Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Eight: Lamias and Genie Lords

When last we left the Desert Falcons they'd rescued the royal grubs of the thriae, and freed a number of slaves from a pack of gnoll traffickers. They'd slain a roc, and were on their way to stop the Cult of The Forgotten Pharaoh from uncovering a buried tomb that might possess some relic of ancient power.

Nail-biting, isn't it?

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

Caught up? Glorious!

The Dead Digging For The Dead

The Cult of The Forgotten Pharaoh brought a crew of diggers with them into the empty quarter, but they didn't bring enough food or water for them. That's all right, a little magic can keep them digging even after their hearts stop beating. With a pair of lamia overseeing the work crew, we arrive just as the cultists are opening the tomb. We don't know what lies inside, but we know they can't get their hands on it.

First, though, we need to deal with the overseers.
The horde of walking dead were brought there to be workhorses, not warriors. Two blasts from a simple fireball wand sent them to a well-deserved rest. The lamia, though, weren't taking the interruption of the digging lying down. While the first thought it would dispatch the party with haste, it quickly learned that it was poor strategy at best to close ranks with Ra'ana and Umaya. Before it could recover from the mistake, or its ally could come to its aid, it was bleeding its last onto the desert sands.

The second lamia, clearly the senior manager of the two, left an illusion behind her, and rushed into the darkness of the chamber below. While Mustafa and Moloch saw through the illusion with ease, it took time for them to convince the rest of the party to follow them past the howling dragon, and down into the depths in pursuit.

The lamia was waiting, and worse, it was waiting while invisible. And it had friends.

The cultists, who had yet to explore the final room, had only moments before the Desert Falcons swept down onto them. Holy words lit the room with burning light, and shrieking lightning left the remnants of the erstwhile necromancers blasted against the walls. Her allies slain, and the surprise lost, the lamia fled even further into the lost tomb. And once more, the Desert Falcons followed.

It was in the final room that we found deadly opposition, in the form of two golems. The arena split the party, and left Umaya and Ra'ana each desperately battling their own opponents. Mustafa blessed their blades, and lent strength to their sword arms, but it was nearly in vain as Ra'ana fell to the lamia's spear, and Umaya collapsed just after scattering her clockwork enemy to the far corners of the room. Even the archer who had come with them fell to the bloody fists of the mithril golem.

Before the lamia could deliver the deathblow, though, fire lit in Mustafa's eyes, and he hurled a ball of molten brass into her chest. The ball exploded, and the lamia fell to the floor, her lifeless eyes staring up at the roof. Moloch, one eye on the murderous construct, leaped down to heal Umaya, pouring the last of his wand's precious magic into her wounds. Once she was back on her feet, it only took a single swing of her falchion to dispatch the final foe. With a soft prayer to his goddess, Mustafa poured life back into Ra'ana, and she stood strong once more... though perhaps with a few more scars to add to her impressive collection.

A City in Ruins

In the depths of the ruin, the Desert Falcons find a second part of the Sky Pharaoh's immortality. Possessing the heart and the soul, they leave the blasted sands behind to return to Tephu...

But when they arrive at the oasis, they hear the city was attacked, and huge swaths of it destroyed.

Did another party of adventurers come through here while we were gone?
No one knows who it was, but they wore strange, golden masks. More importantly, though, they arrived in a flying pyramid that fired a great beam of light into the city's very heart. It wasn't until a mysterious merchant named Hakar came forward, and offered himself and his knowledge, that they left. Desperately afraid for their friend's life, the Desert Falcons needed to get Hakar back. Because either he is not what he seems, and had fallen into enemy hands, or he is a man totally out of his depth who made a foolish bargain.

Either way, they need to do right by him.

That's why they returned to the deeper library without permission, and made a deal with Matthew. They asked if he were released from the spell that bound him there, would he retrieve their friend? The daemon agreed, and Mustafa destroyed the sigils that bound Matthew in place. With a polite thank you, he winked out of existence, and teleported into the ether.

Several hours later, while the Falcons ate and rested, Matthew reappeared in their rooms. He reappeared alone, though. Sitting on a cushion, he accepted food and drink before he told them what had happened. Yes, he had found Hakar with relative ease. But when he tried to rescue him from the Cult of The Forgotten Pharaoh, Hakar refused to come with. The Falcons asked how a mere man could resist someone as strong as Matthew.

Matthew told us that when a genie lord tells you to go, that you go, and thank them for not burning you to ash as a farewell gift.

So, with Hakar's true nature revealed (and immortalized with our DM's permission in the collection 100 Merchants to Encounter from Azukail Games), the Desert Falcons have some hard decisions to make. What will they do? Well, stop by next time, and find out!

That's all for this installment of Table Talk. Hopefully you're enjoying the story, because we're coming up on the final installments. If you want to stay up-to-date on all my latest posts, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And, lastly, if you want to help support me and my work head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. This is all made possible by donations from folks like you, and $1 a month can make a big difference.

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