Taking a deep breath from their fight with the skeletons, the party bravely pushed on through the door to the east. Inside, they find two prison cells. In the southern cell is a human woman huddling up with a human girl and a blond elf woman who looks more defiant than scared. In the northern cell is a human boy, staying as far across the cell from a male drow elf, who sat patiently at the other end. All of them were wearing gray tunics with irons around their necks, hands and feet. But before anyone could react, two Redbrand guards who were hiding behind the door struck.
They managed to get in a few good blows on the dragonborn, but they fell quickly before the combined might of our heroes. Strangely, though, they had no keys on them. But, with his strong arm, and some help from Torgga, Torian managed to pull open the bars enough, and then they used the swords from the fallen guards to pry open the shackles.
The human woman, Mirna Dendrar, and the children, it turns out, are all members of a family. Mirna’s husband, Thel, was the only man in town who stood up to the brigands, and they killed him for it, and then captured the rest of his family to sell into slavery. She is grateful for the rescue, but says she has no money to offer for a reward. Though the group tries to deny a need for one, she tells them of an emerald necklace that was a family heirloom of hers, that was left in the now destroyed town of Thundertree when she was a child. If they could find it, she says they can keep it as their reward.
The other two prisoners had a more complex tale to tell. They introduce themselves as Meleas, a high elf paladin and her companion, Nissin D’Laer, a drow elf wizard. They tell an interesting tale. Apparently, they are both members of an organization known as the Harpers, who work to promote goodness and freedom throughout the realms. They were sent to Phandalin to report to Sister Grael, specifically to take on the Redbrands. Apparently, the gang also had ties to a reported slavers ring, and this was the first solid lead the Harpers had on them. These two young agents were to check out the Redbrands, find out their connection to the slavers, and if possible, take the gang down, helping the town of Phandalin out.
The party, most especially Lael, is reluctant to trust a drow, even one who claims membership in the Harpers, but with Meleas vouching for him and willing to take responsibility for him, they agree to join forces to take on a common foe.
After escorting Mirna and her family back to the surface, the group continues to search the basement hideout, but only finds a room that has been converted into an armory. They are sure there must be more than this, however. So, they begin searching for secret doors, and manage to find one in the cellar, next to the large cistern.
Following the hallway on the other side, they come into a large natural cavern with a deep crevasse running through it. There are two crude wooden bridges running across, next to two large, natural columns. Lael get’s a feeling that they are being watched, but she can’t quite point out where. Shutting out the lights, Nissan is able to see a figure lurking around one of the columns. The figure see’s that he’s been spotted and comes out, hands up. It’s a strange, hunched over creature with one large eye, called a Nothic.
“No hurt I,” he says, and then offers information and books to the dark elf wizard. Unable to resist, Nissin walks across the wooden bridge and asks what the creature knows. The creature motions towards the column on the other side of the bridge, and when Nissin get’s there, the Nothic attacks, attempting to push the wizard into the crevasse below.
Jumping to his protection, the party leaps into the fray. Nissin is taken down by the monster’s magical gaze, but shortly afterwards the party kills the creature. Lael, overcoming her initial reluctance, heals Nissan. Looking around the crevasse, they find that it is easily climbed down, and must be the creature’s home. Climbing down, Nissin and Torian find a half eaten body, and quickly spotting the resemblance to Mirna Dendrar’s children, realize this is her husband, Thel. They also find a small wooden chest, which contains a small pile of gold and silver. Behind the chest is a sword in a silver trimmed scabbared. The word Talon is etched on hits hilt, which is carved in the shape of a bird of prey. Amos recognizes the sword as a well known magical item belonging to a knight who was known in this part of the realms many years ago, called the Black Hawk. His real name was Aldith Tresendar, and the legend goes that he died defending his family home from attacks by orcs in tunnels below his family manor. This must be the remains of said manor.
Armed with their new friends and a magic sword, the party braces themselves to continue further into the hideout of the Redbnands.