After dispatching the bugbears in the open cavern, the group found several orphans from Phandalin in the lower part of the rift. Apparently the bugbears were pushing them around and bullying them, so they were quite shaken up. Paraphan took out his lute and started playing the Ballad of Sandusky, an old favorite. The song, in addition to seeing their friend Flint, calmed the children well enough and they were able to give the party some information. They were being asked to find some kind of treasure in the small caves at the bottom of the rift. There was a mazelike series of tunnels littered with rocks and rubble and a dark elf had told them that whoever finds the treasure can have a meal. The bugbears had called the dark elf black spider and another dark elf woman had called him Nezzenar.
The orphans were sent out of the cave with Keurig who wanted to go properly bury his cousin, but vowed to return. The group decided to try to find whatever treasure the black spider had been searching for. The wizard used his ability to detect magic and Flint used his short stature to search through the cave system. It took quite awhile, but eventually flint found a skeleton of a crushed dwarf under a fairly big rock. On the skeleton were some gauntlets that seemed to radiate magic. Apparently this is what the black spider was having the children search for.
The group talked over where to go and they notice that there were two passageways leading out to the east on the side of the rift they hadn’t explored yet. They threw a grappling hook and dropped a rope, making the climb much easier. Once they climbed up they started to feel strange, as if they entered another plane where time seemed to pass exceedingly slow.
They walked into a large cavern where there was a 5ft deep 10ft wide channel which they were walking in and which bisected the room. There was a waterwheel in the channel that connected to a large bellows that was pointed at a furnace, though it appears it hasn’t been lit in many years. The channel was dry, but looks like it had once had water running through it to power the waterweel. There were several exits in various directions and there were many corpses all over the place which looked to be orcs, dwarves, humans, gnomes, etc. Floating above the corpses was a skull bathed in green flame. The party was able to identify it as a flameskull. An undead creature created by wizards to guard areas of importance.
Tellaos moved up to form a front line and Varis casted a spell on him to make him much larger than normal. The flameskull summoned a large ball of fire that he moved around the room ramming it into the group. Faffer joined Tellaos on the front line, battling the zombies as they shambled towards them and Paraphan hid in the back mocking the flameskull. The flameskull fired a couple of jets of fire out at the party and Varis tried to cull the herd of zombies by unleashing an ear shattering noise in their area. Flint tried to cast a Ray of Frost on the flameskull, but it seemed to not notice it at all. The flameskull decided that the group meant business and so he would have to unleash a fireball to try to shock and awe them, but all in the group were able to duck out of the way taking only some of the brunt of the fireball.
About now is when the bard started to feel weary. Even though the battle had been going on for exactly 1 hour and 5 minutes, he felt like it had easily been twice that long. Flint fired a chromatic orb at the flameskull which reacted by putting up his magical shield of force. The flameskull sent out some darts of magic missile at the two casters. The group of zombies were starting to fall, although they were very hard to kill. Eventually, flint landed the killing blow on the flameskull and soon after his minions perished, exactly 1 hour and 37 minutes after the battle had started, though the time dilation made it seem much longer than that.
The group decided they needed a rest and decided that acoustics should be the main factor in where to rest. They went back to the previous cavern where the rift was and camped out at the bottom of the rift. About 4 hours in, they were attacked by a group of skeletons that came out of the caves. The group didn’t have too much trouble dispatching the skeletons, but their rest was interrupted and so they needed to rest again. The second attempt at resting was successful and so the party continued on.
Down some stairs to the south of the Smelter’s Cavern they found a hall that appeared to be an old dining hall. The bard found that there were some ghouls munching on old bones on an upper level of the hall to the west. After messaging back to the group, the group burst in surprising the ghouls. The ghouls barely had a chance to react before being cut down.
The group continued exploring the cave to south and eventually found what looked to be the original entrance to the cave which was decorated with reliefs of gnome miners hard at work and the hallway lined with unlit brass lanterns. A cave-in sealed the entrance shut and skeletons littered the floor, evidence of the battle that occurred here nearly a hundred years ago.
The Knights looked around and found a room with a large desk with multiple scales on it and cubbyholes with old disintegrating paper in them, an old assayer’s office. They found a locked strongbox which the wizard opened with his magic. There was some coin in the lock box. Exploring further, the group found an old storeroom with burst open kegs, unfortunately all were completely dry.
The bard scouted ahead to the northeast and walked through a cavern of fungi. The spores in the air choked him a bit, but he was able to cover his face and power through the room. On the other side he found a cavern with mineral deposits on the ceiling that glinted in the light (even though there wasn’t any light). It made the whole cavern look like a starry night. The cavern was rather large and contained two free-standing structures. There was one structure on the same level as the bard and another that was up a flight of stairs that were carved into an escarpment. Both were marred with burn marks in their masonry walls and both had sets of double doors that appeared to be cracked and damaged.