Louis Tocqué, Portrait of a Young Man in Armor, ca. 1745-1750, oil on canvas

Crashing A Vampire Ball At Lowtide Mansion: Part 4

Blood dries under the afternoon sun. Colgrevance tends to the wounds of his bandmates with bandages and potions.

They smile and thank him, but their eyes narrow at his pristine armor. Form-fitting full plate filled with mystic power, it protects him to the precipice of invincibility.

While his companions were cut, through cloth, leather, and steel, Colgrevance was never scratched. His assault upon Lowtide Mansion was bold, but with little personal risk.

He sits head-bowed on a bench outside Drunken Sea Tavern, the closest drinking establishment to the monster-controlled estate.

Solaris comes around the corner with a frothy mug of brew. “Taste this, Boss.”

Colgrevance waves it away. “Thank you, but—”

Voice deepening, she says, “Do it.”

He sighs and sips the foam. “Whoa, it’s salty.”

“I know.” She spins her hands around, summoning a small ball of blue light. “I flavored it.”

“You should be resting.”

Solaris shrugs and releases her gathered mystics with an electric sparkle. “It’s innate witchery, nothing draining. Besides, I’ll need more than an afternoon nap to recharge my casting power.” She grins. “Messoack is ready though. I guess madness recharges him quick.”

Colgrevance drinks deep and sighs. “It’s such a beautiful day.”

“All the clouds blown away.” She covers her eyes against the bright sun. “I hate it too.”

He chuckles and stands. “Who answered my call?”

“Your fellow paladin from the Pale Crusade, what’s his name?”

“Tristen, host for Lord Sanction.”

“Yeah, and he’s far too pretty, like he fell out of a mosaic of angels.” She adjusts her tunic. “He brought ten fighting men and a missionary, all bleached of color, like him.”

“Any from the Verdant or Scarlet crusades?”

“Scarlet?” She snorts. “Why would they care about a vampire taking over the Ultramarine headquarters?”

“Bat Lady isn’t a mere vampiress. She is from the House of Velkyth. The Ultramarine Crusade were going to use her to command an army of monsters.”

Solaris claps her hands. “Until we burned their black ships and—”

And inadvertently freed her from the Ultramarine’s control.” He slumps his shoulders. “Making a fine mess of things.”

“Cheer up, Boss.” She hands him the half-filled mug he’d set down. “Messoack snagged their binding ring from the shipwreck, and Kriv’s researched some promising true names for Bat Lady.” She points at the sun. “Already today, we’ve finished off stone devils guarding the outside and now have plenty of reinforcements to storm in.”

“Any Verdants?”

She nods. “Holy war has blessed our cause with some desperate Verdant refugees, two druids and an orcelf warrior with rugged features. I think they’re done with righteousness, and our band could sure use some healers.” She grins. “And maybe a rugged half-naked man with swirling tribal tattoos.”

“You know an orcelf’s anatomy is—”

“Maddeningly perfect.”

Colgrevance smiles. “Thank you for the drink and… being you.”

“I’ve no one else to be, today.”

A bear roars.

Solaris gasps. “I forgot. Bolo came.”

“A wearebear will make a difference.” He narrows his eyes. “How much did he cost?”

“Everything in the discretionary fund, but you said—”

“That’s fine. After today, all of his weares are fired.” He shakes his head. “Remind me never to hire anyone at Wearehouse Inn again. None of them have guarded our docks a full day sober.”

“Tic toc, Boss.”

Colgrevance gulps the last of the sea witch’s salty brew and tosses her the empty mug. “I won’t charge in first this time.” He pats his helmet hanging from his breastplate. “It’s been selfish of me to chase valor and false to think it heroic. Tristen and I, with our demigod armor, will take advantage of battle’s distraction to hunt Bat Lady directly.”

“Can I stay behind the Pale Crusade fodder?” She wiggles her fingers. “I’ll refine my ranged mystics with Messoack.”

“You can stay back with Kriv and Tristen’s missionary. Beorn and Jacob will be escorting Messoack, following in my wake.”

“If you say so, Boss.”

“Mess has the bat ring. He’ll be more protected from the vampiress than the rest of us. He also has developed door opening and invisibility spells.”

She frowns. “Are you saying, our magician is more useful than me?”

“You just asked to stay behind—”

Solaris huffs. “It’s fine. I’m not mad.” She crosses her arms. “I like being left to babysit.”

“If Beorn can keep up, he can summon his demigod when Tristen and I summon ours to battle Lady Bat. I’d ask you to come too, if you hosted a demigod.”

“I’m teasing.” She smirks. “I’ve no interest in dying until I’ve mastered necromancy.”

“What?”

“So… Jacob, he’s going to be cartwheeling around and slapping monsters with his stick?”

Colgrevance fingers the hilt of his broadsword. “He looted a magic shortsword and some mystic gloves that let him climb like a spider.” He shifts into a fighter’s stance. “I hope you’re joking about undeath, Solaris. There are lines I won’t cross despite our band’s alignment ambivalence.”

“Don’t’ worry. I’m too young to worry about living forever in a state of frozen decay.” She pinches her nose. “I can wait until you’re buried.”

Pablo Picasso, Buste de femme au chapeau (Dora Maar as <strong> Solaris </strong>)
Pablo Picasso, Buste de femme au chapeau (Dora Maar as Solaris)
LUTE’s Titantale band members:

 

Colgrevance, Paladin of Valor—Leads from the front

Beorn, Ranger of Thorn—Colgrevance’s right hand

Jacob, martial artist—tumbling scout with mystic fists

Messoack, magician—loyal explorer of madness

Solaris, sea witch—whimsical lover of the grotesque

Kriv, illusionist—cheerful researcher of adventure

Other flash fiction with this band:

Black Ships Before Dawn
Crashing a Vampire Ball at Lowtide Mansion: Part 1
Crashing a Vampire Ball at Lowtide Mansion: Part 2
Crashing a Vampire Ball at Lowtide Mansion: Part 3
Crashing a Vampire Ball at Lowtide Mansion: Part 5

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