The adventurers had just killed the ogre in the hobgoblin kitchen and the hobgoblins were likely aware of the adventurers due to the use of Halfdan's "boomstick."
Dwarven Boomstick: Damage 1d8+4; Roll to hit AC 10 (plus any magical protections) regardless of actual armor.The adventurers decided to flee! Quickly but not recklessly.
I rolled some dice to see what the disposition of the hobgoblins was (aware, curious, but unsure of the threat) and I asked the players what they wanted to do.
They decided to flee into the woods, collect their mules, ponies and armor, then head back on the trail.
At dusk, they discussed leaving the trail to avoid the hobgoblins. They couldn't make it back to the ruin in the dark. The party looked around for signs of the hobgoblins and they determined that they had 3 of 4 nearby hexes to flee into -- the hobgoblins didn't seem to frequent these areas.
They settled upon a wooded hex and carefully made their way in. They found a secure spot under a rocky outcrop and worked to disguise their hiding place (poorly) should the hobgoblins come by.
They divided the night up into three watches and they were mostly uneventful. Halfdan reported that during his watch, he heard a hobgoblin patrol move by. At least 6 hobgoblins and 4 wolves.
The party had a small breakfast of rations and dwarven coffee over a tiny fire. They warmed up and headed for town, hoping to hire some men-at-arms and torch bearers for the final assault on the mine.
They got about 10 miles down the trail when something interesting happened...
They stumbled into a group of 4 goblins with two smaller wolves. Both groups surprised and startled each other and they stood for awhile in the middle of the trail looking at one another.
The players decided to talk with the goblins. They didn't know goblin, but the goblin leader knew a little common.
They approached the goblins with their weapons put away. I rolled a reaction roll -- neutral. The goblins waited.
The adventurers began to parley. The goblin leader decided that they would like to just "move along" so he says, in broken common, "No Hurt" and he motions to the archer to his right and the wolf handler to his left. The wolf handler pulls the wolves off the trail. A small, cloaked goblin in the back of the party, maybe a goblin wizard, watches the whole scene with caution.
The party makes a big point of putting all their weapons away. The fighter approaches alone and speaks directly to the goblin leader, "Would you like to help us fight some hobgoblins?"
The goblin leader doesn't know all the words, but he gets the drift. I roll another reaction roll. 12! The goblin leader holds his hand up in a "stop" motion and approaches the cloaked goblin. They confer.
After a few minutes, the goblin leader says enthusiastically, "Yes!"