"Ain't him," confirms Sadducee, texting the bad photoshop job to the groupchat sans goblins.
"So what's the plan, march in guns blazing, light up the place?" Cassidy asks.
|"Brother" Joe "Joseph" Waskalis|
"That's normally my style, but we might loose a rap icon from it", Brother Joe looks down at the gnome twins. "Perhaps we should try to be sneaky", the cleric winced, "anyone else good at going stealth?"
My power levels are over 9,000, beeotch! :p
Franklin couldn't help but to laugh at the ridiculous picture of 'Docta G' in the garden after Sadducee (the mean twin) forwarded it to the not-gnomenapped chat.. He wondered if the goblins were just f**&ing with them or if they really thought it was a convincing mock-up. Though they didn't exchange a single word, he was also in agreement with Faith that the gobbos would likely be pretty impressed with her improvised prop.
Hearing the others start to plan, the accountant cleared his throat and then started to speak, starting out softly, then furrowing his brow and speaking way too loudly before finding a happy medium. "Well, which is it? Are we just going to go in and give those idiots this 'blue light', get Docta G back, then beat the hell out of them? Or just skip the first two and go directly to the fighting? I feel Faith's clever prop is convincing enough to get our esteemed rapper back, and then we proceed to aggressively explain how this was a bad idea on their part."
Franklin didn't respond to Joe's question, but he probably didn't need to. He had spent his whole first quarter century of life being overlooked and blending into the background. There were few folks who had to work so little to be unimpressive.
"That would be my preference, if there was any doubt," Faith agreed. Although now she was a little sad that she hadn't considered booby-trapping the blue light as well...
"I've snuck into the Botanical Gardens to smoke, like, a million times," Nessie says casually, shrugging her shoulders. "I can definitely sneak in and count goblins. And make sure Docta G is still alive and stuff."
Cassidy shoves Sadducee forward, volunteering her other half as something sneaky to go along with Nephriel.
Looking at the diminutive gnome and the sleek Nephriel (Nessie), Franklin decided he wouldn't offer to go along. The last thing he needed was to screw up scouting and bumble the reconnaissance plan. Pulling out his phone, he said, "Look, go ahead and type out a text that says 'Help' or something like that and punch it into the group chat. You get in any trouble, just hit the send button and we'll come running."
This is neat for me, because I didn't anticipate an NBG plot so soon, but it made a lot of sense for this...
Anyone whose character has been to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens before can take a +5 on this check OR make them untrained.
K Local: 1d20 + 5 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 + 5 = 17
"Also, the Gardens are like, a hundred and seventy-five acres or something," Nephriel points out offhandedly. "They probably aren't keeping him on any of the main paths. But that still leaves a lot of other places and I don't really feel like wandering around all night," she complains.
Considering, Faith asked, "Do we need to narrow it down? We could send them a 'we're here, where we meeting?' message."
Franklin rubbed his chin and pondered their situation as Nessie detailed just how vast the gardens were. The goblins were hyperactive psychos, so keeping them waiting likely wouldn't work out well for Docta G. Frowning in the kind of thought that usually indicated lots of brain processing but little actual output, he was relieved when Faith suggested a simple and clever way to handle it.
"The little creeps might not know the name of the area they're at, but with luck they'll describe it well enough so we can figure it out." If nobody else offered another suggestion and/or started sending the message, Franklin would do so himself, cheeks flushing red in excitement and nervousness at the probable pending fight.
Don't want to speak for everyone, but I can't imagine waiting more than a few minutes before heading to the Gardens, regardless. The transit time will allow for a response, as well, and if we still haven't heard anything we'll start in the places that seem the most reclusive, first.
Don't want to speak for everyone,
Franklin, ever the leader, suggests that they at least get rolling toward the Gardens, as that will allow the goblin time to respond.
It's about a 20 minute drive to the Gardens; once you finally pass the big, stone sign and a small banner informing of a special event on Saturday (something about "BARKitecture"??), the road instructs to please "relax" to 14 miles per hour.
Your vehicles cruise slowly forward (not wanting to make a scene) and you note that on either side of the road is a scenic lake; Nessie helpfully informs the gnomes that the Norfolk Botanical Gardens are situated on a peninsula, with the road in being the only entrance or exit by land.
Thus, it's rather hard to avoid the admissions booth.
The expense isn't too great and won't be coming out of your Adventuring Fund, but it's definitely a bit steep if you're not planning to spend a few hours there, and coming in with less than an hour and a half before closing time would feel distinctly like a rip-off if this weren't a rescue mission.
And so, after a short drive through the woods and passing by a small pond (as well as the tram going the other direction), you find yourselves in the parking lot. A passenger jet takes off shortly after you leave your vehicles, and you quickly piece together that the Norfolk International Airport is just beyond the rise on the opposite end of the lot from the Admin Building.
A few routes are available to you from here.
There has been no response from Docta G's phone.
I've marked three likely routes on the map (Slide 3); Light Blue takes you to the Rose Garden, Red takes you to the Admin Building, and Purple takes you to the Azalea Garden. Note that the yellow path designates the Tram Tour's route.
Of course, if you want to make a beeline for any specific destination, let me know!
|"Brother" Joe "Joseph" Waskalis|
Franklin shrugged at Joe's suggestion, worried at the lack of response from the notorious Docta G. The accountant looked at Nessie and the Marvins expectantly, but if they don't go forward to scout ahead, the young man again shrugs and heads forward with everyone as a group. "I don't want to underestimate them...they might be better prepared than last time. If they have anybody with crossbows or anything like that, I'll try and rush them. Ummm...I don't really know what all skills you guys have."
Franklin left his statement open, hoping the others would possibly start filling them in on strengths so they could form at least some basic tactics.
"Some small magics, and the ability to summon any weapon I choose." Faith shrugged. She didn't mention that azaleas were also flowers, since she had no idea what they looked like.
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Nessie doesn't answer right away, busy lighting a cigarette. Looking intensely at Franklin, she brings it to her glossy lips and inhales, while in the other hand, she flicks open her switchblade, twirls it in the air, and catches it.
Catch the knife, Sleight of Hand: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (20) + 14 = 34 Oh nice
"Just point me in the right direction," she says, smoke trailing out of her mouth. "I can sneak around and find them and text y'all their like, defenses."
Cassidy, K. Nature, Untrained: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
Cassidy and Sadducee both gawk at Nessie's professional knife stunts, circling her and chatting about how f#@*ing sick that display was. When conversation gets to the flowers, Cassidy pulls out her phone and really squints at the photo, telling Nephriel and Sadducee definitively whether to head to the Rose Garden or the Azaleas.
Franklin gazed intently at the half-elf's glossy lips, the display with the knife suitably impressive to garner his attention and save him from further embarrassment. "Well, ummm, that's great. I guess we don't really know where they are, though, but we better get started before this place shuts down..."
Unless someone had a better idea (or any idea, really), Franklin added, "Let's start with the Rose Garden, then move to the Azalea if that comes up empty. We'll stay back, but fairly close, in case assistance is needed quickly. Everybody ok with that?"
|"Brother" Joe "Joseph" Waskalis|
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"And if we see any, like, uh, f!$#in, uh, staff on the way," Sadducee adds, picking her nose, "we can just ask them where to find the tulips!"
Sadducee has a good idea!
Last Call walks right past the admin building as they cross the parking lot, seeing a few sandwich boards providing you-are-here's, upcoming events, and suggestions for spots to look at within the gardens-- along with a note that they do host weddings!
The clouds above begin to gray the sky as the afternoon begins to settle toward evening, and the parking lot provides a branch where asphalt turns to gravel. From this point, you have a good view of this section of the gardens: row after row of well-tended roses in just about every color and shade thereof, all branching out to your left, as well as a water feature, several arches, a bench plaza, and the other side of the main building. A handful of parkgoers attend this section-- a tengu playing something on her smartphone, a bored-looking tiefling who likely has giant blood in him, and an elf who stops to sniff every different color they can find.
To follow the path forward would lead to a bridge, with flower baskets hanging along either side and a heavyset, gray-furred catfolk with a white fox in a carrier backpack is paying a lot of attention to the bumblebees that buzz around them.
To the right, at this point, is entirely off-road, a sloping green that circles a small, nondescript pond.
At this location, there is no one who obviously looks staff-y.
Faith sighed at the lack of staff, and the lack of correct flowers.
Still, there were some folks around. The Tiefling seemed unlikely to know - if he was bored, he was likely just meeting someone - and same for the Tengu. That left the Elf who seemed to be getting stoned on pollen.
Heading over, Faith smiled and said, "Hey there, do you know where we can find tulips?"
Diplomacy (Gather Information: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
Tough roll... but good choice of target!
Upon getting closer, this elf is clearly quite old; a few wrinkles have formed in their olive-toned skin, and their hair is not just the classic pale blonde but actually leaning towards white. Upon being approached, they break into a friendly smile.
"Tulips! This late in the season, yes, but you're in luck! They're late bloomers this year... yes, yes. They should be near the Butterfly House--if you head there from this direction, you can't miss 'em!"
Franklin smiled politely at the older elven woman. "Thanks for your help, miss." He pauses for a moment, then adds, "We're Last Call, just so you know. We solve problems that require a unique set of hands to take care of. Spread the word, if you have Facebook or anything like that."
He tried to keep the doubt out of his voice, as the older generation didn't really seem to be taking to social networking very well, but he felt a duty to try and get their name out, now that he had taken the plunge. The accountant hurried after the others towards the Butterfly House, keeping an eye out for trouble and ready to let the sneaky folks go forward to scout should they still have a mind to.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
What would Goblins do with butterfies? Snack on them, most likely. "Thanks, we'll give it a try." She smiled and headed back to the others. "Sounds like the butterfly house is the way to go. Shall we?"
The Marvins make haste toward the Butterfly House, but when it comes time to hang back, Cassidy and Sadducee share a quick hug before things get serious.
"You don't hafta go off and snoop around unless you really want to," says the original, holding her twin's face in both hands.
Having said her goodbyes, Sadducee hops in front of Nephriel. "Just you and me, eh, babe?" she winks, failing at any attempt to be smooth.
Nessie giggles coyly and disappears into the bushes, beckoning suggestively for Sadducee to follow. She heads for the butterfly house, feeling really cool as she sneaks around in tight leather armor, but her giddiness gets in the way of much useful observation.
Stealth: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
Eagerly following the 'cool half elf chick' into the bushes, Sadducee joins in on the giggling. However, she can never quite stop, all nerves and excitement.
Stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 14
Went to bed last night thinking, "I need to ask our scouts if they can roll Stealth and Perception for me," and here they are. Y'all are great!
Once they cross the bridge with the catfolk on it, the stealthier among them bid the rest of the party adieu before slipping off the asphalt and taking the less-visible route. Though Nessie certainly has more skill at avoiding snapping twigs and staying out of sight, Sadducee's small stature helps her keep hidden.
Though it is hard to get where they're headed stealthily; occasionally the park is too wide-open, but Nessie and Sadducee do a decent job of simply looking like giggling park visitors when they have to.
After a few minutes of carefully maneuvering as the sprinkle turns to a light rain, they find the wildflower meadow, awash in tulips and excited bumblebees.
Nessie doesn't notice anything out of the ordinary.
Sadducee, however, is a little lower to the ground, and can't help but notice that at the base of the tulips are goblin footprints in the mud. A pretty fair number of prints, too, stomping in circles and meandering around.
"Psst!" hisses the idiot clone. "I think we've found something!" She whips out her phone and preps a text, waiting for Nessie's confirmation to send, or to sneak further in.
Nessie crouches next to Sadducee, a little annoyed that she didn't notice the prints first, and snaps a picture of herself next to them. "Let's follow them," she whispers, and starts moving deeper into the field of tulips, keeping low to the ground.
Stealth: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Perception: 1d20 + 3 - 2 ⇒ (18) + 3 - 2 = 19 Oppressive Expectations drawback coming out to play...
Sadducee doesn't notice much, head down to follow the tracks to her fullest.
Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 9
Stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
Survival: 1d20 ⇒ 14
Y'all are doing great, despite neither of you being trackers!
Though Nessie could manage it without help, Sadducee is faster at following the footsteps. As they keep their heads down, Nessie points out something more definitive-- a shallow trench in the mud and damaged tulips along its path, as if an object of around one to two feet wide was dragged through and the flowers did their best to spring back up. One line of footprints eventually falls in line beside the dragged path.
This path doesn't persist into the mossy area behind the butterfly house (marked with a few metal butterfly statues), but the direction is quite clear: straight toward the trees of the Enchanted Forest area.
More worryingly, you're now more certain that this wasn't a single meandering goblin but likely several.
By now, the skies are growing dim, and the rain is growing more persistent.
Between the weather and the dimming skyline, characters now take a -2 to Perception unless they have low-light vision.
Sadducee types out a text message, bending over to keep the rain off Cassidy's phone.
rhonda voo @ nchanted forst. we keep scoutin, butt they n they'r
She asks for Nessie's approval before sending to the goblinless group chat.
Franklin's phone buzzed, causing him to nearly jump out of his skin after the several minute wait. It appeared to have come from the...ahhh...less educated of the twins. His brow furrowed as he puzzled out the message, finally nodding in understanding. "Is there an enchanted forest here? Let's find a sign, I guess."
He texted back, On the way. He nearly giggled as he almost added 'b@##$', but he didn't feel they were that tight, yet. Or that he would ever feel comfortable doing it. It was still funny, though. He waved the others to come with, and started to follow the signs to the Enchanted Forest, frowning at the dimming light levels and increased rain.
"I hope we don't have to ask for directions again," Faith agreed as she looked for some clue as to the enchanted forest. It would be mildly embarrassing.
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
Nessie has no real issue with the spelling and grammar, and gives Sadducee the thumbs up to send the message. She pushes on into the edge of the forest, gesturing for the gnome to join her.
Survival: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (10) - 1 = 9 (If needed again)
Stealth: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
Perception: 1d20 + 3 - 2 ⇒ (19) + 3 - 2 = 20
Survival: 1d20 ⇒ 20
Perception: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (1) - 2 = -1 Ha, true to form
Stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (11) + 10 = 21
Once more, Sadducee is too focused on paying attention to the tracks to notice much else. She even briefly loses sight of Nessie!
Cassidy suggests to the others that they steal a golf cart as they pass one, and pouts if anyone shoots the idea down.
No more Survival checks necessary!
The two of you cross a brief open grassy lane before stepping into the treeline. The tracks seem to mostly disappear in the manicured lawn, now that the lush grass keeps the mud beneath well-covered, but they reappear once the two cross over into the wood.
Nessie's eyes remain alert while Sadducee looks over the tracks, following them one step at a time.
Nessie notices a goblin sleeping in the grass...
...and Sadducee very much doesn't. She is, in fact, about to kick it as she walks.
Nessie, if you would like to prevent this, can I get a reflex save? Let's call it a DC12.
Team Normal Parkgoers
The asphalt path takes you beside the field of tulips, and signs point to the butterfly house and then veer sharply left to get to the main footpath through the Enchanted Forest. Faith, however, spots Nessie not veering left but instead taking the direct route, cutting through the grass.
The golf cart looks to be currently unattended, but is sitting in plain view of the Butterfly House. That said, the Butterfly House also looks unattended-- probably closed for the day.
A lot riding on this...
Reflex: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Nessie grabs Sadducee’s hand and yanks her backward, just in time to avoid the sleeping goblin. The rogue crouches in the grass, her lips inches away from the gnome’s ear. ”Shhh,” she whispers, centering the sleeping goblin in her phone camera as she silently snaps a picture. ”Check it out.”
Faith looked over at the butterfly house, considering. She had no real idea what was going on, after all. "March on up or try and sneak in?" She wasn't as good at stealth as the other ladies, but she was still fairly sneaky.