A party of tomb raiders, scholars and thrill seekers gathers in the necropolis of Wati to participate in the church of Pharasma's lottery, and the chance to explore the thus-far unknown and long-forgotton buildings contained within the dead city. However, there is more to Osirion than these adventurers know...

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Accidental Meditation
Gryne was impressed. He'd been sitting on Pork's back, watching the acolytes of the Grand Mausoleum walking to and fro in the main hall for a good while now. Not one of them had made a sound louder than a whisper, he'd been listening carefully. Whoever this Grey Goddess was she liked her worshipers to be quiet, that was for sure. At one point he'd seen one of the acolytes looking his way and had attempted what he'd wanted to be a reassuring smile, to which acolyte had gasped in shock and hurried off. Gryne heaved a sigh, "Damned tusks..." he muttered to himself. He reached down and scratched Pork between the ears, "Dunno how you do it buddy. People see you and your chompers and don't freak. They take one look at me and think I'm gonna eat em'." Gryne leaned back and stared up at the domed ceiling, lost in thought for a moment. "It's the eyes, gotta be the eyes. You've got little boar eyes. I've got big yellow orc eyes. Hmph. Aw crap..." That last snort had blown spittle out from between his tusks onto the floor. Gryne winced. Well that's just perfect, now he was spitting on the floor of the biggest temple to Sebti's goddess. He'd already been getting weird looks, sitting on top of Pork's sandstone-like form while the boar slept off to the side of the main hall. If any of the guards saw him drooling on the floor he might get kicked out. Then who knows what would happen to Ptemenib.

Wait, was that why they were waiting here? Gryne pondered for a moment. That meeting with Sebti had been surprisingly intense, she may be small but she radiated a kind of power Gryne had never seen before. Supreme confidence, as if she knew something you didn't and if you made her angry in the right way you would find out just how out of your league you were. She was fascinating. When it came to her, Gryne was at a loss. He wanted to get her attention, try to find out more about her, but she was so important! So busy. There was the whole UN-dead overrunning the city thing going on. And even if that got resolved she was in charge of this giant temple, all these people... Sure they were good at making RE-dead but how far would that take them? A pile of heads of conquered enemies only made a good wedding proposal in Orcish culture. Gryne fished out the emerald Terrance had given him and looked down through its facets. When would be a good time to give this to Sebti? Did she even like shiny rocks? It was her favorite color... at least Gryne hoped it was her favorite color. She did seem to wear a lot of green. Except tonight she hadn't been wearing... anything. Just that clingy sleeping gown. Gryne was certain she'd seen him staring. The gown had been so small and light though! Gryne had felt like his neck was going to snap from maintaining eye level. She'd been wearing that because they had woke her up, but it had been for a good reason. At least Gryne hoped so. He had been surprised at how cute she was without all the dress and paint on.

The thought of Sebti without anything on had him so distracted he didn't even notice the guard standing in front of him until the dark skinned man cleared his throat. Gryne snapped out of his reverie with a jolt as Pork stirred under him, annoyed in his slumber. Gryne stammered, "Er-uh-yeah what?" The guard gave him a half-lidded stare, "I said, are you and your animal going to be sleeping in the hall? Because we have sleeping quarters we would prefer you to use." Gryne shook his head, "Oh. Uhh, no we're good. We're just waiting to make sure our friend is ok. We're gonna go sleep at the Tooth and Hookah, no need to worry about us!" The guard looked incredulous. "You're going to walk all the way to an inn in the Midwife District, in the middle of the night, while packs of undead are roaming the streets?"

"Yup."

"Are you suicidal?"

"Nope, just really dumb. And good at making RE-dead."

The guard paused a moment longer. "Very well. Just don't fall asleep here. And you should leave soon, before the situation in the streets gets worse." Gryne nodded, "Sure thing. We'll leave soon." As the guard walked off Gryne realized with a little spark of pride that they had just had that whole conversation in Osiriani. Apparently he was catching on quicker than he thought. "So maybe that's the secret..." Gryne muttered to himself again, "Don't think about it too hard and go with your gut. Huh." He had been over analyzing a lot lately. Ever since Fenthwick had been impaled by that blasted skeleton Gryne had been striving to be aware of all possible dangers at all times, but he couldn't look in every direction at once. Even with Pork's help. Maybe the trick was to clear his mind and hear the danger through the quiet?

The quiet! Gryne's eyes widen and he slapped his fist into his palm. Of course it was so obvious! The Grey Lady valued knowledge, Terrance had said so. Knowledge helped you stay alive, telling you about possible danger before you even knew it was there. THAT was why all the Pharasman acolytes were so hushed, the quiet encouraged thought and self-reflection! Gryne couldn't believe it hadn't occurred to him sooner. Right then, he would quiet his thoughts and use that to help his friends. Gryne crossed his legs, steadying himself on Pork's immobile, slumbering bulk. It helped that his porcine pal was more rock than boar at the moment. Gryne held his hands out palm upwards like Trubik had taught him, resting on either knee, open to the consultation of any nearby spirits, and focused on his breathing.

His breathing, in and out. His lungs were like a bellows, every exhalation scattering dust across the floor. It was relaxing, this quiet. The cold floor wasn't so bad when you couldn't feel it through your hide. He hadn't realized it before, hadn't noticed, but he could tell what he was thinking, or at least feel it. They could tell, they could feel themselves. Breathing together. Feeling together.

In and out.

In and out.

Focus came through the breath. Hazy consciousness bled out into a void that hadn't been there before to give itself form and function. Two blurred minds, blurred souls. Lost and clinging to each other to keep from drifting into nothingness, becoming more and more together in order to keep hold of a sense of self-awareness. Something was missing. Existence for its own sake is meaningless. What did they need to create a new self, to stabilize? Through the quiet dark, the faces of their friends emerged.

Terrance. He knew everything they didn't. He could spin words into action, cause and effect created through simple force of will and spoken command. He had destroyed a powerful UN-dead with his voice and reasoning alone. Now that they thought about it, he was their first real friend in the world. He meant the world to them, though they hadn't realized it until now. Terrance represented their ability to make friends, to be normal.

Fenthwick. They felt so horrible about what had happened to him. Strange little gnome, always talking to the air. Always naming things. He had died in front of them and they could only watch. Their second friend, taken from them in an instant. At least they knew he was happy in death, wherever he was.

Makoa. A fellow orc. Might actually be as dumb as he acted, not like them. But they liked him. His war chants reminded them of Gryne's father, and he spoke almost as well as Terrance. He knew how to act to get people not to fear him. They could learn from him, maybe even call him a friend. Piss poor at tracking though, maybe he could learn something from them.

Sebti. She wasn't a friend, not yet. But perhaps she could be. Maybe if they earned her respect they could earn her trust. Perhaps that would lead to what Gryne seemed to want so badly. They only cared because Gryne did, and they wanted to see Gryne happy. After everything they had been through they deserved to find some happiness.

Ptenemib. They had only just met him, but he was definitely a friend. At least they thought of him as one. He was so sure of himself, he knew what he wanted to accomplish and he would do whatever it took to get there. He knew so much about the world, it sounded as though he had been through a lot. They wondered what had shaped Ptenemib into the man he was today. Had it been Qasin? Was she Ptenemib's Pork? Well she and Ptenemib made a good team. They hoped that she was alright, that they could help him find her soon. Friends are important, they help make you a better person, help give you purpose.

Purpose.

THAT WAS IT.

They were missing purpose! It was what Ptenemib and Qasin had, what Sebti had, what Terrance and Fenthwick and Makoa all had! A goal, something to strive for, to feel pride in. True, real purpose. Not just making money, not just staying alive, but doing something more with themselves. What could they do? What did they want to do? They looked back to their friends, back at the last few days. They had protected people they cared about, people they didn't even know, even some people they didn't like at all. They liked it. They felt pride in what they had done. Now they knew.

We are going to protect the ones we love.

Lazily he opened one eye, saw Ptenemib crossing the far end of the hall, and shifted his back slightly. "Come off et yeh git, 'Mib is beck and hedden teh bed withoot yeh. Get yeh to em and 'ave yer business doon so we can 'ead back an' git some propah rest."

Gryne inhaled sharply, brought suddenly back to consciousness. Ptenemib was crossing the far end of the hall with a vexed look on his face. Quickly Gryne hopped off of Pork and started to head his way, calling to him in as loud a whisper as he could manage. Pork looked on, slowly stretching and picking himself up to follow his bipedal friend.

That had been a damn good nap.
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The End of the Beginning
It always started the same way.

He was sitting in Trubik's hut, surrounded by bone fetishes and vapors from the old witch doctors cauldron. Trubik was humming an old orcish lullaby as he cut into a rabbit and laid its entrails out across the circle they had scratched in the floor. Gryne always felt peaceful when he watched Trubik work his magic like this. There was a quiet primal power to these rituals that made the noise of the rest of the world dim and fade away. Just as he finished laying the last of the rabbit's guts along the lines of the circle Trubik looked up at him. Half of the old orcs face melted off as if he was being held up to a fire, and as he opened his mouth to speak blood gushed from his slit throat. "YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE, GO BACK."

Now he was running, away from shapes that shifted to and fro from a multitude of small green tangles of arms to giants made of metal to a swarm of leering laughing faces. Where was he running to? Where was he running from? Father's hut loomed up out of the darkness, he could feel the creatures chasing him closing in. He ran inside, crying out for mother. He ran left (no idiot go right she's always to the right) and burst into a side room calling out to her. He heard her respond in Taldane from the cooking pit (to the right told you) and spun around to run to her. He had to (stop) make sure she was (stop and LISTEN idiot) safe. She screams something (LISTEN) and before he had time to register something large and heavy (DAMN YOUR EYES WHAT DOES SHE SAY) hit him on the back of the head and everything began to spin as he fell...

fell..

fell..

falling...

Why couldn't he stop falling?

"Are you going to sleep all morning greenskin?"

Pork started awake in a cold sweat. There was an olive skinned human looking down at him as he lay in his hammock. Pork shook his head as he realized he was Gryne and grunted in response. The human snorted at him, "You been asleep all voyage. Figure you wanted to at least be on deck when we pull into port. We about a half mile out, captain wants you and you pig off the ship moment the gangplank hits dock you hear? No more trouble from your employers after that, you tell them yeah?" This time Gryne actually spoke, "Yeah ok sure. We'll be on deck with our stuff in a second. Let me wake up for gods' sake." The sailor huffed and made his way up the ladder leading to the deck. Gryne rubbed his face and he gathered his wits. The same damned dream again, they were getting worse. He knew that falling sensation at the end was a bad sign, you don't fall that long in a dream and not wake up. Groggily he nudged Pork awake with his foot as he gathered his belongings in his pack and slung it over his shoulder. Pork stirred and opened one eye to stare up at him. "Didn't sleep well either eh buddy?" Gryne muttered as he double checked that all of their gear was accounted for. "C'mon, lets get up on deck. In a bit we'll be back on good ol' dry land and we can maybe find us something to eat that isn't hard tack." The boar piglet snuffled in an agreeable tone.

After picking their way through the cargo hold and heaving Pork up the ladder, the pair stood atop the deck of the merchant vessel Sunray staring out at the rapidly approaching coastline. The port city of Wati loomed before them, its docks buzzing with activity as the sunrise lit the morning air. Gryne wandered across the deck of the Sunray dodging between moving sailors, Pork following close at his heels. He dropped his pack down and gripped the ships rail with one hand as he knelt to scratch Pork's head with the other. "Well buddy," Gryne said as he watched dock workers scramble to prepare for the Sunray's arrival,"it's the start of a new day. New beginning for both of us right?" He looked down at Pork. The piglet was giving him that odd knowing look again. "Sometimes I wonder if it's the magic or if you actually speak Taldane..." Gryne muttered as he scratched Pork's chin. Gryne looked back up at the docks and heaved a sigh. All of this had happened so fast. From the pits to the streets to the alleys to who knows where. Now here he was, the lone paying passenger on a cargo freighter arriving in a ciy he'd never heard of in a country he didn't know existed to find and sell artifacts to men he'd never seen. Some spirit quest this was turning out to be. What was it Trubik had always told him? "When lost in the spirit world, focus on the self. Focus on the how and why of you, and the rest of you will fall in front and show the way." "Focus on the how and why huh?" Gryne said under his breath. He let his mind drift back, how had he come to be here?

Gryne was born in the Hold of Belkzen, the son of an orc warrior named Rosk and a human slave named Mira. Rosk had taken Mira in a caravan raid, and less than a year later Gryne came into the world. Gryne's memories of his early years mostly revolved around his parents. He understood Mira was, to put it lightly, not happy with her situation, but she had treated him well enough and he had loved her like a mother. His father had been a mixed bag. Rosk had taken the typical orcish route of parenthood, taunting his son when Gryne was too weak to fight back against the other orc children. Eventually as he grew Gryne began to observe patterns in the behavior of his peers, and was able to outsmart or outwit his pureblooded orc peers. Gryne remembered clearly the first day Rosk spoke to him with pride in his voice, after Gryne had hunted down and beaten an orc boy he'd been in a fight with over some meat earlier that day. Rosk told him that he had wanted a half-orc son because "human blood gives an orc strength of mind". It wasn't long after, just after Gryne turned 10, the tribe's witch doctor Trubik took notice of Gryne and took Gryne on as an apprentice. Rosk couldn't have been happier, "Shaman's advise chieftains!" he would say excitedly when they ate over their cooking pit. Those two years working under Trubik... they had been some of the most grueling and the most rewarding in Gryne's life so far. Trubik taught Gryne much about the natural world and the spirit world as the witch doctor understood it. Gryne did his best to learn all he could. How to see magic, how to understand the value of loot, what plants would kill you and which ones were good for ritual mixtures, and even some minor spellcasting. They were just starting to cover the process of binding an animal to you as a familiar when the tribe was attacked.

Gryne didn't learn who they were until much later. Some plate mail wearing band call "Hell Knights". A large group of them attacked the village and, to Gryne's knowledge, killed everyone. It was mostly a blur, but Gryne recalled seeing Trubik die dueling with a man who was throwing magic fire, and his father's headless corpse lying in front of their tent. Oddly what truly bothered Gryne the most, and what he had been having dreams about recently, was when he ran to go find mother. She had shouted to him, but whether she was shouting because she was trying to warn him of an attacker behind him, if she was scared, or if she was shouting to his attacker to rescue her, Gryne couldn't recall. That one moment had stuck in his mind for four years.

Over four years of cages. He awoke in a cage on a cart, which became a cage in a city. As far as he knew someone must have seen him and bought him, because after another very long cage bound cart ride he was thrown into the cage that would be his home for the next 4 years,in the fighting pits. Gryne was familiar at the time with the idea of pitting slaves against each other in fights for entertainment. They did it often enough in the Hold of Belkzen. But he'd never considered it could be done on a scale like this. A massive underground dungeon full of animals, monsters, and slaves like him, dragged out day and night to fight each other to the death for the amusement of a bunch of pale skinned laughing drunken humans. Gryne was lucky. His instincts from the fights with gangs of orcish children trying to beat him to death with rocks didn't just keep him alive, they made him boring to watch. Gryne would run, hide, dodge, and do anything but give the crowd the bloody spectacle they wanted. After about a year of this Gryne became a staple of the pits, the young half-orc that would be dragged out on slow days as a sort of comedy routine. He was pitted against the dumber or weaker slaves and animals that had just been brought in so the crowd could laugh as a little green boy scampered under the legs of a much larger man before climbing up his back and throttling him with his chains. After almost 4 years in the pits he'd been around long enough he was even on a poster. One of the guards showed him one day, Gryne was depicted running away from a tiger in a comical fashion in the background of a placard depicting some of the more famous fighters of the pits. 

Cheliax. Gryne never wanted to see the place again. He'd learned their language eventually. The language the crowd often spoke in. Just so he could understand the jeering. Gryne figured eventually his owners would either get tired of him and pit him against something that would just outright eat him, or forget about him one day and let him starve in his cage. Then Pork came along. Six months ago a baby boar that had been caught when the guards went on a hunt was put in the cage next to Gryne, and after a few days Gryne had managed to befriend it. When one of the guards walked by and saw Gryne feeding the boar some of his food he laughed and told Gryne not to waste his time, "Kid, that thing is as good as Pork." Thus Pork received his title. After a week or two of confiding in the little piglet Gryne felt like he'd made his first real friend since as far back as he could remember, and the guards noticed that. In hindsight it made sense, Gryne was more of a comedy act than anything. Why not pit him up against the animal he seemed to like and let the crowd laugh as he was forced to either kill it or let it gore him. Death by piglet, it'd be hilarious.

Except they made the mistake of telling Gryne the night before. Out of desperation Gryne attempted something he had no idea how to actually do, he tried to make Gryne his familiar. The process was supposed to involve Gryne utterly dominating and crushing the will of the animal meant to serve him, so that he could force his soul upon it. Instead Gryne had offered his soul to Pork, sort of extending his spiritual hand in friendship, and bizarrely Pork took it. Immediately Gryne could feel a connection with Pork, but as he sat their covered in ritual runes he had drawn in his own blood Gryne realized something was wrong. The connection was too open, there was a "drift". He could feel a little bit of himself floating into Pork and a little bit of Pork floating into him. Not good, but it worked. The next day when they were taken into one of the smaller arenas to entertain the crowd on an off day, they made their move. The crowd'slaughter quickly turned to screaming when Gryne picked Pork up and slung him into the face of a guard, then leaped the wall and bit the throat out of another. From there it was a blur of angry guards, doors, then alleys and streets. For three months Pork and Gryne had fled through the underbelly of the city, and just when it looked like the guards were finally closing in on the latest hole they had crawled into the pair were pulled off the street by a man dressed as a merchant.

Gryne didn't trust the half-elf who saved them and brought them into his home. He refused to give his name, and for the first day wouldn't even explain why he was giving them shelter. But after they had eaten and slept the guard had yet to be called, and at dinner the next evening the half-elf finally explained himself. He said that he was part of an organization that benefited from helping escaped slaves such as Gryne and his porcine friend escape from the city (which Gryne finally learned was called Westcrown). They would be placed on a ship due to leave port in a few days which would spirit them fsr away from Celiac and the reach of it's authority. All they asked in return was that they disembark at a city called Wati in the country of Osiria and run an errand for them. Apparently they were allowing some old tombs in the city to be looted so the looters would sell the artifacts they found back to the city and stimulate the economy. The half-elf's organization stood to benefit greatly if those artifacts were sold to certain buyers within the city. By signing up for one of these looting teams and ensuring the treasures went where they needed to go Gryne could pay them back for his "rescue". Seeing no better option, Gryne agreed.

It had been another three months since they boarded the Sunray. The sailors hadn't been happy to have them aboard but as long as they stayed belowdecks and didn't get in the way none had complained. Without much else to do but think, Gryne had come to some conclusions. He wasn't about to exchange one kind of shackles for another. This was his first taste of freedom in years and he didn't want his mysterious rescuers to be able to claim he jadn't paid his debt. When they landed he and Pork would sign up for this organized looting event and get thr treasure to the right buyers as quickly as possible. But that didn't worry him nearly as much as the dreams. He had botched the ritual to bind himself to Pork, he knew that much. The strange lucid moments when they overlapped each other were becoming more common, and Gryne couldn't help but dwell on the horror stories old Trubik had told him of summoners and witches who ended up as one soul with two bodies. From what Gryne understood the both of them dying horribly was the best outcome in that case. So, to prevent that, Gryne had decided that this journey the two of them were on was going to be a spirit quest. Trubik had always espoused the importance of going on journeys of spiritual self discovery to aid in defining yourself in the spirit realm, and Gryne couldn't think of a more important thing to do now than define what he and Pork had become. Perhaps by labeling their travels as a spirit quest and Pork his spirit animal they might be able to strengthen their bond into something solid instead of a horrible twisted mess of consciousness.

Gryne was snapped out of his reverie by the loud thunk of the gangplank being lowered into place. As he and Pork stepped off the ship he inhaled deeply. This new country smelled hot. There was a dryness in the air that suggested the morning sun was about to make the day a lot warmer. Looking down at Pork he shrugged his pack onto his shoulder, "Well Pork, you're the spirit animal. Lead us to our destinies." To Gryne's surprise Pork actually nodded and began sniffling his way through the crowd. After watching him for a moment Gryne threw up his hood and moved to follow, "Or at least to our next meal..."

The pair were quickly swallowed up by the crowds of Wati.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6tu4wWSbnIs
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