Mummy's Mask

Where do these stairs go? They go up.

8 Pharast, 4715 – Day 3: House of Pentheru: 0945

Carefully the party ascends to the second floor making sure they check for traps. Surprisingly, they find none and reach the balcony above the inner courtyard where they fought the sand elemental. The group decides the search the first room at the top of the staircase and open the doors to find what appears to be a ruin bedroom. From the aged remains of the dresser, divan and a large canopied bed indicate this may have been the master bedroom. There is another door in the east wall and in the corner at the ceiling between the two doors is a large hornet’s nest. Farek points out there are no hornets flying about and Elsin remarks that maybe something scared them off.

While using her detect magic, Janisa notices a small invisible creature floating on the opposite side of the room above what appears to be a dresser. She pretends to notice something underneath the nest and calls everyone over to her where she whispers that the group is being watched and where the creature is located. Farek casts a bless spell on the party in hopes it will draw out the creature. The creature materializes briefly and his eyes glow and then he disappears again. Elsin feels a weird effect wash over him and a whispering in his head but he is able to resist the charm person spell. With the failed attempt to charm Elsin, the party attacks. Janisa runs over and corners the creature in a secluded area and casts light on it so that even while invisible the head will glow so the rest of the party can see it.

The doru div proves to be a very hard opponent as his bite inflicts Janisa, Xenya and Farek each with poison. The two women manage to save against it so the Wisdom drain is minor, but Farek hits a streak of bad luck and takes a major ability drain, losing 8 points of Wisdom and even losing his spell casting ability temporarily until he manages to drink down a potion of lesser restoration to recover his spells. The players at first do little damage but Xenya recognizes the damage reduction ability of the creature is diminishing the effect of her fists so she changes to her spear and is eventually able to breakthrough with a severe critical hit.

While the PCs struggle to hit the flying abomination, the doru summons the two vargouilles with his telepathy after the critical attack from the monk. These horrid creatures arrive in the midst of the fight and unleash their horrendous shriek in consecutive rounds. All of the characters save against the first shriek but Elsin fails the second one and is paralyzed. With the investigator now vulnerable, the other vargouille is able to apply its kiss before Janisa kills the flying monstrosity. The tiny terrors continue to unleash their devastating attacks with all members taking some serious damage before Xenya is finally able to deliver a killing blow to the div which causes the last remaining vargouille to flee with the primary source of evil in the house now dead. With these creatures defeated, the Jeweled Scarabs are largely free to examine the rest of the house with little trouble.

The party finds a false dresser in the master bedroom and pull it away from the wall to discover a tarnished bronze chest. The chest is locked and Elsin discovers a hidden switch on the bottom of the chest., but is unable to disable the lock. He does inform the group that the chest is very heavy. The group decides to leave the chest and pick it up when leaving the house. Lastly, the group finds a small headband inside the dead hornet’s nest which Janisa detects as magic. While the party searches the room, Farek uses his fervor ability to free cast a cure light wounds spell on himself.

The group leaves the master bedroom and heads around the balcony to the far side of the house. There are two doors open and they pick the one on the left. Janisa pushes open the door and enters to find an empty room coated in dust; once brightly painted walls are now faded. An alcove in the northeast corner once held a door, but over the centuries it has rotted away leaving only the hinges hanging on the doorframe. A cloying odor of filth fills the room and the group sees what appears to be a nest from one of the vargouilles.
Faded murals depict images of a Keleshite sultana arriving in Wati on a river barge, a celebration where a young woman is being anointed or crowned, and a group of women swimming in a river while being protected by armed guards on the bank.

Amongst the debris in the alcove the party finds a darkwood box that is unlocked and not trapped. Inside they find an extremely faded and worn wedding dress. Farek and Janisa both realize any attempt to remove the dress will destroy it. Farek casts mending on the dress and it is restored. Under the dress the group finds several pieces of cheap jewelry, a strand of freshwater pearls, a tube which contains five applications of kohl of uncanny discernment. The last item found is a scroll tube which holds a rolled up painting on papyrus, a painting of a beautiful young woman. Xenya recognizes a similarity in the painting they found and the vision they all witnessed downstairs near the staircase.

With the young girl’s room cleared, the Scarabs move to the next room. It too is worn and faded and also smells of decay and filth as they find a second vargouille nest. A search of this room turns up few worthwhile items, but they do uncover a box with a set of carved stone pieces inside. Reading the hieroglyphs in the top of the box, Xenya says it appears to be some kind of children’s game. Elsin says that a museum or collector may find it interesting and decide to take it.

The next room the group investigates appears to be some sort of office as there is a good sized lacquered desk sitting in the center of the room. The desk appears on the verge of collapse as centuries of neglect and decay seem to have caught up with the only piece of furniture in the room still intact. Bookcases and divans that once indicated status and rank now lay shattered and strewn about the dust that covers everything. Farek uses mending on the desk and the party is able to conduct a search of the desk turns up a bronze key, an official’s stamp bearing the symbol of House Pentheru and a set of scales. Unfortunately none of the weights for the scales are present so it is worthless.

As the party moves to the last room on the upper floor Janisa notices that Elsin seems to losing some of his hair and points this out to him. He does nothing for the moment and the party continues their search of the house. The walls of this last room bear faded images of scenic murals that once covered the room. The smell of decomposition wafts from a small alcove on the far side of the room. Inside the room the party finds the decapitated body of man, but unlike the headless corpses down stairs, the head on this body appear to have been ripped free instead of cleanly cut. Farek examines the body and says this corpse is also fresh compares all the others they have encountered, being just over a year old. As they further examine the body, they notice that there are clumps of hair on the floor near the body. Elsin puts the pieces together and begins to suspect that if they do not take action immediately, then this could be his fate as well. The party does notice a gold ring on the body’s finger and retrieve it before deciding to head back to town to investigate the “curse” which Elsin bears.

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Mortis

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