Tanivel continues his exploration of a cave deep within Ista Island…
Music: Volcanic Depths
Tanivel climbed down the rope through the narrow chasm with only a tiny glow light at the bottom to guide him.
[Skill check: Climbing 12, rolled 13.]
His impatience got the better of him and he kicked several stones loose, showering Levon with sharp rocks.
“Hey!” the boy shouted, the echo of his voice hinting at a larger tunnel below.
“Ashes, sorry,” Tanivel offered as a sincere apology.
Levon pulled out his mapping journal and writing tool, making a quick sketch of the entrance. He carefully marked the exit with chalk on the walls where it would be hard to miss. Meanwhile, Tanivel readied his own gear.
The pair worked deeper into the natural cave system, taking turns leading the way. The fresh glows provided a steady light, revealing thousands of massive pillars of pale grey stone, pressed together and jutting upwards. Moving around required more climbing than walking and the volcanic rock provided plenty of good handholds. Sometimes they were forced to jump from the top of one pillar to another.
Every now and then, they stopped to take samples of minerals exposed in the surrounding basalt.
[Skill check: Mining 8, rolled 8.]
There was obsidian, of course, and junk deposits of olivine. The tiny green crystals explained the odd greenish hue cast by the glows.
It took hours to painstakingly wind their way down to sea level where the best caves would be found. Levon insisted in mapping every step of the way. The shallow water on the cavern floor was the first sign that their hard work had paid off.
“Time for the ‘meter,” Levon said quietly, using the delicate anemometer to measure the air flow. His brows furrowed with deep concern. If there wasn’t enough air movement, the adventure was over.
The fan blades barely turned but the needle indicated a relatively safe environment.
“Yes!” Levon shouted, immediately regretting the loud noise in such a small, confined space.
Levon offered Tanivel a fist-bump before clipping the meter to his belt and moving on.
A few meters farther in, Tanivel and Levon could feel a subtle vibration in the stone.
The angular passage suddenly opened up on a spacious cavern, wider than the glows could illuminate. A distant sound of thunder and the presence of cave darts proved that the tunnel system eventually made its way to the sea.
“Don’t touch any nests or poop,” Levon warned. “It’ll make you sick.”
Cave darts were small, quick, and only aggressive when cornered. They resembled bats with a soft layer of pale grey proto-feathers. Tanivel and Levon moved carefully past their nesting cavern and climbed out through an upward shaft where the air felt drier.
[Skill check Perception 10, rolled 10.]
Before long, Tanivel noticed some interesting striations in the stone just above him on the left. He pointed it out to Levon.
Levon scraped it lightly with a pick, “I don’t think so. Let’s get some out.”
The boys braced themselves so that they could investigate the deposit without their arms wearing out. Once they had a handful of mineral, Tanivel tested it.
[Skill check: Mining 8 -2, rolled 6.]
“Apple green, cracks, misty… it’s peridot!” he said, smiling brightly. It was a good find.
While Levon noted the location in his map journal, Tanivel carefully moved ahead into the next cave, holding the basket of glows in front of him. Flashes of intense color, deep sea green and azure blue, flickered in the distance.
[Skill check: Mining 8 -2, rolled 10.]
Levon looked up and wondered aloud, his voice filled with awe, “What is that…?”