Splitpaw Down Under, Part Two
The Splitpaw gnolls proved to be a more dangerous adversary than the Rallosians had suspected, although not exactly for the reasons one might suppose. In Part Two, Gippy tries to play both sides.
"So General Urduuk arranged a guide through Splitpaw, eh?" The Rallosian lieutenant considered this thoughtfully and for so long that Gippy thought the trick was up for sure. Then the lieutenant nodded and yelled, "The General provides for us! All hail Urduuk, the Arm of the Avatar!" The Rallosians took up the cry and Gippy joined them wondering whether he'd ever get his hearing back and what the General was doing with the arm of the...what was it?
The Rallosians outfitted Gippy in better armor. It was still a cast-off piece from a fallen foe, but at least this time there wasn't a gaping hole to leave his chest exposed. Gippy was liking the ogres better and better already. They invited him to play a game of thrown bones, but Gippy declined. "I need to go back to Splitpaw; keep them off their guard," he told the lieutenant. "You know how some gnolls are." The lieutenant didn't, but he wasn't going to gainsay someone working for the General.
Gippy walked slowly away from the Rallosian camp until he was out of arrow range, then ran toward Splitpaw as though the entire Army were at his heels. "What have you gone and done now, Gippy?" he asked himself over and over again as he ran. He tried out various ways out of the mess as he scampered along but they all had the same unfortunate ending -- Gippy with his throat slit, or Gippy burnt at the stake, or Gippy for dinner.
As soon as he reached the lair, Gippy headed for his room. He'd best pack up now before anyone knew he was there. Unfortunately, Muddy had known Gippy from the time Gippy was a pup and he knew all of Gippy's tricks. When Gippy flung open the door, two gnoll guards were waiting for him and they marched him back through the winding halls to meet with Muddy.
"Well? What are them ogres up to, Gippy?" demanded Muddy rather sourly. "They've destroyed the aviak town," Gippy said, adding, "They're heading this way next. We'd best pack up and leave." Muddy curled his lips back, baring his fangs. "Why are you in those clothes, Gippy? You're wearing the enemy's colors!" Gippy glanced down and shrugged, "I'm a scout, sir...it was the easiest way to slip in amongst the troops. Camouflage, you know."
"All right, we pack up and leave. Gippy, I don't know what you're trying to pull off or what sort of scam you've got going now. You're not telling us everything, or I'm a goblin," Muddy snapped. "You can stay behind with the rear guard and make sure the ogres get a traditional gnoll welcome." Gippy stretched his lips back into a smile. "Yes, sir!" he said with a crisp salute. What, he wondered, was a traditional gnoll welcome?
"Wait, what's that?" Muddy asked suddenly, his ears twitching and his tongue tasting the air. Gippy heard something, too, a faint, rhythmic thrumming sound that rose out of the lair's floor and into his paws. "I'm not sure," Gippy said, "but it sure is catchy!" Muddy thwapped Gippy on the back of the head and snarled, "You idiot, them's war drums! Those ogres are coming!"
The gnolls were not known for keeping their heads in the best of circumstances. With the ogres' drums getting louder by the minute, the lair was thrown into complete chaos. Gippy managed to pick quite a few pockets as gnolls rushed hither and yon, trying to figure out the best way to save their skins. With the pockets of his new armor filled with silvers, Gippy headed out of the lair's unguarded entrance and watched the Rallosian Army advance.
At this distance, all the ogre units looked the same. Gippy furrowed his brow, wondering how he would locate the lieutenant who'd bought into his story about being their guide. Perhaps returning to the lair had been a bad idea. Gippy decided not to run through different plans in his mind; they always ended unhappily and he wanted to face this crisis a little more optimistically.
To the Rallosians, all gnolls looked alike. It wasn't until after the Army had ransacked the lair and slapped all the gnolls they found (including Flemm, who'd fallen asleep in the kitchens) in irons that they realized their guide was missing. They found Gippy's body later, still wearing his Rallosian armor and as full of arrows as a pincushion, beside the entrance to the Lair.