After a few more days of walking (and for those who were in the previous fight, a few more days of PTSD), a torrential rain began to come down. Xenil, with his tent, stayed comfortably dry, as did Monchichi, who warded off the rain with magic; Aus-Grah-Zoor braved the rain and cold like a man of strength and endurance, and Katniss took refuge in the canopy of a well-suited tree. The rest of the group, however, found the rain far too interesting to try to escape, and as a result, caught a cold and were indisposed for the time being. When the rain was gone, the group could see clearly, and noticed that the trail had been partially washed off; however, some magical tracking by Monchichi led the group to a nearby village called Altin, who greeted the adventuring party with silent streets and cold stares from the windows. Eventually, the group ran into a makeshift town militia, which tried to ward off the group, but which eventually was convinced to stand down. The leader of the town, the Innkeeper April, told the group about raids that were being done recently, and how the militia was simply waiting for them. In exchange for supplies, the Innkeeper asked them to assault their base of operations with two of her villagers. Agreeing to negotiated terms, Falcon Light accepted the task, and went to their base.
Eventually the group stumbled upon a cave, with a few guards and a horseman talking outside. It was immediately apparent that they were dealing with either true mercenaries, or soldiers, from the same group as the one from the earlier failed ambush. Using stealth, the group dealt the first blow, with Monchichi firing a magical orb that killed a few of them, and crippled the horseman and his steed. The horseman, however, seeing the Paladin first in his reflective plate mail, charged at him, throwing his lance, and pinning the paladin by the shoulder, through his shield and hand, to a tree. The horseman then jumped off the horse, who then kicked Aus-Grah-Zoor, rendering him unconscious. Xenil then delivered a counter-strike, along with the others, which ended the battle swiftly; the group then rescued Aus, and together entered the cave.
After a brief survey of the cave entrance, Katniss attempted to open the door, but upon doing so, triggered a spikes-from-the-floor trap – thankfully, she managed to dodge them in the nick of time. Xenil then quickly identified that they were pressure-sensitive, by only putting the tip of his foot on the ground, and marking the point where the spikes came out. After jumping one-by-one over the trap and into the room, they managed to avoid detection by some of the working soldiers. Setting themselves up strategically, they managed quick work of them, save for one soldier who was interrogated for a while before he bit off his own tongue and swallowed it, after which he was sent to his god by Aus-Grah-Zoor, followed by Final Rights courtesy of Xenil’s Arcane Warrior Sect’s teachings.
Investigating the cave further revealed that there was a secret passage which opened a brightly-illuminated passageway. Soon after entering, rumbling rocks and noise suggested that something big had occurred, and after exiting the hallway, that idea was confirmed by the visible collapse, which had killed a mage. After another fight, Monchichi acquired a wand that had been imbued with the magical power of its previous owner, which provided it with a modest power-boost.
And so, the warriors braced themselves to delve further into the cave, unbeknownst to them that a powerful foe lurks nearby…