Castle Whiterock—Chapter 5: Welcome to the Dungeon

Characters

  • Emmeline Forthwrought, eccentric human wizard, with Jonathan, cat familiar.
  • Frevia Arden, self-sufficient human druid, with Roberta, snake animal companion.
  • Imra Shadowmantle, disciplined elven rogue.
  • Melanie Shadowmantle, aristocratic human fighter, with Angelina, recovered toad.

Hiring on Hands

Frevia returned from her communion to find her friends were still on the road. They arrived back in Cillamar the next day with tales of their journey to Far Cirque and their encounter with Sir Karill. The servants informed Melanie and Imra that a number of individuals had left calling cards offering various services, as word had gotten around that the party was exploring Castle Whiterock and returning with treasure.

Over the next few days, the party conducted business including:
  • Emmeline spent 24 hours conducting a ritual to summon a familiar, a cat she believes to be her brother Jonathan.
  • Melanie borrowed Jonathan and took him to the armorer refitting her new suit of plate. After some misadventures crossing town, she had a harness made so Emmeline can carry Jonathan around a dungeon on her chest.
  • Imra looked into taking on hirelings and decided to engage an animal tender and a mercenary to watch after the wagon and horses while the party is underground. She then laid in a week's worth of rations to feed everyone on their next expedition.
Finally, with everything in order, the party set out again for the ruins of Castle Whiterock. They took their time, letting Frevia supplement their rations with food and water foraged from the wilderness. On the evening of July 29, the made camp in the abandoned tents left behind by the slavers in the surface ruins.

The four adventurers went into the hidden meeting room with the damaged tapestry and Frevia cast a final mending spell to return it to decent condition. This revealed an overhead view of the entire castle from before the lake flooded into the caldera. The party realized that there must be more extensive ruins below the water.

Down, Down, Down

The next morning, the adventurers descended into the orcish mine to clear it out of any remaining loot. Checking the room behind the banner of the orcish morningstar, they discovered a makeshift throne and a long-dead fire pit. The ground was strewn with pillows and servingware, some of it fairly valuable. Imra discovered a secret door behind the throne, which revealed a staircase going down as well as a wooden chest with some more treasure.

Deeper into the mines, the party collected some more uncut quartz. At the end of the farthest tunnel, they discovered the rotted bodies of a work-crew. And behind the taskmster's chamber, Imra found another hidden door. The room beyond included a marble platform with attached manacles that seemed to be able to sink into the ground, though the party couldn't figure out how to activate the mechanism. Finally, on a hidden shelf above another mine tunnel, Imra discovered a tarnished copper ring in the shape of a seahorse.

The party decided they had cleared the entire level, so they decided to head down the staircase behind the throne room. Descending perhaps 100 feet, they emerged into a very small chamber that ended at a plain wall. Convinced there must be a secret door, Imra eventually uncovered the mechanism. Unfortunately, she didn't realize the door was trapped. As she pushed it open, a heavy load of metal armor pieces clattered to the floor beyond the door.

Swiftly closing the door again, Imra listened for activity on the other side. She heard a voice in Goblin calling out that someone had tripped the trap. Knowing they'd been given away, the party poured out into the larger room beyond. However, the room was empty except for signs of battle some time ago. Imra discovered a canvas curtain barely hiding a passageway out of the room. She saw a figure peeking through, and it ran away shouting for help.

The party arrayed itself, and Imra pulled the curtain down. Unfortunately, this triggered another trap: a giant morningstar swung out of the room and nearly knocked her unconscious. Meanwhile, a pair of spear sailed through the opening, one striking Emmeline. A group of bugbears charged the room, and Melanie, Emmeline, and Roberta fought them while Frevia healed Imra.

Uncovering Deeper Secrets

After defeating the bugbears, the group pushed into the hall they'd come from. Turning left at the first intersection, they found a pair of doors flanking the hall. Sounds of activity came from behind the first, so the party kicked in the door. They surprised a number of orcs at workbenches while an elderly orc cast a spell on himself. However, the battle was slow as Emmeline knocked one orc unconscious with color spray, Imra slaughtered two with sneak longbow attacks, and Melanie cleaved her way through the last worker and the spellcaster.

The room was some kind of alchemy lab. Imra and Emmeline looked over a bookshelf and found a number of volumes of alchemical notes and anatomical works on some kind of misshapen reptilian humanoid. As Imra peeked her head out into the hall before going to check the next room, she saw a pair of orcs carrying one such creature to the room the party was hiding in.

When the orcs opened the door, the party attacked and easily dispatched them. Imra then went to check the other room and found a storage room with one of the reptilian humanoids on a table, clearly dissected. Emmeline found a stack of parchments explaining how to remove the scent gland of a troglodyte (the humanoid) and create the stenchpots the party encountered while fighting the slavers. The party tied the sedated troglodyte up and left him in the alchemy lab before pressing on.

This level had more mine tunnels, most of them ending without interest. But deep in the mine, the party discovered the curved walls of a tower buried in the rock at a steep angle. When they approached, a raging orc charged out at them while another fired a crossbow from an opening in the wall. Combined arms from the entire party took these orcs out quickly, but Imra was nearly hit by a beam of fire from a figure floating outside of the range of the party's light sources. Melanie called out a taunt into the darkness, causing the figure to plunge the room into darkness and escape through a trapdoor in the ceiling.

Unable to safely give chase, the party pulled back to explore the rest of the mine. Unfortunately, Imra failed to notice a patch of green slime on the ceiling of the next tunnel she searched. As she was examining a blue gem on the ground, the slime dripped down onto her back. As her armor and flesh sizzled, Frevia quickly scraped the slime off with her spear, destroying the weapon but saving Imra from even greater damage.

At that point, the group decided to retreat for the day and tend to their injuries. Frevia used a scroll she'd found earlier to cast lesser restoration and get Imra some of her health back. When they emerged into the surface ruins, they found Griffith, their hired mercenary, had earned his pay for the day as he was cooking a bloodhawk that had attacked the camp. The party settled down to rest for the night.

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