Knights of the Couch - Part X - The Barons Heart - Chapter 11

Tricks and Treats in Tarsmorr

“So where’s the nearest temple?” Elvisda asked once they landed.
“There are actually three of them in town,” Glo responded. “The nearest one is the temple of Vermogen, just to our North. Over to our East is the temple of Shalla. And one island over to the west is the temple of Alaric.”
“Did you say Alaric?” Elvisda repeated. “That rings a bell for some reason. I have a hunch we should go there.”
So the party headed over to the temple of Alaric. It was a beautiful temple, with ornate columns on the outside, beautifully carved stone steps which led up to two huge highly wrought doors, and a large foyer with a marble floor. It was filled with statues dedicated to the God Alaric and his staunchest followers. In one corner, there was a statue of the great warrior/cleric “Ceri Al Drakkar”.
“I like this place already,” Elvisda declared.
A cleric with a serene smile on his face walked up to the group and asked “How may we help you gentlemen?”
“Our friend here,” Elvisda said nodding at Lloyd, “is in need of healing. We had a run in with some foul creatures, and though he bested them, he nonetheless took on some serious wounds himself.”
“Highly admirable. Of course we will do our best to help him. And for the rest of you? You all look somewhat tired and run down. We have spa services here as well. For a nominal fee your friend can be healed and you can all rest and relax. You can even stay overnight if you so wish.”
Elvisda entered into bargaining mode with the man. After a short bit of haggling, he had them all signed up for spa treatments, massages from attentive attendants, a sumptuous feast, and extremely comfortable lodgings for the night.
A few hours later, the company was all healed up, well rested, and feeling extremely pampered. They finished their feast and headed to their rooms for the evening. On their way upstairs, Elvisda exclaimed, “I really like this place. You know, I just might convert to a follower of Alaric!”
“So what was it?” Donnie asked, “The spa, those gorgeous blonde masseuses, the lavish feast…?”
“It’s just that Alaric obviously has style,” the bard replied. “And I just love style.”
“Elvisda,” Glo said, “You are one of a kind my friend. Don’t ever change.”

The next day, the adventurers, all healed and refreshed, reluctantly left the temple of Alaric. They went down the road a short way and then began planning out how to spend the rest of their time until they could head back to Restenford.
“The temple of Vermogen is a wizard’s temple,” Glo told them. “If Peltar came into town, he might have gone there.”
“I could do some snooping around,” Donnie offered.
“That would be very helpful,” Glo replied. “There are also a few taverns and inns in town. Could you could check them out as well? And we could also use accommodations for the night. I think the biggest one is called the Slumbering Dragon Inn if I remember right.”
“Done,” Donnie said.
“Thanks! As for the rest of us,” the wizard continued, “there are plenty of shops in town. There is a weapons shop, an armory, a curio shop and a general store.”
“We should probably hit them all,” Elvisda said, rubbing his hands together in anticipation.
“Oh and there is a market place with a fairly large outside stage just across the river from where we are now,” Glo finished.
“Well!” Elvisda exclaimed while taking out his lute, “Now you’re talking! We’ll give these towns folk a performance like they’ve never seen before!” he said jubilantly.
Donnie left them to go on his fact finding mission. The rest of them decided to first hit the shops. They would save the performance for later in the day when most people would be done with their daily chores.
Their first stop was Stonehead’s Armory. A dwarf stood behind the counter. “What can I do for you?” he asked gruffly. Elvisda went into full bargaining mode. He bartered with the dwarf shamelessly until he had procured high quality Elven chain mail for Lloyd and basic Elven chain mail for himself; all at a very reasonable price.
Their next stop was the Curio Shop. The owner of that establishment also fell prey to Elvisda’s “silver” tongue. The owner had tried unsuccessfully to rip them off by charging an outrageous price for an escape artist’s vest. However, by the time the bard was done, he had talked the owner into a quite reasonable trade involving a set of sterling silver utensils for the escape artist’s vest, goggles of minute seeing and a good quality pearl of power.
Their final stop was the Weapon’s Shop. The owner turned out to be another dwarf named Axegrind. There had been a black star metal great axe in the window which he had tried to sell them, but they steered him towards swords. After a lot of bargaining back and forth, Elvisda had completed a fairly amicable transaction providing them with a good quality axiomatic bastard sword for Lloyd in exchange for a silver scimitar, some silver trinkets and a few vials of green dragon blood.
“Well that was profitable,” Elvisda exclaimed as they left the last shop.
Lloyd patted his new bastard sword which was now sat securely in one of his scabbards and smiled back at the bard as they walked off together across town.

Donatello had decided to stop by the Temple of Vermogen first. When he entered the temple, a cleric came up to meet him. “Can I help you sir?” the cleric asked.
“Yes, good fellow,” Donnie replied. “I am looking for the Wizard Peltar. I have it on good authority that he came to this town and it is extremely important that I find him.”
“Peltar you say?” the cleric said. “As a matter of fact, the Wizard Peltar was here in this temple about a fortnight ago. He came into the temple to be healed. He had been grievously injured.”
“Really?” Donatello said. “What happened to him?”
“He never did say exactly. But I got the impression that he was in some kind of magic duel, and that he barely got away. In fact, we took him in to see the head mistress of the temple. While he was healing, they were in deep conversation. When he finally left a day or so later, she went with him.”
“Do you know where they went?” Donnie inquired.
“I’m not sure of the destination, but they were last seen heading down the south road out of town” the cleric told him.
“Thank you for your time good man,” Donatello told the cleric.

When he was done at the temple, Donatello headed over to the Slumbering Dragon Inn. He procured rooms for the party for that evening, and then proceeded to use his charms on the waitress.
“So what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” Donatello asked. Very smooth Donnie, he thought to himself. If you get any more corny they’ll have to put you out on the farm.
But his inherent charm usually worked quite well with the ladies, and this time was no exception. The waitress began to flirt with him outrageously. She was actually quite cute and Donnie was beginning to enjoy himself more than he probably should, when suddenly images of both Ruka and Alana flashed in his mind. He quickly squelched down any amorous thoughts he might have been having and got right down to business.
“I had come into town to find the Wizard Peltar. It is actually very important that my friends and I find him,” Donnie told the girl.
“Peltar?” the girl repeated, still giggling at him. “He was here at the inn a couple of weeks back. He stopped to see the owner and left something with him to hold onto.”
“Really?” Donatello responded, still using his smooth voice. “That is very interesting. You may have just saved a life, my girl.”
The waitress blushed. Then someone called for drinks and she had to leave him. “Come back to see me later!” she called back over her shoulder. Donnie smiled and then that picture of Ruka appeared in his mind again. He shuddered inwardly and got up to find the inn owner.
He found him in his back office. But when he mentioned Peltar and asked about the thing he left, the man got very upset and threatened Donnie if he did not leave. Probably something best left to Elvisda Donnie thought to himself.
He left the Slumbering Dragon and headed across town towards the other inn and the tavern. He already had plenty of information, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to poke around a bit more before rendezvousing with the others.

When Elvisda, Lloyd and Glorfindel were done with their shopping spree, they headed down to the marketplace. There they ran into Donnie who brought them up to speed on what he had learned at the temple and at the Slumbering Dragon.
Elvisda talked with some folks in the market and within fifteen minutes was up on stage ready to perform. Lloyd accompanied the bard with percussions, and Glo provided the “special effects”. Overall it was a spectacular performance. They did not really make all that much money, but they did make an impression on the Lady Delora, the daughter of the Baron of Tarrsmorr. In fact, she liked the show so much that she invited them to come perform at the Baron’s Keep sometime.
The adventurers were tired after a rather full day. So they made their way to the Slumbering Dragon Inn and bedded down for the night in the rooms that Donatello had procured for them.

The next morning, they gathered downstairs and met for breakfast. After they finished eating, Glo and Elvisda went to see the inn owner.
“I am Glorfindel, apprentice of the Wizard Peltar,” Glo said quietly.
Then Elvisda once again using his skills of persuasion and whispered, “We were sent to take the item off your hands”.
The owner stared at them for a moment and then became very excited. “Yes. Yes. Wait right here. I have it well hidden in back.” He scurried into a back room and came out a few minutes later with a small ornate box. He handed it to Glo and said “Thank the gods you came. I am so glad to get that thing out of my inn. Take it. Take it and go. Goodbye.” And he ushered them out of his office.
They met the rest of the group out in front of the inn. They headed down the road out of site of the inn before stopping and talking. Then they told the rest of the party about the box.
“Let me see it,” Donnie said. He took a quick look at the box and realized there was a spell on it that would go off if anyone tried to open it. “I can’t bypass it,” Donnie said. “It is quiet powerful.”
He and Glo put their heads together and determined they would need a greater spell of dispel magic to disarm the box. “You know, there is a Wizard’s shop in town. Maybe we can find something there to help us,” Glo mused.
They all accompanied Glorfindel to the Wizard’s shop. The store was a cute little place situated on the one island they had yet to visit. They walked up to the door but there was no sign and no one around. So Glo knocked. Within moments an older halfling woman came to the door.
“Can I help you?” the halfling asked.
“Yes,” Glo replied. “My name is Glorfindel. I am a Wizard and was looking for some magic items and possibly some training as well.”
“I’m sorry,” the little woman replied. “But the master is not available right now. Perhaps if you came back another day?” she replied and started to turn away.
There was something oddly familiar about the halfling. Glo could not put his finger on it, but he had the strangest feeling that he had met this woman before.
“Wait,” Glorfindel said. “There’s more.”
“Oh,” the halfling said, turning back again.
Glo paused for a moment. His head said to keep his mouth shut, but his gut told him to trust this woman. His gut finally won out. “I am on a quest of utmost importance with my companions here” he continued, nodding back at the rest of the party. “The Baron of Restenford was brutally murdered a few weeks ago.”
“Hmm, yes, we had heard about that,” the halfling replied. “And?”
“And, it is not common knowledge, but the Baron’s heart was removed in a horrific ritual which makes it impossible to resurrect him without the heart. We were tasked by the Baroness of Restenford to find the Baron’s heart.”
Elvisda began to cough vigorously. He was obviously not happy that Glo was divulging so much information.
But then the halfling said, “Well, that’s entirely different. Come on in.” He opened the door and beckoned the group to enter. They all filed into the house, although Elvisda still seemed uncomfortable.
The inside was quaint. This was more the living area and not the shop. There was an area with a couch, some chairs, and a fireplace. Connected to that was the kitchen. Their host sat them down and offered them some cookies.
Glo tried one. It was delicious. Then the others then followed suit. All except Elvsida who refused to eat anything.
“So tell me more about this business,” the halfling said sitting down with the group.
Glo took a long look at the halfling woman. He pondered just how much to say. Again his head told him to be cautious. But there was something different about this halfling woman. He could feel it; a strange sense of familiarity. He looked over at Elvisda, shrugged his shoulders and then threw all caution to the wind. He began telling the halfling about Peltar, the Serpent Cult, their dragon friends, the Princess Anya, and the probable involvement of the recently reincarnated Dragon Thrall Master.
Elvisda just shook his head and turned away.
“Very interesting,” the halfling said after mulling it over. “We had suspected something like this might be going on.”
“We?” Glorfindel said. “Look, you are obviously more than you let on to be. I sensed something strange about you since we first saw you. Admit it. You are in fact, the master of this house. We have trusted you with many of our secrets; secrets that in the wrong hands could lead to mayhem and worse. Now please tell us who you really are.”
The little woman considered the wizard’s words for a long moment. Then she spoke. “Very well. I am the Wizard Franzire.”
“And you are associated with the Wizard’s council, are you not?” Glo asked.
“Yes, I am. However, that group is currently disbanded and in hiding,” Franzire replied.
“Why is that?” Donatello asked.
“Because attempts were made on some of the member’s lives. Some did not survive those attempts. And other members have just disappeared completely. The rest of us decided it was best to go into hiding.”
“That explains the summons to Roderick Greymantle,” Glo said.
“Roderick Greymantle,” Franzire repeated. “I haven’t heard that name in a very long time. What has he got to do with this?”
“Some wizards came to visit him in his home about a half year ago. They said they were from the council and needed his help. They told him that wizards were disappearing off the council” Glo responded.
“And how do you know all this?” Franzire asked.
“We came across his daughters during our travels and befriended them. They eventually told us that they were traveling abroad in search of their father whom they hadn’t seen in half a year. And they related the conversation they had heard between their father and the wizards which sent him off with them in the first place,” Glo told the halfling wizard.
“And they are the dragons we told you about,” Lloyd suddenly interjected.
Everyone turned to look at the big Warblade. He had such an innocent look on his face.
“Oh great!” Elvsida exclaimed. “Why not just announce it to the world!” And he turned away disgusted.
“Hmmm,” Franzire murmered. “So Roderick Greymantle’s daughters are dragons? Interesting. Very interesting.” Then she looked up at Elvisda and said “Fear not. You have given me much information to dwell upon. I owe you much in return. Tell me what you need and I will help you in any way I can.”
Glo thought for a moment and then said, “Well…I could use a scroll inscribed with a greater spell of dispel magic…”
“Done,” she said reaching into the air and pulling a scroll out of thin air. She handed it over to Glorfindel who took it and looked it over. He then looked up at the rest of the party and nodded. Elvisda turned around and a slow smile crept over his face.
“And what can I do for you,” Franzire said, looking straight at Elvsida.
“Well my lady, if it is not too much trouble, would you happen to have a scroll inscribed with the spell of Baleful Polymorph?”
“Done,” she repeated and pulled another scroll out of thin air and handed this one to Elvsida. He looked like a kid in a candy store who won a prize.
Franzire turned back to Glorfindel and said “I still do not feel we are even. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Well,” Glo considered, “if it is not too much trouble, I could really use to learn the spells Phantasmal Killer and Stoneskin. Assuming that is not a problem.”
“That is no problem,” Franzire replied. “I can tell your intentions are good.” And with that she pulled two more scrolls out of the air and handed them to Glorfindel.
“Now, if we are done here, I have much to do. Your information is quite important and there are those who need to know what is going on if we are to stand against this evil tide.”
“Wait, before you go, how do we contact you if need be?” Glo asked.
“Normally, I would be right here,” Franzire responded, “but I will be traveling a bit for the next couple of weeks. If you need to contact me, leave word with Talen, the bartender at the Dancing Druid in Lymerdia. Now you must go.” And with that she ushered them out of the house.
When they were outside, Glo turned to Elvisda and said “I know, I know. Trust no one. I broke one of your first rules of dealing with people.”
“No, no, no,” Elvisda replied, “you trusted your instincts. We were getting nowhere fast. Luckily your gut was correct this time. Plus, this scroll gets me one step closer to my revenge on the witch that put the price on my head,” he said gleefully.
“Gentlemen,” Donnie interrupted, “don’t we need to be somewhere?”
“Right!” they all said at once, and turned to head back to Gaither’s tower.

At the appropriate time, the party was back in the teleportation room at the top of Gaither’s tower. The planets were all aligned and everything was set to transport them back to Restenford. They entered the teleportation rings and the magic took effect. The party dematerialized and the tower room was left standing empty.

Knights of the Couch – Part X – The Barons Heart – Chapter 12

Knights of the Couch - Part X - The Barons Heart - Chapter 11

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