The Blade of the Raven Queen

Victory!
Well Mostly Victory.

Continued from the previous week.

Jurgen uses up the rest of his Lay on Hands healing to revive himself as he moves to protect Lucius. The Lake Monster blinks and suddenly sees Jurgen as a friend and begins to move around him to attack the rest of the party.

In the pit, Sascha struggles against the swarm of Quippers as she tries to find handholds to climb. The Spear Wielding villain takes a moment to mock her as she frantically tries to prevent the ravenous fishes from tearing at her flesh. Her rage numbs her to the pain.

The veteran that gathered the guards and thugs directs the last few archers to fire at the group, exhorting his underlings to ignore the lake monster to mixed success. His underlings on the other hand fire haphazardly targeting both the creature and the group closest to them.

Aldonis maintains his distance, arrows flying from his bow with deadly intent. Lucius groggily gets to his feet while edging away from the monster, his actions sluggish as though slowed. Eevi continues to encourage the group as Sigfrith slaps any foe within range with Chill Touch.

The Spear of Ares emerges from the building and surveys the battlefield. The tide of combat has been going back and forth and now seems to be at a tipping point.

Jurgen waves his arms about to get the monsters attention and feels a slithering voice intrude upon his thoughts “What issss it you want from meee?” Jurgen manages to convince it to attack the enemy archers first even as the creature tells him bluntly that his friends will come after. With a roar it charges the closest one and lays into it with claws and fangs killing him near instantly.

Sascha climbs from the pit, blood streaming from many bites. She gathers herself to charge and is intercepted by the Veteran guard.

Jurgen calls for a retreat while the enemy is engaged with the monster, Lucius takes it to heart and makes for the far beach.

No one else seems to have heard, or at least have decided to ignore it. Jurgen finds himself charged by the spear wielding boss and is hard pressed to defend against the wicked point of her attacks. She dances around his attacks, avoiding his knockdowns while landing solid hits of her own.

Sascha and the veteran struggle briefly as she grapples him, but soon her raging advantage forces him back and she successfully throws him into the pit she came out of. His screams soon come fast ad frequent as he finds himself struggling against the quippers hunger for blood. Sascha charges into the fray with the enemy leader while Eevi Viciously Mocks her successfully.

The lake monster finishes off the last of the archers and moves to support its friend Jurgen but before it can engage it is dispatched with a brutal Divinely Inspired, Spear thrust.

Surrounded, wounded and finally knocked on her ass, the Spear Wielding Corinthian decides that retreat is in order. She picks herself up, disengages and begins to make a fighting retreat towards the ruins. Her progress is hampered by Jurgens sweep and smash tactic as she finds herself unable to devote her full attention to him. Frustrated she touches Jurgen with an Inflict Wounds and drops the Dwarf. She then simply runs, risking the attacks of opportunity, trusting in her armour and shield to protect her.

She makes it into the ruins and out of sight. Dashing Aldonis follows her in, catching her as she tries to make for a door 20ft further in. A well placed arrow causes her to stumble and finally collapse.

That’s when Aldonis notices the dark skinned man in the carmine robes giving him the evil eye. Aldonis uses the rest of his movement to GTFO.

Everyone regroups, the expected wizard attack doesn’t materialize as they make a break for the waters. They make it to the beach where Lucius has been waiting for them, combing the sands through the blood and gore that must have been the former creatures lair.

MEANWHILE

Elrik awakens in the Drunken Centaur inn. He remembers little from his 30+ day bender but he sees that there is a roll of silk behind him, drinks on the table and serving girls sleeping in heaps near the table. Groggily he makes his way to the temple of Athena, wondering what has happened to his companions. There he is ushered in to meet Jenya as she confers with Shensen and two elves, Fario and Eldarin. Jenya uses the Holy Spear of Athena to Divine the general whereabouts of the group and then uses Locate Object several times to pinpoint the Athenian Badges she had given them when they first worked for the church.

The two elves and the druid agree to take Elrik with them as they go to backup the group. They find the lava tube, descend it and find the winch house on the ledge with the prisoner. After a few questions and answers from the repentant thug Elrik lets him go, thinking to himself “What would Jurgen NOT do”.

They quickly find the PC’s on the beach and with the use of Pitons and ropes get everyone back up to the ledge. Shensen delivers a pair of Boots of Striding and Springing as thanks from her superior and after assuring herself that all is well, informs the party that she and the Elves are going to go back out and track the path that they had used on the way here.

The group takes a long rest, maintaining a watch to make sure nothing surprises them from the ruins.

Rested, they make their way back down and approach the wizards quarters before re-entering the ruins. Eevi negotiates with him and due to her Noble Stygian background he treats with her politely and with deep respect. A deal is struck, silver for wands and within the hour the servant comes and delivers a bag with several within.

Needing to get at least 6 of the 8 missing wands they begin searching Room by room, finding traps and little else till Aldonis finds the secret door leading to the archers that had fired on Eevi the day before in the long hall. Those bandits are quickly subdued and one is taken alive. Questioned he brings them to Sisava’s front door and then runs happily away to freedom.

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Ancient Ruins Part II and a Looming TPK.

After having paused briefly on the beach the consensus is to move to the south end of the beach and to enter at the door just visible down there. On the way they pass the beach side winch house and when Aldonis “the Grey” checks it out he finds that it’s empty and that the western wall is trapped. He manages to avoid most of the falling debris as the wall collapses inwards.

Passing some boulders they quickly ready themselves before the door, noticing that it has the same sort of architectural features that the rest of these ruins have; Seemingly Dwarven made but melted and runny as though butter left out in the sun for too long.

Jurgen boots the door open.

The startled Humans within just stare in shock as violence erupts around them. Sascha quickly cuts off the one door out, shoving the thug in front of it onto the large table that dominates the center of the room. In her rage she still manages to try and prevent any runners from alerting the complex. Jurgen’s new sweep and smash fighting style keeps his foes prone most of the battle and it quickly becomes an Iron Raven victory.

Moving on they enter a hallway with one door on the immediate left and one on the immediate right. The hall continues after a 45 degree bend to the right and has another door at the end as the hall takes a sharp left turn. Aldonis checks the door to the right, he hears nothing but as he turns to tell the others the door opens and a bandit starts to come out. Once again, surprise is on their side as two of the three bandits within are quickly cut down. The third desperately tries to shove his way past Sascha Øksdóttir to escape but is cut down viciously by all the people he twists by.

Following their earlier ‘success’ Jurgen requests that Aldonis check the door on the left. The young rogue quickly learns that the door is Magically trapped and with the help of lucius disables it. Lucius also points out that the door has been Arcane Locked. It makes the door next to impossible to open using thief tools.

On the corpse of the earlier runner they find a stone mallet, and it’s quickly surmised that it might be used to knock on the door across the hall. Knocking they have Eevi ready to bluff their way in. Surprisingly a voice answers and Eevi is able to convince the person on the other side that a message is to be delivered to the occupants within. After a brief hesitation the door is opened and Jurgen shoves his way inside, bowling over a dark skinned, bald man in servant’s robes. The servant is quickly subdued.

The room within is a small foyer of some kind with a door to the north, the air is much less foul, fresh even, compared to the rest of the complex thus far. A faint breeze seems to cycle through and the dank foul air from without can’t seem to make its way in. There is a desk covered in papers and alchemical equipment and a bookshelf to the south. Questions are put to the servant who immediately rattles something back in Stygian to Eevi’s surprise. When she switches to Stygian to ask him questions his gaze sharpens and the servant realizes that Eevi is Stygian and of Noble Blood. His attitude towards her changes, becoming formal and polite though still unhelpful. He ignores the rest of the party and when Aldonis speaks “Set’s Godless Tongue” the servant merely calls him a savage with better taste.

The door to the north proves to be much like the first, trapped magically and Locked through the Arcane. The desk has scraps of paper, some formulas for spell research, notes on celestial patterns. The bookshelf has more about the heavens and stars, divination magics and several weird volumes with twisting alien runes that give the reader slow building headaches.

While most of the party is within the foyer interrogating or searching, Sascha and Aldonis guard the hall, keeping an eye out for danger.

Danger finds them in the form of two guards coming around the corner to the north. Both move to engage, not knowing there are 4 others nearby. As the fight escalates in the hall, those in the foyer argue about the next course of action. Threats are made to the Stygian servant but he quietly states that he would “rather die”. Someone attempts to knock him out but only succeed in giving him a nasty bruise before Lucius smacks him down.

The fight in the hall continues.

Lucius takes the Servants hand and attempts to use it to twist the door handle. The door doesn’t open but the magical glyph activates and a loud barking sound fills the room. Sigfrith is bit by something invisible and is almost knocked unconscious. Thinking quickly Lucius realizes that it is a magical guardian and urges everyone out as quickly as possible. A few try to target whatever the creature is but nothing succeeds. Whatever it is does not follow them into the hall.

The hall fight sours quickly for the two guards. One breaks and runs down the hall to the left as his friend is cut down. Aldonis chases him down the hall, firing arrows at every opportunity. Tired of taking feathered shafts in the back the guard ducks into a door and breaks line of sight. Aldonis cunningly closes the gap entering behind him into what appears to be natural tunnels, most and damp. The guard is briefly seen rounding a corner and then sharp, horrible screams are heard coming from the darkness.

Aldonis backs out quietly and closes the door as Sascha arrives. He simply gives her a “don’t go in there” look.

The group chooses to go through the north door at the end of the first bit of hall. They find an empty mess hall, followed by a storage room and then a guardroom with four guards within. Once again Sascha rages and the fight is on. One of the four guards breaks for a door and manages to slip out. Jurgen follows but is immediately foiled by a falling net trap. He hears the guard cry for help and the rough voice that follows;

Get back in there and Die

The guard rushes back and is felled. Jurgen frees himself from the net with a growl.

The group pushes on into the next room beyond, it’s another meeting style room with a large table and at one end maps and notes scattered about as though someone had just been reading them. But no one is there.

Double doors to the left (West) and two doors to the right (East). One of the doors to the east is open and through the opening Jurgen can see it leads to the beach. Eevi opens the double doors and finds a large, wide hallway heading off into the darkness. She also manages to avoid a couple of arrows being fired from arrow slits in the walls. Eevi closes the double doors.

Going to the open east door Jurgen looks through with his shield up to see 4 guards pouring from another building further north on the beach. Closing the door he looks around and urges everyone to get ready. The alarm has been raised.

Keeping behind his shield Jurgen opens the door to find a dozen or more guards out there, and a hail of arrows smashes into his darkwood shield. Smashing the arrows off with his hammer he barks a taunt to the enemy.

What follows is a fast chaotic melee with Eevi’s shatter spells killing small knots of bandits and forcing the others to scatter coming at the group from all directions. Even as the fight seems to swing in favour of the Iron Ravens a red headed woman emerges sporting spear and feather crested helm. She and Sascha battle it out before a Dissonant Whisper forces her to retreat, in a rage, Sascha follows only to fall victim to an Illusion covered pit, falling 10ft before plunging into water that is another 10ft deep. Spluttering she looks about for a way out only to feel the swarming fish within start to take chunks out of her flesh.

Sigfrith and Lucius are sparring with a tough guard, with the occasional arrow coming from Aldonis when exploding onto the beach from the waters comes the water devil they had encountered before. Lucius goes down in a flurry of claws.

Jurgen, seeing this, hurries over and heals Lucius with his Lay on Hands ability (1hp) and groggily Lucius is Inspired with a ‘Plan b’. When next the beast attacks he flings his Philter of Love into its gaping maw. Instinct forces those deadly jaws together and as the potion takes effect it shakes its head before settling its gaze on Jurgen.

Things are looking Grim.

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Tracking the Bull - Ancient Ruins.

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.

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The Banter Cull
Like a Bull in a China Shop.

Awoken early on the 15th day of Édorum (i970), Jurgen received a soaking wet Ruphus. Shaking the sleep from his system he listens intently while the young acolyte urgently requests the group’s presence at the temple of Athena. Jenya has received a message from the head of the Athenian Temple in cauldron and the words seem grim.

After waking everyone, some grumbling more than others and a ‘Go to Hell Dwarf!’ from the corner where Aldonis “the Grey” sleeps, they quickly make their way to the temple. Ruphus meets them at the door and ushers them in straight away. The atmosphere at the temple is tense as Acolytes are seen wringing their hands and talking in quiet whispers.

Jenya emerges from the side vestibule where the party had been quartered only 2 score days ago and bids them enter. Her hair in Disarray as though she had been awoken from sleep and had not had the frame of mind to make herself presentable. Once words of greeting had been exchanged she cut through Jurgen’s pleasantries in an uncharacteristic show of haste.

I’ve just received a terribly disturbing message from Sarcem Delasharn, the high priest of this Athenian temple. He sent the message via a sending spell. I wrote down the message and my reply.

Passing the note to the group it reads: At lucky monkey. Have eight wands. Tavern’s been attacked. Bandits led by barbaric Minotaur. Mortally wounded. Retreated to basement. They know we’re here. Send assistance!

And her reply: Hang on! Preserve your resources, I’ll send aid immediately. Send me another message when you can. Athena Guide your Actions

She continues to the group I cannot go myself, though I wish it otherwise. I cannot leave the church unattended in his absence, if disaster struck while we were both away Sarcem would never forgive me. Will you go in my stead?

Without missing a beat Jurgen Frostbeard volunteered the services of The Iron Ravens.

lucius quickly threw in a question regarding the mentioned wands and Jenya explained as the the others ate warm bread brought by acolytes.

Jenya: Sarcem went to the City of White Sails to purchase wands of Water control. Eight in fact, we’ve had to drain the temple chests to get them commissioned. The wands are used to help control the waters during difficult winters. Though we have not had such in over ten years. Traditionally, since the first major flooding, the clerics of all four faiths in cauldron pitch to create them but one by one they have stopped as the years have been kind. Now please, I have had scrolls of Phantom Steed brought from the libraries, use them to get there as quickly as possible!

The horses that are summoned are quasi-real animals, almost translucent but not quite, each compensates for the rider making for an easy trip despite the rushed pace.

There are no encounters on the way.

Cresting a rise they come to The Lucky Monkey Inn, lights still burn in some of the upper levels and all seems quiet and peaceful.

Leaving Jurgen, Sigfrith and Lucius behind in a stand of trees, Sascha, Eevi and Aldonis quietly and stealthily approach the stables on the eastern, and closest, side. Once they reach the gap between the stables and the Tavern itself Aldonis overhears gruff voices within the stables. Signaling for the others they continue to the tavern and then become slightly split up as Aldonis continues towards the kitchen doors, Sascha looks between him and Eevi and Eevi watches the stables waiting to give the others a hand if need be.

Jurgen, Lucius and Sigfrith approach the stables as though they were regular travelers and are met by a man in leathers who makes small talk. Things quickly go sideways as Jurgen senses their hidden intents and combat ensues. Getting hit a few times Jurgen bottles up the main door while Lucius and the Archer within exchange missiles. One of Force one of Bow. The fight is brief and the bodies are dragged inside. It seems no one from the tavern itself was alerted to the commotion.

Aldonis continues towards the kitchen doors and overhears a deep gruff voice ‘You fetch me things, Wine!’ and then Ha Cleric, not so Strong now before there is a snort, the sound of ringing steel and stillness. Aldonis senses he’s been noticed!

Quickly flanking the other side of the entrance, Aldonis watches as Eevi signals again to the group in the stables and Sascha gets to the doors, when they explode open and a large mass of muscle, fur and horns comes charging aggressively out.

“Banter will Crush you!”

Sascha is the first to be hit and is thrown backwards even as the Bull moves onward swinging his hammer in a furious arc that barely misses.

Aldonis manages to perceive that their enemy is well armoured, wearing a steel breastplate and carries a large shield and a fuck huge War Hammer.

The combat is intense, Sascha rages, Aldonis attracts Banter’s ire when he shoots arrows into his back, Sigfrith blasts the big bull with a Witch’s Bolt which scores critical damage. But it refuses to go down, it is an engine of destruction intent on crushing it’s foes. Scouts appear in the second story window even as thugs and bandits come streaming out of the kitchen. Eevi casts a shatter, killing one outright as another reels from the sonic blast. Lucius blasts Banter with magic missile and fire bolts.

One of the bandits breaks and runs when he sees his bosses eyes go red with rage and as he runs by Aldonis, taking shelter by the kitchen doors again, he takes pity and simply yells at him to RUN!’.

Banter refuses to be tied down to one opponent and rushes back and forth, causing Jurgen great consternation as he can’t keep up to Banter’s superior speed. The Minotaur’s armour deflects many grievous blows even as his hammer lashes out crushing and denting adventurer steel.

Aldonis goes down, though his instincts told him to flee in to the tavern he instead rushes out to provide support and cover for the group (Sascha). Banter’s hammer lays him out cold. Jurgen catches up to him and quickly uses a Lay of Hands to stabilize Aldonis. Witch bolt’s from both Lucius and Sigfrith are arcing through the air. Banter’s armour crackles as steam and smoke rise from his body.

‘Banter is Strongest!’

The Minotaur, no fool he, gets out of range of the Lightning, breaking their concentrations and rushes towards the softer ranks of the adventurers between the stables and the tavern.

Bandits begin to flee, running from death at both ends. Sascha kills the thug that has been trying vainly to keep her attention and prepares herself to engage Banter.

Sigfrith begins to cast his second Witch’s Bolt when the winds of chaos surge within him and suddenly finds a bewildered Unicorn popping into existence beside him.

Say what?

Banter can see where this is going, smashing a potion of healing into his mouth and shoving Jurgen out of the way he barrels into the stables, punching a horse on his way through and out the other side.

Jurgen pleads with the Unicorn for it to follow the Minotaur Juggernaut but it replies telepathically that it is needed here to heal the wounded.

As it approaches Aldonis to heal him, it notices him tense up and start to lift his bow and thinks that that one needs to be left alone.

A quick search of the tavern reveals loot stacked in the kitchen, the rooms empty and ransacked, much beer and wine savagely killed but no remaining bandits. They do however find Shensen Tesseril in the basement, having managed to trap and wedge the door to prevent her untimely death at the hands of Banter and his thugs. She is healed by Jurgen and escorted back to the main floor.

Details to come.

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Cauldron's Basement Reclaimed.

Resurfacing, the group drops off the citizens they had saved with The captain of the Guard Terseon Skellerang, many thanks are given as those saved are reunited with loved ones, or just glad to be on the surface again and not in the clutches of a slaving Bugbear Soldier.

The children are returned to the Lantern Street Orphanage and again thanks are profusely given. They find that Terrem was returned earlier in the dark of the morning by a woman dressed in red robes and a black veil. Questions posed reveal that Terrem thought she smelled like trees.

At the Church of Athena, Jenya Urikas congratulates the party and takes the body of lucius. Calling in a favour with The Cathedral of Hades she has him raised from the dead.

A chest full of silver, 16 5lbs bars and 1000 coins. (5000sp total), is given as a reward from the church. Jenya also promises to get the group an audience with the Lord Mayor Severan Navalant on the following day.

The group arrives as the Mayor is finishing a discussion with an Armoured Dwarf. They overhear that Tahn Buhldir is being reclaimed by the Dwarves, with permission from the City of Cauldron. Jurgen Frostbeard introduces himself and learns that Argyle Ulfhræfn is to be the new Commander of the Malachite Hold.

Congratulations are given, a feast prepared. They learn that The Storm Blades managed to find the vandals and at it’s heart defeat a Hobgoblin Vampire controlling it all.

At the feast it is announced that they are officially forming a group. The name chosen is The Iron Ravens.

A reward is brought forward, 15000sp, to be held at the Bank in cauldron. Máti Vhalantru is asked to find them a residence.

During the Next month of downtime the members of TIR pursue their own activities.

  • Aldonis “the Grey”
    • Spreads his new found wealth amongst the poor of Ash Avenue, gaining renown.
  • Eevi Ptolomy
    • Recruits Sascha to work the common people of cauldron and counteract rumours sown to their detriment. She also starts up a small investigative business with Sigfrith. It does poorly in it’s first month.
  • Elrik Bjornsson
    • Started spending money and carousing as soon as the captives had been released. His Drinking and Gambling reach epic proportions, his name in every tavern as he makes money and finds himself with 8 yards of fine Khitan Silk.
  • Jurgen Frostbeard
    • Works with the dwarves to resize Kazmojen’s armour and guides Argyle into Tahn Buhldir and the Malachite Hold, gaining Renown among the new dwarves.
      - time 50 days, cost 500 gp -
  • lucius
  • Sascha Øksdóttir
    • Performs at various establishments and simply enjoys the rewards of the groups success.
  • Sigfrith Bakkerson
    • Buys himself a 1 year subscription to the Academy for his research and works part time for Eevi.

At the end of the 30 days downtime, on the 15th day of Édorum (i970) the group find Ruphus at their residence in the pre dawn hours, wet from the light rains, urgently requesting their presence at the Temple of Athena. Something terrible is afoot…

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Run Away!!!
or how not to kill the Wizard ...

Pushing on the group enters the main hall where the statue of Zenith Splintershield stands looking grimly towards the entrance, beyond which lies the realm of the Underdark. Wrapped about the statue are chains with wicked barbed hooks. When Jurgen moves to take those chains and secure the doors he is surprised to find that they have a will of their own. A brief struggle later and the remaining unbroken lengths of chain are used to seal the front doors.

Reluctance.jpg

The look on Aldonus’ face…

Jurgen then kicks open the double doors leading deeper into the Malachite Hold and roars in Dwarven “Creatures beware, there be a Dwarf in the Malachite Halls once more!”

The proverbial shit hits the fan as no less than ten of the darkly armoured Elves come rushing from various rooms connected with the hall. Each wears blackened chainmail and carry weapon and shield.

The fight starts viciously with Jurgen giving ground slowly. Sascha lets loose, revealing the rage within her to the group for the first time and starts to hew into elven bodies with devastating effect. She Attacks recklessly even as Elrik invokes Freyja’s name with a roar and protects Sascha’s flank. Aldonus, taking cover by the doors they had come through looses arrow after arrow and the casters begin flinging spells of destruction.

The fight is evenly matched despite the Elven number advantage.

Even that is till Sigfrith’s magic escapes his control and a roaring ball of flame centered on himself engulfs five of the seven adventurers and three of the Elves. Elrik falls and his Warding Bond cast on Jurgen flickers and dies. Lucius is burned horribly and his lifeless body hits the ground smoking. Jurgen grunts as the flame washes over him and suddenly believes that the fight is lost. Sascha, her quiet, methodical rage forcing her to see nothing but blood and death and the doors of Valhalla before her, continues to relentlessly smash her axe into her enemies. Sigfrith stands in the charred blast mark of ground zero and coughs smoke.

Jurgen calls for an ordered retreat, his shield up and his head down he heads to the doors that they had come from. Sigfrith tries to escape two of the Elves that have him cornered and he manages to get by them despite taking wounds but a third cuts him down. Aldonus flees towards the secret door in the previous room and is followed by Eevi. Sascha is torn between her Rage and her desire to save Elrik, she prepares to drag the Vanir cleric to the doors and the safety of Jurgen’s shield. She knows that she will receive many wounds in the attempt. But before she can make that decision Eevi peeks her head around the corner and casts Healing word on the downed Cleric of Freyja. Elrik coughs weakly but is still unconscious.

Sascha grips her axe tight and slams it into an Elf, killing it. She will not run now and kicks Elrik to wake him.

The elves press forwards chasing Jurgen and Swarming Elrik and Sascha. Jurgen bottlenecks the doors to prevent any elves from getting through to the softer targets behind him. Aldonus prepares to escape through the secret door his mind made up to save himself but he can hear the steady rhythm of a Great Axe crushing into Armour, cleaving flesh and bone and realizes that Sascha isn’t running. Torn now he looks back and suddenly curses out loud.

Sascha is lost in the rhythm of her Axe, she manages to do devastating injuries and puts down another Elf. Suddenly arrows begin striking her wounded targets, killing them, and she gives a savage, blood spattered smile.

Jurgen sees the shift in the battle and breaks from his defensive stance to swing his hammer with crushing power into the Elves in front of him. His feet are set and with grim determination he refuses to give ground even as the elves try to shove him back into the room so that they can surround him properly.

Elrik flashes a word of healing at Sascha and smashes an elf. Eevi cures Sigfrith’s wounds and Viciously Mocks those still standing. One elf breaks and flees for the double doors at the end of the hall escaping through and barring them closed from the other side.

The battle is over. Lucius lies on the floor, his body bathed in Elf Blood. Sascha, with the help of Eevi and Sigfrith wrap his body and place him at the foot of Zenith’s statue. Aldonus spikes the doors the two Elves were originally guarding. A silent look flits between the northerners. Sascha nods “Valhalla Awaits.”

They find a barracks, and a forge where three Goblins have been left behind to guard a dwarf and two halflings. One immediately plays dead while the other two flee in terror and are cut down quickly.

They have found Sondor Ironfold, wife of Lorthan Ironfold, Jeneer Everdawn a male halfling half mad with fear, Maple, a female halfling who seems to have kept her wits about her and Brutus Decimus Maximus, a human male. Sondor informs the group that there are more prisoners further in the complex. That the leader of the slavers is named Kazmojen and that he has a vicious six legged feline pet. These four are moved to where Lucius’ body now lies and given the directive to wait until they feel they cannot wait anymore. If the group does not return by then, they are to brave their way to the surface. Brutus volunteers to help fight the leader.

A Dining hall, Pantry, Larder, cooks quarters and a kitchen are discovered. In the Kitchen another Cauldron resident is found, Gryffon Malek. Brutus tells him he wants his supper on time. Gryffon seems slack jawed and suddenly realizes that those with Brutus are not his regular captors and instead begs to be let out. He is directed to where the other three are waiting. There is one more door and it is guessed that it is a side door that leads to Kazmojen’s bazaar.

Brutus volunteers to cause a distraction and moves back to the spike double doors, grabbing a heavy hammer from the forge area. He then begins to pound at those doors as though trying to break them down.

Jurgen bursts through the door and they find what they were looking for. Three of the Orphanage children are shackled to an Iron post, the fourth is held in chains by Kazmojen, his final words in Draconic “That’s my final offer, take it or don’t I have to deal with the fools who have raided …”to a human dressed in simple robes trailing off as his heavily armoured form turns towards the new disturbance.

By the front doors stands the Elf that had escaped earlier and against the west wall stands a monstrosity that no one can identify.
Chuul.jpg

A large predatory feline reclines behind Kazmojen, it has six legs and tentacles sprouting from its shoulders. Jurgen Charges Kazmojen, Elrik quickly backs him up. Sascha catches the eyes of the elf who had escaped earlier and with a smile calmly walks towards him.

Aldonus and the casters launch arrows and spells from the door, targeting The Armoured Kazmojen. The Great Cat prowls along the back of the room before pouncing onto Sigfrith and viciously mauling him. The Robed figure backs off and the Monster envelopes him in its large clawed arms. His words cut through the sound of battle “Put your house in Order Kazmojen”

Sascha switches targets and engages the Cat, Elrik, Aldonus and Jurgen continue to trade blows with the Big Armoured Brute. The battle quickly ends as Kaz falls to a final crushing hammer blow from the dwarf. Followed by Sascha grappling the cat to the ground, she has it pinned by the back of the neck as Aldonus moves forward and runs his rapier through its eye and out the back of it’s skull.

The Monstrous creature has moved and has placed it’s claws around two of the children, waiting for orders to kill them.

A quick negotiation occurs, Money is returned and the pair disappear from view. Eevi quickly realizes that an invisibility spell has been used. But no one pushes the matter. The group is beat to shit.

Moving on they encounter two automatons that Jurgen quickly commands to deactivate in dwarven after Eevi yells for them to stop in Dwarf. They use them to push big blocks of stone out of the halls and find empty cells. They then find a torture chamber with two more elves and a Pretty human female strapped to an iron chair. The elves surrender and shift towards the window. The human identifies herself as Coryston Pyke even as the elves bail out the window, falling 30 ft to the waters below. The next complex of cells holds more captives. Krylscar Endercott, Deven, Irruth and Jasper who are quickly freed and sent to wait in safety.

They find an empty guard barracks, Kazmojen’s quarters and his secret vault. Deciding to take a few choice items, they head back to collect those that have been liberated and bring them back to the surface …

/End Shackled City Chapter 1.

[Notes]

  • Things looked Grim when the Wild Mage roasted half the group and killed the Wizard.
  • The party managed to split the last part into two hard fights rather than one Deadly Fight.
  • A lot of Nat 20’s were hitting the table.
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Elves!
Damn those pretty, pretty elves ...

(Almost a full group, only Missing Elrik who is being NPC’d)

The group takes a short rest in the Illusory forest and find that a short hour there is the equivalent of 8 hours rest.

A kitchen is found, the ancient cabinet clatters noisily as it falls apart from being looked at and then the pantry, empty save for several barrels of preserved Vinegar.

They move north and find a chest in the middle of the next room with a silver cage upon it, trapped within the cage is a seemingly very intelligent rat that attempts to have the party open it’s locked door.

As they approach the chest lid splits open revealing sharp, jagged teeth and a low rumbling voice that Jurgen and Eevi can understand, albeit with difficulty as it speaks Undercommmon.

It politely asks that Sigfrith cancel his Detect Magic Ritual.

Sigfrith is shocked enough to do just that.

Speaking with Eevi, as Jurgen grumbles about it, it agrees to exchange the Rat in a Cage for a week’s worth of rations. Pseudo-pods place the cage on the ground even as others sweep the foodstuff up and into it.

The chest proceeds to slowly back away and out. No one questions it beyond asking if it has seen children come through this way recently. It answers that yes, it has seen smaller less developed humanoids, that they went through the door to the north in this room and then it steps out of the room and is gone.

Opening the door leads to a hallway with another door 10ft to the north. As they approach Eevi hears the Elvish Language “Quick jam the Door!” and the sound of spikes being hammered into the wood of the gear door.

Jurgen attempts to ascertain if these are friend or foe, not receiving any kind of acknowledgement a battle breaks out and soon 4 Figures in Black Half-Plate are down. During the battle a Dispel Magic was flung at Eevi and though she is unaffected the rat within the cage is not as suddenly Lucius, The mage they met the first day the temple gathered them, tumbles to the ground cursing and swearing.

“I told you to open the cage!”

They are Elves! Though Milky of skin and Hair with Amber eyes.
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Searching them and the room they find that the room is in fact an elevator.

Heading down into the Malachite Hold they find the secret room that holds the level for elevator down here, a Hall with two cages hanging from the ceiling with nothing in them but old torn cloth and a door to the south.

Jurgen opens it and is greeted by words roared in a language no one understands (Giant), as an ogre sized humanoid attacks. During the fight Sigfrith triggers a wild magic surge and everyone suddenly finds pointy piercing things to be far more threatening. Aldonus takes the creature out with a well placed Arrow.

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Pushing the Envelope.
three and a half days since the abducted children

Searching the Great Factory they find some of the items left by the Grells former victims.They manage to open the Classroom and the Weaver’s workshop finding some remnant magics that animates the spinning wheels and some old Dwarven formulas for Automatons, Engineering and crafting.

They go through the arched double doors into the Foyer. Open a sleeping quarters and eventually manage to open the lever room they found when they first arrived. Manipulating the lever allows Eevi to detect that the sounds are coming from the south wall. Searching reveals a secret door and a Pit Trap that the lever secures when the lever is down.

At the far end of the 40ft hallway they manage to find another secret door which leads to the Dwarven Masks room at the base of the entry stairs. Retreating back the way they came they dismantle the eastern barrier in the Great factory and find a Forge to the north.

Eevi finds one of the Keys to the many Gear doors in a Barrel of scummy water by the entrance.

Coming down south they re-enter the room where they fought the shadows and check out a new room, the Jeweler’s workshop where Elrik finds another of the strange rod keys.

Moving further south they re-renter the room where they fought the automaton that came out of an invisibility sphere. Searching it Sascha discovers a Blue Spinel ‘heart’ and another of the strange key rods that seems to have been jammed into the gears of the machine.

Next comes the Room covered in a Hallucinatory Terrain illusion. Some believe it to be real “Obviously fine Dwarven Engineering at it’s best!” while others manage to see through it fairly quickly.

The dining hall comes next, some of it’s ancient wooden furniture is turned into additional torches. The bathroom holds a surprise for Jurgen as he approaches the 10×20ft bathing pool with his shield above his head to protect from the webs above only to have a Giant Spider leap from the illusory water below him. Two smaller spiders join but all three are quickly dispatched.

In what appears to have been a Kenku loot room they find a pile of armour and the corpse of a carrion crawler. Jurgen disturbs the remains and discovers 2 chests hidden within it.

They then open the latrine, another sleeping quarters and then pause, wondering if they should push on or return to the surface for a rest.

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A few Cock's can be Hard to Handle.
When half the party turns to stone ...

The theater turns out to be an ambush as a Kenku beneath the stage releases 4 Cockatrices when Elrik opens the stages trap door. Eevi is knocked Unconscious even as the Cockatrices stoning bite works on her, by the time she slumps unconscious she is Petrified. Suddenly everyone realizes that these are not Stirges!

Sascha and Jurgen continue to tank as best they can, cornering the vicious little things even as the Kenku handler rains arrows into their midst. Elrik finds himself struck and restrained, his hands lifting to the heavens in a ‘WTF’ gesture of frustration. He is petrified soon after in said position.

Aldonus soon follows before the rest manage to drop the crazed critters and their Handler. Sigfrith is badly hurt. To make things worse the survivors can hear activity coming towards them, no doubt responding to the thunderous BOOM that Eevi let off with her thunder wave spell earlier.

With only minutes Sascha and Jurgen manage to drag the effigies of their former allies down below the stage while Sigfrith collects the corpses of their enemies.

Tense moments drag by as they remain quiet. But things go their way as the Kenku and unidentified bruiser seem to rush through the room without properly exploring it.

Sigfrith believes that the petrified state is temporary, 24 hours in fact, and the decision is made to rest. Here. In the bowels of the Theater, for 24 hours.

The party restored, they move on.

  • They cross a room with empty pedestals and display cases.
  • They enter a ‘Throne Room’ with a dwarf sleeping on the throne.
  • They pierce the illusion fairly quickly and scare off a patrol of Kenku.
  • They find a damaged automaton similar to the one they first fought. Jurgen gives it a command to stop in Dwarven and is pleasantly surprised to find it obeys him. He commands it to deactivate and it shuts down and won’t power back on when he tries to command it again.
  • They find a workshop with a tarp covered automaton and this time Jurgen merely commands it to stop and then figures out it’s controls quickly.
  • They pass through an area that must have once housed Generators of some kind and come up to another Barricaded hallway. Jurgen has the Automaton smash it’s way through.

In a large room with a glowing gear suspended from the ceiling they encounter a Grell. Elrik has the misfortune of being ambushed and carried off into the air. Jurgen and Sascha struggle to come to grips with it while everyone else strikes at it from range despite having the chance of striking their Cleric. Elrik is knocked unconscious and the Grell has had enough, it seeks to escape but Jurgens hammer crushes down into the Brain like Hemisphere and ends it’s life.

They stabilize Elrik and take a breath…

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Tahn Buhldir
Beware the Doors with Teeth ...

The party decides to push on encountering a group of three shadows. It’s a hard encounter with Eevi and Sigfrith going down to their strength draining touch. Healing the fallen they decide to head back to Cauldron for healing and to regain their strength.

(Level 2)

At the temple of Athena they receive complimentary healing and refreshments as they reveal what they’ve found so far to Jenya. Impressed Jenya invites them to stay for the night promising to go to the authorities in the morning with what they’ve found.

The next finds them at Delve’s Locks once again, only now there are guards posted outside and Skylar is inside. He informs the party that Lysandros has not been seen since the day before.

Searching the building they discover clues.

  • Lysandros’ kitchen – Most of the food has gone bad.
  • His personal Journal hasn’t been written in for the last three months.
  • They find a Map to Tahn Buhldir among his possessions which include a spellbook.

Jurgen is informed by Skylar that ‘Ricki’ has been fined and removed from the city watch for his participation in the assault on Ruphus Laro.

Venturing back down into Tahn Buhldir Jurgen discovers a pit trap, finds a hidden map room due to an inconsistency on the map they found. They discover the hall of dancing lights and are ambushed by a murder of Kenku’s. Fighting them off successfully they move to the west getting their first glimpse of what appears to be a theatre …

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