The White Tongue Cave [Part 1 of 2]

In a large cave near a river, known as White Tongue Cave, lives the Biting Oracle. She is an Olm, and very old. So old that she grew weary of the basic things in live and turned her mind to deeper thoughts and meditation. She has experienced much, and discovered how to learn even more from things beyond touch and sound. She lives far from the next Olm tribe. Some say because she does not want to be bothered, not even by her own kind. Some say because even her own kind fears her. Her and her appetites for wisdom, and the way she slakes it.

Cave_Olm_Oracle-bw_v1.1The underground river is wide, cold and deep, and its current is strong. Even a strong swimmer cannot make it to the other side at the point she entered the water, and a weak one may even be carried away by it. The bed it made itself is a winding tunnel, the ceiling high above the water and the banks are covered with colorful lines that tell of a past where the river was even vaster than it is now. A man may walk along its edge without wetting the own feet, and sometimes even or two, and in some places three, may do so while walking abreast. One could follow the river for a day downstream and would not reach its end, but upstream the ceiling would grow so low that one would have to dive against the current at a point, which may be seen as impossible.

The entrance to the White Tongue Caves lies behind a curve, and it is not one but four of them: all round holes of the smooth yet uneven kind that water creates if given enough time. All caves have been obviously shaped by water.

A: This riverside entrance is only large enough for a man to traverse it on hands and knees, and ends in front of a steep downward slope that leads five feet down into a larger cavern. The ceiling itself is about 12 to 15 feet in height, and the only exit is another ledge opposite of the riverside one. It is as low as the other, and about 9 feet high in the wall, only reachable via another steep, slick slope. Without any gear or help, it would proof impossible to climb.

B: This riverside entrance is a large tunnel that one may comfortably walk in, and that gains in height with every step before it ends in a vast cavern. It ends in a larger cavern that only other exit is a ledge at about 16 feet height, where another large tunnel, at least 7 feet in height, opens into this natural chamber.

C: Two different entries at the riverside lead into this long and slightly winding cavern. It is between 7 and 8 feet in height, but with a steady upward slope towards E. The floor and the walls are so smooth that passing through them takes three Save vs. Paralyze. On a failure, the character loses balance, tumbles and slides down. Treat this as falling damage, with 1/3 of the distance towards the riverside junction as „height“.

D: The cave is a winding piece of space between A and E. The ceiling is even higher here, about 18 feet at times, and the ground is sloping upwards towards D. At the rough middle is another ledge with a very steep angle, smooth from all the water that went over it. Climbing it without tools would be next to impossible, but the height may be overcome by one character giving another a leg-up, and then pulling the comrade that did so up from above. The other side of the ledge has walls that bend outward, and at some place it may be possible for somebody to hole up in the space the wall thereby provides.

E: This vast cave has a dome like ceiling that reaches as far as 32 feet at the highest point and 22 at its lowest (near the walls). Lines of mineral deposits show different water lines this cavern had been filled up to in the past, but only along the lowest is the stone of the darker tone that comes from constant exposure to water while the higher it goes up, the lighter the tone grows.

The ground declines towards the riverside, and water has hollowed out paths towards these openingings over the course of time. Yet, there is large depression in the northeastern section of the cave [H], while dripping water has created two massive stalagtits over the untold ages [G]. These stalactites are more round and smooth heaps at their base, and only at about 12 feet do they rise into a column.

All of the other entries into the large cavern are at about ground level or a little lower but for one [I]: a gap five or six feet in width but only three or four in height, with the uneven yet smooth edges that water produces. It reminds of nothing so much as of an open, lipless mouth in the stone, with a smooth white deposit of minerals reaching out of it like a slim yet far reaching tongue. Said mouth rests high in the wall, at about 18 feet. A coating of wetness runs over the tongue, which creates a slight reflection of the light. If one would climb the sheer wall and get into the “mouth”, one would be in a long, wet, winding and narrow tunnel that becomes the bed of a vast underwater river when in the world far, far above the summer has the snow in the mountains melt. Then, the mouth spews forth a stream of water that will have the cave overflow while it runs down the paths to the greater river. When one could crawl its full length, one could reach the surface. But even if one would not starve or die from hypothermia in the wet and icy cold surrounding, one would often find the way blocked with the rocks that have yet to be reduced to pebbles by the flow of water, to be transporter further down to the mouth.

[H] The depression turns out to be deeper than one might expect, with smooth ledges at six feet, then again at another eight. Inside lies a small pound of milky water that seems to be fed from what water comes out of the mouth-like opening. It is another seven feet deep, and the ground is littered with small round rocks that had passed through the mouth above at one point or another.

F: Partly in the wall and partly in the ground, there is an entry to another cave, but it is blocked by several huge rib bones of some gigantic creature that have been tied into caltrop-like shapes with the help of leather straps. They may be removed by hand, but have been stacked into another in a way that makes it impossible to do so with out having them clanging against another audibly. The tunnel behind it is large enough for a man to stand erect and easy to pass, even so it has a steady decline. It ends in an cave as wide as it is high, which is the home of the Biting Oracle. Here, it keeps its meager belongings and meditates.

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