Summary: the companions meet at The Tooth & Hootka and plan their adventure. They attend the Church of Pharasma’s lottery and receive their first site – the Tomb of Akhentepi. They travel to the necropolis and gain entrance to the tomb with the clever assistance of Alice’s camel. They begin to explore the tomb and learn about the celebrated military commander.
The opening of the necropolis has drawn your rag-tag group together. Captain Beefheart and Va’var answered an advertisement seeking accomplished companions to assist in the exploration of the City of the Dead. You meet at a local water-holding for adventurers – the Tooth & Hooka – and quickly acquaint yourselves before attending the lottery for rights to explore the necropolis hosted by Sebti the Crocodile and the Church of Pharasma.
The lottery’s opening ceremony takes place in the Sunburst Market in the center of the living city of Wati. In front of the imposing edifice of the Grand Mausoleum, an immense awning has been erected between decorated pillars. Sebti addresses the crowd to lay out the ground rules. “Let these rules guide you in your endeavors in this holy place: remember how this came to pass – the necropolis is a holy place, please treat it so; every slave’s hut is a memorial – do not desecrate the tombs of those who died to give you life; and honor the departed – the dead will be treated with respect and dignity. Failure to comply with these simple rules will result in your expulsion from the city. May you go with the Lady’s blessing.”
The first lot that you draw was a tomb near the outer borders of the necropolis. You decide it best to seek further information about the tomb and visit the Grand Mausoleum, the home of the cult of Pharasma. Through sheer persistence, you gain audience with Sebti herself, who is able to connect you with one of her colleagues with intimate knowledge of the grounds. Believing yourselves under-equipped, you strike a deal with her to allow her first choice of your treasures for an up-front loan. She gladly accepts. Captain Beefheart excuses himself to visit the local Sunburst Market whilst Alice and Va’var partake in a fact-finding mission.
This mission proves mildly fruitful as Sebti’s associate in the know, Carmaegon, advises that this area of the necropolis was populated before the Plague, with this particular lot assigned for war veterans. He warns that tombs of this area are well-known to contain many traps. You meet back at the Tooth & Hooka and enjoy a night of revelry, trading stories with fellow adventurers into the wee-hours.
You set out early the next morning for the tomb which proves easy to find given its location near the outer borders of the City of the Dead. The tomb, a rectangular stone mausoleum, is fairly non-descript, with a massive set of stone double doors. You see several sets of tracks in the area, and make a mental note. A quick investigation of the door reveals that they swing outwards, with several feet of sand blocking their path. An inscription in ancient Osiriani reveals the occupant to be named Akhentepi with a date of death that precedes the Plague of Madness. You set to digging out the sand under the mid-day sun. Several hours later, and with the assistance of Alice’s trusty side kick, a dromedary camel, open the large stone doors.
You enter a rectangular ante-chamber with some hieroglyph engravings on the wall and an immense stone wheel against the opposite wall. The air is stale and a layer of dust covers the floor. Investigating the engravings reveal that the occupant was a celebrated military commander, along with warnings for those attempting to rob his grave. The stone wheel is demarked with a large spiral, which you recognize as a symbol of Pharasma. The sunk-relief engravings depict two carved faces – one of which is recognized as Pharasma, the other unknown.
As you are investigating the engravings, a solitary ghost scorpion attempts to sneak up on you. Luckily Alice was on guard for such an occurrence, and was able to warn the group before the scorpion could attack. A short melee ensues and, after a nasty bite from the camel, the scorpion succumbs.
The camel proves to be worth its weight in sand, and with the help of a clever lever/pulley system, you are able to move the large stone wheel aside, revealing another square room. This one is devoid of adornment, and is dominated by a square shaft in the center of the room that drops into darkness. A single piton has been hammered into the stone near the top of the pit, and a dusty length of rope dangles into the shaft.
You attach a rope to the camel and lower yourselves down the shaft, wary of traps. At the bottom is a similar sized room as the top, this one containing some decorative engravings. As well as the remains of a body. The decorations are carved into stone doors – mirrored images of a warrior in side profile that you take to be Ahkentepi – that, presumably, leads farther into the tomb. An investigation of the body reveals that both legs were broken, probably from a long fall from the above shaft.
Pushing open the doors leads to a ten-foot-wide corridor with bas-relief images of great battles on either side. The figure of Ahkentepi is easily discerned in the battles, riding a great war chariot. Stone doors appear at the end of the hall. You carefully make your way to the end of the corridor and, luckily, note and avoid a small pressure plate. The doors open easily to your touch.
The next room appears to be a foyer. A faded tapestry hangs on a wooden frame on the opposite wall, depicting a middle-aged man and woman, along with two children in front of an estate. Two small pedestals stand to either side, with preserved animals. Stone double doors exit the chamber to the left and right. A quick review of the tapestry reveals the man to be Ahkentepi, and it is assumed that the woman is his wife along with children. Hieroglyphs within the tapestry are too faded to be legible. The animals are mummified cats, a favoured pet from this era.
You decide to explore the passage to the right first. The stone doors lead to a short stairwell that descends to another set of doors. You push the doors open to find yourself in an open room with a brightly painted chariot in the centre of the chamber. A large canvas stretches across the back wall between two columns. The skins of several animals, deteriorated with age, are tacked to the wall. There is a wooden chest in the corner, along with small stone shields at each corner.