Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part IX – The Fall of the Couch – Section 6
Lights twinkled on the other side of the lake as Ruka and Aksel flew over the water towards the town of Garrotten. It had been a quick ride, even though the dragon had not been flying at top speed.
They picked a spot to land on the north side of town, behind a large hill. That way they could keep out of sight of the townsfolk until Ruka could change form. Then the two travelers made their way down the north road and into Garrotten.
“Let’s stop at Abraham’s and rent some rooms for the evening,” Aksel said as they passed by the inn.
“I don’t need to sleep,” Ruka replied. “As soon as I get cured, I can fly us right back.”
“It may not be that simple. We can try the church, but if no one has prayed for a spell of cure poison today, then we will have to wait till tomorrow morning,” the cleric told her. “And on top of that, I’ll have to use my last spell to delay the poison on you. Then I will definitely need to sleep before I can pray for new spells in the morning.”
“Oh very well,” Ruka said anxiously. “But only get one room.”
Aksel’s eyebrow shot up.
“I sleep on the roof,” she said seeing the look on his face. “What else did you think I meant?” She was obviously getting annoyed.
“Oh, nothing,” the little cleric replied hastily. “Let’s see about that room.” He quickened his pace and headed for the inn.
A short time later, they were outside the Church of Osprem. Evening services were over and the church was closed. Aksel and Ruka walked up to the rectory and found that it was locked. They knocked but no one came to answer the door. Then they spied a smaller house back behind the rectory. There was a light in the window.
“Must be the groundskeeper’s house,” Aksel commented.
“Might as well check it out,” Ruka shrugged.
The two companions walked down to the house and knocked on the door.
After a minute, an older gentlemen opened the door. He saw the gnome and the young girl and said, “What can I do for you at this late hour?”
Aksel spoke up. “My friend here has been poisoned. I’ve managed to delay the effects but she needs a cure as soon as possible.”
“Well then,” the old man said, “you must be a cleric.”
“Yes I am,” Aksel replied. “But I am not yet able to neutralize the effects of the poison myself. Is there anyone at the church who can cure her? Or would you have any potions?”
“Hmmm,” the old man pondered. “Come in and sit down. Maybe we can figure something out.”
Aksel and Ruka exchanged glances and then followed the old man into the house.
“Oh, where are my manners,” the old man said as he led them into his living room. “My name is Lothar. I am the church groundskeeper.”
“I am Aksel, Cleric of Garglittergold,” the gnome introduced himself. “And this is my friend Ruka.”
“Nice to meet the two of you,” Lothar replied. “I wish it were under better circumstances. Now let’s think about your problem.”
He sat down and began to think. “Now most of the priests are bedded down for the night. And out of all of them, only High Priest Harper or Canon Harmin would even be able to cast the spell. Although I’m not sure we’d be able to count on the High Priest. He’s not quite all there anymore and we never know what spells he going to pray for.”
Aksel looked at Ruka and raised an eyebrow. The young girl stifled a giggle.
Lothar was still talking. “…and the temple’s supply of potions were recently depleted. Wait, that’s it! There’s a potion vendor in town. He operates out of Inn of Abraham. His name is Philmar.”
“Thank you,” Aksel replied. “We’ll go and see him right now.”
Aksel and Ruka left and headed back to the Inn of Abraham. The proprietor, Abraham pointed them to Philmar who happened to be sitting at a table in the common room. He was a rather seedy looking character, but they were in a bind. Ruka shrugged and the two of them walked over to the table.
“Excuse me sir,” Aksel said politely, “might you be Philmar?”
“Who wants to know?” the man replied with a sneer.
“My friend here has been poisoned and is in need of a cure,” Aksel replied. “They told us at the church that you sold such potions.”
“I do indeed,” Philmar replied, “but they aren’t cheap.”
“How much?” Ruka said stepping forward. Her eyes twinkled at the prospect of bargaining.
“Well little lady, let’s see,” Philmar began. “Considering the cost of the ingredients, the magic required, and the current demand, let’s say…1500 gold pieces.”
“Fifteen hundred?” Aksel cried, “That’s double the market price!”
“Well, that particular potion is currently in high demand,” Philmar replied smoothly. “So the price has gone up.”
“800 gold pieces,” Ruka offered. “In your hand right now.”
“1400,” Philmar countered.
“900,” Ruka counter offered.
They went back and forth a few more times till they finally settled on 1100 gold pieces.
“That’s still highway robbery,” Aksel whispered to Ruka.
“I know,” the young girl replied. “But I want to be able to leave first thing in the morning.”
“C’mon,” Philmar said, “follow me. I keep the potions back in my room.”
Aksel raised an eyebrow but followed Ruka who was right behind Philmar.
The potion vendor led them to a room on the first floor down the hallway from the common room. He opened the door and entered gesturing for the two of them to follow him. It was a typical bedroom, just like the ones they had rented on the second floor. Philmar knelt down under the bed and pulled out a small box. He lifted it up and placed it on top of the bed. Then he opened the box. It was filled with vials of liquid of many different colors. Philmar rummaged through the vials for a minute and then picked out one with a black liquid in it. He held it out for them to see.
“It’s the right color,” Aksel commented.
Ruka went to reach for it but Philmar pulled his hand back. “Ah, ah,” he said waving his finger back and forth with his other hand, “the money first.”
“Fine!” the young girl exclaimed. She pulled off her backpack and retrieved a small bag. She dug her hand into it and pulled out 110 platinum pieces, counting each one as she threw them on the bed. When she was done, she closed up her backpack and shouldered it once again. “May I have the potion now?” she said sarcastically.
“Absolutely,” Philmar said handing the vial over to the young girl.
Ruka removed the cork from the vial and sniffed the potion. Then she held it up for Aksel to smell.
It had a very mild odor. The cleric dipped his finger in, pulled it out and licked it. The liquid had a gritty texture and tasted quite foul. He coughed and then said, “Yup, that’s a potion to neutralize poison alright.”
Ruka went to drink the potion when a circle of pinkish light appeared around her and Aksel. The cleric felt the tingle of magic and then it quickly faded. He looked over at Philmar and saw that the potion vendor had just finished casting a spell. Aksel immediately recognized it. The vendor had tried to put them to sleep!
The young girl dragon had recognized it as well. She turned towards Philmar, and fixed him with a deadly stare.
The vendor had been surprised when his little spell did not work on these two youths. But as he looked at the young girl her eyes seem to change. They took on an almost catlike appearance. Suddenly Philmar was very afraid. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” he begged throwing up his hands in the air. “Please don’t hurt me!”
Ruka put her hand out with the vial in it towards Aksel and said, “Here, take this.”
The cleric obliged and took the potion from her hand.
Then Ruka turned back to the hapless vendor and said in a dreadful tone “What was that for?”
Dragons loved to bargain, but they absolutely hated to be cheated. Philmar was on very dangerous ground here Aksel realized.
“I…I…” the vendor stammered, “I…just wanted…to see if…you were the chosen ones…you know…from the prophecy.”
Ruka smiled grimly. Then she reached out and placed her hand on Philmar’s chest. The vendor was frozen with fear and could not move. Then sparks flew from the young girl’s fingertips into Philmar’s body. The shock sent him flying backwards onto the bed.
Then Ruka said mockingly to the prone man, “Oh, my apologies. I was just checking to see if you were a chosen one. Guess not.”
Aksel quickly rushed over to the man and checked to see if he was still alive. He was still breathing, but he was out cold.
“Remind me never to piss you off,” Aksel said as he stood up and turned to look at the young girl.
She had just finished rummaging through the potion box. She had retrieved another potion to neutralize poison effects.
“What are you doing?” Aksel asked quietly.
“They were going to rob us,” Ruka replied as she put the vial in her backpack and shouldered it. “Consider this compensation for our trouble.”
She turned and headed for the door. “Coming?” she called back over her shoulder.
Aksel just shook his head and followed.
Ruka took the antidote as soon as they reached their room. Then Aksel went to sleep in the bed while she went out the window and slept on the roof. They had left Philmar out cold in his room with the door locked. He had been shocked so badly that there was little chance he was going to wake up anytime soon.
They two companions woke up first thing in the morning to a commotion in the yard below. Aksel stuck his head out the window. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“That idiot Calipherous!” Ruka exclaimed. “He can’t shape change so he decides to land right in the middle of town.”
“I guess that subtlety is not his strong point?” Aksel said.
“You could say that,” the young girl said as she swung through the window and gathered up her things. “Get your stuff. We need to get down there quick before things get out of hand.”
Aksel quickly gathered up his gear and the two of them went down stairs and out the door within 5 minutes. They ran out to the courtyard. There was Calipherous talking with the little blonde girl, Maya. They were speaking in draconic.
A crowd of folks had gathered around the two. They were leaving them a wide berth however. After all, menacing or not, Calipherous was a dragon.
Ruka walked up to the two of them and said in draconic, “What are you two doing here?”
“Ruka!” Maya yelled. Then she ran up and threw her arms around her sister, hugging her tightly.
“Yeah, yeah,” Ruka said, patting the little girl on the head. “It’s nice to see you too.” Then she looked back up at the copper dragon and said, “Are you crazy? Do you know how much attention you are attracting?”
“Yes, well, um…” Calipherous began, “Maya here wanted to find you. When you said you would be in Garrotten, she just couldn’t wait. I tried to restrain her.”
“Next time try harder,” Ruka said admonishingly. “If we had met outside of town like I originally wanted, we could have avoided all of this,” she said lifting her arms and pointing out the growing crowd of towns people all around them.
“You’re sister is not that easy to reign in,” the copper dragon said. “Once she has her mind made up…”
“Oh Ruka! I missed you sooooo much!” Maya interrupted, oblivious to all the people staring at them.
“Well, we’re together now,” Ruka said to the little girl.
Maya held onto her not letting go. “But we can’t find Ves!” the little girl said pouting. She started to get teary eyed.
Ruka knelt down to look her little sister in the eye. “Don’t you worry. Ves can take care of herself.” She turned to look up at Calipherous and mouthed the words “What happened?”
The copper dragon replied, “The Glittering Isles was attack by a group of Blue Dragons.”
“What!” Ruka cried.
“Ves took off with the Blues chasing her!” Maya said excitedly. “We haven’t heard from her since.”
Ruka was about to say something else, but she thought she heard the clanking of armor in the distance. “We will talk more later,” said standing up. “Calipherous, right now you need to carry the three of us out of here.”
“Very well,” the copper dragon said. He lowered his neck and allowed Ruka, Maya and Aksel to climb up on his back. Then he slowly lifted off the ground. It was not a moment too soon. As they rose into the air, they could see a contingent of castle guards headed down towards the square.
“Quick, out over the lake,” Ruka told the copper dragon.
Calipherous took off at a good speed west over the town. Within seconds they were out over the lake, the water flashing by underneath them. The copper dragon carried them all the way to the other side of Lake Farmin and then landed on the opposite shore.
“Ok,” Ruka said once they had all sat down. “Aksel, would you mind watching Maya for a few minutes? Cal and I need to talk in private. Sorry, but there are things about our island security that no one else can know.”
“No problem,” the young cleric replied. “Maya and I will be fine.” He turned to the little girl and said, “Right Maya?”
“Do you play games?” Maya asked him.
“Sure,” Aksel replied.
“Then we’ll be fine,” Maya said clapping her hands.
“Good,” Ruka said, then her and Cal went down the beach a little ways, well out of ear shot.
“So Maya,” Aksel said turning back to the little girl,” What game would you like to play?”
“How about skipping stones,” the little girl said gleefully.
“Why not,” the gnome replied as he began searching around for some stones to throw in the lake.
About twenty minutes later, Ruka and Cal came back down the beach. “We should really be going,” Ruka announced. “Aksel, first we will drop you off back at the tower. Then we’re going to have to leave you and go search for our sister.”
“Completely understandable,” Aksel replied.
Ruka and Maya both shifted into dragon form as it was the fastest way to travel. Then Ruka had Aksel climb on her back and they took off. The little cleric held on for dear life as the young dragon was now traveling at full speed. Good thing Donnie gave me his boots or I would never be able to hang on Aksel thought.
The ground flashed underneath them and in no time they were headed up the river. At this rate, Aksel calculated, they would be back at the monolith by mid afternoon. He wondered what the rest of the companions were up to. Then he wondered where Seth was now.