This trail is the kind of thing hunters leave out for their prey to follow, right before they jump them. Be wary and ready for ambush.
You roll a 12 (required 10). Success!
The more you think about it, the more you feel like the trail might have intentionally been laid out to lure ponies into a trap. With that in mind, you decide to take the bait, though not before warning your friends.
Apple Basket: "Huh… now that you mention it, they would'a tried coverin' their tracks if they didn't wanna get caught."
Moonflower, for her part, trots a few steps ahead, and emits a series of high-pitched clicking noises. Once the sound waves bounce back, her ears twitch, leaving a dubious expression on her face.
Moonflower: "I'unno. This place sounds super empty! It jus' got lots'a trees and that's it."
You nod; it looks just as empty as it sounds, too, though the bat pony's comment reminds you of how eerily quiet the wilderness of Midgard is. Much like on the southern coast, the only thing you hear is the occasional gust of wind, save for the echoes of Glint's mining in the field behind you.
Still, sensing no immediate danger, your party enters the forest.
Very little grows under the dark shadows of the red pine trees, easing your chase if only for a moment. Here and there, the faint glimmer of ore contrasts with the bare dirt floor, guiding you onward.
As you venture deeper into the woods, however, each stone grows more difficult to find than the last, slowing your progress. You eventually spend a few minutes on high alert, searching for the next piece, yet unable to find it.
You begin to feel like you've hit a dead end until you catch a smell on the wind. The smell of something burning.
Apple Basket: "You smell that too?"
Moonflower: "Yuh uh!"
Weapons at the ready, you follow the smell further north, and soon reach a small hillside clearing. There, you find a shallow cave entrance, and a sight that stops you and your friends dead in your tracks.
Unmistakably, at the back of the dimly lit cave are the eight missing crates of nickel ore. But most importantly, next to them is an adolescent black dragon, casually resting against a makeshift stone cushion, and yawning a sparking cloud of smoke.
After tossing a piece of ore in her mouth and nearly swallowing it whole, the dragon cracks an eye open to look at the new arrivals. Visibly not concerned in the slightest, she gives you an taunting grin, as if daring you to do anything.
If there's one thing you know about dragons, it's that they can be serious trouble. You try to think of the best way to approach this.
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