As Loradove bounced in and out the front door and others in the group asked about the timing of a visit to Mrs. Molkin a young woman approached the group while untying an apron.She seemed to have heard your various questions and provided the answer.“I don’t think she would mind a visit.Any visit would do the poor woman good, but someone who might search for her sons would be welcome even when the moon is high.”She put her apron over the back of a chair at Ortolf’s table.“I’m Elaida and I was told you would like to be brought to her place.I’d be happy to do so.”
With that she turned and headed towards the door apparently assuming you would follow.Lora bounced up and down a few times and the rest of the group quickly followed.As you walk out you could hear the deputy and Ortolf continue to discuss the quality of sludge as well as various villagers discussing pumpkins and faeries.
Elaida quickly led you south a bit, away from the village.The town wasn’t very large so within what would have qualified as ‘blocks’ in a town that had such things you found yourself approaching a small cottage.It seemed decently maintained and not much different from 10 others you had already passed.Although it was nighttime now there was enough of a moon that you could easily see the outline of a modest sized barn behind the house and some fencing around the back yard.The young waitress stopped before reaching the door to point out where the fields lay, “You can see the barn in back, behind that a path leads out towards the Southern pastures.It isn’t much.A cow path is all.It is out that way that the Twins disappeared.Not far, but out of sight of town.”She looked at the house and added, “There is a light on, so she seems to be at home.Lets see if she wants company after all.”She smiled at you as she approached the door.
A quick knock on the door brought a middle-aged woman to the door.“Oh, Elaida, what brings you here?”The introductions were brief.It seemed this woman was not Mrs. Molkin, but rather her friend Lianne Furstag who was visiting to keep her spirits up.You were quickly ushered inside where you saw the mother sitting at the table with a couple of glasses and a tea pot on the table.Elaida quickly offered an introduction of your group, she didn’t give names as she apparently didn’t know them, but she did say you were interested in finding her sons.The woman was clearly exhausted but the offer of aid brought her to her feet.She seemed startled by your appearance (a variety of non-local races) but quickly thanked all of you for the offer.
You were all offered tea and seats as much as her house could accommodate it.(Which mean the tortle and dragonborn found nothing appropriate.)Her story contained little new information.Her sons had gone out in the evening to bring in the cattle just as they had done hundreds of times before.But this time they didn’t return.They were good lads and they always came home.Even from the tavern there was rarely any concern about there whereabouts.But this time they were just gone.And the cows in the field – they would never have left them unattended.The family needed those cows.At this point she broke down a bit adding that “what she needed were her sons not the cows!”
(There isn’t much new information here.You are welcome to ask specific questions if you want.While she doesn’t seem to know much your presence seems to offer her hope.She offers to seel some of the cows to find money to pay you if you can find her sons.I’m including a brief description of the field below under the assumption that in the morning you would check it out.)
In the morning the group went to the barn at the Molkin house and were personally introduced to the 6 cows that were the last to see the now-missing Twins.They had little to say about the situation as they were brought out to the pasture by a neighbor boy (Aston Browning) who was helping out.You followed them down the path to the site of the mystery.It was only a few hundred yards to a large field that was fenced in with the standard simple wooden fencing you have seen throughout the village.After two weeks there was little to see as the cows had trampled the field.As you looked around Erhardt arrived on the scene and described what he had seen earlier.“Not much really.No blood.No sign of violence at all.Nothing but cows and a noticeable absence of twins.”He led you over to the fence on the South edge of the field.“On the other side of this fence there was some ground where the plants were trod down a bit.If you look you can see that the plants are still a bit down.We have only had a light rain since then so you might see a couple of small prints in there.”
In fact, when you climb the fence and look a bit the footprints are barely discernable after two weeks, but you can tell that a couple of prints had been there.If you had to guess, the maker of those prints would have stood a little under 5’ tall.Small, but not tiny. Erhardt continued as you examined the ground, “I’ve done a bit of tracking and I was able to follow the path about 100’ or so into the woods.But then the ground gets rocky and there is little ground vegetation on their path to take marks.The path just ended.They did seem to be taking pains to leave no trail.And they were good at it.”He shrugged as he stood up from where he had been squatting to look at the tracks again.“Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you.I’d bet goblins and they are out there somewhere.But where?Just heading to the Ridge and looking around doesn’t seem very focused, but it may be all you can do.We haven’t had the man-power to mount any exploration of the woods to find them.I don’t know what hope there is for the Twins at this point, but even information on where to find the goblins would be valuable.Cleaning them out even more so.”
(What do you want to do now?You are welcome to ask more questions – of Mrs. Molkin, in Ortolf’s House of Sludge or anywhere else in town you want to.There may be some information to be found, but you will not find a solution that tells you exactly where to go.At some point you will need to start investigating the ridge.I wouldn’t normally be so straightforward and would let you wander around town and roll-play, but that could take months in a post-format.If/when you do decide to head out of town I will need to know marching order and if there is anything you want to get before you go.)
Loradove listened to the grieving mother's tale with interest, hoping to find some detail which might hint at the next logical step. It seemed that investigating the pastures was the only option which made sense and the gnome was eager to do so. Before leaving, so placed a small hand on Mrs. Molkin's shoulder and said in an uncharacteristically somber tone, "I can't promise we will be able to find and return your boys, but I can assure you that I will do everything in my power to bring them home."
"Come on boys, there's no time to lose!"
And with that she bounded out the door, following young Aston Browning towards the pastures. As a natural explorer who is most at home in the forest, Loradove felt confident that she and her unconventional party would have the skills to discover any details which may have been overlooked by the villagers who were unlikely to be as skilled at tracking as herself or her companions. As the group investigated the area for signs that might lead them somewhere, Loradove watched and listened for any small creatures nearby who may have seen or heard something that could give them a clue. After all, most humans and goblins seemed not to take notice of the birds and other small animals of the forest, and certainly wouldn't take pains to lower their voices or disguise their movements from squirrels and so on. If any curious forest creatures came around, Loradove would gladly cast Speak with Small Animals to learn if they have seen or heard anything that may help the party in their search.
Loradove is impatient to make some progress and wishes to head to the ridge as soon as possible to investigate the area and determine what to do next. As she expected to leave as soon as possible, she will have her gear with her already. As soon as the rest of the party is ready to proceed, she will head to the ridge with them.
Ghiberti Loads Up and With Quarterstaff in Hand...
Appreciative to hear the words of people and not overhyped blowhards running the city, he listened to the woman's words and offered a sympathetic nod in recognition. He does his best to not impose on the poor woman and leaves as soon as he can, avoiding prying eyes and trying his best to look unimposing.
After everyone is ready, Ghiberti loads up, and with quarterstaff in hand he walks to the footprints. He takes no particular note of them, other then to see if they are the markings of feet (therefore goblins) or shoes (morelikely the twins) and to judge if the steps are walking steps or running, and begins to walk toward the ridge. He does not wait for the others as Loradove does, but walks with slow and deliberate step towards the ridge. He does his best to appear patient, but the few hours in the village was enough for him. He is glad to be back in nature and keeps his eyes wide and ears open for any strange noises.
Galydan nods quietly listening to the sobering tale. He is the last to get up and before leaving stops by Mrs. Molkin. "Our little group (which is now just the three of us correct?) will try and find your lost sons. How old are each of them and what are their names?" He asked.
He followed the others as they looked around the pasture. He hadn't spoken of it much but all the time spent indoors studying and practicing had left him eager to be outdoors and he loved nature very much. After looking around he noticed Ghiberti beginning to head off into the forest. "Is there any last information you have before we depart?" He asked turning to Erhardt. He didn't want to take too long since Ghiberti was leaving already but he wanted to make sure there wasn't anything else they should be concerned with.
As the group looked around the pasture, Loradove moved along the edge looking for small animals. It only took a few minutes before she spotted a couple of squirrels chasing each other along the fence line. Moving closer she cast Speak with Animals on the bigger one. The animal stopped running when the spell hit and looked at her, tilting its head curiously. Loradove spoke quietly, unusual for her, and tried to find out if the animals had seen anything of interest lately.
Their answers were difficult to decipher. She wanted to ask about the disappearance of the twins, but they didn’t seem to understand the question. It was a shame the Molkin twins had not been hiding nuts when they disappeared as it appeared that squirrel memories didn’t seem to reach that far back unless nuts were involved. More recently there were images of cows and people looking around, but not much else. The one thing that did catch her attention was a very vague recollection of a small and unpleasant creature creeping around the edge of the field very recently – probably last night. The impression made her want to guess goblin, but she could not be sure.
(The above was based what was implied in the post about what you would ask the creature. If you wish to inquire anything more specific please do so. Also, the actual disappearance of the twins is much too long ago for a clear memory – the spell suggests a 24 hour limit.)
Galydon thought about the missing twins, Anthony and Allan. He didn’t know much beyond their names and approximate ages – 23. Looking around the field didn’t add much. Soon Ghiberti was moving off into the woods and Galydon was forced to ask one last question of the sheriffs assistant before following. Was there anything else Erhardt could tell them? “Not really. You now know about as much as I do about this. Whoever took them is likely out there somewhere, although if those boys are still alive it will be a miracle. But those responsible are probably over there somewhere,” he nodded his head indicating the dark ridge that rose to the East. “That’s a guess anyway. I guess they could be in the woods as well. Goblins, probably, from those tracks.” He sighed as Ghiberti moved off. “If I can help in any way, let me know. But for now it is probably a blind search and there is a lot of ride out there.” Not hearing much new Galydon moved off quickly to follow the Tortle.
Ghiberti didn’t wait around for much. He moved off into the woods to begin the search. It was still early and they could cover a lot of ground before night. He didn’t race, but moved along deliberately. Those who had left earlier had not appeared to be in a huge rush. They didn’t appear to be running. He thought he saw goblin boots in the tracks, but after a week even that was hard. The deputy thought he had. Tracks of the twins? There was no way of knowing. But someone had gone this way.
Ghiberti’s movement quickly took him to the end of anything resembling a trail to follow. He stood staring around at the trees for a moment and then continued in the direction of the ridge – the direction the trail had seemed to be heading. It wasn’t long before he popped out of the woods and onto a wide path – what had once been a road. He had come to the river and it completely blocked his path. The road was much like what they had followed through the Barren Woods on their way into town. It was wide enough to easily carry a cart and was hard packed but had some plants growing up through it. There were only a few feet separating the road from the river beyond it. And across the river the ridge quickly rose up. A person could travel on the other side of the river, assuming they could get across, but it would be a difficult passage thick with vegetation and rugged terrain that varied dramatically.
Ghiberti looked to the left – just around a bend he would quickly find himself back in Botkinburg. Looking to the right – the path continued to parallel the river, disappearing around a bend as the river meandered as river do. He thought he remembered hearing that there were a couple of bridges that way, although at least a day’s walk away. Ahead lay the river and behind the woods. It was time to make a decision.
(A map was emailed to you to give a sense of the region. I will also need to know a marching order and any other information you wish me to know about how you are travelling.)
After speaking with the squirrels, Loradove jogged ahead to rejoin Ghilberti and Galydon as they followed the trail through the woods in search of the boys. When she caught up with her companions she filled them in on her conversation. “From what my little friend described, it seems like there might have been goblins sniffing around the field recently so we will of course want to be prepared for unpleasant visitors! Of course I’m sure you were already prepared, but at least now we can almost definitely be pretty sure there are goblins nearby! Possibly."
When they reached the road, she looked around to see the options, then spoke again “I don’t think there’s any point in returning to the town, do you? I don’t know about you guys but I came here to help, and I think the best thing we can do is go to the ridge to see if we can find anything! Sherriff Erhardt seemed to think that’s the best place to start, anyway! It’s a bit far away though so we might want to think about finding a place to rest and eat on the way! We should probably take turns being on watch if we do. What do you guys think? I mean, we have to do SOMETHING, right?! We can't just keep wandering around the village."
Posted on 2019-02-14 at 15:21:21.
Edited on 2019-02-18 at 16:24:12 by karifur
Ghilberti will suggest the gnome take the lead while he sits back protecting Glayden. Unless they prefer he scouts ahead by swimming ahead of the group in the river. Either way is fine with him.
Ghilberti listened closely to the gnome, and then said, "For a little one, you have wise words. A quick break here will be good, and the water looks somewhat refreshing. And then forward, on the path. I heard there may be a bridge ahead, but it is likely to be a day's march. Go ahead and eat a nibble. I'll stand watch after I fill my bottle."
Ghilberti takes off his belt and lays his pack down, puts down his staff, and walks to the shore of the river, looking for a good spot to drop in. When he finds it, he wades out four or five feet to where he can emerse himself, and then sits down in the river, head just above the water level, watching and listening, and then takes a great, big drink. He fills his water bottle, and returns to the group to watch while they eat.
As they others eat, Ghilberti looks for large, sturdy trees on both sides of the shore. He also looks for a path on the other side.
After the rest of the party has eaten, he says, "We can continue on this path, or we could cross. We hardly need to waste time with a bridge. If we found a calm spot in the river, I can swim to the other side with a rope in tow and tie the rope to a tree there on the other side. If we tied the rope over here to a tree, the line could help you cross. What's your thoughts?"
Posted on 2019-02-18 at 22:37:06.
Edited on 2019-02-18 at 22:47:58 by wordcandy70
Galydan nodded "we could cross but would we miss tracks or some clue if the goblins crossed at the bridge? What I mean is, is it more likely that the goblins headed along the river? We could maybe find a clue there?" he asked wondering what the others thought would be the best route to take.
Galydan had a quick bite to eat then walked off to the edge of the river taking a drink of the cool water. He sat looking across the river and snapped his fingers. As he did a falcon appeared perched on his shoulder. He whispered to the falcon and it flew up above the trees to make a quick loop and look for any goblins or any signs or tracks of goblins. Galydan closed his eyes focusing in as he watched through the eyes of the falcon. After the falcon returned and perched back on his shoulder he walked over to the group preparing for the questions he guessed might come.
After leaving the pasture behind the group moved off into the wood to begin their quest for the missing Molkin twins.The first phase of the quest passed quickly when they found themselves confronted by the Hreusen River.(About the size of the Red in Fargo) There was some debate as to which way to go, with the only certainty being that going back to the village would not accomplish much.They must either cross the river and begin their assault on the ridge itself or follow the path down stream towards the bridge rumor suggested lay about a day’s march in that direction.
In an attempt to get more information Galydan summoned his familiar and sent it into the air to scout around.There wasn’t much to see – just a lot of trees, a ridge, a river and a path.The bird could provide little to guide them.Deciding that the goblins were more likely to have followed the path and use the bridge the group headed off along the river with the small ranger in the lead.Loradove put all of her tracking skills to use, but there was little to learn from the road.At one time many years in the past the road had been paved with the result that today the many paving stones were uneven and surrounded by bits of grass that poked up amongst the stones.But there were still enough of the stones that there was little on the road that could take a print.The path clearly had seen use – but not just once.Numerous feet had travelled this way.It was hardly a highway, but clearly humanoids – likely human hunters and woodsmen and who-knew what else, horses and even wild animals had passed this way in the preceding months and years. It was impossible to tell what was most recent.
She also kept her eye on the edges of the road looking for evidence of. . . anything, really.But what she found was . . . nothing, really.On the right-hand side that bordered the woods there were occasionally animal paths that went into the woods, but never any clear tracks.On the left the river flowed – sometimes as close as a few feet from the road and at other times as far as 50 feet.Here also a few animal paths went down to the river, but the only tracks were for animals that seemed natural.
Towards evening the group saw a wolf in the woods that seemed to trail them for a little while, but eventually gave up.That was the only living thing they saw on their trek besides plants and birds.Near sundown they found the bridge.The bridge is a large, utilitarian stone arch over the river. It is wide enough to hold two carts abreast and the stones is worn smooth and shows wheel grooves worn into it down the middle. Low stone rails are along each side. Statues once adorned the four corners, but only one remains and it is in very poor condition.It is a large predatory bird sitting atop a helmet with beak and eyes stretched towards the heavens.
On the other side of the bridge the road connects to a timeworn paved path leading up towards what the locals had called Fromkin’s Pass.The path seems to have been made for cart traffic and moves up the ridge in a series of switchbacks.At each turn in the path there is a small stone hut.(At least it looks like there is one at each turn, a few of the turns are not visible behind brush, trees and piles of stone.)At the top of the ridge you can see a large crumbling tower overlooking the pass.
It took you most of the day to reach the bridge.It is now about 30 minutes before sundown.The ridge is not small and the path has numerous switchbacks – you would guess it would take you 3-4 hours to reach the top of the pass.If your understanding of local geography is correct, the path will then descend down the other side of the ridge, although not as far down as the river on this side.Over the ridge should lay a great plains, home to numerous nomadic tribes, considered “uncivilized” by the locals.
When they had reached the other side of the bridge, Loradove looked around and sighed.
"Well, what now? It is probably too late to make the climb up and over the ridge as it will probably be dark by the time we get there and there will probably not be much of anywhere to take cover for the night! We certainly wouldn't want to be caught out in the open if goblins were to find us! Should we try to find a safe place to rest for the night? Or... even kind of safe-ish? What about that stone hut over there? Should we go and see if it's open or if there is someone there who might be able to help direct us? I feel like stopping to rest would do us good and then we can get going again in the morning! But if you want to keeping going, I guess that's fine with me too! The dark doesn't bother me at all but I don't know how well you two can see in the dark! What do you think??"
Galydan nodded. "Yes I think resting for the night would be good. I can see alright in the dark but I think you are right, that stone hut might make a nice place to rest and who knows maybe someone lives there," he said while thinking that it was unlikely anyone would stay and live there.
The group moves across the bridge and starts up the path on the other side. The path on the far side is much the same as on this side – a semi paved path that has seen a lot of traffic over the years, but little of it recently. About 150 feet from the end of the bridge the path hits the first switchback, taking a sharp curve to the left and starting up at a moderate angle and headed towards another switchback 200 feet or so further on. In front of the group is a little hut – it is made of stone and is not very large, about 15’ on a side. The only entrance is a doorway on the front, an opening that doesn’t appear to have ever had an actual door. There is no sign of habitation around the hut or even an indication of recent movement. A look inside confirms this belief. The building is empty with only leaves and dust piling up in the corners. But while the building is empty of anything but dirt it looks solid and should provide shelter. The group takes shelter and settles in for a long rest. Each takes a share at guard duty as the moon rises and the stars come out on a clear night. Things are quiet for the first part of the night. But around midnight while Galydan is on guard he hears noise outside. A group of something is coming down the path and headed towards the bridge. They didn’t seem to be making any attempt to be quiet which made hearing them easy. Yet they were not loud enough for him to hear exactly who or what they were. As he hears them Galydan believes they are on the next path up the ridge.
(If the newcomers are one path up and coming down as Galydan believes that means that they have 200’ to go before they reach the next switchback. At that point they will be another 200’ from the hut you are in but will have a clear view of the entrance. The moon is bright and the night fairly well lit. You likely have less than a minute before they round that corner. The land around the hut and the path back to the bridge is covered with rubble and brush. More dense trees and brush are about 50’ away. You are a bit above the level of the river, but not much as the land levels out quickly.)
Ghilberti walks out of the hut to the other side of the road and walks to a spot he can still see the road but might be tougher to see (roll 12 for stealth... . Using his Tortle abilities hides in his shell palcing his staff nearby, holds his action, prepares to cast Entangle if he sees goblins. If they are not, well... who knows????
Posted on 2019-03-10 at 12:43:33.
Edited on 2019-03-30 at 15:29:05 by wordcandy70
After being awakened by Galydan, Loradove immediately springs to her feet quietly hurries around behind the hut. She is impressed to witness her Tortle companion's transformation and makes a mental note to compliment Ghilberti on this later; she has never seen someone so large transform into something so small.
Loradove crouches low behind the hut to remain out of sight, listening carefully to the approaching voices to determine whether they might be friends or enemies. Hoping for the former but preparing for the latter, she readies her bow and arrow and holds her action, preparing to shoot if the newcomers are hostile. Based on her recent conversation with the squirrel, she suspects these may be goblins on their way to the village.
While waiting for the oncoming party to arrive, Loradove feels a bit of exhilaration over the potential conflict that may or may not be coming. Not to say that she looking forward to a fight, but if this party is on their way to wreak havoc on the village, she will relish in thwarting their plans. No one will bring harm to those villagers as long as she is able to do something about it.
Galydan quickly joins Loradove behind the hut crouching low waiting to see if it is goblins coming down the path. He feels a slight rush wondering if they will engage a hostile force tonight and wether his training has prepared him enough for this moment. He prepares to cast the firebolt cantrip waiting until Loradove or Ghilberti strike first.