Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XII - To Resurrect A Baron - Chapter 4
How Many Golems Does It Take?
It was just after noon when the Knights of the Couch landed on the roof of Gaither’s tower. The rest of the morning had been busy. The companions had plotted out a strategy to handle any flesh golems they encountered in the tower, packed up their belongings for the next leg of their journey to Lukescros, and then hastily wolfed down lunch at the Slumbering Dragon. They were now well provisioned, well fed, and hopefully well prepared.
As they stood on the roof, Lloyd handed his pack to Martan. Then he stood in front of the trap door and began stretching. The others gathered around him in a circle as the warblade prepared himself. All except Seth, who had positioned himself behind the trap door. When Lloyd was done, he drew both his blades and said, “Ready!”
Then Elvisda began to play a song to inspire courage in his comrades. He then walked up to Lloyd and cast a spell of good hope on the big man to bolster his morale. The bard then followed it by reaching out and touching the warblade releasing another spell which caused the warblade’s visage to “blur”. Elvisda finished with a spell to enrage the warblade, enhancing both his strength and constitution. When he was done, Elvisda backed off and looked over to Glorfindel. “Your turn,” he said to the wizard.
Glo walked up to Lloyd and took out a pouch. He began incanting and then sprinkled the contents of the pouch out on the warblade. A cloud of sparkling gray dust was released from the bag and as the wizard continued to incant began to swirl around Lloyd. The dust began adhering itself to his skin and clothes until the warblade was completely sheathed in a layer of what looked to be stone. When the spell was complete, the wizard stepped back and cast a spell to hasten the actions of the warblade. The entire party was affected as well. Then Glo stepped back out of the way.
But before anyone else could move, Andrella shot forward and embraced the big man, kissing him on the cheek. “For good luck!” she cried letting go of him swiftly. Then she put her hand to her mouth and began coughing slightly.
“Lesson 33”, Glorfindel intoned, “never kiss someone who’s been covered in stone skin.”
Andrella turned to look at the wizard and saw he was smiling. She couldn’t help herself. She began laughing as well which only aggravated the coughing. Lloyd began to walk over to her, but she put up her hand in a halting motion. “I’ll…be…fine,” she managed between coughs. “Go!” she shushed him away.
Lloyd stared at her for a moment and then turned to Seth and said, “Ready!” He took a warblade stance in front of the trap door as everyone else moved back except for Seth. The little ninja pulled the hatch back and then tumbled away as a large dead looking hand reached up to grab for him. Then the flesh golem slowly emerged, still holding onto the ladder.
The creature barely spotted Lloyd before he was upon it. His blades danced as he whirled and sliced. The warblade slashed the golem four times before it could even respond. Then an arrow came whizzing past the big man and imbedded itself in the creature. Martan had his bow out and was shooting fire arrows at the thing. They would not do any major damage to it, but the others had coached the archer and he knew his arrows would slow the thing down, thus helping Lloyd to destroy it.
The golem stood there dumfounded when suddenly grease appeared out of nowhere on the ladder. The creature tried to hang on but could not. It slipped backwards and fell back down the trap door. The party ran up to the hatch and looked down. The golem lay at the bottom of the ladder. Then it slowly got up and began to grab the rungs, trying to climb upward again. But it kept on slipping backwards.
Martan said to the others, “May I?” The rest of the group moved back and gave the archer room. He drew a bead on the creature below and let loose another flaming arrow. Then he stepped back and said, “That did it.” The others crowed around again and saw the flesh golem lying at the bottom of the ladder unmoving.
“Nicely done!” Elvisda declared. “But we are not out of the woods just yet.” Surveying the room, the companions saw five more flesh golems marching around the room circling the teleporter. They were totally oblivious to their fallen comrade and the party above.
Martan said, “I think I can pick some of them off from up here.” The others moved back a bit and the archer let loose with a few hours. He was able to hit another golem a couple of times, but then it just sauntered out of range. “That did it. No way I can reach them now.”
“Want to bet?” Seth said. He walked next to the archer and cast a spell. “Now you should be able to climb out onto the ceiling.”
“You mean like Donatello did with his boots?” Martan said in awe.
“Better,” Seth replied nonchalantly. “Your hands and feet will both stick to the walls.”
“Awesome!” Martan cried. He tentatively reached a hand through the hatch door and grasped the ceiling below. It stuck fast. “Oh this is great!” Martan exclaimed. “Thanks Seth!” They had not seen the archer this excited about anything since he first saw Ves. Martan slung his bow back over his shoulder and slowly crawled through the hatch and onto the ceiling.
Then Lloyd said, “Stand back. I’m going down!” He invoked his flying cloak and launched into the air. He gracefully arced over and shot through the opening. The others crowded around to watch his decent. The warblade closed on the closest flesh golem, the “cook”, his blades out and ready. He swooped down and used his momentum to knock the golem over and at the same time rent it with both of his huge swords. He landed gracefully a few feet away like a giant cat, turned and pounced on the golem again before it could get back up.
“Wow,” Elvisda said, “what was that?”
“One of his new maneuvers,” Andrella replied. “It’s called Death From Above.” The others just looked at her. “What?” she said when she saw the looks on their faces. “He’s been practicing it all week. I do pay attention when he talks you know.”
“Lloyd talks?” Glo said surprised.
“About lots of things,” Andrella replied as they watched the battle ensue below. Lloyd was slicing up the flesh golem as the creature struggled to get to its feet. “Mostly about fighting though. But I’ll change that. Wait and see.” Glo just smiled back wondering if the young man had any idea what he was in for with this determined young woman.
“Oh no,” Andrella cried. They all looked down to see the other golems had come over and surrounded Lloyd.
“I better get down there,” Aksel said. He had been casting a few spells while the others were talking. One in particular he had planned based on their strategy sessions earlier in the day. It was a cleric spell called Sanctuary. It would protect him from being attacked, but he would also not be able to attack anyone himself. Then he cast invisibility on himself. “Please move,” his incorporeal voice said. The rest of the group stepped to the side. Then Aksel grasped the ladder, making certain that the grease had dissipated and quickly climbed down below. On his way down he looked over his shoulder and saw Lloyd surrounded by flesh golems. They were pounding away on the big man. But he was just shrugging off their blows and whirling and slashing like made.
Then he saw arrows begin to fly from the ceiling down into the fray. First one, then two, then three all in rapid succession. He looked up and saw Martan. The archer had his feet stuck against the wall and was sitting on his legs. His bow was out and he was quickly reaching back towards his quiver and firing off arrows using the flaming bow they had looted from the vampire back in Restenford. As the arrows struck each flesh golem, the creatures began to slow down. When Aksel looked back, Lloyd seemed far less hard pressed than before. But the warblade was still dancing around and slashing like a whirling dervish. “Can you move it?” a voice suddenly said from above him. He looked up and saw no one but recognized Seth’s voice. “Let’s get down there so we can start healing him.”
“Right!” Aksel cried as he hastened down the ladder. When they got to the bottom, they saw that that Lloyd’s skin and clothes were starting to peek through the stone skin. The flesh golems were methodically beating the dust off of the big man. Then two red hot beams of light came searing from above and struck two of the flesh golems; the cook and a uniformed golem. Aksel looked up to see Glorfindel hovering in mid air halfway between the floor and the ceiling of the tall room.
The golems had been slowed and Lloyd was able to slip through an opening. “Now’s our chance!” Seth yelled. The two of them ran over to the warblade and laid their hands on him passing healing energies into his body. Some of the bruises that were welling up on him visibly disappeared.
Then the golems renewed their assault. “Stand back,” Lloyd yelled and he launched himself back into battle. He plowed into the creatures and felled the cook with one mighty blow of his right blade. His left blade deftly cut through the butler causing a serious gash in the golem’s flesh.
Cheers rang out from up above. “Go Lloyd!” and “That’s my man!” Aksel looked up to see Andrella and Elvisda hanging over the hatch watching from above. Then the little cleric turned back to the fight. Both he and Seth were trying to stay close to Lloyd. They were following him around the outside of the ring of golems when they heard Elvisda yell from above, “Lloyd fly! Aksel, Seth, grab onto him!”
Lloyd launched himself into the air. The golems were so off balance from his last attack that they could not gain a hold on him. Aksel launched himself over their heads in a might leap and landed on the warblade’s back. Then he saw the floor below them turn all black. The golems began to slip. The “maid” fell followed by a uniformed golem. The butler and the other uniformed golem, however, managed to stay on their feet.
“That was close, wasn’t it Seth?” Aksel said. But no one answered him. “Seth?” the cleric said again. The he screamed, “Seth!”
“I’m fine!” the little ninja’s voice yelled from down below. “Good,” Aksel yelled back. “I thought one of the golems had squished you!”
They were hovering ten feet in the air. The four remaining golems were still struggling in the grease. The maid and the other golem could not get back up, and the butler and cook continued to fight to stay on their feet. Meanwhile, Glorfindel took advantage of the momentary lapse in combat. He flew down to Lloyd. “Let me refresh your stone skin,” the wizard told Lloyd.
“Just a minute,” Aksel said, “Let me get out of the way.”
“Here, climb on my back,” Glo told him.
Aksel maneuvered himself off of Lloyd and over to Glorfindel. Once he was situated on the wizard’s back, Glo took out another pouch and began to cast stone skin on the warblade. When he was done, Lloyd was completely covered in a layer of gray rock hard dust once again. “Thanks!” Lloyd cried. Then he turned and launched himself back towards the ground. He zoomed in behind the butler, hovering just above the greasy ground and began slicing at the creature. One, two, three, four solid blows from his twin blades and the flesh golem sank to the ground unmoving.
But Lloyd was not done. He used the moment from his last attack and spun the weapon in his right hand in a huge arc that came down upon the head of the other standing golem. The blade tore through the creature and literally cleaved it in two. It was a stunning move. The sheer ferocity of it would have frightened off any thinking creature.
Another round of cheering broke out from above. “Slice em up Lloyd!” and “You show them they can’t mess around with us!” Aksel just smiled. Those two were incorrigible. He was not sure who was more boisterous; the bard or the young lady from Restenford.
“Can you fly me behind him?” Aksel asked Glo.
“No problem,” the wizard replied. “Lloyd, we’re coming down to you,” Glorfindel called out. Lloyd looked and saw the other two golems were still on the ground. So he turned and flew up to meet the wizard and the cleric. Aksel reached out and touched Lloyd, healing him a bit more. Then he cast a quick spell to continually heal the warblade somewhat over the space of the next few minutes. When he was done he said, “That’s it.”
“Thanks!” the big man said. You could barely make out his smile behind the stony covering over his face. Then he turned and landed back down on the ground. The grease had dissipated and the two last golems were beginning to get up.
Glorfindel flew Aksel and himself about 20 feet back from the battle and landed. Seth’s voice said, “Nice of you to clear out. Now maybe Martan can begin shooting again.” Sure enough, as soon as they had cleared out, the archer had began pelting the two remaining golems with arrows. First one, then the other.
Then Lloyd moved in. The uniformed golem was far larger than the rest. But the warblade had no problem with it. He slashed and whirled around the creature, shrugging off retaliatory blows as if they were nothing. At the same time, Martan was keeping the “maid” busy. He pelted her with arrow after arrow after arrow. Driving her slowly back and away from the battle between Lloyd and the hulking golem. Lloyd continued to dance around the huge creature slicing away like the blades of a fan. He continued his deadly assault until finally the large golem could no longer stand. Once last great blow and the creature lay on the ground unmoving.
Everyone cheered at that point. Andrella, Elvisda, Glo, Aksel and even Seth. They began to chant, “Lloyd! Lloyd! Lloyd!”
But the warblade did not stop. He turned and made his way over towards the “maid”. He waded into her slashing with his blades mercilessly. Four blows in succession and the creature fell to the ground.
The party went wild cheering. “You did it! Lloyd! You did it! They’re all gone!” They yelled as they ran over to the big man. But the warblade stayed in his fighting stance, turning and surveying the room.
“You got all of them!” Martan yelled from above. Lloyd finally straightened up and looked up at the archer as the others gathered around him.
“You mean we got them!” Lloyd yelled back up. Then the others were all around him. Andrella leaped up into his arms. He dropped his blades and caught the young woman as she wrapped her arms around his neck. Then she kissed him, stone skin and all.
The others were patting him on the back and clasping him on the shoulders. “Great job Lloyd!” Elvisda said. “Well done”, said Aksel. “Nice moves there.” That was Seth. “Incredible display of swordsmanship.” That was Glo.
Then Elvisda turned and looked up at Martan. “That was some fancy shooting,” he yelled up at him. “Come on down here. I think we need to discuss a raise for you.”
But the archer replied, “Thanks! But if you don’t mind, I’m really loving this spell Seth cast on me. How much longer will it last?”
“Oh, you probably have another hour before it runs out,” Seth shouted up at him.
“Well then if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to climb around up here for awhile. There are some interesting mechanical devices and gears up here on the ceiling and I’d like a closer look,” Martan replied.
“By all means,” Elvisda laughed. “Have fun!”
Then they all turned back to Lloyd and continued their revelry for the next twenty minutes or so.