Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part IV - Return to Bone Hill - Part 2
Seth was up in a tree close to the camp. He had come in via the treetops and had crossed over the stone elemental laying in wait below. He was sure that it had caught Brundon. Now he saw the ranger tied up next to the fire. A man in black robes and a female half orc dressed in warriors garb were talking with him. There were a few other people moving around the camp as well. He made out a ranger type person on the other side of camp loading his quiver with arrows.
Seth looked back to where Brundon was. He was too far away to hear the conversation and he didn’t dare get any closer. Then he saw an object flash in the middle of the camp, on a makeshift table next to a covered wagon. The black robed man went over to it. It was a crystal ball. The man yelled something, and the others in the camp went to pick up their weapons and prepare for a battle.
Seth was starting to think about going back to warn the others, when he saw a slight movement out of the corner of his eye. He carefully looked over and saw a dark bird perched on the branch just above where he was sitting. He looked closely and realized it was a raven. In fact, it was Glorfindle’s raven.
Perfect timing Seth thought to himself. He took out a small piece of parchment and a thin piece of charcoal. He scrawled a quick message and then tied it to the bird’s leg. Then he waved the bird off, silently saying “Go”. The raven took off. It barely made any noise. Now that was a smart bird, Seth thought. He turned back to continue watching the scene below.
They were moving along in the formation Elvisda had laid out. They were in a wedge formation with Lloyd and Glendor out front, Glorfindle and Elvisda just behind and Aksel in the back driving the wagon. The Boulder walked along next to him. They moved at the fastest pace The Boulder could travel.
Glorfindle’s raven came winging out of the night sky and landed on the wizards shoulder. “There’s a note on his leg,” the wizard called softly. He removed it and read the note. “Looks like Brundon got himself caught. They’re in a camp about a quarter mile ahead. There’s five of them. A man in black robes, probably a wizard, a half orc warrior, an archer, and two more fighters. There’s also an earth elemental roaming the woods, probably under their command. And they are preparing for battle.”
“Sounds like they know we’re coming,” Elvisda said. “Well, if they think they can catch us by surprise, then we can turn the tables on them.” He gathered everyone around and told them the new plan.
The party entered the clearing where the campsite was. It looked deserted. They were still in a wedge based formation. Lloyd was in the lead. Glendor was on his left, and Glorfindle was on his right. Aksel and Elvisda were both in the wagon. The Boulder was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly an arrow came whizzing out of the air straight at Glorfindle. It went straight for the wizard and looked like it would hit its mark. The arrow passed right though him and the image of the wizard faded away.
At the same moment something popped out of the ground in front of the wagon. It was the earth elemental. It grabbed the horses and stopped the wagon.
“Now!” Elvisda yelled. He reached back and pulled a tarp off the back of the wagon.
“Attack the elemental!” Aksel commanded. The Boulder popped out of the back of the wagon, jumped down and stomped over to the elemental. The elemental let go of the horses and prepared to meet the stone golem.
Glorfindle popped his head up out of the back of the wagon. “Did it work?” he asked the bard. “So far,” Elvisda replied.
Up in front, a female half orc in barbarian garb rushed out of the bushed and launched herself in the air at Lloyd. The warblade was ready, however. He flipped himself backwards out of his saddle and landed on his feet with both blades drawn and ready. The half orc flew over the horse, her target no longer there, landed on the other side, tumbled and was up on her feet facing Lloyd.
“Very good,” she barked at the warblade.
“Not bad yourself,” Lloyd replied.
Both warriors grinned and launched themselves at each other.
Simultaneously, two warriors came charging out of the woods at Glendor. The fighter had his sword out immediately and blocked one attack with his shield and the other with his blade. Then he wheeled his horse and swung at one of the warriors with his longsword. He connected and let the electricity fly out of his blade into his adversary. The warrior fell back to the ground stunned. Glendor wheeled his horse around again to face the other warrior who renewed his attack.
Meanwhile, The Boulder was facing off against the earth elemental. Bam! Bam! The ground shook as the stone golem connected with its two great arms. The earth elemental visibly shook from the blows. It recovered and swung back at the golem. Bam! Bam! It connected as well. But the golem shrugged off the blows.
Glorfindle was sitting in the wagon, watching the battle. He was looking for the man in black robes, but could not spot him. Suddenly he saw a flash in the sky. He looked up and yelled “Out of the wagon! Now!” Elvisda, Aksel and Glorfindle leapt out of the wagon and rolled to the ground. Two seconds later a ball of fire exploded in front of the wagon. The horses bolted and ran off with the wagon in tow. Elvisda had to duck again to get out of the charging horses way.
Glorfindle looked up and could barely make out a black figure hovering in the night sky. If he had not been an elf, he would have been hard pressed to spot him. He pointed a finger at the black figure and a scorching red ray of light leapt from it towards the figure. It got within ten feet of the figure and then just died out.
“Damn,” Glorfindle swore. “He is out of my scorching range.”
“Then how about arrows?” Elvisda said. He unslung his bow and took aim at the figure hovering in the sky. He too could see it with his elven eyes. He let loose an arrow. It went straight towards the wizard but bounced off. “He must have protection from arrows!” the bard yelled.
An evil laugh came from the sky. Then there was another flash. “Look out!” Glorfindle yelled. They all ducked as another fireball came flying and hit the ground where they had just been standing.
Seth had been watching the camp as they prepared for battle. The warriors and the archer had moved off into the brush. The black robed figure stood in the middle of the camp casting spells on himself. Buffing for battle no doubt Seth thought. Then the wizard cast one last spell on himself and launched into the air disappearing into the blackness of the sky.
He took a good look around the camp and realized that everyone was gone except for Brundon. Seth wrapped his cloak around himself and became invisible. Then he leaped down from the tree where he had been hiding. He circled around the camp and satisfied that no one was still lurking there made his way slowly to Brundon. When he got next to the ranger he whispered in his ear “Don’t move.”
The ranger jumped. Seth quickly clamped his hand over Brundon’s mouth to keep him from saying anything. “Keep quiet,” Seth whispered. “I’m here to save you you dolt. Don’t move, and don’t say anything. I’ll cut your ropes. But don’t move. That wizard is flying overhead. If he sees us, well let’s just say that with your reflexes you won’t dodge his fireball. Wait for my signal.”
Seth let go of Brundon’s mouth. The ranger said nothing and stayed still. Seth cut the ropes binding him and then backed away. He looked up into the night sky to see if he could spot the wizard. Off in the distance, he heard yelling and the clashing of swords. He also heard some large booms. Sounds like the battle’s begun he thought.
All of a sudden, he saw a trail of flame across the air. It arced towards the direction where the sounds of fighting were coming from. Seth followed the trail back in the sky and thought he could just make out a black figure floating in the air. He took out his venom knife and waited. If the wizard tried that again, he would be ready.
The night sky lit up again. This time as the dark wizard sent the fireball careening from his fingers, Seth saw his silhouette clearly outlined by the bright spell. The ninja let loose with his venom dagger, flinging it with all his strength at the figure in the air. The dagger went whizzing through the sky end over end approaching its target. “Ahhhh,” came the scream from the sky. The dagger had connected. “Venom, scumbag” Seth said.
“Did you hear that scream?” Glorfindle said to Elvisda.
“Look!” the bard yelled. “There he is, FIRE!”
“Well then, it looks like he is in my range now.” Glorfindle said. “Let’s have another go at this then.” He pointed his fingers at the target and let loose with a scorching ray. The beam of red hot light arced from his hand and raced towards the figure in the sky. This time, however, it hit, briefly lighting up the dark mage.
“Damn you!” came the curse from the sky.
“My turn,” Elvisda said. He let loose an arrow. It arced its way up to the figure which was now visibly lit by small flames on various spots of its body. The arrow still bounced off.
“Haha, you can’t win, just give up,” the wizard cried.
“It still is bouncing off but that scorch has got to hurt,” Elvisda said laughing.
At that same moment, The Boulder was still beating on the earth elemental. The elemental had already lost some of its mass. One more round of hits from the golem and the elemental stopped moving and crumbled to the ground breaking into little pieces.
A bit closer to the camp, Glendor had dispatched one of his opponents and was now facing off against the second one. Both fighter and warrior were wounded. But they continued to hack at each other and block attack after attack. Finally, Glendor got through with his longsword and let loose another electrical charge. His exhausted opponent took the full brunt of the charge and then fell to the ground unmoving. Glendor dropped to his knees and said a prayer of thanks.
Lloyd and his barbarian half orc opponent were in a deadlock. Blades flashed and they both danced around, whipping this way and that. Parry, dodge, thrust, swing, roll, they both moved almost faster than the eye could see.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve had such a skilled opponent,” the half orc grunted. “Too bad it has to end.”
“Yeah. Real shame,” the warblade replied. He had been matched blow for blow by this half orc female. Never before had he faced an opponent as good as he was, except for his father that is. He realized that the half orc probably had more stamina than him and if this went on much longer he would begin to tire. He decided it was time to try a maneuver. It was risky, but if it worked would give him a distinct advantage. If not, he didn’t want to think about it.
Lloyd set himself, concentrated and began another assault on the half orc. He used a typical dual handed attack combo lulling his opponent into a false sense of security. He could see the smirk on her face as she parried each one of his attacks. Then he launched his maneuver. He was making what looked like a standard strike, but he imbued this one with a bit more power. It put the barbarian slightly off balance and then he flicked his wrist, made a spiraling motion with his blade and sent the half orc’s blade flying out of her hand.
The half orc screamed in rage. “Stupid! Stupid! How could I be so stupid!”
But Lloyd didn’t give her a chance to continue berating herself. He pressed his advantage and began a deadly assault. His blades flicked and arced in a dance of whirling steel. First one hand then the other. He combined swings and trusts in a complex pattern that his father had taught him. It was a trademark attack of the Stealle family that only Lloyd, his father and his brothers knew. The barbarian did her best to counter the deadly attack, but with only one blade in her hand it was just a matter of time.
Lloyd was in the middle of the barrage and feinted a swing but instead twisted his blade and turned it into a thrust. It went over the half orc’s blade, through her guard, and slid into her chest, catching her in the heart.
She stood there for a moment, then looked Lloyd in the eye and said, “Excellent maneuver. It has been a pleasure…”, then she slumped forward.
Lloyd withdrew his blade and stood back in a guarded position. But his opponent fell forward and hit the ground face first. She did not move again.
At the same time Lloyd was fighting the half orc, Glorfindle and Elvisda were pelting the airborne mage with a combination of magic missiles and arrows. But everything kept bouncing off. Then they heard another scream from the wizard. The dark mage hovered for a couple of seconds then fell forward hurtling towards the ground. Glorfindle and Elvisda looked at each other then took off at a run towards the camp where the wizard had “landed”.
When they got there, Seth was kneeling over the wizard. “He looked up and saw the two elves run up to him. “He’s dead,” Seth told them. “Never turn your back on a ninja you scumbag,” Seth said to the dead mage.
Glorfindle and Elvisda laughed. “Nice job Seth,” Elvisda said approvingly. “Yes, nicely done,” Glorfindle added.
Then they realized a man was standing next to Seth. The ninja saw them looking at him and said, “Oh, this is Martin. He already surrendered. I have all his weapons,” Seth said pointing to a bow, arrows, and a sword on the ground next to him.
“So is that all of them?” Elvisda asked.
“I believe so,” Seth said. “There were two warriors, the half orc barbarian, Martin here, and this wizard. That’s what I saw anyway. Martin, is that correct?”
“It was actually a rogue and a fighter,” Martin corrected him. “But you are correct, there were five of us in total including me.”
Just then, Lloyd, Glendor and Aksel walked into camp, The Boulder trailing behind them. Elvisda brought them up to speed.
“Yeah,” Aksel replied, “the rogue, the fighter and the barbarian are all dead. And The Boulder here crushed that earth elemental.”
“Yay Boulder!” Seth exclaimed.
“Anyway, who were these people?” Glorfindle asked.
“The called themselves the Black Adders,” Martin replied. “They are a sect of the Serpent Cult.”
“The Serpent Cult?” Elvisda asked.
“It is a group of dark magicians who worship serpents. Many of them can change into snake form. They are based in Serpents Hollow. This mage was named Voltark. He was supposed to travel to Restenford and we were to accompany him.”
“You don’t seem like the rest of these folks,” Elvisda noted. “How did you get mixed up in this?”
“Well, that’s a long story,” the archer replied. “Suffice it to say that I upset the wrong people and was in a jail cell in Kai-Arborous.”
“The home city of the high-elves,” Glorfindle stated.
“Yes, the high-elves,” Martin repeated. “Anyway, the Black Adders agreed to pay my bail if I would guide them to Restenford. I didn’t have a lot of options, so I accepted their offer. I didn’t care much for them, and was hoping to go my own way once I got them to Restenford.”
“More likely that they would have cut your throat,” Glorfindle observed.
“Anyway, you can come back with us and tell your story to the Baron of Restenford. He is a fair man and once he hears your story would be more than likely to let you go. Especially considering all the information you have just give us.”
“Thank you for your kindness,” Martin replied.
Brundon had been quiet through all of this. When Martin was done talking, however, he got up and started to rave, “I can’t believe you’re buying all of this. These people were going to kill me. They are evil, all of them. This one included. He should be hanged.”
“That’s enough,” Glendor yelled. “These people went out their way to come to your rescue Brundon, as did I. And how do you repay their kindness? By berating them over their decision to be fair minded and kind in turn. You are a horrible person Brundon. We are through.” The big fighter turned and walked away.
Brundon looked sheepishly at everyone and said “Sorry.” Then he ran after Glendor crying “Wait! Glendor, please wait!”
“Akward,” Seth said.
“Anyway,” Aksel spoke up, “let’s heal up. Seth, if you want to take a look around and see what you can find.”
“Well first of all, Glorfindle will probably want this,” Seth said, handing a book over to the wizard. “It’s Voltark’s spell book. Also, there is a crystal ball over here.”
Glorfindle walked over and looked at it. “Oh, that’s nice. A scrying crystal. This will come in handy.”
Seth continued to look around and found a chest in the mage’s wagon. He checked it for traps and disarmed it. Then he picked the lock and opened it. Inside was a winged helmet.
“What’s this?” Seth asked.
Glorfindle came over and tried to identify it. But he had used up most of his spell energy for the day and needed to rest.
“That’s one beautiful artifact,” Elvisda replied. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite like it.”
“Me neither,” said Aksel.
“They must have had this for a reason,” Seth mused.
“Well, if I might hold onto it for now,” Glorfindle asked.
“Sure,” Seth said and handed the helmet over to the wizard.
“Hey”, Lloyd said, “Look at this!”
They turned around and saw the warblade launch himself into the sky. He flew around the camp and then up in the air doing loop the loops.
“He’s a natural,” Elvisda observed.
After a few minutes, Lloyd landed. He looked at the others and said, “It’s the wizard’s cloak. I put it on and suddenly I felt light as a feather. I thought about flying and suddenly I was floating in the air. Can I keep it?” Lloyd had the look of a child with a new toy on his face.
“Sure,” Aksel said, “It might just come in handy having a flying warblade.”
The party camped out until daybreak, resting and regaining their strength. Then took Voltark’s wagon since theirs had gotten torched and headed back to pick up their spoils from the keep, including the couch. Then they headed back to Restenford.
It was midday when the party marched back into town. Lloyd was flying overhead, and The Boulder was marching alongside them. Elvisda and Martin were sitting in front of the wagon and Seth was relaxing on the couch.
The people of Restenford came out in droves to see the heroes. They cheered when Lloyd flew overhead and were in awe of The Boulder. They marched up to the castle and stopped at the front gate.
“Well, well, look who it is,” Francis the guard said. “Back victorious from your latest quest I see?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact we are,” Elvisda replied.
“So, have you thought of a name yet for yourselves?” Francis asked.
“We do not need a name. Seth replied from his comfortable seat.
“Well of course you do,” Francis replied, “Let’s see, you are Knights of the…”
He took a look at the golem and then the couch. “Couch, Knights of the Couch!”
Before any of the other adventures could object, a cheer went up from the crowd. “Hail the Knights of the Couch! Knights of the Couch! Knights of the Couch!”
Elvisda turned to Glorfindle and whispered “Guess we’re stuck with it.”
Glorfindle just shook his head. Then the two elves laughed and waved to the cheering people of Restenford.