Cauldron

Episode 35

Vaprak's Voice

1 Growfest [2 April]

The Company of Seekers has stepped through the giant-sized portcullis between the outside and inside of Vaprak’s Voice. They are in a rough-hewn hallway that curves down and to the right. Fortuna sneaks ahead to scout things out. The hall opens up into a larger area. Five nasty-looking piles of animal skins occupy the chamber. Several sacks, clay lamps and vases, cookware, and crude tools are scattered here and there. Six torches have been jammed into cracks in the walls, three of which are currently lit. There are two other exits from the cave.

The tunnel to the left opens out into a long hallway of an entirely different construction from the rough tunnels the group has been in. A very long and straight, twenty-foot-wide, twenty-five-foot-high corridor stretches out to the left and right. Square plates on the ceiling fill the corridor with a soft, grey light. To the left there is a pair of large, ironbound wooden doors, while to the right the corridor is eventually blocked by a cave-in. The party decides to leave this tunnel for later.

The other tunnel goes a short distance to the north before opening into another chamber. Fortuna and Enzo think they can see some movement there. Enzo turns himself invisible and scouts ahead. He sees another large, rough chamber that reeks of sweaty, unwashed brutes and scorched meat. Four twelve-foot-long stone beds covered with filthy animal skins lie near the walls. A huge fire pit dominates the middle of the cave, under a chimney hole in the forty-foot-high ceiling above. The charred, dismembered skeleton of some sort of deer or elk lies over the bed of ashes. A pile of one-foot-diameter polished rock spheres is stacked neatly against the far wall, with a hammer and a chisel nearby. Sitting on a large stool next to these is a hill giant, who is polishing one of the stones with an emory. Another giant sits next to the fire pit, poking at the animal bones with a stick. A third giant sits on the edge of one of the beds. Three other exits lead from this cave.

Enzo retreats and the adventurers form a plan. Enzo lays down some oil in the hallway, while Fortuna positions herself up near the ceiling. A challenge is shouted, and the giants come to investigate. In the ensuing battle they manage to get in a few blows, but the might of the heroes is far too much. Enzo also takes one out of the battle early on with a Tasha’s Hideous Laughter spell. The giants are quickly dispatched.

The party moves up one of the tunnels leading from this chamber, over to where the giant that Enzo put to sleep lies. Baker insists on letting the giant stand up and arm himself before attacking so that he may die honourably, but no one else is listening to him and the brute is dead within two rounds.

Moving back to the hill giant cave, the group takes a quick look at the other two exits. To the northeast, a tunnel runs a short distance to a crude wall of logs and boards bound together with rope and huge iron nails. Bits of yellowish daylight can be seen around the edges and cracks, so this appears to be another way to the outside. The barrier could probably be hefted aside by a giant without too much trouble, but makes for an effective barrier against most would-be intruders.

The last tunnel is also short and ends in a set of double doors made of iron-bound wood. The party does a thorough search of the hill giant lair before proceeding. There are four burlap sacs containing the personal belongings of the hill giants. Aside from the usual mundane items, they contain a total of 2,100 silver pieces, 950 gold pieces, a silver ring worth 400 gp, and a gold-plated halfling skull, worth perhaps 250 gp.

The group moves over to the double doors and Fortuna picks the lock. Baker and Mott swing them open. Before them is a large rectangular room with a prism-shaped, fifty-foot-high ceiling. A shiny, metal furnace stands against the north wall, with rumbling, vertical blue flames inside. A large mound of broken anvils is stacked against one side of the furnace, and several more anvil fragments lie heaped inside the furnace, glowing red-hot. An enormous smithing hammer lies on a big iron anvil in the middle of the room, and several more anvil are stacked in another corner near the furnace. A great chair sits in the southwestern corner astride a huge metal chest. A seven-foot-wide cubic cage of silver and platinum, its bars etched with mystical symbols, lies nearby, next to a pile of metal scrap. Standing next to the furnace is a twelve-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide fire giant holding an enormous warhammer in one hand and a wand in the other.

The heroes waste no time in negotiation and wade right into battle. The giant uses his wand to cast displacement on himself, which makes for a frustrating battle. He hits extremely hard with his warhammer: In one round, with Mott near to full hit points, the giant uses his three attacks to take Mott to -6 (over 70 hits points of damage). But the Seekers have grown impressively powerful of late, and even despite frequent misses due to the displacement effect, they are able to do tremendous damage themselves. Enzo then gets to cast dispel magic for the first time ever, and he succeeds in dispelling the displacement. Things are quickly looking grim for the giant, and in desperation he uses another wand to cast a cure spell on himself. But it is too little too late, and before he can act again he is dead.

The party takes a breather and gets everyone cured, then does a thorough search of the room. The giant himself is carrying three wands, and his warhammer and chainshirt are magical, though sized for a large creature of course. He also carries a key. Fortuna takes a look at the iron chest under the giant chair. It has a combination lock on it. She doesn’t detect any traps, so sets to work on the lock. It takes her a couple of minutes, but she soon has it figured out. As she lifts the lid there is a tremendous explosion of fire. Her reflexes kick in and she deftly rolls out of the way, taking no damage. Inside the chest is another chest – the space in-between had been filled with alchemist’s fire, a trap which Fortuna hadn’t perceived. Opening the second chest reveals several nice magic items and some cash (listed at the end of this narrative). There is also a note in the chest:

Dugobras –

Just because the cages are finished and Grehlia left, you think there’s nothing more for you here and you can just waltz out? Fine then, go ahead you big bastard, and good riddance! But when I’m head of the Cauldron town guard someday you may find you have to answer to Captain Triel Eldurast, and you may regret your actions!

Triel of course was the leader of the group that stole the wands of control water several months ago, and was hiding out in the Kopru ruins below Cauldron.
Excerpt from Episode 18-19 notes:

She is none other than the notorious Triel Eldurast, a one-time town guard who escaped punishment after murdering several of her fellow guards while on duty. This took place nearly ten years ago, so the specifics have grown hazy in people’s memories. Triel escaped the city, and nothing was ever heard from her again. Everyone just assumed she was killed by orcs once she left.

The strange cage of silver and platinum is examined. It does not radiate magic, but those with knowledge of the arcane who study it can tell that conjuration, abjuration, and necromancy magic were part of its creation. This information sparks another remembrance for several members of the party: While exploring the Kopru Ruins, they found a large, mostly empty workroom. Upon examining the bits of metal and tools lying about, Enzo was able to determine that the room was used to build some sort of magic device, most likely something connected to the schools of conjuration, abjuration, and necromancy. The cage is not magical however, so what the connection might be, if any, remains a mystery.

The party debates what to do with the cage. It is obviously valuable, but it weighs over 300 pounds and is clearly bulky. They finally decide to shove it into the roaring furnace and let it melt down. Perhaps if they return they can fish out the valuable metals later.

Finally, while searching through the pile of metal scrap, Fortuna uncovers a small unlocked metal crate. Inside are two crystal jugs filled with ten doses of alchemist’s fire apiece. Near the metal crate sits a half-full pot of hardened, sticky resin – it’s unclear what it is for.

A wide hallway leads out of the room and into the long, smooth corridor that Enzo saw earlier, up near the north end where it is collapsed. The party moves down the hallway. On the right-hand side is a smooth stone door set into the wall. As Fortuna moves up to examine it, it suddenly slides up of its own accord, revealing a ten-foot-wide hallway that goes about twenty feet before ending in another cave-in. The group tests out the door a bit – it seems to open when one of them steps within about five feet of it, and remains open as long as anyone is within that range, and for a minute after everyone steps away.

The adventurers move down to the set of iron-bound wooden doors at the far end of the corridor. These doors are obviously not part of the original construction. The key taken from Dugobras fits the lock, and Baker and Mott push them open. The hall continues another twenty feet before opening up into sixty-foot-wide circular, domed chamber. The walls are carved and polished with exceptional precision and skill to look like cascades of petrified liquid. Several metal disks on the ceiling sixty feet above provide a pearly illumination as bright as torchlight. The centre of the room is occupied by a bizarre, thirty-foot-wide, seven-foot-tall metal and stone sculpture made of truncated pillars, short ramps, suspended slabs of stone, and a total of twenty chairs with triple arm-rests. Two more twenty-foot-wide hallways exit the chamber to the west and south. Also in the room are five ettins, two of whom toss javelins at Baker and Mott as soon as the doors open.

This is another short fight, as the Seeker’s once again flex their muscles and show just how formidable they have become. Five dead ettins soon lie on the stone floor. The group examines the bodies, and then begins to have a look at the strange construction in the centre of the room. But barely a minute goes by when something else happens. From the western hallway there is the sound of a heavenly choir, and three trumpet archons approach, accompanied by pleasing floral scents. They smile beatifically, and thank the heroes for “cleansing this ancient and sacred site from the taint of those terrible giants.” One of the archons carries a golden chalice, and she holds it out towards Arithil, saying that her heroism against the giants has earned her the right to drink the nectar of the Gods. Naturally suspicious, and remembering the words of Nidrama that the Lord of the Demonskar’s minions would use deceit and treachery against the party, as well as mentioning her “false sisters,” the group begins to ask the three figures several questions in rapid succession. The archons continue to smile and proffer the chalice, offering it now to Enzo, who has stepped forward to speak. When he and Arithil both refuse, the figures recoil in horror and exclaim, “Only one who has been tainted with evil would refuse the nectar of the gods! Quickly, you must destroy these hidden agents of evil at once!” The group isn’t buying it however, and Ruphus instead casts order’s wrath on the trio. Arithil follows this up by casting a dispel magic. Suddenly the archons aren’t so appealing anymore – they instead look like withered hags on top with hairy cricket legs below. Before they can do anything, Enzo casts glitterdust on them. The hags now turn and unfold pairs of elongated, sickly-brown moth-like wings and fly away down the hall they came, where they quickly disappear from sight.

Treasure List

Hill Giants

2,100 sp, 950 gp, silver ring worth 400 gp, gold-plated halfling skull worth perhaps 250 gp

Dugobras the fire giant

4,350 sp, 280 gp, Pouch with 12 pieces of amber (100 gp each), Golden water boiler (worth 120 gp)

+1 warhammer (large sized)

+3 chainshirt (large sized)

Wand of displacement (13 charges)

Wand of dispel magic (18 charges)

Wand of CSW (3d8+5, 21 charges)

Wand of lightning bolt (caster level 7, 17 charges)

+1 arrow deflection light metal shield (emblazoned with the face of a wolf biting the shaft of an arrow)

3 potions of cat’s grace

3 potions of protection from elements (electricity)

Divine scroll with magic fang, hold animal, remove disease

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