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.
The next cave had a high ledge overlooking it like a balcony and there was a lone goblin guard watching them from the balcony. The party went back to get the three throwing spears from the dead goblins and come back, but when they did they found the lone sentry had gone and got all his friends -- four of them -- to come man the balcony with him. They lobbed javelins at the party, lightly injuring Slagg, and nearly killing Mather (he was saved at the last minute by Jake’s only cure spell). The javelin-tossers were chased back by flaming oil, but soon the cave was filled with smoke and too dangerous for the party to stay. Luckily, there was another tunnel down here to try…
Which lead to a cave with the gnoll in it, accompanied by a lone goblin, and a sack with something moving in it. The goblin met the advancing party and blew out Jake’s torch (being able to blow out torches was something the gnomes had told them goblins could do -- and it turned out to be true!). The gnoll was running towards a tunnel on the other side of the cave when the lights went out; Sagan tossed a Sleep spell down the tunnel as far as it could go and caught the gnoll in it, which they found out after Slagg dispatched the remaining goblin. Sure enough, Zeph was sleeping now in the bag, but they woke him up. Mather comforted Zeph while the gnoll was tied up. The party quickly decided they would bring back their prisoner to face gnomish justice…and maybe collect a reward for capturing him. They also found the cave the gnoll had fled into was the cave of violet mushrooms -- the very delicacies they had been looking for last time! They filled the sack that had held Zeph with the delicious mushrooms and started to head back.
But not all the way back yet. There was something Sagan had noticed while mapping…that a dead end they had seen earlier seemed to come to the other side of the balcony cave. They all went there and searched it for secret doors. They almost found none, but Peter found it, searching a little further back in the tunnel from the dead end. This lead to the secret lair of the six remaining goblins, who were felled by another Sleep spell. In a chest, they had 9 cp, 300 sp, and 31 ep, which the party took.
And lastly, Jake wanted to back and gather 16 more “exploding” destroying angel mushrooms, enough to fill the remainder of space in his backpack.
When returning to the Village of Corippo, they returned Zeph, and were treated to a 50 gp reward, plus 20 more for bringing them the blackguard who had abducted him. The violet mushrooms were worth 50 gp to the Amdur Clan (and shared only with the Amdur Clan, cementing their cooking- related power in the community!). Jake looked into if the destroying angel mushrooms were saleable and learned that the four he’d picked two weeks ago would rot in the next few days, meaning his collection was of limited value.