Hello again. We had... an excellent session yesterday- very tens,e very exciting, but which took a lot of us (At least from me!). It was supposed to last 7-8 hours, but ended up 11 hours long. (Our second longest session ever, topped only by the last session in the "Many facets of darkness" campaign). The session was quite... intense, but in a good way!

I will divide it to 3 parts, due to length. Pardon me for doing so. Hope you enjoy the ride!

Session 14, part 1- The search for The Sword of Valor, Chorussia, Sena's call

A link to the map again, and a quick recap if you need it
A free image of a very similar map
(It is not exact, some rooms, doors and such have been changed, but it'll do if you don't have one and wish to follow things. If you have the module's file better follow that.
Two important changes to the map: No stairs down F19, and F6 is instead joined to the room south of it, and has no known secret doors)

The party entered Drezen seeking the Sword of Valor and Staunton Vhane, (SV from now on) but found out it is a trap, designed by Areelu Vorlesh, with the haunting ghost of SV in the center of it, harassing them. As they explored, they had visions, both from SV's past, but also from Sena's mentor, Commander John. The visions showed that long ago he was on an expedition, led by Andrew's parents, with his friends- Marekai and Borsosus. They also showed that they were involved with Jerribeth of the jade and Arulashee (Though the party only knows her as "the archer woman",) as humanoids trying to charm the.

Commander John sent two clues through his visions:
"Seek that which was lost. And free it with the the power the gods vested in the chosen ones!"
"Not all is as it appears to be, Yet you cannot evade it's true essence."

The party battled a few foes, a trap, and ended up fighting a gargantuan statue of Deskari (With Mad dog soloing it with the use of mythic points, and the ghost of Staunton Vhane, but it was only a weaker apparition of his, he could not be so easily killed...

Third vision
The party is currently at the officer's hall (F17). Though they have won, Mad dog suffered great damage. Healing his empties the last 16 charges on the CLW wand the party has. They have a partially depleted CMW wand, with about 12 charges or so... That, combined with about 1/2 spells, and low mythic points, made them edgy.

The hall had a golden globe in a blue tiled ceiling, mimicking the sky, but heavily deteriorated. There were 3 hearths, 1 of them with an ever burning fire, but the party was disinterested. As they debated on what is next, another vision befell them.

They were in a big underground cavern, there were about 30 people there, all kneeling, praying, in a religious fervor, John, Marekai and Borosus amongst them. Sena understood that the sermon had to do with Iomedae somehow. He tried to get closer to the center, seeing Daria McClane, Andrew's mother, a powerful priestess conducting some ceremony.

Meanwhile, Julian noticed Jerribeth and "the archer woman" at the back, looking tense. She tried to confront them, but the vision objected, immediately their composure changed to entirely relaxed "Do... do we know you?"

Suddenly there was a great light, as something... holy, powerful, beneficial, appeared in the center of the room, the party could just see some figure in white, a great light emanating from it. John and Marekai cried "We never saw we would see such a thing!" Julian turned to the two demons, who tensed much more, and discreetly fled.

Sena turned to John, grasping his hand, clling for his attention. "What is happening here?" John looked back at him, more serious, older, as he knows, as if speaking from afar, trying to concentrate. "This was the core we sought, and so you too, must seek the core of Drezen, the dwarven fort." and with that, the vision faded...

Command room and SV's room

Mood music (The grisly grotto)
(Thanks to Biotroll! )
The party didn't quite understood. "The core if Drezen?" they debated a bit, but decided it must be underground- in the vision there was an underground cavern, and dwarves live underground, no? While originally they thought to go to the tower (F22- F23- 24), they decided to head west instead. They thought the shape of the rooms there looked important. (?? .... )

In the map in the link it doesn't quite show the rooms correctly. F18 is long and diagonal, and has doors leading to f19 (without stairs) and f20 which is a big room with 3 smaller adjoining rooms. they went to f18 instead.

The room looked a bit posh ()In dwarven standards, even after years of demon mutilation). The center of the room held a long table with the map of the Worldwound and surrounding lands around it, with a few metal gloves chained to the table, radiating faint magic. There was a big shattered mirror (This will be important later), and two book cases. This was Drezen strategic planning room, or war room. Examining the gloves they understood they can create mage hands over the tables, to move pieces.

There was also the Sword of Valor! "Hey, isn't that what we're looking for?" Said Mad dog. But of course it was but a fake. SV speaks, and tries to tell of the campaigns they have led against the alliance from here, but Sena just shuts him up. (He gave a nice little speech from LoTR, but I forgot what it was). "We are spending too much time here!" Sena was stressed.

They decided to go to F19 (I think they meta gamed a bit and hoped to find stairs down ). The place proved to be spartan in decor, with but a few beds, a table, and a few chests. A quick inspection found to interesting initials- SV and JV. Sean found an old family tree of the Vhane family, including his brother Joran, and a nephew- Millorn Vhane! (From the first module. The players- "I guess mental instability runs in the family). There were marks there,but no one knew Dwarven. Sena pulled a comprehend language scroll- SV was marked as holy man and commander, JV was a priest and blacksmith, Millorn was a mage and... outcast.

Sena calls to Staunton "So this is your cousin? we met him." SV replied "Yes, a lost case, lost after me, lost for a long time." Julian retorted "Is he lost? We helped him, and now he is the disciple of a paladin no less, doing much better now! You could come back too". For once, this got a laugh of Staunon, a sad, grim laugh. "The madness he has seen pales compared to what I've been through, what I've done, what I've become... I am far beyond that. That paladin of his..." Sena again cut him out "You don't speak of paladin! You, you have never truly been a paladin." SV was nonplussed "Perhaps it is so... it doesn't matter what was, matters what I am..."

At which point another vision came. Of this very room, a longtime ago, with SV talking to an elven women with green clothes and Jade likes eyes. The two figures faded and moved around the room, near the table, on the bed, holding each other, SV pushing her away painfully, and her persuasive words came again and again. "Your heart seems true, not like those here"... "If we only had the true power of Iomedae behind us, we could win this war"... "A leader to lead us to glorious battle! Our army will follow you!"... "Trust what's true in your heart, not in your mind"...

Then the image faded to another scene- SV was climbing up a hill in the SV, excited, determined, holding the Sword of Valor banner. He brought it to the elven woman. "Here! Now where is my army! Time to do battle!" She laughed "Your army? Here is your army!" A few hundred demons climbed the crest of the hill, and with a horrible shriek all teleported... And so the vision ended.

The party, and SV were silent. They found his journal, but had little time to read. Sena just went towards the last entry. "It is time. Areelu Vorlesh has one last task of me. A highly painful one, but perhaps it will be the end? I will be free? It matters not, what must be done, will be done. If this is my punishment, so be it. I deserve nothing less..." Julian also looked for any info on the Sword of Valor, but saw that section ripped out.

Pocketing SV's journal, the party heads out.

Chorussia's lab
The party goes back to the officers' hall, then up to F16- part northern defense, part museum, with mural of dwarven victories defaced by demon occupation. They find three banners, of the Hammers of Heaven (The unit SV belongs to), the Sentinels of Dawn and the Mithral Pure (Two other units that protected the place). Sena wishes to maybe use his mythic power to try and transform one, but Julian persuades him to look for more clues first. "We're too low on mythic power, and we won't rest for a long while yet!" they check the room just to the east- supply of oil, wood (that had rotten) and ballista bolts. They make a very quick search and move on.

As they reach the tower, (F22), they rush up, (F23 is one big round room in the module), but neither them nor the Babaus in the room get surprised. Roll init!

Mad dog charges at a Babau, thankful yet once again of his adamantine sword. Sena cast channel vigor on himself, (Choosing to hate himself) and he rushes into what looks like a... demonic lab? In the center there is a 20 ft lon glowing rune of Deskari, with smallr runes to it's side and top, a rune of flesh, bone and blood (Thanks for investing in abyssal!). And there is a tiefling caster there. She yells "Do not let them interupt me!" There are 3 babaus other than her.

The diabolical with casts a wall of force around her. The party curses... Andera and Julian advance, Julian takes one of the demons out with hideous laughter (Which proves to be a VERY useful spell). Mad dog and Andera bash some of the demons, while taking damage, but Sena focuses on Chorussia. With inflamed anger he calls "Shut up b*tch!" and uses the same trick he used at the last battle of the last module- he cast silence inside of her wall of force! Unable to cast (I think I should give my casters silent spell? ) she dismisses the wall of force, and moves to the back, both Sena and Andera rush to her while Md dog and Julian finish up the Babau.

She tries to capture them with black tentacles, but they manage to escape, Julian throws at her magic missile, only to be swallowed in her ring! (Ring of forcefang). But the battle is effecively won, As Andera kills her. Sena seems strangely gleeful. "You have met your fate, witch!"

The party search the corpse and the room. they find what looks like a diabolic mage's library, and some magic items. With the forcefang ring going to Sena ("Finally! A ranged attack!" This ring proves to be quite useful, and Julian charges it to it's 9 missiles). But they also find a strange box- with lead, cold iron and demon ichor padding. In it lies what looks like a fastened and secure metal potion container. Even getting close to the empty container feels... evil, wrong, diabolical... the party closes the lid careful, and checks the notes quickly, noting just the "Highly volatile" notes. They pocket them, feeling they have no time.

Julian examines the Deskair rune and three smaller runes, while they fade. She doesn't know what it is, but the bigger rune is comprised of many smaller runes, and it's a... replica? clone? of something else? And it's tightly tied to the three runes of flesh, bone and blood. But the weirdest thing is that this witch was looking for ways to... break it?

Sena urges on "We have no time for this!" So they decide to ascend.

Spoiler: GM design - Chorussia, the runes, the container
Chorussia is orginally in the dungeon of Drezen (Of which there is none in my campaign, well... not in the traditional sense. ). There she was supposed to be in the middle of a ritual to collapse Drezen. From there I got the entire idea of "Drezen as a trap". Here though she was trying to do the opposite. Later on the party finds the REAL rune in a much more central place. THis was a clue, a build up, mostly the relation to the three runes. Chorusia works under Aponavicius, and resented being trapped here, and tried to reverse Areelu's spell.

As to the container- it hold an empty Nyhadrian Elixir- the potions that can make demons and such ascend. The notes include info about it, the info the module wishes the party to discover. I thought to leave it to give the party a bit of a glimpse to the future, and maybe they could even come up with an interesting idea of what to do with them.

The "silence to ruin a caster's safe zone" trick is quite useful. Using the wall of force was supposed to be her shtick, to cast spells from there. Oh well, party got to smash face!

Sena's call
As the party reached the top of the small tower (F24), they found a ruined beacon of summoning. But more than that, they could finally see outside of Drezen- they could see the troops outside- some suffering, some not moving anymore...

Andera is furious! "Staunton Vhane! You cowardly spirit! Come out here!" SV replies in kind "We do not play by your codes of "honor", "valor", "courage". We aim to win, by every deed necessary. We do not fight... "fair." Andera rages "We shall show you what is unfair!"

Sena however, is taken by the sight, he moves to the edge, looking all around, and falls to his knees. "So it is all true... it wasn't just a trick..." SV replied" Why should we lie? When there is NOTHING you can do to prevent it." Julian, worried at Sena put her hand on his shoulder. "There is nothing we can do here, we are wasting time. C'mon, let's go!"

Sena reeled around angry "And do WHAT? We don't even know what we are looking for! They are dying out there!" Mad dog steeped forward "We will kill this ghost, that must be tied to it!" Julian tried to comfrot Sena. "Look, I feel the same as you do, more than you know. But Mad dog is right, we need to stop Staunton, that will probably help!"

Sena will not be consoled. He turned to the dying troops. "But this is OUR fault, we led them here." Andera retorted "We were tricked, it's not out fault." Sena snarled back. "But WE. LED. THEM. HERE!" Julian tried to calm him. "You are right, we are responsible, which is why we must hurry and try to do something about it." Sena looked at her intently for a few seconds, and replied. "I will do something.

Sena turned, and looked up, putting his arms aside. "Sarenrae! Hear me! I always went your way! Where you pointed, I followed! Now look on my bretheren, your followers, our army, help me, help us ease their pain, I will sacrifice myself for that if need be!" (Players rolled their eyes a bit)

Sena continued. "I lost my fathers, my mother, my brothers and sisters, and now my brethren and other brothers of mine. it is my fault, my fault alone. My fault that John has disappeared, my fault that they are dying here in this place, because of Areelu Vorlesh. I don't have the power against these demons! They are acting unfairly, unjust, not with temperance, with patience... I call for you to even the score! Just once- show them that we are not alone! I don't care if I'm one of the chosen ones or not. My life is as equal as theirs. My life is as expendable as theirs. Hear me Sarenrae!"

At which point Sena felt as a sort of a warm presence inside of him. Not exact words, but impressions "Not expendable! Higher role. Greater purpose in the struggle. You cannot take the power you request. Too much, endanger. Risk everything."

Sena was furious. "Higher role? SO they would just die because of that? I can take it, use me! ease their pain!" At which he got impressions again. "No. Not ready yet. Too much power. Risk you. Risk all. Not yet child. Their sacrifice for you. hundreds for tens of thousands and more... many more. Cannot risk. Greater good."

Sena was furious. "Greater good?! That was an excuse for lots of atrocities!" The reply came. "Yet at times it is true. Sometime it is a must. Cannot risk. Trust me... trust me..."

Sena's voice broke. "Trust you? Like John trusted you? Where is he now?! Answer me!". The presence was still warm, accepting, trying to comfort, to soothe "He did as needed. He will be saved. Trust me... trust in me... trust Sena, child. Not ready yet."

Sena's tears ran. "I wish none of this has happened" and he remembered John's words long ago "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

Sena was lost, on his knees... when something, another presence, womanly, intense, raw, and amused was in his mind. "What do you feel? In your heart? I can help you. Do you wish it? It can shatter you. I accept that...". Sena's eyes opened "I accept, with all of my heart!" The presence seemed to pull "then open it!"

Suddenly, Sena stood up as if hit by a jolt, and there was a wailing, and spirits rushed towards Sena encompassing, pressing into his body, and some surrounded him, much like John's spirits did. Sena's eyes were ablaze, though he could feel the dying, their pain, their whispers, cries, in a far off way. "Thank you, thank you for giving me what I need to ease their pain". The presence felt as if smiling. "Just trust your heart, your deeper heart. It will guide you!"

At which point Julian exclaimed "What the blazes just happened?!"

Spoiler: Sena's transformation
The player and I have been working on this. He saw Drezen as a serious breaking point for his character, a crisis of faith. He also didn't quite feel in tune with the Sarenrae principles, and sought some power he could relate to more. Not telling yet which power it is, though the party suspect a demon pact. (It's not).
The player thought (and pushed) towards the tower for this scene, but I was ready put a similar scene if they went elsewhere. The effect of the spirit will mostly be flavor, though Sarenrae was not kidding- there is a cost (though apparently not that high as it turned out).

This is enough for the first part. I hope to write more as soon as I can. Thanks for reading!