One by one, the group followed Anushka into the tunnel. Zuzana and Blagoje, being Vaulters, had no apprehension about walking into the close confines of the underground. The dark-skinned Velabahleke had the gleam of Dust in his eyes as he descended, but they did not conceal his disquiet entirely. Varun Kapur went in last, lighting a torch with a spark of blue flame. Walking in front, Anushka did the same. Blagoje carried the bound Cultist on his broad shoulders, following behind her. Zuzana hoped it had no way of contacting its allies from afar, or they would be besieged inside the tunnel. A situation the two Vaulters had been in before, but usually not as outnumbered and in tunnels designed defensibly. Beyond the doorway, the stairs were simply carved into the rock of the mountain, and like the doorway, showed little to no signs of wear and tear. The tunnel had been made for something taller than anyone in the group, so there was plenty of space. The inside was bereft of the symbols that had adorned the doorway, and simply descended for longer than their eyes could perceive beyond the torchlight. The group descended in silence for what felt like hours before Anushka stopped without a word, Blagoje almost blundering into her in surprise.
The Ardent woman held her torch out in front of her, sweeping it from side to side in order to fully show the situation in front of them. “A cave-in.”
In front of Anushka, a cluster of massive boulders had completely blocked the tunnel. One would not need to be a Vaulter to know why; something had carved another tunnel going through the stairway at an angle.
Blagoje had lowered their captive to the ground while the group rested. When it came to matters of tunnels and underground hazards, neither Varun nor Anushka could hold a candle to the two Vaulters. “Ceratans.” To answer Zuzanas questioning glance, he pointed to a series of pockmarks lining the edges of the various boulders blocking the tunnel.
“I am unfamiliar with these ‘Ceratans’.” As the two Vaulters examined the collapsed tunnel, Velabahleke stood behind them, observing how they worked.
Zuzana suspected that the dark-skinned man had never been underground before today. “Intellegent creatures who are half spider, half humanoid. They usually live in self-made tunnels underground,” she ran her hand across the pockmarks, wondering just how big this colony was, “They are usually peaceful, but they don’t like intruders in their colonies.”
“Like us.” Blagoje had lifted the Cultist again, preparing to move on.
Zuzana took out her crossbow again and checked her quiver. “The collapse is safe to cross. We’ll follow the Ceratan tunnels down, hope they intersect with the Endless stairway further down. Alternative is going back out and hope the Cultists have not found the entrance.”