Rise of the Thrall Lord
The Fall of the Couch - Part 3
A Tuneful Walk to our Doom
The Companions of the Couch entered their usual state of manic planning. An hour’s time was not enough for Aksel and their dragon allies to arrive; but it was more than enough for them to argue every possible preparation and deployment for the unknown encounter.
The plan placed the strongest offensive members of the team, Lloyd, Cyclone, and Glorlindir, at the apex of the Monolith; a tactic that had worked astoundingly well in their previous battle with a dragon. Alana was set to guard the lower entrances, and Elistra was delegated to last-ditch Colossus control and defense way down below.
For a token personal guard, Elvisda recruited one of the Knights of the Rose, a young squire who was nearly fully recovered from the dragon attack. Alana strongly protested, but once offered the honor, the squire was the greatest proponent of it, and Alana relented with far less fuss than Martin expected.
The squire’s name was Lamorn, but none of the Companions seemed to hear or care, as they were off on the rest of their planning tangents. Their only request of the squire was that he wear a red shirt; Martin thought it a jest, but Donatello was quite serious. The fact that the squire had a scarlet tunic among his gear only proved the creeping madness of the day to Martin.
It occurred to Martin, that maybe the squire felt guilty about surviving the dragon attack, when his knight, Sir Craven had not. The squire was either suicidal, delusional or very stupid. Martin suspected all three since it was blatantly obvious he was recruited for enemy target practice and seemed joyful for the honor.
Martin was not surprised to discover that he also was chosen as an escort for the bard’s royal audience in the meadow; he expected no less from the Fates. Thankfully Martin was not instructed to wear red, paint a bulls-eye on his forehead or such. He was instead to remain hidden in the woods with his bow ready. By his reckoning, that would give him a few moments longer life-expectancy than the squire whose name he had already forgotten.
Not being raised by a band of bandits, Martin supposed that it didn’t occur to any of the Companions of the Couch that the hour they were given to prepare their ambush at the Monolith was actually an hours time for the enemy to prepare an ambush at the meadow.
Or maybe it did occur to them, and Glorlindir and the others considered Elvisda just as expendable as Martin and the red-shirted squire.
Regardless of what the others thought, Elvisda certainly was confident. He struck an oddly compelling figure, striding through the woods in his bright white leather armor, with both his hair and leather fringe dangling in time to the jaunty tune he played. And the cheap but exceptionally sparkly gems set in his armor speckling the nearby trees with dancing lights. Martin supposed that after this adventure was over, there would be real gems in Elvisda’s leathers.
As he walked, he began to believe that and more was possible. That the hands of distant but powerful gods were upon them and they could sweep away all opposition by sheer bravado. He was confident and emboldened.
It was a totally different kind of inspiration then what Ves evoked in him, which was of serenity, nobility of spirit, worthiness and security. This was nearly the opposite, the freedom of having nothing to lose, the exuberance of throwing all caution to the wind, the sense-tingling excitement to putting it all on the line on a roll of the dice as if life itself were just a game. The kind of madcap confidence that would make one run naked into the meadow and moon your enemies. Even the scarlet clad squire was looking noble and gallant.
“With an earful of this tune, I wouldn’t be afraid of a Super Nova” Donatello’s disembodied voice chuckled to Martin’s right, bringing him back to the desperate task at hand. “You circle the wood line to the left; I’ll scout the meadow itself.”
Only a rustle of a leaf or two, as if by a wayward wind, indicated Donatello’s passage towards the meadow.
The realization that no one had offered to cast invisibility on him, firmly settled Martin’s mind back to the cynical depth that just might keep him alive. He didn’t know what a Super Nova was, but he was sure it was bad, and liable to hit him at any moment.
As he moved off, he cast one last glance towards the bombastic bard and the crimson clown who followed him. He certainly hoped that he hadn’t had the same idiotic grin on his face a few moments ago as Sir-Red-Shirt did.