Kast

Chapter 18 - It was seeming with gnolls

Lucky

Tonight’s story begins with us camped out in the scrubby forest just south of the Ashlands, avoiding Gnoll partrols and planning our next steps.

With some blessed invisibility we did some scouting, focusing on the ruins the gnolls seemed to be excavating. Telsin established contact with a strong human among the slaves and we learned the gnolls had them digging for old tomes in the pit they’d dug. He also met Bane, the cruel taskmaster of the pit, and Grimfang, the, well, “Fang” we were searching for.

You might wonder how we identified the Fang, but in hindsight it seems pretty easy. Though the stories made it clear he was no ordinary gnoll, I didn’t quite appreciate it until I laid eyes upon him myself. For one thing, he was bigger and stronger than the other gnolls and cut a striking figure with his single, dripping crimson fang. For another, he was literally wearing armor, suitable for a fine knight, and spoke common better than many knights I’ve met too. And the fight… oh the fight! … but we’ll get to that another time. For now, suffice to say this was no ordinary gnoll and we’d found it.

So, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Having discovered the slaves were looking for something still and thus hadn’t yet found whatever it was they were looking for, we figured we didn’t need to adjust our plan for dealing with the Fang but that we also shouldn’t loiter lest they actually find the tome of maguffin. With the help of Telsin’s contact, we planned to free the slaves. Why? Because of course we would.

Fortunately, I received a magic scroll from Natalie that was just the trick we needed. At dusk, we snuck out to the slave pens, passing without a trace and with Caleb and Daevon invisible as extra protection for their clunkiness. Though don’t get me wrong, armor… quite useful in combat, but not at all good for sneaking. So, we gather all the slaves together in their ramshackle tent and Tonias drags in a couple captured gnolls.

Hmm, yes. Tonias. Remind me to tell you some of those stories later. This was the first time we worked with him and he definitely had a bunch of stuff going on. He was secretive about most of it, though we did catch him back in the forest having a nighttime meeting with a magical dwarf. We didn’t tell him we noticed though. But that’s a story for another time; we’ve wandered off course. Where were we?

Ah yes! In the slave pens, surrounded by thousands of encamped gnolls. So we’re there to free the slaves who, as I said, were surrounded by thousands of gnolls. We told everyone the plan and distributed as many rations as we could. After a boost to a better vantage point, I invoked the magic of Natalie’s scroll and every living being I could see instantly seemed to be something else. Where before there was a space full of humans, elves, dwarves and the like, now there was just gnolls of varying colors and markings. Well, except for Tonias’s two captured gnolls; they now looked like humans, fortunately.

Caleb and Tharn then whipped up some distracting fog and we set the human-seeming gnolls out into the night. Those in our party that could speak gnoll — a surprisingly large number as it turned out — yelled something. I didn’t understand it, but it was probably something about an attack or the slaves escaping. Anyway, the warcamp riled up and we sent groups of gnoll-seeming slaves out on their way south and west towards the King’s army. Tonias had sent along word to the kingsmen and the spell would wear off before they got there anyway. Don’t fret.

Us? We went the other way, towards the ruins to pick up the trail of the Fang. Someone noticed the guard tower lights had changed, but nobody knew what that meant so we ignored it. What else could we do? It was probably the slave disturbance. Anyway, Tuiz helped follow the Fang’s fiendish presence and those that could converse with the gnolls managed to successfully ask for directions. No, really! We seemed to be gnolls so they gestured and pointed and were generally helpful! Magic is soooo cool! Right, so we tracked the Fang all over, weaving through the gnoll camps, until we found the proper building: the command post by the river. There, we found a fighting ring with a caged dwarf and some strange animals and of course, the river. I picked all the locks, quite easily if you don’t mind me saying, and one of the beasts vanished into the night. Not even animals deserve to be caged like that.

Then, we took on the command post. And… well… that’s a story fit for another day.

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