Oathday, 12th of Pharast, 4714.
The bustling desert city of Wati is near bursting with excitement. Adventurers from every corner of the Inner Sea region have assembled here beneath the hot Osirian sun to explore the tombs of the city’s necropolis, waiting only to be assigned their first sites for exploration. Surrounding the participants, the public has gathered to observe the ceremony as well. There is a festival-like quality in the air, and numerous street vendors are hawking goods and refreshments to participants and spectators alike. Some merchants have even brought what can only be considered adventuring gear to sell as last minute convenience items to explorers, while others advertise that they’ll buy recovered treasures and antiquities from those who visit their establishments.
In front of the imposing edifice of the Grand Mausoleum, an immense awning has been erected between decorated pillars in the market to provide shade for the priests of Pharasma overseeing the lottery. Beneath the awning, two urns sit atop a table elevated a few feet above the ground on a wooden stage constructed for the event. The high priestess of the Grand Mausoleum, Sebti the Crocodile, sits behind the table, while two acolytes confer with her at either side.
Numerous adventuring groups stand in small clusters near the stage, made up of multiple nationalities and races. Most keep to themselves, but some teams engage in quiet conversation with other teams.
The ceremony begins when the high priestess of the Grand Mausoleum, Sebti the Crocodile, rises to her feet and looks over the crowd. She raises her hands, calling for silence.
Blessed Lady of the Graves, over seventeen centuries ago you aided our great city rise again after the tragedy of The Plague. Now we ask you again to aid our great city as we ask these brave souls to explore the history and the truth of what happened during those dark times. We say to you, as always, Not this year, Not yet.
Wati’s destiny was forever warped in 2499 ar, when the cult of Lamashtu unleashed the Plague of Madness among the city’s thriving populace. Many of those whom the fever did not immediately kill were driven to murderous insanity, and within months, more than half the city had fallen in painful, anguished death. Most of the survivors fled Wati to make new homes elsewhere, but a stubborn minority remained behind, determined to reclaim their city. But even once the plague had run its course, their livelihoods collapsed as An and Tephu took over Wati’s once-exclusive trade routes, and their floundering community struggled against recurring outbreaks of the undead from the city’s many abandoned buildings-turned-tombs.
It took almost half a millennium for Wati’s fortunes to reverse thanks to the church of Pharasma. With the tacit permission of Osirion’s Keleshite sultan, a Pharasmin priest named Nefru Shepses marched on Wati in 2953 ar with a small army of alchemists, masons, and morticians under his banner, intent on consecrating the entire city to the Lady of Graves, beginning with a new, monumental temple to Pharasma called the Grand Mausoleum. Over the next 30 years, Nefru Shepses and his followers recovered the bodies of those slaughtered in the Plague of Madness from their hasty, makeshift graves and the Pharasmins walled off that portion of the city that had been abandoned, transforming it into a metropolis of makeshift tombs. Thousands of corpses were given formal burial rites and reinterred in this dead copy of the living city, which continues to serve as Wati’s necropolis today.
Now, let the lottery begin! Although many of you have requested specific sites to explore, we must leave these matters to fate. The Lady of Graves is a far better judge of destiny than we of this mortal sphere. The gates of the necropolis will open at sunrise tomorrow. Use this evening to prepare yourselves for the task ahead. Let these rules guide you in your endeavors in this holy place: remember how this came to pass, every slave’s hut is a memorial, and honor the departed. Remember, All who live must face her judgement.
After Sebti returns to her seat, the two acolytes accompanying her each draw a wooden token from one of the urns on the table. The tokens match the token the party was given when they registered for the lottery. One acolyte steps forward and addresses the crowd.
Daughters of the Desert! Please send a representative forward for the location you are being assigned.
A large red haired woman steps forward to the acolytes. The second acolyte produces a scroll from nearby, and the three begin consulting together. Once they seem to come to an understanding, the second acolyte hands the red haired woman the scroll and then she returns to her companions. This process is repeated again and then a third time, calling forward a representative of The Sand Scorpions and The Cryptfinders.
Once again the two acolytes draw tokens from the urns. The one acolyte steps forward again and calls the next group.
The Tomb Tossers! Please send a representative forward for the location you are being assigned.
Oh hi, I'm Wynrey! I'm with the Tomb Tossers. Where are we going and how do we get there? Also is it going to be dangerous? How do I honor the people that left? What do we do if someone is already at our spot? Who was that red haired lady? She seems nice I like her. Is someone going to check who so we go to the right spot?
Oh gods this is going poorly. This is the first thing I'm supposed to do. Maybe she didn't think that was too weird. Quick, what would Chui do?
Wynrey attempts to lean back and look cool but slips and falls over on her back.
Uggg....can I just have whatever it is and go? Please?
Look on the bright side Wynrey, maybe only a few people saw that.
Sebti The Crocodile stands again and offers her hand to Wynrey, helping her up.
Such excitement young Wynrey. Please relax while we follow the proper steps.
The priestess turns to her acolyte and takes the tokens and scroll from them.
Now let's see what location The Tomb Tossers have drawn to explore.
The Tomb of Akhentepi seems to be your destination, and like those before and after you, the destination is in the Necropolis. All people who enter the Necropolis accept the dangers they may face, and each group entering has agreed to stick to the sites they are assigned.
Take this scroll, upon it is a map of the Necropolis and it shows the route to your assigned site. When you finish there, please return to the Grand Mausoleum and we will provide you a second site.
As for how to honor the departed... It is simple, let those that rest remain that way and should need arise to disturb them, please be sure to lay them back properly and with respect.
Sebti returns to her seat and smiles to Wynrey.
Good luck Wynrey, I look forward to seeing you return successful.
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Wynrey carefully takes the scroll from Sebti and nods in respect.
Nailed it! And I grabbed a prime site. Or maybe I didn't. Either way, we have to start somewhere I guess. Why not the tomb of Arkhentaipe or whatever.
OK Tossers, looks like we got our first job. Do we need anything in town first? Does anyone know anything about this Archimedes guy? Should we just head over? Oh man I'm so excited!
Chui staggers into the ceremonial space shortly after Sebti begins speaking. At the rear of the crowd, he discretely hacks up a tabby-colored hairball.
He then straightens up and more-or-less confidently strides to the side of his colleagues.
Oh, my head! Oh, the brightness! I really need to find some smoked-glass spectacles.
Greetings comrades. Shall we be off to glory or death! I need but a moment to return to my room at the Tooth & Hookah for some crtical gear and a small tumbler of fermented goat's blood for this headache.
Harmini approaches the stage from somewhere within the crowd. Alabaster spins through the air slowly above her head, a disk-like formation providing her shade from the noonday sun. She bows her head graciously to Wynrey.
Good afternoon, Wynrey. It is quite an honor to have been selected for this auspicious event. I must admit that I am also eager to get started. However, we should take a few moments to think about where we're going first.
Harmini pauses a moment in thought then smiles politely before continuing.
Archimedes? I think not. I do hope our fearless leader has more than a few marbles rolling around upstairs. I'd rather not be lead to disappointment.
I believe the name we want to research is Akhentepi. That is our assigned tomb. As I recall, the man was a military commander. He died some time before the Plague of Madness... Interesting.
Using Knowledge History or Nobility to remember any useful information about Akhentepi. Whichever is more appropriate.
Checkinng her bandages to make sure they are set after her dawn walk Elendera appears from out of the crowd.
Good morning everyone. We were given Akhenttpi's tomb, I may know a quicker way there. I look at the map we were given. Wynrey are you okay?
Drawing on the past use of the necropolis as smuggling routes I try and find a faster way to the site.(know local)
I'm always OK Elendra, but thanks for asking. That's so nice. And if what Harmimi says is true, and I know it is, and Akhentepi died a while before things went crazy with the plague, then there might be some really cool stuff in there. The flip side of that could be that more time and effort was put into the construction of that tomb, what with everyone not having the plague and killing and eating each other, and we could be looking at better traps and counter theft measures. It might be good to check and see what we could be up against.
Seems these two may be a bit unprepared... Elendra appears thoughtful at least.
Yes. A brief respite before embarking into the necropolis sounds prudent. I would expect our excursion to take at least a day if not several...
Harmini looks briefly at each member of the group.
Prepare yourselves as needed and meet me at the Tooth & Hookah within the hour. I have a few more things to share with all of you.
She then turns and processes northeast at a slow but graceful pace. Alabaster continues to act as her parasol.
pointing out the tunnels on the map to compare the routes.
Well guys we could get there using the smuggler tunnels, but there may be other issues we face as they completely avoid patrols. That's why the smugglers and all manner of things use these tunnels.
breathe Elendra. You know these tunnels well. And now that there are people here to help you should be safe.
Hermini do you mind if I tag along? I have all of my errands taken care of.
Harmini nods to Elendra.
Not at all, my dear. If we're going to be working together, we should get to know one another.
She waits for Elendra to walk beside her.
And how do you know about these tunnels, Elendra? curious.
Tell me more about these "smugglers' tunnels". I was under the impression that the Necropolis was a secure place, occupied only by Pharasmans and the dead they guard.
Wynrey rushes forward to get 10 feet in front of Harmini and puts her arms out.
Aww come one girls this will be fun! Look, I know this might sound silly but this is our first adventure together. I saw a nice cafe on the way here and Chui really looks like he needs a pick-me-up. We can still plan and talk along the way. Think of this as team building. We're not just drinking coffee, we're drinking experience!
Wynrey gives Harmini puppy dog eyes. Rosa, Wynrey's Lapdog, pops her head out of her backpack and gives Elendra puppy dog eyes.
Have you ever had pulled coffee? Its so frothy and creamy.
How rude! I really don't think this half-elf needs to be drinking coffee... at all. The puppy is adorable.
Harmini smiles at Wynrey.
As you wish, sweetheart. I'm sure we're all in for a grand experience.
She extends her arm gently forward with an open palm.
Lead the way.
Harmini every area that is off limits always has secrets that can be exploited. at one point the necropolis was just a city. I've lived here all my life.
Wynrey is a bit odd but I like her, she really needs to get out more though.
seeing Rosa, Elendra pets Rosa on the head
Wynrey I'm not a huge fan of coffee its a bit bitter
Wynrey smiles and nods, then starts walking along the route towards the necropolis.
So even before the plague the people here would bury their dead within the city. How much do we know about that particular area?
Before anyone can answer Wynrey stops at the shop and eyes the menu.
Ahh perfect. Sir could I have three jungle coffees, pulled, and a cup of Kahve?
Wynrey pulles out 11 copper pieces and places them on the counter then throws another into the tip jar.
Arriving at the coffee bar, Chui finds a table in the rear, slouches low in his chair, and pulls his headdress down low over the top of his face.
F*** me, the tabby's dad is in the shop across the road. Mummies with greatswords will be an improvement over how this morning is going.
We we go, a jungle coffee for myself, Chi, and Harmini. Elendra, I got you this cup of Kahve. Its made with coffee but filled with milk, sugar, honey, and spices that completely cover its bitterness. Don't worry if you don't like it though, I can drink it fast and then we can get going.
Wynrey sits down and sips her cup.
Oh yes it's perfect. It's like sunlight captured in water that loves you...I like the idea of using the old tunnels, there is something in my blood that likes being underground, go figure, but I don't know why we wouldn't just walk on the patrolled street. Still, you know this city Elendra, and if you think its worth it then I'm right behind you. Figuratively speaking of course, physically I will almost always be in front of you.
Wynrey takes another sip.
Oh yes, they certainly know their coffee here in Wati.
Harmini accepts the drink and sits down to take a sip.
Thank you, Wynrey. You are both kind and generous.
This coffee is terrible... Jungle is it? It tastes like sweaty skunk weed.
Harmini snaps her fingers at Alabaster. Within a moment its central gemstone glows. She takes another sip cautiously and nods at her familiar.
Speaking of generosity... As promised, I have gifts for each of you. No doubt you will find these objects invaluable on our upcoming endeavor.
Harmini reaches into her backpack and produces a light crossbow with bolts. She hands them over Wynrey.
Just in case you find yourself not on the frontline... one of these bolts is made from the hard metal, adamantine.
Light Crossbow. 10 Crossbow Bolts. 1 Durable Adamantine Crossbow Bolt.
Next she pulls forth a wand from her sleeve and offers it to Elendra.
We are almost certain to find the dead. This will help us detect and avoid the undead.
Wand of Detect Undead (CL1, 5 Charges).
Wynrey takes the Crossbow and the bolts and stows them in her pack.
Wow, its just like Life Day. Only way better. Well now I have a backup to my bow...wait, where is it? Did I leave it in Fangwood? Oh dear, ehh I guess it all worked out.
Thank you Harmini, this is so nice. Oh I really like this bolt. I bet this could put the hurtin' on some construct.
Alabaster circles slowly back to the coffee shop and passes by Harmini. With a bright flash a tiny stone ejects from its center onto Chui's headdress.
Moments later, the stone rises to float in the air. It encircles Chui's head in a rythmic pattern while casting a soft glow to the surrounding area.
Harmini takes a seat at the table once again.
Now, Elendra. Can you tell me again why we would choose the smuggler's path over the openly guarded path as directed? I believe the head priestess of Pharasma, Sebti the Crocodile herself has given us permission to enter our chosen tomb. Why rush?
Perhaps she knows more secrets than she lets on...
Please RP what you say to the group.
Well it's not without its dangers. My former associates told me of the pests like rats and scorpions, but also that of the undead ghosts of those from the plague.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all
elendrra points out the areas where the reported sightings were
on second thought maybe we shouldn't go that way
How strange this one is. I had hoped for something more interesting. Alas, my new friends had best not bring us to any undue trouble...
I see... That does sound quite dreadful. Perhaps a safer approach, then?
She pauses for a moment as if wait for an answer but continues speaking anyway.
Wonderful! I think we've all had enough coffee to drink for the time being. I'm ready to begin as well.
Harmini gestures at Wynrey.
After you, of course.
How much detail do we need here? Do I need to back to the Tooth & Hookah to get my leather armor, grapple, short bow, etc. (all the stuff that I probably won't take with as I chase female catfolk about Wati)? Or should we not be that picky, assume that we have everything we need with us, and go directly to the Necropolis?
Replying to Elendra Why, nothing, just practicing. That was the motto of my old school, "Practice makes perfect."
And thanks for the ioun torch Harmini. I'm sure it will facilitate much violence. Now ladies -treasure, glory, the possibility of painful, gory death. Shouldn't we be moving in that direction?
No need to RP getting your gear. We can move on.
The Tomb Tossers make their way east toward the entrance of the Necropolis. Four guards stand at the gates. With a brief glance at the scroll given to the group, the guards step aside and open the gates. As the Tossers pass them the last of the four nods to them.
Not this year, not yet, my friends.
Following the path indicated on the map is simple and uneventful. A brief glimpse of another group entering a tomb nearby. A couple of minutes later the is a wail from the direction they headed in. Was it something they found? Was it them because of something that found them?
Fifteen minutes after entering the Necropolis, the party arrives at 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, and a hot breeze whistles through their desiccated branches. A set of massive stone double doors is affixed to the northern side of the structure, beneath a facade bearing the likeness of an Osirian man. Windblown sand is heaped around the crypt, partially
burying the doors that lead within.
Please give me PERCEPTION checks.
The doors to the tomb are ten feet tall and made of solid stone. There are no visible handles or hinges.
With an hour of work, the sand can be cleared and the doors exposed.