Castle Whiterock—Chapter 11: Icy Interlude

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.

I'm On a Boat

The party signs on as guards with a river boat captained by a salty silver-haird elf named Framblin. With one final day in Galaron, Imra goes to the royal treasury and registers the group in the tax rolls, making sure their adventuring profits are fully legal. There is some discussion of what the party's official name should be, but no decision is reached yet.

Meanwhile, Melanie visits the Solethite monastery to say goodbye to her new friend Ella. The monk presents her with a red ribbon choker to remember her training by.

Framblin's boat is loaded with dry goods and a few dozen oarsmen. Other than the captain, who carries an impressive sword, the party are the only ones aboard that are combat-ready. Framblin tells Imra that he doesn't expect much trouble, but there's always the chance of encountering nasties in the Ice Mire.

The first day of the journey is quite pleasant. The boat passes through the rolling farmland surrounding Galaron, enjoying the breezy warmth of a summer's day. Early in the second morning, they pass through the very edge of the Ashwood Forest, and Framblin tells Imra that they'll enter the Ice Mire later that day. He plans to spend the night in a waystation within the mire where the Crown keeps supplies for travelers.

By midday, the boat passes into the Ice Mire, and the air is suddenly frigid and cloaked with mist. Small chunks of ice thunk against the shallow hull. Some time later, the party hears a droning sound from the mist, which Frevia and Imra recognize as the wings of flying insects. Suddenly eight stirges emerge from the fog and swarm the ship. The party dispatches a few with arrows, but soon Frevia, Imra, and Emmeline each have a number of the vermin latched on and drinking their blood. Imra is quite seriously drained, and Frevia also loses a significant portion before the party dispatches the pests.

Strangers in the Night

The boat reaches the waystation by nightfall, and the party goes inside to start a fire while the crew begins to unload some supplies. Captain Framblin covertly passes Imra a potion of lesser restoration to help her recover some of her lost blood. Melanie and Emmeline agree to take watch outside while Imra and Frevia rest. The crew spends the night singing and gambling in the cozy warmth of the stone structure.

Late in the evening, a crewman named Klev stumbles outside to relieve himself. When he's gone a bit too long, Melanie and Emmeline decide to look for him. They hear suspicious sounds from the darkness behind the building and go to investigate. Emmeline casts invisibility in herself, and Melanie tries to be stealthy as they move. The fighter catches a glimpse of upward movement in the mist and fires a few arrows into the darkness, but she doesn't hear if they connect with anything.

Suddenly, a hulking, misshapen figure with blue skin, long arms, and taloned fingers drops down before Melanie with a painful crunch. It slashes her with its claws, and freezing cold flows off of it in waves. Emmeline recognizes it as some kind of ice-infused troll, but Melanie doesn't care. She just chops away at it with Treeheart.

Inside the waystation, Jonathan feels Emmeline's fear, which alerts Imra and Frevia. They head out to find the others, coming on the scene as Melanie is savaging the body to keep it from regenerating. Frevia uses flaming sphere and produce flame to burn the troll to true death. Inside the remains, they find a frozen cluster of gems and coin.

"Most impressive," says an old woman's voice from the night. The party looks but can see no visible source. "Not very efficient, but entertaining." Cold grips Emmeline's heart as she recognizes the voice  as the old witch who cursed her family, turning them all—including her brother Jonathan—into animals. The figure known in Morrain folklore as Lylin, the Twilight Witch. The voice even recognizes Jonathan in his cat form, though she does not seem to know Emmeline is there, as she is still invisible.  "Go back to your companions and enjoy the night," the voice says. "You will not be molested further."

The party retreats to the waystation, to regroup, think, and count their loot. Emmeline tells the others what she knows of Lylin, and they all realize how close they came to being utterly destroyed by the witch. There is some talk of calling themselves the Twilight Valkyries after this encounter.

The Road Home

The rest of the trip on the boat passes without incident, and they arrive at Stonebridge late on the fourth day. The party agrees to give 20 gold from their 100-gold payment to Klev's mother. Captain Framblin thanks them for their service. The party sets out on foot in the morning, and reaches Cillamar safely five days later.

Imra explains the deals she made in Galaron to Lord Shadowmantle. He is concerned about the arrangements, but he trusts Imra to make it work. It's on her head if she can't however. He urges her to set out without delay for Castle Whiterock to locate the material Angela Stein wants from the Clockwork Academy.

The party also puts 5,000 gold down to begin reconstruction on Shadowmantle Manor. It's only enough to cover the week of surveying and a week of building, but Imra hopes they can return from the ruins in that time with enough money to keep the teams working.

The party will set out for the ruins in hopes of treasure and to discover the location of the Clockwork Academy. The ruins beckon...


Popular posts from this blog

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part One

Castle Whiterock—Chapter 9: The Road to Galaron

Eidol Summoning — A Framework for Magical Allies in GURPS