The Group awoke the next morning and began formulating their plans on how to best tackle the Redbrand problem. It was obvious they’d need to investigate the manor but a major discussion was had regarding their approach.
Amid this discussion Loristel returned from the forest and joined the group. She had spent the night preforming the necessary rituals for summoning a Pixie to her service. On her way back to the group she also came across Halia Thornton at the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange. She seemed to have a particular problem with the Redbrands and offered the party a generous reward for killing the Redbrand leader Glasstaff and returning any papers or correspondence they might find in the hideout. She also gave a few clues as to the movements of the Redbrands.
With this information the group came to the decision that attacking via the secret entrance through the woods around midday was the best course of action. The gathered their things and after a short rest and a good meal at the Inn they set out towards the manor.
Arriving at the edge of the woods beside the manor, Loristel first sent her Pixie to scout the area ahead. Finding the way clear they entered through a cave beneath the manor. This lead the group into a dark chasm, with dim light illuminating the area above. A foul stench filled the air, clearly emanating from what appeared to be the remains of several bodies. The bodies had been eaten and left to rot, a feast for some as yet unseen monster. The party found the walls of the chasm easily scaled and began their assent to the top.
Above the Chasm they found what was clearly the lower levels of the manor, dank and unkempt. Resembling more of a decaying tomb than a prestigious manor. As they investigated the remains of the old hall they all felt increasingly uneasy, hearing strange voices and finding their hearing becoming muffled, barely able to hear each other. Loristel honed her senses and detected magic emanating from the other side of the chasm. Azor decided to investigate, jumping across the chasm. On the other side he spotted a strange creature hiding behind a broken column. He called out to the group who readied themselves for action. Before they could identify the creature Hotknutz drew his bow and equipped one of his specially made arrows, firing it behind the column.
The arrow was tipped with an oil flask which he had slipped a piece of cloth into. Lighting the cloth before fired the arrow he had created a crude cocktail of fiery death. The flask cracked on impact with the floor and ignited in a ball of fire, gravely wounding the strange creature. Loristel was next to act, crossing the chasm and getting a good look at the creature. Using her vast knowledge she was able to identify the creature as a Nothic, a seldom seen creature who spoke with telepathy and was known to have a particular taste for rotting flesh. She let the rest of the party know what they were up against and the engagement continued. After Xanros failed to hit the Nothic with his bow, Azor ran close to the creature, attempting to grapple with it and throw it into the chasm. Unfortunately the Nothic proved too slippery for him and escaped his grasp. The beast reacted by blasting Azor with his necrotic gaze, searing his hardy draconic flesh and causing grave injury. Azor reacted by recomposing himself and delivering a shattering blow with his fists, outsmarting the creature with his martial skills and plowing his mighty fist straight through the beasts eye. The shattered husk of the Nothic slid off Azor’s fist and collapsed to the ground, the feeling of unease slipping away as it’s body splayed out across the floor.
The group regained their composure but Azor was badly injured, the fight taking a great toll on him. Feeling the need to press on the group continued on through the manor as Azor scaled back down into the chasm unable to continue on he returned to town, eager to rest his wounds.
Xanros scouted some nearby doors ahead. One room contained a group of thugs, heavily engaged in a dice game. The other room he was unable to see into clearly from the keyhole. Honing his instincts he decided to attach a mirror to the end of one of his arrows and slip it beneath the door. Scarcely a moment passed before he saw a large shadow cast over his mirror as a large foot came down and shattered it. The party turned startled, just in time to see Xanros slide swiftly to the side before the door was kicked clean off it’s hinges.
Three bugbears emerged from the room, ambushing the party, clearly they had heard the early conflict and were prepared for this attack. Two went to engage the group directly, Xanros luckily remaining hidden behind the broken door. The other Bugbear walked over to the other room, no doubt attempting to bring the other guards into the fight. Xanros noticed a goblin in the room from which the bugbears emerged. He seemed to have little interest in the fight, appearing to simply fall asleep as soon as the battle began. Xanros headed into the room to investigate.
The rest of the party engaged in a tough fight with the two bugbears as sounds of a scuffle could be heard from the other read, something clearly delaying the bugbear seeking assistance. Xanros had ventured into the room to investigate the strange goblin. His people skills clearly still lacking, Xanros woke the goblin and began threatening him with his dagger. The Goblin was unresponsive, cowering in a ball and retreating under the bed.
The party eventually emerged victorious, defeating one bugbear and leaving the other severely injured. In desperation the bugbear staggered as fast as it could towards the guard room, hoping for assistance. He barged into the room, and discovered the game table had been overturned and his bugbear companion was on the floor, being pummeled to death by the group of guards. Apparently he’d interrupted their fun and they didn’t take kindly to folks barging in and ruining their fun. The guards turned to the bugbear, just in time to see him disabled by an arrow to the knee from Hotnutz, smashed down by Gareth’s mighty warhammer and finally pieced through the chest by sharp shards of ice from Loristel’s powerful magic.
As they watched the creature collapse to the ground, Hotnutz emerged with his bow drawn on them. He shouted for surrender. Silence fell as the guards looked at each other for a moment before raising their arms to the air and surrendering.
Unfortunately they had very little information to share but they did give up the location of Glasstaff, his quaters apparently just the next room over. Clearly only loyal to the coin the group decided the bandits were harmless and let them go.
Meanwhile in the other room, Loristel applied a lighter touch and encouraged the Goblin out from hiding. His information proved much more beneficial. He revealed that he was working for the Cragmaws and was acting as a guide for the bugbears who were overseeing operations in the manor. He called himself ‘Droop’ and swore no allegiance to the Cragmaws, feeling more of a servant than a colleague. He seemed more than happy to help the party and promised to escort them to Cragmaw Castle, where he confirmed Gundren Rockseeker was being held captive.
The information gathered, they sent Droop to wait in the nearby woods, fearing he might be attacked if he went to town on his own. They party then went on to pursue Glasstaff. Unfortunately it appears all the comotion had given the wizard enough time to flee the Manor through a secret escape route, an empty bottle suggesting he’d scoffed a potion of invisibility before he fled. This made the chances of finding him highly unlikely and the party believed it best to investigate his quarters rather than fruitlessly persuing him.
Luckily in his haste he left behind a crucial document. It was a letter which read:
My spies in Neverwinter tell me that strangers are due to arrive in Phandalin. They could be working for the Dwarves. Capture them if you can, kill them if you must, but don’t allow them to upset our plans. See that any dwarven maps in their possession are delivered to me with hast. I’m counting on you, Iarno. Don’t disappoint me.
The note had been stamped with the symbol of a black spider. Calling card of the nefarious Black Spider who seemed to playing a big game, somehow motivated by the Rockseekers’ latest discovery. It’s identity however still remained a mystery.
More importantly this lead to the revelation that the Glasstaff was actually Iarno Albrek, the Lords Alliance contact that Sildar had been sent here to make contact with.
This information and their new companion in tow, the group set out back into town to meet back up with Azor and break the bad news to Sildar.