Chapter 1, Part II: Cavern of Surprises

Once inside the cavern, the boys called out into the cave to see if anyone would answer them, alerting a group of bandits of their presence.

The boys saw the dark cut by two sources of light: glowing blue and purple stones naturally occurring in the walls of the cave and man-made firepits left alight. In the glow, the party saw multiple crates stacked in the infrequently explored tunnels. The crates had the logos of multiple businesses in Gilding: Lightweights Armory, Monastic Influencer, Warm Wishes, and Brawlmart.

A trap was set up further back from the entrance of the cave, protecting more valuable crates. Teaching Kit to use 'detect magic', Leozumin and Artem assisted the young fairy in discovering a crate with potions and a pair of boots imbued with illusion magic. The boys took 4 potions, 2 of healing, 1 of resistance against necrotic damage and 1 of resistance against poison and the boots as well, though they did not investigate to see what kind of boots they were.

At the other side of the entrance, they discovered a stone staircase leading higher up into the cave. Knowing they had entered the cave loudly, the party was cautious, especially after finding another lit campfire at the top of the stairs. Chief Paws spoke with some very intelligent bats who were able to alert the party of four bandits waiting for them around the corner. With the help of their bat friends, the adventurers avoided a surprise round, and jumped into initiative order as they came into the battle swinging.

Despite the bats' warning, the party only had three bandits attack them. On Kit's turn, after two of the bandits were felled, he cast 'detect magic' again, lighting up the magic axe of a fourth, larger bandit off to the side, who came in swinging. With some great hits by everyone and the finishing blow being dealt by Artem, the last two bandits fell and the battle ended.

Further exploration of this part of the cave revealed a waterfall where three streams broke off into 3 separate rooms. Following the clue in the letter left by Kit's grandfather, Mortimer, the party took the Eastmost stream. Well, the party threw Corky's dummy, Stefano, into the room with a glowing rock, and after seeing it was safe, ventured in after him.

"As you duck under the water, you can feel it hit you on the back of the neck and shoulders hard and heavy as it falls from an unknown distance through a gap in the rocks above you. You push past the curtain of water and enter into a small chamber. The majority of you can see, illuminated by the dim light of the glowing rock, that it is a small, craggy cavern with another smaller, narrower waterfall just ahead spilling into a pool below. As the last of you makes in past the water, the cave begins to spring into color, the luminous stones blooming a bright blue and purple all around you and setting the small area alight. The inside is mostly rocky platforms at varying levels, glowing stones, a withered husk of a tree, and moss growing along the wet stones near the water."

The party then took a long rest inside the empty, glowing cavern, healed, and recharged until they were ready to find the treasure old Mortimer had left behind. During this long rest, all members of the party studied a bit using their Potential Point Trainers.

They tasked Kit with dropping the whiteberry into the tree at the edge of the rocks beside the waterfall. After a few iterations of the instructions from the note, an excited Kit knocked thrice on the tree and dropped the berry inside.

"Kit drops the white berry into the tree husk and you hear it hit the bottom with a 'plink,' a sound that berries hitting wood are not particularly known for. For a moment, there is nothing but the sound of running water from both the front and back of you, and then, over the top of the noise of the waterfalls, there is a grinding sound, a gritty stone against stone rumbling as a large rock behind you and up about 6 feet begins to shake. The noise grows louder as the shaking intensifies and then the boulder topples down off the ledge and onto the ground with a crashing thud."

The boys paused, and looked around to ensure no one was hurt by the falling rock, assumedly triggered by the berry being dropped into the tree.

"You notice the sound of the water has changed. It is running still, so you can still hear the roar of the waterfall, but you also hear something new. There is a bubbling noise in the pool just over the cliff, almost like the water there is boiling."

At the sound of the bubbling water, most of the party stayed back, far from the ledge, but Leozumin looked down over the ledge to investigate.

"You see big bubbles popping at the surface, and just as they begin to stop, you notice the water darkening and small spines breach the surface. As you look closer, you notice that the spines aren't coming OUT of the water. They ARE the water. A long snake-like creature, transparent and fluid, raises up out of the water, its body long enough to rear up the ten foot height from the pool to the ledge where you all stand. Its huge head is reptilian in appearance with teeth that look like icy daggers jutting from its wide mouth. And as it looms over the six of you, letting out a shrill roar, you see a second of the same creature arch up out of the water beside it.
Roll for initiative."

Completed: February 2022