The man makes his way to the front of the house and enters through a thick wooden door. Inside is a big open space, although it might not seem so at first glance. There are three tables inside; all three covered in different items. There are also piles of books, equipment and vials, laying around the room, barely making way for a path to move through it all. The closest table to the entry door is covered in parchments, exploration gear and some dry rations. The man stands by the table and readies a bag. Packing, or rather forcefully, stuffing supplies into it. He looks to the group as they enter. “Waldo, but I suspect you already knew that. They leave little to chance.” He looks back to his bag and closes it. “Right. Did you see a flame in the forest? Or a light of some sort?” he looks to the travellers but does not wait for an answer. “You are to travel there, enter the cave, observe and look for this.” He hands a parchment with a drawing of a glass globe with an obsidian stone in the middle. “Once you find it, return here with it. If I’m not back yet, feel free to stay, but don’t disturb anything.” He motions to the clutter of things in the room.
“And before you go.” He grabs six small glass stones off of the table and hands them to Ignus. “You’ll need these to pass out of the circle. Normally Fee would just let you out, but she’s gone missing...”
Ignus accepts the stones and nods. "Thank you," he says as he passes them out among his companions. He's obviously fascinated with everything in the room - he wants nothing more than to dig into the books and parchments, but knows they have more pressing matters to attend to.
Waldo nods in Jaylens direction. “Yes, Fee is responsible for all the magical stuff around here. I have little talent for it.” A distant smile plays on his face as he answers. He then looks to Jaylen with a more serious expression. “I would appreciate that. She hasn’t left this glade in a very long time and I’m not sure she’ll be able to find her way back.”
Waldo turns to Clipclop with a puzzled expression. “It’s a trial; that’s what the Chroniclers do. I’ve learned it’s better not to speculate as to why they do anything.” He shrugs.
“Besides Fee, there’s no fey creatures around here. There’s some wildlife, and recently a pack of corrupt wild dogs moved into this part of the forest. But, I haven’t been far into the cave so I can’t tell you what to expect inside.”
Waldo picks up the bag and throws it over his shoulder. “I wasted enough time waiting for you all to come. I need to go look for Fee and Fidget. Neither of them is safe out there.” He looks around the table, moving some things around, before he pulls a quarterstaff and a hand crossbow from behind the table. “Now, if you have any more questions I can answer, go ahead and ask. Otherwise, I would like to be on my way.” Waldo leans his weight onto the quarterstaff, using it as a walking stick and as he awaits their response.
"No further questions from me. I say the sooner we get through this trial, the sooner we find our answers from the Chroniclers." Jaylen then turns about, and heads back into the forest toward the direction they saw the light, reigniting the light on his own quarterstaff as he does so, holding it low as a ward against the fog.
“I don’t know about making the fog disappear, but it usually clears on its own later in the day.” Waldo looks through a small window near him. “You’ll probably make it to the cave before the fog is gone though.” Waldo waits for everyone to leave before he goes out himself.
By now it is nearing midday, and the fog has started lifting over the trees, where it’s dissipating in the hot sun. As the group re-enters the forest they are once again met with the chirping and buzzing, and while the fog is still present, its much less intense. The forest floor is now visible without the aid of light, and one can see a bit further than before, but the fog and the thickness of the forest still provide many opportunities for anyone looking to stay out of sight.
The buzzing of bugs intensifies and there is a strange sweet sent present for a while, before both almost disappear as the group reaches the light source. The heat becomes intense and the sound of fire nearly silences all else. In the middle of blackened ground and scorched plant growth rages a column of flames. The fog swirls around it and lifts with the heated air. The air around the fire smells faintly of rot and decay, much like the pool the group encountered in the sandy passage.
After everyone’s eyes adjust to the brightness of the flames, the path to the cave becomes clear. Only a short distance away there is a small clearing and an opening in the stony wall of the mountain cliffs.