Théorn and Pennyworth go into the camp to talk. Faard comes out to greet them. Pennyworth entertains the children with his smoking tricks while Théorn goes to discuss things with Chael, the chief‘s son. Théorn hands over the owlbear beaks and they are inspected to make sure they’re fresh rather than bought as false evidence. Satisfied, they agree to give us the location of Korax’s lair as long as we are discreet about where we got the information.
It turns out the Korax is located deep in Arden’s Forest, in a series of caverns amongst the roots below a giant redwood tree. The shifter tribe used to use the caverns as shelter during monsoon seasons but Korax arrived and kicked them out about three years ago. Since that time many braves from their tribe have tried to kill him but all have failed. The shifters warn us that there are several drakes there under his control too, and that several kobold tribes live nearby. The shifters will be shamed if we succeed where they have failed, but they are desperate. Chael asks if they can provide any assistance, and Théorn asks for some healing potion equivalents and some pipe-weed for Pennyworth. Chael disapproves of his people using the weed, and promises us every last scrap of it they have if we return triumphant. He also directs Théorn to their medicine man, where Théorn buys 10 healing potions. He then returns to the group and we head off towards Arden’s Forest. It will take us about a day to get back to near the owlbear grove.
Returning to the area of our previous encounter, we travel through the forest. It’s about half a day’s travel to the redwood tree and shortly after arriving the forest is too thick to travel by horse so we tie them up somewhere safe and continue on foot with Théorn leading the way. The forest is very dark, with little sunlight making its way through the canopy. The ground slopes up a little, leading up to a very large tree. Its trunk is 20 paces around and its root system reaches out 50 yards. There is a cavern entrance at the base of it, between some of the larger roots. Théorn scouts around and finds kobold tracks along with some he identifies as dragonborn or drake. Several are fresh enough to suggest that the entrance is used regularly. December senses fey influence to the tree, and Smax suggests checking for alternative entrances in case of ambush for either side.
We enter the cavern. The air smells damp and musty, of something alive but foul. Fungi and moulds cover the walls. The floor feels squishy with moisture, and we head about 100 yards down the tunnel. Smax hears noises ahead, but can’t identify their origin. It’s lots of little noises amongst a few louder ones. The corridor opens out into a larger cavern. As our torchlight reaches the edge of the cavern a drake rears up at us. We’re attacked by several drakes (Encounter 1).
There are four passages exiting this cavern. We check around the entrances to see how frequently each gets used. All four have footprints suggesting regular use but three only have kobold tracks whereas one has larger footprints. We pick the middle right passage and head down. Théorn spots a wire spun across the tunnel about 20 yards down. We avoid the trap and the passage turns slightly to the left. Another 20 yards along the tunnel splits into two, one forking off to the left and one to the right. Théorn identifies the larger footprints from earlier going between the two. We head right. A further 20 yards on Théorn finds some pressure pad activated traps. Whilst negotiating past them Théorn hears hissing noises in the distance.
We continue on until we reach a t-junction. There’s another, better hidden pressure plate here; a 2 foot diameter circle. We avoid the plate and start to head to the right, curving back towards the larger cavern. Théorn hears a voice speaking draconic saying “If they keep missing all the traps then I’ll set them off myself!”. The circle plate starts to turn and rise and Théorn tells us to scatter as the spinning trap emerges. We’re attacked by a group of kobolds (Encounter 2).
After the fight we continue along the corridor back towards the larger cavern. 20 yards along we find another trip wire. Another 20 yards later we emerge into the large cavern. We return back along the passage to the t-junction where we had the fight and take the other route. After 50 yards a passage splits off to the left. We ignore it for now and continue on another 50 yards, where we find a crossroads with 4 passages.
The passageway to our right has fewer footprints, and we go that way for now. It opens up into a chamber full of fungi of various colours and sizes. Théorn inspects them (3 edible, 3 poisonous, 1 medical) and determines that they can’t be growing naturally and are being cultivated. There are no other exits visible, so we gather up the medicinal fungus and head back the way we came.
We return to the crossroads and turn right (straight across from our earlier path). The corridor curves to the left for a bit and then sharply to the right. Some luminous mould grows on the walls, lighting our way. The floor begins to become solid wood (not floorboards) and the passage ends in a fitted wooden door. The door has no lock, but is closed. Théorn listens at the door but can hear nothing, and we can’t locate any traps, so we open the door and enter. We find a room that looks very civilised. There are tables and chairs and some sort of card game in progress but nobody present. Three more doors (left, right, forward) and a fireplace of sorts with a glowing stone warming the room. Four paintings of abstract images of flowers decorate the walls, but none of us can identify anything interesting about them.
We head right and come to an area with natural light. It is a very orderly garden with flowers and bushes, and a small wooden bridge. The ceiling is 30 feet above us, with light coming down on us, and a passage at the end of the garden. Pennyworth detects some sort of feywild influence, but this jars with the orderly garden.
We return to the room with the chairs and tables and try the door opposite our initial entrance. It opens into a small antechamber, furnished with a small bench and cushions pushed slightly away from the wall (space for tails?). A book is laid out on the bench with a page saved. It appears to be dragonborn romantic literature. Some paintings of mountain landscapes decorate the walls, and there are two further doors from this room.
We go back to the earlier room and check the final door, which opens into a passage with a wooden floor and more luminescent fungus. The passage continues about 20 yards before opening into a wider cavern with signs of food preparation (spit over glowing hot stone, benches, etc.). Two of the tables are for larger (human sized) users, with wooden boards instead of crude bowls. Théorn looks around and notes some of the items seem to have been disturbed. There are two doors exiting from this room.
For now we go back to the crossroads and try the remaining path we’ve not seen. Théorn hears kobold voices retreating along the path we took from the encounter, sounding fearful. Our passageway narrows and shrinks for a while, before opening up into a standard kobold living area. There are lots of open chests in the room, none of them containing anything of value, and space for 25 kobolds to live (no room for children). Two corridors depart from this area, at right-angles to the entrance. We turn down the corridor to the right.
The corridor continues for about 40-50 yards, getting nicer along the way, and ends in a simple wooden door with a lock. Smax unlocks the door and we find ourselves back in the food preparation room. So we return to the kobold living area and take the remaining corridor. It winds back and forth for about 100 yards, ending back up in the first large cavern. We try the final unused corridor, which returns back to the encounter area. Since we’ve now covered all corridors except for the civilised area we head back to the food preparation room. As we enter the room with the tables and the card games, the door opposite opens and a green draconic humanoid enters, shouting “There they are! They lost the place in my book! Kill them!” (Encounter 3).
We then continue to the food preparation room to try get an extended rest before searching further. We barricade the doors and set up watches. Two hours into the first watch we’re woken by banging on one of the doors. Korax breaks down the door and attacks us (Encounter 4). After the fight we explore further and find a dojo, an artisan’s studio, two sleeping quarters (one for Korax, one for dragonborn). There is also a shrine to Tiamat, four connected flower gardens, a set of pedastals with 8 sculptures of humanoids at simple work. In one final room with broken terrain and the remainder of Korax’s hoard.
With Korax dead and his body looted, we return to the corpse to claim the spoils of the victor. Théorn cuts out the dragon’s heart and eats it to gain the strength of the dragon (though this is not without its trials). Pennyworth takes the skull to wear as a helm and Smax cuts off some claws to use in creating magical items.
Character status at end of session: