Some time removed from their first job together and in need of more funds despite the miserable rain, the troupe went to the Adventurer's Guild to see if there were any worthwhile postings. The best they could find was a goblin activist group (the Goblinoid Rights Organization) seeking help deposing a local mayor that they claimed sought to hire armed thugs to wipe out the peaceful protesters. With few other offerings, the group was about to take the job when a member of The Iron Rangers came into the guild to turn down a high priority contract they had previously taken. (He claimed that they didn't want to trudge through the terrible weather.) Jumping on the opportunity to take a high priority contract, the group accepted the new job without delay: to track down the cause of disappearances in The Rattling Wood.
The group set off for the Rattling Wood in the pouring rain. Cordelia is unable to join them, as she has come down with a sudden illness. The group eventually arrives in the town outside the Rattling Wood. (Though Scratch seems to have caught the sniffles himself.) They meet with the mayor who gives them some details of the disappearances. Some children had disappeared about a month ago; then some members of the town's search party went missing; and then some adventurers from not one, but two, standard adventurer's guild contracts disappeared into the woods (prompting the town to open the high priority contract). The group got a map of the area, as well as a few names: Cornelius, the cartographer who had mapped out the Rattling Wood; and Emma, the local druid.
The group spoke with Cornelius and got some information of a small cave system deep in the Rattling Wood (including one set of caves that were much deeper than the rest, and might be part of a network). He explained that the locals knew better to explore near there, as they were filled with dangerous animals (bears, dire wolves, giant spiders, and the like). They also spoke with Emma, who told them that the forest "sounded different" these days. (She also claimed that the forest was fighting back against human attempts to claim the "sacred grove" she tended to.)
The next day the group set out into the Rattling Wood. They investigated Emma's sacred grove only to find that it was a small clearing in which she was tending to some imported hallucinogenic plants (they found a hallucinating wolf rolling in the underbrush). Then they went deeper into the forest towards the caves. There they were attacked by several giant spiders. It was a dangerous fight, and they likely would've been slain had they been surprised, but after several tense rounds they slew all the nearby spiders.
In a search of the surrounding area the group found most (though not all) of the missing persons — all dead save a single Kobold named Giz, whose scales had protected him from the spider's poison. Giz had tagged along with the adventuring troup that had disappeared a week ago, and explained that they had been set upon by the spiders as they were investigating the woods. The rest of the members had been killed.
With Giz's help, the group tracked down the two remaining spiders that occupied this nest. However Felix pointed out the oddity that these giant spiders were actually cave spiders, and they were far outside the range that they would hunt even if they were desperate. The group decided to investigate the caves to see what had driven the spiders out. They found the deep caves Cornelius had told them about. They followed it down for several meters until it widened into a cavern. Inside they found a recently widened shaft that extended deep into the darkness. They also found a hook horror, that wasted no time in attacking them…
It was a tough fight, but luckily Cordelia had been tracking the group for some time now — worried that they had gone off on such a dangerous job without her. She heard the sounds of combat, and rushed to her friends' aid. Together the group was able to subdue the giant creature. But something struck them as odd — Hook Horrors typically hunt in packs yet this one was alone! They decided to delve deeper into the cave complex to investigate.
They found a deep shaft hidden by a fissure in the back of the cave, and followed it down deep into the Earth. Deep gouges in the shaft indicated that it is where the hook horror climbed up. Further on, they found a subterranean river over which spanned a narrow land bridge. While investigating the natural bridge, the group noticed an old pack hanging from the jagged edge of the bridge. But while they sought to claim it, more hook horrors emerged from deeper within the cave system. Before the Hook Horrors could make it across the bridge, Felix shattered it with his magic. Confident that the hook horrors could not follow, the group retreated to the surface, collapsing the fissure and shaft along the way to ensure no more nasties would crawl out from the depths below.
And so the group returned to town and informed the mayor of what they found: the hook horrors had driven the giant cave spiders out of their habitat. The cave spiders, desperate for a new source of food attacked the townspeople that wandered too close to their new nests. With the hook horrors gone, any remaining cave spiders should be able to return to their lairs, and the townspeople should once again be safe. The mayor sent notice to the Adventurer's Guild, and the party left to go to Selheim to claim their payment.