Cauldron

Episode 36

1 Growfest [2 April]

The Company of Seekers takes a moment to discuss what just happened. The three hags have just fled down a hallway, and all agree that they should be pursued with haste. The group is naturally wary of traps however, especially considering the hags were all flying, so they proceed with some amount of caution.

A twenty-foot-wide, twenty-foot-high hall leads to the west out of the great circular chamber. After forty feet it enters a rectangular room. Four white pillars with capitals shaped like slender hands support the ceiling. A three-foot-diameter crystal globe is embedded ten feet up on each pillar. These hollow globes are half-filled with bubbling, transparent liquid that seems to replenish itself as quickly as it drains out of a hole in each globe’s base. At the base of each pillar, a silver spigot allows this liquid to drain out of the pillar and down a narrow channel to collect in a basin in the floor in the room’s centre. There, the liquid turns a deep purple colour. There are doors in the centre of both the north and south walls.

Rashid checks for tracks and determines that all the traffic goes towards the north door. The party moves ahead – they will examine the chamber in more detail later. Beyond the door is a ten-foot-wide hallway running sixty feet straight north to another door. Checking for traps as they go, the party approaches the door, knowing it will open automatically once they are close enough. Once prepared, they step forward.

There is a fifty-foot-square chamber beyond the door. The north portion contains a seven-foot-high platform connected to an L-shaped ramp. A strip of bas-reliefs depicting gaunt, magic-wielding six-armed creatures decorates the base of the platform. Each creature holds a disk in its lowest set of arms, which is represented like a shining sun, the rays emanating from the disks, engraved in the stone as straight lines, form the background of the composition. A white marble throne with triple armrests sits on the platform itself. Standing on the platform are the three hags, ready for battle.

This fight is a bit more of a challenge for the heroes. The hags wield some potent magic – casting confusion and multiple dominate persons during the battle – and their mere touch causes weakness. But despite these powers two of the hags soon lie dead. The third flies south towards the door the group entered, and shoots off down the hall. Several of the party pursue, but the hag’s speed is too much and they soon realize they won’t catch her.

Two more doors lead from the room, but the party decides that some rest is order before they continue as they have used nearly all their spells. They backtrack to the hill giants overlook above the great portcullis at the entrance and set up a watch. It is difficult to sleep as the rising and falling wail from the great pipes outside can clearly be heard here, and the stench of the acidic, sulphurous pool fills the nostrils. But they are hardened adventurers now, and are used to roughing it in places like this. The night passes slowly, and eventually the group is ready to resume their search.

2 Growfest [3 April]

The Seekers return to large circular meeting chamber first and carefully examine the strange stone and metal construction in the centre. This is a bizarre, thirty-foot-wide, seven-foot-tall sculpture made of truncated pillars, short ramps, suspended slabs of stone, and a total of twenty chairs with triple arm-rests. It appears that some of the parts once moved, but centuries of disuse have frozen everything in place. After some time and discussion, the best guess of the party is that this was perhaps some kind of elaborate meeting table of sorts.

The group moves on to the fountain room next. The dark liquid in the pool in the room’s centre radiates strong Transmutation magic. No other clues as to its purpose can be discovered however. Eventually Baker and Thomas each decide to try some. They immediately feel their muscles swell with power, and they feel immensely strong.

The party turns their attention to the door in the southern wall of the fountain room. Finding nothing untoward, it is approached and opens to reveal a 30-foot hallway running south to another door. Fortuna carefully examines this from a safe distance. She is suspicious – it appears that the seams around the door’s edge have been filled with some kind of resin. Everyone else clears out of the hall and she attempts to disarm the trap, but is unsuccessful. Eventually she decides to simply trust in her amazing dodging abilities and steps forward to open the door. As it slides upwards, a shower of sparks is created along the edges of the door, and a terrific explosion ensues. Fortuna dives and rolls under the fireball, escaping with only a few singed hairs.

As the smoke clears, the party can see that the area beyond the door consists only of a small pocket of space, the rest having collapsed long ago. After some investigation, they think they can detect a tiny crack that allows flammable gas to seep through. Examining the door frame, they can see that it was sealed with an alchemical resin mixed with tiny bits of flint and steel. When the door opened, this mixture generated a cascade of sparks that instantly ignited the built-up gas behind it. The resin mixture is similar to the half-full pot of hardened resin found in Dugobras’ lair. He was clearly a clever and devious fire giant.

Back in the throne room, the party first examines the western door. It leads to a 20 foot hallway and another door, which in turn opens into what can only be the hag covey’s lair. Three large beds can be seen. Along the west wall hangs a set of golden wolf masks. The smooth stone walls and the floor are covered by colourful and bizarre tapestries and carpets. An elaborate weaver’s loom occupies the southwest corner. Various skeins of wool of many different colours are piled near the loom, next to a basket of sewing tools. A wooden chest sits in the southeast corner.

Standing guard in the room are four tall skeletons, each with six arms. Each holds a strange chromatic disk in its lower set of arms. The skeletons immediately animate and attack, but they are no match for the heroes and are quickly dispatched. The disks they were holding are examined: each is a 6-inch-diameter device that glows with colours that slowly shift through the spectrum, made of some kind of light-weight metal. It radiates strong transmutation magic. The skeletons did not appear to be employing the devices in anyway, merely holding them.

The rest of the room is searched very thoroughly. The five wolf masks on the wall are gold-plated and are certainly valuable. Enzo takes these. The carpets on the walls and floor are probably worth quite a bit, but given their size and weight they are left. The skeins of wool are high quality, well-dyed material. There are 15 bales each weighing about 10 pounds, so these are taken. The chest is unlocked and not trapped, and contains the following: 130 gold pieces in a large purse, 12 pieces of assorted silverware (jugs, plates, bowls), a golden armband, a magical sack containing four potions, three scrolls, and a magical necklace.

The party takes their time searching the room, and their thoroughness pays off. Fortuna finds that a small square of stone behind one of the wolf masks pushes in, and this release a catch on a long, shallow drawer built into the stonework beneath it. Wrapped in purple silk is a 6-foot-long staff fashioned of pale, almost white wood. This is Alakast, the legendary staff of Surabar Spellmason. It is decided that Mott should carry it, given his connection to the long-dead icon.

Returning to the throne room, the group opens the door on the north wall. A long corridor stretches out over 80 feet before ending at a cave-in. Near the far end is a door on the western wall.

The party carefully moves forward and opens the door. Beyond is a 30-foot-square room. The ceiling forms a four-sided dome. The apex of the dome is thirty feet off the ground. An odd, ten-foot-wide pentagonal mirror is affixed to the west wall, from where it casts a dark reflection of the room. This reflection is distorted in an unsettling way, and dotted with shimmering, star-like pinpoints of white light. A single chair of white stone with triple armrests sits in the middle of the room, facing the mirror. A colourful hexagonal diagram is engraved in the floor surrounding the mirror.

A figure is seated on the throne, and appears to be startled awake as the group enters. It looks just like Alek Tercival and says “Oh, you’ve arrived, thank goodness!” The party is immediately suspicious, and begins to question the figure. He claims that he was put to sleep magically by some strange symbols on the back of the door the group just came through, a door that is currently raised and can’t be seen. He urges someone to step inside and allow the door to close so the symbols can be seen. The heroes aren’t buying it however, and are being very cautious. At this moment several creatures seem to step out of the mirror. These new creatures are large humanoids (slightly taller and bulkier than a human), but their entire surface – skin and armour – is like a mirror, reflecting everything around them. The dual weapons they wield look like shards of mirrors as well. The Alek impostor’s form shifts now as well, and he too has mirror-like skin. He is not as tall as the others, and wields a shard-like longsword and dagger.

Despite their alien and unsettling appearance, these creatures are no match for Seekers. They are quickly taken down until only one remains, and that one flees back through the mirror. As each one dies, it shatters into hundreds of glass-like shards, which then seem to melt like ice and quickly evaporate, leaving no trace.

Side note: Upon returning to Blue and reporting on these creatures, the characters can learn a little bit about them. They are called nerra, and are native to a strange realm called the Plane of Mirrors. They have the ability to use mirrors to travel, in a similar way someone would use shadow walk. They are thankfully quite rare. Given the strange nature of the Starry Mirror, it’s not surprising they seem to have an interest in it.

The party now turns its attention to the Starry Mirror itself. Looking intently into it, they can see five pentagonal windows floating under its dark surface. Four of them show nothing but dull white light. The fifth shows an indistinct image of Alek sitting next to a large metal door in a stone wall, his expression filled with despair. They try shouting to Alek, but he appears not to hear.

Enzo touches the mirror and finds that it is actually a vertical surface of cold, reflective liquid, which his hand sinks into. Seeing no alternative, the party steps through one by one. They each find themselves in a separate pentagonal room. The ambient light is one of six colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple. On each of the five walls is a mirror/portal with a different hue – whatever the colour of the room the person is in, the other five colours are reflected in the mirrors. Passing through a mirror with a certain colour takes the person into a new pentagonal room with that colour ambient light. But no matter what, each person always finds him or herself alone. However, the party finds that they can call to each other, their voices sounding like a metallic echo. After some trial and error, the heroes begin to piece together how the portals work. They refer to the hegemonic plate they purchased from Tygot back in Cauldron. Under the etching of the Starry Mirror were six rectangles with a series of dots underneath. The dots are grouped 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3. Putting this together with the colour wheel in the first room, they eventually figure out the path they must take.

One by one each adventurer steps through the final mirror in their sequence. They all find themselves in a small square room with a pentagonal, five-foot-wide mirror set into one of the walls. Twelve seven-foot-tall clay urns stand against the walls to either side, though some of them are broken (these all prove to be empty). An iron door, its face covered with countless scratches and chips, blocks an eight-foot-tall archway in the wall opposite the mirror. Slumped next to the door is Alek, his glowing morningstar lying beside him.

The paladin does not seem to notice the group’s arrival. His red eyes show that he has been weeping for awhile, and the bleeding blisters on his hands testify to his frantic attempts to escape the chamber. The party does its best to try and interact with Alek. Ruphus comes up close to try and speak with him. As he draws near, he can hear Alek muttering under his breath: “When the final cage is shackled the burning doom shall rise.”

It takes a bit of doing – speaking to Alek, a cure spell from Ruphus, gentle coaxing and patience – but eventually the paladin seems to come out of his stupor and acknowledge the group’s presence. He is willing to relate some of his past events, but he still believes that the fey hags were trumpet archons and that he has somehow failed the cause of good. The party does its best to explain to him that this is not the case, and relates how they revealed the hags for what they really were. Alek doesn’t want to believe it at first, but eventually realizes the truth, and he becomes very ashamed and very angry. He asks the party a lot of questions to learn as much as possible about what he missed. He agrees that his challenge to Terseon Skellerang must be withdrawn publicly to avoid what would be a disastrous conflict between Cauldron and Redgorge.

Treasure

Golden chalice (dwarven manufacture), worth 350 gp – left in the large circular room when the hags fled.

Hag Covey’s Lair

5 gold-plated, darkwood wolf masks, each worth 350 gp

4 chromatic disks held by the spell weaver skeletons

130 gp in a large purse

12 pieces of assorted silverware (jugs, plates, bowls) worth 450 gp in total

a golden armband worth 120 gp

Bag of Holding type II (weighs 25#, holds 500#, 70 cu. ft.)

4 potions of CMW (2d8+5)

Arcane scroll with greater dispel magic and sequester (caster level 14)

Arcane scroll with dimension door (caster level 8)

Divine scroll with raise dead (caster level 9)

Necklace of fireballs (type III, with just one 5d6 and two 3d6 spheres left)

Alakast

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