The lower tunnel echo slightly as the soft footfalls of the party reverberate from the steps. Slowly light spills onto the carved stone tiles.
Holding up his torch Tak-sharu peers into the gloom, a soft red glow illuminates the chamber, runes daubed onto the floor in front of them.
The desert soldier moves into the room, halting just in front of the first such sigil.
“What have we here?” Asks Quinn, moving ahead as the rest of the team file into the long chamber, Clovis and Remy rest against the walls at the base of the stairs, catching their breath from the mad rush away from the ancient guardian above.
Jinx throws glances behind the party up the stairwell, even now unsure if the towering construct may still be behind them.
Step on the rune, it’s a great idea
“These appear to be similar to that one we encountered earlier within the…” The rest of Quinn’s words are overpowered by a small explosion. Several small blasts appear from the still air in a vertical column.
Tak staggers backwards, propelled by the force of the rune he jumped on.
“They are dangerous,” he sagely warns the party, playing with the freshly torn hem of his shirt where a livid bruise is beginning to form.
The others in the party barely acknowledge the advice save for Jinx who feels her hand twitch in the desire to smack the wiry Osirian.
“Perhaps they only respond to the living.” Iohs’ dry rasp wheezes from his bandages. Stepping forwards he lightly plants a foot on the next room. The force drives the undead being back several steps as well.
‘If only we had kept some pieces of Drell.’ More than one member of the party muses quietly.
“If only we had kept some pieces of Drell.” Tak-Sharu uncouthly voices.
Ignoring the hopefully concussed Tak and irritated Mummy, Remy move forwards, “Time to do ma job.” He gruffly intones, pulling out a small magnifying glass from his tools.
Kneeling just beyond one of the runes he begins an inspection of the strange magic, flinching slightly as a copper piece lands onto the rune before rolling further on the red glowing floor.
“This is magical jib jab,” he says, turning the floor back over to Quinn.
Working together Quinn and Remy begin unraveling the magical threads holding the rune together, ignoring the silver, and then gold coins that land near them as they work. With less than a dozen feet of work left Quinn hits the floor as a whooping Tak-Sharu bounds over her, using her kneeling back as a spring board.
His leap easily clears the remaining rows of runes, landing nearly fifteen feet away.
Following the wild warrior’s way, Quinn experimentally leaps to a patch of floor, mysteriously clear of the glowing runes, a quick skip further and she is through the magical field.
The rest of the party pick there way across carefully through the cleared path, Clovis watching the shadowy rear, his senses focused on any sign of pursuit, knowing that with no side paths, and the wide corridors that if they are cornered here there is but one way to go.
Carrying the shining and glowing Scythe from above Tak and the party are amazed as the silvery surface slips away, falling into the floor and slipping like quicksilver between the tiles revealing a worn and fragile weapon beneath the lustrous surface.
Remy, Jinx, and Quinn begin discussing the item as Tak steps back across the threshold to the room, magically the silver rises from the floor and closes back around the scythe, returning the weapon to its original luster.
This causes more discussion from the academically minded as Tak leaps backwards and forwards across the threshold, causing the quicksilver to float in air for study. The Osirian warrior continues this until he gets bored.
Tak and Remy take the lead, their torches casting short shadowy illumination in front of the pair as they proceed down the corridor, Jinx is close behind, with the rear being brought up a few paces back by Quinn, Iohs, and Clovis watching the rear.
“What’s that.” Tak urgently asks, thrusting his arm in front of Remy and pointing to an innocuous floor tile. “Is that a trap?”
While nothing is immediately apparent and there is nothing discernable from that one stone to any of the others, they have seen Remy dutifully examines it. While at first glance the floor appeared to be nothing more than carved rock, worn smooth by the tread of others; a second and third examination reveal it to be a chiseled stone, deteriorated and flat by the steps of passersby.
Remy gives a second look at Tak, trying to decide if the swarthy man is having a go at him or is having one of his frequent delusional bouts.
“That…is a stone.” Remy confirms, a statement to which Tak nods. Glancing further along the corridor, the headdress wearing foreigner notices a passage branching off to the right. “Lewks like we got a way ahead.”
Sprinting ahead with Khopesh drawn Tak leaps planting both feet wide across the corridor and growling, “Not today passage way.”
A small stirring of dust from his run is the only response.
As Remy steps up behind Tak to look down the passageway his clothes are ruffled as if a great drawing of breath is pulling them further along. Both men spin to face further down the main hall they were taking in time to see the wind whipping together to form two half visible manifestations of force.
“Oh,” exclaims Quinn, “How interesting, those appear to be enraged air elementals.”
“How da ya know they're enraged?” Remy asks, but the answer comes in the form of the two elementals rushing straight at them.
Tak plants his feet and the buffeting winds rush past him, rushing over Jinx, and finally stopping over Iohs, whose body is picked up and thrown against a wall. Dust rushes from the mostly dead being’s mouth in surprise.
Remy is less fortunate; his slender frame is plucked up and spirited away down the recently discovered passageway, past a burial chamber, where he is thrown down another corridor against a wall. He barely manages to hold onto his weapon and headdress as his bones groan from the pressure.
In the main hallway the rest of the party try for a swift victory, but the creature is as hard to strike as a leaf in the wind. Quinn blasts with her firearm, Tak slashes with his sword, Iohs strikes with his soul, and Quinn tries her hardest to kill it with her mind. Unfortunately, the weary party has been hard pressed since they first entered the pyramid through the blood rite and their strength wains.
Quinn’s shots go wide as the creature pulls the simulacrum parts of itself into its own vapid body avoiding her bullets.
Tak’s tired muscles can’t drive his blade fast enough to catch the elusive foe.
Ioh’s reserves are drained and his willpower barely damages the creature.
Jinx stumbles on her words and gestures, her spells fly with less energy than expected.
Clovis, convinced that he heard something behind the group keeps watching their rear, waiting for the enemy to appear.
Tak-Sharu screams in frustration, robes flying as he races down the corridor to aid Remy, his best friend, all alone against these creatures.
Luckily due to its magical nature the adventurer’s everburning torch stays lit and illuminates the fierce battle. Remy bleeds from several wounds, but the essence of the elemental is greatly diminished.
The Air Whisp’s ploy had backfired, unlike its companion, with the narrow hallway penning it in, and his back to a wall, many of Remy’s strikes have dissipated much of the fierce wind.
Screaming his rage Tak runs closer, distracting the elemental for a brief moment as Remy runs his weapon through it, it vanishes as silently as it appeared, the dust in the chamber stilling and floating back to the floor.
“Told Ya, didn I!” Remy says, leaning heavily on the wall. He begins to limp forwards, brushing past the insane desert warrior.
“Here my friend,” Tak says pushing a small vial into his hands. “take this!” There is a discomforting note of urgency and warmth in the desert man’s voice.
“What is it?” The injured man asks, glancing at the vial skeptically, with his luck Tak had just handed him a vial of scorpion venom.
“It is the healing potion that you gave me earlier, but I did not need as I am as tough as the very pyramids themselves.”
Remy glances down at the potion, then back at the Osirian, then back down one more time in disbelief. “That….is actually useful.” He says warmly before downing the liquid. Suddenly a burning clench in his throat and body, vision goes black and for just a moment it feels like his heart has stopped. What did Tak actually give him, he was sure it was a healing potion.
Then the pressure eases, his heart beats normally and colour returns to his sight, the empty vial drops from his fingers and the wounds covering his body close, slightly pink scars magically forming as strength returns.
“Got a, ahem, kick it does.” Remy jokes with a cough.
“I couldn’t let you come to harm, you’re my oldest friend and closest companion.” Tak returns, either having missed or ignoring the brief moment of pain that the other man experienced, causing Remy to wonder if it even had happened.
“We met a week ago,” Remy says.
“As I said, my oldest friend.” Tak smiles encouragingly.
“Riiiight.” The foreigner agrees, sometimes with Tak it’s better not to ask or argue.
The rest of their team meets them as they cross the burial chamber, relief evident on at least Jinx and Quinnn’s faces as they see the headdress wearing explorer.
Tak returns to the intersection and takes up station with Clovis, watching the passageway while the others search the room.
They find several treasures in the sarcophagi, Quinn examines the writing of one such and describes the history of this warrior, a great general. Pulling free a blade from the sarcophagi there is a magical Khopesh in a scabbard. While unable to pierce the spells upon it, she is able to decipher the ancient Osirian hieroglyphs, the magical blade has the characters for Thunder and Force engraved into the blade.
She calls up the passageway and Iohs takes Tak’s place on guard as he returns to the chamber.
“Here you are Tak,” She says nervously, “since you use a Khopesh, it makes sense to give you this.” She extends the bared steel blade to him.
“Ha!” Tak barks out, “A truly impressive blade for one such as I. Please take my own in return.” He says unsheathing his sword and extending it.
“Ohhh, no, I couldn’t,” Quinn extends both hands in defense.
“But please be aware, that one day a man will come to you in the dark night, he will call your last name, but without every third letter. He will call you from your sleep and tent and ask you a boon. You must grant this boon or else he shall take a third of your soul.” Tak warns, trying to force the blade into her unwilling hands.
“No, no, no, no,” the academic insists, “That’s quite alright, I don’t need it, here, you’ll want the sheath to,” she adds trying to distract the probably insane man.
But to her sorrow this only encourages the Osirian, “Ahh, of course, a scabbard,” Quinn’s face falls and Jinx slaps a hand across her face, “take this as well, but please be aware that one day a woman will come to you in the bright day, she will whisper your name, but without any vowels. She will summon you from the street and give you a task. You must complete this task or else she will give you a third of her soul.”
Quinn searches the clearly insane man’s face, stumbling in her speech for an opening.
“God Damnit, Tak-Sharu!” Jinx yells, the sounds reverberating down the passageway and out to the hallway, where Iohs and Clovis don’t even turn their heads, used by now to such outbursts when the two are together for more than a minute.
The Osirian shuts up, takes the blade strapping it to his waist before wrapping his own and putting it into his backpack, he also takes the large steel shield, strapping it to his back with the comment that it will now protect his back. A comment blatantly ignored by the two women.
Jinx marvels at the Cold Iron Longsword, taking it into her own possession.
With muttered agreements the group decides to retreat back to the defensible entrance, sneaking through the halls they make their way up to the antechamber and bed down for a rest.
Hours later the party wakens, sorting out their bedrolls and gear, and prepares to head back down.
“Hey Tak, what’s up with that Khopesh?” Jinx asks as they prepare.
The rest of the party tune out Tak’s long rambling answer, which takes several minutes for the Osirian to essentially say. ‘It was forged by someone who heard a thunderstorm.’
With Remy in the lead the party spends an hour picking their way back down the pyramid to the undercroft, most of their hearts beating almost as heavy as the thumps caused by the ancient guardian.
They pick their way down the dark hallway where it turns to the right again for a second time.
Venturing into a wide hallway, their eyes are drawn to the glowing red runes on the floor. This chamber is different however. Along the right side there are pitons and rope strung above waist height, and part of the walls and ceiling have collapsed along the left side, leaving mounds of debris over much of the corridor and runes.
Remy using his climbing skills begins picking his way over the traps. He lowers himself down as he spies the torn-up body of a gnoll resting on an inert rune. Examining the corpse, there are wounds all over the body, including the impossibly small wounds he himself recently bore.
Remy barely has time to curse as the wind picks up and two more air elemental form in the air.
This time however the fight is brief, the party is rested and prepared for this foe. Despite Tak being left surrounded by explosives the elementals are slain having caused few wounds.
Quinn’s mind is racing, she hypothesizes that given her knowledge of the rune’s structure it would be possible to change their very nature.
Her experiment ends in failure as the rune blows up in her face.
Sick of the delays Remy makes his way back and drags the protesting Quinn back over the runes. She goes limp and does not struggle for fear of him actually dropping her onto the terrifying explosives below.
Remy continues this process until only Tak and Clovis remain. Clovis leaps onto the rope and makes it several spaces before he misses a hand hold and falls, getting launched back into the air by the detonation. With Remy’s assistance he makes it the rest of the way.
Jinx tosses the stranded Tak a potion of jump. Unfortunately, even the magical boost is not enough to clear the space from his standing position, and he rolls to safety, slightly bruised by the force of the blast.
Dusting themselves off and making a few jokes the party ventures into the next chamber. They begin to spread out around the large room when a barking laughter freezes them in their tracks and a group of Gnolls step from the shadows.