Castle Mystery, Part II: Reunions, RP frog business, and reckless consequence combat
While the party proceeded to explore the rest of the castle, Cithrel and Dahlia doubled back and freed Xinas from his stasis pod. Upon questioning, Cithrel offered information regarding her research into the missing villagers, the premises, and the previous tenants who mysteriously disappeared a few years prior - the Chasteler family. She promised that after returning Dahlia back to Galehaven she would return to the forests just to the north of the castle and wait to intercept and protect any villagers that the party would manage to free. They parted ways and Xinas returned to the company of his motley crew.
The group pressed on, deeper into the second structure of the castle while following the trail of blood and gore. They found themselves in an overgrown courtyard, where Pistachio started tinkering with the broken bench that overlooked a man-made pond. Tarn discovered and conversed with a strangely well-spoken frog using the Speak with Animals spell, who introduced itself as Lillypad von Ribbit. Lillypad revealed to Tarn that he had lived in the castle since before the previous tenants disappeared many years ago. However, the “young lady” of the castle, a young fiery-haired human woman, still came and went, but he had not seen the young lady since after the incursion of the new creatures a few months ago.
Lillypad also revealed that he and his two siblings (given the names Guinevere Stefroggy and Hopperdink by the young lady) were captured by the creatures, but managed to escape after a dawning of intellect. Lillypad suspected that Guinevere would retreat to the young lady’s quarters, and Hopperdink would likely hide in a place where copious amounts of food could be found. Tarn asked where about in the castle was most dangerous, and Lillypad confirmed that following the trail of blood would be most deadly, but to tread carefully anywhere in this second structure as it was under periodic patrol.
Despite the warnings and the urging of some in the party that they shouldn’t run headlong into danger, they proceeded to follow the blood trail and burst into the castle tower (rather noisily). When they got inside they found that the blood trail split before them in either direction along the wooden floor of the tower structure. Assorted cages and pens of creatures hugged the walls on either side of them, filled with chickens, foxes, and rabbits. A partially obscured stairwell sat before them, and beyond they could see what appeared to be large vats and eerily familiar organic masses along the walls, glowing faintly, and occupied. As they barged in, two creatures that were overlooking one of the vats spun around angrily, weapons drawn, and attacked them.
A melee ensued. Marret recognized the larger of the two creatures as being a sahuagin, a sea devil she had heard in many a sea shanty. The smaller creature, another locathah like the one they faced in the store room, seemed timid but joined the fray. As Pistachio and Aldon bore the brunt of the attack, the others heard a torrent of rushing water from behind them - a water elemental bearing down on them. Everyone attempted to flee the elemental by rushing inside of the tower, and Loopy started to try to close the doors behind them.
The sahuagin and locathah were readily dispatched, though not without dispensing considerable damage, and by then the water elemental had caught up with the group. The water elemental proved to be more troublesome, overtaking Aldon and Pistachio’s empty automaton, leaving Aldon unconscious and the automation severely damaged. It then set its sights on Loopy and Marret, managing to knock out Loopy with a slam and ensnared Marret. With some more well placed spells and whittling away with swords, the elemental was finally defeated, leaving little more than a puddle on the floor.
Licking their wounds, the group managed to stabilize the wounded and regain some HP before taking in more of the tower. Looking more closely at the stasis pods, they found that one of them held an elven man who appeared to have some aquatic features. The other pod appeared to contain Loopy’s missing elven mother.