Notices


Chapter 13: Breaking the Siege

 
Alelip pulls up to a stop, and calls out "Rives! Stop!" as he does so.

Looking at the four of them, he asks, "Anyone hurt or in need of medical attention?"

Rives pulls back on strides reins, bringing the large stallion to a halt, then coaxes the horse back towards where the others had reined in.

Kenjin too pulls in alongside his counterparts. The idea of being hurt hadnt even occurred to him and he looked down fully expecting to find an arrow lodged in his abdomen. Patting himself all over he finally looked up and grinned. "The gods have favored me this day. Other than the soreness in my hind I am well."

With the sounds of Gnolls all through the forest Kenjin looked about to ensure none were within range. "We'd best make a plan and get on with it or plans will be made for us."

Alelip looks around, and says, "Agreed. I think we need to get out of the forest," he cringes as he hears some of the gnoll battle cries nearby, "and into open land as quickly as possible. Once there, we need to figure out where the waterfall is. Does anyone remember crossing by a river, stream, or a body of water on our trip here?"

Caedmon shakes his head. "No, sir. I got a look at the map that was in the diary Leo found; the river should be east of here along the road. Remember we came along the west bank when were were looking for the horses. The forest goes on for some ways in that direction--probably another day or two's ride?" He reaches down to gently smooth the mane of his stallion, who appears to be rattled by the strange hollow-sounding calls of the gnolls.

Alelip thinks for a moment, then nods. "Lead the way back towards the river, Cademon. Let us move quickly, before the gnolls find our position."

Rives uncomfortably shifts in his saddle as he hears the howls of the gnolls. They might be far off at the moment, but close enough to hear was too close for his comfort. Rives nods, perhaps a bit overly exuberantly at Alelip's suggestion. Getting out of a gnoll infested area sounded like a fabulous plan.

"Yes, quickly indeed," Kenjin urged as he continued to swivel in his saddle to keep a wary eye on their flanks. He was certain that at any moment a pack of gnolls would emerge from the treeline to attack and fully planned on sliding off that infernal beast to engage them as god had intended, dismounted!

"We need to get out of these trees as soon as possible. The gnolls have too much of an advantage while we are in them."

Caedmon nods curtly and urges his mount along the winding trail leading back toward the main road. "The forest goes on for miles--the nearest break is back toward Oakhollow. If the road is clear, that's probably the best way."

The group rides hard, but the gnolls have the scent. At every hilltop, Alelip looks back to see a pack of hyenas prowling in pursuit, hooting the presence of their quarry back to their humanoid masters. Ken and Marin cling to their saddles as their horses gallop at full tilt, while Rives rides low and steady, practically at one with Strider.

The main road comes into sight, and with it a disheartening recognition: a pack of six gnolls is waiting at the juncture, axes at the ready. While there's two hundred yards of intervening space, the hyenas continue to come from behind, and the riders recognize they've been driven into the waiting arms of the hunters.

Alelip looks up at the gnolls waiting on the road, and curses loudly, though what exactly he says is lost to to the sound of the horses hooves.




 

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