Cauldron, The Shackled City

Session Twenty-one: June 24, 2010
Wherein our heroes quell a riot and a fire...

The Eldritch Blades were taking some time to recuperate and spend some of their earnings on new gear, awaiting word from Maavu about returning to the Lucky Monkey to oversee the restoration of the work crew there. The situation was rapidly changing in Cauldron. There was a stronger half-orc presence in town, supplementing the town guard. Tax collectors could be seen regularly moving about the town with an armed escort. An ill sentiment was growing among the citizenry about the continually increasing taxes. Several days into their rest, the Blades were alerted to a gathering outside of City Hall, a demonstration of concerned citizens against the high taxes being levied against them.

The group scoped out the area around City Hall before hand to make sure no foul play was afoot. Finding nothing amiss, the group retired and planned to attend the gathering themselves later that evening. When they arrived, they found the area teeming with people, conversations and feelings of discontent all around. There was a small guard presence outside of City Hall to protect the coming and going of the city officials and tax collectors. Eventually, Maavu himself took a stand on a nearby podium, addressing the massed throng of people, decrying the high taxes and the lack of evidence of the funds use to benefit the city. He went on to declare AleK Tercival’s challenge to Terseon Skellerang for the position of Captain of the town guard and how the challenge had been ignored by city officials.

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Session Twenty: June 10, 2010
Wherein our heroes foil the mad plans of nature amuck...

The Eldritch Blades entered into the cave entrance before them, making their way towards a bright violet light similar to that illuminating the forest cavern. Soon, they were pushing aside larger and larger cobwebs stretching across their path. Linden’s keen eyes spotted an ambush of Deathjump Spiders ahead of them. The fight was quick; the group easily dispatched the handful of arachnids that fell on them.

Moving ahead through increasingly thick and more dense webbing, the group spied large shapes moving ahead of them. Moving ahead cautiously, Linden was caught by surprise by the sudden appearance of an enormous spider right next to him. Attempts by others of the Blades found them suddenly teleported many feet away. The group was additionally set upon by swarms of other spiders and several more of the Deathjump Spiders they’d fought previously. The fighting was fierce; the poison from the many spiders’ bites hindering the party’s offensive. The Eldritch Blades persevered, finally defeating the last of the spiders; Alex and Morwin close to exhaustion from the ordeal.

The group decided to press on. The strange violet light intensifying as the moved further into the cave. They finally came upon a cave at the end of the long tunnel. Large tables lined the walls, stacked with alchemical paraphernalia. An enormous crystal jutted from the cave floor, illuminating the room in a disturbing violet light. The floor of the cave was covered in a carpet of dark purple mushrooms. Busy working in the room were two dryads, a vine horror, all seemingly lead by a mad wood woad.

The group attempted to parley with the wood woad, hoping to learn what he was up to. Their talk was cut short by Savain’s dagger flying through the air and barely missing one of the dryads. Crying foul, the wood woad ordered his minions to attack the intruders. Alex engaged both dryads, while the others focused on destroying the large crystal. Alex held his own against the dryads, as the others defended themselves from the assault of the vine horror and wood woad, still focusing their attacks on the crystal. After many repeated blows, Sevain was finally able to wedge his dagger into a crack in the crystal, causing it to quickly fracture and shatter apart. This enraged the wood woad, aided by the vine horror, redoubled his attack against the group. The dryads seemed to awake from a slumber. Fully realizing what was happening around them, the two dryads leaped and vanished into two large mushrooms nearby. The group was then able to focus their attacks on their two foes, eventually putting an end to their threat.

Searching the room, the group discovered notes from the wood woad detailing his experiments with the caustic mushrooms layering the floor, leading to the poison the turned the workers at the Lucky Monkey into trees. Unable to distill an antidote themselves, they group gathered up a collection of the mushrooms and the notes, returning to Cauldron for some rest, their payment from Maavu, and the means of curing the workmen they were hired to rescue.

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Session Nineteen: May 13, 2010
Wherein our heroes find their way to the other side...

The party meandered their way through the forest, turning left whenever the need arose. Eventually, they found themselves back at the entrance to the cavern. They then decided to make a concerted effort to navigate to the center of the underground forest; Linden’s keen senses and aptitude for the outdoors led the way.

Before long, they reached a clearing in the center of the large forest. There, they encroached on the den of a couple of owlbears, who took the approach of the group as a hostile act and attacked, defending their home. The forest seemed to come alive as a shambling mound joined the fray. The battle was fierce. The large beasts proved quite hardy and took extensive effort from the group to finally put them down. Taking a short rest, Linden’s keen elven eyes detected smoke, reminiscent of campfires, rising from the far end of the cavern. The group made haste towards whatever tended those fires.

Coming to the edge of the forest, the group could see two parties of bugbears camped out in front of a large cave entrance. Taking everyone by surprise, Savain rushed one of the groups, momentarily blinding them with a flurry of dagger throws. The rest of the party soon joined the fight. The Eldritch Blades were able to easily subdue the bugbear guards. Now they looked to the cave entrance, hoping the cure they were searching for lay within.

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Session Eighteen: April 22, 2010
Wherein our heroes explore what's down that deep, dark hole...

Gathering together the next morning, the group set out further into the woods, following Linden’s spirit guide. For many hours, the panther led them deeper into the forest, eventually leading them to a clearing in front of a massive oak. The roots of the mighty tree split the earth, revealing an entrance leading below ground. A old woman sat on a large stone in from of the oak, barring their way.

Joesh and Linden began conversing with her, trying to convince her to let them past. In the midst of their talk, Savain dashed forward, trying to circumvent the old woman and gain access to the cave entrance. The old woman revealed herself to be a hag, and before Savain could get past her, she called forth her fey defenders to aid her in barring the way from the group. After a tense battle, the Eldritch Blades were victorious and proceeded into the depths below the oak.

Below ground, they found themselves in a natural tunnel leading further underground. Following it, the group emerged into an enormous cavern. An expansive forest filled the interior. Fist sized crystal, covering the cavern ceiling, illuminated the expanse in a bright, purple light. Alex scaled the cavern wall, retrieving several crystals for the group.

The party ventured forth into the woods, hoping to find some sign of the cure they were seeking. As they meandered through the woods, they encountered a nest of dire stirges, which they were able to quickly dispatch.

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Session Seventeen: March 18, 2010
Wherein our heroes return to the Lucky Monkey

The party was contacted by a local merchant, Maavu, to discuss a business proposition. Maavu informed the group that he and a collection of other merchants had come together to repair and reopen The Lucky Monkey, after the recent massacre there left it empty. They had sent out a team to assess the damage down to the inn and to begin repairs. Maavu hadn’t heard from that team in a week; he wanted to hire the Eldritch Blades to return to the inn and investigate the silence.

Early the next day, the Eldritch Blades made for the Lucky Monkey. As they approached the inn, they could see the grounds around the inn overrun with new mature trees. They also spotted several bugbears lurking amongst the trees, as well as a troll eating its meal on the other side of the inn. The party attempted to sneak around the intruders and catch them by surprise, failing as Morwin crashed through the woods with Josh stumbling behind her.

The ensuing battle was fierce; the Eldritch Blades used every resource they had against the troll and bugbears. The melee was hard fought, but the Eldritch Blades proved victorious.

Having spent most of the day traveling and exhausting themselves in the last fight, the group decided to make camp in the inn to recuperate for the night. Taking some time to investigate, they determined that all of the new trees were in fact the repair crew they were sent to find. Linden took it upon himself to commune with the primal spirits in the area. He discovered that whatever process transformed the work crew could be reversed and that the remedy lay below the roots of a massive oak far off in the woods. He was able to convince the spirits to provide him a guide to the oak the next day.

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Session Sixteen: March 4, 2010
Wherein our heroes give up their last bits of strength to fight some pudding...

The group set off again into the complex in search of the remaining material components. They made their way to the main entranceway of the complex; a spacious room with a large, heavy wooden table dominating the center of the room. Of their several choices, the group chose to explore through a set of large double doors in the west wall of the room. Beyond lay a short, wide corridor, ending in another set of double doors. Suspecting foul play, Linden scouted the hallway; his keen elven eyes easily picking out the trap doors in the floor. Savain was able to disable the first. Alex, Morwain, and Josh tore the table top from its bases to act as a bridge across the second trap door.

They entered through the second set of double doors into an enormous workroom. Large worktables dominated the center of the room, scraps of metal and tools littering their top. The back of the cavernous room lay shrouded in shadow, yet they could hear movement within. Josh tried to parley with whoever lay beyond, but was quickly rebuffed. They group cautiously made their way further into the room. Their sunrod soon shedding its light into the rest of the room.

At the back of the workroom stood their many foes. They were quickly identified as a black pudding, a carnage demon, and several rupture demons. The battle was begun. The rupture demons were easily dispatched, but each demon’s death seemed to heal and empower the carnage demon. Though its blows were tremendous, Alex and Savain were able to dodge and parry most of its attempts to claw them, while dealing out plenty of pain back at the carnage demon; Linden’s arrows eventually felling the foul beast. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was in a pitched and desperate battle with the black pudding. It’s every touch caused caustic acid to sear its prey. Every slice and pummel of their weapons on the pudding separated a chunk of its viscous body onto the floor beside it, each chunk taking up the fight against the Eldritch Blades; their small appendages smearing painful acid everywhere they struck. The large pudding would stretch its body out, engulfing several of the group in a slick appendage, tightening its grip on them and burning them continuously with its acidic ooze, sapping them of their strength to continue the fight.

It was a hard fought battle. Several of the group were dropped by their caustic wounds. But teamwork, skill, and their unwavering resilience won them the battle. Though, they were in very poor condition to continue their search of the complex. They had only been exploring for a handful of hours. To fully recuperate from their ordeal would require them to hole up for the rest of the day. The group decided to risk barricading themselves into the workroom for the duration, hoping to see the next day without interruption.

Their hopes were not to be. A scant hour after barricaded themselves into the room, they could hear attempts being made to break into the room. They quickly mobilized and escaped through a secret door Savain and Linden had discovered. They passed several rooms covered in cobwebs, choosing to leave these rooms unexplored. They came upon a well furnished parlor and bedroom. A quick search of the room revealed a chest with a small treasure and the remaining ritual components. Considering the mission complete, the group decided to make haste for the outside gondola for the return trip to the surface. As they exited the complex, they were set upon by another patrol; this one led by a robed wizard. Linden called forth his spiritual ally, his panther companion, blocking the guards from reaching them, in time for Alex and Morwain to block the door closed so they could make their escape.

The group raced across the beach to the gondola, with Sevain and Alex rushing inside the guardhouse to winch the rest across the lake and up to the ledge by the entrance. As they started their ascent, the wizard and his guards burst out of the complex’s entranceway, peppering those in the gondola with crossbows and arcane attacks. Morwain’s axes and Linden’s bow made short work of the first guard and seriously wounded the wizard. The wizard retreated back into the complex, followed by his remaining guard. Linden called forth his panther companion once again to block their escape. With a mighty roar, the panther savaged the wizard as he tried to escape past into the safety of the complex. The wizard was dead and the remaining guard fled, Alex and Savain were able to send the gondola to the top of the cavern, soon following behind themselves.

The group made their weary way through the lava tube out onto the surface of the mountain. They were met with a torrential rain. They made what haste they could back to Cauldron, delivering the ritual components to Jenya at the Temple of Bahamut. Grateful for their heroism, Jenya wasted no time in gathering her acolytes and priests to perform the ritual, as the torrential rains of the past several days had filled the caldera lake to overflowing, threatening many buildings in the lower city. Morwain assisted in the lengthy ritual, while the others returned to their residence for a much needed rest.

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Session Fifteen: February 18, 2010
Wherein our heroes fight one of their greatest foes...

The group took a short rest, taking stock of the small treasure they’d found in the glittering cave. Soon they were exploring again as they made their way back through the caverns. They were immediately startled by a chanting coming from further in the cave complex. Stopping to listen, they were able to determine some religious bent to the chanting and eventually the name Demogorgon could be heard in the cadence.

They cautiously made their way forward, with Linden and Savain taking the lead hoping to scout out what was amiss. Unfamiliar with the underground terrain, the two scouts crunched rock underneath their footfalls, approaching louder than they’d hope, alerting whoever lay ahead. They made their way to a cave entrance, from which a deep, menacing voice called out them, “Enter, fools. Enter and meet your doom.”

Not to let a challenge go unanswered, the group entered into the large cavern. Stalagmites covered the cavern floor, clearing at the back. A large altar sat at the back of the cavern, lit candelabra atop it, and flanked by two large braziers. In front of the altar, etched into the ground glowed a circle of terrible symbols, pulsing with unholy power. In the center of the circle stood a armored gnoll, facing the group, skin pulled too tight across its body, ripped in several places exposing rotting muscle underneath. Scattered around him in the cavern were several skeleton warriors.

The Eldritch Blades charged in, hoping to quickly subdue the gnoll and his skeleton minions. The skeletons fell quickly in the first seconds of combat and the gnoll besieged by the heroes. The circle pulsed with dark energy, causing the skeletons to rise again and healing their gnoll master. Thus began a tremendous battle, the Blades harried by the continuing resurgence of the shattered skeletons and the dark forces the gnoll was able to bring down upon them. Alex was the first to attempt at disrupting the circle, though unsuccessfully. The fight raged on, wounding several of the group and incapacitating others. Bloodied and unable to contribute directly to the fight, Savain set about disrupting the circle. His trained eye was able to pick out flaws in the design and exploit them, causing the power of the circle to fade with his efforts. Wounded herself, Morwain began prayers to Bahamut to aid in disrupting the circle. All the while, the others continued their prolonged battle against both gnoll and skeleton. Together, Savain and Morwain disrupted the energies empowering the circle, causing its foul power to fade from the battlefield. His skeleton warriors collapsed as the circle’s power did, and its necrotic energies would no longer heal the gnoll. With his support gone, the gnoll quickly succumbed to the combined might of the Eldritch Blades.

Battered and broken, the group decided to secure the cavern and take a long rest to recuperate. They were harried midway through their rest by a patrol of guards. The patrol was soundly defeated, and the group was able to continue their rest unhindered.

Waking refreshed, the group continued their exploration of the complex, seeking the much needed ritual components. They passed several store rooms, barracks, and a mess hall. Eventually, they found their prey. Triel had barricaded up in her quarters, with a contingent of guards. They fighting quickly ensued, neither side giving quarter. Triel proved to be a skilled foe, but eventually she and her guards were brought down by the continued assault of the Eldritch Blades.

A search of her quarters resulting in the discovery of several dark tomes and a locked chest, containing several of the ritual components they had been searching for. But the collection was not complete. Several of the needed ritual components were still missing.

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Session Fourteen: January 21, 2010
Wherein our heroes storm the fortress

Refreshed from their rest, the Eldritch Blades stole into the ancient fortress looming from the cavern wall. Entering through the northern most door, they are met by guards ready for their trespass. Several guards had positioned themselves on a balcony overlooking the entrance; Alex catching several crossbow bolts upon entering. Responding quickly and through some clever acrobatics from Savain, the group was able to quickly overcome the guards.

They quickly proceeded further into the complex, eventually coming to an opening in the worked stone walls. A lave tube had broken through to the interior and led back to a series of caverns. The party decided to explore this new area, soon set upon by skeletal behemoths and flaming skeletons. A fiery battle ensued; the Eldritch Blades victorious, having reduced their foes to bone and dust.

They ventured further into the caverns, coming to a room lit by a single candle, but with that light reflected a thousand times over by volcanic crystals encrusted in the cavern wall. A lone stone sarcophagus stood in the center of the room. Entering further, they discovered the cavern was not unprotected, as two large undead larval beasts emerged from behind the sarcophagus and attacked them. Worm-like tendrils writhed from their mouths; the touch of those frightful appendages causing horrendous pain. A fierce battle ensued. Alex got separated from the group at one point during the chaos, fighting alone against one of the worms. He was able to hold out long enough for his comrades to finish off the worm’s companion and come to Alex’s rescue. Soon, that worm too lay dead.

Going to the sarcophagus, the group opened it to uncover what lay within. With little effort, they were able to pry the lid off. Inside lay heaps and bags of treasure, much to the groups excitement.

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Session Thirteen: January 7, 2010
Wherein our heroes battle terrors from the deep

Not wasting any time, Keira kicked in the door, surprising the two guards on the other side. The Eldritch Blades piled into the room, hoping to make short work of the guards, not realizing that they had friends in the adjoining room. Three more guards entered the fray, as well as their commander, a skilled mage. The fighting was fierce, with the Eldritch Blades giving more than they got. Before long, all of the guards had been dispatched, but not before the mage was able to sound the alarm with the aid of a Horn of Calling.

Their presence known, the Blades decided to make haste to the beach on the other side of the cavern before reinforcements arrived and to the alien structure rising from the cavern wall. They climbed into the large cage, and through Sevain’s handywork, descended quickly to the beach below.

Bearmit Crab
Bearsharktopus

They soon landed on the beach. As they exited the cage, the lake nearby bubbled and foamed. A fearsome company of bearmit crabs and bearsharktopi burst from the water, awakened from their slumber by the sounding of the horn. Fearsome and loathsome creature from some forgotten god, they fought with a vigor no mortal yet living could recall! The Bearmit Crabs sprayed a foul acid upon whoever was in front of their vile maw; and the Bearsharktopi would ensnare with their tentacles and pull you in to that multi-toothed jaw of death. The party thought at first that they were outmatched, but some deft tactics and ferocious display of battle prowess turned the tide, and the Eldritch Blades put their aquatic foes to rest.

It was a close battle, but in the end they were triumphant and the beasts sent back to whatever forgotten Lord had put them forth! The group was taxed; their energies spent, and their wounds, though healed, still fresh in their minds. They decided to hole up in the stone building that the cable car was anchored to, for an extended rest.

Thanks Josh!

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Session Twelve: December 3, 2009
Wherein our heroes rescue a damsel and pursue a thief

Having just defeated the bandits in the basement of the Lucky Monkey, the group took a quick rest. Searching the bodies and the area, they saw that the basement was the scene of an earlier and fierce fight. Exploring further, the group found the body of Sarcem Delasharn, his head missing, as well as a young elf, Shensen, who had locked herself in the inn’s cold storage to escape the bandits. She identified herself as a Strider of Avandra and saw to the temple here at the inn. The missing ritual components were nowhere to be found. Shensen described a striking redhead who lead the bandits, but no one the group had encountered yet.

They escorted her back through the inn, where a brief fight ensued with the remaining bandits. Handily defeating the badits, the Eldritch Blades returned to Cauldron with Shensen and many questions.

The group started their investigation into who this mystery redhead might be. Some hijinks ensued and many false leads, though the group were able to identify the woman as Triel Eldurast, a one-time town guard of Cauldron who escaped punishment after murdering several of her fellow guards while on duty. This event took place nearly a decade ago, so the specifics of the incident had grown hazy in the memories of the people of Cauldron. The group were ultimately put in contact with a local fence, Artus Shemwick. After some persuasion, he was able to identify Triel and her whereabouts in a subterranean ruin below Cauldron and the means to reach it.

With that knowledge in hand, the group set out the next morning to confront Triel and retrieve the missing ritual components.

Per Artus’ directions, the group followed an old lava tube on the side of the mountain Cauldron sat atop. The lava tube curved and meandered, but always down further under the mountain. Eventually, the lava tube opened out onto a ledge overlooking a cavern of immense proportions. A large suspended cage stood ready to carry them down to the cavern floor, across the acrid, phosphorescent lake below them. Also on the ledge, carved from the rock was a stone structure. Listening at the door, Linden could hear voices.

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