Genesis Scrolls Round 3: (The Explorers 5 and The Deep Cave)

Name/Pseudonym: {Thomas Radio}
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The Explorers 5 and The Deep Cave

It had taken The Explorers just two days to leave Munqo and make their way to the location marked on the scorched corner of the map the stranger had left behind. They had travelled mostly through flatlands, leaving from the north there was not much vegetation left from the city’s reapers. Even a day’s worth of walking hadn’t put them past the fields used to feed the city’s many inhabitances. But by evening the following day, they had arrived at the mouth of the cave.

Idhas stooped to inspect the calcite pillars rising from the floor and descending from the ceiling like teeth. They were smooth to the touch and there was something strange about the way the stalactites and stalagmites sparkled. Even in the low light of the day they shined. When she removed her hand there was a hint of stickiness, as if the rimstone was clinging to her Gauntlets. Idhas didn’t notice.

“That’s a deep cave,” Cartuq posited as the party stood in front of its gaping maw. “HELLOOOOOooooo?” He cupped his hands to amplify his voice and it carried deep into the dark tunnel.

“Well, so much for the element of surprise,” Idhas grumbled, standing up. She shouldered her rope, picked up her torch, and began marching.

“Who do we need to surprise?” Lellun wondered aloud trying to catch his voice in an echo as well.

Qenoz ducked on her way in and just barely missed knocking her head on the stalactites hanging like teeth. Cartuq, with his bulking size, was not as lucky and bonked his noggin right into one. His Crown slipped off the back and clattered to the floor, Yaios picked it up and handed it back to Cartuq.

“Maybe follow up behind so we can gauge how low you need to get in order to fit.” Yaios rubbed Cartuq’s head with a few herbs meant to reduce swelling.

“If this cave is tiny I might just meet you on the other side.” Cartuq was no longer in such wonder of the cave.

“What’s taking you all so long?” Idhas called back to the party, her voice small from the distance she had already covered. Goblins are natural cave raiders and Idhas had not forgotten the tricks her grandapadre taught her. Step here, watch out for that, even her darkvision returned as her eyes adjusted.

Unbeknownst to the party, the flowstone inched closed seeling the Explorers inside.

Qenoz followed Idhas into a welcoming dark, comforted as if it were an old friend. This cave didn’t concern her none. Qenoz was familiar with being underground. There was a lot of darkness in the Decaying Years and it’s something she remembered. Wasn’t much else to do waking up six feet under besides counting the seconds and making up songs. Unrestricted other than her Before’s clothes which were now rags and the loose dirt and decomposition, Qenoz was cosy. One night, during heavy rain, she emerged, bare-bones, into a downpour.

Lellun had his arms firmly on Qenoz’s shoulders and shook her as he walked. He wished his Cap offered more protection than it did. “I can’t really see much, Qen, can you slow down? I don’t want to lose you.”

Yaios took a deep breath and held it for thirteen seconds. Slowly an aura of turquoise light began to radiate from where they stood. At first, it was just a flicker as dull as a matchstick, through intense concentration Yaios managed to light their way as if they held a burning torch. The teal light shed by a Blue Flames emits no heat, and in the cool deep cave, it gave the perspective of being underwater. And before long the party arrived at a cavern.

Cartuq was grateful the ceiling had pitched upward as they descended and even more appreciative of Yaios’ light. He stared into the vast underground space in wonder. “You know us Golems don’t interact with water much, erosion and all that,” he put his hands on the back of his hips and stretched, “so this is all new to me.”

Yaios’ light cast aquamarine ripples in the larger space and the shadows moved like waves. Lellun felt right at home, “it’s beautiful.” Three of the Explorers mesmerised and continued to gawk at natural beauty. One was holding their breath for as long as spectrally possible (which was a long time), and the last one was nearly all the way across when the rumbling began.

“Wa-wa-what’s hap-p-p-en-n-ing? Qenoz rattled.

Lellun tried to remain standing through the tremor but toppled over, bowling into Yaios diminishing their light significantly. Cartuq grabbed hold of a nearby stalagmite and fortified himself against the quaking. Along the circumference of the cavern, pockets began opening and boulders rolled in.


“IDHAS! COME OVER HERE!” Qenoz yelled over the din.

Idhas tapped Qenoz on the shoulder, “I’m on your six.” The two of them went back to back.


Cartuq lifted Lellun off of Yaios and righted both of them. They formed battle positions. As the boulders encircled the party. The Explorers stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a ring, weapons and wands drawn.

“Huthuthuthuthut-” the rumbling stopped abruptly in a ring around the Explorers.

One boulder rolled further than the rest. “Mfmfmmfmmfmf, mmmmmfmm!” the muffled voice came from deep within one of the boulders.

“What?” Qenoz blurted out.

Slowly and creakily the boulder disassembled itself and revealed an Armourdillo. It was four feet tall, slightly hunched. Their skin, naturally grey, was red from clay they use to lubricate their joints to reduce chafing. Their husk is formed by plates of natural stone, as they shift they scrape against each other, hence the clay. “I saiiiiiiiiiiid, who dares disturb us, we who tunnel and dig?” he spat the question and squinted at the Explorers.

“We’re Explo-” Idhas clamped her hand over Cartuq’s mouth.

“We’re just passing through,” she finished for him.

“A Goblin, eh? Just passing through a tunnel? Seems unlikely, what are you really looking for?” the Armourdillo leaned forward incredulously, and the rest of the roll began to click and clack and scrape their way into standing positions, none bore weapons but their claws were sharp as any steel.

“She tells the truth,” Qenoz lowered her Long Sword but did not return it to its sheath, “we are following someone actually, a Flames.”

“There’s one right there,” an Armourdillo in the ring called out, pointing at Yaios.

“Yes, a different Flames. They have something of ours.” Qenoz finished.

“Was it the map?” the leader Armourdillo said flatly.

“HOW DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE MAP?!” Cartuq blurted out before Idhas had a chance to stop him.

“Oy, that stinkin map!” the Armourdillo turned to the roll, “lower your claws, they’re just Explorers after the Hidden Treasjah That No Has Ever Found.” Most of the ring tucked in and rolled off grumbling about boredom, but others stuck around. “Let’s start ovah, I’m Gururu, the leadah of the Roll…” The Explorers didn’t react.”Armourdillo’s live in rolls, it’s what we call ourselves,” he explained to the party’s blank faces. With a clap, torches sprang to life around the cavern revealing pockmarked walls with stairs and tunnels leading off in every which way. He gestured to a table carved straight from rock rising from the floor.

Gururu walked on his hind legs with better ease than Qenoz expected, but rest assured she kept her eyes open for possible escape routes.

“What’s going on,” Cartuq whispered to Lellun. As they followed the Armpurdillo, leaving the rest of the roll behind.

“So the short ansah is,” Gururu now stood on one length of the table as if it were his desk, “we don’t got no treasjah.” He waved his hand again and the typography of the tabletop began to change. Rock rose from the surface as if it existed as a solid and a fluid. A branching tunnel system formed leading every which way from what appeared to be an amphitheatre-like bowl. On the main stage, a tiny table carved from rock rose straight from the floor with 6 figures standing around it and a half-ring of 5 other figures off to the side.

Idhas was the first to notice what they were looking at was a map of the cavern, but something wasn’t quite right about it…

“It’s us!” Yaios cried and crouched down to the table to examine closer. As they did so one figure on the table mimicked their actions. “This is wonderful magic.”

“It ain’t magic, it’s magnets.” Gururu puffed his chest out proudly of the Armourdillo technologies.

Yaios’ eyes sparked and they began investigating the underside of the table. “I don’t see any magnets,” they called from underneath.

“The magnets are in the rock itself,” Gururu explained. “The stone from this cavern is unique in its mineral deposit and structure. Using magnetic forces this tabletop can recreate a map for hundreds of miles before the quality decreases. It’s actually a part of the bedrock of the whole world…” Gururu continued with a rehearsed retelling of the history of the Armourdillo ancestral home with Yaios, Lellun, and Cartuq mystified.

Qenoz leaned over to Idhas, “it looks a lot like magic.”

“Yeah!” Idhas called out answering Qenoz, then turning to Gururu, “you make miniature versions of us using magnets?” Idhas investigated.

“Are we here for science class or do yous want to know about the Hidden Treasjah That No Has Ever Found?” Gururu shrugged his shoulders back, arms splayed.

Idhas shut up and crossed her arms. Yaios shuffled out from under the table. Lellun cleared his throat to fill the extended silence.

“As I was saying,” Gururu continued, ”we don’t have it, but we understand why you thought we did. Travellers are coming all the time looking for it claiming that dis time they have the map,” he shook his head in defeat. “We had the treasjah once, but it was taken from us,” he swung towards the table with a growl. “Taken from us by the Sea Witch of the Lake,” Gururu was snarling now. “We know where she lives but us Armourdillos can’t live outside the caves, and if we try to tunnel there the flooding would be catastrophic.”

Qenoz tapped Idhas’ shoulder and motioned toward where the rest of the roll had been standing. Idhas returned the nod with her chin pointed along the walls.

Gururu noticed. “The truth is that we’ve never had the treasure…” he turned his back on the table, facing the cavern wide. Gururu spread his arms out again and shrugged, “but I know that pond hag sure does,” he sneered. “And you know who else has special treasjah… Explorers.”

Qenoz’s hand twitched for her sword and with a swiftness far faster than she had seen, Gururu shot across the table with sharp teeth and claws out. But Qenoz was quicker and she managed to parry the charge. He glanced off and hit the ground rolling, picking up speed as he did so. Soon the whole cavern was trembling.

“We need to get out of here!” Qenoz shouted, swishing her Great Sword ready to strike.

“There! A cave!” Lellun pointed behind them to a dark tunnel leading down.

Cartuq grabbed Yaios who had started to inspect the table once more by the collar and pulled them towards the entrance. Idhas and Qenoz walked backwards, primed to defend their friends, with Lellun leading the charge toward where he pointed. Idhas had just turned to sprint when she stopped abruptly.

“Wait! It’s a trap!” but the rumbling had grown too loud, the rest of the party could not hear her objection. So she followed them. It was too late, as soon as Qenoz crossed the threshold stone bars clamped down with a bite. The Explorers were trapped, with Idhas on the other side.

The rumbling continued and the hut hutting added to the din. “Idhas, you need to hide! There is only one place for us to go and that’s deeper through this cave but they’re after our Loot. Don’t let them get you,” Qenoz hissed through the bars.

Yaios hurried Qenoz along, “follow me!” they cried with a wave of their arm. The rest of the party retreated into the dark cave with Yaios acting once more as a guiding light.

Idhas was left alone, save for the convergence of the Armourdillo Roll that was imminent. She doubled back to the table the party had gathered around and inspected the surface for a switch. She found it running along the edge of the table where Gururu stood, “humph, magic my butt,” Idhas flicked the switch and the table began to shift. With it, more buttons and dials rose to create a control panel, they glimmered with different metals and crystal formations. Not knowing what else to do, Idhas began to make adjustments. She moved a dull quartz crystal from pointing down to pointing up and it began to glow crimson. The table shifted once more to depict the cavern and tunnels but again it didn’t look right to her. She had spent years plundering tunnels and had a pretty good sense of where she was going retracing memory, but this map showed an entirely different path they would have taken. She glanced down at the panel and noticed a tab of soft clay beside the quartz dial.

“Up = Fake / Left = Real”

Idhas turned the quartz once more and the glow shifted from red to blue. The table shifted once more and now the map was much more familiar to Idhas, “ah-ha!” Sure enough, off to the left of the cavern, a tunnel descended far further than one could imagine, and making their way along the path were 4 figures, with a much sharper likeness than Gururu had revealed to the Explorers earlier. Along the way, Idhas saw there were vertical vents leading into the tunnel her party had only recently plunged into.

Idhas studied the map the way only a Goblin can and figured out the best way to meet up with and extract the rest of the party. A large paw grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her around to face Gururu and what looked like every Armourdillo in the Roll, but Idhas was already swinging her Warhammer. It connected with Gururu’s cheek with a satisfying crunch, and bits of shrapnel from his armour chipped off from the force of the contact. Using the pole of the Warhammer she then vaulted over Gururu and landed firmly on her Holy Greaves, they began to hum and Idhas felt imbued with a celestial presence. Wasting no time at all she took off in a full sprint towards the nearest cave. She can’t lead the whole Roll to the rest of the party, she’ll have to lose them first in the maze. This would be impossible if she weren’t a Goblin.

Gururu wobbled where he stood, and removed his hand from his face to reveal raw grey skin. “Don’t just stand there! Aftah her!” he cried. At once the rumbling began with hordes of Armourdillos taking after Idhas, whose godly speed has put a good amount of distance between her and her pursuers. Gururu turned to the table and fidgeted with the controls. He chuckled to himself, “that fool thought she was looking at the real map,” he made a reference to the clay slab,

“Up = Real / Left = Fake”

He flicked the quartz crystal and the map shifted to what Gururu thought to be true.
The tunnel forked in five directions and Idhas did her best to remember which way she needed to go. If she took the left-most tunnel it will lead her back to the cavern but there might be a vent along the way. The other directions were murky so Idhas went with her gut. She recited a short prayer and gifted the oncoming Roll with False Confidence. Her Holy Greaves shimmered as astral projections of her shoes went in each direction except the furthest left leaving faint footprints in their wake, “that should take care of most of them.” Idhas did not stick around to find out, she took off again sprinting hard against the pain from her burning lungs.

Yaios stopped and held a finger to their lips, “shhh.” The rest of the party listened carefully. There was more rumbling now than they had heard, dust and loose rocks snowed upon them from the roof of the cave. They did not seem to be in immediate danger so they continued.

It had started getting cold the further they went in and Lellun was shivering, “couldn’t you produce some heat, Yaios?” he chattered through his tentacles.

“If I did, you’d be dead,” Yaios replied grimly.

Cartuq led the way with his lumbering body, thankfully the cave was wide enough for him to stand abreast twice, his back was sore from hunching over. His Snowcap began to sweat and an embered glow began to dance in his eyes, “I don’t think you’ll need to worry about the cold anymore, Lell.” Qenoz, Lellun, and Yaios caught up to him and saw the lava veins he was referring to. High above them holes opened in the ceiling funnelling away heat. And it appeared to be something, or somethings, falling from one with a straight dive into the lava pool.

Idhas had exited the tunnel to come face to face with Gururu and his guards. Her momentum was too great to slow down so she shouldered her Warhammer and tucked into a dive directly at the Armourdillo leader’s chest. Her maths were impeccable and she connected with him at the exact angle required to topple the rocky foe. He tipped back, with Idhas holding tight, right over the tail of one of his guardsmen and into a sizeable hole in the ground, one of the vents that Idhas had noticed earlier. She knew it would be a straight shot down but if her calculations were correct she would meet up with the rest of the party when she hit the ground. Something she hoped to avoid altogether.

Gururu was yelling all the way down and it was amplified against Idhas’ silent resolve. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.” The rushing wind caught the scream and sent it up the vent.

“aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” four Armourdillo Guardsmen stood around the hole in the floor, looking down as a faint whisper wafted up from where their leader had recently disappeared, in what looked like a fit of clumsiness. “We should put up a barrier this is getting dangerous,” one of them said. “Third time this month,” another responded. The four of them continued to stare into a yelling void of darkness.

Idhas couldn’t see the light at the end of the pit but after exiting the vent illumination exploded as her darkvision adjusted accordingly. She wished it hadn’t. Along with the visibility came the heat, and the realisation that she was still a long way from the rapidly approaching ground. And the floor was indeed lava.

The two of them were in freefall with nothing to slow them down. Gururu managed to get a hold of himself and curled into a tight ball which fell even faster towards the lava pool. Idhas spread her arms and legs hoping her Minty Silk Robe could catch a current and slow her descent.

“That’s Idhas!” Lellun cried. To their credit, the Explorers jumped into action. Yaios was already waving their Bone Wand coaxing a steadier updraft from the radiating lava. Careful not to burn Idhas, they needed to cast a simultaneous spell to reduce the heat of the rising winds. Cartuq waved his Ghost Wand in the same motions as Yaios contributing to the strength of the spells being cast, it was an informal lesson but the first of any kind Cartuq has received in magics manipulation. Despite Cartuq’s lack of experience, Yaios was grateful for the added effort. Qenoz had dashed forward with Lellun in tow towards the estimated landing site of Idhas, whose descent had slowed but not by much.

Qenoz and Lellun weren’t going to make it in time…

Yaios and Cartuq were struggling to keep Idhas afloat.

Gururu plopped right into the lava with barely a splash.

The lava burped.

Cartuq’s attention slipped as the movement below caught his eye.

Then the lava belched.

Magma bubbled like melting cheese and popped. A burst of heat caught Idhas in the gores of her robe and lifted her much higher and faster than she was expecting. It was a near-mute concussive blast. Just a pbbbbbt sound as air flapped from the folded slag.

Qenoz and Lellun pivoted mid-sprint, repositioning to Idhas’ new expected landing pad. Yaios did the maths quicker. Instead of attempting to slow her fall, Yaios was going to create a cushion of wind to catch Idhas. Noticing the shift in movement, Cartuq repositioned and resumed mimicking the experienced druid.
Worked like charm.

Idhas’s trajectory was a deadshot for the pillow the wand wielders coaxed up. Falling in an arc was not as speedy as a straight plunge. She hit the wind wall as if it were silk and gently fluttered to the ground.

The party reunited on the bank of a lava lake. The spot Gururu had entered continued to spurt, flap, and gurgle. Only the sound of the sputtering and exasperated breathing could be heard. Until…


Lellun sat up all panting, “that sounded like Cart…”

The rest of the gang shot upright.

“If that’s Cartuq…” Qenoz started.

“But I’m right here…” Cartuq looked confused.

“It’s his echo!” Idhas cried, “that means there is a way out of here. We just need to follow his hello.”

At the same time, the lava spouted like a geyser and a boulder three times the size of Gururu’s was launched out of the pool. It sailed through the air like a comet, its tail trailing magma, and a familiar muffled cry, “mmmmmhmmmhmmm!”

Lellun just pointed and yelled. Qenoz grabbed his wrist and pulled him into a run. They were following the echo to the other side of the lava pool.

The boulder struck where they had been moments ago. Its surface was entirely smooth and chromatic. With a smooth sliding snicking sound of metal on metal, Gururu unfolded and roared, now much larger than when they had last seen him. His skin was charred and cracked, his teeth and talons showed like proper steel and his eyes glowed deep in their sockets. He dove into a roll. Back in boulder form, Gururu began to spin at a great velocity and took off after the Explorers. He cut right across the surface of the lava pool as the gang was hopping from land mass to land mass.

“He’s gaining on us!” Yaios was drawing their wand and firing off everything they got to slow Gururu. Cartuq picked them up over his shoulder and continued the charge, freeing Yaios to focus exclusively on diversions. They were still tailing Lellun who followed closely behind Qenoz. Idhas had reached the other end and was studying the facets on the wall.

“It doesn’t make sense, there should be a door here.” Idhas was worried and it was affecting her critical thinking. Qenoz and Lellun caught up to her.

Gururu shot past Cartuq and Yaios and skid into a wide turnaround. Cartuq put Yaios down and the duo met back to back.

“Well, I wanted to see the snow again before I went,” Cartuq said determined to stand his ground.

“What kind of negative energy is that?” Yaios was taken aback, “just lift your wand, we’re getting out of this.” Cartuq did so and Yaios did the same. “Now just follow me.” Yaios began to stir their Bone Wand, tip down, in wide counter-spin circles to the direction Gururu was circling. Cartuq followed suit. When the counter circle got too large for their arm length, Yaios lifted it above their head, maintaining tip down, creating larger and larger rotations with their wand.

Gururu broke the surface tension of the lava pool and dropped below the surface.

Still, Cartuq and Yaios spun invisible forces to their will.

Idhas was frantic and didn’t notice she was growling. Lellun placed a hand on her shoulder and she almost snapped his fingers.

“We’re adventurers, and this is an adventure,” Lellun tried smiling through his trembling lower lip.

Idhas understood. She took a deep breath and held it. Silently she prayed.

Gururu resurfaced now much closer to the magicians. Yaios opened their eyes and began to grow with a flick of their Bone Wand.

The intense warmth was drawn away from Qenoz, Lellun and Idhas, and surged toward the vortex Yaios and Cartuq had conjured.

Yaios first doubled in size and continued as all the heat was gathered in the circle and interacted with their Flames’ nature. With an oversized paw they caught Gururu but he punched right through Yaios’ hand. Cartuq was still spinning his Ghost Wand and more energy was being drawn from the lava pool.

“Cartuq!” Yaios’ voice boomed, they were holding their wounded hand, “the cushion spell.”

Immediately, Cartuq ceased his spinning and resumed the swishing spell they had used to catch Idhas. This time, they conjured the cushion in the palms of Yaios’ enormous hands.

The next time Gururu attempted his attack it was targeted at Qenoz, Lellun, and a praying Idhas. Her eyes snapped open, “I got it!” She scooped a handful of rocks and threw them at the wall. A few fell away but several stuck in place as if by “Magnets!” Idhas cheered, “who said magic and science don’t mix!” She began to move swiftly rearranging the stones by dragging them across the surface of the wall, picking the internal lock mechanism by way of magnetism.

Gururu cut across the surface at great speeds but the enlarged Yaios was faster. When Gururu bounced to strike the three Explorers pinned by the wall, Yaios managed to position themselves in front and intercepted the hit. Gururu spun violently in mid-air within the pocket of wind Cartuq had cast, guided by Yaios’ hands, they created a cage from which Gururu could not escape.

The latch clicked and a passage slid open before Idhas. Lellun cheered “I knew you could do it!” Idhas smiled with relief. Qenoz was looking up at her sizeable comrade, who looked like they were shrinking.

Yaios knew they didn’t have much time left with the spell. They drew their arms back winding up and launched Gururu upwards. Casting the whirlwind with him, Gururu was propelled, a direct shot at one of the thermal vents. As he ascended the cavern began to tremble and large rocks fell into the lava pool. The magma reacted by boiling and exploding.

Almost immediately, Yaios began to lose form and fell a few feet to the ground, their energy entirely spent. Cartuq hustled to catch them.

The lava was overflowing and filling the passage as quickly as they climbed. The Explorers escaped up the staircase, Idhas sealing the passage behind them in the nick of time.

They were outside, above ground, on the other side of the mountains. The team was covered in soot they hadn’t noticed in the long shadows of the subterranean light. Cartuq’s Snowtop was bare and dry, but they were all alive, and that’s what mattered.

Cartuq sat with Yaios laying in his lap, who was sleeping, having spent all their energy in the enlarging spell. He noticed the hole through Yaios’ hand was slowly sealing, for the Silk Glove too.

“Loot really is a treasure.” And the gang laughed, more from relief than humour. But it was a hearty one and necessary.

“So…” Qenoz started, “where to next?”

Idhas smirked, “well I managed to grab this” she held up a smooth tablet.

“You stole a brick?” Cartuq asked.

With a wave of her hand, the surface of the tablet shifted and revealed five figures sitting with their backs to a steep mountain. With a pinch, the image zoomed out, and just a half day’s journey away, the forest cleared a vast lake stretched until the edge of the map.

“Oh thank goodness,” Lellun rolled onto his back with arms and legs spread, he closed his eyes, “a water level.

Now the party laughed with humour in their bellies.