The clan followed a general easterly route through the caverns until they entered a large chamber with a giant stone bear in the southeastern corner. The shaman went forward and made gestures and incantations, and the great statue of the bear animated and moved out of the way, opening a passage deeper into the mountain. Beyond this passage lay the sub-caves where the barbarians slept and kept their stores and the great cave, in the center of which a huge crystal column reminiscent of the trunk of a tree grew from floor to ceiling. It was into this crystal structure that the Chief of the Bear Clan later entered after speaking some words, as though the crystal were merely water.
The group, given a place to lay their bedding in the sub caves, discovered that they could come and go as they pleased. The caverns beyond the stone bear were theirs to explore as they wished. The group thanked the Chief, but chose to wait until their friends return before venturing forth. While they waited, the scribe Balin took accountings from each person on the words of the Fortune Teller to try to make sense of her words. Gallandro sacrificed one of the magical potions to form a bond of Sorcerer and Familiar with the Pseudo-Dragon, who agreed solely under the stipulation that he was not to take her for granted. Toll searched in vain for a liquor stash that the barbarian’s might have, but discovered than only the Shamans seemed to have some and only for medicinal purposes.
Meanwhile, the group of hunters made their way to the caves, with Misha discovering that her skin seemed to be a bit tight feeling, as though consuming the heart of the beast had actually changed her in some way. How she did not know, but she asked Kobort not to reveal the circumstances to the rest of the group. Three days after the clan had entered the cavern the hunters arrived. One hunter moved to the entrance to the cave, and blew a great horn. Less than fifteen minutes later, a troop of one hundred warriors came to escort them back – plus the concerned Toll. Misha spoke with Acelia about the heart incident, but Acelia admitted that she was not yet powerful enough to discern any difference. The next morning, the group began to explore.
The companions journeyed back to the entry cave and took the cobweb-strewn Northwest Passage. The passage eventually opened into a large chamber with many chains running from floor to ceiling, as well as many webs. The group spread out entering the chamber, with Kobort stumbling and sticking to a web. Misha attempted to cut him out, but discovered that the webbing was very tough. It took three strong cuts of a dagger to damage it. Unfortunately, before she could finish, the room’s inhabitant, a Large Fiendish Spider leapt to attack Kobort, weakening him with its venom. Gwendon rushed from the room’s edge to help, but was tangled up in the webbing, which resisted any attempt to burn it. Misha tumbled away from the combat, ending up stuck to another web – but not stuck enough to prevent her from peppering the spider with her bow. Toll rushed up and cast a Bane spell on the spider, scaring it enough that its next strike missed its mark. Gallandro rushed up to Gwendon to try to help free her. After striking it twice with his sword, Kobort was relieved when Misha finished it off with her bow.
Moving on to the north from the chamber, the group entered a larger cavern. Like the room before, most of this cavern has chain both dangling from the ceiling and stretching from floor to ceiling. In one corner had a makeshift hammock of chains that appeared to be a bed. In the northeast portion of the chamber where there were no chains was a Portable Forge setup and 150 lb of metal ore. In the center of the room was a spherical steel strongbox suspended in the air with eight chains attached to it. The group searched the room, but discovered no other items of worth. Gwendon climbed a chain near the strongbox and examined it, noting that there was a simple padlock on the front of it holding it up. Ignoring any dangers that a ‘simple’ trap may present, she picked the lock and released the chest, also releasing several jars of poisonous gas to fill the room. Everyone but Gwendon and Misha made it out of the room unscathed, with Misha having to drag Gwendon’s near dead body from the cave.
The group moved east, noting the Iron Bound Wooden door surrounded with skulls that likely marked the location of a back way into the Goblin Caves. Continuing east, they came to a large corridor leading north, with tracks of Kobolds, Hobgoblin, and Large Lizards having worn an even tread into the ground going northeast and exiting to the Southeast. Scouting northeast, the group discovered that there were around 15 campfires in the cavern ahead, surrounded by Kobolds. Gwendon moved forward a bit more and counted over 270 of the little buggers. Strangely, when she returned she was all set to attack them – where moments before she had complained that the party would do the same. In the end, she went back to check on the poison gas, and the group moved down the Southeast passage. What they found, upon moving down the rough stone corridor, was a blockade of wood that had been set up along the southwestern wall to create a pen. Currently empty, they determined that it was in fact a slave pen of sorts – probably where one of the groups of goblinoids in the caves kept their prisoners. Gwendon arrived shortly to tell the group that the mist had not yet dissipated.
The group continued on, entering a cavern that had at one time been the scene of a large battle between orcs and kobolds. Kobort and Gwendon noticed a fresher kill located further in the cavern and moved to investigate. They did not get too far, however, before a clutch of nine Darkmantle descended on the group, surprising them. A battle ensued, with many injuries on the Group’s side before they finally emerged victorious. Though no one fell in battle, the toil of so many combats began to take its toll. Investigating the body that led them into the chamber in the first place, the group discovered a drained of all its fluid dressed in robes.
The group returned to the chamber of chains to open the chest – the process of which took a little over 2 hours. All traps removed from the chest rendered it harmless, and upon opening it, they discovered much loot. Satisfied with their days haul, the group returned to the Barbarian Caves for a good bout of rest and recuperation.
After a good days rest and much debate, the group decided to go exploring with only three days left until ‘All Dragons Eve’ (With one vote of ‘heck no’ by Gwendon). Taking the Southwestern passage from just outside of the clan caves, the party quickly discovered a statue of a human wearing armor – apparently running in fear. Closer inspection discovered that the statue was not a transformed human, but a decently carved statue. It was also discovered that the statue was stone that came out of the ground, not just a carving sitting on the ground.
Continuing on, the group came into an open cavern with giant faces carved into the wall and began to cross it. Toll, moving through the center of the chamber, fell through the floor, but was saved at the last moment by Misha. It was at that moment, however, that the Earth Elemental that made the cavern its home came a calling. It slammed up from the ground underneath Misha, lifting her into the air with the brutality of the attack. She managed to hold onto Toll, however, and tossed him to safety before tumbling off the elemental. Combat then ensued, with a few exchanges of blows before the elemental dived down the pit, failing to take Misha with it.
The group spread out, waiting for the return of their attacker. Return it did, this time slamming Kobort from below. Kobort managed to slide off it, and the Elemental was quickly finished off before it could sink back into the floor to sneak attack again. After a quick bout of healing and uncovering the traps in the chamber, a thorough search turned up no treasure, so the group continued down the tunnel leading from the chamber. In the next room, they discovered many more statues of apparent victims of the elemental. It apparently had a macabre artistic streak that needed to be sated.
Strangely, Gwendon walked straight to a niche in the south wall and started smashing at it with her magical cane. Toll decided to help and the two spent a better part of an hour breaking the wall down. Gwendon finally was able to squeeze her way into the passage, albeit painfully. While she was exploring, Toll opened up a bigger hole. What they discovered was a cache of weapons and armor, Weapons and Armor that Gwendon and Toll both took choice pieces for their own use. The group decided to leave most of the cache there while they continued to explore, and moved on.
Heading up north of where they came out into the entry cavern, the group discovered a tunnel leading right – possibly into the Orc’s territory – and the tunnel leading left – possibly into the goblin territory. Deciding to investigate left, they eventually came to an intersection where they could go south or west – with the way west marked with skulls denoting it as Goblin territory. Venturing south, they came into a garbage dump cavern, in which some of the garbage moved! Deciding that it was not worth investigating further, the group moved back to the main passage – only to meet Gwendon coming in from the west passage at a run. Seems while the group was playing in the stench, she decided to investigate the Goblin Cavern – only to discover that in addition to 400 or so Goblins, the cavern also housed eight Worgs and three Dire Wolves – who noticed her scent.
Deciding that the stink of the dump would throw the animals off, Misha led the group back into the dump cavern, where they hid. A few moments passed as the Goblins came down and decided that the group had not come this way – not that it mattered if they had since ‘IT’ would get them. As they left, ‘IT’ decided to try, and the shambling mound that made the cave a home slammed both Acelia and Toll – nearly killing Acelia in the process. Combat ensued, will Toll casting his magic to good use, frightening the creature enough to distract its attacks. In a surprising move, Gwendon actually rescued Acelia, placing the druids well being above her own. Finally, the group triumphed over the Shambling Mound, with Toll absorbing its dwindling life force to strengthen his own. The group remained in the cavern until the entire goblin patrols had returned – only to learn that the goblins had found their stash and stole it! The group decided to retreat to the clan caves for the day, as they were exhausted after their smell ordeal.