by John Calvin
The procession drew around him, quiet and solemn, as tradition demanded. Their long trek through the desert to the dwelling place of the gods was over.
The pharaoh shook off his old robes, revealing a slender golden body, scales glimmering in the sunlight. That action was ritual, a shedding of the old to make way for the new. The nobles, in turn, dropped their jewel-encrusted garments, and slaves quickly replaced them with fine linen clothes.
Turning toward the glimmering white pyramid, the pharaoh made the long journey, up rough-hewn steps toward the only entrance in the great monument. Old legs creaked and groaned as he slowly made his way upwards. The nobles followed him with bowed heads, the servants and slaves followed them in turn, bringing riches never before seen in one place.
Past the entrance, the hallway leading into the pyramid sloped downward. It took many hours for the old pharaoh to reach the Chamber of the God, but he knew that he had timed his procession precisely. By now the sun had set, and the stars were bright in the sky. Stones set in the wall marked special channels that were carved through the very stone of the pyramid itself. The eastern channel pointed towards Venkmet, the Dragon Star, while the western channel pointed to the center star in the Abyris belt.
Priests crowded around the pharaoh as he stood before the sarcophagus. Slaves rushed about the Chamber, placing offerings of gold and jewels in the prescribed areas while the priests decorated the pharaoh with priceless ornaments. Smirking, the pharaoh looked about him and saw the faces of saurians, humans, and those of the blessed, who wore their animal forms on this glorious day, all doing his will. Yes, he thought, during my lifetime I will rid my people of these false gods of sun, and of night. The true gods alone are worthy of worship. They alone had withstood the travail of ages, before the Great Rain of Fire and after it. They alone would rule this world.
The rituals were ended. The priests fell back, kneeling to one side of the ancient king, while the nobles knelt on the other. The slaves and the blessed around the room all fell to their bellies, hiding their faces on the stone floor. The time had come. With the deepest voice the pharaoh could muster, he shouted out the words of power that would complete the rites his father had taught to him. Thunder struck the room, and blinding light flashed. A golden mist pervaded the air, created from the dissolving treasures around the room. Living flesh joined it in its dissolution as the priests, nobles, and slaves were vaporized, their screams lost in the thunderous tumult. Slowly the mist swirled around the Chamber of the God, centered on the ancient pharaoh. With each flash of lightning and crash of thunder more of the mist infused his aged form. Until...silence.
The stones of the pyramid pulsed with arcane power as the pharaoh made his way through the passages toward the openness of the sky outside. For the second time today, the pharaoh had shed his old skin. He walked out of the entrance and into the cold night air of the desert. Flexing his muscles, for they no longer ached, the pharaoh prepared himself for the long journey home.
The party has just returned from their investigation of a mysterious object that crashed into the mountains [Editor's note: See Tome of Mystara Issue #1 for the previous adventure, "Pyramid Down"]. At the crash site, they found a lair of undead based around a six-foot tall stone ankh. The party defeated their enemy and returned to the village with their treasures as heroes. Celebrations were short-lived, however, as their enemy struck out at them through the stone ankh, an artifact that opens a partial gateway into another world. Destroying the ankh proves impossible, so the PCs must turn to Farlin's acquaintance Myrrith, a strange and mysterious magic-user, for help.
The party brought back many items that the wizard Myrrith has taken quite an interest in; among them, pieces of jewelry, fragments of wall paintings, and talismans with magical glyphs inscribed on them. Although quite happy with the PCs and the work they have done, Myrrith is not very cooperative or forthcoming. She wants little to do with the party, seems to take little notice of them, and generally has no time for interruptions from her studies. The party will have a hard time interacting with her at all, until she witnesses her first attack of the spell Set's Will. This event occurs the day after the PCs have vanquished the Pharaoh Mummy, Semetiffir.
Grateful for the party's help in rescuing several miners from collapsed shafts in the nearby mines, the villagers have loaned Farlin and the party several pack mules. There are enough mules to carry back most of the treasure from the pyramid. Farlin will accompany the party to help them retrieve goods from the smashed craft, and to see if the PCs have missed anything he might have found interesting. The journey there and back takes the entire day. By the time the party gets back to the village, the sun has long set.
Farlin has rented a small warehouse so that the PCs can catalogue their goods, and Myrrith is already busy at work studying several clay tablets and ancient scrolls. As per their agreement, Farlin and Myrrith will identify anything they can, free of charge for the PCs, as long as they are allowed to study all of the items that were retrieved.
Myrrith is especially handy with translating the activation words for the glyphs of Night Sight and Far Sight, as well as the Glyphs of Wounding inscribed on several arrows. The wizard may even make off-handed remarks as to the value of several items, just to see if the characters are willing to part with them.
It is while the party is cataloguing their treasures that the attack comes. The Pharaoh Mummy Sematiffir has been watching the party constantly since his defeat. Using the ankh, he sends his spells through to Mystara and casts Set's Will on the character who most upset him during their previous confrontation. In the warehouse, all eyes turn toward the PC who has become the focus for Sematiffir's wrath, as he or she writhes in agony, outlined by a sickly violet light. If Set's Will is successful, the party watches as their comrade's flesh dries up and becomes brittle right before their eyes. If the spell is unsuccessful, the luckless character falls to the ground unconscious, but otherwise unharmed.
Myrrith rushes to the nearest PC, grabs him by the collar, and demands that he tell her everything that transpired during their conflict at the crash site. If the PCs are reluctant, or merely neglect to mention the Pharaoh Mummy and his ankh, Farlin pipes up and offers the information. He noticed the ankh while he was collecting items at the site earlier that day. Myrrith heads for the door, beckoning for the party to follow her. She demands that they take her to see the ankh immediately.
Myrrith will study the ankh for several hours before rushing out of the pyramid and heading back to the village. She speaks to no one on the journey, and will not answer any questions put to her. Nearly another full day has passed by the time everybody returns to the quiet hamlet.
The tall sorceress gathers her belongings in the warehouse and then rushes off to a corner of the room and begins to chant, disappearing in a gout of flames and a puff of smoke. Shortly after she leaves, the Pharaoh Mummy makes another attack with his fell magic.
Misunderstanding in the Village
The party awakens the next morning to cries of alarm and shouts of fear. The villagers are gathering outside their warehouse with picks and shovels wielded in their hands as weapons. The object of their attention is standing in the middle of the crowd - a tall, gangly figure, draped in gold-embroidered robes. The figure should be immediately recognizable to the party as Myrrith; the wizardess, however, is not wearing her hood up.
Other than her disproportionate appendages, Myrrith has a distinctly elven look. Her white hair is streaked golden in places where time has not yet touched it, her ears are long and pointed, and her eyes sparkle with a golden glow. But there is something more to her old and haggard appearance. Her features are also slightly reptilian. She has short horns growing from her temples and what seem to be patches of golden scales around her eyes and neck.
Myrrith returned to her stronghold to retrieve several magic items. She was so excited and worried over her discovery that the ankh is a portal to a colony of the Lost Nation, that she forgot to disguise her visage before returning to the village. The simple people of the mining town saw her and mistook the wizardess for some foul beast, recently released from the depths of the earth by the violent quakes that brought down their mines.
They now surround her, shouting profanities and waving their makeshift weapons at her threateningly.
The tall wizardess hardly notices the villagers until one of them nearly strikes her in the head with a pick. Dazed and angry, Myrrith curses the villagers for fools and begins to cast a spell when the PCs see her in the street. They must think quickly to avoid a catastrophe and prevent both Myrrith and the villagers from being hurt.
Assuming that the heroes have managed to save Myrrith and the villagers from one another, the disgruntled mage pulls a large, fragile scroll from the folds of her robe. She refuses to answer any questions about her appearance, where she has been, or what she has been doing. If the characters press her, she will remind them that they have little time. A powerful force is attacking their friend, and Myrrith believes she has found a way for the PCs to combat it.
Using long, spindly fingers, Myrrith unrolls the scroll with reverent awe. Observant characters can make out that a single edge is frayed, as if the parchment had been torn free of a book or some similar binding. The two ends of the scroll slowly part to reveal...a blank page. Nothing is written on the parchment at all. If the characters hold their tongues, the ancient wizardess quietly explains:
"Long ago, when the sands of Ylaruam blew not, and the valleys were filled instead with flowing waters and lush farmlands, a great nation arose. Wise and powerful, they spread over the oceans and even out among the stars in the sky. But there was treachery within. The gods of the sun and night fought amongst themselves, and the people of the Lost Nation took sides in the battle, forgetting their roots. Forgetting their ancestry." Myrrith looks up from her contemplation. "That ankh you found in the mountains...the symbols covering it proclaim it to be of the Lost Nation. From what we have seen of its power, my guess is that it is an artifact of those who follow the gods of night. To save your friend, you will have to face them."
Myrrith begins pulling items out of her robe. Inkpots, quills, powders, and glyph-covered bowls soon cover the rickety bench she is working on. As she prepares her concoction of inks, the old wizardess surprisingly becomes more amenable to talking. The characters can ask her any questions that they might have, and she will answer to the best of her knowledge. Some possible questions follow.
"I want you to find out where it is that they went. Now...time is running short." Myrrith will say no more to the PCs after she answers the final question. She busily copies the center glyph of the ankh onto the blank piece of parchment. As she puts the finishing touches on her work, the old scroll begins to shimmer. It floats up in the air and begins to expand, slowly revealing a doorway into another world.
An Unexpected Guest
Earlier this morning, unbeknownst to the characters, Farlin was making his daily rounds through the small village. Over the past few days he has made a habit of first calling on the Mayor, then the village cleric, and finally on Myrrith. This morning, however, the mysterious wizardess was nowhere to be found. Knowing that the PCs were relying upon her to help save one of their members, and feeling a debt of gratitude toward the PCs himself, Farlin panicked and went teleporting across the continent looking for Myrrith. He never thought to look in her tower, which is where she was.
During one of his many stops, Farlin ran into another acquaintance of his, who just happened to be an authority on the Lost Nation. Being that Farlin is in the information business, he mentioned his recent adventure to the mage.
Unfortunately for Farlin, his acquaintance Kentep is quite mad. While Farlin continued his search for the missing Myrrith, Kentep tracked down his former location. Just as Myrrith opens the gate to the Night of the Blue Sun, Kentep bursts into the room, ranting and raving. Read the following to the players:
The warehouse doors burst open in a fiery explosion. Standing amidst the shattered wreckage is a crazed Ylari.
"It's mine! Give it to me!" he screams, froth spewing from his mouth.
The Ylari points his fingers at you and begins mumbling under his breath.
The characters should not have time to react before Kentep releases his first spell. A fiery wall erupts between Myrrith and the quickly vanishing portal. If any of the PCs made an attempt to shield Myrrith from the Ylari's spell, or otherwise protect her, they are also on the opposite side of the fire wall from the portal. Characters should be able to recover from the initial shock after this. The portal will close in three rounds, and the parchment will vanish with it. Myrrith lies on the floor, the obvious target of Kentep's anger. She will not recover in time to defend herself against the next attack.
Those PCs who step through the portal before it closes will continue on to the next part of this adventure. Those who do not enter the gateway in time must stay on Mystara, for there is no other way to enter the Night of the Blue Sun.
Night of the Blue Sun
PCs will find the Night of the Blue Sun to be a dark place at first. Once their eyes adjust to the violet rays of its sun, their sight will return to normal, although everything will take on shades of black and blues. Like Mystara, this planet revolves around its sun. Unlike Mystara, it takes 152 days to complete a full rotation, instead of just one day. This results in a day/night cycle of 76 days. The PCs arrive in a location that has had a full "week's" worth of light so far.
Life on this world is composed of cycles, which rotate around the planet along with its light fall. The Pharaoh Mummies who rule here do so with an iron fist. They are powerful and ruthless, however they do have one weakness: The light of the blue sun prevents them from moving from one receptacle to another. To counter this weakness, the Pharaoh Mummies each have several outposts across the land. They follow the night to each of those outposts so their powers will not be limited.
Pharaoh Sematiffir made a fatal mistake. He sent his life force out from this place while night still reigned here. During his battle with the PCs on Mystara, Sematiffir depleted himself of his magical energy. H realized only too late that the sun was rising on his present location and that he was now trapped in the mummy he currently inhabited. Once this mummy body is destroyed, the Pharaoh will only exist inside of his magic jars, which are nearby, and also under the light of the blue sun. He will not be able to inhabit another mummy body until after the sun sets, a full 68 days from now. If the party can find his magic jars, they can destroy him permanently.
The palace rests in the center of a harsh and dry land. Little vegetation grows here without the help of human hands. The palace itself is a sprawling, one-storey structure, surrounded by a stone barricade resembling monolithic teeth jutting from the ground. Peasants go about their business managing the complex irrigation system, cultivating crops, and transporting goods across the countryside. All movement is achieved on foot. There are neither wagons nor pack animals here.
PCs entering this land through the magical portal may cause quite a stir in the local countryside. Most peasants who see them enter will avoid them. Once they have come through the gate, Pharaoh Sematiffir will realize it since he has been monitoring them through the ankh. He will send his minions out to intercept them.
You see dust being kicked up in the distance as a column of men comes marching toward you from the palace. They carry spears and strangely curved swords, and are lightly armored. As they near your position, they begin to fan out. One of them approaches you, waving his sword in front of him. You notice that his features remind you of the Ylari who attacked you just moments ago, on the other side of the portal.
Any of the PCs who know the Alaysian tongue can understand the man by making a successful skills check roll. He tells them to "surrender their lives unto the Pharaoh." There is no compromise. Most PCs will not stand for this. If they resist the man, his forces close in from all sides, trying to encircle the party. The man's features change into those of a wolf-like animal. He is the equivalent of a lycanthrope on this planet and can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons. The rest of the soldiers are normal men.
Quest for Allies
Depending on the outcome of the battle, several things could occur. If the PCs have the upper hand throughout the battle, the lycanthrope will hang back behind his men and wait for them to win. He will then introduce himself as Aefet. Assuming that the PCs will listen to him, Aefet tells them the tale of his affliction and how it binds him to the service of the Pharaoh Sematiffir. Aefet wishes to be free of his master, and the PCs seem like the most likely candidates to help him fulfill his dreams of freedom. Proceed with Event 1.
If the party refuses to listen to Aefet's pleas, he will fight to the death. Proceed to Event 2.
Aefet will try to capture the party, rather than kill them. The Pharaoh wants that pleasure for himself. If Aefet succeeds, the party will be bound and gagged and taken to the palace. Depending upon how the party fared during the battle, Aefet may try to contact them after they have been thrown in the dungeon. If the party fared well, then Aefet approaches them and sets forth a plan to eliminate the Pharaoh. Proceed to Event 3.
Copyright 1999, John Calvin. All rights reserved. Used by permission.