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The Hunt For Castle Roodpart
There once was a small coastal human settlement by the name of Tolp. Long ago, the village was small; a simple fishing town on the bluffs of the western coast. One day while out on the water, a fisherman saw something glinting in the face of the cliffs.
Upon further investigation, the man discovered that the glint was a vein of gold. After organizing a small group of men, they started to mine. After weeks of tedious and tiring work, they struck the vein of gold. The village celebrated as the men started to wheel chunks of ore from the mine. But several days after hitting the vein, the floor of the mine in the deep started to crumble. The original man could not outrun the crumbling floor.
And so the man fell, but he fell into a pool of water only thirty feet from the mine. Upon surfacing from the water, he discovered that the mine had collapsed into a crystal cavern, and all the crystals were glowing with ancient magicks.
And so the gold mine became a crystal mine, and the town profited from the export of the crystals, but raiders quickly descended on the town as soon as news of the riches spread. Luckily, an order of Paladins caught news of the small town's prospering, and rid the town of the bandits. In exchange for a place to stay and food, the Paladins agreed to stay and protect the town. That was the day that Tolp started to become the magnificent place it is today.
It was within the lifetime of the fisherman that the Paladins came, and the king had decided that the fisherman deserved to be recognized for his actions, so he commissioned a statuette depicting the man striking at a small crystal formation, completely crafted from the crystal of the town's mine. The fisherman was still alive, but a frail old man nearing his deathbed. The day the statuette was completed was the day it was supposed to be awarded to the fisherman, but he disappeared, along with the statue.
The king enlisted the help of recent graduates from the city's academy to search for the statuette, which had cost a small fortune to craft. That years class had left, and returned a month later, minus two and none of them could speak for weeks, only shudder and stare blankly into space. Upon inquiry of what happened, most went into shock and started screaming and curling up in a ball, but others simply asked to forget about it.
For the next half of a century, the graduating classes kept attempting to search for the statuette, less and less returning traumatized, but all never spoke a word about the adventure. There had been one adventurer who helped the most recent graduates return.
"I found them outside the entrance of a strange castle. I dared not venture into the castle, but my brother spoke to me and said the castle was the remains of the ancient Castle Roodpart."
And for the next decade, no one dared to start this venture again. Today, however, a group of graduates from the academy will participate in this before they leave Tolp for good.
An elf stood at the gates to the town, staring quietly at the ragtag band of adventurers around him. A short squat human with rosy cheeks greeted the elf happily.
"It is always a pleasure to see children leaving to become adults in the world, I have high hopes for you all." He shook the elf's hand. "I would like to know your names before you all set off."
The elf, standing at almost eye level with the man, simply said, "Sni". Another elf, with a darker skin tone and frazzled hair happily shook the man's hand. "Dominique."
A half elf looked up from his seat on the ground, and stopped whittling for a moment to smile and say, "Scott." Sitting on a tree stump next to him was a half-orc with a brutish look on his face, he merely grunted, and ignored the man.
A man dressed in robes with a face-mask slapped the half-orc on the back. "Come on now, Brandyn, that's no way to treat our king. He shook the king's hand at his wrist. "It's good to see you outside the castle, Boromir! How is your hand treating you?"
Boromir laughed, and popped his right hand off. It was wooden. "It's been feeling less painful as of late, which is a great sign of things to come!" The elf, Sni, stared at Boromir's hand.
"Might I ask how you lost your hand?"
Boromir reconnected his hand, and looked out into the forest wistfully. "I lost it searching for Castle Roodpart, in search of the lost statue of the fisherman."
Brandyn looked at Boromir. "Roodpart? My mother told me stories of that castle, it used to be the most gigantic kingdom in all of this continent, until it was overtaken by evil and shattered. I hear tales of riches being hidden away in the remains."
Boromir nodded. "I once found a part of the castle, but when I entered..." Suddenly, he stopped speaking, and shook his head disappointedly. "I cannot speak of what happened there, but I only wish I had stayed there longer..."
Scott sheathed his knife. "I say we set out for this castle of yours." Boromir gave his a sad smile.
Richard ruffled Scott's hair. "Scott, you always were the one to go for the easiest pay. But if you insist on it, I suppose I should join you." Brandyn grunted in agreement, Dominique nodded, as did Sni.
"I'll come too!" came a pip from the ground behind Dominique. A small Kender girl was sitting there, drawing in the dirt, but stopped to look up with a shine in her eyes.
Boromir chuckled. "I suppose I should wish you all good luck. I hope you all are more successful than I am in this endeavor."
It appeared that night had struck without them having noticed, and they laughed it off as they headed off to the inn for the night. Once morning was brought, they left, heading towards the forest in the distance.
Dominique got a sly smile on his face, and attempted to mount Richard, only to be shrugged off and fall onto a sharp rock. He grimaced, but attempted to mount Scott's horse, while he was on it. He got jabbed in the ribs by Scott's elbow, but he managed to stay on, and Scott ignored him.
Soon, they reached the forest, and managed to trudge on through the thick brush blocking their way, grumbling about the thorns and burrs. Soon enough, though, they were walking on the semblance of a path, dirt and brush having been apparently trampled down. Richard looked through the canopy and saw the peak of a mountain in the distance.
After a few minutes of walking, the bushes off to the side began rustling with the wind, and the path began to warp and bend around dead trees at awkward angles. Suddenly, the path met the face of a cliff with a small clearing right at the base.
Sni, Richard, and Brandyn walked closer to the cliffside to examine it. The cliff was a straight 90 degree angle, and the ground was flat; it appeared as though a gigantic amount of rock was cut from the mountain. Richard, Brandyn and Nique heard angered chanting bouncing around them from the trees, and felt some pebbles tumbling from the sky onto their heads.
Richard and Sni dived away from the cliff, narrowly avoiding bowling ball sized rocks hitting their heads. Brandyn looked up, and a rock fell directly onto his forehead. The rock shattered, but he fell to one knee. Nique and Desy backed up to the cliff, unaware of the rocks falling, and both were taken down by a rock to the head.
Richard stepped on a sharp rock, jumped, as it had tore through his cloth sandals, and shouted at the top of his lungs, "God dammit!" His shout was met with a "thunk" and he looked down to see a crossbow bolt having pierced his foot and the ground. He shouted in pain again, and another bolt was shot at him, this one taking a piece of his earlobe off.
Brandyn raised his interlocking twin tower shields, and deflected a volley of bolts and arrows. Sni raised his buckler, just as several bolts were shot at him and they stuck into the wood. As they dodged the arrows and bolts, more and more chanting was heard around them. Scott decided that standing in the range was a bad idea, so he backed his horse up to the forest, when he was ripped off of his horse.
Richard, in his suffering, cast a spell that produced a white-hot flame covering the bottom of his hand, and he chopped the tail of the bolt off, and tore his foot off of the ground, and dived over to Sni. Brandyn tried to intimidate his opponents with a war cry, but another volley of arrows forced Brandyn to collapse under his shields.
Scott elbowed his captor and he fell to the ground, flat on his back. He looked up to be obliged with a pair of hoofs attempting to smash his face, so he flash drew his dagger and stabbed the heel of one of the hooves.
Richard, having given up on attempts for retaliation, dropped his dagger, and knelt in a position of surrender. Sni had recognized what language the chanting was, and dropped his flail in the dirt.
A centaur thundered out of the forest toward Sni, shouting at him in Sylvan. "This is Centaur land, begone trespassers!"
Sni replied, in Sylvan, "We mean no disrespect, but we are in search of the Castle Roodpart." The centaur whinnied uncomfortably.
"It is unholy to speak of the Fractured Kingdom by it's true name." More centaurs started to come out of the forest. "To the southeast, there is a field. Past the field lies a river. Follow the river, and you shall find yourself at the doorstep of the Fractured Kingdom, but I beseech you do not go there, horrific things occur within it's walls."
The centaur that had grabbed Scott was limping out of the forest. "The hybrid stabbed me in the hoof!" Some of the other centaurs chortled, one even slapped him on the back.
That centaur said, "Algor'oc, you must learn to not startle the small ones!" At that the other centaurs laughed, and Algor'oc became very flustered.
Scott crawled back onto his horse and started to hug himself, having almost wet himself due to the centaur. Brandyn somehow managed to unlink his tower shields and get back onto his feet, as well as Dominique and Desy. Richard stayed sitting on the ground, moaning about how much his foot hurt.
Sni watched Richard as he started to rummage in his pack for bandages. Sni turned to the centaur, "Do you have anything to heal his foot?" The centaur gave him a folded up leaf.
"Inside is our most potent healing salve. It should not only heal his foot, it should also counteract the poison if enough of it got into his system." The centaur whinnied again, appearing to get ready to head out.
Sni handed Richard the salve and told him to heal himself. After applying the salve, Richard bandaged up his foot and managed to stand on it. The centaur pounded one fist a single time onto his chest, a very old symbol from centaur militaries that commanded much respect. Sni followed suit, and they spoke at once, "Travel swift, drink heavy, and die glorious." The centaur made a hand gesture in the air, and almost at once, all of them virtually disappeared.
It wasn't long until the group hit the plain, and from there the walk to the river was cake. Richard, having seen the river, ran at it and drank from it heavily, as he had forgotten water-skins. Sni, on the other hand, had felt something evil radiating from the river, so he cast Detect Poison, and at once knew the river was heavily poisoned with massive amounts of lead. He started to chuckle evilly.
Desy, having been playing with dirt for most of the journey, noticed that the grass growing by the river was a different color than the field grass. The river grass was a deep, blood red, compared to the dark green of the field grass. Desy unsheathed her knife and cut a stalk of grass, and lightly dipped her tongue into the blood juice left on the blade. Immediately her eyes widened, and she began spitting. "Richard, the river is poisoned!"
Richard promptly pulled his head out of the river and started coughing and hacking. He tried to stand up, but he was coughing too heavily. Desy and Dominique ran over to try to help, but he held his arm up to tell them to back off a bit. After coughing for another minute, the fit subsided, and Richard stood up completely. "Went down the wrong pipe, I'm not worried about poison," he said, laughing off the possibility of dying. Richard simply just heated up his hands with a spell and dried out his hood as he walked down the river.
After a few minutes of mild bickering, solely between Dominique and Sni, the party arrived at what looked like the remains of the front of a castle, slightly sunk into the ground, the river flowing from directly under the castle. And scribed into the stone of the wall were several words in Draconic. "Here lie Castle Roodpart. All ye who be not welcome flee for safety of life." Dominique and Sni knew what the script said instantly, and they started to plot.
Richard, though, also knew Draconic, and butted into their conversation to see what they were up to. As he tried to though, he couldn't hear them over the wind, which had suddenly picked up rapidly. As soon as the wind picked up, the ground started shaking, and it became black as night. Richard was about to scream when-
Doug yawned as he finished folding up the map. I nudged Andy, who then pushed Brandyn lightly to the side, and he fell onto the air mattress with Crab, both of them jolting awake. Doug threw a beanie at Dominique and Desy, who were making out in a chair, and shouted, "Facesuckers, stop sucking face!" Doug looked at Scott, "Scott, Dr. Flippy." Instantly, Scott had tossed a butterfly knife to Doug, who caught it between his thumb and forefinger, spun it, flipped it, tossed it up, caught it again, spun it once more, got a perfect grip on it, and then stabbed it into the table.
I yawned as I softly applauded Doug's amazing feat of dexterity, and as I fell onto the floor, I landed on a bean-bag, and passed out at Six A.M.