Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part V - The Disappearing Ships - Part 4
Back in the cave, Martin was resting when Seth shook him awake. “I think you were right about the griffin,” the halfling told him.
“Why? What’s happened?” Martin said sitting up and shaking the sleep from his eyes. Then he heard a loud screeching sound coming from the mouth of the cave. He bolted upright and ran to the cave mouth with Seth hot on his heels.
He searched the sky and saw a large creature flying in their direction. It was probably still about a half mile away, but it would be on top of them in under a minute at the speed it was flying.
Martin took a quick glance up.
“Already checked that way,” Seth told him. “There’s no way up.”
“Well then there’s no help for it,” Martin said.
Both of them said a silent prayer and then launched themselves off the ledge. Martin tried to slide his way down the cliff side. Seth was following suit.
Martin was doing well until his foot hit a root coming out of the side of the cliff face. Then he tumbled over head first. He landed in a heap at the bottom of the cliff and everything went black.
Seth landed next to Martin. His training allowed him to roll with the terrain and he took minimal damage from the slide. Martin, however, had not been so lucky.
Seth examined the archer. He was out cold. And he was badly hurt. Broken bones, Seth guessed. He gently moved the archer onto his back and checked his pulse. But he’s still alive.
Seth moved Martin out onto the beach away from the cliffs. He took a blanket out of his backpack and covered the hapless archer. He cast a few heal spells on him, and Martin’s breathing relaxed noticeably. But it was not enough. He needed more healing than Seth could give him for now. There was nothing else he could do. He could only wait and hope that his friends would come looking for them.
Aksel, Lloyd, Glorfindle, Ves and Maya sat around a fire they had made on the beach. It was getting late in the day and Ves was starting to make dinner.
Glorfindle looked up and said, “She found them. They are two miles up the beach from here. Seth looks fine, but Martin is laying still and not moving.”
“That doesn’t sound good,” Aksel commented.
“What can we do to help?” Ves said immediately.
“Would it be possible for you to go get them?” Glorfindle asked.
“I could do that,” Ves replied. She turned and headed for the water. “But you have to keep an eye on Maya. Oh, and Maya?”
“Yes Ves?” the little girl replied.
Seth was relieved when Raven had shown up. He knew that it would only be a matter of time before help arrived. But he was not prepared for how quick it came, nor the direction nor manner of its arrival.
Ves came out of the water and walked up the beach to where they were camped. As she approached she said, “Are you Seth?”
“Um, I might be” the little ninja replied. “Who wants to know?”
“I’m Ves,” the young woman replied. “Glorfindle sent me to come and get you.”
“Where is he then?” Seth asked still uncertain as to who this woman was.
“He’s back at our camp two miles down the beach. He is waiting there with Aksel, Lloyd and my little sister,” Ves told him. “He said his raven had found you and that one of you was hurt and needed healing. I could get here the fastest, so they sent me.”
That sounded reasonable, Seth thought. Although he was still not sure how this girl had made it two miles up the beach in the mere minutes since Glorfindle’s raven had found them.
He looked down at Martin and remembered that they were not going anywhere until the archer was healed some more.
“Very well,” Seth told her. “Martin here took a nasty fall down the cliff. I healed him somewhat, but he needs more than I could do. Can you go back and bring Aksel up here?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Ves said. She knelt next to the archer and looked him over. Then she touched him with a finger and a strange blue light appeared. It got very bright and lasted a long time. When the light finally faded, Martin stirred and began to try to sit up.
“Hold on there,” Ves said grabbing his shoulders with both hands. “You took a nasty fall and almost died.”
“Who are you?” Martin said groggily. Then he opened his eyes and looked on the most beautiful visage he had ever seen. “Are you an Angel?” he asked the lovely young girl.
“Hardly,” Ves replied still holding him down.
Something clicked in Seth’s head at that moment. The long blond hair, the bronze shimmering dress, and the Angel reference; it sounded too much like those sailor’s stories from the tavern.
“Excuse me Ves,” Seth said quietly.
“Yes,” the girl asked, not taking her eyes off of Martin.
“You didn’t happen to travel up here on a dolphin by any chance?” the ninja asked feeling somewhat foolish.
“Yes,” she replied. “As a matter of fact I did. How did you know that?”
“Oh, just a lucky guess,” Seth lied.
“Angel,” Martin repeated. “Beautiful Angel.”
“Now lie back down and hold still,” Ves told the archer. “I am not done healing you yet.”
Ves cast a few more potent heal spells on Martin. When she was done, the archer was able to sit up and talk coherently. He was still weak, however.
“That is the most I can do,” Ves told Seth. “His bones are all healed as are his other wounds. Now he needs to eat and sleep. But first, we need to get the two of you back to camp.”
“Dolphin ride?” Seth asked curiously.
“Yes,” Ves replied. “We shall ride the dolphins. Follow me.”
She picked up Martin as if he was a child and carried him down to the water.
Note to self, Seth thought. Do not piss this woman off. At least not too much, he amended.
Glorfindle, Aksel and Lloyd were keeping an eye out for their companions return. Glorfindle and Maya spotted them simultaneously. They went down to the water to meet them.
Seth jumped off his dolphin and said, “That was cool!”
Ves had been swimming next to the second dolphin which was carrying Martin. She picked him up off the aquatic mammal, clicked some noises which the KOTC members assumed meant thank you, and then carried Martin up to the fire.
The other’s followed. Seth whispered to Aksel, “Does she do that often?”
“It would appear so,” the gnome replied.
Ves put Martin down and her and Maya went to cook while Martin and Seth changed clothes.
“By the way,” Seth said as he was putting on his spare tunic, “Why is the lighthouse burning?”
Glo turned and walked away muttering to himself.
Aksel said, “Long story. We’ll tell you later.
Then they all sat down and had dinner.
Seth related the story of their goblin/wolf encounter to the rest of the party. Aksel, in turn told them what happened at the lighthouse.
“Don’t worry Glo,” Seth said when the story was over. “That’s not the first time you’ve blown something up. Admittedly, the top of the tower at Bone Hill only had a small cauldron of oil on it. This beats it by far.”
Glo muttered something about smart-alec halflings and then got up to help Ves clean up.
After dinner, they all sat down around the camp fire. Night had fallen and there was a chill in the air.
Ves sat next to Martin and hovered over him like a mother hen. She made sure he was covered with a blanket and was not feeling any more ill effects from his fall.
Lloyd was obviously somewhat jealous by all the attention Martin was receiving. Ves was a beautiful young girl, looking to be around Lloyd’s age. And although the young warblade seemed to have caught the eye of the Lady Andrella, she was not currently here, and Ves’s obvious charms were quite enticing.
As Ves fussed over Martin, Lloyd took to strutting up and down the beach in front of them. He found some pretext to take his shirt off and began flexing his biceps as he walked. It was quite an impressive display, but Ves seemed oblivious to it.
Finally, Lloyd gave up and put his shirt back on. Then he went to skip stones in the water with Maya.
When the all finally decided to bed down for the night, Martin, who was obviously feeling much better, offered to take the first watch. Ves said she would only allow it if she could stand watch with him. Martin didn’t argue the point.
It was five in the morning when Ruka arrived back in camp. She woke Glorfindle and told him she had tracked the Barghest to the shore where it turned into a big wolf and headed a few miles inland. She followed it to a camp of around one hundred goblins. She also spotted dire wolves, wargs and five men dressed in black robes.
“That sounds serious,” the elf mused.
He woke Aksel and had Ruka repeat her story.
“That sounds serious,” Aksel said when she was done.
“That’s what I said,” Glorfindle told him.
“Sounds like the sooner we get that cargo onto the ship, the better,” the cleric stated.
“Yes, but maybe you should leave the Boulder here on shore. Just in case,” Glo said.
“Good idea,” Aksel replied.
They all went to sleep for a few more hours.
Around nine in the morning, the Endurance showed up and dropped anchor off the shore. The KOTC and their three new friends had been up and already eaten. They were ready to begin the recovery mission as soon as the ship arrived.
Aksel, however, decided to take a quick trip over to the lighthouse to see what could be salvaged from the ruins. Seth went with him.
Glo, Lloyd and Martin took the boat out. Ves, Ruka and Maya were all swimming with their dolphin friends and led them to the area where the ships had gone down.
Aksel had cast a spell of water breathing on Lloyd and Martin, so they followed the girls down to the underwater wreck. Glorfindle stayed in the boat and waited for the cargo to come up.
The girls had asked their dolphin friends to keep away any troublesome sea creatures. So the divers were not bothered by anything.
Over on the island, Seth and Aksel poked through the ruins of the lighthouse. It had finally stopped burning early in the morning. Seth had had fun pointing it out to Glorfindle whenever he got the chance. The wizard was less than pleased.
The remains of the tower were still hot, but they carefully picked through and did find a few things including a ruby ring and a silver scimitar.
They were just about finished when Seth nudged Aksel.
The cleric looked up and said, “What?”
Seth pointed to the cliffs.
Aksel turned and saw that the cliff top was covered with goblins.
Back on the boat, things were going well. They had gotten up about three loads of treasure. Each time the boat had gotten filled, Glorfindle had taken it back to the ship for unloaded. The dolphins helped push him along so the trips were not strenuous on him at all.
After the third load, Raven suddenly landed on Glorfindle’s arm. The wizard was talking with the bird when Lloyd, Martin and Ves surfaced. “What’s going on?” Lloyd asked.
“Looks like our goblin friends have finally arrived,” Glorfindle told the rest of them. He pointed back towards the shore. At least a hundred tiny dots could be seen moving around at the top of the cliff.
“Good thing we’re out of bow range,” Martin observed.
“Where’s Ruka and Maya?” Glorfindle asked.
“There’s still a bit more down there,” Ves replied. She looked over at the cliffs and then said, “I’ll try and hurry them up.” Then she dove back down under the water.
“That’s our cue Lloyd!” Martin cried and then he also dove under. Lloyd was right behind him.
Back on the island, Aksel was concentrating. “There,” he finally said.
“Did it work?” Seth asked.
“Look for yourself,” the cleric replied.
Seth scrutinized the shore and they saw a large figure lumbering its way up the slope to the top of the cliff. It was the Boulder. “This is going to be Epic!” Seth declared.
Just then, Glorfindle’s raven appeared. It said, “Master will pick you up on the far side of the island. Be ready.” Then it flew off again.
About ten minutes later, Glorfindle came gliding up to the east shore of the island. He had his arms folded and was not rowing. The boat seemed to be moving on its own power.
“Neat trick,” Aksel acknowledged. “Dolphin power?”
“Yep,” the wizard responded with a smile, “Dolphin power.”
The two little KOTC members jumped into the boat and then it took off and headed back out towards the open water, keeping the island between it and the shore until they were out of bow range.