After resting in the large cavern, the two adventurers, Draco and Nasir, decided to continue exploring the caves. Making their way to the far side of the stream, they entered the “eating room” which was a big communal rooms for the goblins to eat and sleep in. The warrior hired by Gundren Rockseeker as an escort was being kept here, a human named Sildar Hallwinter. Though the alarm was instantly raised, the goblins fell easily before Draco and Nasir, and the Yeemik, the goblin’s leader, threatened to drop Sildar off a precipice if the two did not cease their attacks. They did so, and Yeemik demanded the head of Klarg, the bugbear and Yeemik’s only rival to dominating the goblins of Cragmaw Hideout. Despite Sildar gasping out a pained warning not to trust the goblin, the two adventurers agreed, but Draco turned to leave, then drew a javelin, and spun back to face Yeemik, hurling the javelin into the foul creature’s chest, in a risky, deceptive ploy. Nasir completed the rescue by using the last of his healing magic on Sildar.
At this point, there was a metagame moment, as Svetlana mentioned she was not having fun playing Nasir, and wanted to change her character. Given the essentially resolved nature of this stage of the adventure, I agreed, and Nasir was replaced with Joswin, a human fighter of noble birth.
After recovering, Sildar filled the pair in with what he knew. Draco and Joswin explored the only remaining portion of the caverns, a fungal farm guarded by a would-be goblin alchemist. Something mysterious seemed to be going on in the fungal room, but lacking any expertise, the spelunking pair agreed to return with an alchemist, druid, or other knowledgeable person.
The three humans left the hideout, returned to the wagon of supplies, and continued to Phandalin. they arrived without further incident in the early evening, and headed straight for the Stonehill Inn to drop off Sildar, then delivered the supplies they’d been escorting to Barthen’s Provisions. Upon hearing of Gundren’s abduction, Barthen filled them in on the dwarf’s goals, and urged the pair to rescue him.
Wandering around town after dealing with Barthen, Draco and Joswin tried to get more information on the exact location of Cragmaw Castle. Passing the Lionshield Coster, they recalled the stolen supplies they had left in the hideout, and entered to inform the proprietor, a woman named Linene, of this. After quizzing the men about any connection to the Redbrands, she showed them to the back room, where she keeps armor and weaponry, and offered them a modest sum of store credit for their information about the lost supplies. Draco eagerly accepted the opportunity to acquire some armor, having been bloodied rather heavily in the hideout due to his lack of any protection whatsoever.
Their next stop was the house of the local priestess, an elven follower of Tymora named Sister Garaele. She welcomed the strangers, feeding them a light supper and supplying what information she could, encouraging them to deal with the Redbrands, but she could offer no further advice on finding Cragmaw Castle. She did present her own task, asking if the pair could convince a banshee at Conyberry to answer a question regarding a legendary mage. She also pointed the adventurers to the Alderleaf farm, confident the halfling family would have information to lead to the answers they seek.
Draco and Joswin decided to look into the Redbrands that everyone had been talking about, and headed straight for the Sleeping Giant taphouse. The swaggering Redbrands lounging outside immediately provoked a fight, but having double the numbers, quickly forced the pair of strangers into a retreat. Chafing under the ignominy of this defeat, the pair licked their wounds and skirted the taphouse, heading to the abandoned Tresendar Manor, which they’d heard was where the Redbrands were coming from. It took them almost no time at all to find the unguarded entrance to the basement.
In the wine cellar beyond this unguarded entrance, they methodically searched the room, finding a hidden treasure cache, but also attracting the attention of a pair of Redbrand guards. With the numbers being equal, Draco and Joswin slew the Redbrand pair without too much difficulty, then decided to proceed through a hidden door that they’d found. The hallway beyond led to a large rom, fractured by a steep chasm running the length of it. Draco spotted a hideous, one-eyed abomination peering at them from behind a pillar, which he recognized as a Nothic, a creature of insanity formed when a mage seeks out forbidden knowledge. Keeping their distance, they crossed the chasm using a bridge the Redbrands had crudely built, and headed down another hall, when a mad, cackling voice echoed inside their heads. It was the nothic, who bargained with the pair for food. Sufficiently bribed, the nothic helped the pair defeat four Redbrands in the underground Common room, rotting the flesh off of one Redbrand and disfiguring another while Draco and Joswin slew the remainder. On their end, the pair of adventurers paid off the nothic with salted pork from the wine cellar, and it scampered off, happy to have a meal larger than the scraps the Redbrands had been throwing him.
Not further on, the intrepid pair found Iarno’s hastily-abandoned library and alchemy room, and gave chase. Stymied by the lack of his secret escape satchel, and lacking the endurance of his pursuers, he finally turned to face them after a brief chase through the fields outside of Phandalin. Joswin and Draco were not your typical mindless thugs, however, and Iarno’s enchantments had no effect on either. Within moments he was pinned down by the pair, and immediately surrendered. Draco had several choice words for the despicable, power-hungry wizard, but refrained from any violence, and Iarno was escorted to a cell in Phandalin’s Townmaster Hall.