The Blade of the Raven Queen

The Search for Zenith

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After the Umber hulk attack the group went home and spent the evening preparing for the journey to come. Aldonis “the Grey” bought himself a horse with his share of the money given to them by Kharden and the rest soon followed suit. Jurgen Frostbeard had just been granted the Find Steed spell and Sascha Øksdóttir already owned a heavy draft horse.

The following morning, as the glimmers of Rosy fingered dawn appeared on the 20th of Édorum, The Iron Ravens were greeted by Moireach Ulfhræfn and Varric Blackbolt, the two Clan VasaAd scouts that Argylehad promised to send with them.

Without delay the party headed towards and through the East Gate and down the mountain towards Kingfisher Hollow. The road there was quiet and without incident. The Ravens decided to simply continue along the road rather than head into the small village. They passed the Coffee and Bean fields that make a large portion of Cauldron’s exports and noticed that most of the lands here were worked by slaves, guarded by men on foot and horse.

“That’s not Right” Muttered Aldonis, the only one who seemed to have a deep dislike of the system.

An hour further down the road, having passed one of the few freemen cottages in the area, Moireach and Varric guided the party north into a well traveled hunters trail through the trees.

As they travel through the trees, Jurgen notices that Moireach seems to steal glances at him from her place at the back of the column, never meeting his gaze when he turns to look.

Varric holds up a hand and Moireach comes forwards, there is smoke in the air. The pair motion for everyone to wait here as they disappear further into the trees.

It isn’t long after that the group is attacked, a large sized Javelin coming from the trees behind them and catching Aldonis flatfooted. He manages to avoid the brunt of the attack with an Uncanny Dodge. Several Ogres come through and into the cleared path, engaging the Ravens. The fight is fast paced and brutal, the horses scattering as the large brutes move to engage. All but one are cut down by blade and spell and it decides to bolt, heading into the trees in the direction that the two Dwarven scouts had gone only to be met with crossbow bolts. It dies cruelly pin cushioned by bolt and arrow.

As the corpses are searched Varric tells Jurgen that up further ahead, approximately half a kilometer, is a larger clearing with a band of Orcs.

Lucius finds a small leather map on the Ogres, it depicts the area that they are traveling through, with Kingfisher Hollow overshadowed by a skull and the clearing that the Dwarves have scouted out. It seems they may have stumbled upon a raiding party.

  • As they approach the Orc camp they are attacked by a shambling mound.
  • They fight the Orcs and win
  • They take a long rest
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Rumble Young Man, Rumble,

Since the night of the 16th Édorum, the Iron Ravens have been helping the religious institutions of Cauldron in breaking the flood. The first night was a tense affair with some minor flooding in the lower poor sections of the city but with 7 wands of water control disaster is averted.

Eevi Ptolomy, Sigfrith Bakkerson, Elrik Bjornsson, lucius and Jurgen Frostbeard agree to help patrol the streets over the next couple of days and their vigilance lends an aura of optimism to the city. Soon the citizens begin to leave their homes and the festival once again is underway. Despite the strong rains still coming down, the common folk take to the streets in droves, crowds forming along the avenues as merchants and entertainers set up shop under cover of large colourful awnings.

On the 17th of Édorum the Drink Down the Flood contest begins. Jurgen and Elrik both enter. The two have decided to begin in different drinking establishments to avoid an early team elimination. Both make strong showings as Elrik out drinks all the contestants at the Slippery Eel Tavern while Jurgen’s dwarven constitution easily takes first at The Golden Hind Tavern.

Aldonis spends time among the poor of Ash Avenue using his adventuring coppers to buy bread and ale for those he knows to be down on their luck. His popularity continues to rise even as he himself tries to erase his contributions to avoid becoming the center of attention. During one of these Ale Kitchen’s he becomes aware of a stranger he’s seen hovering at the edge of multiple crowds. The stranger is dressed in black leathers, silver buckles and a voluminous red cloak. He also has a large wide brimmed hat that covers his features quite well. So far Aldonis has been unable to approach or identify the stranger as every time he tries to cut through or go around the food crowd he loses track of the man in black and red.

Lucius returns to his studies at the Bluewater Academy and makes his complaints formal in regards to his abduction and transformation into a rat several weeks ago. The clerk that files his complaint at the Wizard’s Resources Division is a nondescript man of forgettable features who advises Lucius that the matter will be looked into as soon as possible. Pacified, Lucius heads to the Libraries within, noting once again in passing at how large the interior of the tower is compared to it’s actual physical structure. He settles in among some books and uses his free time in spell research. During his book gathering forays he comes across Sigfrith who has been busily taking advantage of his membership to study the question his colleague had posed him. Sigfrith waves him off after a perfunctory greeting, clearly intent on his work.

Eevi and Sascha take part in the festival as entertainers, they roam the wet streets bringing music and stories to the crowds. Sascha has chosen to wear clothes that conform to her shape most pleasantly when wet and is the main attraction with her tales and songs (Nat. 20). Eevi accompanies and supports her act with her drums and voice while being tucked into dry corners.

On the 18th Elrik is eliminated from the drinking competition at he Drunken Centaur Inn much to the disappointment of his cheering fans. The winner there happens to a certain Red headed Stormblade. Jurgen on the other hand finds himself drinking towards another victory, not as easy as the first but still manageable.

On the 19th of Édorum, Jurgen has left the house the adventurers share a few hours before dawn to make his way down into Tahn Buhldir to help with his armour refit. He notices that the air seems to be circulating on some sort of artificial breeze, the corridors and rooms have new lights that glow softly and a deep thrum-thrum-thrum that just tickles the edge of his awareness. The three dwarves that have been given the duty of reshaping Kazmojen’s armour greet Young Jurgen as they arrive and work begins afresh.

Within the hour Argyle Ulfhræfn visits and watches for a cycle of hammering and heating before pulling Jurgen aside and asking to speak to him in his offices. Agreeing to his request the pair make their way to the back of the workshop, where a hungry Grell had once laid claim to not long ago, and into what was once a classroom. The room has been refitted with a large desk, several comfortable chairs, armour and weapon racks. There is also a Hogshead of Dwarven ale in the corner with several large mugs hanging on pegs. When Jurgen enters he immediately notices the Elder Dwarf sitting in one of the comfortable chairs. This third, unknown, dwarf is clearly ancient being thinner than is healthy with a long, scraggy, white beard dressed in wealthy clothes with a hint of chain beneath. Jurgen’s metal working experience tells him that the chain is made of some special ore but he is unable to identify it’s type.

Argyle introduces the Elder as Kharden Splintershield, and bids Jurgen to listen to what he has to say.

Struggling to sit up straighter the old Dwarf begins in a soft, raspy voice, “My son, Zenith Splintershield was the former Lord of the Malachite fortress” he points down “that guarded the underground approaches to Tahn Buhldir and the Dathrasi that live in the Cauldron itself. He was a righteous dwarven Defender and brought honour and renown to our clan." He pauses to cough. “He also went missing shortly after the Vanishing curse was unleashed on our people. No, not Missing, he left his post with a small army. Somehow the idea to purge the deep dark took root within him. A fool’s errand, and my boy is no fool!. I don’t believe he would be so reckless as to embark on such a task without the might of all the Dwarven Legions of all the Dwarven Clans let alone a small army.” He sits up and pins Jurgen with a look of absolute intensity “He lives! I have dreamed it, and I have come to cauldron to see Persephone at the Cusp of Sunrise, through her contacts I will meet with a Diviner to learn the truth about my son." He turns to Argyle “Argyle tells me you and your Kith were instrumental in reclaiming the enclave and the fortress beneath. Well, I would hire you and your group to help me in finding and retrieving my son… "

Jurgen promises to bring his friends and the meeting is arranged for the following day at 5 bells past the noon sun. Returning above ground he goes home and wakes Lucius from his sleep. Most of their conversation occurs through the wooden door as Lucius tries to shoo the Paladin away.

Sascha is spotted going to the kitchen, her hair untamed as she yawns hugely and heads for the morning Coffee, one of Cauldron’s many export crops, oblivious to all but her target.

Finally Lucius opens the door and after listening to the dwarf spin his tale agrees to go to the Academy to do some research on Zenith and the Underdark.

A heavy knock at the front door. A messenger with a thin fired clay tablet for Jurgen. The meeting has been moved from the next day to this one.

The group is brought up to speed. Lucius heads out and begins to buy healing potions and knickknacks, scoring himself a Cloak of Warmth in the process. He also finds out that Skie aldersun is a friendly shop keeper and sometimes gives an “Adventurer’s Discount” to loyal customers.

The Iron Ravens gather outside the Cusp, only Sascha, Lucius and Eevi have dressed appropriately in fine clothes. They are still let in by a mountain of a man who never says a word, just motions to a serving girl to come and guide the group to their meeting.

In the richly appointed room the group meets Persephone, a stunningly attractive woman and Kharden who has also dressed up for the occasion. Small talk ensues, food and refreshment arrive and within moments another woman enters, dressed in yellow robes. Lucius recognizes her as the Mistress of Divination studies at the Blue Water Academy, Stefania.

Divination’s are cast and much of what Jurgen had shared with the group is revealed again but now the words Eye in the Darkness and Bhal-Hamatugn come up, Zenith is confirmed to be alive, prophetic whispers in the deep, a prisoner without a cage and the Sea Mother. Stefania also pinpoints the rough location Zenith is at and having performed her spells, bows and leaves.

Argyle and the Ravens quickly go over what they know, and with the help of Persephone and her maps pinpoint an alternate entrance to the underdark as Argyle had the gates that lead from the Malachite hold completely sealed.

Kharden is pleased when his task is accepted and simply asks that the group do it as soon as possible as he feels his end coming soon. With that he provides the group with a bag of 500gp’s to help fund the expedition with promise of more wealth on their return. Argyle suggests sending a few of his Wolf guides with them as they have been scouting the areas surrounding cauldron for some time.

Leaving the Cusp of Sunrise, the group head home with plans to pack but on the way they hear screams floating from down the avenue. Hurrying forwards the group rounds the corner to see a large insect like monstrosity tearing into a warehouse with several crowds of festival attendees running, screaming or simply standing seemingly dumbfounded.

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Sascha advances quickly with Aldonis following behind. He finds himself cut off from the position he wanted though. Jurgen stomps up the street, followed by Elrik, Eevi and Lucius. The battle proves to be taxing as several members of the group succumb to the beasts Confusing Gaze and the confused crowds hinder their attempts to close quickly.

Jurgen and Sascha get into melee combat, both at one point getting confused and wandering away to be swiped at viciously. Aldonis climbs a nearby warehouse to get himself out of range of it’s gaze and for a better vantage point. He rains down arrows and when his allies are not confused or wandering away he manages to sneak them into tender vital spots. Lucius climbs a nearby tree to do much the same, unleashing blasts of Magic Missiles while Eevi simply laces her Vicious Mockeries with magical power.

Elrik forges forward and begins to bring his Holy Mace into the fray. The adventurers have begun to close their eyes and this Disadvantage prevents their strikes from landing true.

One group of common folk turn on themselves and start to viciously fist fight, leaving only one man standing while the others run and finally manage to flee far enough away.

The creature turns on Jurgen and delivers terrible claw and bite wounds and as Jurgen stoically endures he opens his eyes to return the favour. Unfortunately the monsters large compound eyes confuse him and he begins to wander away only to be bitten hard by the creature as he leaves it’s threatening grasp. Jurgen falls.

Elrik Channels Freya’s mercy and focuses her healing powers to radiate outwards, Eevi uses her Healing Word and Jurgen and Sascha feel reinvigorated. The Dwarf targets himself with his Lay on Hands ability and heals for the full amount. The next round goes poorly for the monster as spells, arrows, Mace, Hammer and Axe fall upon it. It’s mighty claws rip into the dirt and stone beneath and it disappears, burrowing away from those surrounding it.

Taking a quick breath Aldonis notices that new sounds of destruction have started in the next warehouse over. Within moments the door is opened, and the adventurers manage to land the killing blow even as it tries to burrow away a second time. It;s corpse lies mostly buried in the ground, it’s shell cracked and split by the Hammer Blow that felled it.

The guards arrive and Skylar Krewis takes statements from the group. Some of his guards are overheard wondering how they will manage to get it out of it’s self dug grave. Jurgen mentions a Dwarven winch and pulley system and Skylar sends one of his guards to fetch someone who can help with it.

The Iron Ravens learn that the creature is an Umberhulk, that the Warehouses being targeted are owned by Maavu, owner of Maavu Imports.

With the situation being handled by town guards, they are thanked by Skylar who treats the group as well known associates and are given leave to go.

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Sisava Rises.

With the looting of the sarcophagus, the group moves to investigate the tunnel heading from the southern edge of this cave. It brings them to a door that opens to an empty guard room, connecting further to a mostly empty armoury and the unfinished spike floor trapped room. From there they continue further into the complex finding themselves back into the hall they were led to by the bandit they interrogated earlier. Investigating the doors they hadn’t previously reveals an interrogation chamber and a prison with several cages.

Eevi and Sigfrith investigate and soon find evidence of Lysandros’ captivity, a torn and shredded piece of his clothes with his initials embroidered within.

With nothing else to find they decide to re-enter the roughly hewn lava tunnels they were in before. Going right instead of left this time and thankfully finding the pile of rubble that had disgorged the snake swarms earlier to be quiet and nonthreatening.

They pass unhindered through a smaller cave and come to another larger one with a familiar pile of bodies within. Jurgen feels his flesh crawl and he feels Odin guide him to use his Divine Sense. It reveals that the pile is indeed a pile of Zombies but it also reveals that the room has been desecrated.

As Jurgen and Sascha move in the bodies animate, absolutely silently, and within a few more steps they also become unable to make any sounds. The room has been blanketed with a silence effect.

The fight that occurs within that room is strange and otherworldly as axe, hammer, spells and arrows are fired off in silence. The undead prove difficult to put down as the unholy aspect of the room bolsters their natural resilience but Elrik’s Holy mace smashes them down effectively.

Searching the pile of bodies finds that its more of the corpses from the beach but there is nothing of value here.

Moving along they exit the silenced section and carefully make their way down another 20ft of tunnel. Ahead the air grows hazy and heavy with some kind of incense. Sascha coughs, clearly not liking it while Jurgens dwarven constitution means he barely registers it.

Scanning the room from the tunnel reveals a black volcanic stone altar, a small ‘basket’ type contraption beside it, a half dozen braziers burning some kind of incense and two fairly large stalagnate’s. Eevi identifies the burning incense as some kind of herb or flower but can’t pinpoint what it is exactly. Behind the altar the far wall is riddled with holes.

Jurgen lifts his shield and hefts his hammer before boldly stepping in. Sascha and Lucius follow while the rest of the group stay within the tunnel, wary of that hazy, smoky room. The smoke seems to cloy the vision of the Paladin, Barbarian and Wizard but a few teary blinks later they are unaffected.

From behind the pillar two shapes seem to flow upright. One is dressed in robes with a strange hooded head piece while the other resembles some horrific cross between a lizard and a humanoid, it also bears a shield.

With a soft sibilant voice, the hooded figure, the one the guard identified as Sisava, looks at Lucius and says ‘Thiss fight iss your doom, go home’

Lucius stops and blinks and realizes that this fight will be his death. Turning he leaves at a run. The group watch him leave in disbelief.

Jurgen and Sascha rush forwards to be met by the Reptilian shield bearer hopping over the altar but staying within 10’ of it’s master. A second one rushes out from behind the stone column to his right, hidden from view.

Elrik casts a Guiding bolt, intent on blasting Sisava but finds his spell fizzling as it is Counter-spelled by his target. With a grunt of Supreme annoyance he reaches for his mace.

Eevi and Sigfrith bolster the group with cantrips of their own, targeting the second Reptilian Guard.

Jurgen is assaulted by both of the guards, claws and bites ripping into his chain mail and bouncing off his shield as he cracks his hammer into the shield bearer.

Sisava points at Sascha but only succeeds in getting her attention.

Sascha peels off and vaults the altar, engaging Sisava. She rages but is off balance for her first strike, missing and tearing a chunk off the altar. Hundreds of Snakes begin to pour in from the back wall.

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Aldonis fires an Arrow at Sisava and sees that it curves before hitting its target, hitting the shield bearer instead. He blinks, wondering if the smoky haze affected his vision.

Lucius continues to move away. Intent on finding a spot to rest before he heads home.

Sisava stares intently at Sascha, his strange pale green eyes boring into her, trying to overwhelm her will but finds that her Berserker Fury (20) shrugs off his spell.

Her great axe doesn’t miss as he reels back in pain. She calmly ignores the mass of snakes beginning to swarm.

Another arrow from Aldonis, meant for Sisava, deviates and badly wounds the shield bearer.

Jurgen cracks his hammer into it, dropping the shield guard as Elrik advances to engage the second guard, Mace hefted in one hand and shield up high.

Sisava hisses at Sascha and disappears into a silvery mist, reappearing 30 feet away behind the column the second guard had come from, blocking line of sight from the others. A second swarm of snakes forms and begins to slither it’s way towards Sisava.

Sigfrith enters the room to get a bead on the enemy but finds it difficult to see through the thicker haze in the room. His eyes stinging, his eyesight fades and he finds himself completely blind. Coughing he falls back, hands out trying to find the exit. Eevi grabs him by the arm and drags him to safety. Eevi asks him to cancel his light spell while she quickly examines him. Sigfriths light goes out, putting the tunnel into shadows and Eevi can see that Sigfrith has been poisoned but she can’t tell how long it will affect him.

Sigfrith just grunts and shuffles past her into the zone of silence behind them.

Sascha rushes towards Sisava but isn’t able to reach him, she is also not attacked and finds her Rage slipping away. Clear headed she reorients to help with the last Guard. The first snake swarm, finally fully formed, slithers after her.

Having failed to affect Sascha twice Sisava focuses on Jurgen and finds that the Dwarf’s will is not quite as strong as his constitution.

Jurgen is polymorphed into a Tiny Viper. (With a Tiny Beard) Confused, the small Viper coils into a corner, trying to avoid being stepped on. The second swarm of snakes ignores him.

Somewhere, in the halls of the ruins, Lucius blinks and finds that Sisavas earlier Suggestion is just a load of Bawls. He turns and sprints back with the intent to lay a magical smack down.

Sascha and Elrik put the remaining guard down as the fight moves towards the center of the cavern. Sisava attacks Sascha, his arms seemingly shredding and splitting into dozens of snakes, but fails to land a blow. The swarms engage with Elrik and Sascha, Elrik manages to absorb most of it with his shield while Sascha nimbly keeps her feet and legs out of striking range.

Sisava weathers Eevis Vicious Mockery and Hisses angrily, words pouring from him in a language no one understands. A lethargic aura radiates from him, targeting Jurgen, Sascha, Elrik, Aldonis and Eevi but the Adrenalin is too high as everyone resists the compulsion to sleep.

Lucius runs past a blindly retreating Sigfrith, intent on getting back into the fight.

Aldonis fires another arrow at Sisava, thinking that now that the shield bearer is down he might strike true, and critically injures him. Sisava reels in pain and never sees the Great Axe that cleaves into his neck, nearly decapitating him. His lifeless body falls to the ground.

Lucius, words of power ready to burst from him, looks on in disappointment. ‘Dammit, didn’t get here in time’

Jurgen reverts to his natural self at the far end of the cave.

The snake swarms disperse, as though some controlling force has released it’s hold on them, and scatter towards the back wall retreating through the holes they came from.

Eevi retrieves Sigfrith who had managed to wander back a fair distance, keeping to the right hand side.

Searching they find that the shield radiates magic, Aldonis warns the group that it may be cursed as it seemed to attract missile fire. They also find a scroll being held rolled up by a ring and a wand. (Ring of Swimming, a Scroll of Protection vs Plants and one of the Wands of Water Control).

They find little else of value in the room, the ‘basket’ is actually a part of the floor, stone that has been shaped and within a deep empty darkness. Aldonis drops a stone within and listens to see how far it falls. He does not hear it hit anything. Later this is repeated with Lucius casting a light spell on a coin and dropping it. The light falls for a long long time, and is only barely seen as it bounces off something far below.

Leaving Sisavas lair they make a quick camp in the barracks nearby. Eevi and Elrik wrap up Sigfriths eyes with a few odds and ends from their herbs and with the passing of a short rest his sight returns.

Bolstered by the bite to eat and the return of Sigfrith’s vision the group heads back into the ruins looking to explore the long hall that Eevi had been attacked in way back.

When they get there Aldonis leads the way down the hall, his Dungeon Delving skills save him from falling into a pit trap as they approach the next set of Double doors.

The doors are unlocked and Jurgen enters fearlessly.

Within they see a huge room that fades into darkness. Within the light they carry and the sight of those with darkvision are several large worktables, covered with bits and pieces of scrap metal. Somewhere further back in the darkness they hear a strange skittering sound echo off unseen walls but it quickly stops and fades into silence.

Attracted by the work spaces Lucius enters and passes Jurgen receiving a look of disapproval from the dwarf. As the party begin to filter in the room Lucius makes it to one of the long worktables and from behind it rises the skeletal body of a snake, topped with a strangely humanoid skull.

Lucius immediately Fire Bolt’s it.

It responds in kind with a Lightning Bolt catching several of the group behind in a jagged line of electrical power.

Despite managing to get himself mostly out of the way Elrik goes down. The others are singed and hurt but still standing.

Lucius taunts the Guardian and is attacked with a powerful bite. The poison that courses through his veins overwhelms him and he falls unconscious.

Rushing forwards Jurgen and Sascha Engage the creature. Before he gets into the fray Jurgen does a Lay of Hands on Lucius to bring him to consciousness (1hp).

As Lucius recovers consciousness and sees his allies fighting it he taunts it again from the ground and fires another bolt of fire at it. Seemingly enraged he is attacked again but is missed. That distraction is enough to let the rest of the group finish it off.

Reviving their Cleric the area is lit with light spells and torches before being searched.

Eevi recognizes that this chamber must have originally been used as a spawning chamber for some race that had eggs or birthed into pools.

Aldonis finds the lever that controls the pit trap outside, he puzzles out that it locks into place when the trap is closed or unlocks it to let unwary fools fall to their doom.

Lucius and Sigfrith examine the scraps of plans, bits of metal and tools and determine that this workshop was used to build some sort of cage. Beyond that nothing else can be found and learned here. Aldonis’ theory of a main entrance being found here is, unfortunately, wrong.

Returning back the way they came, swimming through the green algae waters, keeping an eye open for further creatures, the group climbs the cliff that had the gondola originally and leave via the lava tube. Elrik leads them along the path that Shensen and the elves had guided him through and within hours they are back at the southern Cauldron Gate.

It is night and raining, the gates are closed but are opened when Jurgen pounds on the smaller individual entrance announcing to the ‘Who goes there?’ query with ‘It be the Iron ravens ladie, now open up the gate’. Entering they are recognized by the guards there, a few making comments about how the Ravens are doing good in the City. As the group leave the guards they hear one pipe up ‘I still think the Stormblades are better’.

The group notices a murder of crows perched on the buildings watching them as they make their way to the Temple of Athena. At the temple they are quickly ushered in by an Acolyte (not Ruphus) are a disheveled Jenya quickly makes an appearance. It is obvious that she was resting. She is happy to see them safe and sound and asks about their whereabouts over the last three days.

The group hands over 7 of the 8 missing wands, apologizing for not having found them all. Jenya merely blinks at the sticks in her hands unable to reconcile the apology with the recovery of almost all the wands. A smile spreads across her pretty face and she orders food and towels be brought. She also dispatches Ruphus and two other Acolytes to fetch representatives from the religions of Apollo, Heracles and Hades.

She speaks with the party, getting them to tell her of the deeds they have committed. She asked them if they recovered any of the items from Sarcem’s body, which causes her smile to falter a moment. And is pleased when Aldonis offers the ring, Lucius the Charm and Elrik the Mace. She declines the mace and charm, saying that those are gifts now from the church. She does take the ring though.

She asks if the group caster’s would be willing to help with flood control and as Eevi, Sigfrith and Lucius volunteer the messengers return with a very fit and handsome Cleric of Heracles, a young female Paladin of Apollo and no Cleric of Hades. Jenya frowns at this and begins to make plans with the other two church representatives on flood patrol duty. She gives the Paladin of Apollo 1 wand, the Cleric of Heracles 2 and keeps 4 for the Temple of Athena.

The group learns that Annah, the Paladin of Apollo, is the only remaining representative of her temple. Her two senior clerics have passed, one of old age and the other through an act of violence unsolved.

With the promise to return to help with flood patrol the group heads home to rest.

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Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

Opening the door before them they enter a large chamber that has some rubble and two lava tubes branching at the other end. Jurgen takes the lead going left and stops before entering the next lava hewn chamber. There is a pile of bodies at the center of it. Wary Jurgen hefts his shield and moves forward, Sascha at his back.

The bodies animate and the battle starts.

Bottle necking the entrance Sascha and Jurgen take the brunt of the first wave, zombies mindlessly shuffling forwards, pushing and grabbing. The fight is slow as the risen, despite horrific ‘wounds’, hold their ground and even shove the group slowly backwards.

Magic flashes from the back ranks as Eevi, Sigfrith and Lucius rain down magical hell on the enemy. Aldonis sits back, at the original fork, keeping an eye open for movement in the right hand lava tube.

His keen eyes spot movement further ahead in a large pile of rubble and immediately he presses himself tightly to the wall thinking Crap, Snakes. A good many snakes pour forth, coalescing into 3 swarms, testing the air with their long viperous tongues.

As the zombies continue to stonewall the group the snakes come around the corner and, unfortunately for the young rogue, their heat sense (Blindsight) detects him. He is attacked, suffering numerous bites and the sickening fire of poison through his veins.

Disengaging Aldonis runs towards the group and then dashes through them yelling Snakes! Snakes!

One swarm follows but breaks off pursuit when it reaches the target rich environment that is the rest of the group. Jurgen breaks off from the zombies, shrugging off an attack of opportunity to engage the snakes at the back. Sascha gets bit critically and despite her Barbaric constitution, staggers.

Primal instinct kicks in and she welcomes the exhilaration of her rage taking over.

Elrik places himself at the front of the zombie line and swings the mace he took from Sarcem’s body at the Lucky monkey inn. The holy mace flashes with radiant energy with every strike and the zombies are unable to resist it’s power, falling broken at his feet.

Jurgen tackles one swarm group and positions himself to attract the third. He chuckles and mutters that ’It’s just like me mudder’s milk’ when they bite and envenom him. His strong dwarven constitution shrugging off the worst of it.

Sascha grabs several of the biggest snakes in her group and drags them off away from the casters. Taking several bites that she barely feels in her rage.

Elrik finishes off the last of the zombies.

The group move towards the entrance they came through, trying to avoid the snakes reach. Jurgen’s smile has become strained, sweat beading on his brow as even his Dwarven bred stamina is tested hard with the sheer volume of poison coursing through him.

Sascha kills off most of the snakes in front of her, the rest scatter, the swarm mind broken as she runs back towards the group, throwing herself into the other two.

Bit by bit the group gets a hold of the situation and breaks the remaining swarms. Gasping, hurt, they stop for a short rest to bandage and take stock.

Deciding they will move on they move further down the left hand tunnel, passing through the room with the freshly downed zombies and follow the tunnel as it curves to the right. It opens into another large natural cavern, this one filled with Huge snakes. The coils move slowly, bunched together for warmth.

A plan is hatched to simply move in and out of the tunnel leading up to this room as the snakes are far too large to squeeze through the 5’ wide tunnel. The first arrow is launched but the flank of the closest Giant Constrictor barely ripples in annoyance. From within the coils smaller ‘Large’ snakes appear, constrictors that move to engage. The larger masses uncoil and slither out through an exit unseen while two of the three smaller constrictors coil up against the walls to the left and right, making it harder to see them. One constrictor braves the tunnel trying to sink it’s fangs into the nearest meat but is quickly felled by held actions as spells and arrows go off.

Jurgen gives Aldonis a wink and says “C’mon Aldie. Show a little backbone why don’t ya?” before he plunges into the room intending to make a breach for the others to pour through. The two constrictors are killed quickly and as Jurgen lets the momentum carry him around the corner he is struck with lightning speed by one of the Big ones. It wraps itself around him tight, coils squeezing, even as it uses the rest of it’s long body to slide him backwards, further from the group.

Sascha rounds the corner and gracefully dodges a snake strike, the Greataxe in her hand gleaming in the illumination of the light spell cast on her.

A pitched battle is fought and won within this larger cavern, at it’s center and further back against the wall is a long black sarcophagus. The wall of igneous stone at the back is embedded with thousands of red coloured slivers of glass, the light of the group is thrown back at them and seems to light this place on fire.

A quick inspection of the sarcophagus reveals hinges and strange runic glyphs.

Fearlessly Jurgen forces it open.

Within lies the desiccated corpse of some long dead humanoid and in mere seconds green worm like tendrils begin to ooze from every orifice and rent hole in it’s body as it rises.

It flings a worm at Lucius who avoids it and suffers a stunning series of blows and magical blasts that blow it right back into the pit it rose from. It does not rise again as the green worms wither and die.

Pulling the body from the sarcophagus, the cavity is searched and a chest is found. Jurgen kicks it over spilling it’s contents. 15 000cp, 8 000sp, 4 500gp and 200pp spill, gleaming across the cavern floor.

The gold and platinum is quickly divvied up, the silver is placed back in the chest and the copper is left to lie on the floor, glittering dully in the magical light.

….

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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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