Ludo frowned, this was a serious development. Already the Iron Ring was on their trail. He moved quietly back into the undergrowth trying to stay silent and hidden from the men who were watching his companions. As quickly as he could once he was away from their view and hearing he made his way back to where his companions waited. Miklos jumped when Ludo silently emerged from the undergrowth next to him. Ludo quickly relayed the situation to the party finishing of with a comment to Miklos. “Miklos I see no alternative but to attack them now while we have some advantage, we cannot leave any survivors”.
Miklos grinned. “Hah!” he caught himself before getting to loud. “You are right of course.” Miklos’s eyes grew bright.
“Perfect! If they had seen you they would be charging us now, excellent work Ludo. They still think they have the advantage of surprise. We must not reveal their mistake to them.”
“Quickly! Before they have chance to encircle us and set up a crossfire we must catch them whilst they are still grouped. They will approach Hasan and Feldard. Stefan you come with me and flank them to the left. Maruc, Ludo to the right. I shall attempt to ensourcal the main force with a sleep incantation then Stephan and myself will then attack to their flank. Feldard and Hasan charge from the front and Maruc and Ludo and surprise them from behind. This way we can stop them spreading out. I should be able the entrap the rest with further magic as necessary.”
He looked at the bemused faces around him. “Yes, yes so I’ve been around Feldard too long! So what! Lets get on with it.” Miklos rushed to the undergrowth on the left flank bringing forth the first mental preparations for spellcasting.
Maruc looked at Ludo and shrugged. “As good a plan as any. We really don’t have time for a war council.” Maruc grinned. “After you?” he loped off to the right following the lithe rogue.
The dwarf’s ruse of sleeping fooled nobody and the group began making plans involving him. Feldard glared sourly at both Ludo and Miklos. Why was it humans always lumped him with the elf of the party? Was it just to torment him? It must be—why else would they put the woodland elf, one of the stealthiest of forest dwellers on a frontal charge? “Bah” was his response but the cleric was right, there was no time for a war council. He glanced to the elf and began a quiet count to 10, 10 times. Hopefully that would be long enough – the mage hadn’t really said how long to give them.
The dwarf hefted his battle axe, nodded to the elf and backtracked their trail – ready for battle .
“Bah is right, Feldard,” Hasan complained, as the humans crept laboriously and loudly away. “Let us hope these thugs have never entered the wood before. Nobody else would miss our companions.”
“Still,” Hasan continued, as the dwarf reached the century mark, “it is more fun moving forward than moving back. Let’s see what these fellows have to say for themselves.” And the elf saw a hint of misplaced red flannel in the brush. “For the Radlebb!” he shouted, loosing an arrow at the Ringman beyond, and charging into the forest ahead.
Ludo lead the way with Maruc close behind. They were going to have to move relatively quickly to flank their foes so Ludo did his best to balance stealth with speed to get into position before Hasan and Feldard entered combat. Keeping low and using the trees as cover he moved around to where he had last seen their foes waiting. Crouching behind a bush he peered through the foliage and saw the men scrambling for their weapons. Obviously they had heard or seen something. Out of the still forest air he heard Hasans war cry and Feldards bellow as they charged. Sensing Maruc was about to leap into the fray, Ludo held his shoulder and whispered “wait until they engaged, when we hit them it will create more panic”.
Stephan moved with Miklos off to the left as quietly as possible without moving too slowly. As they moved, he readied his bow.
The mage and woodsman’s position was a good one affording them a slight elevation advantage. Stephan could feel his battle blood welling. Then he saw the Iron Ring. ‘Lousy warriors,’ he thought. But there was no time to consider his opponents. The battle had begun…
He loosed two arrows before Miklos and he executed a flanking charge.
Hasan charged, the call of “Radlebb” echoing his oppenents tormented screams, as Vlaak’s great blade turned on the Ringmen. “You will not forget Hasan, Prince of the Radlebb, slavers!” called the elf, as he cut his way past a second man. The elf was crazed.
Indeed, these did make for lousy warriors. Recruited from city slums throughout the Duchy, the ‘Hounds of the Iron Ring’ were beaten and brainwashed into complete submission. They had no sense of morality or fear—it was tortured out of them until all that remained was allegiance to the Ring.
These seven ‘Hounds’ were quickly eliminated. The ones that didn’t fall to Miklos’s sleep spell were cut down by the others. The two armor-clad ‘Reavers’ drew back, and then fled immediately back as the first of their men began to fall.