Enigmatic hieroglyphs cover just about every surface of this chamber excavated into the mountain. Bas-relief engravings stretch along the walls all the way from the lofty, tapered ceiling down to floor level, their eerie pictography suggesting an unnerving story. Toppled columns, crumbling shreds of cloth, and potsherds scattered throughout the chamber attest to the place’s abandonment and antiquity. Small holes in the vaulted ceiling let in thin beams of sunlight but do little to illuminate the chamber.
Player Handout #3 wrote:
Player Handout #2 wrote:
Player Handout #1 wrote:
The growing light of predawn filters in through a window of the two-story building that Amenopheus has rented in Eto, and the aging Garundi man takes a seat on one of the cushions set out for this meeting. He produces a sealed letter from his robe, placing it in the middle of the floor before speaking.
“Good morning, Pathfinders. As you know, we have had our share of setbacks recently. Not only have the emerald and topaz gems sacred to my order slipped through our fingers, but we also faced the frustration of finding nothing but fragments of the once great ruby. Thankfully, its power is not lost entirely, and through the Ruby Sage’s blessing, it lives on in you. I am thankful that you have agreed to act on her behalf and see this through to the end.
“As we speak, the scoundrels who seized the two gems cross the Pillars of the Sun to meet their employer, the cryptic Diamond Sage.” He sighs heavily. “What she intends to do with the gems is a mystery, but the sage jewels are too important for me to take risks with. If the power that you wield is representative of a shattered jewel’s potential, imagine what one might accomplish with three undamaged stones! Until we know what her plans are, it is paramount that we get to the jewels first."
“Kafar and Nefti have a rudimentary map of the Pillars of the Sun, and last night I found a bartender who spotted them poring over it between drinks. She recalled little of the map, and she could not make sense of the marks or annotations; however, the right spells have allowed me to probe her mind and determine Kafar and Nefti’s entry point into the mountains. We will follow them from there.” With a somewhat chagrined smile, Amenopheus adds, “It may be that they will lead us to the Sanctum of the Sages, a hidden complex I have long suspected might be in this area.”
He stands and announces, “Prepare yourselves quickly. We shall leave momentarily.”
This large columned chamber shows signs of past comforts, but an ancient battle scorched the walls and ceiling, and cracked and smashed the floor and columns. The remnants of furniture are scattered against the walls, and piles of bodies are stacked in the sleeping alcoves along the south and west walls. A dais crowned with a great, round table rises from the floor in the south part of the room. Three corpses sit around the table as if in conference, each dressed in fine silk robes. A slight breeze whistles through with a sound like a distant, murmuring voice, but there is no sense or meaning in it. An open hallway to the north leads to a natural cavern. Stairs lead downward in the northeast corner of the room, but were buried in stone when the wall collapsed.
The ceiling of this natural cavern sparkles with thousands of tiny crystals, while the center of the cave is split by a chasm that wends deeper underground. A stone bridge stretches over the gap. At the center of the bridge rises a black granite obelisk, covered with gems and hieroglyphics. The obelisk is a masterpiece of sculpture, with flawless lines and beautifully rendered images of the past. Large double doors provide an exit to the north while an open archway to the south is covered with wall carvings and leads to a hallway.
The rich scent of palm wine, cinnamon, and myrrh fills this magically illuminated storehouse. Each wall has deep slots filled with papyrus scrolls. A white-and-black marble altar enveloped in faint wisps of faerie fire sits squarely in the center of the room. A ladder to the south leads up to a walkway, with more shelves and a golden sarcophagus.
The relaxing splash of water echoes throughout this tiled room. A large, pristine pool occupies much of the chamber, and a statue of a warrior-maiden serves as the centerpiece, endlessly pouring water from an ornate jar. A large carving on the east wall depicts a frightening man who stares at the viewer, with half his body burnt and ruined and the other half young and healthy. A withered corpse lies in the northwest corner. An open doorway to the south leads to the fortress’ entry hall.
A profound quiet has settled over this timeworn hall. Elegant stone columns line the passage, and hieroglyphics and colorful art depict scenes from a distant age. A small wooden door stands at the east end of the hallway, while a larger door leads south. The sound of steady splashing water is audible through an open passageway to the north, and large stone doors lead outside. One of the pillars has collapsed, and a crushed human corpse lies pinned underneath. The distinctive shape of a wayfinder peers out from under the body’s hand.
The wind gusts about this small courtyard, filling the air with fine grit. Corpses litter the area, little more than bone and desiccated, leathery skin. A dry well occupies the center, surrounded by the remnants of an outdoor market, though even the best tent is tattered and leans precariously. To the east, a set of low steps rise to a set of stone doors surrounded by symmetrical wall carvings of pharaohs. Stairs to the south ascend to the outer wall.
The remainder of the journey through the desert proceeds uneventfully, with only the rise and fall of the dunes to break the monotony. A low, uneven hill of granite appears on the horizon to the northwest, presenting the only shelter for miles around. Although the crag appears solid from a distance, on closer examination there is a wide fissure in the rock sealed by a heavily weathered stone wall fitted with a large iron door.