For five days, Ferris made scouting trips into Tosasth under an invisibility spell, returning a few hours after dark. He was able to determine that gnolls indeed occupied three camps blocking the ancient roads. Each camp consisted of twenty gnolls plus a priest and a captain. The majority slept through the day and rose at night, though two guards patrolled during the day. At a fourth site on the northeast border of the city the gnolls hunkered in an elven estate, now fortified in some crude gnollish manner.
Undead still walked the city proper, though in reduced numbers compared to months before. The streets north of Nimue’s tower were devoid of undead. Instead, gnolls wandered the ruins at night, scavenging. Ferris saw them recover sacks and coffers, presumably of coins or other values, which they carried into their fortified estate. Once, he saw a wagon exit the estate pulled by an enormous bull. It rattled over rough ground to the north.
Disturbed by Monsters
Monsters disturbed the company several times during the five days at the bridge camp. On the second day, two displacer beasts wandered into camp unnoticed. Ghevont hampered one with a light spell to the eyes. Tienarth fired magic missiles, and the fighters rained blows down. They also fended off sharp blade attacks. Jerker, hurt seriously, fought on. Tienarth, displaying some elven haughtiness, declared him an idiot. Jerker did deliver several terrible blows and survived the fight. In the end, the beasts were felled. Aderian hung their skins to dry, and they all roasted the steaks over a fire.
In the afternoon, a gigantic golden bird descended on them. They all rushed to the shelter of being under the bridge. It was a Roc of the largest size, and it snatched up Ghevont’s horse, Traveler. As the fearsome bird lifted into the sky, they lamented the loss of the horse and a few supplies, but they were lucky not to have to fight such a foe.
The next two days were quiet, but in the morning of the 26th, a pack of wolves were spotted. They circled the camp, perhaps looking for a chance to strike or perhaps just curious. Ghevont used his powers to charm then speak to the pack leader. He offered one of the displacer corpses, which pleased the wolves who were merely hungry. They explained that gnolls had hunted many of the game in the area, including rabbits.
In the afternoon, they startled to Ferris shouting, still invisible, as he stumbled into camp. It gave them just enough time to brace for the attack of two monster of exotic form. The body of a lion supported wings and three heads: a lion, a goat and a blue dragon. Ghevont gathered the company into a circle and invoked the Strength of the Anointed One ritual. They all felt a surge of strength. Aderian stood up to one Chimera, stabbing viciously with his dagger. Ferris sneaked around behind to deliver a surprise blow that slashed down its back. Jerker stepped over beside Ferris, flanking it. The next moment, the dragon head swiveled and let loose a thunderous cone of lightnight that ripped through the two of them.
The other Chimera charged up to Aderians back. The goat head tore into him. Tienarth shot magic missiles, and Ghevont joined in. A moment later, Tienarth sped their limbs with magical haste and the rate of blows double. Jerker slammed his pick into a lion head twice. It hung limply. Then, Ferris spun to decapitate the dragon head. The two chimeras lay dead in the mud.
One last disturbance came in the early morning of the next day. Out in the darkness, Tienarth first spied glowing red eyes. And then he realized they belonged to wolves which he guessed were lycanthropes. As he woke the others, the werewovles howled. Aderian instinctively howled back, which gave the monsters pause. He let off another howl and they retreated again into the darkness.
With good intelligence on the gnoll camps, Tienarth’s Raiders began debating the best plan of attack. They chose the camp in the northwest corner of town to attack first. Terrain was such that it allowed approaching to within a hundred yards while still being concealed. Tienarth made Ferris invisible, allowing him to walk right up the guards. He applied poison to his sword, but did not need it. An easy sneak attack killed the guard instantly, spilling guts over the ancient road. Though his invisibility was now dispelled, Ferris crept silently behind the other guard and struck him from behind as well. The guard whirled, landing a blow with his spear, but Ferris replied with a second wound that killed the guard.
Ghevont saw the guards go down and moved to cast a spell of silence on a rock. This allowed the entire group to move into camp and tent-by-tent, slaughtering the rest of the gnolls in their sleep. In an effort of deception, the ventured to the outskirts of the city to find formerly defeated undead corpses and dragged them into the camp. They hoped it would appear as if undead fought and killed the gnolls. During this effort, Jerker shared that this blacksmith father had intended that he be a priest, explaining his greater than average interest in the church.
Next, they turned their attention to the two southern camps. Tienarth made himself and Ferris invisible once again. Tienarth walked to the camp to the southeast, about a mile away from the southwest camp, waiting and watching. Ferris walked into the southwest camp. As before, he easily took out the first guard. The second guard proved harder to kill and had time enough to blow on a horn to wake the camp. Tienarth heard the horn and concluded that time was short. He brought forth a wall of fire that circled the southeast camp, burning all gnolls within moments. The old elf left the tower of violet fire behind him and began jogging to the western camp.
Meanwhile, Ferris ran from the camp towards his three companions hiding about 300 yards to the west where they crouched in thick underbrush. Gnolls in the camp emerged from tents and quickly formed into ranks, apparently following the orders of a leader. A squad of ten gnoll warriors soon advanced toward where Ferris disappeared into the brush. As they got close, Aderian and Jerker landed several arrows, but the gnolls advanced steadily. When they were close enough, the front rank fired volley of arrows that missed. Then, the bank rank tossed flaming oil, some of which caught Ferris.
Ghevont gathered Jerker and Aderian by their hands and bestowed the Armor of Faith. Ferris was too far away to take advantage, but all four of them rushed at the gnolls and began hacking. It wasn’t long before they were cut down and they all felt the need to crouch in the brush to rest. A quarter of an hour later, the invisible Tienarth arrived just as the remaining gnolls assembled to make a second attack. Tienarth encircled them in violet fire, burning them like the others.
This made three camps defeated, though at the expense of most of their prepared spells. The towering flames and smoke from the southeast camp surely had alerted the gnolls at the fortified estate to the north. Retreat now would allow the gnolls a chance to plan or escape, perhaps with treasure. They faced a tough choice.
- Treasure: 120 gp, 240 sp recovered from gnolls
- Kills: 20,855 xp
- 2 Displacers 1,110 xp
- 9 Wolves 675 xp
- 2 Chimeras 2,450 xp
- 60 Gnoll Warriors 14,400 xp
- 3 Gnoll Shamans 720 xp
- 3 Gnoll Captains 1,500 xp
- Aderian (fight): 4,630 xp
- Ferris (surprise): 4,630 xp
- Ghevont (healing): 4,630 xp
- Jerker (fight): 4,630 xp
- Tienarth (haughty, patient, avoid combat): 4,296 xp