As the group descended to the ravine floor, Roger scanned the area with his spyglass. Several hundred yards to the south (downriver), he spied a group of a dozen or so gnolls ranging along the side of the stream. As the party debated tactics for an ambush, the gnolls retreat back around the bend, to be joined a few minutes later by several dozen more, with ogres in tow! Soon what appeared to be over a hundred of the hyena men with several ogres were on their trail. The decision changed from fight to flight.
Roger used the last of his Dust of Disappearance to turn every except Martin invisible, who used a spell to do so. The tapestry was left behind as it was too bulky to run with. Roger threw bear scat on their tracks to try to confuse the scent, and then the group hustled northward. Periodically, Roger fell back to check on their pursuit. Although the gnolls were slower than the party, they seemed to have picked up the trail. Since no one knew exactly how long the dust would hide them, they kept moving as quickly as possible.
By midday, the group reached the foot of the cataract known as Foamfire Falls. The water thundered down from over three hundred feet above them into a swirling pool. The stream flowed out of the pool swiftly over broken rocks. The characters could see a bridge spanning the top of the falls above them. On the far side, set in the base of the cliff, was what appeared to be the linteled entrance to a cave or tunnel.
The party carefully worked its way across the slippery rocks, securing one another with rope. Pavel, with his typical clumsiness, nearly feel in, but only received a slight dunking.
By the time everyone was across, the gnolls had come into view. Most were on the far side of the water now, but a few dozen were on the same bank as the characters and had two ogres with them. The mist in the air had washed away most of the magic dust, so the group (except for Martin) was now at least partially visible. The gnolls advanced to within about fifty yards and halted, chanting and gesturing violently. Not waiting until they had finished whatever ritual they were performing, the group slipped into the tunnel, with Ollimarus in the lead.
The tunnel spiraled upward and came out at the bridge over the falls. Covering the center of the span was a squat gatehouse with bronze double doors. Lying in front of the doors were the skeletal remain of three gnolls.
Ollimarus studied the doors and pushed them open. Inside was a small windowless room with two large steel statues. The statues turned and faced him a moment, then attacked, pummeling him with enormous metal fists.
The fight was brutal, and the dwarf nearly died. Martin used a Fireball spell and wounded the automatons, Ollimarus’ hammer pummeled them, and Nightlie battered them with her warhammer. In the end the things were destroyed. The group crossed the bridge, and Roger set a trap at the gatehouse to discourage pursuit from the gnolls.
Across the river, a road was cut into the cliff face and followed the water upstream. The party set off down the road.
After a couple of hours, they reached a point where another gorge joined the one they were following. A large stone bridge spanned the gap, stretching over 200 feet. The stonework was crumbling in places and looked unsafe, but Ollimarus was willing to check it out. He set aside some of his gear (including his shield and hammer) and carefully worked his way out onto the bridge.
Despite bits falling off the bridge as they watched, the group tied lifelines and began to send folks across a bit at a time. When Martin was on the far side, and the dwarf was about halfway, a chimera appeared flying out of the sky and swooping at Ollimarus!
The beast tore into the dwarf, battering and clawing him. The clerics, Pavel and Nightlie, deftly blinded two of the three heads with Light spells (the dragon and goat). Then Nightlie tied Ollimarus’ shield and hammer to the rope he was secured by, letting him pull his gear to him. The dragon head breathed fire, but the blindness caused it to literally “miss fire” and the dwarf was unsinged.
Ollimarus fell back and Martin blasted it with a Fireball from Golthar’s Wand, burning another precious charge. The beast fell and tumbled into the gorge below. With that, the rest of the party crossed the bridge and left the scene of the battle behind. It was still a few hours until dark and thus far there had been no sign of shelter along the narrow road.