Slowly, Belvanaj reemerged from the bottom of the cavern, and Elloria felt quite a bit of relief as she saw him again- and to see that he was not being pursued by some sort of spider creature. He told her about the bones, and Elloria just nodded, thinking about what they meant. Old bones- an old feeding ground, or the site of some long-ago tragedy that claimed the lives of many, perhaps? Or- no, it seemed like most of the bones had not been human; perhaps they would have been completely safe to continue exploring.
It was a moot point, though; Elloria's apprehension prevented her from being willing to stay on this path. As Belvanaj approached, she took another look at the long cavern, though there was not more information for her to gain from it. She looked at her companion again. "Perhaps we ought to explore the other passage from the last cavern, the one that we have not entered yet. Perhaps the lampflies misremembered where they had seen what they told us about?" It had to be more productive than where they currently were, at any rate.
Belvanaj said, "Well, we are near that other way, relatively, so we might look anyway. But I still say I doubt those lanternflies would have flown from the shelter where they have their nest, straight below where they flew in there, to come look this way. That they would say they know where something is hidden, in this direction from there, might be an entirely other cavern passage apart from this one, that they found above the surface in that direction from there."
Belvanaj gathered the spikes and coiled up the rope to put away. He then indicated to Elloria that they could walk, carefully, back up the way from which they came to this place. And then he said something, that certainly would sound curious. "Have you ever heard of supermonitors?"
Elloria could only shrug in response to Belvanaj. It was pointless to argue what the lantern flies may or may not have seen or done; they had shared the information that they had, and that was all the pair had to work with. The elf also imagined that the flying creatures would have not come to this cavern from their nest, but would have rather looked at it before settling in the other one- but it seemed pointless to bring up the concept now, and so she simply followed her companion once he had packed up the gear.
As they began to climb, he asked her a question, and Elloria was quiet for a moment as she considered it. "Supermonitors..." she repeated, tasting the word on her mouth. Something about the phrase tickled her memory, but she couldn't stick any detail to the phrase. "No, I can't say I have. What makes you bring them up?"
Belvanaj gave Elloria a lingering look as they each carried one torch, which he found he liked to do at opportune times that were hoped to be often. Then he recited what he remembered from lessons. "Monitors, along with ambushers and tunnelers, and another that I can't recall just now, are great dragonlizards. They are aggressive but not very intelligent. Supermonitors are different, yellow and gray scaly creatures often stranding up erect, they show more intelligence, and seem to be a little analogous to the fabled lizardmen I was remembering. They don't speak though like lizardmen are said to do, they have some kind of babbling sound they make that might be for communication among them. It has confused others going through marshy areas where they are found, and one of them might attack those confused ones. Down in that pit where I saw bones between the tight stony teeth, one skull almost completely intact made me think it was like one of a supermonitor. Why one of those would be here I don't understand, though."
As he spoke after her question, they came closer through the now tight part of the passage to where the one passage they had been on earliest ended with the three going in different directions from it.
Last edited by GodlyD&D; 11-17-2022 at 02:16 AM.
Elloria nodded along as Belvanaj explained what the supermonitors were. She found herself mostly watching her step, but stealing the occasional glance at her companion- and she found herself missing the clarity that daylight offered for an additional reason, now. Intelligent gray and yellow dragonlizards, not dissimilar from the lizardmen of legend? The elf couldn't help but to be surprised that she had managed to miss hearing of such a creature. Then again, her studies hadn't focused on bestiary as much as they had focused on flora, potions, and the like.
The cave that the pair traversed now, however, was certainly nothing similar to the marshy area that Belvanaj suggested they might be found. What was the skull of one doing here, then? "Perhaps it was looking for a new home, or the skull is from so long ago that the environment was different? Or perhaps the skull was brought here after the creature died, though that opens up another set of questions," she mused, partially to herself, as they pressed on. They had at this point reached the cavern from which the tunnels branched again, and Elloria continued to the one they hadn't yet explored with no hesitation. "Here's hoping this one is more fruitful than the others."
Belvanaj, impressed with Elloria showing decisiveness to take the initiative, followed after her along this other passage, to the right from where they had first come. They would never bother with the dark passage going straight up above where the other passages separated from, so this would be it, he knew, either there would be a hidden artifact they could find this way, or the whole cavern they had been looking through was a false start.
As he stepped in, it was immediately noticeable this way was steeper, like the other one where it became hard to go forward anymore without slipping ahead uncontrollably. He said, "Take ahold of the wall with the hand you can manage for that, it would help us to move on that way."
This passage was wide enough, anyway, that only a wall on one side could be reached at any time. At least the walls of the passage here were very uneven. They had to go on gradually, going this steep way. After a long length, they came to a very wide cavern which was as far as this passage went. There were very few stalactites above and just a few small stalagmites along the ground, not even near each other. But they could see there were shapes on the wall around the cavern in some places. There were small built structures, each with a small opening, and seemingly hollow, in places within this cavern. And there was a raised platform, like an altar, here near the middle.