"If no one else needs it, I wouldn't mind some healing", Gerdar said as he looked at his wounds, "And a good rest wouldn't hurt either, I don't exactly feel too divine right now. But after that I'd like to get back there and finish what we started... Oh, and I don't think I got any of your names while we were all busy back there. I am Gerdar the Third, of House Cordorehk."
Dok motioned for the Party to gather closer within a 30 foot circle so he could minister healing to those in need, including himself.
((OOC: Dok prays to his deity Helm and casts Prayer of Healing: a 2nd level spell that includes everyone within a 30-foot circle / I think he still has a 2nd level spell slot / if not, he lays hands on Gerdar or another Player who needs healing and casts Cure Wounds / Dok also introduces himself to the Newcomers))
The party quickly moved away from the burning bush and into the darkness. You moved swiftly while trying to remain silent, trusting to the Goliath's spell to cover your tracks. In general you headed away from the river as it seemed the safest best to avoid acciedntally encountering those you had left behing.
After fifteen minutes you halted breifly to allow for some quick introductions - both the dwarf Gerdar and the Goliath Uthal were unknown to any of the others in your band. The halt also gave Dok a chance to repay his rescuers with a Prayer of healing which restored health to everyone in the party. (+10 HP to all) Uthal also cast a healing spell on Gerdar who had asked for it. (+8 hp, so +18 total with both spells for Gerdar.) With everyone a bit less injured the group pressed onward into the darkness eager to put more space between themselves and any potential pursuit. They couldn't hear anything coming, but it remained a nervous march.
The woods were very dark and those without dark vision had to rely on their companions to keep moving quickly. But move you did until 45 minutes later when the Pass Without a Trace spell wore off. You now lacked magical cover and would be much more easily spotted by things that go bump in the night, wether that was one of the goblins you fled or some new enemy lurking in the dark. There did not seem to be a good resting spot nearby, but all agreed that one would be needed soon. The party kept moving, but at a slower pace that would both allow more stealth and perhaps a chance to spot a cave or other defensible spot.
About 20 minutes later you came across an area with a bunch of small hills and jumbled together rocks. Everything was still covered the trees, of course, but here there were high places and, you hoped, the possibility of a cave or sheltered hidey-hole. After searching in the dark for 15 minutes you failed to turn up a true cave, but you did find a nice spot in a jumble of boulders that offered protection and concealment. It wasn't a cave, but it seemed likely to be the best you would find.
With shelter having been procured you settled down to get a rest. More than one party member sighed as the were finally able to rest their sore and injured bones on the ground. The elves took turns standing guard as the others rested. Several times throughout the night you heard the howl of wolves in the distance and once, while Thaoran was on guard, there was a loud crashing as something large and unconcerned about silence moved rapidly through the woods near the base of the rocks in which you hid. But nothing bothered you and you were able to get a good rest.
In the morning the sun rose on a clear blue sky. From your perch atop the rocks you could even see some of the sky, although it was obvious that conditions under the trees would be fairly dark again once you began to move. But where to move to? You had survived a much larger battle than you had bargained for and escaped the creatures of the Vargolg. But the mission was not accomplished and the Malkin twins remained missing. It was time to figure out a plan for the new day.
***First, you can level up to level 4!
You are about 90 minutes march, maybe a bit less, west of the Hreusen River and the ford. (No clear direction was indicated and there was some talk in the Q&A thread of sticking near the river, but as that seemed riskier and escape was the goal I had you keep going the way you were going. The more specific you are, the more closely I can follow your directions.)
A long rest gets everyone back to max hitpoints and all of their used spell slots back.
Hornet felt refreshed after his rest. As the others woke and gathered it was time to plan their next move. "Well that didn't go exactly as we imagined it. Perhaps a more stealthy approach would bring better results. The question is do we wait a bit for things to quiet down and risk the boys lives or do we go back now and hope the goblins believe they chased us off and we would not be foolish enough to come back? I think if we have any chance to save the boys we need to act now. We head back from the oposite direction as last time and this time we try sneaking in. With luck we will only encounter single or small groups of goblins and can dispatch them before they raise an alarm. We also have new companions and are a stronger group. What say the rest of you?
Dok was just returning from his seemingly long-overdue time of morning prayer and fellowship with his diety Helm.
The Hill Dwarf Cleric of Helm was not only refreshed, but he could sense a greater inner-strength of his abilities, possibly affected or somehow enhanced by his near-death experience!
He arrived just in time to lend his agreement to what Hornet was proposing: "Yes, we need to act now! We must locate the boys, before wasting any more time!"
Dok looked around at the group, who all had survived their baptism of fire as-it-were during their first sojourn to the mysterious and dangerous Blacktooth Ridge!
"I would like another shot at invading the Vargolg, plus we have more fire-power added to our party," as Dok nodded to the newcomers in an affirmation of acceptance for them to join in their quest to rescue the two missing boys.
"But," cautioned the Cleric, "if possible, I would like to confer with Boris, if he is still in the area. He may know of an alternate route into the Goblin domain, plus he may have valuable information regarding any increased Goblin activity during the time that has lapsed since we escaped and had a much-needed rest period the past several hours!"
Then the Hill Dwarf Cleric of Helm boldly declared, "I am not afraid to penetrate the Vargolg again with a better plan!"
Stretching his joints and neck, Gerdar laughed as his soul was filled with an even stronger conviction to terminate the evil in these lands his clan once held a position in.
"That's such an elven plan! A dwarf needs but take a better grip of his axe", he grinned, fiddling with his sizeable armanent, "I didn't come here to sneak around like some rat, I came to clear the way for my clan's, the great Cordorehk Clan's return to the area."
Uthal takes the downtime to introduce himself to his new found companions. Introducing himself only as "Night Walker".
As one that dissaproaves of injustice, especially the injustice of children, he accetps Dok's offer to join their quest. Besides, in the state in which he met these folk, they might need all the help they can muster.
"Elven or Dwarven plan, it will need to be a wise plan. What do I need to know?" he asks.
Horent spends a bit of time explaining what happened at the cave to the newcomers. Then it was time for a new plan. "Unless anyone has an objection, I propose we travel back to the river and see if we can contact Boris. If for nothing else to thank him for his help; assuming it was him helping us. It is hard to tell with fey. Then we cross the river and follow the bank back toward the goblin lair. This time we will be coming from another direction. We tried a frontal attack during the day and although we thinned their numbers we nearly died. Perhaps we try sneaking in under cover of darkness."
Thäoran felt somehow stronger after his rest, not just because his wounds had recovered, but something...more. Whatever it was, he welcomed it. He would need all the strength he could muster for this trying journey.
The elf's fine brow furrowed in response to Gerdar's foolish insistence that sneaking was unnecessary. The party had just barely survived being slain and now the dwarf wanted a repeat of that terrible encounter? Thäoran shook his head slightly in disapproval, but kept his mouth closed not wishing to anger his companion. Instead he adressed the party as a whole:
'I propose that we take up arms once again against the fiends that lurk in the Vargolg,' he began. 'But only if the situation requires it, for it will not be in our best interests to brave a frontal assult like last time. I'm in agreement with Hornet. We must attempt to infiltrate the enemy stronghold again, but this time stealth is of the essence, We need to try to locate a second entrance that our enemies would not expect us to enter through. I also agree with Dok. Meeting with our friend Borris could prove helpful as he may be able to assist us in our search for a second entrance. And, of course, we should express our thanks and gratitude for his help in the previous confrontation.'
Soledad basked in the morning light as she stroked Z'zzip's shimmering scaley head. Magically cleaning herself and the entire party to banish the offensive man-smells and the unforgiveable presence of dirt had left both witch and serpentine familiar in a very good mood. Traveling through the woods and murdering goblins was no excuse for an odorous and unkempt presence. Beauty was all that mattered.
Talk quickly turned to the matter of the Varlog and Soledad was very much of a mind to return with gifts of pain and madness.
"I agree, a stealthy return to the Varlog is in order. Hornet's suggestion to follow the river to the our enemies stronghold is a wise one. Perhaps we will find Boris or perhas we will not. That is the way of things."
((OOC: Refering to a cast of Prestidigitation. Soledad will position herself toward the middle of the marching order.))
Posted on 2022-01-26 at 08:57:23.
Edited on 2022-01-28 at 19:16:18 by Nimu
Dok approached Gedar with a knowing grin and extended his right-arm in friendship, saying, "There be plenty of time for axe-gripping! We need to approach with stealth and silence as the Night Walker has offered to cloak us with a Veil of Shadow and Silence during a new attack plan!"
Then turning to the others, the Hilll Dwarf Cleric of Helm exclaimed, "Let us retrace our steps back to the river and see if Boris will meet us there? If not, then let us cross over and under the cover of darkness and the Night Walker casting a Veil of Shadow and Silence, we can enter the Vargolg and make those Vermin pay!"
Dok made a nod to Soledad as he suggested to her, "Lead us to the river!"
The Hill Dwarf Cleric of Helm chose to take his usual position at the back of the line, ever wary of any sneak attacks from the rear by any evil or vile creature, whether natural or supernatural in nature!
Dok scratched at his beard as he reconsidered his suggestion regarding heading to the river.
"On second thought," the Hill Dwarf Cleric of Helm broke the momentary silence before any of his companions could respond to his previous suggestion, "might I suggest that Hornet take the lead ahead of Soledad and that Soledad be followed by Thor, Night Walker, Gerdar, Silver and then myself ... as I can help protect us from an attack against our rear flanks?
"Might I suggest, also ... that Hornet ... by taking the lead ... backtrack us to the ford in the river ... so that he can scout ahead to make sure that crossing the ford is safe. Also, he has the best rapport for contacting Boris and perhaps the Fey is somewhere near the ford of the river where we crossed.
"My thinking is that Hornet and Thor, marching first and third, will be able to utilize their bows if necessary, along with whatever tricks Soledad might have up her sleeves, if an airial attack is needed with a volley of arrows ... accompanied by her magic!
"If the coast is clear ... then we can cross the ford of the river and utilize the cloaking ability of Night Walker to help provide a sneak attack against our Goblin foes ... and any other Vermin ... that are still holed up in the Vargolg!
"I do not think that they would expect us to try penetrating the Vargolg so soon ... after they lost us in the fog!
"Any of you have better thoughts ... or a better plan?"
Hornet nodded and took the lead. "We will move towards the ford. As we get close I will call out quietly for Boris as I have done before. At that point we will wait about 10 minutes to see if he appears and check to make sure the crossing is safe. If he does we will talk to him, If not we will cross if it is safe."
Posted on 2022-01-27 at 08:10:45.
Edited on 2022-01-28 at 04:53:45 by Keeper of Dragons
"Tch, fine then. Lets be rats", the paladin sighed, "But when we stop being rats I would prefer to be in the front, because at that moment I'm going to go in axe first and many of you honestly look a lot, well, squishier than me."