Cauldron, The Shackled City

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.

Session Thirty-eight: September 29, 2011
Wherein our heroes face down the dreaded guardian...

The group smashed their way through one of the ice walls blocking their progress. They found the hallway beyond collapsed. Wasting no time, they smashed through the remaining ice wall and proceeded further into the complex.

As they explored, they encountered what remained of the spell weavers’ test subjects and uncovered more information regarding the history of the spell weavers and their purpose behind Kurran Kural. They found themselves in what seemed to be the last room of the complex. At the back of the room, a tunnel appeared to have been bored down through the stone floor. As they approached to investigate, two large earth elementals rose up and attacked the group. In short order, the party reduced the elementals to rubble. Seeing no other avenue to explore, the group plunged down through the tunnel chute in the floor.

The chute exited them on the floor below. They continued their exploration and soon found themselves in a large room filled with ice columns and stalactites. As they proceeded in, they were set upon by a group of chain devils. The fighting was fast and furious. The Eldritch Blades quickly defeated the devils and pressed on.

They next found themselves in a room, dominated by two large pillars made of grey, necrotic flesh. Jösh was able to discern the power hidden in the pillars and activated them. The souls trapped within the pillars strained against the skin of the pillars as the group asked for information about Fetor and his activities.

They pressed on. They came upon an enormous domed chamber. Massive pillars, similar to the two they had just encounterd, dominated the center of the chamber. Protecting the pillars, a dracoliche wasted no time to attack the group. Through superior tactics, the dragon proved no match for the might of the party. Soon, they had reduced the ancient creature to detritus on the chamber floor.

The group wasted no time in finding what treasure waited for them in the dragon’s hoard at the rear of the chamber.

Session Thirty-seven: September 15, 2011
Wherein our heroes explore the frigid depths of Kurran Kural...

Unsuccessful in their search for the location of Kurran Kural, the group decided to return to the spell weaver complex they had previously explored. After defeating the creatures guarding the entrance to the complex, they were able to freely search through the abandoned complex, eventually discovering the location of the entrance to Kurran Kural, where they hoped to confront Fetor Abraxious and learn more about the forces working against them and Cauldron.

They wasted no time in reaching the entrance and followed twisting tunnels deeper and deeper beneath the volcano. After many hours, they reached the frigid halls of Kurran Kural. The arctic temperature sapped the heat from their bodies. They proceeded with caution through a mammoth ice wall and deeper into the complex. They reached a room filled with lattices of ice, hindering any movement through. Two large walls of ice blocked any exit from the room.

Keira made her way in, negotiating her way past the ice lattices. She was immediately set upon by a group of ice gargoyles. The rest of the group moved in to engage and aid Keira. As the fight progressed, the party came to realize the threat of the gargoyles, entombment in solid ice with the gargoyles. The group persevered, destroying the gargoyles. They were left to determine how to bypass the walls of ice and continue their search for Fetor.

Session Thirty-six: August 4, 2011
Wherein our heroes peak into the greater consipiracy...

The group explored the seemingly abandoned rooms of the temple. They found there way to a rectory where the priests would prepare for their services. There they found enough clerical robes for the whole party. Donning the robes, they made their way through the altar room to the grand hall. Disguised in the robes and with some quick talking by Jösh, the group was able to bypass the mercenaries guarding the enormous hall to access the stairwell leading up into the temple.

They ransacked Ike Iverson’s and Embril Eloustani’s chambers before reaching the top of the stairs. At the top, they found Ike surrounded by undead, ready for their arrival. With a scream, he ordered the attack on the party. A fierce combat ensued. The group battled the death knights and shades protecting Ike, as a now-Jösh-enchanted-invisible Savain sneaked through the conflict to close with the unsuspecting Ike. With a series of quick slashes and stabs, Savain dropped Ike to the ground bleeding. With a final plunge, Savain ended Ike’s life just as the battle had begun. The undead continued their attack on the party. Their dark powers sapping the very life from the heroes. Keira, Alex, and Morwin had nearly reached their breaking point. A blow from a death knight brought Morwin to the brink of death. Her companions rushed to defeat the knights and rescue her from oblivion. Keira was able to stabilize her fallen friend as the rest of the group felled the last death knight.

They took a moment to recover themselves and revive Morwin. In the chamber, they found a familiar object. A soulcage was hung from the spire rising above them. They lowered it to examine the cage further. Joesh made a connection between the cages and a place in the Astral Sea called Carceri, a place where the gods imprison their greatest foes. Their investigation finished for the moment, they donned the stolen clerics robes again and were able to exit the temple unmolested further.

Reviewing a letter they had found in Embril’s quarters, from someone named Fetor to High Priestess, he explained his continued research of something called “the soul pillars” for more information regarding a ritual involving the cages. Fetor and the soul pillars were somewhere called Kuran Kural, which Joesh connected with the ancient Spellweaver complex they’d explored while tracking down Triel Eldurast.

Session Thirty-five: July 21, 2011
Wherein our heroes brave the sewers once again...

Using information from Artus Shemwick, the group proceeded into the sewers of Cauldron, seeking an old access tunnel leading into the crypts below The Spire of the Stern Lady. Through Linden’s keen guidance, they navigated the labyrinthine sewers to a room containing the entrance they sought. Rotting dead bodies and heaps of waste and refuse littered the room. Entering, the party was assaulted by rot grub swarms and an otyugh. They ultimately fended off the vermin, but not before Keira and Alex contracted a touch of Filth Fever from the otyugh.

The group entered into the catacombs below the temple. Having passed through several rooms of crypts and mausoleums, they arrived at the last chamber of the catacombs which would exit out to an antechamber and the temple beyond. They found the exit barred and the room quickly filling with rotting zombies. Savain and Linden rushed to unlock the door while the others fended off the zombie horde. In time, Savain opened the way to the adjoining antechamber before the group was overwhelmed. The group escaped out of the crypt and barred the door behind them.

As the group entered the temple proper, they were met by a guard of mercenaries. The fight was short and brutal. The Eldritch Blades quickly overran the small guard force and prepared their further assault on the temple.

Session Thirty-four: June 23, 2011
Wherein our heroes are attacked at home...

Returning from the Feywild, the group found Cauldron in no better shape than they left it. They spent the next couple of days selling, shopping, and recuperating before planning on their next course of action. As they were enjoying themselves at tip The Tipped Tankard, three assassins revealed themselves and assaulted the party. The battle was hard fought, but the Blades proved their mettle. All three assassins met their end. All that remained was the mystery of who sent them.

Suspicious of some odd news about the The Spire of the Stern Lady, the group decided to investigate the temple under cover of night. With some effort, Savain picked the lock to the temple’s main doors. Keira opened the doors to take a look inside, only to be met by two arrows piercing her shoulder. A small force of dragonborn and ogre mercenaries was arrayed inside the temple. Keira slammed the door closed and called for the tactical withdrawal of the party. Alex sealed the doors for proof against pursuit before he too fled. The group retreated home to lick their wounds and their pride, and to plan what to do next.

The following day arrived with seemingly no repercussions for the prior nights events. Linden and Morwin found the doors to The Spire of the Stern Lady under repair after “being vandalized” the night before. Alexander and Jösh followed up at the Tipped Tankard, find it mostly recovered from the fight last evening. They proceeded to the town guard barracks and enlisted Guard Captain Skylar Krewis in their investigation into who hired the assassins. Keira and Savain searched the seedier side of Cauldron for clues, finding a helpful hand in Artus Shemwick again. For a small sum of coin, he agreed to help in finding the answers they sought.

On the evening of the next day, the group met up with Artus again to see what he had discovered. It turned out that the assassins had been hired by Ike Iverson, the current head of the temple of The Raven Queen, with Embril Aloustani out of the city. He informed them that at the same time the assassins were hired, mercenaries were also contracted to supplement the security of the temple.

The group was left with the task of puzzling out the next best approach to breaching the temple and confronting Ike Iverson.

Session Thirty-four: June 9, 2011
Wherein our heroes please a queen and return home...

After a much needed rest, the group gathered themselves and continued their exploration of their strange surroundings. Searching the room that they’d fought their dopplegangers, they found a switch hidden away in an alcove. Forgoing any discussion, Morwin pulled the lever and was met with an audible click from back in the tapestry room. The second secret door they had found was opened.

The entered into a large room. Several cairns lay near them; the largest sat atop a semicircular dais by the eastern wall. Further into the room, they could see abundant growths of ivy covering many of the walls. Exploring further in, the party was set upon by death knights and the skin shell of a firbolg, all risen from the cairns. As the party engaged with the undead threat, a creature of vine, bramble, root, and branch emerged from behind them out of the thick ivy. The fight was dire. Jösh found himself facing one of the death knights alone, hemmed in by the terrain, while the rest of the Blades engaged the other threats. The ivy monster lashed out with poisonous vine, seemingly able to strike anywhere across the room, wrapping an unfortunate hero in its grasp. The death knights would fall, only to rise again; only the purifying power of flame or the divine able to end their existence.

At one point, all seemed lost. Most of the Eldritch Blades lay exhausted, battered, and bleeding on the cold stone floor. Keira let out a mighty cry. “Rise up, my friends! We may fall one day, but not this day! Not this day! Fight!” Rallying to Keira’s shout, the party pushed themselves for one last stand. Together, they felled the death knights and cut the heart from the ivy beast.

Though tired, they decided to press on further. Deeper in the room, they found a door much like the one depicted in the tapestry room to which Savain had pressed the adamantine key they had found. They found the door unlocked.

Passing through, they entered into a pentagonal shaped room, to which all of the arcane energies funneling throughout the complex seemed to be channeled, channeled into and through a cobbled, wooden structure in the center of the room. To where and for what purpose, they could not determine. With a few simple swings of their weapons, the structure was destroyed. The energies flowing through the building ceased.

Their task seemingly done, the group left the plateau to return home. Outside, they were greeted by none other than Anan, The Eventide Queen, Keira’s patron. She congratulated the group for cleansing the plateau, providing them with a refreshing feast, her blessing, and save passage out of the Feywild.

Keira's Diary, Entry 2
The Feywild

The Feywild is beyond words.

Beautiful? Yes, but the word cannot do it justice. Saying the Feywild is beautiful is not enough. It can’t be conveyed to you the sheer majesty of the domain. I’ll have to just tell you what happened the first time I stepped out of our world and crossed over. I fell to my knees, stunned, and wept. I had been stunned by the colors alone, and the combined observations of all five of my senses had simply emotionally drained me for a few moments, until I was able to recover and stand. You can actually smell magic there, and feel it in the wind as it whips through your hair. It’s as if the entire plane is an enormous ley-line.

This last adventure was my third physical trip to The Feywild. The first, was on the night I entered Her Majesty’s service. The second trip, was on an errand for her, a task that earned me the company of Glitterwing. This last time was again at the behest of Queen Anan, this time with my companions, The Eldritch Blades. I don’t think they were as impressed as I.

No matter. Perhaps my sensitivity to the energies of this place connects me to it in a way that the others cannot feel. Maybe they just can’t put it into words. I’ll have to speak to Linden and Savain to see if his Elven blood felt any connection beyond what they’ve already expressed. I think Morwin, Josh and Alex are all more comfortable with the walls of Cauldron. The three of them seemed uncomfortable with the chaotic nature of the place, preferring the structure and stability of hearth and home.

Not I. If fact, I had something of an epiphany while out in The Feywild. I’ve been growing increasingly bored with life in Cauldron. We have a house. And are… Celebrated. We’re safe and happy and important. And I would give it all to see someplace new and have to fight for my life.

I must be damaged in some way, but I’ve not felt alive as I did in The Feywild for some time. Everything was unknown and we weren’t sure if the shrubs were carnivorous, or if the forests around us would come alive and try to kill us, or if we could breathe the air or if time passed as we knew it, or if we’d even survive the journey. I loved every moment we were there.

I am an adventurer. Home and hearth have done nothing but harm to me. They make me fat and bored at best or at worst, subject me to horrors I still experience when I close my eyes to dream.

(That’s another thing… While I was in The Feywild, I did not have nightmares. Is Anan’s protection stronger when I am closer to her? I’ll have to investigate.)

I can’t sit behind walls and study. I must venture forth and experience and through that, conquer. I need to keep moving, keep fighting, keep EXPLORING and keep living. It is what I am. I wonder if The Feywild can ever get boring? If I am to, “settle down”, one day… Perhaps it will be there. It would likely mean extending my service to Her Majesty indefinitely, but for a night without terrors, and to live out my days surrounded by tangible magic? I’ll gladly strike that bargain.

Where to next, I wonder? Perhaps to The Shadowfell to see the other side. I look good in black.

[Gameplay Note: This reflects retraining Arcana for Insight, and builds towards the Feyliege Epic Destiny]

Session Thirty-three: May 26, 2011
Wherein our heroes find some disagreement with themselves...

The group passed through the hidden door and entered into a long hallway. They could hear the sounds of a dinner party up ahead. Advancing cautiously, they entered into another room of odd angles and curved walls. Like many other locations in the complex, these walls too were covered in strange arcane runes that seemed to channel energy… elsewhere.

They entered into the odd room. For a split second, darkness enveloped the room. Just as quickly, the darkness lifted and the group found themselves facing exact duplicates of themselves. They engaged each other in battle. The illusion masking their enemies was strong enough that the Blades found themselves often times striking friend rather than foe. As each foe was slowly felled, the illusion dropped from that enemy revealing it to be a type of spriggan, but where the blow should have killed the creature outright, it hung on to undeath for just long enough to attack on last time. Through much effort and travail, the party was able to kill the last of the spriggans and were again ready for a long rest.

Looking for a defensible spot to rest, the group explored into the next room. Plush carpets covered the floor of this opulent room. An ornate chandelier hung from the ceiling. Expensive gaming tables occupied spots along the walls around the room. Think the opulence of the room a good indication of how comfortable it would be to rest there, they entered further into the room. As they did so, shadowy figures appeared at each of the tables and several of the group became compelled to play the games. They soon discovered that poor strategy and failed guile caused painful feedback from the games. Efforts were made to escape the games and to complete the games. Beating the game seemed to completely deactivate whatever magic was compelling them to play. Most of the group felt the desire to beat the game at each table and thus disarm them. Meanwhile, Alex retreated to the safety of the prior room. Through careful planning, good tactics, a sly hand, and much teamwork, the rest of the party was able to deactivate each table in turn.

With that accomplished, with members of the group both physically and mentally exhausted, the party collapsed for a much needed rest.

Session Thirty-two: May 12, 2011
Wherein our heroes find time for a puzzle...

The fight against the lamia was fierce and desperate. Already tired from the day’s explorations, the group pulled out every last trick and tool in their attempt to defeat the lamia and her scarab swarms. The fight almost proved too much for the heroes, but one by one the scarab swarms were crushed and eventually the lamia too fell to the Eldritch Blade’s might.

Exhausted and near collapse, the group retreated to the map room for some much needed rest. The night past uneventfully and the party was able to recuperate and continue their explorations.

The passed through the only entrance left unexplored to them at the back of the immense structure occupying the plateau. They entered into a large room filled with tapestries hung from the walls and ceiling. Searching the room, they found two hidden doors but could not discover the mechanism to opening them.

Most of the tapestries depicted outdoor scenes. One in particular showed a door covered in arcane runes. A thief was depicted being flung from the door, in a shower of sparks. A nearby companion was shown reaching out in surprise with a key exactly like the one the group had retrieved from the pool in his hand. On a hunch, Savain touched the key to the tapestry. A loud clicking, as a door unlocking, could be heard but neither of the hidden doors they had found seemed to be affected.

Alex wandered into an adjoining room containing an odd staff casting shadows on a wall lined with two rows of brass and iron numbers from one to twelve. Alex found that if he stood in front of the staff he could project his shadow at a particular number on the wall. Alex picked a number at random and sent his shadow at it. Immediately, a stream of shadowy tendrils shot from the number and five wraiths materialized.

The heroes were beset by mad whispers from the wraiths, debilitating the group as they tried to fight off the insidious mental intrusion. The touch of the wraiths were even enough to send a hero into temporary madness, enough to attack each other in their brief loss of control. The group persevered and dispatched the wraiths, though not without much effort.

They turned their attention back to the hidden doors and the puzzle of the numbers in the side chamber. Through much discussion, they tried again, casting a shadow at one of the numbers, hoping that they had guessed correctly. They did not. Again, they were beset by wraith and only through much trial were the wraiths again defeated.

Lindenwas able to tie a sundial the group had seen during their fight with the lamia to this puzzle, surmising that the time on the sundial might correspond to one of the twenty-four numbers on the wall. They made a quick dash back to the sundial, measuring the change in time on the sundial and the time it took to get to and from the sundial. Stepping in from of the staff after calculating what time would be showing on the sundial, Linden cast his shadow at the appropriate number. The group was met with a click as one of the hidden doors swung open.


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