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.