At Kadar Gravning, we all stood at the entrance to the valley. It was a clear, cold night, and a nearly full moon gilded everything with quicksilver. Goldrim said, "given the terrain we're in... When we were in the valley by the entrance, we saw several places that looked like they could have been extra entrances into the caverns, but they looked like they had been caved in, long ago. There's probably a real back entrance, but it could take forever to find it."

Miara said Kyuskay and Bark should go in to scout the entrances, and see if there's one that might go somewhere, either near the entrance itself or from above. Bark offered to carry Prestley for additional searching power. He quickly rigged up a harness for Prestley to ride freely.

Goldrim said, "If they can sneak in well enough, their best bet is the ones close to the main entrance. It's likely since this place was attacked that all the entrances really are sealed. If any were left unsealed or been unsealed since then, it's more likely to be the ones near the real entrances. Of course, they may also be guarded."

With that advice, Kyuskay and Bark split up: Bark and Prestley followed the cliffs on the west side, which were well-lit by the moon; Kyuskay, who has amazing powers to see in the dark, follwed the darker. The plan was they'd meet and cross at the other end, point each other to places they had seen, and then come back, each re-searching the opposite side.

The rest of us stayed back at the entrance to the valley, waiting anxiously. The valley was about 300 yards long and maybe 100 yards wide. The stream that eventually becomes the Yetsin river emerged from underneath the door at the other end and flowed out through the middle of the valley. We all stood at the edges, behind the walls where we would not be seen. Miara, though, placed herself where she could watch the entire valley. She stood there absolutely still, unmoving, her right hand resting on the handle of her big sword. The moon highlighted her angular face, and from my angle, I could see only the unblemished side of her face, her one good eye. I wondered if she was considered pretty back home. She looked entirely alien to me.

Eventually, the two reappeared and told us what they'd seen. Prestley had seen through some brush hiding an entrance. Behind the brush and up the tunnel, and around a bend, he saw two extremely gaunt dwarves, dressed in rags, guarding the tunnel from an alcove. Bark had slipped and made some slight noise. One of the dwarves at the main door had investigated, but had not seen them. The dwarf did not seem to know about the other tunnel.

What now? Miara said, "not tonight. They're alert. It's a clear night, with bright light from the moon. Ravenna, can you guess about the weather tomorrow night?"

I took several minutes, getting a feel for the air, the temperature, the feel of the sky. It felt to me that the next several nights would be equally clear and cold, and moonlit. The best I could offer was that the moon was on the wane and there would be very slightly less light from it.

The two entrances were about 30 yards apart. The official door was a cave mouth, which led to the door within. A natural bridge led over the stream, which was about two feet across and about a foot or so deep.

José suggested we take the direct approach: just walk in, waving at the guards. Goldrim grinned his approval. Miara looked blank and waited for another suggestion.

Kyuskay said he could distract the dwarves at the main entrance while the rest of us snuck past them and behind the brush at the other tunnel. Then he could join us.

José said he can make some of those brightly glowing pebbles or coins that Kyuskay could use to distract them, or maybe to blind the dwarves.

Miara looked doubtful and asked about crossbows. Those who were familiar with them said they shoot pretty accurately for a long distance compared to a long bow. But it takes several seconds to reload. Of course, if there were five of them, they could take out all our warriors with one volley.

This sounded awfully risky to me. But no one else thought of anything better, and it seemed that was the plan. To my own surprise, I heard my voice speaking. "I can produce a strong blast of wind, using the white crystal. It would be enough to make it hard for them to move, and their crossbow arrows would be swept aside." I briefly wondered if this was my idea or the zoggin rock's, but had to let it go.

Joé said he could produce a fireball. Fire plus water equals a lot of steam, which might be enough to hide us all, or at least let Kyuskay get away and join us without being seen. We wondered how much steam he could produce, and we moved away and tried it out. He cast a fireball and threw it into the stream about 10 yards from him. A generous amount of steam erupted. It would certainly suffice to hide us for a few moments, as long as the wind, or my wind, didn't push it away. José's steam and my wind were mutually exclusive, but that was all right. My wind was a last resort. And I felt better about that.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~