Gundren was clearly excited about the trip, but declined to elaborate further in regards to the cause of his enthusiasm, saying only that he and his brothers had “found something big,” and that he’d pay ten gold pieces to each person willing to escort his supplies safely to Barthen’s Provisions, a trading post in Phandalin.
Each with their own motivations, a party was formed: Coriander the human chef, Prince Klastes Kolpos the wandering tiefling noble, Sparklegem the gnome bard, Evie the elf druid, and Tig Gearkroft the traveling gnome wizard. These five souls would form the caravan on the road to Phandalin.
Gundren then set out a few days ahead of the caravan, along with a warrior escort named Sildar Hallwinter, claiming he needed to arrive early to “take care of a few things.”
After getting their affairs in order, the group loaded up the wagon and horses and set out on their way. They spent a few days following the High Road south from Neverwinter and getting to know one another, and had just recently veered east along the Triboar Trail thus far having thankfully encountered no trouble. In the early afternoon, Klastes, who had been riding slightly ahead, spotted some dark shapes ahead blocking the trail.
Klastes signaled to the caravan, and his companipns slowed and stopped behind cautiously. He examined the two dead horses in the center of the road: they were Gundren’s and Sildar’s mounts, having been peppered with black-fletched arrows and left here for dead. They seemed to have been lying here for some time.
After just a moment of investigation, a crude arrow shot forth from the trees, piercing Klastes’ arm, followed by a guttural cheer. Goblins!
The party fanned out, Klastes hefting his greataxe “The Ladies” and charging after the nearest goblin. Evie sent bolts of fire into the woods, striking and killing the other nearest to the road. Coriander set about examining the horses for traces of Sildar and Gundren. Tig weaved a spell, causing one of the archers to slip and fall prone while Sparklegem sent rocks flying into the trees with her sling. Klastes flew into a powerful rage at having been injured, easily cleaving through one of the goblins and leaving it dead. In the scuffle on the other side of the road, Evie suffered an arrow wound to the abdomen. Seeing two of the four goblins still standing, Tig pointed a finger on each hand and sent forth scintillating magic missiles in either direction, impacting hard into the last remaining foes, felling them.
After the short battle was over, the party joined Coriander near the horses. The saddlebags had been rifled through, and anything of value had been taken. An empty map case lay discarded nearby, similarly emptied. Sparklegem took the opportunity to weave a healing song that closed Evie’s wounds, and with Coriander’s help, Evie was able to spy a goblin trail that led away from the road – the tracks indicated two humanoids had been dragged in that direction, most likely Gundren and Sildar.
The party made the unanimous decision to follow the trail in search of Gundren and Sildar. The wagon and horses they left tied up out of sight, and they set out on foot.
Klastes, traveling ahead once again, narrowly but deftly avoided stepping into a rope snare, which otherwise would have dragged him up into a tree. Following this, Evie decided to go out in front to look for further traps. Thankfully, her watchful gaze helped them to avoid a pit that had been dug out and thinly covered with leaves and branches.
Following the path for about five miles, it eventually led them to the goblins’ hideout — a large cave in a hillside. A shallow stream flowed out of the cave mouth, surrounded on the east by dens briar thickets. Evie, still in the lead, approached the mouth of the cave, only to be greeted by a few (poorly-aimed) arrows a pair of goblins who had been lying in ambush within the thickets. The party made quick work of them, but Sparklegem met with an arrow in her leg.
The group then entered the cave, following a narrow dry path to the east of the stream. Coriander lit a torch for visibility, and just ahead, they spied a small cavern to their right. As they rounded the corner, they saw a pair of wolves chained to a stalagmite, ill-tempered and snarling. Evie, with her affinity for nature, was able to placate them with kind words and food, and they proceeded to ignore the party.
They explored the cavern, which stank of animal musk and urine. The walls narrowed to a steep fissure on the eastern wall, and the base of the fissure was littered with rubbish, animal bones, and other garbage. Looking up through the fissure, Klastes could see dim light about thirty feet above. He decided to make the climb to inspect what might be above, leaving the party behind for the moment. Klastes climbed his way up the fissure, finding there a few more goblins, as well as a bugbear and his pet wolf. A small campfire was lit there, and there appeared to be stacks of supplies that must have been raided from other travelers along the Triboar Trail.
As he hid in the shadows behind a stalagmite, Coriander called up the shaft in a loud voice, alerting the Goblins. The bugbear shouted an order in Goblin (“Go, look”) and the nearest goblin made for the fissure where Klastes was hiding. Klastes made an attempt to grab the goblin before it could discover him or his companions, but failed to do so. The goblin yelled an alarm, and the rest were alerted to his presence.
“Who dares defy Klarg?!” shouted the bugbear in broken Common.
Evie and Coriander scrambled to start climbing the shaft as well, so as to help their friend, while the gnomes remained below. Klastes grabbed the goblin who had spotted him, and threw him down the fissure. The goblin screamed as he fell past Coriander and bumping Evie. He landed heavily at the bottom, where he met a swift end from Tig’s crossbow. Fearing further trouble, Sparklegem used her healing magic to close her leg wound.
Working together — and with some inspiration from Sparklegem below) — Klastes, Coriander, and Evie were able to fell the remaining goblin and Klarg’s pet wolf, Ripper. Klarg made a swing with his wickedly spiked greatclub but failed to injure Klastes. Seeing his pets and minions dead, he retreated into the caves to the north, out of sight for now.