Jan and Laurel volunteered to sneak through the great wooden gates and fetch the Aarakocara.
In the ground floor room of the southern gatehouse tower, Ssinkar's prayer of silence finally wore off just as Jan , Laurel and Tco'eh returned. Jan bumped into the door with his shoulder as he entered and the door swung back on its hinges with a thump.
The Jig is Up
"What's going on down there" boomed the Ogre on the floor above.
Ssinkar tried his best to make some bugbear noises but animal mimicry was not his forte. Suddenly one of the Gnolls in the watchtower exclaimed
"Boss! Boss!There's a wagon on the pass."
Realising that they were in danger of being discovered, the heroes quietly bundled down into the cellar bellow. Not a moment too soon, as they could hear the heavy steps of a Gnoll descending the sstone spiral staircase. A few seconds later the Gnoll caught a glimpse of the carnage that the party had wrought under cover of Ssinkar's zone of silence.
"Boss! Boss! They're all dead Boss! The Troll, The Bugbears, All of them, dead!"
The Ogre squeezed his imposing frame down the narrow staircase and immediately shouted
"Alarm!, Alarm!, Ring the bell, we are under attack"
The Perilous Passage
Knowing that it would not be long before the enemy searched the cellar, the heroes hurried through the only exit available and down the tunnel which led North. A wise decision as not long after they heard the sounds of gnolls crashing about in the cellar.
As they moved down the tunnel they noticed that it was clean and dry, the sturdy wooden posts and beams which held up the room were bleached an ashen grey and as they progressed further they discovered a pair of Gnoll skeletons lying face down on the floor their bones picked clean of flesh and bleached white.
After a couple of hundred feet they stopped at a side passage which opened in the left wall. Styx cautiously approaches and looks and listens. She can see nothing but hears a soft slurping noise. Tarigoz waved his torch down the tunnel and seeing nothing declared it clear and proceeded to investigate. Boldly striding forward into the side passage he was suddenly engulfed by a Gelatinous Cube whose transparent flesh had been invisible in the dim light from his torch, which was promptly extinguished. He silently gasped for air as his body was lifted off the ground, floating inside the cube's jelly like flesh whilst his flesh began to slowly dissolve in the creatures acidic digestive juices.
Time to bust out my DIY Gelatinous Cube Miniature
In the darkness Jan blindly slashed at the gelatinous wall in front of him, his blade slicing like a cold knife through butter, flicking globs of acidic flesh onto Nyx as he followed through.
With the benefit of her night vision Styx rummaged around in her pack to find the slim box containing the three potions which she had found in the secret space in the fireplace of the Southern Gatehouse. Carefully uncorking the vial of poison she thrust her hand deep into the cube's interior and shook out the deadly strawberry flavoured liquid. In an instant, the creature reacted violently, enlarging in quivering and pulsating waves. It's flesh blistered and bubbled until after a few moments it exploded like an overripe melon showering the party in sticky acidic goo. Tarigoz writhed on the floor his skin and hair flaking off his body in crusty clumps. Styx's hand and lower arm were now similarly bald.
Undeterred by their brush with the Gelationous Cube, they continued to explore fiddling a 30ft sq room beyond filled contaiing a meagre horde of Gnoll bones, some 60Gp worth of mixed coins, an acid scorched bone scroll tube and a bastard sword in a scabbard. Jan took the sword to replace his now damaged family heirloom. Drawing it, he discovered the fine blade was inscribed with two words, one on each side, "Zharr" & "Parr". Ssinkar uncorked the bone scroll tube to find a scroll containing prayers of Restoration, Tongues, Cure Serious Wounds and Neutralize Poison.
Returning to the main corridor they continue until it ends in a door much like the one at the southern end of the tunnel. Styx cautiously opened the door to find another cellar with a ladder on the left wall which went up to a trap door in the ceiling.
The Northern Gatehouse
Opening the trap door revealed a room constructed in an identical fashion to that of the Southern Gatehouse. This room had clearly been ransacked by the Way-Station's new occupants and Nyx could hear and smell a pack of Gnolls in the room above. Above their commotion could be heard the distant pealing of a bell.
On the first floor of the gatehouse tower, the leader issued his orders to his troops and the Gnolls filed out through the door onto the battlements of the Northern Gatehouse to investigate the alarm.
Nyx bravely climbed the stone spiral staircase in the Northeast corner of the room onto the second floor and watched the Gnolls assembling on the battlements. Climbing back down to relay the information to her comrades and then returning to take up a closer position. By this time Wulf, had become tired of all this skulking about and urged his comrades to take up arms and fight. He hurriedly followed Nyx up the stairs.
Tarigoz's training kicked in and he slowly opened the door which led into the large passageway through the fortified wall. His caution rewarded, as he spied four of the Gnolls rushing southward across the plateau towards the sound of the alarm bell. The odds were steadily becoming more favourable, leaving only 7 Gnolls atop the wall.
Tcoh'eh answers the barbarians call and pleads to be given a weapon. Styx obliges, handing him one of her own short swords. The Aarakocra lifts down one of the round shields from the wall and calmly awaits orders. With his assistance they now outnumber the Gnolls.
Favouring a pincer movement Tarigoz, Jan and Laurel crept out of the ground floor room, through the large archway heading for the stairs which lead up to the battlements, and hugging the southern wall as they went. Unfortunately stealth does not come naturally to a Knight of the 5th Legion and Tarigoz's armour scraped along the wall alerting the Gnolls to their presence. With the element of surprise gone the trio bolted for the stairs and Tarigoz and Jan engaged immediately with two Gnolls.
As Jan drew his new found sword, he heard a voice in his head which said "Zharr, Zharr". Repeating the word in mid swing towards his enemy, he was stunned when red flames burst forth, flickering and licking along its length. The Gnoll he faced was equally stunned as pain shot across its face as the sword struck home.
At exactly the same moment, Nyx darted out onto the battlements and with a hefty swing clubbed a Gnoll from behind wit her nunchucks. Wulf joined the fray, charging through the door and engaging in combat beside her, his two handed sword chopping deeply into another Gnoll's shoulder. Running up the stairs Styx can only throw a dagger through the open doorway at the same Gnoll fighting her sister. Unfortunately her rushed attack saw the blade glance off stonework and skitter to the floor.
With her passage up the stairs blocked by the engaged warriors, Laurel scaled the cliff with expert prowess and leapt into the fray, her twin scimitars striking sparks as they glanced off the Gnoll leader's breastplate.
Ssinkar moved onto the ramparts and swiftly envoked a blessing on all his comrades.
Emboldened, Styx quaffed the potion of heroism and let onto the wall bounding along the crenelations as if they were rocks in a stream to land gracefully behind a Gnoll surprising it with a sword in the back.
By the stairs Jan brought his flaming sword down once again on the Gnoll but with a flash of sparks his strike was repelled by the Gnoll's armour. The Gnoll retaliated immediately dealing him a stunning blow and Jan fell to the ground unconscious. Tarigoz and his target trade blows but not damage.
Wulf continues to harry the Gnoll and they both trade blows, each drawing the other's blood.
Laurel's scimitars strike the Gnoll Leader causing a serious wound but the Gnoll fight's on. Ssinkar moves into an offensive position beside Wulf and brings down the wrath of his goddess upon the Gnoll's head. The heavy bronze idol which tops his staff crushing the beasts skull like an egg spraying blood and brains everywhere. Nearby Nyx flashes her Nunchucks at her opponent finishing him off. Styx strikes with her short sword at her enemy whittling away at him.
Wulf spies the leader in a battle with the Gnoll Leader and charges in with a horrific hack to the Gnoll's back just as a swipe from the beast takes Laurel by surprise and her scimitar flashes through the air o land on the stone floor of the battlements, her right hand still gripping the hilt.
A lucky strike from Nyx's opponent lands square on her nose temporarily blinding her with pain.
The now one-handed desert rider blocks out the pain from her severed hand and retaliates with her off handed scimitar further scarring the Gnoll leader, she was not done with him yet.
Overreaching towards a new target Ssinkar dislocates his knee as he attacks and his weak strike falls short. Nyx continues to flail at her opponent bruising and battering the now bloodied creature.
Laurel's strike is turned away by the Gnoll, but Wulf's strike finds an opening which ends the creatures life with a deathly howl. Two of the Gnolls leap over the southern wall and flee down the stairs.
Ssinkar once again brings his goddess down on the head of the Gnoll facing Styx cracking open its skull and it collapses to the floor dead. Nyx finishes off her Gnoll and the Barbarian strikes a vicious blow at the last remaining Gnoll ending the battle in a geyser of blood.
Ssinkar retrieves Laurel's hand and as he holds it against Laurel's shaking stump reads out the healing prayer from the scroll. One by one the words peel of the page and curl around the ranger's wrist reattaching bone and knitting sinew together. In moments Laurel's hand is reattached leaving a small circlet of words tattooed onto her wrist as a gentle reminder of the incident
Tarigoz rummages around in Jan's pockets to find the healing potion which revivifies Jan. The sell sword awakes fully restored and as he picks up the now extinguished sword, he hears a haughty voice in his head
"I don't know if I should laugh or cry… …Maragbhur pities you!"
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