Part 6 - Dinner with Death
The next year was very quiet and the Nephilim settled into more routine and mundane lives. That would end with a visit from an Arab man baring a message that he risked life and limb to deliver. Imam Oslum needed to speak with them urgently.
They made the journey out to the Sohar Oasis and were brought immediately before the Imam. He told them that ten days prior, they found an exhausted Templar Knight wandering the desert, half mad.
He told them that the Templars made a raid against the mountain base of the Assassins. There was much blood shed. The assassins were dangerous killers, but in a straight up fight, they were at a disadvantage. Eventually the assassins were driven from the compound.
The knight said they entered the inner sanctum if of the base. The knight remained outside while the Templars inner circle entered a dark chamber.
A short time later, he heard screams that sounded half human and half animal. Eventually, the inner circle emerged and declared that they were going to head out into the desert to seek a lost city called Irem.
The Imam explained that Irem was an ancient city of sorcerers that disappeared a millennia ago. The last known person was an Arab named Abul Al’Hazred who claimed he was guided to the city by Ghouls roughly 500 years ago. He said that in the city he found an immortal being who taught him many things. When he emerged, he was a powerful necromancer.
Rumor was that the Assassins kept a demon trapped in their lair from which they learned occult knowledge. The Imam suspected that the Templars extracted the location of Irem from the demon. Why the Templars were interested in Irem was of great concern to the Imam.
They headed out into the desert with a guide the Imam provided named Sayid. They journeyed for a week under an unforgiving sun and through bitter cold nights.
One morning they noticed that bipedal tracks had come close to their camp and then moved away. They followed the tracks and came upon a lair of ghouls. They managed to avoid a fight and asked the ghouls to take them to Irem.
The ghouls told them that they were hungry and needed food. After much arguing, the Nephilim ventured closer to civilization and found a burial site. They dug up several fresh corpses and took them back to the ghouls.
The ghouls said that they would only take their own to the city. When it was pointed out that Al’Hazred was taken to the city, they said that he was considered one of them, because he ate with them.
Once again the Nephilim argued amongst themselves regarding how far they were willing to go to find the city. Eventually, they found themselves consuming the raw putrid flesh of corpses. They felt ill and repulsed, and could feel the Khaiba growing within them. But when the ordeal was over, the ghouls called them brothers and agreed to take them to the city.
The next evening, the ghouls led them though an area of sharp outcroppings. At the base of one was the entrance to a narrow tunnel that dropped sharply into the ground. One by one, the Nephilim squeezed themselves into the tight passage. The last words they heard from the ghouls was to beware the “Dwellers Beneath”.