Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part IV - Return to Bone Hill
The party arrived back in Restenford late that night. They went to the Dying Minotaur to celebrate their victory over the two headed giant. The entire group, including Glendor and Brundon, grabbed their two favorite booths and bought a round of drinks for everyone.
Once again, Brundon got drunk and proceeded to brag about their exploits to the entire room. “It was magnificent!” the ranger was saying. “The giant was on the run, scared out of its wits. And here comes Lloyd, flying through the air, and rams it in the back. He’s so strong he knocks the monster down and then stands over it with his mighty sword. Then wham! He stabs it with the sword and cuts out its heart!”
The crowd all stood in awe. Then they raised their glasses and cheered. “To Lloyd!” they cried in unison. “To the Heroes of Bone Hill!” they all raised their glasses a second time.
The revelry finally died down after awhile and Aksel, Glorfindle, Elvisda, Seth and Lloyd found themselves sitting quietly in their booth. “So what now?” Glorfindle was saying. “We’ll have the money for the scrolls tomorrow and I can go to Peltar and have him write them up. But we still don’t know the password for the ring.”
“What was it that Telvar’s journal said?” Elvisda asked. “Something about his first love?”
“Yes, that was the hint he left in his journal about the control rings,” Aksel replied.
“And what was it you said Peltar told you?” the bard asked Glorfindle. “That Telvar never loved anyone but himself?”
“That’s what he said,” the wizard responded.
“It has to be Telvar’s name then,” Seth spoke up, “or some variation of it. That’s the only thing that makes sense.”
“You may be right,” Aksel replied, “but we won’t know for sure till we get back to Bone Hill and try it.”
With that, the group adjourned for the night. The next day they returned to the castle and collected their reward from Captain Gelpas. The Captain had another job for them, something to do with disappearing ships, but they told him it would have to wait. They had to return to Bone Hill to take care of some unfinished business, but would only be a day or two at most. Gelpas told them that would was fine, but to come and see him when they got back.
Then Glorfindle went to see Peltar to get the scrolls they would need to free the golem and repair it. They rest of the adventurers meanwhile got ready to head out to Bone Hill. They met outside the Dying Minotaur just before midday.
Elvisda had gone with Seth and Lloyd to the stables this time, and they had purchased their mounts. They had been using the same ones so much that it made more sense to own them. Now Seth sat upon his dog Scooby and Aksel was seated on his dog Fenrir. Elvisda and Lloyd were on their horses and they had bought one for Glorfindle as well.
Since this was not a quest, per se, they were not going to hire out Glendor and Brundon. But when the big fighter saw them gearing up in front of the tavern, he stopped them.
“Where you fellows off to?” Glendor asked.
“We’re just making a quick trip back to Bone Hill. We have some unfinished business out there,” Elvisda answered.
“Want some company?” Glendor asked.
“Well…” Elvisda began to say when Lloyd cut him off. “Off course you can come along I will gladly accept your help.”
Glorfindle chimed in, “As will I.”
“And I”, Aksel said.
Then Elvisda made an offer. “We appreciate your kindness Glendor. But we can’t just accept you coming along with no compensation whatsoever. So, how about we split with you and spoils that we find?”
“That sounds fair,” Glendor replied. “Done then.”
“That doesn’t include the golem or the couch,” Seth quickly interjected. “Those are strictly ours.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Glendor said. “You have worked hard to retrieve both those things. I will make no claim to either.”
Just then Brundon walked outside. “What’s this I hear about spoils?” Glendor turned and explained everything to Brundon. The two began to argue. “Can you excuse us for a moment?” Glendor said. The ranger and the fighter went off to aways to discuss their differences. Occasionally one or the others voice would rise. Finally, Brundon stormed off.
Glendor walked back to the party and said, “We both gladly accept your offer.”
“Brundon didn’t seem so glad just now,” Seth interjected.
“Ah, yes. He’s going to get us some horses. He’ll be right back,” the fighter said. “I’m going to go and get our packs. I’ll be right back as well.”
Glendor returned in ten minutes. Ten minutes after that, Brundon returned on horseback with a second horse in tow.
“Are we all ready now?” Aksel said, somewhat irritated. Everyone nodded their heads.
The party set out along the south road once again. Elvisda had rented a wagon for any spoils they wanted to bring back from Bone Hill. His horse was hitched to the back of the wagon. The journey to Bone Hill was uneventful. The biggest problem they had was getting the wagon up the overgrown trail through the Dead Forest that led up to the keep. But they managed and by mid afternoon were entering the keep courtyard. Seth had been scouting out ahead as well as Glorfindle’s raven. There had been no sign of any monsters in the vicinity.
The group left their mounts in the courtyard and entered the keep via the front door. The place was silent. They made their way to the stairs and headed up to the pantry. They entered the room and went over to the chute. Glorfindle shined his staff down the hole. Something moved in the shaft. The heard a small boom and the room shook slightly.
“Looks like our golem is still stuck in there,” Aksel said.
The golem began thrashing around a bit in the hole now that it heard them. Seth had the control ring still. He had been holding it since he took it off the now dead wizard Telvar. He took out the ring and put it on his finger.
“So,” Seth said, “Peltar said Telvar never loved anyone but himself, right?”
“Basically,” Glorfindle responded.
“Well then,” the little ninja replied, “let’s start with that.”
Seth held out the ring and began to concentrate. Then he said the word “Telvar”. The golem continued to trash around. “Ok,” Seth said, “then how about the word Magic”. It didn’t work. Then he tried “Arcana” and “Wizardry”. There was still no effect.
“Well,” Seth said, “Let’s try some variations of those words.” The little ninja concentrated and said the word Ravlet.
Suddenly the golem stopped thrashing.
“Was that it?” Elvisda asked.
“Telvar backwards?” Glorfindle said. “Really?”
“Try making it do something,” Aksel said.”
“Hit the wall,” Seth commanded.
Boom they heard from inside the chute. The room shook.
“Hit the wall again,” Seth commanded.
Boom they heard once again. The room shook once more.
“Stop,” Seth ordered.
The golem stayed still.
“That did it!” Glorfindle exclaimed. “Nice job” he congratulated the halfling.
They went downstairs to the basement and found the underground pantry where the chute let out. Glorfindle took out the scroll of rock to mud and invoked it. After a few seconds, the golem started oozing out of the chute. It reformed on the stone floor as a lump of mud, barely resembling the original golem. The group proceeded to shape the mud back into the original golem form, filling in empty spots where the golem had damaged itself.
When they were done, Glorfindle took out the other scroll of mud to rock and invoked that one. The golem visibly hardened before their eyes and turned once again into stone. When it was done, it looked brand new. Seth walked up to the creature and patted it on the leg. “There you go big fellow,” the little ninja said. He barely came up to its knee. “Now we need to give you a name. Hmm, what shall we call you?”
“How about Rocky?” Elvisda suggested.
“The Thing?” Glorfindle said.
“The Boulder?” Lloyd proposed.
“The Boulder?” Seth repeated. “I like it! That will be your name from now on,” he said looking up at the golem. “You are The Boulder.”
“Well, now that that’s settled, let’s go and load up the wagon,” Aksel said.
While Glorfindle and Aksel went to rummage through Telvar’s lab and bedroom, the rest of them went through the storage room. Seth insisted on taking the couch so he had The Boulder lift it up and carry it outside to the wagon. When they were finished they all gathered back in the courtyard and mounted up to leave.
Seth was sitting on his couch in the wagon. His riding dog, Scooby, was laid out on the floor of the wagon next to him.
“Well this was profitable,” Elvisda said.
“There’s only one thing that bothers me,” Glorfindle mused out loud as they trotted out of the keep.
“What’s that?” Seth asked.
“What happened to Telvar’s body? Last I remember, we had deposited it in his bedroom so it wouldn’t be in the way. When Aksel and I went in there just now, it was gone.”
“Really?” Elvisda replied. “Why would anyone have taken an old wizard’s carcass?”
“I’m not sure,” Glorfindle replied.
“Hey, what’s that over there?” Seth said suddenly pointing towards the forest.
They all turned to look. It was dusk and the Sun had just set. Down the hill, off south in the Dead Forest, they could all see a faint glow in the woods.
“Looks like a campfire,” Lloyd observed.
“But who would want to camp out in these woods?” Glorfindle asked.
“Why don’t you send your raven out to see?” Elvisda suggested.
“I just did,” the wizard replied, “but she can only get so close. If whoever it is has arrows, I don’t want her becoming a mark for target practice.”
“Well then,” Aksel said, “that leaves either Brundon or Seth.”
Seth said, “Your crazy if you think I’m leaving the comfort of my couch.”
“Fine,” Brundon said testily, “I’ll go check it out.”
He dismounted and hitched his horse to the back of the wagon. Then he disappeared into the woods.
Brundon made his way through the woods in the direction of the campfire. He was irritable as it was. He could not believe that Glendor had signed them up for this journey. But it hadn’t really turned out that bad. There had been some goblets and a few rolled up carpets that they could probably sell for a nice profit.
He was just starting to feel better when he heard something rustling in the bushes in front of him. Whatever it was seemed large. He stood completely still, waiting and listening, but the rustling stopped and nothing showed itself. I wonder what that was, the ranger thought to himself.
All of a sudden, the ground rose up all around him. He tried to tumble out of the way, but whatever it was grabbed him. He struggled but he could not move. Then something large came out of the pushes toward him. It was large and gray. He screamed. Then everything went black.
“Did you hear that?” Elvisda said. His elven ears had heard a scream coming from the woods.
“That was definitely human,” Glorfindle replied. He had heard it too. “It came from the direction of that campfire.”
“Could it have been Brundon?” Glendor asked alarmed.
“Probably,” Seth said from his perch on his couch.
“Does your raven see anything?” Aksel asked Glorfindle.
“It’s flying high over the camp right now. It does see a few figures moving around, but it can’t get close enough to distinguish who, or what they are. It does see something moving in the woods alittle to the north of the camp though. Whatever it is, it is big and gray,” the wizard reported.
Aksel looked at Seth. “Well?” the cleric said.
“Oh very well,” the little ninja replied getting off his comfortable seat. “I’ll go check it out.”
“You plan on bringing the golem with you?” Aksel asked.
“No, probably not,” the little ninja replied.
“Then maybe one of us should hold onto it while check on Brundon,” the cleric told him.
“You know, sometimes you make too much sense,” Seth replied sarcastically. “Oh well, here, you take the ring for now. But I want it back.” Then the halfling disappeared into the woods.
“As for the rest of us,” Aksel said, “Let’s start moving out towards the campfire. But let’s assume that whoever, or whatever, is there is hostile.”
“Ok,” Elvisda said. “Then let’s assume a battle formation.” The bard detailed his plan to the rest of the party.
Brundon woke up and found he could still not move. He was on his side facing a roaring campfire. His hands and feet were bound. He was tempted to scream again when a figure appeared in front of him. “He’s finally awake,” a woman’s voice said. I was a woman’s voice, but it was very deep and gruff for some reason. She leaned down and looked in his face. Here features were very wide. Then she smiled and he noticed her tusks. She was a half orc! Brundon almost fainted again.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” the female half-orc said. “Don’t be doing that again.” She reached down and smacked him in the face. Ow, that was hard the ranger thought. But it did the trick. He was now wide awake.
She sat him up and he saw that he was actually surrounded by a few people. A man in dark robes came over and sat on a log next to him. “Well, my friend,” the man said in a thin cruel voice, “you are finally awake.” He laughed a decidedly evil laugh.
If I ever get out of this alive, Glendor, we are through! Brundon thought to himself.
“Wondering how you got into this mess?” the man guessed correctly. “You just picked the wrong folks to align yourself with,” the man finished.
Got that right Brundon thought.
“I see you agree,” the man said laughing again.
Is he reading my mind? Brundon suddenly panicked.
“You are wondering if I am reading your mind no doubt,” the man said, “Not exactly. Let’s just say I am a very good study of people, and their reactions. You are in a particular predicament and are reacting in a typical manner.”
Brundon relaxed a bit.
“Now, that’s better,” the man in black robes said. “All you have to do is answer a few of my questions and you will be set free.”
Brundon stared at the man. Could he trust him? Probably not, but at this point he didn’t much care. Anything that might get him out of this situation was worth a try.
“Wh-what do you want to know?” Brundon replied.
“First of all, who are you?”
“I am Brundon, a ranger. I am a mercenary for hire from the town of Restenford.”
“Restenford you say. Interesting. And who are those that you travel with?”
“They don’t have a name as a group. Some folks call them the Heroes of Bone Hill.”
“Heroes of Bone Hill?”
“Yes. They raided Bone Hill a few weeks ago and killed an evil wizard and his minions.”
“An evil wizard you say. Would you happen to know this wizards name?”
“Telvar. His name was Telvar.”
“Telvar. Yes, I believe I have heard of him. A third rate wizard at best.”
“Do you know what this wizard was doing at Bone Hill?”
“He was creating golems or something. Stone golems.”
“Telvar? Creating stone golems? I think not.”
“Well, not exactly creating them. He might have found them. But he had two.”
“What happened to them?”
“Well, the party I was with destroyed the first golem. But they managed to trap the second one. That’s why they came back here, to get the second golem.”
“You say they destroyed a stone golem? And now they command a second one?”
“And you expect me to believe that?” the man in black said raising his voice.
“It’s true. It’s true,” Brundon replied wincing. “They are a very resourceful group. They have a wizard, a cleric, and a huge fighter that moves like a whirlwind.”
“Is that all?” the man in black robes pressed.
“They also have this bard. He’s a real showoff. And there is a little snot halfling. He says he’s a ninja or something, but he’s really some kind of second rate rogue.”
“And that’s all of them?”
“That’s it. I swear.”
“Tell me about the wizard.”
“Well, his name is Glorfindle. He’s an elf, from the west. He’s an apprentice of the wizard Peltar.”
“Peltar?” the man in black’s voice took on an edge. “He’s involved in all this?”
“No,” Brundon replied quickly. “He just trains the elf.”
“Ok, an apprentice of Peltars. That I can deal with,” the man in black robes said smugly.
“And this fighter. What of him?” the black robed figure asked.
“He’s a big one. Real tough looking. But he can move with those blades. Just the other day he took down a giant single handed.”
The man in black robes looked at him skeptically. The half orc woman sitting to the side laughed. “I find that hard to believe,” she said.
“I saw it with my own eyes,” Brundon replied. “He jumped way up in the air and landed on the giants back. He stabbed it and took it down. Then he cut out its heart.”
“Sounds like my kind of guy,” the half orc said. “That one’s mine,” she told the man in robes.
“Very well,” the man in black replied. Suddenly, something flashed over on a makeshift table behind the man. The black robed man turned around and walked over to it. Brundon could see it was some kind of crystal ball. “Well, they’re coming,” the man told the half orc.”
“Good,” she said. “That’s better than having to hunt them down.”
The man got up and walked over to Brundon. “Now you stay here until we get back.”
“I thought you were going to let me go?” Brundon cried.
“First we need to make sure the information you gave us is accurate,” the man smiled thinly. “If your information is good, then we will set you free as promised.”
Somehow, Brundon didn’t believe him. Oh, what have I done? the ranger thought to himself. Glendor, forgive me.