Cauldron, The Shackled City

Session Forty-eight: April 26, 2012
Wherein our heroes close in on the Cagewrights...

Learning of the locations of the Cagewrights from Jenya, the Eldritch Blades journeyed deep beneath Cauldron into the heart of the volcano. There they hoped to stop the infernal ritual the Cagewrights were performing and prevent the demonic legions of Carceri from spilling forth into Cauldron and the surrounding area.

They made their way to the obsidian gates of the Fiery Sanctum, home of the Cagewrights. Exploring within, they were set upon my demon minions. After a fierce fight, the group was able to lay low their foes. They discovered a secret passage, seemingly their only path forward further into the complex. They proceeded with caution.

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Session Forty-seven: March 29, 2012
Wherein our heroes see their home fall to ruin...

The Eldritch Blades continued their frantic efforts to evacuate Cauldron, overcoming many obstacles to help the citizens of the city. They fought off magma elementals and lava dragons. They cleared paths through blocked streets and directed the fleeing citizens to the city exits.

With the last of the citizenry, the Blades left the city they called home as it quaked and burned behind them. They made their way to Redgorge where most of the refugees had escaped to. As they approached the city, Jenya exited a large tent set up just outside the city gates. She came to the heroes and thanked them for their efforts in evacuating Cauldron. While they were so occupied, her clerics had continued their communion with Bahamut. She had the answers to the Cagewrights that the party was seeking. She pleaded with them to make haste as the continued rumblings of the volcano spelled certain doom for all.

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Session Forty-six: March 15, 2012
Wherein our heroes see Cauldron come alive...

They awoke early the next morning to violent tremors. They were immediately summoned by Jenya to the Church of the Righteous Blade. When the group arrived, Jenya informed them of her attempts at divination and communion with Bahamut. While she had yet to discover the location of the Cagewrights, she believed that the tremors were a prelude to a terrible catastrophe for Cauldron. She asked the group to aid in evacuating Cauldron, else she feared for the unthinkable loss of life that would occur. In the meantime, she and her clerics would do their best to continue searching for the location of the Cagewrights.

The Eldritch Blades set out at once, already seeing panic starting to set in to the populace. The citizens of Cauldron were already starting to flee the city. As the tremors became more and more violent, fissures cracked open the streets of Cauldron. Steam vents burst through the ground beneath the fleeing people. Buildings collapsed from the constant quaking. Magma flowed into the streets. The group spread out through the city, encouraging people to evacuate and directing them to the exits, trying to save as many as they could.

Cauldron on fire

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Session Forty-five: March 1, 2012
Wherein our heroes debate politics...

The party spent the next week recuperating and debating how best to proceed in locating the Cagewrights. They were summoned one day to a meeting at the Town Hall by Jenya. The most influential personalities in Cauldron were meeting to discuss who next should fill the position of Lord Mayor in the wake of Vhalantru’s recent demise. As the premiere heroes of Cauldron, Jenya felt their opinions important enough to be included.

The debate continued for several hours. Two personalities rose to be the primary contenders, Lord Ankhin Taskerhill and Lord Zachary Aslaxin. As the merits and qualifications of the two candidates were debated, a portal opened into the room, belching forth a small force of duergar. The Eldritch Blades jumped to the rescue, fighting off the duergar attack and protecting all from harm.

After collecting themselves and recovering from the attack, the debate resumed. Eventually, a vote was called, with the majority of votes going to the new Lord Mayor, Zachary Aslaxin.

The party returned home for a quiet might. They were awoken the next morning by an earthquake.

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Session Forty-four: February 16, 2012
Wherein the group cleans house...

After the defeat of Vhalantru, the party proceeded to clear out and loot the rest of the complex below the manor. They fought several demons and two wall golems in their quest for more treasure. In the process, they also discovered an ancient tome containing a single ritual to turn its recipient into a tarterian demon. Vhalantru had just completed the complex and extended ritual when the party intruded on him.

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Session Forty-three: February 2, 2012
Wherein our heroes confront the real Lord Vhalantur...

The Eldritch Blades decided to explore the manor further. They were still worried about the missing Lord Vhalantru. They spread out, investigating all of the second and third floors with no sign of the Lord Mayor. While exploring the first floor more thoroughly, they discovered a hidden room with a large shaft descending below the manor.

The group chose to descend into the shaft to continue their exploration. They rappelled down about a hundred feet, halfway down the shaft, when they encountered a large, round door. Savain was able to open the door and the group entered into a long antechamber. The matching round door at the far end of the room led to another shaft down. They left the larger, round double door in the center of the room alone, deciding to retreat and lick their wounds before proceeding further.

After a much needed rest, they returned to the antechamber ready to face their next challenge. Savain unlocked the double doors and the party opened it. They faced a large circular room. A large triangle lay inscribed into the floor, bound by a ritual circle. At each corner of the the triangle lay a bound, shackled figure. In the center of the circle stood Lord Vhalantru, chanting the final refrain of his ritual. Before the group could act, arcane lightning arced from the three figures, engulfing Vhalantru. The three figures were quickly consumed by the ritual, reduced to ash. As the ritual ended, a transformed Vhalantru turned to confront the intruders.

Jösh demanded an explanation from Vhalantru. In his hubris, Vhalantru explained his involvement with the group, the Cagewrights, and their plans to summon an army of demons from the prison plane of Carceri. Their plans were nearly complete. The Shackleborn had been gathered at the Tree of Shackled Souls. The Ritual of Planar Junction would soon begin.

With that, Vhalantru gave a shudder and began to expand. His skin could no longer mask his true form. The thin skin burst apart, revealing the horrid body of a beholder. Modified by the ritual he’d just performed, Vhalantru oozed slime from his maw. His large central eye gazed down at the Eldritch Blades. With a laugh, he set to the destruction of the party, beams shooting from his eye stalks.

The battle was fierce. Fighting in the entrance way to the room, the group suffered under the gaze of the beholder’s central eye for much of the fight. They were continually bombarded by rays of varying effects, hindering their ability to battle the beholder; many times being nearly killed by the effects of the more heinous eyes. Poor Morwin was turned to stone. Through concerted effort and moderate teamwork, the Eldritch Blades finally slew Vhalantru; Savain driving his dagger through the beholder’s central eye.

The group gathered to recoup and decide what to do next.

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Session Forty-two: January 19, 2012
Wherein our heroes find it hard to see a friend...

The Eldritch Blades explored the rest of the last Laugh complex and found it empty. They returned to what remained of their residence for a good night’s rest.

In the morning, Linden and Savain staked out the manor of Lady Thifirane. She did not make an appearance herself, but there were several deliveries made. In mid-afternoon, several cloaked figures arrived and were permitted into the manor.

Unsure of Lady Thifirane’s involvement in recent events, the group decided to contact Lord Mayor Vhalantru to see if their suspicions were valid and to verify the letter they had from her to the Last Laugh guild master.

They arrived at Vhalantru’s manor on Obsidian Ave and knocked on the front door. They were greeted by a gruff half-orc and told that Vhalantru was busy and not meeting guests. They knocked again and were again rebuffed. They decided to force their way in and were confronted by half-dozen half-orc guards. The guards attacked the intruders but were quickly overwhelmed. After several of their fellows were killed, the remaining guards surrendered.

The party questioned the guards but they could not provide Lord Vhalantru’s location in the manor. Linden and Savain moved to the second floor, hoping to find Vhalantru elsewhere in the residence. As he moved around the second floor, looking for access to the third, Linden was surrounded by wraith. They flowed from out of the walls and ceiling to surround him. They attacked, incapacitating Linden before the others could arrive to help.

A perilous battle ensued. The party’s attacks seemed to have only marginal effect on the wraiths, while simply being near the wraiths sapped the lifeforce from them. It was a desperate battle. Linden was able to recover and return to the fight but not before Morwin succumbed to the undead assault. No one was spared the malevolent nature of the wraiths. Near their wits end, the Eldritch Blades were able to destroy the wraith. Battered and exhausted, the party regrouped and discussed what their next plan of action would be.

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Session Forty-one: December 22, 2011
Wherein the group confronts a figure from Savain's past...

The group made their way down one of the connecting corridors, heading deeper into the guild complex. The rhythmic hammering of a blacksmith reached their ears. They sneaked quietly to a closed wooden door. The familiar clang of metal shaping metal rang through it. Heedless of the danger, Alex burst into the room, eager to find his sister. There in the room toiled several dwarves, fashioning new weapons for the guild.

“Where is my sister? Tell me and you may be spared,” bellowed Alex.

He was met with a curt, “Kill them,” from the master smith at the back of the room.

A furious fight ensued. The group made quick work of the dwarves and continued on their way further into the complex.

Laughter and sobbing drew them into a large storage room. Crates and barrels were stacked high throughout the huge room. As the explored the room looking for the source of the sounds, they were set upon by two assassins; each wore a half mask, one smiling, one frowning. In the melee, a swarm of animated daggers and swords aided the assassins in assaulting the party. It was a bloody battle. The Eldritch Blades proved their mettle, though, besting both assassins and their constructs.

They eventually found themselves in front of a large set of double doors. Alex again wasted no time on caution and burst into the room beyond. Inside they found themselves outnumbered 4-to-1 by Last Laugh thieves, with their leader, the Jester, ready for them. Lauren huddled in a small cage at the back of the room. A fierce battle ensued. When the dust settled, the Jester and all but one of the Last Laugh thieves lay dead. The thief quickly surrendered and Keira decided to take her into her employ. Lauren was released from her cage and reunited with her brother.

The lone adjoining room proved to be the Jester’s private quarters. Searching it, they found a small treasure trove containing the guild’s wealth. They found several ledgers cataloging the Last Laugh’s activities. A recent letter, addressed to the Jester, caught their particular attention.

Jester,

We know it inconveniences you, but my master bids you hold onto the girl for a short time longer. We understand the risk you have taken in procuring her. Though she is not crucial to our plans, it cannot hurt to have another of the Shackleborn available if she is needed. My master begs your further indulgence and offers his sincerest gratitude.

I am meeting with several interested parties about our future for Cauldron and their potential place in it. Once that meeting is concluded, I will retrieve the girl and bring her to wait with the others. Until then, keep her safe and unharmed.

- Lady Thifirane Rhiavadi
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Session Forty: December 8, 2011
Wherein the group's troubles hit closer to home than ever before...

The hunt for Alex’s sister and those that took her was begun in earnest. The group spoke with Shensen to hear her tell of the battle that took place in their home and Lauren’s abduction. She identified the abductors as members of the Last Laugh thieves guild.

While Alex and Morwin went about securing what remained of their home,Savain, Linden, and Jösh hit the streets, looking for clues to the location of the thieves guild’s hideout. Walking around town and pressing the flesh, they ended up at one of the handful of taverns down by the crater lake late that night. Everyone they talked to was hesistant and nervous to discuss the Last Laugh. Joesh finished talking to a couple of guys and turned back to the bar to find a napkin folded where there had been no napkin before. Unfolding it, in Artis’ handwriting, there was scrawled, “Meet me where we first met.” The Pavillion.

With Savain and Linden stealthily hidden from view, they quietly made our way to the deserted Pavillion. They spotted a lone man casually leaning against a pillar. They approached him, only to find Artus dead; the only thing holding him up were the daggers that pinned him to the pillar. Another dagger through the man’s heart sparkled with the shining sapphire in the pommel that hallmarked the Last Laugh.

A quick search of his body revealed a note hidden in an inner pocket with the name of a upper class brothel in town, the Fiery Rose. They regrouped with the others at the house, and had to restrain Alex from running over there and killing everyone.

Their restraint proved unfounded. When the party went to the brothel to talk to the girls there, the ladies all came to parlay armed and ready to fight.

They handily dispatched the women of the night, but kept the madame alive, just long enough for Alex to violently interrogate her (and for Joesh to demand a refund for all the times he’d … come there in the past). Suffering under Alex’s torture and with the understanding that Morwin would protect her from further harm, she told them of a secret door in the back of the brothel. After which, Savain made quick work of ending her misery.

Beyond the secret door, they followed a passage leading down below Cauldron. They descended to a large room, some sort of sewage access room, where a bunch of Last Laugh assassins awaited them. One of the assassins proved to be an unarmed monk who was particularly difficult to kill. In the end, the Eldritch Blades triumphed. Using the Speak With Dead Ritual, Joesh learned that the Alex’s sister was nearby. The group paused a moment to lick their wounds, with Alex anxious to burst through the doors at the far side of the room to continue on and find his sister.

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Session Thirty-nine: October 27, 2011
Wherein our heroes find more in common with the stonework than they'd anticipated...

Reveling in their new found wealth, the Eldritch Blades were alerted to new company by the anguished scream heard from across the room.

“Argh! Kill them! Kill them all!”

The party turned in time to see a robed figure retreating down the hall from the chamber they were in. Entering the chamber were several others: medusae, lizard-men, and a necromancer.

Alex and Savain immediately leapt into the fray, both jumping the distance over the broken walkway with ease. By means both arcane and mundane, the others crossed the gap and were soon engaged with their foes as well.

The fight proved almost too much for the group. The fiery might of the lizard-men nearly overwhelming Alex and Savain. The medusae’s stony gaze caught both Alex and Morwin, petrifying them both and turning them into statues.

It was hard fought, but the Eldritch Blades overcame the might of their foes, killing them all. Jösh freed Alex and Morwin from their stony repose. The party followed after the robed figure who had retreated at the start of the fight. Lindentracked him back to a room near the beginning of the floor. The room was bare except for the teleportation circle in the center of their room. It seemed Fetor was able to escape their grasp.

At this point, the group was exhausted. They retreated to Fetor’s chamber for a good night’s rest.

They awoke the next day and, with treasures in tow, they returned to Cauldron. They were unfortunately greeted with foul play. Their home was a smoking ruin. Alex’s sister was missing. Two of the Striders were killed defending their home; another laid grievously hurt at the Church of the Righteous Blade. Their only clue was two finely crafted daggers with sapphires in the pommel shaped like all too familiar snowflakes.

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