Having dealt with five marauders in the cave, the adventurers gave chase to the gnoll that had thus far evaded them. Fighting their way through the narrow confines of the marauders’ lair, but eventually reached a dead end, with no magical auras or secret doorways detected. Avaril deduced that the only missing water in the cave was that missing from the marauders’ bodies, and the party returned to the surface to avoid letting Avaril smear hobgoblin blood on them. Seemingly stuck, the party decided to return to retrace their steps in the hopes of finding any new clues.
The party returned to Sarshan’s shrine with no idea where to go next, and therefore decided to sleep on the matter, almost hoping for the water-stealers to attack and remove any doubts as to their whereabouts. On waking, the water was still in the oasis, so after relaxing a while and waiting for Xenia to pray to Ehlonna for guidance, the party headed to the nearest dried oasis to resume their search. Finding a fresh set of tracks they again found themselves at the rocky outcropping they’d visited the previous day.
This time, the group conducted a thorough search of the area, and discovered tracks heading deeper into the desert. At dusk, they finally found what they were looking for: another cave in the desert, camoflauged to keep it hidden. Inside were a human, a bugbear and a hobgoblin guarding a suspicious barrel. The party entered the cave and killed the three (Bo-Taar wanted an honorable wrestling match with the bugbear, but everyone else wanted it dead), and discovered among the loot a magical sponge that had been used to soak up all the water in the desert oases.