The City of Cauldron

Day 32 continued

Theo and Gavriel made a mad dash for the temple entrance. They knew everything looked grim, and escape seemed the only thing to do. As they entered the main foyer Theo stopped Gavriel. “We can’t just leave our friends,” he said. “Let’s circle back through that room that had the mummy and see if we can catch up with them.” Gavriel was reluctant, wanting to just get out as quickly as possible. “We don’t even have a way to get across the river, though.” Theo said, “Besides, we’ll have better chances of all making it if we can stick together.” Gavriel finally agreed.

The two circled through the empty prison room, back behind the murky chamber of water, and through the hallway beyond. It eventually came to an abrupt stop. “Hmm.” Theo mused. “I wonder if…oh, yep.” There was a secret switch that allowed the wall to swing aside. Gavriel and Theo cautiously slipped through and found themselves under the platform with the idol of Blibdoolpoolp. The cloud of fog that Celestine had summoned still shrouded their presence from the priests on the other side of the room. The pinprick of red light before the idol was growing larger and brighter. Theo sneaked up to investigate, and Gavriel followed shortly after. Theo looked for some means to destroy the idol or disable the magic spot of light, but to no avail. He noticed there were two doors behind the statue. He and Gavriel peered inside and saw what seemed to be another Kuo Toan priest and a Duergar. Theo and Gavriel had a brief discussion about whether or not they should try to quickly and quietly take out the duo behind the secret door, try to shoot the pin prick of light, or just follow their friend’s route of escape. Good sense finally prevailed and they decided to follow their friends. They made their way down from the platform, through the mist, and beyond the door Celestine, Logahn and Jerome had gone through.

The door opened into a dark chamber with three hallways. Theo scouted ahead through the eastern hallway, he found what seemed to be a room divided up into crafting stations. There were no signs of the rest of the party, but sounds from deep inside the room, caused him to cautiously back out. He and Gavriel then tried the hallway to the right. Inside they found a large room that was mostly filled with water. In the far corner there was a flight of stairs, with a pair of Kuo Toan guards floating dead in the water, their bodies riddled with sword wounds. As Theo and Gavriel dipped their toes in the water to make their way to the staircase a swarm of horned larval creatures rushed at them, biting them with acid dripping teeth. The pair hopped out and looked for a different way across. They went to the corner of the room, as close to the stairs as possible without getting in the water, and then dashed across before the swarm could respond. They bounded up the stairs to the closed door at the top. A voice from the other side spoke, “Who eez eet?” “It’s your favorite goblin,” said Theo, glad to have found the rest of the party.

Celestine, Logahn, and Jerome had all made their way in this same direction, dispatching the two kuo-toans on the way.

Jerome let Theo and Gavriel into the room at the top of the stairs. It was not a big room and the party of five only just fit inside. There was another door on the other side of the room. Theo checked to make sure it wasn’t trapped and discovered an nasty device that would have sliced up whoever tried to open the door. He disabled the mechanism, unlocked the door, and peered inside. On a pile of clay jars sat a black dragon, enthusiastically rubbing one out. He looked up and said menacingly, “Who are you, and how did you get down here?”
“Who? Me? Ah, just a guy, doing stuff, and…uh, why don’t I just close this back up, and ah, leave you to it?” Theo stammered as he closed the door and relocked it. “Dragon, big, black dragon.”

But that was the least of the party’s worries.

Where are you?

A female voice spoke clearly into each of their minds.

I’m going to find you. There’s no point hiding.

“Who are you?” Jerome asked aloud.

She giggled. I am Aushanna, erinyes of the Nine Hells, and your executioner.

“Come and face me, if you dare!” Jerome said.

Oh, I will. Once you stop hiding.

The party began descending the staircase.

“We found your dragon.” Theo (or another party member?) said.

Oh, you found our little pet? So that’s where you are.

As the party came into the room with the large pool of water a winged female popped into existence. He wings held her aloft as she pulled an arrow back in a great bow which engulfed in flames.

The party quickly went back up the stairs hoping that the close quarters of the room they had just come from would offer them a tactical advantage. Oh, hiding again? The party took up positions around the door in case she came in that way. Then poof she appeared in their midst. I’m contractually bound by the Kuo-toans to destroy any intruders on their precious shrine. Nothing personal. It’s just business

Suddenly a circlet of light appeared above Jerome’s head. His eyes darkened as Le Tickler gleamed in his hands, "[Something dramatic like “die, devil-bitch”]." The party, already surrounding her, closed in and began to poke, stab and hack at the devil. Celestine brought down a curse upon the devil, which significantly improved the odds. Jerome managed to get two precise hits in dealing a great blow to the fiend. She teleported away with a cry and went silent.

The party began to discuss what to do next.
“Should we…just sneak out of the temple?”
“We should keel the dragohn!”
“If we leave, will she still find us?”
“Yeah, let’s kill the dragon.”
“Maybe we should leave and regroup?”
“Killing Dragons sounds fun.”
“I DON’T think we should try to kill the dragon” argued Celestine, and Gavriel agreed.

Cooler heads did not prevail and Theo moved to the door to the masturbating dragon’s chamber. He pulled out his Gloves of Reconnaissance and held them against to door to see what the dragon was doing on the other side. The dragon was right in front of the door, just waiting. Theo relayed this to the party and everyone got into position around the door. Theo moved to open it, but before he could it burst open and the dragon roared and hissed and slobbered. Most of the party steeled themselves against the dragon’s ferocious act, but Gavriel became frightened and began to run from the scene.

The party began to fight the dragon, but it was a fierce foe. The beast spewed it’s acid breath burning the likes of Gavriel, Celestine and Logahn while Jerome fell victim to its flurry of attacks. He fell to the ground, crumpled and bloody. Celestine was engaged already and too far away to react in time, but Theo had just enough time to run to his compatriot. He drew a potion of Cure Serious Wounds from his robe and cradled Jerome’s head in his lap, but it was too late. “I didn’t…hate…all gobleens,” the fallen swordsman whispered as his spirit left his body.

Overwhelmed, and clearly outmatched the party began to flee. “If you will leave that human with me, I will let you all leave alive.” The dragon said, pointing to Celestine. But the party would not betray their beloved cleric just to save their own skins. As they fled the dragon continued to drive them out. Gavriel and Logahn fell into the water at the bottom of the stairs and the horned things swarmed over them. “Ahahahaha! Feast, my children!” The dragon boomed from the top of the stairs. It dawned on the party then that the swarm was not made of eel or lizard creatures, but tiny dragon Wyrmlings.

The party scattered. Logahn and Celestine headed through a portcullis in the water room, Theo ran back into the main foyer immediately outside of the water room, Gavriel [went somewhere]. Logahn and Celestine found a Kuo Toa mating room at the end of the watery hall, all the while sustaining damage from the swam of Wyrmlings. A company of Kuo Toan guards burst into the foyer just as Theo was opening the door to the middle room. He hurried inside and found a great hall with pools of water and what seemed to be reanimated corpses. At the end of the hall he found an altar with a sacrifice bound to it, adjoining the altar room was another great hall, and then an area that seemed to be under excavation. The company of temple guards refused to enter this room.

Celestine, Logahn and Gavriel fled the Wyrmlings and the water room and started to fight the guards as they fled. Theo joined them, also fleeing. The party made its way back to the main temple room with the great statue of Blibdoolpoolp. There the Erynes devil reappeared, flying in the middle of the giant room, and began to shoot arrows at the fleeing party, While the Kuo-toan priests unleashed their lightning bolts. One by one they climbed the Rope of Climbing they had left hanging there, and made for the temple steps, the guards in slow pursuit. They got to the steps and found no boat, just the human and the halfling they had freed from the prison. The human was choking the halfling and they had to pull him off the smaller being. When the two strangers realized danger was right behind they both ran off in different directions

The devil popped into being above the steps. I’ll make a deal with you. I am bound by the Kuo Toans to help them as long as their statues stands. If you will destroy it. I will leave you to your own devices, if you will also leave me to mine.

“Very well,” said Logahn, even as Celestine declined. The cosmos bore witness to Logahn’s deal with a deep unsettling feeling in his chest.

Unfortunately for you, I’m still force to destroy you. But should you manage to escape, return and destroy the statue

When the party jumped off the stairs into the river, the devil held off her attacks. It seemed if they were not on the holy grounds themselves she had no obligations. This was not true, however, for the kuo-toan guards who were on their heels.

The guards finally made their way to the steps and began to shoot crossbows at the remaining party members. Logahn could not doff his armor fast enough, and he and Gavriel fought to the bitter end while Theo, barely alive, slowly swam across the river.

Theo and Celestine dejectedly returned to Cauldron to nurse their wounds and find new allies to exact just revenge on the froggy dwellers in the underdark.

RIP: LOGAHN, GAVRIEL & JEROME.

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Day 32
The Pit of the Seven Jaws

The Unseen Hand of Justice stood over the fissure. The large crack looked as though it was formed by natural causes. They were getting good at this rock scaling thing, and prepped for the plunge. At 100 or so feet down they had made it to the bottom. The surface was uneven and impossible to stand on. Just then, Theo heard a low growl, and then another, and then another. They looked and spotted a large cave toward one side of the pit. Theo scaled and rapelled in silence towards the edge of the cave. He spotted a VERY LARGE reptilian creature slithering inside, waiting for a tasty snack. They decided to try to find a way around it by scaling the perimeter of the pit. There was no way through. They were going to have to fight the beast.

Theo cast his unseen servant spell again. (He can cast spells now). Hidden near the mouth of the cave he crouched, commanding the servent to throw rocks behind the monster. Taking the bait the creature lifted itself up and revealed its full identity- a fearsome Hydra! The HUGE reptile whipped its serpentine head towards the source of the noise. Then a second head followed. And a then third. Four more writhing heads stayed trained on the entrance of the cave. The hydra stood in all its enormity. Never before had the party seen such a gigantic creature its seven jaws drooling in hunger.

Hydra-time.jpg

Theo dove underneath it’s legs in order to flank the beast, while the other four made a slow approach from the mouth of the cave. Logahn was the first to confront the large but deft wriggling heads. Three of it’s head swept down eye to eye with the half-orcand blasted him with an icy breath. Jerome came up just behind the orc, while Celestine and Gavrielle remained at a distance.

Theo lashed out his whip and attached it to one of the spikes on the creature’s tail. He yanked himself up and straddled the hydra’s tail flailing about like a bucking bronco. He stabbed down into it. When he pulled his rapier out, the hydra’s wounds completely closed before his eyes, regenerating it’s flesh. The hyrda turned four heads onto the pesky nuisance clinging to it’s hind quarters and blasted their frost cloud down upon Theo but the goblin was too quick and ducked out of the way.

By this point Logahn and Jerome had closed the gap and were dealing gruesome blows to the serpent, while Gavrielle peppered it with arrows. It’s regeneration couldn’t keep up with the lethal hack, slash and poke technique employed by the heroes and the beast was defeated with little damage to themselves. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

The cave dove deeper into the earth and they followed it down. They easily found the Hydra’s lair and in it the frozen corpse of drow. Some mithral chain and fire arrows were claimed and the party continued.

The tunnel led down deep into an underground cavern with a large, slow moving river. Three-hundred feet across was a large structure shaped like a fish with a stairway leading from the water and into it’s large open mouth. This must be Bhal-Hamatugn, the Kuo-Toan shrine to Blibdoolpoolp.

Theo scouted to the edge of the river. He heard a sound moving through the water, but because of a thick fog that floated over the surface he could not see what it was. Theo wandered back to the group and they discussed their tactics. They did not want to get into another fight in the water as they had in the past.

The group all made their way to the edge and the sound of the priests armor must have alerted the thing in the water. The fog split as a large canoe emerged and moved slowly towards the group. The canoe was being driving by a strange frog-like humanoid. He wielded both a spear and paddle. The creature put down it’s spear and beckoned toward the group in a deep guttural amphibious voice. Celestine cast comprehend languages.

“Seek you he who sees beyond the dark?”
“Seek you he who sees through nightmares?”
“He who sees beyond the beyond…. fortells”

The cryptic questions were beyond her understanding. Her only response was to nod and the spell did not let her respond in the same bizarre language anyways. With the whole group nodding, the frog-man pulled the canoe to shore and let them aboard. He paddle them slowing across the river and to the base of the stairs. They party climb off and the Kuo-Toan paddled away.

The haunting smell of the Underdark river was strong as the party disembarked from the boatman’s craft. The mood was dark and ominous, but Celestine’s Bless spell cut through the gloom and bolstered the team with a bit of courage. They knew they were walking into a trap though. The mystic river-guide, who like Charon conducted travelers towards deathly shores, surely did not perform these voyages for the convenience of trespassers. He was definitely affiliated with the cult that they had come to confront.

They came to the mouth of an enormous temple that was in the likeness of a fish, up to which led a set of worn steps that seemed to have withstood countless ages. The boatman disappeared noiselessly behind them into the fog. The party saw only one way in – no stealthy infiltration was tried. As they closed ranks and walked slowly towards the entrance, rustling could be heard. Gavriel noticed Kuo-toan archers forming up in little windows above the mouth/entrance.

“I see you!” shouted Logahn as he became aware of the watchers. To make their intentions clear, the frog-men on the ramparts notched their crossbows and leveled them down at Logahn.

Only Celestine could decipher the guards’ utterances:

“Why have you come?” Celestine parrotted some of the boatman’s garbled talk regarding “the dreamer.” The Kuo-toans barely acknowledged, and proceeded to demand a sacrifice as a cost for admission into the inner sanctum.

With a gleam in his eye, Theo produced a donkey out of thin air using his donkey-patch. However, the Kuo-toans dismissed this as an wholly improper victim. As the party feared, they wanted a sentient.

“Take me” spoke Jerome unexpectedly. Uneasy looks were exchanged. Everyone knew Jerome was kinky, but it seemed like this experiment could end badly for him. The Kuo-toan guards did not hesitate to accept his offer though: out of the temple maw marched a squad of guards, armed with wooden shields and spears and covered in a gross layer of slime. They escorted Jerome back into their lair. The rest of the party followed warily as they could. Suddenly, but not wholly unexpectedly, Kuo-toan’s blocked their passage at the main gates. Two soldiers formed themselves into a blockade.

“Only one” croaked the nearest.

The adventurers were beginning to realize they did not have a plan for dealing with what was happening. Again they shot glances amongst themselves – but it was the Kuo-toans who made the next move. One of them pointed a slimy finger at Celestine’s holy symbol. A strange look spread across their faces. “We allow this one too” said one of the guards, pointing at Celestine. At this point “play along” was the name of the game. Celestine decided to accompany Jerome into the temple depths.

Of course by this point, Theo had snuck by the temple guards and was keeping pace with Jerome, performing ludicrous feats of concealment by going unnoticed in a room crawling with enemies!

Outside, Logahn and Gavriel did not like the way things were developing at all. But a rash move at this point would be bad news for Celestine and Jerome, who had by now been stripped of their weapons and armor (though Jerome had hidden his Tickler amongst the folds of his lustrous garb) and ushered into matching holding cells a ways past a crank-operated portcullis. Logahn at least managed to scare the exterior guards into allowing him and Gavriel to remain by the gates.

Inside, Theo surveyed the scene as best he could. There was a squad of six or seven guards spread out inside the antechamber, which had been built out of rock masonry. Jerome had settled back against the wall of his cell, unruffled by anything about the situation. Celestine on the other hand seemed to be at her wits end, being totally unarmored and without a decent weapon to wield in case their dealings went south.

As the warm cloak of stealth settled about Theo, a familiar yearning spread throughout the young goblin’s mind. He was in his element. Nothing could stop him. The outside world passed over him like a dream – like a far-off, whimsical comedy performed by actors in silly costumes, and Theo was to be their heckler. He was going to heckle them with arrows. “Especially that one down there, at the end of the hall,” thought Theo. “Him especially – he needs a good heckling.” But a shrill whisper to his left put a damper on things:

“Hey! You gotta let me out of here!”

It was a halfling prisoner, and he had spotted Theo. What an imbecile! Afraid that the prisoner was going to freak out and give away his position, Theo hatched a dastardly plan. First, he released the prisoner.

Then he blasted an arrow into the guard down at the end of the hall.

The web of tension shattered like glass. Perhaps in an alternate universe, Jerome and Celestine went on to enjoy a nice Chardonnay with the temple overseer, who politely handed over the missing dwarf after apologizing profusely for any unpleasantries, which were surely just due to “cultural differences.” But it didn’t go down like that. Instead, there came a battle:

The group was split, but their positioning could have been worse. Logahn and Gavriel forced the riverside detachment back into the antechamber, while off to the right, Celestine and Jerome fought on the threshold of the portcullis, preventing a flanking situation.

Logahn tried to pull a Benedrad and whipped out his flask of alchemist fire, hoping to score a nice hit on a group of Kuo-toans. This totally failed, for ball-throwing games were nary a focus at the cloister of Logahn’s youth and thus his aim was highly unpracticed. The bomb ricocheted back and partially immolated Gavriel. Perturbed, Logahn switched to his conventional weapon, charged up some buffs and bore down on the frog-men, as Gavriel posted a volley of arrows towards the enemy lines.

Jerome’s Le Tickler went snicker-snack against the Kuo-toan flank, dealing ridiculous damage as he sent his precise attacks into the weak-points of the sinewy frog-cultists. Celestine whacked away with a secondhand Kuo-toan dagger, although she was able to contribute support with her ample spellbook.

A second imprisoned stranger called out to Theo. Meanwhile the halfling he had released was nowhere to be seen.

“Hey, let me out too!” the human practically ordered. Shrugging, Theo jimmied the lock and the man burst out of the cell. He shoved his way out of the shrine, knocking down Celestine and Jerome in the process. Perhaps these two knew all to well what it was like to be a Kuo-toan prisoner. What did Theo do next? Well, Theo did what goblins sometimes can’t help but do. He went delving. He delved down the side stairway, the dank, dark allure of which he never could have resisted. Off for Celestine’s armor he went. He spawned an Unseen Servant (a symbolic embodiment of Theo himself), and together they descended into the promising murk.

Something felt strange about that battle – the Kuo-toans did not fight aggressively, but preferred to rally around the door at the back of the antechamber. The party cleaned house without too much trouble. Theo returned with Celestine’s things, and gave report of the layout of the catacombs. After performing their post-battle routines, the group decided to explore the area that Theo had partially discovered.

The Kuo-toans, like a lot of Underdark dwellers actually, were quite into torture. Most of the rooms down in the catacombs seemed devoted to that purpose expressly. The team turned up nothing of value. Fetid water began to creep up their ankles as they ventured further down. It was dark, and it smelled worse than any sewer in Cauldron. The goal was to secure these catacombs before moving forward though, so they continued onward.

Ripples in the water of the next room put everyone on full alert. Logahn and Jerome closed in on the disturbance, with Jerome moving nimbly on a wall ledge while Logahn trudged through the torso-deep water in his full plate. They were very close to whatever it was. Logahn channelled a Daylight blessing through his sword Dawnbreaker, which signalled to the enemy that it was on.

A hideous form unfolded before them: waves of luminant cloth swirling about a revolting walking corpse, doubly corrupted first by embalming desiccants, then by ages of moisture and rot. It seemed to the party as a harbinger of doom, and it buzzed with an aura that seemed to project tendrils of cosmic terror out to each living thing within a few yards. Theo and Gavriel immediately succumbed to a paralyzing sense of despair, with their senses left racing but their limbs locked, as if held in place by icy roots that spanned leagues down to the taproot of an ancient evil that lay dreaming without any sense of time.

Logahn and Jerome shrugged off this discouragement, and immediately lay into the mummy with trusty steel. It dished out a beating, but Jerome finally drove his sabre home into the a section of walking horror’s critical musculature and it collapsed back into the murk.

Even as the group had laid the water-mummy low and was beginning to slap some sense into Theo/Gavriel, ominous croaking shadows were spotted, flitting about the far end of the hallway. The Hand decided to press onward. They blocked off the unexplored passageways as best they could, to prevent any scouts from attacking their rear as they pushed into the bowels of the temple.

They returned to the antechamber and looked around a bit more. A large set of doors clearly led inward to a larger chamber. The walls were covered in strange markings and mosaics, and in one area someone had painted a picture of a humanoid of short stature, unidentifiable due to the fact that a circular void stood where his head should have been. The Hand scouted around warily. Logahn pulled aside a tapestry to reveal a eerily lit side-chamber that connected via a set of stairs up to the enclosed ramparts where the Kuatoan guard had first set them in their sights. A set of bizarre Kuo-toan pincer weapons caught Logahn’s interest, and he quickly shoved them in his bag.

While this was happening, Theo was on the move. Jerome watched skeptically, puffing his rolled tobacco, as Theo started picking away at the lock on the big doors.

BOOM! Theo and Jerome reeled as a tremendous sonic burst issued from the door’s threshold. Theo somehow managed to dodge the shockwave. The door remained closed, but it was now unlocked – and an unearthly chanting could be heard now coming from the other side. Gavriel and Logahn rushed down from the upper level, having heard the concussion.

Logahn and Jerome looked at each other and decided to bust down the door. With the brunt force of his mailed foot, Logahn created a path and rushed through, with Jerome close behind.

There was no time even to blink. From somewhere below them, a beam of electrical energy surged up and saturated the two warriors in its withering field. The only way was forward. Jerome escaped the brunt of the attack, but Logahn could only stumble for the next few seconds, his field of vision gone dark. He quickly cleared his head. An unholy temple came into focus: Blibdoolpoolp, the atavistic god of the murky depths, stared down at them, her stony aspect nearly a hundred feet tall. Around this debauched bulwark loomed several levels of balconies. A squad of Kuo-toan archers held these positions. Logahn and Jerome quickly looked to the base of the statue: the chanting was coming from down there.

Four Kuo-toans looked up at them through limpid eyes. They were decked in ceremonial garb, and scrolls, spellbooks and maces dangled carelessly about them. These spellcasters were unholy clergy, so Logahn and Celestine knew some of what they would be facing.

As the rear guard (Theo, Celestine and Gavriel) entered the chamber, the Hand hatched a hasty plan. Theo set off for the upper levels, where he planned to shank as many of the Kuatoans as he could, while Gavriel would distract/kill the remaining archers on the upper floors. Meanwhile, Celestine, Logahn and Jerome would lay the hurt on the priests. Everyone set off. Under fire from the archers, Celestine’s detachment unfurled a Rope of Climbing and scooted down to the ground floor, where the priests were already readying their next spell. Gavriel immediately started firing, skewering a few good hits but missing a lot too.

Theo ran around like a little scamp, sticking to the shadows so he could deliver a nice stab into some frog throat. He tiptoed confidently up the stairs and approached one of the archers, readied his blade – but all of a sudden his target pricked his ears up, and turned around! Theo was caught, and he had no choice but to hold court in direct combat with his dagger. This was not going to end well: he was outnumbered and outgunned.

Back on the ground floor, the battle of the priests was not going well for the Hand. The Kuo-toans had managed to cast another a Lightning bolt, though fortunately Logahn got up a Resist Energy and mitigated some of the damage. The melee fighters swung like pros, but the blows just would not land. Celestine had noticed earlier that the Kuo-toans had cast Shield of Faith. So that explained that.

At once, the priests of Sarenrae pivoted to using holy damage. Logahn landed a lucky blow that unleashed the Holy Smite that had been readied on Dawnbringer, and Celestine saturated their rivals with Channel Positive Energy as she could, though often this spell needed to be expended in its healing form.

Despite the improved strategy, a chilly dread began to take root in the hearts of the adventurers. They were outmatched. Logahn paused and looked up for a moment to see Gavriel get riddled by yet another crossbow bolt, with a descended spearman closing in on him fast. And to his left on the balcony above, Theo cried out in pain as a Kuo-toan blade came down on him. Logahn, with his own constitution sapped by repeated shock, knew that the time had come to choose either life, which would bear the shame of defeat, or a crusader’s death in the realm of a foul religion, hidden from the grace of Sarenrae.

Self-preservation won out, for defeat could be redeemed by a later victory. The adventurers sounded the signal to break and run, to flee in any direction they could, and regroup later. There was no time for the ground team to even climb the stairs: they could not risk being targeted by even one more shaft of lightning. They broke for a small door underneath the entrance that they had used to come in on the level above. It flew open, and Jerome, Celestine and Logahn hurled themselves headlong into what they seriously hoped was not a cul de sac …

Day 32 continued

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Day 30 Part 2
King Jerod IV

The dragon circled high above them ominously. The party cast what healing spells they could and arranged themselves in battle position. Jerome climbed up on top of a tall rock, while Gavrielle grabbed the stunned King Jerod IV and draggeddragged him behind the same rock for cover. With incredible speed the dragon dove and swooped straight above the rockrock, blasting it’s firey breath from the air. Jerome, Gavriel and Jerod were all engulfed in the inferno. Jerome, with his magically enhanced stature, attempted to jump and grab onto the beast, but it was just out of his reach. Gavrielle released arrows. One landed true, while the other bounced harmlessly off of its scales. It climbed quickly and swooped in a tight circle to come around for a second assault.

Celestine called upon her goddess and summoned her spiritual scimitar. Then Theo had an idea. He pulled out one of his grappling hook arrows, tied it to a rope, and, reasoning that Logahn was big and heavy, was tying it around the half-orc’s waist before Logahn had time to question the potential outcome of this action. Theo cocked his bow and let loose the hooked arrow just as the dragon swooped down in front of Jerome. It drove deep into the shoulder of the beast and lodged itself firmly in muscle and sinew. The dragon hissed, but lunged at Jerome nonetheless. It bit down on him ripping chunks of flesh from his side, pulling free blood and muscle that dribbled out of the dragon’s mouth. With a scream, Jerome fell hard to the ground, motionless.

Finally realizing his destiny Logahn planted a piton into the rock and retied Theo’s rope to it. It didn’t matter. Celestine’s holy weapon came screeching through the air toward the dragon. The scimitar plunged itself into the neck of the dragon with such ferocity it was as though the weapon was being wielding by the Dawnflower herself. The dragon screamed and staggered back, its neck nearly severed by the celestial blade. It tried to stand and take flight, but it stumbled and tripped over itself, struggling to lift it’s head. Blood sprayed from its limp neck. Quickly Gavrielle notched an arrow and let it fly. It drove straight through the monster’s head, quickly silencing its agonizing wails. It flopped dead to ground. A triumphant “HUZZAH!” rang forth as the heroes claimed one of the most sought after adventuring party achievements: Dragon Slayers.

Luckily Jerome was still breathing…barely. Healing spells were dispersed over his broken body, and he was soon revived to his old self.

King Jerod, coughing and badly burned, did his best to thank his brave knights.

“You saved me and the Kindom of Undriul! You must be honored, but first….SIEZE THIS BRIGAND!!!” He pointed at Gavrielle. Jerod cast a spell and all of the Unseen Hand, save Logahn, forgot any loyalties they had towards the elf. They quickly grabbed him by the arms. “Bring him to my dungeon!” ordered the king.

Logahn who was uneffected by the charms of the spell protested his fellow party member’s actions, but as time went on it became apparent that “King Jerod IV” was living in a fantasy, and was quite harmless. He decided to run with the charade.

As the party dragged Gavrielle toward Jerod’s hut, the “King” cast another spell as he walked. The barren rocky mountaintop turned into rolling fields and sprawling vineyards before their eyes. A magnificent castle materialized in the place of the ramshackle hut, its high walls, crenulated towers sprawling out to either side. A large formidable gate complete with portcullis and drawbridge opened before them. The King’s standard, a noble hippogriff on a white field, fluttered above every roof and tower. Logahn sratched his head as his friends stood, jaws dropped, at a magnificent sight that he apparently did not see.

Upon entering the “castle”, the surroundings revealed their true form: rotting walls, muddy floor and rusted old cauldron hanging over a burned-out fire pit.

“Throw him into the dungeon!” Jerod commanded pointing to a shallow hole in the ground. Shrugging Jerome and Celestine put Gavrielle in the pit which was a about as deep as Gavrielle’s knees.

“Now we must feast!” exclaimed Jerod. He stepped outside and waved his silver rod. From thin air a huge tent of fine silk and gold trim appeared in front of his hut. The smell of roasted boar and fine wine wafted from the inside. When the party entered they saw table settings for a hundred people with fine china, silverware and a covered silver platter at every table. Jerod gestured toward the head table and the party sat. Gavrielle joined them as all knowledge of his transgressions had been forgiven by Jerod’s tenuous grasp of reality.

“Servents! Bring us food! Pour us wine!” exclaimed Jerod Joyfully. An awkward silence befell as Jerod’s imaginary servants failed to appear. Thinking quickly Theo cast an unseen servant spell (he can cast spells now) and instructed it to serve the party.

“Splendid!” the “King” proclaimed as food and drink were put onto his plate by an invisible hand. When the party ate they realized that the food and majestic tent were indeed real and not a product of the man’s illusions. Conversations turned to the Land of Undriul and great wars waged against fictional kingdoms. The “King” spoke of his benevolence and great leadership. The party steered the conversation to the location of the fissure they were searching for.

“You speak of ‘The Pit of the Seven Jaws.’ Just last month I sent 6 of my finest knights there to defeat an excursion of Mind Flayers. I can draw you a map, and of course my knights will attend you.” He clapped his hands and waited a brief moment, then waved his hand presenting his knights who surely appeared before him in polished plate, longsword and shield; at least in his mind. The party saw nothing.

Logahn had brought the captured hippogriff with him. They lied about how they acquired it, but asked Jerod if he could tend to it while they were on their mission.

“Of course! My head stable master will tend to the every needs of this noble creature. It is safe in my castle” The king clapped his hand to summon yet again another of his “loyal servants.”

Once the Unseen hand had seen and heard enough of this nonsense they set off. They decide to return to Cauldron with some spoils. They skinned the dragon and took its hide. The took the hippogriff as well, doubting the skills and even the existence of King Jerod’s head stable master. They made a full effort to conceal their return so they would not alert their quest-givers to the side trek. Finally they returned to the mountain and found the fissure as indicated on Jerod’s map.

Day 32

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Day 30
Waifs ablaze

Awaking the next day our group of adventurers prepared to leave on their journey. Before heading out The Hand had to take care of some business. Theo and Celestine headed to The Bluecrater Academy to research the Kou-Toa. The group had learned from their past experiences and wanted to be ready this time. While Theo and Celestine did some research Logahn went to gather supplies for the expedition, he grabbed a laundry list of items the guild had made. The list included stopping at Skie’s to pick up a rope of climbing. Jerome stopped by the Church of St. Cuthbert to see Jenya before they left. There was some light flirting and Jenya gave Jerome a Wand of Bless to help with their next adventure. No one knew what Gavrialle was doing. With all of their errands completed The Hand was ready to journey.

Traveling north the party knew “Crazy Jerod” lived on one of the mountain tops. It would not be an easy journey but it had to be done. They followed a map that had been drawing leading them to a steep cliff face. Our party debated which path to take; climbing up the cliff or walking around the mountain. Traveling around the mountain would take time and the added dangers would be unknown. After a short discussion the decision was made to climb the cliff, after all they had just bought the Rope of Climbing and were eager to use it. The priests removed their armor and prepared themselves for the climb.

Jerome was the most experienced climber of the party and made the initial accent. As he climbed the rope he put anchors into the cliff face, making a route that could be used now and in the future. The climb was easy for Jerome, after about fifty feet he found a resting area and waited for the party to join him. There would be some time until the party joined him on the rock face; Jerome figured this would be a perfect time to play some music as he stared off towards Cauldron. Everyone made it to the first check point and all locked themselves securely to an anchor. It was time for Jerome to make the next climb.

He felt calm as the next climb started. Something about the music and being out in nature, it had been sometime since Jerome had this much excitement. The climb was easy for Jerome; he started to make his way towards the top, halfway up Jerome heard some squawking. He thought nothing of it and continued his climb. A loud screech echoed off the cliff, looking up the party saw a hippogriff fly down landing on a rock above Jerome. The party was not ready for a fight. This was supposed to be an easy climb.

Hippogriff.bmpThe party below saw the hybrid beast and prepared themselves. No one was ready. Our heavy plated clergy were without their armor, a rare instance for both of them. Ranged weapons were taken out as the party decided what the best course of action was. There was little time to make conversation as a second hippogriff came charging in towards Celestine. The creature snapped and bit into her causing her to loose footing and fall from her perch; luckily everyone had secured themselves with anchors and ropes. The rope snapped tight and Celestine was left dangling. The first hippogriff decided to charge at Jerome but he was ready. Jerome commanded the rope of climbing to go around the beast’s neck. Once it was secured he pushed off the cliff letting the weight of his body pull the hippogriff down. The hippogriff tried to grab onto the cliff but couldn’t keep its footing. It tried to take flight as it begin to fall but once again the weight of Jerome spoiled the attempt. Gavrielle took aim planting an arrow into it neck and sent it crashing to the ground. Jerome released the rope and hung their waiting for the party to finish off the other hippogriff. More arrows had been shot and the pin cushion of a hippogriff also made the plunge to the ground below.

Everyone took a second to realize what had just happened and how close they were to falling to their deaths. Jerome looked to the group and said

“I heard some chirping half way up the cliff. We should take a look at it.”

Most of the party agreed. Celestine’s brush with death left her in no mood to investigate. Claw marks from the now dead hippogriff could be seen all over her body. She climbed to the top of the cliff and tended to her wounds. The rest of the party could hear Celestine telling them to hurry up but there was something to investigate and The Hand was easily distracted.

The four curious members of The Hand moved towards the chirping that Jerome had heard. Along the cliff face they found a small cave with a single juvenille hippogriff inside. They all looked inside deciding on what to do. Should they kill the little beast? Should they eat it? Should they capture it? Should they train it? All of these questions went through their minds. It was decided to try to capture the baby and one day train it. Being of the woods Gaverial was the first to try to approach the infant. Something must have thrown the hippogriff off because it did not react to Gaverial , maybe the lack of scent threw the baby off. Logahn stepped forward and tried to calm the animal. Something inside Loagahn appealed to the creature it started to let its guard down. It moved closer to him, he reach out and put a bag over its head and then punched it. The little baby was now orphaned and unconscious, mission accomplished.

Climbing to the top The Hand was greeted by a waiting Celestine. She had put on all of her armor and was ready to kick some ass. Gaverial started to look around for something to track, there had to be some way for them to find this crazy Jerod. Lucky for the group Gaverial had decided to study nature and was able to pick up some human tracks leading away from a bush. They decided to follow the tracks in hope of finding Jerod. Following the track around the bend they encountered a blackened scorched rock face. Theo made his way towards the nest and saw a pile of dead baby dragons, burnt, mangled and likely half consumed. On closer inspection the dragons were black with red spotting on them. Just as the group was looking at the dead dragons they heard a scream from over the ridge, being the vigilant heroes that they were The Hand raced towards person in need.

The group could hardly believe their eyes. A man stood before a large red dragon; this could be the famed dragon Hookface. Theo took the lead and stealthed behind a rock outside of the dragons view. He could hear the dragon and the man talking, more like the dragon was yelling at the man asking where he could find someone or something named “Dorlot.” The man looked scared and based on his clothing it seems as though they had found crazy Jerod. With Theo in position the rest of the group slowly moved towards the dragon but their clunky armor gave them away. Upon seeing The Hand, Jerod started to announce that they were his savors and great knights here to help their king. With a wave of his silver rod, Jerod had transformed his clothing into a marvelous bear skin cloak and well-tailored suit complete with gem encrusted chains, rings on each finger and a glittering gold crown atop his head. Hookface turned around to see the approaching adventurers, he was not amused. These were not the first humans he had fought but they may be his last. Before the battle began our heroes buffed up and prepared themselves. Jerome drank a potion of enlarge person and was ready to go head to head with the dragon. Gaverial’s bow was now more powerful from gravity and the group as a whole felt blessed.

Jerome charged the dragon getting just within his reach as it started to take flight. He got off a quick attack as Hookface flew off into the air. Jerod was so happy with the arrival of our heroes that he started to sing. The members of The Hand felt better something had come over them. Celestine took this opportunity to cast summon animal, right above her appeared a dire bat ready to attack the dragon. Nothing happened for a few seconds as The Hand tried to figure out what was going on. A moment later Hookface landed and let loose an scorching blast of it’s fiery breath. Logahn, Gaverial and Celestine were caught off guard and were completely consumed by the fireball. The clerics started to heal each other trying to stop what would soon be death. Jerome raced over to attack Hookface but before he could attack the dragon flew back into the air. The heroes were unsure of what to do the dragon what up in the air and not coming back down. They would have to wait and see what it did next.RedDragon.jpg

While they were waiting something must have snapped within Gaverial. He went over to Jerod and slapped him across the face, knocking him to the ground. Gaverial notched an arrow and started to yell at Jerod demanding that he answer questions as to what is going on. The rest of the party stood there speechless. Logahn and Jerome looked up at the dragon and noticed it was doing something with its hands, the creature was casting something…..

Day 30 Part 2

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Day 29
Unexpected attack

When some of the members of the party arrived at their homes from the close of the evening they found a note and an invitation to the Cusp of Sunrise, a high class club for nobles in Cauldron. It was from Lord Vhalantru. The note said: "Meet me for dinner and drinks at the Cusp of Sunrise tomorrow at 6:00pm. It is urgent and profitable.

The next morning as the party was setting out to gear up for their trip, the heard a low rubbling sound. Suddenly a plume of smoke rose from behind a building and they heard the sound of smashing and crumbling stone. Screams of panic erupted and crowds of city folk scrambled in all directions.

The Unseen Hand headed toward the ruckus to find a large insectoid like beast smashing holes into a building. monster.jpg The party engaged and as the beast turned to meet their gaze, their minds were muddled by it’s large penetrating insectoid eyes. It was some kind of confusing gaze but the party was able to will it away. All but Jerome that is.

Jerome proved his skill at swordplay with a ruthless slice into Gavriel’s flesh. Somehow the creature had clouded his mind into confusing his enemies. The rest of the group attempted to take down the beast with covered eyes, while Gavriel dashed off to escape Jerome’s lethal cuts. Soon Logahn was caught in the creatures gaze and was reduced to a babbling fool.

Once the spell had worn off the group managed to reorganize and bring down the beast, but not before it made one final devastating attack on Theo bringing him inches from death.

The creature seemed more intent on property damage then causing harm to anyone and it’s target were the buildings of Bibbford Glimmerid, gem merchant and Theo’s father.

A man dressed in blue with blue hair showed up with some half-orc guards to investigate. He called himself The Blue Duke and claimed to be commander of the Half-orc division of the town guard. He allowed the party to contribute to the investigation as long as they didn’t get in the way. Not much was to be discovered.

The Hand went on with their day planning for their trip down river.

Theo went to visit his dad, Bibbford Glimmerrid. Bibbford revealed his suspicious about corruption in the government. He told Theo that he had a plan, but did not reveal what it was. Bibbford made a hasty and surprising exit by drinking a potion, reading from a scroll, then poofing out of the room. Theo, snooping around a bit, found that Bibbford had been studying an old Cauldron law, known as “The Old Law of Peers.”

This law states:
“Should the Captain of the Guard be considered to be unable to fulfill his duties, he may be challenged by any living member of the five eldest surviving families. If the challenger is victorious, he claims the position of Captain of the Guard. The Captain of the Guard is the only member of the nobility who may be challenged in such a manner.”

That evening the party set out to the Cusp of Sunrise to meet with Vhalantru. Vhalantru and Lady Rhivaldi had arranged fro The Hand to meet with Davek Splintershield, an ancient dwarf nearing his death. He explained his wife had cursed him on her deathbed with a wasting disease because of his cruel parenting of their only son Zenith Splintershield. His only cure was to make amends with his son. Unfortunately his son had disappeared on a crusade into the underdark long ago. Divinations had revealed that his son was being held prisoner in a Kuo-Toa shrine known as Bhal-Hamatugn. The Kuo-Toa are a race of amphibious humanoids. Davak asked the party to rescue his son and offered them a generous reward of 4000gp each or 6000gp in Splintershield arms and armor.

After some negotiation and the upfront payment of the gear needed to take on this trip into the underdark the party agreed. Vhalatru explained to them that the only current entrance to the underdark was a fissure found on a mountain to the north. They did not know the exact location of the fissure but knew the location of a hermit known as “Crazy Jerod” who lived on the mountain. He would likely know the location of the fissure.

Day 30

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Day 28
The gang plays "Clue"

The next morning The party had all gathered at the museum to discuss their plans. They all felt a little investigation was required. Though the Flood Festival was over and a bright warm spring was on it’s way, not all seemed right in the city.Theo got out his costume box and was haphazzardly slapping on bits and pieces but whatever he was doing just wasn’t working. The rest of the party frowned and the sad little goblin. Jerome suggested that he punched him in the face a few times to help authenticate the look, and Theo readily agreed. The resulting black eyes looked VERY real, however they just didn’t go with the french maid costume Theo had chosen. Suddenly the party heard a loud “CRRRRRRRRRACKKKKKKKK——-THUD!” coming from upstairs. Theo ran to investigate. Alec Tercivel was standing at the door. He had somehow managed to rip the door off it’s hinges. Blank stares were exchanged and after a moment of awkward silence, Alec asked Theo if he was interested in purchasing some items he collected.

There was a painting, a gold plated baboon mask, a statue of a goose, a silver plate etched with ancient hieroglyphs, and a bust of a Morkoth. Celestine determined that none of the items were magical and Theo was able to identify the history and value of most of them. They were valuable indeed and the party questioned Alec as to where he came across these items. He freely admitted that he had found them while exploring some ancient temple and ruins in the jungles to the west of Cauldron. As the last remaining Tercival his ancestral home has been left abandoned and property of the city. He has been trying to earn money to buy it back.

The party was mostly interested in the silver plate. Theo identified the hieroglyphs as those of an ancient race of creatures known as “Spell Weavers.” They had resided in this region thousands of years ago before the history of men. He unfortunately could not read them. More curious was a map that was scratched on the back of the plate. It was recent. While Alec was not looking, Jerome took rubbings of the map. Alec had nothing to say about the map. Theo told Alec that he was currently not able to purchase the items due to a lack of funds. This didn’t seem to bother Alec as he would likely be able to sell them to the halfling antique collector Tygot.

After that both Theo and Celestine went out into the city to see if they could find out anything about “Vampires, Beholders, and the Ebion Triad.” Theo’s dip into the seedy underbelly of the city proved fruitless. But Celestine managed to find out a little about the Vampire that The Stormblades had destroyed per the request of Terseon Skellerang. The vampire was a Bugbear named Drakthar the Bloodmonger. He dominated a group of goblins in order to wreak havoc on the city. They were living in an old Dwarven enclave underneath an operating bathhouse run be a dwarf named Orak. The rumor goes that someone was using the vampire and his dungeon lair to smuggle something into the city, because the dungeon had access to caves that led outside of the city walls.

Logahn felt a visit to the orphanage was in order. He waited for Celestine and the two went together while Jerome and Theo went off to wet their whistles at the Tipped Tankard. The priests were met with delight by the halfling caretaker of the orphanage named Gretchen. She casually mentioned a visit to Terrem by some priests and was surprised to learn that they had not known about it. She told him that two priests of Wee Jas visited Terrem and after they had cast some spells a strange birthmark appeared on his face, burning and hissing as he screamed in pain. The priests spoke with Terrem and he told them once again about when he once taken by the Beholder. He just “appeared” in a large room. The room was mostly empty but it did contain some boxes that were stamped with a birdcage symbol. He had said that Beholder and the cloaked woman very nice and she took him unharmed back to the orphanage.

Later everyone met up at the Tipped Tankard. The hope was to gain more insight on the map they had “acquired” from Alec Tercivel. An adventurer was able to identify the “headless staute” which was described on the map. He said the statue was located along the coast of The Red River, which flows out of the mountains past Redgorge. His description of the statue reminded the party of a Glaburzu Demon, much like Nabthotoron. He told them the lands were infested with gnolls and that they worship the statue like some kind of god. The party decided to gear up and head out in the morning.

Day 29

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The Demonskar Ball Part II

The participants at the ball were led downstairs and dinner commenced. The party located their table and found they were seated with a strange assortment guests.

Dalem Bandershield, a brash human who once served as bodyguard to the Aslaxins, Glimji Seewicket, a gnomish merchant and competitor to the Glimmerids, Tyro Amberhelm, Dwarven art dealer, and the https://the-city-of-cauldron.obsidianportal.com/posts/the-demonskar-ball-part-ii/edit#Dippinshires, nobles from Sasserine.

The dinner was a delight of food, drink and lively conversation. The Dippinshires were initially insulted that they head be seated at a table of thugs and treasure hunters, but came around as they noted most everyone was well-versed in the use of high-class cutlery. Tyro conversed mostly with Gavriel and Shensen about the lifestyle of an adventurer, while Glimji took any moment he could to insult Theo and his family. Dalem Bandershield mostly bragged and swapped stories with Logahn until one point he was called out by Seewicket. Gavreil, Logan, Dalem, Glimji, and Tyro all went into a back alley for a competition of strength. The results were close but ultimately Logahn came out on top, and Gavriel was left with a stained costume, smelling of garbage.

Celestine answered correctly in a test of wits and won herself a membership to the Bluecrater Academy

After dinner the guests moved back up stairs for the final dances. Some shenanigens by the Stormblades were had during the dances, but Theo brought the house down with thunderous applause with his performance as Nabthatoron, demon general of The Demonskar.

The Lord Mayor gave a final speech and awarded the Stormblades and the Unseen Hand of Justice with medals of valor for the courageous work they had done in the city.

Jerome spent the rest of the evening with Jenya, Logahn, the buffet table, and Gavrielle and Shensen must have slipped out early.

Theo decided to chat up the Lord Mayor about the rising taxes and the rumor he heard about Cauldron taxing the outlying towns. The Mayor didn’t approve of the conversation feeling that it really wasn’t any of Theo’s business. Nevertheless he indulged him and rambled on about much needed services and a citizens duty to the city that keeps you safe.

Celestine spoke with the assistant headmaster of The Bluecrater Acadamy. She had won the membership and wanted to introduce herself. She also told him about the plans and materials for the mysterious cage they found in the Ebion Triad’s dungeon hideout. The headmaster seemed very interested. He told her to bring the information to the school and he would have a look. Celestine also regaled the groups findings of the cage to Embril Aloustinai, High Priestess of Wee Jas. Being scholars of great magic, Celestine thought Embril might have some insight. Embril sensed Celestine’s uncertainty in what they had found, and gently scolded her.

“Perhaps you are meddling in forces you don’t quite understand?”

She told Celestine she could bring everything she had to the church and Embril would aslo be willing to take a look, although her sincerity was questionable.

Soon the Demonskar Ball was winding down and the guest were retiring for the night.

Day 28

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The Demonskar Ball

The day of the Demonskar Ball has arrived and our heroes have spared no expense in preparing for Cauldron’s most lavish event. Our heroes arrive separately in two carriages. The carriages are the finest that Cauldron has to offer and are pulled by the finest white horses. They have purchased the finest costumes and have taken dance and music lessons.

The first carriage carries Logahn, Celestine, and Jerome. With the second carriage carrying Gavriel, Theo, and their respective dates Shensen and Skie. As the first carriage arrives at the ball, Jerome is the first to disembark and make a grand entrance by releasing doves into the air and announcing “WE HAVE ARRIVED!” he says in a French accent. On-lookers from atop the building look down on the display and are impressed. The second carriage arrives shortly after. As Logahn attempts to enter the ball he is stopped by the doorman a very snooty looking man who asks him to check his weapon. “You won’t be needing that in grand hall sir” says the snooty doorman. Logahn begrudgingly checks his weapon. Garvriel is also stopped and forced to check his bow as well. “I don’t believe there will be any boar hunting this evening” says the snooty doorman. Gavriel also begrudgingly checks his weapon.

Our heroes enter the lobby and see many familiar faces from around Cauldron. Jerome pulls both Celestine and Logahn to dance. They awkwardly follow Jerome, but they are approached by Jenya. She thanks them for all of their services and tells them to “Try not to partake too heavily in ‘The Bubbling Cauldron’ during the toast.”

The Stormblades are present and contemptuous glances are exchanged. Loghan sees Cora Lathenmire from across the room who seems out of place in her formal wear. She is there talking very animated to her parents when Loghan decides to approach her. They proceed to exchange a few awkward words with Loghan walking away in the end and leaving her parents bewildered as to who was that strange man who approached their daughter. Theo sees Lord Thomas Vhalantru who calls him over to speak with him and have a drink. Vhalantru is at the ball with Thirifane Rhivaldi.thifirane_rhiavadi.jpg She is a women of the very high society who obviously would rather not interact with the likes of the Theo and the Unseen Hand of Justice as they are beneath her. Vhalantru thanks Theo and the Unseen Hand of Justice for their hard work bringing back the Wands of Water Control. He thanks Theo for his generous donation toward repairs in Jzadirton, and he mentions his concern that Theo’s father, Bibbford Glimmerid has not been paying his taxes. Theo was unaware. As they continue to talk Celestine enters the conversation awkwardly finishing Theo’s sentence. Celestine then puts on her charm and tries to talk to Vhalantru’s date which goes somewhat well with Celestine complementing her. Sick of the talk of business with Theo, Vhalantru’s date demands that they move on. As their conversation ends, the Demonskar Herald makes his appearance.

Everyone whispers as the the Demonskar Herald makes his grand entrance. Half of his body is dressed as a founder and the other half is dressed as a demon. He calls for everyone who is a founder to stand on one side of the room and demons to stand on the other. The Herald makes a speech retelling the history of the region’s past and the great war that took place between the village of Redgorge and the demons that sought to destroy it. As he finishes his speech he tells all to enjoy themselves and make their way into the main hall.

The Unseen Hand of Justice is met with a greeting line and are forced to make their way down shaking hands and speaking with each person. Zachary and Margaret Aslaxin, the hosts of the evening are first with their son, Zachary II. Jerome makes things tense by pinching Zachary II on his bottom, which causes a murmur all the way down the receiving line. Jerome attempts to play it off as his people’s way of greeting others to which he is asked by Zachary Sr. not greet anyone again in that manner. The Lord Mayor himself is next. He seems genuinely grateful for the party’s services but also seems a bit nervous, frequently exchanging glances with Skellerang. Next are the High Priests and Priestesses: Asfelkir, Shebeleth, Jenya, and Embril Aloustinai. Jerome makes quite the impression on Jenya. Embril Embril.jpgtells the party that the Church of Wee-Jas is at their service, but Gavriel can tell she is super full of shit. Gavriel and Shensen are quiet during this meet and greet. They are from the woods and do not understand why the people here are filled with such pretentiousness. Lastly is Alec Tercival who was audacious enough to not wear a costume but rather his polished suit of armor.

The Demonskar Herald asks for everyone’s attention and announces a music contest with the returning champion being Annah Taskerhill. As the Herald explains the contest Shensen whispers to Gavriel “Can anyone enter?” Gavriel responds back with a “I think so”. Shensen then steps up to the stage and announces that she will take part in the contest. Both Jerome and Celestine take part as well both playing their respective instruments. With Shensen choosing to sing and the returning champion Annah Taskerhill playing her harp. The contest involves everyone playing along to a complicated piece of music and whoever receives the most applause from the crowd will be declared the winner and Is chosen to represent the angel Nidrama in the final dance of the evening. The contest begins and everyone is playing beautifully as the crowd cheers on the contestants. Annah Taskerhill beautifully plays the harp as Shensen sings along to the music hitting each note perfectly as Celestine and Jerome do their best to keep up. The crowd cheers and roars at the display of skill. As the music hits its most complicated portion Celestine and Jerome are unable to keep up and bow out. Annah and Shensen go back and forth neither giving up. As the piece comes to a close Annah’s harp breaks a string leaving Shensen to finish the piece with her voice echoing throughout the hall. Shensen is declared the winner and the crowd cheers for the new champion. Gavriel rushes the stage and awkwardly picks up Shensen and spins her around on the stage congratulating her on her victory. She doesn’t respond in the most happiest of ways to Gavriels display.

The Demonskar Herald invites everyone downstairs to join their respective table to eat and drink. The Unseen Hand of Justice join Jerome’s table reason being he was the one who got them their tickets. The table is filled with some adventuring folk, merchants and two prominent nobles who scoff at the idea of being seated with such degenerates. Not ones to shy away from adversity our heroes sit and eat and enjoy their drink waiting to see what happens next at the Demonskar Ball.

Demonskar Ball Part II

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Day 24-26
The Flood Festival Continues

Once the clerics had everything under control, it was time to start up the Flood Festival again. Loot was sold, magic was purchased from Skie’s Treasury.

Gavriele was greeted by an extremely thankful Shensen who introduced him to her friends, “The Striders of Farlanghn.” It was Fario & Fellian, the mysterious elves from way back and Horag, the half-orc, who they had met during the first night of Drink Down the Flood. She gave him a pair of magical boots as a gift for rescuing her from the were-baboon at The Lucky Monkey. "Don’t be a stranger, " she said as she walked off with her group.

Celestine made an attempt to use the libraries at The Bluecrater Academy to research some of the information they found in Skaven’s journal, but was quickly shot down by a snooty gentleman at the front desk, who was demanding a hefty “membership fee.” At the moment she was not willing to pay.

Theodocious busied himself with work in his museum.

Benadred was with Box preparing for a feast celebrating their recovery of the wands of water control. He also had a big announcement to make. That night at the feast Benadrad announced his retirement from adventuring. He promised he would aid The Unseen Hand of Justice with potions and things but he would not give them any sort of discount. In fact he would “probably charge them more because he knows they’re going to need it.” Then he kicked Gavriele out of his house. Ordinary retirement seemed suspicious however. Knowing Benadrad, surely there was some ulterior motive to this decision.

The next morning Theo was on his way to do some shit when he was startled by a street-side kerfuffle. A well dressed human was being harassed by a tax collector and his half-orc guards. The guards and tax collector claimed that not only did he somehow get into the city without paying his entry tax but he was also operating and “attraction” without a permit. Theo paid the thugs off. The human thanked Theo and introduced himself as Jerome. He was a traveling circus performer and was attracted to Cauldron because of the renowned Flood Festival and Demonskar Ball.

During these last days of The Flood Festival, Celestine and Gavriel took the Lantern Street orphans to the final rounds of the Crater Lake Monster hunt and Jerome tagged along. Ultimately no one of importance was successful in winning the contest. Terrem was his usual creepy little self.

That night The party headed off to The Drunken Morkoth to watch the final match of the “Drink Down the Flood” competition. The final contestant was none other then Benadrad, presumably because he cheated like crazy with spells that assisted his alcohol tolerance. He was facing off against Vhalantru, the long time returning champion. The competition was in full swing and twentyish rounds had gone by. Benadrad knew that if he kept going he would surely die of alcohol poisoning. Vhalantru who was a tad tipsy himself must have sense this as well and was concerned for the gnome. He tried to declare it a draw. Benadrad refused insisting that it would be a forfeit and he would be the winner. Vhalantru gave in and with a wink to the crowd declared Benadrad the winner. Benadrad ran off without a word to prepare himself for his inevitable hangover. While at the Drunken Morkoth, the party heard rumors that The Minuta’s Board was being used to house the large influx of half-orc guards that have been appearing in the city. It seems that the regular guard house was too full to keep them all. The Hand decided to investigate.

At Minuta’s Board, the rumors proved true. There were off duty Half-orcs milling about both outside and inside the inn. Theo went over to the owner and barkeep Pilok Minuta to ask him about the situation. Pilok was pretty pissed. It seems he had no choice in the matter. City officials, most likely Skellerang with the Lord Mayor’s approval, mandated the use of the Inn.

Lofin Sinwin was at his usual table. He flagged Theo down for a little chat.

Meanwhile, Jerome who had tagged along, was busy taunting some of the half-orcs. Jerome, who was making himself known as a forward and flirtatious individual snuggled himself right up into the booth next to a half-orc. The half-orc stood up insulted by the intrusion and demanded to know why Jerome was butting in on their conversation. Logahn stepped up to see what all the commotion was. Jerome took the opportunity to challenge both of the half-orc’s strength and suggested they arm wrestle. Perhaps Jerome was teasing or perhaps he was titillated by the thought of two sweaty, bulging, PULSATING half-orc biceps pressing against each other in heated battle. After a grueling match Logahn came out the champion as any hero of the story should, and the other orc walked away in embarrassment.

At Theo’s table, Lofin thanked Theo for what he and his group had done, specifically the killing of Artus, guildmaster of The Alley-Bashers. This gave Lofin a chance to move-in and take control of the guild. Theo asked Lofin if he knew anything about the half-orc situation. Lofin told him that the half-orcs were in fact a mercenary troupe brought in from Sasserine. It was common knowledge that the city had brought them in to bolster the town guard because of the recent crime waves. What wasn’t known to the public was that the city had plans to impose taxes onto smaller outlying towns that it considered part of it’s jurisdiction, such as Redgorge and Hollowsky. It was likely that there would be resistance and the half-orc’s would be needed to insure cooperation. Lofin gave Theo this tidbit “on the house” for removing his competition, but reminded him of the dangers of acquiring such “sensitive” information. He had dangerous and more powerful peers that always had eyes on him…namely… The Last Laugh. Theo dropped Lofin some coin just to further establish their relationship.

Eventually, the crowd slowly thinned and the party turned in for the night.

The next morning Logahn did some shit.

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Day 23 Part 4
The Crazed Guildmaster

The residents of the room were clearly not expecting them. Three rogues jumped up with the third more dangerous looking one demanding to know where Triel was.

Both parties rushed in recklessly and battle ensued. The two Alley-Basher mooks went down easily with a combination of Theo “whip-trips”,Logahn sword slices and Gavriel and Benadrad’s ranged attacks. The third more fearsome member of the enemy threesome was a different story. He had a crazed look in his eye and that eye was seemingly drawn to Celestine.

Pointing at Celestine and sputtering crazed ramblings about sacrifices and nightmares he focused all his energy on the death of the priestess. The rest of the party noticed a strange glaze come over her face and she charged like a madwomen at the rogue. He whirled about slicing The Hand with his rapier quite easily but it was not enough. They took him down with ease.

This was presumably Artus, Guildmaster of The Alley-Bashers and just as mad as they claimed he was. He was unconscious on the ground. Benadrad plopped him up on the table, spread his arms and drove two daggers down into his hands pinning him against the wood. He was healed and brought back to reality and began to scream. The party desperately tried to interrogate him about Triel, and the wands but he was clearly too insane to give them any worthy information. Before anyone could say “tie him up” Benadrad poured some poison down his throat. Convulsing, he choked and died.

They looted him and with a cheer found more of the wands of water control. They now had seven out of eight and they decided that was enough. The headed toward the exit of the dungeon. Though they knew that the gondola was destroyed and they were very unsure as to how they were going to cross the lake and go up the cliff.

They talked awhile about ropes and grappling hooks and swimming and climbing, until Theo got a bright idea. “Lets use the Wands of Water Control!!” Benadrad built a makeshift raft and they all climbed in. The wands were passed among those who could use them and with all the power of their use magic device skills a large wave slowly rose out of the water and lifted them to the top of the cliff. “HUZZAH!” They hurried back to town.

When they arrived they hurried back to The Church of St. Cuthbert to bring Jenya the wands. There were representatives there from the Kord and Sarenrae as well. Jenya took the wands from the party and shoved them into the hands of the available priests, including Celestine. The priests battled the water and rain all night while Logahn helped the citizens with sandbagging efforts. Soon the water level of the lake was under control, but not without some damage to the lower buildings, many of which were located in Jzadirton.

Day 24

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