Molly returned from her scouting and reunited with the party. The narrow passageway leads into the mine, with only room for a single person at a time. The Iron Guard established a sentry at the entrance of the mine, as Daerik led the party into its depths. After traversing for single file into the path for a ways, Frank saw something in the distance and alerted the party. Molly crowdsurfed to the front of the line in order to sneak on the mysterious figure. “There’s someone here!” Molly stage-whispered back. Walker snuffed his torch and snuck up ahead to the figure. Frank conjured up the sound of a frog’s croak to cover Walker’s sneaking toward him. A little boy poked his head out, looking for the frog. He spied Walker and froze. Walker silently grappled this boy, covering his mouth to prevent him from screaming. Walker calmed the boy, named Kit, and conversed with him in hushed tones. Kit shared with them about life in their little house-hole. The party convinced Kit to lead them deeper into the cave. The cave opened into a large cavern, bustling with families cooking over fires and running in and out of wooden shacks. Kit led Raena, Frank, Daerik, and Tabitha to his family’s shack, while Molly broke off to scout and Fergus and Walker left to search for some sort of bar to nurse their hangovers.
Molly listened in as a couple argued. The man expressed his desire to work his way up into Ronny’s inner circle, so that he can better provide for his family and move them back out of the cave. Molly initiated a conversation with the couple, asking for directions to Ronny the Bear. The man told her about how high taxes and droughts had forced him from his farm and into the care of the Willow Men. He told her about some mysterious lights from deeper in the cave.
Raena, Frank, Daerik, and Tabitha briefly talk to Kit’s mother before determining they needed to go deeper into the mine.
Fergus and Walker found a make-shift bar in the center of the camp. Two old, long-bearded men offer to play a game of Oye with Fergus and Walker. Rather than test the fate with dice, the two walked in and grabbed a drink at the bar.
The party regrouped outside the bar and shared what they had learned before determining to go deeper. Uniformed and confident, they planned to bluff their way deeper into the mine. Tabitha pulled out her ledger to look the part. As they attempt to bluff their way in, one of the guards noticed the Iron Guard sigil on the ledger. He stared at it for a long time, but decided to let them continue anyway. They continued into the darkness.
The pathway split into a T, and the party took the right path. The pathway opened into a cavern with a deep pool of water in the center. A bridge had once crossed the pool, but had rotten away. Raena cast some magic lights into the pool’s center, illuminating something large and slithery within. The party took a quick U-turn to return to the left path.
They entered a cavern room with three wooden doors. A large padlock held one close. Molly dashed toward a second door, and immediately underneath her, triggered a switch in the tile floor. Molly froze, keeping the tile depressed. Walker noticed that across the way, the other door had a slew of arrows pointing at where Molly stood, ready to spring. Daerik noticed similar trap tiles in front of each of the other doors. The party turtled behind shields as Molly ducked and rolled off the trap tile and into the doorway. The party followed Molly into the left door. As they ascended deeper, the masonry became more intricate and Fergus identified it as dwarven work – a throne room of an ancient dwarf noble. Fergus walked into the center of the room, and gets caught by a noose on the group that pulls him up into the air. A door burst open, and seven Willow Men ran out, led by a dwarf. Fergus rained sacred flame down on the dwarf, knocking him unconscious. Daerik clocked out a Willow Man with the broadside of his sword, while Frank knocked one out with his quarterstaff. Fergus dropped another Willow Man while still suspended from the ceiling. Molly killed one with an ill-placed arrow and Tabitha dropped the last Willow Man.