Monday, February 26, 2007

Threats, Opportunity, and an Umber Hulk Rampage

It has been a relaxing Fireseek for our adventurers, following the hectic events of the late winter. Yeshua and Tlaloc spend a few days of every week on trips into the nearby savannahs for hunting, Arvaston spends his days performing his arts in exchange for tales of the mouthbreathers, while Tai and the others spend their money eating delicious meals both home and at local eateries. This idyllic time is at an end, however, as they begin investigating more dangerous matters.

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...

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