White Lilies

Episode 1: The Haunted Keep

Part 1

Background

Long ago, in the Kingdom of Karameikos, the fiefdom of Luln was ruled by a cruel and selfish vassal named Archibald Rodan. Rodan lived in a large and luxurious keep, while his subjects tilled the surrounding land to pay his oppressive taxes. One day, Rodan lost a wager to a gypsy and refused to pay. The gypsy, who was actually a powerful wizard, cursed Rodan’s entire family with lycanthropy. They immediately transformed into wererats, and retreated to the castle dungeon to hide in shame.

In the generations that followed, the Rodan keep fell to neglect, while the territory of Luln, freed from the iron grip of tyranny, flourished into a thriving farming community. The wererats’ curse gave them immunity to age and disease. The dungeon became their lair, from which they emerged only in the dark of night in search of food. After the disappearance of more than a few travelers, the citizens of Luln dubbed it “The Haunted Keep,” and told their children horrifying ghost stories to make them stay away.

Now, generations later, the keep has fallen to ruin. The only structures that remain intact are the two towers that once flanked the gatehouse, and now serve as the entrance to the dungeon below.

A few years ago, a team of adventurers set out to explore the Haunted Keep. Only one returned, a Halfling, who was wounded and crazed with fear. He kept muttering something about enormous rats, and “the Dungeon of Gruesom Ruin,” but no one was able to get anything else out of him. Eventually he left Luln for the coast, but not before turning over his map of the dungeon to Mayor Henry Velle.

Recent Events

Lily and Rose know nothing of this history. Sent by the bishop to establish a church in Luln, they have recently come to the city seeking followers and donations. Shortly after their arrival, Mayor Velle’s daughter Ilene was kidnapped by strange, hairy creatures as she picked herbs at twilight near the Haunted Keep. Her younger brother Ardbert witnessed the crime, and reported it to his father. The mayor has now offered a 1,000 gp reward to anyone brave enough to rescue his daughter from the clutches of those monsters.
Determined to right the wrong, vanquish the evil, and use the reward and whatever treasure they find to fund their mission, the pair sought out the mayor, who gave them the Halfling’s map and blessed them on their way.

The Adventure Begins

After a day’s journey, they arrived at the Haunted Keep. While exploring the West Tower, they discovered a trapdoor that led down to the Dungeon of Gruesome Ruin. The first few rooms were empty, save for a few ancient and rusted torture devices. Unfortunately, the pair neglected to bring along torches, and had to rely on their infravision to see.

The Fire Beetles

The brave adventurers stumbled upon a swarm of fire beetles, searching for food. The insects were unable to inflict much damage, and so Lily and Rose made quick work of them. Afterward, they stopped to collect the glowing glands, which gave them enough light to look for traps.

The pair were caught off guard by a flame jet trap that singed Rose to within a few hit points of unconsciousness. She was able to restore herself, but only by using up both of her prepared cure light wounds spells, leaving the pair unable to heal themselves for the rest of the day.

They discovered two charred Halfling corpses in the room, apparently members of the earlier adventuring party who had met their end at the flame jet trap. A quick search of their bodies yielded:
* 25 copper pieces
* 1 dagger
* 1 flail (which Rose would later discover to be enchanted)
* 1 hooded lantern (into which Lily inserted one of the fire beetle glands)
* 1 whetstone
* 1 spellbook (which they would later find out contains the spells dancing lights, detect magic, find familiar, and ventriloquism)
* 1 pewter holy symbol

The Black Scabbard

In the next room, the pair met a band of adventurers who called themselves the Black Scabbard, who had entered the dungeon via the east tower. They leader, Hilda, invited Lily and Rose to join their band and explore the dungeon together, with the proviso that they split any treasure 7 ways. The pair agreed, and they proceeded on their delve.
* Hilda: Female Human Thief. The leader of the Black Scabbard, Hilda is thin, with cropped golden hair and amber eyes. She wears leather armor and a shield. She carries a short sword, but prefers her sling in battle.
* Orgod: Female Half-Orc Fighter. Orgod is tall and husky, with green skin, long raven hair, and light green eyes. Two yellowed tusks protrude from her lower jaw, even when her full green lips are closed. She wears leather armor and wields a broad sword.
* Gwari: Male Gnome Illusionist. Gwari is short and stout, with wild copper hair and amber eyes. He wears robes and wields a staff.
* Ariel: Female Elf Fighter/Magic User. Ariel has a narrow face, with long white hair and soft dark eyes. She wears scale mail, wields a long sword, and carries a shield. Ariel is accompanied by her familiar, a black Abyssinian cat named Endil.
* Ziri Blackstone: Female Dwarf Cleric. Ziri is overweight, with long red hair and narrow green eyes. She wears splint mail and wields a mace.

The Stirge Nest

Now aligned with the Black Scabbard, the group proceeded to the next room, where a family of stirges nest. During the ensuing battle, Gwari nearly died of blood loss. Ziri was able to bring him back with her cure light wounds spells, leaving the party without any means of healing.

Searching through the stirge nest yielded:
* 2 amethysts
* 3 bloodstones
* 3 black pearls
* 1 blue sapphire

Hilda informed Rose and Lily that the other Black Scabbard members would hold all of the treasure, and that they would divide it up once they returned to the city.

The Giant Rats

The next room was home to a nest of giant rats, who attacked the party. After a protracted battle, they were able to vanquish the rodents. Frustrated, Rose began to complain openly that the Black Scabbard were not doing their part.

Upon searching through the rats’ lair, they discovered:
* 1000 silver pieces
* 1 Shield

The Black Scabbard kept these, promising to divide them up once they returned to the city.

The Water Torture Chamber

The following room contained a large vat of water, over which was suspended a cage by a chain. A clockwork mechanism in the wall, controlled by a lever, enabled the lowering and raising of the cage into the water. The entire apparatus was curiously well maintained.

While the party was investigating this device, they chanced upon a shrieker, whose shrill noise attracted a carcass creeper to the room. After a brief fight, they slew the beast and the shrieker.

Three more Halfling corpses littered the floor of this room. Searching the bodies, they discovered:
* 11 copper pieces
* 1 light mace
* 1 shovel
* 1 bell
* 1 scroll (which Ariel informed them contains the spell hold portal)

The Black Scabbard kept these, promising to divide them up once they returned to the city.

The Wererat Lair

Upon entering the next room, the team happened to catch three wererats completely by surprise. Yet they were unable to capitalize on the situation, as their weapons were neither magical nor silvered. Lily attempted to assassinate one of the creatures with an arrow, and missed. Rose bravely engaged one of the beasts, and in so doing discovered that the flail she had found on the body of one of the Halflings was in fact enchanted. As Orgod and Ziri engaged the other two, Lily threw a dagger at one of the wererats, hoping that it too was enchanted. Unfortunately, she missed. Gwari used hypnosis to convince one of the wererats that they were friends, but the other two continued to battle fiercely.

Defeat & Retreat

Eventually, Rose fell before the beast, and Hilda ordered the Black Scabbard to fall back. Lily bravely dragged her mentor out of harm’s way, as Gwari slammed the door shut on the creatures. The party fled to the room beneath the east tower, where they rested after the battle, as Rose slowly bled to death.

Now, with her mentor gone, and only one magical weapon, can Lily and the Black Scabbard defeat the wererats and rescue Ilene from their clutches?

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Stephen

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