Silver Pool Campaign, Episode 1.3.7: Please read the first comment (click on View Results) below and THEN choose your preferred action.
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago, closed 11 years ago
Attack the giant wasp in the path while you have the element of surprise!
Drink the potion quickly. You must be very close to finding the hive and you'll need its protection.
Wait a bit where you are, motionless. You don't want to drink the potion too soon or you may not find the hive before its effect wears off. Let the wasp go on its way and then keep walking down the path.
Don't drink the potion just yet. Leave the path and cautiously follow the scent of the Tree of Sorrow blossoms.
Some other creative option? (Please comment.)
To the Hive!
darkstar: After you accept the task Brother Owen has given you, he outlines the details. He has "spoken" to the Wealdfire and, based on the ancient fungus' senses, there is a dead zone in the fungal network where he thinks the hive must be located. And from his "discussions" with the wild, giant honeybees that gather the honeydew in the 'Weald, their often fatal encounters with the wasps form a pattern, as well.  
From these sources of information, Brother Owen has been able to narrow down the most likely spot for the center of the wasp infestation. He and his animal friends haven't been able to get close enough to locate the hive exactly, being driven off by the wasps as he approaches the area. But it's located about six hours trek down the valley, along the eastern track leading through the Glimmerweald toward the rest of the Great Forest. It's on the primary trail taken by travelers to and from Viscount Grall's lands. Brother Owen describes it in as much detail as you need to find the general area.  
"From my early forays into the area, the orangemantle wasps seem like their smaller cousins, less active at night, which is why I was waiting until early this evening to go again. If you get there in the middle of the night, you will probably have fewer of the vermin to deal with." He gives you a small canvas shoulder bag, containing the repel vermin potion he has created, as well as three flasks of oil and three small twigs coated with a sulfurous substance. "The potion will work for perhaps an hour, and should repel most of the wasps up to ten feet or so."  
"Most of them?" you ask, smiling.  
Brother Owen smiles back. "The potion isn't perfect. A few may get through." Martelo lets out with a strained laugh and Aelric and Dan give each other a quick, uncertain look. "The larger ones, probably, will get through" Brother Owen adds. "But I'm expecting by going at night, you may only meet a few of the largest members of the hive. If I'm right, the vast majority of the hive won't be out and about."  
Dan clears his throat. "Um...just how many inhabitants does this hive have, anyway?" The idea of being swarmed by a hive of angry giant wasps is not meeting with enthusiasm from your colleagues. Truth to tell, it has you a little concerned, too, but it seems like Brother Owen wouldn't send you out on something that you wouldn't be able to handle.  
Brother Owen shrugs, running a hand over his balding pate. "It's hard to say, really, Dan. Normal wasp hives at this time of year could have hundreds. Maybe thousands." His response is obviously not encouraging to your colleagues. "One of you -- maybe Kit -- will need to take the potion when you approach the hive. Wait until you get as close as possible, so the effect lasts as long as you need it. The rest of you will need to stay close together. Find the hive -- you won't have much time -- and douse it with oil, as much of the three flasks as you can. Then strike one of these tindertwigs against a rock or the steel of your blade and it will ignite into flame. Light the oil on fire to burn away the hive." It all seems relatively simple, but Brother Owen doesn't stop there.  
"Once the wasps detect you as a threat, they will become very aggressive and you won't have much time before they attack. The rest of you should defend against any of the larger wasps that break through the potion's repellant effect, so Kit can complete the task. It's important to make sure as much oil is used as possible, all of it if you can, so the hive queen is destroyed. The queen must be killed. Hopefully it's too early in the summer for her to have created breeding offspring. Of course, you must make sure the fire doesn't spread to the nearby trees." He concludes with a sigh. "I'll know when you're successful, because the Wealdfire will tell me. This won't be painless for the Glimmerweald, but it has to be done to remove this infestation."  
A few more minor questions resolve the issue and then, perhaps an hour before nightfall, Brother Owen and Faye head out on their own mission. The elder druid is wearing a small pack, little more than a beltpouch, really. His short walking stick is the only evidence of any weapon on him, though you suspect he has other ways of taking care of himself. You, Dan, Aelric and Martelo gather your things and set forth on the trail down the valley to the east. As you leave the grove, with its intricately woven cottage of living ash trees, the dolmen and the ancient oak, you have a wistful sense of leaving home, even though you've only been here a couple of hours.  
The summer moonrise is shortly after sunset and the very nearly full moon provides ample illumination for your trek. Even so, you catch occasional glimpses of the eerie green glow emanating from the shadows of the 'Weald as you pass: the glowing of the Wealdfire. As the moon slowly climbs in the sky, you see these glowing fungal bodies diminish. It occurs to you that you are seeing the damage of the wasps as you approach the center of their activity. After trekking for a half-hour without seeing any of the green, luminous fungus, it strikes you just how much damage the vermin must have created in the few weeks since they have been here.  
As the moon nears its zenith, you realize you must be very close to where Brother Owen indicated the hive should be found. With you sword in one hand and the potion in the other, you move forward slowly on the path. Aelric, Dan and Martelo draw closer to you as they heft their own weapons: shortswords taken from the raiders. The midsummer night is relatively cool as a gentle breeze plays across the path. You peer into the shadows and strain your hearing for any sign of the wasps.  
There, about 30 feet away on the moonlit path in front of you, you spot what appears to be a small animal crawling in the moonlight. Its gait is strange for the small game you're used to, until you see it suddenly lift off from the ground with a buzzing and then light again perhaps ten feet further away. Your adrenaline begins pumping as you recognize what must be an orangemantle wasp. The thing appears to be a foot long or more -- incredible to see a wasp that size! It doesn't seem to have seen you yet, and continues crawling along the ground. At the same moment, the aroma of Tree of Sorrows blossoms wafts from the trees to your right.  
Dan, Aeric and Martelo all look at you, waiting for a sign of what to do...
darkstar: Previous episodes and character data sheet here.  
All welcome to participate, regardless of whether you've voted in earlier episodes.
Like to have some background on
pdxpogo: The Tree of Sorrows. It might help with a creative solution.  
darkstar: Tree of Sorrow is the colloquial name for night-blooming jasmine. The fragrant plant that blooms at night and the flowers fade in the day.  
You ar familiar with the plant from your knowledge and experience in the outdoors. More recently, Tree of Sorrow played an intriguing role in your ambush of the raiders who attacked Foxglove (see Episode 1.1.6). When you returned to the village after the ambush, you spoke to Faye about the plant (in Episode 1.1.9):
As Mistress Faye finishes her ministrations and prayer over you, you notice an embroidered pattern on her tunic: a familiar sprig of flowers with white blossoms. "Tree of Sorrow", you say, pointing at the embroidery. You swiftly recount the events related to the sudden zephyr during the ambush that may have helped obscure the enemy scout's sense of smell.  
"Yes," she says, smiling. "It is a plant sacred to My Lady Aldrya. I was praying for your party to be successful tonight. Mayhap The Goddess favored you."
Tree of Sorrow is used in some herbal preparations to treat fever and common infections, among other ailments. The aroma from the blossoms is used in a bath scent preparations and the flowers are used as a yellow-orange dye.  
Walking silently?
pneum0nic: How likely is it that our large-ish party could track this obscene vespid creature back to its nest without betraying our intentions?
I voted for the Tree of Sorrows option. It seems like that would be a good place for most of the party to hang out. The scent of the flowers might mask their stink so the wasps would be slower to attack and might not be able to find them once alarmed.  
Before screwing with any wasps, I propose that we suit up with as much coverage as possible, using the canvas bag from our tarp if necessary. Head-to-toe fabric covering should be the goal, with openings to see out of, etc, of course. Also, I'm not sure swords are the way to go here. It's nice to think we could slice a wasp out of the air just like that, but I would be looking for something more flyswatter-like. I'm not sure that everyone is going to possess the skill to take the wasps on the wing.  
In a pinch, the larger group should be prepared to shelter under the tarp (in case they get overwhelmed).
Please change mine
AB: from 1 (attack) to 4 (tree). I should've asked about the tree, but meh. Good to know.
darkstar: Done!
darkstar: Just to clarify, the Wealdfire is an ancient fungus that predominately grows underground. It sends out a rhizomorph network throughout the forest, where it lives symbiotically with the roots of the trees of the woods. The fungus sporadically puts up fruiting bodies (like mushrooms) that erupt low on the tree trunks. These fruits glow in the dark.  
The wasps lay their eggs in the glowing fungus fruits and the hatched larvae eat the fruit, leading to damage and disease for the Wealdfire.  
For those of you who are familiar with it, these basic kinds of things actually occur in nature, though not exactly as it is happening with the Wealdfire. For more background, see:  
1. An example of a very large, 1000-yr-old underground fungal network in Europe, here. An even larger, older one (perhaps 2400 years old) in Oregon, here.  
2. An article on foxfire (bioluminescent fungi), here.  
3. An article on plant-fungus symbiosis, here.  
4. An example of wasp oviposition in fig fruit, here.  
Finally, "Tree of Sorrow" (night-blooming jasmine) is also a real plant. You can google it and find out all about how it's used in various religions, herbal preps, etc. :)
we're actually arriving at dusk, as you suggest.
carburetor cleaner works better than Raid, but is just as unobtainable, I'm afraid
darkstar: Game time is just about midnight right now. Nearly full moon is at its zenith.