Of Books & Nooks
Chapter Twelve, Part Four
Melias jumps back drawing an arrow to take aim at the Troll’s chest, shouting in Goblinoid, “Stop!” Then he says the same word in Common and Elven. Melias watches for recognition of the words crossing the Troll’s face and will not let loose the arrow unless the Troll continues to charge him.
The Troll does not stop. Melias gets one shot off.
Claire tosses off her armor and casts Blindness on the Troll, while Kafeera tries to tackle it.
Arianna says, “Pity,” then attacks using the flat of her blade.
The nine foot tall, green, and gangly monster shrieks at the Elf and swings its sharp, black claws even as it prepares to chomp him.
Melias’ arrow is a direct hit, but does little damage, since it practically bounces off the Troll’s chest.
The Troll rakes Melias’ middle with a claw, then it bites him viciously.
Rastorn blasts the Troll with three Magic Missiles.
Kafeera finds it is nearly impossible to grapple with such a wiry and rubbery creature. She slides off and hits the floor.
The Troll screams and grabs at its eyes when Claire’s spell takes effect, allowing Melias to step away. Once it realizes that it cannot see, the Troll begins thrashing around wildly. Razor sharp claws whistle through the air. One claw slices through the corner of the thick oak trim in the doorway to the living room.
“Ugh!” Melias complains as he visually examines his new wounds. He lets loose two more arrows from a safer distance.
After seeing it injure Melias, Arianna decides she no longer cares if it is intelligent or different – the Troll is going to die.
Kafeera steps in between Melias and the Troll, weapon ready.
SeLiem sighs, then charges in with his hammer.
Melias misses with his arrows, but doesn’t hit any of his companions.
Maneuvering in the small space with such a large weapon proves difficult for Arianna and she swings wide.
SeLiem uses his oiled warhammer and strikes a powerful blow, knocking the Troll back several steps.
The Troll wheels around and charges blindly at Melias. Kafeera shields the Elf, getting clawed and bitten in the process. Now that the creature has a target, he continues to attack her.
Rastorn moves further back, so he can continue attacking with spells.
Claire draws her longsword and puts her crossbow across her back.
Within Arianna’s mind, Iflander says, “You could have asked me if it was evil, you know.”
Kafeera steps back and draws the Troll into the larger space of the living room, unfortunately both her axe swings bounce harmlessly off the Troll’s rubbery hide.
Slipping into the living room ahead of the Troll, Arianna positions herself so she can swing Iflander without risk of striking one of her companions and scores a solid hit.
Rastorn’s Magic Missiles hit, further injuring the creature.
Arianna smiles and looks at her sword momentarily, “Now you tell me.” She then asks Melias, “Are you alright? I saw you got hit. If he wasn’t acting so unlike a Troll I would’ve attacked him outright. Damn Percy for being right, I should’ve let him turn this thing into goo.”
Claire says back, “I never want to hear the words ‘Percy’ and ‘right’ in the same sentence ever again, unless it’s something like ‘Percy is right-handed’.”
“You got it sweetheart.” Arianna chuckles
Melias grumbles at his failures with the bow and tosses it aside, drawing the dangerous sword Arianna gifted to him. He shuffles to the opposite side of the Troll and assesses the situation, guessing where this creature’s vital organs might be before plunging the sword deep into its insides.
Defending herself as best she can, Kafeera tries to keep the Troll’s attention, so the others can attack it. If the creature happens to lose interest, she decides she will do her best to stay between it and others. “Surrender I say and let this madness end!”
SeLiem strikes another blow with such a great impact that it knocks the Troll into the wall two steps behind it!
Percy and Deathwish had stepped into the entryway and they run into the room as soon as the Troll is down. As Percy drags the Troll outside, Deathwish continues to stab it to assure it will not regenerate on the journey.
Outside, a disappointed Orjulun (he had hoped to get a chance to use his Fireball) arranged for the Troll to be burned in a very hot fire. His plan was to do it in the barn, so the high roof would block the rain yet still be out of reach of the flames. The Chosen Ones had already begun clearing out the forge, so this could be accomplished. Orjulun arranged the large bellows in the barn so they could be used to keep the fire hot.
Inside the house Kafeera and Melias are checking their bloody wounds. Rastorn closes the front door and halts a moment to listen for any more noise in the house. He believes he hears something, but it is muffled and unrecognizable. He motions to the secret door in the middle of the wall of the living room, the one the Troll (and several party members) had used. He surveys the living room as he moves toward the door. He sees only fancy furniture, a fireplace, and more altered paintings.
Deathwish returns and immediately stands guard by the secret door. With a wink to Claire he whispers, “I think I’ll just work with you for a while and see how it goes.”
“Good choice,” Claire says. “Your duties will mostly be to act as my bodyguard and in return I shall teach you anything I know that you’re willing to learn. Do you understand, Deathwish?”
The fighter nods.
“Good.” She looks at the paintings. “Why do you think they did this to them?” she asks.
Kafeera pulls an old tunic out of her backpack and rips a few strips off, then binds her wounds. As she does this, she speaks to Melias. “It appears the beast cared little for our company.” Raising her right eyebrow, she says, “Particularly yours. It didn’t seem too intent on sharpening its claws on anyone till it saw you touching that picture. It took a piece of me only when I got in the way.” She offers him a piece of the cloth for his own wounds. “What do you suppose is so special about that picture?”
“Maybe it was what someone did to them,” Claire remarks. “See, they’ve been . . .”
Deathwish says, “Messed with?”
Claire looks at him and smiles. “Very good, Deathwish.”
Arianna moves to a spot right in front of the painting. She finds it hauntingly beautiful. “I wonder what they looked like before they were tampered with,” she asks.
“Probably a lot less beautiful. Who knows? We just see them as they are,” Claire says, stepping next to Arianna. “Maybe this is the reason there was a blacked-out portrait in the other room.”
“I’ll tell you what, though.” Arianna says. “I wish things made more sense here. It seems every time we turn around we discover a new mystery.”
Melias picks up his bow and nods slowly at Kafeera, “Yeah, I didn’t even connect the Troll attacking me with my fiddling with the painting. I just figured he was running away and I was in the way.” He pauses and lifts an ear. “What is that noise? It sounds like mumbling.” He tries to locate the source from where he stands. “Perhaps it’s some sort of ritual or enchantment on the paintings.” He shrugs, then steps left, then after a pause turns and moves right at the tug of his eardrum.
“SeLiem,” Kafeera says, “have you got any more of them handy-dandy healing spells you’re so good at?”
“They just look like normal paintings that some disrespectful person painted over. It is interesting, but I don’t really see it as beautiful. I’m sure there is something more valuable we could be doing with our time right now, besides critiquing primitive art. Like saving the world and recovering the most dangerous Artifact known to man, for example,” Rastorn hisses. “If you must, rip one open or check the wall behind them, but do it quickly – I think we are not alone in here. Better yet – let’s just run through the building until we find out where The Cube of Power is!”
Arianna walks up to Melias and says to Iflander, “Can you heal him? If so, please do.”
“Rastorn, if you want to just charge ahead boldly without proper precautions, feel free. We’ll catch up with you and cut you out of whatever trap you get snagged up in,” Melias snipes back. He turns his attention back to the noise, as he continues searching for its source.
As Arianna stands in front of Melias she notices him listening to something. “You hear something?” she asks.
“Animal noises coming from that direction,” he says, pointing toward the kitchen. He has to strain to hear, especially considering all the action in the living room, and no one else is focusing enough to hear what he does.
Iflander answers Arianna, “I’m generous to a fault, young Elf, but don’t take advantage of my generosity or I’ll find another to wield me. I heal he who carries me and none other. If you wish to abandon me and have Melias attempt to bond with me, that is up to you, but if that is what you want, I’ll not go back to you.”
Arianna notices sometimes Iflander speaks in a precise and stuffy way and other times (like when it first spoke to her) in a more relaxed and casual way. She assumes the more casual voice is the real Iflander, but the sword uses fancy words and phrasing whenever it says something important or that it may have said over and over again since it was first created.
Rastorn responds indignantly to Melias, “Hrmph . . . several people already chased the Troll through two or three rooms, I’m sure if there were a trap in any of them it would have been sprung by now.” He pauses and smiles his uneasy smile. “You do have a point though, my Elven friend, we should proceed with caution. I am just concerned any further delays may be costly. It allows any enemies the chance to prepare an ambush and may allow them time to leave with The Cube.” He sits on a wooden rocking chair and whistles softly as he rocks.
“Alright Iflander. You were quite specific on that part. No need to be rude. It’s just he’s my best friend and he’s hurt bad. I thought being a sword of good meant you’d do good things as well, Apparently not,” Arianna psychically tells the sword.
“Apparently the sword will only heal me, or whoever bonds with it. I’m sorry Melias, but at least that’ll free up spells that SeLiem won’t have to use on me,” Arianna says.
“Are two sheep having an orgy in the kitchen?” Claire asks, hearing the animal noises.
Having cleaned her wounds to the best of her ability, Kafeera stands and awaits the group’s next move. Somewhat bored with the present investigation she takes Rastorns sarcasm a bit too literal and with a dagger cuts one of the paintings.
“Four sheep, Lady Claire,” Deathwish says. “Four sheep and a rather pissed-off goat.”
Claire is surprised by her new title, but does her best not to show it. “Either ‘Lady’ or ‘Claire’ will be fine, Deathwish,” she says. “Could you check the dining room for us?”
“Fool,” Melias mutters under his breath. “You’re right, Rastorn. We are perhaps wasting too much time. But for all we know, these paintings are a subtle means to get to the cube we seek,” he tells the resting Necromancer. “To proceed too hastily may mean overlooking something of the utmost importance.”
Kafeera tosses the one she cut onto the floor. It seems to be a normal painting.
The animal noises stop as Deathwish enters the dining room.
SeLeim ponders, “Well, you know, if there are any traps I think I have a spell for detecting that. He says a few holy words and gestures, then looks around the room, focusing on the paintings first. He sees no traps. The room is large and square and primarily painted navy blue. The woodwork all matches and is a dark wood with a natural bubble-looking pattern, instead of the usual lines. The furniture is all overstuffed and of fine-looking material and woods. None of the three major pieces really match each other, but they all complement the other decor. Oddly, the only items disturbed prior to their entrance were the broken mirror in the entryway and all the marked-up paintings.
Rastorn looks up the chimney and on the mantle, but finds nothing. “If anyone finds anything odd, let me know and I’ll cast Detect Magic,” he says, as he peeks into the next room to see if Deathwish is still alive. Deathwish is sitting on one of the dining room chairs and drumming his fingers on the table. He looks bored.
Outside, Orjulun and Percy are toasting the Troll. Orjulun finds a small jar and has Percy fill it with Troll blood, before he sits down with Eva to sort through the many notes she found in her backpack.
Claire follows Deathwish into the dining room. “Thank you, Deathwish,” she says. “Did you find anything that could have made the noises?”
“No. Not even anything to sell,” he says, taking on a vocal cadence similar to how she speaks.
“Damn,” Claire mutters.
She glances around and her attention is first drawn to the large, eight legged oak table at which Deathwish sits. It is very long with chairs for twelve people on each side and three people at the far end. Three more chairs could fit at the end closest to the door, but that section is vacant. Each chair on the side is the same, with red velvet cushions on the back and seat and made of the same decoratively carved wood as the table. The three on the end and two others set in the closest corner of the outside wall are similar to the rest, but with higher backs and cushioned arm rests. The walls are red with oak chair rails, trim, and valances. The ceiling is carved oak, with the same decorative patterns used throughout the room and on the table set. Hanging from the ceiling at the center of the table is a small chandelier made of glass and antlers, with oak holders for each of the thirty red candles and several mirrored metal plates positioned above each candle. The walls are sparsely decorated, with an oak sconce here and a nick-nack shelf there. The only framed art in the room is a draftsman’s overview of the grounds which is prominently displayed on the wall behind the head of the table. It shows nothing of the inside of any of the buildings, just what the area would look like from above. The floor is wooden and painted red, with flat, simple rugs in all the high traffic areas. The door to the next room (the kitchen) is a double door made of a darker wood, with brass handles and the same simple ornamentation as the front door.
Having already checked the mantle and the fireplace, Rastorn decides the living room holds no secrets, so he follows Claire into the dining room. He keeps his lantern going, but takes a moment to cast a cantrip to light several of the candles on the chandelier. Once he can see, he counts the number of chairs, looks around for patterns of any significance, and pulls up all the rugs to look underneath them for any hidden doors. He listens at the door to the kitchen, before sitting down and waiting for everyone else to complete their searches. As soon as the rest of the group is ready to move on, he will take up position in the middle of the line.
Melias sighs and gives the pictures one last glance, then shrugs and walks to the dining room. Once there, he admires the decor. “I guess someone liked the color red.” He pauses before the overhead painting of the keep and examines it carefully, looking for anything they might have missed when they were exploring outside.
Arianna glances around and says, “I heard the color red is supposed to make people angry, to bring out the rage more.” It doesn’t take her long to become bored with their search.
Kafeera waits, tapping her axe flat in her hand. Her head is on a swivel, always searching, more like hoping, for something to jump out from somewhere, anywhere.
Claire opens the door to the kitchen and looks around inside. She searches very thoroughly, looking for items to sell.
Continued next week!
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