Reign of Pharaohs

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.

Comments

Awesome story – can’t wait to rejoin the group!

Who Let the Dogs Out
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