Eovin and Alan both paused at moments as the three heroes, and cousin Zenythin, crept up the stairs to the ground floor.
The little pixie tugged at Selythin's collar, making the elven knight duck as a sinister shadow passed. Alan peeked around the corner, raising finger to lips.
Eventually, the small group managed to pass without detection.
Ahead of the stairs, there were...more stairs. These led further up into the castle. (These go UP to the second floor. I'll need another stealth check with two out of three successes if you wish to continue UP.)
To the left, there was a dark corridor. There was a large double door at the end, as well as two "secret doors" on either side that were incredibly easy to spot. All three doors were locked, but could be picked or broken.
The group could hear a quiet argument happening on the opposite side of the large doors. "More hobgoblins, no doubt..." Whispered Zenythin.
To the right of the stairwell, the other way, the heroes could see the bottoms of enormous trees and other foliage that grew up through the floor into the upper reaches of the castle. This is where Eovin had spotted Chaos beasts in the branches.
"Well, I'd rather we not have to deal with reinforcements should we make our way up to the 3rd floor, so I think we'll have the eliminate them before we proceed. I vote the hobgoblins; they will be far more likely to summon reinforcements first."
Eovin started to flit silently toward the stairs up to the next level above. Selythin clattered in his armor and got a hissing "shhhh!" from the pixie and tailor-turned-would-be-royalty.
Cousin Zenythin put his hand on Selythin's armored shoulder. "Perhaps the changeling princess is right, cousin. What if we're set upon from below just as we join in battle with the wizard Fib'Karna? I'd be more comfortable knowing if we've got enemies on our tail."
The slender elf stayed pinned against the wall, gently guiding Selythin back into hiding.
Eovin knew there were no hobgoblins in the trees, which meant the party only needed to check the handful of rooms near the castle's front entrance.
There were three doors in that corridor. Two of them, one north and one south, were partially exposed, former "secret doors" that had long been discovered and marked, probably by the hobgoblins or the wizard above. The last was a double door leading to the foyer.
All the doors were locked. Someone could pick the lock or bash any or all three down, although it'd make some noise.
Speaking of noise. All three heroes could hear muffled speech, maybe an argument, coming from behind the double doors leaving to the castle entrance.
(Let me know which door you go for and give me a dexterity check for picking lock or strength check for breaking it down. If you're confused, the area I'm describing is on the map I posted a while back.)
There was lots of debris and broken furniture of various sizes and shapes strewn about the corridor around them. It was apparent to the whole lot of them the door could, in fact, be jammed. (It'll take an INT roll to precisely wedge something in the way or a STR roll to stack up a bunch of stuff to block the double door.)
Before Eovin, Alan, or Selythin began to act, though, the muffled noises on the opposite side of the door got louder.
It was an argument. More hobgoblins, to be sure. It didn't seem like they had noticed the party on the other side of the door. Instead, they argued amongst themselves, oblivious to listening ears.
"Pipe down and stop questioning orders! Orders is orders! Shut your trap or I'll shut it for you!" Croaked the first.
"You're not listenin'! I said how's it CHAOS if we're always following orders? Ain't that the opposite o' chaos and all?" Reasoned the second.
"See's and I said they didn't expect us to spit-shine and march... They never mentioned that in the pamphlet! That's not what I signed up for..." Grumbled the third.