Chapter 2 Part 6
It is said, “The first casualty of war is a well laid plan” and this lesson was learned the hard way. For a couple nights the ambush team waited and listened to the howls and barks of the gnolls echoing across the valley. On the third night, at first they sounded near and then they silenced. They new the gnolls were on there way, and so they tensed and readied.
By the time Lei informed Ardinia that someone or something was approaching her position, the gnolls were already upon them. The whole ambush and trap were a farce, not one of them thinking about the fact that a canine species may have a heightened olfactory advantage. It was the ambushers who were ambushed. The gnolls had discovered them, positioned and then sprung from the darkness before anyone knew what was happening. The group were now separated and surprised. Ardinia, Arthon, Maggie, and Brother Marcis were being attacked by on the north side of the path, while Helix and Karza were ambushed on the south side, on top of the hill. Irma’s location was not known to anyone at the time.
Though surprised, the north group absorbed the first attack with little harm. Seven savage gnolls now snarled and barked at the group. Ardinia, needing range, sprinted away. A rabid gnoll slashed her shoulder as she turned opening a deep gash. Maggie, who was right next to Ardinia, dropped her short bow screaming,“What do we do? What do we do?” Out of nowhere, Irma dropped from a tree and thrust her two knives into the back of the gnoll in front of Maggie. It fell limp to the ground, the first casualty of the battle. Brother Marcis dropped his sling, stepped back and began casting. “In the name of…..” Arthon dropped his bow and drew his swords. He fell back next to Marcis who had finished his spell. A confidence fell over everyone in the group. Maggie, still screaming, ran off in the same direction as Ardinia.
Ardinia, about sixty feet away now, saw Maggie running toward her screaming. “What do we do? What do we do?”
“Cast your missiles” Ardinia barked at the panicking human.
Unfazed, dripping blood from her shoulder, Ardinia began casting. Two missiles shot past Maggie, and a gnoll howled out in burning pain. (Not sure what Irma did at this point) Brother Marcis and Arthon surrounded by four gnolls, began the attack. Marcis drew his mace and swung, just missing the gnoll in front of him. Arthon’s long sword attack missed its mark as well. “Attack and fall back.” Arthon screamed. Brother Marcis didn’t move. Arthon then thrust his short sword at the gnoll which reeled to avoid the attack. Not wanting to leave Marcis alone, Arthon too stood his ground. Maggie summoned the courage, and began casting. Missiles shot forth from her hand, and another burning cry came from a gnoll as it fell.
“Use more missiles, more missiles!!” Ardinia demanded.
Not wanting to catch anyone in her own group with her spells, Ardinia drew her bow and fired at a gnoll charging at Maggie. She saw the arrow hit hard, but the gnoll, crazed and without pain, charged on. Marcis again missed, but as he regained his balance from the swing, a gnoll bit down hard on his forearm. With the wisdom that only pain can bring, he yelled “Ok, I’m going to start falling back” as he retreated a few paces back. Arthon missed badly and almost fell after his long sword attack. It was all he could do to stay upright and fall back with Marcis. Maggie’s second round of missiles shot from her hands, dropping the sprinting gnoll dead in a heap.
A cry was heard from the south, “Climb a tree!!!”
Ardinia knocked and fired another arrow just missing a gnoll advancing on Brother Marcis. Irma sprinted toward the two casters “Maggie we must get out of here.” She hissed. She brought a vile to her lips and vanished. Marcis freshly wounded and in pain, pressed the attack with a glancing blow to the head of his opponent. He continued to fall back. Arthon tripped during his first attack and couldn’t get in his second. The gnoll to his right clamped down on his arm though it didn’t penetrate his armor. Maggie still in a panic did not run away. Another round of missiles found their way into one of the gnolls on Brother Marcis. It broke off its attack and made a beeline towards Maggie’s position. Ardinia’s second arrow struck true, but again the animal charged on. Jaws snapped past the side of Maggie’s face.
Ardinia was taking close aim at the gnoll trying to kill Maggie when she heard Irma’s cold voice in her ear, “You should have stayed in the court bitch.” Two knives thrust into Ardinia’s back, a lifeless thump as she hit the ground. (not sure how Irma or Maggie killed the gnoll in front of Maggie) Marcis was unable to strike, but he now only had one gnoll in front of him and behind Arthon. Seeing an opportunity to flank the gnoll, Arthon took only one swing at the creatures back, but missed. While Marcis was able to fend off the gnoll attacking him, Arthon felt the painful claws of a gnoll drag across the small of his back, and another just chink off the side of his leg. With his head lifted in pain, he saw his sister collapsed motionless on the ground. He had to end the fight soon.
There were now three gnolls left. Marcis landed a crushing blow to the ribcage, and with a gurgling sound the gnoll in front of him fell. He advanced to Arthon’s right. Arthon was torn. He had to help his sister, but would likely die trying if he didn’t kill off the gnolls. His long sword sliced a deep wound to the previously unscathed gnoll. It snapped back in defiance throwing off his second attack. Marcis and Arthon were again side by side.
Marcis connected with a hollow thump as Arthon ran around the gnolls to maximize the advantage of his attack. Thou with his movement he could only get in one attack, this time he made it count. With a deep gash in its back the second to last gnoll fell.
Together Marcis and Arthon finished off the last gnoll with no problem and Arthon raced to his sister’s side. Falling to his knees he saw that she was barely breathing. He dropped his swords cast his heal spell. She didn’t wake up. Marcus stood in shock absorbing what had just happened. Arthon was just about to heal his sister once more, when he heard more gnolls coming from the south. He grabbed his swords just as the first gnoll got near. Marcis now aware to the situation moved into position next to him. The only line of defense for his sister, Arthon brought his long sword down across the chest of the gnoll and cleaved it to the ground followed by a killing thrust with his short sword. Marcis stopped his attack and saw to healing Ardinia.
She awoke to her brother yelling “Get out of here, run.” Dazed, she didn’t move. Brother Marcis pulled her from the ground urging “lets be gone now dear.” A fierce streak of anger coursed down her spine as she realized what had happened. With a final swing, Arthon finished off the last of the gnolls, and they returned to camp.
After everyone was healed, Arthon set out to see what became of Karza and Helix. He found Karza dead and mangled surrounded by three dead gnolls at the foot of the hill. Helix was unconscious at the base of a tree on top of the hill with two more gnoll carcuses near by. Between the two groups, 14 crazed gnolls had been slain.