Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part VIII - In the Shadow of the Colossus - Section 4
The platform rose through the mists. No one could see anything as they passed through the cloud bank. Then finally the mists cleared and the companions the platform stopped in middle of a long stone bridge. The bridge rose out of the mist. Looking down the group could not see what was holding it up.
“Nice trick there,” Seth commented.
Beyond the bridge on one side were two doors in a large archway.
“Guess that’s our destination,” Glorfindel commented.
“From the size of those doors, I hope the giant isn’t home,” Donnie quipped.
“If he is we’ll be sure to feed you to him first,” Seth replied.
“Ouch. Cut me to the quick,” the acrobat replied feigning a dagger through his heart.
Seth just shook his head and walked out onto the bridge. “Seems sturdy enough,” the halfling reported. Then he walked over to the side to look down. “I wonder,” he mused.
“Wonder what?” Aksel asked.
Seth pulled a copper coin out of his purse and dropped it over the side of the bridge.
Down below, Elistra, Alana and Elvisda waited for their companions to return. Alana was still leaning on Elvisda’s shoulder. He didn’t seem to mind.
Suddenly Elistra said “What’s that?” She pointed to a small object falling from above.
They all moved forward for a better look as the object quickly fell past them.
“I think it was a coin!?” Elvisda said incredulously.
The three of them exchanged looks.
Then the bard said, “It had to be either Seth or Donnie.”
They all just smiled at each other and shook their heads.
Up top, Aksel said to Seth, “What was that for?”
“I’m testing out a theory,” the ninja replied.
“And what theory is that?” Glorfindel asked.
“Wait for it…” Seth said mysteriously.
Two seconds later, Donnie yelled “Ouch!”
Something had struck the acrobat on the head and fallen to the ground next to him. He rubbed the top of his head gingerly and bent down to pick it up. It was a copper coin.
Everyone turned and looked at Seth.
“Yep!” the halfling smirked, “Just as I thought.”
“But how?” Lloyd asked looking down over the side of the bridge and then up into the sky.
“It’s magic!” Glorfindel said with a wave of his hands.
Lloyd turned towards the wizard and saw the big grin on his face.
Lloyd looked up and down one more time and said, “This place gives me a headache.”
Donnie, still rubbing his head said, “Tell me about it.”
The companions moved forward across the bridge. When they got up to the doors, they found another chakra lock. “Looks like we’re going to need all seven disks,” Seth said.
“I can get one,” Ruka offered.
“I can get the other one,” Lloyd said.
“Wait,” Seth stopped him, “give me yours first.”
“Sure,” the big warblade replied and handed the halfling his disk. Then something funny happened. Every time Seth reached for the disk, it moved away from him.
“That’s strange,” Aksel commented. “I wonder. Seth, put your disk in the lock first then try to take Lloyd’s disk.”
Seth complied. When he reached for Lloyd’s disk this time, he was able to grab it without any problem.
“That’s cute,” Donnie commented. “There’s no way then to do this without seven people.”
“Not unless you want to do a lot of running back and forth,” Glo corrected him.
Lloyd and Ruka flew down to get the other two chakra disks. When they returned, Seth put them in the lock and the door opened.
They entered a large room. At the far end was a podium with a golden object floating above it. As they approached they saw that it was an eighth of a sphere. After checking for traps, they removed the sphere piece from the podium.
Glorfindel examined it closely. It was completely smooth all around. “Well, seven more of these and we’ll have a sphere,” the wizard commented.
“Bet you when we’re done it fits into that podium in the center room,” Donatello postulated.
“Ya think?” Seth said sarcastically.
“Okay you two,” Aksel butted in, “knock it off. We still have seven more of these sphere pieces to get, and if the other three element rooms are anything like this, we have our work cut out for us.”
“Fine,” Seth replied.
“Ok by me,” Donatello added.
Aksel rolled his eyes to the heavens and said, “Why me?”
“Does it seem weird that there are only four element rooms and we only found one eighth of a sphere here?” Seth commented.
“Now that you mention it…” Glorfindel began, “yes, that is weird.”
“I think I’m going to search this room for secret doors or compartments,” the ninja replied. “Donnie you want to take one half while I take the other?”
“Sure thing,” the elf replied.
They began their search, thoroughly investigating the room. Finally, at the back of the room behind the podium, they found a secret compartment. After disarming another electrical trap, they opened the compartment and found another eighth piece of the golden sphere.
“Wow, the Lareth guy didn’t trust anyone!” Donnie commented.
“It’s not like he had a lot of friends,” Glorfindel replied.
Seth handed the wizard the second piece. Glo held one in each hand. He slowly brought them together. When the touched, there was no sound, but they instantly merged and became a quarter sphere.
“Neat,” Donnie commented.
Yes, nice bit of magic there,” Glorfindel agreed.
They rejoined the others down below and headed back to the main chamber. The quarter sphere fit perfectly into the indentation in the dais in the center of the room.
“Well now that that’s confirmed,” Glorfindel said, “what element do we want to tackle next?”
“How about we try water?” Donnie said. “I happen to have this nice ring of underwater breathing and Ruka here takes to water like a fish,” he finished putting an arm on the young girl’s shoulder.
Ruka looked up and smiled at him.
“You’ve been holding out on us!” Elvisda declared. “Where did you get that?”
“Oh, I’ve had it for awhile. Just never had any reason to take it out till now,” the swashbuckler said casually.
“Anything else you’ve got hidden away you’d like to tell us about?” Seth said.
“Nope!” Donatell replied.
“Water it is then,” Aksel decided.
They walked through the water archway and down a short corridor to a door similar to the one outside the air room. Once again there was a chakra disc key mechanism. The opened it and stepped into another alcove. In front of them was a large round pool of water. Again there was a walkway that went out to a platform in the center of the room. And once again there was a dais with a switch on the platform. The walls of the room where different, however. The room was shaped like a hemisphere. At its apex was a large circular door the same size as the platform in the center. And around the circular door were numerous holes covered with gratings.
“I wonder what all that is for?” Glorfindel said curiously.
“I have a sneaking suspicion we are about to find out,” Elvisda replied.
“Look down here,” Seth said. He was at the edge of the alcove and pointing below the water line. The water was crystal clear. The bottom half of the room was another hemisphere filled with water. And at the very bottom were what appeared to be two levers. Next to the two levers, stood two figures. One marched back and forth while the other one stood still.
“Are those…” Donnie began.
“Stone golems,” Seth finished.
“Well that should make it interested,” Donnie said.
“Donnie, why don’t you and Ruka see if you can get those two levers. Meanwhile, Seth, how about checking out the center platform?” Aksel said.
“No problem,” Seth said walking out towards the center.
Donnie put on his underwater breathing ring and stripped off his shirt and boots. Ruka blushed for a second then dove into the water. She popped her head up and said,” You going to be all day?”
“Coming,” the swashbuckler replied. Then he did a beautiful dive straight into the water.
Seth walked out the platform in the center of the room and pulled the switch. A bubble of force momentarily appeared in a hemisphere around the platform, then disappeared. He tried it again and the same thing happened. The little ninja threw up his hands and shrugged his shoulders. Then he sat down and waited.
Meanwhile, Donnie had meet Ruka underwater. She signaled for him to follow her, then took off for the bottom of the room. Donnie followed close behind. They passed a few fish on the way. But as they got closer to the bottom the fish cleared out leaving a wide area around the two stone golems.
Donnie caught up to Ruka and motioned for her to stop. Then he told her to stay put and swam down towards the bottom. He swam over the marching golem and down to the unguarded lever. Then he pulled it. At the same time, the marching golem turned and came right towards him.
Meanwhile, on the surface, Glorfindel yelled over to Seth, “Donnie got the first lever. Try pulling the switch.”
The halfling got up and pulled the small lever on the dais. This time the force bubble appeared over the platform and stayed on. “Nice,” Seth commented. Then about 30 seconds later, the bubble went out again.
“What happened?” Seth yelled.
“Looks like the golem flipped the lever back off,” Glorfindel yelled.
“And it almost got Donnie too!” Elvisda added.
Down below, Donnie began to swim away as fast as he could. The golem had come walking up and was reaching for him. At the last second he was grabbed from behind and whisked out of its reach. Donnie turned to see Ruka hanging on to him. Then he turned and saw that the golem had reset the lever.
Damn, Donnie thought. What do we do now?
Ruka pointed to the second golem. Then she pointed to herself. Donnie shrugged his shoulders. The young girl did it again. She pointed to the second golem, then herself. Then she pointed to the second lever and then to Donnie.
She is going to bait the golem so that I can pull the switch he thought. He shook his head no, but the girl just smiled at him and took off. G-ds she was fast. He would never be able to catch up to her.
Donatello swam after her. When she got to the second golem she started swimming around it. It reached for her, but she dodged it neatly and began swimming away. It followed her!
Donnie swam down to the second switch and threw it.
Topside, as soon as the second switch was thrown, the door to the main chamber closed behind the party. Then water began pouring out of the holes at the top of the room. The group looked at each other in alarm. Then Aksel pointed down below. The second golem was walking towards the switch. Donnie and Ruka both swam away as it pulled the lever back.
Just as suddenly as it started, the water stopped pouring from the ceiling and the door opened up behind them again.
“Whew, that was close. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I didn’t bring my swimmies,” Elvisda joked.
Donnie and Ruka came back up to the surface. “I don’t think we can do this with just two people,” Donatello said as he climbed back up onto the alcove. Ruka followed him. “I think we need a third person,” he continued.
“Well, I can cast spells of underwater breathing,” Aksel replied. “But I would need to rest for eight hours first and then pray for that spell.”
“Probably just as well,” Glorfindel said. “It’s been a long day.”
Everyone agreed and the group moved out back to the main chamber. They set up camp in the center of the room. Then they ate a cold dinner.
After dinner, Aksel retired to his sleeping bag.
Seth also went to sleep after a tiring day.
Elvisda sat down and began to softly play his lute. The others joined him for awhile, then Glorfindel said, “I’m also tired. I think I’ll go rest.”
“I’ll join you,” Elistra said getting up. The two of them went to their tent.
Donnie stood up and stretched. “I’m tired as well. It’s been a long day. I think I’ll retire.” He looked over at Alana.
The lady knight looked up at him and said, “Go ahead. I’m going to sit here awhile longer.”
Donnie raised an eyebrow, then turned and went off to his tent looking somewhat downtrodden.
Ruka got up and said, “I’m going to go sharpen my sword. It got a little knicked up fighting that stupid suit of armor.” Then she walked off.
Lloyd stood up and stretched as well. “I’ve got first watch. You two can go to bed if you like.” Then he walked out into the room and took up a guard stance on the other side of the tents.
Elvisda kept playing his lute, softly strumming a tune. It was just him and Alana now.
The lady knight seemed mesmerized by his playing. She was quiet for quite some time. Finally she said, “I just don’t understand him. Sometimes he can be so charming. And other times, he just seems so careless. Is he trying to get himself killed?”
Elvisda looked over at the lovely woman. She looked on the verge of tears.
He stopped strumming, put his lute down and slid over putting a reassuring arm around her shoulder. “There, there darling,” the bard said softly. “You have to understand us elves.”
She had begun to cry, but then stopped and looked up at him. The soft glow of the tile stones played off her face making her look very vulnerable at that moment.
Elvisda looked at the lovely woman’s face and then said, “We live very long lives by human standards. It kind of gives you a different perspective on things. Some of the things you humans take very seriously, we elves don’t see that way.”
“Like what?” she asked, drying an eye with her hand.
She looked very beautiful at that moment. But the bard knew where her heart lay. He chuckled and replied, “Oh, a great many things my dear. It is why sometimes someone like Donnie might seem so careless. When your life is that long, it can seem empty. That is why folks like Donnie, Glo and I crave adventure. It makes life seem more worth living.”
“Oh Elvisda!” she cried. Then she put her head on his shoulder and began crying in earnest.
The bard put his hand on her head and patted it gently. “There, there, my dear. There, there.”
When she was finally all cried out, she lifted her head off his shoulder.
The bard gently grabbed her shoulders and lifted her away. Then he put his hand under her chin and lifted up her face. “Are you going to be alright?” he asked gently.
“Yes,” she said. “I think I am now. Thanks to you.”
“Good,” he said softly. “Now maybe you should go get some rest. I’m sure Donnie is waiting for you.”
“He probably is,” she agreed. Then she slowly got up and began to walk to her tent. She turned back to the bard and mouthed the words, “Thank you!”
Elvisda chuckled. “You’re welcome little darlin”. Then he smiled, picked up his lute and began to softly strum it once again.