They awoke in the morning to the sound of a leucrotta loudly complaining that the reason it was failing to find the bodies they were searching for was that there were, in fact, no bodies. "They didn't survive the fall -- there was never anyone here!" Peeking out of the cave they'd slept in, they saw one of the flame drake's heads poking up over a pile of rocks near the riverside. Hef started to approach it, but not having any orders to attack (the rider was dealing with the leucrotta) it just watched him curiously until he flung a handfull of poo at it.
That made it mad, and it fireballed him. Unfortunately for it, he resisted fire.
The leucrotta and rider tried to get back to the drake, but while the leucrotta did get the chance to hide and use its lure spell (sucking in Dawnfire as well as Lilia's familiar) Samuel used a web spell to slow down the rider from getting to the drake, and the drake from leaving. By the time the rider finally managed to mount, the drake was almost dead, and it didn't get far before being finished off by magic missiles. Hef waded into the web (it *really* hadn't gotten far) to finish off the rider.
The leucrotta tried to run away -- he'd mauled Dawnfire a bit but not managed to kill her -- but stopped to take a bite at Lilia, who'd stood squarely in his escape path and acted terrified, which is like catnip to leucrotta. Well, okay, she'd been trying to get a look at what was going on and stopped to scream in horror at the sight of a leucrotta, but same effect. She got bitten again -- but not killed -- and then Hobbes (the eidolon) caught up with the critter and put it out of everyone's misery.
It was obvious that the enemy wasn't *completely* fooled by their ploy the night before, and now they had to hurry because sooner or later the missing drake would raise questions. They did know exactly where the next outpost was supposed to be... but it was deserted. They let Lilia's fox scout ahead, though, and a few minutes later it found where the remaining scouts had set up.
Four of them were hiding behind a makeshift barricade, at the far end of one of the rope bridges that they'd seen here and there on the path, with about a 40 foot drop to jagged rocks. Behind them, a leucrotta was napping. Figuring that the gnolls' plan was to cut the bridge as soon as they were on it -- for one thing, it looked rigged to be cut easily -- they decided that they'd have to use the stealth spells they'd planned to use on the camp here.
So they made Hobbes invisible, while the rest of them hid inside Lilia's invisibility sphere to get as close as they could before charging. They wanted to use haste to cross the bridge, though, which meant that their charge happened pretty quickly because haste had a short duration. Hobbes leaped over the barricade ahead of time, though, but was instantly detected by the leucrotta which smelled the presence of an intruder, ruining the surprise a little...
The gnolls didn't see anyone attacking, though, so they didn't immediately cut the ropes on the bridge, and the party's rush of sleep spells, color-spray, and a good old-fashioned bull rush through the barricade on Hef's part meant that they never got a chance. Even the leucrotta was stunned by the color spray for long enough that Sam, acting on a hunch, managed to find the hidden runner who'd been waiting for a signal to go run and tell the mine that people were coming. In seconds, the outpost was wiped out, almost without a fight, and without having the chance to give a signal, although the party bemoaned the use of so many spells on what wasn't even the main event.
Lilia did get to charm one of the gnoll scouts and they got some details on the camp -- 8 warriors (which they hadn't faced yet), 5 leucrotta (2 dead now, 1 probably guarding the other approach) , 3 drakes (2 dead), a few scouts pulled in from the other wing, and about 40 workers who probably wouldn't fight if given the chance. "Oh, and the foreman." The camp wasn't yet on *high* alert, so half the warriors (and the remaining drake and leucrotta) would be off-shift and asleep.
Once again, they had Lily's familiar scout, but she was only able to confirm what they already knew from the charmed gnoll. After arguing about whether they really had any chance, and trying to come up with some new cunning plan, they eventually decided that the hidden path used by the scouts was the best way in, so they got as close as they could, and then charged!
Well, there was a little more to the plan than that. Dawnfire, Hobbes, and Hef charged, while Samuel webbed the barracks to keep the sleepers from being awoken, and Liliana tossed down the severed head of the leucrotta from the outpost, and loudly proclaimed that they were the vanguard of an oncoming orcish army, and the gnolls should all surrender if they didn't want to die.
The gnolls did not surrender, but one of the scouts did start running. To the drake cave. Where he got on the drake, and convinced it to carry him off in search of reinforcements. That was one less drake to fight, at least! At least, until it came back with reinforcements, although that would probably take a while.
Meanwhile, the gnoll warriors broke into pairs and flanked Hobbes and Hef, ineffectively -- they were very skilled flankers, but Hobbes was ridiculously hard to hit and Hef, as a barbarian, had uncanny dodge and couldn't be flanked. So after one round, Hef's flankers switched to molest Dawnfire instead, and took her down almost instantly. That lured Sam and Lily off the ledge-like path to desperately use wands of cure light wounds to resurrect their healer, but the gnolls didn't get much chance to capitalize on that because Hef was tearing them to pieces.
The workers did mostly run around and flee, but a couple of them ran into the mill -- the mine had a sort of lumber-mill like building with a waterwheel -- to get the foreman, who charged out to join the fight. He was a barbarian as well, with giant sharp pointy teeth and a huge flaming spear... but by the time he arrived he was almost alone, and his other backup -- the drakes and leucrotta -- had already run off thanks to Lily's bluff. So he didn't manage to do too much damage before the party stood victorious.
Well, mostly victorious. Most of the workers had fled into the mine, and they still had the barracks to deal with. The workers in the barracks surrendered, of course, but the warriors and now drake-less drake-rider snuck out the back and tried to retreat. Sam caught them in a web, which (along with Hobbes' new trip ability and reach) bought the party enough time to surround them and take them out. One managed to run into the mine, but Hobbes chased after him and finished him off before he got anywhere.
At this point the party was completely out of magic, but also out of enemies, unless something scarier than the fleeing workers was waiting for them in the mine...
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