6 Rova, 4714 AR
Hamish, Bat, and Emraeal head north out of town and seek Hunclay’s hidden cave early in the morning, keen to find out what kinds of secrets Balthus Hunclay might be hiding, and intending to fulfill their promise to release the shae from her prison.
The group travels on the Devy Road for a couple of miles. The terrain becomes increasingly barren, the forest giving way to granite outcroppings, grasses and hardscrabble. The road, however, is well maintained and the trip is relatively pleasant. At a certain point they leave the road and head west into the rough terrain, and it’s not long before they find Hunclay’s cave concealed at the base of a bluff, the entrance partially underwater at the far end of a shallow pond. There are two bodies near the pond; both appear to have been scavenged by animals. As the group descends to investigate, Emraeal’s wolf companion begins growling, warning them of some impending trouble. Three wolves – two pack members led by a huge, imposing specimen, come upon the group from the rear. The dire wolf leader is highly aggressive, and the small pack moves in for the kill! Emraeal hangs back, firing arrows at the pack and keeping her wolf companion from entering the fray. Hamish charges in, taking on the dire wolf directly, while Bat darts around the battlefield, casting hexes and harrying the wolves from afar. The pack eventually falls, and the group explores Hunclay’s cave.
The bodies near the pond appear fairly recent. Their meager possessions suggest that they are Hunclay’s other two servants who escaped the house after the tower’s collapse. The cave itself is partially flooded, and consists of only a few chambers. The trio encounters a horrifying servant of Hunclay’s in the third (and driest) cave chamber – an undead crab-like creature with a gaping, lamprey mouth, twitching eyes located on its legs, and several oozing blisters on its back that appear to hold rotting humanoid brains. Ham, Bat and Emraeal are all momentarily gripped by fear as the thing levitates towards them, but manage to shake it off and fight Hunclay’s last guardian. They defeat the creature, and take some time to properly catalogue the wizard’s most prized possessions. Amongst the gold and jewels, the group finds several doses of the dust of darkness required to free the shae from her light prison. In addition, they find a number of rare books, the most curious of which is a rather large, incomplete tome written in ancient Aklo. Ham, luckily, is fluent in the language, and makes a cursory scan of the book. Titled Secrets of the Dreaming Dark., the few pages Ham reads through describe troubling passages on alien worlds, formulae for summoning denizens of a realm called the Dark Tapestry, methods of contacting agents of a mysterious network called the Dominion of the Black, and other unmentionable terrors. Ham finds his head spinning after several minutes of perusing the work and suddenly feels a great need to get out of the cave and in the fresh air. It is some time before the warrior is able to speak to his comrades.