Jansen and Lelouche stand in the back room of the Warren Tower Mage’s Guild with Nina as the old man conducts an extensive ritual on the petrified body of Cyril. As the man works, bits of rock begin to chip off of the exterior and his skin is revealed. At first is appears grayed and damaged, but color begins to return to him and as the ritual is completed, he falls to the floor, unconscious. The old man suggests Cyril rests, and Nina informs them that she will take him to an inn. Lelouche offers to help, and they carry him to the inn behind The Rusted Clam. Falx, on his way back from the stables, runs into them and helps get Cyril inside. Nina purchases a room and lays him out on a bed, sitting in a nearby chair to watch over him.
Nina thanks the three of them for their help, and says that she’ll be fine on her own here. She adds that if they return to the inn in the next day or so, she’ll probably still be here and would be happy to accompany them back to Falqueth if they were heading in that direction. Lelouche purchases a room for later, and the three of them go to check on the message board in the middle of town. It appears The Torrey Company is still looking for people to help mapping the area around the city, and the Sentinel Guild is still writing off smaller escort contracts to adventurers. Lelouche suggests they go and talk to Micah before making any decisions about their next move.
Approaching Micah’s blacksmith stand, they find him chastising a young boy for apparently making too many mistakes with a job he was given. Willow is nowhere to be seen, and as the boy is sent to the back, Micah mentions that Willow went to Castle Valoris on a task for him and he had to hire his new assistant. From the way he speaks, it is clear the new protege isn’t working out. Hammering can be heard from the back where the boy went, and it is evident to the group that just by the sound, the boy is clearly struggling. Lelouche inquires a bit about the boy, and Micah reminds the group that all of the blacksmiths in town other than Micah disappeared recently over the course of a few months. Micah admits that he underestimated the influx of work that would be coming in, and he was having trouble completing it without Willow.
Lelouche asks about the missing blacksmiths. Micah admits that he didn’t know any of them on a highly personal level, so at the time it didn’t seem strange to him. He thought at first that they were being bought out, but he never received any type of offer. He then thought they might be in danger, but after a while of being the only remaining blacksmith, he stopped worrying. If he was going to be attacked, it hadn’t happened yet and didn’t seem like a threat any more. In passing, Micah mentions that during the disappearances, Willow appeared one day looking for work. Micah describes her as a godsend, since the extra work started rolling in just after, and she proved to be an incredibly quick learner.
Lelouche asked if Micah ever looked into the disappearances. Micah claims he put in a report for the disappearances when he was worried about being next. Since there was no sign of kidnapping or murder, the claim was dismissed. According to the city guard, there was no sign of a crime and therefore they had higher priorities. Lelouche asks about any rumors, and Micah mentions that he finds one fact stranger than the disappearances: There are virtually no rumors, and no one is really talking about the disappearances. In most cases there would at least be people talking about some form of evidence they had to misdeeds, but in this case the whole town was silent.
Lelouche inquires further about Willow. Micah mentions that she was sent to Castle Valoris to find additional help and better equipment, since they intended to expand a bit in Warren Tower. He mentions that she offered to go, and he couldn’t deny that they needed to expand or else they would have too much work to handle soon. Lelouche asks for more information about Willow appearing at “just the right time”, citing it as peculiar. Micah explains that over the years, he has had quite a few people coming to him looking for work, but he has only ever hired Willow on the spot. Apparently she made quite the argument for her own employment and he found himself unable to turn her down. She then proved to be the fastest learner he had ever seen. He asks the group to give her a message to hurry back if they happen to find themselves near Castle Valoris. Lelouche wishes Micah good luck with the new protege Jakob.
Lelouche, Jansen, and Falx head to The Rusted Clam in search of Orik and Rye. They find Orik with a wet shirt, cleaned off from Rye getting sick a few minutes prior. Rye is nearly passed out on the bar, laying her head on the surface. The bartender is asking her to leave, but she is so inebriated she doesn’t seem to notice, or possibly just doesn’t care. Falx helps her out of the bar, aiding her in climbing into the wagon. She curls up on top of the packed items and falls asleep nearly immediately. Lelouche hops up on Risky Biscuits, directing the group to The Torrey Company building.
Entering the Torrey Company building, the group inquires about the work mentioned in the ad. The woman at the front desk explains that they need to create new maps to avoid troop movements in the potential upcoming war. The paths they want to explore would generally be undesirable during peace time, but may help prevent raiding of their shipments by bandits or even soldiers during the war, when the police force would be pulled in to the major cities. She mentions that they sent out another group which didn’t return, and admits that they may have underestimated the danger inherent in the area they sent them to path out. They are now looking for people with more combat experience to work on contract, pathing out the area and possibly recovering evidence of what happened to their employees.
The woman describes a number of paths they’ll need to map out, one through the northern swamp, one through the forest, and one through the southern mountains. The group that disappeared was sent through the southern mountain, so that was their first priority. The group agrees to head to the cave for 400 gold pieces to split among themselves. Falx asks about the possibility of mapping the forest on the way back after mapping the cave and dropping off Nina back at Falqueth. The representative offers another 400 gold pieces for the completion of the forest, but they would need to map as safe a path through as possible.
Jansen, very sensually, says hello to the woman. The woman seems unphased, saying hello back to him.
Lelouche discusses the plan with the group, saying it would be best to notify Nina and then stay overnight in town if she wants to accompany them back through the cave. They head to the inn to meet with her. Nina doesn’t seem interested in mapping, noting that it would be dangerous to leave Cyril in town alone or to bring him with them, so she would need to stay with him for now. She notes that she would be happy to stay in town for a few days and accompany them back on the roads. Lelouche offers to drop her off at Sophia’s and then pick her back up after exploring the cave, accompanying her to Falqueth after that. She agrees with the plan and joins them outside with the horses.
Falx heads to a general store to purchase parchment, writing utensils, and mapping tools, paying 8 gold pieces for the collection. Lelouche gets a room and lets Rye sleep on his second bed. Falx gets a room and splits the cost with Jansen. Orik heads to the horses, staying in the cart. The group awakes the next morning, assembling in the waiting room and then heading out. Cyril is looking significantly closer to being recovered. He can barely walk, but with Nina’s help can get around.
Rye climbs back into the cart, hoarding the remaining cask of ale from Nina’s house. She drinks it while shouting to the group to hurry up and get her moving. Falx sits on the edge of the cart, which she seems to ignore. Lelouche and Nina hop on to Risky Biscuits while Cyril is tied on top of Top Bun. Rye is visibly inebriated by the time they reach the town gate on the way out. The security checkpoint is thorough, but uneventful. The guards appear to be talking about something as the group approaches, but they go silent before any words can be discerned. The check appears more professional than before, as if they are taking their job more seriously.
The group heads out of Warren Tower and toward Sophia’s, keeping to the main road. They reach the plantation mid-day. Sophia comes out to meet them again, greeting Nina and Cyril. Cyril attempts to respond but still seems unable to speak. Sophia offers the group a warm meal, and everyone eats. Nina thanks them again, saying that she will wait here a few days for their return. If they come back and she’s left, she apologizes, citing she will have to head back to work as soon as Cyril is fully recovered. She tells them that if they don’t see her again when they come back, to visit her in Falqueth and say hello in the future. Sophia agrees to house the cart and horses, keeping them fed until the group returns. Rye appears to be sobering up and out of alcohol, to her dismay.
The group backtracks to the cave entrance just south of Warren Tower, finding it after a short search. Falx takes a break to draw the general area and properly mark where the entrance is, as well as taking notes about the opening for The Torrey Company. Orik heads inside, leading the group while lighting his torch. Lelouche casts Light on the tip of his sword, holding it high to illuminate the area around them. As they walk, Falx continues to take notes about the paths and offshoots in the cave, as well as distances in steps between unique recognizable areas or features.
Orik gets a bit ahead of the group and stumbles, but manages to catch his fall without hurting himself. Looking around, he reveals that the cave is beginning to open up downward and to the east. The group finds themselves in front of a split in the cave. One side leads up and to the left while the other leads down and to the right. Falx studies the entrance-ways carefully and decides to head down to the right, as he believes it has a higher chance of leading through, as he can hear water farther down. Falx writes in a specific note for the Torrey Company to install stairs in an area that seems to be slippery and full of unexpected drops.
The group comes to what appears to be the bottom of the path they are in, and they are stopped by an underground river flowing out of a nearby wall and crossing their path. It seems to have cut a large rift in the middle of the path, which Falx estimates is 20 feet across. Falx recognizes that this is the water he was hearing from above. Squinting through the darkness, he notes that the path seems to continue on the other side of the rift, heading upward and most likely toward an exit.
Lelouche Fey-Steps over the river, appearing near the ledge on the other side. Orik removes his rope from his pack, tying it to a nearby stalagmite and then throwing Lelouche the other end. Lelouche ties the other end up. Meanwhile, Falx uses Scattered Form to turn into a swarm of insects which floats over the river before reforming on the other side. Orik, Lelouche, and Jansen each slowly climb across the rope. Lelouche uses Mage Hand to untie the first side of the rope, while Orik unties the other and reclaims the rope to his pack. Falx marks down the dimensions of the river and marks a suggestion to form a permanent rope bridge.
Before they begin heading back up the next path, Lelouche asks the group to hold up while he checks for signs of other people passing by. He Fey-steps back over to the side they started on and looks around for any clues. Finding some scratching on a nearby stalagmite, he realizes that others have crossed over this same bridge, and therefore if the mapping party is to be found, they must be ahead of them. He Fey-steps back over and explains this to the group. They continue on, noting that there seems to have been a lot of traffic on this side of the river.
Jansen discovers that he is in nature, and it’s pretty neat. He can tell it’s neat by the way it is.
As the group continues on, they start seeing more and more indications of people traveling through the cave. Hearing noises up ahead, Falx indicates to be quiet and begins sneaking forward. They attempt to move silently as a group, but recognize that with their equipment they are making a fair amount of noise. Before they get close enough to start worrying, they realize that some noises they hear up ahead appear to be human voices. Falx motions for them to turn off their lights, and the cave goes nearly pitch black as the torch and Lelouche’ Light cantrip are extinguished. As their eyes adjust, they realize that there is a light up ahead that is just bright enough to be made out coming from around the corner. It appears to be in the same location as the source of the voices.
Falx attempts to sneak forward a bit and hear what is being said without being detected. Reaching out for balance while sneaking, he accidentally knocks a rock off of the wall and the noise brings him to a halt. A voice erupts from around the corner, “Is someone there?!”. Falx remains silent. Jansen can’t help but laugh out loud, and the man speaking seems to notice. “Identify yourselves!” he shouts. Lelouche shouts back, “It is I, Lelouche Lunarsphere, Eladrin Wizard.” Jansen is still laughing and announces Lelouche a second time as a joke.
Falx continues forward, and the light gets brighter. Three men with torches and swords drawn come around the corner. They notice the group and ask what they’re doing in the cave. They seem defensive, until Falx mentions that the group is on a surveying task. The men with torches ask if the group has been sent from The Torrey Company, and the group confirms they were. The men offer to let them stay in their camp. Lelouche notes that two of the men seem, through the darkness, to look a bit like the description given to the group by the Torrey Company representative, but there is a third man and no women they can see. Falx asks the men what they’re doing in the cave.
The men explain that they were surveyors for the Torrey Company, but they decided to defect. With the war upcoming, they knew that they might be drafted into the military or even just caught in the middle of a war that might put them at risk. Falx believes them, and agrees to go to their settlement in the cave. The men describe that they are essentially faking their own deaths to avoid going back to the kingdom during the war. When they left, things were a bit tense and they didn’t want to be on record as deserters, so they just decided to make it appear as if they didn’t survive their surveying mission. Their plan was to move out of the cave and head south, but they didn’t expect another mapping group to be sent through so quickly. They add that they would appreciate the group not mentioning that they were alive, so they could escape the kingdom and live in peace.
Lelouche tells them that it seems reasonable, but asks about the women from the surveying group. The men explain that the women went to inform their families. They explained that men are generally drafted as part of a tax benefit for the Torrey Company, so it was more of a risk for them to inform their families, so only the women went. Falx asks about the third man, and the man claims that he was in the original surveying group, and it was odd they weren’t told that.
Falx notices that they have many more packs than what would be sent with five people, and some of the bags are not labeled as being from the Torrey Company. Jansen pushes the issue, asking about the other bags. One of the men very suspiciously and uncomfortably tells him about being sent with too many supplies. Jansen gets a strong feeling that the man is lying. Lelouche begins taking a closer look at the men, and realizes that by firelight, the men don’t match the description nearly as well as he’d previously thought. Jansen yells at the men, asking outright if they are lying. One of the men attempt to back up the story, but he stumbles over his words, and the group begins to realize something is very wrong. The man claims they got the extra bags on supply runs, but some of them have labels on them and definitely appear to belong to different people.
Orik pulls his hammer, demanding the men sit down before he hurts them. The men back up, frightened. Orik demands they toss over the bags, and one of the men breaks the story, telling him “We can share the loot.” Orik just laughs as the group pulls their weapons. The men draw their swords as well, seeming to accept that their facade has been revealed.
300 EXP from role-play = 300 EXP total (16800 EXP total)