Shedrick replied, "There wasn't much besides feed for the horses and meals for Broun, but it's all gone, including tools, quarrels, and... er... the bottle of rum Broun and I were sharing. It was hidden under the driver's seat."
Ruznami’s feet were hurting already. Is this what it was like, out in the world? He sighed as they reached a rest stop. He’d packed too much stuff, he decided. Sinking down on a convenient rock, he dug a book out of his pack and produced his reading spectacles.
But then Hawthorne gave a shout and cry and grabbed up a crossbow. Ruz jumped, startled, and then started to look around for danger, but saw nothing, until he spotted what had upset the man, a carriage and horse overturned off the road, and Hawthorne yelling about for someone.
After getting briefed on the problem, Ruz tucked his book away. “Archimedes, fly up and keep an eye out,” he told the sleepy burrowing owl tucked into the little sling on his pack. The owl flew up into the sky as Runami went over to examine the carriage and the area around it.
Investigation for Ruznami and Perception for Archimedes
Archemedes' aerial view helped Ruznami to piece together a picture of what had happened here. The light rain had not totally obscured the wagon-tracks and boot-marks. The coach had been stopped by a group of individuals who stood on the road. Presumably some words were exchanged and Broun, the driver, had tried to run his horses through the mob. One of the horses had been stabbed, and stumbled a hundred yards later, causing the coach to lurch to the side and to overturn in the ditch.
Kaliban found that the dead horse was missing a leg. While the rest of the body had been picked over by local carrion feeders on the following day, the leg most likely had been taken immediately after it had died.
Ethian found another dead animal. A hyena that showed signs of having been trampled by a horse - most likely during the desperate charge. The hyena had succumbed to its wounds some forty yards on the other side of the road, where an animal trail led off into some light brush. A broken branch suggested that taller, possibly humanoid creatures had gone that way in about the right time-frame.
The hyena wore a spiked collar, and an ugly piercing on its snout. Ethian concluded with confidence and dread: Gnolls.
“Companions, I’m afraid we are dealing with gnolls” he says, pointing at the spiked collar.
Looking at Ruz first and then the Owl he adds “Do you think you could take another look Archimedes? Perhaps there is a trail. Let me help you with a blessing from Sehanine”. He then mumbles in elven: Blessed Sehanine, please show Archimedes where the wretched gnolls went
He caressed the owl as he imparts the divine magic.
cast guidance on Archimedes! I promise not to spam guidance too much, but we’re hunting for a path forward, and it seems appropriate
Having regained his footing at the edge of the ditch, Hawthorne nods at Shedrick's comment regarding what was not left at the wagon. Upon hearing the last comment regarding the rum, he closes his eyes and gently shakes his head, "Really, Shedrick? I'm thinking that perhaps we might need to have a sit-down regarding your consumerative proclivities."
He turns away from the footman and makes his way over towards the dwarf and high elf as they speak on the creatures and trail they found. As the owl lifts off from Ruznami's arm to fly back over the underbrush in search of the trail, Hawthorne speaks to them both "Gnolls, eh? That... that isn't good. I was kind of hoping we wouldn't have any issues before just dealing with the disappearing mine... but no such luck eh?"
He de-cocks his crossbow and slides it back into its holster, then looks at everyone in the group. "I presumed you were all comfortable with the risks when you agreed on this excursion... but if we are running into a new issue for you, please speak now. Otherwise, we should probably hit that trail by the hyena." He nods once and then begins walking in the direction of the dead animal and the path that goes beyond it.
The group followed the familiar over rough, uneven, and somewhat overgrown terrain until they came to the base of a hill, on top of which was a rocky tor, three tents, and the unmistakable smoke of a cookfire.
Laying low a few hundred yards away, they were able to make out some movement in the camp. The laughing yips of a hyena sounded from somewhere among the tents. Stakes were set about the place, making a very crude fence.
Archimedes flew a circle around the camp, and Ruznami was able to confirm that there were five gnolls and a hyena in the camp. A half-orc prisoner (presumably Broun) had his hands bound to a stake on the north side. He was in rough shape, but alive. In addition, three horses were tied in the south-eastern part of the camp.
The rocks of the tor were situated well to cover the view of their approach, and the newly formed group was able to get quite close to the camp by working their way up the west side of the hill. The sun was lowering behind them to the west as the group began to ascend.
If half or more of the group can make a dc13 stealth check, the gnolls will be surprised - otherwise the hyena will start yipping (alerting the gnolls) as the group works their way to the positions shown on the map.
(General Features: Sun starting to set grants Bright Light; Rocks & Tents block line-of-sight; Trees, Shrubs, & Stakes cause Difficult Terrain.)
After a healthy trek, the group had decided to plan the attack on the other side of the hill next to the gnoll camp.
Ethian did his best to draw a map on the ground based on Ruz’ detailed description. Even though it was cursory in nature, it was clear that Ethian was skilled and knew what he was doing. The level of artistic ability was also somewhat disconcerting, honed by decades and decades of leisurely practice.
“we need to make sure there isn’t a caster, and if there is, we need to take it out quickly.” Looking at Hawthorne, he adds “Getting your friend Broun safe and sound should be our priority. A simple subterfuge, with most of us engaging the gnolls from the west, and a few coming from the North to get Broun could work. I think we should minimize the bloodshed until we know what their intentions are. What say you all?”
"After seeing what happened to the refugees from Elturel, I have no love for the bandits that plague this coast." Argenti pauses to perform a gesture that, while unfamiliar to most of her companions, could easily be recognized as a brief prayer. "Though I agree Broun's safety should be our primary concern. And I have just the spell to mask our approach, which should be helpful no matter what we end up doing."
Ruznami swallowed as Hawthorne said they should go after the gnolls. This wasn’t a simple exploration mission! The dwarven librarian looked around at the others. None of them seemed fazed by the facts. Ruz didn’t want to seem cowardly. He pulled his warhammer and gripped it tightly. He had practiced with the weapon, but never actually used it. There wasn’t much call for braining gnolls in Candlekeep. He took a deep breath to steady his nerves, but said nothing of his inexperience.
As the others made their plans, Ruznami sat to the side and laid out a small cloth and looked to be performing a ritual.
OOC: If there is time, Ruznami will ritually cast Detect Magic (to hopefully notice a spellcaster) and Comprehend Languages (to understand gnoll). Should take about 20 minutes. If he only has time for 1, which do you think he should do first, then?
Both Ethian and Argenti's comments made a lot of sense, and Hawthorne whispered to the group "If Argenti can mask our approach, I will circle north around the tent and get over to Broun if the rest of you want to cause the distraction to the south. Shedrick? Why don't you stay back here, all right?"
Satisfied, Ethian says "Good, so it seems we have a plan. Hawthorne you head north and go and rescue your friend. We will be the diversion, and attack from the west. For those of us attacking, I can create an area of twilight that will attract the gnoll's attention and will bolster us. Tell me, can you all see in the darkness of the night?"
Ethian knows that his dwarven and gnomish companions will be able to see in the twilight, but isn't sure about Argenti and Hawthorne
Looking at Ruz, he adds: "Before we go, can you ask Archimedes to go up high and make sure no gnoll reinforcements are in the area? I'd hate for us to engage in a fight, and have to fight off reinforcements."
Assuming that there are no additional apparent threats in the area, I say we're good to go after Ruz' rituals, and Argenti's spell.
After the discussion, Ethian will use eyes of the night on Hawthorne (1h darkvision), just in case.
Ethian will also use Vigilant Blessing to give Hawthorne advantage on his initiative.
And before we go, once Hawthorne is in position and if all agree, he will use Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary so everybody 30ft from Ethian gets 7 temporary HP per round
Ruznami sent his familiar high into the air, and the little owl reported that no other threats were nearby. Ethian's plan began with no major mishaps. Argenti's magic caused the very ground beneath their feet to stay silent as they walked, and the rocks to quietly shuffle into an undisturbed pattern as they passed. This, and the sight-cover of the large tents, gave Hawthorne and Kaliban the help they needed to approach the camp unseen.
From behind a tent, Kaliban caused the horses' tethers to come undone. For a moment, the horses stood as if they were still hitched, but then one of them suddenly sniffed and bolted, and the others followed. The gnolls yipped and growled in their strange tongue. With his language-ritual completed, Ruznami understood them to be discussing what had happened and the suggestion was made that two would go to catch the horses while the others would fan out and look for trouble. It would not be long before they were spotted.
Name * AC * HP * Hit Dice * PasPrc * Spells * (Notes)
(PCs) Hawthorne AC14 HP 31/31 HD 4/4 PP17 PInv17 PIns15 Kaliban AC18* HP 35/35 HD 4/4 PP10* SED 4/4 (d6's) Ethian AC19* HP 27/27 HD 4/4 PP16* PIns16 SS 4/4 3/3 CD 1/1 Argenti AC14 HP 31/31 HD 4/4 PP13 SS 2/2 Ruznami AC15 HP 26/26 HD 4/4 PP10* PInv15 SS 4/4 3/3
(NPCs) Shedrick AC14 HP 18/18 HD 3/3 PP11
GnollBoss(G1) AC14 HP 32/32 PP11 Gnolls AC15 HP@22 PP10
-G2 22/22; G3 22/22 Hyena AC11 HP 9/9 PP13*
As he gets in behind the large tent to the north, Hawthorne peaks out as the various gnolls behind spreading out, leaving only one close enough to possibly notice him sneaking in behind Broun. He checks the scene, sees what's ahead of him and thinks... "Let's give the folks a few seconds and hope they draw that one away. Don't want to get Broun caught in the middle if I try and untie him and it notices me."
[Hawthorne will hold his action. He will wait until the others attack to the south and Gnoll 5 moves or turns that direction, distracted by the combat, Once Gnoll 5 is looking or has moved away, Hawthorne will sneak up to Broun and attempt to release him from his bonds.]
Argenti called upon the earth itself to help her comrades.
The very rocks and dirt of the land had moved aside to absorb their footfalls, then back to mask their path. Even seeing the traveling group would prove difficult. There would be a convenient dust cloud here and there, while light would be reflected in strange directions, glinting off of surfaces just long enough to distract the eyes of sentries.
This secretive spell was the first thing she remembered receiving praise for, and it always brought back the warm memories of how her path started.
Today however, the spell was being used as a herald of violence.
"Shedrick." Argenti whispers. "If all goes smoothly, Hawthorne will be coming around the tents to the north, with Broun in tow." The genasi hands the man a potion of healing. "If it doesn't, you, or they, may need this."
The warlock creeps into cover behind a rock and breathes in before making an exaggerated punching motion. "HYAH!" A glowing green crystal shard emanates from her fist, landing forcefully in the gnoll's chest before shattering back into nothingness.
"If that doesn't get their attention, nothing will."
I believe the signal to go is something happening with the horses. But I'm posting now because I happen to have the time, so feel free to make this happen after that. Or not, depending on if it makes sense. At any rate, this is a full round.
Argenti has Devil's Sight, which gives her Darkvision.
Concentrating on Pass without Trace.
Giving Shedrick a potion of healing with object interaction.
Moving to C-11, and taking cover behind the rock. I am hoping the dim light from Twilight Sanctuary allows for this short hop without too much trouble.
Casting Eldritch Blast as an action, with advantage.
Gaining 7 TPH from being in the Twilight Sanctuary.