The Following session.
Sascha has managed to find solid trail spoor (Double Nat 20’s an an advantage roll!) and the group decides to follow Banter after a long rest, rather than return to cauldron. Sascha is confident she will be able to pick up the trail later. Banter is not trying to hide his tracks.
Shensen thanks everyone for the rescue and having been able to get a short rest she promises to tell the Church of Athena and the proper authorities what has happened at the Lucky Monkey. Disappearing into the bushes no one sees her assume Dire Wolf form and race off towards town.
During the long rest the group collects the coins and Sarcem’s gear, which consists of Custom Fitted Splintmail, a Masterwork Magical Mace, and a Ring and a charm that glow with magic. (This was mentioned at the start of the session)
Sergeant Skylar Krewis arrives with a small group of city guards. They’ve ridden hard since receiving the news from Shensen Tesseril and Skylar gets the rundown from Jurgen. Nodding he wishes them luck as he directs his men towards restoring order and taking over the identification of bodies that the group had started to sort. He thanks them for what they’ve done so far in regards to final rites and for preserving the dignity of the fallen.
Sascha easily picks up Banters trail, 600lbs of bull leave noticeable tracks. Hours pass and as the trail grows colder, Eevi starts to inspire the tracking efforts, ensuring Sascha’s success.
They head north at first and eventually curve towards the east and the mountain range that Cauldron sits in.
Along the way they see Deer passing, find a Druid grove where strange glyphs are carved into a stone menhir where they are attacked by a Giant Boar leading a Spoor of Swine. Jurgen is badly gored while Eevi manages to avoid most, if not all, the attacks while sticking the free roaming bacon with her Rapier.
Once into the mountains Sascha loses the physical signs of the passing Minotaur but luckily the tracks had led to a very well used trail that leads up into the mountains. Up and up they travel, even closer to the City of cauldron before encountering 2 Horses fleeing down, with blankets and tethers but no saddles or equipment. Catching and calming the animals they continue upwards to a natural ‘bowl’ in the canyon trail and look around. The place is partially cleared, bedding and signs of camp mostly erased. Eevi finds a body shoved behind a pile of rocks, it is curled into itself and has two deep puncture marks in its back.
Banter is thought to be the reason behind this. As they continue to hunt for clues Jurgen notices two of the boulders higher up the mountain unfold their legs and become two Giant Spiders that quickly come down and entangle him, spitting webs at the dwarf.
Eevi herself is confronted by the form of a Large spider Phasing from the rock face where she is still examining the body.
The fight is brutal and short, the 2 horses they found bolt again and one is killed by the Phase Spider before it is finally crushed by a coordinated effort when it phases in to attack Sigfrith.
Searching up where the two Giant spiders came from they find two more desiccated bodies, deducing that the group of three seem to have been a merchant, a guard and a servant.
Continuing up, they come to a sharp bend in the trail that seems to continue heading up and over the mountain range. Sharp eyes within the group manage to catch a section of the canyon wall that has hand and footholds carved into the rock face, a natural ladder heading up. Sascha, with the help of the group and Eevi’s Inspiration manages to find Minotaur tracks that take the climb up.
The climb is difficult with Jurgen leading the way, using Pitons and rope to help the others. Despite this advantage, Sigfrith spends quite a lot of time slipping and falling, though he is always stopped by the safety rope, it does begin to bruise him badly.
By mid-afternoon everyone has manged to reach the ledge that the natural ladder led up to and following it around the bend they see that it opens up to a gentler slope. In the distance, maybe half a kilometer is the base of Cauldron’s Obsidian and Stone block wall and closer are two natural rock columns that flank a naturally formed tunnel. Jurgen quickly identifies it as an ancient lave tube from when Cauldron was active.
They push on.
Reaching the end they scout out and finally approach a ledge that overlooks a vast cavern, below them is verdant waters, 90 feet beyond and down is a beach where there are signs of Humanoid dwellings. The air is damp and warm with a foul stench that makes it hard to breath without gagging.
Immediately to their left is a door set in weird architecture. It looks dwarven, but melted somehow with strange geometric shapes and runes. And nestled against it is a large iron bird cage contraption that is quickly identified as a ‘gondola’.
Within the structure they find a winch room, a shiny button, 2 guards playing cards (who are overcome rather easily) and a storage room filled with Water, Beer and Rations to last two weeks.
Jurgen questions one of the survivors and gleans that the Red haired Woman Shensen spoke of is here, within these ruins. He refers to her as The Red Spear. With the promise of continued life he also warns the group of a creature that patrols the waters
“Don’t go into the waters if you value your lives!”
Sigfrith, Jurgen, Eevi and Lucius enter the Gondola while Aldonis activates the winch. He and Sascha remain at the top, their bows out and their eyes scanning. whether Aldonis pays attention to anything beyond the Barbarian beside him is something he may take to his grave.
Unfortunately the Cable holding everything together can’t handle the stress of 4 people and halfway across it snaps, plunging the 4 within to the waters below. Jurgen’s natural athleticism proves valuable as he quickly makes it out and his Darkwood shield helps him to stay afloat. The others though are not doing as well.
Everything begins to sink, panic sets in, and from a beach unseen from above comes the tell-tale ripples of something swimming through the waters.
Even as the last of them make it out and to the surface of the water, a crocodilian nightmare swims past, slowing Lucius as he struggles to stay afloat. Arrows rain down from above as Aldonis proves to have a keen eye, noticing it and quickly attacking with deadly precision. Sascha quickly arranges a rope, spikes it into the ledge and starts to climb down.
Aldonis drives the creature away with feathered stings and quickly hoping over the ledge he slides down the rope, but when he goes to climb the rest of the cliff wall he loses his grip and falls, hitting the water with a bone numbing splash.
Moments later the group is scattered on the beach, catching their breaths and keeping a watchful eye open for signs of discovery.