Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XI - Vampire Season - Chapter 5
What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Elvisda was sitting on the bed in Peltar’s bedroom. Shalla was sitting next to him. There were dozens of books sprawled on the bed and all over the surrounding floor. Elvisda was pouring over a book in front of him, leafing through the pages at a quick rate.
Shalla had been doing the same when suddenly she stopped. “Found it,” she announced.
“Let me see,” he told her.
She leaned over, pushed his book out of the way, laid her head in his lap, and shoved her book in front of his face. “Told you I heard right,” she exclaimed triumphantly. The bard poured over the section the lady bard had just pointed out to him. He read it intensely for a few minutes. Then he put the book down, stroked Shalla’s hair and said “And so you did.” He leaned down and kissed her.
Things started to get more heated when suddenly there was a tap on the window. Both bards ignored it. The tapping came again, more insistent this time. Elvisda and Shalla both looked up at the window. There stood a black bird looking in at the two of them. If it did not have a beak, Elvisda would have sworn it was smirking.
“Shooo, go away,” the bard said.
The bird tapped again.
“Damn, stupid bird,” Elvisda exclaimed, gently extricating himself from Shalla. He got up and stormed over to the window. He yanked it open, fully intending to take a swipe at the bird, but then it started to speak!
“Glorfindel needs you,” the bird squeaked in a high pitched voice.
“What?” the bard exclaimed, not sure he heard right.
“I said Glorfindel needs you! Maybe if you weren’t so distracted, you might have heard me the first time,” the bird declared.
Just what I need, Elvisda thought, a smart ass bird.
“Isn’t that your wizard friend’s familiar?” Shalla said as she swung her legs off the bed and walked over to the window.
“He has a familiar?” the bard asked, pretending he didn’t know.
“Yes, he has a familiar you idiot!” the bird exclaimed rather agitated. “And he needs you. There’s a tunnel under the shop; and lots of undead. Come at once, and bring a cleric.”
Then the bird flapped its wings and flew away, cackling as it ascending back into the sky. If Elvisda didn’t know any better, he would have sworn the bird was laughing at him.
“Guess we better get going,” Shalla said as he turned away from the window.
“We?” the bard asked.
“Yep, I’m not letting you out of my sight,” she said and she grabbed his shoulders and kissed him.
He didn’t argue.
The town temple was rather busy. There had been a lot of people showing up lately, some needing healing, but many looking for prayer and solace in these troubled times. The high priest Qualtan had disappeared. Almon, the next most experienced cleric, was in deep prayer, assisting the Baroness and her champions, the Knights of the Couch.
That was a silly name for an order of knights, Hoirag thought. As the next most qualified priest below Almon, it was left to him to keep the temple running. He didn’t have time for foolishness such as quests and fighting. If he hadn’t been there to oversee things, the temple would have fallen apart by now!
Hoirag was out in the temple’s foyer. He had just finished instructing a group of novice clerics in the proper way to greet people needing temple services. He was just about to head back to his office when two more townsfolk walked into the temple foyer. There was a man dressed all in black and a very pretty blond woman accompanying him.
Hoirag looked around quickly and realized that there were no other clerics around to greet these folks. Oh well, he thought, I guess I will have to handle these two myself. “Good day,” he said out loud, “how may I be of service?”
“We need a cleric to come with us now,” the man said in a commanding tone. “Our friends and some castle guardsmen are under the city right now fighting undead.”
“Fighting undead? Under the city?” Hoirag repeated incredulously. “I’m sorry, but there are sick and weary townspeople here that need our ministrations. We don’t have time for questing and fighting right now. You will need to find someone else.” He began to turn away.
The man grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around roughly. “I don’t think you heard me correctly,” the man said in a loud tone. Then he stepped back, removed his hat and announced, “I am Elvisda, of the Knights of the Couch, the Baroness’s champions. At this very moment, other members of my order, along with a number of castle guards are under this city fighting undead to protect you and all of the citizens of Restenford. However, our cleric is currently recovering from our battle with vampires earlier today and we need another cleric to stand in for him.”
Knight of the Couch Hoirag thought scornfully. Undead under the city. What nonsense. “Well, I’m sorry, but we don’t have time for that right now.” Hoirag was about to turn away again when he noticed a crowd of temple clerics and townsfolk had formed around them. “Everyone back to work,” he commanded turning to look at all the other clerics.
“What is your name?” Elvisda said in a mildly deceptive tone.
“I am the cleric Hoirag, and I am currently in charge of this temple,” the temporary head cleric replied. “The high priest Qualtan is away and our second high priest, Almon, is in deep prayer to serve the Baroness.”
“Ah yes, to serve the Baroness,” Elvisda repeated, “which is exactly what you should be doing. What order of spells can you cast?”
Hoirag was taken aback. That was a brazen question. “Spells of the third order,” he replied rather haughtily.
“That will have to do,” the bard replied. “You need to come with us now. If you want to serve the Baroness that is.”
Hoirag was speechless. This had gone too far. “I told you I have duties here. We all do!” he said waving his arms at the gathered clerics.
“I’ll go with you,” a voice spoke out suddenly from behind him.
“So will I,” another voice said to his left.
“Who are you two,” the bard replied before Hoirag had a chance to protest.
“I am Selma and I can cast spells of the third order,” a young girl cleric answered.
“And I am Krelar and can also cast spells of the third order,” a young boy cleric responded as well.
“Very good,” Elvisda said authoritatively. “Both of you come with me.”
Hoirag was about to protest when Elvisda looked right at him and added “By the order of the Baroness.”
“Very well,” Hoirag responded in an exasperated tone, “do whatever you want.” Then the temporary high cleric spun on his heel and stormed away.
The two young clerics gathered their things and joined the bards in front of the temple five minutes later. As they followed they started across town, Krelar turned to Selma and whispered “This is gonna be great!” Selma smiled back and kept on marching.
Martan was still standing watch in the basement of what used to be Haltan’s shop. Seth, Glorfindel and a group of castle guards had disappeared down the secret passage they had discovered over an hour ago. He had heard nothing from them since. Not that they ever thought to advise him of what was going on. Sometimes Martan thought he was invisible. Until the Knights of the Couch needed something from him that is he amended.
Martan was standing in the light coming down from the stairs to the outside. Haltan must have used these stairs for moving heavy merchandize in and out of the basement.
“Help me,” a voice said behind him.
He whirled around and saw a little girl standing next to the secret doorway. How did she get in here he thought? She couldn’t have snuck past him. His hearing was quite keen from his years of experience in the woods. He should have heard anyone moving around down here. Could she have come through the secret passage he wondered? But that would be absurd.
“Help me,” the little girl repeated. “I’ve lost my parents. They are somewhere in there,” she said pointing at the passageway.
Martan blinked and then said “Why don’t you step outside.” He looked over his shoulder and pointed up the stairway behind him. “I’ll go down the tunnel and have a look.” But when he turned back the girl was gone.
He looked swiftly around the room but could not see her anywhere. Then he heard her voice coming from the passageway. “Come. Follow me. They’re in here,” he heard her say.
Martan was uncertain of what to do. He was just about to leave his post and enter the passage when Elvisda came down the stairs behind him.
“Martan!” the bard exclaimed clasping him on the shoulder. “Good to see you!”
“Good to see you too,” Martan replied relieved to have someone else in the basement with him. Behind Elvisda Shalla and two clerics descended the stairs.
“What’s going on?” Martan asked.
“Seems the boys have run into some undead in there,” Elvisda replied pointing at the passage door. “Glo sent his raven to tell us. So we gathered these two fine young clerics and headed straightaway over here.”
“More undead!” Martan exclaimed, “Then that explains it.”
“Explains what?” the bard looked at him with a puzzled expression on his face.
Just then, the little girl’s voice could be heard coming from the tunnel. “Are you coming?”
“That,” Martan whispered.
“Oh,” Elvisda replied. He got out his lute and started to play a soft tune inspiring confidence in all those present. While he played he asked the rest of them, “Do you have any spells that might be useful to me and my friend Martan right now?”
Both clerics looked at each and began incanting. When they were done a glow briefly appeared around both Elvisda and Martan. “This will protect you from evil influences for awhile,” Krelar told them.
Then Shalla said, “I can help too.” She cast a spell on both men and they became blurry to the naked eye. The lady bard cast two more spells on Martan. When she was done he felt stronger and more heroic.
“That should do it,” she said.
“Very well,” Elvisda replied. “Thank you all.” He nodded to the clerics and kissed Shalla briefly on the cheek. Then he took out a wand and turned to Martan. “Are you ready?” he asked the fighter.
Martan had taken out his bow. He had an arrow knocked and it glowed with an incandescent flame. “As I’ll ever be,” the fighter smiled back at the bard. The two men quietly approached the door and opened it. They looked down the passage and saw nothing. It was too dark.
Elvisda reached into one pocket and took out some components. He began to cast a spell. When he was done, a ball of light appeared twenty feet down the tunnel. The ball was spinning around and casting dancing lights in a twenty foot radius circle.
They saw the little girl standing about ten feet beyond the ball. She did not seem to like the lights at all, but she did not move. She just stood where she was and stared at the men. Elvisda stared back for a moment and then said in a creepy voice “Hello little girl. I am Elvisda…the vampire slayer.”
The little girl’s eyes opened wide. Then she screamed, turned and ran down the passage. Martan turned to look at the bard. Sometimes I wonder about these people he thought. But Elvisda just grinned back at the fighter. The bard motioned for Shalla and the clerics to join them. “Stay behind us,” he told them.
Then Elvisda and Martan entered the tunnel together and slowly made their way down the passage. They had gone about 50 feet when they heard a loud clanging sound ahead. They stopped for a moment but heard no other sound. So they started to move forward again. When they had gone another 50 feet, they came across a gate in the middle of the passageway. There was no sign of the girl.
Martan slung his bow across his shoulder and walked up to the gate. He began to try and lift it. It was heavy, but with his added magical strength, he was able to budge it. The cleric Krelar walked up next to him and lent him a hand. Together they were able to raise the gate about a foot.
Then Elvisda rolled under the gate and stood up on the other side. About 15 feet down the corridor to his left he saw a winch. The bard started to make for it when he saw a puff of smoke floating down the passage towards him. Elvisda started to run for the lever. He had just made it to it when the cloud of smoke solidified into the little girl. She bared her fangs at him.
The bard cranked the lever a couple of times with his left hand as he whipped out his wand and pointed it at the little vampire. Two large purple missiles leapt from the tip of the wand and flew down the corridor slamming into the creature. They made concussion sounds as they hit.
The vampire, however, did not flinch. She closed the distance between her and bard and swung at him with a clawed hand. The bard dodged the attack, jumping away from the lever.
Martan, seeing the bard in trouble, let go of the gate, and quickly rolled underneath it. He just made it to the other side when the gate dropped to about an inch from the floor. Not thinking about it, Martan rolled to his knee, unslung his bow, drew an arrow, knocked it and fired at the vampire in one swift motion.
The arrow flew from the bowstring and struck its target full in the chest moments later. A flame erupted from the tip on impact. The little creature was obviously stung. It turned to face the archer, but at that moment, two more purple missiles careened into her. There was a popping sound and little girl vampire turned into a puff of smoke once again. Then the cloud drifted away down the hall.
Elvisda continued to follow the cloud while Martan went back to open the gate. The bard reached the end of the corridor in time to see the cloud seep through a door. Elvisda wrenched the door open and stepped into a small room. There he found Seth, standing in the middle of the room, staring upwards. The bard followed the little ninja’s gaze just in time to see the smoke seeping through a hole in the ceiling.
“Vampire!” Seth cried out loud.
Two seconds later, Glorfindel and some castle guardsmen entered the room from a second door to the east. “Where?” the wizard said. Then he saw Elvisda. “There you are!” he exclaimed to the bard. “I was looking all over for you. Where were you?”
“Long story,” Elvisda replied.
Just then, Martan and the two clerics walked into the room. It was starting to get crowded. They all moved into the larger room to the east with the poker table. They sat down and the wizard caught the bards and clerics up on what had happened so far in the underground area. When they were done, Elvisda said “So the burnt out guardhouse is above here. I’ll go get The Boulder and hunt down that little vampire.”
“Take a couple of guardsmen with you and one of the clerics” Glorfindel told him.
“No, no, no. The Boulder and I can handle this,” the bard replied.
Seth and Glo argued with the bard a few minutes until he agreed to take the extra help. Finally, Elvisda left with Ashfor, Marcus and Krelar to chase down the little vampire girl.
“Hope this doesn’t take too long,” Seth muttered as the four men disappeared back up the passageway.