Pierce, Hunwald, Esma, and Gareth make their way along the path through the trees in the direction of Osric's last gasp, continuing to hold the flock of ravens at bay. Gareth, using Hunwald's flint and steel, has managed to light his torch, and between that, intermittent blasts of trumpet, and Pierce's whirling net, the birds are sufficiently flummoxed. However, Pierce fails his whirl-and-move roll again, so progress is slow.
At this point the ravens break and wheel away, much to everyone's relief. Pierce stops whirling his net, and everyone is especially grateful that Hunwald stops bleating on his horn. In the interest of conserving light, Gareth quickly extinguishes the torch. From this clearing, again, they have two choices: left (north) or right (east). The stone spire looms high above them to the northeast, so either path might get them closer. Pierce makes the call, and they head to the left.
Shortly they arrive at the base of the spire. The trees open up to either side, revealing a breathtaking architectural feature, craved out of the natural rock:
Illustration by Stefan Poag.
Deciding that they definitely don't want to go in through the front door, the group decides to push on to the north, with Pierce in the lead. Keeping their eyes on the skies in case the ravens return, they sidle along between the sheer rock face and the dense forest, toward the sound of the water.
The tunnel opening looks small, and Gareth is very short, so he volunteers to climb up and scout out the situation. He makes the DC 5 Agility to check to ascend the slippery rocks. He peers into the tunnel as far as the ambient light of the day will let him, and sees that while the ceiling drops low, the bigger folk should be able to make it through if they crouch down in the freezing water.
There seems to be little trepidation as the other three hand off Esma's pigs to Gareth before climbing the rocks themselves. All four stand in the knee-deep water at the mouth of the underground stream, discussing who should go first. Gareth haughtily asserts his fearlessness, relights his torch, and leads the way into the cold darkness.