For a few, sweet moments, things go your way.

Del Torro hands you the ritual booster stone and the mana, but no-one can actually remember exactly where the ritual site is, so you offer to search for it. Which will, of course, involve a lot of walking around the whole area and chanting. You apologise that your magical chanting may sound a little religious; you were taught by devout Smithites, you explain, and don't know how to do it any other way.

Ricard Amici Du Mort watches you like a hawk, his red and blue clawed myrmidon arm twitching, as if it cannot wait to disembowel you for making a false move.

Meanwhile, Ogou Badagri gets into position; not an ordinary Gnoll after all, then. Satisfyingly, there appears to be some difficulty. However hard he tries, the nonsensical pyramidal structures remain stubbornly locked in place, like some great force was holding onto them. The rhythm of the purgation starts to take hold of you, and you begin to exhort the Smith to....

WHAM.

You are knocked off your feet by a wave of thunderous force, courtesy of Ricard Amici Du Mort. He covers the intervening distance before you can regain your feet, and towers over you, brandishing his great mace right under your nose.

"What did you just say?" he asks, barely constrained rage warring with the need to continue appearing to be in control of the situation.

You consider your options. Ogou Badagri has almost fifty gnollish, tritoni and assorted soldiers in the area, most of them excellent pistoleers. Ricard Amici Du Mort is reknowned for being an incredibly powerful sorcerer/theurge and no slouch in a fight. Del Torro can probably shoot you dead with one shot if he comes out of his rhind haze for long enough to work out what is going on.

Looking confused and hurt for a moment, you grip the ritual booster stone tightly, and with a burst of speed fuelled by desperation you roll sideways and crack Ricard Amici Du Mort upside the head with the heavy rock.

Then you drop it and sprint like you have never sprinted before, which is quite impressive given the quantity of sprinting for your life that you have been doing recently.

Behind you, you hear foul cursing; another blast of sorcerous energy slams into you, but your momentum is such that you drop into a roll and come up almost fast as before. Ricard Amici Du Mort is not a slow runner and is almost keeping pace with you; he discharges his pistol and yells for backup, having just fallen out of casting range.

You do not look back; you do not look to the side; you simply keep running, hoping desperately to outpace the area's defenders and disappear into the countryside.

There is nothing but the ground before you. You hear a fullisade of pistol shots, but they are mercifully out of range. Thank the Smith that no-one though to give those Tritoni some longbows!

Finally, you simply cannot run any further; your lungs are burning, your feet are stumbling, you have broken into an arthritic jog rather than an all-out sprint. You take in the scenery for the first time, and pursuit seems to be a long way behind, if it is coming at all.

You take a few more precautions to cover your trail and a few moments to catch your breath, and then you begin to take a long loop coastwards, hoping to bypass the rest of the Gnoll Colony entirely.

---

There is a gunshot, and some shouting and excitement; Light Infantry, 1st Pistoliers, Sailors, 2nd Pistoliers, Halbardiers and Hadiya 27th turn out to see what is going on, and a few of the pistoleers take distinctly out of range shots at a single fleeing human, but mostly they are just left to endure the ranting of Ricard Amici Du Mort as he comprehensively loses his quarry.