Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XI - Vampire Season - Chapter 7
Letter From A Dead Cleric
When they got to the keep, Elvisda ordered The Boulder to stand guard at the castle gate. And they sent Martan to wait in the tower for Aksel to wake up. He needed to be told about Qualtan so he would know to pray for a spell to allow him to talk with the dead. Meanwhile the others headed into the main keep to find the Baroness. They also dispatched a guard to find Lloyd and have him meet them in the throne room.
When Lloyd arrived at the throne room, Andrella at his side, Glorfindel and Elvisda were reporting to the Baroness. “…so there are definitely a few more vampires in the underground your ladyship” the wizard was saying.
“Can they get out?” the Baroness asked.
“They can most definitely get out your ladyship,” Aksel said. The little gnome must have rested enough. They would never have roused him otherwise. “The real problem,” Aksel continued, “is not whether they can get out, but is whether they feel threatened. And from what we’ve heard so far, I’m sure they do. If they feel threatened, they will try to dominate some townsfolk into helping them escape. That is the real danger here your ladyship.”
“Your ladyship,” Elvisda asked, “do you know how many children are missing?”
“There are four children,” the Baroness replied, “two farmers’ sons, Kekle and Tamil, a fisherman’s son, Minark, and a fisherman’s daughter, Loral.”
“Baroness,” Glorfindel interjected, “I suggest that all the townsfolk be warned to stay in their homes.”
“And not to invite anyone in, especially children,” Aksel added.
“What about the public places?” Shalla asked.
“There is room in the castle hall,” Fairwind replied.
“Then I suggest we move all the people from the inns here for tonight,” Glorfindel said.
“Very good,” the Baroness said. She called the castle guards and sent them out to warn the town people and bring the folks in the inn back to the castle.
“Now that that’s out of the way, your ladyship, may we adjourn to a more private room? There are some things we need to discuss that should be for your ears only” Glorfindel told the Baroness.
“Very well,” Fairwind replied.
They reconvened a short time later in the small room next to the throne room. The Baroness once again sat at the head of the table. The rest of the group settled down into seats around her.
“So what is it you need to discuss?” the Baroness asked.
Glorfindel took the box out of his robes and handed it to Fairwind along with the letters.
She opened it and found the ring inside. Then she read the letters, put them down and sighed deeply.
“That was a very, very long time ago,” she said finally. “It never led to anything, except maybe in Qualtan’s mind.” She placed the letters on the table.
Glorfindel took them and passed them to Aksel and Lloyd who had not yet seen them. Then the wizard turned back to the Baroness. “Unfortunately, your ladyship, this did lead to something. We now have proof that Qualtan was involved in the Baron’s death. Seth, show her the knife,” Glorfindel said.
Seth got up and handed the Baroness the Thinaun knife. Fairwind looked at the weapon and then looked up questioningly at the party.
“Let me explain,” Elvisda began. He and Shalla repeated the story they had told the others down in the underground.
When they finished, the Baroness remained silent for awhile. Then she said, “Where you able to find Qualtan?”
“Yes your ladyship,” Elvisda replied. “Please brace yourself.”
Glorfindel went to the door and talked to Francis who had been waiting outside. The guard disappeared for a minute and then returned with Relkin. Then were carrying something wrapped in a shroud. They placed it on the floor and unwrapped it.
The Baroness gasped. It was Qualtan’s body.
“I’m sorry Fairwind,” Elvisda said quietly, “but this was the way we found him.”
“Let me see the body,” Aksel said, putting the letters down and walking over to the corpse. “There is something strange about these bite marks,” the cleric said after close examination. “They are too close together.”
“It must have been one of the children,” Glorfindel said.
“Those poor children,” the Baroness said quietly. “And poor Qualtan; so misguided. What do you hope to accomplish with all this?”
“We were hoping to find that out your ladyship. We have a number of questions that could be answered if Aksel here can cast a spell to speak with the dead. We still need to know who took the Baron’s heart and where it might be right now.” Glorfindel said softly.
“Your ladyship,” Elvisda said gently, “with your permission we would like to try to speak with Qualtan’s spirit.”
“Very well,” the Baroness replied. “Let’s get on with this.”
Aksel stood over the body and prepared his spell. He began incanted and when he was done cast the spell. However, nothing happened. Qualtan’s spirit did not appear, nor was his voice heard. Aksel looked up at the others and said, “I’m sorry but the spell failed. It can’t be cast again for another week. In the meantime, we really can’t do much to preserve the body I’m afraid.”
“It will be alright,” Fairwind answered. “My brother, the Duke, is scheduled to arrive here tomorrow. He should have a cleric with him who can cast the preservation spell on the body. Until then, please remove him from my sight.”
“Very good your ladyship,” Glorfindel replied. “If it is alright with you, however, we don’t want it going very far. So we would ask your permission to keep it in the tower.”
“Permission granted,” the Baroness responded.
Glorfindel walked over to the door and called in Martan. “Martan, can you and Francis take the body over to the tower? And Martan, can you please keep watch over it?” Glorfindel asked.
“No problem,” Martan replied. He turned and beckoned Francis to join him. They rewrapped the body and then lifted it and carried it out the door.
“Just a few more questions your ladyship, and then we will let you retire,” Elvisda said sympathetically. “Do you know the history behind that guardhouse we were investigating?”
“Yes,” Fairwind told them. “It originally belonged to the rogue Rangarl. He was Grellus’s companion during their questing years. We never knew that he had a gambling establishment hidden below the house. After he left, quite a number of years ago, we converted the house into a guard station. It burnt down though under mysterious circumstances about five years ago, and we never got the chance to rebuild it.”
“And how long was Haltan in town?” Elvisda asked.
“About twenty years,” the Baroness replied.
“So odds are he would have known about the secret passage,” Seth mused.
“Tomorrow morning, we will need to take a party down to the underground and clean out the rest of the undead,” Glorfindel said.
“Yes, that is the first priority,” the Baroness responded. “My people need to be safe.”
“Is there anything directly south of here your ladyship? The cavern we stopped in continued south” Glorfindel explained.
“Not really,” Fairwind replied. “Directly south is the ocean. But if the tunnels veer to the southwest, they may come out along the coast.”
“Thank you your ladyship.” Elvisda said.
They meeting had adjourned and they all walked out into the main hall. The townsfolk from the inns were all gathered there and bedding down for the night. Fairwind went around making sure that everyone was comfortable.
Meanwhile, the Knights of the Couch went around as well. They were surprised at some of the stories they were told. It seems that they had become the new town heroes. They were being attributed with everything from vampire slaying to driving the Knights from Dunnwyn out of town. In fact, the townsfolk believed that they would send the Duke packing as well when he marched into town.
There was one story going around though that really struck their interest. It was a tale about some bronze dragons and a family called the Fishgotz. It seems that they had all been in a battle with some other evil dragons out in a place called Fish Eye Cove. It was a little cove near the burnt down lighthouse.
Glorfindel was especially interested in the young girl from the Fishgotz family who had spontaneously learned to cast spells. When he asked about the family, however, he was told that they had left town and went to help rebuild the lighthouse.
That was too much for the wizard. He spied the Baroness still checking on the townsfolk across the hall. He strode over to her and said, “Your ladyship, may I talk with you a moment.”
The Baroness must have heard the seriousness in his voice. She got up from where she was kneeling next to a family and said “Certainly.”
They both went over to a corner of the hall.
“Your ladyship,” Glorfindel began, “there is one thing I’ve been meaning to tell you. But between Peltar’s disappearance, the Serpent Cult attack, the trip to the monolith, and now the Baron’s murder it had all but slipped my mind. But after all the talk about the guard house burning down, it reminded me.”
“Go on,” Fairwind said gently sensing the wizard’s concern.
“Your ladyship, I am the one responsible for the burning down of the lighthouse” the wizard confessed. He then went on to explain about the fight with the orcs and the Bargheist during the search for the disappearing ships. “…and you see, your ladyship, elves don’t use oil for lighting anything” he finished.
Fairwind paused a moment then put her hand on his shoulder. “I understand Wizard Glorfindel. You were defending yourself and your companions. It was just an unfortunate accident that the lighthouse caught fire. But it has been a burden on our town since it burnt down.”
“Have you had any success raising money for the repairs,” Glo asked her.
“So far we have raised 3000 gold,” Fairwind told him.
“I would like to match that amount,” the wizard replied. “Wait here.”
He went to find Elvisda and returned shortly. He handed the Baroness a pouch.
“Here you are your ladyship, 3000 gold as promised.”
“Thank you Glorfindel, or can I call you Glo?” she smiled. “I’ve heard the others refer to you that way.”
“Nothing would please me more your ladyship,” Glo responded.
“Fairwind,” she replied, “when we are not in official surroundings.”
“Fairwind it is then.” He had visibly perked up.
“Well, Glo, now we can rebuild our lighthouse. And we will have a little left over as well. Thank you for your generosity.” She smiled brightly.
“You are most welcome…Fairwind,” he replied and smiled in return.
When Glo found the others, they had all gathered back in the conference room off the throne room; all except the Baroness who had retired for the evening.
“Ah, Glorfindel,” Elvisda said. “We were just talking about you. Did you straighten things out with Baroness?”
“Let’s just say that I don’t have a price on my head,” the wizard smiled sardonically.
“Good, good,” the bard replied and smiled back. “Now, can we get you to identify some of this loot?”
Laid out on the table was the black armor they had gotten from the master vampire and the magic belt and amulet they had pulled from the chest in Qualtan’s room. “Just the belt and amulet,” Elvisda advised. “We already figured out the armor. It seems that the green tree is a symbol of Havenwood.”
Havenwood Glorfindel mused. That was west of Cairthrellon, almost at the other end of the isle of Thac from where they currently were. He looked at the belt and amulet on the table. Then he began concentrating and cast a spell to identify the objects. “The belt is a poison immunity belt,” he intoned. He continued concentrating and then finally looked up. “And the amulet is for protection against sleep or paralysis.”
“Very good,” Elvisda said.
Then Aksel said “Lloyd, Seth and I are planning on going to go on a little recognizance mission. We are going to see if we can find the south entrance to the underground area. I’ve got some spells which should keep the three of us from getting attacked by undead in the process. But I was hoping you could cast a telepathic bond spell so that we could remain in contact.”
Glorfindel set up the spell between himself and Aksel. “There,” the wizard said. “It is done. We will be able to communicate via thought for the next hour. So whatever you need to do, try not to be longer than that.”
“Sure thing,” Aksel replied.
Lloyd, Seth and Aksel headed down the south road out of town and into the woods. Lloyd was checking the ground for tracks. He came across something that led into the woods. The tracks stopped at a tree. Seth searched around and found a secret door in the side of the tree. He opened the door and they found a dark passage going downward.
“This looks like a stealth operation,” Seth told the other two.
“I can go with you,” Aksel said. “I can make myself invisible.”
“Ok,” Lloyd whispered, “While you check this out, I am going to backtrack and see where the tracks go.”
The warblade/tracker headed back towards the road. He found the tracks again and followed them over a wall and into a clearing. There he found the hoof prints from a number of horses that met the original tracks. He followed what were now just hoof prints back to the road where he then lost track of them. Oh well, Lloyd thought, that’s the end of that. Guess I’ll head back to the castle and report. The warblade grabbed his cloak and cast the flying spell on himself. They he launched himself into the air and wheeled around in the sky in the direction of the castle.
Seth used his cloak to turn invisible. Aksel cast the same spell on himself. Then the cleric raised his hands and a subdued blue circle appeared around the two of them for a moment. Then it faded.
“What was that spell?” Seth asked.
“Hide from undead,” Aksel replied, pleased with himself. “No undead will be able to see us, hear us, or even smell us. We can even make a light and they won’t be able to detect it. I was also able to extend the spell so it will last for almost an hour and a half.”
“Not bad,” Seth replied. “Let’s get going.”
The two crept into the tunnel. It was dark. Seth cast a light spell and they went down a set of stairs. They continued about 50 feet until they reached a door. Seth was able to unlock it and they stepped into a large chamber. It was filled with about 20 sarcophagus. Aksel cast the spell to detect undead. He got a moderate response. There were 7 undead down the corridor to the north of this room.
Seth and Aksel moved down the corridor and entered another room. There they found 7 ghouls roaming around. Aksel cast the detect undead spell again and got another moderate response down the next corridor. There were 6 more undead down that way. He told Seth what he had found and they decided to go back while they were still undetected. As they were headed back out the room, however, three of the ghouls turned around and started following them.
Seth and Aksel picked up the pace and made it back to the passage way and up and out of the tree. Seth took some throwing knifes and jammed the door in place. “That should hold him,” the halfling said.
Just then, a large bat flew overhead. Aksel lifted his finger and incanted. A bright ray of searing white light shot from his finger and caught the bat full on. The bat evaporated into smoke. The cloud began to drift away. Then the two headed back to the tower to report to the others.
Later that evening, after reporting to the Baroness and the rest of the companions about all the undead still roaming around the underground, Aksel was back in his room in the tower. Just before he went to lay down, Aksel cast one last spell for the evening. He cast a sending spell to Donatello. Where are you? was all that the message said. Then the little gnome lay down to rest. He was bone tired and fell fast asleep in seconds.