Session 10: In Which the Legion Loots the Tomb of Sabban-Ka

Sunday, 12th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

On the day after the Legion returns from their foray into the Pyramid to rescue the templars, Spinello hosts a feast for the henchmen in the tavern wing of their stronghold. He attempts to arrange things in the Fortenzan style. The Cynidicean servants do their best to follow his instructions – which call for foods, beverages, and musical instruments alien to their civilization. The results are…interesting…but entertaining enough to keep spirits up among the battered members of the party.

There is one less-than-pleasant incident at the party. In return for helping to finance the event, Aisha demands they invite Lig-Vig, her one-armed Zargonian henchman. Unable to talk to anyone else in attendance (Aisha is overseeing renovations to the stronghold’s kennels/stables), the beastman spends his time drinking and leering. Yosarn, their tavern keeper, approaches Thjolstoff and informs him that the servants are frightened, as they suffered greatly at the hands of drunken, rapacious Zargonians when the Chosen of Zargon ruled here. Thjolstoff assures him that he will take care of the situation, then excuses himself to find Aisha and ask her to deal with her henchman before he causes trouble. Aisha tries to have a talk with Lig-Vig about maintaining an appropriate relationship with their staff. Unfortunately, between his bestial nature and the limitations of the Infernal tongue, it proves impossible to explain to him concepts like the difference between a servant and a slave, consensual sex and rape, and, oddly, male and female. Frustrated, she simply forbids him from fucking anything. Lig-Vig, ever the lickspittle and fearful of his master, agrees enthusiastically. Does he secretly resent her for this? Only time will tell.

When Aisha is done, Poet, her demonic familiar, appears and laughs at her, saying that she will never be strong enough to command beastmen. She responds that she is sure he would love to give her some advice in that regard, but she is not interested. Calling in one of the six questions she owes him from their bargain made long ago, he asks her if she would like to lead an army of beastmen. She tells him no, she would not.

Monday, 13th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

The month’s second wave of recruits arrives at the Legion’s stronghold in the morning. Thjolstoff adds 4 mercenaries (1 each of light infantry, slinger, crossbowman, and bowman) to his motley garrison. Spinello recruits another henchman: Narua, a drunken, belligerent, Chaotic, but otherwise normal, young woman, who is bitter that the party destroyed the Chosen of Zargon before she was accepted as an initiate,  leaving her without hope of ever making more of herself than a farmer or servant. Amalaith recruits a Footpad as a henchman. He is an alert, seductive, middle aged man called Thirleiro (OOC: the players dub him Dos Equis, the most interesting thief in the world). Milnos-Sim, having agreed to be Thjolstoff’s spymaster, secretly advertised for a bunch of ruffians. He ends up hiring three of them as henchmen: Abghai-Fam, an obsequious Thug and dog trainer; Omor-Kar, a bow-legged Reciter, archer, and journeyman in the traditional Cynidicean art of mime; and Ulea-Bu, a laconic serving girl turned Carouser. The party pays for another week of advertising for the same types of hirelings.

That very afternoon, the Legion heads back into the Pyramid, attempting to follow the map they found on the Chaotic Sha-Thonian adventurers they defeated on their last foray to find the Tomb of Sabban-Ka. In the Halls of Pleasure, Thjolstoff’s workers are installing an iron door to replace the wooden one the sarmesk broke down. While the Legion is passing through the corridor beyond the iron door on their way to the ladder up to the 4th tier of the Pyramid, Thirleiro notices a secret door. It leads to the secret stairway that the Spearmaidens use to travel to their hideout in the Pyramid. Amalaith bids the rest of the party to close it up and forget about it so she doesn’t get in trouble with the High Spearmaiden for revealing the cult’s secrets.

Once up the ladder that leads to the 4th tier, the Legion waits in the dead end corridor while the fearless Atlanteans head out to face the haunts that patrol this area. Again, the haunts appear, proclaim their frightful warning, then vanish. When the coast is clear, the rest of the party catches up. They search for – and find – the secret door marked on the Sha-Thonian adventurers’ map.

Inside is a wide corridor tiled with red and gold marble in a checkerboard pattern. The map indicates that there are traps in this area, so the Legion proceeds slowly and methodically. They spend a turn at each 10′ square searching it for traps, then tapping it with their 10′ pole, then having the tougher party members take turns being the first to walk across the area. For a time, they find nothing, and slowly proceed along the north half of the 20′ wide corridor. Then, Thjolstoff trips a pressure plate, and jumps out of the way just before he is struck by a scything pendulum blade that swings out of the ceiling. The party waits for it to stop swinging, and is irritated to discover that some strange mechanism retracts it back into the ceiling, resetting the trap. They mark the pressure plate with a burned out torch and proceed. They find and mark another trigger plate in the next square, and then trip another blade in the square after that. Fortunately, Spinello is too tough to be seriously wounded by the blade.

At this point, the Legion can see that the way forward is mostly blocked by a pair of huge stone blocks that dropped from the ceiling long ago. The southern block fell askew, however, and is stuck a couple of feet above the floor. The Legion consults their young siege engineer, Amab-Rah, who believes it is safe to crawl under the block; at least as much as anything about exploring a trapped tomb in a haunted pyramid can be considered safe.

The party sends their thief to search under the block for traps before they proceed. Thirleiro reports that he sees light in the crawlspace. The Legion has disturbed the fire beetles that nest in the chamber beyond, and, angered, they pour forth to attack.

The battle is long and bloody. The Legion is arrayed in the squares they have searched along the north wall, which leaves the beetles free to move through the un-searched squares on the south wall and flank the party. By doing so, the beetles also manage to re-trigger one of the blades, which swings back and forth through the fray for the rest of the battle. Three henchmen – Meldotia the nose-less warrior, Urbrec the templar, and Narua the drunken cultist – are brought down before the beetles are slain. Quick and effective healing ensures that they all survive, however, and with only relatively minor injures. None of them will require more than a night’s rest to recover.

The Legion recovers the beetles’ light glands and (after determining that, no, they will not stick to your forehead) they roll one of them under the crooked block. It reveals that the crawlspace is about 10′ long, and beyond it is and open area with a huge pile of rubble. They crawl, cautiously, under the precariously wedged block. The pile of rubble beyond turns out to be the remains of another pair of similar blocks, which Amab-Rah hypothesizes shattered on impact when they were dropped.

The party cautiously climbs over the rubble. Beyond are a third pair of stone blocks, these with cracks running though them that are just wide enough for a man to squeeze through. The Legion slowly makes their way through the maze of cracks, and arrives on the other side in front of a stone door. The Legion checks the door for traps, then opens it to reveal an elaborate tomb.

The walls of the tomb are decorated with mosaics depicting Sabban-Ka and Ulzain engaged in various aspects of courtly life. The floor is littered with all manner of things one might be expected to need in the afterlife – clothing, domestic goods, even a chariot – all of it smashed, torn and otherwise “killed” so that its spirit can follow the dead beyond the grave. In the center of the chamber are a pair of sarcophagi with the lids elaborately carved to depict the heroic rulers of ancient Cynidicea. Beyond the sarcophagi are five bronze chests and a an altar that appears to have once been dedicated to the three gods of Cynidicea, but which has since been damaged and desecrated.

The Legion carefully searches the sarcophagi for traps and find none. The sensitive Templar Kennerd proclaims that this is an evil place, cursed with a shadow of dark power. Milnos summons a band of dour berserker spirits of ancient Atlantis to open the chests for them while the party waits outside the doorway. There is nothing but bones inside the tombs. Milnos then has the berserkers open the chests. Two of them are filled with silver coins, two with gold coins, and one with sparkling gemstones of various colors.

Suspicious that they have not found the legendary Shield or Scepter of Sabban-Ka, the Legion leaves the chests alone for the time being and searches for a secret door on the north wall that is marked on the Sha-Thonian adventurers’ map. They find it and beyond, as depicted on the map, is an simple corridor that turns to the left. The party sends the berserkers to scout ahead in case of traps, and follows them to a plain stone door. The berserkers open the door, then Milnos’ spell ends and the berserkers vanish.

Beyond the door is an unadorned chamber containing only a single, plain, stone sarcophagus. Most of the Legion waits in the corridor outside while Thjolstoff, Amalaith and Spinello go to open sarcophagus. When they reach it, before they have an opportunity to lift the lid, a spectral apparition rises from the tomb and begins to wail. Its ghostly cries slowly drain the life from all who can hear it, including those in the hallway. The Legion’s arrows pass harmlessly through the wailing ghost, but Thjolstoff’s dragonbone sword is able to hack into it’s ghostly form. Alas, he is unable to destroy it. Then three Spearmaidens and three Templars call upon their gods to defend them from this abominable apparition, and the undead spirit flees though the wall.

Fearing that the ghost will return, the Legion quickly opens the sarcophagus. Inside is the withered corpse of Sabban-Ka, clad in crimson dragonbone lorica squamata with gold trim, and the golden phoenix crown depicted in the murals and mosaics that adorn the lower tiers of the Pyramid. He bears a round shield of crimson dragonbone embossed with a heraldic phoenix blazon in gold and circumscribed with golden letters – prayers to the gods of his city. It is the legendary Phoenix Shield of Sabban-Ka. He does not, however, bear the equally legendary scepter. Instead, he holds a bronze scroll case, which the party decides to investigate later. The Legion loots Sabban-Ka. They take a potion, several pieces of gold jewelry, and a pouch of platinum coins, in addition to what has already been mentioned.

Behind the Scenes: The pouch of coins was added to Sabban-Ka’s treasure by the Sha-Thonian adventurers’ treasure map.

The Legion returns the the false tomb and waits for the ghost to recover from being turned and counterattack. It does not. Deciding that they have accomplished enough for one expedition, they try to grab all the chests and leave. Unfortunately, the chests are too large to fit through the maze of cracks, and are too heavy for the party to carry all of their contents (100 stone in total). The Legion quickly transfers all the gems and half the gold to their various sacks, pouches, and backpacks, then squeezes back to the pile of rubble.

Once there, the Legion meets a squad of Telkaynie climbing the pile of rubble to get into the Tomb. The leader of these half-dozen, impressively-mustachioed, three-and-a-quarter-foot-tall, mail-clad kazevok crossbowmen introduces himself as Jozez Yazimakusht, and the rest of his band as his cousins Golej, Bozek, Kovez, Boleg, and Golep. He tells the PCs that they are from Chevatugi, where rumors have arrived via the sarmesk of the Labyrinth of Graal that the mad city of Cynidicea is in chaos, with their rulers having been slain in some sort of uprising. Jozez and his band though that was as good an invitation as any to try to loot the Pyramid all the stories talk about, and maybe find the legendary lost Tomb of Sabban-Ka. As luck would have it, they find the door spiked open, the trigger plates marked, and the guardian beetles slain for them.

The Legion tries to convince the Telkaynie that this isn’t the Tomb of Sabban-Ka, but just their hideout in the Pyramid. Jozez does not believe them. Milnos, conspiring with his fellows in Valgen, the surface tongue of the northern continent, suggests that he could quietly cast sleep on the Telkaynie and then make use of the dungeon in the Legion’s stronghold to hold them until they decide what to do with them. Silver-tongued Spinello has another plan, however, and convinces Jozez and his band to join the Legion.

The bard’s first orders for his new henchman are to have his troops carry the rest of the treasure back to the Temple. When he sees what the Legion has found, Jozez, who, like many of his clan, is an apprentice jeweler, asks why they are bothering to take all this fake treasure. He estimates it is only worth maybe 2gp per stone. Disgusted, the Legion leaves the counterfeit coins and glass jewels behind and returns to Cynidicea without incident.

Tuesday, 14th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Most of the Legion spends the day resting and recuperating. Meldotia, Urbrec, and Narua recover from their injuries, though Meldotia is now missing 2 fingers on her left hand in addition to her nose, and the other two will suffer from stiffness at the site of their wounds.

Milnos-Sim is able to find a master carpenter and his crew and a handful of unskilled laborers for hire and has Amab-Rah oversee them as they begin to build a light ballista.

Amalaith, having achieved 3rd level, returns to the Tower of Madarua with her henchmen and finds that the atmosphere is incredibly tense. At no time in living memory have the two highest-ranking Spearmaidens been of the same level; there has always been one whom Madarua obviously favored. It quickly becomes obvious that about half the Spearmaidens agree with Amalaith that the events during the storming of the Temple were a misunderstanding and that they should work with the Legion to overthrow Zargon. This group consists of Amalaith, who is a Veteran Spearmaiden, her henchmen Selexah and Manatha-Sab, and another Spearmaiden named Porotha-Dal. The rest of the spearmaidens agree with High Spearmaiden Dalyaa-Nush that the Legion cannot be trusted, and must be driven from Cynidicea before they take over. The loyalists consist of Veteran Spearmaiden Belatha-Ou (Lv2, the only other Veteran Spearmaiden to survive the Temple) and her henchmen Soalia-Tnep (Lv1), Poreeti-Il (Lv1), and Arcbiniah-Lap (Lv1). Amlaith considers trying to recruit Porotha-Dal as a henchman, but realizes that the High Spearmaiden would then have no choice but to address the challenge to her leadership, which might end with the two factions splitting into tiny, rival cults. Amalaith bides her time.

Wednesday, 15th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

The Legion rests and recuperates.

Thursday, 16th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

The Legion rests and recuperates. Narua disappears in the night and has not yet been seen again. Did she decide to level up as a Witch instead of a Fighter and run off to rebuild the Cult of Zargon, or is she just drunk in a ditch somewhere? We may never know.

Friday, 17th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

The Legion rests and recuperates. Sablain-Xee and Dalili-Lu recover from their injuries. Thjolstoff’s workers finish hanging the iron door dividing the Halls of Pleasure from the rest of the Pyramid.

Saturday, 18th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Ablos-Nar recovers from his injuries.

Now that Dalili-Lu has recovered, the Legion has her attempt to identify the magic items they have found. Most of it turns out to be simple dragonbone arms and armor, but they have also found a ring of frost resistance. She cannot identify they powers of the Phoenix Shield, as it is a unique magic item, not a common one.

Minos opens the scroll case they found in Sabban-Ka’s tomb. Inside is a page of parchment inscribed with a block of Atlantean text, which the Tycoon translates for the group. It reads:

“I have done this. I – Manuk-Val, Elder Brother of Gorm – have desecrated the Tomb and stolen the Scepter of Sabban-Ka. May Gorm forgive this blasphemy. My intent is to journey to Koth, use the power of the Scepter to raise an army of savages there, then return to Cynidicea and set my army on the Baleful Eye, destroying him forever and freeing my people. Should I fail, I pray that whomsoever reads this, my confession, shall take up my quest and destroy Zargon-Who-Returns. May the great god Gorm see that this is done.”

As he reads this, Milnos is overcome with a righteous compulsion to descend deep into the Galleries below the Pyramid and find and slay Zargon. He composes himself, however, and is determined to approach this quest that Gorm has placed him under in a sensible and deliberate manner. We shall see how long the god of war, storms, and justice will be patient with him. Their Cynidicean henchmen inform the Legion that Manuk-Val is the Imperator of Sha-Thon. The Legion pauses a moment to digest this new information, then continues investigating their loot.

The Telkaynie, who have a nose for potions, rummage through the Legion’s inventory and identify the ones that the rest of the party has been unable to recognize. They also find a scroll written Giantish which the Legion has never been able to read. According to Jozez, it is written in the dialect of the Jungle Giants of Koth, but, being the clever sort, he is able to translate. It reads as follows:

“My Boy: I’m sure your mother has told you all manner of terrible things about me, most of which are true. And I’m sure she’s raised you for some miserable life as a servant, or tradesman, or whatever it is people like her do. But you are better than that. You are the son of the Ralibar-Am – rogue, bandit, pirate, dragon-slayer! No doubt you have already heard the call of adventure stirring your heart – especially if you’ve tracked down someone who can translate this letter for you. Well, here’s a gift to start you on the life of a gentleman of fortune! I’ve hidden some of my treasure – a chest true full of gold coins, and a pouch of pretty baubles for the ladies – in a cave in the foothills south of Kaz-Dalineth. It’s yours if you can find it. The cave looks like nothing more than a hole in the ground, no wider than I am tall. I’ve left my mark on the big black rock just east of the entrance. The hole ends in a stream in a tunnel some 60 feet down. Head upstream ’till you come to an underground lake. There’s an island in the lake, further out then your lantern will show from the shore. The chest is buried a good 6′ down in the center of that island. Good luck. And, if it turns out I’m wrong about you, and you want the quiet life…well, you can always sell this letter to someone with a little more fire in their belly. (Signed with a drawing of a red knife)”

Sunday, 19th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Most of the Legion rests and recuperates. Milnos-Sim awakens from a restless night plagued with dreams involving standing at the threshold of one of the entrances to the Galleries below the Pyramid – either the bronze door with the eye or the secret door outside the Halls of Pleasure – while a stern old man stands next to him, silently insisting that he must open the door and descend. When he submits and opens the door, he can hear Zargon’s roar echoing up from below. On waking, Milnos is aware that the dreams have prevented him from resting enough to recover the ability to cast spells, if he had needed to do so. He is also somehow sure that they will continue unless he attempts to slay Zargon.

Milnos goes to the Fortress of Gorm to consult with Hestmon-Zo and Brother Aubrey about his dreams. He tells them the following:

“Ever since we opened the tombs in the Pyramid, I have been receiving strange dreams. I am in a desert with no moon, and it is always dark. I am approached by a tall Atlantean man (here, he describes Sabban Ka to the best of his abilities). He wields a sword and shield, wears a crown, and a scepter floats above him. He is carried on a river of water that changes the desert to lush fields as he passes by. When he reaches me, he plucks the scepter from the air, and hands it to me, before whisking me away on the river. The river stops at a bronze door with an eye. When I look upon the Atleantean’s face, it is now my own. He ushers me to the door, where I see a stern looking old man. Somehow, I have a feeling he is Gorm. Gorm ushers me towards the door and I hear the cries of Zargon below.”

“I don’t fully understand the dream. I have a feeling that Gorm is urging me to go forth, fight Zargon, and free Cynidicea. But, I in order to do so, I must prepare, and these dream are making it difficult for me to concentrate.”

He asks if there is some way to communicate more directly with Gorm, so they can discuss exactly what is to be done. He also asks them if they have any advice as to how to deal with this, or if they might be able to assist him on his quest.

Hestmon-Zo doesn’t have any useful advice for him – he’s a soldier, not a priest. Aubrey informs him that communing directly with the Gods Above is beyond his abilities, or those of any other divine caster in Cynidicea. He also suggests that, if Milnos simply wants to inform Gorm that he has heard his call and intends to take up his quest to free Cynidicea, then he should probably just pray to him and tell him so.  Milnos gets the feeling that Aubrey, but not Hestmon-Zo, is getting a bit suspicious of him.

Milnos thanks Hestmon and Aubrey, and returns to the Legion’s stronghold. He sends Omor-Kar to recruit 3 apprentice mimes, if he can find them. He has Ulea-Bu change clothes and mask and sends her to the Tower of Madarua to try to get hired on as a maid under an assumed name. A couple of lucky die rolls later, and Milnos has a spy infiltrated into the Tower, a troupe of mimes, and a nearly complete ballista. Satisfied with how his plans are coming along, he prays to Gorm before he retires for the evening, explaining that he intends to set a trap to defeat Zargon when it returns to Cynidicea, using the engines his men are now building – unless, of course, Gorm demands otherwise, in which case he will venture into its lair and vanquish the Destroyer with all haste. He adds that, once Zargon is slain, he intends to find Manuk-Val, recover the Scepter, and determine how to rid Cynidicea of Zargon once and for all.

Monday, 20th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Milnos-Sim wakes refreshed, having had only one odd dream the night before. In it, he sees the stern old man watching over the construction of the ballista, Zargonians running rampant through Cynidicea, and a slimy cave full of glittering gold coins with Zargon’s roar echoing in the background.

After a month of bedrest, Simbra-Nar, the Atlantean Swordsmage, finally recovers from having a zombie rip out his tongue. Having nowhere else to go, he reluctantly remains in Spinello’s employ.

The month’s final wave of recruits arrives. Thjolstoff recruits another light infantryman for his garrison, but fails to recruit the charismatic slinger as a henchman. Milnos decides against hiring the unimpressive carouser who shows up.

PC1: Milnos-Sim – Lv 2 Atlantean Tycoon; 3762/5800 xp; Damaged Knee
PC1: Sablain-Xee – Lv 1 Fighter; 1276/2000 xp; Heart & Lung Damage
PC1: Amab-Rah – Lv 1 Fighter; 1190/2000 xp
PC1: Omor-Kar – Lv 1 Bard; 174/1400 xp
PC1: Abghai-Fam – Lv 1 Assassin; 174/1700 xp
PC1: Ulea-Bu – Lv 1 Thief; 74/1250 xp
PC2: Thjolstoff – Lv 2 Barbarian; 3948/5200 xp
PC2: Arther – LV 1 Templar; 323/1500 xp
PC2: Urbrec mag Esteger – LV 1 Templar; 323/1500 xp; Stiff Wounds
PC2: Kennerd of Rugstowe – LV 1 Templar; 323/1500 xp
PC3: Amalaith – Lv 3 Bladedancer; 3003/6000 xp
PC3: Selexah – Lv 1 Bladedancer; 323/1500xp
PC3: Manatha-Sab – Lv 1 Bladedancer; 174/1500xp
PC3: Thirleiro – Lv 1 Thief; 174/1250xp
PC4: Aisha Alendi – Lv 1 Atlantean Stormtrooper; 3589/3675 xp
PC4: Lunatha-Sim – Lv 1 Fighter; 1474/2000 xp; Gruesome Scars
PC4: Lig-Vig – 1HD Zargonian; 223/3000 xp; Severed Arm
PC5: Spinello di Lombabasso – Lv 3 Bard; 3925/5600; Minor Scar
PC5: Simbra-Nar – Lv 1 Atlantean Swordsmage; 111/3850 xp; Damaged Eye & Severed Tongue
PC5: Meldotia-Nar – Lv 1 Fighter; 1471/2000 xp; Gruesome Scars & Missing 2 Fingers on Left Hand
PC5: Dalili-Lu – Lv 1 Bard; 727/1400 xp; Heart & Lung Damage
PC5: Ablos-Nar – Lv 1 Fighter; 1016/2000; Damaged Eye & Lost 5 teeth
PC5: Jozez Yazimakusht – Lv 2 Telkaynie Kazevok; 2174/4000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Golej Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Bozek Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Kovez Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Boleg Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp
PC5:Jozez: Golep Yazimakusht – Lv 1 Telkaynie Kazevok; 174/2000 xp

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