OOC: Yeah cart should be 30 feet from the dead horses. Wanted to give us enough space away, but still make it easily accessible for Nephrius to regroup. Jackson is standing battle-ready beside the cart to its right, focusing entirely on what may come from the right side of the road. He's actually rather trusting of what his companions think is best, so none of the characters actually need listen to him. He just wanted to set a protective perimeter around the cart while they stop, and allow a Tabaxi (a cat-like race which he understands to be agile and stealthy) to scout ahead before heading into a narrow passage.
Koren joins Nephrius in the brush close to the horses. A branch is currently blocking Nephrius's sight line but Koren is able to see that the horses are dead, killed by a volley of arrows. Koren can also see that there was a so sort of a struggle, with a varying pattern of footprints near the horses. From the current distance, she cannot make out exactly what occurred, only that the owners of the horses are nowhere to be seen at this time.
Back at the cart, Jackson is watching the right side of the road and Harukai is watching the rear. Suddenly Jackson notices movement in forest on the opposite side of the road from where Koren and Nephrius are hiding. Jackson and Harukai both can hear the sound of a bowstring being drawn in the direction of the movement as well.
OOC: Does the group want me to roll initiative for everyone or no?
OOC: DM initiative is good. Also, block initiative can be helpful in PBP (where PC’s initiatives fall between opponents’ initiatives, you can “block” the PC’s together so they can post in any order within that block)...but you guys probably already knew that...
OK, Nephrius goes first. The goblins have loosed two arrows at the other members of the party. Their movement has revealed them in the tree line on the opposite side of the road enough for you to make an attack.
I agree with having a surprise round, especially when it is clear one group completely surprised the other. In this particular scenario, the module allows for surprise attack depending on passive perception against the goblins' stealth roll, but the horses in the road seem to be enough to put people on guard more so than just casually driving down the road. I don't do surprise rounds on this attack so everyone just falls in where their initiative lands them.