"How do I know the way?" Dirk asks, almost laughing. "Well, I heard it from the good Lord's own mouth, didn't I? He was so pleased with the new home he had built for his bride that I practically felt I had visited the place after he described it so industriously. He bid me visit, especially after he fell so deeply in love with the mirror, but I've never had the occasion. You'll have to tell me whether he is full of hot air, or if the dwelling is just as grand as he boasted." He calms a bit, and even looks a little secretive. "Now, about that mirror." He grins, ducking his head a little, and places one of his big hands on Erric's tiny (by comparison) shoulder. "You may recall that I once led my brave companions to a hidden vault in Calimshan. It was during that expedition that our youngest member, Rudyard, was felled by a charging minotaur. It was an unfortunate loss in what should have been a most successful venture." He glances toward the sundered helmet on the wall and shakes his head in clear frustration. After a brief pause, he continues. "We recovered numerous treasures from that vault, many of which we sold to wealthy buyers. One of which was the mirror in question." Taking his big hand off Erric's shoulder, he uses it to slap the bard on the back, and raising his voice, he says, "Now, be off with ya. I look forward to hearing your tale upon your return."
OOC: Those are some rough rolls.
Traipsing into and through Neverwinter Wood, Maldorn and Anafrey have a few moments in the day when the two trackers feel they might not be going exactly where they should be. But there are other times when they seem to be making really good time. As the sun begins to mellow and the group steps into a little welcoming glade with a small creek running along one edge, everyone has a sense that the day as gone well, and they're hopeful they'll reach the house early the next morning.
OOC2: I need another d20 from everyone, as well as a watch order (each PC will take two hours) and perception checks. What is everyone doing to set up camp? Feel free to RP anything else from the morning prior to leaving and on the trek as well.
Before leaving: "Your stories are always so full of death, old Dirk. I am almost glad you are not coming with us..."
At the glade: "This seems like a welcoming place to set up camp, especially after our shoddy job of trekking the woods. I assure you I am usually a lot more proficient at this than what I demonstrated today. It went well enough in the end, but nonetheless, my apologies." (The apology is mostly directed at Jambiya).
Maldorn then brings out one of the tents provided by Dirk and begins to set it up with the help of his trusty hammer. Turning to Anafrey "Here's the other tent, Icequiver. I trust you know how to set it up? Now, can one of you little ones start a campfire while we arrange for shelter for the evening?"
Then to all: "In an evening like this, I would normally choose to hunt my supper. But yun' Ms. Seldom here has provided us with plenty of food. I see little reason to take the life of a woodland creature when our bounty is already so plentiful."
Maldorn will take some jerky and fresh fruit from the rations provided by Jambiya and take the first watch: "I can barely sleep in my old age anyways..."
[OOC: Erric would have inspired his companions throughout the day before attempting serious tracking/navigation for those survival checks, if that means anything]
"So we'll know how to verify the mirror in question -- it'll be the one inscribed 'my friends explored a Calimshite vault and one guy got trampled by a minotaur and all we got was this lousy mirror'," Erric says to his companions as they set out and puzzle over Dirk's story. "What do you three think about this acolyte? And the lord and his wife?"
Hearing Maldorn's apology to Jambiya in the clearing: "He is the very vision of politeness, is he not, my vermillion [sic] friend?"
Erric finishes his meal by taking a walk around the perimeter of the clearing, looking for anything interesting or out of place (Perception 1), and investigating (Investigation 15) whether there might be signs of others in the area/observers (or, if others are doing this he accompanies them to help).
s"Anafrey, you're very good at setting traps in the woods to protect things, not that I would have firsthand knowledge or anything about that from any sort of curiosity about where your house is... ANYHOW would you like any help setting any tonight? And no I do mean bait."
Afterward, assuming he finds nothing interesting, he volunteers to take second watch, and makes about 4 more jokes about spoons to Maldorn.
Hearing Maldorn's apology and Erric's quip about politeness, Anafrey smiles and says, "You needn't worry about any of that from me."
Anafrey will take the second tent about six paces from the first and set it up with practiced ease. She takes a nip from one of her flasks as a reward for a job well done, then helps Erric and Jambiya with the fire should they need it, giving them tips on how to set the logs just so to allow oxygen to feed the fire. Anafrey watches Erric investigate the clearing with amusement, but doesn't say anything, then looks at him with dismay when he mentions having spotted her setting traps around her home.
She takes a deep breath and exhales slowly, "Doesn't make sense to set traps of the dangerous sort this late, and for a single night's stay. Alarms though would be a good idea. We can set some ropes low there and over there and tie some of our mess kits and other noise making implements such that if something approaches us we'll have some small amount of forewarning."
She'll make a lesson of it for Jambiya and Erric if they are interested, assuming Maldorn has this knowledge and maybe more to say besides.
Anafrey eats and chats with the others, drinking a bit here and there from her flasks, trying to keep them more or less even, and maintain her buzz as well. Then climbs into the tent that she assumes she'll be sharing with Jambiya for an early night's rest.
"Erric, wake me when it's my turn at watch. I'll take the shift when the night is darkest. Don't stay up too late Jambiya, sweet, we've a long ways to go yet." She nods at the old man, "Maldorn."
The trip As the party leaves, the little goblin gets a little emotional, and does actually run back to give Dirk a big hug. Then she stands irresolutely for a moment, and runs back inside (presumably to give Grumpy Pops a hug). But then she runs back to join the party, wiping her eyes. "Let's go, friends!"
On the journey, she's the soul of enjoyment, never minding a little backtracking, always positive to the two woods people, and quite at home in nature. The plants she examines bloom under her touch, and during rests she ends up with little purple and white flowers all around wherever she sits. She munches on a berry as she goes, sniffs things, and laughs merrily at anyone's jokes. At one point near the beginning, she holds her hand out and manifests a little glowing tree that shakes itself and straightens up. "Good weather today," she announces.
Setting up camp At camp, as Maldorn apologizes, she smiles and gives him a hug. "I have had the grandest time, and you and miss 'frey are so comfortable in the woods, I did not once feel like I was being led astray! This looks like a lovely spot to spend the night, thank you, both, for getting us here." To Erric's reply, "He's always been the sweetest old man, but then, I do know a lot of sweet old human men."
She will help to unpack the tents, given that they are the family tents, as it were, but lets the bigs set them up while she prepares the fire. She directs Erric to help collect wood, and when it is set, lights the small campfire with a wave of her hand (as she has done forever at the Inn). She prepares the food, adding a touch of flavoring to the camp fare with her magic (again, as she has done at the Inn). Sitting around the fire, she enjoys the conversation, laughing along with the rest.
Night As the evening begins, she'll wish Anafrey a good night, "I'll be in presently, miss 'frey. I'll take the last watch, I'm an early riser at the Inn, so I'll be awake regardless. This has been so much fun!" She will crawl into the tent with Anafrey, and fall asleep quickly.
Perception: 3 Random roll: 6
OOC > I blame Anafrey for the rolls, she probably snores.
Erric's incredibly excited to learn about traps. (Like his attempts to follow the tiefling Ekemos to find out where he spends his time outside the inn, Erric's also tried to find out whether Anafrey actually lives in the woods. He's dangerously curious and not super wise! He's also been unsuccessful in ever locating her destination, but has almost run into a trap or two so he knew to ask, but also didn't know NOT to ask, if that makes sense.)
He's also completely in awe of Jambiya's green thumbs on the walk. He makes roughly 16 jokes about green thumbs. Five of them are actually decent.
There's no chance that Erric doesn't play a quiet set around the campfire before turning in to the tent, giving a friendly nod to Maldorn. He sleeps in his armor and next to his weapons out of habit.
Erric's perception and investigation uncover nothing of interest outside of the majesty of nature. It's a nice glade with soft grass surrounded by beautiful trees. The stream gurgles and splashes. There's a fallen tree not too far away, which is perfect for a fire.
The night is clear, cool and a bit breezy — in a fall's-just-around-the-corner kind of way — and absolutely uneventful. The only sound Anafrey's alarms make is when the breeze gets a little too excited, but even that's hardly noticeable. Maldorn's keen watch melts into Erric's smart watch. The halfling wakes Anafrey with a polite shake of her boot, causing the huntress to snort awake, but Erric stifles his laugh as he's pretty sure she's a grump when woken. Anafrey's eyes are a little bleary on her watch, and she's glad to return to the tent after Jambiya actually wakes a few minutes before her watch is to begin. The first light sky is absolutely mesmerizing, and the goblin is completely entranced until the others begin to wake.
Jambiya chatters away as the group packs up and sets off again. Almost immediately, they step out onto a path leading almost perpendicular to the direction they are traveling. Someone comments that this must be the access road to the house. The group continues forward, finding it easier to travel on the path. Maldorn comments that the road doesn't look very well used. The woodland surrounding the trail begins to thin considerably. As the group comes to the top of a small hill, they can see they are approaching a vast clearing ahead. Though still quite distant, a large house clearly stands within the glade.
OOC: Anyone want to do anything before you continue ahead?
Anafrey doesn't wake up until someone forces her too, and even then she turns over and covers her face with her cloak, then throws a boot at whomever is trying to wake her. After a few tries the party is able to get her to wake and she yawns deeply and stretches. She takes a nip from one of her flasks and wipes her lips with her forearm. "Gods be damned. I thought... nay, hoped... that this whole ordeal was a horrible whiskey induced nightmare." She shakes her head and smooths her hair and straightens her clothing before starting to help dismantle camp.
[ooc: honestly I'm happy to RP more or continue ahead, either way!]
Erric remains suspicious of the soft grass in the glade, and he squints his eyes at the fallen tree in the brightening sunlight. The ecological spendor may have pulled one over on him this time but he remains ever vigilant when it comes to future campsites.
He does a prolonged "oh the horror! the horror!!" quiet pantomime (with some mawkish woodwind music backdrop via minor illusion) when he hears Anafrey refer to the half-day's travel as an ordeal. He then realizes that she is rationing her booze and immediately an expression of sympathy takes over his face.
As they begin to crest the hill, Erric suggests an alternative to waling straight across the clearing in full view of the house without knowing anything more. "Let's just say it's not the first time I find myself carrying out vague orders, but since we know nothing about this house, we might want to do a wide circle around the estate first, to get a look at it from all sides. Unless it's a giant stinkroot plantation, we don't lose anything other than maybe 45 minutes."
Before the vegetation gets too thin but after noticing the clearing ahead (I guess that means before Erric's proposal too), Maldorn will say: "Keep moving. I'll try to scout our flanks to make sure our approach is safe. I'll meet you up ahead." With that, Maldorn puts out his cigarette and runs into the woods longbow in hand. He will rely on his experience (i.e. Natural Explorer: Forest) to move stealthily but at a brisk pace, while keeping an eye out for anything he'd consider a potential threat to their safe approach into the clearing, and eventually, house in the glade.
-> Perception (with double proficiency from Natural Explorer: Forest): 28 (oops... that's supposed to be 25 instead);
He doesn't go too far, not wanting to be too isolated from his companions. If he finds no threat, Maldorn will approach the group once they are 30 feet away from the house or if they stop/are stopped farther away for any reason. Otherwise, he will observe what he finds for a moment.
For ease of reference:
NATURAL EXPLORER: FOREST
When you make an Intelligence or Wisdom check related to your favored terrain, your proficiency bonus is doubled if you are using a skill that you’re proficient in. While traveling for an hour or more in your favored terrain, you gain the following benefits:
Difficult terrain doesn’t slow your group’s travel.
Your group can’t become lost except by magical means.
Even when you are engaged in another activity while traveling (such as foraging, navigating, or tracking), you remain alert to danger.
If you are traveling alone, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.
When you forage, you find twice as much food as you normally would.
While tracking other creatures, you also learn their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.
At camp Eyes shining, Jambiya watched the sun rise in the wilderness, filtering through the trees. The breeze through the branches set up a kind of resonance for her, and she found herself swaying as she sat, in time to the wind and the leaves. Maldorn moving about snaps her out of her reverie, and she hops up to re-start the fire and get some coffee on. "Let miss 'frey sleep a little longer, her days seem long enough," she urges the boys.
As the group breaks camp, Jambiya will check the day's weather (Druidcraft).
At the clearing As the three of them crest the hill, Jambiya will drop her pack with a sigh, plop down in the grass, and do a couple of stretches reaching for her toes. "We should wait here until Master Whitehare returns. If he's not found anything, then I guess you could circle round, Erric, while we come up to the front. But honestly, if there's trouble, they've certainly seen us already, and if there's not, it would be unfriendly to come calling all 'spicious."
Are there any signs of habitation that we can see from here? Smoke from a chimney? Domestic animals? People?
Erric thanks Maldorn for his skillful scouting offer, and before he departs, asks the group, turning a bit serious: "What is our story? We were told to 'save' Clarice. Are we telling who we find about the acolyte and the goddess' request? If we walk up to the front door and tell whoever we find -- assumedly people working for the lord -- that we're trying to save his bride, or even just ask 'Is Clarice home?' we might not get a great reception."
He glances just over the top of the hill to the clearing (Perception 10).
"I suggest we first see what we can find out before they know we're here and who we are, circling around through the trees surrounding this glade and looking at the house from all angles. Maldorn, if you can handle this, I trust you. Jambiya, that is very sensible of you to look for signs of habitation. Based on what we find out, we can decide what role we're playing here."
"I'm a storyteller. Do we have a cover story? Are we posing as travelers or entertainers or curious visitors who just happened upon the house, and then observing what we find? Are we sneaking into the house to try to see this Clarice unobserved? Are we sauntering up to the front door, and asking about the princess inside we're meant to save, per a goddess' third-hand request? I think we can pretend to be a band of actors and performers to gain access to the house and observe what's inside, and then look for an opportunity to talk to Clarice to see about this saving business."
With an impish smile, he concludes: "But I'm a biased bard who loves to hear himself talk, and always relishes a chance to perform, so I will endeavor to not be foolish here and listen to my elders and betters."
She looks at Erric as he spins his plan, her face getting more and more skeptical. "I'm certainly not your better, Erric, but why don't we just say I'm Dirk's daughter and he asked me to stop by and say hi, asking after his old friend? Since, it's true, and all..." she smiles endearingly.
[ooc: having trouble deciding what Anafrey would do, so I've come up with what I think is a rather elegant silly solution.]
Anafrey's Mystical Mood Table
6 = :D
5 = :)
4 = :|
3 = :\
2 = :(
1 = >:(
roll for mood : 3
Anafrey's eyelids are still heavy from sleep. She stares blankly at the manor while Erric and Jambiya plan and Maldorn skirts the edge, exploring. She takes her shortbow from its quiver and bends it a few times, but doesn't take the string out to arm it, eventually tossing it back in its holster. She finds a pointy stick and shaves off the bark, sharpening it to a point and starts to pick her teeth. She hears a random fluttering behind her and turns sharply, suddenly very alert.
"Sure?" Eric says to Jambiya's proposal. "Leaning on the 'old friend' thing a bit for a guy Dirk talked to once at a bar, but sure why not."
He's again got that look of resigned deja vu on his face, but he's failed his internal wisdom saving throw against Jambiya's smile. He also examines the house for signs of life, and is ready to proceed.
Maldorn would have left before the conversation was over and conclusions were agreed upon, but what he heard initially form Erric would have made sense to him. Maldorn let’s the halfling know of his sympathy towards his worries with a nod of approval before leaving.
Today's druidcraft weather forecast is clear and pleasant with clouds beginning to gather just before sunset.
As Erric begins to explain his idea, and Anafrey starts to inspect her bow, Maldorn sets off into the trees to run reconnaissance. Erric turns during his initial plan explanation to look a little more closely at the structure. They are still a good 300 feet away, but something about the house bothers the bard's eyes. It's hard to be sure, especially with the distance and because a lot of it is still obscured by trees, but it looks to have a very odd roof line and a dark, irregular paint job.
Jambiya, I could ask you to roll a perception check, but you're not going to see anymore than Erric from this distance.
DM roll: 2
As Maldorn scouts ahead and a little south, he happens upon tracks. By his reckoning, four large avians walked along just out of view of the path, heading in the direction of the house. He estimates the tracks are about an hour old.
Maldorn heads back towards the group a bit earlier than he had planned. Before speaking to the group, he reignites the cigarette he had snuffed our earlier, savoring it’s not-so-fresh taste. Some of the ashes fall on his scarred finger, now exposed to the elements since he cut off the index finger portion of his left leather glove the night before.
“Be in the look out for four large bird creatures, possibly humanoid. Their tracks unfortunately don’t tell me if they are friend or foe, but they do reveal that these birds walked toward the house about an hour ago. Birds have good eyesight as well. It may be futile trying to approach the house unnoticed.”