Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part X - The Barons Heart - Chapter 8
Aksel and Seth the Vampire Slayers?
A little over a day after the other KOTC members had stepped through the teleporter, Aksel, Seth and Martan arrived in Restenford. They immediately headed to the castle to see the Baroness.
Baroness Fairwind was in one of the small rooms adjoining the throne room. She was in deep conversation with Captain Gelpas when they entered the room. The Baroness turned towards the young adventurers and said “Oh, there you are. We were informed that you would be arriving sometime today.”
“How are you holding up your ladyship?” Aksel asked.
“As well as can be expected under the circumstances” the Lady Fairwind replied. “But you Knights of the Couch continue to give me hope, even in these troubled times.”
“I’m glad we can be of assistance, your ladyship,” Aksel told her.
“Baroness, do you know where the rest of our company is?” Seth asked.
“I did as of yesterday,” the Lady Fairwind told them. She then relayed the incidents since the other KOTC members had arrived in Restenford up until their departure using the teleporter in Peltar’s tower one day ago.
“So they went through the portal with Sir Fafnar?” Aksel asked with a look of bewilderment on his face.
“Yes, they did,” the Baroness replied. “It was a most noble decision on their parts; and quite expedient as well. Not only were they able to gain his support, but also the assistance of his cleric as well”.
“I see,” Aksel said, thought he still did not look too sure he believed what he had just heard.
“Makes perfect sense to me,” Seth chimed in. “It will be more interesting to see who actually returns when they come back through the portal” the little ninja wisecracked.
“Ahem,” Aksel cleared his throat, hoping the Baroness would ignore Seth’s last remark. “Anyway, I think we should adjourn ourselves, with your ladyship’s permission, and head over to Peltar’s tower.”
“Very good,” the Baroness replied. “May the gods watch over you during your journey my friends.”
And with that, Aksel and Seth turned and left the room.
They met Martan outside and headed directly over to Peltar’s tower. The three of them entered the tower and took a tour of the rooms. The first floor was a nicely furnished living area with some fine chairs and a fireplace. They had all been covered with large clothes as the tower had not been used in some time. There were stairs leading up to the second floor which had a couple of rooms. One was a lab area and the second was a guest room. On the third floor they found a master bedroom. Again, all the furniture was covered as the tower had been unoccupied in years.
The group returned to the first floor and found the door to the basement. They went down a flight of stairs and entered the portal room. There, standing next to the teleporter, was Shalla!
“Ah, so you finally made it back,” Shalla greeted them. “Elvisda and the others left through this portal about one day ago.”
“Yes,” Aksel replied, “the Baroness already told us. We stopped by to see her first before heading down here. So what are you doing down here?”
“Elvisda had asked me to meet you here when you arrived. He had also told me that there had been an Alarm spell on the teleporter when they first came down here the other day. They were able to dispel it though. They believed the teleporter was set to send them to the area of the Silver Lake near Tarrsmorr.”
Aksel and Seth looked at each other. Tarrsmorr was the town where the two of them and Glorfindel had made their first attempt at adventuring together. However, it had not quite panned out for them. That is what had led them to travel to Eastern Thac.
Aksel looked back at the teleporter and said “So. Do we go through and follow them?”
“I don’t know about you,” Martan spoke up, “but I’m not ready to go through there. After everything else we’ve been through in the last few days, the thought of having my atoms scrambled across the universe is…unsettling.” The archer had not quite been himself since he had found out that Ves was a bronze dragon. Then the red dragon attack a few days ago had further unnerved him.
“You know, some of us were nearly crushed by that oversized lizard,” Seth replied. “And you weren’t dropped from a dizzying height into the lake. All it did was singe you a little bit. You’re fine!”
Aksel rolled his eyes. This banter between the two had been going on for three days now. “As I was saying,” the little cleric repeated himself, “do you think we should follow them through the portal?”
Seth thought about it for a moment and then finally replied “No. They’ve been gone for an entire day now. Who knows how far they could be from where this portal comes out. Let’s just stay in town and wait for them to return.”
“Well,” Shalla said, “if you want, I can place another Alarm spell on the portal so you’ll know when they come back through.”
“No, I don’t think that will necessary,” Aksel replied. “I think we’ll just stay here in the tower until them come back. We saw some sleeping accommodations upstairs and I would like to be here as soon as they return.”
“Very well,” she said. “I’m going back to the inn. Let me know if you need anything.”
After Shalla left, they sent Martan to get them some crafting materials. They figured if they were going to be here for awhile, they might as well make good use of their time. Meanwhile, Aksel appropriated the bedroom on the top floor. And Seth took the guest room on the second floor. They were just settling in, when there was a knock on the tower door. Seth opened the door and found one of the Lady Fairwind’s servants standing outside.
“The Baroness would like to see you at once,” the servant said.
“Ok” Seth replied. He decided not to bother Aksel figuring the cleric could use his rest. He stepped out the door, closed it behind him and followed the man back to the main keep.
When Seth got to the throne room, the Lady Fairwind was not there. The servant led him to the same side room they had met the Baroness in before. The little ninja was ushered into the room by the servant where he saw the Lady Fairwind was seated at the head of the large meeting table having a quiet discussion with a young female Druid. Gelpas was once again at the Baroness’s side.
They turned as Seth entered and Lady Fairwind beckoned him to come over and join them. The little ninja walked over and sat down at the table opposite the Druid girl.
“Where is the cleric Aksel?” Fairwind asked the little halfling.
“He was tired so I left him back at the tower. We decided to stay there and wait for the rest of the party to return,” Seth told the Baroness.
“That is just as well,” Fairwind responded, “because we could use your help here. This is the Druid Mirye. And this is Seth, a member of the KOTC; the local band of adventurers I had told you about.”
“So what’s going on?” Seth asked rather abruptly.
“I appreciate your directness,” the young Druid girl told the halfling. “I come from the town Twin Oaks. There has been an undead uprising there in the last couple of months. My order was given the task of helping to cleanse the area. We’ve had some success, but some of creatures managed to slip by us. I have been tracking one creature in particular for the last week through the forest and down the road to the area around Restenford. I lost its trail once I got to town. But it definitely came here.”
“So what kind of undead creature are we talking about?” Seth asked.
“A vampire,” the druid girl told him. “I circled around the outskirts of town trying to pick up its trail again but found nothing.”
“In the last week,” the Baroness continued, “a number of town’s people have gone missing. No one is certain of their whereabouts, and no bodies have turned up. We cannot assume this is a mere coincidence. However, with all the current unrest due to my husband’s death, we would like to keep the matter quiet for now. So I don’t want to start sending troops searching around town stirring up the populace. Therefore, we were hoping that you and the cleric Aksel could help look into this matter for us.”
“How much is the pay?” Seth asked bluntly.
The Baroness paused for a moment, unused to the directness of the little ninja. Then she said “Well, as I said these are troubled times. But if you can find the creature, we could recompense you with say 2000 gold.”
“For finding a vampire?” Seth replied. “No, no. That’s too much. 1000 gold would be more than enough.”
“Actually,” the Baroness continued, “if you were to dispose of the creature, the compensation for such a task would be 5000 gold.”
“Okay then,” the little ninja said, “from now on just call me Seth the Vampire Slayer!”
Just then, Aksel entered the room. As the little cleric walked up to the table he said “Sorry I’m late, your ladyship. Someone neglected to tell me about this meeting. So what have I missed?”
“Nothing really,” Seth said quickly to Aksel. He looked at the Baroness and said, “We have a deal!”
Aksel looked back and forth between the Lady Fairwind, the little ninja and the druid girl and exclaimed “Can someone please tell me what is going on?”
Aksel, Seth, Martan and the Druid girl, Mirye, were standing outside Peltar’s house. The Baroness and the Druid had brought Aksel up to speed on the events concerning the undead creature they were tracking and the missing persons around town, as well as the need for secrecy. The group had decided to check empty houses around town as a first step. And Peltar’s house had been vacated for almost a month now. A search of the house, however, turned up nothing. According to the Baroness, there were a couple of other unoccupied houses around Restenford. There was the old Priest, Yalta’s home. The house had been boarded up for almost ten years. And there was the old burnt out Guard’s station on the opposite side of the river.
“So what’s next?” Seth asked. “Do you want to continue checking out these empty houses?”
Aksel considered for a minute. Then he said, “It’s getting a little too close to sunset. And facing a vampire at night is not the most ideal situation. Let’s table the house searches for now.”
Then he turned to the Mirye and asked, “Can you go to the temple and see if anyone has seen or heard anything unusual that might be related to the vampire we are looking for?”
“Yes, I can go there at once,” the Druid girl replied.
“Good,” the cleric said. “When you are done, you can meet us at the castle. We are staying in the tower.”
“Very well,” the girl said. She left and headed down the road towards the temple.
They were just about to leave themselves when Seth saw the couch in the front room. “Nice couch,” the little ninja said. “I think I’ll take it.”
Aksel rolled his eyes. “What is it with you and couches?”
“Let’s just say I had an underprivileged childhood,” Seth replied sarcastically.
“Fine!” the cleric replied. “If you want the couch take the couch.”
“Come here Martan,” Seth ordered. “Help me with this thing.” The two of them hoisted it up from either end. It was a bit difficult to carry due to the disparity in size between the tall man and the halfling, but they managed. As they walked it outside, Seth said “I don’t see what the big deal is, anyway. After all this is Peltar’s couch and we’re just moving it to Peltar’s tower.”
Aksel declined to comment any further.
On their way back to the castle, they passed a couple of the town inns; their own inn, the Golden Golem, and the Tavern of the West Wind. Aksel instructed Seth to stop in and see if there were any rumors floating around. At the Golden Golem, the ninja checked in with Shalla. Even though she was the manager, she also liked to tend the bar. So she had a good pulse on the local gossip. But no one was talking about missing persons, or undead. Seth brought her up to speed on what was going on and asked her to keep her ears open. The little ninja had no luck at the Tavern of the West Wind either. Everyone was talking about the coming Dunnwyn occupation and what it would do to the town.
The trio left the Tavern and headed back to the keep, couch in tow. When they got to the tower, they deposited the couch on the first floor then Seth sat down. “Well,” Aksel exclaimed, as he also sat down on the couch, “…oh, this is comfy. Anyway, I think I’ll wait here for the Mirye to return. How’d you like to make a sweep around town and see if you can pick up any information off the streets?”
“Sure,” the little ninja replied, “as soon as I can get myself up off this thing!”
When Seth finally extracted himself from his latest “acquisition”, he left the castle and started roaming around the town. He listened in on conversations, and struck up a few with some of the less-respectable folks. But with all the unrest, and people leaving town with the Baron gone and rumors of an eminent Dunwynn occupation on the horizon, a few missing folks once again had seemed to have slipped under the radar.
Seth was about to give up when he came across a lady talking to one of the Dunwynn Sky Knights. “…and he’s been gone for two days now” the lady was telling the Knight.
Before the Knight could respond, Seth stepped into view and said to the woman “What’s the problem ma’am? Is this guy bothering you?”
The lady and the Knight both looked down at the little halfling who had appeared suddenly out of nowhere. After a second the woman said “No…no, I was telling him that my son had disappeared.”
“Where did you last see him?” Seth asked.
“Hey!” the Knight exclaimed, finally recovering from the initial interruption, “Get out of here you little whelp! This is a job for a Sky Knight.” Then he turned back to the lady and said, “Ahem…where did you last see him ma’am?”
The lady said she would show the Knight and started leading him down to the river area. Seth followed not doing very much to hide his presence. The Knight would occasionally turn around and scowl at the little halfling, but the little ninja would just smile in return.
Finally, when they got down to the river, the Knight had had enough. He turned towards Seth and threatened, “Get out of here or I’ll throw you in the river!”
Seth retorted “Yeah? You and what army?”
That was too much for the Knight. He tried to grab the little ninja, but Seth deftly tumbled between his legs. The Knight turned around and tried to grab him again, but Seth continued to tumble out of the Knights reach.
On the fourth attempt, the Knight lunged at Seth, but completely missed. He lost his balance and tumbled towards the river. The Knight from Dunnwyn, in all that armor, was not able to stop himself. He careened down the river bank until he hit bottom and went splashing into the water. The river wasn’t too deep that close to shore, so the Knight wasn’t in any real danger. But he was not going to be climbing back up the embankment any time soon.
Seth got up, dusted himself off and said to the woman, “Now, how can I help you, ma’am?”
Aksel was busy crafting when Seth returned. The ninja relayed to him his discovery of the missing boy down near the riverside. He also told him about the Sky Knight from Dunwynn.
“Glad to see you can still have fun in these troubled times,” Aksel commented dryly. “So this confirms that folks are definitely missing, not just left town due to the rumors of an impending occupation. I still think our best bet then is to try to locate where this Vampire is hiding out. I am going finish my crafting and then go to bed. Tomorrow morning, instead of searching individual houses, I will prepare a few detect undead spells. Then I’ll travel around the town and try to get a fix on the creature’s location.”
“Sounds like a good plan,” Seth said approvingly. “What would you like me to do while you’re sweeping the town?”
“Well, while you were gone, Mirye showed up and said she had been to the temple. It seems that Qualtan has been sequestered in his room for the last few days in heavy meditation. Maybe you can go there tomorrow and see if he has come out yet.”
“Sure thing,” Seth replied. “I’m going to go finish my own crafting. See you in the morning.”