SESSION 53: DAY 23 – THE CAVES OF CHAOS
Talmark looks at the party and raises an eyebrow. "Well now, that was unexpected. But only 2? Obviously you, Lucien. Whom do you choose to be your bodyguard?"
Malandir adds, “Whoever hits hardest and can stand longest until the rest of us get there ... so needs to be able to shout a lot while doing so ..... I don’t feel like I meet these criteria, so will check we're not being outflanked from behind ...”
Lucien thinks on the situation for a second and then gives a counter-proposal to the hobgoblin, "I think not. We meet here, in this hallway, your tribe on one side, our party on the other. We can still meet two and two in the middle, but right here, where each of us have warriors to support us."
Talmark smiles and thinks to himself, “That’s a good idea, get them to come to us.”
[DM’s Note: Lucien’s request is a Diplomacy test with a DC of 25 (for a hostile creature) + 15 (to give aid that could result in punishment) = 40. Lucien rolls 10 + 13 skill = 23.]
The response is immediate and stern, “Higor Finger Biter vill not meet wiz you on zose terms. If you vish diskourse vis him you vill need to send forz 2 representatives. Ve are no simple tribe of goblins. You vill find any assault upon our barrakks to be a mukh harder proposition.”
Talmark speaks quietly to Lucien "We know you've got to go, you're the diplomat. Who do you want with you?"
Kord pulls his closest allies, Lucien and Talmark aside, "We don't necessarily have to do this now. Consider the risks of splitting the party. Maybe we should withdraw or investigate another way in or another cave or simply ask about the woman."
Lucien projects his voice down the hallway towards the hobgoblin, "You misunderstand. We do not plan to assault your tribe. This is not us getting you to surrender, this is your tribe getting help enslaving the other tribes around here. We only attacked the others because they are weak, and the weak get what they deserve. If you were weak, we would have already attacked. Last chance. Equal footing for the meeting between your chief and us, or we see if any other tribes here are strong and want to rise instead of yours. We meet as equals, or we walk away and give help to rivals instead – you’ve seen what we can do."
Lucien shrugs and whispers to all, "If they do not want to parlay on equal terms, we will leave them behind, and do what I said, go to another cave. We'll 'mark' this one for last, or ally with another and attack them later. Rest easy, Kord, none of us should be comfortable splitting the party."
"Zou killed our allies,” comes the response.
An arrow fly’s from the dark past Lucien's head.
"Zat is a varning shot. Ze next von't be."
Lucien motions to back away a little, "This is wasted effort. What say we move on to other caves and come back to address the hobgoblins. The other caves may shed light on opportunities yet unconsidered in planning the demise of these beasts. I suggest if are to leave the cave, we exit cautiously, they have had time to set up at least a rudimentary ambush at the cave entrance."
Rubbing the palm of his hand on the stubble on his chin Talmark responds, "I don't like having to pause on the promise to liberate the woman they hold, but you are correct that this meeting is fruitless. I think we should head to a cave on the other side of the canyon, to keep from walking into their front door after those threats. Give them time to relax before we hit them."
“Very well,” Lucien says, addressing the hobgoblin, “As you wish, we shall leave.”
The party cautiously backs off then turns down the hall towards the cave entrance.
As they approach Fremont and Clovis, Malandir realises that he cannot hear the men at arms at all.
He stops the party and sneaks forward to investigate. Peering down the passage to the east he is disappointed. They are no where to be found.
The party decide to recon in force and move quickly to the intersection. There they search but it’s not long before they hear commotion outside of the cave.
They rush to the entrance of the cave and what they see horrifies them. Fremont and Clovis are bloodied and bound and are being dragged off by two hobgoblins towards a wood on the far side of the valley.
The hobgoblins haven’t noticed the party as they are too busy with their half unconscious, but still struggling captives.
The party quickly moves to the aid of their comrades but they aren’t able to get to them before they disappear into the cave mouth.
Still, at least they haven’t alerted the bugbears to their presence.