Sands

Taking Takhat

Upon visiting Ramaneb Brothers’ Traveling Curiosities, Tbidi becomes obsessed with the moose, Neferkare and Figaro find only the most mundane drinks and trinkets, Amaya narrowly misses a pickpocket that’s been plaguing the circus, and Guidrit finds a sickly black bear cub in one of the cages. Figaro gets everyone in for free, and acquires ringside seats, by pretending to be the same river god high priest that he impersonated at the last cataract.

Neferkare confronts Amaya, but doesn’t learn much about her intentions, other than that she poses no threat to the party. She does learn from Amaya that The Shrike will not be able to attack another god for months.

Guidrit barters with Salama, the beastmaster at the circus, to train the moose to dance in exchange for the black bear cub. With Tbidi’s help, the moose is successfully trained and the bear is purchased for 6pp. It comes with a wagon/cage assembly that Arsinoe allows on the boat on the condition that it not leave the cage and that it not eat her cat.

Figaro makes some brews. And sleeps with Arsinoe. They travel two weeks down river, past a handful of small cities and several cataracts.

They see Takhat trailing them on another ship. He manages to get ahead of them at the cataract just before Luxor. He has murdered the guards and closed the gates. He and his two archer compatriots are unconscious, his fighter runs off in confusion after Neferkare convinces him that she’s his lost sister, and his barbarian is charmed (it didn’t help Takhat that he blasted his own man with his fireball). The Maelstrom is grievously harmed in the battle, both from Takhat’s fireball and because it was plowing into the gates that were shut as it approached. The party has defeated a powerful foe and are nearly to Luxor.

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Traveling to Nemfu

The party encounters a storm at sea, and rescue Tbidi and Amaya, who are swept off the ship.

They see the ship that Khafra was on, and it’s now flying a jolly roger and seems to be helmed by the sorcerer pirate that attacked them previously. They don’t seem to be faring well in the storm. Amaya conjures an illusory ship and the pirates muster their rowboats around it for boarding, leaving them stranded as the Maelstrom races by.

At the cataracts, Figaro pretends to be the head priest responsible for river travel and commands the captain of the cataract to apprehend the pirates that have taken Khafra’s ship, which is bought hook, line, and sinker.

Neferkare is carrying the azoth, and makes a convert at the cataract. She tells the new adherent of Sabatok’s that their mission is to defeat The Shrike.

They arrive at Nemfu, which breeds camels, serves boat travelers, and raises food. Guidrit has a life vest made for Sebi. Amaya buys some expensive pine and starts to work on a scabbard. Tbidi lends his services to the nearest healers. Neferkare steals some shit from the local apothecary. Figaro heads to the bar, where he hears tales of the odd animals and people at Ramaneb Brothers’ Traveling Curiosities.

They decide to visit the circus.

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Bye Felicia

The Maelstrom pulls into a reedy beach to repair the damage to the rigging and deck. As soon as Lysandra touches ground, Magnar, her efreeti master, appears. Neferkare intimidates Lysandra into keeping the azoth in her pocket, so the janni disappears for most of the battle. Magnar is defeated, and Lysandra tosses the azoth to Neferkare like she’s dropping a mic before she disappears again.

Sebi starts barking, and everyone hears the pained growl of a big cat. Arsinoe orders the bard and the artist to help the party rescue the dire smilodon that is captured in an enormous trap. Tbidi heals its wounds and Neferkare sneaks up behind it and lets it go. An illusion of a fire wall sends it into the underbrush instead of at the party. They see a RB brand on its flank as it speeds off and remember the Ramaneb Brother’s Traveling Curiosities that they’ve seen advertised, and which is currently at Nemfu.

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Down the River

The party comes on board Arsinoe’s ship, the Maelstrom at night, just before they push off. They are contracted to guard the ship, its crew, and its cargo of ivory against pirates. As the ship leaves the dock, the party notices Latifa has not come with them. Neferkare and Tbidi are instantly hit with horrible motion sickness, and are put to bed in the hold.

The crew is all female, including an artist who is working on the figurehead. Except for the cabin boy, who works for the cook, who has a magically heated oven surface where she makes flatbread.

Once on board, Sebi immediately makes a dash at the ship’s cat, Ratter. Arsinoe pulls her bow on the dog, but calms when Guidrit calls him back. The ship’s surgeon, a cleric of Bastet, also seems to indicate that this is largely a cat-lady’s ship.

It’ll be a few days to reach the next town, Nemfu. First, they have to pass the first cataract, where they’ll pay taxes and show their passports.

Lysandra faints, and upon awakening the next day, is noticeably weaker and freaked out that her master has found her and is on his way.

Khafra, Figaro’s hideous wife, is following on another merchant ship. Figaro starts to think of ways to disguise himself.

Guidrit is befriended by Taka, apparently an alchemist based on the burns on her face, neck and shoulders. She is relentlessly friendly and usually sits in the crow’s nest.

Figaro gets some attention from the ladies on board, although he’s only able to convince them to visit him one at a time.

The artist, Amaya, is interested in the books that have been brought on board by Neferkare. Figaro and Guidrit give her free reign to borrow them in case she can actually decipher some of the writing. She gleans more information about The Shrike, but is unable to crack the code that Takhat has used for his notes scribbled in the margins.

There is a small pirate boarding party that Guidrit and Figaro fight off with the help of Amaya, the artist. Figaro manages to burn most of top deck and a substantial portion of the rigging. They tell Arsinoe that it was the pirate sorcerer who escaped. They came on a rowboat, and their main ship was nowhere to be seen. The Maelstrom will have to dock at the nearest tiny town for repairs before heading on to Nemfu.

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Free at Last

Figaro, a sorcerer, brewer, and also an ex-slave of Hemaka’s, seeks out the party at the Blue Cup the next morning. He also seeks to find his freedom somehow.

They go to The Bath House and speak with Nebtu, who admits to having Bebnum’s will forged. He suggests that Khafra the scribe is the weak link. She wants a husband, and has been promised Bek.

Guidrit speaks with Taharqa, who will happily put herself on the case to gain his freedom.

Neferkare arranges the marriage of Figaro and Khafra. Latifa is disgusted and leaves to buy her own freedom. The defense of the will goes off without a hitch, between Khafra’s inspired testimony and Taharqa’s swift judgment.

The night of the trial, two nights after his marriage, Figaro falls into the fire and disappears in a gout of flame. Khafra inspects the bones and discovers that they are fake.

The party convenes at the docks, where Arsinoe, captain of the Maelstrom, hires them on as pirate protection on the way to Luxor.

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Stinking Wizards

Upon returning to The Grey Minstrel, the party finds themselves without a home as Ammon has seen the wanted posters for Lysandra and doesn’t want trouble in his bar. They relocate to the Blue Cup, a similar establishment but with far more lax rules.

They discuss the recent Beetle kidnapping attempt, and realize that Takhat is probably the culprit. They confront him in the morning (after doing a bit of shopping and replacing Beetle’s nets). Tbidi casts a zone of truth and Takhat disappears, reappearing 400 feet away running down the street. Guidrit gets a shot on him, but it’s not enough to slow him down. Tbidi realizes Takhat must be at least a level 7 caster to be able to cast dimension door. The party splits his loot, a pile of books about The Shrike, five scrolls, 400 platinum pieces, and some clothes and jewelry that Neferkare quickly liquidates. They explain the situation to Lotus, still within the zone of truth, and she welcomes them to the wizard’s belongings.

Latifa purchases an African Gray parrot, a self-esteem bird that tells her that she’s pretty. Neferkare starts crafting. Tbidi heals scorpion sting victims, and one of them gives him Boots of Elvenkind. Guidrit visits the bathhouse and pumps Dedelion for information. He finds out that the cult of Sabatok has a new leader named Benemba. She’s planning an expedition into the desert.

When they regroup, they decide that the following day they’ll visit the advocates on the Bebnum’s Will case, as well as Khafra, the scribe who notarized the will.

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Beetle Mania

Before approaching the Camel and the Crocodile, the party bathes and then outfits itself in fine garb and jewelry appropriate to this high-class establishment. Neferkare steals a white cloak with gold trim in the shape of a parade of animals for Guidrit. She also picks up a scarlet cloak with a flame pattern made of rubies. Latifa cleans up her magical cloak and amulet, and TBD buys a feathered kilt and a ring with a falcon representation of Horus. Guidrit also picks up some bracelets of silver. They look fabulous.

Lotus, the proprietress of the Camel and the Crocodile, greets them kindly. She points them to Takhat‘s room. Takhat is cranky at being removed from his studies, but tells them that he has learned that:
- The Shrike must return daily to the lost city to recharge in some way
- Beetle has some sort of perpetual power device that doesn’t require charging
- The Shrike will be weak after fighting a god, and is unlikely to strike again right away
- They are not powerful enough to approach a God-killer and might want to consider contacting Pharaoh

He will not part with his books, which no one in town would be able to decipher anyway, but he writes them a summation of his knowledge to be taken to Pharaoh and assures them that this will carry weight as he is a well-known scholar. They also realize that the visions that Beetle can produce of The Shrike will be very convincing.

When they return to Isidorus‘s apothecary, there’s a line out the door of people needing healing from scorpion stings and mob crushings. Tbidi gathers folks and channels, and is quickly mobbed. Isidorus is shaking and looks terrible, but is providing antidotes on a sliding scale as quickly as he can. He mentions that there was a break in but he was too busy to even acknowledge it. Neferkare’s room has been ransacked, and the only sign of Beetle is a couple of his nets hanging from room furnishings.

Guidrit is able to track the burglars/kidnappers, especially since the break in just occurred. They chase the four thugs into an alley, where they kill a sorcerer and bring three other thugs to the courthouse. They hear a few random chants of “SabaTOK! SabaTOK!” The courthouse crowd has dissipated somewhat, but it’s still necessary for Neferkare to use a brewed reek to disperse the remaining crowd. The thugs will not reveal for whom they work, but do give up all their money and goods and get a good beating. The party is able to pick up their passports, and are now free to travel…except that they may be returning to slavery in five days.

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Death of a God
Scorpions

The party finds the thugs that were in the sewer behind them beaten on the courthouse steps. From there, they hear screaming at Selket’s death. They rescue a boy who has fallen in the mob rushing away from a group of scorpions that are spilling out of the river. They also rescue Tentamun, who was dying of scorpion poison.

They decide to pursue The Shrike, but don’t know where it is. They resolve to contact Takhat at the Camel and the Crocodile, and Beetle, who is back at Isidorus’s.

Hemaka has put out wanted posters for Lysandra. They convince their janni friend to reduce her size to appear as a child, and Neferkare steals her an appropriate outfit as people crowd the streets and demand protection from Pharaoh.

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Back in Town
Old Friends and New

The party is confronted by Takhat at The Grey Minstrel. He offers them 200pp for the books that Polvo has been hoarding, the ones that they recovered from the scholar’s house outside of town where they met the mephit.

They sell the books on the promise that he will allow them to consult them as needed, what with the majority of them being about The Shrike and the lost city. He also offers them 400pp for Beetle, but the party refuses his offer.

Acid Rein and Snuffles both win at the big races, and Guidrit receives his passport paperwork and a merciful bow from a grateful Taharqa.

Tbidi sacrifices some of his life force to rescue a child, and Mutabu grants him his passport paperwork.

Neferkare creates some alchemical items to gain her passport from Isidorus.

Latifa will be finished with her assignment from Atet soon.

Ineni is found drunk at The Diamond Spider and returns the camel. He is deeply concerned about Bebnum’s will. The party realizes that a buy out won’t save the rest of the slaves, so they decide to attempt to intimidate Hemaka. They infiltrate her home through the sewers, and send Lysandra into her chambers. Lysandra pulls out the azoth and shoots a line of radiant fire into the sky, through the roof. Seeing that she won’t be able to use it properly, she bamfs back to the tavern and the party runs. Hemaka’s guards are hopefully confused by the party of thugs waiting in the sewers (which the party ran by on their way back to the inn).

Scorpions flood out of the waters, a green flame shoots into the sky, there’s a minor earthquake, and the statue of Selket cracks in two…Tbidi deduces that the god has been slain.

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Meeting People, Making Friends
Including Camels

The party quickly and nonlethally detain the thugs that jump them, but one of them gets away. They find a list of drugs and poisons, with the note, “Say hello to our mutual friend.” The thugs are questioned, but all the party finds out is that they were delivering the note to Isidorus the Leech. They bring the thugs to the judges at the courthouse, and are told that the thugs will be held in a cell until their beatings tomorrow morning. They are offered their pick of the thugs’ loot. Latifa leaves them 5gp each.

After a night at The Diamond Spider, Latifa signs up for a wrestling match that will occur at the bar later that evening.

A child riding a runaway camel bears down on them on their way to the market. Latifa is bit while trying to stop it, and Guidrit convinces her that she will now transform into a camel. Guidrit saves the little girl by catching her as the camel comes to a sudden stop. Taharqa, a judge and camel racer, runs up with many attendants shortly thereafter. Her daughter’s name is Tabiry, and she seems frightened of her mother, who seems to have concern only for Snuffles the camel.

Afterward, Polvo sells his crocodile parts to Isidorus the Leech. Polvo drops hints of belladonna, one of the drugs listed on the note, and Isidorus pretends not to know what he’s talking about. Polvo heads to the library, where he discovers he needs a sponsor to access its tomes (and spells). He is directed to Didia, who will sponsor him if he brings her unharmed fire beetle corpses for an amusing diorama of craps players.

Meanwhile, Latifa visits Hemiunu the tanner for a crocodile head pauldron and crocodile skin bandolier. It will take a few days for the tanner to complete the work. She mentions that if Latifa is bored in the interlude, she can fetch her some centipede shells that she’s using to create joints in armor.

Guidrit and Latifa head to the camel races. Taharqa gives him a job as a stable hand and tells security and Itisen, the stable master, to let him pass.

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