My keen senses told me that these stone statues were far too realistic to have been carved by the sort of craftsman that would frequent these forsaken lands, and so the obvious solution was that we were dealing with the lair of some terrible aberration; maybe even the fearsome basilisk itself.
A detailed search of the area revealed no tracks though, or any indications of which if the two cave mouths might be the lair of this beast. It seemed that I would have to use my intuition and divine sense of guidance in order to guide the rest of the company on the right part, but the druidess Elune spoke to me. Apparently amongst the curses bestowed on her by her deviant and degenerate worship of the old gods was that of changing shape into the form of a beast. She therefore offered to turn into the shape of a giant spider and investigate the caves in that form. I assented, with misgivings, to using such foul magics, but reasoned that we were following a holy misson, and I could purge her of her heresy at some later stage.
She disappeared into the right hand cave, and was never seen again.
Well, actually she did reappear, but only after many hours had passed. I feared that the last vestiges of her rational mind had succumbed to the bestial urges and passions of her debased form, but eventually she returned. The cave led to a tunnel apparently, at the end of which was a barred door, and a speaking tube of some kind. She had seen no other creature on that path.
We followed her route and found the barred door. Elune changed once again, into a miniature spider, and started climbing up the speaking tube. The plan was that on the far side, she would return to her natural form, and open the gate for us.
While she was gone however, we were addressed through this tube, and questioned as to our purpose. I stated boldly that our purpose was to reach the lands beyond, but they asked me why and on whose authority I proceeded. I glossed the true purpose of our visit and averred that we were here by invitation of the Master, which was true enough, for we had a scrap of parchment that he had given us through the magic mirror in the tomb of the Scorpion King. Indeed when a hobgoblin appeared to check our tale, I was able to show him this invitation directly.
This obviously satisfied the guard for the gate was raised and we passed through, and out of another cave into the valley below. Looking back, we saw that as well as some hobgoblins, a storm giant guarded the gate. Elune rejoined us in spider form and we followed the road down the valley.
After a day on the road, we fell in with some merchants, and ourselves posed as a merchant (Mordana) and her guards, looking for wares to purchase and trade back across the mountains. They were friendly and told us of a nearby town, but also warned us that our elven and dwarven friends would cause attention and possibly even aggression from some of the humanoid inhabitants of this realm.
We resolved that the elves should be able to hide their appearance with cloaks or hats, and maybe even a false beard, but the dwarf would be a different problem. Mordana offered the suggestion though that we could make it appear as if he was our slave, and therefore it might not cause such attention.