Zenobia: At least lunch is sorted. Was anybody bitten?
Nemat: Yes, a few times. Why? Oh right, these are poisonous.
Zenobia: Venomous. If they bite you and you die, it’s venomous. If you bite it and you die, it’s poisonous. If you bite each other and neither of you die it’s a kinky Friday evening.
A bit later we chance upon a camp of more idiots in funerary masks, backed up by fire drakes.
Onka: It’ll be difficult to intimidate them - they’re religious fanatics and tend to be nutjobs.
Nemat: To be fair, so are we. We’re out here in the desert of our own volition looking for the pieces of a dead pharaoh that used to fly around in a pyramid.
Nemat: EVERY PHARAOH RULES WITH THE BLESSING OF THE GODDESS WADJET! HER JUDGEMENT IS UPON YOU!
Zenobia: But the goddess Sarenrae gives this one chance to surrender.
Asrian: *scimitars and arms suddenly shimmer with frost*
Fire Drakes: … that’s gonna hurt. A lot.
It doesn’t work on the cultists. They’re fanatical.
Zenobia: Absolute certainty in the righteousness of his cause.
Nemat: I’ve got that too. The difference is I’M RIGHT. This is a religious argument in the desert, and they only end one way.
At least the fire drakes decide this would be a good opportunity to fireball some of the cultists.
Nemat: ‘We do whatever is best for us’
Asrian: ‘And right now what is best for us is bad for you’
Nemat: ‘Pepper Breath!’
Nemat OoC: Now I have to play an orange-scaled kobold pyrokineticist in Kingmaker.
Some of the cultists apparently want to add to the pyrotechnics by rushing at Asrian, and exploding. She shrugs it off, because naturally any girlfriend of Zenobia is awesome.
Cultist Leader: I will die in glorious battle!
Asrian: No, no, you’re just going to die.
At least there isn’t much we need to bury after they explode. The Fire Drakes toddle off in the aftermath.
GM: Chaotic Evil doesn’t mean Chaotic Stupid.
One of the cultists was carrying a fragment of stone marked with a hieroglyph of an owl in a house - the symbol of the long-dead architect we’re seeking.
Nemat: But how did they know to look for the guy?... Hmm. I suppose they DO work for a guy that actually knew him.
We should probably keep our eyes open for any signs of Sphinxes while we’re out here - Nemat needs to see some to continue his quest to become RoboCop. That night he dreams of a beautiful sphinx.
Nemat OoC: Is this a booty call?
Onka: I’m glad I brought earplugs.
Sphinx: Follower of Wadjet! Hours needs your aid!
Nemat: !!! There’s a lot to unpack there.
Apparently the Sphinx wants us to come to a hidden valley. The minions of the Sky Pharaoh are upon her! Just as well there’s a devotee of the old gods, close enough to receive her call for help.
Nemat: I’m awake! I’m awake!
Zenobia: Wise of you not to burst into the part of the tent Asrian and I are sharing.
Nemat: Because you’ll bite me and she’ll burn me.
GM: Congratulations, you just got propositioned by a Charisma 21 gynosphinx.
Onka OoC: ‘Help me Obi-Wan, you are my only hope’
Nemat: It came to me in a dream.
Zenobia: ... Well, no obvious signs of heatstroke….
The hidden valley is accessible by a ravine barely wide enough for one person.
Zenobia: That would be a TERRIBLE place to be ambushed.
Nemat: Well, let’s go trigger the trap. I mean, search for traps.
Going by the tracks, at least a dozen people have been up the ravine before us, including multiple large snake-bodied things, and at least one humanoid giant. Nemat continues up the ravine - the rest of us go up over the ridge. We don’t get attacked on route, and there’s a small pyramid, temple facade, and natural stone bridges at the far end. Asrian and Nemat sneak into position, while Onka and Nemat prepare to snipe at the cultists and giant left on guard. Asrian intends to whisper to the scimitar-wielding giant first, who lucky for us fails his Sense Motive check and follows Asrian off around the corner.
Zenobia: I must be rubbing off on you.
Asrian: *tosses a pebble at the giant to get his attention*
Nemat OoC: ‘Psst! Psst!’
GM: This all depends on whether the giant knows who it’s been warned to look out for.
Zenobia OoC: Has it been warned to beware the Garlic Woman?
Onka OoC: The what???
Zenobia OoC: She’s wearing a bulbous white silk headdress, with a few strands of silver hair sticking out.
Onka OoC: Oohhhh, I see. I was wondering where that came from.
Asrian gets into a whispered circular argument with the giant, who values personal freedom, but is somehow compelled to obey the cultists. Eventually she gets Nemat to sneak up and break the enchantment, and demonstrate that the giant now has free will again.
Asrian: Just ask yourself - do you want to kill us any more?
Giant: *shrugs* Not particul- OHHHHHHH.
Zenobia: But what is the giant’s opinion of the cultists now?
Nemat: You mean the enslavers?
He’s happy to warn us about the Lamia leading the cultists - she’s a powerful spellcaster.
Nemat: And very jealous of the sphinxes. Lamia can’t fly.
The giant is now quite remorseful about helping the cultists capture and imprison the sphinx, and he’s quite eager for some revenge.
Nemat: Brilliant! Everybody play dead - and you tell the cultists that you caught us.
Giant: I got them! I got them! I got them TO FREE ME! *WHACK*
Lamia: Oh, ****.
Nemat: Improved Dual Weapon Fighting. Better known as ‘I am the desert Cuisinart’
Asrian: Just like me.
Onka: Lucky for us Desert Giants have terrible ‘Sense Motive’
Zenobia: Maybe they just like to think the best of people?
At least the Lamia doesn’t have to regret using mind-controlled guards for long - she and her cultists are dead a few seconds later. And none of us took a point of damage. Now we just have to find that sphinx before all the extra XP kicks in.
Nemat: Please please please, let that sphinx know the ritual!
Asrian OoC: Nemat is Evolving!
Nemat OoC: Quick, use an Everstone!
The gynosphinx Tetisurah has been immobilised with a Sepia Snake Sigil, and used for target practise. Just as well the party has 3 people that can cast healing magic.
Nemat: We are the Covenant of Wati.
Zenobia: So, do you two want some privacy now?
Nemat: Too tired. And so are you - we haven’t slept in 24 hours.
Like her mother before her, it’s been Tetisurah’s duty to combat the cultists, and guard the valley and the very tomb we’ve been looking for. Unfortunately, the cultists have already removed Chisisek’s body and sent it north. But the gynosphinx can oversee the implantation of Nemat’s Ib Stone in the morning - the next step in him becoming a Living Monolith.
But we’ll probably have to go into the tomb anyway - we need all the clues for the whereabouts of the Forgotten Pharoah’s bits that we can get. We enter, and promptly step on a pressure plate trap. Cue the giant rolling stone ball. Zenobia throws herself flat along the bottom of the corridor wall
Zenobia: A smart architect would have had a stone cylinder rolling down the corridor towards us.
GM: Well, you could always turn it into a giant meatball - anybody know Stone to Flesh?
Nemat: That would at best only half its weight. And make it horrifying.
Asrian: Well, that’s left one door unblocked.
Zenobia: How much do you want to bet that the one the stone ball just blocked is the important one?
Asrian: Well that goes without saying.
Nemat: I hate tombs like this - if they intend to block access to the tomb, why not do it when you built the place?
Asrian: Because this way they squash any tomb-robbers too.
Unfortunately it looks like the cultists already removed any scrolls related to this tomb, or the Forgotten Pharoah’s. And we manage to destroy some wonderful murals breaking through the wall into the actual tomb chamber. And upset the giant statue of Ptah, god of creative types, who was guarding it.
Zenobia: So, is there anything in the sarcophagus worth our while, after the cultists looted it? I’m doubtful, unless they were careless.
Asrian: I’m wondering how they got past the golem. But they did have those Lamia with them. The cultists themselves seem pretty incompetent.
There’s nothing about Chisisek’s later life in the murals, but Nemat does spot the single spelling error in the hieroglyphs that hides a secret button. It looks like the cultists took the body and intend to cast Speak With Dead on it, and never found the secret extra chamber. Unfortunately they never found the other guardian device either. Fortunately, Nemat has an adamantium rod that will theoretically jam up all its gears. It doesn’t.
Nemat: Well, I’m not doing that again.
Zenobia: I’m not sure you’re getting your rod back either.
This device was probably Chisisek’s greatest creation. It’s certainly the Osiriani equivalent of a combine harvester. With us as the chaff. Apparently it’s also made of Explodium. The amount of damage to the engravings and murals as almost as distressing as the damage to us.
GM: Remember when I said the stone golem was the Boss of this level?
Nemat: You lied.
But at least Chisisek’s library is mostly intact. Time for Nemat to cackle like a lunatic and rub his hands together. It certainly has some interesting information about some of the projects he worked on for his Pharoah. Including some kind of massive weapon he used against his flying enemies. Nothing on the actual LOCATION of the Pharaoh’s tomb, unfortunately.