Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Six: No Harm Ever Came From Reading A Book...

The Desert Falcons have been on the trail of the Cult of The Forgotten Pharaoh, trying to stay one step ahead of the assassin's knives. Tephu's great library was said to have the information they seek, but the stacks only led to more questions. They received permission from the head librarian to investigate the forbidden section... but will they find answers, or certain death?

For those of you just joining us, check out the previous installments here:

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 now it's time to descend into the lost library...

Down in The Depths

The Desert Falcons entered the locked section of the library, and found themselves atop a set of musty stone stairs. Stale air wafts across their skin, and as Mustafa casts light it reveals hundreds of names scratched into the wall. Some of which have been there for years, and others that have been there for centuries. Rust red stains mar the stones near the letters, and there's a fetid stink from below. An animal musk, and a shuffling. Out of the darkness hulks a massive creature, with burning, yellow eyes, and horns wet with the damp of the depths. His claws flexed, and heavy lips pulled back from sharp fangs. With every step he took, he elucidated the torment that awaited us at his hands.

The eagerness went out of the ceustodaemon's eyes when we held up the pass from the head librarian, though, and his shoulders slumped.

Aww, please? I haven't said it in such a long time...
The library's first line of defense sighed, and slumped back into his hammock. Mustafa approached, and asked him what rules they should know about, and what dangers lurked ahead of them. The ceustodaemon sighed, and told us there were invisible stalkers in the hallway. There was also an intruder who had managed to evade him, and that if we found her that we should bring her to him.

He already had a brick on the wall picked out for her name.

Mustafa thanked him for his help, and the creature looked surprised. He'd apparently been taken for granted so long that common courtesy just wasn't something he expected. And while he wasn't going to tell us his name, since that was the sort of mistake that got him bound to the library several hundred years ago, we gave him a new name.

Matthew. Matt for short.

Getting Stoned, and Eating Chicken

The first thing we see upon stepping into the entry hall past Matthew's jurisdiction is a small reading room. There's a cloaked individual searching through the volumes, and it pays us no mind. However, since we have the only hall pass to get down here, this is quite suspicious. Moloch, relying on his charm and boyish figure, tries to catch her eye.

He succeeds, but then fails the save against the medusa's stare, and is turned to stone.

Surprise is typically the first response to seeing what's under that hood.
The medusa was the thief we'd been warned about, but while she'd petrified Moloch, she was not a match for Ra'ana's blades, or Umaya's falchion. Backed into a corner, she makes us a deal. She will deliver a tome to the Viper (paying back the debt we owe the crime boss), if we spare her life. We decide this is worthwhile, and show her mercy. Mustafa even heals her wounds before he shrinks the surprised statue of Moloch down to pocket size, and puts him in a hip bag.

A new enemy turned into a temporary ally, we left the stacks, got some lunch, and restored our sorcerer back to his former fleshy state. And proper size.

Once we'd had a chance to rest, relax, pray, and finish scrubbing off the last traces of scaly stone, we headed back into the library. Mustafa brought a package of chocolates, and a small board game for Matthew, and we then proceeded into the main stacks. After avoiding the invisible stalkers, naturally. The central stair had a huge number of volumes, precarious stairs, and a design that seemed to have been made by a mad person. What we found was references to the Sky Pharaoh's time as ruler, the number of floating cities he commanded, and the name of his royal engineer. But that was about it.

There was deeper to go, however.

At the bottom of the curving stair there was a trap door, and at the bottom of the trap door there was a ladder. At the bottom of the ladder there was a half-complete golem, which was scattered in two rounds by curative magic. Then behind a secret door, opened with a handy knock spell, we find a clustered room of truly powerful books, scrolls, and tomes. One of them even has a void that led to another plane of existence, which belched out four inter-dimensional quadrupeds. Those beasts give us a merry fight, but in time they were forced back into the breach from which they came.

Which is when Caladral found the heavily locked door, which leads to what looks like the last vault. Unfortunately when he tries to disable the trap, he gets hit with a baleful polymorph spell, and is turned into a chicken. Then a chime of hunger rings out, and half the party fails their save. Mustafa and Ra'ana try to save their transfigured party member, while Moloch and Umaya are desperately trying to eat him. While the chicken wasn't eaten, Umaya did take its head off with the edge of her blade. Then the spell lost its grip, and they were left realizing what it was they'd just done.

A Lost Cause, and Empty Bookshelves

It was a heavy toll to get into the last room, and what the Desert Falcons found was not worth the efforts. Several destroyed clockwork guardians, and a shelf of tomes that had been stolen. Little enough to reward a bloodied, heartsick band with. But they also found several gilded masks they were familiar with, and a clue that led them to the empty desert.

Vast stretches of empty sand dunes, and somewhere among them a cult of madmen digging in the dust to resurrect forgotten gods. Grief would wait... for now, there was work to be done.

What will happen next? Tune in, and find out during my next Table Talk feature! If you'd like to help support me and my blog, then head to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. All it takes is $1 a month to get my undying gratitude, as well as some sweet swag! Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter yet, you should probably go do that.

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