The City of Cauldron

Day 23 Part 3

With the undead dinosaur shattered into pieces the hand took a sigh of relief. What more could this horrible place throw at them. Where are the rest of the wands? When will this end and when will they get paid for their hard work. The hand rested for a moment while they decided on their next course of action.

Theo started his normal role of scout and made sure that path ahead was cleared for everyone. He found his way to an open cavern. Inside the cavern sat a stone altar/case covered in a strange black liquid. This was not the first time Theo has come face to face with some weird goo. He pulled out his spear and touched it to the liquid, a small hiss came off and Theo walked back to the group showing the liquid on his spear. Ben knew what this was right away, it was a poison called “nitharit”. This was not something to be messed with but it could easily be dealt with. The group walked towards the altar and tried to figure out a way to remove this liquid without touching it. Ben quickly used his newly learned magic skills and mage handed the liquid off the altar, he made sure to put some in empty bottles he had. Ben knew this would come in handy at some later time. Opening the altar the hand was in awe as there was grand loot inside, as well as one of the wands of water control. Three down, five to go. This trip was finally starting to pay off. They put everything into their handy haversack and prepared to continue.

They knew what had to be done next and where to go. Celestine reminded the group of Halfling who wrote about going deeper into the dungeon. Everyone knew he had gone deep into the spiders webs that they had moved pass before. It seemed as though fate was against them and they would have to return to the webs and make their way through.

The hand made their way towards the tunnels filled with web. Theo let the group know about a secret that he had kept from them. He was deathly afraid of spiders. A few laughs where had, but seen there would be no laughs about spiders. Reaching the tunnel Ben poured out some alchemist fire and lite it. The web went up in flames allowing our group to move more freely through the entrance of the tunnel. Unfortunately the fire only burned for so long and they were forced to use more traditional means to clear the tunnelways. They pushed forward making their way towards the halfing but waiting for them was something on the other side of the webs. A group of small spiders jumped out and started to engage Logahn, Theo, Celestine and Gavriel. Ben and Ruphus started to move towards the group as they were in the back but before they could move several larger spiders intercepted them. The party was surrounded by spiders, they would not be stopped though. Blades, arrows and bombs went flying. Ben and Ruphus were able to dispatch their side in much haste. The other side with the smaller spiders took some type, was it the webs that caused them to miss? Who knows but the job was finally completed and the Hand was ready to continue inward.

The Hand moved through the tunnels cutting away the webs as they went through them. The air was stale and they knew their enemy wasn’t far ahead. Rounding a corner they entered into another large cavern and slowly moved into the center. A voice came out of the darkness; it was the Halfling they had been looking for. They braced themselves for the battle that was about to occur. The Halfling appeared with his spider pet, a huge spikey monstrosity with 8 human like eyes and a couple of her minions.harpoonspider.jpg Our adventures spilt up into two groups, one ranged and one melee. They divided their enemy and the battle started. The giant spider and the minions were no match for the hand. Unfortunately the Halfling was much harder to deal with. The Hand was not used to a magic user of this caliber. It didn’t help the Halfling was climbing on the ceiling making it difficult for their blades to hit. Lightning bolts and magic missiles flew from the halflings fingertips and soon Logahn was down. All of a sudden the Halfling let out a freighting scream and the party was in shock. They all started to run away from this Halfling with great speed. The only ones who were able to resist were Gavriel and the unconscious Logahn. Gavriel controlled his emotions and the battle continued. A few well placed arrows made the Halfling relize that he was losing the battle and he cast invisibility leaving Gavreil clueless as to where he had gone.

The rest of the party finally felt the fear disappear from their bodies and turned around to help with comrades with the battle. As they ran back Ben heard something on the ceiling and throws a bomb at it. The group chased after the invisible Halfling hoping to hit him. Ruphus was easily able to track him with his powerful animal schnoz. The Halfling cast a grease spell in hopes to slow his pursuers this only made him reappear and the Hand finished what they had started. Going back to his lair they looted the area and found another wand. They now had half of the wands and were ready to get back to town. There was one area that they had not checked yet and they decided to look there to find remaining wands.

Approaching the door Theo sensed there was something off with it. A trap was found which he was quick to disarm and next he worked on the lock. For once Theo was able to open the door. Inside it was not what they were excepting. The remaining Ally Bashers were inside waiting for them.

Day 23 Part 4

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Day 23 Part 2
The Plot Thickens...sort of.

The party wandered deeper into the dungeon and found themselves in a very large room. Theo scouted ahead. There were several tables that looked as though they served as workbenches. They were covered in scraps of metal, various alchemical apparatus, tools and notes. He worked his way to the back of the room and spied something under one of the tables. Their eyes locked. Some type of humanoidish type creature with a wide toothy grin was trying to hide from him. When the creature realized it had been spotted, it chattered at him. It seemed intelligent and was barking out some kind of warning. Theo called for Benedrad to translate if he could.

The rest of the party approached cautiously. Suprisingly, Benedrad, a bottomless pit of linguistics, could not identify the language, Though he surmised it was some dilalect from the outer planes, but he could not put his finger on where.

Upon seeing the rest of the party the creature became agitated and retreated to a far corner in the room. The thing was a fat bloated amphibian like humanoid and it pathetically trembled and cowered at the party presence. Logahn and Celestine took a few steps towards it trying to communicate.tumblr_meoxmqHpc31r0zz7o.jpg

Becoming even more agitated at their approach the disgusting blob let out a screech that echoed throughout the chamber. Covering their ears the party winced in pain as sonic waves shredded their eardrums and rattled their brains. “So that’s what it feels like,” thought Celestine to herself.

It chittered loudly at them some more and it was apparent it did not want the party anywhere near it. Uncharacteristically The Hand decided not to dice the thing into tiny pieces and backed off letting it retreat back under it’s table.

Heading back out of the room, Benedrad took another quick look at the junk on the tables. It was apparent that this room was being used to construct something, but this didn’t seem like the work of a rag-tag thieves guild. Rare metals like adamantine and mithril, and rarely used chemicals scattered the work surfaces. This was clearly the scraps leftover from the construction of some type of magical artifact. Closer examination of pieced together notes and schematics revealed that it was some type of cage, just large enough to fit a medium sized creature, but it’s purpose was unknown. Ben scooped up what was left of the material and they party ventured forth.

The room seemed like a good candidate for a secret door, so they busted out their Wand of detect secret doors. “Piing!” Low and behold their metathought had not betrayed them.
They walked through finding a hallway with another secret door on the other side. It brought them into another unexplored wing of the very….large…dungeon. A few more doors revealed rooms clogged with cobwebs. Theo shuddered reavealing a previously unknown character trait. Apparently he is deathly afraid of spiders. Moving on they opened door after door of empty rooms, until they came upon a door that was locked. Theo attempted to pick the lock but it was beyond his skills, he noted that the lock was magically reinforced. With newly acquired powers Celestine invoked the power of Sarenrae and dissolved the ward with an oh-so-useful-but-rarely-used Dispell Magic spell, and Theo’s nimble goblin digits went to work. CLICK

The room was a breath of fresh air. Literally. Unlike the dank, stenchy must of the rest of the dungeon this room was surprisingly refreshing. Adorned with the furnishings of some kind of study it seemed promising. Theo stepped in.

Almost immediately the air began to whip up into a ferocious wind. A whirlwind lifted up from behind the desk picking up papers, books, objects and dust whipping them about the room. It formed into a vaguely-shaped torso and thrusted a fist at Theo slamming him into the wall.AirElemental.jpg The Hand of Justice stormed into the room. Swords, arrows and bombs proved ineffective against the beast as they whiffed through the spaces in between it’s bodiless shape. Benedrad summoned an elemental of fire. Though much smalle,r puffs of air were consumed by its flame and seemed to weaken the animated windstorm. Logahn’s patented charge was countered easily as the elemental picked him right of the ground spinning for his life and banging against the walls of the room. Try as they might, they just could not damage the thing. Fire proved to be a little effective but Ben’s baby elemental was soon snuffed, and Logahn was unable to hit with his flaming sword while he was being thrown about the room. Ben had an idea. He pulled out the wand of cause serious wounds. He was not in a position to touch the creature himself. His only chance was to toss the wand to Theo on the other side of the elemental. Winding up, he threw the wand straight through the creature. Miraculously, the wand flew through it without getting caught in the vortex, Theo jumped up and caught the wand midair. Landing bent knee/hand on the ground spider-man style he thrust the wand into the creature vaporizing it with all the contents of the room crashing to the ground.

The room was in shambles, a quick search fond another secret door that opened into a hidden library. Searching through the bookshelves, Theo found a secret compartment that contained two books and a wand bearing the holy symbol of St. Cuthbert. This could only be one of the long sought after Wands of Water Control. The other books were a spellbook, which Benedrad quickly scooped up and a journal of the wizard whose chambers these must be. Theo read the journal revealing some clues to the nature of their findings in this dungeon.

Reinvigorated by their discovery, The Hand of Justice set out to find the rest of the eight wands. Celestine suggested that they might not have searched the chambers of the undead gnoll well enough so they decided to backtrack. Her intuition proved correct and a second wand was found in the scattered wreck of the evil priest’s room. It was then they remembered the OTHER undead monstrosity that was stalking the caverns of this part of the dungeon.

They slowly made their way to the cavern that held the giant dinosaur skeleton. Once again Theo snuck around the corner a spotted the gigantic beast mindlessly lurching around the cave. It was dumb and blind and the goblin was able to sneak around behind it while the rest approach from the front. This was the first real glimpse the party had of the skeleton and it was terrifying. Towering almost 25 ft. the tyrannosaurus seemed too big for the chamber.
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Logahn charged in but with it’s large neck it snapped its jaw down hard on him before he could even reach the thing. Rows of dagger sized teeth clench hard on Logahn ripping chunks out of his flesh and leaving him motionless on the floor. The party jockeyed for position desperately try to avoid the skeleton’s reach. Similar chunks were removed from Theo and Celestine and she frantically called upon her powers to keep her party alive. Benedrad quaffed one of his mutugens and proceeded to climb the wall. Gavriel’s arrows were landing true while Theo found chinks in the creature’s foot bones. Reaching a certain point on the wall Benedrad jumped for the back and the thrashing monstrosity, but a freshly healed half-orc had risen and unstrapped his warhammer from his back. Just as Benedrad landed on it’s back, Loghan made a bone shattering blow to the skeleton’s leg toppling it over into a jumbled heap and sending Benedrad crashing to the ground.

Winded and bloody the party took note of the scraps of flesh and pools of blood that were once a part of there soft supple bodies. The gruesome carnage made them wonder if this dungeon would best them yet.

Day 23 Part 3

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Day 23

Falling back into the warm embrace of their fair city the Unseen Hand of Justice regrouped and collected themselves after nearly meeting their end in the vile underworld of Cauldron.

Returning to the Temple of Sarenrae, Loghan and Celestine were greeted warmly by bustling hive of activity. New acolytes busied themselves learning the ways of the Dawnflower. While the the adventuring priests were out, Archbishop Shebeleth Regidin had been busy.

The party sought counsel with Regidin, describing the evil undead creatures and hoards of hill-folk they smote in their quest to retrieve the Wands of Water Control. Regidin not only gave them advise on how to hone their skills for the next battle but also gave them wondrous items to aid the Hand. Gavriel’s blinding affliction was healed thru prayer and his sight returned!

Meanwhile, Benedrad proved he is a quick study, visiting The Bluecrater Academy and cramming as much arcane knowledge possible into his cute little Gnome head. Late in the evening, while pouring over fragile scrolls and musty tombs, a rap rap rapping came at his chamber door. A Woodland Thrush burst into the room! This caused the release of mystical energies, giving an uncanny yet familiar bond between Benedrad and his new found winged friend. The two settled in to complete their studies for the evening.

The next morning the party gathered, replenished with resources and strengthened to march back to the villain’s lair below the city. Back to the ledge overlooking the dark lake, the party stopped to consider: “Why did we not come up with a better way to get back down?” The cage/gondola/death trap had been destroyed in their escape! They brought their own rope and grappling hooks this time, but no secure way to transport armor clad warriors (and a bear) down safely over the lake. The party decided on the zip line tactic again. They tied many lengths of rope together and a grappling hook, but they still had no real way of getting one end secured to the beach side. The ever impulsive gnome took hold of the rope and with an unspoken “fuck It” jumped off the cliff into the eerie green waters 100 ft below.

SPLAT. He hit the water lock a rock and rattled his brain. The birds flying around his head were not of the Thrush variety. After a minute or so of recovery, the movement in the water was unmistakable. Benedrad looked under water and saw the large shadowy form of the lake creature swimming right towards him. The creature shot out of the water like a shark in a predatory lunge, but just missing the gnome.
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Luckily he had prepared some swimming potions that morning and gulped one down. He safely made it ashore without becoming the creature’s food. Once safe he tied the rope securely to the gearworks on the beach side.

Being light and nimble Theo rode first and got to the other side quite easily and painlessly. Loghan and Celestine stripped off heavy armour, sending it down in a separate bundle. They came barreling down, a ride not easy and quite painful. (Like 20+ hit points worth!)

With most of the party safely on the beach, Gavriele and Bear stood at the precipice and pondered their next move. Could he bear-hug his companion and hold onto the rope long enough to safely reach the beach below? Or would Bear be left behind? Gavriele, being a man of action, went for it! Being a trusting, simple creature Bear thought nothing of it and went along for the ride. The first few seconds went great! Until Gavriele lost his grip, and splash! Both were in the cold dark water.

There was a moment of silence as everyone awaited for the creature to return. Gavriele and Bear began to swim for their lives, hoping to reach the shore before the monster devoured their land loving flesh. Slash and Snap! Both took damage and were bleeding out in the water. The rest of the party seemed to be helpless, standing on the shore. They sent arrows and bolts into flight, but only hitting empty water.

Gavriel and Bear continued to swim, but they had been set under a spell of sluggishness by the slippery subterranean sea-serpent. The party looked on in horror as they watched their friends being chewed and slashed upon, seemingly helpless to aid them. Seeing that her healing burst did not turn the tide of this water battle Celestine summoned our own creature of the depths. A celestial shimmer lit up the dark cave and a holy octopus appeared! Being grappled by eight tentacles is rather distracting, giving an opening to the Unseen Hand to administer some Justice of their own. With the battle now on the beach, full melee damage was being dealt and the creature did not last long. It collapsed into a puddle of glisting goo. Of course Benadrad took a trophy of his favorite part.

Gavriel finally reaching the safety of the beach was healed back from deaths door. Drenched and exhausted the party realized that they had not even re-entered the imposing under-world fortress and still had no idea were the Wands of Water Control were.

Gathering their strength the party set off to complete their quest.

Day 23 Part 2

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Day 22 Part 4
The Daring Escape

The Hand of Justice was at a loss for what they should do next. The city was in peril, but their resources were exhausted. They decided that they would find a place in the dungeon to rest.
Benedrad began to burn the body of the gnoll in order to remove it’s armor & weapon, which was determined to be magical. Smoke and stench filled the cavern and forced the rest of the group to go off and find a safe room to stay in. They settled for the torture chamber.

The residents of the dungeon were not comfortable with the intruders taking naps in their home so they staged an attack. I few hours into the break, hillfolk came piling into the room. The battle was quick but hard as now the heroes spells were all but nothing. No suitable rest was had.

Disenchanted, the party decided they would need to leave the dungeon for a proper nights sleep. They sent Theo to scout out another exit. The curious goblin could help but sneaking peaks into some of the rooms they had not been to yet, but his curiosity got the better of him. As he was proceeding down a long hallway, the floor opened beneath his feet and he fell into a deep pit, with no way to escape. His only option was to wait for the rest of the party to realize he was missing.

Benadrad lead the party through the empty rooms, eventually following the faintest whisper of the gnome whistle. Opening the doors to the hallway they came upon Theo at the bottom of a pit.

“Hey, guys, got a rope?”

They hauled Theo up gingerly. After a brief consultation the party decided that, despite their exteme physical wear and dwindled resources, they shouldn’t leave for fear that the wand thieves would either redouble their defensive efforts, flee with the wands, empty their lair, or some combination of the three. Theo trudged further down the hallway to ensure that it was safe for the rest of the group to continue.

As he reached the middle of the hallway a volley of arrows were loosed from arrow slits in the wall. An arrow or two struck Theo and he crumpled to the ground. Logahn and Benadrad moved forward to rescue the wounded goblin. Benadrad let a number of bombs fly, while Gavriel, using Bear for sight, helped cover the advancing party members. While Celestine left to find a way out.

“Hey, everyone! This door leads to the beach!” Celestine alerted the party as she threw open a door that gave them an exit. She ran out to make ready the little room that housed the cage controls.

Logahn scooped Theo up, loaded him onto Bear, and the party began to retreat after Celestine, through the dining Hall they had gone through to get to the hallway. Benadrad and Logahn started to throw the chairs from the dining hall into the hallway door. “We’re gonna burn ‘em out, and come back, and then they’ll all be dead!” Ben exclaimed. As the chairs began to pile up and the rest of the party approached the exit a number of thugs, who had presumably been hiding behind arrow slits only moments ago, burst into the dining hall and began to engage the party again.

Ben pulled out a literal handful of Tinder Twigs, struck them, and hurled them onto the mound of furniture while Logahn bull rushed the combatants. He hurled himself full speed, but managed to miss his targets. He went with plan B and began smashing the shit of the assailants with his sword, dealing massive damage in the name of his God. Meanwhile Gavriel, Bear and a still unconscious Theo loaded up into the cage, and Celestine began cranking them up to the far cliffside.

Realizing that they’re outnumbered Benadrad shouted to Logahn, “Let’s get the fuck out of here!” Ben threw what few bombs he had left in a mad frenzy. The enemy combatants went flying before the force of his explosions, as they continued to bring the fight out onto the beach. Celestine urged Logahn to aid her in cranking the cage, “Logahn, hep me!!” He rushed to her side and began pulling the lever with her.

As the cage reached its zenith some leather-clad men came out onto the beach to help the hillfolk. Bear dumped Theo to the ground and Gavriel stumbled out of the cage as Celestine and Logahn began cranking the cage back down…harder and faster than if Celestine were cranking it alone. As the leather men and remaining hillfolk began to close in on them Logahn chanted and his sword burst into flame. Gavriel, with the aid of Rufus began to help Celestine by cranking the cage down from the other side while Logahn and Ben fended off the crank room. Benadrad hurled a bomb at the guy leading a group of assailants. It hit him in forehead, turning him to pudding and spraying gore and shrapnel over his buddies. They stood still for a moment, mouths agape. Logahn charged in to take advantage of the situation. He sliced two of the enemies up crispy style. As their bodies dropped the cage touched down. Benadrad let another bomb fly at the remaining enemies to cover their retreat. Logahn viciously assaulted another of the remaining enemies.

Gavriel force fed Theo a potion from his pack while the rest of the party dashed to load into the cage. Ben tossed back a potion of invisibility while Theo rose from his unconscious state. Gavriel filled him in on their dire situation and he threw his shoulder to the crank to help pull the rest of the party out of the proverbial frying pan. Ben sneakily darted into the cage, unseen by his assailants, as Logahn and Celestine retreated and loaded into the cage.

As the cage jerked into motion, moving toward the high cliff the waters beneath it stirred uneasily. Realizing that the retreat was shaping up to be a success, one particularly smart guard decided to cut the rope connecting the cage to opposing side. He looked at the cage-bound captives, looked to the water, looked to his buddies, shrugged and lifted his sword. Ben climbed to the top of the cage, pulled out a scroll of Hold Person and had him forget how to move. He froze, sword in hand, eyes wide with surprise. Celestine launched a crossbow bolt at the now frozen human, and the rest of the guys rushed up and pushed him out of the way. The rest of the party rained projectiles down upon the remaining enemies. The enemies returned fire, driving an arrow deep into Logahn’s shoulder. The back and forth fire continued as the cage reached the top and everyone unloaded. Just as Benadrad was about to get out the rope was cut on the other end. He leaped out of the cage and rolled onto solid ground as the cage made a gigantic sploosh into the dark water below.

The Party beat a quick retreat back to Cauldron from there. Arguing about money, business, the Stormbladess, and just what to do from there the whole way there.

Day 23

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Day 22 Part 3
Ben says "NOPE."

After a short intermission, the group decided to trail the hillfolk who escaped. Gavriel used his keen elven senses to lead them to the room where they had regrouped. The enemy was ready for them, however, and bottlenecked them in a doorway. Charge after charge came and they brought down Logahn with both shield and sword. Celestine was forced to drag him out of the doorway and heal, while the rest of The Hand fell back. The hillfolk brought the fight into the hallway, but were eventually defeated by a hail of swords, arrows, whips and bombs.

Pressing forward The Hand found that the dungeon spilled into some older unfinished caverns. They sent Theo out to scout ahead. After a moment Theo came back, stammering something about a GIANT REPTILIAN SKELETON stomping around mindlessly in the room ahead. Benedrad was quick to pack it in.

NOPE. Nope. I didn’t sign up for this.” trailed off as he began to walk out back where they had come from.

Ignoring Ben’s desertion, the rest of the party decided to go down another cave, but Logahn openly expressed his lust to rid the world of such an evil monstrosity. He vowed to return to destroy the skeleton.

They came upon another room that was filled with rubble. There were arms and legs sticking out of the rubble. It was apparent some kind of accident happened here that caused a cave in. They quickly searched for clues and loot, but finding none they continued down the cave.

The next cave they found swarming with zombies. Celestine rushed into the fray and the glory of Sarenrae blasted forth from her, tearing the zombies to shreads. The others had yelled out for Benedrad’s help who reluctantly started to return to the group. Swords and arrows made short work of the zombies who were not destroyed by the Dawnflower’s grace, and Benedrad disappointedly walked into a cavern full of vanquished foes.

The caves continued and once again they had Theo scout ahead. Soon Theo was running tarkilar.jpgback into the room yelling. He had been spotted. Trailing him was a horror that made the whole party take pause: An undead gnoll with a suit of chainmail and a spiked chain wired directly into it’s rotting flesh. It was nearly skeletal with it’s dry skin stretched tight over it’s bones. Clumps of fur were torn free, leaving bald patches in his pelt and it’s eyes and saliva glowed with a nasty yellow light.

The wretched thing went straight for Logahn, who as usual put himself in the front of the group. It was as though an invisible blanket of evil had dropped down upon Lohgan and Celestine as they sensed this creature was of a wickedly divine nature. They noted a symbol of Erythnul, as well as the amulet of the Ebion Triad around his neck. Blasts of unholy energy shot from the Undead priest pealing the flesh of those in it’s wake. Celestine answered in kind with the divine might of her goddess and the gnoll hissed in agony as waves of positive energy enveloped him. Logahn clashed with the creature sword vs. chain, throwing himself against it and in front of his friends. Blow after blow was exchanged, but the strength of the beast was too much for a single orc and he was felled. Celestine tended to her holy brother while the rest of the party fought valiantly. Theo whipped at the thing’s legs and brought him down only to be countered by more blasts of evil force that rattled the souls of The Unseen Hand. Incanting a spell, the evil priest waved his hand towards Gavriel whose world suddenly had faded to black. Blinded but undeterred, the elf continued to shoot his bow with only his gut feelings to guide him. Soon the gnoll took his anger out on the second of The Hands holy warriors and Celestine felt the brunt of the creature’s chain. Whipping against her face and body, it brought her to her knees, and she too slumped to the ground. The only healer left was Benedrad with a notoriously stubborn Wand of Cure Serious Wounds. Ben just couldn’t seem to activate the device to help his companions, as the foul creature beat them down with the power of his evil god behind him. Soon the creature wearied, and Gavriel blindness did not seem to hinder him in the least. The arrow loosed and he struck down the gnoll with a satisfying “thunk” in it’s neck. The Unseen Hand of Justice had prevailed but their victory was a difficult one. Their spells were exhausted and their health was tenuous.

Day 22 Part 4

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Day 22 Part 2
Down the tubes

The day had begun in good bloody fashion. There were now a half-dozen or so Alley Bashers that would be troubling the world no longer. But the slain thugs were just strands in the musculature of true evil, not its mind and not its heart. There was only one thing that kept goons like the Alley Bashers loyal to fiends such as Triel, Tongueeater and Artus: cold hard cash. And not a small amount of fear as well …

Times were good for the Hand of Justice and so they knew no fear. They walked out of Minuta’s splattered with gore. The crowd of wretched drunks looked on in dread, for they knew that Justice with a capital-J had just swept out another corner of the Cauldron underworld.

Or were things more complex than that? One of the people had sent a “knowing” look Theo’s way as the group walked by: did they share some shadowy connection? And for the others “fingers of the hand,” who can really say why they fought evil together? For their gods? For money, or fame, or the simple ecstasy of combat? Both the pure and the impure may choose to fight evil: what matters in the end is whether one’s courage and resourcefulness are enough to neutralize the threat of those who prey on the innocent.

As the Hand returned to the mid-day deluge outside the tavern, they knew their destination had to be the domain of Artus, who had masterminded the theft of the wands of water control. (Some men just want to see the world flood.) The Alley Basher lackeys went on to explain the extent of Artus’ prowess. He was quick, and delighted in the slicing of bungs, they said. His keep was below the city: a fortress carved out of the wondrous lava tubes that latticed the ground upon which Cauldron was built, signs of an old danger.

The path led a ways outside the city walls. The faces of the Hand were known now, but just to be sure, Benadrad produced the Head of Tongue-eater once more so that the sentinals along the wall would know their prowess. The sentinals seemed fine with letting the adventurers pass, and were grossed out by the head.

They arrived at their destination quickly and without any “random encounters.” That’s always good, they thought. Now it was time to decide what to do with their reluctant guides. It didn’t seem practical to try to detain them. Celestine looked into their souls and confidently sensed no attempt at deception, so it was decided to let them go as they had led them to what looked like a very secret place. Also they were snitches, so they probably would be marked for death once people found they had ratted on Artus.

They pushed aside the giant stone door, and into the mountain they went. It was warm, dank and kind of dark.

The party slowed its pace as it approached a point in the passageway that appeared to open up into a larger chamber. Theo went ahead to get the lay of the land, leaving the rest of the party wondering if he would show up when the fighting started – for Theo enjoyed a good romp behind enemy lines. But in this case it was just a quick reconnoiter. The area ahead was safe, and so everyone proceeded forward.

The first thing everyone noticed was that the space terminated at a ledge that overlooked quite a spectacular vista. Ruins of ancient tenements could be seen below, and the waters of a subterranean lake lapped at the shore, a few hundred feet in the distance. Where there might normally be sky, there was only rock.

To the left of where the Hand stood there was a small building, and to the right of that, a cage attached to a zipline that seemed to lead down to the ruins. Without hesitation, Benedrad Macguyvered a pair of harnesses for himself and Theo. They slid down the line like a couple of camp counselors at a team building ropes course. Logahn, Celestine and Gavriel watched as the two little dudes slid off into the murky distance of the cavern, and their cries of “Weeee” faded accordingly, followed by a dull sound of impact. Theo took a little bit of fall damage.

The three remaining at the top decided to find a different way down. They surmised that the building to their left might house the controls for the lift. They were right, but the wheel was locked. Before they had time to search around, a man’s voice addressed them from an opening in the door, saying “Who’s out there?” Celestine tried to befuddle them with a fake explanation but they weren’t sure what she was talking about so they just burst into the room.

They weren’t too happy to see a bunch of strangers walking around in their guardpost, so they unwisely tried to settle things with violence. Gavriel and Celestine harried them long enough for Logahn to line up a nasty strike that cleaved right through the pair, but not before one of the goons got his grimy hands on a magical alarm switch. The adventurers braced for an onslaught of reinforcements, but none came.

Meanwhile, Theo and Benedrad had taken up residence on top of one of the buildings below the overlook.

“Look, some bubbles,” shouted Bendrad.

Something was definitely alive in the water, and it appeared to be big. Neither Theo nor Benedrad knew what it was, so they decided to see what would happen if they shot it with arrows. Benedrad missed, but Theo lodged a crossbow bolt in its side. It hastily retreated into the depths.

The alarm triggered by the guards in the wheelhouse attracted no reinforcements towards Theo and Benedrad’s position. It subsided after a time.

Up above, the Hand members made preparations to descend. Gavriel cranked the elevator wheel to carry down Logahn and Celestine, and then proceeded to shimmy down the rope like a spider monkey. He made it down in one piece.

Reunited, the party briefly discussed the possibility that the monster that they saw was the famous and probably made up “Crater lake monster.” Most were skeptical, but Benedrad was pretty sure that that’s what it was.

They passed a room that contained a trap that probably would have dumped them right into the jaws of the beast had Theo not identified it and instructed the party to avoid the pressure plate. Something shiny was at the bottom, but no one wanted to jump in while the thing they had seen earlier was still alive. So on they walked.

They came to a door. And they looked inside. Or rather Theo did: he was trying to be sneaky, but it turns out that if you open a door into a room full of people, it is hard for them to not notice. Although the Hand blew its chance for a sneak attack, it looked like the enemies were in for a shellacking. Logahn and Rufus (Gavriel’s bear friend) made their stand just inside the room. Logahn’s swung his sword madly trying to hit as many of the bunched up thugs as possible, and Rufus bit and scratched the shit out of whatever was in front of him. The Hand’s strategy created a barrier in front of their ranged attackers and prevented Logahn from being flanked. Celestine pressed this advantage and bitchslapped a big group of soldiers with a Sound Blast that sent waves of unpleasantly aggressive dubstep noise ripping through their bodies. The fight was over pretty quickly.

Day 22 Part 3

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Day 22
Infiltrating the Alley Bashers

The party headed towards Minuta’s Board in the early morning. This was the known location of The Alley Bashers hideout. There was about a handful of patrons there, all wallowing in early morning drunkenness. The bar room was not the lively fest it was during the Drink Down the Flood Competition. They could finally see it for what it really was: a total shithole.

Ben recognized one of the men from that competition night. No subtlety needed, They walked right up to the man and started grilling him. “Where are the wands?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, man.”

Benedrad let loose a slap to his face with his third arm, and Logahn puffed his chest and gave an orcish growl…“WHERE ARE THE WANDS?!?!”

“Holy shit!” The thug practically soiled himself “I swear…I swear… I don’t know!” He seemed convincing.

“This is where the Alley Bashers Hide-out Isn’t it?” They continued.

“Yeah…yeah…whatever…don’t hurt me.”

They were starting to make a scene, but Theo took action. He crept into the kitchen and into the pantry where he knew there was a secret door. Unhindered from a drunken stupor this time, he easily found it and crept inside. There was a dark stairway descending into a basement with a door at the bottom of the landing. He tried to get in but it was well locked. He made his way up back to the bar room.

Meanwhile, Benedrad had bluffed the bartender into thinking he was a health inspector, a feat which in retrospect seems impossible considering the commotion they had just caused. Nevertheless, the bartender reluctantly led them into the kitchen and summoned his buddy over. The bartender led them through the pantry and as soon as Benedrad crossed the threshold, the man flipped some kind of switch. A large blade swang out from the molding of the door and took a chunk out of Ben’s tender gnomish flesh. The two took off for the basement and Initiatives were rolled.

The men managed to get through the door and lock it behind them. Theo tried again to jimmy the lock but was unsuccessful. Suddenly a spear came out of a hole and grazed his neck. Brute force was the only option. Logahn pummeled the door with his warhammer while Ben hit it with bombs. Soon the door was down and Logahn stepped through only to be greeted by a barrage of fire bombs. 8 Alley-bashers were waiting for them. They raised their bows and fired. The combat was quick (in game time). As mostly ranged shots took out the Alley Bashers, save one who escaped out another door and another two who surrendered.

In traditional Theo fashion he followed the one out the door leaving the party to do whatever the fuck they do. Peeking behind a few doors he found some barracks and a sparring room. He was getting the impression that the Alley Bashers were not exactly a five-star organization. Meanwhile the rest of the party had convinced the two captured men to give up some useful information. It seemed not all of the Alley Bashers were on board with the whole “Work for Triel and steal the wands” fiasco, but these two knew who was. They explained that it was Artus’s gig. He was presumably a ranking member of the Alley-Bashers and he and Triel had a secret hideout beneath the depths of Cauldron. They would take them there in exchange for there lives.

Day 22 Part 2

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Day 21
Back to Town

The group packed up their things and headed out, but not before burying some of their valuables there was no room to bring along. Benedrad had also returned the favor of head-removal to Tongueeater. The ride was quick as they made haste to their troubled hometown.

They immediately headed for The Church St. Cuthbert to give Jenya the bad news. They were greeted by their old friend Ruphus Who was very pleased to see that the party had returned, that is until they showed him the remains of his beloved High Priest. Ruphus could do nothing but stand and stare in shock. Eventually when he regained his composure he was off to fetch Jenya.

Jenya stormed into the lobby of the church. At the sight of Sarcem she broke down and began to weep. It wasn’t for long though, as the weight of responsibility was dropped into her lap, she stood back up solemnly. She asked if the party had recovered Sarcem’s holy mace, for it would now be passed to her as the new High Priestess of St. Cuthbert. Benedrad lied to her in hopes to sell the mace for profit, saying that the Alley Bashers had taken it. Logahn was not having it. He procured the mace and handed it over to Jenya as any good brother of the cloth would do. Jenya glared at Benedrad scornfully. His reputation was beginning to precede him, and her attitude was in no way soothed by his nonchalant reveal of Sarcem’s murderer’s head.

The party and Jenya conversed on what had gone down at the Lucky Monkey and what actions to take next. The wands of water control were still missing and the city was in danger from the horrific winter rains. The Hand of Justice knew exactly where to begin looking as the hideout of the Alley Bashers was no secret to them. Loghan was very concerned with the status of St. Cuthbert. Such a blow to their leadership could be crippling to one of the great forces of good in Cauldron. He offered he services in anyway that he could and Jenya was very receptive. Discussions would be had, however, they had been awake for over 24 hours and Jenya agreed that they were in great need of rest. Off to their respective living arrangements they went.

When Logahn and Celestine arrived at their temple, they were greeted by their leader, Shebeleth. Sarcem’s death was sad news to all apparently, and Shebeleth was no exception to that sentiment. “I knew him well, we would speak every winter when he came to Sasserine.”

Logahn discussed the church situation in Cauldron with the bishop, and how Sarenrae could and SHOULD offer their guidance and support to their fellow clergy. Shebeleth agreed, though he was not optimistic. The alliance of the four Churches was once powerful, but over the years that alliance had been weakening. He warned Logahn that the churches of Kord and Wee Jas would not likely be very receptive to such an offer. Their priorities were not inline. If evil was afoot in Cauldron it may only be up to Sarenrae and St. Cuthbert to put a stop to it.

Shebeleth had also recalled from his studies, The Ebion Triad, an old cult that worships Hextor, Vecna, & Erythnul as three aspects of one greater evil god.

Doom and gloom aside, Shebeleth was grateful that the party had served the Dawnflowers justice to Sarcem’s murderer, and perhaps this justice might be served to the other one responsible for the heinous act: Triel

He also said would very much like to meet the other members of The Unseen Hand of Justice.

Day 22

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Day 20 Part 2

After Tongue Eater gave up the ghost, there fell a silence. The inn creaked in the wind and the rain – the violent storm now merely a calming backdrop.

Tongue Eater’s ape-form had melted away to reveal the face and body of a half orc. He was dead as a door-nail. Quickly, the adventurers stripped him of the loot which he no longer needed. Theo began to chatter excitedly about the layout of the rest of the inn, and Logahn and Celestine exchanged worried glances when he described the bloody corpse in one of the rooms. Shortly afterward, Benadrad expressed the opposite sentiment upon hearing a description of the pile of loot strewn about the same room.

As was often the case, differing motivations drove the party toward a common goal. They headed towards the bloody room.

They passed into the inner courtyard. Gavriel motioned for a full stop: something was stirring across the grass, in a clump of bushes. Puzzling a moment too long, a team of crazed orangutans burst into view, chomping their ample jaws and whipping their inhumanly strong arms around in a frenzy.

It was monkey slicin’ time. The simians bit like little devils, quickly taking huge chunks out of Logahn whom they had strategically bum-rushed. But Benedrad quickly showed them the power of artifice, and everyone else held their ground long enough for the beasts to succumb to cowardice. They fled back to their arboreal redoubts on the other side of the courtyard.

Logahn and Gavriel formed a plan.

“Speak to them as you spoke to Starbrow,” urged Logahn. The goal was to get the monkeys to either a) tell them something useful about Tongue Eater and/or the whole situation or b) fight for the Unseen Hand as thralls. Benedrad proposed that Logahn should drink a Potion of Disguise in order to take on the aspect of Tongue-Eater. Logahn turned this over in his mind, but decided it was just too crazy (he wouldn’t be able to talk to his “minions” except through Gavriel and they would probably just maul him). In the end, the Hand came to a shaky truce with the beasts, who seemed content to chill in their trees and did not care if the team conducted a search of the area.

Chafing at Logahn’s outright rejection of his plan of subterfuge, Benadrad chugged the potion of concealment and turned into a mini-me version of Logahn. (Oh – by the way, Benadrad by this time had sprouted a permanent third arm as well.) Thus the tiny half-orc simulacrum followed behind Logahn and Celestine, muttering obscenities, as they entered the room that had once held Tongue Eater and now held only his spoils.

There was blood, and there was treasure. Celestine inspected the headless corpse, looking for signs that could identify it as the hostage Sarcem. Logahn gave Benadrad the Plagueborn-stink-eye as Benedrad immediately gravitated toward the pile of treasure in the corner, which certainly was composed mainly of spoils from the inn itself.

“Don’t touch that, it belongs to the villagers!” shouted Logahn, as Benedrad rummaged through it.

“Awww come on, its LOOT!” retorted Ben. He was busy grabbing whatever he could with all three hands. (He was able to scoop it up 33% faster than he would have the day before.) Logahn and Benedrad proceeded to argue for a little while, eventually Logahn expressed that he would not stop Benedrad from taking everything, but that he disapproved heartily.

Celestine could not tell whether the body was their man. There was just one more place to go: the basement. Theo had related that it was full of guys with swords. Perfect. Benedrad volunteered to go down first and bean them with a tanglefoot back. Everyone gave their assent.

Down the cellar steps went Theo and Benedrad. They stepped on a creaky board and the enemies immediately became aware of them. As quickly as possible, everybody piled into the basement to get in on the bloodbath. Feet were tangled, and flesh was sliced and immolated. Logahn bust to the front, sliced faces for a while, and then once the crowd was thinned a bit, he boomed:

“Your allies are dead! Surrender, and we will spare you a brutal death!”

The two remaining assailants disengaged. “OK we surrender. We’ll tell you anything you want to know.” The group asked them a few questions, and didn’t learn much. Benedrad, being still put off by Logahn’s attempt to enforce righteousness, decided to cause trouble.

“Let me take all the loot, or the prisoner dies,” explained Benedrad, as he lowered his crossbow sites at one of the cowering villains.

“You slimy little imp! The life of one brigand is unimportant, but stealing from good people is wrong!” returned Logahn. So Benedrad shrugged and let loose a bolt. It missed. Game on! The fighting resumed, and Logahn hacked apart another enemy. He whirled on the remaining guy, but Celestine cooly intervened:

“There has been too much blood. There is a way you can save yourself!” Again, the fighting stopped. The outlaw agreed to become their prisoner, tipping them off that there was a townsperson in the room down the hall. Benedrad agreed not to execute the prisoner, and Logahn grudgingly allowed him to take the remainder of the loot upstairs.

They found the owner of the severed head. The body gripped at a magical mace with the symbol of St. Cuthbert carved into it. This was presumably Sarcem Delasharn.

Victorious, the Hand bound their prisoner and walked down the basement corridor. “No fire beyond this point,” read a sign, beyond which lay a door that seemed to be “buckled” shut, and sealed with a layer of what Gavriel alone knew to be a kind of kinky frost-fungus. Logahn and Benedrad had resolved to do exactly what the sign forbade, at least until some one pointed out that it might be worth trying to contact who/whatever was inside. Benedrad called out in the common-tongue. No response. He tried elvish. A woman’s voice answered. Gavriel got insta-hard. The woman explained that the door could either be opened with cold or fire. The group had nothing to produce a cold effect, so they chose fire. They backed down the corridor and lit a rudimentary fuse. BOOM! The stone corridor was rocked by a great concussion, and the door blew apart.

ShensenTesseril.jpgInside they found the female half-drow named Shensen. They talked to her for a little while. Spurred on by Benedrad, Gavriel was spitting some game and got the elf to sort of like him. She told the group that the inn had been attacked by Tongue eater (a Lycan) and the Alley-bashers. Sarcem and her were driven into the basement and she locked herself in this room.

Probably around 8:00, the adventurers made the decision to go back to Cauldron to get the wands from the dread bandits – the Alleybashers.

Day 21

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Day 20 Part 1
Saving Sarcem Delesharn

7:00am

The next morning came early for the disciples of Sarenrae. Logahn and Celestine were to meet with Archbishop Shebeleth to continue their discussion on Sarenrae’s fall within the city of Cauldron. The two clergy entered the church’s lobby to meet the awaiting Archbishop. Shebeleth told the them there was much to do in the city and they would have to work to bring Sarenrae back to its former glory. He continued his lecture and informed our two clergy that he would remain in Cauldron as the High Priest of Sarenrae. Shebeleth hinted that he would only stay in this position until he found someone worthy of taking over. It was unsure if our heroes fully understood what Shebeleth was hinting at, only time will tell.

Before Shebeleth could continue the main door to the church flies open. Rain began rushing into the church, what had been a light to heavy rain during the week had turned into a torrential downpour. Logahn reached for his longsword and then only remembered it had been destroyed the day before. There was no enemy that entered only Ruphus of St. Cuthbert.

Jenya… Jenya you must talk with Jenya, Sarcem Delesharn is missing” said Ruphus.

Shebeleth looked at Logahn and Celestine. “Go… What are you fools waiting for, fly”.

Logahn and Celestine looked at each other and raced out the door towards Benadrad’s house.

7:30am

The two servants of Sarenrae arrived at Benadrad’s house and they noticed that it had seen better days. Most of the windows have been broken and then boarded up. Rain continued to pour down on the two as they banged on the door. There was no response at first and they began to yell through the boarded up windows. Eventually Gavriel opened the door and let the two inside. They told Benadrad and Gavriel to get up and that we needed to get Theo.

“Close the fucking door” yelled Ben as he rolled over, putting his back to the party. After a few minutes the almost assembled party made their way over the Theo’s house.

8:00am

Arriving at Theo’s house they found him nowhere to be found. Theo had been out drinking down the flood and left the bar hammered. Our group decided to get the basement of the museum which had become the guildhall. Opening the door they could hear the snoring of a passed out goblin and the rambling of their Mimic chef.

“Wake up Theo” they each said taking a turn, trying to wake the little green drunk.

A very well thought out plan to tie Theo to Gavriel’s bear Ruphus was formed. Ben started to tie Theo to the bear and everything was secure. Logahn and Celestine looked at the pint-sized heroes and thought it was best that the three of them went to see Jenya while Ben looked after Theo.

“That’s a great idea, I’ll make some potions while we wait for you” said Benadrad.

8:30am

The three taller members of our party arrived at the Church of St. Cuthbert and quickly found Jenya waiting for their arrival.

“Oh thank St. Cuthbert that you are here. Sarcem has gone missing and we just received a mental message from him. He has been captured and is hiding in the basement of the Lucky Monkey with the wands of water control. He also mentioned something about apemen, but what could that really mean?” informed Jenya.

“It is a fair journey to the Lucky Monkey, we will need horses to get there with great speed’ remarked Logahn.

“Yes, Yes, here we will cover whatever you need. Please save Sarcem.” Said Jenya.

“Right away” said Celestine.

Our adventures gathered the coins and made their way back to the museum.

9:00am

The party gathered their supplies from the guild hall and started off to get rent horses and head to the Lucky Monkey. Theo was still passed out and would have to get tied to the horse. The rain continued to come down on the party as they made their way towards the gates.

Skylar_Krewis.jpg“Hey you, you need to get off the streets. The flood fest has been canceled for now” said a member of the city guards. Celestine recognized him as Skylar Krewis, second-in-command of the town guard. He had a group of half-orc soldiers with him. This was odd because the city doesn’t have a platoon of half-orcs.

“Yes, Yes, we know we are on our way out of the city on official business” responses Celestine.

“Alright but be careful” said the man.

Mounting up the party started their eight hour journey to the Lucky Monkey. It would be a rough ride as the rain was relentless and had continued all day.

5:00pm
Arriving at the Lucky Monkey our party saw a much different scene than their previous visit only a few days ago. The tavern looked almost abandoned and in much disarray. Staying in the tree line they started to discuss their plan of action. This would be the first time they entered into combat since fighting Teriel and they all seemed a little rusty. A plan was formed; Benadrad would climb onto the roof to drop a smokebomb and thunderstone into the chimney, he would wait for a signal from Theo, Theo would sneak into the tavern and survey the area, and once he was in place the bombs would be dropped and the remaining party would come in through the front door. It was a great plan on paper.
Benadrad got into place while Theo sneaked in through the front door. The little goblin went unseen and noticed a large group of human bandits drinking in the tavern. Being a curious goblin he ignored the plan and continued to look through the tavern. He soon came to a locked door to one of the back rooms and proceeded to bang on the door.

“What do you want” responded the door.

“People are attacking us we need your help” responded Theo, tried to lower his voice.

“Arrrrwaerer” was the response.

Theo gave the signal for the attack to start. Bombs fell and the front door was opened. Gavriel started to shoot arrows while Logahn and Celestine removed debris blocking the door. Benadrad came done the chimney and readied a bomb. Instead of joining his party Theo knocked on the door again.

“People are attacking us we need your help” responded Theo, tried to lower his voice.
The door swung open and a giant ape-man came out. “Idiots” he shouted and made his way towards the front door.

tongueater.jpg

Theo decided this would be an excellent time to explore the rest of the tavern instead of regrouping with the party. Back in the entrance of the tavern the rest of the party was engaged in an intense battle. This had been the first time the Hand was in such a large battle and because of this their tactics were unsounds. Each one of them attacked a different guy and was unable to thin the enemies’ numbers for some time. In addition to the large group of enemies some dumbass agroed the boss and then left. The Boss entered the battle and our heroes continued to fight. While the rest of the group was in battle Theo continued his journey to find nothing important. After sometime Theo decided to come back to the entrance of the tavern and help his party.

The Hand took down the bandits and then focused their attacks on the ape-man. He was strong and took Benadrad to the brink of death. Thankfully the apeman decided to draw a card instead of doing x3 damage. Ben was healed and joined his partying in taking down their enemy. The Hand had finished off this group of bad guys but there were still more in the basement.

Day 20 Part 2

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