08.19.3013: Use What You Have
Summary: Agnes sets Chiron to find the Pool of the Fearless in the Lower Caves of Khar-Mordune, with limited resources, as a lesson.
Date: 19 August 2013
Related: None
Agnes Chiron 

Lower Caves — Khar-Mordune, The Spine
Deep in the dark zone of the caves of Khar-Mordune, tunnels twist and turn like a maze. Natural bioluminescent lights have been fashioned along the cave walls to help provide some illumination this far in the dark. Here, flora life is completely nonexistant, and fauna has developed sightlessness and adapted to the chill. Various antechambers dot the lower caves, and they are decorated in flowstone, columns of rock, and other cave formations. Toward the bottom of the caves is the grand Pool of the Fearless — a smooth, flat, mirrorlike body of water that is pure and clear. It is highly recommended that one transverse these caves with a guide, as it is not uncommon for the unsuspecting to become lost in its depths.
19 August 3013

The lower caves of Khar-Mordune are not someplace good to be. Unless you are extremely familiar with them, it is easy to get lost and never found again. Agnes has requested that Chiron meet her there, at the entrance, with whatever he believes he would require to find his way to the Pool of the Fearless somewhere in the maze of tunnels, and find his way back.

Chiron approaches with caution, he's got a large backpack filled to the brim with food, torches, climbing equipment, rope, and things to make a fire. He's got his green hooded cloak as well as the brown shirt he's been wearing. He waves to Agnes and says, bowing slightly. "Lady Sir Agnes."

Agnes smiles faintly, very faintly. She looks tired, weary, and sad. Young Lady Yolanda's death has hit her hard. But she soldiers on, because that's who she is. "Chiron. That looks rather heavy. How much does it weigh, any idea?" she queries.

Chiron gives Agnes a smile as well, he can only imagine how she must feel. All the more reason to work harder. Maybe next time a Peake is in trouble, he can be there to help. "Oh uh… I don't know. Fourty pounds?" He says, he's not quite sure, but it /is/ heavy. "I didn't know what all I needed, so I thought being over prepared was better then under."

Agnes unslings her own pack, which is about 1/3 of the size and a tenth of the weight. She hands it over to him. "Just drop yours in that cubby. Everything you need is in this one. You're going to need to learn to travel light. I know that's the antithesis of everything the military taught you." Inside the offered bag is a package of chalk sticks, an LED light which is both bright and very long lasting, glowsticks, a compass, a small level, MREs, a small med kit, a utility bracer (with a retractable grapple line for climbing, flint and steel, fishing line and hook, and a small knife), and a canteen of water.

Chiron nods and takes the backpack off. It makes a thwumping sound as it lands on the ground. "Right." He says in response to traveling light. He peers off into the darkness, scratching the top of his head. "So, I need to go find this Pool of the Fearless? How will I know what to look for?"

"Why don't you tell me?" Agnes asks. "I've already found it, this is your test, Chiron." She looks at him with that motherly patience she seems to exude. "The things in that bag, and the talents you possess hold all the answers."

Chiron gives Agnes a look of confusion. "Well, I guess there can't be that many pools under a mountain…" He says, mostly to himself. He takes the new packpack and slings it across his shoulder. "Anything I should know before I head out? No drakes down there?" He says, trying to make a joke.

"No drakes. Maybe some snakes or small lizards, small mammals, or rodents. Bats. Could be a bear somewhere too," Agnes notes. She might be teasing with the last one. Maybe. "I'll be coming with you, but you're leading. And you're explaining to my why you're doing what you're doing as we go along."

Chiron sighs a little in relief when he hears Agnes was coming with. He figured that the caves were safe enough, but getting lost for a few days in there wasn't particularly his idea of fun. "Ah, well then. I guess we should get going." He says putting the flashlight in one hand, and the chalk in the other. "I use the flashlight to see in the dark, first." He says, again attempting another bad joke. Hopefully it'll put a smile on her face. "Then, I use the chalk to mark where I've been, so I don't get lost." He marks the wall and begins his decent into the caves.

"The same mark isn't going to tell you anything," Agnes notes. "Make it an arrow in the direction you are going, so if you need to backtrack you know which direction to take." She follows along with her hands clasped behind his back.

Chiron nods, as he adds to the mark, turning it into an arrow. "Right, that's a good idea." He says, resuming his walk.

Agnes keeps a weather eye on the directions he's heading. "So, how do you know if you're going deeper?" she asks curiously, already knowing the answer herself.

Chiron frowns some, he doesn't know the answer. "It's uh… colder? Feels more… down? I'm don't really know, honestly. I've never really been in too many mountains myself." He turns back to Agnes, wondering if she's going to give him the answer.

"Depends on the mountain really. Some are volcanic so it'd get warmer. Some get damper. But all of them have one thing in common," Agnes notes. She opens the backpack he's carrying and pulls out the level. She sets it on the floor of the tunnel, and watches the little bubble. It starts tilting to show they are descending. "That'll show you down or up, no matter what sort of tunnel it is. Important especially when you're trying to get out of some deep place."

Chiron nods, taking a look at the level and shaking his head some. He should have known that. "Right. I should have been able to answer that." He grabs the level with the same hand with the chalk and continues his trek downwards.

"The purpose of this exercise isn't to teach you speleunking, Chiron, it's to teach you to use what's available at hand, to achieve a goal. Sometimes that will require you to use tools meant for another purpose, or create your own tools." She follows along behind him calmly.

Chiron frowns some. Worried that he's also failing this test. "Right, I can do better. Sorry." He begins to wrack his brain to try and plan ahead some. When they come to a split, he marks where there entered and measures the two different way they can go, placing the level out, measuring the two caves, opting for the one that descends more.

"What does a cavern need to have an underground lake?" Agnes queries him as they stroll. She doesn't correct or confirm his choices, just trails behind him as a shadow.

"Well, I know that stalagmites and stalactites are created because of drops of water. As for what a cavern needs for an underground lake though… a way to get water from the outside?" Chiron says, again not quite sure of his answer.

"Close. It needs an underground stream or river to feed it. So," Agnes reaches over and clicks off the flashlight. "Use your ears, be completely silent." If he does so, he can hear, faintly, the sound of rushing water somewhere behind the wall to his left. "Follow the river."

Chiron doesn't answer Agnes as she turns off the flashlight. He waits and listens silently, hearing the river faintly. He places his left hand on the wall, and brings his right hand to take Agnes's hand. He's not nessisarily scared of the dark, but he'd rather not be separated from her either. He begins to start walking in silence, his fingers tracing the walls, listening silently.

"Don't forget to mark your way," Agnes advises. "Small steps. Nothing is more dangerous than a broken leg or ankle down here," she cautions.

Chiron nods, even though Agnes probably can't see it. It's rather dark without the flashlight. After every few small steps the sound of chalk against the wall can be heard. The river sounding closer and closer every step.

And he begins to be able to see, better and better the further they go. There are phosphorescent lichens on the ceiling which glow softly, in stronger concentrations the closer they get. Finally, they emerge from a tunnel opening into a massive cavern with a clear, pure, crystalline pool in it. The Pool of the Fearless. Agnes remains quiet, smiling at the reflections of the phosphorescence on the cavern walls.

Chiron lets go of Agnes's hand, also smiling. "Agnes, this is awesome." He says, accidentally dropping her titles for the moment. He walks closer to the middle of the pool, peering down, seeing how far down it'll let him see. "So, why is it called Pool of the Fearless?" He asks, turning around to look at the Knight.

"Because only those brave enough to look for it in the dark find it," Agnes murmurs. She smiles and settles on a rock by the water's edge, pulling open a belt pouch and handing him a wrapped sandwich, taking out one for herself. "I like to come down here when I need to clear my head."

Chiron takes the sandwich, sitting on the ground next to her. He takes a bite and sits in silence, just enjoying the soft natural light illuminating the cavern. "It's a perfect place to think." He says, looking up at her. He frowns again. "Hey, Agnes… I'm sorry about your niece…"

The Knight stiffens for a little bit, then she sighs. "Me too. I still have a hard time believing she's gone. I changed her diapers when she was little." Agnes looks a little teary, but she dials it back and takes a bite of her sandwich. She swallows it down. "So, what would you do if you got trapped in here?" she asks him, positing another situation.

Chiron gives Anges a sad look. "If you want to talk about it or… I duno, something, I'm here for you." He's trying to sound as comforting as he can be. He is silent, thinking about the hypothetical situation. "Well, ok. If I was trapped here I'd have food for a few days, and plenty of water here." He looks though the backpack. Pulling out the glowsticks, grapple line, compass, and utility bracer. he takes a look at the tools available, looking over the room again, and then say, "I'm not exactly sure. I don't know if I would actually want to leave. Though, if I had to, I'd try to dig myself out, if I can with the knife. If I had a broken leg or something I'd try and make a makeshift cast with the fishing rod and string."

"Decent ideas all. You could also test that water for drinkability, use the flint and steel to boil it otherwise. And check to see if there are fish in the water. That way you could use the MREs and fishhook with the line to try and catch some," Agnes notes. "But you also know that this room isn't flooding. The water level doesn't rise or fall. If a river fills it, then where does the water flow out?"

Chiron ponders a moment, looking down at the water again. "Well, I would assume that it leads out to a river outside of the mountain at some point." He says, looking back at his tools. "I guess it's possible to swim out, but without knowing how far, you could drown before."

"Also true. If you were wearing armor, however, you'd have an oxygen supply. Lighting, guidance from your hub. Otherwise, you might want to use the bracer grapple to see if there's a way out up above. The air is fresh, despite being down so deep, so there might be another tunnel that leads up and out," Agnes advises. "I try to run through a list of things I can do, and then eliminate them one by one until I have the best, safest, and most likely to succeed solution to try first."

"That's a good point, I hadn't thought about the armor." Chiron says, taking a look again at the tools available to him. "That's good advice, I do that a little bit already, but I'm sure I could stand to do it a bit more." He looks up at her, "Do you just come here? Or do other Peakes make the trek down here as well?"

"Oh I'm sure plenty of them do. I come to swim sometimes too. Good exercise, especially with the walking to and from added in. I can probably find my way here without any of the things I gave you to use. Been here so many times," Agnes muses. "I need to show it to Jarek sometime. He views you in very high regard already you know."

"Does he now?" Chiron says, sounding somewhat surprised. "It's hard to tell with him sometimes." He gives her a smile, however. "Was he just mentioning it in passing? Or was there something specific he said? I know my combat abilities aren't as good as I thought it was at first."

"With him it's less about how much damage you can dish out, and more about the spirit to continue fighting no matter what," Agnes murmurs. She finishes her sandwich and wipes the crumbs off her hands. "We should head back. You get to lead for that too," she quips.

Chiron also finishes his sandwich about the same time. He nods some and says, "I'd like to think that I can take a beating and still stand strong." He says gathering up the tools and putting them back in the backpack. He stands up and extends his hand outward, offering to help Agnes up. "I'm leading again as well? Any other surprises I should know? or are we just following my markings back up?"

"Up to you. You're leading," Agnes says with a small smile. "But I do have a meeting with my brother in 30 minutes, so I suggest the latter if you're wise." She winks.

Chiron laughs some, "Alright then, lets go!" He says, walking out the way he came, turning on the flashlight when it gets dark again.

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