Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XII - To Resurrect A Baron - Chapter 3
Trouble In Tarsmorr
The Knights of the Couch procured rooms at the Slumbering Dragon Inn. The innkeeper, Fandril, still remembered them from their last visit. When Elvisda showed up in his office, the man was quick to provide whatever the bard wanted. He seemed to want to shush Elvisda away as soon as possible. Never one to miss an opportunity, the bard used this to his advantage and charged their rooms to the Wizard Peltar. Fandril, at the mention of Peltar’s name, visibly flinched. But he agreed to the bard’s terms.
After the party had settled in their rooms, they met in the common room for breakfast. As they were eating, they talked about what to do next. “I say we stick with the original plan and hunt down Peltar,” Elvisda declared. “I still think that miserable excuse for a wizard knows a lot about what happened to the Baron. Glo, back me up on this”, he finished turning towards his elf friend.
“Yes”, Glorfindle responded, “I quite concur. It is just too much of a coincidence that Peltar left when he did. He must have known something was up, or worst case, was involved himself. That is why we originally came to Tarsmorr; to look for him. And we confirmed he was here. Now we just need to find out where he went next.”
“And how do you propose to do that?” Aksel asked. “Didn’t you hit a dead end last time you were here?”
“We were a bit rushed at the end to get back”, Elvisda replied. “Glo said the teleporter was set to send us back to Restenford, and we didn’t want to miss the window.”
“This time we should start at the temple of Vermogen”, Glorfindel added. “Peltar had definitely been seen there. He had been injured and went there for healing. They said he left with the head mistress. If we poke around a bit more, we might find out exactly where they headed.”
“Alright”, Aksel agreed, “It sounds like that might just be worthwhile.”
“And in the meantime”, Seth added, “I’m going to do a bit of studying and training. No telling what we are going run into on this search, and I for one, don’t intend to get caught by surprise.”
“Sounds like a good idea to me”, Lloyd concurred. “I just wish I had a good sparring partner. I got spoiled working out with Alana. Even Donnie would do.”
“Well I’m going to study those spells you gave me”, Andrella told Glorfindel. “If I am going to be part of this group, then I intend to pull my weight!”
“Just one last thing”, Elvisda added. “Since we don’t have time for any side questing, we are probably going to need come up with some other sources of cash. We are starting to run low. Being that Peltar was nice enough to foot the bill for our rooms, not that he knows it of course, that is not a problem.” The bard laughed and the others joined in with him. Then he continued, “I also have some items from our last few encounters that I haven’t had a chance to sell yet. And I am going to give an impromptu concert in the town square tonight. After the last time we were here, my reputation should proceed me. Maybe some of you could spread the word that I’ll be playing tonight.”
They all agreed. Then the party broke up and went their respective ways. Most went to study and train as they said, but Elvisda went to the shops to sell some things. He agreed he would meet Glorfindel at the Temple of Vermogen in about an hour.
With some time to spare, Glo decided to fly back over to Gaither’s tower to check on the teleporter. He wanted to get an idea of what areas it would be pointed to in the next few days. That way, once they knew where Peltar had gone, he would know when they could use the device to follow him.
The elf wizard flew up onto the roof of the tower and went to lift the hatch to climb down inside. However, as soon as he raised the lid, a large arm reached out and grabbed him around the wrist! Glo was startled and almost fell backwards. Still holding onto his arm and climbing out of the hatchway was the “butler”!
Glo realized he only had one chance. His flying spell was still active, so he launched himself into the air, twisting his arm around as he did so. The golem was still busy trying to climb onto the roof and did not expect the wizard to twist around so rapidly. The creature’s grip on his wrist slipped and Glorfindel was able to pull his arm free! Just in time too, for the golem had finished climbing onto the roof. The creature leaped up to grab him, but Glo flew up out of its reach. The golem landed and lost its footing, sliding down to the edge of the tower roof and disappearing over the side.
Glorfindel flew around to see what had happened to the creature. He expected to find its remains on the ground, but when he saw no body down below, he looked up. There was the golem, hanging on by one hand onto the edge of the roof. It was clawing upwards with the other hand and after a few failed attempts, finally caught onto the edge and began to pull itself up. As it made it back onto the roof, Glo realized his spell of flying would not last much longer. So he turned and propelled himself over to the nearest island.
He landed just as the spell gave out. It was not his most graceful of landings, but at least he was in one piece. He stood up and dusted himself off, and then rubbed his wrist gingerly where the golem had grabbed him. His wrist was still quite sore. He would have to have Aksel take a look at it. Then Glo looked around and realized he was on the island where Franzire’s shop was. He decided to go and take a look. The house was locked up and it looked like there was no one home. He knocked and called inside, and could have sworn he heard movement within, but no one came to answer the door. The wizard finally gave up and began walking across the bridge to the Temple of Vermogen. The hour was almost up and Elvisda would soon be there to meet him.
When Glo arrived in front of the temple, Elvisda was standing there waiting. “We made out good!” the bard boasted taking out a heavy bag of coins and jingling them around. “This should last us for awhile.” Then he took a good look at his wizard friend. “What happened to you?” he cried. “You look like something the cat dragged out, but the dragon wouldn’t eat!”
Glorfindel relayed his encounter with the golem to the bard, ending with his forced landing over on the next island. “Well that’s not good,” Elvisda exclaimed. “Someone definitely knew we were at the tower this morning and set a trap for when we returned.”
“Yeah,” the wizard agreed, “My thoughts exactly. This will make it a bit harder to use the teleporter.”
“But not impossible,” Elvisda finished. “After all, we do have Lloyd! And with the right buffs, he should be able to handle a measly flesh golem or two.”
“Well just to be on the safe side, there’s a new spell I have been studying and almost have perfected,” the wizard replied. “It’s the spell of stone skin. Once I cast that on him, he’ll be able to shrug off repeated blows from that flesh golem.”
“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Elvisda cried slapping the wizard on the back. When Glo winced however, the bard said, “Oooo, sorry. You should have Aksel look at you when we get back.”
Glo put his hand on his back and said, “I think that was more from the landing than the golem. I should be fine for now. But I’ll check in with our cleric friend when we return to the inn. Right now I want to see what we can find out about Peltar.”
The two elves entered the Temple of Vermogen. They were met by a priest immediately upon entering. When the cleric heard they were inquiring about the head mistress he replied, “She still has not returned from her last journey. Perhaps her assistant, Geono, can help you?”
“That would be splendid!” Elvisda told him. The priest led them from the front foyer down a long hallway to the back of the temple. They entered the waiting room of a large office. No one was there except for another man sitting behind a desk. The priest spoke to the man. “Geono, these gentlemen are looking for the head mistress.”
“And who may I ask are you?” the assistant replied in a slightly standoffish tone.
“Why, I am the Bard Elvisda. Perhaps you have heard of me?” When Geono shook his head no, Elvisda did not miss a beat. “Well that’s alright. I am more famous in parts east of here. But you shall be hearing more of me here soon! I’m giving a concert in town tonight. You should come!”
“Perhaps,” the assistant replied. He seemed a bit more friendly as Elvisda’s charm worked its magic on him. “And who might this be?” Geono asked nodding towards Glo.
“Oh, this is the Wizard Glorfindel,” Elvisda replied loftily. “He is the chief apprentice of the Wizard Peltar.”
“Really?” the assistant replied perking up. He got up and extended his hand to Glorfindel saying, “You have no idea how pleased I am to meet you.” Glo shook the man’s hand. “Please, please sit down. Both of you,” he said pointing to the two chairs next to his desk. “The Head Mistress, Charne, left with your master about two days ago. It was only a couple of days after Peltar had shown up on our doorstep. He was in terrible shape,” he said leaning in close and whispering. “He had lost his entire left arm! It looked as if it had ripped off by something with enormous strength. Quite frankly, if he had not come directly here, he would have died. As it stood we were able to regenerate the whole thing, but it was touch and go for awhile.”
“Do you have any idea what happened to him?” Glorfindel asked with seeming concern.
“You know your master better than I,” Geono said sitting back. “He is not a very forthcoming man. But I did get the impression that he was being pursued. He left here with Charne after only a day of rest. With that kind of healing, most people would rest up for a week at least. But then it is probably for the best. Some questionable folk were looking for him recently as well.”
“Really?” Elvisda interjected. “Who would that be?”
Geono leaned in and whispered once again. “Well, this needs to stay between the two of us, but that evil wizard, Franzire, was here asking about him.”
Elvisda looked over at Glo, his eyebrow shooting up. He turned back to Geono and whispered. “Franzire you say? An evil wizard?”
“Why yes,” the assistant replied. “Rumor has it that she is the black robe of the Wizard’s Council. Deals in necromancy and the like.”
“Very interesting,” Elvisda said shooting an I told you so look back over a Glorfindel. The elf wizard just shrugged in return, but his face had turned red. The bard turned back to Geono and replied, “Well we will have to steer clear of that wizard then.”
“Yes, best you do,” the assistant replied.
Before anything else could be said Glorfindel quickly interjected “Do you have any idea where your mistress and my master were headed?” Glorfindel inquired. “I really need to find them. There have been some disconcerting events in our hometown of Restenford which Peltar needs to know about. In fact, they may be related to what happened to him.” Glo leaned in and whispered as he made the last statement.
“I’m not completely sure,” Geono replied, “but I may be able to find out. However…there is one thing that needs to be taken care of first.”
“And what’s that?” Elvisda asked his bargaining nose twitching. He smelled a negotiation coming from a mile away.
“Well…” the assistant began, “Your master, Peltar, left in kind of a hurry with my mistress. In doing so, he forgot to pay his bill. You know for the regeneration.”
Elvisda smiled. “And how much does that usually cost?” The bard and the assistant engaged in an epic display of negotiating that lasted for almost twenty full minutes. Elvisda wheeled and dealed to the best of his abilities until he had reached an agreement that had somehow knocked off 20% off the price of the services rendered to Peltar. However, Geono still seemed quite pleased to receive the 2000 gold in hand when he previously thought they would never get a copper piece for the services rendered.
Geono put the coins away in a safe behind his desk and then began preparing a spell. He cast it and then seemed satisfied. Glo and Elvisda both recognized it as a spell to detect alignment. They had seen Aksel cast that spell before. The assistant then leaned forward and told them, “Charne and Peltar headed for Lukescros two days ago. They are most likely still there now.”
“Thank you!” Glorfindel said standing up and extending his hand to the cleric. “This is very much appreciated.”
“No, thank you,” Geono replied also standing. “It’s nice to be able to balance the books and help good people as well.”
Elvisda and Glo said their farewells to the assistant and then left the temple. Once they were outside, Glo stopped and put his hands up. “I know, I know. Before you say it, I broke your first rule of dealing with people. Never trust anyone.”
“That’s right!” Elvisda declared. “And we went and spilled the beans to the black robe of the Wizard’s Council!”
“Dragon dung!” Glo exclaimed. Then he lowered his voice. “I don’t believe that for a minute. There is something fishy going on and we will find out what it is. But I don’t trust this Charne anymore than I trust Peltar. If Franzire was spying on them, then that doesn’t make her all that bad.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Elvisda replied. “Evil has many heads. At least, that’s what my dad used to say.”
“You know, you never talk about your family,” Glo noted.
“Yeah, and there’s a good reason for that,” the bard replied. “But it’s a long story and now is not the time or the place. Let’s get back to the others and tell them what we found out.”
They began walking again when Elvisda felt a strange sensation. It was coming from his pocket. He reached in and pulled out the ring of control for the Boulder. The ring was vibrating strangely, then it stopped completely. “Well that was strange,” the bard declared.
“I don’t think that was a good thing,” Glorfindel told him. “We should probably check that book of Golem creation we got way back from Bone Hill, but I think the Boulder may no longer be with us.”
“Oh man!” Elvisda cried. “And here I thought he was safely hidden away!”
When they returned to the inn, they met with the others and told them what they had found out about Peltar. Then Glo told them about the golem ring. Aksel replied, “I’m actually not surprised. I did a sending to Lady Fairwind after you left. She replied almost immediately. She said the town is under martial law and that we should stay away. She also said they broke into our house and the vault below. It seems they are looking for us for hiding weapons of war.”
“Weapons of war?” Elvisda said incredulously. “Could they mean the Boulder?”
“I think it’s more than that,” Seth interjected. “Especially if Anya’s involved like we guessed. It’s more likely that they are referring to Ves.”
“Hmmm,” Aksel murmered, “that would make sense. I don’t think they would be too concerned about a measly stone golem. Especially when they have three iron golems at their disposal. No, you are right Seth. It would have to be something more. Something like a dragon.”
“Well that tears it!” Lloyd declared. “If Dunwynn wants war, then we’ll give them war. No one is going to treat our friends like weapons while I’m around!”
“I quite agree,” Glorfindel commented. “If this is Anya behind this, and most likely it is, then she has crossed a line. Using the courts of Dunwynn to turn us into outlaws is brilliant though. Evil, but brilliant. Somehow I do not think she came up with this idea alone.”
“No,” Seth agreed, “someone with actual brains would have had to come up with this scheme.”
“But whoever it is,” Aksel added, “they seem set on pitting Dunwynn and Penwick against each other. It could all be a ruse to keep everyone occupied while something truly sinister is going on.”
“Which leads us back to the Baron’s Heart and that ritual,” Glorfindel finished. “We really need to get to Lukescros as soon as possible and find Peltar.”
“Well then,” Elvisda said, “if we are going to go back to the tower, then we need a battle plan. Everyone gather around.”