Push away the boulder in the troll cave did not reveal the lost search party. Instead Ser Marcel and company found a cache of valuables including nine amazingly opulent goblets, 5 gold-plated plates embossed with some Ketarnin seal, a number of lead and silver coins, and a locked chest. Despite some effort, the tailor Martek was unable to open the chest with finesse, leaving Gretta to pound it to bits with the hammer Gabriel had previously found in the troll’s bedchamber.
The chest itself contained an odd assortment of items including a gaudy belt made from beetle carapaces, a spider head amulet necklace, a strange multi-color chime, and a glass vial. All these items were of great interest to Thorne and Gretta. As night had already fallen before the troll emerged from his lair, it was well past sunset. Given the fetid smells of the troll’s dwelling, the party descended to a lower cave rather than try to camp in the frigid cave above. Some exploring of a long tunnel leading off the lower cave did not discover any signs of the missing search party or the children, but Gretta did spot a bundle which turned out to be an excellent climbing rope.
On the morn, the party climbed up to a previously unknown cave which was found to be worked, along with clear tracks of the search party in and among others. The worked area lead off in three directions: one was a dead end, in a second was found the remains of a villager killed by poison, and the final lead to an apparent dead end with a TDSOUS (Trap Door Spider of Unusual Size). After playing a game of peek-a-boo with the larger than man-sized critter, Olis knock his door open and it was dispatched after a poisoned graze across his leg. In the spider’s lair the remains of two more of the search party were found.
Thanks to Gretta’s unhealthy interest in the purpose of the unpleasant, atonal chime, the secret passage at the end of the tunnel was opened which revealed the tracks of the last two missing members of the search party. Beyond was a bridge over a wide, dark chasm and on the other side was the entrance to a disturbingly ornate temple to some spider demongod. As the company had crossed the majority of the length of the bridge, rat folk began to attack. After a close call at the door, Olis was able to throw off and reverse his attacker’s attempt to throw him into the void, and he and the rest of the party pressed the attack into the temple’s foyer.
After some fierce fighting, the remaining ratfolk requested a parley, as Thorne was able to recognize their dialect of Dolmne…