The party continued their journey in the direction of Caste Featherstone. They asked Floi what he knew of it, which was next to nothing — it was an obscure keep, the home of some petty Lord Featherstone. He’d never been there, nor knew anyone that had. The place has a somewhat dark reputation, though he knew idea of what that might be. It’s status in respect to the Giant King was totally unknown. Coming to the Dwarf Road, they paused to allow a party of Bugbears and Ogres to pass, avoiding detection.
The party soon struck the Feather River and followed it as their guide towards the castle; across they could see a well-worn track with no one on it. South of the river, they soon came to the conclusion that there was nowhere easy to cross this far upstream (the only bridge they knew of serving the Dwarf Road and thus to be avoided). The majority of the party settled down to rest in a wooded area near the river, while a few invisible folks led by Iban scouted ahead. They soon came to the castle itself, a smallish but strong keep built atop a 20′ or so high escarpment in the V-shaped cleft of a narrowing valley. The river fell over a falls into a pool nearby and the trail passed up a cut to the level of the keep. From this vantage, the scouts could see the movement of humans atop the towers, watchful but not seemingly in a strong defensive posture. Iban then climbed the escarpment, and found that much of the keep was surrounded by waters fed by the Feather River. The gate was just across from him, and was shut. A drawbridge between two towers (detached from the main castle) crossed the moat.
With a rough layout determined, the scouts returned to the party, which now crossed the river under cover of the light woodland, and made a cold camp just out of sight of the castle. Settled in, Havok cast a divination spell regarding the castle, determining that it contained moderate danger, moderate to high reward, and with the moderate possibility of angering some divine being. They also used Parker’s owl to scout the place, and soon learned that there was a bugbear on each tower, sitting down out of sight for the most part (and some of them apparently sleeping; the humans kept as far from them as they could get). Later, they heard the noise of a patrol of Bugbears and Ogres head out, and then return several hours later (a day patrol of mounted humans was also seen later, in the same red and yellow livery as the other human guardsmen).
There was one corner of the castle that was not blocked by water and, after a full day of rest waiting, they made their way to this spot under cover of darkness. here, they snuck up tot he castle wall and used the Door of Welcome to open a doorway, thinking to step through it into the castle inside its inner keep. However, they had not understood the things functioning, as they now entered into a comfortable tavern, where the few other patrons ignored them and the barkeep nodded a welcome. The place was not what they expected, but they decided to immediately continue their plan, and departed through the door, to a shrug the barkeep’s shoulders.
They now found themselves in a stone room, apparently near where they’d hoped to end up. it was clearly someone’s quarters, though whoever occupied it was gone. parker, invisible, was sent to scout and found they were close to the castle’s great room, where the dinner feast was apparently completed and any gathering winding down. Across was a head table with a number of persons presiding, with numerous human guardsmen and the like sitting around, clearly almost ready to break up. After the party’s usual chaotic decision making process, the room’s owner appeared. Quite surprised, he was taken and questioned. he was Waylim, lieutenant of the castle guard. The castle was indeed under occupation by the Giant King, though his lord was now nominally a liegeman of the Giant King. However, Gulliveg’s representative, a half-orc named Malvorn, yet wielded a good deal of power, as he had brought a large unit of “reinforcements” to the castle, mainly Ogres and bugbears, though there were a bunch of trolls who seemed to have disappeared, “into the dungeons, most likely.” There was a great deal of tension between the humans and the newcomers. The Giant King apparently felt the keep was a good location to defend against any possible dwarven incursion into his new kingdom (in fact, the keep had been built for just that purpose during Imperial days). He also told them that Featherstone was concerned that taking out these occupiers would make him an enemy of the Giant King — his preference was for neutrality and to be left alone.
When asked, rather pointedly with a dagger, he agreed to take the party to see Malvorn. He now led them, somewhat disguised (or invisible) through the great room (now empty but for servants) down a few passages, pointing out where Ogres and bugbears now resided, and finally to a corridor with two doors, one to the Malvorn and one to the “gate tower” — Rowan could sense evil behind both doors. They now fell to arguing as to how to proceed, when the tower door opened and an Ogre appeared. Havok silenced him and he was soon slain, and Malvorn’s chamber burst into. A hold spell worked on him before he could react, and he was now questioned under ESP. he had little enough to add, except that his mission was to spy out the Keep’s secrets before slaying Featherstone and taking command. His focus was on the dungeons, though what he was trying to find out was not clear (he probably did not even know). The Giant King was concerned with a Dwarvish attack, hence his desire for this keep, but did not think it would happen. his attention was mainly shifting to taking Manston, as the hub of trade on the eastern end of the Dwarf Road. The party now slew him which, Waylim pointed out, meant war with the Giant King was almost certain.
The party now let Waylim go to warn his lord, as they decided to try the dungeon to find one of Featherstone’s retainers, a priest who’d been hiding below ever since Malvorn kicked him out of his quarters. After some vague directions on where to find him, and hauling away a rich plunder from Malvorn, they parted and the party headed into the dungeon. From a large chamber, they made their way north and east and soon found a dungeon and torture chamber. They evaluated the prisoners. Most were civilians were from Barlow’s Rest Inn, which had been apparently sacked a week before by Malvorn’s force. Also present was a dwarf from there (a merchant, from the Dwarf Kingdom) and an odd but beautiful woman. The latter soon proved to be somewhat addled — she said she’d been locked away for “first seducing, then stabbing Malvorn” because “it pleased her to do so.” These two would accompany the party. the civilians were released and told to stay put — an imprisoned human guardsman and another evil man were left locked up. The party first stopped to slay the jailer, however, a huge ugly brute of a man. Another, nearby room was found to contain a number of standing corpses, all stock still. They turned to another direction.
The party now came to a temple where they expected to find the priest. It turned out to be a temple to Roshim, the god of evil, hung with many great tapestries depicting hideously evil acts and rites. Nearby, they came to a door — that the party had trouble opening. Soon, they were confronted by the priest, who had apparently summoned a flesh golem and some undead to his aid. rather than fight him and his minions, the party parleyed and told them of the death of Malvorn, This pleased him, and he offered to avoid a fight, as he wished to immediately go to the aid of Featherstone to fight the intruders. If the party would promise not to defile his temple, he would let them pass. This they agreed to (how a Paladin does that is beyond me), and the party headed back south, talking of departing the dungeon.
– Experience: 2942 XP each