Tarik releases the magic from his blade, sheathing it with weariness. "Sting slayers, hm? I suppose it is a fitting name for us, though I think we could come up with something better. I am more troubled by the fact that she thought this power we seem to seek should not be unleashed. Usually these creatures wish it for themselves, but she sought to prevent anyone from gaining it. Odd."
Tarik moves to investigate the gemstones, picking them up in turn and examining them. "I don't suppose our lovely wayfinder can tell us anything more about our general destination?"
"Something SHE is against sounds like a good thing by my reckoning."
Noor will allow her vision to slip into that state where magic is revealed to her, not realizing her eyes take on a dragon eye appearance. Casts Detect Magic and gazes on the alter and the items upon it.
Jaru examines the dagger's auras. "Hmm, a wound from this dagger will bled freely with evey cut. Seems appropriate for the Rough Beast's cultists. Hells, I could probably be mistaken for one in this wooly coat. It is odd to find followers of the Mother of Monsters and the Rough Beast both opposed to our mission. I don't expect they agree about much."
At first glance the gems appear to be worth around only 500gp, however your keen eye discerns that one of the larger rubies is of a particularly rare pigment - pigeon blood-red. That stone alone is worth 400gp, and brings the total to 800gp even.
Tarik muses over this bit of news. "I must agree with you Jaru. To think we'd be opposed by Lamashtu and Rovagug signifies that what we chase is certainly powerful. Now, with luck, it would be some sort of wonderful artifact aligned with more wholesome powers that the servants of evil are attempting to keep us from. More likely, I'm guessing it's some sort of artifact told of in stories. All powerful doom, and such things. Any thoughts?"
" More likely, I'm guessing it's some sort of artifact told of in stories. All powerful doom, and such things. Any thoughts?"
Jaru shrugs, "The thing is, if it were some sort of doomsday device, you would expect Rovagug's nihilists to be racing us for it, not trying to stop us. Well, I suppose all will be revealed. Let's go gather up Bas'rac."
The party moves back out of the complex to where Bas'rac is waiting above. He is clearly relieved to see you return alive, but begs any questions wait until you are gone from the cursed place at least some distance.
Moving a few dunes away, the party makes camp - and once the camels are secured and dung fire cooking dinner, he asks of what transpired...
Pausing a second to allow you to tell Bas'rac what you want of what happened below. If you want full disclosure, that's fine - but I'm giving you the option.
Bas'rac listens to Noor's retelling of what transpired in the cave with interest. At the mention of the lamia you see a flicker in his eyes of recognition "Was the she-scorpion a devotee of Rovagug?" the look on his face is more animated and intense than you have seen since the battle against the get of Lamashtu.
Bas'rac curses in Ancient Ossiriani "اللعنة."Four letters, begins with f"This is not good at all..." brooding a few moments before he speaks up again "My order has some older legends, that talk of times in the era of the Four Pharaoh. There have been signs... but I thought they just coincidence..." his voice trailing off.
"We must secure the next key swiftly, then I must ask a detour to my kin... I find myself filled with questions that must not be asked, whose answers I will not enjoy"
If you want to rack your brain, feel free to make any knowledge checks that you can - a high roll might trigger a lightbulb moment.... or you can question Bas'rac - but for details of what he fears, you'll need to back it up with a Social skill check.
Jaru tries to follow, "I know much history from the time of the Four Pharoahs. Which legend are you speaking of? We are more likely to succeed if we know exactly what obstacles may be presented, Bas'rac. Please tell me what you are thinking."
Jaru knows of a fragment of a story involving a revolt during the times of the Four Pharoah. A group of monstrous desert tribes rose up under a single banner - an ebon scarab - and fought against the Pharoahs. They enjoyed some success, but all you can recall is that the rebellion failed when the unity of the tribes was disrupted.
Clearly unwilling to speak of much until he has a chance to confirm it with his sphinx masters, Bas'rac is regardless convinced to share that which he knows. "It is an old tale passed from master to pupil within my order. There was a time in the past when a tide of flesh and fur threatened the rule of order. It was said that at it's core was an unholy trinity - a get of the Mother, spawn of the Rough Beast and a third whose name has been lost even amongst my order - it is only known that he fought with scarab at his side."
"Where the tide flowed, it left only death in its wake. Seeing that to remain neutral was akin to genocide, the Eternal Watchers called upon the strongest of their kin to stand against them.... and were slain almost to a man."
"The day was won only when the scarab lord displayed too much of his hubris in the victory and drew the wrath of his unstable partners. Fractured, the rebellion could be put down... but at a terrible cost."
"It was only struck into relief for my mind when you said the one below was a get of scorpion... as the Rough Beast's servant in time past was the same." memories dredged up, Bas'rac is clearly worried and concerned "This is why we must seek counsel with the watchers... they will know whether this is true or false"
"If we are in some way on the trail of the Black Scarab, it would seem its former allies are more scared of it then perhaps we should be. Bas'rac, I am in full favor of your consulting those knowledgeable in this matter.
After a sombre night following Bas'rac's words, the party spends the next couple of days travelling with purpose following the dot of red that the wayfinder reveals. All healed up and all ability damage gone
Shortly after morning on the third day of travel, you crest a large dune... and see what must surely be the next vault. There is a small ziggurat built from ochre stone ahead, with a well ordered camp alongside it.
Perception DC 15:
Among the camp you can spy some camel, humans and what appears to be surveying equipment.
Heading over to where the camp is set, Jaru's approach is seen from a ways off. One of the Osiriani at the camp shouts at a camp boy - who then runs into the ziggurat.
The Osiriani guard is wary, but does not yet lift the heavy crossbow up from where it hangs at his waist "That's close enough sahib... what brings four travellers and one of the judge's servants here" nodding a deference to Bas'rac as he strides alongside Jaru.
Skeptical but with good humour "Aye, there's alot to see out here in the khamsin blasted arse end of the desert.... well you best come into the shade. I've sent a boy for the effendi, and he's the one you should be talking to."
The Osiriani then ushers you into the camp and offers you some water and a place to sit.
Jaru thinks he sees a flicker of a smirk at the corner of the guard's mouth "Thanks for the offer... but we do just fine."
After a couple of minutes the boy returns with a middle-aged Chelaxian gentleman with a neatly clipped beard. By the looks of his dress, you'd hazard a guess that he is more interested in scholarly arts than war.
Approaching "Salaam travellers. It is not often that we see people pass by. I am Fresnic and no longer go by the name of my family, and you?"
The Chelaxian smiles "Oh, this and that." hand waving to take in the ziggurat. "We came upon this beauty a few weeks ago, there isn't much iconography about so I'm still trying to date it... but she's well preserved isn't she?"
Descending into the ziggurat, Fresnic pulls a torch from a sconce near the entrance and leads the way. The floor is littered with rocks and sand, though the walls themselves do not show too much degradation. After a spiral descent around the central chamber you are led into the interior.
A hexagonal room awaits and true to Fresnic's word there is little on the walls to use as discernment to it's purpose. There are pictographs of shadowed beasts and some Pharonic iconography - but no words.
In the centre of the room is an altar of sorts. A circular raised platform that has a small depression maybe a foot across in the top of it.