Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part II - Orc Season
The common room of the Dying Minotaur was abuzz since the party had returned from their quest to Bone Hill. Brundon was buying a round of drinks for all in the tavern. The ranger had then proceeded to brag to anyone who would listen about the group’s adventure in the old ruins. He particularly emphasized and exaggerated his part in the party’s success.
Lloyd, Seth, Aksel and Glorfindle sat quietly in a booth along one of the walls. Occasionally one of the tavern dwellers would come by and raise a glass to them and say “Good job!” or “Congratulations” or “That’s showing them Bugbear’s whose boss!”
After awhile, Glendor strode over to the little group. “I’d like to apologize for Brundon’s behavior. That was the most dangerous quest we had ever participated in and I think it has gone to his head.”
“That’s ok,” Aksel replied to the big fighter. “Brundon is just letting off some steam after a harrowing adventure. He deserves it. In fact we all do.”
Glendor’s face brightened at that response. “That’s very noble of you. I am very pleased that we were able to support you in your quest. If we can ever be of further service, please let us know.” And with that the big man turned and strode away to the bar. From their table they could hear Glendor trying to extricate his comrade from a group of avid listeners and call it a night.
“I like him,” Lloyd said.
“I think we all do,” Glorfindle replied. “He was a great help to us. He almost got himself killed single handedly holding off that golem. And he has not said one word of that to anyone.”
“Yes,” Aksel mused, “He is definitely modest. If we do get more work, it might be worthwhile bringing him along.”
“Even if it means also bringing Brundon?” Seth inquired with a mischievous grin.
“Probably,” Aksel replied.
“Speaking of work,” Lloyd spoke up, “what do we do next?”
“Well,” Seth replied, “I really would like to go get that golem.”
“Hmmm,” Aksel murmured, “It was fairly well stuck in the pantry chute last time we saw it. It is probably still there.”
“And it has probably damaged itself in the process of trying to get out,” Glorfindle added.
“Yes,” Aksel replied. “But if we could acquire a spell of rock to mud, it should be able to slide down and out. And a spell of mud to rock would then turn it back into stone and fix it as well.”
“Those are fairly high level spells,” Glorfindle said. “They are definitely beyond my abilities.”
“But not Peltars,” Seth interjected. “He could probably make up some scrolls that we could bring with us to the keep.”
“Ok,” Aksel said, “let’s say Peltar would provide us with the scrolls. Aren’t you forgetting something?”
“If you mean how do we control the golem,” Seth replied, “no I didn’t forget. I’m working on it.”
“Well, I’d be willing to go talk with Peltar in the morning,” Glorfindle told them. “But Aksel is right. This is all a moot point if we do not know how to invoke the golem control ring.”
“Maybe Peltar might know more about Telvar,” Seth said, “If not, then I am sure that we can up with some silly ideas of our own, like Telvar’s name backwards, or something.”
“It would never be something that easy,” Glorfindle mused. “Well, at least it’s worth the question. Very well, I’ll go talk with him first thing tomorrow morning.”
The little band of adventurers said goodnight to each other and went upstairs to their rooms.
The next morning Glorfindle headed down the street to Peltar’s cottage. He was deep in thought and missed the tavern door mysteriously opening and closing itself behind him after he had just went through. In a few minutes he was at the walk up to the older wizard’s house and then at his door.
Glorfindle knocked on the door. After a minute the front door opened and a thin pale young man in gray robes poked his head out.
“What is it?” the lean man said in a rude tone.
“Is Peltar home?” Glorfindle asked trying to be polite.
“Who wants to know?” the skinny man asked in a still unpleasant tone.
“My name is Glorfindle. I am a wizard and have a couple of questions…”
“The Master’s busy and cannot be interrupted. Now go away,” the scrawny man replied starting to shut the door.
“Wait!” Glorfindle cried stepping forward.
The skinny little man continued to close the door until it slammed on Glorfindle’s foot.
“Ouch!” Glorfindle yelled. “Why you…”
Glo couldn’t help himself. Before he knew it he had sent a volley of magic missiles through the opening in the door.
“Ouch! Ouch!” he heard a cry from behind the semi closed door. Then the door swung open. The scrawny man stood there, obviously hurt from the two missiles. He had raised his hands and was about to cast a spell back at Glo.
Suddenly, the man’s eyes went wide and he clutched at his back. He made a gurgling sound and then fell forward on the ground. Seth was standing behind where the scrawny man had just been standing, a knife still in his hand.
Glorfindle stared from Seth down to the man on the ground. “Seth! How did you…” The elf stopped short realizing that the little ninja could go just about anywhere undetected. Glo bent down and checked the man’s pulse. “He’s dead,” he told the ninja after a minute.
“I didn’t mean to kill him!” Seth said obviously upset. “If I had known he was that weak…”
Then they heard a commotion coming from in the house. “What’s going on out there? Who’s disturbing my work?” It was Peltar’s voice.
“Quick Seth,” Glorfindle whispered. “Hide!”
Seth invoked a spell and leaped up to the ceiling. He clung there by his hands and feet like a spider. Two seconds later Peltar appeared in the hallway. Glo tried hard to keep his eyes from straying upwards.
Peltar was tall and thin with dark hair and eyes. He was wearing maroon robes and had a staff in his left hand. “Can someone tell me what is going on?” the master wizard said as he stepped into the foyer. Then he looked down and saw the scrawny man’s body. “What’s this?” Peltar exclaimed. “Flibin, get up! Don’t just lie there!”
“I’m afraid he can’t,” Glorfindle said quietly.
Peltar looked up at the elf and said “And why not?”
“He’s dead,” Glo replied tensing himself.
“Dead?” Peltar repeated. Then he kicked the body a couple of times. Glorfindle just stared not believing his eyes. “Yep,” Peltar replied, “He’s dead alright.” Then he looked up to stare directly at Glo. The old wizard’s eyes were very penetrating. “So tell me what happened,” he commanded.
Glo related the conversation with Flibin and the rude behavior of the man. Then he described the ensuing battle, short lived as it was. But Glo left out the part about Seth, saying that he had killed the man in a magic duel.
Peltar continued to stare at the elf for minute, then threw back his head and let out a frightening cackle. “Ah ha ha!” Peltar guffawed. “Serves him right! I told him he needed to practice quickening his spells. So you got the drop on him, huh! Ha, ha, ha. Very good, very good. Come on in,” the master wizard finished.
Glorfindle looked strangely at the old man, not believing his reaction. But he needed his help and did not want to appear ungracious, so he stepped over the body and followed him into the hall. They passed two other robed people, a man and a woman on their way to the study. Peltar called over his shoulder, “Flibin’s gone and got himself killed. Go fetch the body and bring it over to the temple. This young wizard here will be over shortly with the money to raise him.”
Peltar turned and look Glorfindle straight in the eye. “You will raise him, won’t you?”
“Of course,” Glorfindle replied immediately. He felt guilty about the whole incident as it was. “As soon as we are done here, I will go get the money and head over to the temple.”
“Good,” Peltar said nodding his head. “Now that that’s settled, we can get down to business.” They sat down in the study.
“So what can I do for you?” Peltar asked the elf.
“I was with the group of adventurers that procured that scroll for you yesterday,” Glorfindle began.
“Yes, yes, I thought you looked familiar,” Peltar interrupted. “Go on, go on”.
“Anyway,” Glorfindle continued, “when we were at the ruins in Bone Hill, we ran into another wizard. He was the one who had had possession of the scroll.”
“Another wizard,” Peltar repeated as his eyes narrowed, “What was his name?”
“Telvar,” Glorfindle told him.
“Telvar?” Peltar said a smirk creeping across his face, “that hack!” The master wizard paused for a moment and then said, “I trust you dispatched him?”
“Yes,” Glorfindle replied. “He gave us little choice.”
“Good, good,” Peltar declared giving the elf an approving nod. “He was more of a nuisance than a wizard. He was always trying to compete with me, not that he could even come close mind you,” Peltar mused. “So, I don’t suppose you know what Telvar was up to in those old ruins, nor how he came across my scroll?”
“Well…” Glorfindle began, “we did find his laboratory. He seemed to be researching the process of golem creation, best we could tell.”
“Golem creation?” Peltar interrupted. “Interesting. Go on.”
“He also had two stone golems with him in the ruins,” Glo continued.
“He had two stone golems?” Peltar exclaimed. “How would that third rate hack have a stone golem, let alone two?”
“His notes indicated that he had found the golems and their controlling mechanisms in the ruins,” Glorfindle went on. “And although he seemed to be researching the golem creation process, there was no indication in his notes that he had actually discovered how to make one on his own.”
“Very good,” Peltar nodded. “That was a very thorough piece of investigating there. So, where are these two stone golems now?”
“We had to destroy one of them,” Glorfindle continued.
“You…destroyed a stone golem?” Peltar asked a look of disbelief on his face.
“Not me alone,” Glo replied quickly. “It took the combined efforts or our entire party.” Glorfindle was going to give credit to Seth, but he didn’t want to mention the little ninja right now. Especially considering what had just happened in the foyer, and that the halfling was probably somewhere in the room right now using his invisibility cloak to remain undetected.
“Really?” Peltar replied in disbelief. The master wizard shifted in his seat. He seemed to be taking stock of the young elf wizard sitting in front him. He finally said, “And the second golem?”
“Ah,” Glorfindle replied, “that is one of the reasons I am here.” He paused a moment then continued. “The second stone golem got stuck in a chute between floors while chasing us. Normally, we would just leave it there, but we managed to liberate the control mechanism for it from Telvar after his demise. So, we were thinking that if we could figure out the password to invoke the control mechanism, and then free the golem, it might be a very handy commodity to have in our possession.”
Peltar thought this over for a moment and then said, “Yes, a construct like that could indeed come in handy. To free it, you will need a scroll of rock to mud. Then to repair it, you will need a scroll of mud to rock. I can make those up for you, but those scrolls are not cheap. It will cost you 4000 gold pieces apiece.”
“Understood,” Glorfindle replied.
“Excellent,” Peltar said. “You are very to the point young wizard. I can work with that. I seem to have an apprentice spot to fill at the moment. Tell me, would you be interested.”
The elf’s eyebrow shot up. He recovered quickly however. “Why, I would be most honored.”
“Very good,” Peltar nodded. “Now as far as the control mechanism password, that could be anything.”
“Yes,” the elf agreed. “But there was a hint in Telvar’s notes. It mentioned something about Telvar’s first love.”
“Heh,” Peltar gave a short laugh. “Telvar’s first love you say? Well, I knew the wretch for a long time, and I can tell you, Telvar never loved anyone but himself.”
Glo was about to respond when the two other robed figures entered the study. Peltar turned and looked at them. “Well,” he asked them.
The woman replied, “Flibin’s body has been taken to the temple as you instructed. The clerics are preparing him to be raised as soon as they receive their fee.”
“Good, good,” Peltar replied. Then he motioned them to come over and join them. “Abracus, Gristla, this is Glorfindle. He is my new apprentice.”
Abracus and Gristla seemed momentarily surprised but quickly recovered and greeted their new counterpart.
“Glorfindle here is quite resourceful as you have seen,” Peltar continued. “He will keep you on your toes.” Then he turned to the elf and said, “And Glorfindle, if either of these two give you any trouble, you have my permission to give them the same treatment as you did Flibin.”
The other two apprentices just stared at their Master dumbfounded.
“That’ll keep them on their toes!” Peltar chortled. Then he got up and said “This audience is over. Abracus, Gristla provide Glorfindle with what he will need to perform his duties as my apprentice.” And with that Peltar turned and left the three apprentices staring at each other.
Glorfindle had returned to the Dying Minotaur and relayed his strange meeting with Peltar to the rest of the party. While he was briefing them, they sent Seth, who had heard the whole thing anyway, over to the temple with the fee to raise Flibin, the misbegotten wizard’s apprentice.
By the time Seth had returned, the elf had finished updating the rest of the party. Realizing that they would need a lot more gold to afford the scrolls to free the golem, they discussed their options. They decided would go to Restenford castle to see if the Baron would have any work for them.
The Baron of Restenford, Grellus, was the fourth son of the Baron of Penwick; and as such he had to fight to win his own lands and titles. He was a fighter of some renown in his younger days. Grellus had been awarded the titles to the Town of Restenford when he slew the Dragon Ullarak who had slain the previous Baron.
The little band of adventurers made their way up the hill to the front gate of Restenford castle. There they were met by the castle guardsman.
“State your business,” one of the guards said.
“We are here to the see the Baron,” Aksel told him. “We have some experience in dealing with monsters and such, and were wondering if we could be of service to his lordship, eh.”
“Hmm,” the guard paused. “A human, an elf, a gnome and a halfling? You must be that group that went up to Bone Hill the other day.” He turned to one of the other guards and yelled, “Hey Relkin, come here.” The other guard marched over and joined them. “Aren’t these the adventurers you were telling us about last night?”
Relkin looked at the party and said “It sure is, Francis. I was at the Dying Minotaur last night and heard the whole story. These folks took on a whole pack of bugbears, two stone men, and an evil wizard up at Bone Hill!”
“Well then,” Francis replied, “then the Baron could definitely use your services. He is holding court right now and discussing town business. We’ll allow you through. But you must leave your weapons at the guard’s station.”
The little group complied and was led into the castle by the guard, Francis. As they entered through the portcullis they saw a large courtyard, probably 100 yards long by 100 yards wide. There were a number of guards there performing various duties. The castle itself rose around them. The walls were made of dark grey stone. In some spots they were covered with thick green moss and ivy. Behind them and to the sides they could see the ramparts rising to a height of about 30 feet. Down to the right, there was a tall cylindrical tower connected to the outside walls and rising perhaps another 40 feet above the walls. Directly in front of them was the castle keep. It was a massive stone building with two huge wooden doors and many glass windows above the first floor. The keep itself must have been 4 stories high but with some smaller sections rising as high as 5 stories.
The party of adventurers was led through the front doors of the keep and into a large foyer. From there they went through the main hall, a vast room larger than the entire Dying Minotaur with a 3 story vaulted ceiling. There were tall columns everywhere, and balconies off to the sides. There were carpets and tapestries and portraits all along the walls.
The group made its way through the hall and came to the throne room on the other side, closer to the back of the keep. They entered and found themselves in a long room with seats along the sides as well as a few other doors, all of which were currently closed. There were a number of armed guards lining the walls. At the other end of the room, the floor went up a few steps. At the top were two thrones, the one on the left larger than the other.
In the left chair sat a powerfully built man. He appeared to be in his mid-forties, with brown hair and beard and blue eyes. This was the Baron Grellus. Even though he was seated, they could tell he was tall, probably about 6’2”, and around 210 lbs. He was wearing simple finery of a military cut with a flaming sword at his side.
In the right chair sat a stately woman with long brown hair and brown eyes. She had a cool beauty and a regal air about her. This was the Baroness Fairwind. She was shorter than Grellus, but tall for woman, probably about 5’8”. She was wearing a pale blue dress with the symbol of Pelor emblazoned on it. Pelor was the god of the Sun, Light, Strength, and Healing. The symbol sat above the heraldic of Avernos, a noble family from town of Penwick.
A man in a guards uniform, but a bit more refined than the others, stood to the Baron’s right, one step down. “That’s Gelpas, the Captain of the Guard,” Francis whispered.
There was another ornate chair, on the same level as the Baron and Baroness, but off to the right. In it sat a lovely young girl with long brown hair and striking blue eyes. She looked to be in her late teens and was only slightly shorter than the Baroness. Her dress was accentuated with finery that was more in line with a lordly court than a simply barony.
“And that’s the Baron’s daughter, Andrella,” Francis continued to whisper. “She’s to be 18 next month. Confidentially, she’s quite headstrong. They say she gives the Baron more of a hard time than that dragon he slew.”
The group was led to seats along the back left side of the room. Most of the other seats were taken up by townspeople. A herald stood in the front of the room, below the Baron and the Baroness announcing the news from around the Barony. There was talk about town businesses, the needs of the farming community, tax collections and the state of the royal treasury. When the subject of trade with other towns came up, the mention of orc bandits arose.
“I’ve lost 3 shipments now from Tarrsmorr to these bandits in as many months,” a man was saying to the Baron. “If something is not done soon, I will go out of business.”
“I’m sorry,” the Baron replied, “but I just don’t have the men to send out and search for these brigands.” The Captain of the Guard turned at that point and said something to the Baron. Grellus motioned him to come closer. The Captain stepped up to the Baron and Grellus leaned forward to hear what he was saying. When he was done, the Captain stepped back and the Baron sat up and cleared his throat.
“Ahem. It has come to my attention that there is a party of adventurers in town who just successfully performed a service for our good friend the Wizard Peltar. It seems that this band was able to easily defeat a large pack of bugbears, two huge stone men and a coven of evil wizards as well. I understand that this group is currently present in the throne room. If so would you please stand?”
The adventurers all looked at each other and stood up together.
“Ah, there they are, at the back of the room,” Grellus said pointing them out. “Please come forward,” Grellus directed them. The quartet slowly moved to the front of the room and stood at the base of the stairs leading to the throne.
“What are your names?” the Baroness asked them.
Aksel spoke for the group. “This is the Warblade Lloyd, son of the Lord Stealle of Penwick your Lord and Ladyship, eh.”
Lloyd bowed to the Baron and Baroness.
“Lord Stealle?” Grellus repeated. “Remington Stealle? A fine man and a noble warrior! I fought by his side against the Pirate Eboneye, oh it must have been 20 years ago. And you are his son! He was a big man your father. I see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. What say you Andrella?” Grellus remarked looking over at his daughter.”
They turned their heads and caught the young lady staring admiringly at the big warblade. “Oh, um,” she recovered quickly, “I think that any son of your old comrade is a friend of the court of Restenford,” Andrella finished, blushing slightly.
Lloyd had turned to look at the pretty young girl and was dumbstruck by her beauty.
“Ah, well said my daughter,” Grellus replied with a twinkle in his eye.
“And who are the rest of your company,” Fairwind interjected.
“Ahem,” Aksel continued, “this tall elf is the Wizard Glorfindle, of the house of Eodin from the fair city of Cairthrellon. Glorfindle is also the newest apprentice to the Master Wizard Peltar, eh.”
“Really?” Grellus inquired. “My old friend Peltar is very picky about who he chooses to apprentice. You must have impressed him greatly young wizard.”
“One does one’s best,” Glorfindle replied bowing to the Baron and Baroness.
Seth decided to introduce himself. “And I am Seth, your Lord and Ladyship, from the city of Ilos. I am a master of…a number of disciplines. My skills become necessary when situations arise that are… outside the collective experience of my comrades.” The little halfling gave an outrageously low bow.
“Ahem,” Aksel cleared his throat. “And I am the cleric Aksel, from the temple of Garglittergold in the city of Caprizon.”
“Well met fellow cleric,” the Lady Fairwind responded. “It is not often that we get to see clerics of the other races here in Restenford.”
She looked at the group and said, “You are all most welcome to our court.”
“Thank you your Lord and Ladyship,” the quartet replied in unison.
The Baron cleared his throat. “Ahem, as you undoubtedly heard, our merchant’s caravans are being plagued by a group of orc bandits on the road west of here. As we do not currently have the manpower to hunt down these scoundrels, we would be grateful if you could track them down and dispatch them for us.”
“It would be our pleasure, eh,” Aksel replied.
“Very good,” Grellus replied with a smile. “Captain Gelpas here will fill you in on the details and outfit you with anything you will need.”
With that, the quartet was dismissed from the throne room. They followed the Captain out into the hall. Lloyd gave a quick look over his shoulder towards the Lady Andrella. She was staring at him on his way out, but then she quickly turned away blushing once again.