Le Masque de la Momie
Informations glannées dans la Grande Bibliothèque de Tephu
Not only does the Outer Sanctum seem to be missing quite a lot of knowledge, but some of the more interesting and secretive works seem to have been deliberately removed.
While the Outer Stacks and Great Chamber of Knowledge contain general information on Osirion’s most famous royal dynasties, information relating to less wellknown dynasties and older families is contained in the Upper Stacks.
A papyrus scroll dating from Osirion’s Second Age over 6,000 years ago references a “lost” pharaoh named Hakotep. The scroll ascribes the epithet of “Sky Pharaoh” to the forgotten ruler, and recounts his ability to “ride the stars by night.” The scroll even contains a crude illustration of the Sky Pharaoh, a figure standing upon a dais surrounded by glass and crystal.The dais and crystals are f loating, seemingly part of a vast temple that somehow sits in the night sky. The image can be further interpreted as depicting the technology of the Shory—an ancient empire of central Garund known for its arcane engineering and flying cities.
An obscure index compiled by a previous curator of the library lists the scroll referencing Hakotep as one of many that were copied from the personal library of the Sky Pharaoh. This collection of scrolls is held in a part of the Great Library’s Inner Sanctum called the Spiral Archive, described as a chamber resembling a vertical scroll tube crossed by a latticework of papyrus bridges.
An index catalogs all of the scrolls copied from Hakotep’s library, but the scrolls have clearly been moved or hidden and are not where they are supposed to be.
The PCs locate the missing scrolls from Hakotep’s library, a huge pile containing several references to the Sky Pharaoh and his participation in some ancient war. The Sky Pharaoh is represented by a very distinct hieroglyph of a winged pyramid. According to the scrolls, the Sky Pharaoh was convinced that an attack was coming from enemies who lived in cities in the clouds, and that he was frantically searching for a weapon to defeat them. Apparently, the pharaoh eventually succeeded in finding this weapon, but all that remains of the scrolls that detail this weapon are a handful of ragged papyrus scraps depicting confusing geometrical patterns.
A large collection of tablets bound in cloth marked with the Sky Pharaoh’s winged pyramid hieroglyph contains a number of transcribed recollections of several courtiers at Hakotep’s court. These accounts make passing references to the Sky Pharaoh having access to stolen Shory magic.
A dusty, otherwise unremarkable scroll contains a lengthy passage about the burial of Hakotep I, with a passing reference to his tomb having wings. The scroll also contains a tantalizing fragment of the confession of a member of a
group called the Sacrosanct Order of the Blue Feather, who claimed that when the Sky Pharaoh was interred, his heart and funerary mask were stolen from his tomb before it was lost to the skies. These two objects supposedly contained the pharaoh’s soul, but his body was left behind in the tomb. This confession was extracted in –1560 ar, some 50 years after the pharaoh’s death. There are also references to considerable efforts by Hakotep’s successor, Pharaoh Djederet II, to round up members of the Sacrosanct Order for questioning. The results of the interrogations were recorded on a collection of scrolls called the Scrolls of Inquiry, but this collection is not held within the Spiral Archive. Radoki identifies the Sacrosanct Order of the Blue Feather as a secretive sect of the priesthood of Nethys dedicated to the collection and preservation of knowledge.
A curator’s catalog reveals that the Scrolls of Inquiry were moved to another of the Inner Sanctum’s libraries, the Dark Depository, 103 years ago.
Le Sombre Dépôt
The Dark Depository primarily contains knowledge deemed too dangerous for general use. Numerous references to interrogations can be found, including mentions of the Scrolls of Inquiry, recording the confessions of members of the Sacrosanct Order of the Blue Feather, a sect of Nethysians who were questioned immediately after the death and burial of Hakotep I. The fact that the members of the sect were priests and priestesses of Nethys was kept secret, as Nethys was much revered in Ancient Osirion. Hakotep’s successor, Djederet II, was a priest of Nethys himself, and he deemed that the potential backlash of such information becoming public could lead to dangerous civil unrest.
Scraps of a personal journal reveal that a priest of Nethys named Khnenti clearly became obsessed with the mystery of the Sky Pharaoh. One extract from Khnenti’s journal reads, “The Mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh is said to contain a portion of Hakotep’s soul, his ka, which gives the mask its magical abilities.” The PCs can find details on The Mask Of The Forgotten Pharaoh abilities here. Khnenti seems to have set out upon some sort of quest to unravel these mysteries. There is also brief mention of the Sacrosanct Order of the Blue Feather hoping to commune with the Sky Pharaoh to learn his “darkest secrets,” but with ambiguous results.
Research in the Secret Archive finally reveals the Scrolls of Inquiry. The scrolls are cumbersome and difficult to read, and most of the confessions recorded upon them are of no use to the PCs’ research. One transcript, however, does contain some useful information.
Excerpt from the Scrolls of Inquiry
Inquisitor: Why did the Sacrosanct Order enter Hakotep’s tomb?
Prisoner: Mercy! May the gods pity me!
Inquisitor: Why did the Sacrosanct Order enter Hakotep’s tomb?
Prisoner: To take the Pharaoh’s heart and death mask.
Prisoner: I cannot! Death is better than the punishment I’ll receive.
Prisoner subjected to further flaying for approximately one
hour, and subsequently revived after passing out.
Inquisitor: Why did the Sacrosanct Order steal the Pharaoh’s heart and mask?
Prisoner: [unintelligible] Please, no more!
Inquisitor: Why? Answer!
Prisoner: It was believed the Pharaoh’s soul, his ib and ka, were contained within them. Please, gods have mercy!
Inquisitor: Why did the order want the Pharaoh’s ib and ka?
Prisoner: No, I cannot!
Inquisitor: Why did they divide his soul?
Prisoner: No more! Have pity!
Prisoner subjected to the Trial of Seventy-Seven Scarabs.
Inquisitor: Why did the order steal the Pharaoh’s ib and ka?
Prisoner: We hoped to learn the secrets of the Shory from his soul.
Inquisitor: Did you succeed?
Prisoner: No, no! May the gods pity us for our hubris!
Inquisitor: Where is the Pharaoh’s heart? Where is the mask?
Prisoner: No, no, please! I’ll tell you! The heart was taken to Sothis, hidden beneath Azghaad’s Spire.
Inquisitor: And the mask?
Prisoner: A shrine. A shrine to Nethys in Wati, where none would ever find it. No more, I beg you!
Questioning continued for three more days without further
confessions until subject expired. Subject interred for
future questioning, if needed.
The PCs discover a collection of architectural plans detailing a series of tomb designs of incredible complexity. Each plan is labeled with a double hieroglyph of an owl inside a house. This hieroglyph is the “signature” of the architect, a person named Chisisek. There is also a note mentioning a meeting between Chisisek and the Sky Pharaoh, but nothing more in this archive.
Following up on Khnenti’s research on Hakotep, the PCs learn that the priest carried out further study in an archive of the Great Library called the Vault of Hidden Wisdom. The location of the Vault is secret, but worthy scholars can find the entrance by casting their eyes from the summit of the Tower of Ra’s Glory at dawn on midsummer’s day.
Le caveau de la sagesse dissimulée
The PCs find the remainder of the journal of the Nethysian priest Khnenti. According to the journal, with Hakotep’s ib and ka trapped in his heart and funerary mask, the third part of his soul, the ba, remained trapped within the pharaoh’s body in his pyramid. In order for the Sky Pharaoh to pass into the afterlife, the three parts of his soul—his ba, ib, and ka—must be rejoined. Khnenti goes on to speculate that reuniting Hakotep’s divided soul might even return the Sky Pharaoh to life, probably destroying the artifacts in the process.
The architect Chisisek designed and built Hakotep’s pyramid. When construction was completed, Chisisek was killed and buried in a hidden tomb to preserve the pyramid’s secrets. No plans of the pyramid seem to have survived.
The Sky Pharaoh’s pyramid was capable of flight, and when Hakotep’s body was entombed within, the pyramid vanished into the sky. None know where the tomb now lies, or if it still soars through the skies over Osirion.
Although none know the location of Chisisek’s tomb, his funeral was commemorated in a fresco in the Vault’s rotunda by the greatest artist of the age, Hor-hepu.
This last clue is tantalizing, for the PCs can find no fresco depicting Chisisek’s funeral in the Vault of Hidden Wisdom. Hor-hepu’s fresco is actually hidden behind a false ceiling in the rotunda.
By studying the fresco painted on the true dome of the rotunda, the PCs learn that Chisisek’s tomb, sealed with his double hieroglyph of an owl inside a house, is said to be located “across two bridges, where the sphinxes ponder the crook, the scarab, and the sun.” A character who succeeds at a DC 15 Knowledge (geography) or Knowledge (local) check recognizes this as a reference to the area between the Crook and Scarab rivers and the Pillars of the Sun mountains—a desert region called the Parched Dunes—though the tomb’s exact location is not pinpointed.
The geometric shapes on the fresco are far more than just design elements; they represent a fantastic weapon of vast size used against winged cities populated with strange figures bearing weapons that launch black fire. A character
who succeeds at a DC 25 Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge(history) check can identify these cities and figures as Shory.