Rives continues to saddle the remaining three horses. It has become more difficult since Ken and Leo had been dismantling the paddock, not because the horses were roaming free, but because they had figured out that something very wrong was going on around them and they were becoming increasingly skittish.
When he looks up to see the mass of debris on the inside of the gates, his shoulders slump. They barely had a chance to begin with, but with the oil-soaked mess of wood that was now strewn infront of the gate was going to make it near on impossible to get the horses out safely. Still, it was worth a try. Die with the horses, or die with the fools defending the indefensible. Rives hurriedly got back to work, suppressing his fear and nervousness as best he could.
Silently Kenjin stood at the ready, hefting his axe and working through several chopping motions to warm up his arm. If this was to be his last fight he would make certain that he took enough Gnolls with him to make sure they remembered him for all time! And then Marin's words drifted down to him from the catwalk above.
"Pitch?" Kenjin muttered to himself curiously. "We have pitch? Why in the nine hells did'nt someone say so before?"
Thrusting the torch at Leo he said, "Here, hold this. I will be back."
Kenjin broke into a sprint, making his way back towards the cave. He hoped that he had enough time to get back with some of the material before the doors were breached.
The lieutenant looks sharply at Al, and the healer can see the gears turning in the officer's head. "Got it," he says after a second or two. "I assume you're volunteering your squad? Best get going then, we haven't got all day."
Leo nods grimly to Ken as he takes a ready position behind the door, his hands flexing with anticipation. "You better run, before I get the urge to set this all on fire." The doors shiver again as the gnolls bash their ram against the outside.
Marin gets to the bottom of the stairs about the same time that Ken arrives in the refectory. Betsy is already pulling open the secret entrance to the catacombs, sliding the heavy stone away with a surprising amount of strength for a woman. "You'll need ropes," she huffs as she bustles out into the courtyard, where Rives has finished preparing the horses for the ride and is now struggling to keep them calm and clustered.
Caedmon continues to lead the archers, firing shots and ducking behind the battlements to reload. Despite the valiant efforts of the 7th, the gnolls have gained a purchase on the battlements and are forcing the soldiers to retreat, step by step, toward the stairs leading down to the courtyard below. "Archers, concentrate on the tops!" Wyndshof bellows as he inserts himself in the front line of fighters. "Spears to me, set a line!" His efforts manage to instill some discipline in the resistance, at least for the moment.
As the shaft was open, Marin started trembling slightly and for a moment she looks just like a little girl lost, looking everywehre seeking for refuge. But seeing Betsy's resilence brings new strenght back to her body and taking some of the ropes she looks outside and up, where the sounds of battle are stronger
"We're nutters to try this... but as the saying goes "Forture favors the bold", The Gods protect us" she said calming her racing heart. "Thanks Betsy, now prepare yoursef to escape. If this does not work we're evacuating. Get toghether some things, just the most neccessary"
Taking a slow breath, Marin summoned all her strenght in this single task, knwing that it was their only chance to maybe end this as well as possible
Rives wanted to do nothing more than let the horses loose and run. But right now was not the time. As he watches the gate shiver and shake, he finds himself wondering exactly how much longer he will have to wait. Then it strikes him, that he and the horses will need to ride through the flames, and he leads the horses over to the water trough and he jumps in. Then he begins to toss water on the horses. Best not to catch himself or the horses on fire.
Kenjin thunders down the shaft, moving with reckless abandon and nearly knocking himself senseless more than once as he favored speed over safety. By some divine luck he reached the barrels with ropes in hand before the realization finally came to him...he can't really tie ropes well!
It had been a point of contention with his father for many years. Ken was terrible with knot tying, an irony for someone who spent as much time on a ferry as he had, but it was simply something he had never been good at. "Damn you, Ken! Why didnt you spend more time working on that?!" Kenjin admonished himself.
This was no time for stalling, however, and he intended to give it a try nonetheless. One thing was for certain...if he ever saw his father again he would apologize for not learning this skillset!
Alelip looks at the Lieutenant for a moment -- volunteering to ride the horses out of the keep had not been the outcome that he had wanted -- then nods, understanding the order. He adds quickly, "Take Marin with you. She was our lead in navigating the caverns, and she'll know the way to the waterfall -- a wrong turn and you could get lost down there for a long time. I'll gather the rest of my squad and get to the horses."
Alelip descends down from the wall as quickly as possible. As he does so, he immediately heads for the stables to find Rives. As he approaches the stables, he calls out to Rives, "Rives! Get those horses saddled! We're going to attempt a breakout!"
As Alelip approaches, the sodden Rives is already legging up onto Strider, a grim, but determined look on his face. He simply nods to the older man as he walks his horse over to the rest and gathers their leads.
As quickly as Ken can manage, he ties barely adequate knots around the two barrels. Almost before he finishes, Marin is hauling on the first rope and heaving the barrel of pitch up the narrow shaft. As it comes over the rim into the refectory, the sudden change in resistance causes the warrior-woman to lose her balance and fall backwards onto the floor. The barrel rolls toward her, stopping as it comes to rest against her booted feet. Ken comes up immediately behind the barrel, his head popping out of the vertical passage to find Marin on her back and Betsy trying to help the other girl to her feet.
In the courtyard, Leo watches with dismay as the door continues to splinter and shake. "Going to need to light this soon," he calls out a warning to Alelip.
Rives manages to convince the six horses to obey his instructions, though they all look a bit surprised at the unexpected, hasty bath. They stand in the center of the courtyard, stamping their feet and whinnying nervously.
On the battlements, the gnolls start to push back the defending soldiers, who are doing their best to delay the advance long enough for their fellows to make an orderly retreat down the stairs. It's noisy chaos, but by comparison it is a small fight relative to the two battles already fought in the open field. Alelip can count at least ten gnolls on the walls. Fortunately, none of the archers have made the climb yet.
Groaning at the fall, and scowling because of it, Marin takes Betsy's hand and stands up.
"Betsy, take this one and roll it to the main door, we need them there. I'll wait for the next one" she says pointing to the barrel at her feet
"Ken! what are you waiting for! we need the other barrel! Move move!" Marin urges the young man