Castle Whiterock—Chapter 1: Slavers and Orcs
- Emmeline Forthwrought, eccentric human wizard.
- Frevia Arden, self-sufficient human druid.
- Imra Shadowmantle, disciplined elven rogue.
- Melanie Shadowmantle, aristocratic human fighter.
Over the next week, the party made preparations for an expedition, laying in rations and other equipment. Emmeline researched the ruins in the Shadowmantle family library, learning that the surface was not known for any particular exotic monsters. The depths were said to be home to strange beings like troglodytes, oozes, and the ancient dragon Benthosruthsa. Frevia brewed up some antitoxin from the centipede poison she'd collected in the sewers. Imra gave orders to keep her family business running smoothly while she was gone. She also heard rumors of slavers and orcs in the surrounding countryside. Melanie had a truly excellent training montage.
The Surface RuinsFinally, the group set out for Castle Whiterock. After a long day's travel, they crested the lip of the dormant volcano and saw the ruins below, on the edge of a dark lake. A path curled down the inside of the caldera to a tunnel on the edge of the ruins. Within, they found the gate of the castle, and Melanie knocked to announce themselves. A man answered, and Imra explained that they were here to search for books, and perhaps they and the monks could work together. The guard agreed to escort them to the head of the order to discuss the matter.
As they crossed the castle courtyard, Melanie noticed that the monks were very shabbily dressed, and she a bad vibe from them. Meanwhile, Imra chatted with them and noticed holes in their story about why the monks were at Whitestone. Eventually, they were led into a large tent filled with archaeological artifacts and asked to wait for the monks' leader. Once they were alone, the party discussed their doubts about these men and considered plans for fighting if things went badly.
Unfortunately, none of them heard the figures sneaking up on the tent. In fact, their first sign of danger was when the heavy canvas collapsed around them, entangling the entire party. While Melanie and Imra struggled to escape, Emmeline and Frevia managed to slip out and found themselves facing eight armed foes. Emmeline knocked one unconscious with a color spray, but the two were quickly swarmed and knocked unconscious with skilled blows.
The leader of the "monks" threw a ceramic pot full of a foul-smelling concoction, and the stench sickened Melanie and Imra. They finally freed themselves, and the men set upon Melanie. The leader and particularly stealthy lieutenant subdued Imra and carried her and the spellcasters away from the fight. Despite her nausea, Melanie was filled with fury and dispatched foe after foe. But the numbers were too much, and she too was eventually taken down.
The Orc Slave-PitsImra woke up in total darkness. She heard sobbing around her and discovered she was in an iron cell with no door. Slowly, the others awoke as well. Melanie had been tied up, and the casters were both gagged and manacled. Thankfully, Imra had hidden her thieves' tools in her hair, and the slavers had missed them when they stripped the party of all useful equipment. Together, the party escaped their cells by climbing up the bars out onto the wooden planks that formed the "ceiling."
They also freed a few other prisoners: Sapphira, a feisty elf; Hugin, a human mercenary the orc masters liked to torture; and Kat, a frightened gnome. The larger group lifted an iron portcullis and found a storage room. Everyone found their equipment, except Kat, who stayed by the door and heard an orc guard walk by. Once armed and armored, they set out to escape.
Unfortunately, they were almost immediately set upon by orcs. A lucky hit nearly caved in Sapphira's head, but the party was able to dispatch the guards, including a hulking orc with a double axe. They took a moment to loot the bodies, including a fine chain shirt from the big orc, before moving on with their escape.