This is the second of two posts in short order. If the action seems to jump here, you probably need to read the post below first..
Loaded for Zrné, the party went down into the caves.. The beast handlers stayed outside, to direct the slaves and progress on the encampments defenses and potential for Chnéhl trapping. So, it was Mriga, Suni, Sanjesh, two priests of Thúmis and about ten slaves. Wit added light, they could see what looked to be a body on the ground, across the river, behind a stone column. It was discussed to send a slave across to investigate, but, all the slaves denied any knowledge of how to swim..
The ground was slippery again, because of the mushrooms, which were everywhere. They had learned from experience that the hallucinogenic quality was not absorbed by skin, but had transferred to the underground river, so drinking from it was out of the question. They traveled up stream, but the land bridge they used before now looked treacherous with mushrooms. They decided to go upstream and look for another crossing.
Later that day, they heard howling upstream. They pressed on, always closing on the intermittent noises. Eventually, they found a lost slave, from the Avánthe expedition, stoned on mushrooms. She attacked Suni, but was quickly taken down, restrained, and given real food. When she recovered her senses and got over her fear, she told the party that the Aridáni had released them to fend for themselves when they had found the ladder gone from the cave entrance. She did not know how long ago that had been. The party claimed her as their slave.
They made camp. Sometime in the night, Mriga heard voices, come and go, not far away, but muffled. It was brief. In the morning they investigated, and determined it to be an acoustical anomaly. They found that upstream the caves system splintered into many branches, each a separate source of the river. It was wet, but they found a fordable spot that kept their mouths safely above the water, and eventually move down stream. On the second night, Mriga was again on duty when he heard something. This time it was real, and close, as another lost slave attacked him. Others came to his rescue, and again, the slave was quickly subdued, restrained and fed. She confirmed the story of the first slave. By this time they had come to the cache site that Sanjesh and party had stored all the spare provisions in their first entry. It had been raided, but had mostly consisted of a few spare torches, so no great loss.
On more familiar ground they moved up to the goal, at least for the priest of Thúmis, the mysterious writing near where they had found Mis. En route, they found tracks for a another slave, but decided to leave his fate to the weaver of skeins. If they stumbled upon him, they would deal with it. The writing was, our Priest believed, from the time of the Dragon Kings. He could not decipher it, but it appeared to be technical data, and a caution or warning. His theory is that it was a guide for other explorers.. They spent the night there, and decided they could afford one more day in this location before turning back. They went to more carefully explore the cavern in which Mis had actually been found, and discovered a Stele, again, perhaps, from the time of the dragon kings. They also discovered that the stone columns had a very orderly and, dare say, architectural regularity, and that the far end was stepped, perhaps as a dias..
Mriga assisted with taking rubbings and writing notes on the stele, while Sanjesh and Suni, again a bit impulsively, started exploring again. They took a couple slaves, and torches and lined up lights on the dias and at the writing, and moved on in a straight line past the curtain walls, and, interestingly, towards the mild winds that had been noted earlier. Eventually, they found a large hole that went nearly straight down, with a distinct cool draft coming up. They considered it might be a trail from an Aqáà, but if it were it was huge, maybe 30 or 40 feet in diameter.. Still, if it was, they weren't going to out run it now, anyway, so, they tied off a rope, sent a slave to tell others, and Suni scuttled down the hole. At 75 feet she was out of rope, but not out of hole. Sanjesh dropped a torch, which fell past here at least another 100 feet before striking something, and shooting off out of site. They didn't have enough rope, or enough supplies to make a real attempt to explore this. So they came back up. Just as Mriga came running to try to stop them from doing something crazy.. So that all worked out..
Running low on supplies, and having accomplished their goals for this trip, they went back down. They didn't feel they had time to go up stream to cross again, so Suni lead roped her way across the land bridge. And was beset upon on the other side by two Aridáni. They made the mistake of thinking she would surrender, like a sane person. She was, after all, unarmed, and outnumbered. But she was also Suni, and not a pushover, so she began to wrestle with one for a spear, which she got, then promptly used it as a quarterstaff and knocked one out. That Aridáni fell into the water.
In the mean time, Sanjesh, scampered across the land bridge on the ropes she had placed. Upon entering the scene he heard a third person say don't. Again, a sane person.. oh, never mind, he did. Sword drawn, he dove into the fray. A click and a blinding pink light, and he was frozen in time and space. But Suni had already dispatched the other Aridáni, and was now swinging randomly for the voice. Another click, and a fizzert, and a slight smell or smoke, followed by a curse. I don't recall what distracted Suni, but the Priestess of Avánthe used the opportunity to dive into the water and make a break for it. She figured she was out numbered and out gunned, and wasn't Suni.. mores the pity, cause rational thought in an irrational situation can get you in trouble. Suni went after her. Suni had the presence of mind not to open her mouth. The priestess did not. After that, it was just catching up and restraining her. And that was where we left it..
I am proud to announce this was session 10, of my campaign. I think it is going well.