Ludo kept looking over his shoulder as the warband of Gnolls got closer and closer. The day was warm and as they climbed further into the mountains the path they were on became nothing more than a goats track, rocky and narrow. He knew if they stopped to give combat they would die. Of course a lot of Gnolls would die as well, but in the end the superior numbers of the Gnolls would be the telling factor. He could see that Maruc was tired from his vigil, prayers to Halav and all his healing to the group, Ludo moved over to him. “Maruc let me carry your pack to give you time to have get your breath back”.
Feldard kept his crossbow at the ready, watching the gnoll war party get closer and closer. “We need to slow them down, or pick up our pace somehow,” the dwarf huffed, tired and weary after a near sleepless night.
It was hilly terrain. The Foamfire river flowed to the party’s left, and with mountains a couple miles to the right, they headed north toward what would presumably be a gorge or pass where the river flows down from the mountain. Feldard searched for any means of causing a rock slide, avalanche or anything that could slow the gnolls’ chase, but he did not find any.
Maruc smiled at Ludo’s generous offer. “No my friend, I am not so weary as to burden you. I might even suggest that you’d be better placed to fool the pack away into the hills?” The priest thought about it. “Perhaps not, if these creatures are related to dogs they could follow us by scent. We would have to cross the river for any meaningful attempt to loose them.”
Miklos was missing his creature comforts. A dry soft bed for one. He didn’t like the idea of getting wet in the river either, but given the choice of that or another fight he might well get wet. “What does everyone think? Perhaps we could cross the river to see if we can delay the pursuit?”
“Nay, Miklos,” answered Hasan, still groggy from the night’s too-short sleep. “The river is swift, angry almost. We cannot cross. Did you not argue last night that we could beat the dogmen to that pass ahead? Let us not despair. We will find our redoubt there.” The elf stood and shouldered his pack wearily. He trudged forward, nibbling another dried apple, one of the last from Sukiskyn. “Let us away with speed,” the elf admonished, but his own pace was faltering.
The dwarf just grunted as they pressed on. “Miklos, as much as I hate to say it.. I hope you got more of those web spells at the ready should we fall behind in our pace.” And then to help keep everyone moving, Feldard began to sing out in his off key voice a dwarven march.
Upon hearing Feldard’s singing, Ludo cringed and instinctively lengthened his stride, whispering to Miklos, “I wish you could use your web spell to muzzle him”.
Miklos laughed. “Indeed Ludo!”
The foothills grew more lofty as the path began its assent into the high pass. The mist began to part to reveal the crystal blue sky and the frost rimed teeth of the black peak mountains.
Miklos rummaged in his pack for his warmer robe.
Stephan kept quiet and trudged on with the party. Hasan maintained the group at a furious pace; barely allowing time for water. During a brief pause in the march, Stephan spied their pursuers. “If they are like dogs, maybe they’ll stop the chase once they have run us off their property.”
At the head of the march, Hasan was the first to spot them, then Ludo shortly after. About 100 yards ahead, the glint of armor gave them away. A dozen gnolls lay in wait for them, trying to conceal themselves for an ambush, spears at the ready.