Hasan continued to fall away from the melee, his right lag dragging behind. “Watch their clubs,” the elf sighed to Stephan. “Poised or something. I never felt the like.” The elf pulled further away and turned. Summoning a bit of magical energy, he cast a dart at the wizened shaman. “Fare the well, madame,” the elf spat venomously. He started to draw his bow to follow the magical shot with arrows, but the gnolls were charging toward him so he drew his magical blade instead.
Maruc stood his ground. He realized he had bought himself some time with the silence prayer but he knew that it would not take the shaman long to work out that it had a finite range. He had a few seconds to properly deal with the shaman so he cast off his holding prayer. “Blessed Halav restrain that vile creature!”
The shaman had been caught off guard by Maruc’s spell. By the time she realized that her enemy was the priest across the field of battle, it was too late and it was her turn to fall helplessly to the ground. Her gnoll attendants tried to revive her, but to no avail. Rather than despair, they drew their weapons and charged into the fray.
From within the mist, the sounds of the melee were dull and confused, which suited Ludo. His approach to the battle was silent and swift. Holding his sword low, he came up behind two Gnolls that were searching through the mist looking for targets to throw spears at. Ludo struck quickly, stabbing his sword deep into the lower back of the first Gnoll. It yelped in pain and crumpled to the ground, Ludo then spun to the left and attacked the second Gnoll with a series of savage blows.
This is all depressingly familiar, Miklos thought, as his muscles cramped up and he folded to the floor. To his certain knowledge every time they had encountered something with the ability to paralyse someone, he wouldn’t escape. He vowed that he would ask Maruc to pray to remove the curse from him.
Feldard, ahead of the others, didn’t see Miklos collapse or Hasan fall back. He was surprised however at how resilient the gnolls were. There were few creatures he’d encountered thus far that required more than one blow of his axe to fell them but that only made this battle more exhilarating for the young dwarf.
Feldard swung his axe down upon the injured gnoll with a fierce battle yell, intent on finishing it off before it could recover any. A quick glance at the battlefield around him to find his next target, showed how outnumbered they were. They needed to break the war party’s morale. “Focus on their leaders, first!” he called out. “The rest may scatter..”
And with another bellow Feldard battled his way towards what appeared to be the leader.
Stephan was strangely exhilarated by the dwarven battle yell. The demi-human was no longer overlooked by the gnolls but now was the focus of attention. The gnolls seemed to concentrate on the whirling bundle of muscle and axe. He noted Feldard’s fierce progress toward the gnoll leader and took up a position to assist. It was a great combination. As the gnolls stooped to strike the demi-human, they let their guard down and Stephan seized the opportunity to strike. Feldard clearly didn’t need the help but it did make the progress a little easier.
Stephan soon felt like he and the dwarf were alone in a sea of gnolls. The hide on these beasts was thick! The Traladaran felt battle sweat under his helm. He could no longer assist Feldard as he had only seconds ago but they stood back to back now, stabbing and hacking in a fury.
A deeper, guttural growl cut through the battle din. As if climbing a mountain, Feldard and Stephan suddenly found themselves at the top, facing the massive gnoll leader. The other gnolls seemed to fall back a bit out of blood-respect for their leader. The mountainous leader squared off on Feldard.
The dwarf was not intimidated in the slightest. Indeed, he was fully warmed up and engaged in the tide of battle. They exchanged several blows, steel crashed into steel. Despite the gnoll’s larger size, he was outmatched he dwarf’s armor, axe and battle-hardened determination. Feldard delivered a devastating deathblow to the gnoll, sending guts and bone across the misty forest floor.
With the shaman paralyzed and the gnoll leader slain, the adventurers had expected the remaining gnolls to flee. Instead they fought with renewed vigor. Their sacred ground had been defiled by the presence of invader and so there would be no retreat. They still had numbers on their side, a two-to-one advantage over the interlopers