Abciximab's Shackled City

Smoking Eye Interlude.
Test of the Smoking Eye

As you rest you ask Kaurophon to relate the story of Occipitus once more.

“All but the smallest, squalling babes have heard the tale of the Fall of Adimarchus, the renegade angel who made war on Heaven. So strong was his deception, and so puissant his rebellious host, that the Gods of Light were able to repulse him only at great cost: they carved the ground out from beneath his feet, and sent a tract of their own luminous Celestia crashing down to the Abyss. Adimarchus’s minions were destroyed, but he himself survived, forever banished from the cloud-bright planes.

Ruler, now, of the descended wreckage of Celestia, Adimarchus still was power-thirsty, and made war against demonic foes, expanding his control of that poisonous realm. For a thousand years, he clashed armies with his nemesis, the demon prince Graz’zt. Then a new challenge beset him from an unexpected quarter: Athux, a beatific paladin with angelic blood. Athux arrived in the fallen angel’s domain, questing to redeem Adimarchus’s black soul and return with him to Heaven. The aasimar cut a swath across the tumorous plains of the Abyss and confronted the demonic lord in his own throne room. Long they fought, until, exhausted, Adimarchus sundered Athux’s bright blade with his own dark-hearted sword.

Yet something in the paladin’s eyes sparked his compassion, long-buried and forgotten, and he found he could not kill Athux, nor could he subject him to the torments of the Abyss. Instead, he wooed her into friendship, and from thence to love; and the two joined forces in a mighty push against Graz’zt’s howling armies.

But while this epic battle raged, a sudden thing occurred: Graz’zt’s minions captured Athux with surprising ease, casting her half-mortal body into the tormenting prisons of Carceri. Adimarchus could not bear to lose his love; he forfeited the battle, abandoned his army and his realm, and fled to Carceri to free exquisite Athux. He knew now, within his soul, that he should have welcomed Athux’s offer of redemption; and as he quested, he indulged himself with notions of the two of them rising together to Heaven, purged of all wrong.

Alas, this dream was not to be. The only way for Adimarchus to free Athux from the monstrous, deathless guardians of Carceri was to submit him self to servitude instead. As Adimarchus stepped into the twisted cage that would confine him for eternity, he turned back once, to bid his ally and his love farewell. And then, with horror, he beheld the newly freed Athux metamorphose into a grinning, black-skinned fiend—not angelic, nor a paladin, but instead the sly, devoted son of his great nemesis, Prince Graz’zt!

As he descended into servitude and madness, Adimarchus learned the lesson which he himself had taught the host of angels long before: that greatest evils hide in plainest sight.”

“What else can you tell me of the plane?” Bondar asks.

“It is the 507th layer of the Abyss. Few creatures live there. Even demons regard it as haunted, because the light of good still shines there. Yet the evil is so strong that the angels of Celestia count it as lost forever. Unfortunately some demons and other creatures have moved there, trying to pass the test of the smoking eye and expunge what good remains there.

“Though it’s part of the abyss right now, if the right person passes the test of the smoking eye, he could potentially separate it from the lower planes. Perhaps it would become a demi-plane or even part of Celestia once again.

“Occipitus appears as a great basin. In the center of Occipitus is a half buried skull the size of a mountain and from its eye spills a perpetual flame that fills the sky. Around it are parts of what was once Celestia, mixed with strange, almost living landscape: Occipitus’s original evil.

“The sky is filled with Plasms, amoeba like blobs of evil energy that will consume you if you fly too close so walking or magical transport is the best method of getting around. Magic works as it should, as far as I know. While the atmosphere and terrain support life as we know it, it is a harsh place where danger can lurk in unlikely places. There are “Ulcers”, pink acidic pools of slime. Fiberous and Ossaic forests, the trees there made of some strange spongy material, looking like ribs reaching up to the sky. Some have tangles of fleshy plants growing off of them. Tremors rock the plane from time to time, most often occurring near Celestial rubble as the plane tries to consume the remains of Celestia.

“To this place I will take you in the morning, so rest well tonight.”

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Session 17.
Demonskar Legacy

Session 17 Recap.

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (9th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (9th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (9th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (6th)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (9th)
  • Gretchen – ??? the Human Paladin (8th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)

After resting in the throne room the party return to exploring. Down one short hallway they find a treasure room guarded by four four-armed skeletons. They pose little threat and are quickly dispatched so the looting can begin.

Down the other corridor they find a strange room. Colored circles are painted on the floor and a pentagonal mirror hangs on the wall. They see Alek Tercival sitting on a throne in the middle of the room. They talk to him and note that though they see Alek sitting on a throne in the mirror they don’t see themselves. They each try standing on one of the colored circles to see what will happen. “Alek” proves to be some type of mirror creature in disguise and four others step out of the mirror and attack. The battle is brief and they return to the puzzle presented by the mirror.

Zartan touches the mirror and finds himself if a violet room with door that show the other six colors. Through trial and error the group finally decodes the clues on the silver plate they purchased at Tygot’s Old Things and find themselves in a room with the true Alek Tercival. He speaks.

“When the final cage is shackled the burning doom shall rise.”

The only exit from this room appears to be a large iron door. Zartan unlocks and opens the door and the group finds themselves in a vast desert. Bondar uses his Bird Feather Token to let Jenya know they have found Alec and he rescinds his challenge. Hopefully this will avert the attack on Redgorge.

As they exit they are attacked by a huge demon. The group recognizes the creature as a Glabrezu and realize they are in big trouble as this must surely be the one and only Nabthatoron.

There appears to be some history between Nabthatoron and Alek as they each seem enraged by the sight of the other. Nabthatoron attacks Alek and quickly kills him. After toying with the group a little more (and the heroes finally getting a few parting shots) Nabthatoron disappears.

Though he is clearly dead, the group hears the voice of Nidrama issue from the mouth of the dead Paladin.

“There is naught left for you in Cauldron, heroes! To return is to enter your own graves and to bring doom upon all you love. Trust the Sign of the Smoking Eye if you wish to save them all!”

The group retreats to the stone room to rest during the remainder of the day and travel at night when it is cooler. During their rest they hear a rap on the door and it bursts open. Three demons attack. As the party organizes their defense, a human in robes bearing the mark of the Smoking eye offer his help. He casts a spell and the creatures disappear.

He tells the heroes his name is Kaurophon and the voice of a prophet told him to seek them here and that they must accompany him to the plane of Occipitus and pass the Test of the Smoking Eye.

He tells them the tale of Occipitus and its ruler Adimarchus. Whisper, with her Knowledge of the Planes, verifies much of what he says.

End of Session 17.

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Session 16.
Demonskar Legacy

Session 16

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (8th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (8th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (8th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (5th)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (9th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (5th)

After defeating the Ettins, the group hears angelic music and sees glittering lights down the hall. Entering the large chamber where they originally encountered the Ettins they see three angelic beings, one is holding a golden chalice.

“Thank you brave heroes, you have freed this place from the evil that has long inhabited it. We are the guardians of Alakast. If you feel you are worthy of wielding this weapon you must prove your worth.” She presents the golden chalice, “Drink of the elixir of the gods and be judged.”

The party scrambles over each other to be the first to fall for the trap. In no time each has had a drink and they notice they are much stronger but the drink seems to muddle their minds in some way, but they currently lack the wisdom to care.

“”Now we will search your souls for evil,” the angels declare and the characters dutifully line up before them to be judged, knowing their hearts are (mostly) pure. The angels concentrate for a moment and suddenly Whisper, Token and Bondar find themselves locked within a small cube of force. Too stunned to react Adamo finds the will of the angels insinuating its way into his mind. “Kill the goblin!” the angels command in a voice that no longer sounds that angelic. He runs over and slashes at Yakov.

At this point Zartan returns and an all out melee erupts. The angels are revealed to be Hags as Whisper starts Dimension Hopping her companions out of the cube. After a difficult battle the Hags are defeated. The party returns to the entryway to rest.

Early in the night they are attacked by 3 hill giants. Organized mayhem ends the threat.

When whisper awakens in the morning she realizes someone is scrying on them. After a brief discussion, the group also realizes each has had a strange dream the night before. Only two of the heroes share their dreams with the others.

Token – You hear the voice of your “benefactor”. The one you associate with the source of your eldritch powers. “Your power, your destiny…” the voice hisses. “It is your destiny to set me free.” You find yourself standing atop a tower constructed of bone. A harsh wind turns to a scream as it seems to pass right through the walls. A strange looking cage dangles over a deep pit. The voice issues from the cage once more, “Find me, release me… You have no choice in the matter, you will free me and you will serve me for eternity!”

Bondar – You know you have travelled far. You wander in the very pits of hell. Fire and smoke seem to fill the very air around you. It is stifling, hard to breath. Your connection with your god seems tenuous at best. You seek a city of the damned. In the blink of an eye you are within the city, surrounded by mocking demons. Before you stands a demon, its snake like coils supporting a torso of a beautiful bare breasted female with six arms. Each hand holds a bladed weapon. Her left eye seems to burn with an inner fire and acrid smoke rises from the socket. Finally, the one you seek. The one who can help save the world, perhaps even your soul, from oblivion.

Continuing on they find a Fire Giant working in a smithy. He is defeated. The party finds a strange cage etched with runes. Whisper determines that, though the cage is not magical magic was used in its creation, specifically the schools of conjuration, abjuration and necromancy. Whisper and Token recognize the cage from dreams they have had. Angered at her lack of understanding of this long time symbol of her torment, Whisper destroys the cage. The others are somewhat baffled by this outburst, but do not object.

The heroes continue exploring, until it is decided they will rest in a throne room. They have yet to find any trace of the Paladin Alek Tercival.

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Session 15.
Demonskar Legacy

Session 15.

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (8th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (8th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (8th)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (8th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (4th)

The group piles out of their abode and runs around the hub of Cauldron to Minutia’s Board and finds two huge fire elementals reducing the structure to ashes. Most of the Half-Orc Mercenaries have formed a bucket brigade while the rest attempt to hold off the creatures. A Human male with blue hair directs the action.

After receiving some Fire Resistance from Bondar the party attacks the elementals. They gang up on one destroying it quickly. Adamo hears a cry from inside the building and runs in and saves the life of the scullery boy with an amazing feat of strength. The other elemental soon follows the first and the group stands down.

A nearby priest of Pelor takes issue with the behavior of the nearby crowds that seemed to be cheering for the destruction of the establishment and the deaths of the Half-Orcs. “Fools! The Flames of discord will destroy this town!” He cries.

The Blue haired man introduces himself as Zarn Kyass and gruffly thanks the party for their assistance. He then rushes off to City Hall to speak with the Mayor and other officials about this incident.

In the morning town criers call out that peace has been restored in the city and all those who were arrested during the riots have been pardoned and released. The only criminal who is wanted in relation to the incident is Maavu Arlintal. He has been tried in absentia and sentenced to death. The criers also publicly acknowledge the challenge from Alek Tercival to Captain Skellerang. They then go on to say that reliable sources have shown that Alek is possessed by demons and therefore the challenge is null and void.

There is a knock at the door and a boy delivers a message to the heroes. Jenya would like to speak with them.

Arriving at the Temple of Saint Cuthbert, they meet with Jenya. She informs them that she’s worried about Alek and asks them to find him. She knows he’s been exploring the jungles South West of Redgorge though she doesn’t know exactly where. She also mentions that he often sell things he finds at Tygots Old Things, a shop the heroes often frequent. They head off to Tygot’s place.

The only interesting item they find is a silvered plate with a map inscribed on the back. The plate seems to speak of a six armed race enslaving ogres to build a “planar travel installation”. There is a reference to an object called the “Starry Mirror” and a series of ciphers. The map on the back starts at something referred to as the “Headless Demon” and seems to end around a location called “Vaprak’s Voice”.

The party leaves for Redgorge.

They arrive at the Redhead Miners Inn. Mikimax the Innkeeper welcomes them warmly and offers them food and drink. A bard named Ekaym Smallcask (but called The Honest Minstrel by friends) welcomes them with a riddle, “Ho friends, what is it that will bind with water, sand and lime?”

The party hems and haws a bit until Whisper says, “Mortar?”

The Honest Minstrel seems pleased with the answer and invites them to a meeting in the back room. There a group of men wearing matching tabards awaits them. Maavu is also here looking a little despondent. They learn this is the headquarters of a semi-secret group called The Chisel.

The party looks at the artwork along the walls that shows the life and times of the regions founder Surabar Spellmason. It shows his arrival, an angel named Nidrama gifting him with a magical quarterstaff, the foundation of Redgorge, the magical construction of the basalt walls that protect Redgorge, The battle against the demonic hordes of the Demonskar and a Glabrezu named Nabthatoron and finally the transformation of Surabar into a mountain, symbolizing his death.

The foreman calls the meeting to order. He expresses concern with the direction their organization has taken. He feels some members have lost sight of their mission, which is protecting the citizens and craftsmen of the region and their interests. He mentions that the organization feels there is an evil influence in the government of Cauldron and they foresee a great disaster in the cities future, though their greatest prophet has not answered their summons recently so they cannot be sure exactly what that means.

It is mentioned that they believe Maavu was unknowingly used as a pawn to incite unrest (he seems rather ashamed by this and gets defensive when the Honest Minstrel derides him for it). They have also heard that, with the challenge issued by Alek, Captain Skellerang now has a personal agenda against The Chisel and the town of Redgorge. It is said he plans to use the Mercenaries to attack the town, which would be bad news for the citizens of Redgorge, to say the least. They feel if they could get Alek to rescind his challenge the threat to the town would end.

The foreman indicates that they are also worried about where Alek might be and ask the party to look for him. After a short period of question from the party they accept the mission. The foreman mentions the headless demon they are looking for is probably a statue that is found along the river South West of the town. He offers the party a boat to help them in their travels.

After traveling down the river for most of a day they spot the statue of a demon with its head knocked off. They are ambushed by Gnolls but are able to get to shore quickly and eliminate the threat.

Journeying inland, they find an old cave occupied by a large Forest Sloth. After it is defeated the party searches the cave and finds what was once a wand (but is currently just a stick) with the mark of St Cuthbert at the bottom. The party is encouraged as this probably belonged to Alek and indicates they are on the right track. The party rests.

During the night an angel appears before Whisper as she guards the entrance. It appears to be none other than Nidrama herself, the Movanic Deva that assisted Surabar. She comes with a warning.

“Powerful forces of chaos and evil are afoot. I dare not remain here long lest my presence attract the attention of those forces. Yet I could not sit by and watch you march into danger without warning you. The Lord of the Demonskar knows of your approach, and even now his minions prepare for your arrival. They shall use deceit and treachery against you, just as they have done with Alek Tercival before you. You must remain resolute; Alek Tercival must be saved.”

“I have no aid to offer you but knowledge. In ages past, I provided to Surabar Spellmason a powerful weapon to assist him in his conflict with the Lord of the Demonskar. This was Alakast, a quarterstaff infused with an undying hatred of the fiends of the outer rifts. Unfortunately, Alakast was stolen centuries ago, ripped from Spellmason’s tomb by a grave robber. Yet do not despair, for it is fated that Alakast should be wielded again against the Lord of Demonskar. It has found its way to you, and all that needs be done is for you to claim it. Seek Alakast in the lair of my false sisters, beyond the watchful eyes of the north.”

“That is all that I am at liberty to say… I wish you well in your travails, heroes, and never lose sight of your goals.”

With that she disappears.

In the morning the party continues on and finds a large, round, metal tunnel that seems to be similar to one that is marked on the map. They enter and continue to follow the map. It leads to a narrow canyon where a hot spring bubbles. A large metal gate stands to the east. A geyser erupts from the spring and there is a loud whistle. Entering the canyon they are attacked by a small creature that appears to live in the pool and a hill giant on a balcony above the gate. The creatures are quickly overcome, though Adamo would have been dead had it not been for the quick actions of Bondar and his scroll of Revivify.

Entering the compound the come to a large room with five Ettins. A long and difficult battle ensues. After some close calls, the creatures are eventually defeated.

End of Session 15.

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Session 14
Zenith Trajectory

Session 14

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (7th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (7th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (7th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (4th)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (7th)
  • Gretchen – ??? the Human Paladin (7th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (4th)

After resting once more in the lava cave that leads to the temple they return with high hopes of finally finding Zenith Splintershield.

Exploring the rest of the lowest level, they find an area that must have been used by the artisans and craftsmen of the Kuo Toa. The also find a water filled room with stairs going up. They defeat the two guards at the base of the stairs but are attacked by swarms of acidic pollywogs when they enter the water. They run up the stairs and are blasted by a lightning bolt after Whisper opens the door at the top. A spear trap goes off as she enters the upper room. Zartan comes up and finds and disables the traps in the room.

Opening the next door they find themselves face to face with a large black dragon. The dragon is not at his best in the tight quarters in which he has made his lair and he is quickly defeated.

Returning to the uppermost level the group explores a large mushroom filled room. Bondar detects poison. He detects a lot of poison. Multiple fireballs are thrown into the room in an attempt to clear as much of the fungus as possible but despite their best efforts nothing of interest is found in the room. They wonder if perhaps they have missed something.

Going in the opposite direction they finally find Zenith sitting on a throne in a room filled with inverted banners of the Splintershield clan (a grave insult) and a number of Dwarven corpses hung by their feet, the tops of their skulls removed (yet another grave insult, to say the least). The corpses twitch, gibber and mumble but the group cannot find anything meaningful in what they are saying.

Zenith looks rather morose and tells the party that the Smoking Eye shall consume Cauldron. Zartan moves to cut down the Dwarven corpses and tells Zenith that his father sent them and past wrongs must be made right. Zenith throws a glowing ball at the wall. Some type of invisible creature is summoned but it is quickly defeated. The group finally convinces Zenith to return with them. Token notes that Zenith bears the same mark on his face as Whisper, Bondar and Zartan. They journey back to Cauldron.

When they return to the Cusp of Sunrise, Lord Vhalantru is there to meet them. He explains that Celeste has taken Davked Splintershield back to a Dwarven temple to await their return, as his health had grown worse in their absence. He pays the party the remainder of their reward and gently leads the listless Zenith away.

As the spring season continues, there is much grumbling in Cauldron. Taxes have been steadily increased to repair damages done to the city by recent difficulties and also to raise money to defend against future calamities. Though the taxes have been levied there has been very little visible evidence of improvements and repairs. Taxes in Cauldron are now higher than they are in Sasserine, the capitol city. Tax collectors roam the streets, backed up by groups of Half-Orc mercenaries that have been used to supplement the guard in these difficult times.

Fliers are circulated around town to organize a citizen’s protest outside city hall. Noting the presence of Half-Orc mercenaries in the guard and sharing the anger against the tax increases the group decides to attend. Jenya also asks them look for the paladin Alek Tercival as she has been hoping to hear from him for the last few months and he is expected to be at the assembly.

Once there the group finds the speaker is none other than Maavu Arlintal, the merchant whose warehouse had been destroyed by the umberhulk. He speaks of the failings of the Nobles of Cauldron and how they line their pockets with tax money and give nothing back to the people. He mentions that the paladin Alek Tercival has challenged Captain Terseon Skellerang to a duel under the old laws declaring that he has failed in his duties to the people. Maavu claims the Lord Mayor and Captain Skellerang have kept this challenge secret, which is against the law.

At this point a number of things happen almost simultaneously. Sergeant Skylar Krewis approaches from city hall declaring that Maavu be placed under arrest. From the west a group of Half-Orc mercenaries start to roust the people there, telling them to leave or be arrested. An invisible assailant seemingly attacks Maavu and someone in the crowd calls for the death of the evil Half-Orcs that are getting rich off the coffers of Cauldron. A full-scale riot breaks out.

Using a little intimidation and a lot of diplomacy, the Heroes of Cauldron call upon the people to exercise constraint, many recognize the heroes and comply. The party also attacks and destroys whatever is attacking Maavu, who turns invisible and flees though not before passing on a message to the group, “Meet me in Redgorge.”

For a few hours chaos reigns in the city as protesters and looters run rampant. Calm is restored when criers announce that taxes will not be levied for three months. Late that evening the group notices a huge fire across the lake along the shore, probably Minutia’s Board, a boarding house. They think little of it until sharp eyes note that the fire is moving in an unnatural way, as if it were alive.

End of Session 14.

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Session 13.
Zenith Trajectory

Session 13

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (6th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (6th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (6th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (4th)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (7th)
  • Gretchen – ??? the Human Paladin (7th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (4rd)

As the smoke continues to billow around the head of the statue a Female Aasimar Paladin suddenly arrives in the middle of the room due to a Teleportation mishap. The rest of her former party is unaccounted for so she throws in her lot with this group. Amidst the smoke an angelic winged creature appears flying above the head of the statue. Her attitude shows she is far removed from the descriptor of “Angelic”. A long battle ensues during which many flaming arrows and Unholy Blights are thrown about by the Erinyes and the party throws everything they have left at her. Her flight, high armor class, multiple energy resistances and especially her spell resistance make this a tough battle. Multiple party members are dropped unconscious over and over again only to be brought back from the edge of death by timely healing.

The group attempts to fall back to regroup only to find that unlike the Paladin’s former companions, the Erinyes is quite skilled at Teleporting. Zartan is cut down, killed by her slashing blade in a single round. He is quickly brought back to life by Bondar with his handy scroll of Revivify he luckily purchased when they were last in town. Having fallen back to a narrow corridor the group is finally able to engage the Erinyes in melee and she is finally defeated. While the battle only lasted about two minutes, it seemed to the companions more like two hours.

Cherrit is released, much to his surprise and relief.

The party falls back to rest. As they reenter the temple the next day they hear someone sound a horn and they are met by two skilled Kuo-Toa warriors. They are quickly defeated. Returning to the shrine they enter a back room where they find what appears to be the high priest and his Duergar slave. His slave is quickly killed and with no defenders to assist him the priest is defeated as well.

Token inspects a side room and sees a magical aura upon a clay pot. He runs and opens it and is knocked unconscious in the resulting explosion. After his companions stop laughing they rush in to gather up the treasure that fell out of the now ruined pot. As an afterthought they heal Token back to consciousness and express their surprise that someone would bother to trap an empty pot. The Kuo-Toa sure are a bunch of spiteful bastards.

End of Session 13.

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Session 12.
Zenith Trajectory

Session 12

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (5th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (5th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (5th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (3rd)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (6th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (3rd)
  • Adamo – to fall in love with, find pleasure in.
  • Preda – plunder, booty, spoils of war, loot, gain, prey.

The dragon returns once more. This time C.J actually does something helpful by Inspiring Greatness in Whisper. Many arrows (both regular and Acid variety) and eldritch blasts are launched as the dragon uses Flyby Attacks in its attempt to destroy the group once and for all. In the end, the party is victorious and breaks out the Bactine in celebration.

C.J. informs the group that the dragons name was Gotrrod and was the offspring of the infamous Hookface. Gotrrod was also looking for the Pit of Seven Jaws, most likely to use as a lair since his father had recently chased him out of his territory.

The group rests near Jared’s hut and then sets off for the pit. Once found they descend stone steps to an underground fissure that leads to the underdark and hopefully to Zenith Splintershield.

First they have to contend with the seven-headed Cryohydra that guards the entrance. It is quickly killed and the group continues on.

After following the network of caves a short distance they finally reach the cavern wherein lays Bhal-Hamatugn. As they stand on the shore of an underground lake they hear the sound of something moving through the water. Out of the mists comes a large gondola prodded by a frog-like creature. The creature pauses and asks, “Seek ye the Smoking Eye? I’ll guide you through the maw.”

The party gives each other the “why not” look and Zartan indicates that yes, they are in fact seeking the smoking eye and would love to be guided through the maw. They climb into the creature’s gondola.

He takes them to the stairs that lead into the shrine where they are ambushed by Kuo-Toan guards and the boatman, who turns out to be a monk. Yakov, who seems to have developed a personality since the day before, quickly learns that a bow is not the weapon of choice against a monk. He proceeds to run up and down the stairs while humming the theme for Rocky (The Squirrel, not Balboa) and taking the occasional pot shot at any enemy that does not appear monk-like in any way.

After these creatures are defeated they enter the compound where they encounter and defeat more Kuo-Toan guards and discover two prisoners. A halfling named Cherrit convinces them that the other human prisoner is a spy. They attack the human and discover he is resistant to the attacks of normal weapons. He is quickly killed by magic.

They leave Cherrit locked up promising to come back and release him once they have found what they have come for. Having little choice in the matter Cherrit agrees, though he despairs. He knows adventurers often suffer from severe ADD and there is little hope he will be remembered and released.

Continuing on they encounter a mummy that paralyzes half the party with fear. The creature totally flubs an opportunity to coup-de-grace Token before it is completely incinerated by a Scorching Ray from Whisper.

Continuing on they find a secret door that leads into a great temple dedicated to a naked woman with a lobsters head and claws. Four Kuo-Toa stand guard while four others actively worship the great statue that towers sixty to seventy feet above them. Combat ensues and though lightning bolts shock many members of the group they finally prevail. Sorely wounded, the group quickly starts healing up, as smoke seems to billow around the head of the great statue.

End of Session 12.

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Session 11
Flood Season - Zenith Trajectory

Session 11 Recap

  • Adam B. – Thedruid the Human Druid (5th/Deceased)
  • Adam B. – Catfolk Swashbuckler (5th)
  • Adam J. – Shade the Gnome Sword Sage (5th/Deceased)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (5th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (5th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (3rd)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (6th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (3rd)

Joined by two Catfolk sent by Jenya to help with the recovery of the wands, the group rests on the stony beach. Once they have rested, Token, after using his powers to imbue himself with the ability to see invisible creatures, notices a strange tattoo-like mark on the faces of Bondar, Whisper and Zartan. The mark seems to be a circle around each of their left eyes with an arrow pointing up. Their reaction demonstrates that they were unaware of this fact. Many questions arise with very few answers.

Returning to the ruins, the party hacks their way through two ogre zombies and sets off a trap that injures Token.

Searching a stalagmite in the middle of a dead end room they find it is covered with some type of tacky substance. Zartan also notes the top of it appears to lift open. Washing it down to remove some of the suspected poison, Zartan uses a gauntleted hand to open the top, revealing a huge cache of coins.

Heading back the other way, the group encounters two worm covered undead. Overcome with magical fear, the Swashbuckler runs away, while the others destroy the undead abominations. Once the party is reunited, they move on.

In the next room, a hoard of zombies is waiting. The party attacks. As the number of foes dwindles a new foe enters the room. An undead Gnoll orders the zombies about and attacks the group. Confronted with the most hated “Intelligent Undead”, Whisper utilizes her new favorite spell, Ray of Enfeeblement and the rest of the party converges on him. As the creature is struck down it cries out, “The Smoking Eye will consume you all!”

These ominous words seem to hang in the air as the hands of three of the party members subconsciously moves toward the mark on their faces.

With his enhanced vision, Token notices an invisible creature skulking in the shadows. After a brief scuffle the creature is captured. They note it holds two of the wands. The creature exchanges the wands for its life and it flies away.

Returning to cauldron with all but one of the wands, the party finds Jenya eagerly awaiting their return. The three wands they had already returned were being put to good use and the addition of these four would make things considerably easier. She enlists Bondar’s aid in helping control the flooding with the wands. Cauldron is saved once again.

In exchange for all their help, Jenya rewards them with a piece of church property. An old house by the lake that was donated to the church but has remained largely unused. She also agrees to research the strange mark on their faces.

Once the city has the flooding situation well in hand, the Demonskar Ball is finally held. Though Lord and Lady Aslaxin, parents to one of the Stormblades, host it, the group is received graciously and treated well. At the ball they meet a beautiful woman and well-know philanthropist named Celeste and Lord Vhalantru, a well-known noble and personal friend of the Lord Mayor. Both are friendly and express their thanks for the group’s service to the city. Both comment that it is good to have a group of true heroes in the region.

As winter passes and spring approaches, Jenya meets with the group to go over the results of her research. The strange mark is known as a Carcerian Sign, Carcerian refers to the prison plane of Carceri. It would seem every few generations a few individuals are born with this mark. It is suspected that somewhere in their ancestry there is some demonic taint that surfaces from time to time in the form of an invisible birthmark. These individuals are sometimes referred to as The Shackleborn and it is believed by some that a Shackleborn’s soul possess’ a unique link between the material plane and Carceri.

To see so many Shackleborn in one place, in one group of individuals that seem drawn together is very unusual. Jenya wonders aloud whether there may be some greater power at work here, something that draws the companions to this place and to each other at this time. She adds that she will continue to look into it for them and share any other information she comes across.

More time passes and in early spring, amid grumbles around town about the recent increases in taxes, the group learns that their good friend and ally, Flava the Kobold Monk, has gone missing. The group sets out to gather information about his disappearance. While passing by a warehouse Zartan hears a low rumble just a moment before the wall of the warehouse collapses and a fiendish umberhulk breaks through the wall collapsing much of the building on that side. Some of the group succumbs to the creatures confusing gaze, but in their confused state they decide to attack the umberhulk anyway. The others join in and the creature is quickly defeated.

A brief investigation reveals a destroyed circle of runes on the floor. Asking around the party find out the building belongs to a well know merchant named Maavu Arlintal. In the aftermath there are rumors that Mavuu was seen fleeing the city on a flying horse, with clouds where its hooves should be.

Later that day, the party once again meets Celeste who invites them to a meeting at the Cusp of Sunrise, a popular club for the elite of Cauldron. There they are introduced to Davked Splintershield, a decrepit old Dwarf who explains that he was cursed by his wife on her deathbed for driving away their three sons. He has reconciled with two of them but now he needs the group to enter the underdark and find his third son, Zenith.

He explains that Zenith left on a crusade against the evil of the underdark ten years ago, but has been captured and held prisoner in a Kuo-Toan shrine called Bhal-Hamatugn. The party accepts the mission and they are told to seek out a hermit named Crazy Jared to the north, he knows of a way into the underdark, since all local access to the underdark has been eliminated.

The party buys horses and heads out. Two days later as they near Crazy Jared’s hut, they see rising smoke from what must be a big fire. Coming over the rise they see the hut aflame and a man, who matches the description of Crazy Jared, being threatened by a large Red Dragon. After being Enfeebled, Sickened and pierced with a few arrows, the Dragon is driven off.

Crazy Jared is grateful and keeps referring to the party as Knights of Anduria. They ask if he would like help extinguishing his hut, but C.J. waves his staff and his burning hut appears to transform into a small but beautiful castle. Of course, the party can still see the rising smoke and feel the heat of the flames through the “stone” of the castle walls. The castle is clearly an illusion, though C.J. seems oblivious to these details.

Shaking their heads the party asks C.J. about where they might gain access to the underdark. C.J. mentions that the Dragon was also looking for this place, though he’s not sure why. He gladly draws the party a map and comments that he had recently sent fifty of his best knight’s to that location, which he names as The Pit of Seven Jaws. Zartan accepts the map and comments that it should be easy to find, what with the feet of an army of knights beating a path to the entrance.

At this point, the group notices the Dragon has returned.

End of Session 11.

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Session 10.
Flood Season

Session 10 Recap

  • Adam B. – Thedruid the Human Druid (5th)
  • Adam J. – Shade the Gnome Sword Sage (5th)
  • Ben – Bondar the Dwarven Cleric (4th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (3rd)/Rogue (2nd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (5th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (2nd)

Returning to Cauldron, the party asks Jenya about the Unholy Symbol they found on monkey boy. She explains that it is the symbol of the Ebon Triad. The Ebon Triad is a group of heretics from the three churches of Vecna, Hextor and Erythnul who seek to merge their three malign deities into one powerful over-deity of unsurpassed malevolence. There are no known cultists of the Ebon Triad (or of Vecna, Hextor or Erythnul, for that matter) dwelling within Cauldron or its environs. If such individuals do live here, they have masked their agendas well.

The party returns to the underground cavern only to find the rope for the gondola cut. They return to town to purchase rope and a rowboat. When they return once more to the cavern they lower the boat to the lake and climb down. They decide to explore a water filled side tunnel they had noticed when they were leaving last time. There, they kill an ugly squid-fish and find nothing of value.

They return to the ruins to continue their explorations there. They find some type of mud demon hiding in a metalwork shop. After it is slain, they determine the workroom was used to make cages of some type.

Further exploration leads them to a place where a halfling mage seems to be doing some type of research. Though his summoned air elemental is quickly killed, the mage uses his spells to good effect and Thedruid and Shade are both killed in the battle. The remaining party members quickly avenge their deaths.

A brief exploration reveals one of the wands and notes that show the halfling was exploring and researching this local. It is revealed that this place was once a Kopru Stronghold.

Continuing to explore this region they find numerous spiders and an Ettercap. The creatures are slain and another of the wands is found.

They meet a stranger who insists he was sent by Jenya to help. The party accepts this and trusts him completely. He explains he is steeped in the magical arts, a Warlock to be exact.

Returning to the lava tubes on the other side of the temple they run into a skeletal Tyrannosaurus Rex. Things look sketchy at first, but once again a timely Ray of Enfeeblement helps turn the tide and the huge creature is defeated.

End of Session 10.

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Session 9.
Flood Season

Session 9 Recap

  • Adam B. – Thedruid the Human Druid (5th)
  • Adam J. – Shade the Gnome Sword Sage (5th)
  • Ben – Bondar the Dwarven Cleric (4th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (2nd)/Rogue (2nd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (5th)
  • NPC – Yakoff Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (1st)

Proceeding upstairs the party encounters more bandits looting the Lucky Monkey. Most of the heroes enter melee in the cramped spaces of the upper floor halls while Thedruid goes walkabout. The party prevails once more and little else is found.

Returning to Cauldron the party confers with Jenya and return Sarcem’s body. Asking around town about Triel and the missing wands produces no answers. That night Whisper receives a note left for her at her parent’s establishment.

I know you’re looking for the wands. I can help, for a price. If you’re interested come alone to the Lakeside Pavilion tonight at midnight. Bring 500 gold coins and you’ll walk away with the location of the wands. Bring backup and you’ll never find them.

Not wanting to scare away their only lead, Whisper goes to the rendezvous alone. Seeing the man skulking in the shadows fear suddenly fills Whisper’s heart. She realizes she has to pay the money out of her own pocket (so to speak). Reaching into her décolletage she produces a large pouch with the requested coinage. The man jaw drops and he is struck speechless for only a moment. Regaining his composure he directs her to a lava tube on the north side of the volcano. Triel, the redhead with the wands, is known to come and go frequently through that tunnel though he does not know what lies within.

Rejoining the party the following morning, plans are made and the party sets out for the lava tube. After hiking through the tube for about a half a mile they reach the end. They arrive at the edge of a cliff where they find a large cavern dimly lit by phosphorescent fungi and a one hundred foot drop down to an algae filled underground lake. Across the lake they see a strange looking stone structure with numerous doors. It looks like the easiest way down is to take the rickety wooden and wire gondola that is parked at the edge of the cliff. They decide to take the hard way.

Noting the gondola support rope that runs from a stone building on the cliffs edge down across the lake to an old wooden building on the beach below, the group decides to use it as a makeshift zip cord. Some bumps and bruises are suffered at the terminus and at least one character makes a water landing close to shore. The water landing attracts the attention of an unwanted aquatic visitor.

The creature bursts from the water in a flurry of claws, jaws and no less than 4 whip-like serrated tails. Though the party suffers a few bleeding wounds the creature is defeated and falls back into the water from whence it came.

Entering through a door that does not appear to be the main entrance the party finds a pit filled with what looks like a swarm of blood red jellyfish swimming around in it. The heroes move on.

They bluff their way into the mess hall where Alleybashers and Hillfolk are eating field rations. The Alleybashers are a little suspicious, but the Hillfolk accept Zartan, Thedruid, Whisper and Bondar. Shade and Yakoff hide just outside the room. They join the brigands in their repast.

The peaceful brunch is interrupted by a cone of flames from Whisper dropping two of the Alleybashers. The rest of the brigands quickly follow and the bodies are dumped into the jelly pit. One brigand that surrendered is gagged and hogtied with the seemingly endless supply of shackles the group has on hand. He is placed in the wooden outbuilding on the rocky shore and they promise not to kill him if he remains cooperative. He nods vigorously.

Trying to continue the charade, the group moves down the hall and opens a door, acting like they belong there. Triel happens to lurk behind that particular door and since she did most of the hiring (and actually recognizes the party as local heroes) combat ensues.

The party falls back and waits for the enemy to come to them, which turned out to be a bad idea. While her cronies come out to get pummeled, Triel waits and buffs. Zartan runs into the room to confront her and accepts two mighty blows that put him within a hairs breadth of death. He lies down and bleeds until Thedruid can run in and heal him back to consciousness after which he spends the rest of melee inscribing “Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati” around the hilt of his greatsword. “When all else fails, play dead.”

A timely Ray of Enfeeblement and a few catty remarks from Whisper helps turn the tide. “That’s full plate? Your half naked, there’s no way that’s full plate you crazy bitch!”

Even in her weakened state Triel dishes out some serious damage before she is finally defeated. They find three of the missing wands on her body. Much to their chagrin the group finds Bondar doesn’t look quite as sexy in Triel’s appropriated armor as she did. Yakoff throws up.

Beat up and carrying a lot of loot, the party decides to return to town. Thedruid flies back up to the lava tube to let down the gondola. There he meets two rogues hiding in the stone building that were missed the first time through. The bandits set off some sort of alarm after which Thedruid shocks the hell out of them with summoned lightning. After combat ends he lowers the gondola and it’s back to Cauldron for the party.

Somewhere in the dim chamber, the whimpering of a hogtied bandit is heard.

End of Session 9.

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