Stepping outside the cave reveals the same bloody handprint symbol on rocks not only around the lakes rocks, but also up the wall behind
Zola and Chebbel climb up to find a vantage point where Zola somehow makes out a ‘manmade’ structure on SE face of peak far off in the distance. Both also notice a storm approaching from the NW behind the 3 peaks across the river.
Investigate river and broken bridge. Using multiple ropes, incl animated rope, party seeks to cross, but Orn cannot bear bringing Tommy & Shae, the orphaned children found in Derro cave, with them to probable death.
Spend night near bank of river and hustle back to orphans farm and then on south to where they say their uncle lives. Takes nearly whole day but they reach the farmstead and are shown some food and courtesies, albeit saddening with the news of death in the family.
Hightail back to cave only to see all the dead Derro bodies are gone and have been dragged into hole in cavern floor at back
Decide to venture down into hole to see if there is an easy way under the river
Thanks to Zola, party manages to dungeoneer in what feels like the right direction for maybe 5 hours. Maybe pits and turns are passed until one leading slightly up is followed.
Party comes upon a Kobold warren. The numbers are against them, but having found a secret entrance and holding off the initial attack, all get into warren and chase off those lucky enough to survive.
One kobold is caught and used to navigate to surface.
Nearing midnight when finally reach fresh air and the tail-end of a storm is blowing.
Party attempts to camp, but from the long day and unfamiliar ground so late, they are drenched and fatigued come morning.
With help of Tena, party positions themselves on south of mountain and decide to approach from SE to find the structure Zola saw.
A half-day journey places them at the base of a sheer face which appears to have structure atop it.
Using the animated rope, climbing gear, and sheer muscle power, the team climbs and pulls everyone up almost 150 feet. There, a rudmentary stair system is found, but after some near falls, found to be too harrowing, and climbing is resumed.
The altitude starts taking a toll on all and climbing the last 100 feet is almost too much, but they prevail and reach the structure.
A lone robed individual sits lotus style gazing up when the panting pull themselves up to the platform. He has a shaved head, multiple visible tattoos all consisting of dots and lines. He stands, bows slightly, and beckons them to follow him up the path and steps towards the summit.