Six months have passed since our heroes have established themselves and played a major hand in defeating the drow agent known as the Spider and his band of Redbrand Roughians, returning the lost Mines of Phandelver to the Rockseeker Clan of dwarves, who have moved in and begun operations once more. In the following months, the former wild frontier hamlet of Phandelin in the north of the Menowood has transformed into a bustling export town, and the homestead gifted to the Paladin Punty by the Lords Alliance has boomed into a popular Inn for those traveling between the town and major seaport cities such as Naerie, over a week’s journey to the northwest. The Gnomish merchant clans of the Waltons and Dayton-Hudsons have set up respective operations at opposite ends of the town, engaging in underhanded industrial espionage operations which are typical of their kind.
The Lords Alliance has assumed nominal administrative oversight of the town under the guidance of Sildar Hallwinter, who has been largely successful in building a society dedicated to commerce, law and respect for all life. The former Burgomaster, Harbin, still serves as mayor, though in a more nominal sense as Hallwinter’s assistant, a position which Harbin is more than happy to fulfill.
So it is that things are progressing very well for the town, until one day a visitor comes to town, a cleric named Sten who has traveled approximately 100 miles from a town called Darkshelf in the east. Darkshelf is a far outpost in the Kingdom of Sunndi, whose entire economy is based upon the export of stones of varying types from Darkshelf Quarry.
Sten has been sent to ask the heroes’ help by the overlord of Darkshelf, Nestor, who has concerns on several accounts:
- The mines have been suddenly producing too much, too fast since a new, mysterious clan of dwarves under the guidance of one Bazili Erak. Erak has been astoundingly successful at overseeing the mines, but is never seen, instead sending an elf named Glyrthiel to handle all dealings and negotiations.
- A few weeks ago, there was an accident in the mines where an underground aquifier was accidentally breached, flooding some of the lower portions, and resulting in a number of miners’ deaths. That has since been cleaned up, but since that time, there have been disappearances and deaths around town. Bodies have been found partially eaten. At first the bodies were near the local river and carnivorous fish were blamed; later, bodies have been found further inland.
- Slavers have been active in the area. Several weeks back, Bazili led a raid on a slaver camp, killing the slavers and freeing 20 captives. The surviving slave leaders were brought back to town and quickly tried and executed, a process that Nestor felt was “too fast and too clean.”
- Nestor sent an agent named Kwon into the mines to investigate operations. He hasn’t heard from Kwon in several weeks; his last report revealed two alternate entries into the mines: a hidden shaft and a hidden dock on the local rivers.
The heroes agree to investigate the situation, discover if there’s anything untoward going on, and if possible, find Kwon. The direct approach fails, largely due to the PCs attempting to be honest about their intent to just have a look around and make sure everything is all right. A few warning shots from the guards convince them that there is indeed something to hide, and to pursue an alternate entrance. They opt for the river dock. It takes them a few hours to find it, and Gah-Ri and Faervel co-opt a small boat from a local fisherman and they set off to find the hidden entrance.
The boat leads them to a cave that leads deep into the depths of the mines. As they stand on the shores, they are suddenly attacked by two fearsome creatures, amphibious in nature with enormous claws and teeth, and displaying the ability to emit electrical fields. They manage to deal with the monsters, theorizing that these are the cause of the local deaths, and move deeper into the mines.
After assessing their options (passage ways all leading east at the north, due east, and southern areas of the large cabin), the group opts for a south passage where they enter a room with a hot spring, full of sulfurous air. Here they are attacked by a group of giant frogs that emerge from the spring. Gah-ri launches a fireball, which detonates the flammable air. He manages to kill the majority of the frogs, but the group gets a bit singed as a result. Teh remainder of the battle goes quickly, little more than a cleanup for the more experienced heroes. From here, the group decides to take a breather to consider their next move…