CHAPTER 7: The Set Rahotep

This account covers some overlap over our own exploits, as two separate groups were journeying forth. At the point where Vazuvius departed from Althax, I myself was accompanying the latter, as there was need for several skilled warriors. A document found on a dead body in the catacombs had revealed that a huge treasure could be expected in an unbroken tomb in the Gorge of Osiris, Aegypt. Leaving the vampire island, we continued on a north-easterly heading, attempting to find this planet's likeness of Aegypt, formed by the vastly powerful magi who lived here. Finally arriving at Gibraltar, we had to pay a hefty tax for entrance to the Maere Librum. Althax and Nicholle departed to purchase a map, and experienced some difficulty in doing this the proper way. Not wishing to pay for the item in question, they engaged in lengthy subterfuge to extricate the item. This finally successful, we continued at good speed towards Lybbos, there to start a land journey to the Gorge of Osiris. However, along the way, the entire crew was struck down with plague. Delmada was first so afflicted. Later, it was to be determined that the infection must have come from a ghoul in the catacombs. Forced to return to Aerth, Pertakus of Isth did a great work, and proceeded to heal us all. All that is, except Delmada, who did not join us, not being of the right creed. He was left to his own devices, locked in a room in the castle. After a week, he emerged healed, but at the cost of considerable heka energy furnished by Althax. Having spent the equivalent 30 weeks at Aurora, I once again joined the group. We made our trek to Aegypt by land, the ship, not surprisingly, having disappeared. Our first destination was Memphis, where we made initial inquiries, posing as tourists. From there, we moved to the city of Farnoc. At Farnoc, we joined a caravan moving towards the Dakhia-Amun oasis, and left this at the small village of Aartuat, the closest place to the Gorge of Osiris. We set up our base at an inn here, and the next day started our quest by surveying the village.

A cleric of some repute, The Hapy Merha-Aptut dwells in the village of Aartuat, and so we went to visit him. On the way, we were ambushed by a large crocodile which burst from the waters. Defeating this, we observed the body disappear, and concluded that it must be some form of netherling. Merha-Aptut confirmed this for us, and furnished us with weapons and warnings of the dangers in the Gorge. A party, consisting of Nicholle, Althax, Vertigo and myself set out for the Gorge. Despite powerful magicks to cloak our approach, we were set upon by two dozen or so bandits. Their charge on horseback caused us some difficulty, but we defeated the scum. Worse indeed was the pair of heka-wielders behind, for one of them did me grievous damage, sending me a blast of cold chilling me to the core. Images of torture, foul beasts, and a feeling of being drained of life filled me, but I continued on, and all our enemies were slain. In this fight, Vertigo acquitted himself well, using his two scimitars to great effect. Our two magi, Nicholle and Althax, were indispensable, killing numbers of enemies with their great heka. As we needed rest, we returned to Aartuat. Among the items of the bandits, we had found two in particular radiating great magick. These were a Serpent Ankh and Bloodied Moon, and according to Merha-Aptut, they served some purpose connected with the Necropolis and the unlooted grave therein.

The next group journeying forth consisted of Nicholle, Delmada, Sir Sergio Leone (a knight recommended us by Lebron, and transported here by Althax), and myself. No enemies presented themselves along the way, and we arrived at the entrance to the Gorge of Osiris unscathed. The Gorge was guarded by two structures. A pylon with ominous looking archery slits, and secondly a temple dedicated to Osiris. Riding through the pylon, we were stopped by a man with a Jackal's head. Several other strange men and women with he heads of other animals surrounded him. He claimed he was Anubis, and that we would have to be judged before we could pass into the afterlife. Having no such plans, we stalled him, until suddenly his companions attacked us with no warning. The leading individual, large and powerfully built, with the head of a lion, let forth a great roar, which paralyzed poor Nicholle with fear. Sir Leone and I charged the miscreants, whilst Delmada withdrew for some unknown purpose, Lion-headed beast hotly in pursuit. After we had defeated the five beings within the pylon, Delmada returned, having killed the lion-headed one. The pylon contained little of value, except a couple of books which Nicholle found intriguing. The temple itself was the next structure. A row of sphinxes lined the path to the gates. Not wishing to offend any followers of Osiris within, we determined to approach openly and meet whoever might dwell here. As we passed boldly between the sphinxes, we were fortified in our optimism, a wave of good will sweeping over us. Nicholle did not seem to feel this, for what reason I cannot say. The great gates of the temple swung open on our approach, and the sweet smell of flowers greeted us. Venturing within, we saw several ecclestials regarding us. Approaching, we engaged in conversation. Sir Leone must have been aware of something we were not, for he became suddenly hostile, behaving in a most improper manner towards these unknown clericals. Then, the many statues along this inner path animated, and with one strike from its spear, one of the statues killed Sir Leone. The statues moved in, and soon we suffered the same fate, our actions seemingly having no effect. Thinking all was ended, we prepared for the afterlife, and woke uninjured in a simple stone cell. Elorn and Fedoai, compatriot to Sir Leone-an "Amazonian Wing-nymph," were outside. Telling us that we were in a cellar, they urged us to get free. Delmada and I summoned our strength and broke down the door. At that point, a guard was heard coming down the stairs. As he swung round the corner, Delmada held him fast, and I pummeled him soundly, perhaps too soundly, for he died. I have considered this situation, and the appropriateness of my actions, and have resolved that my attack was unreasoned, as to our knowledge the ecclestials might have found Sir Sergio's tone threatening, and we did not know what control they exercised over the statues. I have resolved to do penance, journeying to Rome and the Papal palace at my first opportunity.

Regardless, we continued, searching the cellars but finding nothing of use. We followed Elorn, who had some inkling as to where our gear might be. Entering the inner sanctum to find our weaponry we encountered the high-priest, Setem-Nefer. He seemed pleased to see us, and explained that the statues were a device to protect against hostile visitors. It seems that Leone's rather hostile approach had activated dweomers of defence, and our fate had been sealed at that point. The priest, returning our equipment, had great need of our services. A number of crocodilians of the type we had encountered in Aartuat village had infested the Osirium beneath the temple, and he had been unable to exorcise them. Ignoring the wrongly coloured clerical garb we had found on our way to the inner sanctum, (the High Priest explained that these had belonged to vanquished invaders) we agreed to help. Stepping into a hard reed boat within the inner sanctum, the High Priest accompanied us down to a flowing river, where the boat moved with the current. Some distance into this area, the High Priest suddenly disappeared, mocking laughter ringing in our ears as we were set upon by large hippopotomus-like demonlings. We defeated these with fury at the treachery, and continued towards a landing, but not without mishap. Hit by the creature's giant tail, Delmada was swept into the water, but managed to clamber back before the creature could drag him under. It is fortunate indeed that the involuntary swimmer was not Sir Leone or myself, as our armour would have dragged us to a watery grave. Reaching the landing, we ascended to flights of stairs to the Osirium itself. After this, we felt strangely refreshed and invigorated. The Osirium was a square house of stone, flanked by four sphinx- like statues, one before each door. These were upright, however, and when approached, spoke to us. The one woken first offered Leone power and mighty weapons if he would but put down those he had and step inside. For some reason, never clear to me, he agreed, and disappeared inside for some minutes. Emerging again, he wielded a great sword with pulsing runes of bluish hue and a shield of an unknown nature. Around his head he wore a headband in the shape of a lethal asp. He looked at us with a mixture of hatred and restraint born of an inner struggle. The asp headband seemed to be biting into him, for blood trickled down from his forehead. We knew then that he was lost to us. As we refused similar inticements from the other sphinxes, the first one attacked, suddenly appearing behind us. We fought this viciously, whilst Nicholle attempted magicks to neutralize the evil headband. However, in one last great act of defiance, showing that his act had been misguided rather than motivated by evil, Sir Sergio Leone wielded his sword, charging the sphinx with the intent of delivering his last blow. Then he was dead. As we defeated one sphinx, another animated, and appeared behind us. Nicholle was severely threatened by the last sphinx, but I was able to come to her rescue, then Delmada ran up behind it, and together we shredded it into shards with mighty blows. This done, we resolved to deal with the number of mosaics on the walls surrounding the Osirium. As we started on this, the body of Leone disappeared, and we destroyed his weapons, heavy evil laying over them. We knew then that he was truly doomed to be a servant of the netherrealms, a fate worse than death. Nicholle used her great knowledge of magick to gain control over the boat which had brought us here. Suddenly, four great crocodile-like monsters approached and attacked us. We fought them hard, and defeated the villains, to continue. On the first picture, we observed a great serpent, flanked by several animal-like monsters. Delmada touched one of the flanking monsters, and was immediately lost onto us. Knowing full well the futility of following him, all we could do was wait. To our great relief he soon reappeared, claiming that he had been to a place of foulness, and had only just managed to return before the portal was closed. As the remaining pictures were of a similar nature, our predicament was clear. We returned to the Osirium to deal with what was therein. Immediately after we opened one door, a large statue with the heads of the four monstrosities we had defeated spoke enticingly to us, telling us to lay down our arms and join him. Resisting this strongly, Delmada and I charged the statue, and with two mighty blows splintered it into shards. In the rubble of this we found "The Book of Eternity," radiating Great magick. This was the third of the great items. Further, we found an oriental, tied up and ready to be sacrificed. His name was Kirenaj, and he had been transported to the temple by mistake after being caught by a dweomercrafter. Initially, he was greatly confused, but quickly regained his senses, and joined us, having unfinished business with the inhabitants of the temple. So did we, and sought a way out. Delmada then noted that the murals herein had changed to depict scenes of Osiris and the benevolent underworld. Once picture remained unchanged, however, so we examined it more closely. The faces of the four monsters we had defeated before the Osirium were here imprinted in a circle. Most likely, we would have to push them in the right sequence to pass. Using deductive reasoning and a leap of inspiration which I did not quite comprehend, Nicholle determined the proper sequence, starting at the top and then moving clockwise. I pressed the murals, and a door glid open, presenting us with a dark passage. At the end of this winding and twisting passage, we observed a green light. Nicholle once again showed the value of her wits, deducing that the green, the colour of Osiris, came from the statue of Osiris which had previously been in the Osirium. It was necessarily within the inland lake we found here. Delmada volunteered to search, but found nothing. Requiring someone yet untried, rested and energetic, and preferably able to hold their breath long, I selected Elorn and helped him in. Sputtering at the indignity, he nevertheless searched the entire lake before finding the statue. The rock statue of Osiris deep in the lake was massive, and though Nicholle attempted to have a powerful elemental move it, it was to no avail. Other means were needed. Nicholle, with the assistance of Delmada's Osiris statuette, here performed a work of some cunning. Studying a model of the entire temple here on a ledge, a miniature replica perhaps for the benefit of ecclestials, showing them their place in the scheme of things, she found the solution. Using the first law of sympathetic magick (the details of which are quite beyond me), she moved the statuette from the replica lake to the replica Osirium, and let magick take its course. A great rumbling was heard, as the statue started to move, and then this became a flash as the statue was suddenly transported to its rightful place. We felt greatly pleased at having done this good, and took the flight of steps leading out, with the intent of ridding the temple of the rest of its evil occupiers.

We emerged in the gardens, and were quickly discovered by guards. Resolving that we would make a stand, and die or conquer, we prepared for a great battle, and were served that and more. Great numbers of enemies from all parts of the temple emerged, and only our great fury and lightning strikes kept them from overwhelming us. Many dangerous priests capable of lethal magick were overwhelmed before they could strike. Such magick as did strike us was turned aside by the great defensive heka of Nicholle, as she drained herself totally to protect us. Indeed, the battle was such that Nicholle herself had to resort to her sword to keep foes at bay long enough for assistance to arrive. We forced the enemy to retreat to their inner sanctum, and here they tried a desperate tactic. Summoning fully a dozen great demons with the upper bodies of boars, and wielding great knives, they hoped to finish us off. We stood fast, however, and eleven of the demons died on my sword. The last one was killed by one of Delmada's magicked arrows. Our saving grace was the time needed to summon a demon, as we were able to slay each one before it was joined by others. Delmada rained death on our enemies whenever possible, and finally they tried one last tactic. The remaining priests and guards charged us. Back to back Delmada and I made a stand, and helped by terrible speed granted us by Nicholle, we slew every one of them. Charging into the inner sanctum, we saw a further priest and defeated him. Breaking through the wall to enter the shrine to Osiris, we found a great golem-statue of Sebk, which animated and attacked us. With mighty blows I defeated this, even as Delmada slew a giant crocodile summoned by the monstrosity. Collapsing with exhaustion, we noted that the high priest had been the only one to escape us, then great tiredness overcame me and I slept for hours. Though uninjured due to the protective dweomers, the battle was of such ferocity that my hands bled with the exertion. Indeed, I have an inkling that such a battle will be in store for us when we face Morvissen before the lands of Erathorn.

The next day, much rested and revived, we proceeded to search the grounds for such items as the evil inhabitants had stowed away. These we gathered to help us in our further tasks. However, during the search, Nicholle, picking up a statue of a black serpent was suddenly faced with that form itself. Fleeing from the foe, they called my help, and together we defeated the gruesome netherbeing, but not without injury. The very sight of the thing was draining, and its icy gaze further chilled our very beings. It was a clear reminder to us that nowhere in the Necropolis is friendly, and that we must be on our guard continually. That morning we gathered our gains, and proceeded back to Aartuat village, there to take stock of the situation and regroup. For my part, I received a message from Wolf indicating unrest on the part of my legionnaires. My time in Aartuat was clearly up, and I prepared to depart, wishing the remaining members of the expedition good luck, and bringing all non- essential items with me back to Erathorn. As Lebron and I rode out of Aartuat, I was glad indeed to be out of this place, but had also to consider the danger of those remaining. I returned to Wolf's dwellings and there completed the training of the legionnaires. During our dealings in the temple, Althax had been busy, using powerful magicks to attempt to find information regarding our foe, Rahotep.

On our Journey in time and space

By Corwin, Commandant of House Leader Bodyguard

I awoke that morning, eager for the day ahead. A vague foreboding troubled me, however, and soon thereafter, the Viceroy Althax Erathorn appeared, with news of a journey he was about to undertake. I joined, always with the protection of Viceroy Althax in mind. First, a journey to the sphere of Aurora was undertaken. Then the journey went to that place's Aegypt, Memphis to be accurate. Then a journey in time, to about a month before took place. Althax spent some days in the library of that city, researching the matter of the Set Rahotep. Our remaining in this time was assisted by the Gem responsible for the portal to Aerth. Althax completed his search, and also found a potential apprentice, one Sebtef of Memphis. Agreement was reached on a pickup date for this individual. We then travelled back in time for over 1000 Ans, to when Rahotep was still Vizer of lower Aegypt. We set ourselves up in an inn, and investigated the temple of Set. Rumours were spread to the effect that Althax was a powerful visiting dignitary. Soon enough, invitations reached us both from the temple and the last vizer, who was maneuvering to get his position back. We went to the temple to attempt to get a look at Rahotep. Intrigue aplenty was taking place here, but most of it was irrelevant to our mission. Depraved entertainments identified this as a temple of evil. Rahotep did not appear, the most important person there being one Utat-Nebbu, probably Rahotep's right hand man. This matter being a dead end, we moved further back in time, to try to find and capture one of the great objects which have been appearing in the Necropolis. Finding information regarding the transportation of a valuable cargo to the temple, we joined a caravan to intercept. On the way we were attacked by bandits supported by a very able heka-wielder. We beat them off, primarily through the use of magick, and continued. Taking leave of our caravan at the appropriate place, we snuk into the caravan with the goods and camouflaged ourselves. At a time when the caravan was still, Althax distracted the guards, moved into the main wagon, and evading magickal protections, retrieved a heavy box. We then departed this time and place, just as Althax felt the magick within him grow weak. Returning to Oxford, Althax was strengthened, and proceeded to return to pick up Sebtef. He then rested and returned to the Necropolis, there to join up with the rest of the group once again.

Now refreshed, the remaining few prepared to venture further into the Necropolis. For the details of what happened therein, I will once again rely on Elorn for an unbiased account.

The Journey in the Necropolis and ensuing troubles

By Elorn, Fire Imp compatriot to Althax, and Connoissaire Extraordinaire

'Twas a sad day indeed when the good Vivernicol departed us, leaving on a set of the horses we gave him, with our loot in his saddlebags. Those left were me, Althax, Vertigo, Kirenaj, Delmada and the little bint. As we were sitting around, having a decent meal, we suddenly noticed a massive ripple in the magic juice. It came from Delmada's room. We grooved over, and Delmada opened. He claimed that nothing had happened, but we knew of course that this was codswallop. As we slid around his room, we noticed that whenever he got close to one of the candles, the flame turned blue. This was a bad sign. Around then, a couple of guards came up and started asking questions about a whole family that had disappeared. Then the guards strangely started insulting each other and went out to fight. The fight wasn't bad to watch, but there wasn't much blood. Nicholle told us that earlier in the day, Delmada had wanted a big magic circle to keep stuff in. We were pretty suspicious.

The time had come to go back and check out the Necropolis. We moved in, and camped out in the Pylon before the place. This was another stupid idea by Althax, 'cause before long we got attacked by those stupid boar-demon guys. We started chopping 'em, and moved towards the temple were they were popping up. As some buffoon (probably Kirenaj) opened the main gates, he found that he was holding the statue of a blue demon. Naturally, the demon-guy soon appeared, and we had to melee him. Several of the others freaked out, 'cause the guy was pretty ugly, but that's really their problem, isn't it-just no willpower. Anyway, the big dude got killed and then we moved on. In front of the inner sanctum was another door. Another boar-demon popped up, so we killed him, chopping him up into tiny pieces. Nicholle now cunningly dispelled the illusion on the door, and we saw another statue of a brown bad-guy. We avoided this, and charged into the inner sanctum. Here was a bad guy, another bad guy in a circle of flames, and a boar-demon (or boring demon). We had a major battle with these guys. The first bad guy snuffed it quite quickly, the boar-demon got chopped, and then the last bad guy disappeared. Delmada got seriously mushed, and passed out. Althax decided to go to Oxford to find the last bad guy, and popped off. Then the bad guy came back, seriously psyched, half-transformed into a lion. Kirenaj and the guy had a battle with Nicholle pouring on the magick, and at last the high priest bought it. We gathered the loot, and went back to Aartuat. Althax came back, had discovered nothing, and had a really tough trip. He'd missed the target, ended up on the netherrealms with a big serpent-thing. There he'd tried to mush it, but it hadn't worked, so he'd just escaped. Kirenaj, who's a moonlight guy, tried to heal Delmada, but he got some seriously bad vibes from the dude, so he quit. Back in Aartuat, we lobbed Delmada to Merha-Aptut, who got the same vibes. Delmada was kinda conscious. Based on all the evidence, we thought he might be a bad guy, so we dragged him in and confronted him with the position. He said he had a pact, with his god-dude, and there was nothing evil about it. This was badger-spit, however, so we concluded that Delmada had gone bad. Althax pretended he was going to read Delmada's vibes, but put him to sleep. Then he opened a portal, and lobbed Delmada through it, almost dead and without any stuff. It's the last we've seen of him. He had some good loot. The rest of us, told that Osiris guys had noticed their temple beeing free, decided to hurry up. The Osiris guys might be happy about us saving the temple, but they wouldn't like us looting, so we decided we'd better do it before they came.

Back at the temple, we moved further into the Necropolis, and systematically checked out everything. Here are some of the juicier parts. First, we went into the funerary chapel of the Duat, to see what was on. Pretty soon, this shady spectral shape popped up, and started demanding that we return his statue to him. We spent a lot of time chatting to this thing. In particular, Kirenaj gave it trouble, and so it attacked him. Pretty soon, he got whacked, felt bad, and looked a lot older. As we were checking this out, this huge guy came walking up to the chapel. He was obviously some kind of uncooth savage, with a big sword, ugly metal armour, and a big helmet with a baby-dragon's head in front of it. We asked him what was the give, and he said he was Morgon of the Khergans. Fair 'nuff I thought, and grooved while Althax and the boys chatted with Morgon. It turned out he had a map of the area, so he tagged along. First, we found the statue in question, a poorly concealed door leading to a room where we dug it out. We restored it, and the spectral guy, who claimed he was a Pharaoh (likely) buzzed off.

Next we checked out the Shrine of Bast. This was kinda boring, since the cats there were embalmed, and not very tasty. Through one of the typical secret passages, we came into a cave where some priestesses of Bast hung out. They wanted us to leave, and since we didn't want to hurt them, we did. We flew around the Gorge for some time, checking out tombs to look for THE BIG ONE. When we were walking (bad idea, and as usual not mine) through a gulley, this crazy guy suddenly appeared and dropped a boulder on us. We skipped clear. Later Morgon killed him. We found a sealed tomb, and went through. Well into the tomb, we broke another slab, and then the roof started caving in. Pretty quickly, we moved into the tomb and found it full of poison. Althax did his stuff, and everybody got out. Inside were a lot of big valuable-looking statues. Althax skipped these off to Erathorn, then we checked out the rest. In another tomb we found a model of a chariot, then we ran into some people. They were obviously here as vile grave-robbers, ready to loot the bodies of the dead for profit. Since we were here for the same stuff, we had a chat. We told them of a tomb somewhere, and they showed us a hidden one which they couldn't open. After they had buzzed off, we opened the grave. A dodgy chill came from the tomb, so I figured someone was a little upset. After a lot of useless discussion, we left empty handed. The mage-babe wasn't happy and thought we should move the slab back again, but we didn't. Althax went and told the robbers they could have what was left in the tomb. This probably got them killed.

We went to the Shrine of Bes, and waited for the sun to hit the statue square in the face. Then we got moved to some place where Bes was having a party. This was most cool, and the humans managed to get themselves humiliated several times each. Food was delicious. Eventually, we had to leave, before I had finished my meal. The Chapel of the sun was next, but nothing much happened here. At this point, whatshisname appeared with Vertigo, who had remained behind in the village. Next was the Shrine of Buto, a cobra- headed goddess. We checked it out, and found a standard secret passage to a tomb. Another of the stupid spectral thingibobs appeared, and wanted an offering. After some parlay, we left a BUC each. Going out, a trap door opened into a snake pit. Morgon willingly jumped into it, but was stopped by Vertigo. Getting past, we grooved onwards, checking out some more boring tombs. At one point Althax stupidly blasted some bees coming along, and made an entire tomb collapse upon them, destroying all their lovely honey. This was most stupidly stupidly stupid. Well, we slid further into it. Finally, we found a ravine moving further in, fitting the description Althax in his extraordinary wisdom was relying upon. Everybody scrambled onto a ledge high up, and a big gate suddenly appeared. This was pretty hard, so we pushed some pictures on it to make it open. Oh, and while we did this, a strange misty shape appeared and gave us a lot of garbage about being scared of him. When we went in, some more stuff came up telling us we were doomed doomed doomed and stuff. Inside was a painting of the big bad guy, four slabs, and two portal things with bad guys. We broke the red slab, and found a big maze. The end chamber brought us back to the start, and the entire thing was a complete waste of my precious time. Behind the green slab was face and hands. Morgon was idiotic enough to put his hand in it, and got injured. On one of the portals, with some bad vampires, ghouls and other foul-tasting things, Morgon was fooling around, and managed to bring us a ghoul. He killed it. Behind the gray slab was a passage. We went in, against my advice, and a big block of rock fell down behind us. Then spikes came out of the roof and the roof started coming down. Nice work Althax! Nicholle managed to conjure up some big rocks, and blocked the roof before we got pancaked. We dug out, and smashed the black slab. The Rahotep guy had more to say, and gave us another speech about being Doomed. Behind was a room with a well. Morgon went in, checked it out, and found some shiny pieces of junk at the bottom. Althax, however, in his great wisdom, was convinced that there was a trap in here. In fact, so was absolutely everybody, and we all thought it had something to do with the roof. So Althax decided to send me down into the well to trigger it. I went in, started grabbing the loot, and then the roof kinda caved in. Well, maybe not so much caved as got eaten through by a big pool of acid. The humans were panicking above, and managed to get out bumblingly, while I trudged out, grateful to Althax for this wonderful experience. Next up was another brilliant plot, Nicholle this time deciding that it was time to get someone killed. The demonling portal was the target. Nicholle or Morgon, or some other human, doesn't matter 'cause everybody followed, held onto the portal, and disappeared. Everybody did the same, and soon we were all somewhere on the netherrealms, surrounded by a bunch of netherlings, demons, fiends, and other seriously bad dudes. The humans had the usual problem keeping their cool, but Althax managed to open a portal out of here, and we just managed to escape the hungry horde. Another great piece of planning brought to you by Althax. Having set off every conceivable trap in the place, we went to the picture of Rahotep. Before smashing it, Althax finally did something useful, and made sure he was protected against poisons. Well done, as a lot of poison gas came pouring out when the picture was smashed. A dark wall was behind, and we smashed this too. Behind was a big room full of sarcophagi. In each was a mummy, which was very heavy and hard. Althax thought they were golems, and all were dumped with the acid. At the other end were some big doors. We broke through, and some big vulture- thing flapped off, saying it was the Khu of Rahotep and we were doomed etc. Behind was a burial chamber. In short order, we demolished the entrance, and found a sarcophagus. Pushing off the lid, we got a bit of battle. A speedy mummy jumped up and Morgon killed it. Then, the mummies found earlier came running, and we spent some time playing before we killed them. We searched the place, found a bit of loot, and decided enough was enough for one day. We had kicked some, and buzzed off to Erathorn, for a big meal. Morgon decided to come with us. Dinner was a demanding affair, as I had to order something very special from the cook. First of all, I needed a large dog, preferably fat....... (In the interests of the reader, I've decided to cut Elorn short at this point.)

After these events, time was spent dealing with the business of Clan Erathorn. A pressing matter was the recruiting of a good weaponsmith and heka-forger. The most reputed Guild in Europe is the Francian, so we visited it. Althax, offering generous terms indeed, was able to convince one Pieter Arxaime to join. However, as the Guild is controlled by the Francian king, we first needed the permission of King Francois I. A carefully written petition was sent, and an audience was granted. During this, we were informed that Albion and Francia had agreed to stay out of the matters regarding Brettony, Ys and Neustria. Further, an invitation was given to our King Roland to visit Francia after the cessation of the current hostilities. The King was most helpful, and supplied documents granting Master Alxaime release from his Guild operation. Speaking with the guildmaster, we agreed upon the terms of the release, and then Master Alxaime and his family moved to Clan Erathorn. He was given a generous sum to equip the forge, and set about preparing his new workplace with energy.

Problems plagued the clan again when several of those who had ventured into the Necropolis suddenly became ill, suffering great pains and troubled by weakness. Pertakus showed once again his mettle, healing those of Sunlight and Moonlight. Morgon, not being either, would have to be healed in another way. The following is a letter from the tutor of Althax to one of his peers, which should suffice to show the amount of effort required to accomplish this. At the behest of Lebron, Master Toglia agreed to let us reproduce it here.

A letter from Master Toglia to Mistress Nathanielle

Dear Colleague, Londun, 29/6-994

He's done it again! My star pupil, graduated with top honours has made another enemy! This time, he had managed to get one of his dubious "friends" infected with some lethal disease. Naturally, this "friend" is not of either Light, and so cannot be healed by the proper ecclestials. Furthermore, his standing is not sufficient to warrant greater magicks, and so Althax badgered me for the location of a great herbalist. The closest of the necessary power is probably Methral of Sherwood, so I directed my too energetic pupil there. He spent some time having the dying man searching the forest before actually using his magicks. Eventually, he bumbled onto Methral. As he later reported, the two first asked for help, and when Methral refused, for reasons of his own, they forced him through a portal. Seizing him, they attempted to threaten him into creating the appropriate potion. He refused, and extricated himself from the situation. Althax, seeing the failure of the effort, burned away to Nepal, where he had some clerical with skill in herbalism carry out the healing. He then went back about his usual business, with not so much as an apology to Methral. Methral being a man of a volatile temper, it can only be hoped that their paths do not cross again.

Regarding my magickal research.....

Here Master Toglia launched into a lengthy description of things magickal, which have no relevance to the current exposition. Having successfully healed Morgon, the next step was to deal with the Brettonian situation. A meeting was held with the King, and Council of Magi, with the purpose of forming a strategy. Preliminary agreement was reached, the participants retiring to work out the details. Before we could do much more, however, Gothgar, our mining master, appeared, somewhat distraught. He had apparently found a maze beneath the obsidian mine, and was eager to investigate. For the details, I refer to this by Gothgar himself.

On my discovery of the underground maze

By Gothgar, Mining master to Clan Erathorn

The excavations were proceeding at an average pace, the humans doing the bulk of the labour using their below-par skills as best they could. I was investigating a new vein of obsidian when my senses told me there were hollow areas beyond. Spending that day excavating the rock, I broke through into a substantial open area. A dank and decaying smell met me, indicating that this might be a connection to the underground realms. If this was so, we might encounter all manner of hostile beasts, so I contacted the clan authorities. On the scene quickly was Vivernicol, the human bladesmaster, and Morgon, a barbarian. Getting a torch for the humans, we lowered ourselves down, and found a room bisected by a turbulent underground river, most likely linked to our own river above. A 10' wide bridge crossed the river. Quickly, we were attacked by 10 heavily armoured zombies. There was only space for two fighting them, so the two human warriors moved up. Aided by magick, they slew the zombies, the armour of the undead foe making them especially tough. Fetching Althax, we continued further in, I staying back as a rearguard. A further dozen or so skeletons appeared, and with tremendous speed the humans destroyed them. Continuing in, it was clear that the complex was large. I sensed many cavities, and an irregular flow of water, indicating many small streams. The humans continued to find and kill an ogre and some large centipede creations, as well as a gigantic slug-being swimming in the water. Into the complex they found the pouch of a messenger, containing a letter from which we concluded that this complex had been used by House Morvissen to stage a surprise attack on Clan Eagle. Withdrawing to consider our options, it was decided that a full-scale operation with the purpose of clearing and sealing off the complex would have to be sent. Whilst waiting for this, a watch of 10 men was posted by the entrance to the labyrinth. Excavation otherwise continued in a different direction.

Due to the time differential with Aurora, many events take place simultaneously, or are somewhat jumbled with regards to those on Aerth. The following are several accounts by Vazuvius, again supplied through agreement with Lebron. They tell of several expeditions by him with others to places distant, and the events therein. Some of the following material may be a little metaphysical, so beware.

The Attempt by Morgon to recruit warriors

By Vazuvius, researcher in Alchemy

My continuing research was interrupted by one Morgon of Erathorn. His purpose was to train troops for Erathorn in the minimum amount of time. This he proposed to do by utilizing probability travel and a distortion of time. The information regarding this was supplied by Wolf, who performed the necessary calculations. He was able to recover the Cube he had used to journey to Aurora in the first place, henceforth designated as Cube 1. Furnishing Morgon with the calculations necessary for his return, he prepared the Cube. My own studies in probability travel were far from complete at this point, but I was intrigued to see the system in operation, so I agreed to join. My servant Kenji followed. The cube was activated, and the characteristic multicoloured door appeared. Those stepping through were Morgon, 34 of his trainee soldiers, Kenji and myself.

PART I: The Saurian Empire

Immediately after arriving, we knew something had gone wrong. Even so, there is no chance of stepping back through a probability gate, as it is a one-way affair. The planet we were on was dark with clouds and ashes. Great mountain ranges jutted up on all sides, and volcanic eruptions shook the earth. A small quantity of air allowed breathing, but reduced mobility. We moved through the landscape trying to find signs of life, or the cube to escape this unhelpful place. The metaphysics of this contingency were inappropriate, however, so my interest in the universe here was limited. The absence of magick is so total that the project would not be sustainable.

During our search, 12 of the soldiers were killed by falling rocks or sudden fissures opening beneath their feet. Kenji and I were very close to one of these but avoided it. Finally, we found something of interest. It was a round building, shaped like half of a ball, and with a strange metal item swirling around on top. Finding a secret entrance into this activated by a coloured section of the wall, we stepped inside. A number of incomprehensible boxes and glass windows greeted us. We could not make anything out of these. Soon, however, a figure appeared and regarded us. Morgon attacked this, but his blade passed clean through it, as if it was some kind of wraith. We concluded that it was a form of illusion. The illusion was under the control of its creator, and spoke to us, garbled at first, but soon gaining control of our language. In fact, it was able to converse with both Morgon and I in our respective languages. It informed us that we had entered the territory of the Saurian Empire, and not satisfied with our place of origin and names, it told us to wait for a patrol to arrive. Food and drink was supplied, the taste somewhat bland. A week later, the patrol arrived. It consisted of six large reptilian warriors, carrying strange metal devices, and more familiar swords on their backs. These appeared from nowhere, and after telling us to follow, disappeared again. We suddenly appeared inside a metal construction, and were introduced to the crew. The construction was apparently a vessel, capable of travel between planets and stars. The mechanics of this without the use of heka are beyond me, but they will not always be. The ship would take us to a planet, where further consideration would be made of our case. Whilst aboard, we studied the surroundings with varying degrees of comprehension. Morgon found the Saurian's weaponry to be extremely dangerous, but their skill to be no more than high. According to Wolf, weaponry of this nature brought home will not function, so we did not dedicate much time to learning about it. The ship arrived at its destination, and we met the Consul. We explained that we were from Aerth, did not know of the Empire, and had arrived by accident. This was enough, we were handed documents (in fact a small item of "plastic" containing all the information in some roundabout way) and dumped on the planet. This was a strange place, full of noise, with a heavy irritating air, swarming with Saurians and various other humanoids, and full of strange devices and vehicles. The details of these are too numerous to recount, but I am studying the items at length. The amount of coin (furnished through the strange cards in some abstract manner) given us by the Council was modest, and would last for a month at most. Fortunately, we were also given three "Universal Translators," small devices translating our speech to the necessary language. This was especially useful as our spent heka energy did not return, leaving our reserves depleted permanently with each spell woven. We therefore required further money, and most of all needed to calculate how to return. Wolf's estimates indicate that such a process carried out by a qualified mathematician (such as me) would take roughly 3 months, with any errors potentially fatal. As we were sitting in an exotic eating place, we saw a sedentary Saurian set upon and robbed by two others. Having nothing else to do, we set upon the thieves, rendering one unconscious and the other fleeing. The Saurian's items were returned to him, and he was most grateful. Exploiting the moment, we asked him for assistance around town. He agreed, and brought us back to his home, a small section of a large house. Ascending in this house was done through a box moving through a chute, and moved by some unseen energy. Our first priority was a map, and the Saurian soon furnished this by pushing a number of "plastic" pieces on a box. The map was shown on the piece of glass before him, and then transferred to proper paper by a device (or a "machine" as the Saurians call them). Morgon furnished the necessary equations, and the Saurian showed great skill in transferring these "into" one of the "machines" which in the blink of an eye supplied the requisite solution. The Saurian turned out to be a mathematician, fortunate for us indeed. What was less fortunate was the position of the Cube, close to a distant star on a water planet. Passage to this place would cost us 100,000 Credits (BUC equivalent) each, far beyond our current means. Looking for work, we were handicapped by our lack of understanding of the devices, language and culture of the aliens. No legal work for which we were qualified would furnish the necessary money in a reasonable time. Morgon therefore resolved to use illegal means, and soon found these. Against the advice of the Saurian Mathematician, Morgon joined a championship of gladiatorial combat, the prize for the winner being 100,000 Credits. The championship would go through a number of rounds with different weaponry required in each. Using his own magick, he gave himself great speed, knowing that this was the only way he could possibly prevail. In the first round, Morgon met a Saurian and was thoroughly trounced. I found it necessary to disable this Saurian, then Morgon killed him before collapsing. Having recovered, he attempted the same again, and this time defeated his opponent. He went through the rest of the championship with ease, emerging the winner. Moving on to the next championship, we prepared more carefully. In the first round, he was pressed by a Drow-like humanoid until I disabled this one. He went through several more opponents with moderate difficulty. Then he encountered another "Drow" using two scimitars. The battle went the wrong way, so I intervened with protective magicks on Morgon, just in time to save him from being diced. After a long and spectacular display, Morgon killed his opponent. In the final, Morgon was to meet a strange insectoid alien with four arms and an equal number of swords. Success was unlikely, so we decided to cheat some more. The end here, as always, justified the means. Placing a casting of such a nature as to cause a foe's blows to land back upon him, I retired to watch the fight. The alien was skilled, and soon landed several blows on Morgon, injuring itself severely. Then Morgon, suddenly aggressive, landed an excellent blow on the alien, killing it instantly. The prize was ours.

Spending some of the money traveling to the place where the cube was supposed to be, we found it and returned to inform the remaining soldiers. Some time had been spent training these. We also spent several weeks studying Saurian equipment, and bringing back such items as would be beneficial, bearing in mind the superior metallurgy of their smiths. Then we activated the Cube, using a form of energy known as "electricity." Surprisingly, we returned back to Aurora with no mishaps. The Saurian mathematician, whom we had brought with us, was startled at first, then transferred to Clan Erathorn. Some time distortion had taken place, as I saw my own back going into the previous portal. We had words with Wolf, then I continued my research.

PART II: The Great Steppes

Some time later, I received word from Morgon. He planned another expedition, this time with the purpose of recruiting soldiers for Clan Erathorn. I agreed to accompany him, and we prepared the Cube. Leaving this time was Morgon, Tabard of Llangollen (a Barbarian from Wales), and myself. We emerged on a plain with no significant features in sight. Picking out a random direction we set off in search of life. This place seemed far more appropriate. There was a modest flow of heka in the area, allowing us to recover our energies. Secondly, a small light device, inoperative at Aurora and Aerth, functioned here, indicating that a certain mixture flowed. The task was now to determine what inhabitants were here and what degree of development they had reached. The next day, Morgon ascended under motive dweomers, and used the pair of excellent spyglasses he had purchased from the Saurians. He spotted some figures on horseback, so we pursued, using further motive magicks. Placing ourselves in their path, we were faced with ten orcs. They did not speak our language, so we used dweomers to facilitate understanding. Apparently, the orcs belonged to a tribe and were of a nomadic nature. Many other tribes roamed the plains, with only the occasional light settlement providing permanent bases. A certain amount of conflict went on, with a random mixture of Orcish and human tribes. Having realized the importance of horses for movement on the plains, we attempted to purchase three horses from the orcs. They naturally refused, so we killed them. After the battle, we took the remaining nine horses (one having been killed by Morgon) and set off. We had suffered some damage to our equipment, so we used Orcish equipment as replacements. The quality seemed acceptable. Tabard had suffered substantial wounds, so we continued at a comfortable pace. With the exception of wild animals, several of which seemed interested in our mounts, the following twenty days were uneventful. During our parlay with the orcs, we had learned that there was a village of some sort 20 days to the south, but as we were unlikely to run into this, we decided to continue for the river we were told was to the north. True enough, after our trek we located the river, and set up camp, making sure to water our horses generously. Having determined that this place could possibly be what I was looking for, I determined to obtain some more useful allies. I found and retrieved the Cube, and sent the barbarians back, with the message to return with some appropriate adventuring types. They would be back a year hence, when I would have had time to investigate in detail the situation herein.

(This report, brought back by Morgon and Tabard is the last from Vazuvius at the moment. Further reports will be furnished when they are received. )

[Table of Contents] [Introduction] [Chapter 1] [Chapter 2] [Chapter 3] [Chapter 4] [Chapter 5] [Chapter 6] [Chapter 7] [Conclusions] [e-mail the author]

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