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The Savage Assault on Castle Blood
It has been an eventful week for you. First, your lands came under attack by the Achaean Empire, who pushed deep into the Southwestern Wilds and retook the ancient crumbling monument called Castle Blood. Then, you were asked to join a team of elite adventurers tasked with slipping past Imperial lines and infiltrating the castle, in an attempt to seize the power that lies deep within its dungeon... before the Imperial team can reach it.
Now you find yourself traveling with a strange group of assorted peoples, the likes of which you have never seen all in one place together: two Minotaurs, a centaur, a pixie, an exceptionally skinny beetle-man, a fox-man, two half-elves, and a rare creature called a moth-kin. Walking together under the reddish light of the setting sun, trying your best to move quietly, you approach the looming monolith of Castle Blood.
A short, dark-haired satyr - his tanned skin marked with strange black tattoos - meets you at the outskirts of the castle, bobbing nervously from hoof to hoof as he explains: "Welcome to the party, boys. So you're the team Knossos assembled to pull off this insane job? I'd almost think we could do it... if there weren't an Imperial army between us and the castle."
"Name's Driu, by the way," he goes on, giving a mocking salute to the towering black Minotaur named Metallon. "I guess you're the one in charge, right? Of course, a party like this doesn't have a real leader. There's always gonna be some debate. So everyone else listen up too, and I'll tell you what I found when I scouted the perimeter."
He waves a stubby, hairy arm in the direction of the hills looming behind the row of bushes ahead. The tallest hill bears the weight of Castle Blood, rising like a man-made mountain. On the hills surrounding it, you can make out some hastily-constructed wooden fortress walls, and the movement of Imperial soldiers finishing their construction.
"The Imps have put up a palisade wall all the way around the castle, and they're constructing a big camp almost like a fort on the opposite side of the castle from where we're standing. Fortunately, most of the soldiers are over there right now, leaving our side relatively clear... you know, relatively. They still outnumber us at least three to one.
"The way I figure it, there's three ways we can get past the Legion and reach the castle. First, obviously, there's that big hole in the wall there. If you boys are crazy enough to want to try an' fight our way through, that might be the place to do it. But since that's where the wall is still being built, that's also where most of the soldiers are. And again: three to one against us, maybe four to one. I'm a gambler, sure, but I don't like those odds.
"The second obvious way in is that little gorge there, full of shrubs. The Imperials couldn't build the wall over it, so they just positioned archers along the sides. If we were sneaky enough, we could make our way through the trees and shrubs down there without the Imps ever even seeing us. Of course, if they did see us, we'd be sitting ducks for the archers to turn us into pincushions. Might be hard for them to get a good shot through all the growth, but either way, we couldn't easily fight back. Still, that's the way I'd go... you know, if I was goin' in alone.
"Then of course there's the third way: straight past the wall itself. We could pick a spot that looks the least defended, and then either smash the wall down or climb over, assuming we've got the skills and the tools necessary to pull that off. Once we're past the wall, the defenses will be lighter than at the breach, and we'll have a mostly clear shot to the castle.
"There's probably a fourth or fifth way too, but I haven't thought of 'em. I'm open to suggestions. But I doubt we'll be able to talk our way past. I think all of us know some halting Imperial tongue, but I don't think they'd listen. Probably on orders to kill any locals on sight. So, what do you boys think? Obviously, we could all just split up and pick the way that seems best to us, and meet back up inside Castle Blood... or we could take a vote and go as a group. That is, unless the noble Metallon wants to issue orders all military-like. What'll it be, lads?"
He looks back at the group, stroking his pointed beard nonchalantly, as if the results don't even matter much to him. There is a strange eagerness in his eyes, though you can't say for what. You turn your head, scanning the many other strange eyes of your companions, wondering what they're thinking. Most of them you have only just met today, when the party assembled at an arranged meeting-place. Can you trust them to have your back in a group effort, or should you head out right now, and make your own way to the castle? Glancing back at the Imperial perimeter, and seeing the red sunlight glint off the armor and weapons of the Legionary soldiers, you know this is not a decision to be taken lightly...