Cauldron, The Shackled City

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.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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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Session Thirty-one: April 28, 2011
Wherein our heroes fall in love with the Feywild...

The group explored further into the area, soon coming to a clearing with an abandoned campground. As they moved in to investigate, the campsite itself rose up and attacked the party. A hidden will-o’-wisp soon joined in against the group. As the battle commenced, the stony eye atop a nearby pillar began putting members of the group to sleep. They quickly dispatched the animated debris of the campsite. While the rest of the team dispatched the will-o’-wisp, Keira climbed the pillar and disabled the magical effects of the stone eye.

Linden’s tracking took them to the foot of a spiral staircase next to a river, rushing past from a nearby waterfall. Climbing the stairs, they entered a mostly empty room. In the center of the room, the found a scale model of the nearby plateau, of how it used to be, rather than with the irregular building that now occupied its top.

With some minor difficulty, the party crossed to a plateau, entering a strange room. It seemed to transport them back to the Prime Material plane. Exiting the opposite side of the room, they found themselves in a clearing in the Feywild again. Their explorations took them back across the river to a building made of odd angles and curves.

Inside, Savain’s quick reflexes snagged a platinum key from a pool protected by a water serpent.

Exploring into the next room, the party found a young maiden shackled to the wall. She warned that her family had already been taken and feared that “they” were coming back for her. As the group moved to release her from her bindings, she rose up and lashed out at them, her bindings falling away. Swarms of scarabs crawled from the floor and walls to assist the woman in her assault on the team.

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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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