Cauldron, The Shackled City

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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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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