Reign of Pharaohs

Tales From the Crypt
Why do the undead never stay dead?

Summary: a guardian statue is bested. The companions move on the shrine room, which is protected by a skeletal champion. Investigation of the high priests’ burial chamber is interrupted by an undead creature that refuses to stay dead. The companions bed down.

Details

The companions are quick to engage the guardian statue. The stone effigy, a construct shaped of rune-carved clay, proves an imposing figure, swinging its massive quarterstaff in deadly arcing blows. Given the tight quarters, and the range of the quarterstaff, the group is limited in terms of attacking the statue. Va’var and Kreig valiantly trade blows with the guardian, whilst the rest of the group supports from range. A drawn out battle ensues, with the companions victorious, but exhausted from the extended duel.

The companions decide west is best, and open the stylized black-and-white door to reveal a catacomb. Columns carved to resemble men with their arms crossed over their chests, khopesh and ankh in hand, support the ceiling of this long chamber. Deep alcoves in the walls form burial chambers, some of which feature sarcophagi, and some are sealed with stone doors. It is assumed that this is a burial chamber for former priests of stature. A wide passage on the opposite side of the catacombs appears to lead from the room.

The group decides to press-on and by-pass the burial chamber. The passage-way to the south leads to stone double-doors that open to a shrine room. A stone altar flanked by two bronze urns sits against the north wall of this chamber. Three rows of stone pews face the alter. A lacquered wooden cabinet is set against the western wall and a long stone table runs parallel on the east wall. Another set of stone double doors exits the room to the east.

An imposing skeletal champion rises from the throne and attacks the companions as they enter the room. The warrior deftly wields a long spear that glows with magical energy. – spear of watchful guardian, keys -

return to crypt – investigate and find corpse, it attacks – slay creature, but it returns to its feet – hack it again and destroy – find secret door and some loot – return to shrine and bed down

No Carmma, Captain Beefheart or Wormwood

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The Scroll is Mightier than the Sword
Its fun and games until someone loses their head

Summary: the companions explore the main floor. Within the library, they locate an ancient document that makes reference to a lost relic. A guardian scroll challenges the group. A set of tracks leads to the basement and the companions follow.

Details

A little bit of rest never hurt anyone. The companions wake up well rested and decide to double back to explore the east side of the complex. They first investigate the south-east corner of the building. The large space is split into two rooms – a kitchen area with tables, cabinets and a stove, and a mess hall. The cabinets contain nothing of interest.

The next room is occupied primarily by a small shrine upon a raised dais. Two waist-high amphorae abut the platform. Stone benches stand to the south of the dais. A fetid odor permeates the room. The companions surmise that this area “housed” the undead that were recently bested. Exploration of the room yields several ceremonial tools, including a silver chalice and ritual knife.

The last area on the east side of the complex appears to be some sort of baptismal pool. The large basin is tiled and empty, save for a foot or so of murky water. A vaulted ceiling above depicts images of celestial beings. The room also features four columns that stand beyond the pool, each carved to represent one of the four primal elements. A ring of hieroglyphs encircles the base of each pillar identifying each element.

The east side completed, the group crosses the sanctum to continue their exploration on the west side. Situated directly across from the sacred pool is a library. Rows of stone shelves fill the crowded room. Most of the books and scrolls once stored here have disintegrated over time, but a few volumes engraved on more durable materials endure. Numerous scroll tubes litter the floor amid the remains of ruined paper and papyrus. Amongst the debris, Va’var locates an unrolled scroll discarded on the floor. It describes, in Ancient Osiriani, how scholars of the Osirion’s First Age, those with magical gifts, could alter elementals into new forms. The text later describes the concept of an ahkhat, an elemental being that can be “bound” to a building through a keystone. This keystone is generally bound in the foundation of the structure and is often concealed by secret doors.

The companions locate the tracks of several persons throughout the room – coupled with the scattered papers, it appears that a group of people had rummaged through this area in the recent past. Carrma locates a movable panel in the western wall as she investigates the room. The panel is locked, but does not appear to be trapped. With a little bit of finagling, the panel shifts to reveal s hidden collection of scrolls. One of the scrolls begins to unravel rapidly, and attacks Carrma as she attempts to extract the hidden articles.

The scroll rises into the air and unfurls, showcasing razor sharp edges. It darts around the room slashing the companions in quick succession. The group bares down and engages the scroll in melee. The scroll proves a worthy guardians, and attempts to bleed the companions to death. The trio of Va’var, Carrma and Bojangles, with ranges support from Captain Beefheart, eventually overwhelm the scroll. It folds into an awkward state and falls to the ground, unmoving for the moment.

Carrma extracts the small treasure trove from the wall. The are various historical documents as well as scroll tubes and a wand. Lastly, in the very back of the wall, Carrma finds a stone tablet. The scrolls and wand are distributed, while Carrma reads the table to the group. She notes the following passage to the group:

BY ROYAL ORDER OF PHARAOH DJEDERET II

The High Priest of our Blessed Temple shall take this relic to our new city where the Asp and Crook join and ensure it is never discovered. Treat it with reverence. But conceal it with your most trusted secrets and valuable treasures. Do not attempt its destruction. Do not be tempted by its powers. Let our scandal remain forgotten until this obscenity can be undone.

After some discussion, the companions soldier on. A stone door, temporarily locked before meeting the cunning likes of Carrma, leads to a small chamber to the west. The sparsely furnished room contains a bed frame and lacquered end table, as well as a wooden desk that is partially collapsed against the far wall. A quick once over yields nothing of note.

There are doors to the south and north. The southern door is unlocked and leads back to the dormitory where the group camped the night before. Carrma opens the northern door and notes, via markings on the door, that it was unlocked recently. She steps into a short, narrow passageway. A cleverly hidden wall scythe shoots out from the wall, striking her in the upper body and very nearly decapitates her. Fearlessly, and without thought for her own well-being, she continues down the hallway to another door. This one also opens easily, and Carrma notices similar markings as the prior door, as if is was recently unlocked.

Stepping through the doorway, the group enters an octagonal chamber that is empty save for a large metal chest. A series of hieroglyphs denotes this as a chamber of preparation – equipment is not required below and is meant to be stored in the chest. Giddy with anticipation, Carmma opens the chest to find it….absolutely empty.

A set of bloody tracks lead from the room to a set of stairs. The companions descend to the basement level without delay. The stairs end at a similar style chamber, this one lined by black tiles on the floor, walls and ceiling. A stone bench sits against the side wall of the octagonal room.

A passageway leads south to a separate black-tiled room. This chamber is dominated by a large statue, carved in the likeness of Nethys. Stone doors lead to the east and west, each emblazoned with the black-and-white mask symbol of the god of magic. As the companions enter the room, the statue silently animates and swings its massive quarterstaff at the nearest target.

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New Bard Big Hit on Net-Work
The companions mettle is tested

Summary: the sandstorm subsidies to reveal undead creatures as well as a new companion. A construct, guided by the force of the building, aids the group in what proves to be a desperate battle. The companions bed down for the night to lick their wounds.

Details

As the sandstorm subsides, the companions are afforded an unobstructed view of Jill and Captain Beefheart going to ground. The contact is jarring and the floor, surprisingly, gives way under the two. The duo disappear, the tiles whipping back into place in their stead. Jill and Captain Beefheart are nowhere to be seen.

The companions also take note of withered corpses that have appeared at each of the three exits to the nave. The desiccated creatures are wearing rotting religious vestments, their jaws open in silent screams.

A hand bursts through the floor and the shape of a humanoid monstrosity takes form as the tiles, in elastic fashion, mold into some sort of construct. A steely bardic character appears as well, clutching at the construct in a death-grip as it detaches itself from the floor. The hand of the construct suddenly shoots out to grab a walking corpse in the vicinity, lifting the undead creature from its feet. The construct stares silently at the corpse for a period of time, as if some unheard conversation passes between the two. Just as suddenly, the corpse is dropped back to the floor to continue its slow advance on the group.

With the group preparing for battle, the last vestiges of a spell ritual draws their attention directly overhead, where a flying creature has completed the summoning of two smaller other-worldly beings. The two demonic floating heads, similar to the creature faced in the House of Pentheru, b-line for the companions to engage in combat. The larger div above, its face a large eye encircled with razor-sharp teeth, follows the smaller heads.

A large battle plays out. The companions are forced to focus on the undead corpses, a challenging endeavour given how difficult it proves to damage their tough exterior. The demonic heads and floating div strike from above whilst the combat progresses.

The construct joins the fray as well and, in a welcome revelation, battles with one of the undead corpses that is attacking Krieg. It seems the creature has an affinity for the Nethys-sworn battle cleric. With its assistance, the companions are able to overcome the three undead corpses, and focus on the demonic heads. At this time, the construct turns its head and stands motionless for several seconds, before disappearing through the floor. It seems it has other business to attend to.

With the walking dead taken care of, the companions concentrate on the two floating heads. Similar to the undead corpse, they prove difficult to damage. While most of the companions are focusing on them, Bo-jangles the Bard casts a net on the flying div. This proves a successful tactic as the div is ensnared, only to re-appear again behind the bard. A second cast again nets the creature, which then flies at pace to the top of the nave. The bard lets go of the net and watches the entrapped creature attempt another escape.

As the div struggles out of its snare, the companions take advantage of this valuable time to concentrate all their attacks on the vulnerable div. The creature soon succumbs to the veritable damage and blinks out of sight to another plane.

The group, near overcome from the battle, travel back to the entrance-way and turn into the passage leading to a dormitory area. As they explore the cells, several zombies stumble into view and are quickly cut down. The small cells prove untenable to the companions and they continue up a separate hallway looking for a defensible area to bed down for the night.

The short hallway leads to a greeting area, an alcove on one side with an open pool, and two curtained cubicles on the other side. A locked set of stone doors leads to the north. The companions note two corpses that have been dragged and poorly hidden in one of the cubicles. The bodies bare scorch marks. The group beds down in the cubicles for the night and try to rest their weary bones.

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Skullduggery and Street Thuggery
Skirmish in the ruins

Summary: the group receives their third lottery, an abandoned temple of Nethys known as the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye. A band of street thugs is encountered, whom reveal that the Scorched Hand hired them to delay rival adventurers. The companions are greeted at the temple by unfriendly denizens .

Details

The companions visit the Grand Mausoleum to provide their report on the House of Pentheru as well as to benefit from the services of the good clerics of Pharasma. Several members receive healing, and the group receives their 3rd lottery site – an abandoned temple of Nethys, aptly named the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye. They return to the Tooth & Hootka for some much needed rest.

In the morning, the companions travel back to the necropolis. Krieg has a feeling that they are being watched, but is unable to locate the source. As they travel through a desolate plaza filled with decrepit buildings, the group is ambushed by Wati street thugs. The ambushers are hidden in the ruined buildings, and several pop up from the roofs of buildings to shoot down on the companions. Carrma is hit in a crossfire and goes down. Jill pulls him to safety while the rest of the group attempts to get their bearings.

Several thugs charge from the surrounding buildings and engage the companions in melee. Krieg and Va’var provide a defensive cordon while Captain Beefheart and Worwood attempt to pickoff the snipers. Beefheart takes down one with a well aimed bullet, and Jill returns to the melee to take down another with her polearm. The ambusher’s leader sneaks around the back to try to assassinate Beefheart, which proves unsuccessful. The assassin then turns invisible and flees.

As the tied of the battle turns, the two remaining ambushers throw down their weapons and surrender. The companions question them, which proves fruitful. The thugs were hired by a fiery female that matches the description of Velrianna, the leader of the Scorched Hand. It seems that she has learned of their lottery site and wants to beat them to the Sanctum. The thugs were hired to delay the companions. The group lets the two criminals go, on their word that they will report Velrianna to the Pharasmins. They agree, and are set loose.

A scream sounds in the distance. The companions investigate and see, in the distance, the assassin killing the two thugs, before he melts into the background. It seems news of the Scorched Hand’s indiscretion will not make it’s way to the authorities, yet.

The companions continue on to the abandoned temple. The structure does not conform to traditional architecture, with wings and extensions on both sides of the nave that, except for similar stonework, appear to have been haphazard additions. A large dome over the central apse tops the roof at the north end of the temple. The exterior walls are carved with likenesses of Nethys and other celestial figures.

No doors block the grand entrance to the building – a wide flight of stairs leads into the temple’s interior. As you climb the steps, Krieg notes that the building appears to be in remarkably good condition considering its age. The wind has deposited a layer of dust and sand on the floor of the entrance. Jill notes tracks in the sand and estimates a group of between 3 and 5 have entered.

At the top of the steps, the entry features two rows of columns that lead toward an archway in the north wall. There are three exits, smaller corridors that lead to the east and west, and a large entrance to the north leading to a large chamber dominated by a fountain.

Carrma detects a faint aura of necromancy in the area, and warns the group as a pack of skeletal jackals races from behind the columns. The rabid creatures charge the group to be met by set blades. The companions make quick work of the jackals. It seems they were recently raised, and likely but a macabre alarm system.

A quick glance to the west uncovers a dormitory, the east a kitchen area and baptismal pool. The companions decide it best to explore the main part of the temple first, and charge into the large hall. Space and elevation lend a sense of past grandeur and majesty in this large cathedral-like room. A large, star-shaped fountain with a circular pool in the center sits in the middle of the chamber. The bottom of the pool is decorated with a great mosaic eye, and hieroglyphs are carved into the paving stones ringing the fountain. Two rows of columns support the ceiling overhead, which continues to rise to a domed roof in the northern portion of the chamber. At the far end of the hall, a massive statue with arms raised overlooks the entire length of the temple from atop a raised dais.

The companions take a defensive position. Carrma investigates the hieroglyphs which identify it as the “Pool of Protection”. Detecting magic reveals a faint aura of abjuration and transmutation. The companions each, in turn, take a sip of the cool, clean water and receive a minor blessing. As Carrma continues her orison, she becomes overwhelmed by her magical awareness – it appears that the entire building is giving off some sort of aura. The companions opine that this might be why the building remains in such a good state of repair.

The group continues north to the raised dais to investigate the large statue of Nethys. As they near the platform, the wind rapidly picks up and a sandstorm forms in the middle of the large hall. Va’var detects a presence in the upper reaches of the apse before the storm blurs all vision. Captain Beefheart is compelled to run from the room by an unknown presence, and Jill chases after him, catching him at the southern exit. She tackles him to the floor, and the good Captain regains his senses.

The sandstorm recedes to reveal the desiccated forms of walking corpses at each exit, their mouths agape in a silent scream. The creatures attack the group, as the sounds of a summoning can be heard from above.

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Who Let the Dogs Out
The companions are hounded at every step

Summary: the group battles a desiccated Pentheru the Younger in the crypt. The story of the estate is learned. The companions return to the manse and investigate the second floor. A large melee ensues with demon hounds and a div. Victorious, the exploration of the House of Pentheru is completed.

Details

The companions make a non-descript journey back to the living city. Va’var, believing there is a foreign substance running through his veins, drops by the Grand Mausoleum. After a generous donation, a senior cleric diagnoses him with a serious affliction – ubashki fever. The cost of a cure is high, but with a little friendly negotiation you are able to barter your newly found adamantine flail for an overnight treatment. Va’var checks in for the night.

The rest of the group returns to the Tooth & Hooka. The atmosphere is quite different from the last time you were here – the common room is filled primarily with locals as opposed to adventurers. Carrma engages the bartender in small talk and he advises that there was a big party last here last night, but the adventuring groups have mostly returned to the necropolis for further exploration. Carrma orders a round for everyone and brags about the treasures that the companions have located. The barkeep steps close and warns Carrma to keep it down, providing a reminder that the local population doesn’t take well to “grave-robbing”. A night of rest follows soon thereafter.

In the morning, Jill remains afflicted with a nasty headache after being dominated by the div. She decides to take a mental health day and remains at the Tooth & Hooka. The rest of the group head back to the Grand Mausoleum to pick up a rested and relaxed Va’var. Before he can leave, the cleric hands back his headband and advises he should do something about the inscription across his forehead – it will likely lead to problems down the road. For another “generous” donation, the cleric could likely assist. Va’var considers.

You travel back to the House of Pentheru, and the companions decide it best to continue the exploration of the crypt before re-entering the estate. You return to the semi-finished area of the crypt, where the great battle with the zombies occurred. There is a set of stone double doors that are unexplored to the south.

The doors lead to a mid-sized room, a stone sarcophagus rests atop a stone platform occupying the southern end of the room. The lid bears the likeness of Pentheru the Younger and is inlaid with gemstones and gold. Hieroglyphs line the walls of the chambers.

Carrma enters the room stealthily, followed by the other companions. A mummified cat can be seen sitting next to the sarcophagus. Carrma detects magic, and Wormwood detects evil – a magical aura can be sensed from the cat, an evil aura from the sarcophagus. A magical pulse suddenly emanates from the cat, rocking the companions back on their feet.

The lid of the sarcophagus is thrown open and the withered form of Pentheru the Younger ascends, once fine robes hanging in tatters around his desiccated form. The companions rush the room to engage the creature. Va’var, Kreig and Carrma circle in melee, Wormwood and Captain Beefheart provide ranged support.

Pentheru the Younger slashes with deadly claws, delivering festering wounds that serve to weaken Krieg and Va’var. They respond with mighty blows and the corpse bellows. An answering shriek is heard from the distance, and then another, and then many more. Undead cats rush forward from the darkness and swarm Captain Beefheart. He is bitten many times and infused with a sickly feeling. The companions focus on the desiccated corpse and, eventually, manage to hack the creature to bits. As the energy emanating from the corpse dissipates, the cats melt back into the darkness. It was quiet once more in the crypt.

The companions explore the crypt room and find a golden funerary mask as well as pendant made from semi-precious stones. You also decide it best to take the mummified cat given its magical abilities. Carrma investigates the hieroglyphs that line the wall. They tell the story of Pentheru the Younger – from his father’s (Pentheru the Elder) rise to the nobility, his death, the passing of the estate to Pentheru the Younger, boasts of their prosperity and success as land managers, how well they treated their slaves, the coming of the Plauge, and ultimately, Pentheru the Younger’s death. The scrawl becomes much less formal near the end, as if the author was in a rush to finish. Carrma notes that this would be excellent information to pass along to the Pharasmins.

The companions return topside and re-enter the estate. They explore the main floor – from the side entrance into the dining room, the slave’s adjoining dining area and kitchen, a chapel area that is dedicated to Abadar, Sarenrae and Pharasma, a privy complete with a beheaded corpse, and a bath room. Carrma detects magic emanating from the spigot that draws water – it is ingeniously infused with create water. With Krieg’s help, the companions remove the spigot from the wall to take with them.

As the companions enter the main foyer, the front doors slam closed and a woman’s voice cries out in Ancient Osiriani, “Close the doors! Don’t let them in!”. You recognize the female voice as the same voice you heard at the gate. A male voice booms, “It’s too late – they’re inside! Save yourselves!” The second voice ends abruptly. Screams and clash of arms fill the air. The companions realize that this is an illusion and shake it off. They leave the room swiftly.

The last room to be explored on the main floor is the parlour, which is dominated by a large staircase that ascends to the second floor. Kreig notices a gleam from a refuse pile in the corner and locates ring. He picks it up to show to the others – a ghostly scene superimposes itself over the room, the colors drain from the walls and are replaced in greyscale. Beautiful furniture, potted plants and richly upholstered divans waver into existence before your eyes. A young man clasps the hand of an ethereal young woman. Although they speak Ancient Osiriani, all can understand. The young man is begging the lady to come across the river with him. She wishes to stay here until the Plague passes, before they announce their betrothal to her family. The ring can be seen on her finger. She reaches out to touch the man and asks if he is feeling ok, he is feverish. The vision ends.

Kreig places the ring on his finger. A warm feeling begins to circulate through his body. A bead of sweat forms on his forehead. As suddenly as it begins, the flush fades away, as Kreig overcomes the affliction. Kreig and Carrma investigate the ring and come to the conclusion that it is a Ring of Protection, with a resident haunt. Kreig continues to wear it.

The group ascends to the second level. A balcony wraps around a twenty-foot square opening to the first floor, above the sandy courtyard below. There are six or so doors that lead from the hall-like landing.

The group explores the doors in a counter-clockwise fashion. The first door leads to a guest room. The walls are decorated with a scenic vista of a river valley running through a desert, resplendent with verdant life. The body of a man lies on its back in a small alcove on the opposite side of the room. Of note, the body is missing its head. A quick investigation concludes that the body is maybe a year old, and that the head was most likely pulled off. A simple ring is found in his pocket, with an inscription that reads: “To Akar from Panhet, Love Eternal.”

The next room appears to be an office. Bookcases stand along the walls, a large lacquered desk in poor condition sits in the center of the room. The group finds a brass key, a broken set of scales, a family seal, and several marble pieces from a chess-type game.

As they exit the room, the doors of the two remaining rooms on the east side open, and three demonic, bat-winged hounds bound into the hall. Tentacles dangle from chin and scalp around a fanged mouth that drips a blackened ichor.

The hounds enter the melee with horrific shrieks that cut deep to the soul. Carrma and Va’var succumb to the shrieks and fall to the ground in a paralyzed state. A frenetic melee ensues. The demonic hounds attempt to grapple the companions with their tentacles, drawing them close for a blackened “kiss”. Va’var proves an easy target in his catatonic state. A hound “kisses” him, to the revulsion of his companions. His body goes into a frenzied state.

The companions focus on one hound at a time. As they begin to make progress on one, the giggling form of the demon-headed div materializes next to Krieg and attempts to control his mind. Krieg shakes off the div’s feeble attempt. The battle rages on, although the hounds and div appear to be gaining the upper hand.

Through pure will power, Va’var is able to overcome the sickness that is coursing through his body. His eyes open and he regains his feet to re-join the fray. This proves to be a tipping point for the companions, as one of the hounds finally succumbs to its injuries and tumbles off the balcony to the atrium below. A second hound follows soon after. Sensing that the tide is turning, the div casts invisibility and flees the battle. The last hound joins his roost moments later.

The companions have taken a great amount of damage but wish to see the second floor through to the end. The remaining rooms on the east side turn out to be bedrooms. A foul, cloying smell permeates the air, marking these rooms as the lair of the demonic hounds. Buried amid the debris in the rooms the companions find the remaining pieces of the chess-like game and a large darkwood box. The box is easily opened – inside is a silk Osirian wedding dress, freshwater pearls, a scroll tube containing a rolled up papyrus painting of a young woman (recognized from the “haunt” earlier), and a sealed tube containing a magical cosmetic application.

The last room, and the largest on the floor, proves to be the master bedroom. The aged remains of dressers, a large bed and a divan lie in ruins. A wooden dresser lies to the north. A brief investigation reveals that the front of the dresser is fake, it is simply a box cover that is carved in the likeness of a dresser. The cover is removed to reveal a tarnished bronze chest. The bronze key fits perfectly, and opens the lock. As Krieg lifts the cover, a cocked crossbow mechanism rises to fire a poisoned bolt into his chest. Stunned, he falls to the ground. Va’var pushes him aside and looks in the chest. Inside there are 20 small gold ingots stamped with the seal of a Keleshite sultan whom Va’var advises was the ruler of Osirian at the time of the Plague of Madness. And lastly, an embroidered headband is also found. It appears to have inlaid bone throughout and emanates a faint magical aura. The companions are too tired to investigate further.

On their last legs, an exhausted, poisoned, near-death party limps back gingerly to the living city for some much needed rest.

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Enter Sandman
It's off to never-never land

Summary: the group explores the estate’s crypt. After engaging its inhabitants, they decide it best to return to Wati to rest. Before they can exit the estate, Jill and Wormwood are compelled to enter the manse. Their companions pursue, and a large melee ensues with a sandman, flying skulls and a floating demon-head.

Details

The companions investigate the altar room. The shrine has seen much in the way of violence, and they note the familiar sigil of Pharasma. They continue down the stairwell to the next level. The last step triggers a spear trap and spikes impale those on the stairs.

The room at the bottom of the stairway is tiled with stone, but the floor is hard-packed earth, giving the area an unfinished quality. A stone table flanked by large brass urns are the only features in the room.

Carrma cautiously checks out the next room. Stone benches are set against the wall and a set of double doors lead to the south. The beginnings of several shallow, rough passages have been started along the walls. Carrma notes movement in the passageways and returns to the companions.

A brief discussion and a plan of attack is hatched. The companions charge into the unfinished room and attack. Zombies stumble out of the passageways, followed by an adherer. The group engages them as a swarm of undead house cats enters the fray. A challenging melee ensues. The companions target the zombies first, which proves a successful tactic. Once the undead creatures are bested, the swarm of cats scatters soon thereafter. The adherer is last, but finally succumbs to the companions concentrated attacks.

Several members of the group were poisoned during the battle, so the companions believe it best to travel back to the living city to rest before exploring the large stone double doors. The group exits the crypt. As they cross the garden courtyard, Jill and Wormwood suddenly scream and bolt for the estate, bursting through the mansion’s doors.

The remaining companions, not understanding what has occurred, follow soon thereafter. They enter the foyer of the estate. An inner courtyard faces them, a dining room to the north and a parlor to the south. The courtyard features a tiled walkway which surrounds a square patch of earth and sand. Wormwood appears immobile in the center of the courtyard, Jill is nowhere to be seen.

The sands coalesce into a feminine form and she address the group, asking about the gate and the angry mob outside. Kreig detects evil from the lady and the ruse is up. Before they can attack, an aura emanates from the lady and several of the companions fall to the ground in slumber. In the dining room, a half dozen skulls set upon silver goblets turn towards the companions. The sands swirl and the feminine form melts away into a medusa-like horror with tentacles and enormous fangs. The sandman and the skulls attack the companions.

Kreig and Carrma are unaffected by the sleep aura and wake their unconscious companions as the sandman and skulls engage the group in melee. Jill emerges from the parlour and charges the companions.

A large battle ensues. Wormwood channels energy and the skulls explode. The sand-medusa proves much tougher, as the group’s melee attacks pass weakly through the creature. Kreig and Carrma engage Jill while fighting defensively, taking the brunt of her attacks. As they begin to make progress on the sandman, a large floating demon-head appears from the stairway and joins the fray.

Va’var, Captain Beefheart and Wormwood eventually overwhelm the sand creature with their concentrated efforts, and the sandman disintegrates into the floor. The demon-head screams at the loss of its colleague and ascends to the second-floor.

Jill’s eyes glaze over as the div leaves the area and she becomes aware that she is jousting with her companions. She gives a couple of feints for fun and then hugs Carrma in a sisterly embrace.

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The Hungry Caterpillar
Exploring lottery site #2

Summary: the companions receive their second lottery site – an estate by the name of the House of Pentheru. Their investigation begins with the exploration of the outer grounds of the estate.

Details

The companions awake from their night of partying one more adventurer strong – Hacksaw Jill has joined the group in the wake of Alice’s tragic departure. After breakfast, the companions set off for the Grand Mausoleum to provide their report of the Tomb of Akhentepti and to receive their second lottery site.

The Pharasins are impressed at the level of detail provided regarding the Tomb and wish you the best of luck with the second – a noble’s estate. You seek out Carmaegon to discuss his insight. He has little understanding but grants you access to the Church’s vast library. With a little research, you find that the House of Pentheru is much like other noble’s houses of the time – it owned and was responsible for the administration of prescribed farmland. It was in good standing with the city until the Plague of Madness, after which there is no record of the estate. The companions travel to the Sunburst Market to sell some of the items found in the tomb and gear up for their next adventure.

Soon thereafter, the group sets out for the estate. It proves easy to find, given its proximity to the necropolis gates. The estate is a walled, two-story mansion with surrounding grounds. There are two statues adjacent to the gate depicting Pentheru the Elder and Pentheru the Younger. The bronze outer gate is sits slightly ajar. The group pushes inside, with Jill and Captain Beefheart providing ranged support.

The small bleached courtyard appears undisturbed. Stone archways lead to other sections of the compound, and a small flight of stairs abuts ornate doors that lead inside the mansion proper. Once inside the courtyard, the group, excluding Jill and the good Captain, hear the sound of an angry mob buffeting the doors and the piercing cry of a woman’s voice commanding you to hold the gates. Va’var and Carrma are shaken by the intensity of the experience, Wormwood and Kreig are overcome with fear and run further inside the compound.

They push through the west archway into a L-shaped garden. Stone benches line the wall of the yard and a large tiled pool sits in the southwest corner. The north end of the yard is dominated by a squat stone building. Wormwood runs and cowers in the southwest corner while Kreig makes for the small stone building. The other companions, regaining their senses, attempt to keep pace with the two in flight.

As Kreig runs through the yard, the giant head of a centipede-type creature rears into view from the bathing pool. It seems its sleep has been disturbed. The companions watch in despair as the whip-tailed centipede exits the bath construct, seeming impossibly large for the small pool. The giant centipede uses a nasty bite to inflict body numbing poison while using its whip-tail to keep the group at bay. A desperate melee ensues, with several members being bitten by the centipede. The melee is ended with an epic charge by Jill, who impales the giant creature on her polearm.

The group’s initial foray into the estate has taken a toll on the group, and with two members feeling the ill effects of the poisonous centipede, they decide it best to travel back to the living city. After several days of rest and the healing touch of the Pharasmin clerics, they return to the estate hale and chipper.

This time the companions decide to explore the eastern section of the outer compound. The archway leads to a spacious yard, with several small stone outbuildings. Kreig notices an asp asleep under a table. Jill charges the asp and cleaves it in half before it can awake. A demonic dog runs from one of the outbuilding and engages Jill in melee. The dog, unfortunately, impales itself on her polearm during its charge and perishes.

The companions continue on into the outbuildings. The appear to be guard and slaves quarters. As well, the domed building turns out to be a granary. A swarm of scarab beetles erupts from the dead husks of grain, but before they can attack the group, the companions drop an alchemical concoction in the building and shut the door. The resulting explosion, aided by fermented vapours, destroys the swarm. The last stone building leads to a pantry.

The outbuildings explored, the companions return to the west side of the compound. The squat stone building in the northwest of the site features columns carved to resemble Pentheru the Elder and Pentheru the Younger. Hieroglyphs identify the building as a crypt.

The companions push inside the stone building. Stairs lead down to an altar room dominated by a stone platform. Caryatid columns carved in the likeness of male and female figures stand at each corner of the platform. A mummified figure lays inert at the bottom of the alter.

adherer-01.jpgCarrma uses her whip to disturb the creature, and it responds by sitting up. The creature’s linens have adhesive qualities, and Carrma is unable to draw back her whip. The companions engage the monster in melee, which proves challenging as their weapons stick to the mummy. The group decides to change tactics and light torches. The linens, which are vulnerable to fire, quickly light. The mummy grapples with Jill and the two topple in flames. The adherer takes the brunt of it, and Jill, with some help from her companions, lives to fight another day.

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Interlude - The Tooth and Hootka
A night of revelry

Summary: the companions return to The Tooth & Hootka and partake in a night of revelry with fellow adventurers. Alice meets a tragic end. A new character is introduced.

Details

As you exit the Tomb of Akhentepi, you can’t help but be pleased with your first foray into the necropolis. Feeling like grizzled vets, you walk with a swagger back to the “living” city, loaded down as you are with treasure. Luck is on your side – you make the south walls just prior to dusk, and are able to exit the necropolis mere minutes before the gates are closed and locked for the night.

With dusk beginning to settle across the city, you decide it best to return to your rooms at the Tooth & Hootka – the promise of a real meal and clean clothes proves too much to pass up. Besides, the Grand Mausoleum doesn’t typically serve the type of refreshments that you are looking for. Reporting your group’s site findings to the Church of Pharasma will have to wait till the morrow.

Coincidentally, the new companions – Kreig, Wormwood and Carrma Cameleous- are also staying at the Tooth & Hootka. As you near the inn, the sound of revelry assaults your ears, and escalates as you enter the common room. A haze of smoke hangs in the air, thick with the spicy scent of shisha tobacco. The Tooth & Hootka, which has a reputation as the unofficial hangout for out-of-town adventurers such as yourselves, does not disappoint on this night. The tavern area of the inn is near to bursting, with fellow adventurers taking part in friendly banter, the sharing of stories, boasting of exploits, and showing off the “riches” that were acquired.

The dozen or so tables in the comfortable main room are mostly filled, and you spy several adventuring groups that you recognize from the recent lottery proceedings. Arrayed at various tables around the tavern are: a rowdy group of halflings and their pack of well-trained fighting dogs; a rough-looking band of female adventurers, two of which sport dark veils; a somber party of roguish types, many of which appear to stare absent-mindedly into their mugs; a collection of well-dressed Pathfinder types; and a “group of nations” band of adventurers that appear to hail from the four corners of the Inner Sea region. Somewhat surprisingly, one table remains open near the center of the room.

“Right lads, ale is in order!” Var’var strides through the crowd and claims the table for the group. He booms over the din to the barman for a round.

The bartender is too busy to attend your table and your calls go unheeded. While you are trying to gain the attention of the servers, you make eye contact with one of the other tables. A burly halfling waves to you and, noticing your unanswered beckons, sidles over to your table beer jug in hand.

“Welcome back fellow adventurers! I can’t help but notice your situation and having just recently returned from the necropolis myself, dry and with a nasty sunburn I might add, it is my duty to ensure your tongue is whetted appropriately.” The halfling pours each of you a healthy stout and provides a hearty cheers.

“I’m called Mad Dog by my friends, and worse by my enemies. That’s my humble band of halflings a couple of tables over. They’re a lively bunch they are. Still worked up over our little adventure. Our first lottery pick was an ancient tannery – didn’t imagine they were still in business. We found trouble in the basement, real trouble. A gelatinous cube.” He starts to choke up. “We probably wouldn’t have made it out if not for my dogs. That cube took half of em.” Tears begin to roll down his eyes, creating tiny rivulets falling down his massive nose before pooling in his thick moustache. “And all we have to show for it is this sword.” He takes a sooty cloth from his pocket and blows his nose boisterously. “Looks like you fared the better. How did you do? I could use a good story to take my mind off things.”

As this is occurring, Alice heads for the exit. She is already drunk and broken hearted about the loss of her camel – she blames the group and has had enough. She stumbles out into the night. She can be seen leering back towards the adventurers shouting loudly of her revenge as she is silhouetted by the tavern door.

“She gave you everything and then you chased her out into the desert like a bunch of douches. By nature and all that is super useful and powerful and fun about being a druid I vow my re—-”

Her tirade is cut off mid-threat by a collision with a large wagon carrying a massive load of animal dung. You can hear her ranting trail off in muffled spurts as she is slowly suffocated by the emptying shit cart.

Stepping lithely over the mess, a mysterious figure enters the bar. Glibly, she dusts of his coat sleeves and exclaims, “Well that was rather unpleasant, wasn’t it”
She motions to the barkeep for refreshment.

Back to the table, the halfling listens intently to Va’vars recounting of your adventures in the Tomb of Akhentepi. As Va’var is finishing the story, he is cut short by the sound of a large collision outside. Although he does not realize that Alice was involved in the accident, Mad Dog uses this opportunity to politely excuse himself and rejoins his table.

Although the treatment of Alice’s camel had driven a wedge between her and the group, the sudden death of Alice is still unfortunate and the group feels it necessary to engage in some appropriate grieving. Everyone shares a story around the table and celebrates her life by pouring another round. The festive mood returns soon thereafter; however, her empty chair at the table continues to serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of being a professional adventurer.

Kreig, noting fellow Nethys worshippers at a near-by table, subtly observes the group from across the room. There are four companions at the table – two native Osirian males, a half-elven female martial type, and a Taldan female that you would guess to be the leader of the group. You note that the half-elf does not display any objects that profess her affinity to Nethys. Her eyes follow the Taldan woman around the room as she chats with other groups of adventurers. When the Taldan lady returns to the table, the three caster types huddle, but not the half-elven woman. Kreig surmises that she may be a mercenary perhaps. From his observations, he believes the group is upset about something.
Kreig approaches the table of adventurers and addresses the Taldan female, “Fellow believers, I am Kreig of the western hills, born into the service of our lord. Might I join your table and so discuss what brings us here, how we have fared in our adventures and if we could find common purpose in the service of Nethys?”

“In all things, Kreig of the western hills, well met. A fellow worshipper of the all-seeing eye is always welcome at our table. Allow me to introduce myself and my companions. I am Verlriana Hypaxes, founder of the Scorched Hand, a group dedicated to pursing all things in all ways. These are my fellow believers Khelru.” She points at a tall Garundi man that you assume to be a divine caster by his garb. “And Azaz.” She indicates the other native Osirian, a Keleshite man that you assume to be an arcane caster. “And lastly, this is Idorii.” She nods at the half-elven female.

“We’ve had a long day Kreig, so I apologize in advance if we are somewhat blunt. Our first foray into the necropolis did not go as planned. A waste of time, actually. I swear the Pharasmins took pleasure in sending us to a brothel, likely in response to our petition." Azaz grunts at this, and Khelru pats his arm to put him at ease. "I understand their belief in karma, but that was simply arrogant. But I digress. How did you fare? Did you perhaps explore any ancient shrines or temples? We are eager to hear about your adventures, please sit.” Khelru pushes forward a chair.

Kreig, and Va’var soon after, join the table. They commiserate with the group on the disappointing foray but remind them that at least they will live to face another day and the next lottery could be a very different story. They then recount to them the adventure in the tomb, of how Kreig saved his companions from drowning and of his disappointment that there was little in the way of magical loot to be had. The Scorched Hand companions listen intently to the story. Kreig senses that Velriana was disappointed by the end of the telling, but she hides it well, and Kreig is unsure if the source of the disappointment was the lack of magical treasure or something else.

Kreig continues, “But pray, do tell me of this petition and why a brothel would have karmic significance?”

“Kreig, Va’var, thank you for your story. We are happy to reciprocate, but I will rely on Khelru, if you please, to speak. I hope you take no offense, I am tired and a bit delirious after a long day.”

As requested, Khelru recounts their experience in Wati. His deep baritone proves a welcome change to Velriana’s piercing voice. They too were drawn here by the opening of the necropolis. They had petitioned the Church of Pharasma for information regarding any known ancient site or temple of Nethys, but the Church had refused their request. “Their reasoning – this information was not available to others, so why should it be available to us. And further, if they had information to share, we would still be provided a random site through the lottery anyway. Can you believe that! It is our sacred right to visit any temple of the all-seeing one and they just shoo us aside like a common sand flea. And that was just the beginning…” Khelru stops his story to take a calming breath. “The first ‘lottery’ site that was given to us turned out to be an ancient brothel, which just happens to be the center of a turf war between dueling ghoul clans. Every step of our journey in the necropolis was contested. When we finally arrived at the brothel, we had to dispatch a nest of zombies in the basement, at great cost to us. As we see it, we did a great service to the Church, but were rewarded with only minor trinkets and coins, the treasures of prostitutes and worse. And hence, we are a bit upset at the whole experience.”

At this point, Velriana joins in again. “Karma, gentlemen. I hope the Pharasmins are sitting in a room giggling at the irony of us exploring a brothel today. We are, to say the least, looking forward to tomorrow and the beginning of a new day, a new adventure. Hopefully our second endeavor goes better than our first. And with that gentlemen, I think we are going to call it a night. Good luck, in all things and in all ways. If you may chance upon any information about the all-seeing one, please seek us out. We will reward you handsomely.”

The four members of the Scorched Hand bid you farewell and head to their quarters.

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The Sarcastic Sarcophagus
The featured plate tonight: Va'Var

Summary: Kreig, Carrma and Wormwood are introduced to the tomb and meet Alice, Captain Beefheart and Va’var. The companions locate a funerary room complete with sarcophagus, which proves to be a fake. A water trap is tripped and Va’var is swallowed. Kreig locates a Pendant of Pharasma which guides him to a secret exit. The sarcophagus is defeated and the companions find the real funerary room and treasure, including Akhentepi’s armor.

Details

As Alice, Captain Beefheart and Va’Var battle a sandling below, a separate group of adventurers begins their day top-side. The group – comprised of Kreig the warpriest, the ever inquisitive Carrma Cameleous, and the goodly Wormwood – don their armor and prepare for the day ahead. The silence is broken by a unsightly braying as a large camel bursts into the midst of their camp, grabs their bag of rations, and clomps away at pace. Despite their amazement at the bizarre scene, they immediately give chase.

The camel proves surprisingly fast, but the adventurers are determined and gain on the desert creature. As they prepare to dive onto it, the sand around their feet begins to give way, and the three humble adventurers find themselves fighting for their lives, as they shoot down a constantly shifting slide of sand. A solid thump announces their arrival in the tomb. The sound of a distant battle is evident.

Gaining their feet, they note a small room of stone walls, a door with a golden beetle leads to the east. Krieg notes some inconsistencies in the northern wall, but before he can investigate, two mining beetles set upon the companions. They make short work of the creatures.

The other companions find themselves fighting for their lives against an elemental serpentine sand creature. Before they can engage in serious melee, Captain Beefheart levels his musket at the creature and fires a critical strike. The bullets pass through the creatures vitals and sand is sprayed against the opposing wall. The remaining sand, void of its elemental life force, falls haphazardly to the ground. The group pushes on through the western doors, which also feature a golden scarab, into the next room.

The mining beetles dealt with, Kreig investigates the northern wall and notes some unique seams. The wall appears to have a cleverly concealed door, although neither Kreig nor his travelling companions can open it. It is assumed it can be opened from the opposite side. They push through the door to the east.

At the same time the other group is pushing through a door on the other side of the new room. Both groups draw weapons, but calmer heads prevail. Introductions are made and the companions, given that their interests are aligned, decide it best to continue their adventure together.

This room features four columns in the shape of Osirian warriors and the floor is tiled in a white spiral pattern. A large tapestry depicts an otherworldly vista dominated by an impossibly tall spire. A brief investigation and the companions are pushing through the north door.

It is locked, but brute force allows the group to continue north, down a short set of stairs to a similar door. Again, force is used to continue. Another short set of stairs to a third door. This one opens easily.

A large octagonal room welcomes you, the center of which is a raised square platform with a stone pillar in each corner. lifesize-king-tutankhamun-sarcophagus-cabinet-1.jpgA gold-trimmed sarcophagus sits in the center, flanked by two statues of humanoid beings with canine heads. Va’var explores the stone platform, while most of the group pushes into the room. Captain Beefheart and Alice remain in the prior room providing ranged support. As Va’var steps on the platform, the southern door suddenly shuts and the northern door opens. Water starts to flow rapidly into the room. The sarcophagus rises and tries to bit Va’var. A melee ensues, and Va’var is bitten and slammed from side to side. The sarcophagus raises him from the platform and swallows him whole.

Unsure of what to do, Carrma and Wormwood engage in melee as well. Kreig explores the room and locates a hidden door to the east. It opens into a slaves quarters, complete with a dozen linen-bound corpses. Each corpse wears a pendant of Pharsma. Kreig adorns one and picks up another. He is instantly aware of a spirit coursing through his body and he is filled with wonder. The judgement takes mere seconds. The outline of a door shimmers into being on the opposite side of the room, the spiral of Pharasma glowing vividly. Kreig throws a pendant to Wormwood and wades through the shin deep water to the door opposite.

The door opens to his touch and the northern door closes, instantly cutting off the gushing water. Alice and Captain Beefheart are able to join the fray, and the sarcophagus is quickly overcome. Va’var is rescued from the construct’s stomach cavity – he struggles free and for once, words cannot describe his happiness.

The companions continue on into the complex and locate an offshoot of the main hallway that connects to the secret door found earlier. It seems to be some sort of escape passage for the builders of the tome. The main hallway leads to a door that appears unlocked.

The door opens with minimal effort, and the companions find themselves in a small room with neatly arrayed chest, boxes and urns. These represent the supplies that Akhentepi would require for his trip into the afterlife. The group, with the exception of Kreig and Wormwood, search the various receptacles and find lots of salvageable grave goods.

Kreig again locates a secret door to the east, which is easy to spot given the shimmering spiral of Pharsma around it. Wormwood opens the door and receives a similar visit as Kreig before – the judgement is successful and the door opens. It leads to a short hallway and another door, this one with intricate carvings in gold relief.

Inside is another sarcophagus, this one in such grandeur that you do not doubt its authenticity. The casket`s cover is carved in the likeness of Akhentepi. Two ornate chests sit beyond the dais with a large funerary urn. Within, you find an exquisite set of padded armour, amongst other treasure such as precious stones.

One half of the promise of fame and fortune found, you collect up your treasure and head back to the surface.

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall
When you gaze long into the Abyss

Summary: the companions continue to explore the Tomb of Akhentepi. Besides his chariot, Akhentepi’s scarab shield is also located, guarded by doll constructs. Va’var has a staring contest with a mirror and loses, and the word “Thief” is inscribed on his forehead.

Details

Although time has taken its toll, the chariot is of interest. It appears to be the favoured light chariot of Ahkentepi depicted in his military campaigns. One things is obvious, it will need to be deconstructed and removed from the crypt in pieces. Before investigating the chest, the abutting corridor catches your eye. The short hallway is adorned with several masks, some of which are familiar from earlier depictions.

The corridor leads into a similar sized area that appears to be a trophy room. A table dominates the northern wall, it displays a three-dimensional diorama with tiny stone and wooden statues engage in an ancient battle. A weapon rack on the opposite wall contains several shields of differing design as well as various weapons. There are several small chests and an urn opposite the entrance.

As you begin to search the weapons rack, 3 of the tiny figures on the map table animate and attack the group. The wooden dolls prove difficult to hit. Captain Beefheart and Alice provide ranged support while Va’var engages in combat. Alice, fearing that the dolls will overrun Va’var and attack her and the good Captain, casts entangle. Although this seals the fate of Va’var, as he is struck down in melee, it stops the dolls from engaging the other companions. Captain Beefheart and Alice are able to best the dolls from a safe distance and revive Va’var in the aftermath of the battle.

The crew investigates the weapons rack and locates several items of note – a scarab shield that matches one borne by Akhentepi, as well as several masterwork weapons including a khopesh and spear. The shield is confirmed to have magical qualities. The remaining chests hold some gold as well as papyrus records that you believe would be valuable to the local temple or Osirionologist.

A rest is in order and the group returns to the room with the chariot. The door that enters the room is easily secured. Before you rest, the remaining chest proves too much of a distraction and the Va’var must investigate before bedding down. It is locked, but with a little outside of the box thinking and a piton, Va’var is able to jimmy the lock. To his dismay, the chest is trapped – a poisoned blade returns Va’var to an unconscious state. Within the chest are two potions of cure light wounds as well as a dark, viscous potion that you are unfamiliar with. There are also several “books” containing manuscripts of the military campaigns that Akhentepi engaged in. Va’var is tended to overnight and the group wakes the next morning well rested.

The companions push on through the foyer to the remaining unexplored door. It opens to a chamber that has doors to the west and east. A massive mirror adorns the southern wall flanked by two statues. The statue to the east depicts a tall, gaunt woman in a flowing, hooded gown holding an hourglass. You recognize this likeness as the goddess Pharasma. The statue to the west is that of a jackal-headed man carrying a scepter in his hand. You are unfamiliar with this figure.

Alice is first to gaze into the mirror. Besides herself, the likeness of Akhentepi materializes, bronze skin contrasted with a ceremonial robe and headdress. He appears stern and disapproving and Alice immediately disengages. Curiosity killed the cat, however, and Va’var is next. He gazes into the mirror but chooses not to disengage when Akhentepi appears. A staring contest ensues. The mirror shatters and Va’var is pushed back with force. A searing pain shoots across his brow – an inscription appears on his forehead, the symbol for thief. This is of concern to the group as grave robbing is frowned upon by the temple as well as locals. Va’var covers his forehead with a head band.

The companions venture first to the east. The stone doors open easily into a rectangular chamber. Pillars line the wall and are interspersed with stone jackal heads. A stone altar sits at the eastern edge of the room. Alice notices tracks in the dust and throws a piton behind the altar. Two solifugids, small translucent spider-type creatures, skitter into view. The group has the jump on the spiders and makes fast work of them. An investigation of the altar reveals this room to be an embalming chamber. The jackal figure is assumed to have some importance in the embalming/burying process.

The doors to the west lead to a descending hallway. Halfway down the stairs you can make out small holes and borrowed tunnels on the southern wall. Earth and sand have spilled over the collapsed masonry, covering the stairs with dirt and rubble. Stone doors engraved with a golden scarab, its wings open beneath a gold sun, are opposite.

Alice throws another piton down the gradually descending corridor. As the piton bounces down the stairs, a snake-like form of earth emerges from the sand and snatches the dowel in its jaws and disappears again. Alchemist fire follows. This time, when the elemental form appears and swallows the fire, a great bellow buffets the group. The large snake-like form closes on the group.

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