“Let us despoil these creatures of any valuables to tithe to the church.” Maruc said stepping over the corpses, “Then let us be on our way up the pass as swiftly as we may. perhaps we may get far enough ahead of the gnollish warband that they will give up on us.”
After claiming a large handful of coin, Maruc turned to Hasan, “Forgive me, your wounds are severe, but I’ll have no healing from Halav Incarnate until we rest. But I do not suggest we remain here, we have no choice but to press on.”
Maruc resumed his position in the line and continued in earnest toward the lofty peaks.
Miklos watched Feldard as he dispatched the remaining gnolls with a dispassionate professional nature. Miklos took the opportunity to see if any of the dead had maps of the pass, or any clues as to what might lie ahead, but there was nothing. He fell into line behind the armour clad priest.
Feldard checked to see if any of his two bolts were salvagable, then took up his rear guard position once more as the party set out once more. His view of the approaching warparty was not encouraging. “Our battle seems to have spurred on those behind us. We have to move quicker.” Yet one look at his companions, showed that their newest injuries were telling. They wouldn’t be able to keep up a quick pace for long.
Stephan recovered what arrows he could. He was pleased to find both his enchanted arrows nicely plunged into the jugulars of two gnoll’s. But he lost four other arrows.
Enervated further, Stephan trudged on with the party. The still distant pursuers provided a strange force to his legs that kept him moving at a decent pace although perhaps not to Feldard’s liking.
“You are like a mountain goat, master dwarf. This rocky way seems to speed your legs.”
Ludo quickly recovered what arrows he could from the thick hides of the dead Gnolls, he took note that after the recent combat that he had 12 arrows remaining and five of his six throwing daggers, having lost one in the first melee against the Gnolls.
Tightening his straps of his backpack, he scrambled towards the front of the party to catch up with Hasan, then fell in just behind the nimble elf. Between breaths he spoke. “Another combat like that to slow us up will allow the pursuing Gnolls to catch up. Then it will be curtains for us all. Hasan step out the pace, we have a whole day in front of us and I feel that these Gnolls are not in mood to turn back unless they have blood”.
Ludo wiped the sweat of his forehead and focused on the path ahead and tried to ignore the relentless pressure of the Gnolls pursuit.
Hasan stumbled on the rocky ancient Hutaaken road, and paused momentarily to remove another pebble from his boots. “The mountain itself is beginning to fight us,” the elf gasped heavily, still heavily favoring his left side, which had been torn apart by a gnollish spear. The elf tinkered with his bandages and saw new red join the old brown. He shook his head, looked back at the dust cloud arising where the gnolls paced on in the valley below, and step forward again.
It was a long day, perhaps the longest of their lives. Battle fatigued and wounded, the group had no choice but to move at the fastest pace they could muster. As they moved further up the valley, the ancient Hutaakan road became more defined. Knowing that they were so close to reaching the mysterious land spurred them on. It was late in the afternoon when the party finally came within sight of the gorge at the head of the valley.
Huge plumes of white spray rose into the air where the river thundered down a mighty waterfall. The air was very damp and water ran in rivulets down every available surface. At the foot of the falls, massive wild white water churned. On the west side of the river, the ancient road wound its way up to a dark tunnel opening. At the top of the falls, a squat stone structure can just be seen.
By the time the party reached the gorge, the size of the gnoll war party had grown to include nearly the entire tribe. There were nearly two hundred of them in total, and they were a mere 200 yards behind.