Mummy's Mask

Some Familiar Faces
9 Pharast, 4715 – Day 4: Wati: Midwife

The party again arrives at the Grand Mausoleum early the next morning for their third and last assignment through the lottery process. As before, other groups are present seeking assignments as well, some on their second and others, like the Scorched Hand are on their third as well. .

Don't lose your head
8 Pharast, 4715 – Day 3: House of Pentheru: 1100

The party collects the chest they found in the master bedroom and descend back down to the ground floor. Departing the house out the side door they find themselves back into courtyard on the opposite side of the house they entered from. In what was once a large plush garden, The Scarabs find an entrance to a mausoleum and a large empty tiled pool in a courtyard that is nothing more than the graveyard for the dried husk of trees and plant life that has obviously been neglected for centuries. Deciding to bypass the mausoleum for the time being, they elect to head for the entry gate and head back to the Grand Mausoleum in order to find a cure for Elsin’s current state. As they begin cutting through the courtyard they draw the attention of a large centipede who attacks the group.

The group launches into a furious attack on the huge vermin with everyone hitting the beast. Farek rushes forward and smashes the creature with his hammer while Xenya uses her elemental fury ability with her fists to beat the side of the beast. Janisa and Elsin both use the archer-focused spells to aide their attacks and the combination is nearly fatal to the centipede but it lashes out and bites Farek delivering a deadly bite which injects him with yet more poison, but he manages to shake it off and continue the attack but he nearly succumbs to his wounds. The centipede attempts to smack Xenya with its tail but the agile monk is able to dodge the feeble attack. With a burst of inspiration Elsin finishes off the huge creature before it has a chance to deliver another blow to Farek who is quite weak from blood loss. With the threat ended Farek casts cure light wounds and Janisa gives the priest her cure light potion to bolster his strength. Before the party departs again, Elsin collects the centipede’s poison glands with plans to drain them and craft a poison for sale or use.

The party recollects the locked chest from inside the house and set out for the town once more. The party makes their way back through the Necropolis without any further incidents, passing by a couple other dig sites. The group makes it back to the Tooth and Hookah just afternoon and Elsin is now almost completely bald. They secure all their loot from the site except for the portrait of Ariseti which they bring with them as they head to The Grand Mausoleum.

They get to the Mausoleum and like most days it is busy with worshippers. Eventually they are met by a minor low-level official who tries to convince the party to leave. Elsin begins to complain about his skin itching and Xenya notices that His ears are starting to grow and it appears that some type of leathery tendrils are growing from his chin. Janisa uses the moment to intimidate the man in going to fetch a cleric “before this man’s abominable transformation is complete, because if his curse claims him, I will make sure you become his first victim.” The man scurries off to find a senior cleric.

Finally after what seems like an eternity, an older cleric arrives and after one look at Elsin, immediately understands the importance of the situation. He says that Elsin is not suffering from a curse but rather a unique magical disease. He asks the party if Elsin was a victim of a vargouille’s kiss and they state they are not sure. When he describes a vargouille, they confirm that he indeed was a victim of such an attack. He summons the group to follow him and leads them deeper into the Mausoleum where he eventually brings them into the presence of Sebti the Crocodile. She recognizes the group from the ceremony and the chance meeting from the day before. When the priest explains the predicament, she agrees to help the group and casts remove disease on Elsin. He is cured instantly but it will take a few minutes before the symptoms of the enlarged ears and tendrils on his chin vanish completely. As for his hair, Sebti explains that it will have to regrow naturally on its own. The Jeweled Scarabs give Sebti the portrait of Ariseti that they found in the house earlier in the morning and give a report on their findings, accounting for all the creatures they encountered and killed.

By early afternoon, the group is back at the Tooth and Hookah and are met by Hatoom who discusses the groups findings. The first thing the group does is explore the locked chest from the master bedroom. Elsin checks the switch on the bottom again but is still unable to operate it properly. Hatoom asks if they want him to bring in a specialist and Elsin agrees to the suggestion, but before anything can be acted upon, Farek tests the key they found and discovers that it does fit and open the lock. With the lock opened everyone decides to go ahead and open the lid with Farek hiding behind his shield as Xenya pulls open the lid from behind. There is a distinctive “tink” sound as a poison dart strikes Farek’s shield. With the chest open, everyone examines the gold ingots found inside. Hatoom recognizes the seal as that of the Keleshite Sultan during the time of the Plague of Madness. After examining all the recovered items, Hatoom gives the group 1450gp for those things he claims and tells them that if they can return the desk, then he will give them full value for it. He departs to leave them to make plans.

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.

What a Lovely House you Have
8 Pharast, 4715 – Day 3: House of Pentheru: 0800

Approaching the back door in the outdoor pantry where Xenya encountered the spider, the Scarabs prepare to enter the house. Based on the encounter at the gate the group checks the door for all manner of traps and magic but find nothing. Elsin opens the door and there is no reaction so the group enters what appears to be a kitchen. There is a skeleton with a rusted dagger wedged in its ribs, but the group determines it is one of the helpless souls who died when the rioters attacked the house and is not undead, so the group does not disturb the body.

Proceeding from the kitchen, the Scarabs slip through an entry foyer and into a small dust-filled dining room. Beyond this room is what looks like a larger dining area and off to the group’s left appears to be a large central courtyard which has collected the remains of a collapsed roof. The group decides to check out the larger dining room and enter to find a large polished marble top dining table across from the eastern door while a smaller simple stone table sets slightly off to the right. Any chairs have long since rotted away and is now part of the dust and debris scattered about the room.

For the first time the Scarabs get a sense of dread and unease as they lay eyes on a truly horrible scene. On the large table are six silver platters, each holding a silver chalice. Balanced on each chalice is a clean, polished skull, the horrid visage of each severed head staring straight at the party as they enter. If the sight alone was not frightful enough, they are taken aback as each head levitates from its perch to hover midair, teeth chattering as the jaws chomp in anticipation. The party draws weapons and prepares itself for an anticipated attack, waiting to see what the skulls will do.

The wait is not long, as the first head flies across at Elsin, who barely ducks the attack causing the rotted skull to shatter against the wall behind him. Rising back up Elsin fires his bow but misses and the fight is on as the floating heads attack in a continuing swarm, but the heroes are able avoid their bites and effortlessly swats them from the air, destroying the flying undead. With the skulls defeated, the party claims the plates and chalices as a reward.

The party sees a large room up ahead with a staircase leading up and decide to investigate. Sand and dust coat the floor while the perimeter of the room is littered with decay wood, disintegrating fabric, and shattered pottery. The group splits up and studies the various corners of the room and in the back corner Elsin finds a ring. As he picks it up, it sets off a haunting vision which the entire party witnesses. A scene of a distraught young man and a beautiful young woman. He is distraught because he has lost an engagement ring. She tells him that it not the right time to tell her family of their engagement plans because of the plague. He pleads for her to come with him to safety but she refuses to leave her family. The last image is the sight of the woman touching his forehead and saying that he is feeling very hot and seems to have a fever.

After the vision plays out the others find a silver anklet with gems and charms, a tarnished silver serving tray and a small ornate gold-plated vase which seems to have escaped the fate of the pottery in the room. Xenya also warns the party that the next room over seems to be the main entrance to the house and there are four immobile skeletons standing in armor as if on guard. The party draws weapons and prepares defenses. Farek enters the room and at first nothing happens but as he reaches the center of the foyer a female voice suddenly calls out as another haunt is activated. The voice cries out in Ancient Orsiriani, but oddly is understandable by all, “They’re inside! Protect the family!” With that the skeletons animate and attack.

In addition to dealing with the undead creatures, the Scarabs also face a more troublesome danger, a lesser confusion spell effect is active in the foyer and the party has to avoid attacks from other party members who are under the effect of the spell. The battle is a struggle but eventually the skeleton guards are defeated and Farek is able to escape the effects of the spell long enough to channel enough positive energy to neutralize the haunt.

In the midst of the battle in the foyer, Janisa stumbles into the inner courtyard at the center of the house and a sand spirit rises up and introduces herself as Heshsharu, the lady of the house. She asks the party who they are and laments her fate as she longs to know what it feels to be mortal, after a mere pause she adds “again.” Xenya who has finally shaken the effects of the confusion from her mind senses something odd and speaks to Janisa in Auran, Although she does not understand what is said, Heshsharu recognizes another elemental language and cries out in frustration and unleashes its sleep aura, causing Farek and Janisa to fall to the spell.

Elsin immediately moves to wake the two sleeping adventurers as Xenya tries to deal with the elemental creature which has transformed its appearance from a beautiful maiden into a horrid medusa. Xenya activates her elemental assault ability and attacks the sand elemental, dishing out significant damage with her fists. With the sleeping heroes now awake everyone joins in the fight and the sandman is surrounded and killed, largely by an onslaught of elemental fury from Xenya’s hands. With the creature defeated, the heroes find several pieces of treasure buried in the piled sand throughout the room.

Leaving the courtyard, the Scarabs next find themselves in a small shrine which appears to have been defaced by someone. By studying the hieroglyphs on the wall, the party determines the shrine is dedicated to Abadar, Pharasma and Sarenrae. Farek convinces the group to clean and restore the altar to its undamaged positions and setup. After restoring the altar, the group cuts through a indoor privy to examine the last room on this level. In the privy they find a headless skeleton sitting on one of the seats, but they determine it is non an undead and leave it be.

The final room the Scarabs investigate on this level appears to be a ancient bath as there is a large tiled pool in the center of the room. The room is decorated with images of running water and aquatic creatures and a tarnished bronze spigot juts from the wall of the northeast corner. Although once a luxurious room in the days before the plague, now the room is much like the others of the house, filled with sand and debris and centuries of neglect. A lone stone door in the southeast corner seems to lead back outside and Farek quickly confirms this by opening and closing the door. Janisa discovers that the spigot radiates magic and further investigation finds that the spigot creates water for the pool which in the past allowed the residents to bathe or relax, but now only serves to create a muddy sludge in the tiled basin.

With the first floor completely searched, the party moves back into the staircase room and note that this time there are no visions or haunts. They prepare to ascend to the second level, by taking healing potions for those who are seriously wounded.

Once More into the Breech
8 Pharast, 4715 – Day 3: Wati: Necropolis

As before, the Jeweled Scarabs arrive at the gates to the Necropolis before they are opened for the day. Following the instructions and map given to them by the Priests of Pharasma, the group makes their way through the Necropolis until they are outside the wind-blasted outer walls of the Pentheru complex. A ten-foot tall sandstone wall surrounds what used to be an elegant private estate. Over the wall a two-story stone house is visible beyond the wall adjoining to the outer wall on the north side of the property. In the center of the southern wall two regal but worn statues flank a pair of tarnished bronze gates which hang partially open, the aged friction of metal on metal creates an almost otherworldly creaking noise as the wind causes one of the gates to swing back and forth. Janisa reads the ancient hieroglyphs carved onto a plague beside the gate, “The House of Pentheru.”

Elsin eases the gate open and peers into what appears as a main entrance courtyard as a small flight of step across from the gate lead up to a double door. Stepping through the gate Elsin and Farek suddenly stop and look back outside as they hear the sounds of a large mob approaching from outside. It sounds as if someone inside the house screams out to secure the gates. As Elsin and Farek instinctively try to push the gate closed, a wave of cause fear sweeps over them all causing Xenya to flee toward another set of gates on the far side of the courtyard.

Her compatriots give chase to try and calm her down, but by fleeing into a side courtyard, Xenya has aroused all creatures within the area to attack the destroyers of their quiet solitude, i.e. the Jeweled Scarabs. While attempting to hide in a dilapidated side barn, Xenya is attacked by three skeletons. Her race through the compound draws a death dog out from the shadows of a rotted and worn outer side building. Already agitated by the flurry of activities, a giant asp attacks the closest target; the death dog. Elsin and Farek, cut off from the girls by the horse-sized death dog decide to engage it and the snake in order to clear a path. Although still under the influence of the Fear effect, Xenya easily discards two of the skeletons with a flurry of blows and while Janisa is dealing with the third, she escapes the barn to another extension of the house, drawing the attention of a giant solifugid.

Janisa clears the barn of the last skeleton and searches for Xenya to comfort her when she hears her cry out from the spider attack. Racing to her side she finds the spider has latched on to her arm with its claws and is rending her much like the ones in the crypt did with Farek. She quickly swats it aside with her scimitar as Xenya is trying to punch it away with her fists. While this is taking place, the boys have finished off the big double-headed dog but are now faced with dealing with a large hooded cobra. Having taken a considerable amount of damage, Xenya vacates the building and helps the men kill off the poisonous snake as Janisa finishes off the spider. With the menaces in the courtyard dealt with, the group has time to evaluate what happened and investigate the courtyard buildings.

With the fighting and confusion over for the moment Xenya use her potion to cure her wounds. Searching the courtyard well turns up nothing as does the two back corner buildings but the out building where the death dog came from turns up small minor pieces of treasure. The group opens the door to what appears to be a granary and unleash a scarab swarm which swarms over Elsin The group again jumps into action in order to stop the menace but this turns out to be a struggle as they have a hard time hitting the fleet creatures who next go after Xenya. Elsin depletes his acid reserves and Janisa attempts color spray with no effect. Finally, Farek is able to connect with a solid blow from his hammer which causes the vermin to scatter and flee the immediate area. With the scarabs gone, the Jeweled Scarabs investigate the granary and find a few corpses which appear to be much fresher than those found in the Tomb they investigated earlier, along with a filthy adamantine flail which Farek claims.

After all the fighting and searching in the side courtyard is complete, the group discusses on whether to enter the house as there are three doors on this side of the house or complete a sweep of the exterior. Ultimately they decide to press on and enter the house.

Returning to the Surface
Haven't we been here before?
6 Pharast, 4715 – Day 1: The Tomb of Akhentepi: 1300

With the discovery of Akhentepi’s final resting place, the Scarabs take a break to eat and gather up their treasures before they begin the trek back up to the surface. As they retrace their steps, they make sure to document the entire layout of the tomb complex and make notes of what all they found in each room. Rather than chance any other dangers in the false burial chamber, they use the secret passage to bypass that room.

The group arrives back at the room with the vertical shaft and find the rope they left in place is laying on the floor, the end obviously cut and tattered. The party builds a human pyramid so that Xenya can reach the lower edge of the shaft and once there she begins to scale the shaft with a rope secured around her waist. As she makes her way, she secures pitons in select cracks which proves useful as she slips twice but is able to catch hold of a piton. Eventually, she makes it up the shaft into the above ground entrance chamber. She quickly reconnects the ropes through the block and tackle and begins hauling up Elsin while Janisa and Farek stay below to gather the treasure chests they want to bring up.

While Farek and Janisa are below, Xenya and Elsin are attacked by a choker, but Xenya unleashes a furry of blows and quickly beats the creature to death. They quickly survey the upper rooms and makes sure everything is secure once more as they can hear in the distance the ringing of three bells marking the time of day as the afternoon. Finding the area clear they begin to haul up the treasures from below. After roughly an hour they have retrieved everything from their first days exploration.

As the Scarabs make their way back through the Necropolis, they encounter a group of explorers known as The Amethyst Dragons who are returning from their own site. As they move along through the Dead City they comment that they feel eyes upon them, but there are no other encounters as both groups make it back to the Tooth and Hookah. While many groups are in the tavern bragging of their finds and exploits, the Jeweled Scarabs stay in their suite upstairs and meet with Hatoom to describe all that they found. Hatoom explains to the group that he will arrange to have the chariot extracted by another group and they should seek another assignment from the Mausoleum. All of the historical documents and books discovered are to be turned in to the Mausoleum. He gives the PCs 1000gp for all the jewelry, gems and art artifacts.

7 Pharast, 4715 – Day 2: Wati: Midwife

The next morning the Scarabs report to the Grand Mausoleum and there are a few other groups which, like them, are looking for new assignments. The Priest’s take’s the groups chip and add it once more to the selection urn along with the others seeking assignments. While the group waits for the appointed hour for the new draft, they report their findings at the Tomb of Akhentepi and turn over the discovered documents along with their annotated map. In exchange for turning over the discovered documents, the church agrees to conduct free healing of the Scarab’s wounds and gives them each one extra cure light wounds potion. They also give Farek full value for returning the lost holy symbol of Pharasma. This gesture gets the party a personal thank you from Sebti the Crocodile.

At the appointed hour (1200) the Mausoleum conducts another draft for those seeking new assignments. Elsin notes that there are only about half the number of teams present as were at the first draft. One of the other group’s, The Flickering Four, mentions that those “loudmouthed Nethys worshippers aren’t here.” making reference to the Scorched Hand. This time the Jeweled Scarabs are the fifth group selected and is given the assignment of the House of Pentheru.

The group spends the rest of the day doing research at the Mausoleum any records about the site or information about the former residents. They also replenish supplies and sell off items not needed. In the course of their research the group finds a reference to a Pentheru the Elder who was a minor noble who was responsible for a large track of farmland and managing the workers and distributing the grain produced for the city. He began construction of the house, but at some point the Elder passed away of an undisclosed cause. His son, Pentheru the Younger took over the family leadership position within the city and completed the house. He governed the farm and house until he died in the Plague of Madness.

The Jeweled Scarabs get back to the Tooth and Hookah and like the night before, the common room is full of adventuring groups sharing tales of their exploits. Elsin befriends a female alchemist from a group called the Sand Scorpions who goes by the name Black Kiss. Although she recognizes him as a beginner alchemist, she does find his charm and wit somewhat appealing as he shares the story of the incessant ghoul attacks during their troubled exploration. Both Xenya and Farek commiserate with a group called the Dog Soldiers, who are recuperating over the loss of several of their war dogs. Janisa tries to engage with the Scorched Hand but is put off by the almost endless whining and complaining from their leader, Velriana Hypaxes about how unfair it is that they can not be assigned the Sanctum. When Janisa asks why it is so important to them. She gets rebuffed by the woman, “Although you may wield magic, If you were truly seeing through the Eye, you would not need to ask such a question.” Leaving the group to sulk, she winds up the evening swapping tales with the Daughters of the Desert.

The Jeweled Scarabs retire to their suite sometime around 9 o’ clock (2100) to be well rested for the adventures to come the next day.

See You on the Other Side
Akhentepi's final resting place?
6 Pharast, 4715 – Day 1: The Tomb of Akhentepi: 1000

Reaching the base of the collapsed staircase, the group finds the double doors are adorned with the image of a scarab, wings spread beneath a golden sun; like the ones on the doors at the top of the stairs. Pushing them open the party finds a large 20 × 30 chamber with a tapestry hangs from a frame against the southern wall. In each corner is a floor to ceiling column carved into the shape of an Osiriani warrior wielding a khopesh. The tapestry depicts an otherworldly vista where souls of the dead are shepherded by strange beings into an ethereal river which ambles and winds through space toward an impossibly tall spire. The floor is tiled in black marble, each tile adorned with a white spiral symbol representative of the goddess Pharasma. Elsin indicates the tapestry is a representation of the final judgment by the goddess Pharasma and the transition of souls into the afterlife. The only other feature in the room are double doors to the west and north, both of which are locked.

Janisa casts detect magic and surveys the room, but finding nothing she presses the group to move on. The party decides on checking the western set of doors first. Elsin is unsuccessful in his first attempt to pick the lock, but after a couple other tries he is able to open the doors. Inside there is a short hallway which narrows sharply as it continues west down a set of steps before abruptly ending rough rock wall as if construction was suddenly terminated. As the group studies the area, Farek discovers a secret door in the north wall, however finds no mechanism to open the door or hinges. He determines that it is specifically designed to be a one-way door which is opened from the other side.

Janisa wanders too close to the debris-covered stairs and is attacks by two mining beetles which have burrowed into the side wall. She is significantly injured and instinctively reacts by going into a defensive fighting posture, somehow activating the shield’s special healing power. The rest of the group comes to her aid and swiftly defeat the beetles. After the battle is over the Scarabs return to the tapestry room and inspect the second set of locked doors, which Elsin opens easily.

The group follows the steps down and through two sets of double doors and find a large octagonal room with a raised platform in the center. At each corner of the platform is a stone pillar and a gold-trimmed sarcophagus sits in the center. Flanking the platform are two statues of canine-headed beings holding an ankh in their hand. The group now recognizes these statues as the god Anubis. There are another set of double doors on the opposite side of the room. This is easily the largest room the group has come across so far. Farek asks the obvious question, “Is this the tomb?”

Knowing the reputation and stories of the dangers of ancient Orisiani tombs, the group proceeds slowly, circling the platform as they examine the space. On the west side of the room along the wall, Xenya finds a pressure plate in the floor. She directs the group around the plate and as they continue their investigation. Elsin soon discovers one of the torch holders serves as the trigger which deactivates the pressure plate. Although they do not realize it, the group has disarmed the deathtrap which was built into the room. The group still applies caution as they complete a sweep of the room. Although they are unable to open the locked doors in the northern wall, Xenya senses there is water on the other side of it. The group does find and open a set of secret doors in the eastern wall, behind which the group finds the mummified bodies of the enslaved tomb builders. Realizing that these are not undead, the group closes the door and leaves them to rest in peace.

Completing their sweep of the room, the group finally turns their attention to the platform and the sarcophagus resting on it. As Elsin is checking the sarcophagus for traps the casket animates and attempts to bite him. Even though he is caught off-guard, he is able to avoid the bite, but he is hit and knocked off the platform. The Scarabs jump to the defense of the investigator and all launch into attack against the jumping and bouncing casket. Although hectic and chaotic, the combat is short as the PCs all connect with their attacks and are able to fend off all efforts by the animated attacker and after only a couple of rounds the assault is over. Xenya answers Farek’s question, “I guess this isn’t the tomb after all.”

Xenya is able to open the secret doors on the west side of the room and the group discovers the locked double doors leading out of the chamber. On the other side of the double doors Farek finds another secret door and based on the construction, he surmises that it leads to the secret door they found up stairs. Opening the secret door the party finds a roughhewn tunnel which leads upward. Since the passage is only wide enough for the group to go single file, Xenya leads with Janisa, Elsin and Farek following. Detecting the sound of digging at the last minute the party is prepared and thus are able to avoid the initial attack when two more mining beetles break through the wall. The group fights a fighting withdrawal until they get back out to the hallway and can open up a bit. The enraged beetles follow behind and once in the open, they are defeated by the explorers. After killing off the beetles, Elsin once more collects their luminescent glands and then the group quickly traces the rough hewn secret passage back up to the secret door from the incomplete hallway upstairs as Farek guessed.

The group secures both of the doors to the secret passage with iron spikes in order to bypass the false burial chamber in case they need to make a hasty retreat from deeper in the tomb. With the doors spiked open, they proceed down the stairs and arrive at yet another set of double doors. Elsin and Xenya determine they are not trapped and quickly unlock them. Inside the party finds several neatly arranged chests, boxes and urns, all covered in a layer of dust centuries old and undisturbed as there are no signs of footsteps, either man or creature. However Janisa is able to detect magic on a section of wall on the middle section of the eastern wall. She mentions there is a weak conjuration aura on the wall and based on his knowledge of engineering, Farek speculates there is a secret door in the wall which summons some type of creature when activated. The group decides to take inventory of everything in the boxes before dealing with the door. Most of the items have either decayed or rusted into worthless junk, but a few hardier items withstand the test of time and are set aside to be collected later by the party, although Janisa claims a masterwork longbow and some cold iron arrows.

With the inventory complete, the party turns its attention to the secret door and the suspected trap. Farek aids Elsin as he attempts to disarm the trap and the group does indeed open the door without setting of the trap and reveal a long hallway. With Elsin leading the way scanning for traps, the party soon comes to what seems to be the actual tomb for Akhentepi; a square room with a gold leaf sarcophagus on a raised stone platform in the center of the room. Unlike the casket in the false tomb, this cover of this one is carved in the image of a regal-looking adult man with his arms crossed over his chest, a thick coating of dust covering the entire room. Ornate chests sit in the opposite corners from the only door with elaborately decorated funeral urns sitting between them. Janisa states, “It looks like we finally found the famous Akhentepi.” Farek replies, “Let’s just hope he doesn’t personally greet us.”

As the group examines the room they are attacked by an iron cobra which hits Xenya. Although she can feel the wave of nausea from the poison, she is able to save against it and ingest her cure light wounds potion before she passes out. The rest of the party quickly reacts to put the diabolical construct down before it can bite any other characters. With the guardian defeated, the party is free to explore the rest of the tomb. They find the rest of Akhentepi’s treasure and finish mapping out the entire tomb.

My Life as a General
The spoils of war
6 Pharast, 4715 – Day 1: The Tomb of Akhentepi: 0850

The group descends a set of stairs to another set of double doors. These doors are unadorned but open easily. On the other side is the first truly elaborate room the group has discovered. A brightly painted chariot sits in the center of the chamber. On the wall beyond the chariot are two stone columns, a large canvas is stretched between them. Tacked to the canvas are several animal skins – antelopes, great cats, and crocodiles – all faded and deteriorated with age. A white lacquered chest trimmed in gold inlay sits in the corner while in each corner of the room is small stone shield molded into the masonry at shoulder height. Farek points out that they are torch sconces. An open doorway leads out to the east.

Farek uses his knowledge of engineering to determine that the chariot was brought down in pieces and assembled in the room until completed. It is not in any kind of condition to use as a vehicle in its present condition, but it might be possible to restore it which would bring it some significant value. He says that he could maybe do it over time with his mend spell on each individual component and then reassemble them, but if they could find someone capable of casting make whole it could be restored more effectively and in a much shorter time. The group makes a note of this item to report to Hatoom for their benefactors to determine if recovery is worth the effort.

Next the group inspects the chest and finds nothing out of the ordinary, but it is locked. Elsin and Xenya both check for traps, but find nothing. However, Elsin finds the poison blade when it springs out as he tries to pick the lock and slashes him across the hand. The blade cuts deep and almost severs a couple of fingers. Elsin can feel his head throb as the blade was poisoned, but due to the age of the poison, he is able to shake off its effects and immediately casts cure light wounds to restore the damage. Because of the sprung trap, Elsin does not pick the lock. Farek is about to try and smash open the chest when he is stopped by Janisa who points out that the chest alone is a valuable piece of treasure. Elsin attempts to pick the lock again and is successful this time.

The short hallway is lined with four funerary masks along the northern wall, each one depicting a different face and visage as if looking down on the party in judgment. Farek identifies the first two as Pharasma and Abadar, however he is unable to identify the last two. Janisa notes that the third is her deity Sekhmet but does not know the final mask. After quickly searching for traps, the group cautiously advances down the hall into a second room which seems to be dedicated to Akhentepi’s military prowess.

Along the northern wall sits a table with a three-dimensional diorama of a battle between two armies. Along the east wall is a rack which holds three shields, one which Janisa points out spells the name “Akhentepi,” marking which soldiers represents the forces of Wati. A second shield appears to match the other set of soldiers, but no one is able to identify their origin. The first two shields are made of wood, but the third one is made of steel and shows no sign of decay or rust. Janisa uses detect magic and states that it does radiate a faint conjuration. It is also unique in that it is scarab-shaped like the images of Akhentepi at the underground entrance doors. Along the southern wall is a weapons rack with a shortbow, khopesh and a spear, none of which indicate magic but two appear to be of superior craftsmanship.

As the Scarabs study the weapons four tiny wooden soldiers animate and attack the party. The first soldier is able to hit Farek and give him a very minor nick of a cut before the party is able to retaliate and quickly dispatches of the small animated constructs. Afterwards, the party is free to collect all the treasure in the room. Inspecting the chests, Janisa is able to translate most of the scrolls and documents, discovering the story of Akhentepi’s mistress as relayed in the ancient documents. Farek takes the perfume-filled urn after finding out it is filled with nard and the group plans to split all the monies found, but leaves the chest here for the moment so they are not weighed down as they continue the inspection of the tomb.

The party returns to the upper room where the portrait of Akhentepi hangs and decides to investigate the southern double doors. As the first set, the doors open to steps leading down to a second set of doors and the party descends and opens them. Inside the party finds a 20 × 20 room with double doors to the east and west slightly ajar. Xenya notices a set of tracks in the dust between the doors. She investigates them and is able to determine they were made by some form of vermin and warns the party to be wary of creatures in the area.

As Xenya explores examines the tracks, Farek inspects the most dominating feature of the room, a massive mirror stretched across the southern wall, flanked by two statues which the party recognizes from earlier as Pharasma and Anubis. As Farek examines the reflections in the mirror he notices that beside the reflection of the party members, the reflection of Akhentepi is also present, as if standing next to him. However there is a slight difference as each reflections is altered so that no matter what expression the member wears, the image in the mirror always shows them as stern and dour. He mentions this and Janisa comes over and notices the same. As they stand there they both begin to feel a sudden headache but are able to shake off the effect. Janisa uses her detect magic spell and senses a faint illusion and transmutation effect on it. She warns everyone to avoid the mirror and the entire group moves to inspect the eastern doors.

Beyond the open doors sits a rectangular room lined with stone columns, mounted stone jackal heads are interspersed between the columns. At the far side of the room is a stone altar which appears to have not been used in centuries as a layer of dust coats nearly everything. Xenya notices the tracks she saw in the other room leads behind the altar and gives warning to the group and everyone makes preparations. As the Scarabs carefully approach they hear a skittering sound just before a pair of camel spiders attack. Although small, the two solifugids put up a determined fight and one latches onto Farek and delivers a rending attack which lays Farek unconscious. After the creatures are finally killed, the three other party members come to Farek’s aid and Xenya pours a cure potion down his throat which revives him.

After a short rest to recuperate and bandage wounds, the party moves out and returns to the mirror room to inspect the other set of doors, no one giving an eye to the mirror as they move carefully past to the doors hanging ajar. After a quick inspection for traps, the group pushes open the doors to discover a long flight of stairs which descend to another set of doors. Halfway down the stairs the group notices the collapsed southern wall leaving a large pile of sand and debris on the stairs. The party begins to follow the stairs down when Xenya and Janisa both call out a warning that the sand pile is shifting, something is alive. The group takes up defensive positions and are prepared as a sandling rises up to strike. Farek hits the creature with a create water spell which slows it down while the others attack. Xenya unleashes a flurry of blows and destroys the creature before it has a chance to slip away back into the earth. With the staircase cleared of the danger, the group proceeds to the base and pushes open the doors.

Waking the Dead
What's in the hole?
6 Pharast, 4715 – Day 1: Wati: Necropolis

The Jeweled Scarabs, along with all the other groups, congregate at the entry gates to the Necropolis before the sun rises. At the chiming of six bells, the guards of the church open the gates and the explorers are allowed to enter to investigate their assigned locations. As the Jeweled Scarabs make their way through the Necropolis, they attract the attention of a group of ghouls who are hiding in the early morning shadows. Eventually, one of the creatures decides to attack and is spotted by Elsin who puts an arrow into it. Before it can inflict any damage on a party member, Farek unloads on it with his hammer empowered with his axiomatic strike. Seeing the demise of their fellow, the rest of the ghouls slink off in search for easier prey. Very carefully the group discards the body down the Umbracene Well and quickly exit as they are disarmed by the sound of the smacking lips around the sides of the well.

After approximately 30 minutes the party arrives at their assigned location. A rectangular stone mausoleum sits alone in what appears to have once been an actual cemetery. The trunks of a few dead trees poke out of the sand around the tomb as a hot breeze begins to whistle through their desiccated branches. A set of massive stone double doors is affixed to the northern side of the structure, beneath a façade bearing the likeness of an Osirian man. Windblown sand is heaped around the crypt, partially burying the doors that lead within.

On the doors, carved in ancient Osiriani hieroglyphs are the word which Janisa identifies as the name “Akhentepi” along with the dates of his birth and death. He was born in 2416AR and died in 2488AR. Xenya recognizes that this is 11 years before the Plague of Madness. Farek and Elsin begin to dig the sand away from the door. As they do so, Farek is able to determine the doors swings outward as they are mounted on concealed hinges. Elsin finds chipped mortar and sees the marks of a crowbar and determines that someone has pried open the doors before, but the marks looks several decades old as most of the mortar now appears to be cracked and crusty from exposure. Apparently they were blown shut by the winds and then held closed by the piled sand.

After digging for almost an hour, the group clears the sand from the doors and Farek is able to use the crowbar to pry them open. With an almost audible sigh, a waft of stale air escapes as the room beyond is exposed to light for the first time in ages. Xenya lights a torch and explores the room beyond for any additional carvings or engravings. Janisa follows behind with a second torch and the guys follow in behind her so that they can begin their exploration of the tomb. Elsin asks Janisa why she does not use her light spell and she replies that since they are above ground, any sunlight spilling into the room would render the spell useless as it would be brighter that anything her spell could create. Additionally, if there are any cracks or holes which create breezes, they will see the smoke waver where the spell does not create smoke. She will use the spell when they get below ground when things are completely dark.

Janisa explains the carvings on the wall describes Akhentepi’s life. He was a celebrated commander of the troops stationed in Wati before its downfall. Based on the writings he was much beloved, as if royalty. She also reads the following warnings scratched into the walls, “Akhentepi’s tomb is well defended. Those who defile it tempt the wrath of the gods.” A second inscription reads, “The only thing the Lady of Graves despises more than a grave robber is an unsuccessful grave robber.”

The door on the far wall is nothing more than a massive stone wheel with a spiral emblem carved into it. Above the door in hieroglyphs is the warning, “Turn back while you can.” Elsin identifies the emblem as that of Pharasma along with two of the bas-relief faces on the wall. Farek says the other two faces are of Anubis. After a quick examination determines there are no magical or mechanical traps on the door, the group decides that brute force is the best way to open it. As Elsin and Farek strain to roll the massive door to the side, Xenya catches the hint of a skittering noise and calls out a warning to Janisa just as a ghost scorpion leaps to attack. The warning is just enough to prevent the scorpion from hitting with its sting but it manages to snap onto her leg with a claw. Responding quickly, Elsin and Janisa dispatch the creature. Elsin quickly collects a vial of the creatures venom before going back to help Farek open the door.

The door is rolled back revealing a second, larger chamber. The room is bare except for a 10 × 10 square hole in the center of the room. In the northeast corner is a piton with a rope tied to it, but 5 feet down the hole the party can see that the rope is frayed and ends 5 feet below the lip of the hole. The group cannot see the bottom of the hole so Janisa picks up a rock, casts light on it with a slight nod to Elsin, and then drops it down the hole. Based on the time to hear a click from the bottom Farek estimates the hole is about 60 feet deep. Tying two lengths of rope together, the party starts to descend down the hole with Xenya going first followed by Elsin, Janisa and lastly Farek. This will allow Farek to properly secure the block and tackle with the ropes so the group can climb back out when needed.

At the bottom of the shaft, the party discovers twin images of a warrior figure in side profile facing inward carved on the face of a pair of ornate stone doors in the west wall. The figure is depicted in padded armor with a scarab-shaped shield on the arm facing the viewer with a khopesh held aloft in the other. The desiccated remains of a crumbled body lies directly in front of the doors. Although the body is mostly skeletal, Farek determines it is not undead. It is a human male who seems to have fallen from a great height as it has two broken legs. It appears the man was able to crawl to this point before dying from his injuries. Searching through its backpack the group finds some thieving and exploration tools which are decayed beyond use. However they do find two pitons, a hammer and two vials of alchemist fire.

The group carefully moves the body of the dead thief over to the corner before pushing open the double doors. The group faces a corridor with another set of double doors at the far end. Along the walls for the length of the corridor are bas-relief images of soldiers engaged in combat. On the far doors are another set of images of the same warrior-leader with the scarab-shaped shield, however on these set of images, the man is pointing as if giving directions rather than wielding a sword. Janisa notices that the inside of the doors the group just open bears the same carvings as the doors at the far end. The group determines that the images on the door must be that of Akhentepi at various stages of his life. As the party nears the far doors, Xenya and Elsin notice a pressure plate set in the floor. Elsin examines the plate and then deactivates the trap.

Opening the doors the Scarabs find themselves in a 20 × 20 foot square room. On the west wall is a worn and faded tapestry. It appears to be the man from the hallway, but this time it shows his family, a wife and two children. Studying the images and hieroglyphs on the tapestry she says the image tells the story of Akhentepi as a family man as the building in the background is the family home. It also tells of their death through a tragic accident and that he was widowed. Farek suggests that since he was buried sometime after the family, they must be buried in a different tomb somewhere in the city. The only other objects in the room are two preserved mummified cats on either side of the tapestry. Janisa suggests these are family pets as it was customary in ancient Osirion for the dead to be buried with things from their life to accompany them through the afterlife.

There are two sets of double doors, one leading north and the other south. The group decides to investigate the doors on the right leading to the north.

The Day of Bones
Pomp and Circumstance
5 Pharast, 4715 – Day 0: Wati: Midwife

After an early morning breakfast with a few of fellow explorers, the Scarabs make their way to the Grand Mausoleum. The desert city of Wati is near busting at the seams with people and excitement. Adventurers from every corner of the of the Inner Sea region have assembled here with the announcement that the long-sealed Necropolis of the city would be opened for exploration. When the Scarabs arrive a crowd has already formed in the Sunburst Market and around the Golden Lake at the foot of the Grand Mausoleum waiting anxiously for the start of the lottery.

There is a festival-like quality in the air as exploders mingle with pilgrims gathered to observe the formal ceremonies of the Day of Bones. Surrounding the gathered throng, street vendors are hawking delicacies and refreshments to participants and spectators alike. Some merchants have even brought what can only be described as adventuring gear, hoping to make a last-minute sale to the unprepared adventurer. Still others cater directly to the faithful with the sale of icons and “holy relics” for the devout. And yet a third group mingles amongst the throng quietly promising to buy up recovered treasures and antiquities from those who visit their establishments, all with the promise of the giving the best deal.

As the sun reaches higher into the sky, the roar of the crowd is suddenly interrupted by the blast of several horns to signal the start of the day’s events. As the crowd slowly begins to quiet to hushed whispers, the doors to the Mausoleum opens and a procession of clerics and other officials slowly make their way down the steps to the stage. Leading the procession is Sebti the Crocodile with a contingent of church guards followed by clergy and state officials appointed to oversee the lottery process. She is wearing a dark ceremonial black robe with red and silver highlights along the trim. She remains seated until the rest of the procession makes its way to their appointed spots. Xenya points out that there are two large urns resting on the tables, one on each side of the stage.

Once the procession is complete and all participants have reached their places, Sebti rises and the hushed roar of the crowd quiets immediately as she steps forward to address the crowd. She pulls back the cowl of her ceremonial gown and begins to address the massed throng. Although she is quite a distance away, her voice is loud and clear as Janisa points out that there is divine magic being used to make sure her voice is projected across the length of the Market.

“Greetings friends and faithful alike. I am Sebti Al-Noor, High Priestess to Pharasma and Holy Protector of the Sacred Necropolis. The Church of Pharasma welcomes all on this most holy of days, the Day of Bones. Although we the faithful are gathered here today to celebrate the journey of life, I would be a fool to not acknowledge that many of you are here solely on the invitation of our most revered Pharaoh. Because of that many of you will be seen as nothing more than treasure seekers and defilers of holy ground. However, to those who think such things, I say that our honored guests are not as you define them but are caretakers for our long lost past. As such, I would ask each of you to listen and understand why the ground you walk is so special to all present.”

Closing her eyes for a brief moment as if in prayer, she then smiles as she once more looks back into the crowd before she continues. “Many thousands of years ago, the city of Wati was born from the mind of the mysterious Nethys through the decree of the Pharaoh Djederet II. With blessing of the All-Seeing Eye, the foundations of the city were laid in less than a year, the city sprang to life. In a short matter of time Wati grew to great prominence and was favored in the eyes of the Pharaohs of several dynasties. However, Lamashtu, evil Demon Mother and Mistress of Insanity unleashed a catastrophic blight known as the Plague of Madness, forever warping her destiny of the city.”

Whether intentional or not, a hint of rage rises in her voice as she continues, “Those that did not die immediately from the raging fever, soon succumbed to a cursed murderous insanity, killing family and friend alike. Thus much like the sudden birth of the city, the populace of Wati was nearly wiped out with most of the innocent citizens of Wati killed in less than a six months. A lucky few fled into the desert with hopes of starting a new elsewhere. Those who remained found only death and despair as hordes of the city was besieged by a near constant barrage of undead. Where Wati was once one of the prized jewels of Osirion, it was now nothing more than a living tomb for those who were massacred. Eventually, even those who braved the dangers of the Plague gave up hope and left the city to the blistering sands of fate.”

“Wati was lost …,” Pausing for effect she glances out over the expanse of the gathered crowd before she continues, once more calm and measured in her words, “…for a half a millennium, but it was never truly forgotten. In the year 2953 the enlightened Nefru Shepses arrived leading an army of priests, soldiers, masons, alchemists and countless other practitioners of the mortuary arts. Intent on consecrating the entire city in the name of our beloved Goddess, Pharasma, he set out to collect the lost remains of those slaughtered. Thousands of corpses were collected and finally given a proper burial in and around their former homes. The former city of Wati was walled off even as a new city began to spring to life around it. The former city of Wati is what today we know as the Necropolis. Wati has been reborn and again flourishes as the city we enjoy to this day under the watchful eye of the Lady. We pray that she will continue to grow in the thousand years to come. However, it would be doing a disservice to all those innocents if we did not take the take to remember those who came before us.”

Beckoning the crowd to join her, Sebti lowers her head to pray. The crowd as if on cue follows her lead. Even those who do not follow the dictates of Pharasma at least pay token and silent respect. “Our most revered Lady of Graves, please here our words as we once more submit ourselves for your most humble of blessings on this most holy of days. For in this we are reminded that our time in life is but a tiny drop compared with our time under your care in death. We beseech you to ask that all of those who have gone before us, especially those innocents who came under your blessed care during the Plague of Madness may finally know peace and contentment in your welcoming arms. Amen.”

With the prayer concluded, Sebti lifts her head once more and smiles again at the adventurers lined up before the stage. “Now that you know a very brief and simplified history of our fair city, all of our caretaker friends will understand why the Necropolis is so revered in the eyes of Pharasma. It not only symbolizes death, but it also represents birth, a rebirth, and as such represents both aspects of the Queen of Fate and her supervision over the entire cycle of life. Because it is sacred ground, no needless conflict and banditry will be tolerated as those are the marks of the criminal and the accursed. And as you all now comprehend the sanctity of the grounds you will soon be walking, you will understand that every structure should be protected and every precaution taken to leave it in its present state. Even if trapped or decrepit, the abandoned buildings and streets are testaments to the people who lived and died there, be it a noble’s home or the simple hovel of a slave. Minor modifications for personal safety cannot be made, however any wanton destruction and vandalism will not be tolerated and violators will be removed, by force if necessary, not only from the Necropolis, but from the city proper as those who can not respect the property of others does not deserve the respect of our hospitality.”

A slight murmur runs through the crowd at this sentiment before Sebti concludes her sermon, “Lastly, just as the buildings of the Necropolis are deserving of respect, nothing deserves respect more than the sacred dead who still rest within the walls of the Necropolis. As you move about through ancient city of Wati, you will encounter the dead. These poor souls did nothing more than become pawns, caught in the machinations of an evil god. They will be treated with the proper dignity and respect they have rightfully earned. If in your explorations of the city you move a body, either inadvertently or through discrete care and reverence, all care should be taken to restore the dead to their place of eternal rest. However, this final missive does not apply to those creatures which have suffered the curse of undeath. These monsters are an affront to our Blessed Lady and destruction of these abominations will serve to restore these wretched souls to the proper path of judgment by the Lady of Graves so that they may follow their fated path through the afterlife.”

As Sebti completes her liturgical speech she returns to her seat before continuing, "Now that the Day of Bones has arrived, friend and faithful alike can truly appreciate the nature of the Necropolis and the care and devotion all must render to this sacred ground. Although the gates to the Necropolis will remain shut until sunrise on the morrow so that everyone can celebrate the festivities of this special day, we will begin the lottery of assignments.” With this declaration, she sits and relaxes as the crowd bursts into excited applause and cheers as the Sunburst Market erupts, the formal part of the festivities ended.

A rather stoic Pharasman steps forward to stand to the right of Sebti’s chair. He begins to speak but soon realizes that he will not be heard over the roar of the crowd. With the simple gesture of lifting her hand, Sebti quiet the cheers and motions for the cleric to continue with his instructions. “Thank you. I am Bektor-Na, and I have been blessed by our High Priestess to oversee and conduct today’s lottery. Even though many of you have requested specific sites to explore, we must leave these matters to the Keeper of Fate. And although I do not know what is prophesized for each of you, rest assured that the Lady of Graves is a far better judge of destiny than we of this mortal sphere and will ensure the assignments are aligned with your fated paths. Use the rest of this day to make preparations and to join in the festivities of this special day, but let earlier words of our High Priestess guide you in this holy place; remember how this came to pass, every slave’s hut is a memorial, and honor the departed. If you can keep these in your heart, then the Lady’s blessings will surely find you.”

Stepping forward a bit and motioning to the sides, he describes the process for the lottery. “Father Ahnel will draw a chip from the urn on the left and call out the name of the group it represents. A single member of the group will come forward to confirm their understanding of the rules. Father Taleem on the right will draw a chip from the right urn which specifies the group’s assignment. After receiving their assignment, each group will be given a map with instructions on how to find their site along with a special blessing from the High Priestess. Each drawing will take place sequentially with the next one not beginning to the previous one having been completed. It is recommended that if you have not sent your representative forward, you do so immediately to make the process go as quick as possible.”

The first chip is drawn out as the crowd surges and stirs as several group representatives move forward as instructed. Janisa moves to the front to represent the Jeweled Scarabs and by chance winds up standing next to Velriana of the Scorched Hand. The rest of the Jeweled Scarabs stand to the right side of the Golden Lake and watch the proceedings. By chance, the Scorched Hand is called as the third group. Velriana steps up onto the stage as the right chip is drawn and called out. It is not the Sanctum and Janisa can see the physical disappointment in Velriana’s countenance and stature as her shoulders slump for a moment and then she recomposes and steps forward to get the map and blessing for her group. Sebti hands her the map, “Patience Velriana. For even though the Lady of Mysteries knows the path we are to take, it is our choices which dictate whether it will be paved or over broken ground.” Velriana takes the assignment and moves off stage to join her compatriots without a word, her reaction soliciting a quiet hiss from many in the crowd.

The Scarabs wait for over an hour before they are finally called forward, nearly one of the last groups summoned. As Janisa steps forward, the crowd much thinner than earlier, the Scarabs are assigned the Tomb of Akhentepi. Sebti smiles to her as she hands her a map pointing to the group’s assignment, “The trees of the mightiest forests often start with the most simple of seeds.”

Janisa smile and replies, “The Jeweled Scarabs thank you High Priestess for the change to be your humble servants in exploring the most sacred Necropolis.”

Once the ceremonies are completed, the Scarabs spend the afternoon enjoying the treats and drinks of the festival before returning to the Tooth and Hookah at sundown to review their map. As somewhat expected, the Scorched Hand is grousing about their assignment and seeking information about any groups which might have received the Sanctum, again offering to trade As best can be determined, no one has received the Sanctum, or are not stating such in the presence of the irritating Scorched Hand


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