Leatherfoot Tales: The Last of the Teir'Dal, Part Three
The Houndslayer, also called the Pathfinder, and his comrades take the First Gate and bring this tale to its conclusion.
The Teir'Dal guards peered this way and that into the wooded area in which Gumpy Nattoo, the Kithicor rangers and the Leatherfoot elite were hiding. Gumpy's tummy rumbling had excited their cat-like curiosity and left Gumpy cursing himself for not eating more at dinner the night before. When the dark elf guards came closer to the treeline, two of the rangers nipped out and grabbed them, bringing that danger to its close.
The units were gathered together and waited only for the Sarge's signal before swarming the First Gate. They had measured the defense of the area, located breaches in the security and planned accordingly. Gumpy dug in his pockets for some venison jerky, a hunk of bread or cheese to keep his stomach from growling again but found himself without a single snack. "Curses!" he muttered. At that moment, the Sarge gave the signal.
Pausing only to rifle the dead gnome's coat for any of the mechanamagical thing's parts, Gumpy found himself at the rear of the formation. He brandished his ivy-etched gladius menacingly and joined the fray. While their force was not particularly large, they had surprise on their side (thanks to the gagging of the remaining two gnomes) and were making mincemeat of the scant forces guarding the First Gate.
Gumpy located the Sarge and gave him the gizmo he'd found on the fallen gnome. "Thanks, Gumpy," the Sarge said, adding, "I haven't said nothing to you before now, but you're a good trooper. Glad the rangers took to you so well; we couldn't have done this without 'em." Gumpy blushed. His tummy rumbled.
The Kithicor rangers and Leatherfoot elite troops pushed further into the Foreign Quarter, easily overcoming the resistance. "Tis like slicing butter with a warm knife!" cried one of the rangers. "Why'd he have to say butter?" thought Gumpy miserably, wishing he could find something to eat. His stomach continued its dull roar and it was getting louder with every passing moment.
He fought alongside the Sarge, who was trying to make his way forward to the remaining gnomes. The mechanamagical thing had to be put together and only they knew how. Sniffing the air, the Sarge growled, "Gumpy! I told you to get rid of that nasty wolf tail; it's really starting to reek!" Gumpy glanced at his belt where the rangers had hung the dread wolf's tail as a trophy piece. It was gone.
"Sarge, I..." but Gumpy got no further as a louder rumbling shook the ground beneath their feet. The Sarge tottered for a moment then regained his balance. "Oh, for Bristlebane's sake," the Sarge grumbled, digging into his pocket and handing Gumpy a chunk of cheese. "Eat something; your stomach's gonna shake the world down around our heads." And then the Sarge spotted one of the gnomes and darted off, leaving Gumpy behind.
Gumpy knew that it wasn't his stomach making the ground shake. It wasn't the wolf's tail making the air stink, either. Whatever was going on, it was something else, something bad. Grasping his gladius, Gumpy headed after the Sarge. "Sarge! Sarge!" Gumpy called, but because his mouth was full of cheese it sounded more like, "Garg! Garg!" The Sarge did not turn around.
A tide of Kithicor rangers swarmed between Gumpy and the Sarge. Gumpy, peering through legs and around bellies, could see the Sarge had one of the gnomes by its ears and they were busily putting together the mechanamagical thing. The ground trembled, then roared. The rangers turned toward the Foreign Quarter's exit and Gumpy was swept along. "Sarge!" he hollered again, but knew that no one could hear him over the sound of the earth breaking.
Dust settled and Gumpy and the rangers looked toward what had been their battlefield. The mechanamagical thing had done its work and the exit from Neriak's Foreign Quarter was sealed, together with the soldiers that had been unable to make their escape. "That's the last of the Teir'Dal," said one of the rangers. Gumpy said solemnly, "Not the last of the Sarge, though. He's a tough one."