Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part VIII - In the Shadow of the Colossus - Section 2
Donatello led the way up the stairs. They climbed about thirty feet till they reached the ceiling the stairwell was once again engulfed in stone as it continued to wind upward.
Suddenly Donatello called them to halt. The swashbuckler carefully scrutinized the stairwell ahead until he found a hidden trap. “Blades again,” he turned and said, indicating the type of trap they just avoided. Then he turned back and tried to disable the controlling mechanism. But something went wrong. Donatello jumped back at the last second as huge blades began to swing through the stairwell, impeding their path.
“Are you alright?” Aksel asked.
“I’m fine,” Donatello replied. “They never even touched me.”
“Well that’s all well and fine,” Seth said from below, “but how do we intend to get through now?”
“I’ll think of something,” Donatello replied. “After all, I’m now more creative!”
No one said anything.
The swashbuckler thought for a minute and then said, “I’ve got it. Seth, do you have any spare knives on you?”
“I always have spare knives on me,” the ninja replied. “How many do you need?”
Donatello examined the swiping blades and then replied “Three should do it.”
The ninja lofted three knives up to the swashbuckler.
Donatello caught them and then stood in front of the trap, watching the swinging blades and gauging their timing.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Alana asked the swashbuckler.
“Never ask me if I’m sure,” Donatello answered, not taking his eye off the blades. “I’ll…let…you… know…when I’m done!” He yelled the last three words as he jumped into the trap. He had one of Seth’s knives in his hand. He ducked down to where the lower blade had just finished swinging through the wall and wedged it into the opening. Then he quickly backpedaled out of the trap.
The next time the blade was supposed to swing through, it did not. They heard a loud clicking sound and saw the knife sticking out of the wall move a bit.
“It worked!” Donatello cried. “I knew it would.”
“Not bad,” Elvisda clapped him on the back.
“Of course, if he had just disabled the trap in the first place…” Seth said from below.
“Too late now,” Donatello cried, as he began the process of timing the blades once again. He repeated his feat with the knives three more times, till he had stopped all three blades. One time he failed to stop one of the blades and got swiped. But Aksel healed him immediately.
“Well, that’s that,” the swashbuckler declared when the last blade was stopped. “I suggest we move ahead quickly. This makeshift fix won’t hold for long.”
“Don’t say it Seth,” Aksel said before the ninja could comment.
“I can still think it!” Seth retorted.
The companions continued their way up another twenty feet surrounded by solid rock until the stairwell opened up into yet another area on the next floor. This area, however, was not dark. There were four archways opening to the outside of the monolith like windows. Light from the outside entered the room illuminating the entire area.
The room itself turned out to be barren except for four suits of armor. Each suit stood at a different cardinal point in the room. The companions continued to examine the room, but the armored suits remained stationary.
Donatello stepped off the stairwell to take a closer look.
“Donatello! Wait!” Aksel yelled.
But it was too late. The swashbuckler had entered the room. At the very same moment, the four suits of armor suddenly began to move.
“Too late!” Donatello yelled back as he drew his blades. Lloyd drew his blades as well and the two charged the nearest suit of armor.
Meanwhile, Alana drew her sword and moved out into the room as the second suit of armor advanced on them. Ruka moved in beside the knight, short sword in one hand dagger in the other.
Then Elvisda had his lute out and began playing a song to inspire the combatant’s confidence. And Glorfindel cast a spell to enhance the party’s attack speed.
“I believe these are some also some kind of constructs,” Elistra said.
“Wonderful!” Glo declared. “So that means magical attacks won’t work on them.”
“Hey,” Aksel said suddenly, “Where did Seth go?”
The little ninja had moved around to the other side of the stairwell and approached a moving suit of armor by himself. As the suit began advancing on him, Seth held up his hand and cast a spell causing a pool of grease to form underneath the construct. The suit of armor started to slide and then lost its footing and went down in a heap.
Seth looked around and saw the window just behind the fallen suit of armor. Then an idea came to him. It was crazy, but it just might work. He cast a second spell, this time on himself. It was a spell of Spider Climb. He had seen Donnie use his boots of spider climb and realized how handy that could be. So the ninja had decided to learn the spell for himself. And now would be the perfect time to use it.
Seth moved forward into the grease pool without slipping. He walked up to the armor which was thrashing around in the grease. Then he bent down and began to push it. The grease allowed him to move the heavy suit with little resistance. Then he started running towards the open window as he continued to push the suit of armor. The only problem was that the pool of grease ended about ten feet from the window. But if he had enough momentum, Seth calculated, then the suit should continue to slide until it fell over the edge.
As they approached the edge of the pool, Seth mentally crossed his fingers. Then they reached the edge. Seth continued to push. The armor started slowing down, but did not stop. They were approaching the window now. The armor began thrashing as the window came close. Seth continued to push right up until the last second and then leaped up for the ceiling. The little ninja caught the edge of the ceiling just before the window and stuck there thanks to his spell. Then he quickly looked down and saw the armor had stopped at the edge of the window.
Damn, he thought to himself. It was so close. As the armor struggled to get up, however, it overbalanced and teetered on the edge. Then, it fell backwards and out the window. At the same moment, a rune right next to Seth lit up. The ninja suddenly understood. He yelled at the top of his lungs, “Elvisda! Grease them! Then throw them out the window!”
Back on the other side of the room, while Seth was still fighting his suit of armor, Lloyd and Donatello where in the midst of battle with theirs. The two warriors danced around the suit, weaving in and out, slashing and dodging the armor’s heavy blade. They were definitely hitting the suit, but their blows did not seem to be doing much damage. Even Lloyd’s adamantine blade did not seem to be doing that much better.
Simultaneously, Alana and Ruka were fighting the second suit. They were also having little luck damaging the armor.
Glorfindel and Aksel were trying to decide what they could do to help their companions when Seth’s shout came from across the room.
“Elvisda! Grease them! Then throw them out the window!” the ninja’s screamed from behind the stairwell.
Elvisda reacted immediately. He saw that Alana and Ruka were having the most trouble and then cast a spell of grease underneath her opponent. The suit of armor wobbled for a moment then tumbled over with a clatter. Unfortunately, so did Alana.
“Sorry my dear!” Elvisda yelled.
“It’s ok!” she yelled back. “I’m fine!”
Ruka, however, managed to keep her feet. She helped Alana up and out of the grease pool.
Suddenly, Aksel snapped his fingers. “What if I dispel the magic around the armor?” the cleric said.
“That might work,” Glorfindel replied. “But if the magic holding it together is stronger, it will most likely reassemble itself.”
“Then we need to get rid of it quickly,” Aksel said. The little cleric stood up and began his spell casting as he watched Lloyd and Donatello continue to combat the first suit. They were still relatively uninjured, but so was the suit.
Then Aksel let go of his spell. The armor glowed for a moment, and then fell apart to the ground.
“Quick Lloyd,” Aksel yelled. “Pick up the pieces and throw them out the window!”
Lloyd looked back at Aksel and then stooped down to pick up pieces of the armor. He was having trouble though. The armor was already starting to move back together and try to reassemble itself.
Then Donatello ran over to the Alana and Ruka. “Quickly,” he told them, “Help Lloyd. I’ve got this one.”
Donnie’s boots glowed as he invoked the Spider Climb spell on them. Then he waded into the pool of grease towards the fallen armor.
Alana and Ruka both took one last look at the swashbuckler then turned and ran over to help Lloyd.
The warblade was struggling with the pieces of armor as they tried to reassemble. He had dragged them halfway to the window, but had stopped there. Alana and Ruka joined him and between the three of them they were able to grab all the pieces and drag them over to the window. When they reached it, they tossed the armor over the edge. It fell down to the ground some 150 feet below and clattered to the ground. They saw some of the Knights of the Rose come running to see what had happened. They looked up and Alana waved down to them giving them the thumbs up sign. The knights must have seen her because they waved back.
Glorfindel watched and saw the three fighters succeed; then he saw rune at the top of the window begin to glow. The wizard realized the rest of what needed to be done. He turned and saw Donatello lining the second armor suit up with the same window they had just tossed the first armor out of.
“Donnie!” Glo yelled, “Throw it out the other window.”
Donatello turned and looked at the wizard. “What did you say?”
“It needs to go out a different window!” Glorfindel yelled. “One suit of armor out of each window. Four suits and four windows. Otherwise it won’t work.”
“Okay!” the swashbuckler yelled back. “If you say so!”
Donatello shifted himself around the other side of the suit of armor and began pushing. He had a bit more mass than Seth so he was able to get up more momentum. He let the armor go in time to easily stop himself. Then he watched as it went sliding out the window and over the edge. When it was done, he noticed the rune at the top of the window begin to glow.
Meanwhile, back on the other side of the room, Seth approached the fourth armored suit. He got closer to the construct and then cast another spell of grease. The armor fell to the ground like the others and began thrashing around.
The ninja had cut it close the first time and did not wish to repeat the last minute leap to the ceiling. So he yelled across the room, “Yo, guys! If your done over there, I could use alittle help.”
“Be…right…there!” Donatello yelled back.
A minute later, the entire party came around to the other side of the room. They looked at the forth suit floundering on the ground and began to laugh.
“Nice grease job!” Elvisda congratulated the ninja.
“Yeah,” Seth replied, “Now could someone with a little more mass than me please finish the job.”
“No problem,” Donatello replied stepping out into the grease pool. “This will just take…a second or two,” the swashbuckler said as he lined up the suit with the last window. Then he began running and heaved the armor out the window. He heard it clatter to the ground below and then someone below yelled ouch.
Donnie walked up to the window and saw Martin standing below rubbing his head. “Sorry!” the swashbuckler yelled down to the archer. Martin looked up at the monolith until he caught sight of Donatello and then waved. Donnie waved back.
Once the last armor had gone through the last window, the last rune began to glow. Then they heard a familiar grating sound coming from the ceiling. When they looked up, the stairwell to the next floor was open.
“Whew!” Donatello exclaimed as he threw himself down on the floor. “That was fun! By the way, quick thinking there Seth.”
“Yes,” Glorfindel agreed. “I think you saved our butts this time.”
“No problem,” the little ninja said also sitting down on the floor.
“Anyway, I think we all earned a bit of a rest,” Aksel said.
They all sat down and the cleric began healing those who had taken light wounds.
A little while later, the group ascended the stairs another 50 feet and ended up in a smaller room with four windows. The stairs ended, and the ceiling of this chamber was obviously the top of the monolith. The pillar the stairs had wound about rose only a few feet higher into the room ending in a decorative circle carved with strange runes around the perimeter.
Some of the group went to look out the windows. They had entered the monolith about two hours ago when it was midday. It was now mid afternoon. Alana saw her contingent of Knights of the Rose below and called down to them. Craven called back and reported all was quiet down there. She told them they were still searching the monolith and would likely be awhile longer.
“Well the view from way up here is sure pretty,” Glorfindel commented. “Unfortunately, there is no way to go from here but down. Duh, duh, duh!”
As the wizard mouthed the last three words, deep dramatic chords accompanied them. Everyone turned toward the bard Elvisda. He stood there holding his lute just grinning.
“Very funny,” Aksel called. “But I think I might have found something.” He was bending close to the top of the pillar. “It looks like the pillar top is made up of three separate disks that can be rotated inside each other. It must be some type of puzzle.”
The others joined the cleric and examined the pillar as well. Sure enough, there were three concentric wheels, each with a different set of runic symbols on them at the top of the pillar.
“The outside wheel depicts the ancient Dwarven alphabet,” Glorfindel told them.
“And the inside wheel looks like ancient common, or Sylvan script,” Aksel observed. “So that just leaves the middle wheel which has to be a third alphabet.”
“So we probably need to line all the alphabetic symbols to solve the puzzle,” Seth finished. “I don’t recognize the language on the middle wheel, but the numbers are pretty obvious.”
The ninja and the cleric moved the inner and middle wheels until the numbers all lined up. Then Glorfindel told them how to move the outside wheel to the corresponding symbols.
When the last wheel was in place, they heard a loud click. The top of the pillar opened up and a circular platform was revealed. The circle glowed with a bright purple color.
“Looks like our ride has arrived!” Elvisda announced.
Seth and Donatello went to inspect the device. After a few minutes, they both announced, “There are no traps.”
Seth stepped out onto the circle. It was about 6 feet in diameter; easily wide enough to fit the entire party.
“All aboard!” Seth cried. “Next stop, the basement!”