Cauldron, The Shackled City

Session Thirty: April 14, 2011
Wherein our heroes venture into lands fantastic...

At the request of Captain Skylar Krewis, the group set out from Cauldron to investigate the whereabouts of a missing and much needed supply train from Sasserine. A couple of days out from Cauldron, they discovered the wreckage of the wagon train. They tracked the attackers to a clearing deep in the woods, with additional wreckage from the wagons and several dead bodies laying about. As the party moved in to investigate, the fallen bodies rose, shedding off their disguises, revealing themselves to be dryads. Accompanied by hidden harpies, the dryads attacked.

As the Eldritch Blades felled each of their foes, they were met with a bizarre sight. Instead of dropping dead, as expected, the body of their enemy became ashen and seemed to hang in front of them, as if hung from lines like a puppet. The enemy would lash out one last time before finally collapsing. The Eldritch Blades quickly defeated their dryad and harpy foes, but could find no explanation for their odd behavior.

The group continued tracking their quarry, leading them to another clearing with a strange arch of trees filled with hazy smoke. Stepping through, the group found themselves in the Feywild. They continued their search through the lush, vibrant forest of the Feywild, eventually emerging at the edge of a large natural rock wall rising in front of them. A cave in the wall seemed seemed to be the only way past. A strange riddle was carved into the stones around the cave. They group took note of the riddle and proceeded in.

Inside the cave, the way through was blocked by a set of three statues, one of a young lass, one of a mature woman, and another of an old crone. They stood together atop a large pedastal, blocking the exit from the cave. Each had her right hand extended out, palm up, as if asking for an offering. The party struggled with how to proceed past the statues, trying to gleam clues from the riddle they’d just transcribed. They grasped the hands, singly and all three together. Each time, the crone would animate, attacking the party. Once the crone was destroyed, she would reappear back with the other two statues, whole and blocking the exit again.

Like lustful swain or panicked child
Who beg another’s gentle hand,
The fool delves heedless through the wild.
The wise are not so soon beguiled.

Keying to this passage from the riddle, the group decided to make an offering to the statues, first placing a coin in the old crone’s hand (avoiding the path of “the lustful swain or panicked child”). As soon as this was done, the three statues animated and cleared the way from the cave exit. They party collected themselves and left the cave to find what awaited them beyond.

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Session Twenty-nine: March 31, 2011
Wherein our heroes face the master of the Demonskar...

The group set about repairing as much damage to the city as they could, in preparation for the battle they knew was coming the next day. Jöshand Keiraspent most of the night confirming the debilitating effects that the empowered Basalt Bastions would have on the demons they were sure to face. After toiling for many hours, the group found places to rest and recuperate.

Early the next morning, they were awoken by the clang of alarms and shouts from the streets. They scrambled out into the city to see the whole militia mobilizing and manning the walls surrounding the town. The group raced to the top of the walls. Not far from the protection of the city marched a horde of demons led by the legendary glabrezu, Nabthatoron.

Jösh moved to the fore atop the gates of Redgorge, lifted Alakast high, and cried out his defiance against the demon lord. Seeing the artifact of his original defeat raised against him, Nabthatoron unleashed his horde on the city as he launched himself towards the group of heroes challenging his destruction of Redgorge.

Aided by the protective wards in the Basalt Bastions, the Eldritch Blades proved to be a match for the mighty glabrezu. Even with the help of a wave of vrocks come to his defense, the Eldritch Blades felled the great demon and once and for all ended the threat the Surabar Spellmason had devoted so much to defend against.

With the fall of their master, the demon horde no longer had a force driving them to assault the city. The demons scattered and fled back to the Demonskar. The city of Redgorge was safe once more.

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Session Twenty-eight: March 3, 2011
Wherein our heroes defend Redgorge...

Having regrouped, the Eldritch Blades decided to head to Redgorge and investigate the current state of affairs there. They quickly made their way down the volcano to a point where they could see the Blue Duke’s army camped outside the walls of Redgorge. The full force of the Blue Duke’s army was preparing to besiege the town. Siege weaponry was hastily being contructed. Smiths were furiously at work sharpening weapons and mending armor.

The group started to argue about the next step they should take. During their deliberations, a trio of vrocks were spotted flying over the town, soon landing in the half-orc encampment to meet with the Blue Duke. This sparked further discussion as to the next best course of action for the group. Before the Blades reached a decision, the vrocks took to the air and flew off, in the direction of the fuming Demonskar.

The group decided to follow the vrocks and investigate their role in the upcoming siege. They tailed the vrocks for many hours, eventually loosing them amongst the jungle when they landed. It was late and the group decided to rest for the night and try to pick up pursuit in the morning.

They were startled awake at sunrise to a cacophony of screams and yells. Rushing to investigate, the group spied in a large clearing nearby a most despairing sight. An army of demons gathered, soon to march at the behest of their lord, the glabrezu Nabthatoran.

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Session Twenty-seven: February 17, 2011
Wherein our heroes find treachery and tragedy...

The group awoke the next morning to the ringing of the town bell. They grabbed their gear and raced to the town hall to see what the emergency was. There, Terseon Skellerang was mustering a large force of town guard to march on Redgorge. A half-orc scout had arrived reporting that the Chisel had returned to Redgorge under cover of dark. Skellerang meant to capture them before they could leave the city again. The town guard soon marched for Redgorge, with the Blue Duke’s half-orc mercenary forces camped outside Cauldron following close behind.

Unsure how best to proceed, the Eldritch Blades decided to shadow the forces marching on Redgorge and re-evaluate the situation at Redgorge. Halfway down the mountain pass leading to Redgorge, with the tail of the half-orc forces lost around a bend, the Blades heard a horn sound from ahead and the clash of steel. They raced forward to find their way blocked by a rearguard of half-orcs. Waiting for no parley, the half-orcs attacked.

The fighting was fierce. Savain quickly dispatched the sergeant leading the half-orc force, but was himself nearly felled by a hail of arrows in retribution. Ultimately, the Eldritch Blades overwhelmed the half-orcs and were victorious. The sounds of battle further down the pass could still be heard. Paying no head to the others, Alex raced down the mountain to see what was happening and determine the status of his parents. Jösh, Linden, and Morwin chased after Alex, while Keira and Savain stayed behind for a moment to catch their breaths.

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Session Twenty-six: September 16, 2010
Wherein our heroes get down and dirty...

Having had a few days to recuperate following their return from Redgorge, the Eldritch Blades were enjoying an evening ale at the Drunken Morkoth Inn. A commotion outside drew their attention. They raced outside to a cry for help down a nearby alley. Running to investigate, they could see a local merchant being accosted at the far end of the alley. Before they could intervene further, the merchant was stabbed and his attackers fled. Savain and Linden took off in pursuit of murderers while the rest of the Blades tried to aid the poor victim and ascertain what had just transpired.

Savain followed the culprit to a nearby shop, headlessly pursuing his quarry inside. Savain followed this foe down into the store’s basement. There he found that he and the culprit were not alone as Savain was beset upon by six shadar-kai. Thankfully, Linden had been in close pursuit and came to Savain’s aid in time. A fierce battle ensued. Soon after, the rest of the Eldritch Blades arrived on the scene and their combined might vanquished the shadar-kai, though unable to prevent one of them from escaping down a sewer grate.

The Eldritch Blades pursued down into the sewers, quickly becoming embroiled in battle with more shadar-kai, their oni leader, and pet gelatinous cube. Better prepared, the group made short work of the cube and shadar-kai and seriously wounded the oni. Before they could end him completely, he turned to mist and escaped down a sewage intake pipe.

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Session Twenty-five: September 2, 2010
Wherein our heroes return and stave off a seige...

Weary from the day’s ordeal, the group decided to explore a bit farther, opening the only door in the hall. It opened into what appeared to be the hags’ chambers. Alex stepped inside and was instantly assaulted by several stone skeletons. Fatigued as they were, the group handily defeated the rooms defenders. Inside, they discovered the hags’ stash of treasure, Alek Tercival‘s backback containing The Young Knights Uplifting Military Primer. The party also noticed a hidden drawer build into one of the walls.
When they tried to open it, the room started filling with poisonous fumes. Alex’s quick thinking and a creative use of a tanglefoot bag stemmed the flow of the gas. Upon opening the drawer, the party discovered a most remarkable find, Alakast, weapon of Surabar Spellmason himself.

The group returned to the relative safety of the jungle and got a peaceful night’s rest.

The next day, the party rafted upstream on the Red River, returning to Redgorge. Upon their arrival, they could see the combined forces of Cauldron and the half-orc mercenaries marching on the city. The group made haste into Redgorge and confronted the Chisel, who were preparing the town for battle. They were able to convince the Chisel that Terseon Skellerang was coming for them and that if they went into hiding it would prevent unneeded bloodshed and send Skellerang back to Cauldron. The Chisel begrudgingly agreed and escaped Redgorge as Skellerang and his forces arrived at the gates of the city.

Skellerang and his forces were allowed to search the city for the Chisel. When they were not found, Skellerang agreed to leave Redgorge, leaving behind a token force of mercenaries to patrol the area and ensure the Chisel did not return.

The group then decided to return to Cauldron themselves. Once there, they returned Alek’s body to the Church of the Righteous Blade and a much bereaved Jenya. They also discovered that the mayor had gone missing and there was much turmoil in the city’s government as a new mayor was being decided on.

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Keira's Diary
The Hunt for Sir Alek and the Battle of Redgorge

I should have started keeping this log long ago.

I was foolish—thinking that my life of adventure would be free from interference, that I had escaped the dark forces of the world and could live a life of fun and excitement without struggling against the powers that lurk. There is always something out there seeking more. More power, more money, more pleasure, more everything. The strong will always victimize the weak. I will not be weak. I grow angrier with each passing day, as it becomes more and more apparent that there is something manipulating us in a bid for either the control or the destruction of Cauldron.

Before I returned, I wouldn’t have cared if Cauldron were swallowed up by The Abyss itself. As I said, there’s always something out there lashing out for control. But this is my home now. This isn’t about the people or morality of it all. This is about power and it’s become personal. I could leave. I could head to Sasserine and restart my life there, but I don’t like being pushed. I’m here. I have a strong company of adventurers and have begun putting my plans in place. I’m not going to restart because the latest big bad monster is making another play for this city. For good or ill, this is my town now. And I will not be bullied.

Redgorge. Hot on the trail of Sir Alek, we were approached by The Chisel- a secret society involved in the struggle for Cauldron. They claim to be the city’s protectors, dedicated to eradicating the supposed demonic influence they say has infected Cauldron. Captain Skellerang claims The Chisel are a cult and need to be eradicated. I don’t know who to believe here. Something is definitely afoot in Cauldron. While he might be under demonic or magical influence, Skellerang is a good man and he knows something about eradicating dark cults—I wouldn’t be here if he didn’t. So who’s to trust and who’s the adversary? Too early to tell.

We met with The Chisel and for the time being, our goals are linked. So we set off on the trail of Sir Alek, and tracked him to The Demonskar, and an underground complex there in the ruins of some lost, ancient civilization. The place was mostly occupied by Giants, though Sir Alek was being held in thrall to a coven of three Hags who had bewitched him. His mind was gone. I’m not sure he could have recovered, even if he hadn’t been horribly killed by a powerful demon before we could escape the ruins.

We looted the place, and came away with some new toys and a fair amount of coin, though Morwin was too impulsive and destroyed the Hags’ loom. There are stories about hags weaving fate itself. Could this loom have let us to know who was behind it all? No use crying about it now. What’s done is done. I’ll have to be quicker next time. Morwin’s not usually impulsive. The draught she and Savain took definitely affected her impulses. She and Savain are now both thankfully free from it’s effects. Strange… It behaved more like a disease than poison. Might be useful in the future.

I also got a good sketch done of an arch that summoned fire drakes. Might be able to recreate the runes and experiment with it’s effects. Summoning might be very useful one day, indeed.

After resting in the jungle, we returned to Redgorge to find Skellerang and a small army heading in. Overkill for arresting The Chisel, methinks, and I find it too convenient that Skellerang and the bulk of the Cauldron Guard, as well as the damnable Stormblades, were away from the city when the mayor disappeared. That has to be connected.

Thanks to my team, we aided the Chisel’s escape. I’m still sore about that. We should have just killed them or taken them into custody and claimed a reward. Alex had a good point though—they might be right. Until we know more, it might be best to not fully take either side. Plus, Morwin might not have taken to that plan. I like Morwin very much, but she’s a powerful warrior and very set in her ways. I need to find a way to control her in case we’re ever at odds in the future.

We got The Chisel out and sent almost the entire army back to Cauldron with no blood being shed. Boring, but a win, and ultimately the right play. Besides… Stormblades were probably annoyed. THAT’S definitely a win.

Savain and Lindon amazed me by sneaking into The Blue Duke’s camp and getting some intel. Onis. The Blue Company is being run by Onis. That can’t be good news. We’ll have to deal with them at some point.

That’s about all for now. We’re back in Cauldron and restocking our supplies. Josh and I will be mastering rituals for about a week, I think. After that, I’m not sure what our next move is. Either hunt for The Mayor and find out who took him… Or we force our way to an audience with The Blue Duke and get some answers from him. We’ll be spending our evening suppers discussing plans for a few days, methinks.

I wonder when my deal with the redcap will bite me in the ass?

—Keira Marade

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Session Twenty-four: August 19, 2010
Wherein our heroes recover the wayward paladin...

The group proceeded north, attracted by the rhythmic sounds of a smithy. Wasting little time, the large, iron doors blocking their way were pulled open. Inside, they were greeted by two fire giants, busy with their metalworking and surprised by the intrusion. The Eldritch Blades moved in quickly and attacked, surrounding the two fire giants and hemming the in next to their work tables. As the battle commenced, the huge, iron furnace in the room began spitting out small fire drakes, which joined the fray, harassing the heroes. The giants’ blows fell with a terrible might, but their swings were slow and easily blocked or dodged by the Eldritch Blades. As quickly as they could dispatch the fire drakes, the furnace continued to belch out more. Jösh thought quickly and turned his arcane expertise to deactivating the enchantment allowing the furnace to function. As the battle raged around him, he focused his eldritch powers through his magic lute, overpowering the magic fueling the furnace and quenching its fire. Before long, the group felled one fire giants and the other soon following.

They continued their exploration of the underground complex, eventually making their way to a multi-pillared room. Each pillar sported a clear globe of some clear liquid in its middle. At the base of each pillar was a basin into which the clear liquid flowed. Morwin and Sevain decided to partake of the liquid, finding their physical might greatly increased but their mental facilities equally diminished. Meanwhile, Linden had been investigating one of the doors leading out of the chamber. With little more time for him to peer past the door, Morwin, with her newly found sense of bravado, barged past him into the hallway beyond.

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Session Twenty-three: August 5, 2010
Wherein our heroes delve down past demon infested waters...

After a short rest, the group made their way further into the jungle along the well worn hunting path. After several miles, they came across an abandoned cave, containing the remains of two camps; one normal size and one large enough for a giant. Continuing on, they eventually reached the edge of the Demonskar itself. The path ended at a large pipe descending into the ground, the remains of an ancient sewer system. The party continued down inside. They used the map on the back of the ancient tablet they had bought from Tygot to successfully navigate the underground maze of tunnels. It led to to a large pit, open to the sky above, with a path descending down to the pit floor, strewn with rocky debris and a large noxious pool.

Once they reached the bottom of the pit, they were immediately set upon by demonic guardians, emerging from the fetid pool. The fighting was fierce and the Eldritch Blades persevered. The battle taxed their bodies and minds. The group decided to retreat back to the jungle for a long rest.

They ventured forth the next day, descending back down through the sewers to the deep pit. Moving forward beyond the pit floor, they encounter further guards to the underground complex, giants. Though big and strong, the giants couldn’t hold up long against the combined onslaught of the Eldritch Blades.

The group proceeded further into the complex, soon coming to a large barracks. The oversized furniture obviously intended for giant occupants. Three ettins waited in the barracks, ready for the group’s approach. A terrific battle ensued. The Eldritch Blades were able to defeat the ettins, despite the giants’ overwhelming strength.

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Session Twenty-two: July 8, 2010
Wherein our heroes begin their search for the possessed paladin...

The party woke up early and headed out to meet with Lord Vhalantru, hoping to get some answers as to the events transpiring in Cauldron. They were greeted by him at City Hall, swamped with paperwork and already three-sheets to the wind. They were unable to get much information from Vhalantru, who seemed to be nothing more than a mouthpiece for Lord Mayor Navalant’s proclamations than having any power to affect what was going on. They left City Hall and tried to gain an audience with Captain Skellerang, but were rebuffed.

The group proceeded then to Redgorge, where they met up with Maavu and his compatriots, a group known as The Chisel. They were a group of merchants claiming to be looking out for the well-being of Cauldron and the surrounding area. They expressed their concern for dark going-ons within Cauldron and their suspicions about Navalant’s evil intentions. The Chisel had been working with the paladin, Alek Tercival, to root out the evil that had taken hold of Cauldron and its government. Unfortunately, Alek was missing and had not been heard from in over a week. They also had news that Skellerang was preparing to march on Redgorge with his militia to take The Chisel into custody. The Chisel beseeched the Eldritch Blades to find Alek, hoping that his return and renunciation of his claim for Captain of the town guard would stave off Skellerang’s invasion.

The group readily agreed and the next morning made their way down the Red River to where they believe Alek to have traveled. Landing on a small beach, the group is attacked by a gnoll hunting party. The fighting is fierce, but the Blades pull through and defeat the gnolls.

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