The party kills a bunch of skeletons, including a tougher one with a foreign sword. In the hilt is a note that suggests a special destiny for Ameiko, a friend of the PCs. Other clues point to the abandoned Brinewall Castle, so the party heads that way.
The small village around the castle on the hill is also abandoned, and after a brief bit of poking around and talking to a fairy, the party moves toward the castle.
That’s when Ameiko freaks out and goes catatonic. Any attempt to move her makes it worse, unfortunately, so they leave her with Shalelu the elf to guard her and move on.
Inside, the castle seems to be taken over by raven-headed psychopaths and mutant ogres, among other horrors. Oh, and it’s apparently haunted, too.
The PCs eventually encounter the leader of these monsters, some kind of shape-shifter bird-man thing that fancies itself a playwright. The PCs fight it, of course. (In their defense, it attacked first.) Unfortunately, the annoying thing keeps using dimension door to escape after a couple of rounds. More bird-men, troglodytes and bleeding-ghost-walls later, the PCs meet a mute harpy in a tower. She telepathically informs the PCs that she’ll help kill the leader, whom she’s had a falling out with.
The PCs hide (poorly) while the harpy summons the leader, and they wipe him up pretty easily. Unfortunately, once it’s dead, the harpy turns on the party. Was that her plan all along, or was it because the alchemist accidentally exploded her with a strange firework missile? Unfortunately, mute (plus dead) harpies don’t talk, so we’ll never know.
The party does a bit more exploring, but the encounters begin to wear upon them, and they decide to return to the caravan, only to discover that Shalelu and Ameiko are gone! Investigation reveals signs of a struggle. Worried for their friends, they dive back into the castle and begin searching room to room.
After several more encounters, including some kind of bird-lady and her giant-bat-thing pet, the PCs just can’t go on. Crossing their fingers and praying to their patron deities, they return to the caravan to recover.
The next morning, hoping they’re not too late, the party enters the front gates of the castle, only to find it a total wreck. It seems that without leadership, the bird-men have reverted to their natural, filthy state. Everything is broken furniture, half-eaten “things”, dead troglodytes, and (man-sized) bird crap.
The party isn’t expecting this, and gets swarmed in the gatehouse, but with luck and solid defense from the dwarven tank, they emerge victorious.
The party takes up once again where they left off, going room to room. Clearing the second floor, the party moves to the dungeon, and after the alchemist gets poisoned by spores from an angry mushroom, they open another door to find a jail, guarded by a slow-witted ogre. If the thing had gotten a chance to hit the party with its favorite boulder-tied-to-a-sapling, they would have really felt it. As it is, it barely had time to process what’s going on before it is attacked on all sides, tripped and then murdered to death. “Prison Guard” duty apparently does not pay enough.
Inside the cages are the seriously injured Shalelu and catatonic Ameiko, as well as a stranger, a lady named Kelda.
Without having to worry about the immediate welfare of their missing friends, the party takes a moment to gather their wits before continuing…