Knights of the Couch - Part VI - Party Crashers - Part 2

With the air elemental gone, Seth, Martin and the two casters went back upstairs. Lloyd and the Boulder waited in the hallway. They searched the second floor which was mostly composed of empty bedrooms. There was one locked door which was the apprentice’s workroom, but Glo had the key and it was also empty.
Seth went back up to the stairs to the third floor with Martin trailing silently behind him. The little ninja listened at the door but it was all quiet. He picked the lock and cautiously opened the door.
The third floor had a short hallway and four doors. Seth tested them and they were all locked but he was able to easily pick them. Glo and Aksel joined them and they searched the rooms one by one.
The first room was a workroom. This must have been where Peltar did his personal experiments. There was a workbench covered with various items. There were vials and bottles filled with different colored liquids. There were books piled up and papers with scribbled notes.
There was another locked door at the other end of the room. Seth opened it and they found something themselves in another room.
“Is that what I think it is?” Martin asked in a hushed tone.
“If you are thinking it is a large pentagram, then you would be correct,” Aksel replied.
“The more appropriate question is what is it doing here in a supposedly good wizard’s house,” Glorfindle remarked. “These things are typically used for protection or containment. To have a permanent one this size set up in the middle of this room, I would think the latter is more likely.”
They all began to wonder about the old wizard. Just what kind of arcane arts was he dabbling in? Was Peltar involved in dark magic?
Either way, there was nothing they could do about it now. They put their questions aside for now and continued on. There was yet another door on the other side of this room. It was also locked but Seth picked this one as well.
The next room they entered was a library. There were shelves that went all the way up to the ceiling filled with books. The library was probably the most comprehensive collection of knowledge Glo had seen this side of Cairthrellon. There might be other libraries which contained more information, but this was extremely impressive.
Again there was another door on the other side of this room. It, however, was not locked. They entered the next room. It was Peltar’s study. There was an open book on his desk with cryptic handwriting on it.
“This must be Peltar’s journal,” Glo observed. “Much as I am not inclined to read other people’s diaries, given the current circumstances, I do not believe we should leave it here.”
“I concur,” Aksel said nodding his head.
“Very well,” the elf wizard agreed, “I will take it with us for now. If we find Peltar, then I will tell him we took it for safekeeping and did not look at it. If we do not find him, then we must read it.” He took the book and tucked it into his robes.
There was another door behind the desk in the study. It too was not locked. It led to Peltar’s bedroom. The bed was made and the room looked neat. It did not look like anyone had slept in here in days.
“Well this was a dead end,” Seth said. “No pun intended.”
“So where to next?” Martin asked.
“The basement,” Aksel said.
They made their way downstairs and opened the basement door. Seth led the way down once again followed by Martin and the two casters. The basement was pitch black. Glo lit the end of his staff with a spell and they saw that the cellar was composed of a single large room with some storage boxes here and there.
“Look at this”, Martin said pointing to the ground. There were two sets of tracks and two uninterrupted lines in-between them. Martin stooped down to examine them. “Looks like someone was dragged up to these stairs.” The archer followed the trail back to one of the walls where it ended abruptly.
Seth searched the wall carefully and found the latch for a secret door. The others stood ready while he opened it. Inside was a smaller room with a large rectangular box on a pallet. They took a closer look and saw that the box was open. Peering inside it was empty.
“You know,” Glorfindle said, “that looks a lot like the box we carted Voltark over here in. And the body wasn’t anywhere else in the house.”
“Looks like that’s what was dragged from the cellar,” Aksel observed. “It kind of makes sense. If Voltark was a member of the Serpent Cult, then they probably wanted him back. And those fellows with the black robes and the snake mark on the one’s arm pretty much confirms that this was a Serpent Cult attack.”
“They’ve got a lot of guts attacking Peltar’s house this way,” Glorfindle stated. “My guess is that Peltar himself was not here. I don’t think they would’ve taken the chance. The must have cased the house and waited until he left.”
“Bet you they also paid one of the apprentices off to let them in,” Seth interjected. “That’s why the front door lock had the scratch marks on the inside. My money’s on Fliban. After Glo made a fool of him, and Peltar just laughed it off, he was probably not very happy with his master.”
“You’re most likely right,” Aksel said. “I think we’ve done all we can here. We should probably report this to the Baron.”
“We should also check around and see if we can find Peltar or any of his other two apprentices,” Glo added.
“Right,” Aksel said. “Let’s go.”

Aksel and Glorfindle went to report to the Baron and see if he had seen or heard from Peltar. Meanwhile, Seth and Martin took Lloyd back to the Dying Minotaur and then went searching around the town for signs of Peltar or his two remaining apprentices.
The Baron and Baroness were shocked to hear of the attack on Peltar’s house. But Grellus had not heard from his friend. In fact, he was looking for the wizard as well. Andrella’s party was the next day, and he needed Peltar to be there by his side.
“If Peltar cannot be found in time,” Grellus said, “would you be able to stand in for him Glorfindle?”
The elf was taken off guard by the question. He quickly recovered however and said, “Why, it would be an honor your Lordship.”
“Cleric Aksel, would you care to join us as well?” the Lady Fairwind said.
“Ahem. I would also be honored your Ladyship,” the gnome replied.
“In fact, I think the entire KOTC should be invited,” Andrella said. She had walked in on the meeting a few minutes prior. She seemed to be looking around for something, or someone.
“Well it is your party,” Grellus said hesitantly.
“And the KOTC has done a lot for the town of Restonford these last few weeks,” Fairwind continued. “I think this would be a nice way of showing our appreciation for them.”
“Very good,” Grellus said, “then it’s settled. The entire KOTC are invited to Andrella’s birthday party tomorrow.”
Andrella ran over to her father and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you daddy!” she squealed. Then she swirled around and faced her mother, “Mom, I’ll need a new dress.”
“But Andrella, we already had a new dress made for you!” her mother exclaimed.
“But Mother, this needs to be extra special!” she whined.
Grellus got up and drew the two KOTC members away from the two arguing women. When they were finally out of earshot, he said to them, “I am glad you are going to be at the party for another reason. This whole Serpent Cult thing has me a bit worried. The fact that this Voltark was coming here to Restonford was troubling. But this attack now on Peltar’s home makes them far more dangerous. That they could carry something like that off makes me wonder what else they might try.”
“Don’t worry your Lordship,” Aksel replied. “We were thinking along the same lines. If you can work out the seating arrangements for us, we will position ourselves so that we are in the best position to protect you and your family.”
“And we can also keep an eye on the perimeter of the keep as well,” Glorfindle added. “If the Serpent Cult makes a move, we will be ready for them.”
“I am feeling better already my friends,” Grellus said as he heartily pounded them both on the back.
“Oh, and one more thing,” the Baron added. “There will be a tournament the morning after the party. I’ve taken the liberty of placing an entry in for Lloyd Stealle. I would think a young Penwick noble like himself would make a fine addition to the tourney. Maybe he can show up some of these Dunwynn fops who keep fawning over my Andrella.”
“Ahem. That was very thoughtful of you, your Lordship”, Aksel replied. “We will be sure to tell Lloyd.”

When Aksel and Glo got back to the Dying Minotaur, they found Seth waiting for them. “There’s no sign of Peltar, nor Flibin anywhere in town. But, I did manage to track down Gristla.”
“Where is she?” Glo asked quickly.
“Actually, she’s right here,” Seth replied lowering his voice. “She’s in a back room. It seems that her sister works here. Follow me.”
The ninja turned and led them to a door that led to the servants quarters. There, lying on a bed, looking extremely pale, was Gristla. Another woman stood over her, and turned around quickly when she came in.
“Oh, it’s you Seth,” she said as she recognized the halfling.
“These are my friends,” Seth told her. “Aksel here is a cleric and can help your sister.”
“Please, if you can?” she begged. “She was stabbed in the stomach.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Aksel replied as he went over to the injured woman. He examined her carefully. Then he looked up at the others and said, “It’s not just a stab wound. I can heal that. She’s also been poisoned.”
“Oh no!” her sister cried. “Isn’t there anything you can do for her?” she begged the little cleric.
“I’m sorry,” Aksel replied regretfully, “but I haven’t been trained to remove poisons yet.”
“Oh please,” the sister wailed, “there must be something! Don’t let her die!” She began sobbing.
As Glorfindle watched the scene unfold before him, he seemed conflicted. But after the last outburst he couldn’t help himself. He reached into his bag and pulled out a small vial with a glowing white liquid in it. He handed it over to Aksel and said, “Here, give her this.”
Aksel raised an eyebrow. “Where did you get this?” he asked staring at the little vial closely.
“It was in Telvar’s stash at Bone Hill,” Glorfindle replied quietly. “I’ve been keeping it in case of an emergency.”
“What is it?” the sister said, drying her eyes to get a better look at the glowing vial.
“It’s Angel Tears,” Aksel told her. “It will cure her of the poison.”
“Angel Tears?” the sister repeated, “Isn’t that extremely rare?”
“Yes,” Glo replied with a heavy sign, “It certainly is.”
“Oh thank you!” the sister cried, and she threw herself at the elf and hugged him tightly and bursting into tears all over again.
“Don’t thank me just yet,” Glo said grabbing the sobbing woman by the shoulders and gently pushing her back. “She still needs to be healed."
Aksel turned back to Gristla and placed his hands over her abdomen. A white glow appeared as he began to heal her. After a few minutes her breathing became more regular. Aksel examined the wound and it was gone.
Then he told the sister, “Prop up her head.”
After she had done so, Aksel opened the vial of Angel Tears and poured it into Gristla’s mouth. A couple of more minutes went by and the greenish tint disappeared from her skin and her color returned to normal.
Finally, Aksel stood up and said, “With a little rest, she will be fine.”
“Oh thank you!” the woman exclaimed and now reached out and grabbed the little cleric lifting him off his feet.
“That’s…quite…alright…” Aksel managed to squeak out as she embraced him tightly.
She put him down and the little cleric rubbed his sides.
Seth smiled at him wryly, but didn’t say a word.
Gristla began to stir, and then opened her eyes.
Glorfindle went over and knelt down by her side. “Grista, what happened?” he asked her quietly.
The female apprentice looked up at him and recognition entered her eyes. “Oh, it’s you Glorfindle.” She paused and then said, “It was terrible. The Master had just left. I was up in my room when I heard a commotion coming from downstairs. Then there was a scream. It sounded like Abracus. I went down the steps and peered around the corner. Four men in black robes were in the hallway. Two of them went into the dining room and the other two must have seen me. They came running towards the stairs. I ran back upstairs, but they were right behind me. So I ran up the next flight and yelled for the Master. In my panic, I forgot he was already gone. They caught me on the landing and stabbed me. I figured my only chance was to play dead, and it must have worked. They left me and decided to go up to the third floor. They walked right into the Master’s fire trap. When I opened my eyes, they were dead. Then I heard another scream. It was from downstairs. I snuck down the steps in time to see the other two black robed figures head down the basement. I slipped out the back door and came straight here to the Inn.”
“So you don’t know what happened to Peltar or Flibin?” Glo asked.
“No. I don’t know where the Master went. But Flibin was in the house with the rest of us. I thought maybe it was him that screamed the second time.”
“That was the cook,” Glo said. “We found his body in the pantry. And we found Abracus by the front door. But there was no sign of Flibin. We searched the whole house.”
“That is odd,” Gristla said. “I am sure I heard him downstairs before the whole thing started. You don’t think he had anything to do with this, do you?”
“It is starting to look that way,” Glo told her.
“Now that you mention it, he was acting kind of funny the last few days,” Gristla told him. “He seemed very nervous. Almost scared come to think of it.”
“Well, what will you do now,” Glo asked her.
“I can’t go back to that house. Not after what has happened,” Gristla said. “I was thinking maybe I’ll go to Bendenwood and study with the Druids. What about you?”
“We’re going to find out who did this and put a stop to their plans,” Glo told her.
“I hope you do,” she said then yawned. “I’m exhausted. I think I need to rest now.”
They took their leave of Gristla and her sister.
“So what do we do now?” Martin asked.
“Do you think you can go and tell Elvisda what is going on?” Aksel asked.
“Sure thing,” Martin replied.
“Good. Also tell him we are all going to meet in the common room first thing in the morning. I want to make a plan just in case the Serpent Cult shows up at the party tomorrow.”
“Will do,” Martin said. Then he left to go seek out Elvisda and Shalla.
“Well,” Glo said, “It doesn’t look like anyone knows where Peltar is. I think we should have a look at that journal.”

Knights of the Couch – Part VI – Party Crashers – Part 3

Knights of the Couch - Part VI - Party Crashers - Part 2

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