele and sings a threat at it, “Unhand our human you stupid goblin!” It rears back and throws its hands to its ears.
Zinadeera turns to Ahvin and apologizes, “I’m sorry my tiny friend. I’m going to help the morons.” The gnome zips over through the rancid room to the ledge. Still skillfully but not as impressive as the goliath – perhaps his size works to his advantage – the monk descends down with minimal effort, pulls a fist back in challenge and waits for the first goblin to give her a chance. She didn’t wait long. A goblin charges into her fist and lands solidly on the ground.
Another goblin attacks Naghan, its size making the weapon thrust come far too close to the bard’s most tender place. The goliath throws up a knee and dances around the goblin. It steps back and another approaches which allows Naghan the opportunity to lunge and filet it down.
Ahvin anchors a rope to a solid standing rock. He throws over the slack and makes ready to climb down. This gives him the chance to see Cloud stretch out her paws and like earlier, an ice knife bursts forward and slams into the bugbear. Two of his goblin goons beside him drop and he recoils.
As much as she would like to light the wolf on fire, Mystan resists and moves to stab it. The close quarters with both wolf and half-orc in the bottom of the shoot with her renders her attack useless. She resorts to more basic violence. She bares her sharp teeth and chomps down hard around the wolf’s neck. With fierce aggression, she shakes it back and forth like a dog with a toy. Mystan aims and releases the now-dead creature to land at the feet of the bugbear. Blood from the wolf sprays everywhere as it flies into the air and lands at its master’s feet; only the halfling at the top of the ledge is spared as red mess hits everyone in an impressive show.
There is a moment when the only sound is the pitiful mewls of the bugbear upon the horrifying sight of his pet. This is the moment Neela learns a bugbear can sound terrifying even when mourning.
Neela prays and her palm glows with Pelor’s healing light. She smacks the dragornborn’s backside as Mystan charges by to engage the bugbear. Zinadeera also charges the bugbear, misses with both strikes but manages a two-finger poke to the eyes. The bugbear mocks the monk calling the gnome short. Naghan, half hears this, turns his attention from the remaining goblins to the bugbear, “What did you just call ME?” and strums, “Don’t call me a shrimp, mother fucker!” This psychically blasts the bugbear who roars in anguish.
Ahvin, finding his opportunity, climbs down his rope, draws his crossbow, takes aim and fires the bolt. The bugbear points to Zinadeera and explains to Naghan, “THAT one shrimp…” when a bolt buries itself deep in its neck and it stumbles down. In the middle of charging the bugbear when it drops, Mystan changes direction and gets busy removing ears from both it and its pet wolf as Neela approaches with another healing slap to her rump. “Would you hold still?”
Naghan approaches to Sylvar, removes his ties and asks after his health. He tells us Gunthar was taken to a place they call Cragsmar Castle to the Black Spider. Sylvar hires us to investigate who exactly this Black Spider is, but he needs to get back to town first.
We search through the cavern and among other items we find a Lionshield Coster which is a supply crate for the town of Phalandin’s black smith. Cloud determines everyone the hideout is empty – for now – and Ahvin asks Mystan to torch all the goblin’s personal effects. We leave the cave and find a safe campsite to spend the night.
Mystan prepares the campfire and lines fourteen stones around – one for each of her hatch-lings. The dragonborn gifts Cloud something fluffy. It’s a plushy. She then hands each of us a little token for tolerating her hardheadedness – a river stone from home. If put to question, she denies any and all emotional attachment.