Rojava looks at the ground, then closes her eyes. The verdict is in and sentence has been passed.
Mother Moon, give me some idea of what to do. If any of us get killed, I'm responsible now. How do I live with that?
Ro looks up at the others and sighs in exasperation. "Fine, if this is what you want. Just don't expect too much, and keep in mind that learning as I go is a dicey proposition. If I have a plan I'll tell you. If any of you have a plan let me know, because I probably don't."
"So, let's get going then. We need to find this place well before dark, or if not, wait until tomorrow morning. Goblins see in the dark better than most all of us so a nighttime attack gains us nothing. Besides, we need to be able to look the place over before we go in. Who brought food? If we skimp I've got enough for all of us for about 3 days I'd guess."
Karmid senses Rojava's physical tension and sudden worry, and he understands quickly enough.
"Relax Ro. I have some food and can get us more fairly quickly here in the woods. We will be fine."
He then places a massive hand on her little shoulder.
"I...we...would not thrust this burden upon you if we did not trust you to try your best little sister. However, we do not expect you to be perfect. Also, does not Desna ask her followers to constantly travel new roads both real and metaphorical? This is definitely a new road for you, correct?"
He then stands away and keeps moving down the real road.
"And someday...maybe...I might be ready for such a burden if you wish to give it up and the others accept me in your place, Gozreh willing. Does that help?"
|Flutter, Figment Sage Butterfly|
Jili gives Ro a supportive smile as she passes her, and moves down the road after Karmid.
"You'll do fine." Drasven offers his own support though it may come across as Gruff.
Ro gives a nasally grunt as a non-answer to the words of encouragement.
She returns a wry smile to Jiliana; so pretty how could one not?
Edgar grins, and looks at Rojava and her uncertainty. It was quaint and perfect. He tries to bring to mind a soothing metaphor. "Rojava, think of leadership like being on a palanquin. It is certainly important to the person sitting upon it, but if any of the bearers should fall, then the entirety falters. Do not worry, you have strong backs to support you and keen minds to shore up weakness. Just do the talking and the looking approachable."
"So...Ro is the leader?" Lia cocks her head...then turns to face Rojava: "How do we go where we go?"
After all, leader => to lead...
Karmid shakes his head and waves at Lia with a casual smile, then points down the dirt road.
"Don't worry too much Lia: We're just going that way. Just try and remember, when Ro says anything, just try and follow what she says as best you can. That's all that matters for now. If you have any problems..talk to Flutter."
Drasven moves and wonders if the rest are even bothered or are they chattering away to ease their tension.
The Path to Thistletop
With Karmid in the lead and Edgar advising, the two quickly find the GodTouched a path that is clearly used by Goblins to navigate the the tangles of Nettlewood.
After several more hours of walking, the sun has begun to dip in the sky it is approximately 4:30 in the afternoon now the briars and thistles that grow so rampantly in Nettlewood are even more dense and tangled here where the path comes to an end.
You can tell you are close to the shore because although the forest here is dense, it is not quite dense enough to block the sound of waves crashing on the unseen shores to the northwest. The undergrowth is certainly thick enough to block sight and access to the coast. Few trees grow this close to the edge of the sea, but the briars themselves often reach heights to rival them; here, the patch is nearly twenty feet high. The thorns themselves are quite damp.
The group could work their way around and likely reach the coast but the thorns will no doubt harass and injure them.
My perception is slightly better...
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Karmid points out the strange patches of briars.
"This is odd...these briars are dying in patches. Very odd since the rest seems to be thriving around them. I wonder if this is a pattern or sign of the goblin's travels through this growth."
"Do they make a path?"" asks Drasven.
"It could be some goblin secret path or..............just nothing."
"Whether it's natural or caused by goblins we have to get through somehow. Do you think those spots would be easier than the rest Karmid?"
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
"We could try burning the dead patches, but that would ruin any surprise we had once the smoke starts. Anyone know anything about nature and what might be normal for these briars?" Jili asks.
Karmid, obviously trying not to blush too much, steps closer to the briars.
"Yes I do! Everybody keep your eyes and ears out for goblins sneaking up on us...I'm going to see if I can find us a path through this tangled mess. If we have to chop through it, it will be noisy and painful."
Looking for a path through the briars!
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12
Know:Nature: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10
Survival(Tracking): 1d20 + 8 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 8 + 1 = 18
"I could lend you the use of my axe....." Drasven offers.
Lia looks at the Briars.
Then she looks up. And at the area nearby.
Then she looks down.
"They should have the same rain, sun, and animals close by as the others. Maybe something we can't see? Could there be tunnels underneath? If their roots are gone, they would suffer and die."
"That's an interesting idea Lia. Goblins like the dark right?" Jili finds a stick and moves to one of the dead briars and pokes at it.
The Path to Thistletop
It is apparent to Kharmid rather quickly that there is no secret path here as he examines the area more closely. As Lia suggests there may be a tunnel beneath that is exactly what Karmid finds! A four-foot-high tunnel winds through the dense briars and nettles. The floor is hard-packed earth, with patches of wiry plants growing stubbornly here and there.
Jiliana finds that the poked stick has several thorns in it emphasizing that to move through these briars could be a deadly path indeed.
It is clear these paths were made for Goblins. This one appears to lead under the briar patch before you but whether this is network of tunnels below or a way to the other side will not be clear until you delve within.
Anyone larger than small within these tunnels will have a -4 penalty to attack rolls and AC as they need to move about hunched over. There is no light source here unless you bring one. Marching order?
"That is a troublesome prospect," Edgar notes. "I won't be able to see down there, and that tight of a squeeze will not make fighting easy, should we come upon any goblins. Is there another option?" He looks around, trying to see if there is another way in or if this is in fact the only way forward.
Karmid scratches his head.
"This is our path unless you want to make tons of noise cutting through...and then we'll be swarmed by dozens upon dozens of goblins once they realize we're here assaulting their home. Maybe a distraction would help..."
He points off in the distance.
"If we start a small controlled fire...over there somewhere...the goblins might go to investigate the smoke and we can try and work our way through these 'tunnels' while they are distracted. No goblins, no fight. Ro...what do you think? Once we get through however, there's no telling what happens next."
"Nice call Lia!" Ro says when the tunnel entrance is found.
Rojava remains deep in thought from a few minutes, uncertain what might be best. She finally sighs unhappily.
"This isn't a good opener for us here. No great options that I can see. But before we decide anything, we should probably set some priorities."
"Remember what Shalelu said about goblins being unable to unite? I think that's our key here. We don't need to kill goblins really, just the person unifying them. The lack of leadership should do the rest for us."
Ro clasps her hands behind her back and kicks at the dirt. "Our targets are Nualia, and Tsuto and the doppelganger if they're here. Everyone else is secondary. We're outnumbered, and I don't expect it the easy to take care of our big three. We'll need to save our strength until then. We avoid any fights we can, ignore the goblins as long as we can keep on task and they're unaware of us."
"On the other hand, we can't place ourselves in a position where Nualia or the others can call on all the goblins we've bypassed to come at our rear when we get to them. I don't know how to solve that problem until we know what's beyond these thickets. I'm starting to wish we'd come by boat."
"Your idea might work Karmid, but one thing about it worries me. I think we know goblins well enough to figure they won't have attentive sentries. A smoke plume gives them a reason to focus, puts them on alert to pay attention. Even if a meaningful number of goblins investigate, the rest will be more watchful. We'll go with it if we need to, but I'd like to try something else first."
"If the tunnels are a maze we have a problem and we'll go with the smoke. But if they're not, maybe just a short passage to the other side, we might be better off not doing anything to raise attention. Drasven, how would you feel about checking? Go in total darkness and see what things look like? Nobody else can do it that way. If the tunnels start branching or you see any signs of goblins come straight back. Just a quick look to see what might be under there."
Gwyddym listens to Ro with rapt attention as she lays out the positives and negatives of the fire plan.
Sending in a dwarf to spelunk the tunnels. This ought to be good! he thinks quietly, waiting to see Drasven's reply.
Karmid nods slowly.
"I should be able to hide our presence somewhere nearby until dark. Just remember Drasven, the Goblins will be more awake and alert during the night than during the day. Like Ro says however, that's probably not saying much anyway in the first place. But, it's best to keep it in mind."
Survival(Forest)-Group Camouflage!: 1d20 + 8 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 8 + 2 = 21
Drasven looks down at his girth and quirks an eyebrow.
Placing his hands in a square infront of him, he makes as if to measure it then nodding he turns to Rojava.
"It'll be a wee tight fit and I won't be the most silent of scouts but I Be thinking that it'll be fine."
Checking his equipment and firther tightening it, he moves towards the gestured entrance ready to go even as he ties a length of the rope he carries around his waist. Making sure that all of his weapons are within reach, he discards his axe as the only only weapon not practical in this case, leaving it on his back. Who knows he might have to use it as a climbing tool......
Lia cheers up when Rojava praises her, then hangs on her lips as she explains...sometimes repeating things in whispers as if to make sure she remembers them: "Tsuto, Nualia, Not-me...everybody else is secondary..."
When Drasven prepares to leave, Lia hands him a leaf she casts Light on, explaining:"You can hide it in your palm so that you can go in total darkness...but when you stand alone, you can stand in light to see all the pretty colors."
It was not that he needed light, Drasven saw further in the Dark than the light would let him see- but Lia didn't exactly need a reason to hand off what she certainly considered a token of good luck.
"Be careful Drasven. She reaches out and Casts Touch of Good on him. Are you going to leave the rope trailing behind you?"
Jili looks really worried at letting someone go alone into dark possibly goblin infested tunnels. It made sense to get the lay of the land, but still worried her.
"Yes Drasven, be careful" repeats Ro worriedly. "Remember, if anything you see or hear makes you think goblins are near come straight back. All we need to know is if this is an entrance tunnel only, or a bigger nest of tunnels. Once you can tell come back."
"Aye." Drasven acknowledges everyone's concerns.
"I'll try not to get into trouble with the goblins and with this 'ere," he indicates the leaf. "as a good luck charm. I'm sure I'll be fine. If there be goblins. Well I be leading them to Karmid." he jokes in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere, he wasn't blind to see that the tension is high.
"As for this?" he indicates the rope.
"It's for emergency purposes ifI be needing you to haul me behind back."
Once his preparations are complete, Drasven starts on his little scouting mission.
After Drasven moves off into the tunnel a little ways, Ro follows going about 10' in "so I can hear what's happening better" she tells the others.
She waits there listening. She draws the dagger from her boot and holds it. It's hardly a weapon she prefers, but it feels better to have something in her hand.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26
Karmid will acknowledge Dravsen by saluting the dwarf with his lizard-bone Klar shield, his Earthbreaker in right hand, resting easily on his shoulder and ready for anything.
The Path to Thistletop
Drasven's darkvision clicks in as he reaches the 20' mark. BY the 30' mark he sees that there are side tunnels that run east and west though this tunnel he is in now continues due north. By the 50' mark, where he is quite literally at the end of his rope BUT he sees what appears to be the earth slanting upwards.
Ro can see nothing as Drasven disappears though she does see that the rope begins to drag into the mouth of the cave it stops after 10' just at the edge of her sight.
At the top of the slant in the earth Drasven finds another patch of thatch like the one that is on the other entrance, he believes this may be the tunnel to the other side of the nettles that block the way!
Drasven does not hear any noises down here, it is quite silent.
Do you go through now or retrieve the others first?
Drasven goes through first to investigate.
Since Ro isn't hearing anything she moves forward and picks up the end of the rope. It's the only thing that will give her a sense of what's happening ahead. She holds it loosely so as not to tug on Drasven.
Lia uses the opportunity for a break, and lies down on her back, watching clouds and assigning names to them based on their form.
Karmid leans over Lia, his ponytail sliding off his thick neck to dangle below his chin as a look of concern clouds his face.
"Lia? You do realize that's an ant pile you are on...right? You just crushed their home and now...?"
Lia rolls over in response to Karmids comment, taking a look at the ant pile:"Oh no! I have to make amends!"
She hurries over to her pack, and retrieves all the food she has packed, crumbling and spreading it over and near the crushed ant pile.
"Those ants will be eating well for weeks." Jili remarks as Lia covers the ant hill with food. "I'm sure they will be fine. Ants are very resilient you know. Do you bounce back after setbacks Lia?"
Jili asks trying to figure Lia out. She seems so fluttery, and yet was allowed to join the group as a valued remember. The butterfly creature is the down to earth one of the two. It makes no sense.
Being done scattering her rations on the ground, Lia looks at Jiliana and cocks her head: "Hum? There are no setbacks if you simple flow past the obstacles in your path...so...I don't know? Maybe?" With a cheerful smile, she squats down and watches some ants pick up crumbles of her bread.
|Flutter, Figment Sage Butterfly|
Flutter hovers near Jiliana, sitting down on her shoulder if she lets him:"She does, albeit she does not see them as setbacks. In a dream, there is no setback. The conditions change, and things move forward. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it does not. To Lia, it's the same. She simply keeps steering towards the outcome she would prefer."
OOC Clarification/Background TL:DR(Just in case, I do appreciate the effort in-game so wanted to give some context): Flutter is a Figment(Archetype), meaning a creation of Lia's own mind. Lia is perpetually in Desna's domain, in a half-dreaming state, with a multitude of timelines happening semi-simultaneously. The flood-gates of her unconscious are open, unfiltered. The more methodical, logical aspect of her took refuge in the form of Flutter(hence his Sage archetype). They are individuals, yet the same. Once Lia gets to enter into her PrC, she'll learn to better control the flood of information, growing as a person in the process-
Gwyddym smiles, watching the interplay between Lia and Karmid.
Even now, in these tumultuous times, it's nice to see my fellows having a somewhat light time. he thinks, waiting for word back from Drasven and Ro.
The Path to Thistletop
As Ro picks up the rope she feels tension from the other end.
As Drasven heads to the earth works leading up, he pulls the rope and feels the tension but is strong enough to pull it right from Ro's grasp!
The rope slides through Ro's hand with a bit of a tug, she can see it start to recede into the darkness, methodically as it the trail of wedding dress more than the pull of something troublesome.
Drasven gets to the earthwork and listens. You hear nothing, then push open the earthwork popping you head up. You cannot see the sun with canopy of the trees overhead there is a path that leads both east and west but you see nothing along that path, at least not at the moment.
Drasven heads back and reports what he has seen to the group.
Emerging from the tunnel, Drasven shakes himself once he exits like a great big dog flinging bits of earth and soil away from him.
"I didn't encounter goblins on the way there but yes them tunnels do lead to the other side. I must warn ye though that the way is dark and well....tight." he pauses to take a sip from his water skin.
"There also seems to be two paths from what I can roughly tell runs East and West. I went further ahead and came up into a place where the light of the sun is blocked by tall trees."
Karmid nods grimly, scratching his right arm absently with his shield blade.
"Sounds like a goblin run. It's kinda like a deer trail, but shaded from the sun as much as possible. I say we move in and get this assault started. We're losing what little sun we have left."
Rojava exits the tunnel ahead of Drasven to give him room.
"Thank you Drasven. Yes, we should get moving. Once we're through the tunnel and above ground again we can sort out what comes next."
Listening to Drasven's advice and descriptions, Karmid begins strapping Angela to his back.
"I'll go first...then Ro? The rest of you follow as best you can, and try and keep it quiet. The last thing we want is to try and fight our way through these cramped 'tunnels' with goblins on all sides of us."
With a quick smile to the others, Karmid get's down on all fours and starts squeezing his bulk under the thorns and bristles. Using his small shield as a guide to push aside obstacles and the blade sticking out the front to do quick trimmings of the worst snarls so the others behind him might be able to follow more easily.
Some rolls for the GM: Feel free to use or ignore as needed.
Survival: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Know(Nature): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Stealth w/Armor penalty: 1d20 + 8 - 1 ⇒ (18) + 8 - 1 = 25
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22