The excitement is in Kenabres, at the moment, since the demons are too busy playing havoc in the Mendevian farmlands in preparation of winter.
So the non-humanoids wait in the Starrise Spire while the humanoids made us of their tents in a ruined square nearby. Some of the ex-slaves and prisoners could make a break for it now as they have equipment and the right to leave but it's a little too threatening to do so. Many of the stone walls are slowly being repaired by clerics and the whole place looks worse than the London East End in some of the nastier stages of the Blitz.
Once everything it settled, one of the circles is set in Nerosyan while the other is set in a repaired Clydwell Cathedral in Kenabres. You see, the old Shelyn temple that repaired itself after being rescued in Demon's Heresy wasn't the only God-Touched temple in Mendev. By triggering the self-repair (well, celestial repair) of one, he triggered the repair of the other one.
Mainly I just wanted to run "The Demon Within" and it's a little harder to do that without a cathedral. Plus the chance to have Alphy walk into the cathedral from Kenabres only to be welcomed by the Prelate Hulrun Shappock who was responsible for many of the bonfire deaths of suspected cultists and tieflings should be pretty golden. Prelate Hulrun had died during the main attack on Kenabres and was later seen worn as a suit by a Vermlek demon but why should PCs get all the resurrection fun?
Been awhile since I drafted the first part, so I've now run the session and I can report that Alphy was pretty diplomatic and reasonable about it. I'd pre-warned the player of Alphy, though, as he was getting a bit down on all the fantastic racism and lack of headway he felt he was making in terms of increasing solidarity. Things will be better on the home front but I felt that by briefing this as a final obstacle, it should help the player cope with it ... and it did.
Prelate Hulrun demanded the right to invite all of the humanoids into the temple for a grand speech. He would have put the half-orcs and tieflings to the back but as the teleportation circle was toward the front of the venue and there were enough people to fill the temple, there wasn't much chance of shifting them into a more "appropriate" mix. General Alphy Hernaste and his chief companions are allowed to sit on the front bench.
Events unfolded not dissimilar to the Demon's Heresy module with an assault on the church. I layered the attacks thick and fast, with the next encounter occurring two rounds later, which made the whole thing into a far more difficult uphill battle that ended in the first character death!
Alphy Hernaste fell to the Glabrezu and my player had to run the NPCs to the end of the fight before we snapped over to see Alphy standing in line in Pharasma's world prior to his resurrection. While normally he wouldn't get to remember such experiences, being Mythic I figured he would. I basically described the location, his sighting of Groetus, and a glimpse of a creature creeping around the tombstones. Once returned to life, he pulled Eliska to lay beside him and demanded five minutes peace, which concerned the head priest, Nestrin Alodae, who wanted to get them to clear out Clydwell Keep.
Basically Clydwell Keep fell to the demons a few weeks ago and they've been trying to clear it since to regain access to the Demonscope. They're not sure why it fell, since it had been the last bastion to be protected by the wardstone effect (being as it doesn't actually contain a wardstone). Kenabres has recently sent in some troops (who are the various victims found in the keep) but none have successfully rescued those few individuals who are known to be still alive and still attempting to defend its inner recesses.
Nestrin Alodae, also resurrected, oversees the service at the temple which hasn't yet been fully repaired while Eterrius Sunnestier, demon-hunting priest, is the arrogant priest of the cathedral itself. General Dyre and General Marcovina are busy at the moment dealing with their own problems and will later be found at loggerheads regarding the tiefling refugees streaming in from the countryside, but for now Alphy Hernaste only has the Demon Within module to worry about.
So yes, already with their resources dented, but fully restored via cleric spells himself, Alphy Hernaste leads the party onward. He leaves a somewhat redeemed barbarian Jestak behind in favour of his paladin pal. His party is therefore made up of himself (Mythic Rank 2, 10th level tiefling monk with the bardic performance rounds of his full level and the special abilities and spells granted to a fifth level bard), Ollysta Zadrian (11th level human paladin of Sarenrae with Mythic Rank 1 wielding Radiance) Eliska (10th level dhampyr oracle with five levels of rogue special abilities and Mythic Rank 2), and Lex (Very Young Umbral Dragon who initially had only one level in ninja but was upgraded to two since her lack of loot meant her ability to attack and deal decent damage was starting to fall behind).
This might seem like a pretty overkill type of party but they all run off one player's admittedly impressive processing power so it all balances out in the end. Generally the battles are *reasonably* easy with occasional spikes of surprising hardness, which fits the epic feel we wanted for the game. This module is the largest combat crawl he's done and it's time sensitive so he'll be trying to trounce it in one, maybe two, goes. Be interesting to see if he can do it. He also doesn't have access to any Mythic Spells, as yet, because I said so. I may allow access to them later.
The little quasit got spotted immediately via Eliska's Blind Sense (finally her sightlessness became cool) and it got blasted out of the way quite rapidly.
Thus far I have also made a couple changes in the lower bailey area. I got bored of babau (so many babau!) so I put three babau and four brimoraks, rather than six babau in the infirmary for some glorious fireball action. When they were all blinded, they teleported away (well, the ones that hadn't been killed). The three babau then appeared invisibly beside the three chatterer swarms that popped out of the horse in the stable, right when Eliska dropped a Holy Smite spell on the area, slaying them all as they were already injured. My player loved it! Since the chatterers don't have any ability to deal damage upon exiting an animal, I left the horse alive so now it can soon become Ollysta Zadrian's bonded animal since I don't want her bonding to Radiance as I'm hoping Yaniel gets resurrected.
The other change I made was to put three tiefling necromancers rather than one in the shadow hour glass area. One necromancer just seemed too easy to kill! I also gave them demonic wing and eye grafts, though the saves for the eye grafts was so low as to be pointless. They took two of them hostage (monks and subdual) but the third one died.
Now I have to think about what happens when that hourglass of shadows meets the Purity Forge as that's Alphy's plan. I'm thinking it might be usable to purify soil of Worldwound taint that'll last up to six months, maybe? Not sure.