Having ended the last session by deciding to mount a proper expedition, the group packs up and begins the trip back to Narok. Once they reach their first campsite, they go to check up on the carcass of the beoar1.
Instead of properly decaying, it seems to be dissolving. Ibram pokes at a leg to see if he can find the same metallic core for the leg bone as was inside the tusk. Indeed, it turns out that there is a coppery metallic core which doesn't seem to be dissolving.
Siri convinces everyone to go back in the morning and check again, to see how rapid the process is. Indeed, the carcass has gotten another slight bit smaller, and seems to have "dried out" around the fringes2. Some of it seems to have turned to dust - which gets pushed around by the protection stone's field! So, some of that dust is dangerous? No one in the group knows, and no one wants to take some dust along for analysis by the elders, so the group leaves it at that and moves on, though Siri creates a sketch of the carcass first.
Once in Narok, they go straight to the house of the elders, where they report to Mayor Hayworth. He pulls Ibram aside for a private preliminary report, where Ibram returns the protection stone and gives a rough overview of their trip.
In the morning, they will be able to report to all the elders, so the group retreats to Ibram's place, where they will get to stay for the night.
Alexander, Dane and Ibram spar a little before everyone goes to bed, while Siri works on her drawing.
In the morning, they meet the full council of elders and tell them everything that they saw on their trip. When Alexander talks about his experience with the rite cats, the shaman reacts and quickly works a ritual to ensure that no one is possessed, but it seems like everyone is okay.
After that short interruption, the elders react with surprise when the rockface structure is mentioned but won't tell us why just yet.
Alexander asks that the Elders of Lati are informed, then we get sent outside while the elders deliberate.
It turns out that we're not the first ones to find the rockface structure! It was found a long time ago, but there was never any detailed exploration and eventually it was forgotten. Exploring it could be very interesting! Unfortunately, the explorers who last found it have died since then and the elders don't really know anything about the structure.
The most that Siri's questions get from them is that they suspect it to be from before the White Flash, but that was what we thought too, anyway. Much more importantly, they have decided that they will fund an expedition to the structure!
Alexander tries to negotiate a share of the expedition's gains for Lati, but no one supports him, unless Lati will also pay for a share of the expedition. Since no one wants to wait for the messages back-and-forth that this would take, it is agreed to launch the expedition from Narok only.
Siri is very curious about any artifacts that might be found, and the elders agree to let her study them before anything is done with them.
Alexander and Ibram stay with the elders for detailed planning, while Dane and Siri go to the ropemaker in town, since rope will definitely be needed.
Since the elders fully support the expedition, Alexander and Ibram basically get to make a shopping list.
Dane and Siri meanwhile have gone to Walter Bandy's shop, where they meet the surly rope-maker and tell him of the planned expedition. They make a little smalltalk and order several hundred meters of rope.
Once Ibram and Alexander are done with the elders, they try to catch up with Dane and Siri, but miss them at Walter's shop. They talk to Walter and learn of his artifact-hunting past, which leads them to try and recruit him, which he eagerly accepts.
Before they go to inform the elders of Walter joining the team, they go to look for the rest of the team at the inn. Dane and Siri are there already, with Dane having an ale as they wait for the rest of the team. Walter has an uncomfortable moment around the alcohol, but keeps himself in check.
He has another hard moment as Siri questions him about his past as an artifact-hunter and freezes up in memories. For a change of topics, the distribution of expedition gear is discussed, to ensure balanced weights for everyone.
Afterwards, Alexander and Dane go to pick up the donkey that the expedition will get to use. They name him Esteban. The others convince the elders that Walter would be a valuable addition to the team and should be supported like the rest of the group. On top of that, they ask for, and get, the protection stone.
The group packs up, Ibram talks to Siri about self-defense and organises a quarterstaff for her, before everyone goes and rests before the big day.
The group gets a good start on the trip and gets up to their first campsite, when Siri is struck with a migraine, causing the group to stop and make camp. Ibram finds a few doses of an herb with pain-killing properties, which helps Siri. In the evening, there is some more sparring before everyone goes to rest.
The rest of the trip is uneventful, although during one night, almost everyone hears a strange grinding, moving noise... Since nothing happens and nothing is seen, we move on regardless.
When we reach the mountain, we set up camp, which we try to fortify a little, as we intend to stay for a while.
From up close, the structure is even weirder, jutting out straight from the cliff as a perfect rectangle. The team splits up to fortify camp further and guard our equipment, while the other half goes to search for ways into the structure.
Ibram and Dane spot a door on the side of the structure, but it seems unreachable - it's simply straight-up in the air. They also spot a crevasse which is filled in with rocks, but it seems like it could lead into the mountain. Unfortunately, it looks like digging out this crevasse might threaten the camp with falling rocks.
So, the first thing that the team does, is move the camp to a slightly safer position. The next day everyone but Alexander go to try digging out the crevasse and indeed they manage to dig to the end of the crevasse. There is a wall at the end, made from the same material, it seems, as the rest of the structure.
Thankfully, they brought a pickaxe which they can use to break down the wall. Everyone takes turns hacking away at the wall, though apart from Ibram, no one makes much progress. At the end of the day, they manage to create a small hole, proving that the wall is not too thick.
Over the next day, they enlarge the hole until it is big enough for them to enter and exit the structure quickly. They can see that there's a hallway behind the wall. At night, Dane can hear a voice from the top of the structure, but he can't make out what it says.
The group moves into the structure early in the morning, with Alexander volunteering to stay behind at the entrance to guard and enlarge it. Everyone else moves into the hallway, trying to explore the structure in a somewhat logical fashion, using a rope to mark their progress.
A short way into the structure, they come upon a door on the left-hand side of the path they followed. It doesn't have a simple handle, so they try out how to open it for a bit before figuring out that the entire bar is to be twisted. The room behind is small and empty apart from a lot of metal shelves.
Further down the hallway, they find another door, but this one seems locked, and won't budge. Walter and Ibram try to force the handle, in case it's simply rusty and hard to move, but they give up when they bend the bar rather than open the door.
Continuing onwards they come upon a 4-way crossing, where they can see metal glinting to the front, and a hallway down to the left and the right.
Before exploring the stairs and other floors, they decide to finish exploring this floor, so they go left, first. There is only a single door at the end of that hallway. After carefully opening it, it reveals a long, narrow room with metal-frame beds, with mattresses made from some weird spongy material. There are bedside tables with drawers, but they are all completely empty.
At the end of the room is another door, with markings beside it, but no one can decipher them. Behind this door is a relatively narrow room, filled with what looks like lockers, little metal doors on all the walls. They are marked, and Siri tries to figure out what the markings mean.
Ibram opens one of the lockers and it pulls out a slab with a black bag, roughly human-shaped, on it. Siri realizes that the markings are numbers and that there are 80 such lockers in this room.
After a short discussion, they open the body bag and find a mummified corpse inside! They decide to close it up again and leave. As they approach the outside again, they hear Alexander calling for them and find that the rope chafed itself apart3 but apart from that, everything is okay.
They go back to camp for lunch, which is where we ended the session.