The Shackled City

Prelude to the End

27 Reaping, 592 CY

Shatterhorn had been defeated for about a week, and the Silver Phoenixes were taking a much needed break from serious adventuring. Ashton had claimed the Shield Guardian that had once belonged to Thifirane Rhiavadi, and he was researching the proper command phrases to control the construct. Bransen had been checking in with Zachary Aslaxin, the acting Lord Mayor and making sure that everything stayed on track for rebuilding the city. He’d also drawn the eyes of a few of Cauldron’s single women, and he had begun the terrifying process of…finding a wife. Jarvyk and the young sergeant Skylar Krewis had fully enacted their plan to put all criminals taken into custody to work helping to rebuild the city. The young man had proven his merit by retaining control of the project in the paladin’s absence. Deg had surreptitiously asked around about the remnants of the Last Laugh and a fledgling organization known only as The Triad, and he had started opening discussions with former leaders and members of these organizations and turning them away from thieving and into the far more lucrative business of adventuring acquisitions. The party knew they had broken the spine of the Cagewright organization, but they had still taken precautions against vengeance from those who had fled the Prime. Greyjek had raised psionic wards around the Silver Phoenix house and other locations within the city that the company tended to frequent. As such, it came as a surprise when they found an unexpected face sitting at the table in the main chamber of the house.

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Last Cagewright Standing
Except for Those Who Escaped

19 Reaping, 592 CY (Continued)

Bransen did what he could for those who had been strength drained, and the adventurers moved back to the chamber with the illusory pillars. Deg was sent to investigate the small east room, and he saw more murals and a semi-circular fountain on the east wall still pouring water. He took the gold statues from each of the four niches in the north and south walls, and came back out to the others. Looking over the halfling’s shoulder, Greyjek’s true seeing revealed for him a magical portal suspended in the center of the chamber. He identified it as one leading to a magnificent mansion, and promptly dispelled it.

A shadar-kai and his three death slaadi minions (disguised as shadar-kai, which did not fool Greyjek and his heightened awareness) were dumped unceremoniously into the small chamber. The shadow fey’s eyes blazed, and he expressed his displeasure by blasting the adventurers with lightning before vanishing from sight. The slaadi managed to implode Ashton before Greyjek could banish them all, but the shadar-kai managed to escape from the room despite Bransen’s blade barrier. When they’d determined that he wasn’t lying in quiet ambush nearby, they collected Ashton’s remains and retreated to the surface where Bransen conjured his own magnificent mansion and resurrected the magus.

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Through the Backdoor
Skip to the End

19 Reaping, 592 CY (Continued)

After discovering (almost the hard way) a crushing wall trap in the narrow secret hallway, Deg disabled the hazard and proceeded around a dogleg, finding himself in a small chamber containing a number of odd things. A woman lie atop a stone altar to the south and looming over her was an emaciated creature with a birdlike face and six arms. The monstrous humanoid seemed to be chanting and gesturing with each appendage in a ritualized manner. He felt his mind come under attack from an unseen source, and decided that he should strike back, targeting the six-armed creature from a hidden position on the low ceiling.

Undead shadows and a ridiculous number of spells followed in this battle, and as each of the adventurers entered the small chamber, they felt their minds assaulted by the same unseen malignant energy. Each resisted the mental attack, but the spell weaver (the seasoned adventurers recognized the creature from their time in Karran-Kural) physically weakened half the party and opened them to attack from the strength draining shadows as well. Deg was forced to flee, and Greyjek was left physically paralyzed on the floor. His mental faculties, however, were left uninhibited and he was able to put an end to the spell weaver.

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Troubleshooter
We Need Some Help

18 Reaping, 592 CY (Continued)

Deciding to press on, they adventurers entered a chamber northeast from the Serpentine hall and discovered what must have been the room belonging to the fallen Alurad Sorizan. The former cleric of Erythnul had set up a makeshift shrine with a number of grizzly trophies – a number of humanoid hearts in canopic jars – collected atop a stone bier. A large chest rested nearby, but the key they’d found on his body fit, and soon they were rifling through the contents.

Afterwards, they passed back by a statue of some yuan-ti priest and headed to the southeast into another heavily pillared chamber. They were attacked by a pair of half-orc half-iron golems standing in illusory pillars when Jarvyk moved to investigate a small chamber to the east. The party retreated back to the wider area and the constructs gave chase, to their ultimate doom. The larger space allowed Fer Lomarcan and Bransen’s summoned elder eidelon to enter the fray and between the two, they easily put an end to the unfortunate pair.

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Serpentine Hall
Cornered Cagewrights

18 Reaping, 592 CY

Having returned to Cauldron via spell to recover from their injuries and refresh their power, the Silver Phoenixes teleported back to Shatterhorn the following morning. They cautiously made their way across the shrine that had formerly contained the profane altar to Merrshaulk, and passed the section of hallway where they’d defeated the medusas. They noted that the bodies of their foes had been removed, and so they redoubled their caution, Bransen and Jarvyk moving ahead while Ashton and Greyjek remained back behind the cover of the pillars.

The vanguard entered a four-way intersection of fifteen-foot-wide passages illuminated by torches in sconces. Like other areas of the dungeon, the walls were adorned with faded murals depicting yuan-ti rituals and great serpents. The passage to the north had collapsed, leaving only two possible paths forward. To their left (west), the wide hallway ended just after a pair of narrower passages opposite one another to the north and south. To their right, the wide corridor extended farther, with more than a couple narrow hallways exiting from it to the north and south. Waving the others forward, Jarvyk began to lead the group west.

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Temple of Fangs

17 Reaping, 592 CY (Continued)

The winding passageway was torchlit as the Silver Phoenixes descended into the temple hidden beneath Shatterhorn. The walls were made of mortared bricks of black volcanic rock covered with painted plaster murals depicting yuan-ti and other serpentine creatures. Most of the murals had faded, and in many areas the plaster had peeled or fallen away, revealing damp black stone underneath. In the dim light of the flickering torches, they saw tiny snakes slithering across the floor, emerging from cracks in the walls, or coiled around sundry objects. A rattling noise echoed through the halls from somewhere in the distance, but they were unsure from which direction.

The spiraling path finally exited into a large, unlit chamber, supported by ten thick pillars. Deep alcoves were recessed into the west and east walls, and a sculpted stone altar rested in the middle of the room, its surfaces stained with dried blood and carved with serpentine motifs. One end of the altar curled up to form the head of a great snake with stony fangs and gems for eyes. Still more snakes slithered across the floor, and the distant rattling noise continued to emanate from the deeper darkness.

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Reconstruction

Over the next three weeks, the Silver Phoenixes set about the various tasks associated with getting Cauldron’s displaced citizenry settled and putting the pieces of the city back together. A couple hundred citizens had been lost to the volcano and/or demodands that slipped through the partially opened Carcerian portal, and the southeast section of the city had collapsed into a deep rift that had swallowed, among other things, the Cathedral of Wee Jas.

Fate saw fit to grant Bransen a resurrection spell the morning after they returned from the Fiery Sanctum, and so he brought Karamus back to life for the second time. The cansin was his usual irritable self, but after some complaining, he agreed to compensate the “sorcerer” for the cost of the spell components. He then took his sister and left for Sasserine, which he said was “better equipped” to handle her needs as her pregnancy came to term. They wished him well.

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Showdown at the Tree
CR 20 My Ass

1 Richfest, 103 CY (Concluded)

The party cast their final preparatory spells and slipped through the secret door and into the narrow passageway beyond. Jarvyk astride Fer Lomarcan burst through the second secret door to reveal, at last, the Tree of Shackled Souls. The massive elliptical chamber glowed with a hellish light from the lava bubbling through shaped channels that formed a familiar pattern on the floor. The rivers of lava flowed along the floor along deep troughs that had been carved in the sign of the Carcerian Eye, and from the eye’s “pupil” grew a horrendous sight.

A large tree of metal erupted from the lava there, and thirteen massive branches sprouted from a central trunk several feet across, twisting menacingly around the chamber to increase the diameter of the area occupied by the tree to nearly sixty feet. The branches were covered in wicked barbs, but each branch tapered to end in a hook. From each hook hung a cage, and within each cage the adventurers could see the slumped form of a humanoid figure. These had to be the Shackleborn – individuals cursed by fate to be the keys to unlocking the gate to Carceri.

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Fiery Sanctum IV
Mopping Up Minions

1 Richfest, 592 CY (Continued)

After they’d all drunk deeply from the multiple potions the haraknin Flamewarders carried to heal the wounds the demon had inflicted upon them, the Silver Phoenixes and Grehlia Cairnis, the Cagewright turncoat, turned their attention to the doors at the back of the chamber. The woman said that they would need a method of flying or at least levitating to cross a section of floor that was missing and had been covered over with an illusion. They exited the chamber and found themselves in another lava tube. None of the adventurers could see through the illusory floor, but since their guide had begun walking on air, they decided to follow her example, levitating, flying, and spider climbing across the alleged gap.

Once across, Grehlia warned them about another group of Flamewarders to the south that were near the tunnel back west that they needed to take. This, she assured them, was the shortest route to Freija Doorgan’s room, where they hoped to uncover the secret of using the length of magical chain that they’d taken from the dragon’s hoard. Unfortunately, not everyone in the group was particularly adept at moving unheard, and the shapeshifting hellhounds came cautiously up the lava tube to bar the intruders’ path. The creatures were horribly outmatched and therefore swiftly dispatched.

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Fiery Sanctum III
In-Subordinate

1 Richfest, 592 CY (Continued)

They entered the hall and approached the door to their right. Opening it revealed a large bunk room filled with long cots in orderly rows. Small, closed footlockers rested at the foot of each bed, and the air smelled strongly of brimstone. The walls bore only a single decoration – a tapestry depicting a field of red with a black silhouette of a bearded face howling in fury and outlined in flames. This chamber was occupied by another couple haraknin, which were quickly dispatched. They looted the bodies, tossed the room for clues, and moved back into the hall, approaching the double doors to the north, which the cansin tossed open.

The walls within the hot chamber beyond were rough and natural, although the floor had been polished smooth. A massive iron bed filled half the wall to the east, and a stream of glowing lava slowly oozed through the center of the chamber to what appeared to be a large sunken pool built into the western wall. A tapestry made of a dark, heavy metal adorned the wall across from the door, displaying the same image as had the one in the bunk room. A large iron bookshelf sat on the floor below it, holding several over-sized books. Next to that and facing the door was a massive iron table cluttered with metal sheets and a dragon’s skull.

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