Looking for the passage into the rest of the hobgoblin lair, the party found a secret door in one of the guard rooms. Three more battles saw the end of hobgoblins. Feeling completely spent, the party made its way back to the safety of their cave.
Once back at the cave, they found their rescued prisoners standing and sitting in the cave somewhat stupefied. While the prisoners seemed to come out of their daydreams on the party’s return, any suggestions made to them were readily accepted and they seemed to be in a most agreeable mood.
The next morning, the party made the now familiar trip back to the caves. As they got close to the valley, Luinwe scouted ahead and found bugbear tracks with the tell-tale signs of dragged prisoners mixed in. Though the party knew they would have to assault the bugbears, they realized they couldn’t do that without putting the second orc lair at their backs. Feeling somewhat brazen, they chose a heads-on assault of the orc caves.
Charging in the front cave, they heard the sounds of sleeping orcs to the left and guards to the right. They chose to engage the guards and quickly defeated the four orcs. Sneaking into the orc quarters, they found that all seven of the orcs were still sleeping in their cots. There was ample evidence that this group of orcs came from Aradoran, judging by the coinage found and the gold on purple uniforms. Positioning themselves around the room, they slew most of the orcs before the few left awoke. However, the orcs awoke too late and were quickly defeated.
Further in, they found the orog chieftain and his orog mate Though the two orogs were much tougher than their orcish kin, they were unable to stand against the adventurers.
They then turned their attention to the bugbears in the next cave complex. Heading into the caves, they found a guard room to the left with five alert bugbear guards. Though physically larger and more powerful than men, the bugbears fell to the party’s tactics. Luinwe again scouted to the right, where a ramp south headed down to a lower level and continued north to an upper level. Down the ramp Luinwe found three bugbear jailors. Trying to lure one out, Luinwe rolled a ball-bearing down the ramp, and found that one of the guards came scouting. Unfortunately, the sounds of combat attracted the others from the guard room, and another five bugbears from the north.
Feolas’ flaming sphere spell was able to divide the attackers and keep all but a few at bay, allowing the party to tackle the bugbears in more reasonable numbers rather than be surrounded. The battle found the party triumphant, although more than a little beat up, bloodied and bruised.
While some members of the group rested and re-energized, Luinwe went down the ramp and found another set of prisoners. A human couple, Liam and Sonia, explained that they were prospectors captured by the bugbears recently and two wood elves, Shara and Vindil, were captured as they wandered the western Loupenholt. The dwarf introduced himself as Torus Swayingoak and asked to accompany the party to “discuss” his capture with the bugbear chieftain. Three kobolds, Nirk, Peg and Meepug seemed shifty and unreliable while the last captive, Gleep the goblin introduced himself with all the flair of a coutier. Explaining that he served the winter court, Gleep informed the party of the clerics of Erythnul’s cave and engaged the party in dialogue, answering most of the party’s questions. Another cell held more violent prisoners, a human madman, a rebel bugbear, a gnoll and three hobgoblins. None of these prisoners were released.
The group decided to bring all of the most recent prisoners to the cave mouth and leave them there as they delved further into the lair to find the chieftain. Deeper in the lair they found the bugbear sub-chief with his mate. The two bugbears alone proved no match for the party and their new-found dwarven companion Torus. After the chieftain fell, the mate made for a secret door, but was stopped before escaping. Passing through the secret tunnel, the party found themselves in a maze-like cavern with heavy animal smells and the clicking of large insects. Surmizing that this may be the minotaur’s caves, they beat a hasty retreat back into the bugbear caves. Feolas made a note that all bugbears were dressed in the green livery of Brineven, as he suspected in the first place.
Making their way back to the cave mouth, they found the goblin Gleep had disappeared, leaving the rest of the prisoners. Liam and Sonia had grabbed a greataxe and some hand axes from the bugbears. For a second day in a row, the party then escorted rescued prisoners back to their shallow cave.