The Alliance (cont.)
The Battle Ends:
Garth knew he couldn’t take much more. The flind had quickly trapped the ranger away from his traveling companions near the edge of the light from the fire. The flind blocked most so that Garth had to fight blind for the most part.
The veteran ranger had faced worse odd than one flind and survived but the flind had gotten luck with its first few blows. Blood ran down Garth’s forehead, where the beast had connected with his club, and into his eyes. The blow had only grazed him, which Garth had thanked Larea for. He had gotten lucky.
Garth knew he needed to catch a break but luck seemed to be against him as the flind punched him in face snapping his head back. Garth forgot where he was and who he was for a few seconds. He barely tumbled out of the way as the flind brought down his great club for the killing blow.
“Damn you human,” the flind was still trying to goad Garth into losing his wits. “Stand and fight, you cowardly insect!”
Garth responded with his sword, cutting a deep gash through the flind’s left thigh. The flind snarled gnashing its teeth. It swung its great club again barely missing the ranger’s head. Then it howled. Garth felt his resolve dim for a moment but didn’t succumb to the fear.
Another howl answered it and Garth wondered if there was another flind out there. Instead, a huge longsword flew over his head spiraling towards the flind. The beast didn’t see the sword coming. It ran right through the creature’s chest. The beast looked at the sword protruding in front of his eyes, confused. Blood began to seep from the wound, as the flind fell to its knees.
Garth knew the blade. He strode up to the flind and kicked the pommel of the sword as hard as he could. The beast tried to roar but simply spit up blood, as the sword passed through its vital organs. Garth then drove his own sword into the creature’s throat.
“Sorry, we’re late,” Kellin walked out of the shadows behind Garth. “We were unavoidably detained.”
“Where’s Hougwarth?” Garth noticed the vonakyndra wasn’t with the ogre man.
“He went to help the others,” Kellin walked up to the flind and pulled his sword free. “Nasty, dog-heads. They’re everywhere tonight.”
Garth moved back towards the fire looking for Bactra and Dabuk. There wasn’t any sign of them or Thessa and Mesik.
“Damn it, where are they?” It wasn’t so much a question as a statement of worry.
* * *
Thessa felt the touch off her god’s healing power just as the gnoll’s battleaxe came down towards her. She still wasn’t strong enough to move and was sure that she would be meeting Baervan soon. She heard Mesik out but couldn’t make out the words. Then blood splashed all around her. It smelled horrible and definitely wasn’t hers.
“Who-“, Thessa croaked out the words just as Mesik shouted out again. This time she understood.
“Hougwarth, you’re timing couldn’t be better.”
“Thank you, Baervan. Thank you, Hugh.” Thessa spoke the words then proceeded to pass out.
* * *
Hougwarth saw the gnoll about to behead his little friend. That would just not do! He steadied himself, rushed the creature and beheaded it with one stroke. The creature’s battleaxe fell to the ground, as blood spurted out of its severed neck all over Hougwarth’s sword and Thessa’s back and head.
He cleaned his blade, threw the dead gnoll to one side and kneeled down next to Thessa. She had passed out but most of her wounds seemed to be healing themselves. No doubt the work of the gods, he thought.
“Mesik, are you hurt,” Hougwarth looked his small halfling friend with concern.
“Only my pride,” Mesik still felt a little guilty about succumbing to the flind’s fearful howl. “How is she?”
Mesik knelt down next to Thessa. The concern in his eyes spoke of his admiration for her. He cradled her head like a newborn.
“Here, pour this down her throat,” Hougwarth passed a small vial of healing elixir to Mesik as he stood looking for the others. “Stay with her, my friend. I must find and help the others.”
“Garth was fighting a flind and the last time I saw Dabuk and Bactra, they were surrounded.” Mesik’s face betrayed his emotions.
“I will find them, Mesik. Can you handle carrying Thessa to the fire?”
“No worries,” Mesik poured the elixir down Thessa’s throat. “How fast will this work?”
“It’s a natural remedy, not magical. It will help her heal but she’ll need rest. Wait before you move her. In fact, unless something threatens you, don’t move her for at least 5 minutes.
Hougwarth left Thessa in Mesik’s tender care, striding towards the fire.
* * *
“Anything?” Garth was getting worried. He and Kellin hadn’t encountered any of the others.
“Nothing,” Kellin strode back into the light of the campfire from the direction Dabuk and Bactra had disappeared. “Wait what’s that?
Kellin and Garth whipped around, their blades ready, as Hougwarth came into the light.
“Hugh,” Garth was glad to see the vonakyndra in good health. “Did you find any of the others?”
“Aye,” Hougwarth pointed back in the direction he came. “Mesik and Thessa are over there. She’s hurt and unconscious but it looks as though she called upon her god’s blessing before she passed out. The wounds were healing themselves. I had Mesik give her a special healing elixir. It isn’t magical but it should help. Mesik seemed dispirited but he appears to be fine.”
“Damn,” Garth sighed. “I had a feeling he would get down on himself after what happened.”
“What happened?” Hougwarth asked the question on both his and Kellin’s mind.
“Never mind, we’ll talk about it with him later. Right now we need to find Dabuk and Bactra. They’re out there, fighting alone.”
“Well, let’s go find them. My eyes can see well beyond a human’s eyes can, as well as an elf’s. Bring a torch though. I can’t see in total darkness.”
“I will go and stay with Mesik and Thessa. They might need protection. There are a lot of gnolls roaming about tonight.”
“Aye, but that too is a story for later.” Hougwarth walked to the edge of the firelight in the direction Garth pointed. The two quickly disappeared into the darkness.
Kellin watched them go then wandered off towards Thessa and Mesik, his darkvision leading the way.
* * *
Bactra and Dabuk had been holding back the gnolls by a thread. Dabuk was able to pass a curing potion to his cousin, which Bactra had somehow downed during the fight. Still, both were battered and bruised.
Bactra had finally gotten off a color spray spell, which had knocked three of the gnolls unconscious. This had allowed him the time to back up Dabuk with an ice knife spell. The gnolls had given Bactra a wider berth after that, fearing his magic.
“I think they’re scared of you, cousin.” Dabuk slashed down another as it came in close to swing its battleaxe. “You got anything else in that arsenal of yours?”
“Not really,” the two spoke in elven, hoping none of the gnolls could understand them. “I have two left but I don’t think read magic and detect magic are going to do us any good.”
“Why in Hades’ Underrealm did you memorize those!” Dabuk took his frustration out on another gnoll that got to close.
“You’ll pay for that, you elven cur,” the beast snarled back at him.
“Ah go bury a bone, dog-head,” Dabuk easily dodged the gnoll’s battleaxe.
“Good one,” Bactra felt his strength coming back, as the potion mixed deeper with his blood. He smacked a gnoll in the face with the butt of his dagger. The beast howled kicking at the elven mage. The attack was clumsy and even Bactra dodged it with ease.
“I thought so,” Dabuk thrust his sword into the gnolls head. “Hey, did you notice there are a lot less of them?”
“Yep,” Bactra held his dagger out waiting for the gnolls to attack.
It never came.
Bactra was amazed as the gnoll in front of him began to shake in fear a back away from him. He noticed several others do the same.
“What the-?” Bactra smiled as he heard a familiar laugh.
* * *
Garth and Hougwarth quickly tracked down the two cousins. They had wandered well beyond a human’s need for light but were still close enough to see in the shadowy darkness. Garth had felt useless when Kellin had disappeared to look for the duo.
He was slightly behind and to one side of Hugh when the vonakyndra stopped in his tracks and laughed.
“Hugh,” it was Dabuk’s voice. “Am I glad to see you!”
Garth ran up next to the giant just in time to see several gnolls run off into the darkness as fast as they could. The one’s closest to he and Hugh turned and shrieked in fear.
“A ghost man! Run! Run for your lives!” The gnoll tired to retreat but Dabuk cut it down.
“What the-,” Garth looked on in confused stupor. He’d never seen gnolls retreat from anything when they had superior numbers.
“Ha, ha, ha!” Hougwarth was the only one who seemed to get the joke.
“Hugh, where have you been?” Bactra walks over using hi staff to lean on. He’s more tired than hurt. “We were getting worried.”
“It’s a long story lad. Best told around the fire. Do you need help, friend?”
“I be fine once I’ve sat down and tend to my bruises.”
Bactra watched as Dabuk and Garth clasped arms in a surprising show of affection. Then they parted as quickly as they had shared the Ranger’s Greeting. He noted that Dabuk was bleeding badly from several wounds yet still looked strong enough to walk on his own. Sometimes he wished he had studied the Warrior Arts with his cousin. Nah, he liked magic too much.
“And what was that about you being a ghost?” Dabuk had never seen such strange behavior from gnolls.
“Gnolls are a superstitious lot. There are many tales about my people. Most are fanciful but some are true enough to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies.”
“You’ll have to tell us some of them.” Bactra walked with Hougwarth as they led the way back towards the campfire. “And I’m sure Jeddar would love to hear them.”
“I’m sure he would.”
The four companions slowly made their way back to the campfire. Mesik, Thessa, and Kellin were already there when they arrived.
“How is she?” Garth noticed that Thessa was still unconscious.
“Better,” Mesik was watching over her like she was made of crystal. “She woke up for a bit then went back to sleep. Her breathing is good and most of her wounds have healed.”
“Good, now everyone sit down so I can decide who needs healing. No exceptions.”
The companions gathered around the fire praying that nothing else disturbed them this night.
* * *