After a minute, Gorx checks his surviving bees again. They're both still together, and still in motion—through a copse of trees.
Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold
Gorx nods. "Southwest is safe. East is death."
Oni nods. "East it is, then?"
"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken
Gorx nods. "Today is a good day for unity."
Grimvaalk shakes his head, "Wait, wait... Weren't we going to camp outside and wait to see if the dragon comes out? We could be heading into a den of who knows what while the dragon is somewhere else entirely."
"That's possible," adds Zathrus. "It's also possible that if it was a dragon that ate your bees, it's on high alert. They didn't exactly look like normal residents of a local hive."
"I can go," offers Fanax.
"Scout around and report back. The bees were nice but it would be great to get some more useful information."
Fanax turns to Gorx, "Unless you can whip up something that can tell us more than life or death?"
Gorx leans back in his saddle. "I can speak with them just fine. They're dead now, so I can't speak with them well. I'm no necromancer. I can speak with the survivors when they return."
He looks up at the sun, then back toward his companions.
"We can camp outside the lair and wait for signs of the dragon to pass, but we run the risk of being seen. I'm no woodsblin either - if you think camping outside the lair is effective, we'll do that. If we should enter so that we don't get ambushed outside, we'll do that."
Grimvaalk frowns at the plan, "Fanax, you're a ranger, not dragon bait. If this cave is a dragon's den, I'm sure we can find evidence of it out here or just inside. If its a den for something else, then they'll be tracks or traces for that too. Let's spread out and see what we can find."
Grimvaalk stalks around the cave entrance, examining the ground and rock. "There's something living in that cave." He points at the tracks leading down, "There are tracks on the ground, leading down there. No small animals around, it's likely a predator."
He nudges some of the ground, poking a cluster of dead plants with a stick, "But this is odd. The plants around the cave are all dead. It should be green around the cave, but everything looks like it was killed off. Posion maybe? They could have been killed in a cold snap, but its been warm. And why didn't anything else grow back?"
Gorx shakes his head. "Not poison. Not disease. Not natural." Gorx looks around.
"Probably whatever is in the cave."
"You think?" asks Zathrus sarcastically. He eyes the entrance warily. "Is it home?" he asks, no trace of sarcasm left.
Grimvaalk shrugs, "We should be able to camp some distance from here, camouflage our camp and wait. Worse case it comes to us and we will it. Fighting it on our own terrain may be the difference between us slaying it and us being its next meal. Maybe even we can set some bait." Grimvaalk eyes the ponies and horses with the group.
"I don't like the idea of it being able to just fly up. How do you prevent a dragon from doing that? Do you insult it?"
Gorx scratches under his chin.
Fanax offers, "I think I will just go in now. Lets just get this done."
The goblin looks to the group and continues, "We're facing an enemy we're not prepared to fight and we have no field control. Let's just go and see what killed the bees. If we die at least we do it on our terms."
"Controlling the battlefield, no, I don't suppose we have any immediate plan for that. But Yonah and I may be able to keep our quarry from taking flight. We brought rope," he shrugs the coils down from his shoulder and hefts them for emphasis. "I even have a hook. Maybe we can ensnare the beast's wings? Standing on opposite sides of the cave mouth, we can surprise it and try to keep it on the ground and in one place. Until..." Oni shrugs. "That's as far as I got."
"It may be all we have if Fanax continues with his pinkskin plan. We should be ready in case he draws it out."
Gorx's eyes go wide at Grimvaalk's pinkskin comment. He turns to Fanax to see his cousin's reaction.
Zathrus seems in his own head for a while. Finally, he speaks. "It seems rash to want to walk in there as bold as can be. No animal follows a weasel into its den, for good reason. That is, assuming this is even where we want to be. Big as they were, anything could have killed those bees."
He looks around at the surrounding terrain. "On the other hand, we don't know much about what it is we're hunting. We could benefit from watching it a while. But do we know enough to not get caught? Even if we keep out of sight, how good is its sense of smell? Or can it see through cover? If it's in there, it's possible it could be listening to us right now, if it has good hearing." His tone has a ring of 'do you get what I'm saying?'.
"As for baiting it... I suppose it's not the worst idea. But by all accounts, dragons aren't dull animals to simply take the meal and never consider what horses this close to its home might mean."
Fanax bristles at Grimvaalks comment and appears to begin a retort when Oni pipes up. Instead Fanax shakes his head refusing to bite at the simplistic barb.
"Look, I dont plan to walk in there singing the hymnss of Ekar. I just want to go in there and peek around. A few minutes. You girls can sit out here and wait for me."
Yonah can be heard sniffing the air a bit, trying to discern what is around. "If I can smell you, a larger predator surely can," he remarks to Fanax. "Be wary."
"You do that," Zathrus tells Fanax. "I'll be over there." Giving truth to his statement, Zathrus moves to some cover an appropriate distance away.
Fanax eyes Yonah and nods, "Thanks. If my scent gives me away then I assume it will wherever thus fight occurs."
Fanax moves to the opening and looks back and winks, "Get that rope ready."
With that the goblin enters the cave.
Yonah's eyes narrow, and his ears fold back. "This is our spot." He examines the exterior of the cave and laments, "A pity we cannot seal the entrance and starve or suffocate the beast."