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Monday Mystery: The Tomb of Seya
Today’s mystery takes the heroes on the beginning of a quest for the lost city of Dena, an elven capital of the second age. The journey begins in the North Sarilandic city of Anak, a hot and dusty place where the construction of a kaffe shop has revealed a wall with ancient hieroglyphs.
You’ll need to get your players a ring that once belonged to Seya, inscribed with the phrase “Pure blood runs in these veins.” You’ll also need to get them to Anak, which shouldn’t be that hard if they’ve heard the rumors that Seya’s tomb has been discovered. On the way in you should mention the prominent snow-capped mountains to the south-west and the spectacular azure domes of the royal observatory, as well as the aquaduct and the town well, all of which are original, like the centuries-old palace and the temple of Isfet, the blameless virgin.
Trying the Door
The first thing the heroes will do is probably to go check out the site – there’s a stone slab that could be a door, but there’s no way to open it, and the only non-hieroglyphic feature is a circular indent that fits the ring they have perfectly. Inserting the ring has no effect by itself, but hieroglyphics on the door read “Look to the heavens for the answer you seek.” From there, the heroes should find their way to the observatory, where the royal astronomer Zeigen will be happy to help them by examining the ring under the sacred light of a midnight moon. Doing so reveals the stars of four thousand years ago, which Zeigen has studied. He reveals that two stars are out of position – Isfet, the virgin, and Narhu, the murderer.
The Temple of Isfet
From here, the heroes may seek out the temple of Isfet, which Zeigen can give them directions to. If they do, choose one good-aligned character in the party (or a bystander if the party has no good-aligned characters) and have a priest inform them that they bear “Isfet’s aura.”
The Cult of Narhu
If the heroes ask Zeigen about it, he can tell them the location of the cult of Narhu, a dangerous pact of blood worshippers who can help the heroes, for a price. They’ll reveal directly that the ritual requires blood – specifically, the blood of an innocent character – one of the party’s good-aligned characters, preferably a female to more accurately reflect Isfet’s aura. They will help the heroes for the cost of one pint of blood from this character, in which they dip the ring and return it, telling the heroes to open the door before the blood dries. The cult should make a re-appearance later if the heroes accept their help, and will attack the heroes if they try to leave without paying.
The Easy Way: Blood on the Ring
If the heroes are smart or just lucky, they may figure out the need to put the blood of a good-aligned character on the ring without visiting the cult’s place of worship. This will bode well for them later.
Putting a blood-infused ring into the door and rotating it causes a panel to slide open and reveal a ruby scarab. Removing it causes the door to slide open, revealing a thirty foot drop that the heroes must descend. Waiting for them at the bottom are two mummies, armed with golden staffs, and three cats, wearing blue, green, and purple scarabs. The mummies wield solar and lunar magic – one staff is topped with an orange gem and the other an azure one – and the cats grow magically to become large in size. Use stats appropriate for your party’s level.
After defeating the guardians, the heroes are faced with a two-by-two grid of slots for the scarabs and a puzzle on the final door: “The sky above, the earth below, magic of the east, blood on fresh snow.” The gems must be placed in the following order, clockwise from top left: sky (blue), magic (purple), earth (green), blood (red). The crucial key is that the prominent snow-capped mountain in the region is to the south-west; knowing this mandates that the south-east corner be green (earth is below), making the north-east corner purple (magic of the east) and the north-west corner blue (sky is above). You can remind the players of the critical clue if they get stuck, but it should be pretty obvious – there’s no other snow in the region, and you can hint at that first to goad them along.
Inside is Seya’s sarcophagus, which is easy to open but which you can put a trap on if you want. Inside that lies Seya, who is dressed in pure white linen and bears a golden necklace around her neck with a slot for a scarab. The heroes must figure out “blood on fresh snow” again, and put the ruby scarab in this slot, although doing so causes the door to begin closing behind them. The door must close completely, and the scarab must remain socketed, for there to be any effect. When these conditions are met, the Well of Stars appears on the back wall of the sarcophagus room, and a voice speaks (in Elvish) “only the worthy may enter”. At this point, any character who enters the Well of Stars causes it to close behind themselves. Inside, they meet Seya’s spirit, who tells them they must answer three questions honestly to leave alive; you pose the questions (think roleplay) and judge the answers, as well as the character’s alignment (which must be good to satisfy Seya). If Seya is satisfied, she grants a golden key, which allows egress from the sarcophagus room, and sends the hero back through the portal, where they find a matching keyhole in the inside of the door.
Outside, a pedestal rises from the center of the room with a scarab-shaped hole. Removing Seya’s necklace (or the scarab) from the room causes the door to begin closing again, and the heroes can then access the blue scarab, which is required for this next part. Putting the blue scarab in the hole (the other scarabs have no effect) causes a map of the sky to appear in which the planets are very, very bright; recording their positions and taking the results to Zeigen reveals the location of Queen Ieyta’s resting place, long said to be the location of her magical sceptre and the bounty of Dena.
There’s a good bit of loot in this adventure: the sun and moon staves are both +2 magical foci, and grant the ability to cast at will one spell that deals fire or radiant damage (solar staff) or radiant or cold damage (lunar staff). Pick a spell of appropriate level for your party, and feel free to reduce it to a certain number of free casts per day if “at will” is too strong for the kind of campaign you’re running. The scarabs each have effects, too – Zeigen recognizes them as the four scarabs of Ieyta’s handmaidens (who Seya was one of). The blue scarab grants doubled jumping height and advantage on Acrobatics checks. The green scarab grants advantage on saving throws against being moved and damage reduction two (any source of damage deals that much damage minus two to the bearer instead of its normal damage). The red scarab grants two levels’ worth of hit points (using the average-roll rule) to the bearer, and advantage on Constitution saving throws. The purple scarab allows the wearer to add one-half their proficiency bonus to their spellcasting modifier (in addition to their normal proficiency bonus) and offers advantage on saving throws against being charmed. Lastly, if they managed (or thought) to retrieve it, the clearly magical key is a Key of Opening.
Key of Opening
Wonderous item, rare
This magical key has a ten percent chance to open any door against which it is pressed. Once it has opened three doors in this fashion, it becomes useless, but remains an ordinary key.
Look ahead to future Monday Mysteries for the conclusion of the adventure with Ieyta’s resting place and the lost city of Dena.
Drew Bronson is an avid role-player with over four thousand hours of experience around the table. He successfully manages ADHD, Tourette’s, and simulator sickness, among other conditions. When not writing for Silver Soul or performing his day job as a software developer, “Lone Wolf” can be found playing a variety of physical and digital games, ranging from Magic: The Gathering to League of Legends to any of a handful of indie titles.