The party resupplies and gains some weapons from the keep. As Deni rests the full duration of an elven reverie, Silas and Garonna take some short rests and do a sweep of the town. They find some bodies under rocks, six in total. Many of the houses are heavily damaged by the boulders, though most still stand.
The way to the Dripping Caves is only a mile up north, but the party converses with Alara on the way. She’s a polearm user who does not have much by way of experience, and is very impressed with the three adventurers. Deni is very encouraging. Alara explains that her adoptive father is the dwarven innkeeper, Moraq.
The party arrives at the Dripping Caves quite quickly, and stop about a hundred feet from its mouth to hide their horses. Alara explains that inside is a series of natural tunnels, and Silas takes up his usual role as scout. Unfortunately, even the impending sunrise is unable to illuminate far inside the cavern, and a blinded Silas is found out by a few goblins. He hears a large figure approach and flee outside, where a naked ogre 12 feet in height follows him out.
They engage the naked ogre and its armored companion and surprisingly make quick work of them, before marching into the cave.
Goblins surround them on ledges inside. Silas nimbly leaps his way to one and slaughters it, which Garonne uses to convince the other goblins to surrender to them. The goblins indicate that the party should talk to their boss, Hark, if they want to know where the villagers are, and lead them further into the caves. Hark, they find out, is a rather large goblin in patchwork armor with yellow, mottled skin. There is a dead villager being eaten by giant rats under his feet, which riles the party up, especially Deni.
Garonne and Deni negotiates with Hark; after some thought, Hark says that he will give them the villagers if the party kills “the blob”. A bit of prodding reveals this blob to possibly be a black ooze. Hark has a woman brought over to prove that the rest of the villagers are alive; the woman is Daphne, lady in waiting to Lady Velrosa. She’s in a sad state and seemed to have been slated to be the next meal of the ogres.
Garonne asks to check on the rest of the villagers, which is granted by Hark. He and Alara are led by a goblin, Flik, to the rest of the villagers. There is a pit with ledges all around it, where the villagers are quietly huddled. It seems that the pit is full of rather large bats that eat even goblins, so silence is necessary. There are rope ladders that the goblins use to retrieve the villagers. Garonne continues to converse with Flik, and eventually convince him to help them free the villagers in exchange for leadership of the goblins, Gurash’s salted head, and 5 gold coins. All he has to do is to leave the throne room when the party slays Hark. Flik is enticed by this and agrees to cooperate.
Back in the throne room, Deni tends to Daphne and threatens Hark with swift retribution. Upon Garonne’s return with Flik and Alara, more negotiations continue and they speak of this black blob. Silas gets exasperated with the proceedings and demand to be led to this blob alone, much to the protest of Deni.
When Silas and another goblin rounds the corner of the tunnel, Silas attempts to ambush the goblin and drop it silently. Unfortunately, the goblin notices his attempt and is able to shout — the throne room erupts into a fight.
Garonne immediately works to reduce the number of goblins and rats in the area, by convincing the goblins to leave Hark to his death and the rats that there is an earthquake in the tunnels. Deni engages Hark, holding him off as Silas creeps back into the throne room to join the fray. Between the three of them, the goblin leadership is successfully deposed!
Garonne joins the villagers, who have been led our by Flik and Alara, while Silas and Deni scour the rest of the tunnels for threats and villagers they may have missed. They make sure to keep away from the black pudding, though. Deni finds a chest with a few gold, some expensive salt and pepper shakers, and a holy symbol showing a silver tree. She keeps for herself a scroll of divine favor.
Alara introduces Moraq to Garonne, who has to break the news to him that Lady Velrosa is dead. It seems that some of the villagers were lost to the ogres, but for the most part remain intact.
Deni, incensed at what has been done to the villagers, threatens the goblins to never come near the villagers again. After that, she and Garonne argue about the leadership of Nightstone, and then the Nightstone phlint; the villagers don’t seem too fussed about its loss.
Back in the village, everyone pitches in to help with the wounded, taking stock of the people, shoring up the village’s defenses, and cleaning up the mess all the attackers left behind. Deni gives up majority of the loot they acquired since arriving at Nightstone so that the villagers might have some money.
It’s morning when the party finally gets some rest, hosted by Moraq the innkeeper. They wake up later in the afternoon to the smell of bacon, and Moraq gives them a more detailed damaged report on the village. It seems that most of the families had lost a member to the attack. Silas goes off to help with the rooftops, while Deni heads to the keep to continue the investigation that brought the trio there in the first place. Deni finds the family genealogy and discovers that the Nanbar family branched a long time ago, but otherwise everything seemed in order. She has the document sent to Waterdeep, along with a written cypher for the Harpers.
Back in the town, Silas is approached by a young, halfling girl, Dollop who gives him a doll named Lala as thanks for helping them. Silas gives her his own lucky charm, a rabbit’s foot, and speaks with her mother Tayla. They seem to have lost a son to the attack, but the father is away on a trip. Furtively and making sure the others don’t see, Silas gives Tayla some of the money that he has to help.
Deni and Garonne investigate the boulders to determine where they are from — Moraq identifies the stone as granite, although there is no granite anywhere near Nightstone. The good thing is that making something out of all that rare rock might help Nightstone recover financially. Sidery comes soon after to give news that Waterdeep will be sending in help soon, in the form of new guards and a new high steward.
In the evening, Moraq and Alara approach the party for help. After some bickering between the three of them, they finally hear the father and daughter out. Alara wants to be taken home to her people up north, now that she is of age and can leave her foster parents. She wants to learn more about her roots in Bryn Shander, up in Ten Towns, in the region of Icewind Dale. The journey alone will take months at the fastest. Alara shows them an amulet that she has, of an unknown metal and shaped into a bear paw. It might be from barbarian tribes.
Silas is quite happy to take this job, if only because he can secure them passage in a ship for it, and finally, finally get Garonne on a sea journey as befitting of any follower of Valkur.
With that settled, the party once again hunkers down to rest. They wake up in the morning to screams. Above the village is a tower floating on clouds a hundred feet above them, sending the citizens into a panic as they once again rush to evacuate Nightstone.
A rope falls from tower, and a humanoid figure forms on the ground. “Zephyros will see you now,” it says softly to Denithione’s indignant demands, and despite their wariness, the party does climb up the rope. The rope is made of clouds, though solid. Above them, they notice that the tower is topped off with a rather large, pointy and blue wizard’s hat, with stars on it.
When they reach the tower, they find out that the door is 60 feet tall, and that inside, the ceiling is another hundred feet in height. There is a hexagonal chamber beyond the front door, separated by a thin but large curtain. There is a hole in the ceiling, and all the furniture are gigantic. After a couple of minutes, a giant floats down from the hole in the ceiling — it is an elderly man, 28 feet in height.
The man doesn’t notice them for a while, so Garonne casts Thaumaturgy to enhance his voice. The old man seems senile, and has a tendency to write everything they are doing on his book. He seems delighted to recognize their name, and seem to be looking for fourth — Alara. Since Zephyros is so addled, they decide to come up to the table and read through his book themselves, much to his curiosity.
Someone told Zephyros to look for the party — voices in his head from the other planes, apparently. “The four would be needed to restore the Ordning.” The Ordning, they find out, is the Giant caste system, starting from the Storm giants on top, to the cloud giants, the fire giants, frost giants, and the hill giants at the bottom.
Zephyros will take them to Icewind Dale where Bryn Shander is, and the trip will only take three weeks if done by air. The party murmurs amongst themselves and ask the giant for a day to make a decision.
They descend to questions from the fearful villagers, and they explain that the giant asked to take them away. The party stocks up on furs and other cold-weather gear. Silas sends off a letter to Arize Levy, Garonne’s twin sister and Silas’ own captain, even as Garonne finds out that the air humanoids from the tower is able to provide the town with protection.