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.
Thereafter, Bransen established a new town government by declaring himself the Lord Mayor and forming the council that had been discussed in the meeting of Cauldron’s leaders before the volcano had begun to erupt. As he would often be busy with Silver Phoenix business, he appointed Lord Zachary Aslaxin I as his steward for these times. There was some contention from some of the others (notably Lord Taskerhill), but when Bransen patiently explained that he had the connections in the town to get the reconstruction well underway, as well as the personal power to avoid meeting a fate similar to that of the previous lord mayor, there was little anyone else could say, especially with the rest of the adventuring company backing his claim.
Jarvyk meanwhile, took the reigns of the city guard, and made Sergeant Skylar Krewis his second. His efforts involved preventing as much catastrophe-inspired crime as possible and putting the captives to work rebuilding the city with a fair wage so as to dissuade them from illegal means of income. This civic project seemed to work well, and with support from the council, they were able to contract with the dwarves of Belmek for some of the more serious construction projects needed to restore the city to working order.
Ashton and Greyjek retired to the Bluecrater Academy to research their own arcane and psionic pursuits as well as the new information they’d found on the Cagewrights. They came up with the name “Shatterhorn,” mentioned in the notes they’d taken from Freija Doorgan. Additional research uncovered that it was the site of an abandoned yuan-ti temple, once thought to provide a conduit to the god Merrshaulk. They shared this information with Bransen, who confirmed the likelihood of the Cagewrights’ presence by divining that Lady Thifirane Rhiavadi was currently beneath Shatterhorn.
After they got the repairs underway and the city limping back toward full repair, the Silver Phoenix gathered once more and set off for the Cagewrights’ secondary base at Shatterhorn. Three days later, their horses arrived on the outskirts of the ruins.
17 Reaping, 592 CY
A two-hundred-foot-tall spire of jagged rocks stood in a rough clearing, dwarfing the surrounding trees. Some great force appeared to have split the rock into three sections, forming deep clefts, and around the base of the cleft spire, someone had built a one-story stone keep. A thick shroud of fog enveloped the structure and the lone, shrill cry of a baboon echoes in the desolation of this dreary place. Although most of the keep’s mortared walls remained intact, its entire roof structure had collapsed, exposing the various rooms and corridors to the open sky. Some of its thick walls had collapsed as well, leaving behind heaps of rubble.
They entered the ruins cautiously, with Jarvyk in the lead. Serpentine bas-reliefs were carved on the inside walls, although heavy rain had eroded some of the finer works. Stone basins built into the floor that might once have served as yuan-ti baths now held only murky pools of brackish water. Decrepit wooden doors bore rusted iron hinges and handles shaped like serpents and dragons, and some of the floor stones showed chiseled yuan-ti inscriptions. The ruins appeared to have been picked clean of anything that might have held any value, leaving behind only the occasional armor fragment or rusted weapon.
As they neared the looming three-pointed spire, Jarvyk thought he saw a figure through the fog. The hulking humanoid had to have stood twice the height of a man with many times the girth. The giant saw or heard the party approach as it rounded the corner of one of the spire rocks and gave a great bellow, reaching for its heavy blade. The behemoth rushed forward only to be driven insane by Greyjek’s crushing will. It flailed about it, seemingly at random, targeting friend and foe alike, including the pair of grizzled dire wolves that seemed to serve as its pets.
The half-orc mercenaries mounted on winged spider eaters faired little better against the fresh adventurers, and Bransen blew most of them out of the sky with his opening volley, fire storm. Mopping up the guards of Shatterhorn was an academic matter of time and relatively little energy. After all was silent again, the adventurers continued their sweep of the area, and Greyjek spotted an illusory wall on the inner wall of one of the rock spires. Beyond this wall was a winding stairway that descended below the ruined surface temple.