Bros and Maslorias led Cadmus, Alexios, and his crusaders back to the caves as requested. The now familiar journey was uneventful. While the Mitraic faithful, were taking in the Chaos beast corpse outside, Bros and Maslorias investigated the strange lockbox on the island in the cave lake. Using deep magic, Maslorias was able to determin that here was as shaft underneath, but picking the lock proved impossible. Bashing it with the large Woodwose’s hammer also proved ineffective. Checking the other two islands revealed two similar boxes, each with a slightly different stamp. Bros and Cadmus each were lucky enough to open one of these latter two revealing a small cavity and a lever. Maslorias was able to locate three objects made of metal similar to that of the boxes with Deep magic. They may be keys but they were all well below ground and unreachable. Unable to open the first box, they decide to move on.
Next they led Alexios to the demonic statue. Alexios did some Mitraic magic hoodoo and declared it to be the demon god Tsathoggua. He stated Tsathogua was unlikely to be involved with the chaos beasts encountered and that the statue had been recently moved to its current location. This was disturbing and added to the mystery of the caverns, but didn’t interest Alexios too much. They then proceeded to the creeper’s lair. Alexios found a small fissure leading down, but again Alexious remained focused on finding Liannen. As night was falling, exited the caves and set up camp: the Mitraics outside with the horses, Bros and Maslorias in the bandit’s cave.
In the night, everyone is wakened by an eerie howl. Exiting the bandit cave, Bros remains just outside while Maslorias went to converse with the Mitraics. The howling seemed to come from the north, but Maslorias’ owl couldn’t pinpoint anything. Maslorias stated he was expecting a pack of cadaverous black wolves. He was wrong. A few minutes later, another blood curdling howl was heard and four huge white hounds with red ears appeared and charged a hastily formed Mitraic line. The shaken humans tried setting up a defensive line, but the huge hounds bowled men over. While the crusaders battled the beasts, Maslorias tried calming the spooked horses to no effect. Bros attempted to flank the hounds by skirting around a rock formation. This proved to be a mistake as a large horned man and even more hounds joined the fray. In his isolated position, Bros was dog-piled by three of the large hounds. To the south, Alexios, Cadmus, and a number of crusaders engaged the original hounds and a few reinforcements. The horned man and three of his hounds approached Maslorios, the horses, and the remaining crusaders, but only one hound attacked while the horned man hurled his spear which magically returned to is hand. Shaken, the men missed more blows than they land, but the Crusader’s armor protected them from the worst. Bros was not so lucky. Overwhelmed, he was brought to death’s door. Only heroics from Alexios and Cadmus saved him, but this put the lightly armored Cadmus in harm’s way. A few hounds had been put down by now. The horned one approached Maslorias’ line and the horses bolted. Cadmus was mauled, but Alexios again called upon Mitra’s aid and saved him. Struck a bleeding wound by the horned man’s spear, Maslorias pulled off the line to attempt to staunch the wound. Bros’ warhorse charged into the fray and began turning the tide on that side of the battle. Seven crusaders faced off against the horned man and one hound on one side of a rock formation, while Alexios, Cadmus, Bros, his horse and the last crusader faced several hounds on the other. His would finally bound, and seeing the horned man contained, Maslorias moved to aid the others. With his arrival and the effects of the howl wearing off, the last hounds on that side were put down. But before they could move to aid the crusaders with the horned man, three deafening horn blasts rang out. Blocked by the massif, they were unable to see the horned man, but a few of the crusaders could be seen sprawling. Moving around, they found the horned man and his mist gone. Two crusader were dead and the survivors on that side were in bad shape. Unable to hear, they patched wounds, applying magic where needed, in silence. Eventually their hearing returned, but conversation shed little light on what just happened. Could they really have been the target of Cernunnos and his wild hunt?
Retrieving the horses was a simple matter, but little sleep came to them the rest of the night. Come morning they made haste back towards Kaer Kilmaren. Truly these caves are ill omened.