Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XI - Vampire Season - Chapter 2
The group gathered around the table and began making a battle plan. Haltan’s shop was situated with its back to the river. There were warehouses to the left, and no houses to the right.
They decided that the KOTC would spearhead the attack.
“The Boulder will be positioned in front,” Elvisda said. “Lloyd, Glorfindel, and I will be right behind him.”
“I’ll cover the back entrance,” Seth offered. “When you guys knock, I’ll sneak in the back.”
“And I’ll cover the side entrance to the basement,” Aksel added.
“Martan,” Glorfindel said, “I want you on the rooftop of a nearby building. Keep watch for anyone trying to escape.”
Aksel had a map of the town out in front of him and he and Elvisda were pouring over it. “Peltar’s house is right across the street,” the little cleric told them.
“Great,” Glo continued, “then go to the top of Peltar’s house. I am going to cast a telepathic bond spell between you Martan, Seth and myself so we can keep in touch. Also, I want a perimeter set up around the house. We can use the castle guards. But I want them far back enough to not be seen.”
Aksel, still examining the map said, “We can put them behind the warehouse on the one side and back behind the trees on the other two sides.”
“I’ll send Raven circling around back to watch the water,” Glorfindel added.
“Better yet,” Johnny added, “why don’t we ask the Dunwynn Sky Knights to cover the water side?”
“Are there any left in town?” Seth asked.
“As a matter of fact there are still three,” the Baroness replied. “They are staying at Falco’s Tavern. I’ll send a guard to go and get them.”
When the planning was done, they left the tower and met with the castle guards at the front gate. Everyone, including Lady Andrella went with them as there would be no one else left in the castle. The group marched down to Haltan’s shop and took up their positions. Stealth was not exactly an option with The Boulder in the group, but they sent the perimeter guards, the Sky Knights, Glorfindel’s raven, and Martan ahead to take up scouting positions. Then the rest of the party moved into place around the shop.
The Boulder stood in front of the shop while Lloyd, Glorfindel and Elvisda stood back with the Baroness, Lady Andrella, Captain Gelpas and a couple of castle guards. Glorfindel contacted Martan and Seth via the telepathic bond he had cast. Any signs of movement, he thought towards them.
Nothing from up here, Martan thought back.
All quiet out back, Seth replied with his mind.
Then Glo checked with Raven. The familiar saw no movement on the ground other than the castle forces. “All clear,” Glorfindel reported. “No sign of any movement.”
“Ok, let’s do this,” Elvisda said. “Stay here your ladyship,” he told the Baroness. “We won’t be long.”
“Be careful,” Andrella said as she grabbed Lloyd and kissed him soundly. The big Warblade blushed and just nodded. “Yes, be careful,” Fairwind repeated as she blessed the three men. Then Lloyd, Elvisda and Glorfindel moved forward towards the house.
When everyone was in place, Elvisda got out his lute and played a tune to inspire greatness for the adventurers. Next he cast a spell of good hope for the trio. Then as they got to the door, he cast another spell and Lloyd appearance suddenly blurred. Finally, Glorfindel cast the last spell on the group and they all suddenly felt much faster. Then Elvisda turned to The Boulder and commanded it to “Knock on the door”.
The stone golem complied. It knocked once. The door shuddered. It knocked twice. The entire wall shuddered. It knock one more time, and half the wall of the house caved in.
At that same moment around back, Seth, who had cast a spell of invisibility on himself, unlocked the back door and let himself in. He saw two men in armor standing in front of him. The armored men turned in time to see the door close. One said “There’s someone in here,” and they both started swinging their weapons around, looking for invisible foes.
Seth immediately launched himself up to the ceiling and stuck there. Got two idiots in armor back here Seth thought to Glorfindel.
You need any help Glo’s mind replied.
Nah, I got this Seth thought back.
“Seth has two armed men in the back,” Glo told the others.
Elvisda nodded. Then he issued a command to The Boulder. “Walk inside and defend yourself.” The golem entered the house with Lloyd right behind him. Glorfindel and Elvisda walked up to the door and peered inside.
There were two warriors in armor standing in the front room, and in a doorway against the other wall stood Qualtan. The Boulder and Lloyd were moving forward, when suddenly blue bands appeared around Lloyd and he stopped moving. The warblade was frozen in place! Elvisda quickly surveyed the room and saw that Qualtan had just finished casting a spell. He yelled at the golem “Kill Qualtan!”
The Boulder turned towards the rogue cleric and started lumbering towards him. Qualtan took one look at the huge stone golem coming for him, his eyes widened in terror, and then he turned and fled down the basement stairs.
Meanwhile, the two armed men started swinging at Lloyd. Each one got a swipe in on him with their blades, but his armor took the brunt of most of the damage.
Then Glo walked through the hole in the wall that used to be the front door and cast a spell of his own. He finished his hand motions and a gust of wind blew across the area past where Lloyd was stuck. Suddenly, the blue bands disappeared and Lloyd was free again.
“Alright!” Elvisda cheered. Then he took out a wand, pointed it at one of the armored men and shot off two volleys of force missiles at the man. The purple projectiles arced across the room and struck their target. The man grunted and staggered back as each missile connected and exploded.
Then Lloyd was on the move again. He waded in right behind the missile attack, both blades swinging as he deftly carried out his retribution on the men that hit him while he was held motionless.
At that same moment, in the back room, Seth was still on the ceiling. The two armed men were still waving around their swords when they heard the commotion out front. “There’s no one here,” the one said. “Maybe we should go out front.”
But Seth was not about to let these two go out and attack his friends. The little ninja called out, “Yeah right. Maybe you should look up here!” The men stopped in their tracks and looked up but could not see anything. They looked at each other in bewilderment. “Is this place haunted?” the one man said to the other.
As the men continued to scan the ceiling, the little ninja rogue cast a spell. He had just created 5 mirror images of himself, but they were also invisible and standing on the ceiling. Then Seth lit four flasks of oil that he had on his belt and dropped them on the men. But with the mirror images mimicking his every move, it looked like 24 fire bombs rained down from the ceiling. Both men were hit and the straps and belts on their armor caught on fire. The two men started to scream, too busy trying to put out the fire to notice the six little halfling ninjas, now visible and standing on the ceiling, laughing uncontrollably at their predicament. The men heard the crazy laughter, looked at each other and bolted out the room and down the basement stairs, only a few steps behind Qualtan.
Back in the front room, Lloyd was finishing venting his frustrations on the two armored men. They were severely outclassed and one had already fallen to the warblade’s overwhelming attack. Then Glorfindel stepped forward and cast a magic missile spell, finishing off what remained of the second warrior.
Lloyd, Glorfindel and Elvisda made for the basement stairs, with Seth joining them from the back room. As they descended they heard the sound of stone beating on metal. Boom, boom, boom the sound repeated. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, they saw The Boulder trying to smash in a vault door. Qualtan was nowhere to be seen, but the two warriors from the back room were standing there, no longer on fire but still smouldering.
Seth did a mid air flip over Lloyd’s head letting two knifes fly, one at each of the men. The knives bounced off their armor, but it made them both flinch. Then Glorfindel flew over the rest of the parties’ heads. In mid flight, the wizard sent a searing bolt of white-ish blue-ish lighting careening across the room at the two men. A crackling sound reverberated through the basement as both men sizzled in their armor for a few seconds. Then they fell unmoving to the ground.
“They just don’t make hired help like the used to,” Seth quipped. Then he turned to Elvisda and said, “Call The Boulder off. This requires finesse.” Elvisda commanded the golem to stand back from the vault door. Then he got out his lute and played a song to inspire confidence for the little ninja as Seth walked over to the door. “Thanks,” Seth acknowledged and then he began to work his own brand of magic on the door.
While the little ninja was fiddling around with the vault, Elvisda went over to the basement door and opened it from the inside. Sunlight streamed in as dawn had broken. Aksel’s voice called down “How’s it going down there?”
“Not bad,” Elvisda called back. “All the mercenaries are down and we’ve got Qualtan bottled up in the vault. Seth is breaking in as we speak.”
Seth had just disabled a poison trap that had been set on the door and then unlocked it and pushed the door open. Then he jumped up onto the ceiling and said to Lloyd “After you.” Lloyd and Seth both walked into the vault at the same time. Inside they found Qualtan cowering in the corner of the small room.
“Why did you kill the Baron?” Lloyd barked at the cleric in a fierce tone. “And what did you do with his heart!”
Qualtan, shaking in his boots, replied “It, it wasn’t me. The Druid Almax did it. He practices black magic.”
“Stop lying!” Lloyd yelled. “I’ll give you one last chance to answer the question. Now why did you kill the Baron?”
“It, it was the Assassin’s Guild,” Qualtan squeaked, his voice cracking under the pressure. “They killed him and took his heart. You really should go to Garrotten to get it back.”
“That’s enough!” Lloyd roared.
“He’s never going to tell the truth,” Glorfindel said from behind them. “Just kill him and get it over with.”
Lloyd looked quickly over his shoulder back at Glorfindel. The wizard sounded serious, but that was not like Glorfindel. Then Glo winked at him, confirming that he was trying to bluff Qualtan into confessing.
But Qualtan seized his chance as the warblade looked away from him. He drew a knife from his belt and launched himself at Lloyd. Seth, standing unnoticed on the ceiling, was about to jump down to intercept the malevolent cleric, when he saw Lloyd pivot around and bring his blade to bear. The warblade spun and thrust in one swift movement that skewered the leaping cleric square in the chest. Then Lloyd stepped back and withdrew his sword from the impaled man. Qualtan dropped his knife, gasped once, and collapsed to the ground.
Seth dropped to the ground and walked over to examine the cleric. “He’s dead,” he finally pronounced. “Well I guess that’s that,” Glorfindel said.
“You do know I wasn’t really going to kill him,” Lloyd commented somewhat chagrinned.
“Didn’t look to me like you had much choice,” Seth said as he got up to examine a second vault door on the other wall.
“I wouldn’t sweat it,” Elvisda added. “He wasn’t exactly what I would call a good cleric.”
Lloyd smiled gratefully at his friends comments.
“This one has multiple traps on it,” Seth announced, “and one of them is poison gas.” The others, who had just started to file into the small room, stopped short. “Another is fire and the third one is a stone wall that drops in the doorway” Seth continued. Glorfindel walked over to Seth and touched the little ninja as he cast a spell. “Fire resistance,” he told the halfling and then he turned and left the room.
Seth looked over his shoulder and said to Elvisda, “Can you have The Boulder in the doorway so he can catch the block in case it falls? I don’t feel like getting trapped in a room with poison gas and fire.”
“And here I thought that was your definition of a party!” Elvisda quipped as he and Lloyd backed out of the room. “Really?” Seth shot back. “You’re going to lecture me about playing with fire? Did you see Shalla’s face in the courtyard when you were comforting the Baroness?”
“Can I help it if women adore me?” Elvisda replied with a laugh. “Just send the golem over please?” Seth replied. The bard, still smiling, issued a command to The Boulder and the golem walked over and stood in the doorway.
“Ok then,” Seth said, “time to get to work”. The little halfling worked deftly at the traps. First he disarmed the poison gas trigger mechanism. Then he disabled the fire trap trigger. In the process, he did trip the stone wall once, but The Boulder caught it and held it firmly in place. Finally he disabled the mechanism to drop the stone wall. “Okay, Elvisda,” he called. “You can have The Boulder push the stone block back up. It should stay in place now.” The bard issued the command and the golem reset the stone in the ceiling. It stuck fast.
Now that all three traps were disarmed, Seth went to open the lock. He heard a click and thought he was done, when all of sudden green gas started to enter the chamber through a vent. “I thought I disarmed that!” the little ninja cried. He turned and ran out of the vault. “Everybody out!” he yelled. “Poison gas!”
They all cleared out of the basement and up the stairs to the outside where Aksel was waiting. The Baroness along with Andrella and Captain Gelpas joined them. While Andrella pulled Lloyd aside, they brought Fairwind up to date on the battle inside the shop. Then Glorfindel contacted Martan and his Raven and Gelpas checked with the perimeter guards. They all confirmed that no one had left the shop.
“Ok,” Elvisda said, “once the gas dissipates we will go back down and enter the last vault. That man in black armor still has to be down there, and that’s the only place left where he could be hiding.”
“I’ll go,” Aksel offered. “Lloyd and I have the strongest constitution, but I can also heal myself if the gas is still there. Mind if I also take the golem ring, just in case.” They all agreed and Elvisda handed the little cleric the command ring for The Boulder.
After ten more minutes had passed, Aksel climbed back down the basement steps. He waited until his eyes adjusted to the darkness, and then surveyed the room. There was no trace of the poison gas cloud however. Then he slowly made his way through the larger room towards the vault door sniffing the air as he went. He didn’t smell any gas either. Aksel reached the vault door, and peered around the golem, who was still standing in the doorway. Inside the vault room, he saw a ball of green gas floating in the room!
The little cleric slowly backed away from the door, but the gas ball started following him back into the main basement! Aksel continued backing up until he was in the center of the larger basement room. The gas ball floated into the room almost directly in front of him, and abruptly changed form. In place of the greenish ball of gas, now stood a man shaped form dressed in black with a pale complexion, reddish eyes, and dark hair. The man opened his mouth to snarl and Aksel saw large fangs protruding from his upper and lower jaw.
The little cleric grabbed the golem ring on his finger and yelled “Attack!” as loud as he could. Three things happened simultaneously: The Boulder turned in the doorway and began lumbering towards the vampire. Lloyd appeared at the bottom of the stairs that led outside. He must have heard Aksel’s cry and launched himself down the stairs to aid his companion. And the vampire leaped forward and attacked the little cleric.
The vampire attack did not greatly wound the little gnome cleric, but he could feel the energy draining out of his body as the monster touched him. He staggered back and found himself feeling weaker. Then Lloyd was between him and the vampire. The big warblade shielded the little cleric and began swinging at the monster with his dual blades. Both huge swords connected with the vampire slashing the creature and inflicting some minor wounds. But it was not enough to slow the monster down. This was obviously a master vampire and Lloyd’s swords were neither made of magical silver nor blessed with a holy enchantment which is what was required to do true harm to such a creature.
The vampire struck back and Lloyd went reeling backwards. The big Warblade looked like he had had half the life drained out of him. “Get back Lloyd!” Aksel cried “You can’t help me against this thing!” Then the little gnome jumped back between the creature and the huge man.
As luck would have it, The Boulder had just then gotten with range of the vampire. Bam! Bam! The impact of the golem’s mighty fists against the creature could be heard reverberating around the room. But incredibly, the monster shrugged off the blows as if they were a mere annoyance. This was a tough creature!
But the distraction had give Aksel a free moment. He quickly cast a spell on himself to stop the vampire from draining any more life energy out of him. The little cleric immediately began preparing another spell, when a beam of red hot light arced over his right shoulder and hit the vampire straight in the back. The creature reeled from the impact and the area on its body where it was hit began to smolder. It had felt that!
Aksel took a quick look over his shoulder and saw Glorfindel hovering next to the doorway to the outside stairs. The wizard must have floated into the room while the golem had kept the vampire occupied. He also saw that Lloyd had back away into the light shining down from the open stairway door.
And someone else was standing behind Lloyd, but Aksel could not quite make out who it was in the brightness. The figure lifted its arm and two purple glowing missiles came flying into the room and spun their way past him, smacking the vampire straight in its chest. Two successive concussions went off as the projectiles connected with their target. The vampire shook as each blast hit it. The force was not enough to make a creature like this stagger back, but it definitely took its toll.
The creature was now getting desperate. It lunged at Aksel, trying to leach some more life energy out of the little cleric. But this time, the creature’s eyes widened as it realized it could no longer suck any life force from the gnome.
Bam! Bam! The golem struck again, hitting the vampire with two more mighty blows. The creature turned to face the golem once more. But that was its last fatal mistake. Aksel lifted his arm and cast the spell he had started preparing. A beam of searing white light shot out from the cleric’s fingertips and caught the creature straight in the side.
The vampire screamed and winced in obvious pain. It whirled back towards the little cleric and was caught full in the chest as another beam of red hot light lanced over the cleric’s shoulder. This time the vampire ignited into flames and collapsed to the floor, quickly burning into a pile of ash. In moments there was nothing left of the creature but a pile of dust on the basement floor.