Battle at the Farm
The party has cleared Cragmaw Castle and rescued Gundren Rockseeker. Gundren wants to return to Phandalin, to search for his remaining missing brothers Tharden and Nundro. The characters already learned the the location of Wave Echo Cave from Reidoth the Druid, so escort him to Phandalin.
200 XP. Returned Gundren to Phandalin.
The players then travel to Wave Echo Cave. Eric is carrying the map that leads to the Cave. During their travel, the PCs see a column of smoke. Investigating, they come across a large clearing. At the center of the clearing is a farmhouse surrounded by crop fields. The farmhouse is burning, and some figures can be seen nearby.
As the party nears the farmhouse, they can see that 2 figures, an adult human male and female, are prone and unmoving. The 3rd figure is an adult teenage girl, kneeling near the other two. All are covered in blood. As the party arrives, the obvious conclusion is that this farming family has been attacked, the adults have been slain, and that the girl is in shock. Eric attempts to deliver aid, and while the girl doesn’t speak, she doesn’t flee either.
A hunting horn blares at the edge of the clearing, and a warparty of 3 Hobgoblins mounted on warhorses gallops into view. They are heavy armed and obviously proficient at mounted combat. They demand that the party surrender the map. The terrain is flat round for hundreds of yards, giving the riders a huge advantage. The party rightly concludes that this was a planned lure and ambush. Upon seeing the riders, the girl grabs onto Eric and won’t let go.
The battle uses mounted combat, as described here.
The next rounds are chaotic. The riders engage in a series of hit and run charges, darting in and out and relying on lance strikes. The PCs scatter and try to use the burning farmhouse to block charging angles. Eric is impeded because he doesn’t want to put the girl at risk. Despite the disadvantages, the party has enough ranged firepower to defeat the riders, and wound the warhorses so that they flee.
As the PCs are mopping up, Eric also passes an Insight check and detects that the girl was searching his pockets. Simultaneously, she bolts for the treeline. After the party puts a few few arrows in the back, the stands her ground and reveals her true form. She is Vyerith, a Doppleganger, and she previously escaped the party in Cragmaw Castle. She was in the form of a female drow then.
The party defeats Vyerith and finds the map she stole from Eric. In addition, they find another map. This crude map shows the interior of Wave Echo Cave, and was obviously created by Vyerith for her own use.
1300 XP. Defeated 3 hobgoblins + Warhorses, Doppleganger.
Treasure. Vyerith’s map of Wave Echo Cave.
Vyerith worked for the Black Spider, and was ordered to keep the location of Wave Echo Cave secret by any means neccessary. She was at Cragmaw Castle to negotiate the acquisition of the map from the Orc Chieftain so that she could destroy it. When the party wrecked those plans, she planned an ambush.
Vyerith’s map is not precise or complete, but shows some important key places in the cave, and also include crude navigation instructions. It also shows that many places in the cave are still unexplored and very dangerous. It is obvious that the Black Spider has not established control of the Cave yet, but the map doesn’t reveal the nature of the threat.
The party travels without further incident to Wave Echo Cave. The entrance is hidden among a rockslide, and would be impossible to discover if you didn’t know where to look. The entrance is unguarded, and the corpse of Gundren’s missing brother, Tharden, is nearby. Nundro is still missing. The Black Spider executed Tharden after forcing him to reveal the location of the cave. The Spider was obviously in a hurry, as he did not notice that Tharden’s boots are magic.
Treasure. Boots of Striding and Springing.
The party finally enters Wave Echo Cave.