In the days following the PCs’ adventure below Cauldron, word of their heroics spreads throughout the town. Corym, Nerull, Kursk, and Scrump, having just collected a few years’ salary in two days, all quit their jobs. Alenia and Jerim each return to work. Throughout that next week, the PCs notice that four different people have been staring at them at various times and places throughout the city. One day, the party is together when they notice one of the four watching them; a young redheaded woman with a rapier at her side. They confront her and she says that she has no idea what they are talking about, and gets very angry when they won’t move out of her way. Not wanting to cause a scene, they finally let her go. They later learn that the girl is Cora Lathenmire, daughter of powerful nobles that own and operate 4 of the 5 smithies in town. She and some other noble youths dealt with a pesky tribe of kobolds that had infested some of the catacombs below the southern section of the city.
Putting this strange encounter behind them, the PCs head to Skie’s Treasuries, the only shop in town whose business is buying and selling magical items. Skie is a gnome sorceress and former adventurer. She asks the party about their excursion below the city, and commends them on their bravery and teamwork. She buys a few items from them and sells them what they need. She tells them that they can come by anytime for a chat (and a look at the store’s new goods).
Just before dawn the next morning, Jerim finds Alenia and their four unemployed friends and summons them to the temple of Helm. In the main hall they find Jenya Urikas pacing nervously, while a few other clerics and acolytes look on anxiously from a distance. When Jenya sees the party, she quickly ushers them into a side room and shuts the door. She tells them that she just received a disturbing sending from Sarcem Delasharn, the High Priest of Helm in Cauldron. Jenya hands them a scrap of parchment with Sarcem’s sending and her response scribbled on it.
At Lucky Monkey. Have eight wands. Tavern’s been attacked. Bandits led by barbaric apeman. Mortally wounded. Retreated to basement. They know we’re here. Send help.
Sarcem? Is that you? Hang On! Conserve your resources. I’ll send out aid immediately. Send me another message when you can, but until then have…
Jenya explains that she was trying to tell Sarcem to have faith, but the sending ended before she could utter the last word. She asks the PCs if they would ride out immediately to rescue Sarcem. She tells them that she will give them 1,000gp each if they can rescue Sarcem or recover the wands. When the PCs ask what the wands are for, she gives them a brief history of the annual Flood Festival, and tells them that it was wands (created by the churches of Cauldron) that kept the waters at bay. The other churches, however, now feel that the wands are unnecessary since there hasn’t been enough rain for any flooding in over a decade. When they refused to help craft the wands, Sarcem set out for Tashluta in order to purchase as many wands as he could because the church of Helm in Cauldron lacked the resources to craft enough wands on their own.
Jenya finds mounts for the party to use for the trip down to the jungle, and wishes them luck. The PCs collect their things and head out within the hour. It is nearly dusk when they arrive at the Lucky Monkey. They stable their horses, then approach the side door of the inn. After breaking down the door, the party explores a few empty rooms before entering the large common room. When they see a handful of people drinking amidst the wreckage of the room, they start attacking without asking questions. The battle is over quickly and little damage is sustained.
As they continue to investigate the building, they find the kitchen occupied by 3 large hill baboons and a “barbaric apeman”. The baboons die easily (one of them becoming Kylie’s first kill), but the werebaboon puts up a tough fight. When they finally bring him down, many of the PCs are wounded and in need of healing. They see the door to the basement where Sarcem said he was making his last stand. They decide there is no need to rush down to his aid when they find his head grotesquely mounted on the kitchen wall, but they head down anyway.
They find the large cellar in a horrible mess, with blood and spilled ale and wine everywhere. Five more bandits are in the room arguing when the PCs enter, but abruptly stop bickering in order to attack the intruders. This battle also ends quickly, and the party begins to explore the basement.
After exploring a room that was obviously used for cold storage, they find a door at the end of the hall that is covered in a strange brown substance and emanating cold. After retrieving Scrump’s most prized possession from the bag of holding, the two brothers use the portable ram to break open the door, then rush inside before they succumb to the extreme cold. Inside they find a woman huddled in the corner, shivering and barely conscious. Her hair is nearly white, and her skin is dark and dusky, hinting to an ancestry that the PCs are unfamiliar with. They call Jerim in, and he heals the woman enough that she comes to her senses a bit more. They wrap her up in a blanket, then carry her from the room. After giving her an opportunity to eat a small bit of food and drink some water, they ask her who she is and what happened.
She says that her name is Shensen Tesseril, and that she has tended to the small shrine to Shandakul at the Lucky Monkey for the past few months. When the inn was attacked, she fought at Sarcem’s side. She says that Sarcem seemed to be their enemy’s target from the beginning. The party asks her if the apeman was leading the bandits, and she says that he was not. A beautiful redheaded woman wearing full plate was leading them, but left after Sarcem was slain. The woman had a symbol emblazoned on her armor that Shensen didn’t recognize; a clenched fist with rays of light squeezing out from within.
Shensen states that she needs to head back to Cauldron to report on what happened her, and asks the party if they will accompany her. They tell her that they will, but they don’t want to make a 12 hour trip up the mountain in the dark, and they want to make sure no bandits remain in the building. She agrees to stay with them while they explore the upper level. The party discovers (and dispatches) a few more bandits upstairs, but not much else. With the entire building clear, they rest for the night.
Hard rains fall throughout the night and all the following day, accompanied by driving winds. The party recovers Sarcem’s body and possessions (noting with disappointment that there were no wands with him), then set out from the inn. The trip back up to Cauldron is miserable, but uneventful, though Corym notices that Shensen rides almost the entire trip at his side making polite conversation. They arrive after nightfall and head directly to the temple of Helm. Jenya tears up for moment when she hears of Sarcem’s fate, then becomes serious and stoic as she realizes that she is now the High Priestess of Helm in Cauldron. She listens intently as Shensen and the PCs give their accounts. Shensen then asks if she can be excused in order to meet with others who need to know of the Lucky Monkey’s fate. After she departs, Jenya tells the PCs to rest, then take up the hunt for the wands in the morning.
The PCs spend the whole next day and part of the next trying to track down any information about the red-haired woman that stole the wands. Rain continues to fall off and on during their search, damping the mood of Cauldron’s inhabitants. The PCs finally return to Jenya to see if there is any divine assistance that she can offer. She retreats to her personal quarters in order to cast a divination spell. She returns with a message that leads them to the Tipped Tankard Inn. They speak to the barkeep and the bouncer, but neither of them has any good information. Their trip wasn’t a waste of time, however, as it caught the attention of the person they need to speak with.
As the party walks the streets that afternoon, a child slips Corym a small piece of paper, then runs away. The note reads as follows:
I know you’re looking for the wands. I can help, for a price. If you’re interested, come alone to the Lakeside Pavilion tonight at midnight. Bring 500 gold and you’ll walk away with the location of the wands. Bring backup, and you’ll never find them.
They party discusses their options, and decides to
use Corym as bait take a chance that the note-writer can be trusted. The man is waiting alone at the Lakeside Pavilion, and provides the information as promised. The armored, red-headed woman who killed Sarcem and stole the wands is Triel Eldurast. Outside of Cauldron there is a hidden entrance to a lava tube that leads down to a secret base of operations for Triel and her associates.
The party heads out early the next morning to begin their descent beneath the city. When they reach the end of the tunnel they find themselves standing on a ledge overlooking an underground lake 100 feet below. To one side is a manmade wall with a locked door. They bust down the door and kill the two mercenaries that were playing cards. After Scrump steals the playing cards the party inspects what the mercenaries were guarding, the PCs inspect the device that will carry them to the far side of the lake. A large cage, big enough for 2-3 people hangs suspended from a thick cable that runs all the way down to a small building at the far side of the lake below.
Scrump and Jerim get in, figuring that if it can support the weight of the 2 guys in full plate, it’s probably safe. It takes a couple of minutes to get them to the bottom, but they descend without incident. As the cage makes its way back up to pick up more passengers, Scrump decides to investigate the small building on the beach. As soon as he enters, a huge section of the wall collapses and lands directly on top of him. Jerim helps him from the rubble and together they wait for the rest of the party before continuing further.
When the party is all together again, they take a moment to look around. 50 feet or so from the lake they see a fortress built into the cavern wall. Certain that this is Triel’s secret base, they head to one of the 5 doors that they see in the stronghold’s exterior. As soon as they enter the first door, the floor gives way causing Scrump to get his feet shredded by the metal protrusions hidden below. As they try to figure out a way to get across the room without touching the floor, four archers begin shooting at them from a balcony above. Deciding that this may not have been the best entrance to use, they retreat to the beach, closing the door behind them.
They enter the next doorway they come to and find no resistance. After exploring a half-dozen smaller rooms, they find a larger room with ten mercenaries standing at-the-ready. At the back of the group they see Triel standing in front of a hot tub. She tries to talk them into joining her, but the PCs don’t even let her finish before they attack. The battle is disappointingly short as the mercenaries pose almost no challenge. Triel puts up a good fight, but when her lackies fall the priestess of Bane is too outnumbered to stand a chance.
After looting the bodies, the party continues deeper into the fortress. Near the back they find some natural caves inhabited by dinosaur skeletons and zombie spiders. The series of small caverns ends in a confrontation with the leader of the undead creatures; a gnoll cleric of Bhaal who has become undead himself. This battle is also short, but painful; so painful that Scrump and Kursk are blinded by pain. The PCs decide to make camp in enemy territory in order to recover rather than running around with two blind barbarians.. They return to the beach, jam all of the doors that lead to areas of the fortress they have already explored, then settle down for a nap.
While they are resting, a few archers sneak out of the one door the party didn’t barricade. After the PCs deal with the intruders, the rest of their siesta passes uneventfully. With spells prepared once again, everyone can be healed to full strength … and vision. The party heads into the one part of the complex they haven’t entered. After exploring for a while they come across tunnels and caves covered in spiderwebs. They fight their way through some monstrous spiders (not undead this time) before coming across the 3rd and final cultist. This one is a halfling sorcerer that worships Myrkul. Alongside him is a huge, demonic looking spider that launches his huge fangs at the party like harpoons.
The spider ends up putting up a better fight than the sorcerer, but the party still avoids suffering any fatalities. They loot the halfling, then return to the surface. Amongst the treasures they collected from their exploits are the eight wands of control water that had been stolen from Sarcem.
They party returns to the storm raging above just in time to save all but the buildings closest to Crater Lake from flooding. Jeyna and Jerim gather enough clerics to use the wands through the next few days, including help from the previously unhelpful churches of Tempus and Kelemvor. Cauldron is saved, rewards are collected, and loot is sold and bartered. Jungle Trouble lives to fight another day.