Lord Ector has called for adventurers who will get at the source of the slaving raids on outlying estates. In the great hall he feeds them and explains that over a dozen people – shepherds, farmers, foresters – have been taken by goblin raiders in recent weeks. Trackers have followed the trail as far as the base of Thunderspire Mountain, but will go no further, for the place has a sinister reputation.
Castle Fallcrest's resident sage, Paldemar the Prescient explains that the mountain has an ancient minotaur realm carved into its roots – Saruun Khel. It was once a vast and fantastic place, home to many wonders of engineering and craftsmanship. He wants to learn about Saruun Khel. The Houses of Silence, the Palace of Zamduul, and the Seven-Pillared Hall.
The latter is now a trading depot under the control of a mysterious group called the Mages of Saruun. People from the surface are tolerated there in order to trade with the creatures of the Underdark.
Lord Ector promises 300 gp for identifying the source of the slaves, and a further 20 gp per person rescued. Paldemar asks the party to escort him to the Seven-Pillared Hall and protect him while he explores key sites in the labyrinth.
Bairwin the merchant asks them to take a chest to an associate in the Seven-Pillared Hall named Gendar. He says that man will give them an item to return to him. He will give them 100 gp for completing this task.
They will be provided with three mules to carry their gear. Paldemar, who is old and infirm, rides another mule. The trail to Thunderspire lies three days journey East of Fallcrest on the trade road, and it is a further half-day up a winding path to the slopes of Thunderspire itself.