The Shackled City

Meeting of the Minds
Things Fall Apart

27 Wealsun, 592 CY

Three days had passed since the attack at the church. The Silver Phoenixes had descended back into Oblivion, removing the remaining denizens as well as the riches Vhalantru had not doubt stolen by proxy from the people of Cauldron. Jenya had successfully called a meeting of Cauldron’s nobles, merchants, and other influential citizens, including the Silver Phoenixes themselves. The meeting was scheduled to begin at noon in the Town Hall. Ashton opted to stay behind at the company house to watch over the Archers and Karamus’s sister Karissa, in case any other attacks were forthcoming.

The adventurers were the last to arrive, and they found the outside of the town hall surrounded by curious citizens. Many of these cheered to see the heroes of Cauldron approaching what was to be an historic meeting for the city. Passing through the doors into the main audience hall, they found over a dozen people waiting inside.

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The Cudgel
Fresh, Piping Hot Retribution

24 Wealsun, 592 CY (Continued)

Jarvyk summoned Fer Lomarcan while everyone else began casting defensive spells and moving out into the hallway. Karamus invisibly crept over to one of the doors leading to the chapel and quietly opened it. He saw several half-orc mercenaries, a morbidly obese tiefling, and some sort of winged half-fiend moving in from the church’s entryway. The tiefling spotted the opening door and cried out an alarm to the others, a vicious gleam his eyes. A ray spell narrowly missed the cansin as a halfling appeared, clinging to the far wall like a spider. He cursed and ducked back out of the doorway, calling back to the others what he had seen.

The paladin astride his celestial bearhound came out the door opposite Karamus and surveyed the scene, drawing the attention of most of their gathered foes. Bransen was swift to follow, while Ashton and Greyjek moved to Karamus’s side, to begin sniping with their spells and powers. The half-orcs rushed the dwarf, but they were unable to score any meaningful strikes against him. He retorted viciously. Karamus dashed across the back of the raised dais to stab one of the mercenaries, rendering him visible, at which point an ogre mage in armor and bright blue robes appeared in the air just behind him, swinging a massive greatsword. The weapon connected just as Bransen finished a spell to banish all invisibility near him. Ashton lashed out with an empowered enervation, sapping much of the ogre mage’s life force and giving it pause.

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Ambushed
You Can't Go Home Again

24 Wealsun, 592 CY

When they woke the next morning, the Silver Phoenixes (minus Greyjek) stared groggily around themselves. The bloated corpse of the beholder that had been Lord Vhalantru sat rotting on the floor of Oblivion’s Womb, and the sight of it caused each of them to shudder involuntarily. Ashton set back to work studying the notes on the former noble’s desk, trying to make sense of the chaotic scrawling. He was able to find a map of the underground compound which spelled out the secret to opening the OBLIVION doors. Each of them was keyed to a particular spell, one for each of the beholder’s eye stalks. Except he seemed to be missing one. While he puzzled over this peculiarity, Bransen whooped aloud, startling everyone.

“Hey, y’all. Check this out,” he cried triumphantly as he gestured and chanted a new spell. A grand table with numerous chair appeared out of nowhere, piled high with a grand feast, the like of which none of the adventurers had ever seen. Roast beef, potatoes, steaks, eggs, bacon, vegetables, and numerous other delights awaited the party. “Dig in!” he crowed, following his own instruction and taking a seat. Everyone stared incredulously for a few seconds before joining Bransen at the table.

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Invincible
A Test of Loyalty

23 Wealsun, 592 CY (Continued)

With the demodands slain, Greyjek had an opportunity to examine the chamber in which the party now stood. He took in the details of the statues resting in the niches, and saw the truth of their creation. These were not intricately carved works of art. They were people who’d been turned to stone. He pointed this out to the party, and they began to discuss what should be done about it. Bransen informed the group that he could attempt to free some of them. Karamus was of the opinion that they could wait; he felt that finding and dealing with Vhalantru should be the priority. Most of the party sided with the cansin, and so the group considered the shaft to the north.

It descended past the extent of even the paladin’s darkvision, and so Karamus cracked a sun rod and dropped it into the pit. It fell down a long way before it finally landed on what sounded like stone down below. The alchemical device shattered and sprayed its glowing contents all over the floor below. It was just over two hundred feet below, and though they had sufficient rope, they decided it would be safer to rely on magic. Bransen activated his boots while Greyjek used a dorje to affect the rest of the party with levitation, and the adventurers began to descend the darkened shaft.

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The Hunt For Vhalantru
Housecleaning

23 Wealsun, 592 CY (Continued)

House Vhalantru was a stately, three-story manor located in south Cauldron on Obsidian Avenue. Like many estates in the city, its walls were constructed of mortared volcanic rock. Jarvyk wasted no time in attempting to detect evil within the building. Even through the sturdy wooden doors, the gold dwarf could detect a pair of wicked auras from somewhere beyond. Greyjek brandished his dorje once more and another clairvoyant sensor appeared within the foyer beyond the door. He scanned the room, noting four lifelike statues in alcoves flanking the entry hallway, wood paneling and railings displaying fine leaf scrollwork, and a pair of half-orc mercenaries standing on either side of a staircase farther in the building.

He reported his findings to the others, and Jarvyk pounded on the door with his mailed fist. His knocks went unanswered, and so he called out in his gravelly voice to the mercenaries he knew to be within, “We really need to speak with Lord Vhalantru! It’s a matter of city security! You were hired to protect the city, so do your damned job!”

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Safe As Houses
A little recon goes a long way

23 Wealsun, 592 CY

Returning to Cauldron on the wings of Bransen’s wind walk, the group settled into the Silver Phoenix house. Karamus set his sister up in his room, and left her there to make herself comfortable while the company gathered in the main room to discuss their next move. They rehashed what they’d learned from the soul pillars for about an hour before they decided that they needed to find out more about what had happened in Cauldron over the last few days. Bransen and Karamus went out to get the pulse of the city, and while they were out they encountered Fellian Shard. He looked relieved to see them, and he insisted that that Tyro Amberhelm, the dwarf merchant staying at the Drunken Morkoth, needed to see the group as soon as possible. They asked him what it was about, and he looked upset, but he told them that everything would be explained when they gathered the group.

Fellian and Shensen Tesseril met the party in the common room of the tavern and led them back to a cozy, well-appointed chamber with a desk, a bed, and walls hung with mounted hunting trophies. Tyro Amberhelm sat in a padded leather chair facing the door, his hands clasped tightly under his chin in a contemplative manner. He wore a rich vest and a golden circlet. When everyone was gathered within, Shensen shut the door, and the dwarf removed his circlet. When he did so, his appearance changed dramatically, revealing a cloaked, middle-aged half-elf with hazel eyes and a small crescent-moon-shaped tattoo under his right eye.

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Many Returns
Personal Complications

21 Wealsun, 592 CY

Ashton Maximus-Devon fetched his father Primus from the Gatehouse, and joined the others near the Shattered Temple. The pregnant Karissa stood very near her brother, leaning heavily on his arm. They walked to the arched alley which shimmered and appeared as a cave exit. They walked past the threshold and found themselves back on Oerth, a few hours north of Crazy Jared’s hut. Bransen explained the wind walk spell to the new folks, and then cast it on everyone. They whisked away to the north, seeking Sasserine.

. . .

Once there, everyone settled into the Maximus-Devon manor home. Jarvyk Tedryk took Cyrus aside to speak with him. “I’ve got one last favor to ask of you,” the paladin said gruffly.
The xeph quirked an eyebrow, “This is about what happened at the Gatehouse, isn’t it? You’ve been acting weird since we were struck by that orange light.”
Jarvyk winced, “Aye, it’s a bit of that. I’ve been in congress with Tedryk’s Grace and it agrees with me. We have decided that the sword needs to be returned to my father in Belmek.”
Cyrus considered the mute blade at Jarvyk’s side, “I haven’t heard it complain in the last couple of days. Are you sure everything is alright?”

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In the Cage
Whirlwind Tour of Sigil

16 Wealsun, 592 CY

Bransen’s spells allowed the party to return to the surface, where he then cast wind walk on everyone to expedite their journey. Ryla said goodbye and then parted ways with the group, flying off to Sasserine in the north, while the Silver Phoenixes returned to Cauldron. While Bransen went to speak with Maavu Arlintal about what they had learned from the Soul Pillars and find out any new developments, the others went to the company house.

Ashton collected some of Karamus’ old clothes, and then went to retrieve the urn that held his ashes. Jarvyk saw this and said, “What are you doing?”
The magus replied simply, “I’m going to bring him back. We need him to get to Sigil.”
“He stole from us and lied about it,” the dwarf pointed out.
Ashton shrugged, “Nevertheless. Without him, I cannot find my father. If I fail in that, I cannot restore Evane. I must not fail.”
Jarvyk grumbled, “He can’t be quartermaster anymore.”
“No, he cannot,” the necromancer agreed.

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Cosmic Secrets
Questions Answered

15 Wealsun, 592 CY

Having spent the remainder of the previous day holed up in the small entry chamber to the second level, the party rested the night and woke up refreshed. Cyrus requested several hours of meditation so that he could empower his psionic weapons, and Ashton, eager to attempt scrying for his father again, was only too happy to comply. After four hours of trying, his efforts were finally rewarded with the face of Primus Maximus.

The man sat at a stone table in what appeared to be some sort of dining hall, but he was the only one visible. He wore shabby robes, and his dark hair and beard unkempt and streaked with a little more grey than Ashton remembered. The son watched as the father slowly turned his gaze to look straight at the scrying sensor, his expression passive. “You’ve come,” he said softly before turning his head and continuing to look at nothing in particular, his hands clasped loosely as he leaned on the table’s surface. He held this posture until the scry effect ended.

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Karran-Kural II
Wherein Things Are All Fogged Up

13 Wealsun, 592 CY (Continued)

Greyjek considered the hole in the floor, and then turned back to gaze down to the end of the hallway. The icy lattice that Jarvyk had inspected before still glowed faintly there. He grew curious and asked Ashton to come with him to examine what he suspected was a device embedded in the wall. The magus determined that they icy lattice was indeed possessed of divination magic. He took out a wand and tried to dispel it, but there was no apparent effect. While they experimented with the lattice, Jarvyk held a rope for Ryla to climb down into the tunnel. Below she found a small, ruined chamber with a single door.

Jarvyk set a grappling hook on the iron doors, and everyone descended the rope into the lower chamber. Opening the door revealed a short hallway heading north and south. The path was blocked by a collapse a short distance to the north, but the south held a four way intersection. At the intersection, Ryla could see more ice strands filling the hallway to the east, another collapsed blocked the west, and a door to the south. It was decided that the group would proceed to the south.

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