Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mummy's Mask, part 8

4-24-2016
Session 12

Characters:
     Azzaria
     Igby
     Kaa
     Sula and Nyema
     Uto

The Ruby Scarabs loaded their borrowed cart with all the items they had taken from the Silver Chain gang and their mysterious allies, and returned to the temple of Pharasma. On arriving they found that there were too many people there for them to find a place to store all of their items. They decided to go to the Tooth and Hookah, where several of the group had rooms, and leave the items there.

They found the inn's entrance blocked by several zombies and a large ooze, which was in the process of consuming a zombie. Kaa crept around to the rear of the inn to see if there was a back entrance, but found it had been boarded up from within. He spoke with someone inside, who told him the Tooth and Hookah was full of refugees, some of them injured, and that they were running low on food and the water supply had gone bad. The people inside were reluctant to let anyone else in, but indicated they would if the Scarabs could get rid of the creatures at the front door. While Kaa was convesing with the people inside the inn, Sula spotted three strange creatures with long clawed arms seemingly floating along a street nearby.

Kaa returned to the group to share his information with them. The Scarabs then decided to take shelter for the night inside the stable, not wanted to confront the zombies when they were weary and their magic was depleted. Unfortunately one of the zombies noticed them pushing the cart into the stable and followed them, and it was followed in turn by the ooze. The ooze had already attacked a second zombie, but it was evidently still hungry. Kaa directed a scorching ray at it, and the creature rushed at him with startling speed. The zombie also moved toward Kaa. Igby stepped up and slew the zombie. The ooze grabbed the fallen zombie and then reached for Kaa with its pseudopod. Azzaria sliced the ooze in half, but it reformed as two oozes. Sula imbued her club with the element of fire and struck the first ooze, while Igby borrowed Azzaria's mace to smash it. The first ooze died and dissolved into a puddle that seeped into the ground. Kaa sent another scorching ray at the second ooze and it quickly followed its other half.

After the oozes were destroyed, two of the strange creatures Sula had seen earlier appeared. They stopped some distance away and seemed to be watching. After a moment they were joined by a third. Kaa called out to them in the tongue of the Abyss, telling them that they could find better meat elsewhere. The three creatures appeared to confer with one another for a short time, then drifted away.

The Scarabs persuaded the people within the Tooth and Hookah to admit them, but were obliged to leave much of their loot in the stable as there was no space for it inside. One man mentioned that some sort of "feral man" had attempted to talk his way into the inn earlier, while others told of being attacked by zombies. Igby cast healing spells on some of the injured people, several of whom had contracted ghoul fever. Sula examined the water and determined that something dead seemed to be contaminating it.

The next morning, members of one of the other adventuring groups at the inn agreed to escort some of the people back to their homes. The Scarabs lent them their cart to carry those who were unable to walk. Uto cast create water several times to supply the inn. The Scarabs themselves planned to go and investigate the well to see if they could purify the water supply.

When they reached the well, the Scarabs found a number of dismembered bodies that appeared to have been slain and partly eaten by zombies. Sula and Kaa both sensed something unusual in the area. There was a rustling sound, and suddenly Qasin the psychopomp reappeared. He praised them for rescuing Ptemenib, and in gratitude gifted them with a ushabti of the willing servant, which could summon an invisible servant similar to the result of an unseen servant spell. He also told them that the temple needed their help.

The Ruby Scarabs decided to complete their investigation at the well before returning to the temple of Pharasma. Uto discovered that the well had been poisoned, but could find no way within his power to remove the poison. The group headed back toward the temple, finding that there were a few merchants in the marketplace, though not many customers. When they arrived at the temple they found fewer people there than on the previous day. They were greeted by the armorer Minya the Whip, who had purchased Akhan-tepi's chariot at the auction. Minya expressed gratitude to them for rescuing Ptemenib, and presented them with a suit of mist mail. He also told them that should they visit his shop he would always offer them a 25% discount on his wares.

Igby was approached by Amber, one of the other members of the Four Lanterns, who told him that the rest of the group were going back to Andor with their leader Marcus, who had been traumatized by his encounters with the undead in the Necropolis. Before wishing Igby farewell, Amber gave him four scrolls, one each of burning hands, color spray, grease, and shield, as well as a finely crafted dagger.

At the temple the Scarabs learned that there was trouble in the Asp district of Wati, though the information was second-hand and somewhat incomplete. The report said that some dog-like creatures were attacking zombies and the living alike. The group headed off to the Asp district to find out for themselves. As they entered the district they heard sounds of fighting, and found two somewhat dog-like beasts fighting with several zombies. As they watched, they saw one of these creatures bite into a zombie and seemingly pull the ka spirit from its body. Thought the creatures had canine bodies, their heads were the skulls of crocodiles. Uto recognized that these were esobok, another type of psychopomp, which came from Pharasman's plane and specialized in stripping the ka from those whose spirits were not whole, such as undead.

Because the esobok didn't seem to care whether their targets were living or undead, the Scarabs decided they were a menace and attacked. Uto tried speaking to them to discourage them, but one of the esobok charged Kaa. Kaa was able to stun it with his fists. Igby set his sword blade aflame and struck one of the creatures, which seemed vulnerable to the flames. Azzaria then killed it, and its body disappeared. The second esobok howled when its companion vanished, then pulled the ka from a zombie.

As Sula moved in to attack the second esobok, one of the zombies attacked her, wounding her. Azzaria, realizing by the first esobok's disappearance that it had been summoned by someone, shouted to get the attention of the summoner. No one responded. Sula bashed at the esobok with her club, which had little effect. Uto healed most of the damage the zombie had done to her, but the zombie hit her a second time doing even more injury. The esobok grabbed Igby and began trying to extract his ka. Seeing that her club was little use, Sula called on Nyema to attack the zombie, while Uto healed Sula again.

When the zombies and the second esobok were finally gone, the Scarabs realized that the zombies were all recent dead wearing symbols of the old god Maat, and all of them had had their left eyes torn out by a claw. One zombie wore the robes of an official of the court. The group decided to follow the direction of blood smears leading away from the spot where they had encountered the zombies.

The blood trail let them to the court of Maat. On the steps they met a living man whose left eye had been torn out. He fainted before he could tell them anything. They entered the courtroom to find the judge's seat occupied by a bloody skeleton wearing a fez. This skeleton greeted them, accusing them of contempt of court and challenging them to defend themselves against the charge. Skeletal bailiffs stepped forward to take them prisoner. Uto put himself forward to speak for the party, hoping that if he could convince the skeletal judge that he didn't belong there, he might leave without more bloodshed. He had recognized this judge as the infamous Sotenre, famed for his use of enucleation as punishment for defying the Pharaoh generations ago.

After Uto presented his arguments, Sotenre finally seemed to understand that his day was long past. The skeleton crumbed to dust, as did all the bailiffs who had been buried with him beneath the courtroom floor so long ago. Sotenre left behind only his fez and a magical circlet, but no one in the group could discover what the circlet's power was.

Once the court of Maat had been cleared of undead, the Scarabs escorted the injured man to his home and told him they would try to arrange for food and supplies to be delivered to his family. They then made their way back to the temple to report what they had seen. Along the way the met a group of Voices of the Spire, the militant arm of the church of Pharasma. After they told these people about the esoboks, it seemed that the Voices knew who might have summoned them, but would not say.

When the Scarabs arrived at the temple and told this story to the priests, they were taken to see high priestess Sebti the Crocodile, who was disturbed when she heard about the psychopomps. She called for the commander of the Voices of the Spire, Nakht Shepses, to join them. Shepses admitted he had summoned the creatures. He believed it was the best way to deal with the zombies, and if the esoboks killed a few innocents in the process, that was acceptable. He and Sebti had a heated argument, until finally another priest was forced to step in and remind them that they should stand together in this time of crisis.

Sebti then asked if the Ruby Scarabs would be willing to enter the Necropolis again to seek the source of the power raising the dead, as she believed it to still be within the walls of the dead city. Shepses sneered at this, and continued to insist that sending the esobok after the undead was a better solution. Finally he agreed that if the Scarabs could defeat a creature he summoned, they could enter the Necropolis. As they watched, he summoned another kind of psychopomp, a grey and sinister creature wielding a scythe.






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