Maruc beat a path through the foe, it mattered not that they were badly outnumbered. Pain from the wicked stroke drove him to a wild frenzy. The magic aura of his new mace leant it unerring accuracy, it felt light in his hand but it fell like a sledgehammer. Gnolls literally parted before him. Halav must have blessed him because he had landed several incapacitating blows in as many seconds. Adrenalin coursed through his veins as the frenetic battle appeared to slow. Dog breath faces loomed out of the mist. Slavering lines of spittle arced slowly through the air. The spray of blood and ravening cries punctuated the bazaar tableau of melee that was drawn before the priest. Brushing aside a ridiculously slow sword thrust to his midriff Maruc back handed his shield boss into the gnoll that leapt toward him. It skidded off balance at his feet he stamped on the creatures ankle and it snapped under the armoured heel. It yelped pathetically, Maruc ignored it and spun as a flash bright elf silk caught his eye. Hasan was bleeding but valiant in his assault his deadly blade dancing about the enemy.
“Well met,” breathed Maruc as he absently crushed the skull of the crying Gnoll. “You don’t look so good.” He spun and jabbed the end of his mace into the snout of a charging gnoll. Blood spatted and it reeled back grabbing at its face. Maruc turned and grinned at the elf. “Don’t die on me, I’ll be right back.” The priest kicked the legs from under the stunned gnoll and roundhoused its shield knocking it off balance. He smashed his mace into its knee as it struggled to its feet. “There’s no escape from the might of Halav!” he cried.
The cold hard damp stone Miklos had inelegantly collapsed on was deeply uncomfortable. He leg had folded beneath him at an awkward angle, again he cursed his bad luck as pins and needles flooded his leg. The battle ebbed and flowed in the mist he caught glimpses of grey shapes as they fought to and fro. The battle got quite close at one point and he had got trodden on but his leg was quite numb by that point to cause him further discomfort. At least the paralysis had stopped him crying out in pain. But, he thought, he wouldn’t have been under a battle if he had the power of movement.
Miklos’s twisted body waited on the floor for release.
Blood flowed from a nasty gash on Ludo’s shoulder. The Gnolls were tough fighters and were not prepared to give way. After running through his latest opponent, he looked around. The battle seemed centred on a whirling mass of blades and battle cries surrounding Feldard and Stephen. I doubt they need my help was the thought that flashed through his mind. Keeping low and with his sword extended he ran to Hasan. With Maruc’s spell of silence aiding his approach, his attack was deadly; an overhead swing deeply cleaved into the thick hide of a Gnoll, it squealed in pain and staggered away from the melee, life blood flowing from its mortal wound. The other Gnolls attacking Hasan were surprised by his attack and were stunned for a few vital seconds giving Hasan some much needed breathing space.
The morale of the gnolls was impressive to Feldard. It put his foes into a whole other class of opponent. It wouldn’t save them any from the bite of his axe but he could admire their unity.
The young dwarf, kept up his end of the battle; swing after swing, carving out chucks of gnoll flesh, dodging the attacks from the gnolls. If Feldard had been hit, he didn’t feel it – not yet anyways.
Hasan watched Maruc, Stephan and Feldard strike into the mass of the gnolls with a ferocious impact. Their attack was so fierce, it separated gnolls into individuals, and one of them came the elf’s way at speed! The din of the gnolls battlewail in his ears, the elf fired one arrow from point blank range, watching as the arrow buried itself up to the goosefeathers in his foe’s chest. But the dogman staggered into an attack nonetheless. Hasan dodged some, but not all of the club that whistled through the air to the elf’s thin shoulder. But the elf had managed to draw his sword. Standing between the gnoll and Miklos’s prostrate form, Hasan gathered himself and attacked, with a slicing feint to the gnoll’s shoulder quickly turning–through two whirls of steel too fast to see clearly–into a viscous thrust into the beast’s gut. The dogman choked as he slid away from the blade, leaving only deep red arterial blood behind.
Another of the giant humanoids
Stephan lost track of his companion dwarf. He continued to fight in the raging sea of gnoll fury.
“Arrrghh!” he bellowed as a jagged gnoll blade cut too deeply into his upper chest. Strangely, thoughts of the needed repairs to his armor flooded his head.
“Ooof!” the wind was knocked out of the woodsman this time. And the center spike of a gnoll shield pierced his back.
He went down. The smell of dirt was a welcome substitute to the stench of gnoll breath and blood.
Twisting, Stephan made an attempt to both attack and get back to his feet in one motion. Although he did not regain his feet, he happily saw his sword cut into the back of a gnoll’s knee. The creature snarled, dropping next to him and fiercely lunging to bite his face. Stephan found himself in a desperate grapple with the gnoll. His sword lost from his grip.
Blessed Halav, the thought to himself. Visions of his brothers and father flashed through his mind.
He rolled in a sickening hug with this disgusting beast. The thing kept jabbing its fanged snout at Stephan. The attack was sustained and vicious. He felt the straps on his helm snap and the metal dome skew to the side.
Visions of his mother coursed his brain. A warm fire. A sleeping dog. A breeze in the trees. Suskiskyn. Home. The woods….night.
Ludo slipped on some Gnoll entrails lying at his feet, as he slipped he felt a Gnoll’s spear glance off his shoulder but at the moment of impact a surge of power from his newly acquired ring softened the blow protecting him from serious harm.
He gasped. The air was thick with death and violence. He could see Gnolls around him snarling and frothing at the mouth in melee with Hasan and Maruc. He saw Stephen fall under an avalanche of blows but could do nothing to aid him. Everything was slowing down, a Gnoll stabbed its spear at him again, Ludo countered but he could tell that his parry was going to be too slow and he braced for the impact. A new thought flashed through his mind, he was going to die here today! Fear of death renewed his sword arm, he fought through the pain and fear, with a cold fury that he had never experienced before. He slashed again at the Gnoll in front of him. If he was going to die then he would die fighting.
The battle seemed to go on forever, and as it did, the large muscled gnolls fought even more ferociously. Every combatant was wounded.
From a peaceful, reclusive clan of elves, Hasan had never been in such a fierce combat. His vision began to blur. What was this odd sensation? He thought as he started to lose consciousness and succumb to his wounds. He tried to raise his sword, but his arms would not listen to the commands his mind was sending. He dropped to the ground and joined Stephan in the dreamworld.
The numbers of both sides were thinning and blood was everywhere. Finally, the tide turned and the gnolls lost their numbers advantage. Maruc and Ludo were exhausted. They were capable warriors, but their specialties lied in other talents. This was Feldard’s realm and he reigned deathblow after deathblow until every last gnoll was slaughtered.