Chapter 8: Before the Walls

Chapter 8: Before the Walls

The horse hooves thud in rapid time against the soft loam of the forest floor, with six riders clinging bareback as they flee from the pursuing gnolls. The stark walls of the Watchtower loom closer and closer through the trees, until suddenly the thick woods give way to the hundred yard wide clearing that has been kept as a measure of safety. Sentries wave from the battlements as Rives leads Caedmon, Alelip, Leo, Marin, and Butch up to the gates.

The pursuit, however, continued even as the original chasers slackened their pace. A full dozen gnolls clad in hide armor and brandishing battleaxes come swarming into the cleared area with hoots and howls of blood lust. Running full tilt, it will likely take them a half minute or so to close the distance...

Inside the gates, Withers, Nate, and Giles are hastily donning their leathers and readying spear and sword for battle. With them are three other "veterans" of the week: Ken Rivers, Drew Innman, and Kyle Tanner. Drew and Kyle look a little nervous to be seeing action again so soon, but Ken--despite his scrawny build--has an excited expression on his face as he raps the butt of his spear on the ground, making a rat-a-tat-tat sound that echoes through the court.

"Open the gates!" a voice calls urgently from above. There is a twang of a bowstring, and the six outside the walls can see the arrow streak through the sky but fall substantially short of the charging pack.

Order of Battle: Leo/Rives/Caedmon, Gnolls, Everyone Else

Status: Gnolls at 300 feet, closing at 60 feet per round.

Gate: The gate takes 2 people 1 round to open/shut, or 1 person 2 rounds to open/shut. Only people on the inside can work the gate.

These dice sets were omitted or moved: 1d20+1z, 1d20+1z, 1d20+2z

"Come on, come on,"

Your no good for me,

"sooner we get to stinging their hides,"

I don't need nobody,

"the sooner they'll slink away to call us demons!"

Don't need no one,

That's no good for me.

Giles struggles with his leather, having the hardest time of it of the six likely enough despite his words. The lines of a damnable song run through his mind as he moves, giving him at least a sense of grace of rhythm to cover the fear, no the raw stinking terror in his heart.

"S'll show em the difference between a field and a fort. Ayuh!"

This last is more muttered than shouted, just another bit of noise in the clop of horses and the shouts of commands and orders, the stamp of feet across the courtyard as he moves to the gate, slating the haft of his spear through the handle and using as an impromptu bit of assistance to pull the door open.

"Hold your fire! wait till their closer." Leo hollers up as they ride into the Fort.

He quickly leaps from his horse, helping marin down, as she had the disadvantage of not having a saddle.

Waiting for the gates to open was never a fun time, but with a deep breath, Leo draws his spear, and prepares to stand rear guard for as long as need be

"Get the gates open, and get inside!"

Rives stays mounted on Strider looking as dwarfed by the massive roan as they all are by the mass of stone that is Baden Falls. Rives guides Strider over towards Leo and holds out his hand "Give me his lead," he calls down. "These horses get skittish in battle and I really don't want to have to go track them all down again. I'll get them to the stables as soon as the gates are open." As the others make it to the gate, Rives collects their horses and anxiously awaits the opening of the gate. Strider stands defiantly still, oblivious to the cold rock that was Rives' stomach. Strider eyes the advancing gnolls with something between disinterest and loathing, but the other five horses pranced about, more in tune with Rives's mood than the lead stallion. The last thing they would need with an army of gnolls descending upon them would be the frantic prancing of horses.

Rives tightened his grip on the horses leads and looked back and forth between the gate and the rapidly advancing gnolls. Would that gate open already! If the gnolls didn't overrun the fort, the horses might well trample the handful of defenders to death.

Now, with the battlements in sight, Caedmon is determined to escape death by gnoll once more. Quickly scanning the terrain for anything that might slow the gnollish advance or at least give the six of them some type of advantage while they await the opening of the gate. As he does so, he slowly urges the dark horse back towards the charging gnolls.

"Thanks Leo" says Marin smiling grimly, not bothering to scold him. Not it wasn't the time or the place to get childish.

Looking at the charging gnolls and to her comrades, both at the Tower and outside it, she takes out her sword once more and stands besides Leo, swallowing her nerves

"At least now we'll be fighting together" She says to him with a small shy smile, sparing a glance and using that simple fact to gather strenght and drive away her fear.

"Look for us, protect us. May the Gods shine upon us and guide us to a new victory. Give us courage and will to stand and to fight" she prays in silence, before an idea strikes her

"Wait a minute! If the gnolls we so near us, they would had to see the third company!" She says fearful for the untested men "I hope they are better prepared than us for an attack, as I don't think we can warn them"

Nate sees little of the danger outside but when Leo's voice carries through the walls he hastily secures his armor and weapons and hustles to the giant winch, starting to wind the opening mechanism as fast as he can.

Alelip dismounts from his horse, hands the reins to Rives (which more closely resembles him throwing them at Rives), and draws his scimitar from its scabbard and looks out from the doors, waiting for either the doors to open or the gnolls to arrive.

He looks around and says to the team in front of the wall, "Weapons out, and keep a close eye out for movement. The gnolls will be here soon enough."

Leo and Caedmon are the first to arrive behind Rives; while the stablehand collects the reins of the horses, Leo readies his spear while Caedmon looks for a more defensible location. The gnolls, undaunted by the sight of the watchtower or the warning shot from the battlements, charge on.

Marin, Alelip, and Butch are hot on the heels of the first group. The healer and the former chaperone join the ranks of the defenders, while Butch prepares his bow and goes to join Caedmon. "Let's see that this comes out better than firing from horseback, eh?"

Nate and Giles work the gates from inside, and the heavy wooden structure creaks open to the point where they can see Rives and the six horses, but none of the beasts can fit through. The great animals whinny nervously, still perhaps frightened from the long run through the forest.

The archer atop the wall, whoever it is, heeds Leo's advice and decides not to waste an arrow until the gnolls are close enough to present a realistic target.

Rufus Withers and the other three men on the inside stand around, waiting for there to be enough space to assist if need be.
Order of Battle: PCs, Gnolls

Status: Gnolls at 240 feet, closing at 60 feet per round.

Gate: Half-open, being manned by Nate and Giles.

"Mother curse you all," Giles slows his efforts for a second to set into a proper rhythm with Nate, I'm made of bones, of the branches, the bowers and the brow-beating light. "We can pick up the damn heads later," Oh my feet are the trunks and my head is the canopy high. "I'll do it myself!" And my fingers extend to the leaves in the eves, and the bright, "But if I can hear them, they are close enough to shoot!" Brighter shine, It's my shine.


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