In the ancient past, Osirion was ruled by pharaohs who governed in accordance with the Precepts of Maat. These divine rules of leadership were inscribed upon the Scrolls of Thoth, and handed down from one pharaoh to the next so that the country might prosper under their guidance. Although they were not the sole factor by any means, ruling in accordance with the Precepts of Maat contributed greatly to the stability and power of ancient Osirion.
But all of that went wrong when the Pharaoh of Forgotten Plagues turned his back on the Precepts of Maat. He chose to put his faith in his planar allies. The Scrolls of Thoth he sneeringly threw in the treasury to collect dust.
There they were retrieved by the Princess Shemayet. She was of true royal lineage, though somewhat removed from the main line, and had spent her childhood studying music in a temple of Hathor. On reading the Precepts, she saw clearly how corrupt Pharaoh had become, and set herself against him. In time, she became a powerful cleric of Hathor, and successfully put down the Pharaoh of Forgotten Plagues and his horrific extraplanar allies. She is now known to history as the Song Pharaoh, for her use of magical music in combat.
Alas, in the end, Pharaoh Shemayet was murdered in her sleep by a scheming cousin of hers, one Djetrieti. (Though he did not assassinate her personally, it was at his command.) In the chaos following her death, her lover Dedelion stole her body away from Djetrieti in order to give her proper rites.
Djetrieti was enraged at the theft of Shemayet’s body, which he had planned to hang over the gates of Sothis as proof of her death and his power. He tasked a team of his most loyal minions with tracking down Dedelion and punishing him. He also instructed them to remove Shemayet’s name wherever they found it, that she might be forgotten by history. Dedelion successfully concealed Shemayet throughout the long mummification process, and finally took her to her unfinished tomb in a canyon on the southern reaches of the Pillars of the Sun. There he buried her, and began performing her burial rites.
It was at that moment, as he was in the very midst of performing her rites, that the minions of Djetrieti caught up with him. They interrupted the rite partially finished, and assaulted him.
Shemayet’s tomb was equipped with defenses, in the form of four graven guardians of Anubis. Unfortunately, Dedelion could not call upon them for aid. They were designed not to activate until the tomb was sealed, as a safety measure to prevent them from injuring workers constructing the tomb. Further, he had dismissed the assistants who helped him bring the sarcophagus to the tomb. And so Dedelion fought alone, and valiantly, until he finally perished at the hands of his foes.
The forces of Djetrieti were needed elsewhere. There was an uprising in progress, and the new Pharoah needed every available soldier to put down his opposition and consolidate his rule. And so rather than rob the tomb wholly, they contented themselves with smashing every cartouche in the place and grabbing the most obviously valuable and portable grave goods. They left Shemayet’s mummy intact, reasoning that they could always come back and remove it later once the immediate crisis was dealt with.
On the way out, Djetrieti’s minions sealed the door to the tomb, since it was all prepped and required little effort on their part to do so. Sealing the door activated the graven guardians below, who have vigilantly guarded the tomb ever since. Then they triggered a small avalanche to conceal the entrance, and a wizard in their midst used a Stone Shape spell to inscribe a djed hieroglyph in the wall of the canyon above the entrance, so they would be able to find it later. But one way or another, they never returned.
The Scrolls of Thoth were buried along with Shemayet. Djetrieti did not care about them — he might have destroyed them had he gotten ahold of them, but they were carefully hidden. Shemayet’s mummy holds a crook in one hand, and flail in the other, the signs of her pharaonic majesty. But the particular ones that she holds are not the gold that they appear to be: they are lead with gold leaf, and their handles are hollow. Each is capped at the base with more lead, and within the hollow tubes thus concealed from divination effects lie the Scrolls of Thoth.
Shemayet’s soul was not properly laid to rest. A side effect of reading the Scrolls of Thoth is that one’s soul is split into two complementary parts: the Ba, and the Ka. The Ba is one’s personality and memories. The Ka is the vital animating force that keeps one alive within one’s body. After death, these two portions of the soul must be reunited, forming a new spiritual being called an Akh, which then must journey through the Duat, a series of tests. In the end, the Akh is judged in the Halls of Amenti according to how well the person lived by the Precepts of Maat. But the rites meant to free Shemayet-Ba and Shemayet-Ka from her mummy were interrupted. Her Ba was freed, and took shape in the tomb not long after Djetrieti’s thugs left. But her Ka was trapped within the weskhet necklace worn by Shemayet’s mummy. Without both portions of her soul, Shemayet could not move on to the afterlife.
Shemayet-Ba fled the tomb rather than stay imprisoned with her dead lover, and has spent the intervening millennia in the nearby village of Ben-Talu. The village was originally established to house the workers who were building her tomb; after her burial, the craftsmen left hurriedly to avoid being associated with the former Pharaoh. And so Ben-Talu switched to agriculture. Shemayet-Ba jealously longed for life once more, and so she possessed a woman of the village, informed the woman’s family that her new name was Shemayet, and set herself up as an oracle and religious authority. When this first woman died of old age, Shemayet-Ba possessed a new village woman to become the new Shemayet. In time, the villagers came to call her Chantress — which is what her name means in ancient Osiriani — and accepted her as the undisputed leader of the village.
Although well-intentioned at first, Shemayet-Ba’s soul was never designed to live for so long, in so many borrowed bodies. Although she remains a devotee of Hathor, her alignment has shifted to Neutral Evil, a fact to which she is oblivious. She has warped village life around continuing to provide her with life and experiences. She perceives anything that is a threat to her continued enjoyment of life as evil, and her own actions as good. Each new body she takes is merely her due as the Chantress, and she is not even really aware that she has cheated the women she has possessed out of their own lives, and that their own souls have been stunted as a result.
Shemayet’s name was lost to history. Djetrieti’s thugs did their work well, stripping her cartouche from everywhere they could find it throughout Osirion. And so she is known only by her title Song Pharoah, and as Chantress by the villagers. Shemayet-Ba remembers her own name, and her history, when she cares to think of it — but for the most part she now lives in the moment, and does not dwell on the ancient past.
The Scrolls of Thoth passed out of the history of Osirion, which slowly declined thereafter. Recently, Pharaoh Khemet III has learned of the existence of the Scrolls of Thoth. He does not know where they lie, but he is seeking them, and his invisible fire elemental advisor Janhelia was able to tell him that the Song Pharaoh was the last ruler of Osirion known to have held them. Through extensive divinations and inquiries amongst his planar allies, the Ruby Prince discovered the location of the Song Pharaoh’s tomb. Now he is assembling a team to investigate it, and hopefully to retrieve the Scrolls. The PCs are that team.
Proceed to Adventure Summary.