Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XII - To Resurrect A Baron - Chapter 6
I Don’t Think We’re In Tarsmorr Anymore
Glorfindel poked his head into the crawl space. He had heard Seth’s cry followed by utter silence. Both he and Elvisda had called to the ninja, but to no avail. Now the wizard had flown up to the hatch in the ceiling and floated halfway in the small area. There was no sign of Seth. The room was dimly lit by the faint glow of a teleportation circle. The wizard cast a light spell and then saw two chests on the opposite side of the circle. On this side he saw an open trap box. He searched around and his keen eyes spotted a tool on the floor. He reached over and picked it up. It looked like one of Seth’s tools for disabling traps.
“Damn!” the wizard swore. Seth must have failed disabling the teleportation trapped and had been whisked away to the gods only knew where.
“What happened?” Elvisda called from down below.
The wizard floated down and said, “He’s gone.”
“Gone?” the bard cried.
“Vanished,” Glo replied. “He must have failed disabling the trap and been teleported away.”
“Well that’s not good,” Elvisda replied. The bard felt especially terrible because he was the one who had coerced the ninja to investigate the secret door in the first place.
“We better go up and tell the others,” Glo said. He and Elvisda quickly climbed the staircase back up to the top of the tower. When they made it back up Glo announced, “We have a problem. Seth’s been teleported away.”
“He what?” Aksel cried in astonishment. “What the heck happened?” The cleric was obviously extremely agitated. He had never swore in all the time they knew him. But Seth and Aksel had grown very close over these last few months. When he had left the party, albeit for a short time, the gnome had sorely missed him. When Seth had rejoined them, the two had become nearly inseparable. Now the cleric was beside himself at the loss of his friend. He quickly rummaged through his pack and drew out the crystal ball of scrying. He placed it down on the floor, sat down and began to concentrate over it. The others gathered around the cleric and stared at the crystal.
After a few minutes the ball became cloudy and then an image began to take shape. It coalesced into a picture of Seth! He was in a cage suspended by a chain and surrounded by darkness. The ninja had his hand outside the cage and proceeded to drop what looked like a glowing coin outside the bars. After a few seconds a light clinking sound could be heard as the coin must have hit the floor below. Seth pulled himself back in the cage and then cast a spell. In an instant he disappeared and reappeared outside the cage and proceeded to fall. The others watched as the ninja cast yet another spell in midair. His descent slowed and he gracefully landed on the floor below a minute later.
As the companions continued to look on, the ninja checked his surroundings. He had another lighted object and was using it to see in the darkness. The floor he had landed on was made of stone. As he looked around they saw objects scattered around the floor. They were bones!
“That doesn’t look good,” Elvisda commented.
“Shhhhh,” Aksel said holding a finger to his mouth.
Seth was holding the light up higher. Shadows could now be seen moving towards him across the floor. The ninja turned and began walking away from the shadows. Then he spotted more shadows coming towards him from the other direction. As they got closer, the shadows entered the circle of light around the halfling. They were oozes; black oozes! Seth picked up a bone and threw it at the nearest one. Then he turned and ran.
Aksel reached down and grabbed the crystal ball stuffing it into his backpack. “We’ve got to get to Seth. On the double!” Then he took off for the stairs down. Everyone gathered up their gear and followed the cleric to the floor below. Aksel made it to the room first with Lloyd right behind him. The warblade grabbed the cleric and flew him up the hatch in the ceiling. Aksel climbed in and dove into the teleportation circle. He reappeared in the cell he had seen through the scrying crystal. He scrambled over to the edge and saw a light down below. It was moving quickly around the floor darting this way and that. “Hang on Seth!” the cleric cried. “Help is on the way!”
“Aksel? Is that you?” the ninja yelled back. “What are you doing here?”
“Saving your butt!” the cleric screamed back. “Now shut up and keep dodging till we can get down there.”
“Yeah, you heard the man! Shut up and keep dodging!” It was Elvisda. He was the second one through the teleporter.
“Yes SIR!” came the sardonic response from down below. The light continued to bob and weave as Martan appeared in the cell. He was followed by Glorfindel, Andrella, and then finally Lloyd. Glorfindel lit up the cell. Then Elvisda cast rage on Lloyd. Glorfindel followed it with a spell of bull’s strength. Lloyd seemed somehow even more muscular than he usually was. Everyone scooted over, which was tough being that the cage was almost filled with all of them. Lloyd moved over to the bars and grabbed two of them, one with each hand. Then the big man heaved. You could see the tension in his back and arms as he put his muscles to the test against the iron bars. But they turned out to be no match for the pumped up warblade. They began to slowly bend, and then all at once gave way as the big man almost completely wrenched them loose from their seating in the side of the cage. When he was done, there was now a big enough space between the bars for even Lloyd to fit through.
“I’m going down there!” Lloyd declared.
“Just as second,” Glo cried. He had been preparing another spell and now cast it on the warblade. If it was possible, Lloyd was now even braver than he normally was. At the same time Elvisda had out his lute and was playing his now familiar tune to inspire courage in his comrades. As he finished, Glorfindel cast one last spell to hasten the actions of the warblade as well as the entire party. “Okay, go!” the wizard cried.
Lloyd had taken two large warhammers out of his back pack. Now he launched himself through the bars and rocketed down towards the dancing light below on the floor.
“Incoming!” Aksel cried from above as the big man plummeted down towards the dodging ninja below.
“Well it’s about time!” Seth cried as Lloyd landed behind two oozes that were chasing the ninja. The big man began to swing his warhammers. He struck one of the oozes four times. They were huge blows which caused the gelatinous creature to shudder. It turned and then began to go after the warblade. The second ooze also stopped its pursuit of the little ninja and turned to attack this new threat with the huge bludgeon weapons.
Seth stopped and turned now that he was no longer being chased. With the two oozes constantly dogging him, he had had no chance to go on the offensive. But now that Lloyd had their attention, he had an idea. He looked around the floor and picked up a bone as the first ooze body slammed the big man. Lloyd shook off the attack easily. Then the second ooze grappled the warblade and engulfed the entire left side of his body. Seth took the bone and chucked it at the ooze that was holding Lloyd. The bone flew into the creature and stuck there. Excellent Seth thought. His plan now had a chance of working.
Meanwhile, up top, Elvisda had cast dancing lights and sent them down just above the fighting below. When the others saw Lloyd was in trouble, Andrella cried, “Do something! He’s trapped down there.”
“Don’t worry,” Glorfindel said as he cast the spell of flying on himself. “Help is on the way.” The wizard launched himself between the bars and plunged down towards his comrades below. As soon as Glo cleared the opening, Aksel stuck his upper body out between the bars and took a bead on the ooze not holding Lloyd. A beam of brilliant white light shot from his fingertips and hit the creature below. As smoke rose from the spot where the beam connected, the little cleric jumped out of the cell and began floating down towards the floor below.
Back down below, Lloyd was anything but helpless. With his free hand he continued to hammer the ooze that was holding him. He hit it three times in succession causing the creature to shudder once again. Then a red hot beam of light came arcing down from above and caught the ooze on the opposite side from where it was grappling the warblade. Lloyd looked up and saw Glorfindel hovering in the air a few feet above them. He smiled up at the wizard and then turned his attention back to the ooze that held him. The creature’s gelatinous body sizzled and smoked and the ooze began to quiver even more. Then the monster shifted its mass and slammed itself into the big man in retaliation. The warblade weathered the attack but it was obviously beginning to takes its toll on him.
In the cage above, Andrella was fretting at the battle below. “That thing still has him! Can’t anybody do something?” Elvisda was just pondering the same thing. Was there anything else he could do? Then an idea occurred to him. He rummaged through his pack and found it; a “bag of tricks”. A few days back, when they were still in Restenford, he had found Haltan down by the docks. The merchant was high tailing it out of town before Dunwynn showed up. The bard had done one last wheel and deal with the shop owner, and this “bag” was one of the things he had come away with. He pulled it out of his back pack and reached into it pulling out a small fuzzy ball. He walked over to the hole in the bars and threw the ball down towards the fighting below.
“What was that?” Andrella asked.
“Wait and see,” the bard replied with a smile.
They both looked down. As they watched, the ball unfolded and grew. When it was done, a wolverine stood where the fuzz ball had been just a few moments ago. The creature bounded up to the ooze not holding Lloyd and swiped at it with its razor sharp claws. There was a tearing sound followed by a pop as the ooze split in two! Now instead of one large ooze there were two medium size creatures in its place.
One of the half oozes tried to slam the wolverine back, but missed. Then Aksel, almost to the ground now, saw what the wolverine had done and aimed at the other “half” ooze. A ray of searing white light shot from his fingertips and lanced out connecting with the creature. The half ooze began to smoke wildly and the dissolved into a little black puddle. Seeing this from up above, Andrella and Elvisda cried, “Hooray!” Aksel looked up and took a mid air bow.
As all this was going on, a third ooze entered the lighted area. This was the first creature that Seth had initially ran away from. He knew it was out there somewhere and was waiting for it to show up again. While Lloyd and the others were handling the two closer oozes, Seth had taken out his pack and was feverishly working on something. He had just finished it now and held it up for inspection. In essence it was four Molotov cocktails all bound together. From his prior experience with the bone, he knew that anything thrown at the ooze would be engulfed inside it. A single cocktail would not carry enough power to destroy one of these things though he thought. It would more likely split it just like the wolverine had just done. But if Seth was right, four of these would blast the creature to smithereens. Well, he would find out if he was right in the next couple of moments.
Seth lit his cocktail bomb and launched himself across the room at a breakneck pace. He closed on his enemy with frightening speed the gap between him and the creature dwindling in a matter of seconds. Good thing too, because the fuse on this bomb was not that long. When Seth was ten feet away from the creature he threw his makeshift explosive with deadly accuracy. The bomb hit the creature in the side and then was engulfed as Seth had expected. The little ninja, having drawn the creatures attention, then began to backpedal as it came for him. Three…two…one…Seth counted down. He threw himself to the floor at the last minute as a huge explosion rocked the room. When he looked up, the only thing left of the third ooze was a sizzling black puddle.
“Alright Seth!” came the shouts from above. “Way to go!”
The explosion had sent quivers through the ooze holding Lloyd. The warblade had been on the opposite side so the creature’s mass shielded him from the effects. The ooze seemed momentarily stunned. Lloyd took advantage of the situation and hammered the creature three more times. It was really shuddering now.
Then two large purple missiles came careening down from above and connected with the far side of the ooze. Boom, boom! The warblade could feel the shock waves as they rebounded through the creature’s body. He looked up and saw Elvisda hanging over the edge of the cage with a wand in his hand pointed down in this direction. Then he saw Glorfindel send two smaller purple missiles of his own down at the ooze holding him. The crisscrossed each other as they would their way downwards finally connecting with the creature’s quivering body. Boom! Boom! The concussions rocked through the shuddering ooze causing it to quiver even more violently. Then almost without warning, the creature began to smoke and dissolve. In a matter of seconds it had disintegrated into a large black puddle at the warblade’s feet. Lloyd was free!
“Yah! Alright! Way to go!” the cheers came from all around this time. But Lloyd paid no attention. There was still a half ooze left and he was pissed. The wolverine was still battling the ooze but was losing ground. The warblade walked up behind the creature and let loose with a flurry of blows. He moved so fast that he looked like a spinning top. He hit the ooze four times in succession. The creature shuddered violently and then collapse in on itself, dissolving into a pool of black liquid.
The cheers went around one more time as they all made their way up to the warblade. As Martan, Elvisda and Andrella feather fell down, Aksel made Lloyd sit down and began to heal him. When the others landed, Andrella ran over and threw herself onto the sitting man. “Woah there,” Aksel cried. “Can’t you see I’m trying to heal him?”
“Sorry,” Andrella said sheepishly. “I got carried away. I couldn’t stand seeing you held by that thing!”
“Trust me Andrella,” the warblade replied, “neither could I.”
She smiled at him and said, “Oh Lloyd, what am I going to do with you?” Then she leaned in and kissed him.
Aksel stood up and said, “Oh well, I can see I’m not going to get anywhere with this right now. Let me know when you two are finished.” Then he got up and walked over to Seth to see if the ninja was alright. The others had gathered around the halfling, leaving the two love birds alone.
“That was a nice idea there Seth,” Glorfindel was saying to the ninja. “How did you know the bomb would destroy the ooze and not just split it up?”
“I wasn’t sure,” the ninja replied grinning. “I just strapped together all the cocktails I had on me together and just prayed.”
“That’s supposed to be my job,” Aksel said walking up to the others.
“And you do a fine job of it!” Elvisda chimed in.
“If they’ll let me,” Aksel responded blithely looking back at Andrella and Lloyd, still locked in an embrace.
“Young love!” Elvisda decried. “What could be better medicine than that?”
“Maybe some real healing?” Seth answered sarcastically.
“You two are still too young to appreciate the charms of the fairer sex,” Elvisda responded. “Just wait till you are alittle older. Some female halfing/gnome will turn your heads. Then you’ll be gonners.” Elvisda chuckled as he and Glo exchanged knowing looks. Martan, also standing there, had a wistful look upon his face. Elvisda noticed this and put his arm around the archer’s shoulder. “Look at poor Martin here,” the bard added. “Love knows no bounds, eh my friend.”
“No, I guess it doesn’t,” the archer replied longingly.
“Don’t worry my lad,” Elvisda said. “We’ll find her again.”
Just then Andrella called over, “We’re done now!”
Aksel looked over and called back acerbically, “Sure. Sure. I’m at your beck and call your highness.” But he began walking over to them anyway. As he sat Lloyd down and began to heal him again, he looked up and saw Andrella standing over them pouting. Aksel stopped what he was doing and said, “Okay, what is it now?”
“Why are you mad at me? What did I do wrong this time?” Andrella asked in a hurt tone.
“I’m not mad at you,” Aksel replied. “It’s just that…you need to understand priorities. If someone is hurt, it’s my job to heal them. It is something that needs to be done as soon as possible. Sure, we won this battle, but who knows what could be lurking around the corner. What if a band of hobgoblins lived in this place and decided to rush us right now. Personally, I would like Lloyd to be in peak condition if that were to happen. Do you see what I mean?”
Andrella looked at him contritely and responded, “Yes, I understand. I’ll just have to keep my emotions a bit more in check. My Dad always said There’s a time and place for everything, Andrella. I never used to pay much attention, but now I guess I must.” At the mention of her father, tears began to well up in the young girl’s eyes. Lloyd began to get up to comfort her, but Aksel yelled at him. “Oh no you don’t! She can handle a few tears. Right now you are going to be healed whether you like it or not!”
The warblade sat back down sheepishly. As Aksel began to heal him he glanced quickly at Andrella. The girl was wiping the tears from her eyes and was actually smiling. “What?” the cleric asked in bewilderment.
“On, it’s nothing,” Andrella replied. “It’s just that, just now, what you said, and the tone you used, you sounded just like my mother scolding my father.” She continued smiling at the cleric.
Aksel couldn’t help himself. The girl was scattered, but her enthusiasm was infectious. “I think I’m starting to see why Lloyd likes you so much.”
“Why Cleric Aksel!” the young woman cried, “that was almost a compliment!”
Aksel started to laugh. Andrella and Lloyd both joined in.