Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XI - Vampire Season
The Boys are Back and There’s Gonna Be Trouble
Peltar’s tower room materialized around the adventurers. The group stepped out of the teleportation rings and reoriented themselves after the inter-dimensional trip. All at once, they realized that Donatello was not with them.
“Where’s Donnie?” Elvisda cried.
“I’m not really sure,” Glorfindel replied with a perplexed look on his face. “We all entered the teleporter together. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t have made it here with us.”
“It was that damn monkey!” Elvisda exclaimed. “I told him that paw was cursed! Maybe next time he’ll listen to me.”
“Well, be that as it may, let me see if I can find out where he went,” Glo replied.
The wizard took out some spell components, concentrated for a few moments and then cast a spell. The others had seen him do this before and knew he was “scrying” for the wayward swashbuckler. After a couple of minutes, Glorfindel stopped and shook his head.
“It’s no good,” the wizard reported, the frustration obvious in his town. “There is some kind of magical resistance and I cannot get a clear picture of where he is. But at least he’s alive.”
“Well there’s not much we can do for him right now,” Elvisda said. “It’s probably best to find the others and regroup.”
The headed upstairs and entered the main area on the first floor. As they stepped through the secret door from the basement, they heard a voice cry “Lloyd! Elvisda! Glorfindel!”
It was Martan! “You’re back!” the archer exclaimed.
“Martan, my friend! It’s good to see you” Elvisda said as he walked over and clasped the man’s hand and clapped him on the shoulder.
They all gathered around to greet the archer.
“So where’s the rest of our company members?” Lloyd asked.
“Oh, Aksel and Seth are upstairs. Cyclone, however, had to go back home,” Martan replied. “He received some kind of urgent summons from his family in Lukescros.”
The others were sorry to hear that the dragoon had left the party. In the short time they had known him he had become a good friend and a valuable ally.
“Anyway,” Martan continued, “I’ll head upstairs and get the others. With that he launched himself up the staircase two steps at a time while calling “Aksel! Seth! Guess who’s finally back?”
A minute later, Martan came bounding back down the stairs with Aksel and Seth in tow. All the companions gathered together and exchanged welcomes for a couple of minutes.
Aksel was finishing his story on their exploits, “…and so we decided to take up residence in this tower until you returned.”
“So then why did you have an alarm spell in place on the teleporter?” Glorfindel asked the little gnome.
“There was a spell on the teleporter?” Aksel responded. He and Seth exchanged a look.
“Shalla” Seth said snapping his fingers. “She asked if we wanted an alarm spell set, but we told her not to bother. Looks like she set one anyway.”
“Guess she couldn’t wait to see you again,” Lloyd teased Elvisda.
The bard smiled. “Yes, I guess I am just that irresistible.” They all chuckled
“Well, it probably is just Shalla, but Martan, could you go to the upper tower room and keep an eye out just in case?” Glorfindel asked. “I would hate to be caught by surprise if it was someone other than her.”
“Sure thing,” Martan said and he turned and bounded back up the stairs.
“So where’s Donnie?” Aksel asked.
They told him about their trip to Tarsmorr including their encounter with the monkey, their subsequent stay in town, the information they had gleaned about Peltar, the meeting with the strange little Wizard Franzire, and finished with the teleporter incident.
“Well at least Donnie’s alive,” the little cleric replied, “but it is very strange that he didn’t make it through with you guys. I guess finding him will have to wait though. As I told you before, we have a vampire to catch. Anyway, at least we now know that Peltar was in Tarsmorr. I wonder where he went from there? And this Wizard, Franzire you said, seems very strange, albeit useful.”
“So, where’s this box you picked up?” Seth asked.
Elvisda reached into his bag of holding and pulled out Peltar’s box. “Here it is,” as he placed on the table in front of the couch.
“Donnie was able to detect a fairly major magical trap on it” Glorfindel told them.
Both Aksel and Seth’s began to examine the box with interest.
“I could use the scroll of Greater Dispel Magic that Franzire gave me,” Glo continued.”
“I have one as well” Aksel offered. “You should keep yours and let me try mine.”
“While you do that,” Lloyd said, “maybe Elvisda and I can go and report to the Baroness.”
“Itching to see Andrella?” the bard said needled the big man.
“Maybe,” Lloyd responded blushing a bit. “But the Baroness should know what we found so far.”
“The boy is right,” Elvisda concurred. “We’ll be back in a bit.” They went to the front door and exited the tower.
A few moments later, Martan came bounding back down the steps and said “Shalla just entered the keep. She just met Elvisda and Lloyd outside.”
“Well that answers that,” Glorfindel replied. “Thank you Martan.”
“So,” Aksel took a deep breath, “let’s give this a try.” He took out his scroll and began the incantation. When he was done, the box began to glow, but it immediately faded out.
“Well, so much for that,” Aksel sighed.
“Oh great. Looks like it’s my turn” Seth said reluctantly.
“Just a second,” Glo said to the little ninja.
The wizard turned towards Martan and asked “Do you think you could go get Elvisda back here really quick?”
“Sure thing,” the archer said enthusiastically, and he bolted for the door. “Elvisda!” they could hear him cry outside.
Seth turned to Aksel and said, “I’m glad he’s finally out of his funk. If he continued moping around here much longer, I was going to kill him.”
“What was the matter with Martan?” Glo asked.
“I think it was a combination of things,” Aksel replied. “Finding out Ves is really a dragon hit him hard. Then the whole encounter with that red dragon seemed to completely unsettle him. He had been all out of sorts until you guys just showed up.”
Just then the door opened and Elvisda came back in with the archer eagerly following him.
Seth, Aksel and Glo looked at each other. Glo had to cover his mouth to hide a grin.
“You just interrupted a nice little reunion with Shalla. I hope this is important,” Elvisda said somewhat irritated.
“The scroll didn’t work,” Aksel told him.
“And guess who’s stuck with opening it now,” Seth said while intently examining the box.
“Very well,” Elvisda replied taking out his lute. He began to play some tunes to enhance the little ninja chances of bypassing the trap.
Glorfindel also began chanting as he cast a spell of his own on the little halfling. “That should do it,” he said when he was done. “Now it’s all up to you,” he told Seth.
The ninja finished examining the box and stood up. “This would probably be best done outside,” he told the group.
“Unless you want this tower to go up like the lighthouse,” he added as he walked the box out the door.
“No, we don’t need another incident like that one,” Glorfindel replied with a pained look on his face.
Seth carried the container outside into the courtyard. It was late at night and no one was around. The others gathered a safe distance away, Lloyd and Shalla joining them.
The little ninja bent down and his fingers began to move deftly over the box. He looked like a concert pianist caressing a keyboard. The minutes dragged by, then finally they heard an audible click.
Suddenly, a giant fireball erupted from the container! The light was so bright the others had to avert their eyes. When they could finally look back, they saw a patch of burnt grass with a melted slag of gold colored metal in its center. Seth was standing a few yards away, completely untouched.
“Well that was close,” Aksel exclaimed.
The explosion had been rather loud though and it had woken up a number of the castle’s residents. Some castle guards began gathering around. And the Baroness herself as well as the Lady Andrella had come out to their balconies. “What’s going on down there?” the Lady Fairwind yelled down the courtyard.
“We’re back your ladyship!” Elvisda cried up to the Baroness. And he bowed with a flourish.
“Elvisda!” she cried as she recognized him. “I’ll be right down!” she exclaimed and turned and ran back into her room.
They all turned back now and looked at the center of the burnt area in the center of the courtyard.
“Wow, that looks like the lighthouse all over again,” Lloyd said rather loudly.
Glorfindel blanched and Elvisda grimaced. Then Aksel turned to the warblade and whispered “Quiet Lloyd. The Baroness doesn’t know about that yet!”
The group slowly approached the center of the burnt area where the remains of the box lay. They fully expected the contents of the container to be burned. What they did not anticipate was the glowing crystal ball which appeared in the middle of the slag that had once been Peltar’s box. The crystal was about the size of a large fist. It was mostly clear, but in the center was the insignia of a blue dragon.
Elvisda took a long look at the glowing clear rock and then let out a low whistle. “A Dragon Crystal” he whispered. He turned to the rest of the party and said softly “They were made by the Titans to control dragons. One was made for each color of dragon. If you possess it, no dragon of that color can harm you. However, you gain the enmity of all other dragons for all time.”
“So the point would be to gather all of these stones,” Aksel stated.
“Yes,” Elvisda replied. “Legend has it that the blue dragon orb also has the nice property of allowing the user to continual caste haste.”
“Handy if you don’t mind having every non-blue dragon in the world hating your guts,” Seth joked.
“Best if we just put this away for now,” Elvisda said as he picked up the now cool stone and placed it into the bag of holding.
A couple of minutes later the Baroness Fairwind and the Lady Andrella arrived in the courtyard followed by Captain Gelpas. Andrella launched herself into the warblade’s arms as soon as she saw him.
“I guess their officially a couple now,” Elvisda commented as the two love birds kissed.
“Well they have my approval,” the Lady Fairwind replied. “And I’m certain Grellus would have approved as well. He always did like that boy. I remember him saying, I rather see her with a good Penwick man!”
There were tears in Fairwind’s eyes as she mentioned Grellus. Elvisda reached into his vest and pulled out another handkerchief. He handed it to the Baroness and she wiped her eyes. Then, once again she blew her delicate nose into the kerchief. She looked up, chagrinned and said, “Oh my! I did it again.”
“No need to worry, my lady,” Elvisda told her gently. “As I said, I have plenty of them.”
“Well I seem to be taking up a collection of my own,” Fairwind replied. Then the bard and the lady both laughed.
Shalla walked up next to Elvisda and took his arm. “Maybe we should take this inside?” the female bard suggested delicately.
“I quite agree young lady,” Fairwind replied regaining her composure. The group decided to adjourn back to Peltar’s tower as they were right there.
Once inside the tower, they all gathered in the living area on the first floor of the tower. Elvisda and Glorfindle brought the Baroness, Andrella and Gelpas up to date on their exploits and findings in Tarrsmorr, ending with their return and the disappearance of Donatello. The only thing they left out was the details of the orb they had found inside the box.
“Well at least it was not Grellus’s heart in the box,” Fairwind sighed. “As for Donatello, he seems like quite a capable young man. I still remember the look on Lord Nigel’s face when he relayed to Grellus and I the stunt he had pulled with the Lady Taylor.” She smiled briefly at the memory.
“Yes,” Aksel replied, “Much as we would like to track down his whereabouts, I’m afraid Donnie will just have to wait for now. This vampire definitely has to come first. And then we need to continue our search for the Baron’s heart.”
“So…” Glorfindel mused, “the next step would probably be to locate Qualtan. Aksel, do you still have that scrying crystal I gave you?”
“Of course,” the little cleric replied. “Let me get it.” He went upstairs to his room and returned a few moments later with the melon sized translucent crystal in his hand. He placed it on the table and sat down in front of it. He waved his hands over it a few times and then began to intone the spell.
After a minute or so, the clear crystal clouded up and an image appeared. It was the cleric Qualtan. He was in a dark room, with a single candle, standing next to a man in black armor. The armor had a green tree on it. They were conversing.
“What are they saying?” the Baroness asked.
“They are talking about getting the wagons ready, setting spells and leaving,” Aksel replied. “The man in black armor just told Qualtan to check outside.”
They saw Qualtan turn inside the ball, go up some stairs, through a dark room and step outside a door. The building he was in front looked very familiar.
“That’s Haltan’s shop!” Elvisda exclaimed.
The Baroness stood up and exclaimed “Captain Gelpas, summon every guard in the castle! I want them fully outfitted for battle and down by the castle gate in fifteen minutes.”
“At once your ladyship,” Gelpas replied and hurried out the door.