Knights of the Couch - Part XIII - Assassin Season - Chapter 4

Chapter 4: To Catch A Thief

Seth made his way carefully down the stairs to the tunnels below. He examined each step and the walls as well. He found the trip wire that Glorfindel had stumbled over. Farther down he also discovered some pressure plates and another trip wire. “Someone really doesn’t want strangers coming down here,” the ninja whispered as he disabled the last trap. “Good think they’re amateurs…well…compared to me that is,” he finished softly.

“I knew there was a reason we brought him along,” Lloyd commented quietly. “Yes, he does have his uses some times,” Aksel replied. Seth turned to look at the two of them. “Would one of you rather do this then?” he asked pointedly. “No, no,” they both said, holding up their hands. “I didn’t think so,” Seth responded smugly. Then he turned back to begin scouting the tunnel ahead.

The passageway was dimly lit. It was about 10 feet wide, with wooden support beams along the walls and ceiling every few feet or so. On every other beam hung a small lantern. There was just enough light to see your way to a gate some 50 feet down, but it was also dim enough to hide plenty of traps. Luckily Seth had sharp eyes and was well experienced in finding traps. A few feet ahead he discovered another one. This time the trap was loaded with darts. Seth disabled the trigger and then took a good look at the darts. They were covered with some kind of oily substance. “What is that stuff?” he whispered. Aksel walked over and sniffed the darts. He considered for a moment and then replied quietly, “That’s sleeping potion.” Seth looked at Aksel and then reached over and carefully took the darts and put them in a pouch on his belt. “These might come in handy,” he said quietly.

The party moved forward, Seth still leading the way. However, there were no more traps and they finally reached the gate. It was an iron portcullis that looked like it had been recently dropped. There were fresh indentations in the earth where the gate had hit the ground. The tunnel could be seen to continue beyond the gate. But the mechanism to open the portcullis was on the other side from where they were. Seth turned to Lloyd and said, “Feel like stretching those overgrown muscles of yours?”

The big warblade stepped forward loosening his shoulders as he did. “Guess you need my help after all” he replied grabbing a hold of two of the bars. “Yeah, well don’t let it go to your head,” the little ninja shot back. “My head…isn’t…what I’m…using…right now!” Lloyd exhaled as he slowly stretched the two bars apart. “Yeah, we know,” Seth smirked, “that’s not your strong point.” Andrella, however, marveled at the warblade’s display of sheer strength. She walked up behind him and placed her hand on his still bulging muscles. “Well I like him just the way he is!” she told the little ninja emphatically. “And I’d like to see how you were planning on getting through those bars without him!” she added as she steered Lloyd back away from the gate.

“She’s got you there!” Glorfindel noted, amused at the bantering. Seth, unruffled, walked up to the bars and squeezed his way through. “Yeah, yeah,” he said as he made his way to the other side of the gate. “Lloyd’s a frick’in hero, and I’m just the comic relief. Thanks for pointing that out to me your highness.”

Andrella whirled at the comment, her jaw wide open. “Seth!” she gasped, “That is not at all what I meant!” But the little ninja had a broad grin across his face. When Andrella saw it, her eyes grew wide. The others braced themselves for a tirade, but suddenly, without warning, the Lady burst out into laughter herself. “Seth, you are encourageable,” she said still laughing.

“Yeah, and that’s one of my better traits,” the ninja replied through the bars. “Now please be quiet so I can do my job.” The other’s stifled further laughter as the halfling began to scour the mechanism on the other side of the gate. “Yep, there’s a trap here,” he said over his shoulder. He knelt down and began working on something. Suddenly, the little ninja flipped backwards to the other side of the tunnel. There were gasps of “Seth!” and “Woah!” as whirling blades could be seen sticking out of the ground where the ninja had just been kneeling.

Seth steadied himself and then began walking back towards the trap. “No sweat guys. I saw that coming a mile away,” he grinned at them. He moved back in and this time disabled the trap. The blades stopped whirling. Then the halfling flipped the switch mechanism and the portcullis retracted upwards into the ceiling. The group clapped softly for the little ninja as they walked through. Seth bowed and put his hand forward saying, “Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Right this way please.”

Glorfindel turned to Elvisda, who still did not seem quite himself after the ordeal with the old woman. He whispered to the bard as they walked forward, “I think you are rubbing off on everyone. First Lloyd and now Seth.” The other elf smiled wanly back at his friend, but did not comment. Glo was beginning to worry about him. This was not like Elvisda at all. He hoped the bard would snap out of it soon.

Seth again took the lead. The tunnel went 30 more feet where it ended in an iron bound oaken door. He checked for more traps but found none. As the ninja stood at the door, he clearly heard whispering from the other side. “Did you hear anything?” a voice said. “Yeah, I think so,” another voice answered. Seth backed away from the door and motioned the others in close. “Looks like we’ve got company on the other side of the door,” the ninja told them. “The door is locked. I won’t be able to pick it without them hearing on the other side.”

“I have an idea,” Elvisda said speaking up for the first time since they were topside. The bard began laying out a strategy for dealing with the current situation. Glorfindel smiled. Now this was more like it he thought to himself. When the bard was done detailing his plan, Seth moved forward to the door. The rest of the party took their respective positions behind him. When everyone was ready, Elvisda nodded and Seth picked the lock.

An audible click could be heard as the lock gave way. Then he pushed open the door and dodged out of the way. The companions caught a quick glimpse of a small room on the other side of the door as they launched into a well timed set of attacks. Five people stood in immediate view, crouched in defensive positions behind a table and some chairs. Elvisda, who had been preparing his spell as Seth opened the door, unleashed it before their opponents could react. A dark colored liquid appeared on the floor underneath their adversaries. Four of the five lost their balance and fell on the floor. The fifth person, a woman, managed to remain on her feet.

Elvisda moved over as Andrella took his place. She had also been preparing a spell, obviously excited to participate in the battle. The young lady pointed her finger at the standing woman and a red hot beam of light shot from her hand and connected with her target. The woman screamed and dropped to the floor. Then Lloyd charged into the room and leaped onto one of the prone men, piling driving into him with his great weight. The man was knocked senseless. The other three men were frightened by the quick and ferocious onslaught.

One of the men was able to regain his balance and began running for a door at the back of the room. Elvisda, seeing the man flee, whipped out his wand, but then did a double take to make sure he had the correct one. Due to the bard’s indecision the man might have gotten away if he had not stumbled over a chair. Elvisda, now sure he had the correct wand, pointed it at the man and said, “Hold person.” It wasn’t absolutely necessary to speak the spell name, but the bard felt the need to emphasize the point. The fleeing man stopped in his tracks as glowing blue bands of magical energy encircled his body, holding him fast in place.

As this was going on, Aksel went forward to the woman Andrella had “scorched”. She was almost dead! The cleric put out his hands and the now familiar white light emitted from them and touched the burnt area on the woman’s body. Within seconds her skin began to heal.

Meanwhile, the two remaining men stopped struggling in the grease. They looked at each other, then threw up their hands and said simultaneously, “We surrender!” The companions gathered the four men together and bound them up. Seth then searched them and found a magical club and amulet. He gave the club to Lloyd and took the amulet for himself.

Andrella seemed very pleased with herself. The young lady was talking avidly with Glorfindel. “Did you see that?” she said excitedly. “I incanted it just like you taught me. And the ray just launched itself from my fingertips. It was so easy!” Glorfindel nodded, “Yes, yes. That was very well executed my dear.” Aksel coughed as he continued to administer aid to the fallen woman. “Executed is a very interesting choice of word I would say. This woman was almost killed.” Andrella turned towards the cleric and said, “So? Isn’t she a bad guy?” Aksel leveled an even gaze at the young woman. He paused for a moment and then said, “She’s a human being, not some orc or hobgoblin. And unless they are pure evil, killing humans is not something I can condone.” Andrella was taken aback. “But…but, they attacked us first.”

“No, actually they didn’t,” Aksel responded angrily. “We invaded their hideout. It’s natural for them to defend themselves. But quite honestly, these people did not stand a chance against a group as experienced as us. And the only evil one out of all of them, is that figure in black that I saw enter the shop upstairs.”

Andrella was mortified. She turned and ran over to Lloyd and buried her head in his big shoulders. The warblade stood their holding her and stroking her hair as she sobbed loudly. Glorfindel turned to Aksel and said, “Was that really necessary?” The cleric looked up at his friend and replied, “Yes, I’m afraid it was. She gains knowledge and power with every lesson you teach her and every encounter we have. But she needs to learn the responsibilities that go along with channeling all that power.” They both turned to look over at the young girl, still crying in her boyfriend’s arms. The Glo turned back to Aksel, nodding towards the fallen woman and asked, “Well how is she?” Aksel assessed his patient carefully and then responded, “She will live.”

Elvisda had stood silent throughout the entire exchange. The bard had also been quite pleased with himself about the encounter. But in his case it was more from having the chance to vindicate himself for his earlier mistake with the old woman. He stepped in now to redirect the group to the original task at hand. “Speaking of the figure in black, he is obviously not here. But perhaps one of these gentlemen might have seen him and knows where he has gone.”

“That’s a good thought,” Aksel replied, still tending to the fallen woman. She looked to be stirring finally. “Maybe you could question them,” he said to the bard. “My thoughts exactly,” Elvisda replied. Then the bard turned and strode over to the bound up men. The four of them sat quite still, obviously very uncomfortable and very frightened. Elvisda knelt down in front of them. “Gentlemen,” he said with a charming smile, “is there anything you can tell us a man in a black cloak who came in here?” The four men glanced at each other. Finally, one of them spoke up. “You must mean Gremik.” The bard nodded and said, “Ok then, Gremik. How do you know him?” The four men glanced again at each other but no one spoke up. “Well then,” Elvisda said taking out his lute, “how about a little tune then.” He began playing a song for them and continued asking them questions, but the men remained uncooperative.

Lloyd, sensing that they might need some extra encouragement, walked Andrella over to Glorfindel. The warblade gently extracted himself from the young woman, whose crying had now abated. Lloyd said to the wizard, “Can you please keep an eye on Andrella for a few minutes? I think Elvisda might need a hand.” Glo raised an eyebrow, but put an arm around the young woman shoulder. Andrella squeezed Lloyd’s hand and said, “Go ahead. I’ll be fine here with Glo.” Then the big man walked up behind Elvisda.

The men, seeing Lloyd hulking over Elvisda, looked nervously at each other once again. Then the same man responded slowly, “He’s…one of us. You know…the Thieve’s Guild. But he’s only been with us a few months.” The man glanced up past the bard at Lloyd and visibly shuddered. “He’s an excellent thief…came here from straight from Penwick…” he finished nervously glancing up at the warblade again. Elvisda responded, “There now. That wasn’t so hard, was it?” He turned and smiled up at Lloyd. The warblade, however, continued to glare silently at the four men. The bard turned back to the men, chuckling softly to himself. Lloyd is really starting to get the hang of this he thought.

“So then,” he said to the four, “Where’s our friend Gremik now?” The spokesman cleared his throat nervously and replied, “He, uh, he fled through the back door to South Street as soon as the alarm went off.”

“Um, I don’t think so,” came Seth’s voice. The ninja was searching around the room. “I checked the back door already and it’s still locked from the inside. No one fled through this door.” Elvisda turned back to the man as Lloyd pounded his knuckles behind him. “Want to try that again?” the bard said mildly. The man looked very nervous, but clammed up again. “Want me to loosen his tongue?” Lloyd said as menacingly as possible. The four men all blanched at that. Elvisda put up a hand and said, “No, no Lloyd, I don’t think that’ll be necessary. I’m sure these fine gentlemen will come to their senses.” The bard paused for a moment and then continued. “So then…we know that Gremik did not go through the back door. But just for argument’s sake, where does that door lead?”

The spokesman wouldn’t look up this time. He blurted out, “Like I said, to South Street…to the Cutlery Shop.” Aksel chimed in, “That’s the shop that Seth and I saw the young boys run to.” Seth added, “Yeah, and I saw some suspicious men in black robes enter as well. In fact, similar to the robes hanging up on the wall over here,” the ninja pointed to a clothes rack over on the wall with five black cloaks hanging on it. “Well then,” Elvisda said cheerfully, “now it is all starting to fall into place. But we still haven’t gotten to the truth of where this fellow Gremik went.”

“Actually, I think I can answer that,” Seth responded. They all turned to look at the ninja who was still standing by the clothes rack. He pulled on an empty hook and a section of wall right next to him slid open. Through the now open doorway the companions could clearly hear water running. Seth poked his head through and called back, “It’s the sewers!”

“And that’s the answer!” Elvisda cried triumphantly. “So my good fellows, where do we find Gremik now?” The thieves finally confessed everything. Gremik had been hired to gather information from around town for Sir Fafnar. He typically hung out at the Black Pig Tavern and that was probably where he had headed when he left the hideout. Danic, the guild leader, a tall grey haired man, had left with Gremik when the alarm had sounded. Both men had fled through the sewers.

When they were done, the companions gathered together and talked things over. Then Elvisda came back and said, “You have been so cooperative that we have decided to let you live. But it is on the condition that you close up shop here and never come back.” The four men nodded their agreement. Then the one man spoke, “What about Wardina over there?” Elvisda turned to look at the young woman Aksel had been healing. It looked like she was coming to. “She’s completely healed,” Aksel replied. “Well then,” Elvisda said, “I think we will bring her with us.” Aksel looked questioningly at the bard, but the elf just winked at him. The cleric shrugged his shoulders and nodded ok.

The companions left the men tied up and headed out into the sewers. Seth led the way followed immediately by Lloyd. Elvisda brought up the rear carrying Wardina along with him. The young woman was now conscious but still seemed weak after her near-death experience. They followed the sewer system and in a few minutes came out to where the sewer poured into the river, downstream from the town.

As they stopped to decide which way to go, Wardina suddenly broke away from Elvisda and jumped out towards the river below. Seth reacted instantly. He pulled out one of the darts he had found in the cave and threw it at the girl catching her in the arm. She instantly fell asleep. As she hit the water, Lloyd was already diving after her. The warblade lifted out of the water, Wardina in his arms, less than 10 seconds later. He flew her back up and gently lay her down. Aksel checked, but the young woman had not really swallowed all that much water. “She’ll be fine,” the cleric announced.

“Well then,” Elvisda said, “it’s getting rather late. What do you all want to do?” Aksel thought for a moment and replied, “It might be better if we split up for now. After all that trouble at the Dry Goods shop, the town guard might be looking for a large group.” Glorfindel nodded in agreement. “I think that Lloyd, the Lady Andrella and I will go back to Penwick Manor then.” Aksel responded, “Good idea. Then the rest of us can go back to the Bright Angel. We’ll take Wardina here with us. Once we are sure she is alright, we’ll let her go.” Elvisda cleared his throat, “Actually I have another idea. Fafnar is using thieves to gather information around town. Why don’t we do the same?”

Seth laughed. “I like the idea, but do you really think she is going to want to work for us after we almost fried her then almost drowned her?” Elvisda looked sourly at the ninja. “Have alittle faith. I can convince her.” Then Aksel pronounced, “You’re welcome to try, but if she doesn’t want anything to do with us, then she is free to leave once she is fully recovered.” Elvisda flashed his best smile and said, “Why of course!”

Aksel just shook his head and turned to Seth. “So what are you going to do?” The ninja said, “I’m going to go check out the Black Pig and see if I can track down our friend Gremik.” Aksel nodded approvingly, “That’s what I thought. Ok then everyone, let’s reconvene in the morning when we are all well rested.” And with that the companions split up and went their separate ways.

Knights of the Couch – Part XIII – Assassin Season – Chapter 5

Knights of the Couch - Part XIII - Assassin Season - Chapter 4

Rise of the Thrall Lord fpspirit