Having decided to find out exactly what The Gauntlet was, the party made their way from the previous night's campsite up the back face of the cliff, following the crudely drawn markers left on the map that could be seen along the cliff. The hour long journey put each character through their paces as the steady pace and slowly increasing incline causing the athletic party members breathing a little heavier in the slightly thinner air.
Spotting the final landmark, a large flat rock only a score of metres away from the cliff's edge, the party of newfound friends found themselves looking out over the bay that leads into the continents of Lordaeran and Khaz Modan, the city of Phlan and the yellow-green tinged Stojanow river easily visible.
A light sea breeze blew across the Gorax, Gozer, Magnus Khelidan and Mistlilly ‘Rage’ Ragetotem's faces as they all looked across the ocean, the waves crashing against the cliff base approximately sixty feet below. Having followed the less than subtle hints left for them all, it turned out that reaching the cliff top was the easy part. With each of the characters peering over the edge of the cliff it took only a few minutes to spy the cave entrance that was mentioned on the map.
A metal piton hammered into the stone near the edge of the cliff indicated that others have been this way before. Rust had accumulated around the top and base of the steel spike and, even if encouraged by the salty air, it indicated that the piton had been here some time.
Not trusting the piton already present, the Mistlilly ‘Rage’ Ragetotem and Gozer hammered in their own metal spike, attaching the rope securely and abseiling down the cliff face with ease. Following suite, Gorax joined his brother at the now crowded cave entrance, leaving Magnus Khelidan waiting atop the cliff.
Lighting a torch and entering single file into the narrow, upright slit in the cliff wall, Gorax moved in first, followed by Mistlilly ‘Rage’ Ragetotem and then the orc shaman Gorax who was providing the light source. Rage felt most uncomfortable as he struggled to move his broad frame through the cave entrance.
The narrow passageway soon widened out into a cavern approximately twenty feet wide and the same in length. The roof looked to also be at most twenty feet high – the radius of their light skittered around the edges of the cavern, leaving small pockets in shadow. Having only walked a few steps into the cavern Gozer was the first to notice a hairy, multi-legged form which dropped down on them from the shadows above!
Wasting no time, the (relatively) slim framed fighter hefted his battleaxe and brought it down into the spidery form. However rather than the strange coloured ichor he expected to seep from the wounded creature a fine, black stained dust hurtled from the hairy arachnoid, filling the first part of the chamber with a choking, eye-watering dust. The giant spider husk itself collapsed under the combination of the blow and expelling of powder, hanging loosely from a set of hair-woven string.
Both Mistlilly ‘Rage’ Ragetotem and Gozer were quick enough to hold their breath, preventing the dust from fully invading their lungs and respiratory systems. However Gorax was not so lucky – it took mere moments for the orc to fall to his knees, coughing and sneezing from the eye watering material.
Taking advantage of the sprung trap, two small, shaggy humanoids about 1 feet tall appeared the edge of the chamber opposite, coming from the tunnel in that side of the chamber. Their naked bodies were covered (thankfully) head to toe in hair of varying length, with both of them communicating to eachother in a rat-like squeal. Each one carried a half-spear…until they both launch them in the direction of the party!
The small, and relatively ineffective projectiles skittered into the wall around Gozer who, in response to the hostile act, charged the diminuitive creatures. Battleaxe at the ready, the skilled warrior cleaved the man-furball in half, it's head completely separated from the creature's body. Startled by it's compatriot's quick demise, the second creature turned and ran. However Gozer, temper raised by the brazen act of hostility he had witnessed, took the opportunity to dispatch the tiny creature as it attempted to flee.
Deciding that there may be more to the Gauntlet than just a room or two, the party members hailed Magnus Khelidan from the cave entrance and told him to climb down the rope to the cave. In the meantime Gorax's coughing subsided and he began to breathe normally, however he ached head to toe from the effort he had expended as part of the spider trap. Needless to say, everyone was well and truly careful when they progressed through the now dusty floor of the cave. Once they were all together again they resumed their progress through the cave – Gozer leading the pack, followed by Mistlilly ‘Rage’ Ragetotem, then Gorax who wielded the torch and then finally Magnus Khelidan.
Once again, the passageway narrowed, forcing the party to walk in single file. Mistlilly ‘Rage’ Ragetotem again found it difficult as he worked at squeezing his large frame through the five foot wide passageway. The smell of sea air came from both in front and behind the adventurers - the draft from further within the cavern smelt salty but stale.
Thirty feet into the tunnel the torchlight illuminated a peculiar sight – dangling from the cavern ceiling was a thin rope, ending in a loose lasso made from what looks like hair. The lasso sat on the floor of the tunnel, encompassing a message scrawled in chalk in Common tongue – it read simply "PUT FUT HEER".
Made supsicious from their previous encounter, the party eyed the lasso and its surrounds warily. Deciding that "the furballs are smarter than they seem", the Mistlilly ‘Rage’ Ragetotem and Gozer examined the area around the lasso a little closer, hoping they would be able to spot something untoward. Their caution was rewarded – just beyond the lasso they noticed the square outline of a pit on the floor. Deciding to avoid trouble altogether the party simply climbed the wall or just jumped over the pit.