As Raúguey gets close, there are squeals and shouts from inside the hut. He pauses a few feet away. "Can anyone make out what they're saying?"
Grendor frowns. "It sounds like 'Don't kill us, we surrender! We will leave this place forever and never come back! Don't kill us!'"
"It's a trick," says Durego. "Light them up!"
And that lead to...
Strom looks at Durego, a shocked look on his face. "What? Ya mean ta light them up? They ain’t no fooking copper brazier! What d'you mean, 'Light them up?!'" The dwarf looks to Grendor "That's a bit strong, isn't it? Borderline cruel. The boys is just surrendin'. We canna be slaying prisoners or opponents who have yielded. We take their weapons and send em on they little way with a wounded backside we do. But to burn em to death, don't that risk the wrath of yus god Erlinga?"
"Those 'fooking coppers braziers' just try and poke many holes in Mordikar and Ohwatoo. Now Mordikarr going to poke holes in them." Mordikarr rubs at a bloodied scrape where the bolt grazed his thigh. He raises his spear and steps closer to the hut - stern and ready to skewer the first thing that emerges.
Ingvild answers, "Strom laddie, you weren't with us the last time we ran into these nasty little fire rats. We barely got out of this god forsaken place without being flambe'-ed ourselves by those tiny evil fookers. Fight fire with fire I say. Light em up Raúguey!"
"Nah I wasn’t with last time ya lass, but I am now an things turned out differently didn' they? No need you get yus knickers bunched up," says Strom, but before he can contine, Grendor cuts him off.
"Shut it, Ingvild or I’ll shut it for you!" None save Strom have heard Grendor snap like this: loud and aggressive. "This isn’t your concern right now!" The half-elf’s eyes are on Durego, not Ingvild, though his words were definitely aimed at the thief. "REALLY? Light them up? Think about what you’re saying, priest. Your vows? Do they mean NOTHING to you?"
He pauses... Ingvild makes a sound as if to speak, Grendor’s hand snaps up, palm out toward the thief. "Don’t make me draw my blade, thief," his words a cold warning.
"'We do what we must, not what we desire.' [*] Those words mean anything to you, priest? Remember your training. Remember your vows. These kobolds have surrendered. We either let them go, or hold a fair and impartial trial. Only then will there be talk of lighting them up."
Grendor turns to the thief and nods. "Have your say if you will."
Raúguey shoots Grendor a quizzical look. "So, when you're done with your little kobold trial, will you be lookin' for next of kin to distribute the treasure?"
Ingvild follows that comment with, "Don't ever threaten me again. And don't threaten anyone in this party again for that matter. Ever."
Ohwatoo mutters, "Nope, no party disharmony there," into his beard, then, louder, "This is the problem with these jackal's spawn, let them go they come back meaner than ever. Slaughter them indiscriminately and you feel like a jerk. I wonder if we could sell them in town?"
Durego glares at Grendor and answers, "All kobolds are guilty of despicable acts and can never be redeemed. Light them up." He pulls an oil flask from his belt pouch, intent on burning the hut. Grendor's hand drops to the hilt of his sword, and Strom moves to support his friend.
Strom interrupts, "That sounds like 'ostility, don't it, Grendor? And we don't like 'ostility, do we, Grendor? No, we don't," he growls, staring at Ingvild. "Whose threatin' who? We bled for this group, fought for Raúgey here, and proved our worth with our deeds, not by bouncin' round puttin' a pig sticker in some helpless, face-down-in-the-mud gnolls. So don' ya talk to me like that. Durego, I like you priest, yus good in a bust up, but don' bring the gods' punishment down on this group again."
"You all need to sip some chill juice," says Rawon, as he sneaks a drop from the flask. "This isn't my fight." He keeps his bow ready, attention divided between the arguing party members and the surrounding swamp.
Maro steps into the fray. "Gentlemen, please! We are all on the same side here, but we seem to have reached a quandary. Let's be realistic. We're injured, we still have enemies about, and time is of the essence. We need to move this along. Durego, can we trust you to pass judgment fairly and justly without the influence of your past clouding your ruling? If you can, I will abide by your choice. Can we hold this field trial so we can move on? Grendor seems to be dead set on following the rule of Erlinga’s law to the letter. Considering his standing with the head of your order I think it is in our best interest to avoid anything that might bring them down on us or cause your standing to fall with your god. If we do this it will fall to you to justify your actions when we return to town. You know I would as soon burn them out, they are helping to despoil the dead and nature dictates she wants them to rest. I fear, however, that my own law is not what we may have to answer for back in town. I would rather not battle amongst ourselves here and now because only the necromancer will win. We must compromise… Dagmarten, what does your own religion say on this matter?”
As the conflict unfolds near the kobold hut, Dagmarten stands in the background, shaking his head. When Maro asks his opinion, he says, "I have no love for kobolds or their kind, but killing foes that have surrendered is a dishonorable act. I'll have no part in it." He glares at the primary participants in the ongoing debate, especially his brother, Ingvild. "Your actions put us all at risk. Do I have to remind you that those gnolls ran off? That they'll probably be back, with friends? That there may be more creatures in the other hut? That more foes could come up the stairs at any time? Deal with your petty conflicts and let's get moving."
Raúguey, who was already close to the hut and pulling out another oil flask, listens to the exchange of arguments, but takes no interest in either side. Rather, he starts kicking the sides of the hut and commanding repeatedly, "Come out now and spare your miserable lives, or stay inside and choose death instead!"
"Come out and live! Stay hidden and die!"
"Time is running out sneaky vermin! LIVE OR DIE?! LIVE OR DIE?!?!"
He pulls the Sword of Bees, and waits for a reaction.
The heated debate comes to an end when Raúguey starts kicking the wall. Of course, Raúguey doesn't speak Goblin, so his words have little impact.
Maro follows the fighter's lead (and he speaks Goblin), so he moves to the other side of the door and hammers the wall with the hilt of his sword. "Come out now, with no weapons, and surrender!"
Seeing the tide has turned against him, the scowling Durego grumbles something foul, stows away the oil flask he was ready to throw, and stalks off, heading more or less east. Grendor and Strom share a look, then relax, but only a little. They turn to the hut to watch the kobold's reaction. Ingvild moves up as well, pointedly avoiding the two of fighters.
There's a sudden clatter from inside the hut as if something heavy fell. An unseen hand flings the hide flap covering the door aside, and a half-dozen kobolds tumble out, yowling and whining as they drop short blades and crossbows. "No keel!" shrieks one, who wears a ragged, soot-streaked fur cape. "No keel! We no fight! No weapons!"
"Get down you dogs!" growls Raúguey, shoving the leader to the ground. The fighters quickly subdue the pack. Ingvild and Maro do a quick search; aside from a few short belt knives, the kobolds have left their weapons in the hut. "See? No keel! No fight! We only guard because swamp walker say! No keel!" whines the leader.
Raúguey, Moridkarr and Strom keep the kobolds under guard and Rawon, Dagmarten and Saurabh watch the surrounding area while Ingvild and Maro check out the hut. There's no one else inside, and the only furnishings are crude sleeping pallets and an overturned table (no doubt used to block the doorway). They search hastily and find a handful of coins, but nothing else of value (they leave behind some sour-smelling liquid in a barrel and a few hunks of greenish meat).
When the pair comes out with little to show for their efforts, Ohwatoo whispers, "Grab the leader and pull him aside," to Raúguey. The big man complies, hauling the whining, caped kobold behind a nearby wall. Ohwatoo follows.
"Now then," says Ohwatoo in perfect Goblin, "why don't you tell us where you hide your treasure."
The creature licks his fangs nervously, its tail drooping. "Skarg and packmates have no treasure," he mutters. "Swamp walkers took all. Hide it in their hut. "We want to go, but swamp walker make us stay. Tell us they kill us and others of the tribe if we not fight. Skarg and packmates don't like this place. Want to go home." The last statement delivered in a pleading whine.
"Swamp walkers? Who are these swamp walkers?" asks Ohwatoo.
Cautiously, Skarg points southwest, toward the smoldering hut. "They the ones that fought you. The ugly ones. Swamp walkers very mean. Very hard to kill. That is why our tribe does not come near this place. That is why Skarg and packmates want to leave. No want to fight. We go back home and never come back."
As best as Ohwatoo and Raúguey can tell, Skarg is telling the truth. He looks pretty ragged and is poorly dressed, even for a kobold. His soot-stained cape is moth-eaten and filthy, and the only decoration he wears is a bundle of blackened sticks on a leather thong around his neck. The other kobolds are groveling in the mud and look pretty much the same, minus the cape. All in all, they're a sorry lot.
The searchers recovered about 150 coins, mostly copper, from the hut.
Saurabh has returned to the ground and rejoined the others. Rawon, Dagmarten and Saurabh are keeping watch. Durego is wandering outside the walls, scowling and batting at dead weeds with his mace. The rest of the group is gathered near the kobolds.