Monday, February 26, 2007
Via has been up to no good, undergoing her training in the cutting ways from several agents of the Last Laugh. Her last night had brought her to a warehouse, where she planted evidence of some sort of magical circle and associated books. Upon her return, she meets Fish for the third time. He notifies her that her services are needed as the thirteenth of the Shackleborn, one of the previous having been killed. She is given a chance to provide a substitute, but this is a dangerous task. The remaining Shackleborn is located far from Cauldron, and his location is currently being divined. In the meantime, Via is to wear a magical ring, that should she become unconscious will teleport her to safety, in the arms of the Last Laugh. Via grudgingly accepts the "gift", perhaps suspecting its dire nature.
The next morning sees much activity. In order to seek information about the string of murders, they split up into two groups. Tlaloc and Via head to a seedy bar (most definitely not the Slippery Eel), while Tai, Yeshua, Arvastan, and Casorati make their way to the City Guard's barracks to make inquiries. On the way through the warehouse district, they notice a rumbling tremor passing under their feet, as if something is burrowing beneath them. They follow it for a few moments, until the ground swells and disgorges a fiendish Umber Hulk. Its confusing gaze brings madness to many of the nearby folks, who stampede and fight each other in confusion. Beppo, fruit merchant, miraculously lifts his heavy cart and stumbles off without a hitch.
The battle takes the sometimes-confused adventurers by surprise, many of them without even their weapons. Taking that in stride, a spell-filled battle ensues. The umber hulk retreats often by burrowing, surfacing in the warehouses and shops lining the street to rampage about. Its goal seems not to harass and kill the adventurers, but to cause as much havoc to the businesses around as possible. After nearly three minutes of confused melee, the end for this fiendish beast is heralded by the arrival of the half-orc barbarian Tlaloc and his carried friend, Via the would-be assassin. Just as the cavalry arrives, Tai the duskblade musters one last spell-enhanced blow, finishing the rampaging beast. Tlaloc, frustrated, hacks it into pieces.
As this is going on, the confused Casorati had ambushed Via with a spear. Via begins a series of punishing strikes against him, until she is rendered unconscious with the butt of Tai's spear. With this final blow, there is a thrum of power and she is transported to another location, much to the surprise of the other party members.
Terseon Skellerang, Captain of the City Guard, arrives with fifty guards to combat the monster, and is much disappointed to find it already destroyed. He assures the group that he can handle the investigative portion, and takes their statements.
Meanwhile, Via awakes in a cell, deep beneath Cauldron...
Friday, February 23, 2007
It is in this season that rumors begin to arise. It seems that the sneaking scourge of yesteryear has returned in force: nighttime abductions have again begun to plague Cauldron. This time, however, the victims are not vanishing into slaver's dens. They are being found dead in places around the city, mutilated in disturbing ways. Rumor speaks to the condition of these unfortunates: teeth pulled out, eyes and ears removed.
This is a time of year for new beginnings, as gardens are planted and oaths renewed. With the influx of travelers moving through Cauldron, suspicions are high. Rumor flies over like a many-tongued raven, spreading ill like scattering feathers. Many are calling for an increase in the town guard, an increase that Terseon Skellerang has long been asking for. Broadsheet sellers are making excellent business, hawking rumor of increased taxes and murderous strangers running amok. Some of these broadsheets say that this is the revenge of former city guard and cleric of Hextor Triel Elderast, who according to popular rumor has been seen again in Cauldron, free from captivity and eager for revenge on those who put her in the dungeons...
After an impressive display of vocal art, Arvastan put down Annah Taskerhill like a three-legged dog to take the position of Nidrama in the Demonskar dance later that night. Annah is not pleased. For the duration of the night, there are attempts by the Stormblades as a whole to poison the party's meal, trip them during dances, and generally make them out to be fools. Barring the dancing, all of these attempts fail spectacularly.
The riddle competition is solved by Via, who correctly answers "bow." She is now a Fellow of the Bluecrater Academy's Society of Scholarship, and has access to their copious libraries.
During the main course, the servants bringing in the barbequed fiendish dire board trip, almost dashing the meal to the ground. In an uncanny display of both reflexes and strength, Alek Tercival rolls under the the tray and lifts it effortlessly onto his shoulders. The room is silent with awe, knowing that this strength is far beyond what a normal man could muster. Dalam, a half orc "security" expert, and Bolar, a gnomish cartographer, get into a spat about this feat of strength. Bolar puts forth Tlaloc as his champion, and Dalam and Tlaloc alternate lifting a rubbish cart until Dalam collapses into the mud. Tlaloc is gracious in his victory, lifting his unconscious opponents face from the muck to loudly announce, "I won."
During the dancing, the Stormblades actually make a decent showing of themselves, tripping and fascinating a few of the Heavy Rollers. Its embarassing, but hardly enough to eclipse their stellar performances so far this evening.
Tai is revealed as Nabthatoron, and Zachary Aslaxin II is revealed as Surabar Spellmason. Both put forth a good showing in this difficult dance, and the arrival of Arvastan disguised (very well, mind you) as none other than Annah Taskerhill in the costume of Nidrama the angel is icing on an large cake of embarassment for the Stormblades. Todd ogles Arvastan, quite openly.
Both the Stormblades and the Heavy Rollers are recognized as Heroes of Cauldron, and awarded the Shields of Valor, giving them great sway in dealing with the people of Cauldron, both noble and common.
The rest of the party spent the few days before the Demonskar ball preparing for future violence, purchasing magical weapons, and proselytizing on the streets of Cauldron in the case of Yeshua. Yeshua's sermon attracted a few disenfranchised souls seeking something more spiritual than their everyday existence in Cauldron. What this pans out as remains to be seen.
The Ball was a success, with the party arriving in the heighth of splendor, adorned with fantastic costumes. They met several key players in the nobility of Cauldron, including the politically-minded wastrel Lord Vhalantru, the arch-mage's representative Celeste of the Green Isle, the noble couple Zachary and Margaret Aslaxin, and the Lord Mayor Sevelen Navelant.
Others were introduced, and much transpired that shall be written later.