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Storm King's Thunder

Ellywyck27

Ironfist, Galanodel
Shortly after Bell fades into the mists, Ruth becomes fidgety and nervous.
“I feel that we should follow. At a distance. If it’s safe, we save ourselves time. If it isn’t, better we are close to Bell to help if he needs. It won’t do us any good if he doesn’t come back and we don’t know why.”
She moves to follow the path he took, tries to keep quiet, not move too quickly, and keep alert for a bird shape that may come running back through the mist.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Bell slowly approaches the cave mouth keeping a wary eye on his surroundings for any unexpected movement. He bends and turns his head sideways to get a better look at the shoddy, black feathered arrow. A pinch between his brow is the only indication that he recognizes the arrow as being the same style the goblins flung at him the day before back in Nightstone.

With a hop and a scramble, Bell gets to the top of the boulder so he can get a better look at the smudge on the rock. Deciding that the stone was struck by a large wooden object of some kind her surveys the area for any upturned trees or logs that could have inflicted such a mark on this defenseless boulder. The kenku wonders to himself if the something large enough to wield a big wooden club could have created this mark on the stone. The fate of the Nightone villagers seems more dire now with this evidence.

He hops off his rock and heads back to the group only to find that they have followed along anyway. Maybe the kenku's instructions were unclear. He shrugs and chalks it up to just another miscommunication. As they approach he points to the arrow and the damage to the boulder. He follows this pantomime with a finger to the end of his beak to signify they should all try to remain as quiet as possible. Who knows what still lurks in the area.

Bell surveys the group, then slowly raises his pointing finger toward the cave. With a tilt of the head he implies that he thinks we need to search the cave.
 
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Ellywyck27

Ironfist, Galanodel
Ruthenia takes an extra long look at the rock (clearly here for hundreds of years) and the broken splinters of wood (clearly not).
She nods agreement to Bell’s suggestion that they all keep quiet. Then she realizes that no one seems eager to be first to enter the mouth of the cave. She motions to herself with questioning head movements, as if to ask “me first?” and looks to Torem and Aseir for the answer. Torem knows this place, and Aseir... is very tall and strong.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The mouth of the cave is broad enough, and the morning light sufficiently adequate, for everyone to clearly see the fifteen feet or so of the interior from where they stand outside—Ruth and Lecuis can see farther in than that. The place is clearly abandoned, with only the few articles Bell spotted earlier, and footprints in the dirt, as evidence that anyone was here recently. The low cave does stretch farther back into the dark though.

"Where is everyone?" Torem wonders aloud as he walks past Ruth and Aseir and into the cave. "Hey, I recognize this hat. It belongs to Grin, the stable hand."

bunion.gif
 

ramonlimon2

Junior Member
Aseir purses his lips, wanting to let out a long lowbwhistle but clearly thinking better of it. He shrugs off the pack of supplies that he picked from the ruins of an adventuring store back in Nightstone and ruffles through for a torch. Taking a few seconds to light it, he holds it low and begins walking into the maw.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The ceiling in the cave is quite low, just overhead for Bell, Aseir and Torem. Lecuis, being the tallest of the group, has to stoop to explore, and occasionally bumps his horns against rock. The wavering light from Aseir's torch reveals numerous places where people have scratched their names or made crude drawings on the walls and ceiling. Beyond that, there's not much to see here. The cave does indeed go straight back a ways, so that the opening back to the moors is reduced to a distant wedge of daylight. There are several spots where the ceiling dips down nearly to the floor, leaving gaps that a tiny animal could travel through, but that even a halfling couldn't navigate. Near one such area Lecuis spots a dark smudge on the stone where the rocky floor actually dips down slightly to match the lowered ceiling. Crouching and peering through the tight squeeze, he can make out a prone, unmoving person about ten feet distant. It takes several more minutes for anyone to crawl back there and investigate the body. The dead man was shot by two of the goblin arrows. Torem identifies him as Noas, one of his fellow guards who fled Nightstone with the villagers.
 
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ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Bell shivers as he attempts to search the cave in near darkness. This is no place for any winged creature save bats and bugs. Greasy skinned goblins, yes, but a kenku prefers the lofty heights of a tower, tree or cliffside perch. This dusty, miasmic air breeds disease and the dark corners hide nightmares that lead to nothing but madness. Why would an intelligent creature choose to live in such a place.

Bell throws his hands up at the futility of this search and heads toward the entrance of the cave. Maybe Lecuis or Aseir will have better luck than he. Torem may have an idea of where to go from here. Bell had hoped this would be an easy jaunt to retrieve the villagers and return them to Nightstone, but it looks like they are in for more than a simple walk in the moor and back again. It looks like they are on a goblin hunt.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Bell watches as Lecuis and Aseir search the cave. The entire business makes him a little uneasy. When the body is discovered Bell approaches when he hears Torem confirm it is indeed the body of a guard he knows. With a sigh, Bell crawls into the crevice and drags the body out into the light so that they can get a better look. The task rewards the kenku with little more than a putrid stench and a surprise from some opportunist beetles. Bell ponders the words of Rathas before they left and the promise of extra pay for trouble. This is beginning to qualify for hazard pay in Bell's mind.

There seems to be little more to learn here, so the wagon driver stands and brushes the cave dirt from his clothing. He reaches for the black feathered arrow and uses it to point in the direction of the other cave that Torem described, "the Nostril, over a ways... you or I, or even a goblin..." he mimics with a glance around at the group. If the rest don't get his meaning, Bell gives a little clap then points at the sun to indicate the day moves on, so they better get a move on.
 

Ellywyck27

Ironfist, Galanodel
When Torem advanced into the cave and spoke his thoughts aloud, Ruth stepped aside and waited for a goblin arrow to reply. Or a friendly voice. Since neither happened, she began to feel there probably isn’t anything alive to find here. She watches, amused, as Aseir lights the torch and leads the others into the dark space. A dwarf won’t need such a thing. But as she follows up behind them two steps into the dank shadow, she realizes they have all turned their back on the only exit known to exist. Not a good plan. “I’ll stay and guard our exit, friends,” she says, and waits a protest that never came.
She mutters under her breath, “No, no, a dwarf best search a cave in the dark. Lead the way, and let me guard,” and chuckles as she takes up a watchful eye into the misty mid-morning. Rather funny, this arrangement, now that she thought of it.
****
Looking over her shoulder at the rotten body as Bell searches it, Ruth scrunches up her nose and asks, “was that the only one found? But not the owner of the hat? It seems we need to continue the search... Any need for dwarf eyes in there, or do we move on and search the Nostril?”
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
Torem stares silently at Noas', contemplating something. "If we continue on to the Nostril—its eastern slope begins about a mile west of here—we should move poor Noas back inside the cave first. The movements of the moor are strange and surprising; if we leave him out in the open, we might well find he's been dragged under the peat when we come back for him later. In the same vein, if we set off directly for the Nostril, we'll have to be more cautious. It's easier than you'd think to step in a sumpy patch and be up to your waste in muck. But I'm with you. I'm ready to spill some goblin blood."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
"Euphemism?" Torem asks. "You mean, like a giant moorworm that comes up in the night and swallows whatever it finds? Or moorfairies who swarm around and carry off lost things? Those are just superstitions. I tell you, the moor itself is like a great slow-moving sea into which anything left out might sink down, travel a mile or two and then pop up months later, damp and grimy but otherwise no worse off."
 

Ellywyck27

Ironfist, Galanodel
Ruthenia chuckles. “Exactly like that. So. Shall we let you lead us, Torem? I’d like to get moving and put in some miles before noon.”
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
nostril-view.gifTorem insists on first returning Noas to the cave and, finding no better shroud, covering him with tufts of yellow-brown grass from outside. Then he points the way west or northwest, with a hint of uncertainty. With the river behind you and the horizon lost in the fog, the landscape becomes quickly bland and undifferentiated, just brown grass and peat in every direction, broken up by occasional patches of pale pink heather and, after a bit, the empty, roofless walls of an old stone structure that Torem says predates the Nandars' occupancy here.

Bell catches signs here and there of the large group's passing. The indicators wind to and fro, cutting across your own path and then getting lost again over the moor. Not surprising, because the way you go performs its own meanderings around the soft spots that come up without warning, looking do different from solid ground in most cases. As a middling moorsman, Torem is able to point out many of these hazards in advance, but there are still some close calls along the way. At one point, Aseir has one leg knee-deep in mud before Lecuis grabs hold of his shoulder and prevents him from toppling deeper. Tugging his friend back up, the tiefling recites a fragment of something halfway between elocution exercise and bawdy verse: "Soft shodden I stepped, I suddenly slipped ere I soddenly slept between those deep clefts."

After at least a half hour tracking back an forth like this, the sameness is finally broken by a line of tree-crested hills emerging from the fog. "There we go," says Torem. "Assuming we've kept our course, that one on the right should be home to the Nostril—If memory serves, the mouth is around the south side." He hefts his spear, the butt end of which has been his probe on this trek. "I'm about ready to use the pointy end of this on some goblins."

"Is this the sort of broken anatomy you teach out on the moors?"
quips Lecuis. "The mouth of the nostril, the stomach of the hand, the face of the ass."
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Bell helps Torem drag his friend back into the cave and watches as the guard covers the body with grass. The kenku wonders what protection this will offer the body, but decides that it is more for the living than the dead.

As they tramp through the boggy moor Bell tries to keep an eye out for signs of a trail and spots a few recent tracks that eventually, with Torem's help, guide them to the Nostril. Lecuis' comment brings forth a unexpected, raspy laugh from the kenku. The circus folk definitely keep their travels interesting. Bell thinks to himself that he is thankful that they are entering the nostril rather than climbing the face of the ass. The thought brings another small chuckle.

A moment later Bell is back to business as he begins to survey their surroundings. With a quick tilt of his head and a flick of his hand he motions that they should push forward. Followed by an open palm patting toward the ground, and a finger to his beak, Bell indicates they should at least attempt to move slowly and quietly. If this is the den of a mess of goblins then they are likely to have at least one or two posted to watch the entrance. When they approach, Bell will try to spy any movement or potential hiding places in the rock.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
hosttower small.jpgLycan's hiding place among the trees provides a decent view across the moorland below, at least as far as the morning fog allows. The goblins were rowdy last night, hooting and celebrating, probably in connection with the small groups of them coming and going with full sacks and other parcels earlier in the day.

Thing have gone a bit off track from two days ago, when Lycan arrived in the hamlet of Nightstone, tasked with taking rubbings from the ancient engraved megalith for which the place was named. It had been a change of pace from the usual errands he ran for Galinevan the Incessant, Scholar of the South Tower, which tended to entail discretely following people around the port city of Luskan or collecting information from his contacts there.

This two-day trip east to Nightstone was the culmination of a week in which Galinevan had engaged in long, contentious debate with Cedbaw the Lachrymose and Orlakul, Eater of the Crimson Herb, his two chief rivals within the Arcane Brotherhood. Lycan was not officially present for these exchanges, but had overheard enough "in passing" to pick out repeated mentions of the unfamiliar terms Ordning, Maelstrom and All-Father among the sense metaphysical discourse. Determined, as usual, to get one-up on his hated colleagues, Galinevan ordered Lycan to travel to Nightstone and copy down the runes engraved on the eponymous megalith, confident that said transcription would be the crushing evidence needed to put the other two mages in their place. The transcription and the testimony of Destiny Agganor, a Tiefling woman living in Nightstone whom Galinevan was certain knew a thing or two about the history of that stone.

Taking the rubbings of the nonsensical dwarven runes engraved in the stone had been easy enough, if a bit conspicuous and time-consuming, but Lycan had only been just getting to know Destiny Agganor when all of Nightstone was thrown into chaos by the appearance of a massive, cloud-borne, flying castle drifting slowly over the keep. And then the boulders started to fall from the sky—a veritable torrent of them—crushing buildings, walls and people. Lead by a handful of guards, the Nightstoners fled out the gate and into the surrounding moor, bound for a place they called Melvin's Bunion, which turned out to be a rude cave about a mile north of town.

The first night at the Bunion, goblins attacked in the wee hours, while most people were asleep. A towering, brute humanoid that was certainly some variety of moor ogre lumbered behind them, flailing about with a tree trunk. This behemoth went a long way towards terrifying the Nightstoners into utter submission. Lycan was able to slip away from this ambush and follow their forced migration west to another cave where the goblins seemed to have their lair.

That was the night before last. Yesterday was spent cautiously scouting the area, counting goblins and hunting down secondary entrances to the caves beneath the tree-topped hill from which Lycan now watches over the morning moor scene. And now, from the east, here come five travelers. Two or three-hundred yards away, they crouch as though hoping to move unseen, although they are quite exposed out in the yellow-brown grass. They're too tall to be goblins and certainly too short for ogres. Whatever these new arrivals herald, Galinevan is certainly going to be unhappy is Lycan returns to Luskan without the tiefling woman who, along with twenty or more other Nightstoners, is possibly still alive inside the goblin lair.
 

Ellywyck27

Ironfist, Galanodel
Letting those who are better at navigating and tracking do all the leading across the moor, Ruthenia has time to think. It was no small feat to stone a keep from above, and to steal an ancient monolith by yanking it from the ground. She shudders. Giants. She has a feeling her worst fears would come into play before this matter was resolved. Give me a darkmantle, or swarm of stirge, or a few goblins any day. But a single giant could crush me by accident without even noticing I was there... What will I do if ever I have to fight one?

When the hills come into view at the edge of the fog, and Bell motions for them to crouch and sneak, Ruthenia isn’t sure if she should laugh or roll her eyes. How can they hide out in the flat open like this?! A moment later they all seem to spot movement at the same time up by the trees. It is a humanoid shape waving at them to come towards it.
“Well. We’ve been spotted... I’ve not heard of a clear invitation to an ambush before. Shall we join this unknown and see what comes?”
Since Ruth doesn’t care to fall neck-deep in the moor in the last hundred yards of the journey, she stays in her place and lets the others continue the lead over toward the hills.
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Seeing the figure waving on the hillside causes Bell to stop in his tracks. He glances around to see if the rest of the group notices the individual drawing attention to themselves. This is either a terrible trap or a desperate villager looking for help. The trap is unlikely, as the goblins would have no reason that Bell can figure to expect the rescue party. Ruthenia echoes Bell's thoughts, and that is enough encouragement to begin the climb up the side of the hill. "We've... a clear invitation... we join this unknown..." mimics Bell who then sets out toward the hill with his bow in hand.

Once he gets close enough to make out features and decides this is not a goblin trap, Bell relaxes a bit and gives a wave to the tall person. He turns around to wave Aseir and Ruthenia forward making a talking motion with his hand.
 

ramonlimon2

Junior Member
Aseir, although glad to be back on solid ground, is still grumbling to himself about the moor and cursing the mud he walked on. He perks up at the unfamiliar voice calling to them, tapping Ruth and Bell on the shoulders and gesturing for them to wait.

Standing to his full height, Aseir waves his arm to the man in the distance, gesturing him to approach the group instead of vice versa.
 

Ellywyck27

Ironfist, Galanodel
Also glad to set foot on sturdy ground again, Ruthenia didn’t notice the signals from either Bell or Aseir. She stumps right past them both, advancing up the rocky hillside to stand in front of what is surely a friendly... elf.

She catches her breath for a moment, and tucks a straggle of dark red hair back from her eyes while considering her father’s advice: Elf height matches the arrogance of thyr own manners. Bettyr not trust one unless they show dwarf-respect and look you straight in the aye.
Ruth watches the face a foot above her to see if this elf will look at her while saying,
“Well met, stranger. We are looking for any who survive from Keep Nightstone, gone these three days. Surely you are not here for hunting sport or leisure tent camping. What know you, then, of those we seek?”
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Bell watches as Ruthenia and Aseir both ignore him completely. He gives a little shake of his head and walks after Ruthy. The kenku mimics after the dwarf, "...any who survive..."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The hill rises about sixty feet to where it's topped by a small but fairly dense expanse of trees that have a slight lean to them from years of exposure to the wind. Now that Bell and Ruth have climbed up to meet the olive-skinned elf at the edge of the tiny forest, Aseir stands alone at the base of the hill. The ever-changing winds buffet his ears, then relent as the hill provides cover from the other direction, then roar up again.

Torem strides up to where the elf is, then turns around to look out and survey the landscape, while Lecuis stays close by Aseir below. The strings of the lute slung across the bard's back buzz softly under the fingers of the errant breeze.
 

Tiktik

New Member
The elf grins. "Funnily enough, that's exactly what I need help with."
He then explains about how he has seen at least ten goblins and an ogre, how they seem to be based in the cave just beyond the hill where Lycan was hiding, and grimaces as he recounts his failed attempt to explore the little stream before he nearly got spotted. He grits his teeth. "I made a promise..."
 
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