Grol is dead, Yegg is king cook, and goblin church is cancelled, so the party has gone to pick up the horse cart and gnome they left in the woods. Unfortunately, the ogre they duped earlier has caught up to them, and is now looking to make a meal out of their horse, with the gnome as an appetizer.
Luckily, Gnomebody has been browsing through Glassstaff’s spellbook while convalescing, and show off his newest trick by turning invisible in the ogre’s hand. Stunned, the ogre loses his grip on both the cart on and the gnome, and as Mr. Eddie Van Halen the horse tears off into the woods, the ogre takes off after him.
The gnome hides, Gundren fails to roll intitiative and stares at rock for a few turns, and Tipsy, still hammered on dwarven brandy, drops flat to the ground, somehow managing to roll a high enough stealth check to effectively vanish from the ogre’s sight. Everyone else dashes after the cart and ogre. They bombard the creature with spells and slings and other things, until Ander nimbly scrambles into the cart and brings the horse under control. Tipsy uses a turn to do some rogue shit and catches up to the fray, and then parkours up the troll’s arm onto his head.
As Taranion plunges Talon into the ogre’s belly, he catches nothing but the ogre’s filthy loin cloth, cutting it free and dropping it on the gnome, who has bravely rejoined the battle, but has suddenly tired of it. Gnomebody takes aim and fires three Hank’s-foot-shaped magic missiles at the ogre’s exposed undercarriage. The fight is ogre.
They calm down Eddie and pile into the cart, resolving to get the fuck out of the woods. Gundren wastes no time in greeting his old college friend Prof. Gnomebody, but he notices that Gundren has soot all over his hands and seems to be hiding something, physically, if not mentally. They share another draught of brandy and the dwarf comes clean: while the party was dealing with Lhupo and his goblin acolytes, Gundren snuck off into the darkened room and found something squirreled away in a cold brazier. He reluctantly hands over a gold statuette of a sun elf wrapped in a crimson cloth. Hank is displeased.
Gnomebody recognizes this as device capable of augury, but no one’s 100% sure how it works yet. Gundren’s like, what was I supposed to do, NOT rob a goblin church? As Taranion ponders the statue, Gundren says “I showed you mine, you show me yours” and wants to take a peek at the dwarven book Taranion pilfered from Glasstaff’s lab. He conveys that it seems to be a history of the Lost Mine of Phandelver by a fellow dwarf. Gundren bemoans that the book doesn’t mention the Rockseekers, who had worked in the mine since the beginning, but concedes that the rest of it is very accurate, particularly the retelling of the Phandelver Pact. Human wizards, gnomish crafters, and dwarven miners working under one roof, towards a common goal was a remarkable feat at the time, and remains notable to this day.
As the cart clears the woods and rattles on down the Phandalin trail, the party makes out a faint glow and smoke in the distance. They enter town to see the glow coming from the center square, where a massive crowd is gathering. Gundren takes the opportunity to go check in with Elmar Barthen for new clothes and gear and news of his brothers, so the rest of the party investigates the mob forming.
Once they reach the square they find the townmaster’s hall nothing but a pile of flaming rubble, but the destruction is limited to that building. They find Sister Garaele lingering near the edge, and she is very concerned about the direction events are taking, muttering “everything is playing right into her hands.” Ander has darted between the knees of the townspeople to reach the front, where standing atop a wagon Halia Thornton is rousing the people of Phandalin to action. Her goal: to cast out the Lord’s Alliance and run Phandalin as a free city, under her competent governance, of course.
Sildar Hallwinter stands with his back to the crowd, pleading with Halia directly. He claims that even though Iarno Albrek was a member of the Lord’s Alliance, the Redbrands and the bugbears who burned the hall down were not representatives of the Alliance. Sildar brings Ander up to speed: the bugbears he had encountered south of town (that the party had forced Glasstaff to send on a wild goosechase) had returned and freed Glasstaff, then burned down the hall in retaliation. The request for a Lord’s Alliance garrison to bring Iarno Albrek to justice had not likely reached Neverwinter yet. Sildar then begs the crowd to wait for assistance from the Alliance, stating that having an actual lord or noble in charge of the city will ensure its protection and prosperity.
Halia eggs the crowd on, asserting that Phandalin had been fine before the Lord’s Alliance began taking an interest in them, and that rather than protecting them the Alliance had only brought trouble. Ander j’accuses Halia, exposing to the entire crowd her relationship to the Zhentarim!
The crowd doesn’t know how to react. Halia coolly explains… the Zhentarim are merchants and tradespeople (technically true), and they only seek to protect their members and ensure profitability (in a manner of speaking). As a guildmaster, of course she’s in the Zhentarim. Furthermore, the Zhentarim give her access to resources, like mercenaries, to protect the town.
Halia quickly pivots and requests/demands that Sildar explain what the Lord’s Alliance came to Phandalin for in the first place. Sildar reluctantly plays his hand and reveals that he had come to Phandalin to aid in reopening a lost mine, hoping to create great prosperity for the town. Halia wants to know, if the mine was going to help the town, why was it still a secret? It sounds like the Lord’s Alliance is only looking to further line its pockets, and drain this town dry.
As Sildar starts to object, a clod of dirt smashes across his brow. Ander senses that it’s time to be scarce, and they guide Sildar out of the crowd as Occupy Phandalin reaches a crescendo. Halia is shouting plans for fortifications and next steps, calling for the hard work and sacrifice of the townspeople, as she unfurls the black, viper crested flags of the Zhentarim. As the party leaves the scene, Hank spots a man with two heavily bandaged legs sitting in the wagon behind Halia. Jarleth, the Redbrand lieutenant, winks at him.
Sildar is crushed. He perks up slightly when the party informs him that Gundren is alive and the map is safe, and he is happy for at least some good news. He feels it best for him to leave town at least for the night, and walks off into the darkness alone.
The party gathers back at the Stonehill Inn for a well-deserved rest, except for Ander,who lurks through the crowd to check on their aunt and cousin, the Alderleafs. Gnomebody catches Gundren as he returns from Barthen’s Provisions, clothed and toting a sack of mining gear (most of it stuff the party delivered a few days before). Gnomebody lets him know that things have taken a turn in town, and perhaps it’s best to check in to the inn under an alias.
“It is I, Funclub Stonesneaker, looking for my brothers Tharpo and Groupon”
Tipsy has passed out in her room, but is awoken by a note slipped under her door. As Ander returns from checking on their family, they spy the figure of Halia Thornton herself emerging from the inn. The halfling bard decides to tail the guildmaster back to her house…
COUP COUNT: 3 ASSISTED COUPS, 1 ATTEMPTED
Acquired: Gold statuette of augury, dwarven history of Phandelver, mystery note
NPCS Met: No one new
Quests: Find and reclaim the Lost Mine of Phandelver, also all the other sidequests