Wealday, 7 Pharast, 4734
Having vanquished the undead spiders in the cliffside cave and left their wagon there under Shalelu’s care, the Rune Wardens investigate the narrow tunnel at the back of the cavern. The passage is very narrow, ranging from 3 to 5 feet, forcing them to advance single file. It is pitch darkness, save for the dim light from Lea’s earthbreaker.
They reach a fork in the tunnel and Amelia pauses to try to determine the correct direction. Several minutes pass while she examines the area. Suddenly, small shapes dart among party, cackling and kicking at them with spiked steel boots. They look like ugly, scrawny gnomish men with wispy white beards. All of them carry oversized scythes and wear ugly red caps.
After kicking the party, they duck back into cover among the darkened tunnels. They chortle to each other about having trespassers in their tunnels to prey upon. Before the party can react to this threat, the redcaps dash back out kicking at them again.
Astrid, Lea, and Amelia brace their backs against the tunnel walls and prepare to strike at the next little redcap to appear. Marcus, meanwhile, hurls a fireball through a crack in the rock towards what he believes to be the largest concentration of the ugly little men.
The redcaps shriek for the death of the wizard and charge out with their sickles held high. Astrid and Lea kill several of them, Marcus wounds another with his ranseur. The remaining little men swarm Amelia, mistakenly believing her—the least armored adventurer—to be the mage.
The Rune Wardens make short work of them, leaving one redcap alive who calls for parley. They learn that the evil fey have no love for Mokmurian or his giants, who drove them into these tunnels after they reclaimed the caverns below Jorgenfist. The party persuades the survivor to grant them safe passage through the maze of tunnels so that they can attack the giants. The redcap warns them that a dangerous kobold woman guards the tunnel exit for Mokmurian.
As they proceed, the adventurers are startled by the arrival of the trumpet archon Ilmiring who teleports in Zavian and Ajay. The cleric is much changed from his state just a few days ago, bearing metallic wings and renewed powers now granted by the goddess Sarenrae. The reunited Rune Wardens quickly catch each other up, while Ilmiring bids them farewell.
The narrow tunnel eventually opens out into a much larger cavern. Astrid scouts ahead but can see very little due to the lack of light. She does hear the distant sound of a smithy. After reporting back to the others, the whole party advances. That’s when Enga Keckvia jumps them.
Using the natural chokepoint of the narrow tunnel, the kobold barbarian puts up a fierce fight. Astrid takes the brunt of it, while Lea is unable to get her blazing earthbreaker into bear in the confined space. Amelia’s use of dimension door allows the party to flank the creature and bring it down.
Amelia and Ajay hang back to loot the body while Lea marches down a passage looking for a fight. Zavian, Astrid, and Marcus hastily follow. The four of them come upon a trio of ogre leather workers tanning hides around a boiling vat. They catch the ogres completely unawares. Lea charges right up to them, Marcus gets into ranseur range, and Zavian closes to cast a spell. Astrid hangs back to loose arrows at them.
The fighting goes poorly for the ogres, but it draws the attention of two laconic stone giants from the adjacent smithy. Astrid, hanging back in the corridor, is their first target. With all but one of the ogres subdued, Zavian and Marcus move to help the beleaguered Astrid. Amelia arrives and uses cacophonous call to inflict nausea on one of the giants. The smiths are strictly cut down.
Once the fighting is done, the Rune wardens can here the sound of people calling out for help from inside the smithy. Ajay races ahead of the group and Zavian chases after her. They find that the giants were keeping slaves to help them work the enormous smithy bellows. The captives include several dwarves, who’ve had their beards shaved off, as well as another half dozen Mwangi—including Ajay’s brother Egan, known as “Egg.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the party is approached by an elderly stone giantess named Conna who wants to talk in a safe location. The party leaves their ogre captive in her care, while they escort the freed prisoners back through the redcap tunnels to the spider cave. They ask Shalelu to begin ferrying them back to the Rune Wardens’ hidden camp using Marcus’ wagon. One of the dwarves is impressed with the wagon and wants to talk with Marcus later about marketing it to Janderhoff prospectors.
Once the freed captives are safe, the Rune Wardens reunite with Conna and the ogre captive in a cave haunted by the spirit of her murdered husband. She explains that she’s caught on to Mokmurian’s deal with Karzoug and recognizes that he will doom all of Varisia. Conna gives them the lay of the land and tells them that Mokmurian is one level below, in an ancient library. Before continuing, the party decides to rest in Marcus’ rope trick.