Written by Sara Cate Galasso
There is a damp chill in the air, and the unnerving quiet makes the hairs on your arms stand up. You crouch against the wall of a cave, wet with slime, and hold your breath. After getting separated from your party, you wandered into this small cavern to escape the relentless snow storm, but little did you know what monster called this place home. Clutching your Bag of Holding, you sneak around a large, glistening stalagmite, trying your best to make out which way to go in the deep darkness. You hear a crunch underfoot. Looking down, you see what look like the bones of a Naga littered across the wet sand. The beast was here. You can only hope this means it has eaten its fill and won’t need to feed again soon.
Creeping into a deep passageway, you see a pin of light coming from a ledge above. Stumbling up the side of the slippery ledge, you manage to peer through a crack in the upper cave wall: the room behind the wall is expansive, with high ceilings and smooth floors of slate. The cave walls are painted in elaborate and faded pictographs. You recognize some of the figures in the drawings: the Beholder; the Lich; the Fire Giant; the Mind Flayer; those infamous demons from old legends, the great battles of old that the elders would speak of from centuries past. You shudder at the thought of meeting one of them face-to-face.
And then, you spot it. In the center of the room, on a stone pillar, it sits, waiting: a scroll. You heard these old caves sometimes held treasures like this, but you never expected to find one yourself. Maybe that scroll holds a spell that could help you and your party. You think back to the Mimic that almost brought down your friends when you were last together. You were powerless to stop it. You must be stronger; you must have that scroll. But where was the entrance to that room? How would you get to it?
Suddenly, a chill runs down your spine. You can feel that you are not alone. You spin around, but the darkness seems even thicker now, somehow. You cannot see from up on the rocky ledge, but you know something else is in the cavern with you. You hear ragged breath, the scraping of nails on stone. You fumble in your bag for a torch, and the sound grows closer. You find your torches are missing from your bag. Perhaps they fell out while you were running? The storm has left you weakened, but perhaps you could conjure up a flare. Holding your hands out in front of you, you close your eyes, channel your thoughts, and a crackle of light bursts from your fingers. That’s when you see it: a Snowy Owl Bear is now mere feet from you. And it looks hungry.
So, what do you do next, adventurer? A roll of the dice can determine your fate, but you must choose your next move wisely, because time is running out.
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