Castle Whiterock—Chapter 3: The Skin of One's Teeth

Characters

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

Hidden Tapestry

Before leaving the watchtower, the party decided to check for any way further down. Imra uncovered a disguised trapdoor in the floor which led to a 180-foot shaft with an iron ladder descending. With glee, Melanie slid swiftly down the ladder, landing in an empty round chamber with a shallow alcove. She discovered a hidden latch in the alcove's far wall which allowed her to slide open a secret door.

The room beyond contained a large meeting table and chairs, long since ruined by time, and the tattered remains of a fine tapestry depicting the castle grounds. When the rest of the party arrived, Frevia cast a mending spell on the tapestry, and while she believed one more casting would fully restore it and allow them to see the ancient layout of the castle, she couldn't spare the magical energy at the time. Meanwhile, Imra discovered another secret door which led into the underground portion of the first level ruins, and the party carried on.

Minus and Findle

Going down the stairs to the orcish mines, Imra decided to cut the trip wires she had discovered during their escape. The taut steel wires made a loud PANG sound, and the traps were no longer an issue. The party reached the guardroom below to find the furniture had been set right and the room cleaned up slightly. Before they could reach the southern door, however, they were set upon by a pygmy minotaur with a longspear. A combination of daze spells from Emmeline and attacks by Melanie, Imra, and Roberta the viper felled the creature.

Imra checked the southern hall and saw doorways on either side halfway down. The first was locked, and none of the keys they had recovered so far opened it. But Imra easily picked the lock and revealed a storeroom full of foodstuffs and mining supplies. The room across the hall, however, contained a panicked half-orc sorcerer who lobbed an acid splash at Imra's face as she opened the door. Unfortunately, Emmeline dazed the attacker, and Imra and Melanie dispatched him.

Also in the room was a frightened young gnome man—Findle Glimer, brother of Kat, who they'd rescued from the prison cells the previous day. Thankful, he told them that the orcs had been forcing him to cut quartz crystals for them for weeks. The party escorted Findle out of the ruins to the stable on the surface where he hid until they could return. They also recovered a large amount of rough quartz and some books, including Kat's apprentice spellbook, which they intended to return to her when they made it back to Cillamar.

Freedom!

Back underground, they continued on down the hallway. It turned and led to a large open chamber from which they could hear the sounds of mining. A side hall split off as well, and a banner hung over it of a taloned hand clutching a morningstar. The group decided to head for the mine, as their goal was rescuing slaves. Four orc guards watched over ten human slaves who were sorting quartz from useless rock and powering a heavy conveyor belt that carried mine carts from deeper within.

A hasty shield spell from Emmeline alerted one guard to their location, but Imra dispatched him quickly with an arrow. Emmeline enlarged Melanie, and the giant warrior woman rushed into the room with Roberta trailing behind. The orcs peppered her with crossbow bolts, then one moved to engage her and the snake. Another orc took a slave as a human shield, but Imra put an arrow through the guard's eye, saving the hostage.

The final guard ran to the wall and rang a warning bell, which summoned four more guards moments later. However, Emmeline broke the conveyor they were riding on and blocked the end of the tunnel, so two rushed her while the others held back with crossbows. A color spray from Emmeline knocked the closest ones out to be dispatched by Roberta. A thrown axe from Melanie felled a third, and the final guard retreated to the next room, where he began killing the slaves there. Enraged, Melanie gave chase and split his head with another thrown axe.

A hulking armored orc emerged and rushed Melanie, twisting her greatsword Treeheart from her grip. A brutal scrum ensued, but Emmeline's daze spell left the orc open to reprisals from the entire party. The group was gravely hurt by this point, and Frevia and Emmeline were nearly out of spells, so they chose to retreat with the recovered slaves.

Big Boss

As they ran back toward the guardroom, however, they heard an angered curse in Orcish echoing through the hall, and then the sound of something armored running after them. The party stood their ground in the guardroom while the slaves continued up the stairs. The heroes waited tensely for several moments, ready to attack whatever came through the southern door. Unfortunately, it was the west door that flew open, and an armored trollhound rushed through, followed by an orc with a bloodstained greataxe.

The trollhound charged Frevia and caught her in its crushing jaws, nearly killing her. A lucky color spray from Emmeline knocked the beast out before it could worry Frevia to death. Roberta returned the favor, tearing out the beast's throat to avenge her mistress.

Meanwhile, Melanie engaged the orc with a solid blow, but he flew into a rage and cut her down with a swipe of his axe. He then turned on Emmeline and Imra. One final daze spell from Emmeline, however, stopped him in his tracks. Imra and Roberta were able to take him down. Emmeline and Imra bandaged their friends well enough to move them with the help of some of the slaves, and the entire group escaped to the surface.

Shopping Episode

Leading a baker's dozen of slaves and a similar number of horses, the party limped back to Cillamar. They sold a rust spider gland to Quintus at the Slumbering Drake, and when they mentioned trollhounds, he seemed very excited to get his hands on a live specimen. (Melanie is also keen on bringing a breeding pair and their pups back to her family's kennel.) Lady Chuantessa bought the few books they'd found, and the party decided they would offer her the castle tapestry as well, once they'd finished mending it.

The next week or so, the party rested and sold off all of the treasure they'd recovered. The orc barbarian yielded a cloak of resistance and a cat's grace potion, which the party kept, and magic studded leather, which they sold. Melanie borrowed a few hundred gold from Imra and conducted a midnight vigil to awaken the magical power within Treeheart. Frevia visited the temple of Justicia, the goddess of justice and defense, and received a wand of cure light wounds in exchange for a hefty donation. And Emmeline discovered a pair of arcanist's gloves at the caravaner's guild hall which will provide temporary enhancement to her minor magics.

With more power and experience, the party is ready to continue exploring Castle Whiterock...


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