Friday, November 6, 2015

Nefret, Chapter 3: The Sanctum of the Erudite Soul

Lady Sebti has agreed to let you explore one more site in Wati:  the Sanctum of the Erudite Soul, a temple to the minor netjer Heka.  Her only interest, she says, is that the previous team she'd hired insisted on being allowed to explore this site.  Sebti wants to know why.

While Kiji explored non-Aten worship near Peraten, Aloya spent time in the library at the Great Temple of the Sun.  She did research into the names Heka and Imanesh (the demonic head encountered in the House of Pentheru).  The only reference to Imanesh was a list of "malignant spirits" of Duat who were counted among the servants of Apep.  For Heka, the appellation of "Activated Soul" was uncovered, as well as his iconography--the holy symbol of his faith being a knot of flax between upraised arms (the heiroglyphs used to write his name).  You have seen this symbol before--being worn as amulets by Velriana Hypaxes and her companions.

Amulet worm my Velriana Hypaxes

Heka appears to have two forms, historically:  a man choking two entwined snakes; and a child holding a flail and wearing nothing but an elaborate crown.  Heka is a minor netjer of magic and medicine--portfolios more often associated with Isis and Thoth.

Important Locations


Peraten is the new capital of the empire. Construction of the city began under Atenhotep I, and was completed under his wife Moshet.  Atenhotep II continues to rule Nefret from this city.  Religious practices other than worship of the Aten are not permitted in the city.  Believers of other traditions are permitted, and each is allowed to practice their own faith privately--but public displays of devotion (including spellcasting) are forbidden.  Temples to other gods are not to be constructed; and the devout of any other tradition may not gather in groups of 4 or more.

Catacomb Sanctuaries are located in the old quarries outside of the city limits.  Here, worshipers of Anubis, Horus, Isis, Nephthys, Osiris, Ra, Set, and Thoth can be found in caves long abandoned by the workers who built the temples in Peraten.  These shrines are maintained by the followers of these faith, having no priests of their own--though traveling priests are often asked to offer blessings to the faithful at these sites.

Wati "Necropolis"

Wati is a walled-in, long-dead city that was recently uncovered by a sandstorm.  Pharaoh Atenhotep II commissioned the initial excavation of the site--which included carving an entrance into the otherwise gateless city as well as erecting an obelisk dedicated to the Aten in a plaza "constructed" just inside the gate.  Now, petty nobles who make their home in Peraten, such as Lady Sebti, have warrants from the Pharaoh to commission further expeditions into the Necropolis.

The Sanctum of the Erudite Soul is a temple in Wati dedicated to the minor netjer Heka.  The sanctuary is in remarkable condition, undamaged by time and sands as the buildings around it have been. Velriana had asked Sebti permission to explore this site--but she was denied.

Important People

Lady Sebti ("the Crocodile;" high elf with olive-green skin) is a devout follower of the Aten, and a noble with a minor connection to Pharaoh Atenhotep II.  She has a warrant from the Pharaoh to fund expeditions into the Wati necropolis.  Prior to hiring the player characters, Sebti had contracted with Velriana's team to investigate a brothel.

Velriana Hypaxes is the human leader of a team previously hired by Lady Sebti to explore a brothel in Wati--despite her requests to investigate a temple.  Her group's contract was terminated because of "incompetence" (an accusation she contests).  Her companions include the half-elf mercenary Idorii, the arcanist Azaz Arafe, and the priest Khelru.  Recently, she has also hired the confidence artist Uzoma (an overweight vanara previously employed by the players' party).

Session 3.1

Nephetus remains missing--still attending to "personal business."  The remainder of the party ventured back to Wati.  An astute Pleebit surmised that there might be complications going to the city this time, and there were:  a band of trappers and thugs had been hired to slow our heroes down.  They claimed to have been hired by a woman in a purple/red/mauve hat, whom Aloysa realized was Velriana Hypaxes.  How she knew that the Temple of the Erudite Soul was Sebti's next target is unknown.

Upon reaching Wati, the party found Pharaoh's guards murdered.  After some debate, they chose to enter the city inatead of waiting for the next shift.  Pleebit climbed the Ray of the Aten to get a better view of the city--and saw a purple-hatted woman with four companions (including one rotund vanara) at the gates of the Temple.  The party proceeded with caution. Upon arrival at the temple, Pleebit was even courteous enough to offer greetings to the Temple in the Terran tongue--but was surprised to receive a response.  An elemental spirit guarding the temple warned the party not to enter, and explained that it / the temple was under the control of a new mistress.

Our heroes returned to the gates of Wati to meet the second shift of guards and wait for Velriana and her party to return from the temple.

Session 3.2

Uzoma approached the gates of Wati while Velriana and the others lingered behind.  After some tense discussion, Uzoma convinced the party and guards that they had nothing to do with the murder of the guards.  Weapons were lowered, allowed Aloysa and Velriana to speak directly.  The hired thugs were not meant to cause harm, only to slow our heroes--an act Aloysa found deplorable, but still forgivable.  The party learned that Velriana was a Heka fanatic, blindly seeking access to her own god's ancient sanctuary.

The party did a sweep of the Temple of the Erudite Soul without incident, gaining little treasure in the wake of Velriana's team.  Upon returning to Sebti, the noblewoman was grateful for assistance, but has no additional work.  The party is permitted to stay at the Tooth and Hookah and access the city of Wati for three more days; after that, they must pay their own way at the inn.

Upon returning with this news, Aloysa took her leave from the party to return home on a personal errand.  Without a contract to fill, what will the party do in the next few days?  The pyramid which Jaeth and Nephethus scouted earlier remains an option; any party that has ventured there has either returned in defeat, or not at all.  Compared to those who have returned, our heroes are certainly more powerful.

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