Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part VI - Party Crashers - Part 7
The show was about to begin any minute. The Baron and Baroness sat up front center. Glorfindle sat at Grellus left and Fairwind sat on the Baron’s right. Andrella sat next to her mother, and she insisted that Lloyd sit next to her.
Elvisda was up on stage already waiting for the rest of the audience to settle into their seats. When almost everyone was seated, Lloyd excused himself. “I have to play the drums for Elvisda. I promise to be back as soon as he is done,” the young man told Andrella.
“I’ll be waiting,” Andrella said and she got up and kissed him on the cheek.
Lloyd blushed and walked over to the stage.
Then Glorfindle said to Grellus, “I am responsible for the special effects your lordship. But I can cast them from here if you don’t mind.”
“Go right ahead Wizard Glorfindle,” the Baron responded. “I prefer you to stay by my side throughout this evening.”
“Very good your lordship,” Glo replied.
It was dark out now and there were torches lit all around the stage. Glorfindle glanced around and finally caught sight of Elvisda hidden in the darkness behind the stage. He doubted any of the humans could see him. Glo nodded to the bard and Elvisda nodded back. Then the wizard and bard began to simultaneously cast their spells.
The torches dimmed around the stage. Then fog began to appear in the center of the platform. It became thicker and slowly spread across the entire area till it was slightly spilling off the sides. Lloyd began beating softly on his drum. The audience grew quiet as they watched what was unfolding.
Then dancing lights appeared behind the fog. A dark silhouette could be seen standing in the center of the stage. A musical chord was struck and then the figure began to move forward. As the figure walked out of the fog, pyrotechnics went off all around the stage. The crowd oohed and ahhed.
As the dark figure stepped out of the fog, the drums began to beat louder and louder. Then the figure was out of the fog completely. Suddenly the torches flared lighting up the figure. It was Elvisda, in full regalia. All dressed in white, with studded sequins and white tassels hanging from his sleeves. He strutted out to the center of the stage and struck a fighting pose. The crowd went wild.
The bard turned around and struck another fighting pose. Across the back of his costume was a large sequined gold dragon. The crowd roared. Then Elvisda turned around again and broke into a song. It was a fast paced tune designed to get the crowd going and on their feet.
You ain’t nothin but a hell hound,
Flaming all the time.
You ain’t nothin but a hell hound,
Flaming all the time.
You ain’t ever caught a cleric,
And you ain’t no friend of mine…
Before too long, folks had gotten up and were dancing in the aisles. The elf bard was dancing around himself. He moved across the stage with grace, but also with power. His movements were a cross between dancing and fighting. The crowd had never seen the like before. They were enthralled.
As Elvisda finished, the entire crowd rose to its feet and applauded vigorously. Well, almost the entire crowd that is. The contingent from Dunwynn stood out like sore thumbs as they continued to sit in their seats. Glo was near enough to pick up a few comments with his keen elf ears. He picked up single word remarks such as vulgar and crass. Then he heard Fafnar’s voice saying, “Well what do you expect from a bunch of country bumpkins?”
Glo smiled to himself. It seemed that Fafnar was not the only pompous ass from Dunwynn. It looked like the entire Dunwynn retinue was composed of equally snobbish individuals. The elf wizard turned his focus back to his friend on stage.
The cheering and clapping was just dying down now. Elvisda, with an obviously magically enhanced voice, spoke to the crowd. “Thank you. Thank you very much,” he drawled.
Meanwhile, Shalla had come on stage and taken up a position behind the elf bard. The crowd had quieted down in anticipation. Elvisda turned and bowed to Shalla, then turned back to the audience and said, “This one is for all the ladies.” Then he began a heart wrenching ballad.
Wise wizards say,
Only fools haste in,
But I can’t help,
Being enslaved by you…
It was in stark contrast to the energy of the previous number. Elvisda’s superb voice warbled through the lower ranges until he reached the chorus. Then Shalla joined in and their voices blended in a perfect harmony.
The song was so poignant and heartfelt that it had some of the ladies openly weeping. By the time Elvisda was finished, the entire audience was silent. Then as one they rose to their feet and gave him a second standing ovation. Except of course for the Dunwynn contingent once again. Glo listened in once again and this time heard words such as too flowery and sickly sweet. Strangely enough, Fafnar was quiet for once. Glo stole a quick look over at the Dunwynn Lieutenant. Was that a tear in his eye? Glorfindle wondered in amazement. Then the noble covered his face with a handkerchief. Glo quickly looked away.
Back on stage, Elvisda was bowing once again. Then he turned to his backup singer and introduced her. “Thank you. Thank you. This is my friend and colleague, the lovely Miss Shalla!” The audience clapped enthusiastically for the beautiful bard.
When the noise finally died down, Elvisda announced, “That is it for us for now.”
The crowd responded as one with an “Awwwww…”
“But do not fear,” Elvisda continued, “there is plenty of entertainment to follow. And Shalla and I will be back to perform a duet at the end of the show!”
The crowd cheered enthusiastically. Then Elvisda introduced the next act and he and Shalla departed the stage.
The entertainment went on for about another hour. There were jugglers, magicians, clowns, jesters and another bard or two. None however had quiet the same impact on the crowd as Elvisda had.
When the last entertainer had finished, Elvisda and Shalla took the stage again. The crowd went wild. Elvisda said, “Thank you. Thank you very much. This is a little number we cooked up just for you all. I’ve also been informed that seating at the dinner tables will begin. Please follow the waiters as they come to get you. Shalla and I will continue to entertain you until everyone is seated.”
The two bards then launched into a fast paced duet. The two bards moved around each other as they sang and took turns singing their individual parts.
Elvisda: I got chill touch.
Think I’m dying.
And I’m losin’ control.
‘Cause the magic
Shalla: You better shape shift,
’cause I need a human
but my heart is set on you.
You better shape shift;
elves don’t understand
to my heart I must be true.
And when they reached the chorus, their voices blended together in perfect harmony.
Both: You’re the soul that I want.
(you’re the soul that i want), o,o, oo, raise me.
The soul that I want.
(you’re the soul that i want), o,o,oo, raise me.
The soul that I want
(you’re the soul that i want), o,o, ooooo
The soul I need.
Oh, yes indeed.
Just like the first time they sang together, they were both very playful on stage. There was some major chemistry between the two and the audience ate it up.
During the last song, the waiters started moving the crowd to their dinner seats. The Baron and Baroness were seated first. Along with them at the head table went Glorfindle, Lloyd, whom Andrella personally dragged along and seated next to her, the Duke of Dunwynn, Sir Fafnar, the Druid Almax along with Ves and Maya, the town head Cleric Qualtan, and Sir Brennon from Penwick.
Donatello was seated at the second table. Along with him were two Knights of the Rose; the Dame Alana and Sir Cravenn, Haltan the merchant, and Sir Duncan and Sir Calric both from Penwick.
Seth and Aksel had previously declined their seats. Seth had headed for the rooftops before the show had begun and Aksel had headed for the front gate. The little gnome had used magic to disguise himself. For some obscure reason, he had chosen to look like Seth. Perhaps it was a private joke between the two. Now the little cleric waited near the gate observing the party and waiting for signs of trouble.
At that same moment, Seth was moving around on the top of the keep scouting for any signs of intruders; especially of the serpent kind. Then he saw a long figure sitting on the roof ahead. Whoever it was, they were gazing down at the proceedings below.
The little ninja stealthily moved quietly along the rooftop until he could get a better look at the figure. It was Ruka! He should have known. With the other two sisters down below, the third one could not have been far behind. He stood up and walked nonchalantly over to where she was sitting and sat down next to her.
Ruka did not appear startled at all. She continued looking down at the party below.
Seth said nothing and they sat in silence for awhile.
Finally Ruka spoke. “You would think they would have better things to do than dress up in such frilly clothing and sit around all night.”
“Not my thing either,” Seth replied.
“The singing wasn’t bad though,” she admitted, “but the other acts were just silly. And the thought of having to sit around a table and make small talk…what a waste.”
“Why do you think I’m up here?” Seth replied sardonically.
Ruka turned to look at the little ninja. Then she actually smiled. “You are surprisingly sensible,” she complimented him, “for a halfling that is.”
“I could say the same about you,” Seth replied. “You show an amazing amount of common sense for a human.”
Ruka stared at him intensely for a minute, as if deciding whether to say something else. Then she just turned and began to watch the party once more.
Martin was on top of the tower overlooking the keep. He had an excellent view of the proceedings below as well as the entire area surrounding the keep. But the archer’s thoughts were elsewhere at the moment. Why hadn’t Ves met them in Restenford? And why was she with that older man, the Druid? And why was she ignoring them? Who was he kidding, why was she ignoring him?
He had been lost in contemplation when the elf wizard’s raven had stopped to see him. It had informed him of the giant snake Seth had thought he saw in the wagons outside. Then it had flown off again, circling around the perimeter and keeping watch.
Just like he was supposed to be doing! Martin shook his head. He had a job to do. It was no use pinning over Ves like some schoolboy with a crush. She would do what she wanted. She was a beautiful girl and he was just a common archer. Get over it he told himself.
Martin turned his gaze towards the campsite. He looked specifically at the wagons at the far end where Seth had had his “encounter”. He could see no moment there now. In fact, the entire campsite looked quiet. All the performers were inside the castle now he guessed.
The archer continued his vigil, scanning the surrounding grounds for signs of anything out of place.