After a needed night’s sleep in real beds, a good hot meal, and a briefing on recent occurrences from Lord Erin Louter (the newly declared Lord Mayor), Pieter, Irann, Faral, and Erdan set off to seek to end the Undead hold on the Castle Winterstone. Thalion remained behind to see to the safety and recovery of his mother, whom had nearly been sacrificed along with the late baron.
Before their rest, Irann and Pieter had been planning a massed assault on the castle’s front gates, using Captain Rodvar‘s archers and Traeak’s orcs. After sleeping on it, however, Irann suggested that they instead look for other, more clandestine, ways to enter the castle and take it’s undead inhabitants by surprise with a smaller force. Lord Louter and Faral recalled tales of secret tunnels used for romantic trysts in the days before the Orc Wars. Lord Louter suggested that it might be worth scouring the swamps below the bluff on which the castle rested for any such forgotten entrances.
With Erdan’s rangerly guidance, the knights and their two companions avoided detection or encounter with either the Human revolutionaries or the Tiefling forces that now patrolled the Redhill Road… that is, until they encountered the band of Human warriors unexpectedly hanging out in the depths of the swamp, at the base of the cliff just below where the Baron’s manor had once stood. They quickly dispatched four of the warriors, and the fifth tried to flee. They managed to surround and subdue him however.
When questioned, be told them that he had been sent by “The Aldovar” to serve Lucan Aldovar, and that he and his companions had been assigned to guard a nearby hidden cave entrance. He directed them to this cave and insisted he only wanted to be away from this place. Erdan tied him up securely and they left him near the cave to be retrieved for further questioning later.
Inside the entrance was what appeared to be a natural cavern. A narrow passage led down deeper into the earth beneath the castle. Hearing noises ahead, Erdan and Faral crept up to the edge of a ledge to observe a cavern full of kobalds and a single burly human gathered around a fire cooking a meal and bantering. When the knights tried to move closer and get a view, they were noticed by the kobalds, who let out a general alarm and began hurling javelins and advancing with short spears.
Neither they, nor the accompanying human, proved to be much of a challenge, but one lone kobald did escape to flee down another tunnel deeper into the complex. The companions set off in pursuit, but not quickly enough to overtake it. They were greeted with a dark passageway, more ledges leading downward, and the sound of running water. Catching sight of the fleeing kobald in the light of his enchanted longsword, Pieter lept down over a ten foot ledge to pursue him. He landed awkwardly, however, and fell to the ground in a loud clatter of plates of steel and elvish oaths.
Irann and Farall climbed down more cautiously while Erdan fired his longbow at the kobald, who once again vanished into the darkness. The sound of a human voice chanting arcane verses only briefly preceded Erdan’s sudden transformation into a foot long centipede. Advancing with his flaming blade, Irann illuminated a partially finished room, the far wall tiled with moss-covered stones and a wooden bridge over a still pool or murky water which bisected the chamber. (The sound of running water came from where the pool of water continued through a gap in the stone). A staircase climbed upward from the other side of the bridge, behind where the kobald and a pair of robed humans (a man and a woman) stood.
The battle which followed was intense, and too much to recount herein full detail. The heavily armored Pieter spent a great deal of the encounter trying (unsuccessfully) to swim after one of the warlocks hurled him into the pool. Irann was nearly killed by swarms of giant centipedes [previous victims of the warlocks’ curses?] who were lurking under the bridge. Erdan dove into the pool and pulled himself gracefully onto the far shore in order to avoid the swinging pendulum blades which were designed to strike those crossing the bridge (while Farall got to experience them firsthand). The kobald fled up the staircase early on, while the warlocks only did so when the companions began to rush them altogether. Farall taunted the male warlock to death on the stairs, but the female warlock escaped (presumably along with the kobald) through a trapdoor in the ceiling of the small room at the top of the stairs. That chamber, however, was guarded by a number of human soldiers who pelted the companions with crossbow bolts until they got up the stairs, at which point they switched to halbards laying at their feet. They were unable to withstand the knights’ assault, but two of the seven managed to follow their fellows up through the trapdoor and escape.
The battered and exhausted companions chose not to pursue this time, and secured the trapdoor as best as possible using weapons and tools available. They then returned to the Hill, where Erdan was assigned to return immediately with Captain Rodvar and his men to secure the chambers they had already cleared while the rest of the party rested.