Upon defeating the Vrocks Percival insisted on forcing one to die slowly and painfully, as they didn’t deserve a swift or (relatively) painless death. Although uneasy nobody outright disagreed, and during this time Magni noticed that something seemed strange about him. After activating his Detect Evil ability he realized that Percival was giving off an evil aura, prompting him to become distrustful and wary of his ally. He demanded an explanation, to which Percival replied that he’d get his answers later over a drink.
As the group made their way back to the Defender’s Heart they realized that people were cheering and that there weren’t any demons in sight. After returning they were informed that whatever they had done to the Wardstone had caused it to pulse, pushing the demons in the city back. The group was congratulated on their victory over the cultists and informed that Queen Galfrey would be arriving in a day or two. Volrik informed them that judging by the cultist’s movements from the papers they brought back it could be confirmed that the final remaining stronghold of the cultists in the city was the Tower of Estrod, a library that had recently been converted for use as a laboratory. Apparently the men he had sent out to scout the place never returned, and they had intended to send out a raiding party later on. However, with the city’s defenders rallying after the Wardstone shard’s final destruction, he was worried that sending too many men to the Tower would give the city’s remaining cultists an opening to flee. The group immediately volunteered to go back into the city to clear out the Tower.
Before leaving they all sat down for drinks and Percival recounted pieces of his past in Ustalav. He clarified that he believed himself to be under some type of curse which had started affecting him when he was in his teens – a voice in his head which attempted to convince him to take matters into his own hands, deal with his problems brutally and efficiently, and show no mercy. He said he could allow the voice a measure of control over his actions in exchange for power, but that he had control over when and how it exerted itself. He also believed that the curse was demonic in nature and that the Blackwing Library would have answers, but shortly after he arrived it was destroyed in the attack. Helping the crusaders would eventually lead him to a way to remove the curse’s power over him for good. Upon hearing that he wished to rid himself of the evil within himself Magni seemed to relax and accepted him as an ally, offering his aid in purifying him.
Upon entering the Tower they were faced with a number of strong cultists wielding crossbows, scythes, and glaives. Ranes had difficulty against their superior numbers, especially on the front lines, and the enemy proved resilient enough to shake off his holy magic time and time again. In addition they had a number of illusory tricks to throw off the group, concealing arrow positions and creating false enemies to draw the group’s attention. Nevertheless the party pressed on, getting to the bottom floor and bursting in to find a tiefling (Faxon) and his guards. The battle began anew, Ranes and Magni both taking on one of his guards as Percival and Guinevere moved into position. Faxon responded to these attacks by mentally controlling Percival, forcing him to use his spells to disable Guinevere. The fight slowed considerably after that with Percival using his spells to grant the guards positioning advantages and attempting to shut down Magni and Ranes. Both managed to hold their own though, and Magni soon defeated his enemy and came after Faxon. It took some time to pin him down, but with his attention on keeping Percival under control he didn’t last long. After that the three remaining party members took down the final guard swiftly.
With all immediate threats taken care of and most of their resources drained the group returned to the Defender’s Heart one final time to celebrate their victories. That night Ranes and Brady
did it in the butt had a pleasant chat which led to her saying she wasn’t so angry about him starting a fight in her bar back in the prologue now that she knew what kind of person he was. After Magni had a chat with her she (drunkenly) revealed that she thought Ranes was cute. This is now known to be the spark that lit the powder keg that was Pre WW1 Europe Magni, who dragged her ass to bed before going on a literal warpath to find Ranes. Guinevere attempted to convince him not to murder Ranes even though he’s a huge racist towards elves and she had every reason to just let it happen. Magni eventually found Ranes at his place of worship (the bar) and had a mostly civil chat about their burgeoning relationship, to which Ranes mostly just reacted with confusion. Upon realizing that the next World War wouldn’t be coming Guinevere decided to leave the two to bond.
That night the four of them were each visited in their dreams by a mysterious entity – Magni by a hardened older dwarven smith, Ranes by a beautiful female doctor, Guinevere by an elven woman who was orbited by numerous crystals and gemstones, and Percival by a woman he walked with down the road on a starry night. By the end of the dream Magni and Guinevere realized they had been visited by Torag and Yuelral respectively, but although they had ideas Ranes and Percival couldn’t tell who their visitors were.
The following day Queen Galfrey arrived with her troops and sought out the so-called “Heroes of Kenabres”. She found them at the Defender’s Heart and gave a rousing speech for the soldiers stationed there, saying that her men would assist with the rebuilding and the removal of any remaining cultists in the city. Ranes noticed that she seemed pretty tired, and when she sat down to talk to the group he realized she greatly disliked official matters. The Queen asked everyone for a report on what happened and how they managed to push the demons out – after being told that the group destroyed a shard of the Wardstone she confirmed that the entire relay was down and that the pulsing they witnessed pushed the demons back everywhere, not just in Kenabres. She commended the group on their achievements and started getting down to business to defeat demons.
You now have Make a Man Out of You stuck in your head.
Galfrey told the group that even as they spoke the demons were amassing near the southern border and that Kenabres was as far north as she could afford to go if she was to return to Nerosyan to meet them in battle. She told them of a bold plan to send an army of paladins up the Sellen river to assault the old crusade outpost Drezen while its commander Aponavicius was away. Her scouts had informed her that the citadel was held by a skeleton crew compared to its usual defenses and that the traitor Staunton Vhane was stationed there. In addition, an ancient artifact known as the Sword of Valor (a banner carried by Iomedae during her time as Aroden’s Herald) which was known to be a powerful barrier against demons was suspected of being somewhere within the citadel, and its retrieval would mark a turning point in the crusade. Upon hearing their tales of heroism and confirming the stories for herself Galfrey said she believed the group was granted immeasurable power by the Wardstones and could think of no better people to lead this army to a decisive victory.
Galfrey then explained that in order to command the army and receive medals for their achievements they would need to be Knighted. Ranes in particular objected to this, but seeing no other way forward to avenge his brother he resigned himself to it. Galfrey told them that she would be delaying any official recognition until a more appropriate time and place. She then took them to the north of the city to the paladins she had chosen as soldiers for the expedition and introduced the group to her three specialists: Sosiel Vanaec, a cleric of Shelyn with a talent for keeping up morale; Aron Kir, an experienced scout and siege expert; and Nurah, a halfling historian who knew more about Drezen than anyone. Magni recognized Sosiel and Aron as the two crusaders who defended his family in his dream and thanked them profusely to their initial confusion.
Once introductions were finished Galfrey told them they ought to leave the following day, and that if they had any other people in mind for the expedition they were free to ask them to join. Galfrey then left to go do a number of house calls. Ranes asked Lysander to come along with him
to which Lysander replied “Ready, Ser!”.