The next morning, we set off in pursuit. Only a few hours down the road, Tilman found the Bloodreavers destination: a mine. A mine at the base a titanic mountain, on the east side of the Thunder Peaks.
Note: We’re in Cormyr now. deGrey seems nervous about that.
Tilman says there’s a couple of cabins on the road, maybe fifty paces before you reach the mine itself. He guesses that they’re checkpoints for wagons hauling good to and from the mine, or maybe they’re guard posts.
He also reports that the mine is protected by a log wall, along with two wooden towers on either side of a sturdy wooden gate.
He couldn’t get a good look, but he saw maybe a half dozen uniformed humans (not hobgoblins) loitering around the cabins. He couldn’t see over the wall from where he was at, but he got the feeling there was definitely activity on the other side.
In a stroke of luck (the Lady of Luck shines upon us once again), on the way back to us, Tilman stumbled upon a defile the looks like it ran perpendicular to the mine’s narrow valley. The tracks that led into the crack into the cleft in the mountain were barely visible. The old ranger followed the tracks as far as he dared, before he heard two voices from around a bend. Hobgoblin voices. He managed to get a quick look, and spotted two hobgoblins fifty feet beyond the bend, guarding an entrance into the mountain. Presumably a kind of back door into the mine.
The party quickly decides the back door would be wisest. The group packs up its gear, ties off the horses, and heads for the defile.
When they reach the split in the mountain face, they encounter a happy-go-lucky gnome.
The gnome introduces himself as Apavan the Illusive . He has come in search of his sister, who was taken by slavers, and the trail has led him here. Apavan joins the party! A plan is quickly cobbled together, and the party springs a surprise attack on the guards. Caught completely flat-footed, the guards are dispatched before they can get anywhere near the door (to ring a nearby warning bell).
Next, a fight with a handful of hobgoblin and goblin guards in a tiny guardroom, just inside the mountain.
Tilman is almost overcome by claustrophobia, but with some inspiration words from Thranduil, he soldiers on.
Koji scouts the passage to the west, and fails to spot a pit in the floor. The Sun Soul monk falls into the pit, injuring himself, but that’s the least of his problems. The pit was rigged with a warning bell, which clangs wildly, echoing down the hall.
The party quickly makes its way down the very long, narrow passageway, hewn from the rock, leading deep into the belly of Thunderspire.
Just as they suspected, the party runs into a small group of hobgoblins sent to investigate. All but one of the wretches is killed. The hostage is put to the question, and quickly gives up his compatriots, who are bivouacked in a room at the end of the passage. And better yet: the passage does indeed lead into the mine.
Apavan, disguised as a goblin, boldly leads the party into the hobgoblin compound, pretending to lead captured slaves. Doing his best to mimic the goblin tongue, Apavan grumbles a greeting of “Hobgoblin-hobgoblin!” to the hobgoblin leader, while Koji puts on a show of being a bound and defeated slave. To his credit, the party does get halfway across the room before the hobgoblins discover the ruse.
A HUGE series of battles ensue. Battles the party definitely did not count on, and were incredibly fortunate to eventually survive.
The fight with the hobgoblins (and a bugbear!) eventually spills into the next room, deeper into the mines, where a couple of human sentries join in the fight – AGAINST the party! As things turn against them and the goblins, one of the humans runs south into a hallway. Koji pursues, but is unable to catch the man.
As the party finishes the goblins, reforms, and charges into the rooms to the south, they crash into a mixed and organized force of humans, lead by a powerful eladrin warrior armed with a magical polearm. Unfortunately for the party’s foes, they are caught in a small section of passages, around a corner. Unable to spread out and bring their ranged forces to bear, the enemy is destroyed beneath the sorcery of Dalsein, and blade of Thranduil, and the fists of Koji. With one exception – Koji delivers a non-lethal blow to the eladrin leader, thinking to learn something of what’s going on here.
As the party is mopping up, checking through the area where the humans had come from, yet another foe is spotted in a southern passage.
ANOTHER fight breaks out. This one spilling into the courtyard of the mine entrance itself.
In the confusion, the eladrin leader ends up dead by Dalsein’s hand. Apparently the half-elf sorcerer can be cold when he needs to be.
A mixed force of humans, a dwarf, a couple of tieflings, a couple of hobgoblins, even a handful of kobolds do battle with the party just inside the mine entrance and into the courtyard.
Koji, ever eager to spite his foes, extends to deeply into the enemy forces and falls.The monks new allies haven’t formed as close a bond as he had with the Heroes of Winterhaven, and there is brief talk of abandoning the monk to his fate. But big things sometimes come in little packages, and if Apavan’s rush into the courtyard is any indication, his gnomish heart is big indeed.
The counterattack is a wild success, and Koji is back on his feet, and back in the fight.
When the dust settles, most of the forces outside the mine are dead. Some manage to flee, but not many.
The party does manage to catch one of their foes, one of the leaders – half-elf merchant named Malcroz “Manycoats”. After some brief questioning, the party learns that there were two merchant companies camped outside the mine. They were here to trade. Apparently goods traded to and from the Underdark have great value in certain circles. Eventually Thranduil lets the merchant go.
Between papers found in the mine and those interrogated, the party learns the following:
- A merchant company called The Iron Throne owns the mine, though no actual mining is being done. It’s a front for trading with the Underdark. The Iron Throne, based in Baldur’s Gate, has a somewhat disreputable reputation.
- Malcroz “Manycoats” was a merchant captain for a compay called the Twilight Traders. They do brisk trade with contacts in the underdark.
- The other merchants were representatives of a company called the Merchant’s League, also out of Baldur’s Gate. The Merchant’s League was led by two tieflings, both slain in the battle.
- You found a note on the eladrin captain within the mine. It warned of a Harper agent that had infiltrated the mine.
- You found two notes on a dead priest of Bane, fallen in the battle with the party. Apparently the priests name was Thelzar Deningoth. One note spoke of a conspiracy between Thelzar and an unknown contact within the walls of Winterhaven! Apparently the contact and Thelzar had hatched the plot to take the people of Wintheraven as slaves (along with the help of the Bloodreavers). The note seemed to infer that Thelzar and the mysterious contact made have been a part of an organization they named “the Black Network”, and that they were not going to notify the Network of their plans, apparently intended to pocket the profit themselves. The second note seems to indicate that Thelzar was going along with the scheme, as he writes to his superior, named “Lord Maur”, informing him that nothing out of the ordinary has been happening at the mine.
The party learns that the Bloodreavers are only a day ahead of them! They and their carts had passed through the mines, and into the catacomb of passages beneath Thunderspire Mountain.
The party rests for the night, just inside the mines.