Hills, Southeast of the Greenbelt
Midafternoon, 20th of Kythorn
Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)

The Company took up the pursuit, angling their path southeast once more, following the trail. That, at least, was straightforward enough; the gremlins didn’t seem to be trying to conceal their path, and they were able to pick up a swift pace, bringing the mules at a trot over the windy hills.

Even better was that the gremlins happened to be choosing a path of little resistance; at this speed, Kuros became certain that they’d overtake the gremlins well before nightfall.

They sped on, past noon, the sun beginning to bow westward behind them, casting shadows ahead.

However, their path was swift – and overconfident. The trail brought the Company into a defile between two low hills.

And it was here that a sudden wave of fear crashed across each of them. Korlann felt it like an assault on his mind, and the instincts ground into him at Thessaris Valenti immediately kicked in: he drew his senses and emotions back into a fortress in his consciousness, letting the wave crash fruitlessly against its walls.

Three had a similar set of subroutines that kicked in just as efficiently; the fear was attempting to what one of her archives called ‘haqq’ her emotional centres, but her firewalls shunted the thought away, the Han’Ti’Vy’Ral rituals inscribed into her performing their jobs well.

Dergosh felt something wasn’t quite right, and his race’s genetic heritage responded accordingly. A part of his consciousness ambled out of its Platonic cave, scratched its underarm for a moment, hit the sensation of fear over the head with a large club, and ambled back inside.

Akara certainly felt the spell break over her. She wasn’t immune to its power and therefore concluded it wasn’t an enchantment, but neither did the sudden wave of feeling have much force to it, and her mind flicked it away with a wave of her metaphorical fingers.

Kuros, though, felt a nameless dread fill the fibre of his being, filling his muscles, making his hands tremble.

And Ruk?
Ruk saw the oversized eyes of gremlins in the trees and bushes all around him. Their eyes seemed to grow overlarge as the wave of fear broke over him. Its power struck as one – now two – iterations of the gremlins’ dreadful abilities tore into him, at the genetic level, as magic compelled him to remember what caused such enmity between kobold and gremlin, as a voice pounded in his mind: flee. Flee. Flee.

And the whole Company became aware of the little, snarling, blue-faced creatures in the bushes and trees all around them, in a beautifully executed ambush that they’d walked right into.

Spoiler: Tactical Map

Spoiler: Tactical Notes

Well, trailing down a war party at fast pace that’s on the alert is going to impose penalties on the Spot checks. And fast pace imparts an effective +4 on Spot checks for your opponents, so the gremlins had a chance to get hidden pretty effectively.

The party got hit with 11 Doom checks from every gremlin out here. Almost two for each of you. That said, most of the party saved and quite convincingly – Dergosh got a 12 on the nose.

Ruk failed his first roll, though, and so was shaken; then he failed another one (given his saves get nerfed by 2), and cumulative fear effects stack, taking him from shaken to frightened – which means he has no option but to flee this round, though which direction and whether he uses magic or not are totally up to him.

Kuros also failed his second saving throw, and thus, is also shaken.

As said, 11 gremlins here in total. Two of them – Gremlin Leader 1 and 2 – look a lot better-built than the average pathetic gremlin, though. All of them are at least five feet off the ground in the trees and bushes around you, meaning they have height advantage on attack and so on. In addition, the ones in the northwest part of the map are on an elevated patch of ground, so really about level with Akara.

That said, it’s not a surprise round, the gremlins basically got that when they hit you with the Doom wave.

Initiative Count:
Dergosh: +10 – 29
Akara: +8 - 25
Gremlins: +1 – 21
Three: +9 – 20
Kuros: +4 – 14 (Shaken)
Ruk: +0 - 9 (Frightened)
Korlann: +3 – 4