Castle Whiterock—Chapter 7: Journey to Shadowmantle Manor
- 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.
- Gryffydd, human mercenary (hireling)
The Taxman Cometh
The party returned to Cillamar late on August 2nd. When she got home, Melanie learned that her father wished to speak with her. In his office, Elric Shadowmantle told her that her party's adventures (and the accompanying wealth they've brought back from the ruins) has attracted the crown's attention, and a tax collector is coming to make a preliminary assessment for the tax rolls.
Elric does not want an agent of the crown poking around the family's business dealings in Cillamar, so he suggests that Melanie and her companions travel south to the old Shadowmantle Manor, which was abandoned 200 years ago after a great fire. They are free to rebuild the structures and reclaim the surrounding land, which the family has left unused for centuries. Excited at the opportunity, Melanie agrees to leave as soon as possible.
The next day, the group dispenses of the loot they brought back from Castle Whiterock, including trading one of the trollhound pups to Quintus at the Slumbering Drake in exchange for a number of potions. With the exception of Frevia, who is saving for magic armor, the other members agreed to pool the new wealth for use in rebuilding the manor.
A Rumble in the Woods
After laying in provisions for two weeks' travel and paying Lissa to look after the remaining trollhound pups, the group sets off on August 4th for Shadowmantle Manor, with Gryffydd the mercenary along for extra support. The first three days of travel passed pleasantly and without incident.
On the third night, however, Frevia was on watch when she heard a great crashing in the woods. She moved quickly to wake up the others, and soon three hulking figures appeared, plodding slowly and breaking off lower branches as they passed. These were undead ogres, mindlessly plowing through the brush.
Melanie, unfortunately unarmored for the night, engaged one zombie and took a few heavy blows from the creature's greatclub. Frevia held up another with a flaming sphere and a summoned earth elemental. And a clutch grease spell from Emmeline kept one unlucky zombie slipping and barely able to regain its feet before slipping again. Imra and Gryffydd soon learned that their piercing attacks did little or no damage to the creatures, and they both decided to just keep their distance and help where they could.
With all of the roadblocks, distractions, and magical enhancements from Emmeline, Melanie was able to deal enough grievous injury, and Frevia enough magical harm, that they eventually dispatched the zombies. Melanie dragged the bodies away, and the party laid back down to finish their rest.
Following the map Elric had given them, the group cam across the old Shadowmantle Manor late on the afternoon of August 7. The stream that had once flowed outside the manor's wall had shifted in the last two centuries and now ran through the middle of the courtyard, forming a small pond and splitting off in multiple directions. All of the buildings were in various stages of ruin, with most of the upper floors burned and collapsed long ago.
In the middle of the courtyard, a 30-foot-tall wall carved with memorial figures and animals stood partially collapsed. Imra spotted a wooden box tucked into a niche in the wall. When she opened it, waves of cold poured out, burning her face with frost. Meanwhile, a wire attached to the box pulled taut and heavy chunks of stone fell loose from the wall above. Most of the party was able to avoid the stone, but a piece struck Gryffydd in the head and sent him to the ground, blood everywhere. A quick cure spell from Frevia kept the man from slipping away at the very last second.
The box continued to spew forth arctic cold, and no one could get close enough to shut the lid. Imra went back into the woods to find a long enough stick. Melanie moved around the wall to examine the carvings. From behind her, she heard the sound of claws on stone and turned just in time to see a wolf charging at her from behind one of the ruined buildings. The group fought the creature, and when Melanie took of its head with her greatsword, it faded away in a shower of magical sparks. Frevia recognized the effect of a summon nature's ally spell.
Before the group could do much more, though, Melanie felt her plate armor become uncomfortably warm. Several members spotted a figure on top of a nearby building ducking back out of sight. Emmeline cast spider climb first on Imra and then on herself. They, along with Roberta the snake, then climbed atop that building to find a goblin in furs and hide armor. The goblin turned into an eagle and flew first to the top of the memorial wall and then to the tower at the far corner of the site.
Meanwhile, another wolf emerged from part of the ruins and attacked Gryffydd, knocking him to the ground but thankfully not damaging him enough to knock him out. Gryffydd and Melanie engaged with the wolf, but it proved incredibly cagey and few of the blows managed to connect.
Frevia tried to set a summoned air elemental on their foe, but the goblin was able to use a stone shape spell to trap the elemental in a bubble of rock. Imra, Emmeline, and Roberta gave chase to the top of the memorial wall. Seeing the goblin had escaped to the far tower, Roberta continued across the pond while Emmeline took a slightly longer route around and Imra held back to make better use of her longbow's range.
Frevia ran around the wall and toward the tower. As she came into the goblin's view, he pointed at the space directly in front of her and called a bolt of lightning from the clear summer sky. In Druidic, he warned her to leave the ruin and never come back.
By this point, Gryffydd and Melanie had managed to knock the wolf out, and Melanie shouted out that they would kill it if the goblin didn't surrender. Neither side had any intention of backing down, though, and the battle continued.
Roberta made it to the tower and began climbing. The goblin called another lightning bolt on her, but the hearty snake managed to cling to the side of the building. Frevia then ran into the tower and summoned an earth elemental, which swam through the stone to engage the goblin up top. And Emmeline used her spider climb to run up the tower as well, and cast grease beneath the goblin's feet. From across the courtyard, Imra took up a position on the smaller tower and fired arrows at the goblin.
With the battle so engaged, the goblin looked now to escape. He cast obscuring mist to conceal himself from his enemies. However, Emmeline took out the bag of air they'd recovered from their last trip into the dungeon and blew the mist away. A final blast from Frevia's produce flame caught the goblin square in the face, and he tumbled off the tower, breaking his neck in the fall.
On Melanie's order, Gryffydd killed the unconscious wolf rather than have the group figure out what to do with it. They examined the goblin's equipment and found he had a number of magic items, including his armor, a diamond attached to it that Emmeline had seen grant some protective aura, an amulet bearing an onyx thorn (the symbol of a sect of evil druids called the Blackthorn) and a grey silk rope.
With their enemy defeated and some new loot in hand, the party is ready to see what needs to be done in rebuilding Shadowmantle Manor.