Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part VI - Party Crashers - Part 6
Seth had entered the camp outside the castle. There were some new wagons that he had spotted on his way up to the keep. If Fafnar hadn’t got in the way, he would have checked them out awhile ago.
Now he made his way through the existing camp. The wagons he was seeking were on the other side from the road. There was a lot of hustle and bustle as everyone was getting prepared for the party that night.
When Seth finally made it to the other side of the campground, he slowed down. This section of wagons seemed almost deserted. There was no one moving around like in the rest of the camp. Something did just not feel right to him. And Seth had learned to trust his instincts.
He decided to invoke his invisibility cloak just to be safe. Then he moved his way into this new section of the campsite. There were about ten wagons here that had not been there the other day when they had explored the camp with Elvisda.
He was silent as he made his way through the wagons. He heard and saw nothing. The doors on all the wagons were locked. Not that that would have stopped Seth from entering any of them. He just did not see the need just yet. And he did not want to tip off his presence to anyone who might be on guard around here.
Then he heard a noise from one of the larger wagons over to his right. It was only for the briefest of moments, but the wagon rocked slightly as if something had shifted around inside.
Seth made his way over to the wagon and then gingerly climbed up to the top. He searched around the roof and found a trap door. The little ninja carefully checked for traps but did not find any. Then he carefully picked the lock and slowly opened the door just enough to peer inside.
It was pitch dark inside the wagon. Then Seth saw two huge pair of eyes staring back at him. They glowed in the dark. And they were not quite human. More cat or snake like Seth thought.
Whatever was inside the wagon had seen the roof door open. The eyes started to move closer. Seth quickly dropped the lid and launched himself off the wagon landing noiselessly on the ground below. He quickly peered around. There was no other movement other than in the wagon he had just leaped off of.
The little ninja put as much distance between himself and that wagon as he could without making any noise. He was about 30 feet away when he saw the lid lift on top of the wagon. Then he heard a voice yell in a strange tongue and the lid dropped back down again.
Seth continued to move away until he got back to the main camp. Then he began to make his way rapidly back to the castle.
Elvisda and Lloyd were busy preparing for the night’s concert. Donatello was sitting in the first row watching the two finish their last minute rehearsal.
Then a beautiful woman with long flowing blonde hair made her way up onto the stage. She was dressed in a green and white outfit which bore a striking similarity to the one Elvisda was wearing. She walked up to the bard, threw her arms around him and kissed him soundly. Then she produced a lute and the two entertainers began tuning their instruments together.
Lloyd came back down off the stage and sat next to Donnie.
“Who’s that?” Donatello asked pointing to the female bard.
“Oh, that’s Shalla,” Lloyd replied. “Her and Elvisda are good friends.”
“Obviously,” Donnie remarked.
“They’re doing a duet in tonight’s show,” Lloyd continued.
“You know, the more I get to know you folks, the more interesting you become,” Donnie told the big man.
Just then, a pretty young blond girl in a gorgeous gown came running up to the two of them. “There you are Lloyd!” she declared emphatically. “I’ve been looking all over for you. There are some people I would like you to meet.”
“And who is this ravishing young lady?” Donatello asked standing and doffing his hat.
“Oh,” Lloyd said blushing, “this is the Lady Andrella. Andrella, this is Donatello. He is the newest member of our guild.”
“The Lady Andrella? The one whom tonight’s party is for,” Donatello asked obviously impressed.
“That’s me!” the young girl said impishly. Then she gave him a courtly courtesy and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“The pleasure is all mine your ladyship,” the elf said bowing deeply.
She smiled at Donnie and then said, “Please excuse us.” She grabbed Lloyd’s hand and dragged the big man off with her.
“More and more interesting,” Donatello muttered to himself as he watched the two young teens rush away across the courtyard.
Donnie was just about to sit down again when he heard a commotion coming from near the gardens. Then the wind suddenly picked up and he heard some screams. He looked up and saw a copper dragon preparing to land in the courtyard.
“Now there’s something you don’t see every day,” Donatello told himself.
“That must be Calipherous!” he heard Elvisda yell. “He shouldn’t be here now. It’ll ruin everything. I’ll take care of this.” The bard jumped off the stage and went running to where the dragon was landing. Donatello was two steps behind him.
The castle guards were starting to gather around the dragon. Elvisda pushed his way in and yelled loudly, “Don’t worry! This dragon is a friend! You can put your weapons down! We’ll talk to him!”
“Are you sure?” a guard asked. It was Francis.
“Yes Francis,” Elvisda replied, “Please have the other guards back away and give us some room.”
Francis talked with the other guards and they all backed away leaving Elvisda and Donnie in front of the large copper dragon.
Elvisda then turned and faced the dragon. “Hail friend!” he said in draconic. “Might you be Calipherous?”
“Indeed I am,” the dragon spoke back in draconic. “It’s very kind of you to speak to me in my own language.”
“Courtesy is what separates us civilized folk from the others,” Donatello replied in perfect draconic.
Elvisda turned and raised an eyebrow at the other elf.
Donnie winked at him.
Elvisda smiled quickly and then turned back to the dragon.
“Indeed that is true,” Calipherous was saying, “It is a paramount virtue which is lost on many, including those of my own race.”
“Alas,” Elvisda replied, “I wish it were not so. We can say the same about many of the races. Some are still very young and immature. The humans perhaps more than not. Although there are some shining examples among them. We have befriended a few as of late.”
“That is heartwarming to know,” Calipherous replied. “Long have we dragons watched the other races develop. The humans have the most promise, but still seem quick to aggression.”
“I think that is more out of fear than anything,” Donatello interjected. “In fact, your presence here right now is upsetting some of these folks.”
“I do not mean to intrude,” Calipherous replied eloquently, “but I am still in search of my charges. Do you know of them?”
“Yes,” Elvisda replied. “Our friends Glorfindle, Aksel and Seth told us of them and of their encounter with you.”
“Ah yes,” the copper dragon responded, “the elf wizard, the cleric gnome and the halfling. They were indeed a courteous group. They saved my life actually. I believe I owe them a debt.”
“Well then,” Elvisda replied, “we are their close companions and I believe that they would be most appreciative if you could come back perhaps tomorrow. There is a party going on tonight and as we said your presence, while pleasing to us, is upsetting to some of the humans.”
“Very well,” Calipherous replied solemnly, “I will honor your request and return on the morrow. Good day to you kind elves.”
And with that, the dragon unfolded its great wings and lifted off into the air. It hung over the courtyard for a moment, then turned and raised itself up into the sky. When it was about fifty feet up, it launched itself off towards the east creating a strong wind behind it.
Francis came up to the two elves and said, “Thank you both. We were certain that we were going to have to fight the creature.”
“It was nothing,” Elvisda said.
“A mere trifle,” Donatello added.
Then the two elves turned and headed back towards the stage.
When they got back to the stage, Glorfindle was standing there. “Nicely done” the wizard commented as the two other elves walked up to him.
“So what happened with Ves?” Elvisda asked.
“It was strange,” Glorfindle told them. “She was very elusive. It was not easy getting a straight answer out of her.”
“Who was the man she was with?” Donnie asked. “He looked like a Druid.”
Glorfindle raised an eyebrow and then replied, “As a matter of fact he is. That is the town Druid, Almax. I got the strange impression that he and Ves already knew each other. Or, at least, knew of each other. There is something going on there that is not completely apparent as of yet.”
“So she never told you why they didn’t show up till now?” Elvisda asked.
“No she did not,” Glo said, “But I did find out that she and her sisters are here as Almax’s guests. It seems that the Druid is in high standing in the Baron’s court.”
“Very interesting,” Donnie remarked. “Not everyone has great love for the Druids. This Baron Grellus seems to be a very tolerant man.”
“Indeed,” Elvisda said. “But I think his wife has him beat when it comes to political affairs. She’s the sister of the Duke of Duwynn.”
“Really?” Donatello commented. “This really is getting interesting. And it seems that the Baron’s daughter has taken a fancy to our companion Lloyd. Or am I mistaken about that?”
“No, you are not mistaken,” Elvisda said. “Our friend is quiet about it, but he is actually of noble blood. He comes from one of the paramount families in Penwick.”
“As does Baron Grellus,” Glorfindle noted.
“So, I take it the Baron does not mind his daughter’s infatuation with our young friend then,” Donatello deduced.
“No, in fact I believe that he is rather encouraging it,” Glorfindle replied. “He made some comment a short time ago about showing up the Dunwynn fops who are fawning all over his daughter.”
“Hmmm,” Donatello murmured. “Whoever could he be talking about?”
The three of them chuckled.
Then Donatello took on a serious look. “If I remember right, the Duke of Dunwynn currently does not have an heir. And if the Baroness is his sister and Andrella is her daughter…”
“Yes,” Glorfindle continued the thought. “That makes anyone who marries Andrella next in line for the Dukedom.”
“Our boy’s gonna be a Duke,” Elvisda said, rubbing his hands together.
“Guys!” a voice suddenly yelled from behind them.
They turned and saw Seth running up. The ninja was out of breath.
“We’ve…got…trouble…” Seth gasped in between breaths.
“What’s the matter,” Glo asked.
“I think…I just saw…a snake,” Seth responded.
“What kind of snake?” Elvisda asked.
“A big snake,” Seth said finally catching his breath.
“How big?” Donatello asked.
“REALLY big,” the little ninja replied.
Seth related his encounter in the deserted section of the campsite. When he was finished, they were all silent for a moment.
Then Elvisda said, “We need to find Lloyd and Aksel and warn them about this.”
“I’ll go get them,” Glorfindle offered.
He returned with the other two KOTC members a few minutes later. Seth related his tale once again. Aksel sat quiet through the whole thing.
When Seth was done he said, “This could get really serious fast. I think I will forgo the festivities and stay near the gate. I want to be able to summon the Boulder on a moment’s notice.”
“And I’m going to head up to the rooftops now,” Seth added. “If there are any more of those things, I want to see them coming as soon as possible.”
“Raven’s already in flight around the keep,” Glo reported. “Nothing as of yet, but I’ll tell her what to keep an eye out for now. Oh, and she reports that Martin is in position. I’ll have Raven tell him what to expect as well.”
“Okay then,” Aksel said. “Then let’s get on with the show.”
“Hey, that’s my line!” Elvisda said in mock protest.