Gate I: Sesna’s VolcanoMistress Hearth
Mistress Hearth is a mountain. It is not particularly large, but it sits on top of the Meshran mountain range, a northern range that consists of a harsh climate, and harsher inhabitants. The Meshran range also contains one of the most used, and most infamous and well hidden trading routes on the Pendoric Continent. Its harsh and lawless conditions make it a great place for smuggling, and it is used for that sole purpose.Sesna’s Volcano
Mistress Hearth is not quite breathtaking in size or appearance. In fact, it is one of the smallest snow-covered mountains along the range, sitting in between the peak called “Sha’aron’s Staff”, and it’s much grander, but less dangerous half-brother, “Terador’s Back”. Mistress Hearth however is actually not a mountain. In fact, it’s secret is known only by a few around the world. By the highest of the occult orders it is known as Sesna’s Volcano.
The inside of Sesna’s volcano is actually hollowed out. If a gigantic pool of lava did not replace the bottom of this massive cavern, it would be hundreds of feet high, and about half of its height in diameter. The pool of lava at the bottom is violently stirring at all times, sporadically sending bursts of fire and brimstone several hundred feet high at times.Sesna’s Heart
In the very center of the volcanic cavern lies Sesna’s Heart, a huge boulder about the size of a cottage that appears to have been cut in half with the flat side facing up. Sesna’s Heart is suspended by eight wooden rope-bridges that are anchored from Sesna’s Heart to the outer stone wall of the volcano. At first glance, these eight rope bridges are all that prevents the large stone platform from plummeting into the volcanic depths, however, a particularly keen eye might note that the bridges are not fully taught.
This last part is particularly important, especially so given that bursts of Lava will periodically go high enough to burn through a bridge. Each time a bridge breaks, Sesna’s Heart will tilt in that direction as if it had lost a vital support, but no matter how many bridges fall out, Sesna’s Heart will always tilt back to a level position, and will not fall or lose altitude, although this may not be obvious at first.
Runes on the underside of Sesna’s Heart will glow faintly when a bridge is cut, and grow brighter for each additional severed bridge beyond the first until finally they are glowing brightly. It should also be noted that although bursts of lava can and will hit the bridges, powerful runes on the underside of these bridges will ward away any bursts of lava that would normally hit a bridge that a living person is standing on. These runes however will not prevent the ropes that hold the bridge up from being severed, effectively dropping the bridge.
The “floor”, or top, of Sesna’s Heart is finely polished semi-reflective stone. Runic markings glow faintly on it’s surface after being touched by shoes or other objects. If one diligently traced all of the runic markings, it would trace out a large summoning or teleportation circle, the center of that circle being Sesna’s Tomb, a sacrificial stone altar.Sesna’s Tomb
The alter is simple in it’s design, and lacks any ornate carvings, however, like Sesna’s Heart, Sesna’s Tomb is finely polished. Sesna’s Tomb is the Gate, or more correctly, the trigger for the gate. In order to activate Sesna’s Heart, a sentient, living being must be sacrificed upon Sesna’s Tomb. When that happens, the runes of Sensa’s tomb will all glow brightly, and Sesna’s Heart will be encased in a bright, blinding red light. In a moment the light will fade. All those standing on Sesna’s Heart will have been transported to Sesna’s Volcano in the demon realm of Vaaldemon. The body on the alter will have been consumed, and those who have been transported may not even know what has just occurred.Sesna’s Secret
What may be considered most unusual about Sesna’s Volcano, however, is that there is no entrance or exit. Shy of teleportation, there is no way in or out of Sesna’s Volcano save one.
A full moon is the key.
Full moonlight has several effects upon Sesna’s Volcano. The most notable effect is its ability to cut through the top half of the mountain. The light of the full moon cuts through the top of the (very real) mountain like daylight cuts through shadow. Simply put, any place where a ray of moonlight shines, the top of the mountain does not exist. On a cloudless night of the full moon, the top of the mountain would be cut away entirely and create a very easy path to the rope bridges that lead to Sesna’s Heart.
Another potent attribute of the Full Moon is it’s calming effect on the lava below. Wherever the moonlight shines, the lava becomes crystal clear water. The water is normal in every way, and is not only cool to the touch, but also clean and drinkable, except that without moonlight, it becomes violent lava again.
The change is instantaneous and infallible and contact between the lava and the water does not produce any steam. Once either the water or the lava is removed from the pool at the bottom, it will not change unless returned. If it were not for the very real qualities of both the water and the lava, it would be easy to mistake as an illusion of some sort. However, it should be quite clear that both are very real.
The full moon also has the ability to repair the bridges. If the full moonlight touches any place that the bridge should be, it will reveal that the bridge is still there. If the light covers the width (not length) of the bridge, the entire bridge will cease to be broken, and will instead be revealed whole. This is true even in places that the moonlight does not touch, as long as even a single plank of wood was revealed.
Any part of the bridge not touched by the moonlight in such a case will not noticeably return. It will still return, but the actual appearance of the unlit section will go unnoticed even by somebody watching specifically for it. They will simply realize that it is there, but will never see it come into being.
Anybody holding onto a collapsed bridge will immediately find themselves on the bridge at the same relative point, in the same relative position. Again, they will not notice themselves move, or their scenery change until just afterwards. The will however feel gravity shift (for added effect you could also have them flung through the air when the bridge snaps back into place).Sesna’s Volcano in the Demon Realm
Although the Demon realm itself is setting specific, Sesna’s Volcano should have a distinctly different look and feel to its counterpart in the realm of humans.
For starters, it has a hole in the top where a flying or climbing creature could escape or enter, more typical to a “normal” volcano. That means that from the outside, Sesna’s volcano looks like a normal volcano, and entry or escape is not dependant any more on a full moon.
For those new to the realm however, lies a more dramatic change. Sesna’s Heart no longer hangs by rope bridges suspended above a pool of lava. Indeed, there are no rope bridges at all. Instead, the top of Sesna’s heart sits literally inches above the lava, as if floating there. Bursts of lava still fire hundreds of feet high, reigning moten rock onto the surface of Sesna’s Heart. An accumulation of dried magma sits encrusted upon Sesna’s Heart and Tomb, hiding it’s polished finish beneath inches of rock.
The Runes that cover Sesna’s heart sit atop the top-most layer however, no matter how much sediment collects, and the bottom-most layer of sediment to touch Sesna’s Heart is turned into water, running off into small streams that flow back into the lava. A constant supply of steam comes from the sides as the water mixes with the Lava, and periodically, the weight of new magma causes the igneous rock to collapse under its own weight, creating cracks and breaks to form on its surface.
Instead of rope bridges, stepping stones spiral outwards the volcanic walls. The stones are each two feet apart, and although they are very stable, volcanic activity makes traversing them very dangerous. Even though they have the same volcanic warding that the rope bridges have, the steppingstones do not protect the one ahead of them or behind them. A badly timed jump could easily be fatal.
Carved into the walls, are handholds that climb fifty feet to the Valcano’s rim. Although they appear shakey, they are quite stable, and offer the same protection that the stepping stones offer.
This frightening and dangerous area is not in stark contrast to the rest of the demon realm. Indeed, players should feel a sense of despair as they realize that Sesna’s Volcano is only the beginning of the danger and desolation that awaits them in this place.