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  • IC 2137 BC – The Maw of Apophis

     mercy updated 1 year, 7 months ago 4 Members · 178 Posts
  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 22, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Early Morning, July 1st, 2137 BC; 20 miles south of Thebes

    The pyramid had caught fire – and it was pretty much all my fault. The dead Sethist priest’s robe was not entirely suited to be used as a tourniquet but I was in no position to be choosy about how I was keeping my blood inside my body. Until then I hadn’t known that granite could burn, but apparently disrupting a blood ritual that already had been loaded with the life force of 200 people contained enough energy to set the keystone on fire, turning the whole, ancient, intricately build and ornated tomb into a slowly spreading pile of slag. Good riddance, as far as I was concerned. The death cult was dead and I could finally collect the bounty I was owed and enjoy the honey moon with my new wife.

    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; a small tavern in Thebes

    “And I tell you, he burned down a pyramid. I was there, I saw it.” The old man animatedly told his audience over the third beer.
    “Yeah, yeah, sure. Next you tell me, he set your pool on fire…”
    “Keep your filthy mouth shut, Ili, for there is more. I saw the molten slag that was left behind. It was barely cool enough to touch. I was looking if there were any survivers…”
    “You mean if there were any surviving treasures…”
    “Hush, do you want to hear of what I found or not? Thought so. So anyway, the slag was barely cool enough to walk across, but I braved the heat and walked to the center. And you know what I found? Burried beneath the pyramid had been a giant black cubus, it’s surface entirely smooth and unmarred by heat or stone. Molten slag had poured of it like water from the feather of a duck. Old signs had been carved into it from top to bottom.
    You know I’m no scholar…”

    “Yes, that’s indeed nothing anyone ever accused you off…”
    “… but my grandfather taught me some of the old script. Enough anyway to tell me that these were warning signs. Do not open, Death lies inside, the key to the end of the world lies beyond…”
    “And of course you, opened it to take a look inside.”
    “Well, yes, I mean, anyone can write such drivel on a block of stone.”
    “And then what? Seeing as you are here and the world hasn’t ended it can’t have been too impressive, can it?”
    “Ah well, yes. See, someone had forced open the seal before I got there. Inside there was a large stone plinth with an indentation two hands across, but nothing lay on it but a little sack of sand. Blood was on the ground and a large sickle trap at about head height had been triggered and prevented from retratcing with a small black dagger. I’m betting someone lost his head about that thing.”
    “So no valuables inside? That’s a pretty lame end, even for one of your stories.”
    “No, you see, there was also roll with more script on it – only it wasn’t papyrus but a thin sheet of gold and iron, covered in script.”
    “And, what was on it?”
    “Don’t know. Couldn’t read it. Only thing I could make out was the sign of Apophis. Anyway you are just drinking a bit of the proceeds I got from it.”
    “Well, to that I drink.”
    The two men toasted each other, oblivious to who else might have heard the older man’s story…

  • mercy

    Member
    March 22, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Sian
    Mid Morning, September 30th, 2137 BC; The Waterfront, Thebes

    Lost in the myriad of other river traffic, a small barge makes its way to the eastern shore of the Nile at the great city of Thebes. If any eyes fall on the six people that disembark from the barge and meld into the crowd of people moving about the stone wharf, it is not for long. They are led by a man of just over five and a half feet tall who threads his way through the crowds as if born to them. He is followed by a tall woman who is dressed head to toe in garments designed to keep prying eyes from seeing her features, although it is difficult to completely hide the sway of hip and the roundness of breast. Her clothing also marks her as the property of the first man. A tall mercenary warrior strides alongside the woman, whether to protect her or to prevent her from running away is left to the observer, but he carries himself with a calm confidence that lets others know that he is not to be trifled with. Two young men follow, each carrying a large pack on his back. The trail is brought up by another tall mercenary, also moving in that seemingly careless “frag with me at your own risk” manner of experienced professional soldiers everywhere.

    All six give the appearance of having travelled a great distance with few changes of clothing, although none appear to be infirm or ill. The small group stays together as they walk, the leader and the two mercenaries fending off the small horde of beggars and vendors that seems to try to fix on anyone coming in from anywhere else. The man’s destination seems to be a small inn just off the stone wharf and he takes a large room for the young men and the guards and another, more private, one for himself and his slave woman. Baths are arranged and paid for and the six disappear into their rooms.

    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; a small tavern in Thebes

    A man approaches two men toasting the good fortune of one. “Good evening. My name is Ravech and I could not but overhear part of your story. I, too, wish to toast your good fortune and perhaps I can make the occasion even better for you. I am a collector and teller of tales and can pay handsomely for something new. I have just journeyed up the Nile and back for such a story and would gladly buy you several more rounds if you would consent to tell me yours. Would the two of you care to join me at my table? It is just there, see?” He points off to where one of the mercenaries is standing guard over the slave woman, who is sitting at a table. Ravech moves a hand and the woman reaches up to drop the cloth concealing her face and the two men are treated to a vision of loveliness before she replaces the cloth. Ravech looks back at the men he is talking with. “And of course, we would share her company for a bit. She is pretty enough, would you not say, even though she speaks not a word of our language. I took her from a settlement far up river and they had purchased her from some wandering tribesmen even farther away. She is indeed exotic to look at, don’t you think? Come, join me at me table and share stories and drink.”

    1

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 23, 2018 at 3:51 am

    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; a small tavern in Thebes

    The old man and the younger he had called Ili, rose and came over with smiles on their faces.
    “Now, I don’t know how much you already heard from my tale and I don’t want to bore Ili too much, so it’s probably best if we start with another round and you ask me what you want to know.”
    The old man emptied his cask with one long pull.
    “Ah, that hit the spot.
    So anyway, what I just told happened about 3 months ago, just as the flooding season began. People in some villages had gone missing and a mercenary north from across the sea was poking around, asking questions, roughing people up. Fair haired fellow, not unlike your fine warriors here. He hired me as his guide and half a dozen locals. Led us out into the dessert to one of the old pyramids. He had me and another stay out with the camels while he led the other men into the place. Didn’t take long for all hell to break loose: Most of the men with him died or so I heard. Only one made it out, screaming: ‘HE’S BURNING DOWN THE PYRAMID’ And don’t you know it, the whole thing – made entirely of stone – began to burn before my eyes. Naturally, I took the surviver and the camels to safety. When I came back in the morning it had burned down to the ground, with no sign of any other survivers.”

  • mercy

    Member
    March 23, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; a small tavern in Thebes

    Ravech nods at the man’s words and seems to contemplate them for a few moments. “This is a very interesting story, and certainly worth more to drink.” The man lifts his hand to a wandering server and orders another round. “You mentioned, I believe, that you sold a thin sheet of metal. Can you tell me who bought it from you, as I would like to see it, if possible. Also, it would seem that the strange mercenary died as well. Do you know his name by any chance?”

    2

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 23, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; a small tavern in Thebes

    The old man shrugged: “Yeah, I sold it to that Greek fellow down scribe lane. Sonotestes, or something he is called. Calls himself a scholar, but as far as I know he likes to study our wines most of all.
    As to the mercenary. He called himself Rødrygget Tornskade, but since no-one was able to pronounce that we simply called him Torn.
    As a matter of fact, I don’t know if he is dead. All I know is he wasn’t there when I came back. The guy wasn’t the kind that went down easily and if I remember correctly, he also spoke about being newly wed to a little Greek lady, so my guess would be that if he lives he went back to the harbor.”

  • mercy

    Member
    March 23, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; a small tavern in Thebes

    Ravech considers the man’s words while his two guests are drinking then nods his head as he smiles. “I am interested in what you sold to the scribe. Can you please point out how I can get to scribe lane? If you can do that, I will leave both of you enough money to purchase several more rounds. Oh, by any chance, did you keep any additional pieces to sell later? If so, I would like very much to see them.” Ravech leans over and motions to his mercenary guard, giving him some money and asking that he go to the bar and buy one of his best bottles of wine.

    After the guard heads off to the bar, Ravech turns back to his guests. “Now, about that mercenary, that is a different sort of name, perhaps he is indeed from the far north of here. And a Greek wife? Why would you say he would have gone to the harbor? Had he mentioned something about leaving?”

    3

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 23, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    “Sure, go outside, turn left until you reach the end of the road to the main road. Follow for 20 paces towards the temple and then turn left again. That’s the lane of the scribes. Once there you can just ask for the guy.
    Sadly, no, I wasn’t too keen to root around in there. Whoever came before me probably took anything worth anyway.

    Yeah, Torn told me he had fallen in love with the daughter of a wealthy trader. Finding those missing people was a way for him to raise some money for the dowry. That’s why I assumed he’d have gone to the harbor if he survived.
    Mind you, that’s been three months ago, he could be once across and back the sea for all I know.”
    The old man replied.

  • mercy

    Member
    March 23, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; a small tavern in Thebes

    Ravech thanks the men and leaves a few coins with them, certainly enough to get several more drinks apiece. He stands when the mercenary returns with the bottle of wine and motions for the woman to come with him. She stands without saying anything and follows out the door between Ravech and his guard. The three follow the directions of the old man, only needing additional directions once before finding the lane of the scribes. A few more questions and they are standing at the door of the scribe’s small shop and dwelling. The guard hands the bottle to the slave woman and pushes open the door as Ravech calls out for Sonotestes.

    4

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 24, 2018 at 5:17 am

    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; Sonotestes’ dwellings

    The small building was new and still smelled of curing cement, the whitewashed sides were unmarred by the sooth of cooking fires and stones in front of the house were scrupulously clean.
    The front door is closed, but it didn’t take long for a small boy with fair hair of about 10 or 12 years to draw back the bolt and open the door:
    “What can I do for you? My master is currently busy with his ablutions, do you need a translation or a dictation?”

  • mercy

    Member
    March 24, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; a small tavern in Thebes

    Ravech pauses to look at the boy then nods his head. “I would like to discuss a translation with your master. May we wait inside?”

    5

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 25, 2018 at 4:02 am

    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; Sonotestes’ dwellings

    “Of course, please take a seat, I’ll be right back with some dates and wine.”
    The boy bids you to enter into a small ante chamber with two benches that are almost too narrow to house all of you at the same time.
    True to his word, the boy appears only a minute later with a decanter and a plate of dates.
    Time goes by until finally, a man in his early fourties, a slight pouch and graying, receding hair in an immaculate white tunic appears.
    His whole appearance speaks of modest wealth.
    Despite the fact that he obviously just bathed, there are deeply ingrained ink stains on his right hand.
    Looking a bit surprised at the size of your party, he nonetheless becomes business like immediately:
    “Good day, good day and welcome to my humble abode. Excuse my servant here, he hasn’t been doing this job for long and has yet to learn all the niceties. So he failed to get your names.

    As for a translation: I am happy to tell you that I can translate all known written languages. I specialize in contract work, so if you are looking for a mercenary contract, you are at the right address.”

  • mercy

    Member
    March 26, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; Sonotestes’ Dwelling, Thebes

    Ravech leans forward to introduce himself and his two companions. “No excuses are necessary, but thank you. He has brought honor to your house with his offering of dates and wine. My name is Ravech and I am a collector of stories and oddities.” He turns and motions to the slave girl and the mercenary. “The girl’s name is Sian. I picked her up on my journeys and have found her to be more than adequate company on cold nights in the desert. The guard is Karl. I believe that he is from somewhere far north of here and he has proven several times to be far more than adequate in providing me with protection.”

    He turns back to the man. “I was in a tavern just a bit ago and was listening to a man tell a most interesting story. If he was telling me the truth, you and I might indeed do business, and I may look to hire your services for a small trip. My friend in the tavern was telling me that he sold you a metal plate of what he thought was gold and iron, with writing stamped or etched upon it. Would it be possible to see this sheet of metal? I might be willing to purchase it from you if I am sufficiently interested in it. We can discuss the terms of the contract afterwards, but I would like you to consider traveling with me to where the man says he found the metal sheet.”

    6

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 26, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; Sonotestes’ Dwelling, Thebes

    The man looks pensive at Ravech: “Good sir, it pains me greatly so say this, but you are too late. You see, I came into possession of this scroll for a few dozens silver coins – I mainly bought it from this old man out of curiosity and because it was written in the old script.
    Only four weeks ago, a man not unlike you came to me, asking for much the same. He paid me three full talents for the sheet and its translation.
    It is in fact this money that allowed me to renovate my abode and gain this modest style of care free life.

    Now, I won’t say that I wouldn’t be curious to learn more about where the scroll came from. For it’s contents – if true – would be enough to turn my hair white in an instant. But visiting the place and finding out it to be real? No, thank you that is too much a risk indeed.”

  • mercy

    Member
    March 26, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; Sonotestes’ Dwelling, Thebes

    Ravech pauses for a few moments to gather his thoughts then shrugs his shoulders. “Such is luck. Did you perhaps make a copy of the translation that I might purchase from you? If not, you seem to have been affected by the words, so maybe you remember them or at least some part of them?”

    7

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 26, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; Sonotestes’ Dwelling, Thebes

    “Certainly. Boy go outside, such as I have to recount is not for your ears.” While the youth makes his way outside, the scribe goes into a back room and returns shortly afterwards with a tightly inscribed piece of papyrus.
    “I translated it into Greek, so I’m afraid I couldn’t retain all of its poetic beauty, but I tried to stay as true as possible to the old script:

    ‘Heed this warning, oh traveler of the darkened path, in these chambers resides this which is dreaded by the ancients (wise men? immortals?) and sought by the fools and greed man (dragons? demons?):
    This is the Maw of Apophis, the snake that is returning again (and again?) to devour the world (worlds?), he who is the gate and the key, he who cannot die but only dream.
    Traveller though you have found this place, rest and depart (make peace and die?) for only ruin lies within these black walls.
    As Ra (Helios? Apollon?) wields his spear as a beacon, bringing light to our world, Apophis wields this as a beacon of destruction. For all live must die and devastation arises where the Maw is taken. The bridge is opened and the signal lit for Them (Apophis?) to cross over again.
    The Lord of the Thousand Eyes (Argus?) and the Dark Mother (Hekate?) themselves cannot stand before Their might. For when they rise, all flesh must die, must rot, must turn to dust, must rise must walk and do to flesh as flesh wants to do to flesh.
    And heed this: The Maw is unlike other trinkets from before. Where the craft of the ancients falls with the tide of time, the maw is eternal in its power, as it draws power from live by force and will alone, bridging the gap and flooding the void with power where there is none, giving rise to the cursed eaters of flesh and drinkers of blood. For rise they will eating and turning and eating all there are until one and only one remains. And he shall blaze with darkness so deep to open the gates and bridge the gap between the worlds.’

  • mercy

    Member
    March 26, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; Sonotestes’ Dwelling, Thebes

    Ravech pauses again as he takes in the translation. “Thank you, very much. Would you be willing to either part with that or make another copy of it that I might purchase from you? Was there more than these words on the plate? Perhaps a design or map on the back or something that you were not able to translate but copied down? Also, what can you tell me of the man who purchased the plate? Description, nationality, was he alone, did he give you a name or say where he was going? That sort of thing.”

    8

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 26, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    “Oh, certainly, I made more than one, trying to get rid of the words by banishing them on paper. To little effect I might add.
    And yes, there were many designs upon this sheet that I wasn’t able to decipher or rather decode.

    As for the man: He was a local by the name of Anatep Sar, a rich merchant and collector of the occult. His villa is just at the southern edge of the harbor. You can’t miss it, it’s the one with the many guards outside…”

  • aria

    Member
    March 26, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Ryl
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; the quays at Thebes

    Ryl stood in the prow of the barge as it made its way through the bustling river traffic. She was dressed in a diaphanous white gown that offset her bronzed skin and the jeweled bracelets that reflected the afternoon light. Her thick dark hair was braided with sea pearls and delicate filigreed silver chains and the silver diadem left a single sapphire hanging down on her forehead, she looked every bit a foreign princess. The sea shanty she sang was deceptively simple but for all those within earshot it was like bathing in liquid sunshine far more glorious than the jewels she was adorned with.

    The voyage from the Nubian heartland was almost over and her companions had been glad to return to their ancestral seats but now it was time to seek out other tasks and Ryl was chasing a rumor of a rumor and as she felt the rise in mana as they approached Thebes she knew that they were on the right track at last…

    #01

  • mercy

    Member
    March 26, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Sian
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; Sonotestes’ Dwelling, Thebes

    Ravech nods. “And you did make rubbings of the designs that you could not translate, I hope.”

    9

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 26, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Ryl
    Late Afternoon, September 30th, 2137 BC; the quays at Thebes

    “Mistress!”
    Ryl noticed the large black Nubian servant – what was his name again… – but before she could remember the man had stepped next to her:
    “I just caught sight of my contact on the quay. Stay here until I have talked with him. This place is not safe for one such as you – at least alone.”
    The man departed from board, still covered from shaved head to toe in his white linen Tunika that for some reason never seemed to get dirty.

    Ryl could see an animated discussion taking place between the strong black man and the much more dirty and fat looking Egyptian.
    After a while N’dabi – right, that was his name – returned: “You will be pleased to hear that the money for the rider was well spent. There has been indeed talk of a burning pyramid. An old man has been plying this tale for a while in various taverns.
    There was also talk of a stolen scroll and a black stone prison. Reshi tells me that other foreigners have been asking about the same story too.”

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