You guys haven't been able to properly appraise the contents of the treasure room, but the instrument Vex has just offered is one of the non-magical pieces from that haul. It's listed as "ebony lute inlaid with dragonbone and set with blue diamonds." It's a masterwork musical instrument, once you get past the pimped-out decorative elements.
Vex thinks that Narg's tastes probably are fairly simple, so that good food, drink, or enjoyable/useful objects are more likely to get his attention than valuables like gold or gems that he can trade for practical goods. Because frankly, where is Narg going to spend cash if you give it to him?
Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold
Anyone who wants to jump in to help Vex can still contribute via Aid Another. Make a Charisma or Diplomacy check, and post in the IC thread with some remark that you think might persuade a minotaur that it'd be a fair trade to swap a lute for one to three days' labor.
I'll advance In Character, shortly. Currently the minotaurs are willing to work for you for a day in exchange for this lute.
I guess the next question is whether you guys are going to try to talk Narg and his bros into sticking around, and if so, whether they get to share space in the cavern with you.
Vex will talk it over with the group, and if the consensus is we want to bargain for them to stay, I'll make another diplo check.
I'm for it.
Johten likes making life easier. He's for the added help, especially since the treasure isn't technically ours.
Strictly speaking, any treasure you give away is going to reduce your prize money by a proportionate amount, since the prize award is contracted as a tenth part of the assessed value of whatever you seize, divided twenty-two ways.
That means that giving away an item worth 1100 gp (for example) would reduce each party member's prize money by 5 gp, since that is 1/22 of the 110 gp prize money for that item.
Being that you currently don't have any expedition members who are capable of making trained Appraise checks, it's kind of hard for Johten or anyone else to know exactly how much prize money you have coming, beyond "a lot."
You're not anywhere near "never have to work again" territory, but it'd be fair to say that your prize money currently amounts to enough money to retire from adventuring into life as a small business owner or farmer, if you survive the trip back to Zeno with most of the stuff you've already found.
I'm committed to the adventuring life. And giving up 5 gp for the minotaurs to do all the heavy lifting works for me. Besides, this whole land is going to descend into darkness - it's a bad time to take up farming.
Well, here's Vex's diplo check, then.
Narg seems too wrapped up in thoughts of his bees knees orange mint to entertain the offer of additional work in exchange for shinies.
Talking to him about the matter leaves you with the distinct impression that he thinks "bees knees orange mint" is the reward he'll be receiving (evidently some kind of intoxicating beverage), rather than the business arrangement itself.
Narg's Common is laughably bad, but maybe that's to be expected of monster who's about as intelligent as someone with a high-functioning case of Down Syndrome.
Evrinel is a huge fan of keeping these guys around, even if we do have to feed them. But when he gets a chance he'd like to talk to our druids/priests/shamans without the minotaurs around.
If Evrinel wants to keep them around, Vex is going to need some help, and Rasnak has already taken "sssooo ssssshiny" as far as it's going to go. He can step in and try to help via Diplomacy, if he likes, although that is far from his strong point.
Because stranger things have happened . . .
Leland believes that if the spirit is fey, interfering with the minotaurs' bargain may not only arouse its anger against your expedition, but also subject the minotaurs to hostility from the spirit. Fey can be very touchy about keeping the letter of promises and bargains, and they often get upset if you fail to live up to one, even if you make a good faith effort to meet your obligations.
Thus far, at least, Narg and his bros seem like they're basically okay. It'd be kind of shitty to get them into trouble with an angry fey. Assuming that the stranger is a fey at all. Leland has his doubts.
Vexandi doesn't feel nearly so certain, but he suspects that the same thing might also be true of some kinds of outsider. But he doesn't know which kinds, necessarily, and anyway he's not sure if the stranger is an outsider, a fey, or something else entirely.
Vex wants to try and reach the most powerful fey he can. Barring anything particular, he'll instead try to contact as many as possible.
In case it ends up mattering.
Johten's all for pausing, then backing away slowly. Shit in this cursed place is mean and likely to kill you.
That said... just in case it's needed eventually, here's initiative.
Vex will quietly as possible call a halt and point out the animals, then move one sq. NW of Raksha and ready his spear in as nonthreatening a way as he can.
Leland recognizes these creatures as dire badgers. They're exceedingly ill-tempered, but probably won't attack if you back away quietly without antagonizing them. If someone puts a foot wrong, you'll have a really nasty fight on your hands—if provoked or injured, they have a tendency to berserk and fight until they or their attackers are dead.
Cronono is evacuating from his home due to Hurricane Irma, and has turned over his proxy to me.
Vandersrike, Hobs initiative
Rasnak says that's a whole herd of nope.
Wait, where does Cronono live? I never assumed anyone else here was close enough to me geographically to be overly affected by the storm.
South Florida. Dunno the exact city, but one of the parts that has to consider that Irma might still be Cat 4 or 5 when she makes landfall.
The average elevation in Florida is 6 ft above sea-level. There is no part that doesn't have to worry about Irma. There's still a chance it missed Florida completely, but Irma is a serious storm.
I hope none of you were hoping Leland would pick a fight with dire badgers. Badgers. Badgers. Badgers.
Vandersrike, Hide/Move Silently
Rasnak also follows the kobold way, immediately attempting to slink away from the danger while doing his best to keep from their notice.
Henrik continues the party's slow withdrawal from the badgers. He has something witty he wants to say about that, but he keeps his mouth tightly shut for once.
To be clear, Johten will follow suit and retreat.
Evrinel withdraws back towards the hobgoblins, making no particular effort to stealth, but also no particular effort to hurry. (stay within 30' of an attack square of rasnak)
Can we still see?
There are about 100 feet of open space outside the cavern entryway. In that region you'll have enough light from the moon to see normally if you've got low-light vision, or in shadowy illumination if you don't (if you're human, or if you have standard darkvision but are looking at something more than 60 ft. from you). Beyond that area, it's darker because of tree cover that blocks out the moonlight, leading to conditions that I will treat as shadowy illumination for those with low-light vision and total darkness for those without. Again, darkvision will still function if you have it.
Not ideal circumstances for either a fight or for tracking. The hob who is shouting was on guard with a buddy. So far, you haven't heard anything that sounds like the buddy's voice. That could just mean he's okay and doesn't want to make noise, but it also could be bad.
Johten wants to investigate/help any way he can, but being human, he's limited by lighting conditions. If the group was maintaining a torch, he'll grab it up and investigate the frantic hob. If we're lacking a quick torch, he'll ready himself for trouble, but try to stay out of the way of those who can actually see properly.
It's a simple matter to grab a chunk of wood off the fire. The hobs are pretty thoughtful about things like the need for light, now that they've had a few days to get used to the idea that some people can't see in pitch darkness.
Vex would like to stand and move to where the hobs are/were, and then cast dancing lights to cover as much of the area as he can with light for those who can't see well enough.
Well, here's a map. The unshaded area is in shadowy illumination for anyone who doesn't have low-light vision, and normal lighting for those who do. The shaded area is shadowy if you have LLV, and dark if you don't. Trees/massive trees per usual. Yellow areas are heavy undergrowth; orange are light undergrowth. The entirely black sections are a cliff face, anywhere from 10 to 50 feet tall. You can climb around on it, if you feel the desire. DC 15. If this somehow turns into actual combat, then I'll flesh this out in the IC thread in my usual way.
To be clear, Sibusiso is actually one of the hobs whom we have seen, correct? Like, he's not suffering from a head wound making him remember someone that never was?
Yes. This one that you're talking to is Fanyana, who hasn't really established himself as much of a personality so far. The other remaining hobs are Xolani, Kakaka, Gwala, Bongani and Kgabu. Of these, I think Xolani has been the most talkative with the rest of the expedition. He's got a tendency to banter with the non-hobs, but part of that may be because his Common is especially good.
They all speak it well enough to be understood, but their accents make it clear that it's a second language.
Anyway, it's obvious that one hob is indeed missing, since the others are all inside the cavern (although that's about to change), and Fanyana is manifestly alone out here.
If you want to look around for signs of where Sibusiso may have gone, go ahead and roll one of Survival, Search, or Intelligence, whichever of them is highest. Taking 10 is permissible here.
No ranks in Survival or Search.
Rasnak has a +7 to search, but good luck getting him to move toward the potential danger to use it.
Vex will make a survival check to search around. Since Johten brought a torch, he'll wait on the dancing lights for danger to arrive.