The Gnoll Diaries

Three-Day, Second Ride in The Rotting 2

Nightfall

It was a relief to be out of the walled city. Behind her she could still hear Treebrother’s voice raised at the guards. Her camp was not far from here. Confident that Luna could escape and follow her trail she made for her shelter.

A small crevice lined with furs and branches she had taken out of the glades in the city marked her living place. The crevice opened into a slightly larger, unadorned space. The gnoll had to drop to her knees and crawl to enter.

She softly cursed herself for not taking her short sword with her into town. It tended to unnerve the city folk to see her armed inside their walls. She strapped the plain hilted sword to her waist and paused to study the hilt of her scimitar.

The guard of the weapon was fashioned to look like a pair of wolf’s heads with teeth bared. Different phases of the moon adorned the hilt. The curve of the blade resembled a waxing moon. It was her father’s prized possession, marking his place in the clan and the only connection to her past. She strapped the blade to her waist and tore the blanket she’d brought out of the city from her back. She pawed through the items sorting out what might be of use and stuffing those into her backpack. As she grabbed her quiver and a slender bow the size of a human male, she felt Luna prowling outside. She gave the wolf’s ruff a quick shake and loped back to the outer walls of the city. She was free but members of her pack were still confined behind the walls.

She noticed Bull lurking in the shadows outside the walls, continuing her earlier demonic caterwauling. She joined him but it seemed the guards grew weary of their game.

She frowned and paced the shadows. Littlebrother had joined Treebrother at the gate, presumably weaving a web of words stickier than a drider’s net. As she suspect, it was not long before the guards were caught in the web and both brothers walked through the gate.

She noticed Hallbjorn scanning the ground. When he found what he was looking for he shoved the shoot into his mouth and winked at the three beasts watching him. Gnora knew helmthorn to be harmless enough, though poor tasting. Hallbjorn pulled on the gnome as he stumbled back towards the gate, indigo foam staining his face. More webs.

Gnora shook her head at the pair. It would be so much easier just to kill the guards – especially the fowl smelling Suttles. She rested a hand on the scimitar at her side. It was hard not to think of the way the curved blade sliced through flesh and bones. Her lips curled away from her teeth. Flesh and blood and bones and bits. Verdan caught her eye. The little girl just studied her, as she might a book or a drawing – or a trap about to spring.

Gnora moved her hand away from Howling Moon and focused on the city walls. There was a small guardhouse tucked into the main gate. A narrow archer window faced the tundra. The foaming dwarf seemed to have drawn the attention of the guards. She flicked her wrist at Luna and made for the window, avoiding the young deva’s eyes.

She easily slipped into the guardhouse. Torches, tents, bedrolls, climbing kits, and all manner of useful items were spread across the single long wooden table in the center of the small room. A strange white dagger the color of bone, scaled armor the color of blood, and what looked like the skin of a giant snake rested off to the side. She grabbed all she could carry and made her way to the window, struggling to keep quiet under the burden. She returned to the small room and scooped up the rest of the things on the table, not pausing to wonder what they were doing there as she could hear the rest of her pack at the gate now.

The guards would have a better chance of escaping a web spun by Lolth herself than to extract themselves from the weave of Abrillic, Hallbjorn and Horatio together.

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