The Ruby Scarabs began preparations to re-enter the Necropolis through the secret passage created by the Silver Chain gang. There they would seek out the remaining Elegiac Compasses that Sebti the Crocodile had told them about.
Uto decided to sell Akhan-tepe's armor, sword, and shield that he had acquired after the auction. Kaa gave him the mist armor that the armorer had presented to the group after they rescued Ptemenib from the Silver Chain gang. Kaa also purchased a 9-ring sword from the same armorer, and Sula bought a better suit of leather lamellar armor than she previously had, as well as a specially reinforced wicker shield. Every member of the group received a distribution of 1,250 gold pieces from items sold.
Sebti had explained to the Scarabs that the Elegiac Compasses were large mechanical devices with rotating parts. There had been 30 of them when the Necropolis was newly created, and they were capable of detecting the largest source of necromantic energy within a range of approximately 3 miles. But now to the knowledge of the church of Pharasma, only 5 compasses remained within the walls of the city of the dead, though this information was not recent.
Nakht Shepses of the Voices of the Spire also told the Scarabs that there were 3 lamias residing within the Necropolis at the Cenotaph of the Cynic, which was a memorial for burials of those who followed no gods.
It was recommended that the Scarabs visit a group of darkfolk who were living in the Necropolis in the estate of Asatiti. The priests thought that the darkfolk might have more information about what was happening inside the Necropolis since they lived there. The darkfolk were friendly to Ptemenib, and since the Scarabs had aided one of their people they might get a warmer reception.
When the Ruby Scarabs were ready, they returned to the Silver Chain headquarters at the waterfront. There they found a recovered Bal-them in charge of the guards watching the location. She was unhappy to be there, but when Uto explained to her that she was not only watching the warehouse but making sure that no undead emerged from the tunnel, her discontent was relieved.
The group emerged from the end of the tunnel inside the walls of the Necropolis to find that part of the ceiling had collapsed, crushing the Elegiac Compass that had stood there for generations. A mass of snakes had found this spot conducive to sunbathing. Sula advised that there was no reason to bother the snakes since they weren't attacking, and the band continued on their way.
When they arrived in the area that had come to be known as the Ghoul Market, they glimpsed 4 ghouls that seemed to be focused on the door of a former shop. Curious as to what could have attracted the ghouls, they paused a moment for Uto to bless them and then attacked. Kaa hurled a rock to distract the ghouls, and Uto took to the air. Azzaria invoked her rage. Within a short time all 4 ghouls had been slain, and no one had suffered any ill effects from their touch, although Azzaria had received a scratch which Uto healed.
The door of the shop appeard to have been opened recently. Uto called out to anyone inside, and in response a voice shouted back, "Is this a trick?" The door opened, revealing a human woman. The Scarabs recognized her as Date Palm, one of the members of the adventuring group called the Sunrise Fellows, who had gone missing during the first week of exploration. Everyone had assumed they were dead. Her companions Worm and Oshwit were with her in the front room of the shop. The Scarabs observed that all 3 of them appeared uneasy with their visitors. They seemed unconcerned by the ghouls that had been trying to get in to slay them. They told the Scarabs that they had been busy researching, and that they had plenty of food and water. Azzaria asked them if they had see an Elegiac Compass, as there was supposed to be one very near to the shop. Oshwit drew something in the sand on the floor. Date Palm appeared increasingly anxious, and Oshwit and Worm exchanged glances as though they were signalling each other.
Kaa moved to look at what Oshwit had drawn, but realized he had started to move into the zone of a trap and quickly stepped back. Igby then cast bane. Oshwit pulled a lever and flames flared up near a table. Date Palm drew a knife and threw it at Kaa. At Sula's direction, Nyema leaped up on the table to claw at Date Palm. Oshwit also threw a knife at Kaa but missed, and Kaa responded with a scorching ray. Uto also turned on Oshwit. Azzaria followed Nyema's example by jumping on the table and flew into a rage, dropping Oshwit with a blow. Igby meanwhile faced off with Worm, while Date Palm drew a mace and tried to strike Sula. Worm moved toward a curtained doorway at the rear of the shop, striking Nyema as he passed. But Uto was using his magic to take part of the wound himself while healing his companions and most of her injury was cured.
Azzaria's attack caused Date Palm to collapse. Worm slipped through the curtain into the back. Kaa ran after him, checking for further traps. In a room beyond the curtain he found an alchemy lab, remains of mummies, and a cloaked figure. The figure demanded, "Why are you bothering us? Did the temple send you?" Kaa burned the mummy on the table with a scorching ray. Uto moved in to the alchemist's lab after Kaa, detecting a foul chemical odor in the area. Sula and Nyema followed him in, and Sula realized that the cloaked individual was a ghast and warned her friends. Azzaria and Igby joined them to combat the ghast.
Igby has summoned a flaming sword to fight the creature. Worm was still fighting the Scarabs, and managed to injure Nyema. The ghast sent a cone of flame at Igby, Kaa, and Uto, which Uto blocked with a stone shield. Oshwit had regained his feet and came to the aid of his companions, suffering a bite from Nyema. Sule shoved the table aside to gain better access to the ghast. Oshwit missed a blow at Nyema and collapsed again when she attacked him as he tried to get past her to obey the directions of the ghast. Kaa tried to strike the ghast with flurry of sword slashes. Uto's hair suddenly grew tremendously long and stretched out to use a healing wand on Azzaria. Sula jumped up on the table to gain higher ground and stabbed downward at the ghast, while Nyema bit him at the same time. Igby flanked with Sula's position, and it was his attack that finally carried the ghast into death.
Inside the alchemist's shop the Scarabs found the remains of the disassembled Elegiac Compass. Some of the parts were missing. They determined that the Sunrise Fellows had been using the lab to make the illegal drug mummia from mummies. They were actually members of a local drug-distribution gang known as the Fading, and had used the treasure-hunting event to gain access to more materials for their drugs. Among the items found on their bodies were 3 catching capes, 3 potions of cure moderate wounds, 3 other potions, 6 vials of alchemist's fire, 6 bottles of holy water, 3 fine quality heavy maces, 3 sets of studded leather armor, 3 sets of thieves' tools, 3 onyx rings, and a total of 9 gold pieces. The ghast proved to have 6 vials of greenblood oil, a robe of needles, an alchemist's kit, a formula book, and a pair of magical bracers which the Scarabs were unable to learn anything about. They also found 3 potions of hide from undead.
Date Palm and Oshwit were still alive, and the Ruby Scarabs decided to take them back to Wati and turn them over to the temple of Pharasma for judgement. They blindfolded their captives to prevent them from seeing the tunnel, and avoided a group of 20 or so zombied that were roaming the Necropolis. At the warehouse they handed the prisoners over to Bal-themm. They also sent a message to the priests of Pharasma that two of the Elegiac Compasses that were thought to remain in the Necropolis had been destroyed.
Once everyone's hurts had been healed by wands or potions, they returned to the Necropolis and headed for the Marid's Carress, a bathhouse where the next compass was supposed to sit. The bathhouse's plumbing had leaked, turning it into a swamp. The compass there had been crushed by a collapsed wall. They found a few pieces among the rubble, including a large round lens of glass that radiated magic, although no one could determine what it was for beyond some type of divination.
After finding the third compass destroyed, the Scarabs decided to visit the darkfolk. They made their way to Asatiti's estate unmolested by undead. The darkfolk who met them outside were unfriendly until they mentioned Ptemenib. One of the darkfolk guards went to fetch their leader, Unwrapped Harmony. She asked the Scarabs to complete a task for her in exchange for information: her apprentice, Gaunt Cadaver, had left to form his own clan and had been experimenting with transforming his clan members into undead. The darkfolk were fascinated by mummies and mummification because when they died they simply vanished, leaving no remains. But Unwrapped Harmony felt that Gaunt Cadaver had gone too far in his exploration of undeath. She wanted the Ruby Scarabs to kill him and bring back a magic stone that he had ingested as proof. She requested that they avoid killing any of the other darkfolk if possible, and return them to her. The Scarabs agreed to this request. When they had finished eating a midday meal with the darkfolk, they set off for Kawab Villa to find Gaunt Cadaver.
3 catching capes
3 potions - cure moderate wounds
3 potions - unknown
6 vials - alchemist's fire
6 bottles - holy water
3 masterwork heavy maces
3 sets of studded leather armor
3 sets of thieves' tools
3 onyx rings
9 gold pieces
6 vials of greenblood oil
robe of needles
alchemist's formula book
pair of magical bracers - unknown
3 potions - hide from undead
Next: part 10
Next: part 10