The Song Pharaoh’s Coda

Part II: The Chantress


In the aftermath of the battle against Dedelion, Shemayet-Ka addresses the party thus:

Declare yourselves. Who are you? What do you want?

She speaks in ancient Osiriani. If none of the party know that language, she will try her other languages, in the following order: Shory, Celestial, Auran, Ignan, Draconic. If none of the PCs know any of these languages, she will cast Share Language (DC 17 Spellcraft check to identify the spell as it is cast) and bestow knowledge of ancient Osiriani on the PC who seems the least threatening to her.

Shemayet’s answers to questions the PCs are likely to ask follow. All of the following answers are true, and a DC 20 Sense Motive check is enough establish that. If the PCs get a 25 or higher on their Sense Motive check, it’s clear that she is terribly confused and suffering from memory loss.

Who are you?
I ... I do not know my name. I am the Ka of the one who lies in this sarcophagus.
What’s a Ka?
I am part of her soul. I was the wind in her breaths, the blood in her heart — I was her animating essence. But now I am separate, and incomplete.
Incomplete? / What’s missing? / Where’s the other part of her soul?
My Ba! I am missing my Ba.
What’s a Ba?
The other part of her soul! My soul. Our soul? The Ba is the memory, the experience, the personality. The Ba is her. Without the Ba, I am just ... nothing, really.
Who was that mummy (Dedelion)?
I am not sure. His face feels familiar, as if I knew him at one time. But beyond that, I do not know.
Where are the Scrolls of Thoth?
The what? I have no idea. Was it something of hers? (gestures at sarcophagus)
Who would know where the Scrolls are?
My Ba! If anyone knows, it would be her. But ... she is not here.
Where is the Ba?
I don’t know. I am tied here — I cannot leave. I have to be near the body. But the Ba — she can leave. I mean, she can at least go outside and wander around. She can’t go too far though. She is freer than I am, but she can’t just leave and go far away. She has to be around here somewhere, no more than a mile or two away at most. Please, please! Find my Ba, and bring her back to me. I need her, and she needs me. There is something we have to do.
What does a Ba look like?
She has my face — we are part of the same soul, after all. But the rest of her is a bird, with many-colored wings.
What do you have to do?
I ... something ... I don’t know. It’s terribly important. I can feel it. But ... I don’t know what it is.
How can we find the Ba?
She loved music. I remember that, a little. The music. She would seek out music.
How can we persuade the Ba to come back with us?
Tell her ... tell her I miss her, and I love her, and I want her back. I hope she wants to come back! If not she may be hard to capture. She can go through walls, just like I can.
How can we capture the Ba?
(hesitates, then points at the sarcophagus) Take the necklace from her. If you can get it around the Ba’s neck, she’ll be stuck.

If the party refuses to assist Shemayet-Ka in the retrieval of her Ba, you are off the rails and will need to improvise. The only one who knows where the Scrolls are is Shemayet-Ba — though the party could plausibly get that information from Dedelion via Speak with Dead if he is sufficiently intact to do so. If the PCs attempt to rob the sarcophagus, Shemayet-Ka will demand that they stop, and become hostile if they persist.

If the party agrees to assist Shemayet-Ka — which is really their only good chance of finding the scrolls — she will smile gratefully and say “Many thanks, noble friends!” She has no further assistance to give. She does not know what the surrounding land is like, or how to find the Ba. If the party keeps asking questions about the Ba, simply have Shemayet-Ka reiterate that the Ba loves music, and that she cannot have gone far. You may need to volunteer the information about the necklace being able to trap an incorporeal creature. If not, the PCs may have a difficult time trapping Shemayet-Ba.

Seeking Shemayet-Ba

The nearest — and indeed only — source of music in the area is the village of Ben-Talu. It was mentioned by Nazmi in the initial briefing, and the PCs saw it briefly in the distance when they arrived. If it does not immediately occur to them to check Ben-Talu, have them roll Intelligence checks. Tell the high roller “It occurs to you that there’s a village about half a mile south.” Hopefully, the party will soon be on their way to Ben-Talu.

It is not terribly far from the tomb to the village of Ben-Talu, which proves to be situated along the banks of a minor tributary of the Sphinx River. The town is unremarkable, consisting of the common adobe or mud brick houses, with long flat roofs. You can see people at work as you approach. A heavy-set man working in the closest field looks up and waves at you, as does a plain but smiling woman seated outside the house a bit past the field. They look at you with obvious curiousity.

The house on the northernmost side of Ben-Talu belongs to Bashar and Nakisa Rahali, a Keleshite couple. These two are heavily muscled from their life of manual labor, and childless despite their hopes. Bashar is out in the fields as the PCs approach, working on maintaining a canal that waters his northern field. Nakisa is sitting in the shade cast by their house, spinning and keeping an eye on a small flock of orange-billed geese. Either one hails the PCs as they approach: “Greetings, travellers! In the name of the Mistress of Revels, I welcome you to Ben-Talu. I am Bashar/Nakisa” (depending on which they approach.)

Bashar and Nakisa can answer the following questions:

Have you seen a Ba flying around?
A what? *blank stares*
(If the PCs describe it) No, I have never seen anything like that! Perhaps you should speak with the Chantress.
Do you have any music around here?
*laughs* All the time, friend! We sing in the fields, at work, and in our homes, at play, and once a month we hold a revel at the Chantry of Hathor.
What’s the Chantry of Hathor?
It’s our shrine. Maybe it’s not as fancy as the big temples you’ll find in cities, but it’s ours and we love it. The Chantress keeps it up.
Who is the Chantress?
Our leader! The Chantress Unending. She is our priestess of Hathor.
What’s the Chantress’ name?
(looks taken aback for a moment) Uh ... well, Seni, I guess. But mostly we just call her Chantress. When you take the job, you take the name.
What do you mean “Unending?”
(looks embarrassed) We call her that because there’s always a Chantress. When one passes away, a new girl takes up the song and becomes the Chantress. It’s always been that way.
Where is the Chantress/Chantry?
(points) Down by the river, there. You can tell her I sent you.

In addition, they can answer basic questions about the town: it’s been here forever (as far as they know). There are 31 families living in it, about 267 people overall, and they’re all farmers, except the Chantress who is their priestess, and handful of craftsmen (a smith, a potter, and so on). They mostly grow wheat, and what they don’t eat they trade downriver to Sothis and the larger settlements on the Sphinx proper. In addition to the Chantry of Hathor, they have a small shrine to Wadjet, the goddess of rivers. There is no inn; Ben-Talu is too remote to need one.

The Chantry of Hathor

Creatures in This Area

The Chantry of Hathor is easily the largest structure in town. It consists of a whitewashed adobe building half again as tall as its neighbors, built around a large central courtyard. The gate is open, and this close to the river the greenery grows lush. Palm trees surround the building, and the courtyard within overflows with flowers. Arranged about the edges of the courtyard are wooden pillars, whitewashed and painted with hieroglyphs in bright colors. There is no one in sight at the moment, but you can hear the sound of a woman singing somewhere within the building.

DC 20 Linguistics: the hieroglyphs on the pillars are holy texts in praise of Hathor. But it’s odd to see them. No one really uses hieroglyphs any more, and it’s rare to find someone who can read or write them any longer.

DC 25 Perception: the singing is coming from the rear of the compound, at the center. There is probably a shrine back there. If a PC succeeds on this check, they are also entitled to a DC 25 Linguistics check to identify the language of the lyrics as ancient Osiriani.

DC 20 Kn (Religion): the singing is coming from the rear of the compound, at the center. There is probably a shrine back there. The song sounds like some kind of devotional hymn.

The Chantry of Hathor is Shemayet-Ba’s home. Currently, she occupies the body of Seni, and has for some three or four years since her previous victim perished of old age. As was her practice, Shemayet-Ba had begun training Seni as an acolyte of Hathor well before her previous host’s end, telling the impressionable girl that some day she would encounter the spirit of Hathor in the form of a beautiful bird with the face of a human woman. When this happened, Seni was instructed to accept the spirit of Hathor within herself. And so it came to pass. When the old host passed away, Shemayet-Ba abandoned the body and slipped away into the night. After a few nights of coasting the winds on wings long unexercised, she returned to Ben-Talu and revealed herself to Seni. The girl gladly opened her arms and mind to Shemayet-Ba’s embrace — and thus, Shemayet-Ba gained a new body using her Malevolence ability. She does need to refresh her control over Seni at least once every ten hours, but the girl lacks the willpower to seriously resist, and Shemayet-Ba has many centuries of practice, so the effect is essentially permanent.

If the party uses Detect Magic in the area, the PCs may notice that the Chantress radiates a moderate magic aura. Have the PC who detects the effect make a Knowledge (Arcana) check after three rounds a of study. A 23 is sufficient to identify the school of the effect as necromancy, while it requires a 28 to identify it specifically as Greater Possession. Unlike enchantment effects, Sense Motive is of no use in detecting possession. Seni is not acting against her ordinary nature; rather, Shemayet-Ba’s personality has supplanted and suppressed Seni’s.

If the PCs wait in the courtyard, the Chantress will emerge and discover them there in just a few minutes. If they call out to her announcing their presence, she weaves the words “One moment” into her song and then finishes. If they enter the shrine, they will find her kneeling and singing praises in front of a statue of Hathor highlighted by rays of sun striking down through a single opening in the ceiling of the shrine. She will be offended at their profanation of sacred ground. Frowning, she will gesture them back to the courtyard until she is done. The walls of the shrine are covered in hieroglyphs, which can be identified as holy texts of Hathor by a DC 20 Linguistics check, or by knowing ancient Osiriani. A DC 30 Perception check lets a sharp-eyed PC who can read them notice that at the bottom of one wall there is an inscription reading “This shrine raised in honor of Hathor, Mistress of Revels, by Shemayet.”

Upon emerging, the Chantress says “Greetings, strangers, and welcome to the Chantry of Hathor. I am the Chantress. Who are you, and what brings you to me?” She will be less polite if they have entered the central shrine uninvited. Here are the Chantress’ answers to some expected PC questions:

Who are you?
I am the Chantress of Hathor.
(if pressed for a name) I gave up my name when I became the Chantress, but it was Seni.
What do you do?
I am the village’s priestess. And unofficial mayor, I suppose.
What were you singing?
A hymn to Hathor, celebrating her glory.
How is it that you know ancient Osiriani?
It has been passed down from one Chantress to the next since time immemmorial.
We are seeking the Ba of a woman who was buried in the mountains near here long ago. Do you know where we can find it?
The Ba of a woman buried in the mountains? Why ever do you seek such a thing?

DC 15 Kn (Religion): She didn’t need to ask what a Ba was. That’s unusual.

Sense Motive DC 25: The Chantress was startled when you asked about the Ba, but moved past it quickly.

If the PCs tell her that they are seeking to reunite the Ba with its Ka, the Chantress will say “A noble goal — but how is it that this Ka and Ba were separated in the first place?” She’ll follow that with “What will reuniting the Ba and Ka accomplish?” These questions are meant to buy her time while she thinks furiously. She has believed that her Ka was dead, destroyed somehow, and that she was thus condemned to an eternity in this village. But as a Ba, she has an undying thirst for life. Only uniting with her Ka can truly slake that thirst — but after so many centuries apart, she does not want to give up the life she has led here. She is comfortable here, the undisputed ruler of a tiny domain. And so, she decides to lure the PCs away from town and kill them.

The PCs should get a Sense Motive check (DC 25) to recognize her preoccupation. If they don’t act immediately, she will proceed with this plan:

Yes, I know of the Ba of which you speak. It dwells in the mountains, north of here. Sometimes I will see it flying over the shrine late at night when I am up for midnight devotions. Once, I followed it, out of curiousity, and it vanished into a crag about a mile northwest of town. I can show you where it is, if you like. But pray, how do you mean to capture such a creature? They are insubstantial, you know.

The Chantress uses her Silver-Tongued Haggler ability and takes 10 on this Bluff check; the PCs need to make a DC 31 Sense Motive check to catch her lie. By asking about the method of capture, she hopes to find out what to avoid when fighting them.

If the PCs accept her invitation, she’ll take them into the mountains, then abandon Seni’s body and fight them there. If they don’t, she’ll try to keep up the pretense as long as possible, forcing them to attack her. But if the attack comes, she will not hesitate to ditch Seni and fight in her native form. Maps are not provided for either of these locations. For the mountain, draw a boulder at the edge of a bluff; Shemayet-Ba will tell the party that the Ba lives within that boulder, then hang back and let them get ahead of her before she launches her attack. If combat occurs at the Chantry, assume the courtyard is a 25x30 foot area with a five-foot wide colonnade surrounding it and rooms leading off from there.

Besides the force net necklace, the PCs may have other ways to capture Shemayet-Ba. If a PC casts Mage Armor on her, and she fails a Will save, she will be trapped inside the armor’s force and subject to grapple and restraint. An alchemist with the ectochymist archetype may be able to craft a trap, or they may find a way using ghost powder, silver nails, or assorted spells that use force effects. However, many of these may not be available; if the party struggles with this challenge, remind them that Diplomacy is an option. A DC 26 Diplomacy check should be enough to persuade Shemayet-Ba to come of her own free will (the DC has been reduced by 5 to reflect her internal conflict).

Shemayet-Ba tactics: In round 1 of combat, Shemayet-Ba opens with Summon Pharaonic Guards, placing them next to any casters in the party. If she knows about the weskhet necklace, she will use her first move action to take to the sky. Otherwise, she’ll spend it to start Dirge of Doom to render her opponents shaken (-2 on attacks, saves, and checks). In later rounds she’ll use Spring Attack to charge in and use her Corrupting Touch, starting with casters.

Summoned Pharaonic Guards: +10/+5 (19-20x2), 1d8+3 slashing damage. The guards use ghostly khopeshes, and look like stern warriors in Osiriani war kilts.

The PCs may attempt to latch the weskhet collar around Shemayet-Ba’s neck with a grapple check. Once the collar is in place, she loses her ability to fly. If this happens in mid-air, she falls to the ground immediately, taking normal falling damage. She can be grappled as if she were corporeal, and her move speed is 15 feet. At that point she will spend one round struggling to remove the collar (as escaping a grapple, rolling vs the CMD of the PC who placed the collar on her). If she fails, she will surrender on her next round. If the PC’s successfully capture Shemayet-Ba she will accompany them to the tomb.

If the party destroys Shemayet-Ba, she will reform in the tomb 2d4 days later, as per Rejuvenation. In this case, she can be rejoined with Shemayet-Ka as described below — and, in fact, this may be the simplest way to deal with her, if much slower. A DC 15 Kn (Religion) check is sufficient to infer this from her ghostly nature.

Once Shemayet-Ba leaves Seni’s body, Seni backs away from combat and hides. If Seni survived the encounter, she has learned enough from her time as Shemayet-Ba’s host to become a low-level priestess of Hathor, but she will have to take levels of Bard rather than Cleric as she lacks the wisdom for the latter path. She can continue as Chantress of Hathor in Ben-Talu with no interruption, and is greatly relieved to be free to live her own life once again. She rewards the PCs for her rescue with a night’s lodging in the Chantry, plus 50 gp each out of the Chantry’s coffers (Ben-Talu is not a wealthy village). Otherwise, if Seni perished, Ben-Talu will no longer have a leader; however, the villagers are poor farmer-folk, and unlikely to make any attempt to resist the party as a result of this outrage.

Reuniting Shemayet’s Ba and Ka

In the tomb, the Ka and Ba face one another, two identical faces — one atop an avian body, the other atop a ghostly woman.

“I thought you were destroyed,” says the Chantress.

The Ka shakes her head. “Just trapped.”

The Ka opens her arms. After a momentary pause, the Ba steps forward. They embrace. There is a blinding flash of light, and when your eyes clear, there is only one figure standing before you. She has the form of the Ka, but the wings of the Ba extend from her shoulders. “My name,” she says, “is Shemayet.”

Proceed to Part III: Through the Duat.