Feldard had found it so very hard to remain still while so near to the gnolls. He had to quell the urge to jump up and begin a battle. But soon enough, the dwarf heard the jangle of chainmail and those gnolls left at the tunnel were heading off away from him. Cautiously, the dwarf left his hiding spot and began hurrying his way towards the hut, concerned that the other half of the war party would discover his friends.
He didn’t go far before his attention was caught by pebbles being thrown at him. A search of the woods around showed his companions waving to him off in the mist. He headed towards them.
When Ludo saw Feldard heading towards the party, he dropped the small stone that he was about to throw. When Feldard was once again with the party, he whispered, “Let’s get out of here. These Gnolls are baying for blood. Hasan I suggest you lead.”
Despite the relief of seeing Feldard reunited with the party, Stephan kept an eye out for gnolls. He fell in line behind Hasan and Ludo. The pace they set was ferocious for his weakened state but being a stalwart Traladaran, he did not complain and marched on; determined not to slow the group down.
Maruc nodded in agreement. He still felt pain but the potion had worked off the edge of his discomfort. He was glad to be away from the potential fight, but was concerned about being chased without rest all the way up into the mountains. They would need rest soon. The severely injured party would not survive another such encounter and as healer he felt a particular burden.
The young mage fell into step next the Hasan at the rear. He said nothing of his choice. He was fully armed with offensive spells should any nasty surprises occurred. Hasan was quiet at the back, his elven footsteps making a bare whisper of noise against the gravel path.
With the elf and rogue taking the lead once more, Feldard fell back and resumed his rearguard position, watching warily alongside and behind them as they took a route hopefully around and away from the gnolls. As he walked he checked his crossbow, ensuring it was still loaded and ready should it be needed.
Hasan drove the group forward mercilessly, alternating positions in the front and back of the group. “Come on, now, boys,” he called from ahead. “Move ahead, Miklos, don’t look behind, leave that to me,” the elf chided from behind. All the while, the elf waited for the outcry that he was sure would come soon. The elf’s eyes roved the landscape for a defensive position. “Look out for an open space with shelter behind it, Stefan. Or a steep hillside. Mark my words, friends: we’ll meet the dogmen again, and it must be in a place of our choosing.”
Ludo was tired, the day had been long and had seen a lot of bloodshed and death. But he understood that the Gnolls would soon be following their scent, and to survive they had to get as far away from them as possible before sunrise. Ludo was sure that once the Gnolls discovered their trail, that they would be relentless in their pursuit. He was glad that the mist was still around concealing them, if the mist lifted they would be in serious trouble.
They travelled into the night, trying to get as far away from the Gnoll’s sacred burial grounds as they could. Eventually, they found a suitable spot to rest for a few hours. At daybreak, they were on the move again. In the valley behind them, smoke plumes rose into the sky coming from the area of the Death’s Head clan slaughtering grounds. Over the next few hours, as the companions continued their fast-paced march, more smoke plums columns appeared.
In the distance, up the valley about three miles back, they spotted a large group of humainoids following their trail. As they continued through the valley, the companions caught glimpses of the war party. Throughout the day, it grew in size and slowly was closing the distance. Miklos studied the map. By his calculations, it would be a close race to get to the mountains before the gnolls would catch them.
At nightfall, the sound of gnoll drums echoed across the valley. As they camped, Maruc did his best to heal the party along their journey, but there was little time for prayer and invocation, and the healing made the priest even more exhausted than everyone else.
At dawn, the group was already moving. Though they were as fatigued than they had ever been, survival propelled them forward. An army had gathered to chase them, but the Black Peaks were now within a day’s journey.