The smell of wet, mossy earth was overpowering in this dismal place. Murky water formed puddles on the stony floor, and the air was hazy from a lack of ventilation. There was no possible reason that someone in their right mind would have the notion of going down and exploring the horrid, mysterious caverns below Skyglass.
Except one with a strange tip and a stranger hobby.
A cloaked figure stepped cautiously between the dank pools on the ground, taking care not to disturb anything hanging from the slimy walls or the root-patterned roof. The pattern of movement, swift and precise, would give a passing spider cause to believe that it, whatever it was, was both skilled and experienced in the art of sneaking and eavesdropping on certain secret conversations. But the spider did not care, for it was a spider, and spiders cannot eat little invaders of the deep places of the world, and it scrambled away up a hole in the roof. Nothing but the sound of tiny droplets striking chords on the makeshift drums of water filled the lonely cave.
No, wait. There’s another sound.
The low mumbling of voices began to reach the ears of the trespasser. The tone was of debate and about something highly important. Searching for any hint of where it might be coming from, the sneak felt the far wall of the deep, winding cave for a crack or scrape, or some other sign of a hidden door. Slender fingers crawled like a creepy-crawly, searching, and found something: a crack, smooth and straight, too perfect to be natural. The muffled noise continued on the other side. Ever so carefully, the nervous fingers slipped cautiously into the space and tweaked it gently open.
Through the gap in the doorway, the spy could see a sparsely furnished room, with a faint light coming from the chandelier above, hanging precariously from a root sprouting through the dirt ceiling. Its walls and floor were composed of compacted earth, some immense roots of the tree overhead, and stone slabs, set up in an attempt to keep out the ground creatures and to hear anyone, however remotely possible, that might be exploring down in the caverns between the Temple’s roots. It had quite the opposite effect now: it instead magnified the sound of the argument inside. The dark-eyed scout sat carefully next to the entrance and took note of who was there this time.
…Seven, eight…twelve, thirteen, fourteen…wait, who’s that?
The intruder stifled a gasp of excitement and noiselessly pulled a well-used notebook from a pocket and opened it. The conversation around the corner continued heatedly.
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