When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they had just cleared the Bloodskull Orcs out of the caves and discovered a tunnel going down, where they met the Svirfneblin, the deep gnomes.
They have also gained a couple of NPC party members: Snagged, a fourth level dwarf fighter, and Farmer George, a zero-level human who will eventually level up to a first level fighter.
The Svirfneblin met them and gave them some more, though limited, information about what is happening in the Underdark. They know the dark dwarves have been taking magic-capable humanoids below, and they know that illithids are involved.
The gnomes are not eager to trust surface dwelling adventurers. They are fearful that foolish adventurers might lead the dark dwarves or the mind flayers back to the gnomes, and wipe them out. To earn their trust, the party must help the gnomes out. Two tribes of trolls dwell nearby, who are constantly warring with each other; wiping out the trolls would greatly improve the gnomes' local security situation.
The party recognized that large numbers of trolls may be a bit beyond their capabilities, despite their growing arsenal of magical items. The gnomes offered to lead them back to the surface to make preparations, with the caveat that they have about ten days before the dark dwarves will return and discover the slaughter of the orcs.
The party returned topside. Snagger the Dwarf was eager to hunt down the bandits who kidnapped him. With the help of the ranger Kuiper, they tracked the bandits to the old abandoned Garlstone Mines. They made short work of the bandits there, including the evil priest leaders; they also finally got to take out Ranchefus, the escaped leader of the kidnappers from Broken Spire Keep.
This earned them a decent cache of magical weapons, items, and potions, as well as enough experience for the cleric, the magic-user, and one of the elf fighters to level up.
With about a week left before their scheduled rendezvous with the Svirfneblin, they decided to go investigate the mystery of the New Mire. The New Mire, up until a couple years ago, wasn't called that. It was fertile, abundant farmland and forest. Something caused the area to become waterlogged, and no one knows what. "Blue Demons" have been spotted in the Mire, and the party quickly recognizes goblin tracks.
They track the goblins to their lair, and discover they are, indeed, blue. Instead of slaying them outright (the goblins are quite cowardly, and have never harmed any local humans, though they have swiped some chickens and sheep), the cleric led negotiations, and they soon discovered the magic ring worn by the goblin shaman: a Ring of Water Elemental Control. They convinced him to give it up in a trade that was much to their advantage (the goblin was unaware of the ring's true power).
Further interrogation of the shaman revealed that the goblin found the ring in the now sealed off caverns below their lair. The way can be opened, and the party is eager to see what else is below...