1 Pharast, 4715 – Wati: The Veins
Elsin Orriata and Xenya Ulteri arrive at the Wati docks located at the crux of the Crook and Asp Rivers. During their journey down the Asp, they discover that they each was given instructions from a mysterious benefactor; “find the whispering stone.” Taking this as a sign, the two joined forces, forming a partnership to work together. At this point, all they know is they will receive additional instructions once the Stone is found.
Stepping from the small barge which ferried them down the river, they begin their investigation of the city in search of clues for the what and where the Whispering Stone. A conversation with a local merchant selling food and drink eventually indicates The Whispering Stone is the name of a tavern in the southern “Asp” sector of town, rather than some sort of landmark as they were led to believe. Xenya makes a comment that she is not sure she wants to know how it came to get that name.
Overcoming some initial confusion and misdirection, and a false lead which led to a failed robbery attempt they find their bearings and make their way to the inn where they are greeted by Hatoom, a “merchant” from Sothis. When they relay the story of the attempt robbery, Hatoom comments “that not all snakes are the reptilian variety, but still the city seems filled with them.” The tavern owner greets and cautions them, “Welcome to Wati, the Half-Dead City. Please keep in mind that while in Wati, it is not the dead half that you need to worry about.” Hatoom leads them to a private suite on the top floor where he introduces them to Janisa Morradi and Farek Stoneheart; both of whom arrived a day earlier.
He explains the group is being brought together to represent the business interests of a group of distinguished antiquities merchants from afar but due to circumstances which he will not elaborate, they are unable to openly conduct business in Osirion. These merchants are willing to fund the operations of the group as long as they are provided right of first choice for any treasures found by the group. The party will be expected to operate autonomously but all finds will come through Hatoom for accounting of the group’s efforts and finds. He explains anyone unhappy with that setup will be released from the group now, returned to their homes and previous life situations with no questions asked and the rest of the group will move forward.
The group uses the time to discuss their backgrounds and the various life situations and opportunities which each member faced before being brought to Wati. Eventually, they all agree to the demands and decide to form a party. Since Janisa is from Sothis and seems to have the most local knowledge of Osirion political dynamics, she is designated as the group leader.
With the group formed, Hatoom gives them their first task; participate in the upcoming explorations once the city necropolis is formally opened as recently announced by the Church of Pharasma. He provides them with a copy of the posted rules and informs them that their secret benefactors has paid for the upstairs suite for 3 days for the group to prepare and become familiarize themselves with the local environment and market. After that, they will be expected to secure their own lodging. Before departing, Hatoom leaves the group a sack 100 gp to pay the entrance fee demanded by the church and for any essentials for the group. As a priest (and a dwarf), Farek takes the pouch for safe keeping.
2 Pharast, 4715 – Wati: Asp
The group begins investigating the city of Wati and acquiring the gear they will need to explore the Necropolis. Their first stop is at the Grand Mausoleum to learn about the particulars of the lottery and pay their entry fee. By chance they are introduced to Sebti the Crocodile, head of the Pharasman church and Mistress of the Lottery.
When queried for a group name for the lottery, they hold a brief discussion. Jarisa makes note of some of the other names listed on the roster and proposes something prestigious and also part mysterious, “so that other groups will not want to bother us.” Elsin states that his benefactor once made a reference to someone or something called the Jeweled Sage. Since they don’t want to blatantly identify with a group of questionable status, they ultimately decide to call themselves The Jeweled Scarabs.
While leaving the Mausoleum, they encounter another group called the Scorched Hand; much like them consisting of two men and two women. Farek identifies them as a group of Nethys worshippers from their holy symbol. The Hand are making inquiries about a place called the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye, going so far as to offer a “special donation to the church” in return for given exclusive rights to that site. When this causes a commotion, Sebti tells them that all selections will be made through the lottery process and not hidden bribery. When the Scorched Hand again begins to object, the cleric introduces herself and her status; indicating that any further decent will be grounds for removal from the lottery and city. With the discussion terminated, both groups depart the temple and go their separate ways.
3 Pharast, 4715 – Wati: Asp
The Scarabs spend another day getting familiar with the city and gathering supplies and information. One of the places they discover near the ancient heart of the city is a tavern called The Tooth and Hookah; a modest tavern and hookah bar where adventuring groups frequent to swap stories and brag about their discoveries … or the one that got away.
The group decides to dine here and while enjoying their evening meal, the Scorched Hand makes an appearance, again inquiring about the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye. This time they are offering to swap assignments with any team that gets it as part of their draw. Farek asks openly, “Why are you so concerned with this Sanctum place anyway?” The Hand’s leader Valriana Hypaxes explains why they want to explore the “holy ground of the Nethys’ ancient and sacred temple.”
During the evening’s discourse, a few minor scuffles break out between other groups and some explorers are arrested by the Voices of the Spire, a militant order of the Pharasman church tasked with protecting all things related to the business of the dead in and around Wati, to include the legitimacy of the lottery process and the investigation of the necropolis. None of the arrests directly impact either the Scarabs or the Hand.
While talking with the owner, Elsin finds that the opening of the necropolis coincides with the Pharasma holiday known as the Day of Bones. Because of the holiday, a huge influx of tourists and pilgrims are making rooms scarce throughout the city. However, with the arrest of the groups involved with the fighting, a couple of suites have become open.
Elsin convinces Farek to use the rest of the retainer money to hold the rooms for their group and prevent any others from claiming them. Because the owner finds the Scarabs to be more amiable than most of the other groups he agrees to hold the rooms until noon the next day. This solves their need to find new lodging and positions them closer to the Mausoleum, but also allows them to track the efforts of competing groups.
4 Pharast, 4715 – Wati: Midwife
The Scarabs spend the morning relocating from The Whispering Stone to The Tooth and Hookah. As the Scarabs are checking in to take possession of the rooms, The Scorched Hand is present, arguing with the owner over the last available rooms which now appears to be filled by the Jeweled Scarab. The Hand members, particularly Velriana Hypaxes are irate that they have been bested by the Scarab once again, this time in a much more open and public display. Velriana threatens the group before leading her team out of the tavern.
The rest of the day is spent in final preparations as the lottery is scheduled for the next day. The Scarabs watch as the last details for the lottery are put in place in front of the Grand Mausoleum. Crews struggle to erect a large awning as workers complete the construction of a raised stage at the base of the steps. On each side of the stage is a wooden table and a brightly painted high-back lacquered seat is installed between them. Impressive guards in ceremonial armor marked with the symbol of the church stand at the corners of the awning to ensure all goes as planned.
As the final preparations for the lottery are being put in place, the remainder of the Sunburst Market is decorated with many banners and accouterments to mark the churches’ upcoming holy day. Although always special in the eyes of the believers, the upcoming Day of Bones will surely stand out for centuries.
Once again the night is spent in conversation and camaraderie with other teams, but the Scorched Hand is conspicuously absent, drawing comments from several other teams. No one seems to be happy with the Scorched Hand.