The four adventurers, guests of the Sounding Sword paladins, prepared to spend a well-earned night behind Castle Curnitha’s stout granite walls. Sage Vilmon, an elderly paladin who still wore his chainmail with pride, consulted his books and prepared a salve for Jalez’s wounded arm. Everitt, Prometheor and Kez bedded down in the castle’s great hall with the few holy knights who remained.
As night fell, Balthus the paladin returned from a sojourn to the east. He had trailed a band of slavers near the Darkwater River, gauging their number and harrying their flanks before returning to Curnitha to report. He brought with him several rescued villagers, innocent souls who could scarcely comprehend the fate they had narrowly avoided.
Balthus proved to be a warm-hearted comrade, and the four adventurers accepted him into their rank. Night fell, and the heroes drifted off to sleep near the great hall’s roaring fireplace. After dark, Kez and Everitt crept out to explore the drafty, expansive halls of the mostly abandoned castle.
Just before dawn, an alarm bell rang out. Guard on the wall had spotted intruders moving through the ruins just beyond Castle Curnitha’s portcullis. In truth, the castle itself was just one part of a much larger fortress that spanned the breadth of the valley they found themselves in. The rest of the complex had long since fallen into ruin, and centuries ago a small river had flooded these lowlands, creating a shallow marsh punctuated with half-crumbled towers and ruined battlements. It was in this treacherous terrain that the Sounding Sword paladins had spotted their quarry.
Balthus, Everitt, Kez and Prometheor pledged to sally forth and confront the enemy; Jalez, sleeping off the effects of his healing salve, remained behind in the castle itself. Everitt and Kez crept through the swampy terrain to close in on the intruders. Soon, they were close enough to hear voices—the miscreants proved to be a party of slavers from the same band that Balthus had confronted. They were snooping around the flooded ruins, perhaps seeking an underground passage into Castle Curnitha!
Kez and Everitt, together with a helpful bear, attacked the slavers. Back at the castle walls, Prometheor and Balthus leapt astride a warhorse and galloped across the marshy plain to lend their swords to the fray. The four adventurers quickly dispatched the slavers, but not before one tumbled into a vertical chute fashioned out of brick that led down into a dim, watery tunnel.
After a brief discussion of tactics, the party followed the slaver down into the depths. There, in the neck-deep water of the ancient flooded passageway, they fought and subdued two more slavers. They discovered that the marshy plain was riddled with forgotten passageways and flooded tunnels leading into the depths of Castle Curnitha…the paladins would never be safe until these warrens were thoroughly explored and sealed off from snooping raiders.
The four adventurers made their way back to the castle and snatched what little rest they could as dawn stole across the sky. It had been an eventful night, but more trials and tribulations were sure to come as the party continued its trek south, to Naspers and beyond…