Chapter 2 Part 6b

Claws of the Storms 23, Year of True Omens

Chapter Contents

Helix and Karza were scanning the path from the top of a hill on the south side of the path. For a moment, they swore they heard the sound of battle, and then they were upon them. Seven rabid gnolls rushed from the tree line. Karza felt jaws clamp down on his left shoulder and slide off. Another, more determined pair held tight to his ankle. Claws and jaws slashing all around him, Helix fled backward. He tripped over the root of a nearby tree and fell, knocking his bow from his hands. Karza pulled the trigger in a desperate attempt to shoot the gnoll at his foot narrowly missing, his foot that is.

Helix shot to his feet just in time to dodge the two sets of teeth bearing down on him, and also the third which wasn’t far behind. He drew his sword in a panic and, more out of reaction than intent, slashed into the chest of the gnoll that had just missed him. Their situation was dire, and he knew it. Karza was unable to draw his battle axe with the gnoll shaking his leg so, naturally, he swung his crossbow. Amazingly, he connected with a glancing blow and knocked the beast from his leg. He dropped the crossbow, and drew his axe. A gnoll slashed a sharp set of claws down his back. Crying out in pain, he stumbled forward. Another gnoll charged and knocked him to the ground. Wounded and disoriented another blur flashed past his face.

Helix swung with intent this time at the gnoll he had wounded. A crazed snarl confirmed the strike hit home, and the gnoll fell. Thoughts of running away ran through his mind as he fended off one of two gnoll attacks, but he needed to bring back one of the gnolls alive. Karza was in trouble. Partially surrounded by four gnolls, he managed to get to his feet. Awaken with rage; the not so bright warrior swung his battle axe cleaving a taunting gnoll in two. Ruthlessly, the remaining gnolls reined down attacks on him. The pain was becoming unbearable, but Karza somehow stayed upright.

Watching Karza being attacked, and seconds before running away, Helix saw his bow. Instantly he made up his mind. “Climb a tree!!!” He yelled.

A race was on. Helix dropped his sword and sprinted toward his bow, the gnolls following in stride. Swiping his bow from the ground, he leapt for a tree grasping its lowest branch as a gnoll latched onto his foot. The second gnoll stumbled over the same root which tripped up Helix in the first place, and was unable to reach him. Blinded by pain, Karza tried to bum rush the gnoll closest to his left. Faltering greatly, he toppled down the hill. In pursuit the gnoll also lost its balance and began falling head over heel down the hill. The other two attackers took interest in Helix’s struggle to get up the tree. The two attacking gnolls narrowly missed Helix as he shook free the gnoll grasping his foot.

Never had a man climbed a tree as fast as he. Helix was still climbing for his life. Gasping for air, Karza heard a crashing sound coming down the hill. He rose to see a gnoll toppling down the hill. For a moment, he thought of climbing a tree. Instead, he went for his axe. Now safe in a perch above the battle, Helix regained his composure and took aim with his short bow. A moment later an arrow stuck out of the shoulder of an uninterested gnoll. The three remaining gnolls at the top of the hill turned and headed off down the hill towards Karza.

Helix loosed again at the gnoll with an arrow sticking out of its back. He watched in disbelief as the beast carried on as if the fresh arrow in its back didn’t exist. Upon the halting of its decent, Karza cleaved the unconscious gnolls head from its body. He looked up to see three gnolls advancing down the hill. Immediately he regretted his decision not to climb a tree. A third arrow struck the now pincushion of a gnoll. With no acknowledgement of the pain the gnoll plunged into Karza followed immediately by the other two. Karza fell.

Horror struck by the sight of Karza being mauled to death, Helix drew back an arrow. The fourth arrow proved too much, and the gnoll finally fell. Lifting its head into the air, one of the gnolls paused and then speed off towards the north. The other continued to terror into Karza as if making certain he was dead. Helix attempted to hit the gnoll heading north on a run, but was unsuccessful.

Helix now had but one target. He steadied himself and let loose. The arrow struck true. With blood lust in its eye the gnoll reeled. Up the hill it sprinted. Once at the base of the tree, Helix shot his second arrow. This one caught the gnoll between the shoulder and the neck.

Sensing his last opportunity to capture a gnoll alive, Helix prepared to jump the beast and subdue it. Or at least that’s what he intended to do. As he reached for a net, the gnoll broke to the north. His foot slipped and he fell crashing down the tree. The last thing he remembered was hitting the ground.

Helix awoke in camp with Arthon hovering over him. “What happened?” The elf demanded.

Chapter 2 Part 6b

No Retreat gh0st