Friday, February 24, 2017

The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Five: Who is The Forgotten Pharaoh?

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, the Desert Falcons had stemmed the tide of the rising dead before it could consume the city of Wati. With the immediate threat dealt with, they found themselves in possession of an ancient pharaoh's death mask, and surrounded by the corpses of all the people who could have told them what it was and what it did. With no help to be had in town, and the massive column of black stone traded to the crystal dragon for safekeeping, we set off to find out what eldritch powers had been unleashed... before they come to find us.

If you missed the previous arc, here's a lit of the installments:

Part One: The Desert Falcons, and The Littlest Pharaoh
Part Two: Undead Children, and Resurrected Puppies
Part Three: Enemies on All Sides
Part Four: Fight Night at The Necropolis
Part Five: Who is The Forgotten Pharaoh?
Part Six: No Harm Ever Came From Reading A Book...
Part Seven: Needle in a Haystack
Part Eight: Lamias and Genie Lords
Part Nine: The Mind of The Forgotten Pharaoh
Part Ten: The End of The Forgotten Pharaoh

All caught up? Lovely! Because we're on our way to Tephu...

All Your Answers Can Be Found in The Library

The Desert Falcons left Wati at their backs, and went to the city of Tephu. While not the size and grandeur of the capital city, Tephu is a bustling center of culture, commerce, and intrigue. Most importantly, though, Tephu has an ancient library. A library which may have the answers to our current quest.

Death masks... death masks... what dynasty is it from, do you know?
Upon arrival in the city, the first thing we do is find a comfortable inn with a suite of rooms to let, and which provides hummus. Properly armed with snack food, tea, and curiosity, we enter the library to start our digging. The assistants help us in finding books, bringing volumes to a study nook. Moloch, mostly enveloped by a wing-back armchair, digs through tales of dark times, and the powers of necromancy which seem related in some way to the mask. Caladral dusts off historical treatises on the lines of kings, trying to connect what we know about the death mask to the ancient funeral rites. Meanwhile Mustafa is curled up on a floor cushion, his attention flitting from one volume to another. Books float in front of him with the snap of a finger, the pages turning as he browses through religious tomes, searching for the connection between the faiths of ancient Osirion and this forgotten king.

We don't find much. There's some oblique references to someone known as the Sky Pharaoh, and that he may have held power during the time of a forgotten kingdom when cities floated in the sky. Not much to show for two days worth of digging.

While the academics are flexing their minds, Umaya settles in to wait, occasionally reading from a rare volume of dwarven myths and fairy tales. The Littlest Pharaoh occasionally joins her, enjoying the exotic stories. Ra'ana, impatient with the reading and occasional hums of curiosity, explores the library. She finds, with no surprise, that the area open to the public is limited. To travel beyond a certain point, we would need to be granted specific access by a higher power. Either that, or face dire consequences for trespassing.

Getting That VIP Pass

Since we need to get into the rare books section, and we'd really rather not call down the wrath of whatever is guarding that section of the library, we decide to try and get access legitimately. Caladral puts out some feelers, and manages to call in a favor from the Order of The Blue Feather. As a result, we are given a meeting with Mumonofra, one of the Ruby Prince's personal advisers. She agrees to see us on her personal pleasure barge, and we all immediately step out of our comfort zones.

Our hostess, if she wore a little less makeup, and was a lot cuddlier.
Mumonofra makes it quite clear early on that she has no interest in our goals, or in providing us with aid; not unless she finds us entertaining. Given that we're a group of scholars, warriors, exorcists, and historians, being entertaining is really not our strong suit. So, though we do our best to capitalize on what little fame we have, and to share tales of the great crystal dragon who helped us defeat and army of the dead, that simply wasn't flying. After about half an hour or so, we are asked rather brusquely to depart.

Thoroughly disheartened, and with tensions riding high, we retreat to our rooms to try and find another patron to give us the access we need. Fortunately one of the city's crime lords, the infamous Viper, has heard of our plight. We're given a meeting, and told that arrangements could be made for us to plead our case with the head librarian. We do so, after paying a fee of gratitude and parting with treasures to cement our good relationship with our new friends in low places. The next day, early in the morning, we're shown in to meet the head librarian. She's harried, and already seems to have her mind on her next appointment. We plead our case, and point out that when we asked Mumonofra for help, we were summarily dismissed.

That got her attention. Because it seems that all we had to do was mention the self-indulgent noblewoman didn't want us to gain access to the deeper stacks. Spiting Mumonofra seemed to be enough of a reason for us to be given the keys. Of course, it didn't hurt that, once we knew we were in good company, that we expressed our honest opinions of the day on the barge.

What Happened Next?

As we were handed the talismans and passkeys that would allow us into the older sections of the library, we were warned. Those places were dangerous. Some of the books were haunted, and sections of the library were guarded by both curses and creatures. We should be wary, because while the keys would get us past some threats, it was by no means safe.

And, if we wanted to, the library would be quite grateful if we did away with some of the... less necessary defenses that had outlived their usefulness.

Want to know what strange dangers we found in the stacks? Tune in next time for part six!

That's all for this week's Table Talk installment. If you like it, share it with your friends! If you have your own stories you'd like to tell, don't be shy. I'm happy to feature other folks in this section from time to time. If you'd like to support Improved Initiative, then drop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page and donate $1 a month. It's a small amount, but it gets you some sweet swag and helps me pay my bills on time. Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter yet, well, why not start today?

1 comment:

  1. A shame that you áre not doing the full mumonofra experience. I AM currently running this very book and allí the quests you can do for her are GOLD.