Okay…focus, Kenari! Once I’m over the shock of seeing a little bit of home in this strange shadowsphere my mind springs into action and we all gather in the helm room after I grab Dassam and a few things out of my room.
“If this Egyptos settlement is like my homeland, there’s a few things everyone needs to know. Ra is the main god of our pantheon. He’s an ‘all-father’ type and represents the sun. If we happen to go into any tombs or temples, don’t take anything. The people here take a particular offense to that… as in they will kill you. Seriously, guys… that’s why I left home to be a rogue. They’ve probably never heard of guns here, and last of all…” I point to Ef Utan, “YOU have to be the representative leader of our group if we meet people.”
“Wait… why Ef Utan?” Vedis asks with a frown.
“Because religion is all-encompassing for them and according to their culture, humans are the creations of their gods… and every other race… well…_ isn’t_.” Dassam steps up and hands me my temple dancer outfit as I walk over to Ef Utan. “You’re the right race, Ef… but we’re going to have to fancy you up a bit.”
After some minor protestations from Ef Utan, he became much more compliant when he realized that a bunch of women were going to be all over him as they turned him into a noble from Mulhorand. Thank goodness Dassam’s sewing skills applied to clothes as well as sails, or this might have ended up with us all laughing on the floor. After an hour I finish the last touches of kohl around the eyes and step back to view our accomplishment.
“Fit for a pharoh’s throne,” I say with a grin. “If we get questioned by anyone, we are your slaves and I will talk to anyone while you look imposing and put-out that anyone would interfere with what you’re doing.”
“If they insist on talking to me alone, I’ll be sure to cast a ‘Message’ spell on you so you can whisper my lines to me,” Ef Utan says with a nod.
Once we all got our stories straight, we exited the tunnel into the large spherical chamber with three other large tunnels bisecting it. As we’re admiring the small city spread out in the flattened area in the middle of the chamber a bright light from the tunnel opposite catches my attention. It gradually grows brighter until a flaming ball of light rises out of the tunnel to soar above the chamber towards us, and I can just make out the outline of a chariot within the light.
“Gods above…” I whisper then turn to the others. “Okay… I think we need to move the ship so we can get out of the sun’s way…”
“The sun?” Lenata asks curiously as we head towards a lake near the large pyramid in the middle of the city.
“Th sun,” I say as I point to the travelling fireball. “I don’t know if Ra is actually here or if they made it somehow… but that’s his flaming chariot up there doing its part to provide for the city. I suggest that we head to his temple after we land… all things considered.”
Lenata brings the ship in for a smooth landing as usual, and the five of us disembark to explore the city. We check a few of the homes, but find no people. Everything has a coating of dust, which means there hasn’t been activity around here for a while. The temples seem to be along the main street of the city, so we head there after brushing the dust out of my fur.
I know I suggested Ra’s temple… but I just have to know if Bast came here after she left Mulhorand. At the very least… maybe there will be some writing that might give me a clue as to what happened? I eagerly burst into the temple, half expecting to find priestesses dancing and laughing in joy. My hopes are quickly dashed to join the rest of the dust, however… as everything is coated in the thick layers of time passed.
“Damn… I was hoping…” I whisper to myself as I kneel before the altar and blow dust out of one of the offering bowls. I reach into my pack and pull out the small container with what is left of my Halfling Leaf and place it in the bowl with a prayer to Bast that she may someday return to her people. “Goddess protect your children as they follow your tracks, and may your embrace be warm when we join you once again.”
It isn’t until I’m kneeling and meditating at the altar that I am able to pick up the faintest sound of breathing. I hurridly finish my prayers and follow the sound until I find the source… two humans sleeping on a pallete in a back room of the temple… and covered in dust. I call Lenata over and she looks them over with curiousity.
“Well they aren’t dead or paralyzed… it’s almost like they are just sleeping. This is no normal sleep, however, and beyond my ken to wake them.”
Vedis kneels down beside one of them and places her hands gently at their temples while she concentrates. After a moment she frowns. “I can’t pick up any surface thoughts, either… so this must be a magical deep sleep that they are in.”
“Hmmn… here’s hoping that Ra’s temple will provide more answers.”
After a bit we make our way inside the largest of the temples to find the walls and columns covered in hieroglyphs with a large statue at the altar and a winged scarab plaque behind it on the wall.
“At least these are somewhere to start,” I mutter to myself as I scan the images. “Perhaps one of these sections will tell of what happened here, or that red celestial body that we’re looking for.”
“Fascinating pictographic language,” Word says as he comes up behind me. “Would you mind if I study these with you?”
“By all means,” I say with a wave of my hand towards the walls. “Let me know if I can help.”
I lose track of time as I become absorbed in the history splayed across the walls. It isn’t till I almost trip over a cat flopped at my feet that I manage to break myself away from the wall. “I guess you’re the one we heard meowing?” I say with a smile as I bend down and pet the friendly cat.
“No you can’t keep it,” Ef Itan says as he comes up to me. “That being said, I managed to find some secret doors that are heavily trapped near the altar… and it looks like the bowl and that plaque are magical. Find anything in the text?”
“Nothing about the red celestial body… but I did find that this is a colony from Alhamut, and they came to this world in ships. While I’ve never been to Alhamut… it seems that this land may be have been the original source for Mulhorand as well. More things to ask that priestess if I ever meet her again…” I mutter to myself. “In the meantime, though… if that offering bowl is magical, then maybe we should leave an offering and see what happens.”
I do a mental checklist of all of the things I have stored in my pack, and realize I might have something that will work. I kneel down before the bowls at the altar and pull a Sunrod out of one of the side pockets, holding it out before me as I pray to the creator of the gods.
“Oh great father, source of light and life for your people… we make this offering of light to you that we may receive your guidance in our time of need.”
Once the prayer is finished the Sunrod activates in a flash of light… and then the light dims. As I gingerly pick it up, it feels really good in my hand… like a rush of positive energy has flowed through me. Turning to the others with it, I notice that it flashes brighter and then dims again. Hmmn… waving it again produces a similar effect, but only when I am pointing in a certain direction.
Suddenly I get it and can’t help but snicker at the humor of the gods. “It’s a Divining Rod!”
Vedis groans and Ef Utan slaps his forehead before chuckling to himself and leaving a bottle of Mead in another bowl. “Come on, let’s see where this thing leads us,” he says with a wave of his hand toward the exit.
Eventually we make our way down the main throughfare of the city until it opens up into a large cul-de-sac with the Great Pyramid at the other end. As I step into the cul-de-sac, however, the rod crumbles to dust in my hand. “I guess we’re at our destination,” I say as I brush the dust out of my fur. Looking around, I notice the temples to either side of us at the end of the street. “We’ve also got the temples of Sekmet and Nepthys. I wouldn’t recommend Sekmet, however…” I glance to the temple and then lean in to the others and whisper, “she’s a real bitch.”
“What about Nepthys?” Vedis asks. “I don’t know why… but she seems like I should know her.”
“Nepthys would be the closest we have to a Goddess of Dreams, Vedis, so maybe that’s why. She’s the sister of Isis who married Set and gave birth to Anubis, the guide of the dead and finder of hidden ways.”
“My money is on the Great Pyramid,” Ef Utan offers with a nod toward the structure. “Lets check it out, and then we can come back to the other temples if need be.”