So, last Saturday we had our meeting, which was an absolute blast! One of the best we've had yet! It started with a fast improvisational chaos, and then continued to a "scene" I've been working on for a long time- Negotiations in Nocticula's palace. The start involves a furious battle, but the rest involves some very nice roleplay. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as we had playing it!

Session 24, Part 1- Mayhem under the Battle Bliss arena

At the end of the last session the party has just killed the infamous gladiator of the Battle Bliss arena- Galderfang! But... he managed to slay Mad Dog as well.

The crowd was in shock, some cheered the party, some "booed" them (Is there such a word? ) They were mostly confused. But Imagraleth, the battle Bliss' owner and manager, stepped forth into the center of the ring, and called out: "Blood for the Battle Bliss! Cheer the new champions of the ring! Theeeeee Numerian Tigers!" A cheer, though a bit of a hesitant one, came up from the crowd of demons...

The party is not in a amused disposition. Sena looks over the crowd of demons, looking at this blood sport, and calls out to them: "We shall soon be back, and give you a GREAT honor, as you have given to us! Our beloved crowd of the Arena!" (Sena's intention of honor is starting to spam Holy Words... He's had enough). Imagraleth, who understands something is a bit off, none the less, directs the party, carrying the heavy body of Mad Dog into Galderfang's quarters, those befitting the ring's champion.

They come to a fairly lavish room, with various furs, skins and such from various creatures, with two succubi lounging on the carpets, Galderfang's concubines. But they don't seem to miss him that much, as they quickly come for the party, all smiles, temptations and offerings. The party shoos them aside for a second, talking to the ring's manager. Imagraleth was impressed by them, and thinks about sponsoring them, with some profits from their winnings. He is worried about the anger Sena seems to be seething in, but they quickly bluff him to thinking this is because of Mad Dog's death.

As he lives them, Sena first send a sending to Queen Galifar: . "Until further notice, you cannot trust Arulashee, please notify Drezen, in order to protect the Sword of Valor."
The Queen replies shortly: "She betrayed us? (sounding quite angry) Kill her at the first opportunity! She knows too much! We soon arrive at Raliscard, all goes well. Stop the demon alliance!"
Sena grunts, and begin resurrecting Mad Dog.

As he does so, the party considers their options and plan. Julian reinstates their goals:
- Find Nocticula and stop the alliance.
- Find Arulashee, and if she's not too far gone- save her.
- Find the Nyhadrian mine, and put a stop to it.

Sena wishes to "draw attention" by going back to the ring, and just killing as many demons as possible, ESPECIALLY the ring master... "They arekeepign slaves to fight in these blood sports.". Julian thinks of perhaps contacting Minhago through a sending, and offering herself instead of Arulashee, to which the party responds "No way!". Andera's player mentions the Discern Location spell, an 8th level spell, that he thinks they'll be able to gain access to here, in Porphyry (Damn them! I forgot about that! ) They end up wanting to learn more of the arena itself. Andera goes sneaking, while Julian goes talking...

I... didn't quite expect this avenue, and the module doesn't touch on this, so... I was startign to improvise like crazy! Andera found an entrance to the underbelly of the ring. He learned that there is a circular corridor underneath, that holds maintenance rooms, beasts, slaves, and some visiting gladiator dens. he saw two doors, to the two ends of the circle. He see the lock, picks it, and goes inside, without even searching the door!

The alarm spell alerts Imagraleth, and he teleports with two guards. "Um, what exactly are you doing here? I thought you heroes were coming o get your... honors... at the ring?" Andera tried bluffing, that he was looking around, heard there were perhaps other contestants here. Imgraleth didn't like it, and ushered him outside. "I'll show you the grounds later on. Leave the upkeep of the ring to me, you just do the fighting, right?" The ring master was getting quite suspicious, and started inquiring about these newcomers, not yet willing to confront the killers of Galderfang. Andera saw him singing a tune to put the alarm and mage lock back on. "Hmmm... a bard..." (The module mentions him in a sentence- "Imagraleth, cambion bard 16") It seemed the party was taking an interest in the ring master. I was quickly trying to think up a 16th level bard...

Meanwhile Julian went to ask the two succubi, who quickly became very affectionate, very physical, their hands startingto move on Julians... "Yes love? How can we pleasure you? Hmmmm?"
J: "Well… that's nice. But business first. How long was GalderFang been the Champion?"
The succubi pouted "Oh! He's ancient news, you're the star now!".
J: "Answer my question!"
Onew of the succubi waved a dismissive hand "Him? About a year, maybe two years?"
Julian tried to impress them "You know, we are meant for greatness"
The succubus smiled their tempting smiles, redoubling their... efforts "Oh, we know you are!"
J: "And if you please us..."
S: "Oh, we will!"
J: "Then tell us of the opponents!" (It was at this point I understood the party must have thought that they are supposed to fight many gladiatorial fights. I was quickly trying to think of possible interesting opponents and such down below. Thankfully I have made various random encounters- for flavor and battle, so I was using/ reskinning those on the fly)
The succubi gave more pouting (Yes, I was making them too blunt and upfront, we just laughed about it) "Them? Oh, none can stand against you!" but at Julian's stern gaze they relented "Oh, there are some gladiators who come and go, there's a Shemhazain demon who wishes to prove itself, some Bebiliths, and we heard that Imagraleth has a few captured celestials, in his private vault. Keeps them for some sort of big battle, a big show? This is so boring! You would slaughter them all, my champion!"
Julian inquired more "What about slaves from Golarion?"
The succubi got a bit annoyed "That boring place? Oh, they bring some every so often, they fight, they scream they die. They get a good stock of cattle every few weeks we think?" Julian doesn't manage to find anyone of particular importance from questioning them further.
Julian petted them "You're starting to please me! Now go and appease me- go ask some questions, get me some more facts!" The succubus looked at her affronted, but pouting, they got up, changed their appearance, and went sniffing around...

The others got back just as Sen finished the 10 minute resurrection spell. With a flash of light, his owudns healed, and Mad Dog lives!
Mad Dog rose with a gasp "Ok! Where is he?!"
Sena leaned down at him "Oh, he's dead. But... we plan on a new massacre of demons, and we need YOU!"
Mad Dog grinned "Great!" Looking at his rejuvenated body, smiling with menace.
Sena handed Mad Dog his great sword. "I know how to make you happy! Now get up! We got work to do!"

Andera and Julian quickly relayed their findings, and they quickly discussed a plan:
Mad Dog "Wait, so our target is to free the celestials?"
Julian: "We have two objectives- to find Nocticula, and find Arulashee"
Sena: "i know how t oget her attention! Lets get outside, and start massacarign them all! This will get her to notice us!"
Andera: "We can't just massacre them! Shamira will just send her super guard, or herself, and come kill us!"
Julian thought "No... we need to kill select targets- She's the demon lord of assassination, right?"
Sena: "What about the ring master? Imagraleth?"
They give him some thought- on the one hand he is probably a high profile person, but will killing him attract Nocticula's attention, or Shamira's, for hurtign the city's entertainment?
S: "It will get us the attention!"
Julian and Andera were more cautious: "Not the RIGHT attention… But we could try and free the celestials, we can need any allies we can find."
Mad Dog: "Won't keeping freeing celestials and mortals will look like we're pro-celestials? Yeah, I know we want attention, but won't this make us look on the celestials side? Why should Nocticula deal with us then?"
Julian "We don't know, but the fact that she hasn't allied with the demons yet, might say we have a chance…"
Mad Dog: "Killing demons gets good attention, but freeing celestials? If I was a demon, that would put you on the wrong side."

None the less, the party decides to try and free the celestials. In my mind I try to quickly come up with a basic structure and fast made encounters... Well, improvising sure is interesting!

To the rescue!

The party goes down to the door Andera saw before. A bit of detect magic, a couple of dispels, and the spells on the door are gone. "I can't believe you forgot to check for magic traps!" says the party.
Andera goes a bit in front, passing some maintenance and storage, till he hears some voices. He hears the voice of some demon talking with Babaus (Got a very distinctive voice) and some grunts of dretches. They seem to be moaning that they had to take care of the beasties and captives, and haven't witnessed the death of Galderfang. "Must have been some battle! We never get to see the good stuff!"

Andera goes back and relay the news. The party... AGAIN... discusses about options- attack? Sneak with invisibility or such? Bluff? Till Sena has it. "They are Babaus and dretches! We just storm in like we own the place!" (The party worried about any of them teleporting to alert Imagrleth). As they strut full force, the Cambion handlign the 2 babaus and the 3 few manure shovleign dretches, loosk up in wonder.
C: "Hey! Who are you?"
S: "The Numerian tigers! Who are YOU?"
C"I am Salaat what do you want?" (The party groaned at his name. "You need to come up with better ones! His name... does not bode well for him, you know?")
Julian stepepd forth, with all of her charisma and majestic presence "We are just looking around, we're taking a tour, we have been allowed by Imagraleth…"
Salaat was offended, but totally fell for her bluff "We are never told anything! He shoudl tell us when he gets people down! So what do you want to see?"
Andera boasted: "We want to see who we gonna kill! Let us see the celestials first".
Salaat was a but hesitant. "um... He never let anyone see them He keeps them in his private section. I never got to see them".
Julian however smooths things, offering to remember him and so on, so Salaat and a babau leads them down the circular corridor. They pass some cells: A few giants, who look mutated, a few lizardian warriors, Some sort of a construct, 2 Bebiliths behind a force barrier, until they reach two big double doors. "They are beyond that door, but Only Imagrleth can open it. You're going to call him now? Put in a good word for me?"
"So, you call Imagraleth now?"
"Yeah, we'll tell him." they say, before Andera sneak attack, and Mad Dog and Sena finishes the duo quickly.

Standing before the door, they detect 5 magical influences on the door, and Julian uses 2 greater dispels to take them off. Andera sees the complex lock, and goes to work on it. He manages to unlock it, just when the trap springs! The two side walls tried to crush them between them, but they managed to step back just in time. Also, a deep vibration goes through the walls- an alarm! (The trap idea came from Baldur's Gate 2- in one of the more lethal dungeons there is a crushing walls trap, that just kill your entire party. I allowed for saves)
Ander'a player: "But we dispelled the traps!"
Me: "The MAGICAL traps. You didn't even look for the mechanical ones!"
The party groaned "We are such NOOBS!" (My, it has been some time since we've done a proper dungeon!) The party was weary of the door and it's trap, unsure what to do now.

I started counting rounds. I envisioned Imagraleth and a few others getting down, and it tking them about 6 rounds to gt to their captives, and usher them to the teleportation circle inside, back to a safer place. The party didn't know that though.

The party started putting on mirror images, with Andera using his wand to put some on Mad Dog (They didn't want to repeat the performance in the ring).

A round later, 4 vrocks appeared behind them. (Part of Imagraleth response team. The idea was that they would delay the intruders, and that one would teleport back to him to report of the nature of the threat). But the vrocks don't get a chance to act. With Andera and Mad Dog delivering huge piles of damage, and Julian then casting a dazing fireball (Metamagic +3), they stand there dazed, with the party cutting them off quickly. Behind the door, they her something humongous getting behind it. They wait for it to open it.

They almost wait for too long, before Sena's keen ears manage to just barely hear rushed whispers behind the thick door. He hears, faintly Imagraleth' voice. "Quickly! Get them to the circle! Before those blasted angels come rescuing their friends! And you! Hold them On!" The gigantic thing just behind the door grunts in affirmation.

The party realizes they can't wait. Sena uses a mythic point to cast some spell, and go ethereal... He goes through the ether, beyond the door, past some Gargatuan bestial horrific demon, and into the main chamber, where he sees Imagraleth, with various magical energies around him, 2 succubi at the back with caster robes, and 3 vrocks around the ring master. He stands inside some magical circles, and waves to speed up a few more vrocks leading about 5 beings, hunched and covered.

We understand that we have no gargantuan miniature, so Andera's player quickly whips one. Julian seems to remember "The succubus talked about some demon gladiator.. .Shamhaz... something?" (Shamhazian demon) never the less, She has no time to waste, points the door, and disintegrates it! Mad Dog roars s he rushes at the Shamhazian brute demon, taking the burnt of his gaze, but slashes at it with his sword, taking out a good chunk! The demon full attacks the barbarian, yet thanks to Andera's foresight, it is mostly mirror images got taken down. (My bad- I forgot it had true sight at all times! ). Andera diverges his eyes, and tumbles inside...

Imagraleth, panicking, tries casting irresistible dance on Mad Dog, but he saves. Sean prepares reemerging from the ether, putting on few new buffs on himself, but Julian basically ends the battle- she casts dazing fireball again, but with her persistent rod to boot! All of the demons (Including Imgraleth) Are dazed, except for one succubus, just outside of the spell's area. I quickly think "Ok, she can cast dispel..." before Chandi dimension doors Andera next to her, who full sneak attack her, cutting her pieces.

Sena, a bit bummed, still emerges next to Imagraleth, making sure the celestials hear him, and unleashes a holy word! After Mad Dog manages to kill off the Shamhazain, the party quickly dispatches of the incapacitated demons. Julian comes in, stepping through the hole in the door, over the butchered demon. "Well, that went well!"

DM's thought- improvising the rescue
Thankfully, I could cobble this quick scene up from a few other scenes in from some other scenes I prepared for Porphyry, as part of the "sight seeing/ combat encounters". The only one I couldn't quite account for was Imagraleth himself. A 16th level bard is complex to plan and run. I quickly wrote a few base ideas and stats for it, and quickly looked up a few high level spells, but I didn't quite manage to flesh him out completely before Julian took him down. Oh well...

The Shamhazian was quite a disappointment though- his save DCs are quite low, but maybe that's due to the nature of mythic.

Taking credit for the rescue?

Now that there were the archons there, both Sena and Julian wanted to impress them, and get them to their respective causes. (Julian's new religion and Sena's new vision of the future) The players started joking about how they use effects (Angelic visage, slow or silence on each other) to sabotage each others' efforts! Sena's player bemoaned jokingly, that he can make the most moving speeches, the most eloquent points, but Julian can just saunter in with her sky high charisma and social skills and either pick her nose or fart, and it will be so CHARMING they would still go with her! They kept on laughing about it, till it sounded something like this...

The celestials proved to be 2 hound archons, 2 legion archons, and a trumpet archon! With her wings cut. Sena quickly cast regenerate on her, and they all thanked the party profusely. "Thank you majesties! Who are we in debt for our rescue? Who sent you?"

Julian replied: "No one sent us. No creature should be imprisoned. All should be free! "
The trumpet Archon spoke reverntly: "I am Adriel. (I had a different name, but the party asked for this one, easier to remember) I am a general of Sarenrae. We spied upon Shamira, who long ago seduced, corrupted, and then consumed one of her high angels. She was brought here by Nocticula, we sought to ascertain to what end, yet she ambushed us, and captured us, as her prize. She... Has a thing for Sarenrae's worshipers..." It became apparent that Shamira held her trumpet. Sena suggested confronting Shamira and getting it back, but the party quickly dissuaded him from that idea.
Sena asked them "Where do you wish to go?"
Julian had an idea, that would quell Sena and her friendly rivalry. "There is a great battle in Golarion. If you have no other duties, we would appreciate if you could join the crusade, especially our queen. She may need all the assistance that she can."
Adriel:"If this is your wish, I will aid you, and go to her, with your blessing, till the light of Sarenrae calls me elsewhere." The party is satisfied with this, and goes on looting!

Sena's redemption?

Before sending her and her followers, Sena takes Adriel a bit to the side, speaking to her quietly. "I was once a follower of Sarenrae. I was her devotee all of my life. But... In light of some consequences, concerning a disagreement, I have probably made a mistake..." Sena looked ashamed.
Adriel inquired "What sort of a mistake?"
Sena relays the story of Drezen quickly, his argument with Sarenrae, and taking on Calistria's offer "I think I meant well, though I did wish for the tieflings to die, and did not include them in my prayer... I have since tried to amend my ways, and even managed to find the tieflings' souls stone."
Adriel looked at it, and explained he could free them with a casting of Dispel Evil.
Sena thanked her, and continued "I seek redemption. I have always was and have been a true believer of Sarenrae."
Adriel thought, and spoke to him clearly. "If you wish to go back to her fold, you'll need to take off the mark of Calistria. Her agreement with her lent her the power to take hold of you, a sort of ownership. And from what I hear, she is a covetous mistress. She has taken you as her own. Once you do so, you would find Sarenrae welcoming. She welcomes redemption. In order to be free, you must turn back from the path that led you to the trickster. For that is her hold of you."
Sena took it in, understanding this may be difficult. What a bind has he gotten himself into with Calistria? He reached and took Sarenrae's silver holy symbol, which he kept unto, and gave it to Adriel. "May this symbol serves you better than it did me. If you see her, please end her a word from me, and tell her... tell her that I have a new vision for the future, one where mortals, demons and more can work and live together." (he explains about it briefly)
Adriel is intrigued, so Sena takes out the tielfing stone, and casts dispel evil on it. The stone flashes, seems to expand slightly, and then implodes on itself, with a hiss going out, as some... things... get released.
Adriel bows to him, impressed "I will relay your words." She and her archons accept the pins symbolizing Sena's vision of the future (Made in Drezen, in the previous module or the interlude), before Sena banishes them to Golarion, towards the Queen's army. (The player then smirks at Julian's player. "Aha! I got them at the end!". The party laughed "You sneak!")

About the loot- I confess to the party that I have no idea what Imagraleht might have on him, and ask of them to give me time between sessions to think of something. Got me there!

DM's thoughts- Sena's evolution
Sena surprised me here as well, but he wishes to evolve him further, in an attempt to go back to Sarenrae. I thought quickly, and basically Adriel's advice was for a few steps:
- Convince Calistria to let her control of him go. (He can't get powers from others till she does so). The problem is, Sena doesn't really understand what her game and interest int this is. He knows only, from past conversations through Commune that she has a special interest in him, and their mythical powers, that she seeks "to learn new things", and that she seems to not have a great stake in the struggle between crusaders and demon armies... A problem...
- Go back from his dedication to vengeance. This is what led him to Calistria. he needs to truly let it go, before coming back to Sarenrae.
- Have Sarenrae accept him back, though this seems to be the easiest step. He is worried about his "beyond morality" aura and soul. Sarenrae is dedicated goddess of good. Can she accept someone who is not so strongly so?

Now, all of this is what he understood from Adriel, which is... for the most part true... However, I do have somewhat of a surprise, later.

An invitation you cannot refuse!

As the party was gathering up the loot, and were starting to think what to do next, I decided to throw the Notoriety out of the window. I imagined that killing Imagraleth, and saving the celestials Shamira captured was good enough.

Suddenly, a great fiery light appeared from the corridor- Shamira herself, with anger and murder in her eyes! Yet, at the same time, another figure, looking a bit like a sort of a... priest? yet with eyes like pools of night, emerged from a nearby shadow.

Spoiler: Sister of The Last Embrace

The figure held a hand towards the furious Shamira, who's fiery aura started scolding the very walls. "Visitors to The Midnight Isles. Your actions have gained the attention of the ruler of the realm, Our Lady Nocticula, the Lady in Shadow. She wishes your presence in her palace, as her guests.Finish your affairs here quickly if you have a pressing need to, but do not delay much, and come with me. The Lady awaits..."

Shamira seemed to be fuming (literally), but did not challenge the Lady's wishes. The party exchanged glances, and swallowed deeply. "We're ready" they told the Sister of The Last Embrace." She nodded, and... grasped a shadow by the wall, pulling it aside, like a curtain... revealing a sort of a dark path behind it, and motioned to the party. They walked inside, to the path that leads to the palace of the demon lord Nocticula...

I'll stop here. The next part (I believe I'll be able to finish it in one part) will deal with the various dealings inside Nocticula's palace. Quite a few surprises, some twists, and some beautiful moments. I hope I can find the time to write it soon! Stay tuned!