You try to dry off as much as you can and the rooster shakes off any water remaining on its feathers. However, you realize that you lost your flint and steel somewhere in the mud. Night is coming and all the things you need to start a fire are either lost or destroyed. You sit there dismayed, wondering how you will survive the night without a light source. As dusk approaches, you look up and notice small lights flickering by the tall grass. You approach them and realize that they are just sunflies signaling to each other. You stare at them for a while, comforted by their glow.
Then, you come up with an idea. You grab the glass jar from your pack and carefully catch several sunflies in it. After covering the jar, you grab a long, straight stick and roughly carve it into a new, non-magical walking stick with your dagger. You attach the jar to the end of the stick with some extra twine from your bag. You lightly shake the stick, causing the sunflies in the jar to brighten up, illuminating the entire area. Above you, the clouds begin to darken and thicken, meaning a storm is coming. You grab your equipment and light your way through the forest with the sunfly jar, hoping to find shelter along the way.
Navigating the dark is harder than you think and you get lost on the way back to the main path. After a few minutes of traveling, you encounter the entrance to a large cave system. The symbols around the entrance indicate that it is an old dwarven mine. You decide to take shelter there just as the storm begins.
You grab a large leaf nearby and attach it to a crack in the rock wall just outside of the mine entrance. After a bit of adjustment, you manage to angle the leaf so that any rainwater that lands on it drips into your waterskin. Due to the strength of the storm, your container fills with fresh drinking water in no time. You then turn your attention to the mine.
A passing blacksmith once spoke with Farmer Chuck and had a conversation about dwarven mines. He explained that their mines always had one exit. They use a minecart system to bring mined ores and gems to caravans on a nearby trade route. If you can find the beginning of the cart tracks in the cave, you can use it to lead you back to the main road. You walk a little bit into the mine to investigate the supports, making sure that it is still safe to travel through. However, a bolt of lightning strikes a large tree nearby, causing it to burst into flames and topple over. The tree strikes the support strut above the mouth of the mine, causing the entrance to cave in with several tons of rock. The rooster looks at you in terror as you both come to the same realization: there is only one way out of this mine, and neither of you are sure that it the exit is still intact. With a deep breath, you both venture deeper into the mine, hoping there is a way out.
The sunfly jar makes the pitch black cave somewhat easier to navigate. Along the way, you spot ancient tools the dwarves used during their mining operation, including old pickaxes, anvils, and hammers. You consider looting the cave to sell the items for a decent profit later. Under a pile of rocks and ore, you spot something shiny. You clear out the rocks and find a fairly large ingot of metal. It is bronze in color, but with a slightly gold tinge to it. Despite the age of the mine, it does not look like the ingot is corroding or rusting. You take it with you in your bag, hoping to get it appraised by a merchant. You grab a nearby pickaxe and hammer, but the words “You have reached your carrying limit” pop up in your mind. You shake your head, thinking the noise from the cave-in and the stress of being trapped in the mine are making you imagine things. Realizing you cannot carry any more supplies without burdening yourself, you drop both items, deciding to only take small items along the way.
After a bit of walking, you end up in a large, open cavern. You believe this must be where most of the ores were mined from.
A sudden guttural growl startles you. You cut the twine attaching the jar to your staff and cover it with your cloak, masking the light from anything that might spot you. You and the rooster hide behind a small outcrop of rock and listen.
The growl is rhythmic and you hear it coming from different sources in the cavern just ahead of you. You listen carefully and you realize that the creatures are not growling.
Next to you, you find the metal shell of an old signal lantern. You place the sunfly jar in the lantern, which fits snugly inside. Instead of lighting up the whole cavern, the signal lantern only shines a small beam of light through a round window at the front. You carefully direct the light into the darkness towards the snoring.
You do not see anything at first. You angle your light to the left and it shines on a strange-looking banner. The cloth is torn, with a primitive symbol drawn on it with a slimy green liquid. It is hanging from a large gnawed bone adorned with the skull of a tusked beast. Banners like these mean only one thing in this land: a goblin raiding party.