XVI Chuma Invictus
IVLIVS XVI DCCCXCVII
Titus Decius Pullox, Gaius Severus Commodus, Lucius Aemilius Rufus, Zahur Quaashie, and Etrusicus Superbus Invicti, with their families, arrive at Alexandria to meet with the serpent man K’Stalloss and to organize their expedition into the wilds of Africa to find the lost temple of Yig. Having been told that K’Stalloss would contact them, the PCs wait for his summons.
Having spent another restless day waiting for contact from K'Stalloss the PCs finally receive a notice by courier of the serpent-man's location. Arriving at the shabby room rented by K'Stalloss where they find the serpent-man's unnaturally desiccated corpse. The room appears to be thoroughly searched but left open, on the desk directly in front of the body, is a bizarre map written in Valossan. Mustering all he knows of the dead alien language, Etrusicus is able to make out that it is a map leading to the lost temple of Yig. K'Stallos’ map includes the phases of the moon, giving the Romans a basic calendar, and trail which they are to follow. Meandering down the Nile to Syrene, they then must head westward into the wilds of darkest Africa. Accepting that they must venture forth without their reptilian mentor, they hire on as extra swords on a diplomatic trade mission headed to Axum and leave their wives and children in Alexandria. On the voyage back from Meroë they will disembark at Syrene, hire guides and march boldly into the unknown.
The diplomatic mission includes XVI Egyptian boatmen, X legionnaires, the V PCs, a supervising legionnaire, Centrix Pilatus, the Greek dignitary, Strabo, and Strabo’s slave and translator, the boy Teriteqas. Centrix treats the southbound mission as a vacation from the dull business of the legionary camp in Alex which arouses the ire of Strabo who keeps to himself and extends his distaste for Centrix to all the legionnaires (including the PCs). Teriteqas mingles freely with the legionaires who tell him stories of myth and adventure. After learning that one of the legionaries is named Ninnius, he refers to all the soldiers as “Ninny.” The intense heat prevents the wearing of armor and the rest of the day is spent sipping warm wine.
That night, Titus is on watch when he hears bizarre chanting but only finds Tertieqas who claims to be praying to the spirits of the river.
On this day they come across a ship burnt and raided. The once sailors torn apart by crocodiles. Askumite raiders are blamed and Lucius is mauled by a crocodile.
Gaius is woken by chanting, once again from Teriteqas. Gaius sees a figure across the river, a man hovering in midair, rotating. Gaius asks Teriteqas for an explanation but the Kushite laughs off Gaius’ concern, explaining that it is only the spirits of the night playing tricks.
Lucius wakes first and turns to the shore to make water. There he finds the body of Centrix, slain by stab wound. The murder weapon is not found and no one is blamed. Titus is elected chief legionnaire in Centrix’s stead.
Syrene is reached on the fifth day of the voyage. Strabo informs all that they are free to roam the city until the sixth hour and leaves with Teriteqas. Etrusicus and Titus head to the garrison in Syrene to report on their troubles thus far and affirm Titus’ promotion. Zahur, Gaius, and Lucius follow the Greek.
Strabo leaves his Kushite in a marketplace with orders to stay still but once the Greek is out of sight the boy leaves. The party divides once again as Zahur and Lucius tail Teriteqas who is invited into a villa by an older Egyptian who appears to be acting very deferential to the boy. Gaius follows the Greek into a dingy brothel where he overhears a conversation between Strabo and an unknown conspirator but must flee before he can gather any real information.
Later that day the crew and legionnaires must portage their ship around the first cataract which is done without incident.
During the night the PCs are visited by dreams of tittering winged men without faces.
The second and third cataracts are negotiated with only minor crocodilian interruptions.
The portage around the fourth cataract is interrupted by a heated battle between the Romans and Askumites in which VII legionnaires and III boatmen are slain. XV attackers are slain but a handful manage to escape unmolested. The barge is damaged and repairs must be made, requiring that they remain undefended in the open.
They are attacked once more by Askumite archers but there is little the PCs can do to stop them save chasing them into the wilds. The attack peters off and the voyage continues southward.
On arriving in Meroë Strabo takes the PCs aside and reveals to them an ulterior motive for his journey; in addition to negotiating for ivory and trade agreements he is to secure an important document from Parthian traders. The document is a record of the religious practices of a sub-Saharan people and their bizarre rites. Strabo will not explain why the document absolutely must be acquired; only that it is of grave importance. Zahur, Lucius, Gaius, and Ninnius accompany Strabo to the court of king Takideamani and wait outside in an impressive audience room while the dignitary negotiates through Teriteqas.
Titus and Etrusicus do some undercover work and are able to purchase the scroll disguised as a wealthy Roman and his slave.
The party reconvenes at the barge ready to set sail but now without Teriteqas. Strabo explains that the boy wished to remain in his homeland and Strabo had no further need for a translator.
The expidition begins its northbound return journey and the PCs begin to believe that all is not right with Strabo. Although they do not trust his seemingly altered personality.
A little before nightfall the ship moors in Syrene. Strabo, with the scroll, orders the PCs to remain on the ship while he attends to some private buisness. This doesn't sit well with the PCs who decide to follow the Greek. Lucius and Zahur find that Strabo makes for the very same villa that Teriteqas entered. Zahur remains outside the villa while Lucius runs to gather the other PCs but is soon attacked by a group of Egyptian guards.
Zahur, upon fleeing, meets with the rest of the party and they assualt the villa via the front door. Upon dispatching the guards they stumble across a group of robed men in the act of summoning an unearthly horror. A fierce battle ensues, involving the PCs, the cultists, and horrible, winged, tittering nightgaunts. The PCs slay the Egyptian cultists and the alien beasts and recover the scroll. The are able to ascertain that the leader of the cult, an Egyptian named Ahnwey, first posed as the boy Teriteqas, then stole the form of Strabo. The actual Strabo was murdered in Syrene by Ahnwey while the sorceror was in the guise of Teriteqas.
The PCs give an altered report of the above events to the garrison leader in Syrene and prepare to head westward to find the lost temple of Yig.