Confronted by well-armed and armoured gnoll that stood ready beyond the door that Krusher had just kicked in, the party closed ranks, with those who had lagged behind moving up to join the imminent fray.
Raster leapt into the room, swung, and missed. In retaliation, the gnoll whacked him with his flail, scoring a crit and leaving the litoran on the cold stone floor. Tal threw an energy bolt at the gnoll, and Krusher sliced it with his axe. The gnoll further injured Krusher with another flail shot, but Tal was able to cure some of the damage. Targill intoned an inspirational tale to give his companions courage. The gnoll smacked Krusher again, and Tal stepped up for more healing, then the big half-orc was able to down his opponent. Hearing the howls of more approaching gnolls, Targill grabbed Lift and together they hustled into the room with the rest of the party. The unconscious Raster was unceremoniously hauled inside, the door was closed and a heavy table propped against it. Krusher leant his mass and strength to the blockade as well. Targill used one of Raster's curing potions to bring him back to consciousness while Lift jammed the other door. Tal used more potions to cure Raster while Targill and Lift looted the gnoll's body. He must have been some sort of foul cleric from the sigils and paraphernalia they found on him, including a wand.
While this was going on, something large and loud was throwing itself at the barricaded door. Suddenly, the blade of a large golden-hued axe split through one of the door's boards. Perhaps the gnolls had a barbarian too? Lift quickly prepared a rope trap just inside the door, while Raster continued to chug healing potions and the others prepared for combat. As the axe again sunk into the door, Krusher flung the portal open, hoping to tear the weapon from its wielder's grasp. Instead, the great blade slid smoothly from the door's splintered remains, leaving Krusher staring into the saliva-spattered maw of an axe-weilding huge gnoll with cloven hooves and wearing only a loincloth. Behind him, wearing banded mail, an equally large female gnoll stood, with four horns protruding from her skull. These were definitely NOT garden-variety gnolls!
Having prepped for just such an opportunity, Tal, Targill, and Lift let loose with a barrage of missiles. Tal's magic stone and Lift's arrow both hit the male gnoll, while Targill's arrow missed. Lift hit again, crit'ing the big gnoll. All this damage didn't seem to phaze the brute – it just made him more eager to reduce the party to bite-sized morsels. Raster, restored more-or-less to combat readiness, hit the big gnoll, and another magic stone from Tal hit as well. As it tried to rush in and push Krusher back, the half-orc dropped him. His female cohort stepped up and hit Raster. Lift and Raster both missed her. Tal fired a crossbow, hitting her, but he was sure that he could see a shadowy figure, with wings and horns, lurking behind her. None of the others could see it, however. The female gnoll really laid into Krusher, dealing some heavy damage to him. All of the party's attacks missed, but her swing at Raster laid him out on the flagstones again, bleeding profusely. At this point, Lift announced that he could hear more gnolls (the regular sort, hopefully) at the back door. Things weren't looking good!
Out of cures, Tal moved up and struck the gnoll with his mace, while Targill bandaged the worst of Raster's wounds. The gnoll hit Tal, then Lift ran past her into the hallway, taking a blow as he went. Tal and Krusher both missed with their attacks, while Targill again used his bardic talents to inspire his fellows. Tal's silent prayers must have been heard by someone, as her attack on him missed. Lift tried to sneak her with an arrow but missed as well. In fact, everyone missed. for a couple of rounds, except for Targill, who used his Magic Missile scroll on her.
Another attack from the gnoll put Krusher on the ground, and the remaining three adventurers were looking plenty worried. Lift hit her in the back with an arrow, then Tal crit'd her with his mace and brought her down. As the noise of combat faded, a new din arose. Gnolls were trying to force the back door!
Lift quickly passed out more healing potions, then kept watch in the hall as Tal and Targill worked to bring the warriors up to a mobile state. The bodies of the two mutant gnolls were looted of items that could be easily removed, and then the party beat a hasty retreat back to the Ghostly Minstrel. Lift hung behind near the junkyard, but there was no sign of pursuit. After a meal and a brief rest, the items that were confirmed as magical were taken to Mayrath's for Identifying.