The PCs have been within the Capital for a day or two when they are accosted by the Capital Guard, then arrested by Crown Law. The charge? Rape of the Lady Elspeth Kalamath and Accessory to such. The PCs must escape the city before they are executed.
The PCs have been getting glaring looks and whispers everywhere they go ever since they entered the city. Finally things come to a head when they are surrounded by about twenty guardsmen, as well as the captain of the Royal Guard himself.
The captain pulls out a roll of parchment, compares what is written on it with one of the (male) PCs, then nods and arrests all of them by Crown Law. Any fighting that erupts will be ended quickly, as the captain, Ara the Blade, is easily the equal of any of the PCs. Combined with twenty of the city’s guardsmen, the PCs stand no real chance of fighting their way out.
Ara the Blade is a former mercenary who was convinced by none other than the Lady Elspeth to join the Capital Guard, where by his own skill and her secret dealings rose to the top quickly. He is a formidable swordsman, and will not hesitate to knock any of the PCs unconscious if they give him the slightest trouble. He isn’t ambitious or foolish enough to go to her for favors, but Elspeth has had her eye on him for a while, intending to have him to ‘rule’ by her side when the queen finally croaks, and so he has been slowly drawn into her alluring web. He is not completely enamoured with Elspeth yet, however, and so would be a formidable ally if her lie about the PCs were ever revealed.
The Dungeon Meeting
The PCs have been arraigned and are now sitting in a cell awaiting their trial, which is almost guaranteed to result in their conviction and execution thanks to the Golden Child status of Elspeth, though the PCs have no clue of that fact. Their weapons and equipment are in the corner of the room opposite them, next to the door.
Perhaps an hour or two after their imprisonment, the PCs have a visitor: the Lady Elspeth.
An evil, viperous, black-hearted witch. Unfortunately, the Court as a whole hasn’t the faintest clue of Elspeth’s true nature, and thus considers her to be Capable Of No Wrong. Her true nature was nearly revealed when she became pregnant a few months previous, but once she began to show, she began to spread the story of her rape. The Truth: the Lady’s pregnancy is the result of one of her many trysts with would-be suitors. The father is long dead, as is everyone else who has ever shared her bed. Prior pregnancies had been prevented by a concoction of mandrake root that caused a ‘natural’ abortion, but this one seems to have stuck no matter what she’s tried to terminate it with.1 When asked for a description of the rapist, she rattled off a random description that happened to match one of the PCs quite closely. It’s their extreme misfortune to be in the Capital just a day after her story became public knowledge and the search began.
The Lady will enter the room with a guard for company and will look at the party for a moment, gauging their value. Finally, she will nod to herself and tell the guard that "Yes, it’s him. I want them executed." before being escorted out. This should thoroughly mess with the party’s minds, and instill more than a little drive to escape within their hearts.
At this point the PCs have two options: breakout, or wait.
If the PCs choose to breakout from the castle dungeon, they’ll find it mildly difficult, but not extremely so.
The bars in the corner of their cell farthest from the door are almost completely rusted at the top and bottom, but only a close look will show the weakness. A look around the cell to gauge their situation will reveal this weakness; alternatively, one of the PCs leaning against the bars will cause them to ‘give’ enough that the thought to try and get out that way should enter their minds.
Any other particularly crafty methods of escape should be allowed, as these cells aren’t very high in security. There are no enchantments, no reinforced bars, it’s just a plain old iron cage.
Skip the Lucky Break scene and go to Jailbreak.
If the PCs decide that they’d rather put their lives in the hands of a trial, their next few hours will be rather uneventful, until the invasion starts.
Soon enough the sounds of fighting can be heard even through the stone walls, which will shake occasionally. If the PCs have any knowledge or experience with an assault on a castle, they’ll recognize the signs that the castle is being bombarded by siege weapons. After one particularly heavy bombardment, some chunks of rock will fall from the ceiling, breaking the weakened bars in the corner of the cell.
Once out of their cell and reequipped, the PCs will stand a decent chance of fighting their way out of the dungeon and upstairs. Beyond the door is a short hallway with stairs at the end leading up. There is a pair of guards outside the door, as well as another pair at the top of the stairs.
Once the guards are dispatched, the PCs will need to get back to the entrance. Due to it being a simple path, they should be able to do so with little difficulty. However, there are routine patrols of five guards and two hounds in the castle, so if they broke out themselves they’ll have to be sneaky. If they had a Lucky Break, the halls will be deserted.
When they get to the main doors of the castle, they will be heavily guarded, as well as locked up tight. There’s not a chance the PCs can break through and get out. They’ll need to find a different path out of the castle.
All the castle doors have been locked and barred in preparation of invasion, including the double-doors leading to the upper levels of the castle. The one exception is at the end of a long hall in the section of the castle reserved for servant quarters, where a door is slightly ajar. When the PCs are right outside the door, they’ll be able to faintly hear giggles and squeals from a feminine voice as well as a low male voice. (A guard and one of the servant girls are taking advantage of the castle’s chaos to enjoy themselves a bit) The muffled sound of the voices is enough to tell the PCs that the room is empty.
It’s a plain little sitting room, with a small table and a pair of chairs. The door to the adjacent bedroom is closed, which is probably for the best, as the giggles and other noises are coming from the other side of the door. What’s important about the room is inset into the wall to their right: there’s a window just large enough that the PCs can squeeze through, into the garden on the other side.
The door is easily barricaded with the table and chairs if the PCs are being pursued.
From this side of the wall, the window is mostly hidden by a number of bushes, which will also serve to conceal the PCs from the constant patrols which are coming through the garden. Now that they are outside, the sound of fighting and the impact of artillery on the castle is much louder and clearer as well.
Making their way from bush to bush, the PCs can slowly creep around the garden, which has large hedges everywhere to allow for privacy, creating small alcoves with benches that the party can rest and regroup in, safe from patrols. Aside from the patrols, they have nothing to fear here. Eventually, in the last alcove that they come to before reaching the exit from the garden they will find no benches. In the middle of the larger-than-norm area is a white rosebush in full bloom.
This beautiful rosebush is actually a bioweapon produced by druids many decades before. It is one of the last of its kind, and a recent aquisition of the Lady Elspeth. She hired a band of mercenaries to get such a rarity for the castle garden, a symbol of her power and prestige. Unfortunately, the Blossom of Rage is something of a favored plant by the Kythrythe, the worshipers of the insect god Kythrellemen. When the band of mercenaries stole one from their city they were annoyed, and through various means traced the mercenaries back to Elspeth, who has denied any and all claims of responsibility of the theft, as well as requests that she return the plant.
Before the PCs can do much more than examine the Blossom, a massive waspish creature will drop from the night sky right into their little alcove. Atop him is what appears to be a normal man, albeit dressed in a strange suit of chitinous armor. He is soon followed from the sky by two other wasp-riders, who have a large bag suspended between their mounts. They dismount and begin to carefully transplant the plant from the garden soil to the soil in the bag.
They will not threaten the characters, nor will they fight unless the PCs do so first, as the PCs are not wearing guard uniforms. Their goal is to obtain the plant and leave as quickly as possible. If questioned politely, the first rider will give a quick explaination of events, as well as a warning to stay out of the way of the Kythrythe warriors storming the castle2. When finished transplanting the Blossom, the three riders will remount and take off into the night sky.
Assuming the characters don’t choose to fight the Kythrythe, they can stay within the garden until the attack is over and then sneak out of the city, or they can sneak out now, during the chaos of the assault. The castle wall has been breached and there is no more siege weapon activity, so the PCs stand a good chance of success.
Alternatively, if the PCs are of a more vengeful mindset, they can join up with the Kythrythe attacking the castle to bring Elspeth to justice. There are a large number of guards within the castle, and it will be rough going (as well as setting the PCs up for some major backlash later), but if they wish, the Kythrythe won’t refuse their help.
The last choice the PCs can make is to fight against the Kythrythe, for whatever reason. Whether they believe that the Insect People are wrong in their attack or are xenophobic enough to bug out (pun intended), it should be very rough going for the party. The Kythrythe ride giant insects, as already shown, and will show little mercy in their quest for justice.
1The goddess Enia’s power, while not consciously directed, has taken offense to Elspeth’s constant death-dealing and infused within her most recent child a spark of life that cannot be terminated until the pregnancy has been completed and the child is born (or until Elspeth is dead). Whether or not this cause becomes known to the PCs or not is up to you.
2The Kythrthe storming the castle are looking for Elspeth, to bring her back with them for an appropriate punishment, most likely execution.