Rise of the Thrall Lord
Knights of the Couch - Part XIII - Assassin Season - Chapter 12
Chapter 12: The Mayor’s Legacy
The companions all gathered at the entrance and peered into the Mayor’s room. It was rather gaudy actually; the entire room was decorated in red velvet. There was a large poster bed surrounded by opaque curtains. A nightstand and a window stood on either side of the huge bed. Against the left wall was an ornate desk, and on the wall next to them they could see two dressers and a mirror. Over on the left wall they could see a wardrobe, a chest, and another door.
Aksel cast a quick spell to detect magical items. The room was enveloped briefly in a golden circle. When it disappeared a few objects in the room remained glowing; a book on the desk, the curtains around the bed, and the chest. “Donnie, care to do the honors?” Aksel asked the swashbuckler.
“Sure,” Donatello responded and entered the room. He first went over to the desk and inspected the book. “It must be the Mayor’s spell book,” Donnie told them. Then he checked the curtains. “There’s some kind of fire spell on them,” he announced. “Wow,” Glo commented, “I guess the explosive runes on the door were not enough.” Donnie nodded, “Yeah. She really didn’t trust anyone.”
The swashbuckler then went over to the chest and examined the lock. After a minute or so he said, “There is a trap on here, but it is beyond me. I think we need to wait for Seth.” “I’ll send Raven to get him,” Glo responded. “Good idea,” Aksel added. “We were up all night. We should really regroup, grab something to eat, and rest.”
“Well, while we’re waiting,” Donnie said, “might as well check this other door.” The elf went over and scanned the doorway. When he determined that it was free of booby traps, he opened it. The others gathered around and gaped into the room next door.
It turned out to be another bedroom, but in stark contrast to the Mayor’s room it was decorated all in black. The bed, the dressers, everything in the room was dark. There were also chains hanging on the wall and an evil looking statue. The party slowly entered the room, still led by Donatello. There was another chest and a door against the opposite wall.
As the swashbuckler went over to inspect the other door, the group stared at the statue. Aksel had a look of positive hatred on his face. “Who is that?” Lloyd asked quietly. The little cleric shook his head as if broken out of a trance. He turned to look up at the warblade and said, “That….is the god Amon.”
“Oh great,” Donnie commented from the other doorway, “Just what we need; the god of darkness and evil.” Lloyd appraised the statue for a few seconds as if sizing up an opponent. Finally the big man said, “He doesn’t look so tough to me.”
Glo turned to look at everyone and saw Aksel turn towards the big man. “He’s a god Lloyd,” the cleric replied. As Lloyd looked down at the little cleric with a hurt look on his face, Aksel just shook his head and smiled. The gnome reached up and put his hand on the big man’s arm. “It’s ok Lloyd. I don’t mean any disrespect towards you. It’s just that the god’s are in a whole league all by themselves.”
As the two companions were discussing theology, Glo also noticed Kara appraising the warblade. She was definitely sizing him up and, Glo noted, there was obvious interest in her eyes. Then Kara reached out and put her hand on Lloyd’s arm. As the big man turned towards her the warrior woman beckoned him aside. Her hand still on his arm, they walked away from the others. But Glo’s elven ears picked up clearly what she whispered to the warblade. “Pay him no mind,” the warrior woman said. These casters and such don’t understand the strength in a man’s arms and the fire in their hearts. Only a true warrior, like you and I, really understands this.”
The two began talking quietly and in earnest, their heads coming closer together. The whole time Kara continued to hold onto Lloyd. Andrella better watch out for this one Glorfindel thought to himself. He gazed back at Aksel, but the cleric had turned back around and returned to his brooding at the statue of Amon.
“There’s a trap on this door as well,” Donatello announced from the other doorway. Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to look. The elf was knelt down examining the floor in front of the entryway. “Slashing blades from down here I believe,” he continued. Then he stood up and turned to face the others. Glo glanced quickly over and noticed that Kara had removed her grip on Lloyd. “We definitely need Seth for this as well,” Donnie finished.
“Okay then,” Aksel declared. “Let’s wait next door for the others to get back.” The cleric turned to glare one last time at the offensive statue and then they all shuffled out back into the Mayor’s room. Donnie closed the door behind them.
The companions made themselves comfortable in the Mayor’s room, but were careful to avoid the bed. “I think I’ll go back downstairs and check on how the search of the castle is going,” Glorfindel said. “I’ll come with you,” Lloyd offered. “If there are still assassins around, you shouldn’t be by yourself.”
Glo smiled at the young man and replied, “Thanks. Of course, that will also give you the opportunity to check up on Andrella…” Lloyd smiled sheepishly. “Am I that transparent?” the big warblade asked. “There’s no such thing when it comes to love,” Donatello said expansively from his seat at the Mayor’s desk.
“Anyway,” Aksel added, “while you’re down there, see if you can get some food sent up to us.” The little cleric’s stomach growled as if to emphasize the point. “After all,” he continued, “we were up all night and haven’t had anything to eat since our short stop off at Abraham’s.”
“Will do,” Glorfindel acknowledged. He motioned for Lloyd to follow and the two of them went out the door. Kara followed them to the doorway saying, “I’ll stand guard.” But her eyes followed the young handsome warblade as he walked away with the wizard.
Meanwhile, Donnie, who could never really sit still, had started to rifle through the desk. As he was opening the drawers, he stumbled across some papers. After careful examination, he called out “Hey Aksel, have a look at this.” The little cleric came over and said, “What is it?” as he peered over the swashbuckler’s shoulder. “It looks like writing, but not in any language I’ve ever seen,” Donnie replied. “Here,” Aksel said reaching out his hand and taking some of the papers, “let me see that.”
The little cleric pored over the papers Donnie had handed him. Meanwhile, Donatello continued to look at the rest of the papers. When he got to the last page, the elf cried, “I found something!” Aksel peered at the page in the swashbuckler’s hand. “That looks like normal writing.” Donnie nodded, “Yeah, I don’t think the Mayor had a chance to code this page yet. And wait till you see what she wrote.”
Aksel leaned in closer and read out loud, “We now have the Thrall Lord’s gift and plan on using it the next full moon.” The little cleric stood back up and mused, “The Thrall Lord’s gift…the Thrall Lord’s gift…” The he snapped his fingers, “Of course! The Baron’s Heart!” Donnie looked up at the gnome questioningly and said, “Did I miss something?” Aksel nodded and replied, “Oh yeah.”
The gnome then proceeded to tell his elf friend about their discoveries in Garrotten, the evil plans of the Cleric Qualtan, and the ritual that the Baron’s Heart was to be used in including the creation of the Soul Gem and the summoning of the demon thereafter.
When Aksel was done, both Donnie and Kara had grave looks on their faces. “This does not bode well,” the warrior woman said from her post in the entryway. Donnie nodded and said, “I quite agree. When the other’s return we have a story of our own for you which may be related to all this.” Aksel look inquisitively at the elf but Donatello replied, “It is a long story and I think it best if you all hear it at once. For now, let’s see if we can break this code.” The little cleric nodded and replied, “Very well.” The two friends began poring over the Mayor’s papers once more.
A short time later Kara announced, “They’re back!” She stepped away from the door and Lloyd, Glorfindel, Seth, Elvisda, Andrella and Martan all walked into the room laden with food. They were followed by Torvil and Rota who had brought plates and dinnerware. Andrella supervised as they laid a blanket out on the floor and set up a nice picnic meal for the group.
When they were done, Aksel said “Thank you for your generous hospitality.” Rota curtsied and Torvil bowed. Then the maid said, “Thank you for being so kind to us.” Her eyes went specifically to the Lady Andrella. The young woman smiled sweetly and replied, “Oh, it was nothing.” Then they excused the two servants and sat down to eat.
Everyone was ravenous having not eaten in what was getting close to an entire day. But there was plenty of food to go around. There was cheese, ham, chicken, lamb, breads, butter, and plenty of drink to wash it all down. “We raided the Mayor’s kitchen on our way up,” Elvisda winked as he munched on a chicken leg.
During the meal, Glorfindel reported that the search of the castle had been completed and turned up nothing. Then Elvisda and Seth related their encounters with the assassin’s outside. “Well,” Aksel said when they were done, “that accounts for everyone except for Tellish and Philmar.” Seth interjected, “Unless Philmar was one of the assassins we just finished off.” Aksel nodded, “True.”
Then the little Cleric proceeded to tell the group about the coded papers that he and Donnie had found. “Let me see those,” Glorfindel said. Aksel handed them over to the wizard. Seth and Elvisda peered over Glo’s shoulder as they all looked over the pages. But none of them could break the code that moment, however, when the read the last page Elvisda gave a low whistle. “Now that explains a lot!” the bard exclaimed. “Ties in with that temple we found underneath the castle,” Seth added.
“That reminds me,” Aksel said getting up, “There are a few loose ends I want to tie up before we all rest.” The little cleric went to the door to the adjoining bedroom and opened it. Seth, curious, was right behind his friend. Elvisda and the others trailed just after them. “Wow, nice décor!” the bard commented as they entered the black room. Andrella, right behind him added, “Yuck. If you like basic black.”
Then they caught sight of the statue. “Is that who I think it is?” Elvisda asked his voice getting very quiet. “Yes,” Aksel replied through gritted teeth. Lloyd put his hand on the clerics shoulder. “You want me to smash it up for you?” he asked the gnome. Aksel turned his head, looked up and smiled at his big friend. “Nah, I have something better planned for it. But thanks.”
Across the room, Donnie was showing Seth the trap in the floor he had discovered by the other door. Seth knelt down and examined it carefully. After what seemed like only a few seconds, they all heard an audible “click”. Then Seth stood up and proffered his hands towards the door. “After you!” he said to the group.
Glo looked at Aksel and commented, “It’s contagious; first Lloyd, now Seth.” The little cleric snickered this time. Meanwhile Lloyd moved to the door with Kara close behind him. The warblade shoved it open and looked inside. “It’s empty,” he announced, “well sort of.”
“You’re going to want to see this,” Seth added as he peered past the warblade’s hulking body into the next room. Lloyd and Kara moved aside and the cleric entered the room followed by the wizard and bard. The room contained another statue of a Marilith, however, this one was smaller than the one in the temple below. It stood behind an altar and a cauldron full of greenish glowing liquid. “Okay,” Aksel exclaimed, “I’ve seen enough. Let’s bed down for the night and handle this in the morning.”
They all backed out of the room and closed the door. As they made their way across the room, a desk caught Seth’s eye. He went to examine it and found it was locked. Quickly picking it he popped the top drawer open and stared down at a black, iron-bound tome with a black skull on the front cover. “Well that’s interesting,” Seth commented.
“What now?” Aksel asked coming over. Glorfindel walked over as well and stared over the gnome and halfling’s shoulders. “Put that thing away!” the cleric cried. “If I see one more evil thing today I am going to puke!”“Well we can’t just leave it lying here either,” Glorfindel said gently. Elvisda walked over and held his bag of holding opened in front of him. “Might as well put it in here with all the other evil artifacts,” the bard said. “Thanks Elvisda,” Aksel said with obvious relief. The little cleric’s nerves were nearly at their end.
As they dumped the tomb in Donnie quipped, “Is it me, or is that bag turning black?” Glo and Elvisda turned and replied simultaneously, “It’s you!” Donatello feigned being hit and cried, “Sheesh. Can’t you guys take a joke?”
“Good ones maybe,” Seth commented as he left the room. “Ouch,” Elvisda said as he closed up the bag, “Looks like you got burned their Donnie.” The swashbuckler now pretended he was on fire and was trying to fan out the flames. Kara shook her head and also walked out. But Aksel just smiled. With all that had happened and what they had discovered here, a little levity was probably just what they needed. Or at least, he did.
The rest of the companions adjourned back to the Mayor’s room. They were all dead tired now and needed to rest. To accommodate all of them, Glorfindel cast his last spell of the day and made a rope trick for them to climb into. Everyone went in except for Kara who decided to stand guard. Not needing sleep or to regenerate mana, Donatello offered to join her. So the swashbuckler and the warrior woman kept watch as the others slept away the late afternoon in veritable safety.
A few hours later, Lloyd climbed out of the safe haven of the rope trick and urged Kara to take her turn sleeping. At first the warrior woman declined, but Lloyd insisted. “You’ll be no good to us in a fight if your reaction time is slowed down.” Kara seemed to mull it over for a moment and then replied, “Spoken like a true warrior. Fair enough.”
She turned and kissed Donnie quickly and said, “Good night.” Then she went over to the rope and began to climb up. But as Lloyd and Donatello turned away, the woman’s eyes were glued to the big warblade. She continued to stare at him until she was up and inside the refuge of the rope trick.
It was early morning, pre dawn, when everyone else stirred. The spell was about to end and Glorfindel shushed everyone out of it into the Mayor’s room. Elvisda stretched and yawned loudly. “Now that was just what the doctor ordered!” the bard decried, laughing his boisterous laugh.
“Shhh,” Aksel warned, “The rest of the castle is probably still asleep.” Elvisda looked around and replied, “Ah yes. It isn’t quite dawn yet, is it?” “Two more hours till dawn,” Glorfindel replied as he sat on the floor and laced up his boots.
The Lady Andrella, looking perfect even after sleeping, made her way over to Lloyd an threw her arms around him. She went to kiss him but ended up yawning in his face. “Gee thanks,” the warblade said as he put his big hand up in front of the little ladies mouth. Then the two of them laughed and kissed deeply.
“Geez, get a room,” Donatello commented. Lloyd and Andrella un-entwined and the warblade looked around guiltily. But Andrella was unperturbed. “Well if the rest of you would clear out…and replace the door…” she said. “You may want to think twice about using that bed,” Donatello reminded them. “After all, it is trapped.”“Ahem.” Aksel cleared his throat. “Speaking of traps…Seth, care to check out this chest over here.” The cleric pointed out the strongbox next to the bed. The little ninja walked over and began examining it. After a few minutes of tinkering, the heard a “click”. Then Seth opened the chest and began to examine the contents. When he stood up he was holding a shimmering red cloth in his hands.
The others gathered around. Andrella in particular, had let go of Lloyd and came rushing over squealing, “It’s beautiful!” She stopped just short of the halfling, her hands clasped in front of her as she gawked. Then in a very quiet voice she asked, “What is it?” Seth turned around and showed it to the young woman. “It’s a dress,” the ninja replied. “Oh my,” she replied enamored by the shimmering gloss of the material. “Can I have it?” she asked like a little kid in a candy store. She looked around at all of them with a hopeful look in her eyes.
“Well,” Glorfindel spoke up, “let’s see what kind of dress it is first.” The wizard walked up and looked closely at the material. Aksel joined him. The two conferred in quiet tones for a few minutes and then nodded their heads in agreement. Glorfindel turned around and looked at Andrella who was doing her best to wait patiently. Lloyd had walked up behind her and had gently laid his big hands on her slim shoulders.
As the wizard faced the young woman she looked up at him with those big puppy dog eyes. The elf smiled despite himself and then nodded his head. “It’s a Phoenix dress…” Andrella was about to say something but Glo held up his hand. “And yes Andrella, you can have it.” The young woman launched herself forward into the elf’s arms and hugged him fiercely all the time saying, “Thank you. Thank you.” Then she pulled pack and looked around at the group and said, “Thank all of you.” Then she stood on her tippy toes, kissed Glo on the cheek and let go of him. The she went up to Seth and the ninja handed her the dress.
“It has certain special properties,” Glo informed her as she admired it. “Like what?” the young girl replied as she held up her new dress and admired it. “Put it on first,” the wizard replied “and then I’ll show you.”
“Why don’t the rest of us go into the next room,” Aksel said. “We have things to do in there and it will give Andrella a chance to change.” Everyone left the room except for Andrella and Glo. The young girl stepped around the other side of the bed and changed into her new outfit. When she was finished she called to Glorfindel. “I’m ready,” she said. “Well then,” the wizard said, “let me show you just what that dress can do.”
In the other room, Aksel was busy consecrating the statue of Amon. The others were waiting patiently for the little cleric to finish his ceremony before heading into the next room and tackling the altar and the cauldron with the strange glowing greenish liquid.
As the gnome was finishing his prayers, Andrella walked in from the next room. She was wearing the red dress of the phoenix. They all looked up, except for Aksel who was deep in concentration. The young lady stood in the doorway allowing everyone to get a good look at her. She was quite satisfied with the response she got. The entire group stared at her admiringly. And Lloyd’s jaw dropped to the floor.
The young lady waited a few more seconds and then could no longer contain her enthusiasm. “Lloyd!” she cried, “Look what I can do!” She snapped her fingers, more for effect as it was not necessary, and her entire body became enveloped in red glowing flames. “Very nice!” Elvisda said appreciatively. “You’re on fire!” Donatello said winking and nodding. Lloyd, his mouth still half open, finally recovered. “Awesome…” was all he could get out.
The young woman snapped her fingers again, once more for effect, and willed the flames to go out. Then she launched herself across the room and into the warblade’s arms. As she kissed him, Aksel complained, “Trying to concentrate over here!” Andrella let Lloyd go and turned to the little cleric with a chagrinned look on her face. “Oops, sorry,” she said softly. Then she grabbed Lloyd’s hand and dragged him back into the Mayor’s room.
Glorfindel, who had been standing in the doorway, had to quickly duck out of the way to avoid being run over by the two. “Gee,” he cried, “Is that the thanks I get for showing you how to use that dress?” Andrella’s voice wafted in from the next room. “Sorry!” she said once again. “Still trying to concentrate,” Aksel said once again. “Oh, right,” the wizard replied and went to stand next to Elvisda.
When Aksel finally finished his consecration ceremony, he wiped the sweat from his brow. Seth came walking over and handed him a kerchief. “Difficult?” the ninja said. “It was a statue of Amon,” Aksel replied, “what do you think?” Seth smiled devilishly and shot back, “Too much for you huh?”
Aksel was about to reply when Lloyd came back in with Andrella traipsing behind him. The warblade’s skin was all flushed. “Andrella,” Donnie quipped, “Lloyd looks a little red there. Did all that passion turn on your dress?” The young lady shot a dirty look at the swashbuckler while Lloyd turned even redder. But Kara came to their rescue. She elbowed Donnie in the side and muttered, “Will you ever grow up?”
Lloyd was rubbing his head and sheepishly grinning. Then he remembered what he came back in for. “Oh yeah,” he said, “Are we ready to tackle that next room yet.” Aksel, now sitting by the desk replied, “Give me a minute and then we’ll go in.”
A couple of minutes later, the cleric got up and said, “Seth, open the door.” The ninja went over and opened it wide. Aksel stood in the doorway with the others behind him. He cast a spell and a glowing circle covered the room. As it disappeared, a shimmering film of light cascaded down off the altar and dissipated into the floor. “Okay,” Aksel said, “Lloyd, go push over that cauldron.”
The big warblade grinned and walked into the room. He put his big hands on the side of the cauldron and began to push, his shoulders tensing with the effort. As he began to slowly move it, Kara joined in next to him. The two warriors strained as they attempted to heft the large container over. Then Donatello joined in on the other side of Kara. “This stuff stinks,” the swashbuckler declared as he held his breath and began to push with the others.
Between all three of them, they were able to finally tip over the cauldron. It crashed to the ground with a loud metallic clank and greenish glowing liquid began to spill out onto the floor. The three companions stepped back and watched in revulsion. Donnie waved his hand in front of his face as Lloyd and Kara also made faces. “And I thought it smelt bad inside the cauldron,” Donatello complained as the three stepped back towards the door and fresh air.
Once the smell had dissipated, they reentered the room. Seth did a sweep and found a chest behind the altar. Of course it was locked, but the halfling had it open in no time. When he popped open the lid, it was brimming with gold and jewels. Lloyd and Kara carted the chest out back to the Mayor’s room where Seth, Donnie and Elvisda began going through it and totaling up the treasure.
Meanwhile, Aksel reshaped the Marilith statue into another rendering of Garglittergold. But the cleric wanted nothing to do with the statue of Amon. He had Lloyd break it into bits. The warblade relished the idea and had his warhammer out as he pounded away on the small stone monument. Glo noted that both Andrella and Kara watched the warblade at his work with keen interest. Lloyd had taken his shirt off as he began to perspire and both women seemed enthralled by the site.
After a good twenty minutes of hard work, the warblade was finally done dismantling the offensive statue. He placed his warhammer on the ground and accessed his work. All that was left of the idol to the evil god Amon was crumbled pieces of stone on the floor of the black room. Lloyd looked up and grinned at Aksel like a little kid. “How’s that?” the big man said. “Looks good!” Aksel replied nodding his approval.
Andrella went over to the big man and began to wipe off his sweaty body with a towel they she had found in the Mayor’s room. She seemed to be enjoying herself just a bit too much at first, but then backed off and held her nose. “I think you need a bath,” she said still holding her nose. “I think we could all use one,” Aksel interjected. Just then Lloyd’s stomach growled loudly. The warblade smiled sheepishly and added, “and maybe some breakfast too?”