Party: Don, Glen, Inti, Ou-kan, Till, Snowball
Elapsed Time: 12 hours, 40 minutes.
Start time: 13:00 UTC.
September 13th, 2020.
This mission is unsanctioned by AFK and solely was an exploratory expedition by us few who joined.
…Don will, leave efficiency, behind here on.
The mission, was never a simple one. “Tourism”, Inti called it, we first left for Ruined Oak to get our PIMs with aid of Snowball and Onnuphi. Gaining legal access according to the agreed upon regulations by the Khenra and AFK, we left to explore the Desert of Flies where we have not been before.
Arriving through the portal, we took the LAF stones with us, held by Inti as we set off with Snowball our daring leader.
Surrounded by Khenra construction, and their vehicles of wind and sand, we stared at the marvels of engineering as we took off.
As we thread the desert, strange creatures surrounded us, fish-like massive blobs that floated in the air, with tendrils that took down to the desert, trailing behind them. Strange smoke came out of their tops, as bugs swarmed around it, luring flocks of birds to them too.
We took rest, our one and last safe day.
And as if harrowers of our destiny, it merely took two days for us to see the unthinkable.
Massive cloud rays, slicing through the sandstorm ahead of us, behemoths of the sky so large one could build a house upon. As if telling us not to go further, their great forms swam through the storm with ease, leaving us to feel puny before them as we took cover from it.
But foolishly, we did not heed their warning, we pressed on as adventure called.
Trudging through the dunes, as the heat dropped on us like a harsh rising sun on the dawning horizon, we went through spells quickly to cool ourselves off and feed ourselves.
Do not test the desert by foot like we did.
But alas, even that suggestion, falls short on our next encounter.
As we climbed up a large dune, breaking the top only for all of us to drop to the dry, hot, sand, without a second thought.
Fear filled us, at what lay beyond this dune you see.
As Inti, being invisible, was the only one to take a second glance.
Scales like armour, horns like clubs and a jaw of fangs that could tear a Spinosaurus aside, the desert dragon loomed before us like another warning from the desert.
Our last warning.
A warning, we did not heed.
As we waited for it to leave, hiding in terror at only our third life form encounter.
We should have turned back, we should have realised this task was beyond us, but daring and foolish as we were, we pushed on.
Heading north for days, hot dreadful days…
Then, we reached the edge of our knowledge, and began heading west.
Until, a day or two ahead, we were met with an alien sight.
A dome of ominous green, thinking the heat was playing tricks on our minds, yet there it stood threatening our existence albeit laying miles ahead still.
As we approached, all life around us seemed to rot and be diseased.
Yet, the diseases were not why they lay dying.
As Inti, our feline cleric, detected a strange aura emanating from the dome.
Lit up like a lamp, she called it, and lighting up everything around it too.
A light that, sickened life itself.
Then, we reached an almost buried construct.
Something was amiss, the tomb, more than a curse afflicted it.
But we thought we were prepared, we thought our magic and medical preparation could aid us delve onward still.
If we hadn’t made as many mistakes, then maybe, maybe we could have been right.
But this day, we were only so wrong.
Thinking it twice over whether to enter or not, we back tracked away from the tomb a safe distance before settling down to rest for the night.
That is when the Dome’s Light afflicted our lives too.
I felt, my very consciousness, expanding.
I watched, as Ou-kan’s metallic body radiate with horrid energy.
As Glen’s feet warped and morphed, akin to a toad’s.
As Till’s feet warped too, mangling, crippling him.
And as both Inti’s and Snowball’s eyes smoked and boiled.
Snowball, unable to see clearly in daylight anymore…
Inti though took it worst, as permanent blindness afflicted him.
Even then, at the limits of our power, at the limit of our wits.
We would not leave empty handed, we would not return without knowing at least what this tomb was.
So the next day, we made our preparations, we entered the Tomb.
And immediately, we were met with a warning at the entrance.
And a poem, which we later found to be only the first part.
Following it, our party being marked by the poem as this Nebtka, we began our lives in shadow.
Shadows were moon devils tried to deceive us, as the demonic statue with held the key was a lie.
Instead, we discovered the light, a torch in the corner, we lit it up and a new path was revealed to us. We went north, leaving the torch, a mistake thinking it now.
There, the Devils followed, incarnated as painful whispers, which Inti dispelled.
Plugging our ears, might have also been affective.
There, we found words saying we would find our past and future in the next room, and a mechanism which Snowball worked, opening the next doorway.
Rushing inside, the doorway then closed up behind us. Our second mistake.
There, we found the rest of the poem of our future and past. You see,
Nebtka, the Kirin-Born Prince, began his life in shadow.
Where moon devils tried to deceive the young prince.
Eventually, Nebtka discovered the light and found his way.
Nebtka sent the light to the north, illuminating the world.
But the devils continued to follow him.
They whispered in his ear, trying to drive him mad.
But Nebtka plugged his ears to their cruel words.
In time, Nebtka grew strong.
Nebtka laboured and new paths opened to him.
Nebtka knew his destiny was in the east.
Nebtka joined four brothers, elemental priests.
Loa-te, the Priest of Fire, who heated the very air around him. Amun-afa, the Priest of Water, whose touch could extinguish even the mightiest flame. No-za-ora, the Priest of Earth, who could part the seas with a single word. And finally, Gan-dan, the Priest of Air, who could wither the mountains to sand with a whisper.
Powerful the priests were. But they dared not use their powers all at once, Nebtka warned them, lest they destroy the world. Only one of them was allowed to use their power at once.
So the five set out seeking Empeku, the God of Death.
Powerful winds pushed the party back until Loa-te’s heat dispelled the wind. Then Loa-te led Nebtka to the feet of Empeku, the God of Death.
Standing at the edge of shadow Empeku demanded sacrifice.
Thus, Gan-dan offered himself as a sacrifice to Empeku.
Gan-dan said, “My powers cannot help the prince on his quest.”
His brothers protested at this, but he promised he would join them again at the end of their journey. Gan-dan died.
In exchange, Empeku awarded Nebtka the Scepter of Time Immortal. Using it, Empeku promised, Nebtka could change the direction of the sun.
Loa-te, saddened by the death of his brother Gan-dan, went mad. The Priest of Fire buried himself in a tomb full of scarabs with golden shells. Flames surrounded the Tomb and only Amun-afa could cross them to see his brother.
In time, Amun-afa grew saddened, and he too, rested in a tomb to the south. The sea swallowed up Amun-afa’s tomb, preventing Nebtka from reaching his destiny.
No-za-ra, the surviving brother, whispered to the sea parting it.
Nebtka stepped beyond the sea and into the vale of night.
There, the dead haunted Nebtka, draining his life.
Finally, No-za-ra laid on the floor and slept.
No-za-ra dreamt of his brothers, and in time their ghosts joined him.
First came Gan-dan, riding the wind, as he’d promised.
Then came Loa-te, arriving in a burst of flame.
Last, came Amun-afa, appearing with the rain.
One last time the four were together.Then alone, Nebtka stepped into the unknown.
We realised, this was more than a poem. This was a guide to the tomb’s inner workings fogged over by the story of its inhabitant.
Our third and forth mistake. We began not taking the poem too seriously, then we began taking it too literally. Both mistakes, proved fatal.
As we contemplated our next move, we lay surrounded by two closed doors, one pathway leading to a door, a room with three keys (Earth, Water and Air), and a staircase leading down.
Then at the centre of our room was a pillar with a hole within, as if something should be fitted there.
Following the poem, we searched deeper in, looking at the door which was one of wind. Knowing then, we needed the key of flame, which the key room nearby lacked.
So we went down the stairs, finding a door of fire.
From the poem, we figured we needed the key of water, to snuff out the flame. Taking the key, we went down and opened the door.
There, we found Loa-te’s tomb, where his statue held the key of fire and lay surrounded by gold we dared not touch.
Then, we made our fifth mistake.
We did not take the poem seriously enough.
We took out the fire key, while still having the water key.
Poison then filled the air and began killing us, quickly.
We closed the door shut, leaving the fire key there. Our sixth mistake.
We put the water key back, finding the statues that held the keys twirling with angry blades, which began clearing the air but…still we needed the fire key.
So we went back, reopening the door, and immediately Snowball who forgot to hold his breath, fell unconscious,
I rushed to pick him up, but he fell again…
Inti rushed to pick him up, he almost fell again, and remembered to hold his breath after.
Taking the fire key, we rushed to put the water key in its place, barely surviving the poison as it then began clearing out.
Using the fire key, we then opened the wind door. Finding our way at Empeku’s feet.
There, we did not know how to continue.
The poem spoke of Gan-dan sacrificing himself, but neither the dias at the statue’s feet would take the key and neither did the terrifying curtains of shadow to the west.
We were stuck, and arguments began to ensue among us.
After clearing ourselves of fear, we all took a deep breath, and contemplated on how to move on.
We needed the sceptre the statue held, but it would not accept “Gan-dan”.
We then began following the poem more closely, we backtracked. Ou-kan and Snowball dimension doored back to the first room, taking the torch and sending it north to another torch holder. Lighting up the entire tomb by doing so, which had previously been only lit by our light cantrips.
But still we could not get the sceptre.
So, we thought, maybe a generic blood sacrifice would do.
Ou-kan dripped blood on the dias, and the key with it.
But nothing happened still.
So, we thought, perhaps the exchange would occur as we took hold of the sceptre.
It did, but not as anyone expected.
Ou-kan took hold of the sceptre.
We thought too much, and not hard enough.
The statue spoke, accepting the exchange.
The statue spoke, accepting Ou-kan’s life, which it took.
As he fell dead to the floor, cold, unmoving and dead.
We rushed to his side, attempting to bring him back, but we were sorely unprepared to do so.
Quickly, Snowball took the sceptre and rushed to the pillar, entering it there and hoping it might undo it all.
There, he changed the direction of the sun, turning the pillar clock-wise.
Which…seemed to do nothing at all.
I thought maybe the sceptre was a trap then, if in it’s resting place it did nothing, unlike the keys which opened our paths in their place or kept us alive in their starting places. I suggested, maybe putting the sceptre back, would undo the exchange.
Give us Ou-kan back…
We gave the sceptre back to the statue.
Our seventh and worst mistake.
Using the earth key then, we pushed onward.
Deeper down the stairs, the water door lay.
Opening it, sent water rushing out.
Quickly we went to put the earth key back after opening the door.
Then Inti and Snowball dove in, while Glen carried Ou-kan’s body with. Still holding up “Gan-dan” would return to us at the end.
There under the water, more rushed out, so we plugged up as much as we could, buying ourselves more time.
There also, we found another place for the earth key, so we rushed back for it. Opening the next door, the water drained out, showing us the way through a half-collapsed tunnel a little one was needed.
Glen came up to the task, going through the small tunnel, it seemed to collapse a bit more as he went through.
This, is where we did our eighth mistake.
We all began going through, as we ferried the keys into the next room, where their final resting place lay.
Deeper in, there lay a tunnel with bejewelled skulls, the dead we read of. We dared not go down that path to the door depicting Nebtka with the staff and a book of four elemental runes, not without all the keys in place.
As we rushed in, the passage then collapsed on Till.
Blocked away, we struggled to dig Till back out as miraculously he had survived the ordeal.
But still, the path was blocked.
Our ninth mistake, Nebtka went into the unknown alone, but this part of the poem was a misdirection. He went alone, with the keys in place, but also with the in hand sceptre.
The same sceptre, we returned to the god of death, Empeku-chan.
Not realising this, most of us pressed on down the hallway of skulls.
We pushed on the door, and the door pushed us back.
Snowball, Glen and Till stood there, as it cursed them. The dead began draining their life.
Our ninth mistake, we did not read enough into this passage…
I did not think it through further.
All I knew, is that we needed that sceptre, as Inti dispelled the door, which needed the sceptre…
And needed the sceptre no more…as it was dispelled…
The rush of fear, anxiety, it clouded my judgement.
As they pushed and pushed on Nebtka’s door, I lay contemplating our doom with Glen.
As somehow, Snowball and Inti, broke through the door.
Finding a tomb, while I healed Till back alive, they delved in searching for a cure, a lever, anything to finish this all.
There they found Nebtka’s body, laying in a sarcophagus, yet necrotic energy spewed out from it.
There they found three scrolls.
One of Remove Curse.
One of Raise Dead.
One of Blight.
Three were cursed, and only one scroll lay to remove it.
It seemed obvious to use the scroll on Snowball, who was the fastest and could get the sceptre the quickest.
But, as Glen and Snowball faded away, I knew two things.
Only Till could dig us out of the collapsed tunnel fast enough.
And Empeku, would not give the sceptre without another sacrifice.
Those two facts, nagged at my head.
With my suggestion, Inti removed the curse from Till, so he could dig us out. As we all knew, Ou-kan did not want to be brought back by magic, it was in his will.
Till was our only way out.
And somehow, we managed to dig ourselves out.
But, alas, I could only watch Glen fade away.
As Snowball rushed off for the sceptre with the last breaths of his life…
But he did not make it, the curse took him over, and we heard him fall.
There, is where I decided, this tomb would not only be Nebtka’s. Not only Ou-kan’s. I would not allow Snowball and Glen to also die for my mistake.
I rushed on, down the tunnels and beyond Till and Inti.
I stabilized Snowball, hoping my actions onward could save him too.
I told Till, to take the sceptre from me.
As I stepped up to the dias.
I accepted my fate.
I took hold of my fate.
Of the sceptre, and Empuku spoke.
Empuku accepted the exchange.
The trade was locked, my life for what I thought to be our salvation.
This was, possibly to be my last mistake.
As later, I was told the sceptre did nothing else, it was only for Nebtka’s door to allow us through.
A door which had already been dispelled.
My comrades, Inti and Till, stood alone trying to figure it all out. Trapped and alone, with all their friends possibly dead.
They carried our bodies close to one another and put their heads together.
Till took the sceptre, and placed it in the pillar, trying several directions of turning it.
Then Inti casted detect magic, sensing as the pillar was move, that it affected the power of the curse on Snowball.
Placing it where the curse was at its weakest, a goodberry brought Snowball back to consciousness.
The three together, then rushed to the key room, looking for somewhere else the sceptre may lay.
They found nothing but treasure, useless gold that could not save them.
A raise dead scroll they could only use on myself as the faded Glen and dead Ou-kan did not wish to be brought back.
And they knew, bringing me back, taking an hour to do so, would seal Snowball’s fate to the curse that still filled his veins.
Only two apparent options lay before them, destroy Nebtka’s body and perhaps face a fight they could not survive.
Or brute force their way out of the tomb.
They chose the second, being the safest.
And they managed, somehow, they managed.
But only now in hindsight do I realise, the first was the right option.
As they escaped, they lay in safety of the first room, Inti brought me back to life there.
And there, cold and fading, held alive only by my own Aid spell I had cast at the start of this all…Snowball died, sweetly into his sleep, painlessly and quietly. Snowball died.
Being brought back, even as I breathed, even as I heard what happened while I was dead.
I felt parts of me missing, I may have left that Tomb that day, but not all of me left.
We carried Snowball’s body with, hoping we could bring him back.
Just Inti, Till and I. Three of six, as we lay down exhausted outside the Dome’s Light, taking what turns we could on watch we rested. But the desert wasn’t done with us yet.
A putrid scent filled our nostrils, as a creature just as putrid approached our tent.
We knew we could not fight it, so we abandoned our tent, Snowball’s body as well inside.
We could not carry him away, lest we get found, we crawled like worms away and hid. Waiting the monster out, as the horrid creature entered the tent, then left moments later.
Invisible, I approached the tent, leaving Till to watch over the blind Inti.
Invisibly I looked inside, and invisibly I wretched at the sight.
Legs, arms, heads, torsos, defacted into a pile within the tent and upon the half-eaten remains of Snowball.
I was too tired to feel the fury I should have felt then.
Taking what remained of Snowball into what remained of the tent, we moved to sleeping under the desert night.
With no cover, nothing to keep us safe, and a dead body.
It only seemed right, for the desert to rumble underneath us, and a long cylindrical creature to come upon us there and then.
Till was the first to die, the slowest of us, he could not escape the creature’s girth.
Then Inti fell, felled by its speed.
Not the fastest of us…
Neither the strongest…
Nor the sturdiest…
Luck alone…it kept me breathing.
Luck alone, it dragged my hollow body to the portal.
Without the stones to return to Ruined Oak, gone, lost alongside all the loot into the purple worm.
I could only beg the Khenra to open the portal for me to WMC.
As I stumbled through, alive…but was I alive? Even as I strike down their names at the axe and thistle, I do not know the answer to that question…