We pottered about the old chapel to some chaos god for a good while. We started with Redamber skirting around the room to what was clearly an altar at the far end while Bob checks over the book cases that sat along the wall just inside the entrance door. The book cases turned up an ancient scroll case, inside which we discovered an old clerical scroll. We didn't have the time to work out what it does immediately, these kinds of thing need time to study properly.
Redamber just stuffed the candlesticks from the altar into a sack, it seems they're probably made of silver, which is nice. A search behind the altar revealed a hidden doorway, which didn't take much spotting. Perhaps once, when the paint was fresh and the thing was used regularly it might have been well hidden. But now, with the paint flaked and peeling and the wall exposed, the door was easy to spot by anyone that looked at the wall. It's a secret door, so we had to find an opening mechanism.
While that search was taking place the others searched over the rest of the room. The whole place is ancient. The furniture crumbled under the lightest of touches, everything was in a terrible state of repair.
We eventually worked out the secret door, it opened swinging on a pivot. Beyond it was a short dark corridor that ran straight on to another similar door.
Redamber lead the way entering the corridor first, and looking for traps as he went along. It was easy to reach the far door, and no traps were sprung. This next door was much like the one we opened in the chapel, but this was the back of the door. We wondered where it lead, but we though it close to the surface, as there was a breeze flowing in through this door now, and we could see the peep of daylight around the edges. We confirm where it lead by opening it and looking out over a view of the valley. This appears to be a secret way into the caves, and is located maybe forty yards from the main exit.
It was nice to feel the afternoon sun upon us and fresh breeze, but we weren't done yet. We turned and went back inside to investigate the corridors that we'd missed out before.
There were a couple of them, but only one lead to anywhere interesting. This was back near our original entrance. It lead out for a little longer than some of the other corridors, and soon we were walking through passage lined with webs that were becoming thicker the further we went.
We came upon a chamber at the end of the corridor, and decided it might be better to burn out some of the webs so we could see better. The chamber that we'd passed into opened out into a cavern with three cocoons hanging apart from each other. As we stepped inside we were immediately attacked. By a spider.
The spider was one hit big for Redamber.
We pulled apart the cocoons, the bodies we found in them were animals from outside, and not orcs as we'd expected. The chamber had no obvious way out (other than the doorway we had used), and we could find no secret doors. This small spider, no more than the size of a dog, had been killing local animals and dragging them in here for safe storage.
Finally, we could consider the underground caves to be secure and so we turned our attention to surveying the valley. The slopes seemed peaceful and unspoiled by the influence of humans. But that doesn't mean there are no orcs or ogres present, and there may be tribes or gatherings of other monsters, such as bugbears or kobolds, around too.
The day was getting late, though, and we needed to rest. We set up our camp out of sight of the valley, inside the corridor between the secret doors. This seemed quite secure and we were were out of the wind and the night-time cold. We hoped to be fully rested and ready to take a deeper look into the valley in the morning. It was a quiet night.
The next morning we set out down into the valley. We wanted to be sure the place was safe for traders to use, and maybe even find some existing tracks or routes. What we came across were little more than sparse hunting trails, and the evidence around these is that they're used by orcs and possibly goblins, certainly no humans.
After spending a couple of quiet days in the valley, we returned to the caverns and went in through the secret doors at the back of the chapel just in case more orcs had turned up. Once we'd established the safety of the complex, and that there were definitely no new monsters here, we set about tidying the place up a little, being especially careful to remove the bodies of our enemies to try and keep rodents away from this place. We relocked the chapel door and planned our return to the keep, then finally set of south again towards our camp site down from the front entrance.
After just a couple of nights on the road we returned to the keep. That first evening back in civilisation was spent getting a proper clean and a good nights rest before making our report to the duke on the second day and collecting our reward. That afternoon we went back to our mansion base, where we each chipped in some money and hired some craftsmen to get some of the works carried out on repairing the building.
The orc and goblin heads we weigh in all attracted a bounty, giving us a small bonus. And we try to sell on the candlesticks; Redamber used his salesmanship skill and raised us another 140 silver coins.
This was the first time we'd has a chance to take a breather since we started this job for the Duke. Ex took a look at the scroll we'd found, and deciphered its two clerical spells, these were "Divine Steward" and "Directed Strike". We also took in a shopping trip in the keep, I visited the armourer and bought a new set of studded leather armour.