In between sessions I've talked a bit with Julian's player. He was considering the riddle- "Create an edge and cross it"... At the end he came up with an idea that fits his style. You'll see as we go. It took a bit of bending of rules for story and cinematic effect, but I thought it was cool, and so I agreed to it.

Session 21, Part 1- Julian's ascension

As we met, the start of the session got delayed a bit, but for good reasons- Sena's player took Andera's player aside, and they talked for some time. I don't know exactly about what, (It was private between the two), but it seemed to have a good effect. The two came to the table more mollified, more at ease. As they were talking the res of us three (Mad Dog's player, Julian's player and me), commented "Those two... They add so much to the game, but every once in awhile... Yeah, but this time it got a bit out of hand...". Still, the tension seemed quite reduced.

Julian's player also surprised me while we waited. He thought Julian's transformation should have some hindering effect on her, transitory, but that will have her deal. This surprised me, and we discussed ideas. We came up with a sort of an idea, see how it goes...

Creating an edge and crossing it.
The party notified the Queen of their findings. She was not pleased, to say the least. "Nocticula? She is one of the most powerful demon lords, but also the most elusive ones. As mistress of darkness and assassinations, she knows how to keep her secrets. From what I know, she hasn't taken an active part in the cosmic game for a few centuries now. We haven't got the slightest idea of her motives, and of
her real personality... This is bad news, I don't know how we could deal with her... But if she joins forces with Deskari and Baphomet? The crusade will surely crumble... This cannot be allowed to happen! We shall need to act fast. I shall consult my sages and will talk with you soon. But at least we now know of the Midnight Fane. I believe my sages will be able to find the location." So the party now waited, as Julian delved deeper...

After the last vision with Areelu Vorlesh/ Paradox, Julian thought hard for quite some time, and did some research, into magical theory, but also into the Paradox again. After a few days, she called upon Brian and Sena, asking of them to gather the people of the city on Paradise Hill. She needed to speak with them.

Julian flew there on her carpet of flying, and indeed, soon enough the curious people of Drezen gathered. She spoke near the top of the hill, near the place where Brian started erecting a temple to the five gods. She addressed the crowds at sunset:
"People of Drezen, of the mortal races! You have come to this place against all odds. This place has been taken by the forces of evil a long time ago, and was a symbol of depression, of oppression, for anything that stands against freedom. I say today: Bring me your poor, your sickened, your forgotten, your beaten. Bring them here, because this place will become the place of freedom, of personal freedom! Today Drezen is still struggling, for food, for water, for a new life against the Worldwound. We need to take a stand and do something. You have all acted by coming here. Still, I cannot ignore the people in the street, begging for food and water, fighting over resources that should be free for everyone. So today here I promise to do what needs to be done so all will get a new chance, which all of you can do by your own self, through decision, through action."

Julian, through her research into the impossible, into divine power, tapped into both. She started casting a complicated spell, drawing greatly on her mythic reservoirs, to make... a change. The land around her started to change- from the parched, infertile, dry land, it started to reform into a more agreeable land, a more fertile land, a healthier land. Some of the plants, used to the chaotic energies and the desert like environment of the Worldwound twisted and grew, more strong, more verdant, more alive, and here and there even some grass grew, some flowers. The noise of water, coming from a new fountain on the hill, one of clearer water, good drinking water. The air itself, which was stifling, dry, became fresher, a bit of moisture in it.

Behind Julian a great big oak, which will from now on be the symbol of Julian's faith, grew in a rapid rate, at the top of the hill, to a great height, verdant, powerful, alive... A symbol of hope. And near it rose a massive rock from the ground, which will be the basis of Julian's new order- Abbey of the Forgotten.

Yet the power needed to create this small miracle, this terraforming of the environs of Drezen, was a lot to take in. Julian was in a trance, that drew from her power, from her life, from herself. The ritual was draining, and in it, she came upon another vision...

Spoiler: DM notes- Julian's Edge
The player found out the mythical spell- Terraform, on which we based the effect in play. Though it's a 7th level mythic spell, and though Julian's effects exceed the spell's effects somewhat, I allowed it, with both of us agreeing that it called for a bit more of a price. We agreed upon a greater expenditure of material resources (She put around 20-30,000 into this, can't remember), A drain on her mythical power till she reaches 7th level spells (2 mythic power less of her max), and lastly, the physical/ roleplay effects (Coming up later). Since this was mostly for roleplay purposes, and the ability was supposed to be originally just her taking the mythical universal ability of Divine Focus, we thought this was enough, and a cool effect.

How does it relay to the riddle? Mainly as an act of greater creation- it involves Positive energy/ creation, it involves ideation (Her core ideas), and certainly a lot of power. It is also an edge, where she does something that mimics divine creation, and there are a lot of witnesses to see this, and believe in her. So I deemed it cool. Flashy and grandiose, true, not exactly my first choice, but awesome non the less, and the player liked it!

Third vision- The core of your belief- What does it mean to be good?
This time, Julian found herself In the orphanage that she was in as a child. She was being punished for some mischief- she was put in a small dark cell, with the Mother of the orphanage saying "And stay there till you realize what you've done!" and closed the door. They were alone in the dark room. Though Alone may not quite be the case, for there were others there, representations of important figures in her life- Brian, Sena, Andera, Mad Dog and the Queen. These were their representations in her own mind. (Important note: The players played the figures representing their own characters in the visions!)
She heard the voices of the Prayers, of Paradox, Of herself- as she is now, but also the voice of the 7 years old, locked up in the darkness, alone. "Who are you? What is your core? You claim to be good, but many divine beings are good, with many different representations of "good"... What does "good mean to you?"
J: "Never to be helpless. Never to let others to be helpless, never to be left alone, be locked way, to do everything In your power, to help those in need. Stop ignoring, the greatest crime is to stand aside and not get involved."
Andera's sword, Changi, sprang up from it's hilt, and took the form of a socrpion. "Slit the witch'es throat, her heart is filled with cruelty." (Motioning toward's the Mother superior outside the room)
Andera however spoke differently: "Will you do it upon the school mistress, will she like it in the dark? If you were in her place, will you do it upon her?"
J: "Vengeance is never the answer." She put her hand on Andera's cheek. "You of all have proven compassion for others. We shall give a second chance. That's what binds us."
S: "Even vengeance against those whose entire goal and drive is to tap into the basest of instincts, and cause great cruelty? How can you say we cannot avenge against those people?"
J: "Simple my friend Sena, we shall act out not of vengeance. But of justice."
S: "Sometimes vengeance IS justice." (Chandi whispered: "Listen to the priest!")
J: "If it comes to prevent greater suffering, it is justified. Each one of us is given his own code of morality, and ability to understand, and take decisions. Each one of us has proven already that they act not of impulses, but what must be done. If that demands us to take a stand, than we do it."
The Queen spoke: "I am of responsibility, of unity, of leadership. You will need to make hard choices, impossible choices. To sacrifice some to save others. To hurt in order to heal, or plainly survive."
J: "Life is full of decisions, sometimes that means taking decisions over the life of others. I f it needs to be done, I will do it."

The vision changed to another event from her past. Age 11, when she led her friends on a dare ,to sneak into the Wardstone Chamber. There she met a demon, or a sort of a demon, looking a lot like Mad Dog had in his monstrous transformations. She saw herself, facing the demon (Who at that time beat her into a coma), some of her friends dead, some dying, some fleeing, and the beast towering over her. "How will you act, when you cannot do all, save all, for all power is at the end- limited..."
J: "I will stop the demon. We try to do our best, Not necessarily the "greater good", just good."
The demon above, challenged her: "And what about your responsibility? It was you who had led here, despite great many dangers, for your own pride, for your desire of mischief. because of you they have died, suffered..."
Julian's voice, taken by surprised, hesitated, but then answered, a bit cracked: "Yes, this was my responsibility. It was my fault..." She became a bit withdrawn, remembering...
Chandi spoke harshly, against Julian: "She brought them here, stab her heart! She will go on to betray others!"
Again Andera posed a different view, speaking to Julian, talking about her younger self: "Has she wronged you? She tried, yet failed. She tried her best. Will you not forgive her? Are you mad at her?"
Julian spoke weakly, yet harshly: "But I brought them here, they are dead!"
An: "If you were them, will you not forgive her?"
J: "I... I do not know…." She was shaken.
Sena strode in: "I do not believe in coincidence, where you lived, while others died. Every death has it's purpose, every surviving soul has it's purpose, there is a plan."
Julian looked at him, somewhat furious, but with a smirk of contempt: "A divine plan?"
S: "There is a bigger picture we live in. Forces that are not as obvious or seen as we may think."
Chandi: "Bigger picture, bigger shmicktcher! She brought them here. She is responsible!"
S: "You cannot understand everything."
J: "I need to think about it. I do not know how they would look at me. But if the bigger picture includes the death of small 6 years kids, then I reject it!"
S: "Even if one of them would have grown to be a tyrant with the blood of millions on his hands?"
J: "Yes. Now he is a kid. You do not kill if they will become tyrants. You can change destinies. All destinies can be changed. You do not serve the sentence before the crime!"
Sena bowed to Julian, liking her answer: "Still, you did not have the power to change anything. Guilt leads to no where."
Chandi chortled: "She betrayed them! Slit her throat, slit her throat!"

The vision once more changed, to the streets of Xer. This was a mixed vision, spreading across several years, first her abusive foster family, then being thrown into the street upon manifesting the first sourcerous powers, then surviving in the mean streets, amongst gangs and more, becoming tough, lean, mean...
Andera spoke of the young Julian once more: "If you could advise her, what would be your advice to her?"
J: "I will advise her to do what I have done. I have never stood down to anyone, even if you are kicked in the face, do it screaming and scratching."
Chandi: "Who brought it to this situation? Her parents?"
Andera joins with Chandi to form a big scorpion. Talked about the foster parents: "They have abused you, thrown you to the street. What shall you do to them with your new found power?"
J: "My foster parents? They need to be punished, but not in order to take vengeance, but so that they will not hurt everyone else. They should pay their due according to the law."
S: "So there need to be a retribution. You will become a goddess, your word will spread, be a law, be a power, what retribution will you order for them? It is your call..."
J: "My retribution is my ability to forgive. At 14, I would have plucked their eyes out. Now... I just wish them to not hurt others..."
At this point Brian stepped forth: "You have lost families, rejected families, can you find a family again? My dear, dear child..." There was sadness in his voice, regret, and great caring for Julian.
J: "You ask how not to be alone. People who share my belief, my comrades, those who will follow they way I believe in, not followers- friends. I believe I have found them. Their have their own faults, their own greatness. Mad dog who is very clear, Sena that calculates, and There is Andera who's compassion leads his way along with his swords, and you, who took care of me in the past. They are my family, you are my family."
Sena bowed, Andera returned to his original form, and Brian just wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. "So this is what GOOD means to new, Julian Bearstorm."

She received her first domain- the Good domain.

Spoiler: DM notes- third vision: What does it mean to be good?
Once Julian made the transition, I thought it could be cool to have a vision for her gaining her domains. The first a significant alignment domain, the second one a more general one. I wanted to challenge her by important figures in her life, and her past. Then the idea came in one of the assistance threads, to bring the group along for this! So we talked in emails (Without Julian's player) about these visions, their place in them and so on. Sena and Andera's player took a great interest in this, and planned a few challenges accordingly, which I think went fairly nicely. Mad Dog's player felt this was not quite his niche, so he stayed out of most of it.

Sena wanted to do this in a similar fashion to two pivotal challenges in Babylon 5, where the person under interrogation is asked quick questions, given little time to answer, in order to draw out the most real answers, things from the subconscious. (He is a lawyer, and has at times used a similar tactic against people on the stand). Julian's player answered quite nicely I think. He came quite prepared about what her vision should be, and his grasp of her character.
The two Babylon conversations, watch them, they are quite cool (MAJOR SPOILERS if you haven't seen the show):
Babylon 5, Order vs. Chaos.
Babylon 5, Who are you.

Fourth vision- The Core Teachings
The vision changed, partly returning to reality, Julian saw the masses beneath her, on the hill, all viewing her, and the change to Drezen in amazed awe, many of whom prostrated themselves in front the floating glowing form of Julian. And in this, she saw others beside her, her trio of friends, but also many of the other companions and caretakers of Drezen. She heard the voice of the prayers again: "You are good, but in what way will you act upon it? What is the core teaching of action to them? They will look up to you, what shall you say to them?"
Julian looked around, as the NPCs each spoke, bowing to her:
Anevia: "I am vigiliance. Do what needs to be done, by any means it takes to do it."
Arabeth: "I am honor. Trust, companionship, camaraderie and responsibility."
Bartlet:" I am the grim humor. When it's darkest, look for the light. Find the positive."
Aravash: "I am wisdom. Seek knowledge, seek understanding, seek enlightment."
Lann: "I am the hard worker. Put your weight, and work yourself up, despite hardship, despite prejudice, despite resistance. Through persistence and determination, I move on."
Qulin: "I am redemption, I am hope. A change of ways is always possible."
Brian: "I am the father. I love, I care, I grieve. I am family."
The trio had other things to say though.
S: "I am hope for a new way, a new vision."
Mad dog does not speak, just nods.
Andera: "When the house behind you burn, and people flee it, you can heal them, or stop the fire. Will you save the people wounded, or stop the fire from harming more?"
J: "I will stop the fire." She answers instinctively, but then she seems to hesitate. "You have brought a dilemma, which is impossible to decide right now. Each situation is different, with it's own details, it's own influences. When you are in the situation, you will know."
To the prayers she answered: "My teaching is very simple- always do the best you can to help others. I do not know what is the best way, until I will be in the fire."
Andera pressed on: "This answers nothing, by what way will you stop the fire, or decide? Choose the tool, choose the way."
J: "The fire is chaos- war, demons, many things, but for each evil, there is good. Good can counter it, and still you always have to see those that hurt, and help the best you can. Fighting is one way, but is not enough. Healing is needed as well as fighting.
S: "So you rpesent hope, a new way?"
J: "There has always been hope, it just need not be ignored."

We decided to end the vision here, as it seemed that the central experience has been played through, and Julian has spoken her piece. True, she did not quite come to a final teaching, but her main agenda- helping others to learn to help themselves, and not ignore people for the greater good, has been clear enough. She gained her second domain- Healing.

And at last,the transformation of Drezen, tied to the transformation of Julian, was completed. Along with a whole new look for her! (The player likes visuals, so he came up with the following pic to show her after the transformation)

Sena has also gained Divine Focus, as part of his transformation into something... new... But the player preferred to not make a big deal out of this, and have it be far more subtle. He liked Julian's story and how much her player had fun with this, so he opted out of drama on this one.

Spoiler: DM notes- Julian's ascension, visions, riddles and such
On the whole, the player loved the experience, even though the riddle stumped him a bit at the end of the previous session. He felt it gave the ascension a different feel, a special event, and he was pleasently surprised at the paticipation of the others in his visions! I think that on the whole, this went quite well (The other players liekd it too!). Sure, we may not have done the best of dialogue or such, but then again, it was not scripted, and we are not exactly improvisational actors or accomplished speech makers.

I think this gave an extra feel for the simple feat. It took quite soem work from me to figure things out, and decide what to put in, what to leave out, but it went well. As to the riddle... It was essential that it would be open ended, and dependent mostly on the player's creativity, which worked quite liek a blast. Hope you liked it!

Julian, now a divine being, stood in front of the great oak of her faith, near the basis of the abbey that will focus on teaching everyone self reliance, self defense, and self accomplishment, and she stood in front of the amazed and bewildered crowds of Drezen, many of them fallen before the rise of this new being.

Yet she could not see... well, not in the regular sense. The ritual has taken it's toll on her. Her eyes glowing, Sena quickly noticed soemthing is wrong, and came to her aid, trying to look as a front guide to her.

Arabeth, as stunned as the rest, asked her: "What has happened here?"
Julian looked at her, not seeing a woman, but a dull great sword, nicked and well used, yet still quite sharp, with a soft inner glow. Yet she saw no buildings, not the earth, the water, just many different kind of auras, souls... "This is still me, everyone can support and help themselves for their own food and water. This city will be a refuge in this desolated land and for those who seek shelter. People of Drezen, I hope that you have learned, and not just received. I hope that each and everyone of you will care for the other. Remember this- good can be done by everyone. This place is safe now, make it safe for others as I have made it for you."
With that she turned to Sena, who looked... stranger than the rest of the auras- it was as if he wasn't quite there. Something... flickering, not fully existing, as if not fully in sight. Yet she trusted him, squeezing his shoulder. "I m tired now. Lets go home".

I will stop here for now. The second part will start The Midnight Isles module, preparations, final decisions, and the attack on the Midnight Fane. I hope you enjoyed this! And I hope I will have the time to write the second part soon. Gotta go now!