Thrice The Brinded Cat

The Trouble With Triel

Waterday, Rainyday 15, CY 593

As we approached Keygan’s Lockshop we noticed a nicely painted sign posted to the left of the front door that stated: “All Gnome Business" with an arrow pointing to the side of the shop. We followed the sign and realized the gnomes had set up an external entrance to Gnomeragon ( Jzadirune) and the Hold. We approached the entrance, a set of stone stairs leading under the foundation stones of the lockshop, and saw that a large stone door was being guarded by two sleeping gnomes. The guards were dressed in fine uniforms and gear, brand new in fact. They stirred upon our approach.

“Halt! Who goes there!” one of the little guys shouted at us, wiping sleep from his eyes. “Please,” I thought to myself, “How cliche.”

When Kenric identified us as the Moonhowlers the guards stepped aside. “Sure thing,” the other gnome said, “We have our orders to let you through.” But they still looked at us warily as I yanked the door open and trudged into the well-lit stairwell beyond.

As we descend we noticed the gnomes had been very busy in cleaning up Gnomeragon.

We took the wooden elevator down and entered The Hold. The elemental, Terraphax, bowed and called me “mistress”. What a nice rock. We then left the stonespike to find Yathaub.

He was just inside the main gates, talking with one of his creepers. I called him over and asked him to lock the prisoners in our jail cells. Yathaub and the creepers shockingly displayed great glee in forcing the prisoners to their cages. We just followed behind and enjoyed the show. Skaven looked like he was going to throw up his second breakfastses.

When we got all of the prisoners set up in separate cells, we began to interrogate them. We started with the Suel tribesmen first. Our questioning turned up that Triel and her two generals had a meeting right after the attack on the Lucky Monkey. We also learned the generals weren’t getting along with each other very well.

We found out the gnoll, Tarkilar, was actually dead but somehow didn’t seem to know it as he still walked around and kind of carried out his duties. And, we discovered, he had built a large skeleton in his area of the ruins.

We stuffed the Suel tribesmen back in their cells and Yathaub and the creepers then brought in Skaven for questioning. Skaven was still a little groggy. He was still securely in the manacles we had put on him and his mouth was gagged with a red armband. We gave him a potion to help revive him a bit, and after several tries we got nothing new out of him. So, we stuffed him back in his cell.

We decided to go back to the Church of Pelor and get some much needed sleep.

Listens to Wind, Karina and I stopped by Gurnezarn’s smithy to sell some of the loot we had accumulated in the Kopru ruins. We found out that times were really tough for him. The taxes in Cauldron were being raised on the merchants, even after the Council had promised to spare the members of the Merchant’s Guild from increases.

We then went to the drum shop called The Song of Kraghammer. It was run by a cute dwarf. During our negotiations we sold the instruments we found and I got asked out on a date! Kraghammer, the owner and my future date, told us that Tenacious Tendencies would be in town tomorrow and would be performing one night only at the Pavilion. And Kraghammer would be taking ME as his date! WoW!

Meanwhile Kenric, Braedon and McCreedy went to Skies. Kenric told her the tale of the Lucky Monkey, again and during their conversation Skye mentioned a person who comes in and sells items matching the description he gave her of Triel Eldurast. The mysterious person called herself Bernice. Skye described her as having red hair, tattoos and always wore a heavy cloak.

Skye used a pink monical to help her identify what we brought to her. During her appraising she told us we had, indeed, found three of the Control Water wands . This meant we now had to find just five more.

When we sold a few items to Skye, she recorded the sales in her large book at the counter and then excitedly told us that we had reached our goal and we would now be considered “preferred customers” granting us a discount.

After both groups were done we met back at the Church of Pelor. We sent a message to Jenya asking her to come to the church. Braedon then went to the top of the church to pray naked, again. But this time during his prayers he fell asleep and dreamed. He dreamt of his childhood home the night he lost his family. In his dream he heard his mother scream. She struck out and hit his father in the head. He looked down and saw his brother was already dead on the floor. Smoke had filled the room and a hand reached out through the smoke to save him. He was yanked out of his burning house and into the night sky above Cauldron by a beautiful angel with long silver hair. As he looked up at her, she suddenly turned into a demon. The demon began to feast upon him. In the last moments before he awoke, Braedon saw that the demon looks like a giant fig with teeth.

Back downstairs Kenric took one of the empty bedrooms and went to sleep. Listens to Wind and Hoppy retired to his apartment and slumbered.

I chose to stay awake and take the first watch. Even though we were in the safety of the shrine of Pelor, I had an uneasy feeling and felt someone should stay awake.

Over the course of the morning we had a visit from Jenya, Kristoph, Tarmy Two-Buckle, Celeste and Jerro Stogley. McCreedy, Listen to Winds, Karina and I met with them. We gave the three wands to Jenya and she showed us a note that had been delivered to her just that morning. The note demanded 200,000 gold coin for the return of the wands.

Jenya told us Celeste had finished with her research into the Ebon Triad medallion we had taken off Tongueater and had some information for us.

Celeste then told us that the cult of the Ebon Triad was made of cells and these cells were appearing in other locations all over Oerth. There always seemed to be three members in each cell with one representative from each of the evil religions, Vecna, Hextor and Eurythnul. The idea was that their faiths together would bring about a new and perfect deity which they called the Overgod.

Jenya told us she would spend the day trying to gather the money, but that ultimately it would be impossible to raise that much. They would not use the three wands we found and she wouldn’t tell anyone she had them so the people ransoming them wouldn’t realize that we had recovered some of them. Hopefully that would buy us enough time to rest up and get back down into the ruins and find the remaining five wands.

We asked Jenya about the poor people of Cauldron who’s homes had already been flooded. She told us that Wee Jas, Kord and St Cuthbert had taken in quite a few of them. There weren’t enough patrons of Pelor and those few that worshiped the sun god had been fortunate enough not to be flooded, yet.

Celeste asked about Kenric and we informed her that he was still sleeping. Celeste then asked us to find some people in town that we felt we could trust to take on a major quest for her. She told us she had a colleague who lived in the faraway town of Diamond Lake named Allustan – or Allustan The Great, as he liked to be called. Allustan had reported to her employer that a mysterious cult matching the description of the Ebon Triad had recently infiltrated that small town and Celeste thought it might be a good idea to send some trustworthy adventurers there to look into things. She said we could go, too, but the journey would be a very long one, maybe taking over a year to complete, and she understood that we probably had our own commitments to consider here in Cauldron.

At any rate, she had procured a decent sum of gold from her employer to fund this mission and he thought it was important. We had already heard that Celeste’s employer was none other than the famous wizard Mordenkainen, so we gave this request some serious thought. If Mordenkainen was backing this mission it had to be important.

Celeste told us she had already developed a cover for this mission. Whoever we got to do this would travel to the Free City of Greyhawk where they would then find their way over to Diamond Lake to meet with Allustan. Celeste has arranged for the group to travel undercover, posing as guards in the employ of traveling troop of entertainers – actually more of a traveling circus. The troop was currently in Sasserine but would be leaving for Greyhawk soon so we didn’t have much time to assemble our team.

We were finally able to sleep and get a few hours of rest.

We awoke some time after the noon hour. While the rest of the group got some food, I ran back to the Hold. When I arrived I saw the Shrine and kitchen areas were clean and so was the throne room. The dwarves had been busy! The gnomes above had actually made some tapestries for me to hang about the place but they were waiting for me to present my clan crest to them. It is hard to explain as I don’t really have a clan. Instead, I have decided to create my own. I have decided to name the clan after the master-crafted weapon I am forging, Blackhammer.

I gave the wives of my two apprentices 1,000 gold coin to buy me a nice outfit and to get something for themselves — nice clothes, in preparation for the visit by the dwarves of Duvek’s Mine four days from now. Being the mistress of the Hold is expensive.

In the meantime, Listens to Wind and McCreedy went to Weer’s again to get some more supplies for Kenric. During their visit they discovered Weer was also being taxed heavily and was in even more of a grumpy mood than usual (if that was even possible.)

We assembled back at the church and then headed to the Kopru Ruins, once again. At the lava tube entrance we noticed tracks going into the cave. McCreedy snuck ahead of us by about sixty feet, followed by LTW another thrity feet behind him. McCreedy got to the end of the tunnel and noticed the door to the upper winch house was open. There was a small fire burning in front of the shack and there were two Alleybashers sitting around the fire.

McCreedy snuck backand told us what was going on. We moved up to within forty feet of him. McCreedy got a wand from Kenric.

We attacked the two guards swiftly. One was quickly put to sleep by McCreedy’s wand and the other tried to run away. McCreedy ran after that one and Listens to Wind passed him at a dead run and tackled the fleeing Alleybasher. However, before he could take the man down Kenric stepped up and in a flash, put the man to sleep with another spell.

We decided to bind the two guards and we locked them in that handy closet in the winch house. However, before we moved them in we decided to interrogate them. I intimidated one of the Alleybashers so badly that he would probably have turned in his own mother if he thought it would help.

Throughout the questioning by Kenric we learned Triel had left the ruins earlier in the morning (after we had left) and had already returned. Apparently she did not set off McCreedy’s trap. Oh well. We also asked these guards about the two that they should have replaced. They just looked at each other and shrugged, figuring they either deserted or just left their post early and were back in their bunks. Not much discipline or loyalty in these guys.

They also did not seem aware of Skaven’s capture. It was obvious to us that the generals and their people do not talk to each other, nor did they seem to really like each other.

The second guard, a female Alleybasher, told us of the traps in the areas. She told us that Triel liked to get drunk and soak in her hot tub. She warned us that there was a monster in the floor – actually, a floor that was not really there. She said when we reached that place we could just walk along the edges to avoid falling into the trap with the monster. She told us that one of the wands is with the beasty, a red blob, of some sort, and that Triel uses a hook to pull the wand out of the hidden pit.

The other trap she told us about was triggered by the door on the far side of their meeting room.

Once we had as much information as we could get, Listens to Wind moved the prisoners into the closet. The prisoners were bound and gagged and McCreedy locked the door so they couldn’t get out.

We then crossed over the algae-lake in the hanging cage and headed to the entrance closest to us – the northern end of the beach this time. McCreedy did his standard stuff to open the door. When he opened it and peeked in he saw an empty room. There was a slight balcony around the upper part of the room. As McCreedy slunk in and noticed small holes in the floor and realized this was the foot-shredder room that one of the guards had told us about.

Through inspection he realized the trap had a physical release and not a pressure plate. He double checked the balcony and then moved into the darkened room while we waited outside.

Meanwhile, Kenric tried to find any secret doors on the outside but found none. Nor did Karina sense anything magical nearby.

While McCreedy was busy, Listen to Winds crept inside the room and began to inspect the floor to see if he could find a path that others had used to cross the room. Suddenly, four guards that were hidden on the ledge above jumped down from the balcony. The first attacked Karina, but she was able to blast him before he got to her and he fell to the ground – dead. I hit the another one with my axe and he crumpled to the floor.

Listen to Winds turned around and punched one of the guys attacking him. The poor guard took quite a beating. McCreedy somersaulted across the floor to get behind one of the Alleybashers but the rogue was too quick for him and scored a hit on the old man with his rapier.

Soon the fight was over. One of the Alleybashers was stone-cold dead and the other three were quickly and quietly tied up and taken as prisoners.

Kenric used his new cloak that we found with the froggy to walk up the walls to check out the balcony. There was a coil of rope attached to the wall but nothing else was up there. It appeared the guards accessed the balcony by climbing the rope.

McCreedy disabled the trap and jammed the door. We were able to cross the floor and move into the next area.

(Real world interruption when McC’s phone rings. It’s his RL fiancee. He states, “I’m in the middle of rolls. Can I call you back?” We all laugh, that is dedication.)

We continued to move through the area with McCreedy checking for traps and peeking through doors. In one room we found cages and we decided to move the prisoners into them for safe keeping. Listens to Wind then set up an alarm at the main door. He gave us the password should we ever need to pass this area – the password was “Jenya”.

We moved quietly down the hallway and came into a area with two tunnels. We took the tunnel on the left. To help him sneak better Kenric casts a spell on McCreedy’s eyeballs:.

We could see torches up ahead in the tunnels. The tunnel we were following led to a room that had a large stack of bones in the middle of it. McCreedy motioned us to move forward so we slowly crept into the large cave-room, looking around us, ready for things to jump out at us in the darkness. McCreedy searched the room as Kenric and Listens moved over to look at the bone pile.

Suddenly the bones stood up. A ginormous tyrannosaurus rex skeleton stood before us. The only one of us near the creature was Listens to Wind so it bit him . . . hard. Thus the battle began. Braedon called out to the power of Pelor and presented his holy symbol in the monster’s general direction. The symbol began to glow brightly with the power of the sun and the skeletalized dino suddenly turned and ran in the opposite direction. We chased after it. The creature was so large that it became stuck in the tunnel leading out of the cave. Soon we reduced the thing to bone splinters only to be confronted by two more undead creatures coming down the hallway from the opposite direction. These were definitely ogres…at one time. Now they were putrid, slow moving piles of flesh.

Braedon called out to Pelor once again and one just burst into a pile of dust. The second one kept moving forward to attack us. After a dramatic battle Listens to Wind finally dismantled the icky thing.

Afterward, McCreedy scouted the tunnel ahead. It led to another cave which held numerous carcasses. Further beyond that cave he could see another cave with walls that looked like they were made of black crystal and there was a black monolith set in the middle of the floor. Kenric examined the room and discovered that the monolith was actually more like a stone coffin set into the floor.

In the back of the room Kenric spied two dead dwarves. Korina detected magic in the room and McCreedy said he was getting an unsettling feeling.

Kenric could see green worms falling out of the dwarf corpses and then the corpses began to move. Kenric remembered something about corpses like these. Centuries ago there was a legend that had to do with the Spire of Long Shadows and a god named Kyuss. He thought he remembered that the god had failed at something important and then a plague of worms was unleashed over the world.

As I moved forward into the cave I began to feel a wave of coldness take over my body. But I remembered that I am a dwarf and I shake it off. Kenric was able to cast a massive spell into the cave filling it up with magical flames while Braedon summoned up a magic circle of protection around the group.

Suddenly Kenric, McCreedy and Hoppy all succumbed to that cold feeling of dread that had hit me earlier and they turned and ran away in fright in the opposite direction. They were fearful of the two dwarves that came shambling toward us. As I charged in with my axe drawn, I suddenly found a nasty green worm on my shoulder! One of the creatures had spit the thing out of its mouth! I grabbed the worm and pull it off of me just as it was burrowing between the plates of my armor and I squished it in my hands.

Listens to Wind leaped past me and lopped off the head of the undead dwarf nearest to me. As it fell to the ground worms began to pop out of its body, writhe around for a moment and then die. It was gross.

I sunk my axe into the head of the second dwarf and it did the same dying, falling, squirming, and dying act as its brother.

I checked out the armor on the dwarves. It was very old and carried the crest of Splintershield.

Kenric, McCreedy and Hoppy finally regained their senses and ran back to where we were at the coffin room. Once back, McCreedy examined the coffin in detail. The lid was very heavy and it took all of us to lift off the lid. The coffin was full of coins. The coins were old and were minted by the Hold of Sea Princes.

The coins were way too heavy for us to carry so we put the lid back on and agreed to come back for the money after we had dealt with Triel. We found it ironic that Triel was trying to get money for her cult and she had a fortune in old coins right in her own lair. She just couldn’t seem to defeat these two old, dead dwarves. Serves her right, I say.

We moved the dwarves’ corpses back to where they were originally because we wanted any others who happened by to think they were still “alive” in order to keep them from getting into the coffin.

We continued to move through the series of tunnels and caves. Off to the left was a hallway that appeared to be a cave that had collapsed. In the rubble we could see humanoid remains. McCreedy borrowed Skaven’s pink slippers from Karina and he used them to climb the wall to take a peek over the top of the rubble.

He could see that past the cave was another tunnel. We decided to all climb over the rubble so Braedon cast a spell on us to keep us quiet as we navigated the noisy rock pile.

Once we were all up and over the other side we could see up ahead a cave full of bodies. As McCreedy moved forward he extinguished the lights of the torches on the walls. As he reached for the last torch we all saw a flash of light. It was a magical trap and McCreedy was its victim. He was suddenly blinded.

Listens to Wind whispered quietly into his ear and then stepped silently past McCreedy and into the cave where he poked one of the bodies. At that point all of the bodies began to rise up off the floor. The fight was on but it was another very quick one.

Braedon once again called forth the power of Pelor and his holy symbol shone all around us with a brilliant light. Wherever the rays went they seared into the undead bodies and turned them to dust. In a matter of seconds there were no more undead…just piles of dust. Way to go Breadon…er..I mean Pelor.

Even though he was blind McCreedy searched the room with the help of Listens to Wind. It was slow going but they eventually covered the whole cave. There was one last tunnel leading out of this cave and into another well lit cave just ahead. At the entrance to the tunnel Listens to Wind could hear voices. It sounded like two voices.

We all crept forward until we could see a large gnoll walking in the cave before us. He appeared to be talking to himself, but one voice was high pitched and annoying, the other was a lower and growly voice.

We knew this had to be Tarkilar, the gnoll cleric who didn’t know he was dead. We didn’t know what to expect, but we didn’t want to take any chances either so we bum rushed the poor bastard in order to take him down as fast as possible.

The creature continued to talk to himself in that high pitched voice so we continued to smash his head in. He cast a number of spells to no avail and thrashed around with that chain of his. Soon we realized that there was actually something else in the room with us.

The thing, whatever it was, was invisible but soon Listens to Wind was able to pinpoint it and he grabbed it out of the air. We could then see a small creature that was red, had sharp horns and teeth, black eyes and black wings. The creature also had a wand gasped in its talons so Listens removed it from the little tyke and handed it over to Kenric.

Kenric realized the creature was a Quasit, a summoned familiar.

Kenric interrogated the foul little creature. His name was Gutterrutt and he was summoned by Trakilar over 10 years ago. Gutterrut confessed to us that Trakilar wanted to be a vampire but during his quest he ended up blowing himself up. The other problem was he just didn’t realize he was dead.

During the fight I had been wounded. Braedon checked my wounds and it appeared ok, but given that we were fighting a huecuva, we deemed it would be wise for me to visit our favorite paladin, Sir Alec Tercival, when we got back to town to get any diseases removed. I don’t know what Huecuva Blight is, but Kenric tells me I don’t want to get it.

We headed back to the coffin room and took the last tunnel fork. Listens to Wind and McCreedy did their tandem searching bit but it was Karina who sense two magical traps in the room. After further investigation we figured out they were sonic glyphs. Both ended up going off as McCreedy tried to disabled them. Luckily he was not injured or else he would have been both blind AND DEAF!

There was a long hallway and a room at the end of the tunnel which reminded me of Jzadarune. This hallway took us all the way back to the cages where we had deposited our prisoners earlier. We decided to head back to the beach and enter the main part of the fortress — the central part – and from what we had gathered, Triel’s part.

To the left of the door was a stone piece that was set in a groove. We realized it was a remote reset for a hatch. It appeared to be in the set position. The door was open and we saw a long, dark hallway. The hallway had arrow slits in the side walls. This was another one of the traps we had learned about.

After much discussion we decided to close the door and reset the lever to the “up” position. We heard stone rumbling on stone beneath us. So we tried the doors and found they could still be opened safely. So the lever was not a lock to the main doors.

I checked the stone floor and levers and could see they were of Kopru design. McCreedy determined the levers were connected under the floor to some remote mechanism. He thought that when the lever was down it meant the mechanism (whatever it was) would be “locked” in place and when it was up, the mechanism would be engaged. We recalled that when we came in the levers were up. Kenric checked for secret doors using one of his wands and found two disguised doors set into the floor – one set in front of each set of doors within this long hallway. McCreedy noticed there were two sections of stone on hinges on a hair trigger. He supposed that the levers locked and unlocked the secret doors in the floor. We decided to think of these more as “traps” from now on and we locked the traps by setting the levers in the down position.

Korina checked and found no magic spells in the room.

Listens to Wind decided to enter the long, trapped hallway with arrow-slits in the walls. He walked carefully over the floor and peaked into the first arrow slit. He could see behind the slit was a dark and empty room.

He made his way silently down the hallway, checking each arrow slit as he moved past and opened the large double doors at the end of the hallway when he reached them. Behind the doors he found a well-lit room with a beautiful carpet. The smell of lilacs hung in the air. Underneath the rug, the floor was polished basalt. Water ran down the walls and landed in small basins in the floor giving off a pleasant sound. There was a large table with chairs and art on the walls. This room was much different than the ones we found previously.

As he made his way back down the hallway to where we patiently waited, Listens to Wind realized there were no entrances to the rooms behind the arrow slits. He wondered how the archers got into the arrow rooms. He checked the archer rooms on the opposite side of the hallway as he headed back to us and found them identical to the ones on the north side of the hallway.

Even though there were no archers we decided to move back to Tarkilar’s area to enter the last part of the hold. Earlier we had noticed a small side-hallway leading from the cage area into the central part of the complex. Tactically, we decided this was going to be a much safer approach to Triel than to forge on ahead through the main rooms. It was too obvious and clearly there were lots of traps waiting for us.

As we moved out we noticed the beach was still eerily empty. We returned to the cage-room where our prisoners were still bound and gagged and headed through the side door. Listens to Wind and McCreedy did their searches. As they listened to the door at the end of the side hallway, they heard talking and laughter on the other side. Listens to Wind and McCreedy moved back away from the door. We prepared for battle.

Listens to Wind threw open the door and I ran in with my axe and shield leading the way. There were four torches set into the walls and lighting the room. There was a table in the room with five wooden chairs. Sitting in four of the chairs were four Suel tribesmen and the fifth tribesman was walking around pontificating.

Kenric cast from his sleep wand. Two guards sitting at the table immediately fell asleep, banging their heads on the wooden tabletop. McCreedy moved like a cat into the room. I rushed in and smashed the guard closest to the door who was still awake. Braedon followed me in. Korina shot the one standing up; apparently she didn’t like the speech he was giving.

The guards who were awake moved to stand up. One threw back his chair and ran towards the door on the farthest wall and opened it. As he rushed in Listens to Wind threw a javelin at the runner but missed. In an attempt to stop the guard from alerting the rest of the guards Kenric casts a charming spell on the runner.

“Stop," Kenric said sternly to the back of the fleeing guard. “I would like to talk to you.”

The man stopped dead in his tracks. Yeah for spells that actually work! I still prefer my axe.

McCreedy attacked one of the remaining guards and killed him outright – stuffing his rapier between his ribs. I then split the head of the one in front of me and joined Braeden as we raced across the room to help Listens to Wind with the runner.

Behind the open door we saw a large hallway. The tribesman which Kenric had befuddled turned around to look at Kenric.

“What is it?” he asked imploringly.

McCreedy then attempted to roll past the guard’s defenses and to get behind to cut him off. Despite the spell that was on him the guard must have sensed that McCreedy was too agressive and tried to stick him with his weapon. The gig was up so I just rushed up and buried my axe into the Suel’s chest – dropping him stone-cold dead. We later learned his name was Lonjiku.

The sleeping prisoners were then all tied up, gagged and dragged into the prison cells. Listens to Wind took the dead bodies into Trakilar’s area and dumped them. We searched the bodies and discovered only a little loot.

Braedon realized that three of these bodies were dead but one of them was actually still alive! Korina detected magic on each guard as each had a potion of healing on them. We relieved them of the potions. Once the guards were secured we searched the room and all we found was dirty dishes and mugs.

We then moved through the door that the guard DID NOT go through earlier. Two torches lit the hallway revealing two more doorways. Korina didn’t detect the presence of magic. Before following us Braedon locked the door to the guard room behind us.

The first door was locked and there was a trap mechanism set on it. The trap would be set loose if you were to just open the door. McCreedy tried to disable the trap and succeeded. He then attempted to unlock the door and succeeded at that, too – or so he thought!. Pretty good for a blind-and-almost-deaf-dude. As they were working, Listens to Wind and McCrredy heard water running from somewhere. They waved to us to move forward into the hallway to join them.

When we were all in place, Listens to Wind opened the door and we saw a large room beyond. There was a large pool of water in the room and a gorgeous naked, tattooed red head was lounging in it.

We had found Treil.

Korina detected the presence of magic in the room and whispered a quick warning, “There’s magic here!”

Kenric jumped through the doorway first. The door suddenly spun madly and blades popped out of the doorframe, impaling him between the door and the frame. With the trap sprung there was no need to be quiet so McCreedy yanked Kenric out of the way and dove into the room. (DM’s comment to describe Treil: “Well, she is naked, prone . . . and very clean.”)

I ran in next with Braedon hard on my heels.

Listens to Wind commanded Hoppy to stay in the hallway and play bodyguard to Korina. He then ran past all of us and lunges for Treil before she could free herself of the bath. (DM again: “That roll is high enough so that you can grab anywhere on her body.” Player: “So, if we grab certain places do we get a bonus?” DM: scowls)

Korina continued to search out the source of the magic she had detected while Kenric picked his bleeding self off the floor and run up behind LTW to get the iron manacles out his backpack. McCreedy took the manacles from Kenric while LTW and Triel continued to struggle in the pool of water and tried to get the manacles on but failed. I grabbed one of the ends of the manacles and tried to get them hooked onto one of Triel’s thrashing limbs but failed – she was just too soapy.

Treil desperately tried to break free from LTW’s grasp but was unsuccessful. Braedon finally casts a holding spell on her and Triel suddenly went still. The power of Pelor came through once more and overcame the agent of his hated enemy, Hextor.

Listens to Wind quickly pinned her to the floor and put a hand over her mouth to prevent her from speaking or casting any spells of her own.

LTW then did something none of us was expecting. He slapped her butt. We all looked a little dumbfounded at our hulking Suel companion. Well, maybe that was just a Suel custom to let your enemy know they had lost and to stop struggling. Maybe…I hope. (McCreedy: “Man, I so wish I wasn’t blinded right now.”)

Korina found a large chest under a hammock strung up in a corner of the room and in the chest she found Triel’s gear and the source of the magic she had sniffed out.

Kenric took the other manacles out of LTW’s backpack and put those on Triel’s ankles so that she was doubly secured. This is the nasty-chick that broke out of Cauldron’s in-escapable jail. We had her wrists and ankles bound, we had her blind-folded and we had her mouth gagged. We weren’t taking any chances.

McCreedy sauntered over to where Korina was to check out Triel’s plentiful chest to search for booby traps. [It took the DM and players quite some time before the laughter stopped and we could get back to the game – as you can imagine.]

We searched Triel’s bathroom and discovered the water was coming up from the bottom of the pool. We threw all of Triel’s gear and the gear from the other prisoners into the plentiful chest and headed out to clear the remaining rooms of any stray guards. Because Triel had no clothing we wrapped her in the blanket. Who says the Moonhowlers aren’t civilized?!

We moved back down the hallway to the next. McCreedy checked and found the door was unlocked and the room beyond was quiet. Listens to Wind softly opened the door and saw a hallway with torches set in the walls and three more doors. They listened at the doors and could hear talking coming from the room on the left, but nothing on the door to their right or the one in at the far end of the hall. We decided to take out whatever was talking so we opened the door and found a large bunk room full of Suel warriors. I rushed in and tried to hit one of the guards but missed. Listens to Wind and McCreedy ran in to help me. Braedon took another Suel on and smacked him good with his morning star.

We began attacking freely and as a cohesive group. The door behind us suddenly burst open and three Alleybasher guards came running towards us. Listens to Wind ran to intercept them taking the first Alleybasher out with a mighty swing of his silver double-bladed sword.

McCreedy and I mop up the rest of the Suel. I took a few scrapes in the fight, but I just laughed. Listens to Wind killed another Alleybasher leaving one left who promptly threw down her rapier and bow and surrendered. We tied her up and gagged her. She told us her name was Tilabast. We sorted through the bodies and piled the live ones in one room and moved their gear and the dead ones to another room.

We opened up the remaining door at the end of the hall and saw a dark and empty room beyond. Korina sensed the presence of magic ahead of us and about a dozen feet below our feet. We saw a hook on a long pole leaning against the wall near the doorway. This was the beasty room we were told about. Getting down on our hands and knees we all were able to discover the floor wasn’t really there – it was just an illusion. There was only a three-foot ledge going around the room while the center of the room was some kind of pit. Kenric tried to disbelieve the illusion but he was not able to see past it.

Kornia grabbed the hook near the doorway and stuck it through the illusionary floor. She fished around until she found the last water wand and then hauled it up. Kenric caught a glimpse of some strange sacs of red goo the clung to the handle of the hook. He thought about it for a moment and then realized they were creatures called blood bloats. He told us there were usually found deep underground and were similar to leaches. They are extra weak to fire.

Suddenly I was able to overcome the illusion of the floor covering the pit and I could see the bottom of the pit was full of water and was teaming with the blood-bloats. I told Kenric to throw a fireball. We emptied the room. Korina brought the wand with her and shook off the blood-bloats that had attached themselves to it. Kenric raised his hands, said the magic words and sent in a blast of hellish fire into the pit. Once they were all dead we left the room.

Well, we had finally found the last of the wands and had captured Triel. I think our work here was done. So, with Triel in tow we carefully made our way out onto the beach and then took several trips in the gondola to cross Kopru Lake. We gathered up at the guard shack and then made a grand processional out the tunnel. We hauled everything outside. And I mean EVERYTHING. It took a long time. It was pitch black outside and raining monkeys. We could occasionally see a flash of lightening in the distance.

Water was pouring down the hillside in rivers. When we reached the city gates we found the gate guards huddled under the wall for protection from the pounding rain. They saw we had someone wrapped in a blanket so they charged us one silver to bring her in. Stupid gate tax.

We made it through town and stumbled into the Shrine of Pelor were we immediately gsve our loot to Ixi to guard. We sent word and soon Justin arrived with one of her regular guards with her; Smitty Handrekal, the rest of the unit were new guards we didn’t know. Justin is shocked when we showed her Triel.

Soon Jenya arrived and freaked out that we had recovered all of the wands.

“I need help,” she pleaded with Braedon and Kristoff. ”I need at least eight priests to help cast these wands to lower the Lake and we need to do this immediately!" A look of desperation was in her eyes. Cauldron was drowning.

Before we could leap into action, we knew we had to deal with Triel first. She was dangerous and had escaped the Cauldron prison once, already. We were not about to let her do it again.

Since all of the able-bodied priests of Cauldron were going to meet outside St.Cuthbert in just a few minutes to deal with the flood, we decided to take Triel with us and get her safely in the hands of the law at Town Hall. Outside Town Hall and the Cauldron barracks, we found a cluster of guards patrolling the area and got them to find Captain Skellerang. Once he heard The Moonhowlers had caught the infamous Triel Eldurast and that she was just outside the gates he called out the entire prison guard to help. We watched as around fifty guards were mustered to take her into custody.

We have long surmised that Triel must have had help on the inside to escape prison the first time so we decided to just hang back and observe to see if any of the guards reacted strangely to Triel’s presence. We didn’t see anything suspicious, but we were feeling anxious that we should be heading over to St. Cuthbert to help Jenya with the flood. We decided there were just a few people we could trust in the immediate vicinity so Kenric cast a simple spell. When he was done he nonchalantly picked out Captain Teerson Skellerang, Sir Alec Tercival and Justin from the crowd and pointed at them each in turn. He then whispered a message into the wind warning them of our suspicions.

There was a lot of orderly chaos before us, sputtering torches and steaming lanterns casting light in the driving rain around the Town Hall courtyard. Soldiers barking orders and tremendous excitement as they bundled Triel off to her fate in the prison. I figured the spell must have worked because I saw all three of them jolt and look around for a moment as the magic words reached their ears. Justin and Alec finally located us and then they nodded silently to Kenric, letting us know they got the message and understood. Teerson, however, looked grim and whispered back to Kenric.

“Those are bold words,” he said, “and I’ll need some kind of proof before I go suspecting any of my men!” I think he took Kenric’s words more as an accusation than a helpful warning.

Just then I saw one of the many kids who work for the Crier’s Guild speed by on some important mission and I jumped in front of him to halt his mad dash.

“Wait!” I yelled at him. “I need you to send an important message to Kraghammer. Can you do that?” I asked him.

“Yeah, sure. If the price is right,” he replied. These kids are getting a bit too shrewd in my opinion. Back in the day we would just take the message and get what coin they gave us. There wasn’t any of this wheelin’ and dealin’ on the fly like this.

“Ok, kid,” I said to him, “here’s a silver and I want you to tell Kraghammer that Braenna is back in town and he can meet me at the Shrine of Pelor in an hour if he still wants to meet.”

The kid took my coin and then sprinted off into the stormy night.

Meanwhile, the guard manage to bustle Triel down to level-four of the Cauldron city dungeon. We all trailed behind just to make sure she got to where she needed to be without any incident. While the first three floors of the jail were full, there were only four other prisoners on this level. Once Triel was safely locked up Listens to Wind got both sets of his manacles back.

{Hilarious in-game comment from Kenric: “Oh shit, I have a Quasit in my pocket.”)

Just as we are leaving, Braedon approached Sir Alex Tercival and pulled him over to us so we could speak with him in private. Braeden explained that we now have all of the water wands and that Alec could help during the lake-lowering project that was about to begin. But before we left he asked the paladin if he could check out McCreedy and my injuries.

Alec took a look at Gramps blindness first and then shook his head.

“I cannot help this one, but if we are going to where the others priests are gathering to lower the lake water then I know someone who might be able to help him.”

Then he got to me and the big, handsome, muscular….hmmm, what am I thinking. I know he’s a hunk but I have a date with a rock star later tonight. Focus, Braenna. Focus!

We told him that I had been scratched and bitten by a heucuva and we fear I may have contracted The Blight.

“I cannot tell if you have the infection or not,” Dreamy McDream Paladin said in his deep, rustic voice, “but a prayer to St.Cuthbert should cure you if you have contracted it.”

And at that moment he but both of his large hands onto my shoulders and closed his eyes and mumbled something….I was busy checkin’ out his pecks. Nice view. So, I really have no idea what he said. But then he pulled back and nodded.

“It is done.” was all he said. So quick? I was disappointed.

We all left the prison and hustled back out into the driving rainstorm. It was coming down in buckets and the wind had snuffed out a number of the city lamps, leaving the town unusually dark and blustery.

Just as we arrived in front of St. Cuthbert, that same Crier boy came running up to me and delivered a reply from Master Kragghammer.

“He said your date is at seven bells and he will meet you at the pavilion then.”

The boy looked up at me and held out his hand. Geesh! I had already paid him a silver and I’m sure Kraghammer paid him, now I was dumping a handfull of coppers in his grubby hands. I might be in the wrong business!

Jenya was in all her glory. News of the wand recovery had traveled like lightning and a huge crowd of townsfolk had gathered. Rufus was there; he was now second in command at the Church of the Cudgel, and Jenya gave him one of the wands. Asfelkir and his second in command, Zachary Aslaxin III were also there and they each got a wand.

Alec took McCreedy over to see Asfelkir and explained his blindness issue. The half-orc-high-priest looked at Gramps for about half a second and then, while holding a holy symbol in one hand and raising the other straight over his head he shouted to the heavens and called down the power of Kord. Suddenly Asfelkir got a wild look in his eyes and with his raised hand he slapped McCreedy across the face – hard.

“I can see!” McCreedy yelled to the crowd. “Halleluiah, I can see!”

Wow, remind me not to go to Kord for my next doctor visit. That looked like it hurt.

Now at the lake there were two priests from each church as Embril and Ike Iverson of Wee Jas suddenly appeared with a rousing fanfare from the crowd. We could also see nobles, the mayor and city patrol guards there as well.

Jenya gave each of the eight priests an assignment, outlining which area of the lake they should concentrate on. She also told them to empty each of their wands until no magic remained within them.

While Braedon and Kristoff each head off to take the Pelor quarter of the lake, the remainder of the Moonhowlers decide to follow the priests to insure their safety. Each of us takes a cleric to guard.

Before we leave, Jenya stops the crowd and begins to speak. “I have one last announcement to make.” She shouted to the crowd. “As a united city, the city of Caldron, we all made sure these wands were safely procured. Let everyone know that each church in our wonderful city contributed in their own way to make sure we were safe this night. However, few of you know these wands, the only things standing between us and a drowned city, were stolen and ransomed by an evil cult before they could arrive. I want everyone to know we owe a huge thank-you to our very own Moonhowlers for tracking down the perpetrators, recovering these wands and bringing the evil cult to justice.” A huge applause and shouts of much love and hero worship from our fellow Cauldronites followed. Yadda yadda yadda.

Ok, then Braedon and Kristoff took their wands and headed to the street assigned to them. Quite a few of the townsfolk fell in behind Braeden and followed him to the water’s edge. The water has risen to take a block and a half of the town. Korina stuck with him to make sure he was safe. He began waving that wand around tentatively at first, and then he started getting into it, playing up to the crowd who cheered him on with each mighty swoop and flourish he performed. The water slowly began to recede.

He tried to keep pace with the other clerics. Kenric stuck with Kristoff who was nervous and wasn’t at all sure he could control the wand but then he began to cast. His small contingent of followers cheered and applauded. Listens followed Embril who had amassed a large crowd following her. Meanwhile was behind Zachary. He hammed it up, using the wand like a sword.

Braedon noticed that the last twenty feet was very muddy and the water level was well past the road. In fact it was much lower than what it normally was like. Because the water was so low people began pointing out into the lake claiming they had seen the beast of the lake.

Finally, the wands were depleted and the priests and the crowd began to disperse. It was almost seven bells so I ran to the Hold to clean up and change for my date! I found Yathaub and Bellterton Hamstock instructing the dwarven children on how to hang up gold banners with a black hammer on it.

Korina, Braedon and McCreedy head over to the Pavilion to see if they could get into tonight’s concert with Tenacious Tendencies, but Kenric decides to call it a night and left for the Academy.

The Pavilion was packed and much to their dismay there were no tickets left and the music was already loud and crazy as Griffon Attack was warming up the crowd.

I finally finished getting all dressed up and rushed back to the Pavilion. I arrived just when Kraghammer showed up. He called out to get my attention just as we were both heading to the huge tent’s front entrance flaps. He grins at me as he flashed two tickets and back stage passes. We laughed at the long line waiting to get in and were ushered straight in. Wow!

Griffin Attack was on stage and were tearing things up. Kraghammer told me that he and The Harpies would be playing next.

When Braedon and Korina finally get to the front of the line they tell them they don’t have tickets but that they were “expected” inside. Braedon showed the ticket-takers his silver shield medallion he had won at the Demonskar Ball and smiled his most charming smile. Somehow that cheesey ploy worked and they let him in!

McCreedy was right behind them but the ticket takers stopped him. He didn’t smile but gruffly showed them one of the many town guard badges he had forged and said, “Official business. Let me through.” And those stupid ticket takers let him in too!

Once inside Braedon asks Korina to dance with him. And he does. In full plate armor. I’m impressed.

Meanwhile I was hanging out backstage with Kraghammer and he introduced me to his band members. I met Matilda, a human woman in her sixties, who plays the lute, the dulcimer and sings vocals. There was Jasmine, who is a halfling female who plays lyre and also sings. Then I met Shorty Catguttsqueezer, who is a guy but dresses in drag when playing with the Harpies! Kraghammer, who plays drums for the band, then introduced me to the group as his “new buckla.” I look at him oddly. New? What does that mean? Exactly?

Then they all took to the stage. I had a great view of the band. They ran through eight songs and they finally finished with a terrific poetic ballad about the tragic romance of Prince Thaupin and the peasant girl, Jace. That story doesn’t end very pretty, but its an great tune.

Then Tenacious Tendencies, the famous bardic-adventuring group comprised of CC Rundurson (a dwarf) and Tender (an elf) take the stage. The crowd went wild.

Tenacious Tendencies recounted their recent adventures to the crowd, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for what they were about to say. In fact, to this day I am still puzzled.

The lights dimmed. CC cleared his deep basso voice and began . . .

“Thank you Cauldron for your wonderful hospitality, as always. And thank you Kraghammer and the Harpies for that magnificent opening. My fellow adventure lovers, Tender and I have been coming here for many years now to share the exciting tales of our travels together. And for many years we have entertained you with these stories that have come at the very risk of our lives. You, Cauldronites, don’t have to brave the dark dungeons or face the fierce monsters for we, Tender and I, and many other adventurers like us, do the dirty work, shall we say, and then bring those tales back to you…in the safety of a warm audience hall like this one. (he took a moment and looked around and smelled the air and stretched his great arms).
But tonight I bring you a tale that, perhaps, you should look upon as more than just a tale. For tonight, it is the opinion of Tender and I, you, dear peace loving townspeople of Cauldron, are no longer truly safe. No. I am afraid not. Tonight I bring you both a tale and a warning, for we think a terrible danger is nigh upon you. (he paused…dramatically) Tonight I pray to Clangeddin Silverbeard that you take our tale to heart. Gird yourself with our warnings for all is not well outside your high basalt walls.
Two seasons ago, Tender and I left Cauldron to seek out your mightiest of heroes, the intrepid Xerlon Splintershield and his mighty band of compatriots named Waterman’s Hallow. (he paused for the expected applause and cheers he knew was forthcoming for Cauldron’s mightiest heroes.) As you are all very much aware, Xerlon and his . . .his army have been campaigning in the foothills of Mount Herlon for many years now. His bravado has wiped the jungles around that dreaded peak of the Wartnock orcs, the bloodthirsty Ixtroclyn Suel, all three branches of the Feranglund gnolls and defeated their monstrous guardian, the Vlackthorne Gruel. (another pause followed by raucous applause from the audience. These guys are masters at working a crowd!) In recent years, Xerlon had set his sights ever higher and he and the Waterman’s Hallow have battled their way inch by inch up the slopes of that dreaded mountain where they faced and defeated trolls and giant-kin alike. It was said they had reached the Scaled Maw last spring and it was this mighty cavern that Tender and I meant to see, the lair of ancient Hookface, himself.
The trek took us no more than a week’s time to reach Mount Herlon as there were no foul beasts to oppose us. So thorough was Xerlon and the Watermen that Tender and I merely strolled through the jungle on well-cut paths and we took our time camping at night in groomed campsites. It was like a vacation in the King’s Forest, of all things.
When we reached the foot of the great mountain, we could see Xerlon had constructed a mighty road that twisted up the black peak. Elegant stonework graced the first two miles of that road making our passage over the plentiful streams and tumbling waterfalls quite easy. The road was wide, as if Xerlon planned to bring siege engines all the way to the top. The fine masons of Redgorge had been very busy, indeed. The last mile of the road was nothing more than a muddy track with lashed logs providing egress across the many treacherous gaps and gullies that plague the upper reaches of Herlon.
Tender and I saw the Maw before we found the camp. As we traversed the last bend in the path before spilling out upon a volcanic messa, we could see the top of the mighty cavern, named the Scaled Maw. Over a hundred feet high and nearly twice as wide, the hole at the top of that mountain opened up like the mouth of some great beast. Tender and I not even a perceptible morsel we would have been. The stench of brimstone filled the air and a thick grey haze prevented any views of the lands either below or beyond. It was as if we had walked into another world.
I would have just kept walking around that bend, slack-jawed and stupefied by the view before me, if it were not for Tender’s better instincts. She grabbed me rough about the shoulders and we both stumbled behind a large rock outcropping before we could be seen. The near edge of Xerlon’s camp, or what was left of it, lay not fifty yards from our hiding place. The camp had been huge, well over five hundred men must have called that place their home at one point. The buildings, many of them built of solid stone, were laid out in an orderly fashion away from us until the far edge of the camp ended just under the boundaries of the Maw itself. But, what once must have been a marvel of military strategic command, was now a burnt and blackened mass.
The entire messa in front of us had been blasted by an incredible heat. The buildings that still stood were blackened and drooped as if melted wax. And the whole blacked mess writhed with a hoarde of foul red wyrms. So many dragons crept and squirmed about within the wreckage of that camp that to count them would have been near impossible. My first thought was to grab my axe and lay to those blasted creatures. Revenge was a quick and powerful thought that overcame me in those moments. Revenge for my countrymen, revenge for my colleagues in arms and revenge for my good friend, Xerlon. But, alas, Tender and I have tread many leagues together and she knew my heart in an instance and she knew the result would only bring my quick death. Oh sure, Tender and I could have slew any ten of those beasts that day, but . . . I tell you truth . . . there were so many more than that.
The sight disgusted me as the wyrms slithered amidst those blackened ruins and on occasion one would cry out as it found the black remains of one of the Waterman’s Hallow. It would bellow then and hold the decrepit corpse within its jaws for just a moment so that all of its nasty brothers and sisters could see what it had found. There would be a quick battle then between those nearest as the dragons would snap and snarl and try to wreast the treat from its jaws, but more often than not it would be in vain as the dragon would spin away, gulping down its meal with the sound of crackling bones and snapping metal weapons and armor.
It was horrible, my friends. Tender and I could only bear to watch a few minutes before the sight began to nauseate us. We were about to leave that dreaded place when all of a sudden a figure emerged from that massive cave – and it looked human. The figure walked out among the swarm of massive red dragons as if it were quite at home there and then it spoke to them, “Feast, my children,” it said in a loud male voice. “Feast and find what treasure you can among these foolish men, for soon, very soon will be your time and we take our revenge. Remember, brave ones, the men you may do with as you please, but the women must be brought whole and healthy to your father. Do not disregard this for this is the law of Hookface.”
We did not know what the figure meant by this, but it troubled us greatly. My legs wobbled as we quickly slunk back down the mountain that day and we traveled only a few days in order to bring this tale to you, my Cauldronites. I hope our warnings come in time for you to protect you and your loved ones because if that unholy host descends upon Cauldron, I will promise you, all will be lost.
So it is with a great sadness that Tender and I announce we will be leaving you now. We have been invited to the great free city of Greyhawk to help judge the great games held there each spring."

And with that, in complete silence, Tenacious Tendencies left the stage, then they left the Pavilion, and, as I hear it, left the city itself that very instant.

Kraghammer and the rest of the Harpies looked glumly about and the mood in the Pavilion was somber. Only the sound of the driving rain crashing down on the canvas could be heard. Slowly and quietly people exited the giant tent and wandered home. Me and Krags left for some midnight drinks at the Tipped Tankard, but even though this is MY diary, I know full-well you all are reading it, so, that’s all you’ll hear from me about the rest of my night. What happens in Cauldron stays in Cauldron, if you know what I mean.

During this time, though, Kenric had taken the Quasit, Gutterrut, to the Academy where he turned the pathetic creature over to the conjurers. After a brief argument they decided to anchor him with their spells and keep him in a pentacle that was etched into the floor of one of their lab rooms.

Kenric thought this was a bad idea.

As soon as the Quasit was taken out of our magic backpack, one of the wizards casts a spell and a green ray had shot out and struck the thing, bathing it in a green glow. Gutterrut had screamed and struggled, but he was held fast. Then they chucked him into the pentacle where other forces took over, effectively trapping the creature here and preventing him from returning home – wherever that might be.

Kenric then left the Academy to find Meerthan and Celeste at the Drunken Morkoth. He wanted to ask for their help with his assignment to investigate the portal found in Abradius’s room. He found them having a late dinner with Fellian and Fario. The two elves seemed bored as Meerthan and Celeste talked.

Kenric updated them on what we, the Moonhowlers, had recently been up to. Celeste reminded Kenric that she needed us to come up with a team to do some investigations into the Ebon Triad. He told her we were working on it. Kenric then asked if they would like to join his little expedition group investigating the portal. Meerthan said he couldn’t go, but that he had a personal interest in seeing Kenric succeed at the task.

Celeste gladly offered to go along.

The two then offered to teach Kenric a few more spells to help him with the investigation and Meerthan asked Kenric to come back after lunch tomorrow with one of the spells he had given him to memorize.

And that, my friends, was the end of a very, very, very long day.



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