The Disc of the Sun

Playlist: Sun Gazer - Two Steps From Hell

Temple of Hathor, Dendera, Egypt, 21:30 28th June 1940 - 18:45 29th June 1940

Keeper Note: Lizzie is back from college for the summer, huzzah! So Francoise steps back to le foreground.

With another attempt on the Aten not possible until the following sundown, the party used the rest of the night and the following day to recuperate. Marcus dived once more into his studies of disturbing black magic, while Birapeer re-crossed the river to check the plane. Leaving Jimmy to watch the machine, he brought Francoise back with him ready for the next attempt.

Joe Vandeleur

Joe laid out his considerable arsenal and rigorously cleaned every weapon, despite the transformation of their weapons in the Duat having been explained by the others. As was his way, he was privately convinced that, what e'r betide, there was some kind of rational explanation for all this - and that being without lots of guns was a fool's way to proceed.

Finally, as the sun sank into the west beyond the Hypostyle Hall, the agents gathered once more to prepare for their journey to the Duat.

Duat, Local Time unknown

Once more, the Red Ale of Truth worked its effects, and all six agents found themselves awaking into the World of the Dead, dressed as ancient Egyptians and armed accordingly.

This time, Birapeer experimented with rejecting the strong clues presented by the dream experience and trying to walk the wrong way. He strode for several minutes in the opposite direction, enough time to reach the mountains on the proper path; then stopped and turned around. Not to his surprise, he found himself standing on the same paving, still amongst his companions. He shrugged and joined them as they repeated their journey.

Keeper Note: I am not going to describe the stages of the Journey all over again - see Session 17's log for those. .

I was a little disappointed nobody made the seemingly inevitable Python quote - so I had to do it...

At the first Gate, the Guardian once more went from quester to quester to ask his questions. Joe responded with every scrap of formal name and title that he had; Francoise answered in French, and Birapeer answered "Mansukhani, and Room Service." The Guardian paused. It was prepared for correct answers (in any language!), lies, outright defiance, or attack. Surreal allegory appeared to throw it somewhat. Its' golden eyes glared at Birapeer's broad white grin for a long few seconds and then - impossible as that seems for a snake - it seemed to shrug slightly. It withdrew, bowing slightly, and the party progressed through the Gate.

At the Senet table, Joe volunteered to play; and whether because of a better grasp of tactics or native luck, he wiped the Guardian's pieces off the board in a very few moves indeed. The game ended and he sat back. Is that it? he thought; but he bowed with great respect to his opponent and thanked it for the game.

All three made Critical SAN checks at this point. They laugh in the face of danger!

On reaching the crucified former foes Birapeer, Joe and Francoise eyed them with interest but no fear. Most of them were long dead - really dead - and none of them believed these echoes could cause them any harm. Proceeding onwards, they found the chains and the crossing of the lake perfectly straightforward - and were alert this time for when Apep-Apophis erupted from the ground.

Apep-Apophis. Without the human face and extra heads. Nearest I could get.

Stepping back, they discovered that - as they had expected - the monster would not pursue them, but stood, blocking the way to the temple. Unslinging their bows, they took aim and began shooting at the subordinate faces, each accurate arrow splattering one gorily. Once the eleventh head was gone, the arrows began to affect the creature, but the wounds didn't seem more than a discomfort. The Book of Gates had described the Gods binding Apep-Apophis with chains; presumably, if it had been vulnerable to simple assault, they wouldn't have needed to. They approached with the chains they'd made - two each, despite five being the number that felt right.

The monster lashed at them with jaws and tail - but unlike last time, it did not have all the extra sets of teeth to use and the agents managed to evade the attacks it made. Slowly but surely, they hurled chains at it until one by one, the strands of woven willow fastened on and anchored to the ground. Each time, the connection seemed to hamper the snake demon a little more, until the fifth and final one dropped into place and the creature was hauled under the ground. The way to the temple was clear.

The temple interior was in almost total darkness, apart from a diffuse light which appeared to emanate from the rear of the building. Comparing the layout to the real temple, Marcus was able to hazard a guess that the light was coming from the Sanctuary, where the statue of the temple’s patron deity should be housed alongside their ceremonial barque.

As the investigators moved towards the rear of the temple, the light did indeed become stronger. The orichalum statue, still present in the wicker basket Anné had found herself holding, indicated that the piece was in this direction. Once they reached the Sanctuary, the investigators could see that instead of one statue, there were four; one in each corner of the room, each holding a variation of the sun disc in front of them, each glittering. But which one was the Aten, the piece of the Palladion?

The statue had stopped indicating; apparently it was down to the questers to successfully identify the Aten. Slowly, they walked around, looking at all four in turn, gathering clues. The statues stood at four corners; the north-west, north-east, south-west and south-east of the room. After a while, it dawned on the party that there were symbols marked on the supporting statues;









The Disc of the Sun

After considerable thought, they realized that the disc in the North-west corner looked distinctly like the sun disc associated with the Amarna Heresy, though inverted. Looking closer, they realized that as well as gold, it was also made of the same red metal as the statue and paperweight. In all, the central sun disc was a little over 2ft wide, with the rays adding another 8” or so to the overall size. There also appeared to be a series of indentations along the lower edge of the crystal’s frame, like fingerholds.

Squaring his shoulders - perhaps lured a little by the description of the Palladion as a weapon - Joe stepped forwards and reached out, lifting this disc from its' statue's hands. His fingers almost automatically slid into the indentations, forming a comfortable grip. For a moment, he felt a faint tingle from the surface, like a mild current of electricity. Then it was passive and he was simply holding a massive chunk of shaped metal.

All six agents then felt a strange fading sensation, and their vision of the temple began to dim. They had only a moment to wonder what this meant and then found themselves waking up - rather more gently than last time - in their real bodies back in the ruins of the Sanatorium of the Temple of Hathor. As before, nothing physical had changed. Nothing - except that Joe Vandeleur had the 3' radiant golden sun disc in his hands.... The first piece of the Palladion was theirs.

Qena, Egypt, 08:30 30th June 1940

The next morning, with the Aten safely stowed in the cargo hold, Birapeer guided the Whitley down the nominal runway and lifted it into the air. Climbing for altitude, he'd just heard the wheels clunk into their bays under the engines when a bright orange circle of light appeared in the sky half a mile ahead and slightly to port. His jaw dropped as four enormous flying forms erupted from the circle - some kind of arcane portal - before it winked out again. These flapped their huge wings and began to close on the plane at considerable speed. The Sikh slammed the column hard over to port and veered away, heading back for the airfield five miles behind and sharply down to prevent them getting below the aeroplane.

What the Hell was that?!

Alerted by his yell of horror, the others scrambled for windows - except Joe who was already in the plane's turret, and was already turning it frantically towards the monsters. Francoise, strapped in next to Birapeer, was gripping the sides of her seat and muttering under her breath in French. Anné had grabbed her rifle - never far from reach - and opened a side window, as had Cyril who was clutching a Sten. Marcus, strapped into a seat in the hold, had pulled two pistols but was hyperventilating - he'd had enough and didn't want to see what was happening.

As the things closed, the only word anyone could think of was Dragon. Their skin was scaly and nitrous, dripping with slime, and they shrieked as they fanned out to attack the plane from different angles.

Anné let drive with le'Etranger, but though the bullet went through a wing membrane, it didn't seem to do all that much damage. Birapeer started to swerve the plane around, careful not to pile it into the oh-so-close ground, while Joe swore and struggled to line up his turret. Then the big Browning .303 gun opened up like a conveyor belt of sledgehammers, spouting a line of tracer which the tanker walked onto the oncoming monster with grim satisfaction. Some bounced off, indicating a worryingly armoured hide, but the rest punched through and the creature turned over on its' back and plunged towards the ground.

Whitley (no monster)

Cyril twisted sideways, struggling to get a bead through the small window and opened up with his submachinegun. His face fell as his bullets bounced and ricocheted in all directions, none of them affecting the creature at all. It dodged and jinked as it matched vectors with the plane, then pounced and sank its claws into the side of the fuselage. With a single rending motion, it tore a large piece - including the side door - off the plane and dropped it, revealing Marcus backed as far into his seat as he could get, two pistols held frantically out ahead of him. In desperation, he opened fire in a panic, spraying fire from both weapons in the general direction of the monster and - despite it being bigger than an elephant - missing it with all but one round. Through the hole, he saw the wheel-bays open as Birapeer prepared for an emergency landing. Bigger gun, he thought frantically, and began to look around for a Bren. His eyes met a jumble of boxes and bags that had come loose and ended up at the front of the cargo bay, and his heart sank as he raised his useless pistol again.

In the cockpit things had gone wild; the damage to the side of the plane had cut all sorts of cables and the turbanned pilot was tested to his utmost to prevent the windly veering aircraft from nosediving onto the desert. Behind him, Anné had swapped for the Boys anti-tank rifle and was cranking a round into the chamber. Joe started to swing his turret towards the attached monster, then paused. If he missed it, he might hit their own wing and with the plane in the state it now was they'd crash for sure. Leaving it to Cyril, he swung back around just in time to coincide with the two remaining monsters crossing paths. With great glee he unleashed a long hammering burst, sending one spiralling to the ground and the other limping away wounded. Cyril fired a burst from his Sten at the monster tearing its way in towards Marcus, which as it was completely stationary relative to him and the plane was an easy target. However, his rounds failed once more to penetrate its awesome hide.

Then the wheels touched, and everyone was hurled around inside the plane, Cyril coming loose from his incomplete restraints and being hurled across the cockpit. The creature clinging to the side of the plane had made a lunge at Marcus with a claw as big as he was, but the impact of the landing spoiled its' aim and it missed, tearing another chunk out of the fuselage to the side of the cowering archaeologist. The jolt had shaken it loose, and it flapped its' wings and began to rise away from the aeroplane. This was what Joe had been waiting for - he emptied the last of his gun's belt of ammunition into the beast as it receded, and shouted in triumph as it folded its' wings and dropped like a stone.

Birapeer applied the brakes and the plane rolled slowly to a halt. Silence fell, broken only by harsh breathing, the tinkle of Joe's last empty cases falling and the gentle drip-drip-drip of leaking hydraulic fluid. The Sikh blew out a breath. "We may need some repairs," he said dryly.

Session Date: 17th July 2018