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Under the bath-house
[Day 40] In the evening, Jes noticed a trio of persons trying to watch our table unobtrusively. When they noticed our noticing, they quickly left the Inn's restaurant, ignoring Hadia's calls to halt. Jes followed them down two streets, whereupon they turned on her. She led them back to the rest of the party, but the tail team disappeared, perhaps down some alleys. We did not pursue further.

[Day 41] Some of us carefully asked about town, seeing if anyone knew what the height of the (now-fallen) Tower of Ra's Glory had been. Sallah found 3 old men who had played on it as boys, they all agreed that it had been 125 feet high. Meanwhile, someone else found the Solar Observatory, and they let us know where the sun's rising would have been on Midsummer.

Using that data, we returned to the main hall of the library. With a little distraction of the library staff, Amestri had the undisturbed time to locate the potential location of the Vault of Hidden Wisdom.

Meanwhile, overheard among the stacks, was that a ranking Nethysite priestess in Sothis, Sarafet, had found something interesting under Azghaad's Spire-- perhaps the Heart?-- and now She Had Disappeared.

We go to the spot, which is on a side street, and is a wall of a bath-house. Amestri detects that it has a secret door, but we don't enter it. First, a bath for everyone! Novid received special attention from the staff, and cleaned up pretty nice. No one found any secret entrances inside the building, though.

Checking after dark when street traffic was decreased, the secret door turned into a tunnel descending a short ladder. Novid first found an ornate chest across the first chamber. There was a trapped floor under it, and he fell it. Amestri caught him with a Feather Fall.

Beyond that, the first reading room had a clockwork servant inside. Before we found a key to wind it up, two clockwork guardians arrived and attacked! Sallah died! Novid was knocked out and Jes had to carry the fight for a while.

We returned to Wati with the body, but not before Amestri discovered:
- the remainder of Khmenti's journal was here! He told that Hakotep's ib and ka were trapped, and the 3rd part of his soul put into the pyramid. Rejoining the 3 parts of his soul could push him into the afterlife. OR, it might bring him back to life.

[Days 42-43] We rest in Wati, Sallah was raised, but he remained in Pharasma's hospital to recover from dying.

Returning after dark to the Vault of Hidden Wisdom, we wound up the clockwork servant, and it led us to a triangular reading room. Here, we were attacked by a pair of eight-armed glowing balls of crystal! These aeon were named as theletos, and they were a very difficult fight before we sent them out of the world.

This room was full of architectural drawings of many Pharaoh's tombs!
- Hakotep's flying tomb was NOT on display here.
- It was mentioned that it could fly, but as soon as his body was interred, the whole tomb disappeared from view.

We search the rest of the Vault, and find a large dome-shaped chamber. Among the many books here, the clockwork librarian retreived the following for us:
- Chisisek was the architect for Hakotep, and he was killed to preserve the tomb's secrets. His funeral was recorded, though his corpse was laid in its own secret tomb.

Having already detected that this dome had a false ceiling, we put Novid to work on breaking into the hidden chamber. The crashing-down of the ceiling brought two large mummified (bashki) lynxes. Novid took a lot of scratches from their paws, Jes evaded and stabbed to finish off the mummies.

- Up on a fresco around the ceiling, we found Chisisek's personal cartouche (an owl in a house), and that his tomb lies "across two bridges, where the sphinx condisers the Crook, the Asp, and the Sun" which seems to mean the Parched Dunes, a moderate journey to southern Osirion.
Amestri also considered that the layout of the Vault itself:
- refers to the shape of the Shori weapons that the the Sky Pharaoh built to blast other flying cities.

We carefully recorded the location of this library, apparently lost to the Nethysites. Perhaps someday we shall tell them about it.

Our next plan is to rest in Wati in order for Sallah, Ostog, and Amestri to completely recover from their deaths. (to Day 61) We might also undertake magical crafting or research and prepare equipment and animals for the journey.
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Session 1: Drellin's Ferry & Beyond
To be updated.




Session: Game Session 1: Drellin's Ferry - Friday, Dec 14 2018 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Session 0: And so it begins


“Now what?” Trinique adjusted in her seat and strained to hear what the young magic student was saying. He was called Sparrow, but the rumor was that he was the great grandson of Reslin Kine, the famed adventurer. And as some knew, Kine’s fortune had never been found. It seemed that Sparrow was booking passage on a caravan to Drellin's Ferry. Was this related to the treasure? Perhaps it was just an errand for his masters in The Citadel.

Every time she thought of that name it made her laugh. The Citadel sounds so foreboding. Indeed, the Brindol Academy of Magic Arts was headquartered in a large tower complex near the middle of the city, but it was by no means a citadel. Yes, there were some magical wards around the place but there were also mortal guards and any mortal guard was a weak point in any defense. Of course, while they had not been sufficient to block her from getting inside, they had been more than enough to keep her from gaining any magical training. Even with her father's influence and wealth, she had not been able to make the planets align for her to be admitted as a student.

Yes, he was booking passage. The mage was trying to convince the man to take him all the way to Oakhurst but there was no way the caravan master would agree to that. He was one of the Black Knives men and he would surely be arranging a way to steal the cargo before they hit Drellin's Ferry. Perhaps to rob young Sparrow and leave him for dead too. So, if the mage was going, Trinique would make sure to be on the trip too . . .

*****

A golden apple? Why was she dreaming about a golden apple? That and a death white apple, twirling in torchlight. And those beasts with their pointy ears and feral eyes? There was something to it. Were they the ones who took her from her family? No, that was not it. She touched the scars on her neck. Then why did it terrify her so much? Surely an apple could not grow in darkness whether it was golden or not. But she got the distinct feeling that that apple was in her future and it was not in a place in which she would be comfortable.

This was not the first vision Quinn had had. Ever since she had “returned” she had a jumble of dreams which were surely more than just her brain trying to figure out the day. Sometimes they were premonitions and guided her in the face of danger. Sometimes they led her to new discoveries including her new ability to cast spells. But this golden apple was new. She needed a sage to help her explain.

Quinn splashed her face with water, ran her fingers through her hair since she had no comb, then shouldered her pack. It had been a long time since she left Witchcross. Too many days to count. However, she should be in Brindol City by night time and perhaps she could get an answer about this golden apple.

*****

“Hello little one. How was your day?”

Trinique did not think her sister even knew the possible darkness in her future. If she could not find a way to buy her freedom, Jasmine would definitely become a prostitute or a gangster’s wife if she stayed here much longer. The money Trinique was able to scrape together for extra jobs was enough to keep her sister in the kitchens away from the worst of the crowd but she could tell by the way the rougher men and women looked at her, that it would not be long.

Jasmine, covered in the smell of cooking all day, looked up from the wash basin where she was cleaning dishes. She broke out into a smile at the sight of her sister. “Hey you. What are you doing here?”

“Checking on you. Going to be away for a while. Have to go to Drellin’s Ferry for work.” Trinique came around the side of the wall, grabbed a dish and began drying. Jasmine frowned, “work? What type of work? Is it dangerous?”

“Nah,” said Trinique, drying another dish. “Just a little bit of an armed escort. But the pay may be good enough that we could leave this place behind once and for all.” With that Jasmine smiled but her mind was elsewhere.

The sisters washed and dried in silence for a while then Trinique moved over to Jasmine and brushed hair out of the young one’s eyes. “I will get us out of here soon, Jaz. I promise.” Trinique left the room and went back into the streets.

*****

Quinn did not like this city. It was big and fascinating, but it also stank, felt stifling and was way too noisy. She did find a respite. The garden within the walls of The Citadel was quiet and filled with plants, flowers and trees. She could not exactly ignore the walls that seemed to jail the growth of the wild things, but it was better than nothing. She also found information about the golden apples. Talking to an apprentice who had the misfortunate of being assigned to the entry and public question area on the day she arrived, she discovered that the golden apple was real. The apprentice was named Sparrow and he said that he was on his way to Drellin’s Ferry, near the place known for the golden apple, Oakhurst. He invited her to share his wagon at least that far. He was to meet a priest named Derny who had information about his great grandfather, an adventurer of some sort. Apparently, the old adventurer had hidden away some treasures and Sparrow believed there were things too important to be left to the dead.

As for the golden apple, Sparrow said that legend has it that a goblin tribe from near Oakhurst has turned from raiding to trading with the town (that in and of itself sounds like a tall tale). However, every year, slightly after the summer solstice, these goblins sell a single piece of magical fruit to the highest bidder in Oakhurst. The fruit, apparently an apple of perfect gold hue and shine, heals those who suffer from any disease or other ailment. The townspeople sometimes plant the seeds at the center of each fruit, hoping to engender an enchanted apple tree. When the seeds germinate in their proper season, they produce a twiggy mass of twisted sapling stems. Not too long after the saplings reach 2 feet in height, they are stolen — every time. The townsfolk assume the goblins send out thieves to ensure their monopoly of enchanted fruit. Of course, this must be a myth, but it is the only story that seems to involve a golden apple in this area of the Vale. How could a band of wretched goblins ever possess such a wonder, and how could they steal every sprouting sapling grown from the enchanted fruit’s seed without the townspeople noticing? This is a mystery worth pursuing.

*****

Sparrow was apprehensive about the caravan driver and his crew. Luckily there were other passengers heading his way. There was safety in numbers. And at least he had met Quinn, a traveling Druid, and Trinique, a guard of some sort, before the start of the journey. They were the only passengers with him on the way to Drellin’s Ferry. Of course, Quinn was going beyond, all the way to Oakhurst. But it would be good to have their companionship on his journey.

For now, they had been on the road for several days, stopping in the towns of the Dawn Way and either dropping off or picking up goods. Mostly it seemed just heavy barrels and crates with markings indicating linens, ceramics, weapons and other sundries. Nothing too exiting and hopefully nothing that would attract the attention of ruffians. Today they had left behind the last of the towns before Drellin’s Ferry, Terrelton. The only memorable thing about Terrelton was the smell. In the early summer heat, the smell of the tanneries that lined the way into the town from the east, hung low over the entire place, making being outside difficult. Luckily, they were there just one night. Tomorrow, they should reach the banks of the river and his destination. He hoped that Brother Derny had received his letter and knew he was coming. To think that he was close to finding his great grandfathers tomb and treasure was exciting. Particularly exciting was the thought of bringing the Sryix back to the Citadel. Magical artifacts were too important to be left to the dead and had to be studied and observed and used to better the lives of the living. That is exactly what he would do even though he was not sure exactly what a Sryix was . . .



*****

“We have to pull over and water the horses,” said Goran, the caravan driver. The man hopped down from the first wagon and motioned for everyone else to stay put. He then walked a bit away to the side of the road, making no move towards the barrels of water on the second wagon. Shortly thereafter, a group of armed men came out of the woods. While Sparrow was consumed with reading over the notes from his great grandfather’s old journal, Quinn looked up from her notes long enough to notice a man in leather armor and a crossbow hiding behind a nearby tree. She started to say something but Trinique put a hand on her shoulder and shook her head to indicate they should not do anything quite yet.

One of the armed men, clearly the leader, began a friendly looking conversation with the caravan driver but the words were indiscernible as they were too far away. Goran soon returned to the party though and explained that he needed their help in making one of their deliveries. The men were concerned about receiving their shipment in town due to bandits and decided that they could just have the items they were expecting offloaded in a nearby cave. It would go quicker if the three adventurers would help with the unloading.

The cave was just a short distance away from the trail. It was clear that it was an encampment of some sort and had been for some time. Quinn and Sparrow began helping with the cargo while the man with the crossbow climbed into their place and observed. Trinique made no effort to hide that she recognized the men as Black Knives and spoke to the leader.

“So, what is the plan here?” she asked.

“Well, which one do you like the least? We have to kill at least one of them to make this look good. Perhaps both of them.” He laughed harshly and wiped spittle from his red beard.

“That’s not going to happen” Trinique said calmly. “Seems we are going to have to lose two of your men on this job.” She looked him in the eyes without hesitation.

“Fine, we can just hurt them if they will play along. I will talk to them.” The man walked away from Trinique and entered the cave.

“Hey, you two look like smart people who could use a few kronas. You may have figured this out already but you see, this here is an arrangement. We help unload some of this cargo early, make sure it looks like bandits attacked the caravan then we sell it and the owner gets some insurance money for his loss. Everyone wins. You can win too, 10 krona for the two of you to split. But to make it look real, I am going to have to hurt one of you. Fair?” The man looked at both Quinn and Sparrow expectantly.

“Fifteen” said Sparrow. “Just not in the face. I know how this works. I’ve been through this before.” The mage braced himself for a punch to the gut. When it came it was a bit more painful then he expected but not too bad. Quinn looked very uncomfortable. Between the darkness of the cave and this whole situation, she was starting to hyperventilate and panic.

“Well,” said the man, “that’s not enough. I am going to have to hit you both . . . a few times. You’ll heal.” He grinned and took a step towards the hunched over Sparrow. In a flash, Quinn and Trinique were there. The fighter stabbed the man in the shoulder as he looked on in horror. “Trinique! What are you doing? Your father will never stand for this!”

“I am not my father,” Trinique said as Quinn struck with her staff and pushed the man backwards.

Sparrow scooped up a pebble from the floor of the cave and gripped it tightly while saying something arcane. Light burst into the cave, illuminating it like sunshine and the wizard dropped it to the ground. “Now that is better,” he said. Quinn said nothing but appreciated the darkness’ retreat.

Seeing the other men beginning to enter the cave she raised her hands and pleaded to Obad-Hai. The patch of ground around the cave mouth quickly sprouted into a tangled mass of vines, flowers and shrubbery. The bandits barely escaped being entangled in it.

The bandit leader was alone in the cave with the three adventurers now but underestimated their battle prowess. He quickly succumbed to their blows but not before scoring a hit on Trinique. He was supplemented by bolts from the crossbowman but none of the others dared cross Quinn’s barrier of flowers and brambles. After his death, they were at a stalemate.

“Come out and no one gets hurt any worse than they are. We can work out something,” the bandits outside the cave yelled.

Sparrow cupped his hands around his mouth and they glowed ever so slightly. “Leave here and you will be spared. Stay and be doomed.” His voice came out as an incredible deep and loud bass, echoing in the cavern and shaking the leaves on the trees just outside.

There were a few chuckles from the bandits and two ran off at the direction of the caravan driver. He had shouted something about bringing wood and oil to the cave mouth. The closest bandit growled into the cave saying that the adventurers would soon be crispy unless they surrendered. None of them seemed concerned about Sparrow’s trickery.

Quinn responded by producing a ball of flame in her hand and flinging it at the man. He screamed in agony as his beard disintegrate in a twist of foul-smelling smoke. Hands slapped the fire out but not before dropping him to his knees from the pain.

Quiet settled in again as the bandits awaited the arrival of the fire making materials. The three adventurers stayed out of sight as best as they could but occasionally a crossbow bolt streaked into the cave, letting them know that they were trapped. Quinn and Trinique quickly consulted each other. Perhaps there was a way out after all.

Quinn stepped into the light and held her hands outstretched. With a whoosh of air and tinkling like icicles snapping in the wind, a snowy, icy dagger of pure ice appeared then streaked toward the ruffian. It struck him in the chest then exploded in a shower of jagged crystals, showering both him and the Goran in a storm of deadly ice. Both men were knocked back then fell into the dirt. Their faces were pocked with bloody shards which began to melt and their beards were frosted as if from a blizzard. Their eyes flickered and remained open, staring at the sky above but without any sign of life.

Sparrow again cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted for the men to abandon their siege. A crossbow bolt was returned in response. Still an impasse but the effort to smoke them out would soon be underway.

Trinique looked at Quinn and shouted, “Now!” Instantly the bramble of flowers and vines were gone and Trinique was in a run. She passed by the bodies of the dead and leaped up towards the wagon’s side, vaulting over it and right beside the crossbowman. Her rapier flashed and was at his throat before he could blink. “Drop your weapon,” she said through clenched teeth. He did and got down on both knees, his hands in the air.

Quinn and Sparrow followed quickly, rushing out of the cave with fire bursting from Quinn’s hands and Sparrow’s booming magical voice echoing through the cave and out into the clearing beyond. Fire sparked from the balls of it that Quinn threw, none hitting their marks but certainly adding dramatic effect. The remaining bandits surrendered without further combat. But one, Jarrald Halfgiant, who had been returning with a load of branches, turned and ran. Trinique sent the remaining wagon driver after him but the tall bandit eluded him.

The adventurers searched the dead, finding numerous kronas (gold pieces), soldats (electrum pieces) and talents (silver pieces) as well as a heart shaped bloodstone. The crates and barrels were filled with mundane items which may fetch some krona, but were not worth the trouble of having to fence them by the party itself. Trinique told the remaining bandits to carry on with their theft and insurance scam but add that a rival gang, perhaps the Shadowbanks, had attacked and killed the others. They all swore to Trinique that the true events would be kept secret and there would be no hard feelings.

Once everyone had their stories straight and the dead were buried in the cave, Trinique motioned to the new caravan driver and they continued on their way. She could not help thinking that allowing Jarrald get away would present a problem but also knew that he was a coward and would likely disappear for long enough to allow her to make appropriate arrangements. Either that or she could ensure that he turned up in the Elsir River after a tragic accident.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and before nightfall, the thatched roofs of the village could be seen up ahead and the caravan entered the town of Drellin’s Ferry . . .




Session: Session 0 - Friday, Nov 30 2018 from 3:00 PM to 6:30 PM
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No races, three deaths, and ANOTHER library!
{Day 38} We intended to return to the Inner Archive, but we were intercepted by a servant of Muminofrah. She was in despair, we had to come immediately to her pleasure barge. She. was. So. Bored. We spent the whole day trying to cheer her up, with only partial success at this.
On the way back to our lodgings, we were attacked in a crowded street by trained assassins! Amestri and Ostog were killed instantly, Sallah immediately after! The remainder of the party killed the three attackers and hustled our corpses out of there. Khismia gave Muminofrah the tragic news of the murders of her favorites. It was so sad! Her Excellency insisted that the Pharasmans bill her for the Raise and Restoration spells!

{Day 39} Several expensive spells later...
We visit Her Excellency to express our thanks, despite our weakened condition. She introduces us to her friend visiting from Ipeq, the noblewoman Talibah. Ostog, having just been raised a few days before, is particularly fatigued, and returns to his house in Wati to recover.
{Day 40} This time, we did make it to the Inner Archive, though Ostog stayed home to continue his recuperation.
Behind the disgusted face, the left door led to a square, cobweb-filled, room filled with 16 sarcophagi. Behind one of those sarcophagi, we found another square room with a vast collection of scrolls! One of the sarcophagi is labelled for Khmenti. This sarcophagus had signs of being opened before, and when we opened it, a golem mummy attacked us!
Behind the golem, we found the mummy of Khmenti, and learned that this room was the Hall of Lost Curators, and all of those here had been mummified alive.
The Secret Archive behind the Hall revealed the Scrolls of Inquiry that had been hinted at earlier.
- Sacred Order of the Blue Feather took the Mask and Heart of the Sky Pharaoh, because his ib and Ka were inside. They wanted to learn his Shori secrets.
The Heart was sent to Sothis, and hidden beneath Azghaad's Spire
The Mask was sent to a shrine in Wati (the Erudite Eye, of course)
- Khmenti's notes about the architecture of Hakotep's Tomb were sent to the Vault of Hidden Wisdom in Tephu, which can only be seen from atop Ra's Tower of Glory (since destroyed) on Midsummer's Day.

We found a small side tunnel, which had nothing inside.
The secret passage from the Secret Archive to the Inner Archive was labeled the Way of Obedience.
At the end of the day, the adventurers travelled home to Wati for the night. But first, in the central corridor junction, the pile of bones that we had been warily eyeing became a bone golem, blocking our exit! It even had a crocodile's skull on top. Novid led the smashing of it, and it slid (greasily) down the ramp into the Curator's room.

{Day 41} We returned to the Great Chamber of Knowledge, intent on recreating the location of the sun on Midsummer, so as to pinpoint the location of the entrance of the Vault of Hidden Wisdom. Ostog stayed home, as before.

Session: Game Session 18 - Saturday, Nov 10 2018 from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
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A race, a death, and another library
Day 34: We return to the library's Inner Sanctum. We thank Ud'jebet again for yesterday's aid, and I give her a ring that I'd picked up in our work. In today's research, we gather one useful bit.
- A curator's catalog from 103 years ago, the Scrolls of Inquiry were moved to the Dark Depository-- another Nethysite sealed library.
Ud'jebet's never heard of this library.
The Inner Sanctum's librarian says it's here in Tephu, but access is controlled by Hatt'iya Deka (of course). This is where the most dangerous tomes are kept.

So, we go round to Deka's office and request another appointment. On a lark, as we wait, most of the group wandered the streets of the Wadjet's Walk neighborhood, looking for the entrance to the Dark Depository. It must be hidden, since no one spots it.

Meanwhile, I take the ferry across to Wati, to sign the deed for my new house (bought from Seh-Hosep), move my small pile of things from the inn there, and spend the night.

Day 35: I take the early-morning ferry across the river, to meet everyone for breakfast in the Inn of the Desert Winds. Just in time, as they receive a summons from Her Excellency Muminofrah!

At the Palace of Gentle Reeds, she's noticed the many camels about the city, and has called for a chariot race through the streets! Eager to please her (and win favors), we agree to pair up and join the race. It turned out to be very dangerous, with almost all of the racing teams crashing or being attacked by citizens.

Amestri & Novid took an early lead, but then wiped out past the halfway mark. I was knocked out when Khismia & I crashed, but her magic was able to bring me back.

Her Excellency is disturbed by the violence and has the Watch put onto it right away, and as a reward for being good sports, grants us our firman to visit the Dark Depository. Hatt'iya Deka (reluctantly) passes on the permit. The hidden entrance for the Depository is a grate in the sidewalk, so we really shouldn't have found it yesterday.
Day 36: The grate opens to a shaft with a ladder, 450 feet down!

But first, double bronze doors with a greater glyph placed on them-- Knock spell works better than Dispel. We found a 4-way intersection beyond. Each of the remaining exits have a statue, with differing faces: Sad, Frightened, and Furious.

Sad corridor: Jes set off a flame-strike trap, but found a magical headband (un-ID'd yet)
Frightened corridor: Behind a secret door, there were 3 (shadow mastiffs); Amestri fled from their baying cry, but we finished them off. Here were the Shadow Stacks, where we could do better research, as the cataloging was improved.
- Scrolls of Inquiry [relocated here 103 years ago] are mentioned, they had the Blue Feathers' confessions, which were hushed up to cover Nethysite involvement in the theft of the Sky Pharaoh's artifacts.
Furious corridor: Something dropped from the ceiling, a clockwork winged centaur armed with chains! (A zelekhut inevitable, guardian). Amestri shows it our permission to research, which it grudgingly grants. Amestri is placed under a geas: to research ONLY the Sky Pharaoh while we are here.

There is a hidden hallway behind the Furious statue: another room of scrolls. One pile of them radiates abjuration magic, so we leave it alone. This is the Inner Archive of the Dark Depository, and it is packed with scrolls!
- from the personal journal of Kh'menti, who was obsessed with the Sky Pharaoh and his Mask: "Mask of the Forbidden Pharoah holds a piece of his ka, his soul, which should grant abilities." He was on a quest to learn more about Hakotep and unravel his mysteries. The Sacred Order of the Blue Feather was hoping to commune with him and learn his secrets, their results were ambiguous.
About this time, I spoke aloud that I had "found something", and that triggered the glyph trapping the pile of scrolls that we had left alone for now. IT was a Slay Living glyph, and I was killed.

It was after dark by the time everyone else brought my corpse up the 450 foot ladder and across the river to Wati.

Day 37: I got better. Wati's Pharasman temple was pleased to Raise and Restore myself, for which I am very grateful. Our party funds took a hit, though, so I spent some time selling off some more of our accumulated wealth, and unpacking my belongings in my new house.

I set up Sigrun in my spare bedroom as a house-sitting job, where she could also write her novel.

Tomorrow, we will return.
Session: Game Session 17 - Saturday, Oct 06 2018 from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
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