Knights of the Couch - Part IX - The Fall of the Couch
“There’s a hidden door here,” Seth announced.
The rest of the party was all still gathered around Ruka. Elistra had used her powers as a seeress to link the fates of Donatello and Ruka. Once she had finished, the young girl dragon’s breathing had become more regular and some color had returned to her face. She was resting comfortably now on Donatello’s lap. The lady knight Alana sat next to them holding the young girl’s hand. Elvisda, Glorfindel and Elistra were standing over the group. The bard was playing a soft tune to calm the nerves and invigorate his comrades.
Aksel had been standing by the foot of the Colossus, deep in conversation with Seth when the later had noticed something strange in the rocky floor underneath them. Upon closer inspection, the little ninja had discovered a hidden switch under a fake rock. After diligently checking for traps, the halfling flipped the switch and a trap door slipped open right next to the giant stone golem’s foot. It revealed another set of stairs spiraling down below the rock floor underneath the Colossus room.
“You guys go ahead,” Donatello said. “I’ll stay here with Ruka.” The young girl was resting now peacefully on his lap.
“I’ll also stay and keep watch,” Alana added.
The rest of the party joined Aksel and Seth. They made their way down the spiral stairs, the little ninja leading once again, followed by Lloyd, Glorfindel, Elistra, Elvisda and Aksel. The stairs were lighted once again by those strange glowing tile. The spiral stairway ended another 50 feet down in one end of a circular room.
This room was also lighted by glowing tiles. The floor was covered with a fine rug, and there were a number of high-quality chairs spread around it. There was also a very comfortable looking couch in front of a small fireplace. Next to the fireplace was a statue of an elf woman carved in translucent blue crystal. She was holding a silver tray in her hands. And across from the stairs and to the left and right were three doors leading from the room.
“Well Lareth sure knew how to live in style,” Elvisda remarked.
As the companions entered the room, the statue of the elf woman suddenly animated. Everyone immediately took a defensive posture, but the statue did not move. Instead she spoke in common saying, “Would you like something to eat Master?”
Suddenly the tray she was carrying glowed. Bread, cheese and a silver goblet appeared on the platter. Elvisda ventured up to it and checked it out. The food smelled fresh. There was also some clear liquid in the goblet.
“You think it’s safe?” the bard said, his stomach suddenly grumbling.
“Let me check,” Aksel replied. He cast a quick spell. When it was done he announced, “Well, it isn’t poisoned.”
“Good enough for me!” Elvisda cried. He took a piece of cheese and tasted it. “Hmmmm…that’s good!” the bard announced. Then he grabbed a piece of bread and started munching on it. “That’s good too.” Finally he took from the cub and sipped from it. He made a face.
“What’s wrong?” Glorfindel asked suddenly worried.
“Water!” Elvisda said putting the cup back down. “You think a dwarf would have had ale!”
The companions laughed.
“We should really have them bring Ruka down here,” Elistra said. “The couch is probably far more comfortable than Donatello’s lap.”
“I’m not sure she’d agree with you on that,” Glorfindel said wryly.
The seeress smiled at that. “Nonetheless, she should be moved down here.”
“I’ll go get them!” Elvisda offered. The bard went back up the stairs.
“Meanwhile,” Aksel said, “let’s check out where these doors go.”
Seth examined each door for traps but there were none. Nor were they locked. One door led to a bed chamber, one to a library area, and one to a study.
“Yep, that pretty much confirms it. These must have been Lareth’s living quarters,” Glorfindel commented.
“What’s that?” Elvisda said coming back down the stairs. Donnie was right behind him carrying Ruka followed by Alana.
They told the others what they had found as Donnie laid Ruka down on the couch. The young girl was awake now and would not let the swashbuckler leave her side.
Elistra showed them the elf woman statue with the food. Alana thanked her and made sure that Ruka ate something.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party went to explore the three rooms in depth. They started with the bedroom. It was another circular room. The room contained an elaborate poster bed, a nightstand, two dressers, and a large wardrobe.
“That bed looks inviting,” Elvisda mused. The bard walked over and gently sat down. “This is cushy!” He kicked off his boots and put his feet up on the bed. “Ahhhh…call me in the morning,” the elf said obviously enjoying the luxurious mattress. “What’s this for?” he said. There was a cord hanging down one side of the bed. He reached up and pulled it.
A section of wall next to the bed suddenly slid open. The companions quickly fell into defensive positions and Elvisda jumped back off the bed.
A decidedly female elf construct, made of translucent blue crystal like the one in the living room, came sauntering out of the “closet.” She was wearing a very loose fitting skimpy outfit. “How can I server you today Master?” she said turning to face the bed.
The group just stared, dumbfounded. Elvisda was the first to recover. “I think I REALLY like it here!” the bard said emphatically.
“She’s got curves in all the right places,” Elistra said appraisingly, “but I don’t imagine that she is as soft or warm as a real woman.”
“I’m willing to find out!” the bard said enthusiastically.
“Just do us a favor and wait till the rest of us are out of the room,” the seeress replied.
“Of course dear lady,” Elvisda said smoothly. “I am nothing if not patient.”
Elistra laughed. “Oh Elvisda, what are we going to do with you.”
“Love me for who I am?” the bard said smiling brightly.
“Ok,” Aksel said, “how about we finish searching this room. Then Elvisda can do whatever he wants.”
Seth made a thorough sweep of the room. He found a secret panel at the bottom of the wardrobe. He slid it open and discovered a chest hidden inside. Seth deftly opened the lock on the chest. Inside was 800 gold pieces, a silver crown with an opal inlay, a large silver brooch, and three ivory scroll cases. Glorfindel identified the brooch as a Brooch of Shielding. The scrolls turned out to be a Scroll of Stone to Flesh, a Scroll of Blade Barrier and a Scroll of Greater Dispel Magic.
The companions left Elvisda in the bedroom and shut the door.
“Where’s Elvisda?” Alana asked as they came out.
“You don’t want to know,” Elistra replied.
“That bad?” Donnie said.
“We’ll tell you later,” Glorfindel replied.
Donnie raised an eyebrow but let it drop.
Seth, Aksel, Lloyd and Glorfindel moved on to the next room. It was a library. There were two bookshelves filled with a number of ornately bound texts. There was also a long table in the center of the room and a few chairs along it.
“Well this looks interesting,” Glorfindel commented examining some of the books. “I’ll have to take a good look in here later.”
The group moved onto the last room. This chamber was a study. There was a large ornate desk with a single chair behind it. There was also a bookshelf behind the desk. And on one wall was a masterpiece portrait of what one could only assume was Lareth himself.
The figure in the portrait was an imposing dwarf with long red hair, and well groomed mustache and a long braided red beard. He was wearing long black robes and held a manual in his left hand and an golden staff in his right hand.
“Well, if Lareth is still alive, now we know what he looks like!” Elvisda commented.
“Unless he was reincarnated,” Aksel replied.
Seth searched around the room and found a hidden panel behind the book shelf. He opened it and found two chests. He picked the locks and looked inside each.
The first chest had 1,200 gold pieces, a pair of adamantine armbands with filigree carvings, a silver plated scabbard with jet cabochons, a pair of red leather gloves with black striations, and a small flask of white liquid.
The second chest had 400 gold pieces, a carnelian gemstone, a life-size darkwood cat sculpture with yellow topaz eyes, a carved darkwood harp with ivory inlay and zircon gems, a
glowing Fire Opal and a 10-inch wand of rotted wood.
Glorfindel identified the gloves as Gloves of Greater Spell Disruption, the flask as a Potion of Shield of Faith, the opal as a Least Phoenix Ash Threat and the wand as a Wand of Ray of Enfeeblement.
The companions regrouped in the living room. The sat and ate until Elvisda eventually joined them.
“Are you well rested now?” Elistra asked the bard.
“Quite, milady. Thanks for your concern,” Elvisda said jovially.
“Just what was going on in there?” Alana asked.
“Nothing really,” the bard replied innocently, “just a very comfortable bed.”
“Really,” the lady knight said raising an eyebrow.
“Ahem,” Aksel interjected quickly, “let’s decide how to distribute the items we just found and then we should get some rest.”
“Oh, that reminds me,” Donnie said reaching into his pocket, “I found this next to that giant snake. It coughed it up after I landed on it.” He pulled out a black ring. “Do you know what this is?” he asked Glorfindel.
“Let me see,” the wizard said taking the ring. He examined if for a moment, then said, “It’s a Ring of Mind Shielding.”
“Give that to Lloyd!” Elvisda said immediately. “We don’t want another repeat performance of what happened with that Succubus. Everyone agreed remembering how the demon had briefly mind-controlled the warblade and how the almost had to fight their friend.
They gave the gold pieces to Elvisda to put in his bag of holding. He also put the other non-magic treasures in the bag. Glorfindel got the Stone to Flesh scroll and Aksel got the other two scrolls. Donatello took the Greater Spell Disruption Gloves. Elvisda took the potion and the wand. The opal was affixed to Lloyd’s adamantine bastard sword.
“Well then,” Aksel said, “that’s that. Let’s all rest up. It has been a long day, and Ruka is still poisoned.”
“But better!” the young girl said, snuggling between Donnie and Alana on the couch. The swashbuckler patted the young girl on the head. She seemed remarkably content for a poisoned young dragon.
The night was still young when Aksel stirred. He and Seth had set up their sleeping bags in the study. The ninja stood over him now.
“What time is it?” he asked.
“9:00PM,” Seth replied. “The others are all asleep. I’m going to rouse Lloyd to take the next watch.”
“And then what?” the cleric said curiously.
The ninja did not reply.
“So you’re actually doing it?” Aksel said after a few moments of silence.
“I have to,” Seth replied, “It really is in everyone’s best interest.”
“I suppose,” Aksel told the halfling. “What do you want me to tell everyone else?”
“Tell them what you like,” Seth said. “Just wait till after I am gone. I don’t need anyone coming looking for me in these woods.”
“Very well,” the cleric replied. He got up and hugged his friend. “Good luck out there. And don’t take any unnecessary risks.”
“Who me?” Seth said mockingly. “Anyway, that’s what you’ve got Donatello for now.” The ninja grinned.
“Very funny,” Aksel replied. “Seriously, take care of yourself.”
“You too,” Seth replied. “Now go back to sleep. You need your rest.”
The ninja snuck out of the room so silently he was like a ghost.
Aksel laid back down in his bag, but tossed and turned for quite awhile before he fell back asleep.
Seth had wakened Lloyd and then made his way up the stairs before the warblade took his place on guard. When he made it to the shaft in the pillar, he climbed his way up, leaving the circular platform at the bottom for his companions. He made his was down the spiral staircase and headed out of the monolith.
It was dark outside as the moon was not quite up yet. The woods were quiet. There was a small campfire off to the right where the Knights of the Rose had bedded down for the night. There were a few sentries posted around the monolith, but with his keen eyes, Seth could see them all and easily avoid them.
He stealthily made his way out into the forest and was gone like a shade in the night.