Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XIII - Assassin Season - Chapter 10
Chapter 10: Ambush!
After about 15 minutes of celebration, the elated group of adventures began to calm down. Reality began to settle back in as they looked around them and realized they were still in the demonic temple underneath the keep in Garrotten. They had to re-navigate their way through the underground hideout and make their way out from underneath the castle. Furthermore, from what Winky had told them earlier, there was something large waiting outside the keep, ostensibly for them.
“I think it might be good to take stock of what we’re up against,” Elvisda stated. “That’s a good idea,” Aksel agreed. “I can check with Raven to see what is going on outside,” Glorfindel offered. “Good,” Aksel nodded, “and while you do that, I have just one more thing I need to do here.”
As Glorfindel contacted his familiar, the little cleric walked up to the large statue of the Marilith and looked at it with obvious disgust. Then he began to conjure a spell. A few seconds later, he cast it and the stone of the statue began to change form. He repeated the process two more times, and when he was done, were the demon had previously been, now stood a statue of GarGlittergold, the little cleric’s god. Aksel looked at his work and nodded his head in satisfaction.
As he turned to rejoin the others, he heard Glorfindel cry out. “What’s the matter?” the little gnome said, hurrying back to the group now gathered around the wizard. Glo looked over at Aksel and replied, “It’s Raven. She’s in trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?” Elvisda asked concerned. The wizard fell back into communication with his familiar. “She’s…being chased…some kind of creature…with large…bat-like wings,” the wizard said obviously straining to understand the bird. Finally, he broke off contact. “She’s all panicked. I can’t get anything else out of her.”
“Well I think we need to get back to the surface quickly,” Aksel decided. He turned to Balmarrow’s dog and asked, “Winky, is there any way you can get a better look at what it is that is outside the door where we entered the keep?” The blink dog seemed to think about it for a moment or two, then replied, “I may be able to teleport into the bushes on the other side of the clearing and take a look. It’s risky, but I can try once we are closer to the exit.”
“Thanks. That would be great,” the cleric replied. They formed up in a marching order with Seth and Donnie leading the way once again. As they made their way out of the temple, Elvisda turned to Glorfindel who looked worried. “I’m sure she’ll be fine,” the bard said trying to reassure his friend. Glo looked up at his companion and gave a wan smile. “I hope you’re right.”
The group made its way back to the room where they had left Phyllis and the others. The stagehands had made a makeshift stretcher for Willis’s body. Now they rejoined the others and carried the illusionist’s remains with them back through the corridors towards the entrance.
All was quiet in the passageways and rooms as they traced their way back. When they reached the circular room just before the entrance, Aksel called a stop. “I suggest we wait here until Winky can get a look outside.” The blink dog nodded and headed towards the opposite corridor which led to the stairs and outside. “I’ll go with him partway and stand guard,” Lloyd announced and began following the dog. “Be careful,” Andrella told the big man. “I’ll go with him too,” Kara offered. She smiled at the others and then followed the warblade. The two fighters trailed behind the dog along the length of the corridor and almost to the base of the stairs.
Winky stopped just shy of the first step. They were just out of sight of the entryway above. The dog paused for a moment and then just winked out of existence. Lloyd and Kara exchanged glances and then took up defensive positions on either side of the corridor and waited in silence.
A few minutes later the dog reappeared in the exact spot where it had disappeared. It glanced at the two fighters and then headed back down the corridor. Lloyd and Kara followed, keeping an eye out behind them just in case. When they returned to the others, everyone gathered around Winky. “Looks like we have a welcoming party out there,” the dog began. “I’m guessing it’s not the cake and balloon type party,” Donatello commented. “Only if you invited an ogre, a troll, two armored folks and two folks in robes,” Winky replied not missing a beat.
“Where are they exactly?” Aksel asked. “The ogre and the troll are standing on either side of the doorway. The armored figures and the robes ones are back farther in a semicircle around the entrance.” Glorfindel asked, “Did you see the mayor anywhere?” The dog paused for a second and then replied, “No. She was nowhere to be seen.” “But I’ll bet she’s somewhere nearby,” Donnie interjected. “That’s probably a safe bet,” Aksel agreed.
“Folks, I hate to say this, but it doesn’t look good” Glorfindel said. “We all burnt through a lot of spells already this night.” Aksel nodded his agreement. “I hate to admit it, but Glo is right. What we need now is a miracle.” As they all looked at each other pensively, Elvisda, who had been rummaging through his backpack, cleared his throat, “Ahem. Don’t worry so much. I’ve got us covered.” They all turned to see the bard holding up seven vials in his hands. “What’s a party without drinks?” the elf asked and then began chuckling. They all gathered around the bard trying to see what he had.
“Let’s see now…Lloyd, you are going to be taking on the ogre I figure. So…you’ll probably need the most. Here take these,” the bard said. He handed Lloyd four vials. “What are these?” Lloyd asked as he held them in his hands. “Well,” Elvisda replied pointing to each potion one by one, “That’s a potion of which will enhance your strength, this one will make you invisible, this one will increase your resistance to all types of energy, and this last one will enlarge you to pretty much ogre size.” The warblade looked at the vials in his hand and a broad smile crossed his face. “Nice!” he told the bard, then added, “Thanks!”
“My pleasure,” Elvisda replied. Then the bard turned to Glorfindel. “You, I figure, are better off airborne and out of sight. Here take these two,” he said handing the wizard a couple of vials. Glo inspected them carefully. The first one was filled with liquid but the second vial was filled with dust. “Okay,” the wizard said to the bard, “this first one is obviously a potion of flying, but what is this in the second vial?” Elvisda grinned for a moment then answered, “Why, my friend, that is dust of disappearance. Sprinkle that on yourself and you can fire off as many spells as you want and still stay invisible.” The wizard stared at the dust for a second and then looked at his bardic friend. “Elvisda, you never cease to amaze me.” The elf bard grinned impishly and bowed slightly replying, “One does one’s best.” Glo just shook his head and smiled.
Elvisda had one last potion in his hand. He looked over the rest of the companions and then held it out toward Donatello. “I think this might help you the best,” the bard said. Donnie took the vial and asked, “What is it?” “It’s a potion to make you jump higher and farther,” the elf bard replied. The swashbuckler nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, that could work,” he finally said. “Thanks buddy!”
“That just leaves me,” Seth commented. “I can turn invisible, but won’t be much good against ogres or trolls at my height.” At that Aksel answered, “I can help you there. I’ll cast the air walking spell on you. Then you can float up behind the larger creatures.” Seth nodded and replied “Sounds good.”
“Okay then,” Elvisda said rubbing his hands together. “Let’s formulate an attack plan.” They all gathered around the bard who had proved more than once now to have a knack for strategy. “Glo, you fly out first. Get above the ogre and troll, and be ready to hit them with any spells you have left.” Glorfindel nodded his agreement. “Then Seth, you walk out and position yourself behind the ogre.” Seth gave a wicked smile and also nodded. “Next, Lloyd you step out. Attack the ogre first. Glo can always scorch the troll and draw its attention away from you.” Lloyd stretched his shoulders and replied darkly, “Just let me at him.” Elvisda smiled at the warblade’s eagerness to battle. “Okay,” the bard continued, “At that point Donnie should launch himself out into combat. See if you can get out to the conjurers and keep them busy.” Donnie nodded his head. “Will do,” the swashbuckler replied.
“Once the ogre and troll are engaged,” the bard continued, “then the rest of us can stand in the doorway and launch some long range attacks at those other folks around who are standing farther back.” Kara took out her bow and nodded, “I’ll be ready.” Aksel agreed, “So will I. Nice plan Elvisda.” The bard smiled and replied, “I just hope it works.”
“Okay then everyone,” Aksel said, “let’s move down to the end of the corridor and stop just before the steps. Winky, you go first and keep an eye out. Once we are there, form up the way Elvisda mapped out in his strategy. Then we can drink our potions and cast our spells.”
The entire party moved down to the end of the corridor. As they began to form up, Andrella grabbed Lloyd’s arm reached up and put her arms around the big man’s neck. She kissed him intensely and then slowly pulled away. Be careful she mouthed at him. I will he replied in the same manner. The young lady continued to stare at the handsome young man as she moved away to join the others.
Kara, who was standing next to Donatello, leaned over and passionately kissed the swashbuckler. When she withdrew and whispered, “For luck.” Donnie flashed his famous smile and winked at the warrior woman. Then Kara backed away and took up her position in the rear with the others as well.
Once they were all in position, the party members glanced at each other and began drinking their potions, sprinkling their dust, casting their spells, and invoking their items. Aksel, after casting the air walk spell on Seth, had moved to the head of the line next to where Glorfindel had just disappeared. When the little cleric was sure everyone was done, he whispered, “Okay, Glo and Seth. Go.”
Glorfindel took off into the air with Seth right behind. But as soon as the wizard flew past the first step, an alarm went off. “Damn!” Glo cursed, slowing down, “An alarm spell.” Aksel said in a semi-hushed voice, “No help for it now. Keep going.” The wizard turned and started his ascent once. Seth did his best to keep up, but flying was still faster than air walking.
Aksel mentally counted to ten then whispered, “Go Lloyd.” The warblade began bounding up the steps. Then, finally, Aksel nodded and the rest of them took off, led by Donatello.
Glorfindel breached the entrance first. The wizard flew out and up about twenty feet, then turned to see the hulking forms of the ogre and troll beneath him. A second later, Seth came out of the door and floated up and out of the way. None too soon either as Lloyd burst out of the opening right behind him. As Seth continued to float over and behind the ogre, Lloyd turned left seeing the troll, and then right, setting his gaze upon the ogre.
As Glorfindel began to conjure a scorching spell to use on the troll, he suddenly felt very hot across his back and the air around him turned bright red. The elf wizard staggered from the force of the heat. The pain almost overwhelmed him, but Glo realized he had been hit with a massive scorching ray. There could be only one source of that he reasoned. He steeled his resolved, forcing back the pain and whirled around in mid-air. Up above him, about one hundred feet off the ground, floated the Mayor of Garrotten.
At the same moment Glo was getting scorched, Lloyd launched himself into the ogre. He began his now familiar attack pattern which looked like a whirling wall of blades to his opponent. Before the ogre could react, the warblade had slashed the monster four times in succession. The ogre reeled back in confusion realizing that it was suddenly bleeding from multiple gashes all over its body.
As soon as Lloyd became visible, Donatello launched himself out of the entryway. Between his acrobatic skills and the potion Elvisda had given him, the swashbuckler covered a full thirty feet and ended up right in front of one of the robed figures. As Donnie came out of his forward roll, he stabbed forward with his short sword and skewered the mage right through his chest. The caster slumped down on the sword and was dead before he knew what hit him.
Below, the ogre had become enraged after Lloyd had damaged it so badly. It was just about to strike back at the large human when it abruptly felt a sharp stabbing pain in its back. The ogre staggered forward almost falling to one knee. Then it wheeled around flailing with its huge club. But his small quarry was floating in mid air out of the creature’s reach. The club went swishing through mid air as the ogre tried in vain to squash his little attacker.
At that same moment, Aksel and the others had made it up to the entrance. The cleric took stock of the situation and realized that the troll had not been distracted as they originally planned. The creature had its beady little eyes focused on Lloyd and was beginning to move forward to attack the warblade from behind. The little cleric quickly began to conjure. As the troll began to close on Lloyd, Aksel cast his spell. However, the gnome was clever. He targeted an area between the troll and the two armored figures standing behind the monster. The result was that a purple circle radiating out from that point caught all three opponents and the troll stopped in its tracks. The monster then began to turn its head from side to side as if it had no idea where it was.
“Nicely done,” Elvisda whispered to his cleric friend. Aksel smiled briefly but then his smile faded as he noticed the armored figure on the right begin to cast a spell. The gnome took it all in in less than a second. He saw an insignia on the figure’s armor plated chest and recognized it as the sign of Amon, the God of Darkness. Then he noted that this evil cleric was facing Lloyd. Before the cleric of Amon could finish his spell Aksel, however, yelled, “Lloyd! Behind you! Cleric!”
The warblade whirled around with frightening speed. As his eyes sought the threat he entered a stance his father had taught him. Lloyd instantly entered a trancelike state which would allow him to respond faster than the speed of thought. As the evil cleric’s spell tried to constrict him, Lloyd’s body reacted instantaneously. The big warblade moved with lightning speed and dodge out of the area where the spell had been focused.
“What just happened?” Andrella cried the worry thick in her voice. Elvisda pointed and said, “The evil cleric over there just tried to hold him with a spell. But between Aksel’s warning and Lloyd’s training, he failed miserably.” The young lady breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank the Gods,” she breathed. “Oh, and you too Aksel,” she added quickly. “Don’t mention it,” the little cleric replied not taking his eyes from the battlefield.
Across the field, Donatello had been removing his short sword from the wizard he had just skewered when the second robed figure pointed a finger at him and sent a bolt of lightning flying at the swashbuckler. Kara was about to cry out when she saw the elf dodge out of the way and in the same motion send a knife careening back towards his attacker. The blade spun end over end until it reached the hapless mage and embedded itself in the figure’s chest. The caster grunted and then slumped to the ground.
Back over to their left, Aksel, Elvisda, Kara and Andrella looked on as the second armored figure moved forward brandishing its sword. It walked up to the troll and began attacking it. “Alright!” Elvisda cried with glee.
Then Lloyd, having successfully dodged the evil cleric’s attack turned and set his sights back on the ogre. The warblade moved in for the kill. The monster had made the mistake of turning its back on Lloyd to swing at Seth. The warblade moved in with his blades whirling and chopped deep into the ogre’s back and sides. After three savage slashes the ogre fell to its knees and then hit the ground face first.
Above the battlefield, the Mayor of Garrotten watched the assault below. She was transfixed by the sheer ferocity of the attacks. So much so that she did not realize the danger to herself. The elf wizard had recovered quicker than she had expected and had cast a counter spell. Before the Mayor could dodge it, a bolt of lightning came flashing through the sky towards her and caught her directly in the chest. She shuddered in pain as the bolt seared through her body.
On the ground Aksel, Kara, Elvisda and Andrella saw the flash of light and looked up in time to see the Mayor being lit up by Glorfindel’s lightning bolt. Kara, her bow in hand, took a bead on the Mayor and let loose one flaming arrow followed immediately by another. Both arrows flew through the air and in less than a second connected with their target. The first arrow caught the Mayor of Garrotten in the chest and the second one caught her in the stomach. The female mage doubled over in pain, clutching at her front.
A second later Elvisda fired two force missiles from his wand at the Mayor. They flew from his wand and zeroed in on the airborne mage. The purple projectiles circled around each other as they closed in and then connected with their target. The Mayor’s body reeled as the dual concussions rocked her body.
Seth had been watching and slowly floating upward towards the Mayor. As the last missile hit her, the ninja hefted two knives and sent them spinning end over end towards the stunned mage. The blades hit almost simultaneous and buried themselves up to the hilt in the Mayor’s abdomen.
The Mayor of Garrotten, head of the Assassin’s Guild, slumped over and fell from the sky head first. Her limp body plunged to the ground until it landed with a resounding thud in the center of the clearing behind the castle keep.
Wild cheers burst from the group at the entrance of the Assassin’s hideout. Glorfindel and Seth both watched the body fall with relief. But then Glo caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. The evil cleric below had turned towards the group at the doorway and was beginning to cast a spell. Without thinking, Glo pointed his finger at the Cleric of Amon and sent a ray of hot liquid lava flashing towards his target. The red hot ray connected in less than a second and heated up the cleric’s armor. The front of the evil figure’s armor turned black and began to melt a bit.
Aksel, who had followed Glo’s attack quickly conjured a spiritual mace and sent it swinging at the evil figure. The opaque blue weapon connected with the Cleric of Amon in the side of the head. The figure crumpled to the ground.
As the companions scanned the battlefield, they saw that only the confused troll and armored fighter were left. And those two were intent on bashing each other’s heads in. Lloyd, Donnie and Seth quickly moved in and finished off the two combatants. In less than five minutes the entire battle was over. The KOTC and their friends had won their way to freedom. Furthermore, they had ended the Assassin’s Guild’s grip on the town of Garrotten.
Glorfindel and Seth landed. They all gathered together in the center of the field as the first signs of dawn began to peek over the eastern horizon. Aksel began to heal the wizard who was the only one who had taken any damage in the battle. As Glo’s burns began to disappear, Elvisda asked, “How’s your bird?” The elf wizard looked up and grinned. “She’s fine thank you. It seems that after we killed the Mayor, that thing chasing Raven vanished. She’s on her way back here now.”
“So what now?” Lloyd asked as he stared up onto the battlements. There were some guards up there starring down at the scene below in bewilderment. “Now my boy” Elvisda replied, “we take control of the castle.” The bard laughed raucously as the others stared at him in wonder.