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Pyramid Down

The Lost Nation Series, #1

by John T. Calvin


The Pharaoh's son huddled in the dark recesses of the palace.  What few servants he had left were gathered around him.  He sat up straight in his makeshift throne, trying to maintain a shred of his dignity as the empire fell around him.  Even here, below the earth, could they hear the wrath of the immortals being raged outside.  The Nithians had failed to unite their kingdom, had failed to do the will of the immortals, and hence had brought the gods themselves to their lands to wreak havoc and destruction.  Yet there was still a way out for the young Pharaoh's son.  The chances were slim, but the youth had no other choices left to him.

Several clerics and wizards danced and flung their arms about on the far side of the chamber.  The focus of their attention was a stone archway built into the wall.  It led nowhere, its center composed of solid limestone bricks, much like the rest of the palace.  The archway stones were covered in glyphs and writings.  Moments before those glyphs had blazed with the magical fires of his people, but now they lay dormant.  His wizards and priests could do nothing to bring them back to life, neither did they seem to be able to bring forth any of their own mystical powers.

The palace rumbled as gouts of dust and stone fragments fell from the ceiling of the chamber.  Sweat began to appear on the young Pharaoh's face.  Yes he pondered, idly kicking the corpse at his feet, I am the Pharaoh now.  That thought brought him little reassurance at the moment.  He glanced to each of his sides.  His servants stood ready, oblivious to the destruction around them.  They carried his most prized treasures, rugs and tapestries, chests full of gold and jewelry, statues and portraits of himself, ancient scrolls, incense, and precious oils bought from afar.  The young Pharaoh had packed everything he owned.   Another rumble shook loose a stone in the ceiling and it came crashing down upon two of his servants and their goods.

Sweat dripped down the sides of the boy Pharaoh's face.   He stood suddenly and shouted at the ceiling, "I am your servant!  Do not forsake me!"  Silence gripped the room as the priests and wizards turned from their task to regard their young king.  Regaining his composure he sat back down on his throne, and motioned for those standing near the throne to attend him.  

"Begin the ritual."  They did not move until he shouted the command again.  "I am Pharaoh!  I will not die in this place!"  No, he thought.  He would not die.  If his body was destined to remain on this world, he at least would be prepared for the next one.  His servants disrobed him and quickly bathed him in scented oils and perfumes.  Several priests removed sharp metal instruments from golden chests and inserted them into the Pharaoh's veins.  Even as those priests drained his blood into clay jars, others wrapped his feet in fine linen cloth.  The wizards recited their arcane chants over him even though their powers had fled them.  As the last of the cloth strips was placed around his head, the young Pharaoh could feel his life force leaving him.  Strangely his senses did not flee with his life force.  He still saw with his own eyes.  When the voice came, he still heard with his own ears.

"I have not forsaken you!" boomed a voice from the direction of inoperative gate.  A lone figure stood before the archway, where minutes before the priests and wizards had chanted.  "Behold," it said as it raised its own cloth enshrouded arms, and stepped away from the arch. 

The magical glyphs carved in stone came back to life in a flare of purple fire.  The stones beneath the archway wavered and disappeared.   In their place was a view of a dark night sky, lit by the violet fires of a dying sun.  "Go through now," the figure commanded, "and you shall have your kingdom."

A Light in the Sky

It is a cold, cloudless night when the party notices a flaming object crashes to the ground.  As the object contacts the ground The party is jolted by a thunderous boom, and an unsteady footing as the earth shakes around them.  The party may be tempted to investigate this event.  If so, allow them.  The site where the object came down is located in rough mountainous territory, and it may take the party several days journey to reach it.  Along their path they come across a small village.

If the party is less than eager to investigate this odd occurrence, see the section below titled "Wizard."  Have Farlin step into the picture earlier and entice the party toward their destination in the mountains.  He can also provide a reward if the PCs are motivated by that sort of thing.

The Village

The village is small, with roughly 70 people living there permanently.  It is a mining community situated at the base of a mountain.  When the party arrives the village is in a shambles.  The earth quake that shook the party before they arrived has done major damage to the villager's houses, and caved in several of the mines where people were digging.  The village shaman is busy tending to several wounded men who were just pulled from the mines.  Several more are believed to still be trapped within the shafts.  The cleric can not leave those under his care to search for others left in the mines.  He will eagerly try to persuade the party to bring back anyone they can recover, especially if one or more of the party members are clerics.  There is little he has to offer in way of payment, but if the party disclose their destination to him he and others in the village offer to equip them for their journey into the mountains if the party helps to recover their lost comrades.

The Mines

The mine shafts are located along a well-traveled path about a quarter of the way up the mountainside.  Gouts of dust and pebbles still spew from them as damaged passageways inside collapse.  Several of the villagers are outside the shafts trying to recover their comrades.  They are very concerned about the instability of the walls, and the possibility of another earth quake.  Several men are felling what trees are nearby in order to gather lumber for shoring up the mine shaft walls.

Click here for a map of the mines . (105k)

  1. Mine Entrance: The dwarven foreman is here with several of his workers and two battered cave in victims.  He tells the party that he has been able to retrieve 7 men so far.   The two with him were just rescued, and five others were sent back to the village earlier, to be treated by the cleric.  There are still 17 men unaccounted for, trapped in the mines.
  2. Damaged Passageway: This shaft is shored by timber, but due to the earth quake, that timber is no longer stable.  Any disturbance will cause a portion of the roof to cave in on top of the party's heads.
  3. Moved Bodies: There are signs that dead or wounded workers have been removed from this area.  Clear trails in the dust show where someone has been dragged out.  If party members think of it, they may be able to estimate how many people have already been removed in order to determine how many more are still trapped.
    1. Three men have been moved from this area.  One from near the entrance, and two others from farther in the cave.  The trail leads outward.
    2. Five men have been moved from this area.  The trail leads further into the mines.
    3. Two men have been moved from this area.  The trail leads further into the mines.
    4. Four men have been moved from this area.  The trail leads outward.
    5. One man has been moved from here.  The trail leads further into the mines.   After about a mile the tunnel is collapsed, and can not be reopened.
  4. Trapped Workers: These men have been trapped inside of the mines by the cave in.   They have been battered by falling debris, and may need quick attention in order to save their lives.
    1. One man is here.  There are several large rocks crushing his body, but he still lives.
    2. Three men are trapped on the other side of a cave in.  They are panicked and running out of air, but otherwise relatively unharmed.  The rocks must be removed without causing more of the mines to crash down.
    3. Two men are here, crushed to death by fallen rocks and timbers.
    4. Three men are here.  The sides of the shaft fell in killing one man and covering another up to his waist in rubble.  One man is trying to extricate him without causing more damage.
  5. New Fissure: The earthquake has opened up a new fissure in this area.  Monsters from the depths, disturbed by the quake, may emerge from this point to attack the party. 
  6. Shadow Elves: There is a small band of Shadow Elves here.  The tunnel behind them leads further into the earth, eventually opening up into their lands.  The elves were exploring these caves when the earthquake hit.  Although they are cautious of the party, they may be convinced to help locate trapped workers.  Their tunneling magic would prove invaluable to this task.
  7. Deeper into the Mines: This tunnel leads further into the side of the mountain.   The shaft has collapsed barring further passage; however, after several hours worth of digging it can be reopened.  If the party clears the tunnel and follows it they will emerge inside of a deep crater.  Go to The Crater section.

If the party is diligent in their work they will notice that more people have been removed from the mines than can be accounted for.  Some of the areas where miners were removed from, have dust trails leading further into the shafts instead of out toward the surface.  Those trails end abruptly at a recent cave-in. 

It could take the party several days to recover everyone trapped in the caves, even with the help of the Shadow Elves and other powerful magic.  After they rescue all who can be rescued, and return them to the village and the waiting cleric, they can outfit themselves for a longer trip into the mountains.

The Wizard

The first problem that the party will have is locating the object that fell from the sky.  They know that it came down in the mountains nearby, but not exactly where, and the terrain is treacherous.  At the moment they are trying to decide what direction to head in, a magical light appears before them.  The blue light expands to reveal a doorway, and a small withered man steps through it.  This man is the wizard, Farlin. 

Farlin is a scholarly sort of wizard, very knowledgeable in ancient history, and lore, and wishes to explore the crash site further.  However he also knows the limits of his own abilities.  He was scrying the area when he came upon this village, and the party.  Farlin could not believe his luck when he saw them.   He offers to lead them to their destination, but requests that the PCs share with him any interesting artifacts that they might find.  He only wishes to examine the party's findings, but informs them that either he or one of his associates would be willing to pay greatly for anything arcane, that the party might find.  Farlin himself won't join the party in their exploration, he fears he might just get in the way if they happen to come across any trouble.  If questioned why, he simply tell them that he prefers his books to confrontations.

The wizard can lead the party through the treacherous mountain passes to their destination.  Travel magic will not work in the mountains themselves, he believes that it has something to do with whatever crashed.  Farlin knows more than he tells the PCs however.  With his scrying device he also glimpsed several undead.   He doesn't wish any harm on the party, but he fears that if he mentions the undead he will discourage them from their task.


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This adventure and all related material copyright 1999 John T. Calvin. All rights reserved. Used by permission.