At the end of that summer, the three freemen adventurers - Siliceous Slagg, Jake, and Haruspex Niv - decided to finally go to Grossettgrottell and see if Mather and his clan had a reward for them. They were joined by Niv’s newly hired man-at-arms, Peter, and a new adventurer, Sagan the Nameless, who they suspected was spying on them for Eneever Zig, but let him come anyway.
After an uneventful trip into the Cairn Hills, they finally reached Grossettgrottell, which seemed to be no more than a thorp full of gnome shepherds with a human-sized inn. The inn was run by Halril, an elf maiden, who entertained merchants who could not or would not go down into the warrens (a friendly merchant of this sort they met was John Rown) and gnome shepherds waiting for the bowling games to start. Though they made sure the inn could put up their wagon and two draft horses, it seemed accommodations were scarce because this was a fest day, or a market day, and indeed they were missing it even now in the warrens below.
Moving outside, Slagg quickly found the concealed tunnel entrance to the underground warrens. They were stopped at a guard outpost where the gnomes were suspicious until Slagg described Mather and his nephews, and then they were admitted, and warned not to pet the badgers (they had many opportunities to, but chickened out).
The entry tunnel went past a side passage with a dwarven glyph over it, but they ignored it and pressed on to the trade hall cavern. In this enormous cavern they found the marketplace just starting to break down for the day. They hired a gnome guide for 2 sp who took them to a tunnel that led to the Amdur Clan’s section of the warrens, home to Mather and the nephews, Horach and Pincnan. Here they were received warmly and told they could stay as long as they wanted. A feast would be prepared for them – but the chef Ipayah refused because she had no violet mushrooms for everyone’s favorite dish. The mushrooms could only be found in the Forbidden Caves.
At first, the party wanted nothing to do with the Forbidden Caves. They found the Amdurs’ drinking hall and, socializing with the gnomes there, learned of undisclosed bounties on kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs that infested the Cairn Hills. They told about kobolds bursting into flame when killed, and goblins having special abilities, which may or may not prove to be true. But the Forbidden Caves were starting to sound more tempting, especially when Horach and Pincnan agreed to come and point out poisonous mushrooms to them (the whole “forbidden” thing was really more of a guideline…).
In their first cave, they found poisonous, sticky mushrooms, and normal-sized beetles that seemed to like heat. In the second cave, they found destroying angel mushrooms that were, besides being deadly poison, would explode with a flash if thrown. Jake was collecting some when three giant centipedes attacked him, but they were quickly dispatched by the party without harm. Niv made Peter collect the bodies and place them in his pack.
In a third cave, they found a slick slope and decided it looked too dangerous, so they backtracked to a side passage. Down this way they found a fourth cave with a 4’ cube carved stone in the center of it. Though initially wary of the cube, Jake went in and touched the back side of it, at which time the side facing a small side passage turned white and the side facing a shallow niche turned black. There was definitely some puzzle here, but they decided not to mess with it. It was getting late and they wanted to find their way back. Which they did!
Session 6 (Two weeks later…)
On the two-week anniversary of the party’s arrival in Grossetgrottell (this week’s market day-fest was taking place in the neighboring village of Chataignier), the party was planning to go back and explore the rest of the Forbidden Caves. Haruspex Niv, Jake, and Sagan the Nameless found Siliceous Slagg, who had been spending time with his fellow dwarves in Grossettgrottell, while the others had been staying close with the gnomish Amdur Clan. Their reunion was cut short by a commotion -- the mayor’s son, Zeph, had been kidnapped! Everyone who wasn’t away in Chataignier was mobilized to search, including every burrowing mammal, but the only clue was that something had been seen heading towards the Forbidden Caves!
Mather was rallying his people when he spotted the party. Singing their praises as experts in rescuing gnomes, he also volunteered to come with them, armed with his lucky dagger and a shield he had bought. They also had Niv’s man-at-arms hireling, Peter, along with. Slagg volunteered that he knew of a dwarven hero staying in the area, but the others did not like the thought of splitting treasure with a hero and decided six people was quite enough thank you very much.
The party headed back into the caves, being more careful to map this time, and used Niv’s ESP spell to try and home in on the gnomenappers. They covered a lot of familiar ground at first, making sure the four caves they knew about were not occupied and looking for tracks. It was when they returned to the cave with the magical stone cube in it that Niv’s spell finally detected evil monsters ahead. Still, the party took the time to try and detour around the direction the thoughts emanated from, suspecting an ambush. So they came at a cave with three goblins and four giant rats in it from a slightly different angle. The rats charged at them and the goblins threw their spears, but Jake blocked the tunnel entrance with his shield and the spears all glanced off -- and then their opponents were all dropped by Niv’s Sleep spell. They had minimal treasure -- 12 sp -- and it was decided (after killing the rats) to tie up the goblins and see if they had any information of value. It turned out, their boss was a gnoll, and the gnoll had gnomenapped Zeph. The goblins were guarding his back as the gnoll headed deeper into the caves. After questioning them, Slagg dispatched them with his axe.