The Shackled City Experience

Chapter 4, Continued...

Adventure log from Friday, January 27th, 2012. Recounted by the Dungeon Master.

The Pit of the Seven Jaws.

After making camp at King Crazy Jared’s hut for a restless night full of nightmares, the heroes awakened to find that Ataraxia— who was severely injured in the fight with Gotrrod— was missing from the hut. They first looked around for Jared and saw that he was still asleep on a ragged mat in a corner, curled up in his ragged clothes. There was then some discussion among the adventurers regarding the merits of leaving a letter for Ataraxia, should she return, when the smell of cooking meat wafted into the hut. The adventurers collectively burst out of the hut to find a completely unmarred Ataraxia frying sausages in a pan.

After recovering from the surprise of the scene, Cadrus exclaimed: “What happened?! You were nearly dead….”

Ataraxia smiled and simply said, “The Gracious Torm chose to heal me.”

Dhonzek frowned, as he was already making her a wig for the hair that would have almost certainly never grown back and he’d have to find another way to impress her.

Cadrus wondered if her eyes had always been golden yellow….

So, the heroes enjoyed a hearty breakfast and turned their attention to the journey ahead to the place Jared had told them about. It was at this time the adventurers considered the issue of rations. Asking Crazy Jared if he could help, Jared deigned that the heroes could take whatever they wanted from his plentiful stores, as a token of appreciation for their bravery in fighting the red dragon. The “plentiful stores” were found to be a barrel in the corner of his hut, filled with salted meats, sausages, and some hard bread, which the adventurers generously helped themselves to. Rations in hand, the party bid farewell to Crazy Jared and headed north.

At the end of the second day of walking, a ruined structure came into view. It might have once been a small keep of some sort, but it had crumbled to be only a stone wall, roughly a story high, with a wooden double-door set into the wall facing the road and surrounded by rubble. The adventurers took every caution in examining the building and gaining entrance into it. A low point was found in the wall and the heroes could peer over it, into the ruined building. The floor of the ground level collapsed into a pit, roughly 60 feet deep, with a metal-grate staircase spiraling down. A fissure was spotted in the southern wall with only darkness beyond.

George elected to cover the party from this low wall, while the rest moved around and through the wooden door. They found themselves on a small landing overlooking the pit. They carefully moved down the metal stairs, which seemed to squeal loudly no matter how carefully they went. As the heroes neared the final turn of the stairs, a blue reptilian head on a long neck poked out of the fissure and breathed torrents of frost onto the adventurers. It withdrew back into the darkness of the fissure immediately. The heroes pursued the beast.

Cadrus threw a sunrod into the darkness of the fissure, revealing a large beast with three heads on long necks. This large blue multi-headed creature, which we will call a cryohydra, squeezed through the fissure as the heroes approached, ready for its dinner. The heroes engaged the cryohydra in the pit, and it wasn’t pretty. The cryohydra seemed to attack from every direction with its many heads and assaulted the heroes continuously. For a time, it seemed to be no worse for the wear despite the parties violent efforts, but then Dhonzek laid a heavy blow on the beast’s flank. The heads roared in pain, but near immediately a blister-like growth formed over the wound and a head soon sprouted from the area. The new head joined in the bringing of pain onto the adventuring party.

Luckily, it was not long until a head was separated from the body of the hydra by a well-placed blow of Cadrus, who seemed strangely at home getting wailed on by the hydra. Again, a bulla formed over the stump of the neck and the writhing inside signaled the party that the hydra may soon be five-headed. George, however, landed a fiery blow from his new vantage point on the stairs that appeared to cauterize the blister covering the wound. The developing heads fell limp inside and began to atrophy.

The fight continued for minutes as both the cryohydra and the party took massive damage. In fact, Ataraxia was downed twice and ended the fight on her back, and, if not for her efforts, Dhonzek would have too, after a barrage of slams from the hydra left him struggling to maintain consciousness. Cadrus, however, stood firm, and the party rallied around him to drive the mortally wounded hydra back into the Underdark. They pursued and killed the massive creature as it fled. Postmortem examination revealed massive blood loss from its deep chest wounds. Ironically, though it had lost three heads in the fight, it died with three heads.

After finding a flash-frozen drow with some minor loots, the adventurers took a short rest and pushed on into the fissure.

Into the Underdark.

The fissure led down roughly 100 vertical feet over the course of a quarter-mile. The path then opened into a stalactite-filled cavern whose width and height varied widely as the adventurers pushed on. They continued south. After roughly an hour of travel they found what appeared to be an abandoned bird’s nest with fragments of shell. Further search revealed only excrement.

After several more hours spent underground, chatter was heard up ahead. Upon further investigation, a tunnel forking off the path was found. Soft light spilled out. Inside were seen several ogres sitting around a campfire and bragging about their recent exploits in a nearby city. Dhonzek scouted out the camp as carefully as possible and seemed to think that there were at least 5 large ogres making camp. There also seemed to be a spring of fresh water in the cavern with their camp. After some discussion amongst the party, it was decided that discretion is, in fact, the better part of valor. They quietly passed the branching tunnel and continued on.

More time passed as the adventurers pushed on in the Underdark. Their travel was difficult, but largely uneventful— besides some purple fungus that seemed harmless and, after, a shallow pool of water into which some of the fungus was tossed…. After about eight hours, the party arrived at a final extreme narrowing of the tunnel before it opened onto a small ledge overlooking a massive cavern with a misty lake. On the other side of the lake, several hundred feet below, was seen a building shaped like a fish, made from dark stone, and faintly lit with bio-luminescent fungi.

The party made its way down a small but well-worn path that snaked its was down to the lake. At the bottom, the party realized they would have to cross 200 yards of dark, silty water, through the mist that covered the lake, in order to reach the staircase leading into the maw of the fish-building. They were puzzling about getting across when a long canoe came out of the mist with a kuo-toan boatman. He addressed them in his language: “Aaaaaughibbrgubugbugrguburgle.”

The party tried to pantomime an explanation of their quest to the boatman. The boatman seemed to understand and motioned to his eyes and the sky. He beckoned for them to join him in the boat, but the adventurers remained apprehensive. After some discussion, Ataraxia offered that she could perform a ritual that might help. After several minutes, Torm blessed her with the understanding of kuo-toan. However, she could not speak it, and communication continued to prove difficult; the boatman was largely non-sensical, talking about Smoking Eyes, and rattling on about the darkness. He asked if the heroes were “from the darkness”. They denied that they were. The boatman peacefully left them on the stairs across the lake and paddled back into the mists.

Welcome to Bhal-Hamatugn.

Two dark windows on either side of the fish, where eyes would be, watched over the stairs leading into the fish’s maw. There appeared to be no other entrance where the heroes stood. They bravely (and loudly) trudged on towards the maw. A loud and angry “Rglrglrgrrrrlgrgl?!” came from one dark eye. Ataraxia understood that they were being asked to identify themselves and not in an especially friendly way.

Cadrus stood firmly and offered, “I am Cadrus. We have come to take back Zenith.”

The windows were quiet for a moment. Only quiet croaking vocalizations were heard. The response was a large harpoon launched from the right eye of the fish and directly into Cadrus’s shoulder, where it lodged. There was a rope that attached to the harpoon and ran into the dark aperture. A hard tug pulled Cadrus forward several feet before he could brace himself, and threatened to drag him up and into the fish’s eye. The party jumped into action.

Dhonzek immediately leaped to climb the face of the fish to fight whatever was there and found himself confronted by more than half a dozen kuo-toan warriors. He prepared to mince them one by one. Meanwhile, Ataraxia moved to assist Cadrus. She gave the rope a mighty yank and out of the right eye of the fish flew a large kuo-toa propelled by the rope attached to his gauntlet. He braced himself but fell flat on his face as he hit the ground 30 feet below the window. Several kuo-toan soldiers hurled themselves out of the window-eyes onto the invaders and began poking at them ferociously with spears. The party rallied to face these strange fishy-frog men.

Cadrus struck at the harpooner with his axe, missing, but instead of glancing off of its wooden shield, the axe adhered to some sort of sticky goop that coated the outside of the shield. Meanwhile, javelins rained down from the windows, thrown by smaller kuo-toa. Amongst the rain of javelins, Dhonzek was seen leaping from the window (unabashedly borrowing a play from the kuo-toan soldiers) with his axe high in the air. His athletic prowess shined as he managed to swing his axe and nearly separate a hip and thigh from one of the soldiers and land on his feet.

The harpooner moved away from Cadrus, pulling his harpoon out, but leaving his shield. He would soon regret leaving his shield seconds after, as Ataraxia took a strong sweeping arc with her hammer and planted it directly on the top of his head. The kuo-toan party was shocked and enraged at seeing their strongest fighter’s head driven flat against the stone, surrounded by blood, brains, and bone. They were worked into an indignant frenzy, letting out a series of angry screaming croaks.

However, it was not to be their day, as the tide quickly turned against them. One by one the heroes bashed the kuo-toan fighters into submission. The party climbed the fish’s face and into his eyes to finish the last four smaller ones. Dohnzek cut two nearly in half with one swipe, charging a third with his deadly momentum and ended its life as it fled. One last cleave from his mighty axe and the smaller ones were all still.

The heroes waited and it appeared that the fight had alerted no one else in the complex. The area behind the fish’s eyes was no more than a small hallway with a door connecting to an armory and a stair case leading down a story before taking a sharp right. The heroes decided to attempt to get some rest in the armory, after they hid the bodies in it and set watches. The first watch was young George.

As George waited in the dim light at the top of the stairs, he saw a kuo-toan female (he guessed from the dress she was wearing and her feminine shape, but who knows) making her way peacefully up the stairs with a tray of dishes containing a glowing-purple-fungus concoction. He moved back and, as she turned the corner, put down his weapon and peacefully held his hands up. The frog-lady first noticed the lack of guards, then the gore still covering the room, and finally the human making an odd gesture at him. She screamed a froggy scream which seemed to somehow work its way into George’s mind, making him flinch painfully. He continued to take a peaceful posture, even as she turned to run down the stairs.

Reasoning that things were about to get real, he dashed over to wake up the rest of the party. George rushed back to the top of the stairs, prepared to make his stand. He heard hard footsteps from behind him and glanced back to see feet and legs disappearing through the window. He frowned and followed.

The party was then faced with the problem of getting back across the lake. As luck would have it, Cadrus’s fear of water paid off well, as he had recently purchased two potions of water-walking, which Cadrus and Dhonzek quaffed. They carried the other members across the lake, with George being carried by his ankle, so that his head skipped along the water as Dhonzek ran across the 200 yards of dark water. They made it to the other side safely and without being seen, but the kuo-toa would almost certainly be on their guard for a while after such a violent invasion.

The adventurers elected to make camp at the top of the ledge overlooking the cavern and plan their next move. They rested well enough and their watch was not disturbed. George lived and was not decapitated— regardless of threats— but tensions in the group continue to rise.

To be continued….

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Chapter Four

Adventure log from Friday, January 13th, 2012. Recounted by the Dungeon Master.

Umber Hulk Smash!

The chapter opened on a fairly routine day of shopping on Magma Avenue. It was a crisp but bright and cloudless day. Suddenly, a faint rumble was heard, by Ataraxia and Cadrus, down the street near a cluster of warehouses owned by Maavu’s Imports. The alert heroes had only moments to respond, choosing to pull the less attentive heroes, George and Donzhek, into a nearby alleyway to see what is afoot. From the safety of the alleyway, they saw an explosion of debris into the air, emanating from the corner of one of the warehouses, followed by a collapse of the building as a large Umber Hulk bursted through its wall.

The heroes were quick to react. George, aided by the others, used his plucky charisma to encourage the crowds gathered around the adjacent Slippery Eel to disperse. They push through the crowds to attempt to engage the mad beast, but their initial attempts to gain its attention with ranged attecks are unfruitful; it didn’t really seem to be hurt at all, although the same can’t be said for the slightly acid-touched bystanders. The Hulk continued to rage, collapsing the remaining wall in the building and turning its attention to smashing the adjacent building. Debris fell on the nearby crowd, killing several confused and unlucky citizens.

It was at this time the adventurers noticed Beppo, the fruit-dealing dwarf, struggling to push his 800 pound fruit cart away from the destruction. Cadrus, having a soft-spot for his fellow dwarf, attempted to help him and kindly gave the cart a mighty shove. It moved nearly out of the battlefield, but it also hit a wall, smashing the right wheel on the cart. Stubborn Beppo continued to struggle throughout the engagement, becoming teary-eyed with his frustrated pride.

Meanwhile, the other adventurers focused on the beast, who continued to smash holes in walls and pull down support beams. The nearby crowd appeared to be under the influence of its confusing gaze and only milled about while being occasionally bludgeoned with debris. Ataraxia took the lead in engaging the creature. She charged at it, delivering a heavy blow to its flank and finally gaining its attention. It turned towards her and grabbed her with its massive pincers, threatening to squeeze the life out of her. She was badly wounded but managed to escape and healed with her faithful words. The other adventurers attempted to move into advantageous positions while avoiding his gaze.

Luckily, the town guard entered the scene at this point. A small contingent of nearby guards moved in and assured the citizens (and adventurers) that everything was under control. “Please step back to a safe distance…” they gently command. Oddly, they are all half-orcs— and strong from the looks of them. The heroes note that in all their time in Cauldron, they’ve seen only a handful of half-orc, and they seem over-represented here. The guards step in the adventurers way and only serve as cover after they are caught by the umber hulk’s gaze.

It was around this time that a woman appeared in the third story window of the Slippery Eel and was caught by the gaze as well. She turned away from the window, leaving her swaddled infant on the windowsill. Cadrus again jumped to aid the citizenry by rushing to the wall below the window, ready to catch the child if it fell. After several hard-to-watch attempts at climbing the wall (dwarves are not known for their climbing skills), Cadrus finally managed to scale the stone and deliver the baby safely to the floor of the tavern. He realized after that he may not have been able to do it only weeks before, but his agility training has served him well.

The other adventurers continued to engage the umber hulk, getting in blows from time to time that left minor wounds and burns on the hulk— always trying to hem it in and surround it. It was at this time that Donzhek moved into a flanking position and saw a massive opening in the hulk’s defenses. He flew into a rage and made a huge sweeping arc with his axe as he leaped at the hulk. His axe landed deep in the umber hulk’s rear and flank, immediately spilling warm, dark blood and some unidentified innards on the ground. The mortally wounded and extremely surprised creature panicked and did what it does best: dig. Before anyone could move, the beast was out of sight, leaving a trail of blood and a rapidly collapsing hole.

At this time, George noticed a rogue-ish sort of fellow trying to sneak into B-Sharp’s Musical Treasures, but quickly intimidated him to change his mind and leave. And as the adventurers and town guard had turned again to usher the confused citizens away from the area when the umber hulk burst from the ground behind Donzhek, hellbent on revenge. It managed to bash at the barbarian for a few moments, but it was obviously loosing strength. The heroes rallied to put it down for good. The town guard moved to seal off the crime scene and attend to the wounded.

It was at this time that the Magical Threat Agency (MTA) appeared on scene in the form of three very annoying gnome wizards with over-sized MTA badges. They were adamant on securing the area, repeating “Please clear the area! Could you leave please?” in their cute little munchkin voices. The heroes took a few minutes to poke around before leaving. They search the rubble of the warehouse for some clue as to why there would be an umber hulk burrowing into it and found some chalk scribbles on the floor of one warehouse the may be a summoning circle. They also peeked into B-Sharp’s Musical Treasure and found an old man in a rocking chair who seemed to be completely oblivious to anything that was happening outside. He had some fine instruments but nothing out of the ordinary.

Finally, George humbly made amends with 3 GP to each of the acid-splashed characters, who were still writhing in pain as the heroes left the scene. Jenya would have approved. They all sustained moderate burns but fortunately lived. In total, 9 persons were killed and two large warehouses totaled. A tearful Beppo eventually got his cart home with the help of the giant Donzhek’s help. The victorious heroes decided to make their way back to the Church of St. Cuthbert to heal and contemplate the days happenings.

Ruminations and Invitations.

Jenya and her clerics gladly helped the adventurers mend their wounds. Since their discreet assistance with the stolen wands which averted disaster during the previous flood season, the heroes have found great favor with the Church of St. Cuthbert. Jenya thinks the group has been brought together by fate and has the makings of a great force for goodness and law in the world— if they will avoid the temptations of world.

After the wounds were healing, the adventurers had some questions regarding the warehouse and the adorable MTA. It was revealed that Maavu’s Imports owned the warehouses that were attacked. She is a very successful gnomish business woman. She has no known enemies. The MTA appear to be unrelated to Maavu. They were assembled, at the lord mayor’s behest, by Lord Vhalantru after recent events in the city. The MTA is composed of wizards chosen to combat and investigate magical activity in the city.

The heroes were drawn to investigate Lord Vhalantru some more but could not catch up with him. As they inquired in the streets about the days events, they heard some gossip that Maavu was seen riding away from the city that morning on a black horse with clouds where it hooves should have been. It was the heroes’ understanding that that is an unnatural occurrence.

During their investigations, a beautiful blonde woman approaches the heroes. She has her cleavage pushed high up on her chest over a perfectly tailored white silk dress. Her heels push her up to roughly 6 feet tall. She identifies herself as “Celeste”. She says, “I’d like to arrange a business dinner with you all for tomorrow sundown. You’ll find it very profitable. Please dress appropriately.” She avoids the parties sexual advances and demurs further questioning, handing Cadrus a small white card before she leaves.

The card had only 6 words on it: “Cusp of Sunrise / Obsidian Avenue Northeast”

The Cusp.

The Cusp of Sunrise is a very exclusive, members only social club that counts among its members every noble and success businessman in Cauldron. It has sister clubs in every major city in the region and often houses wealthy visitors in its suites and hosting their lavish parties. With this history in mind, every hero made certain that he was dressed appropriately. Cadrus thought he was handsome enough in his masterwork light armor, but Ataraxia and Donzhek went shopping. Ataraxia bought a hot, red little dress and was packed her armor and weapons into a large purse. Donzhek purchased a rich burnt orange robe to drape over his armor.

Young George went to visit his mother and told her about the situation. Although she couldn’t help him monetarily, she also couldn’t let her son go without an outfit with such a great opportunity. She used spare scraps of material and worked more of the night and the next morning to fashion a rich multicolored cloak that was a good facsimile of the current trends in fashion. He was exceedingly thankful for his mother’s love — but intimated that he was hesitant to go to a place of such sinful excess. His mother urged him to think about the opportunity to really get along in the world and insisted that he go…. he wouldn’t want all her hard work to go to waste, would he?!

The group met that evening at the Cusp. They stood before what is arguably the most magnificent structure in Cauldron. It smelled like money and exclusivity. They knocked and met a mountain of a man named “Ren”. He was particularly effeminate in character, so to speak, and dressed in a rich blue robe. He welcomed the adventurers and offered to check their things. He urged the adventures to the door leading north, which led into the center of the Cusp.

The crew’s expectations of the extravagance of the Cusp were embarrassed by the luxury they stepped into as they headed north through the door. Every detail was attended to in the design of the room. Each surface seemed to sparkle, almost as if accomplished by magic or illusion. The circular tower, which when viewed from outside rose higher than the city walls, was inside filled with ancient books, windows, paintings, and sculptures up to the ceiling— all visible from the ground floor as the heroes entered. Most impressive perhaps was the ornate chandelier of crystal and orbiting spheres of light which occupied the highest part of the tower above the heroes. There were double doors leading north, west, and east.

There were several dozen major and minor nobles lounging, dining, and chatting in small groups around the central room. The heroes cased the place, looking for anyone of interest. Ataraxia approached Lord Vhalantru at a table where a game called “Snatch the Gem”, “Snatch”, “Gem-snatcher”, or just “Dice”. She sat beside him and struck up conversation. He was very interested to hear about their exploits and was saddened to hear about all the damage. He offered to fund Ataraxia for a round of the dice game. Lord Vhalantru won 45 ingots (worth 100 GP each) and didn’t bat an eye, but just continued to play nonchalantly. He was overall very friendly and interested to hear about the adventurers.

The adventurers had much less pleasant interactions with Ankhin Taskerhill, who is one of the oldest and wealthiest aristocrasts, and was unimpressed with the adventurers and largely uphelpful. He viewed them as just more faces in the crowd of minor nobles who are vying for his attention and fortune. Another noble they briefly approached was a wicked-looking and fabulously wealthy dwarf with gold teeth and a gem studded half-mask. He was attended by two giant bodyguards dressed in black. Impressed by Ataraxia’s demonstration of the Dwarven tongue, he became rather friendly, identifying himself as Adrick Garthun, and said he looked forward to seeing them around again to hear more about their exploits.

The adventurers deferred the opportunity to explore the Cusp further, as well as any dinner and drinks from the hospitable servants, and elected to wait for Celeste. No books were read or art examined; the heroes must have felt very out of place and wanted to get the meeting over with. Further, George, perhaps recalling what Jenya said about avoiding the excesses and sins of the world, opted to go back to the Church and pray. But how can those people possibly gamble, so nonchalantly, money enough to feed and clothe every impoverished person in the world — all while telling secrets and dirty jokes? George was indignant, despite his mother’s wishes and hard work to help him with the opportunity.

Midway through the evening, Celeste appeared and beckoned the three adventurers through the double doors to the east and into that wing of The Cusp.

A Private Meeting.

The heroes entered through polished wooden doors into a hallway with seven doors. Celeste lead them to the third one on the right and enters. Inside was an extravagant meeting room with a long table. At this table sat Davked Splitershield, a graying and dying dwarf who would almost pass for a skeleton. He wheezed over his thin white beard: “You’re the heroes of the city right now, and it’s heroes I need. I need you to help me rescue my son from the Underdark. I’ll pay very well.” He coughed weakly in a fit and Celeste took over for him.

She first explained that Davked was cursed by his wife on her deathbed for running off her children and being an all-around crappy father. The only way to break the curse and restore his health is to make amends with all his sons. He has been successful in making peace with two of his sons, but she says that Davked’s oldest son, Zenith Splintershield, led a crusade into the Underdark from his Malachite Fortress some years ago and was never seen again. Various divination spells have all agreed that his son is alive and in a place deep in the Underdark known as “Bhal-Hamatugn”, a kuo-toan shrine.

Unfortunately, the way that Zenith took from the Malachite Fortress into the Underdark has been caved in by another group of adventurers, the Stormblades, in order to protect the city from its denizens. Celeste pointed out that there are several ways into the Underdark and, if anyone will know ways down to it, it will be Crazy Jared, an insane bard who lives alone in a hut north of town. Lastly, the dwarf guaranteed 4,000 GP to each adventurer or 6,000 GP in weapons and armor from his dwarven forges.

The adventurers decided to make haste to Crazy Jared’s hut, eschewing any further questioning and preparation before heading out on foot very early the next morning.

Crazy Jared?

After a full day of travel across the plains north of Cauldron, the heroes come upon the hut as Crazy Jared is being harassed by a young red dragon. They listened for a few moments and learned that the dragons name is Gotrrod and that he was looking for a “bastard black” Dhorlot, who is apparently a rival dragon creature. Gotrrod insisted that Crazy Jared knew where the den of Dhorlot lies, but all of Jared’s responses seemed confused and nonsensical. The dragon was getting very frustrated and starting to set things on fire as he flew over Jared’s meager dwellings.

The heroes attacked, led off by George, and the dragon threatened the group with their lives if they didn’t leave now. The adventurers stood firm, always the altruists. Upon seeing the adventurers, Crazy Jared in his rags raised his silver rod and was immediately garbed in the deep purple robes of a king. He yelled, “Onward my knights! For Anduria!” None of the adventurers had ever heard of a place called Anduria. George took cover in the hut as the others chose to fight by the flimsy fence that surrounded Jared’s property.

As the heroes watched Crazy Jared be crazy, the dragon lit upon them, literally lighting them on fire with his breath, as he gracefully soared overhead. He then landed, not feeling seriously threatened after seeing the display of ranged damage, but the heroes stood firm. The dragon came to regret landing as he met the blades and axes of the adventurers. He lashed out with claws and teeth, tossing the heroes about and inflicting severe damage to Donzehk, the giant barbarian, and knocking him momentarily unconscious.

However, the dragon had sustained some deep lacerations to its torso and wings and decided it would do better to fight from the air. He continued to spray fire down on the his enemies and Crazy Jared’s hut, while taking light damage from ranged attacks. Ataraxia was severely burned and beaten in the exchange— collapsing and barely conscious. At this time, Gotrrod saw an opening and hit the ground again, opening his powerful jaws wide around Cadrus. Cadrus struggled, but then suddenly he was in the air, roughly 40 feet off the ground. The dragon continued to spew fire around Cadrus. Cadrus struck at the dragon and managed to wiggle free and fall to the ground, taking only minor damage.

The dragon had sustained some deep wounds and realized as the adventurers were starting to heal with magic and potion that it was not winning this day. He turned— with frost on his wings and wounds burning over his torso, face, and wings— and fled quickly into the air. He thundered down one last time, “How dare you turn on your progenitors?! You shits will die with these dogs like the bastards that you are…” He then spat blood and saliva towards the adventurers and was out of sight in seconds.

After the fight was over, Jared thanked the PCs in an imperious voice and said, “Behold the peaceable realm of Anduria! Have you seen a land more beauteous?!” He then waves his rod and around you appeared verdant, sun-dappled rolling hills covered with ready-for-harvest vineyards and dotted with stands of flowering trees. The arcana-inclined members of the group knew easily that this was an illusion. The group decided they needed the rest and made camp with Jared on his land, no matter how crazy he appears to be.

After patiently listening to many obviously delusional stories about King Jared the Fourth’s mighty but troubled kingdom, the heroes asked about the Underdark. King Jared knew well where at least 2 openings into the Underdark have formed. The nearest one was another days travel north into the hills and is called “The Pit of the Seven Jaws”. He was in fact still mourning the loss of 500 of his best knights there just the week before in a fight against an army of mind flayers. He had no idea what had happened there as none of his men made it out alive. He feared there may very well even be an entire army remaining, or maybe his men were raised as zombies (as had happened in the past). He confided that, whatever happened there, the Pit is bad news bears.

The adventurers slept peacefully after their long day, in Anduria, with Crazy King Jared IV.

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End of session.

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Chapter Three

More to come…

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Chapter Two

More to come…

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Chapter One

As briefly recounted by Jenya Urikas, ally and confidant of the missing adventurers, the first time the crew met was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was raining anyways…

The Beginning

The crew, strangers at this point by most measures and three strong, collectively came to the rescue of a man in robes being accosted by three thieves in black and white make-up. They demanded, as they kicked the proned man, that he and his people stop snooping around the Lantern Street Orphanage. “Oof,” he replied. The adventurers heroically intervened.

After dealing with the assailants, the individual revealed himself to be Ruphus Laro of the Church of St. Cuthbert and promptly lost consciousness. The incredibly altruistic individuals, none of them being healers, decided they should take him back to the Church. They were greeted by acolytes who asked few questions and swept Ruphus back into the wings of the Church for healing and recovery.

An audience was requested by Jenya Urikas, who thanked the young adventuring crew and answered their questions about the thieves. In a back room, warmed by the fire, she explained that, as it turns out, the theives were referring to the recent kidnappings, and more specifically the kidnapping of 4 orphans from a nearby orphanage. They had no leads at that time. She explained that— even thought she wasn’t supposed to in Sarcem’s absence— had used the Star of Justice and its divination was unusually cryptic….

Handout1

Investigating the Orphanage

The adventurers were flummoxed and so decided to investigate the orphanage. They met with Gretchyn Tashykk, the 72 year-old halfling mistress of the orphange, and asked many questions, revealing no one saw or heard anything that night of the kidnapping. More interesting, none of the locks had been forced and the barred windows were intact. Suspecting an inside job the adventurers question all the staff of the orphanage. Their work revealed little except red herrings involving nightmares and such, until they managed to talk to the “simple” janitor named Patch.

He was justifiably avoiding the investigators because of his guilt and possible involvement with the kidnappings. However incriminating he was, he did little to point the crew towards the orphans. He did say that he has no idea how the kidnappers got in. He, the janitor, did not even have a key… and only one person in town made them, Keygan Ghelve of Ghelve’s Locks.

There appeared to be much interest in the investigation. At least two factions were monitoring the adventurer’s actions: the Last Laugh (in the form of a female rogue with black and white make-up) and two half-elves (apparently unaffiliated with the Last Laugh). Next to nothing is known about their identities or agendas, even today.

Under Cauldron

The heroes discovered that Ghelve had been forced to supply master-keys and participate is securing and hiding an entrance into the underground network of tunnels. The adventurers pushed on into what turned out to be the abandoned gnomish fortress of Jzadirune, which had subsequently become filled with all manner of strange beast from the underdark. It became apparent that a contingent of these creatures, the skulk, had perpetrated the kidnappings at the behest of someone deeper under the city.

Through much determination, an elevator was found that passed deeper into the remnants of the Malachite fortress. Decades ago, the Malachite fortress was the base of operations for a small army of dwarves that worked to push into the Underdark and battled for years against the wicked things inhabiting it. It came to pass that the dwarven forces dwindled, and the final crusade of the dwarf-folk ended poorly, as they were never heard from again.

The current inhabitants of the fortress were led by a half-troll-half dwarf named Kazmojen, who ran a lucrative slave-trade with the denizens of the Underdark with most of his merchandise obtained from Cauldron via Jzadirune. Among the slaves-to-be were all the orphans and no more than half a dozen of the other kidnapping victims. The others were dead or missing.

Life’s Bazaar

Eschewing negotiation, the heroes entered into an epic battle with the new denizens of the Malachite fortress. The fight was long and the outcome in question until the very end, when, assisted by the freed captives, the adventurers assaulted Kazmojen directly to free the orphans and end his reign of terror.The band had it all planned out: buff the barbarian and entertain the half-troll and his feyhound, Prickles, while the rest of the party dealt with the remaining goblin army. The fight was too close, but Kazmojen was killed. Or so they thought….

As the heroes worked together to squash the final surge of Kazmojen’s forces and evacuate the remaining slaves, the half-troll made it to his feet again to flank the party, immediately landing a near lethal blow to the wizard. The adventurers rallied and pushed back the remaining forces and finally beheading the half-troll — even taking care to place his head in a spare chest.

It was at this point, as the heroes breath a collective sigh of relief and set out to deliver the captives back to Cauldron, a beholder appeared and spoke in surprisingly good Common: “I have come for Terrem Kharatys. That boy should not have been taken from Cauldron. I intend to see that he is safely returned to his orphanage. You can keep the others. They are of no consequence. Come, Terrem— you will be safe with me.” The awed adventurers acquiesced.

The captives were safely returned and the heroes rewarded. But Terrem disappeared, again, shortly after his return to the orphanage. The heroes were praised by the Temple of St. Cuthbert and recognized for their awesomeness by being entrusted with a matter of great importance by the captain of the town guard, Terseon Skellerang….

Next: The Infamous Chapter Two

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