Our heroes, after taking another hard-earned rest in Phandalin, set out to investigate the city of Thundertree in hopes of finding a valuable emerald necklace they'd learned of from a family of slaves they rescued. They found Thundertree in a sad state. It was a abandoned and burnt out by years of raids courtesy of the Cragmaw tribe. They found the jewelry with little incident and left town, heading now to Cragmaw Castle in hopes of finding their comrade Gundren. Along the way they had a brief encounter with speedy but weak flying monsters and, at last, made it to their destination.
The heroes, as with the Keep, took some time to plan and attempted to quietly examine the crumbling entrance to the building to see what they could see. However, they were spotted and set upon by goblin guards in the doorway and their bow-wielding companions in the towers above them. The fought off the Cragmaw goblins and pressed on into the castle, exploring first a large cathedral that contained a tentacled, beak-mawed Grick that they fought off. They then doubled back and explored to the north and found a room with an unlocked door. Sorey threw caution to the wind and kicked down the door, only to find that he had awakened four very disgruntled hobgoblins. His weary party barely survived the conflicted and retreated to rest for the evening.
The heroes spent just as much time in their camp giving Sorey grief as they did recovering but they were ready the following day and plunged back into Cragmaw. Upon reentering the cathedral, they spotted rubble on the far wall and dug through it to reveal a shrine to a goblin god at which three goblins were worshipping. They quickly took drew their weapons but were just as quickly put down by the party members. From there they moved forward and entered another one of the castle's towers, this time stumbling right into two more hobgoblins, one of which ran off and alerted their boss, King Klohr, to the presence of intruders. The heroes managed to dispatch the guards and then went on to face the king himself. The king stood in the corner by Gundren's unconscious form, sword pointed at his face, and tried to warn the pesky adventurers off. To make matters worse, the massive bugbear was flanked by a Drow woman (later identified as a shapeshifting Doppleganger by Nick) and his equally massive pet wolf. It was a tense standoff that ended with a quick strike from one of the heroes that sent Klohr and his companions into a full battle rage. After a vicious fight and a few mishaps (including Sorey hurling his sword and nicking Bert) the villains were dispatched, and the dwarf freed and healed. Gundren expressed his gratitude and told his new found friends that he wished to head back to Phandalin to recover and then set out to Wave Echo Cave and finish this whole mess.
So they set off to face the Black Spider, revealed by Gundren to be a Drow wizard named Nezznar, and find the other Rockseeker brothers. The heroes entered and took a moment to mourn with Gundren as they found the first of his two brothers dead in the cave's entrance, and the moved on. Thanks to a bit of luck and some guidance from Gundren, they very shortly found their way to Nezznar's headquarters, though not before an encounter with ochre jelly that they were able to escape with the help of an ice spell from Eliza. Eliza used her innate affinity for stealth and an invisibility spell from Nick to get a look inside the room where she identified Nezznar himself and his two bugbear body guards, as well as a statue of some sort of deity that was identified by Gundren to be the dwarven god of mining. The statue contained two emeralds in the eye sockets that Eliza managed to quietly steal, but shortly after this feat they were forced to engage Nezznar, who was now flanked by four large spiders as well as his brutish minions. The party engaged the enormous goblinoids first while Nezznar cast his spells. All that commotion alerted another Drow-disguised doppleganger nearby and he and his three bugbear workers joined the fray. Just after this, Nezznar managed to mind control Gundren into defending him, but the spell was broken shortly thereafter as Eliza finished off him in a hail of magic missiles, vanquishing the Drow and his summoned arachinds. Bert cast a command spell on the doppleganger, allowing a frustrated and wounded Nick to level an expertly aimed slash with his rapier and take the monster's head. The party then watched in awe as the last remaining enemy, a bugbear engaged in a fierce duel with Sorey, with Sorey striking the decisive blow, and ending the threat of the Black Spider and his planned abuse of the Fore of Spells forever.
The party explored the room and found a great deal of treasure, including Nezznar's spider staff as well as a map they could not read, and, to Gundren's relief, a room containing his still living but unconscious brother Nundro. The party spent one more night in the ancient cave and then, with the aid of th Rockseekers, explored the rest of Wave Echo Cave, finding it completely abandonded now save for the Forge of Spells itself. Upon entering that legendary room, the party immediately spotted two things: a copper brazier full of brightly glowing green flame, and an enormous, spherical, one-eyed creature guarding it. At sight of the creature, Sorey immediately began to direct his fellows out of the room, but, after a thoroughly non-threatening "hello" sounded in their minds, the party investigated this ancient beholder. The Rockseekers found out that the beholder had been placed here but the original masters of Phandelver Mine and, as the brothers soon realized, was unaware the cave had been lost to the ages. The beholder acknowledged the dwarves as his new masters quite happily and, upon learning of the party's deeds, allowed them to make use of the forge to enhance their of choice of one weapon or their armor. So, the heroes left their new friends to study the mine and headed back to Phandalin to look more into the mysterious map…