On June 12th, Year 12, with their contract expanded and a bunch of possible locations to search from Rovert, the adventurers searching for information about the missing dryads spent the weekend at Shadow Spires before setting out to the giant caves on Rovert’s map just a few miles south of the tower.
- Randall (HuS): Level 11 Human Druid (Level 3 Druid Grove)
- Oliver: Level 7 Winged Fox Animal Companion
- Snass (TrS): Level 5 Kobold Monk
- Irssdanish (First Claw): Awakened Wolf
- Minssdanish (Second Claw): Awakened Wolf
- Wolf Animal Companion
- Polly (MiM): Level 5 Dwarf Brawler
By late morning, they have managed to search them out in the thick forest. They see two massive cave entrances at a distance, Randall’s keen eyes picking out another two mounds like those the caves enter beyond them through the trees. Approaching the nearest one at the nearest edge, they see a high wall partitioning it down the middle and a 10 foot wide stair descending along the near wall. A drop filling the rest of the half width of the cavern, as far as they can see, falls only 10 feet before running out 10 feet and dropping again. They immediately suspect them to be Nefil stairs, with the smaller stairs being for the orcs and goblins that served them.
They descend the stairs, aware of the massive spider webs above, and as it gets dark fend off an attack by a few giant spiders with little trouble, other than Polly being briefly paralyzed. Randall’s dagger summons a unicorn for the combat as well, to the confusion of the group (Randall’s dagger is starting to be more understood).
At the base of the stairs, they see several trolls prepared for their descent, alerted by the sound of battle with the spiders and the glowing light of the unicorn, now vanished. This particular party contains no one who has seen a troll, so they don’t recognize them, but seeing the defensive posture they send Randall to speak to them. They don’t understand each other’s speech, but the trolls indicate he should wait while they send a messenger.
Soon, a 20-foot-tall troll joins the front line. He has a dryad head and shoulders, face contorted in a tortured scream, for a helmet and speaks broken elvish. Randall learns that he (Grandidge) is the leader of these trolls and that he was behind the band of fog-shrouded trolls that entered the Vale years ago. They have been more restricted since losing their fog toads in that activity. It turns out they haven’t been able to catch more dryads and didn’t know they had departed. He is interested in possibly trading with them for another dryad or more fog toads if they can find them.
With the possibility of a trade relationship, Grandidge invites them into his community to see his treasure horde so they can know what kind of wealth he can offer in return. On the way, they learn that he invented the language the trolls speak and that he incentivizes them to learn it by forcing those who cannot to eat their own tongues (which of course regrow). He also has a troll that offends his guests dragged off, assuring them it will be punished with being cut in half and forced to fight itself. They see other hoards of treasure as they move through the caverns under the massive main cave and Grandidge explains that the other trolls pay him tribute and he has the best stuff.
As they go, they can feel a warm prickling on their skin and realize they are taking damage. Grandidge leads them to a huge lead door and when he opens it, the prickling gets worse. It opens onto his treasure and throne room where they see a significant supply of treasure and equipment and a second door they assume the source of the prickling must be through. Grandidge assures them he is the only one who can stand to go in there.
With their health rapidly failing, they get out after looking briefly over his treasure. Grandidge gives them a tour of the rest of the facility via the smaller stairs connecting the four stairways to the tunnels under the 30-foot trench and the plateau in the center of the trench. At the trench level, a massive (100 feet high or so) tunnel extends either direction. Grandidge doesn’t know where it goes, but says it is too dangerous for him to have explored very far. He thinks it must connect to somewhere the other ways.
They promise to tell others about the desire for fog toads and that his trolls are too dangerous to take their treasure by force. They return to Rovert’s Tower and tell him about his troll neighbors and recover from the sickness they feel after being in his facility.
I fully expected them to fight and be driven away after catching a glimpse of Grandidge. Of course, whenever Randall is involved I should expect diplomacy. I think they will find that Grandidge is not a very good neighbor, though.