Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XII - To Resurrect A Baron - Chapter 8
Does the Suit Make the Man?
Eight hours later, the companions all woke up and exited the “rope trick”. Lloyd was outside waiting for them. The warblade had slept enough and taken over guard duty to allow the archer to get some rest.
“So what’s the plan?” Glorfindel asked sleepily as he stretched and yawned.
Aksel answered, “I think Seth and I will go search out up ahead first.” There was a door in the torture chamber that led out into a hallway. Both the halfling and the ninja turned invisible and went out into the corridor. It was about ten feet wide with no other doors as far as they could see. They made their way about thirty feet down the passage until they came to a fork. They decided to go left and went up a flight of stairs. They stairway went up about fifty feet then turned sharply right and went another fifty feet up until it ended at a door. Seth searched around but found no traps. The door was locked but the halfling had it unlocked in a matter of seconds. He stood and listened at the door for a minute, then not hearing a sound swung it gently open.
The two companions stared into a grand hallway. There were large pillars on either side of the hall and a bright glow came from the high vaulted ceiling. They stepped out into the hallway and looked around. It was a beautiful room. The floor was made of inlaid marble. The pillars looked liked gleaming white alabaster. There were large murals along the wall depicting various scenes, mostly involving a mage in flowing blue robes.
Getting their bearings they figured the hallway ran east and west. To west which was their left, at the end of the great hall, about one hundred feet away, was a dias with a throne on it. A solitary figure in gleaming black metal armor sat unmoving. The companions froze in place, even though they were invisible, but the figure did not move.
“Do you think it’s alive?” Aksel whispered to Seth.
“I don’t want to find out without the others,” the ninja replied.
As they continued to stare, Aksel noticed a red gleam coming from the figure’s forehead. “What is that above his eyes?” the cleric whispered.
“It’s a ruby,” Seth replied.
“Interesting,” Aksel responded. “I agree with you. Let’s leave whoever, or whatever it is, alone for now.”
The two turned east and saw huge double doors at the other end of the great hallway. They estimated them to be about 20 feet wide and 20 feet high. “Who needs doors that big?” Aksel commented. They headed in that direction. As they got closer they could see that the double doors were barred shut with a large wooden cross beam that ran across both doors. They also noticed regular sized doors opposite each other on the north and south walls at this end of the great hall. They made it to the large doors and listened. Both the halfling and the gnome could clearly hear the wind howling on the opposite side. They decided to leave it be since they were not sure what the figure at the other end of the hall would do if they started fiddling with the cross beam that held the doors shut; not to mention that neither of them could have probably budged it anyway.
So instead, they turned to the north door. Seth checked carefully and found that the door had an explosive trap on it. “The south door then?” Aksel asked. “The south door,” Seth nodded in agreement. They made their way across the hall occasionally glancing at the black armored figure at the west end. But the figure did not move or make any indication that it noticed them.
Seth checked this door and found that there were no traps, but it was locked. He quickly picked it. After listening carefully and hearing nothing, he swung the door open and he and Aksel stepped inside. They entered a 20 × 20 foot room, filled with tables and chairs. It looked to be some kind of meeting room. There was a door on the opposite wall.
The pair crossed the room and checked the other door. It was not locked and there was no sounds coming from the other side. Seth carefully opened the door and peered in. This room was larger than the last. It was approximately 40 × 40 feet he estimated. It was covered with plush rugs, ornate couches, and draperies hanging across the walls. There were no other doors, but there was a large window on the east wall.
Seth and Aksel moved forward and looked out the window. A large chasm stretched out far below them running north and south. There was a river at the very bottom. They were in the mountains, but other than that, neither of the companions had any idea where they were. “We should bring Elvisda up here,” Aksel said. “He might recognize these mountains.” The little ninja nodded, but was already moving around the room checking everything. After a couple of minutes he cried, “Found a secret door over here.” He stood by the south wall. “Can you open it?” Aksel asked. But the halfling was busy searching the wall. After another minute he said, “Trapped. And a nasty one too. Transmutation.”
“Well, let’s not mess with that,” the gnome cleric decided. So the two went back to the main hall. The figure in black armor still sat unmoving on its throne at the other end of the hallway. “I want to try the north door again,” Seth announced. “I thought you didn’t want to chance it?” Aksel replied. “That black figure hasn’t moved this whole time,” Seth responded. “I doubt it is even alive.” And with that he went to the north door and began tinkering with the trap mechanism. After a minute, they heard an audible click. “Child’s play,” Seth said smugly. Then he grabbed the doorknob, turned it and pushed the door open.
The room was 20 × 20, just like the room across the hall. However, this room only had one large single table in it. There were 4 large ornate chairs around it, and on the table sat 4 conical caps of different colors. There was a blue cap, a green one, a yellow one and a red one. “Very colorful,” Seth commented. Aksel cast a spell of detect magic and the table began to glow. The two stayed in the doorway but began to study the table intently. Finally Aksel said, “I’m not sure of the exact spell, but it is definitely of the conjuration type.” Seth replied, “You know, maybe we should go back and get the others.” Aksel nodded, “Good idea.”
The two closed the door and made their way back down the hall. The figure in black still sat unmoving on its throne. They went back down the stairway and made their way back to the “torture” chamber”. However, when they got there, only Lloyd was there. “Where are the others?” Seth asked the big man. “Andrella was not thrilled waiting in this room, so we decided to relocate back down below,” the warblade replied. “Make sense,” Aksel responded. “Very well, let’s go down and join the others.”
The company of the Couch reunited below and Aksel and Seth relayed their findings to the others. They decided it would be best to rest once again and then go back up together as a group. Glorfindel cast another rope trick and everyone entered while Martan took the first watch.
After an uneventful evening, the adventurers woke up, had breakfast and then Lloyd flew up and cranked the cage all the way down to the bottom. Everyone climbed on board and the big warblade hauled them all up to the “torture” room above. They entered the hallway and went to the fork in the passage. “We go left,” Seth announced.
“What’s down to the right?” Glorfindel asked.
“We don’t know,” the ninja replied.
“Can we check?” Elvisda asked. “I don’t want anything sneaking up behind us.”
“Sure,” Seth replied slowly, obviously not thrilled with the detour.
“Maybe we should,” Aksel decided. “They may have a point.”
Seth grumbled something about nervous elves, but then led the way down the right corridor. The passage went down 30 feet and ended in a door. The little ninja searched for traps but could not find any. The door was locked however, but he took care of that in less than thirty seconds. There were no sounds coming from the behind the door, but when the ninja pushed it open, the party saw 5 large mechanical dogs standing in the room. None of the dogs moved, but Seth quickly pulled the door back shut.
“Well,” Elvisda said, “I guess we won’t be going that way.” Seth gave the bard an acid look but didn’t say anything. He pushed his way through to the end of the line and led the party back to the fork in the corridor and then proceeded down the left hall. They wound their way up the stairs till eventually they all entered the grand hallway above.
As the companions stared at the huge hall, most of them for the first time, Andrella said, “Oooo…this is quite marvelous. It sort of reminds me of the great hall in the keep back in Restenford.”
“Yes, it does,” Glorfindel concurred, “but these tapestries on the wall are most interesting.” He moved over to the wall for a closer look, the others following. The tapestries depicted a mage in blue flowing robes. One showed him battling a dragon. Another showed the mage standing on top of a tower which looked like the one they had just been at in Tarsmorr. A third tapestry showed the mage flying amongst the stars. “I assume that this is Gaither,” the elf continued. “The tower is obvious, but I do not recognize the dragon he is battling, nor do I understand the significance of this other scene where he is out in space. Does anyone else?” the wizard asked. The others just shook their heads.
“Maybe our friend here can shed some light on all of this,” Elvisda said pointing to the black armored figure still seated on the throne at the end of the hallway. The bard began walking down the hall towards the figures, the others following a short way behind the elf. As they approach, a jeweled dagger could be clearly seen on the figure’s belt. Andrella concentrated as they continued to walk and then stopped and gasped, “Oh my!”
“What is it?” Lloyd cried as he grasped her and looked around quickly. “That…that dagger,” she stammered. “It is a dagger of human bane!”
“Well that doesn’t sound very friendly,” Seth commented. “You folks worry too much,” Elvisda replied. “Let me handle this.” And with that the bard walked up to the figure, bowed deeply and said, “Can you please tell us where we are?”
A voice came out of the armored figure, “You are in the presence of Gaither the Great.” The voice had a resounding tone to it as it reverberated through the chamber.
Everyone was silent for a moment, then Lloyd, standing behind Elvisda, Andrella next to him spoke up. “Yeah. We’ve heard that one before. From a monkey in fact. So how do we know you’re the real Gaither?”
“I am so much more,” the voice reverberated once again.
“I’ve had enough of these parlor tricks,” Elvisda said. He looked around the chamber, cupped his hands around his mouth and cried, “Gaither! Reveal yourself!”
At this point, the black armored figure began to rise off the throne. The party all fell back into defensive stances, Lloyd’s hands going automatically to his blades. The figure in black must have noticed because it raised its arm and pointed straight at the big warblade. “Kneel,” the voice boomed.
The big man stared for a moment, still clutching his blade hilts. Then he took a quick glance at Andrella who was still standing right next to him. Lloyd slowly bent down onto one knee. However, he did not take his eyes off the black armored figure as he did so. The figure then turned to Glorfindel, still pointing, and said, “Kneel.” But the elf wizard refused to budge. The black armored figure continued to point at the wizard for a minute, then turned towards Elvisda and said, “Kneel.”
“I don’t think so,” the bard replied. Then he reached into his bag and pulled out a wand. As the others stared, the elf lifted his arm, pointed the wand at the black armored figure and sent a cascade of purple missiles directly hurtling at the form. Lloyd stood up and shielded Andrella with his body as the missiles connected with the figure. There were three concussions sounds and then silence. The big warblade turned to look and saw that the armor now had some minor dents in it.
The suddenly, without warning, a bolt of lightning shot out of the armor’s hand directly at the bard hitting him square in the chest. Elvisda was knocked backwards onto the floor and skidded a few feet where he lay still. But the lightning did not stop there. It jumped from where the bard had been moments ago, directly to Glorfindel, hitting the wizard in the side. Glo winced as the lightning jolted him, but he was not knocked down like Elvisda had been. The bolt then arced over to Aksel, hitting the gnome and jolting him as well. Lloyd pulled Andrella down to the ground and threw his body over hers. At the same time, Martan dropped to his knees. The lighting arced away from cleric and passed over Lloyd and Martan going straight for Seth who had begun to distance himself from the rest of the party. Once again, the bold jolted the ninja, but did not knock him down.
The lightning faded away, and the black armored figure turned and pointed towards Aksel. The cleric looked defiantly at the figure and said, “To whom do you owe your allegiance?”
“To no one but myself,” the voice boomed in response.
Aksel looked around at the rest of the party. Elvisda was out cold. Lloyd was protecting Andrella. He, Seth and Glorfindel had just been jolted, but seemed otherwise alright. He weighed all their options and decided it wouldn’t hurt to play along with this “being” for now, until they knew more about what was going on. “Very well,” he said aloud as he dropped to one knee.
The armored figure turned back to point to Glorfindel. The wizard looked at the cleric who nodded at him to comply. Glo nodded back and then fell to one knee. Then the figure turned to point at Seth. The ninja scowled back at the black form. Then Aksel said, “Seth?”
“Fine!” the halfling replied in disgust and dropped to one knee. The black armored figure dropped its arm back down to its side. Martan, taking this as a good sign, crawled over to Elvisda and said, “Boss, are you ok?” The bard roused and said, “Did anyone get the number of that bus?”
“He’s fine,” Seth quipped. Martan helped the elf sit up. Then Seth went over to the bard and started healing him. Meanwhile, Lloyd stood up and helped Andrella to her feet. Then he turned and faced the armored figure. “Where is the real Gaither?” the warblade asked with an edge to his voice. “Out amongst the cosmos,” the voice boomed in reply. “I am only a minor aspect of his greatness.”
“Well for a minor aspect, he sure packs a wallop,” Elvisda commented from where he sat on the floor.
“Do you know of a wizard named Peltar?” the warblade continued. “I know of a wizard of that name,” the voice replied. “Do you know his whereabouts?” Lloyd asked. “I care nothing for such weakling wizards,” the figure responded.
Then Glorfindel spoke up. “We did not mean to intrude upon you. We will leave if you want us too, but first can you tell us where we are?” The figure did not respond. Instead it began to walk towards them and began to cast a spell. Everyone stood back and Lloyd’s hands went to his sword hilts once again. But Glo put up his hand. “It’s a teleportation spell,” the wizard said. The others relaxed as the black armored figure walked down between them still in the middle of casting its spell. “Can you at least tell us where you are sending us?” the wizard asked.
“All who kneel before me will be sent where they want,” the voice boomed in answer. Everyone looked at each other. Martan and Seth helped Elvisda over to the others and then they all knelt down around the black figure. Then the spell was invoked and the chamber faded around the group. They felt a strange wrenching feeling and then they all appeared at the same time about three feet in the air above a river. The group tumbled en-mass into the water.
As they all spluttered and rose up out of the water, they looked around and saw a town to their right. “I wonder what town that is,” Glorfindel said. “Why, I know this place!” Andrella exclaimed. “So do I!” Lloyd added. “It’s Lukescros,” they both announced simultaneously.