“Take a look at a castle. Any castle. Now break down the key elements that make it a castle. They haven’t changed in a thousand years. 1: Location. A site on high ground that commands the territory as far as the eye can see. 2: Protection. Big walls, walls strong enough to withstand a frontal attack. 3: A garrison. Men who are trained and willing to kill. 4: A flag. You tell your men you are soldiers and that’s your flag. You tell them nobody takes our flag. And you raise that flag so it flies high where everyone can see it. Now you’ve got yourself a castle. The only difference between this castle and all the rest is that they were built to keep people out. This castle is built to keep people in.”
22nd of Hammer, 1049 TR : The continuing adventure, wherein the Fierce Creatures slip over the pass and survey the village of Shadowfang – “Pebble” and its fortress Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark for the first time. They found a hidden, broken way into the castle, wending their way through the UnderCellars, and up into the castle itself. In their journey, they discover that the ancient founders of the castle’s cellars were not human, but some sort of “snake-men”, and they have left their mark on the ruins.
In the upper Bailey, they trick their way through the outer buildings and walls, and sneak directly into the Great Tower, confronting the local nobleman, Lord Urrevor Koth and his small army of hobgoblin and gnoll mercenaries. Taking the soldiers apart, unit by unit, they are able to capture the castle, and take the surviving mercenaries prisoner, offering them positions as soldiers in the castle garrison. Also, the group rescue several prisoners, including on Umberto, a local leader of the Snowreach Rangers, and several young women servants, from Tir Feldar.
Returning to the depths, they confront several senior soldiers and casters allied to the local lord, a hobgoblin shaman of the Ice Goddess, Enkara, who escapes, and a necromancer, Vistola, the Gray, whom they slaughter along with her wolf and elemental guards.
The group then returned to Tir Feldar, making a snow sledge with a pair of Ghost Horses as draft animals, and offered to hire several girls to help in taking care of the castle proper. First, however, they decide to take an extended trip to the capital at Pelargir – City of Ghosts, to officially lay claim to the castle and nearby lands through their Charter of Rights and Entitlement.
They undertake a harrowing journey through constant snows, along with Lady Alimira of Blackhill, intent on making a detour to take her to her home north of Pelargir. Several cold days later, the group pulls into the capital, and manage to get an audience with Lord Ciramir, presenting their Cahrter, and recieving a small force of spearmen led by Sir Roderick the Green, who is hosting a collection of colonists raised by the Charter’s sponsors. He has sufficient monies and supplies for the group for the Winter, and is ordered to make ready to leave in a week’s time. The group then spends a couple days resupplying themselves, procuring some arcana and other goods, and then left north to the Northern Border Lords.
Along the journey on their snow sledge, they encounter an ambush by a young red dragon that is laying waste to the region, but escape and continue north to the Jarldom of Blackhill, discovering that Alimira was secretly the local Jarl’s daughter. They are treated well, informed of the depredations of a marauding red dragon, and told that their help in rescuing the young heir, has ensured the Jarl’s and his fellow Lord’s assistance in some future task. The group then returned south, taking another short trip into the Great Basin and a hill west of the road, where they uncover one of the lost gates (the Autumn Gate ) accessing The Phookas realm. They re-enter the capital, claim their goods and colonists, and left as a large caravan of guards, wagons, carts and pack beasts on the journey back to The Howling.
Returning to Tir Feldar in late Alturik, the group gather their servants, and plan for the harrowing multi-day trip over the pass. First, they pay the locals to make a hasty repair to the bridge over _Red Gorge _ just south of the town, taking a couple days to rest. While this is occurring, the adventurers travel up the pass to Summit Tower, and clear the caltrops scattered across the roadway of the pass. Then, Fangrik with Ash on his back, clamber up to the top of Summit Tower, and begin a dangerous combat in the ruins of the tower’s top chamber. Subduing the creature, named Brightfeather, they use rituals to bring the creature down off the tower, tie it in ropes and bring it back down to Tir Feldar as a trophy. They then buy numerous chains to more securely bind the creature, along with a small flock of sheep to feed it.
The next day, the group slowly wound their way up the dangerous snow-bound Snowreach Pass, reaching Summit Tower some days later, tired and exhausted. They sacrifice several sheep in a feast (and for the hatred-filled Griffon). While resting, the group explores the ruins of the mining camp, entering the abandoned mine, and exploring further into its depths. Ash uses his technical knowledge to activate several rusty mechanisms to help them. Deep in the depths, they uncover a trapped Nixie, Invee Ablehas – “Lilac Moon”, and skillfully manage to free her from her prison, though she promises to help them in return when she can, giving vague directions to her home “…some miles to the north, under the mountain…”.
The group hurried down the south side of the pass, making good time, before arriving late in the morning to Stonefist. They settled the colonists in teh castle offering supplies from teh castle to help, and went to sleep after a long, exhausting journey in late Winter.