Yes, that's right. ATACIUS will look for clues besides the obvious ones.
Awesome! What do you do? Where do you go?
This is close to what you're seeing, about double the number of trees, and the hollow dips down so that you don't see the roots or bottom third of the trees from where you're at. There is a large beaten down path in the tall grass leading to the trees.
Is there any clues of a hidden/concealed entrance that goes below ground? Looks like there's no evidence of an above ground construction, so he'll look for anything that goes down.
You're too far to see into the trees to see if there's a structure there - you're approximately 400 to 500 feet away. There's all those damn walkers and grass in the way. Where you are at right now, you don't see anything that looks like structure. That seems to be at the treeline, where there might be a ruined stone fence. You'd have to get closer (probably to within 100 feet or so) to see around those zombies, if you take a frontal approach.
Will try to get closer encircling around the place. Like spiraling towards the trees until I'm about 100 feet, trying to see what's there, besides the walkers, and what have them drawn to the place.
It takes some time (2 turns) for you to cautiously and carefully move through the tall grasses, circling the grove. As you get closer, you can make out what looks like an older stone farmhouse in the middle of the trees. The tendril of smoke you saw earlier is coming from the chimney. There are the remains of a stone wall, about knee high, in a circle around the house. Not quite at the tree line, it looks like the trees have spread beyond the wall a bit.
There seems to be a simple well behind the building. There are several hand carts around the building as well. There appear to be bodies piled on the carts, as well as lying on the ground.
The dead walkers are in a bunch. You would guess there are a couple dozen of them. They are mostly staying in place, though a few twitch or wobble a bit. They are facing what looks like the front of the building.
There are two of the long-limbed creatures as well. They are pacing back and forth in front of what seems to be a make-shift altar or shrine of some sort. You would have to get closer to make out details, but you can see that it does have skulls on it.
What do you want to do now?
So, can I assume an approach from the well side would be hidden from the walkers and the long limbed ones?
Will get near on the well side, then.
Even with the cool weather, you hear the buzzing of clouds of flies that hover over the corpse carts and flying around the building. The odor from the bodies is horrible. As you get closer to the trees, you see the ones closest to the house have claw marks and what appear to be body pieces stuck to them.
You are near the well, which is a simple circle of stone with a weatherworn cover over it and a bucket with a rope nearby. The windows on the backside of the house are boarded up. The back door is closed. There are odd symbols painted onto the door and window boards, you think it might be blood.
I will try to memorize the symbols before going back to the group and describe them to CALLIN and GRAIAN along with the rest of the findings.
On your way back, the hairs on your hands, feet and back of neck raise. You see the long limbed creatures suddenly stop pacing and sniff at the air, like a hunting dog. Deep breaths, and constant. After a few minutes, they go back to pacing.
CALLIN and GRAIAN both recognize the symbols, as they are a perversion of both Divine and Arcane powers, reversing the laws of nature and Lexius. They are necromantic in nature.
CALLIN seeing the symbols makes his skin crawl. "Necromancy. A vile practice. We must shine the LIGHT upon this place and dispatch all that cast darkness against the LIGHT. How many zombies did you make out? And were their any of those dreaded long armed creatures? If so we should dispatch those first!" Callin then turns to Lydia and Dinah "Do you happen to have flame arrows on hand? They could serve quite well in the situation. When we are ready to strike, let me first say a prayer to the LIGHT to bless our actions, that our blades and arrows strike true, and that vile claws and teeth, may not strike us"
ATACIUS: "There are about two dozen of walkers and a couple of those long limbed creatures. And we should approach upwind or those two might catch our scent." says the littleling as he checks on his oil grenades.
Lydia and Dinah check each others' quivers.
"We've got six each." Lydia says. She nods approvingly at ATACIUS's oil flask collection. "I see you all have come prepared. This gets better and better."
TAKASHI will sheath his sword and shield, and ready the bow and arrows he has.
TAKASHI: "The long limbed creatures are much faster than the walking corpses. As brother CALLIN said, we should try and focus all of our ranged fire on them as they will close the distance quickly. We should close to just within range of our bows, and then let fly. The farther we are from them, the more distance they will have to travel, and the more arrows we can sink into them. The only other thing I can think of that would be useful is a trench in our front and flanks, but I don't think any of us have the needed shovels."
ATACIUS, you do recall seeing shovels on the corpse carts.
"Actually, there are shovels on the carts with the corpses. If you think we have time to dig the trench I can go and get them." says the littleing that was counting his bulltes but got side tracked and has to start counting them again.
TAKASHI: "I think it may be a wise move. We can then dump oil in the trenches, and the slower dead may very well walk mindlessly into the trench, and then *fwoof*!"
ATACIUS looks around the group to see if they agree before going back to the walker infested cottage. Also he'll check the wind's direction.
CALLIN: "I agree as well. The better we can defend ourselves against these vile creatures the better.
TOBIAS nods in agreement. "That sounds good. But bite long will it take to dig trenches?"
CALLIN smiles at TOBIAS: "As long as it takes to keep us safe my friend. Preperation is the best defense"
ATACIUS: "Let's go get those shovels!" says the littleling as he leaves his sword, both his satchels, coin pouch and bullets. He'll go just with his silver dagger.
The hollow is accessible in all directions. The wind comes generally from the west to the east. There are 3 carts, one in front (the south side), one on the east and one on the west.
ATACIUS will approach the hollow from the east and try to steal the shovel from that car first.
Easy enough to move through the tall grass, then flit from tree to tree to get to the cart. As you get close to it, it's a gruesome and stomach-churning sight. Bodies lay on the cart and in front of it. Most have flies and maggots covering them and they're bloated from being outdoors and uncovered.
First shovel is in hand. You're close enough to hear the long-limbed creatures to the front of the house pacing... and hissing.
ATACIUS will then skirt the hollow to the south to get the shovel from the cart there. He will cover his nose and mouth to hold the stench of the bodies.
Hmm... the south one is also where the front of the house is, with the odd looking shrine, the long-limbed creatures and zombies. Let me draw a rough map real quick.
OK, I thought the carts were on the perimeter and the walkers more near the house at the center of the hollow.
C = Carts, L = long limbed creatures, Z = zombies (this is just positions, not a count)
You have the shovel from the cart to the east. The cart on the west side of the house is probably approachable... probably. The one from the south... will require rolls.
Got it, thanks. Will then go around the northern side, using the trees as cover, to reach the cart on the west side of the house. Once I have the shovel will backtrack my steps to where I came from.
You take a winding trail around the north side, using the trees as cover and you reach the west side and the cart. It is much the same as the east cart with flies and maggots coating the bloated bodies and a horrible stench that would make the stoutest stomach lurch.
As your fingers close around the shovel,
.... ---- &&&& EVERYTHING &&&& ---- ....
... seems to blink/shiver/wobble for a moment, your ears begin ringing and a strange metallic taste rises in your mouth. A cold dread settles over your perceptions and heart, and the air seems so cold that you feel as if you must shiver in response.
Suddenly, the long-limbed creatures stop their pacing and begin to eagerly snuff and sniff at the air. With each sniff, you feel a tug at yourself. Not from the outside, but from the inside.
For some reason, an elder relative's face pops into your memory and you hear their voice as they whisper "The dead can smell your soul..."
ATACIUS gasps at the chest-crunching feeling, his eyes wide in awe, and slowly starts backing from the cart shovel in hand ready to sprint the way he came.
Seconds feel like eternities as you step backwards from the cart. Your breath sounds harsh and rasping in your breath. Both of the long-limbed creatures turn slowly to you, their solid milky white, pupiless eyes staring as their nostrils distend from the deep breaths they are taking.
As if crossing a border, suddenly it is as it was before you got close to the cart.
The creatures sniff several more times and then turn (disappointed?) away and resume their pacing in front of the skull shrine.
The only reminder that this was not a dream is the white-knuckled grip you have on both shovels.
ATACIUS goes running back to the group with his "treasure", arriving sweating and gasping for air. "Those... those.... hufff... long limbed... puff... they can smell... they smell your soul!" he says as he throws down the shovels and grabs his waterskin. "By the hairy feet of my elders they can!" he then lays on the grass to rest, closing his eyes trying to think of more pleasant things. The littleling sighs.
TAKASHI will take one of the shovels from ATACIUS, and begin digging out the trench in front of their position.
TAKASHI: "Wonderful, ATACIUS! We have two shovels, so we can take turns digging and as we get tired, we will trade off. Let's try and make it 5 feet wide, and at least 3 feet deep. I don't think those shamblers can step over a five foot gap, and they didn't look nimble enough for a running jump either."
TOBIAS will take his turn with a shovel when the time comes.
GRAIAN will also take his turn digging the trenches
CALLIN will also take a turn with the Shovel