Alerted by the sudden cessation of fighting noises, Lor-Sinn pops her head in and takes in Poppy's apparent transformation.
"Uh, how small is small clan now?" That question sounded more articulate in her head, but the goblin's way of talking was contagious, even through translation.
Ruka winces at the crunching noise that comes from the goblin's head as she slams the blunt edge of her blade into it. Oops. At least there's still one alive for questioning. And fortunately they have someone to do the questioning, as...Poppy?...walks in and starts talking to the remaining goblin.
"Ask it where it got the fireworks from. He said from a cave, which cave? Did someone supply them?" Do we have another Tsuto on our hands?
Poppy took in the questions quietly and noticed her party's discomfort over her temporary look. To the point that it almost distracted her from the green claw that had reached out for the surviving meat piece. She gave Muckbreath a side eye before asking, "How many days away is cave? Point which way. Only Walking Bones protect it?" .
She met Muckbreath half way and offered the slice with open palm. Then after they took it, she showed off all ten of her ocean green fingers in the air with a wiggle.
" Licktoad clan more or less?"
She wasn't sure if it was asking to much of the injured Goblin but she'd take what she could get.
Muckbreath looks around and tries to get his bearings before pointing south and responding in goblin tongue to Poppy-Goblin.
Muckbreath snatches the meat and begins to chomp. When Poppy-Goblin shows him her fingers the goblin stops chewing, food hanging halfway out of his mouth. He holds all of his fingers out and wiggles them back at her before speaking again.
Not really knowing what else to do, Sam took out his notebook and hurriedly scribbled down the vague directions the goblinized Poppy managed to convey. Sadly only being in possession of a mere two hands, he clenched his vial between his teeth as he wrote. Half a day's travel south? What was a half a day's travel south of here, he wondered, trying to consult his mental overlay of the marsh.
These thoughts were interrupted by the realization that holding a vial of acid in one's mouth probably wasn't the best of ideas.
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Asuka is also taking notes during this whole encounter. As she cannot understand goblin, she is instead making notes on what she imagines the goblin is saying. And her imagination needs no introduction.
We goblins betrayed by
army agents of Iron Oni! He send us fireworks explosive ordinance to go boom Asuka for opposing him, but we know better than cross strong tengu lady, so he make explosive ordinance go boom using his secret Steel (Author note: gotta keep up the naming convention, even if steel sounds better) Iron Ninjas in cave (Author note: they are iron so they don’t explode) with portal to old past Tian-Xia (Author note: Character!Asuka will find it’s closed already. This will be a recurring plot point of missing portals back to the past)
Poppy snorted when the goblin returned her finger gesture and had to stop a chortle from erupting. Not the time.
"I am out of quid pro quo." Poppy alerted the group and stuffed the rejected tomato back into her satchel. "Vhat is next play? Sounds like zese "Walking Bones" have mostly done job for us. Might even be vhat killed previous group of longsha-ER...tallfolk that ventured into swamp." Poppy cleared her throat before continuing."Not sure on number of still living, but between Muckbreath's vord and piles of burnt goblins, it seems not many."
Poppy turned back to her fellow smallfolk and flashed a great big toothy grin.
Asuka’s eyes pop and she quickly inserts something into her notes:
Steel Iron BONE Ninjas(!!!)
”Indeed! Let us set out to fight these Iron Bone Ninj—I mean Walking Bones! Those things. The point is: the plot thickens.”
Muckbreath grunts to Poppy-Goblin which probably means something akin to 'My pleasure' or maybe it is 'I want more meat'. Either way, Muckbreath climbs to his feet tentatively, still holding the spot where Samton zapped him. He grunts "Muckbreath go now?", obviously wary of the longshanks nearby.
”Muckbreath go now.” Kajiwara saw no reason to pursue the fight with the goblin. The Licktoads were likely finished - exterminating them would serve no purpose.
Once he was gone, Kaji said, ”These walking bones may be a greater threat than the Licktoads were. We should deal with them. Do any of you know what they might be?”
"Huh? Uh, sure. Yeah, I guess," Samton replied at the idea of simply letting the goblin leave, sounding a bit distracted. Truth was that a thought had immediately struck the young man at this.
Assuming no one stops Muckbreath...
"That was a nice ploy, Ms Cotton," he said, now speaking rather hurriedly. The wizard was standing by the door watching the little critter scamper away. "As for the bones... I don't think goblins have the strongest grasp on metaphors. I'm inclined to think it was speaking literally. Walking bones. The undead."
What in the world this meant for the party, their mission, or the marsh as a whole were all pertinent questions, but this wasn't what was on the wizard's mind at the moment. The goblin was about to turn a corner.
"Should we not follow it? Whether through lies or goblin madness, it might have said one thing and meant another. If we see it flee this place, then we know the Licktoads are effectively gone. If it just ran off to tell whatever remains of the tribe of our presence, however..."
Sam was an analytical thinker, for better and worse. Being a big admirer of Shalelu, he was also wary of any and all goblins. All this meant here was that if he saw some way to confirm or deny the Licktoads still being a threat, he'd like to take it.
Sam tails Muckbreath for just a bit.
Stealth: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 2 = 20
Muckbreath trots off north and out of sight into the village proper. A short while later you hear the sound of loud pounding and a heated exchange in the distance between goblins followed by a loud slamming sound.
Lor-Sinn stares at Kajiwara. "We're just letting it go? We came here to end their menace! We have a mission." The tiefling watches Sam steal after Muckbreath and nods approvingly.
Ruka looks at goblin-Poppy. "You promised it its life if it cooperated?" Assuming Poppy nods in assent, she nods as well. "Then we let it go. I would not have it said that a Kaijitsu breaks their word. But we clear the village of any others before going after these 'Walking Bones.' A single goblin is not much of a threat. A pack of them is."
She looks after Sam with some worry as he goes off alone, but doesn't try to follow. In her current, somewhat ill-fitting armor, she'd be more likely to get him caught than to help. At least until loud noises from the north make her clutch Murasamemaru tightly and change her mind.
Stealth, ACP: 1d20 + 6 - 4 ⇒ (16) + 6 - 4 = 18
"Sam? Are you alright?"
Fully aware of his own vulnerability, the wizard doubled back as soon as he felt it safe.
"I dunno, guys..." he began, clearly conflicted. "There seems to be a fair bit more to this compound to the east. That goblin just spoke to someone behind a pair of double doors before going in there. The Licktoads might be weakened, but I wonder if they aren't still a threat."
Samton speculated. He was inclined to agree with the tiefling in that the group should complete their mission, and not just because he was a stickler for doing one's work properly. The goblins had preyed upon travelers along the main road, they were a clear and proven problem the party had been entrusted to solve. They were too dangerous to be left alone at the assumption that their numbers were depleted. The goblin life cycle being what it was, those numbers could swell again quickly. Rather than doing their job for them, Sam wondered if the mystery attack by the 'walking bones' wasn't a golden opportunity to deal a decisive blow to the tribe.
"... Should we not at least finish exploring the village? I think it's our duty to ensure that the Licktoad tribe is disbanded. Goblins are only really a major threat when organized after all. If the tribe's leadership is gone, then we can consider our job done. Ms Cotton, didn't Muckbreath mention a chief?"
Ever thoughtful, the young man pondered whether his unwillingness to leave the goblins be was entirely impersonal. His reasoning sounded perfectly sensible, but then again... Was he simply dreading the idea of Shalelu Andosana's otherwise so gorgeous eyes looking at him with scorn should the Licktoads recover within a month's time? Or worse yet, was the goblin attack that claimed his own parents so many years ago coloring his perception?
Samton really hoped not. He thought not. The wizard liked to think that logic was stronger than any emotion. But he really didn't know.
Sorry, Ruka. Wrote as you posted.
Ruka nearly runs into Sam as he heads back inside. "So there are still more of them. And they'll be ready for us, since Muckbreath would have told them what he knows. If we go in, we're likely to face worse than arrows. Probably fireworks, if they have any more." She looks around at the walkways around them. The very wooden walkways.
"Rather than go in, why don't we make them come out? Set the place on fire then retreat to the gate. They'll have to come to us, and we'll be the ones ready for them."
Note: Ruka is not at all thinking of possible treasure that might be destroyed.
Kajiwara considered. "If there truly is enough of the tribe remaining to make trouble, then we should try to stop them - allowing Muckbreath to live, of course. We did promise him he could live. I am not inclined towards massacring others simply because they might be a threat one day in the future. Let us see if we can determine how many goblins there are. Sam, will you show me the building Muckbreath went to?"
Kajiwara doesn't find any windows or any method to see in, but by climbing down and scouting around the surrounding area he takes not that strangely enough there is a ladder that leads up to the rear of the building, but not to a door or window but to a wall. Climbing the ladder he finds that it is a false wall and secret door leading into the back of the room, likely an escape route.
Ruka looks askance at Kajiwara. "'Might be a threat in the future'? They're a threat now. That's why the sheriff sent us here. These Walking Bones apparently did some of the job for us, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't finish it."
Of course, scouting out the enemy is never a bad idea. She keeps an eye on Kajiwara in case he's ambushed while circling the building.
Asuka follows behind the others. "I mean, they did kind of blow up most of themselves it looks like. That means no explosions on the town and not enough goblins to attack, maybe?" Asuka shakes her head to herself. As much as she talks a big game and gets into it in the moment, she doesn't like killing people if she doesn't have to at the end of the day, and goblins are people all the same to her.
Poppy gleefully waved goodbye to Muckbreath and sighed in relief. For a kneejerk plan that worked better than expected.
As the others debated their arguments, Poppy took to slicing the ears off of the two dead goblins at their feet. She nodded at Ruka's question and grinned at Sam's compliment.
"Speaking of burning."
She dropped the last ear in a jar.
"Ve should check pile before leaving. I maybe can salvage ear or two." She got lucky with Muckbreath but she needed time to consider and hear everyones side before weighing in on the future of the Licktoad tribe.
Poppy followed the others in silence, inspecting the illusion that cloaked her curiously. She had forgotten how nice it was to be someone else for even an hour. Sometimes she'd eat at restaurants or stores after disguising, just to feel herself in someone elses shoes. But here she needed to be Poppy, at least on the inside, as an ethical vexxing was upon her.
Watching Kaji investigate and hearing Asuka's side, she felt she'd made up her mind.
"I'll support group decision, but two coppers and last five minutes say diplomacy iz possible. Job needs doing, but kill is not only solution. They are veak from Undead attack. Sounds like leverage to me. I vill stay Poppy-Goblin just in case to help vith talk, but ve are democracy, da? Maybe worth try?" Poppy explained herself quietly while kicking around a nearby stone. "I vill say, burning them out is risky, if they have young inside. Some of us here hate them, but hopefully not THAT much."
Lor-Sinn looks curiously at goblin-Poppy. "Diplomacy? Like, making them promise they will go away and never bother this area again?" The tiefling spends a few moments mulling this over. Before they had set out from Sandpoint, her mission had been clear - find the goblins and kill them. She had no love for the little green monsters, not after she had almost died when they had attacked the town. But after seeing Muckbreath, and Poppy's mention of young goblins...
Her mind goes back to the words that Sam had said to her earlier, in Proudstump's house. None of us are defined by our blood. Was that true for the goblins as well? Could you take a goblin child and raise it to be... well, not-a-goblin?
Hesitantly, she nods. "Yes, let us try this diplomacy, Ms. Cotton."
Ruka's jaw tightens. She hadn't thought about goblin children before, and the idea of burning children alive, even goblin children, doesn't sit well with her. She can agree with that much. But all this talk of diplomacy...they're goblins.
"Muckbreath cooperated because he was alone and we literally had a sword to his throat. The second we let him go he scampered off to rejoin the others, and I don't doubt he'll attack us again if he gets the chance." She folds her arms, looking uncomfortable. "Let's say we get the goblins to promise to stop attacking. Will they still be keeping that promise a year from now? Or will they find themselves another cache of toys they can use to kill people? Because don't forget, that's why we're here." She gestures to the structure. "These specific goblins, the ones in there, were attacking caravans and killing people. You don't let a serial killer go free just because he promises he'll stop. Why should a whole group of them be an exception?"
She sighs and starts massaging her forehead. This was turning out to be way more complicated than she had expected. Her voice a little softer, she admits, "You're right. I do hate them. Not enough to burn children alive, I hadn't thought about that and maybe children could be raised to be different, but I do think every adult goblin is a potential threat that needs to be eliminated. And the sheriff agrees with me, or he wouldn't have set a bounty on goblin ears." She looks down at the ground rather than risk meeting anyone's eyes. "If you want to try diplomacy, I won't get in your way. But I think it's a mistake."
Kajiwara considered Ruka's viewpoint. With everything she must have gone through, with Lonjiku's death and the goblin attack on Sandpoint, it was understandable she would feel a certain amount of hatred towards the goblins. And, to be fair, goblins could be quite dangerous.
They were also cowardly and disorganized. The Licktoads hadn't bothered Sandpoint caravans until they'd gotten the fireworks, which gave them courage. Without the fireworks, they might not be so eager to attack. It was quite the dilemma - if they found more fireworks, they could be dangerous again, but without the fireworks, they likely weren't so great a threat.
Returning to the others, Kaji said, "Goblins are, by their very nature, cowardly and disorganized. I suspect that we can break them without killing all of them. Let us try this. Ruka, Samton, the two of you go around to the hidden door in the back to make sure none of them try to escape. The rest of us will go in the front, and attempt to negotiate. If those negotiations fail, then we should attempt to focus on killing whoever the leader of the Licktoads is. I suspect that killing their leader will cause the rest to panic and either surrender or attempt to flee. Without a leader, they won't be organized enough to attack caravans. Ruka, Samton, if you hear the sounds of combat, come bursting in through the hidden door to assist. Do we want to try this?"
In addition to the soggy expanse of the marsh, it seemed the party had found themselves in an ethical quagmire of sorts. Samton listened to everything said, every claim of contention, without adding anything further to the conversation for now. The group had been entrusted with a mission. But the Licktoads were already diminished. The tribe was a proven threat. But individual goblins might not be. Wrongdoing warranted retaliation. But where was the line between justice and excessive response?
These were all fair arguments worth considering. Sam understood them all. He thought them all fair. But, somewhat surprisingly, somewhat worryingly, he had to admit that he really didn't care. Well, that wasn't entirely true. The earnest young man tried to do what he thought right in all circumstances. Ever the rationalist, however, he was accustomed to putting aside his own feelings to make way for what made sense, and the cartographer was prepared to shovel aside any moral objections in this instance too. He hadn't come to the swamp to do what was right. He had joined the expedition to remove a menace to Sandpoint. The Licktoads had killed people. There was no reason to believe they wouldn't do so again. They had to go. That was all.
Nodding meekly to Ruka's appeal for practicality and to Kajiwara's echoing of his own earlier suggestion of ensuring the disbanding of the tribe, the wizard didn't know what else there was to say. Nothing beyond...
"... They eat people."
Samton wondered if he could, or even should, elaborate on the simple statement offered almost as a shrug. No, he didn't think so. What was there to add?
Taking ears from goblins we haven't even killed? That's cheating! And sure, I'm up for that plan.
Ruka nods her assent to Kajiwara's plan, although she still doesn't meet anyone's eyes. Am I wrong for wanting them all dead?
"Right. That makes sense." She forces a half smile. "It's probably better that I'm not in there for the negotiations anyway. I'll wait at the back. Just...be careful, everyone." She hesitates. "If they ask where Sam and I are, since Muckbreath saw all of us, I guess tell them we're exploring elsewhere in the village."
While she knows the group wouldn't say where they were hiding, it's better to have the excuse ready rather than to be caught off guard. Technically it's not even a lie. They are exploring elsewhere. A very specific elsewhere, that just happens to be directly behind the building.
Following Kajiwara's instructions, she makes her way behind the building and up the ladder. Balanced at the top, she makes sure she knows where the secret door is so she can burst in quickly if need be. And now we wait.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Asuka puffs up her feathers as people keeping pushing this “all goblins are worthy of death just for existing” angle. Her home country of Kwanlai exists because tengu wanted a place for themselves where they could be left alone, so they could be protected the next time someone decides that they are too “rowdy” or “unsavory” to have around. Sam’s remark, clearly intended as some kind of argument-winning “gotcha!” particularly gets her on her hackles, as she has seen that exact argument used before against her own people.
”And some tengu eat carrion, does that mean we all deserve to die? You think you should kill me, Sam? After I cut the snake off of you that was strangling the life out of you? Shelyn says, ‘If you paint with a wide brush, you’re gonna get red where you didn’t intend.’” She steps up to him and holds her arms wide. ”If that’s what you really think, Sam, I’m right here. Gimme your best shot.”
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Ruka freezes as Asuka starts taking the argument personally. Very personally. She wasn't here, and most people don't like to talk about it. She doesn't know what happened. Maybe if I explain...
"Asuka, you don't understand. Just a few years ago Licktoad goblins attacked Sandpoint. Sam's statement wasn't speculation, or hearsay, or a made-up excuse to hate goblins, it's a fact. The Licktoad goblins were literally eating people. Mostly children." For the first time since the argument started she lifts her gaze from the floor so she can look Asuka in the eyes. "Do tengu do that? Is it a normal part of their society? Do they sing songs about how good flesh tastes while the person it belongs to is still screaming? Do they set people on fire and dance-" She cuts off suddenly.
Asuka's not the only one taking this personally, and you know it. Now's not the time. Get hold of yourself; you're just making things worse.
Shoulders hunched and gaze once more on the ground, she says, "We thought...we thought after their leaders were killed that the goblins would disband. That people would be safe. Yet here we are, because enough of them survived to rebuild, and regroup, and as soon as they thought they could get away with it they started attacking people again. That's why I don't think trying to negotiate with them is a good idea. Maybe there are some good goblins out there. But the goblins here are definitely evil." She swallows hard. "And yes. They eat people. Not...not carrion. Living, breathing, people."
Ruka completely shocks Asuka out of her confrontational mood. So that's why nobody in this town wanted to talk about what happened, why Kaijitsu-sensei wouldn't tell her about what happened. She had suspected it was something serious but not quite that...graphically so. Everyone had been way more upset by that goblin knocking over the cabbage cart than she thought made sense. Even Asuka can see in Ruka's face how much she's been hurt by all of this.
"I...I...I didn't know. I'm sorry. I had no idea."
Even if she understands better now, she is not sure she can agree, but she also doesn't know whether what she thinks even matters in the face of such open wounds. She begins silently praying to Shelyn for guidance. Please, Eternal Rose, help me find the clarity to know the path of most beauty. Please, Beloved Rose, show me the path of the hero.
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"Of course you didn't know. How could you? It happened long before you got here." Ruka doesn't exactly feel like she can accept Asuka's apology, (not when it was Sam she had yelled at), but nevertheless hopes the argument is settled.
Particularly since, as the biggest proponent of the 'kill them all, let Pharasma sort them out' plan, she feels like it's her fault the argument started in the first place. Sure, Asuka had gotten upset at Sam's comment, but Ruka had been the main one arguing that the Licktoads all deserved to die.
Except the children, if there are any. I'm not that horrible of a person.
She'd never thought about goblin children before. She'd never needed to.
Not important right now. Focus on the mission. Ruka shakes her head as if to clear it. "I'm still fine with Kajiwara's plan. If you can negotiate with them, then...then that's fine. If they break the deal later we'll deal with them later. And if you can't...that's what Murasamemaru is for." She briefly closes her eyes as she gets control of herself, then opens them and once more looks at Asuka. "I hate them. I can't not hate them. But that's part of why we have a group, right? So that one person's bias doesn't control how we do things." Her lips quirk in in a very slight smile. "And I freely admit I'm biased."
"So like I said, it's better for me to not be part of the negotiations. Instead I'll be at the back waiting. Just in case things go wrong."
Assume Ruka heads to the back as soon as this conversation is over. Which might be now, might be later depending on how people respond.
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Without realizing, Lor-Sinn starts humming; it's a simple, crude tune - if it can be called a tune at all. As Ruka recounts the events from years ago, the tiefling's lip curls to reveal her fangs.
Goblins sneak and goblins spy,
Goblins listen for baby’s cry,
Find the crib and climb beneath,
Draw the blade and lick your teeth.
Even after all this time she can hear their harsh voices in her head, singing their cruel rhymes, taunting their victims. She can see their snarling faces full of sharp teeth, smell the smoke and the blood. The punch of the blade as it rends her flesh, the searing hot pain.
Her hands clench into fists as she continues humming.
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Like a rabbit who only noticed the hunter by the arrow piercing its gut - this would be a fair description of Samton's face as the tengu laid into him. Not having had much to add to the debate but meek appeals for reconsideration, he was not at all prepared to have Asuka sardonically invite him to exterminate her. Startled into silence both by the unwillingness to add to further tensions, and the leap from cannibalization to carrion eating, he was very grateful to let the more confrontational Ruka pick up the thread.
As the young woman expanded on Sam's disheartened comment in gruesome detail, a comment not meant as anything more than the surrendering shrug of someone given an unpleasant task, the wizard merely waited. He was too deferential to add anything so crude as an 'I-told-you-so' or the like; his mentors had raised him better than that. In fact, so concerned with the party's cohesion had he been, that Samton hadn't suggested anything more than taking out the Licktoads' leadership. So why was he feeling vaguely guilty?
Oh. Because my favorite author is disappointed in me. Right. Sigh.
It was a childish emotion, really. Samton recognized it for what it was, but there was no denying it. Was craving the approval of one's betters - Mr Gandtheus, Mr Parooh, Ms Narukami... Shalelu - just the simple result of being an orphan? Heck if he knew. Sam the rationalist didn't deny emotions. He just set them aside and did his darnedest to ignore them.
Huh. He wondered if there was any correlation between his willingness to ignore his own feelings for the elf warden for the sake of not bothering the woman, and his willingness to ignore the ethical quandaries of goblin slaying for the sake of Sandpoint? A question for another time. For now, it was obvious that the tengu had a far healthier relationship to her own emotions. She merely wanted to do what was right. Sam thought back to the writer's stories, all tales of heroic acts and grand ideals, the stories he had pored over so often. Of course she would object if she thought there was even the slightest hint they were in the wrong. Of course she would.
"... You're a good person, Ms Narukami."
He wasn't sure why he said it. To assure her that he didn't think ill of her? To regain some group unity? Whatever the case, the cartographer said no more and merely followed Ruka outside to their designated position. Once there, standing in the mire underneath the secret door found by Kajiwara, he offered, lamely, almost as a consolation to the young woman:
"... Wood's probably too soggy to burn anyway."
Asuka pauses for a moment as she processes Sam’s reaction. It is a nice thing to say, though she isn’t quite sure if she agrees with him. She’s not even sure what it even means to be a good person. She just does what seems right to her and what Shelyn says would be a good idea, and she screws up as often as she gets it right, like how she just did. Still, it was nice of him to say. And now that she thinks of it, it was probably meant as a bit of a peace offering, wasn’t it? She sighs, then pats Sam on the shoulder. ”Thanks. Sorry for taking it personally.”
Goblin-Poppy walks to the eastern double doors where she Muckbreath saw Muckbreath enter. The exterior of the door is decorated with numerous animal skulls and seems to be a much heavier door than normal. As Poppy speaks up and asks for Muckbreath, there is a hushed conversation behind the door. A heated exchange takes place before all quits down and a goblin moves to the door and speaks.
Goblin-Poppy opened her mouth to apologize for starting the whole conversation, but nothing came out. She had known about Sandpoints goblin invasion, but hadn't considered how severe the trauma was for some of her compatriots. The argument was shortlived but emotionally awkward and feelings weren't her typical fare. Better to stay quiet until a plan forward was decided on. But she couldn't help wonder as they were arguing. Do all monsters need killing or can some be saved...? While she believed that killing the group wantonly wasn't necessary, especially from a practical standpoint as they'd be entering a brawl without means to heal any wounds recieved, she wondered if it was just the naive standpoint of a nonadventurer. Regardless, if this turned into a fight she planned on insisting they rest before venturing forth to slay any Undead, with whom she otherwise had no issue helping to dispatch.
She gave a few quiet vocalizations before she adressed the goblins inside , testing her voice first, like a mummer before a play.
Their response gave her pause. She looked to others for input and translated the conversation moving forward. "Vhat terms should ve offer?" she asked before responding to Muckbreath.
Here is Poppy's Diplomacy roll unless someone else wants to roll one and she'll aid as translator. Diplomacy: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 = 17
Asuka taps her blunted talon against her beak, making a steady clacking noise. ”Uh...we defeat the bones for them and they give up any fireworks they have left and don’t attack Sandpoint?”
”They’re willing to negotiate, then? I don’t speak their language. Asuka’s suggestion has merit, but I think we need to ensure that they vow not to bother caravans or Sand point ever again. We can’t negotiate on that point.”
Poppy excitedly nodded in agreement with Asuka, as if she'd just had an idea and flashed a quick grin at Kaji, "Solid terms. I vill make itentions clear. Thank you."
She turned back to the door and layed out her offer in their odd language.
There is some conversation on the other side of the door and Poppy can hear a dominant voice speaking to one or two other goblins. Muckbreath doesn't respond to Poppy, another voice which she assumes to be the Chief does.
Once goblin-Poppy translates the conversation, Lor-Sinn creases her forehead in confusion. "Didn't Muckbreath say they stole the box from the cave? So it wasn't theirs to begin with. And we cannot let them have it if there is anything dangerous in it!"
Poppy shifted over and over on the balls of her green clawed feet as she spoke. She gave a quick translation for the group and responded to Lor-Sinn all at once. "Deal is for the box, not its contents. I say ve take it. Surely box is not evil."
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Kaji considered. On the one hand, delivering an empty box would be keeping to the letter of the deal - they would have only promised to deliver the box, not its contents. On the other hand, the goblins would assume that the box included the contents, and delivering only the box without the contents could cause the goblins to say they'd broken the agreement, and they were free to continue attacking Sandpoint's citizens as they wished.
This had turned into a much greater moral quandary than Kaji had thought it would be when they set out. Sandru had said nothing about adventuring involving such dilemmas. Kaji silently asked himself, What would Grandfather do?
Asking that question allowed him to recall some advice his grandfather had given him - advice he'd heard his father repeat. "Kaji, remember, when agreeing to something, you must not only follow the letter of the agreement, but also the spirit of the agreement. There are some merchants who would only follow the letter, and claim the agreement filled. Such merchants are dishonorable, and are barely a step above those who break their agreements. Never bring upon yourself or your clan dishonor."
That lesson settled it for Kaji. Plus, there was something...Asmodean...about delivering an empty box and claiming the agreement fulfilled.
"No - we cannot do so. The goblins would expect the box to have its contents. By returning only an empty box, they could say we have broken the agreement and attack Sandpoint and its citizens. Further, twisting an agreement in such a way is dishonorable, and I do not approve of doing so. Tell them they cannot have the fireworks returned, for they have proven they cannot be trusted with them."
Poppy frowned. Honor? Honor had never fed her, kept her warm or built her business. She turned to face Kaji. " Goblins asked for THEIR stolen property. Box nor content iz thierz. Iz trick. And I did not say empty box. Ve can bring other things in there. Even tampered firevorks, too if ve have to. Iz dealmaking vith serial killers even honorable in first place?"
Poppy rubbed her temple.You're being unfair to him. He even backed the idea of diplomacy and the rest are being beyond patient with this tactic, so show a little respect. Her face softened before speaking again. "I see your concern. I don't mean disrespect, Kaji. Goblins vill just say no to deal if I propose 'No fireworks.' But I can try.
Poppy resumed her guttural speech, translating to the group her words honestly afterwards as well as the Licktoad's response.
The goblin Chief on the other side of the door grunts in acknowledgment of her words, but cuts her off at the end. He shouts angrily and pounds on the door, making a big show of being upset. Several goblins cry out in support of the altered deal.
Poppy expresses Chief Gutwads position to the group.
"I think ve've run out of room here to negotiate."
Poppy stopped her pacing and leaned her back against the door before sliding down it into a sitting positon. She looked up at the party, "So ve fight or ve bring them firevorkz, tampered or othervize. That iz vhere ve are now, da?"