Duran calls to the hirelings to search Mackey and his henchman for a key or a possible way to open the chest. Searching Mackey's body reveals a large iron key on a lanyard around the bandit's neck. It also produces a gold armband, whose worth you estimate at about 200 g.p. The dead bandit bodyguard also wears a gold ring, that you'd place at a value of about 100 g.p.
Oloc helps in searching the room for anything which may have been overlooked, but there appears to be nothing in the small cave but the chest. The mage moves over to the chest as Duran attempts to open it.
With the iron key in hand, Duran checks the chest over again for traps. Finding none, he carefully opens it. With a slight grating sound, the lid rises to reveal the bandit chief's small trove. Inside is an engraved silver goblet with a matching silver plate, a set of silver eating utensils, a pair of fine leather gloves with tiny ruby studs set in the cuffs, and a small sack of 200 gold coins. You estimate the total value of the chest contents at about 700 g.p.
Furthermore, you find two additional items in the trunk. One is a vial of pale green liquid, the other is a packet of letters. Upon opening a few of the letters, you see handwritten details of merchant caravan dates, times, and destinations, along with what appear to be meeting dates and locations, and even one or two love letters. None of the documents is signed, but the handwriting on all of them matches the handwriting on the note you received from Alanna promising reinforcements.
Meanwhile, Varros feels the poison slowly wear off,* and takes up a position to keep watch over the party's rear. He feeds Karnak and with Oloc's help adds the recent events to the note. Oloc and Varros manage to find one brief (but damning) missive in the batch which is small enough that Karnak could carry it. At the very least, whatever else may befall the party and the remainder of the evidence, the short note would be enough to spark enough suspicion for Belloc to start keeping an eye on Alanna.
Varros then asks the bird to scout for Alanna, explaining as best he can to the bird that she is an enemy of the party and that Karnak must return to Belloc undetected should anything befall them. Karnak takes off back through the caves as instructed.
With the message completed, and Karnak on his way, Oloc says: "Let's hurry. I don't want to be cornered here, should Alanna's men arrive with ill intent."
In agreement with the wizard, Gaven suggests they make haste back to Belloc and avoid Alanna and Ham's Fork. He also suggests taking just Mackey's head for lighter travel. Duran helps the hirelings prepare Mackey's head to transport in order to collect the bounty.
Seeing the area secure and fully looted, Gaven urges the party to start moving back to where Ollie and Bill are. He also suggests that if Alanna's hirelings arrive they tell them that Mackey escaped to the 'forbidden' tunnel and that the party did not follow due to injuries in killing the snake, pointing out Varros's wound.
You form up into a marching order and begin to head north.** As you arrive in Mackey's and the bodyguards' living quarters, you see the bodyguard you previously killed, the dead snake, and the scattered backpacks and bedrolls.
However, you are surprised to see Karnak flying at top speed back in your direction. The raven hovers and flaps frantically in front of you. He clearly wants to let you know that something seems obviously wrong further up ahead.
The time is now 6:30 in the evening.
The time is now 6:30 in the evening.
* Poison effect duration: 1d6 turns after combat turn ends; d6 = 1; Varros no longer suffers poison effects.
** Your characters had searched the area fully, so I moved forward with Gaven's proposal to head back to the hirelings.
Mackey's gold armband (200 g.p.)
Bodyguard's gold ring (100 g.p.)
Silver goblet (150 g.p)
Silver plate (150 g.p.)
Silver eating utensiles (100 g.p.)
Leather gloves with tiny ruby studs (100 g.p.)
Small sack containing 200 g.p.
Vial of pale green liquid
Documents in Alanna's handwriting
(Monster and Treasure page updated)