During the period of Osirian history known as the Age of the Black Sphinx, the ancient empire was ruled by a union of four god-kings known as the Four Pharaohs of Ascension. Once each the head of four competing dynasties, they joined forces in -1498 AR for mysterious reasons, leading to Osirion's Second Age.1
The Four Pharaohs of Ascension were renowned for joining forces and jointly presiding over a period of legendary prosperity during the Age of Destiny. Together they ushered in a period characterized by technological and magical advancement as well as military conquest. Legends state that the Four Pharaohs were only able to set their mutual distrust aside and ally with one another after they magically bound their fates together in a solemn pact: a pact that rendered any further attacks against one another futile and perhaps suicidal.23
The Pact of the Four Pharaohs of Ascension
Prior to the Four Pharaohs' unification in -1498 AR, Osirion's people were divided as the four separate dynasties contended for supremacy. As its resources were expended in internal squabbling, Osirion fell vulnerable to invasion by its neighbors. To avert catastrophe, the four tyrants came together in a solemn pact, forming a powerful junta of pharaohs. Initially, the suspicious emperors employed a regimented circuit of shield other spells to limit the risk of backstabbing and secured each others loyalty to the pact. As their paranoia grew, they demanded ever greater assurances, and in order to maintain their accord the pharaohs bonded their destinies into a single fate. With the alliance complete, Osirion prospered, fueling its wealth with an enslaved underclass sourced from its conquered neighbors. With their fates intertwined, the Four Pharaohs of Ascension lived together, ruled together, and were fated to die together. Each year the Four Pharaohs would convene inside a pyramid known as Ahn'Selota and renew their mystic pact using an artifact known as the Pact Stone.6
According to historical text, at the end of their reign the four pharaohs fell ill and died from an incurable disease. In truth, one pharaoh died and the other three were dragged to their deaths by the pact that was once the secret to their success. Although several theories still circulate to this day, it was never known which pharaoh was the one that was truly fated to die and which three were merely sharing in their colleague's demise.2
It is known, though, that in his final days the Fiend Pharaoh attempted to sever his tie to the Pact, likely in an effort to save his own life. His unsuccessful efforts were uncovered by the remaining pharaohs and he was denounced as a traitor. His body was separated into 263 pieces in 56 canopic jars and placed within the Veinstone Pyramid.7
End of the Four Pharaohs
The Four Pharaohs
The Four Pharaohs of Ascension was a union comprised of:
The Fiend Pharaoh (Hetshepsu)
Hetshepsu, the Fiend Pharaoh, was thought to have been the principal architect behind the military victories of the Four Pharaohs of Ascension and was thought to have had a great strategic mind.10 He was further reputed to have been an accomplished devil binder. He may have compiled a text known as the Darcon Codicil, a bone-plated book containing the true names of numerous devils and demons.11 The Fiend Pharaoh is of particular interest to Chelaxian Osirionologists, some of whom extol a theory that Hetshepsu's infernal ancestry traces back to the same lineage that now blesses House Thrune.12
The Radiant Pharaoh (Ankana)
Ankana, the Radiant Pharaoh, was believed to have been a conjurer of significant power and beauty. Hieroglyphs contained within the Veinstone Pyramid relate that it was the practice of Ankana to force her closest servants to swallow the eggs of fiendish insects procured from the Hells. When the eggs finally hatched, the fiendish vermin devoured the servitors from the inside. However, those who successfully demonstrated their loyalty and managed to curry Ankana's favor before the end of the incubation period received her blessing in the form of a cure disease spell to abort the hatching.10 The Radiant Pharaoh may also be the original source material for the traditional melancholic song, Ankana's Lament.13
The Cerulean Pharaoh (Anok Fero)
Anok Fero, the Cerulean Pharaoh, was reputed to have come from humble beginnings and as a consequence to have held a soft spot for orphans.14 In his youth, the Cerulean pharaoh's prized possession was a blue dragon egg. He oversaw its incubation and raised the hatchling, Tukanem-Hanam, as a favored cohort. When his death approached, Anok Fero had Tukanem-Hanam surrounded while he slept and ordered that the dragon be slain so that it could be mummified to protect the pharaoh in death as it did in life.15
Hieroglyphs contained within the Veinstone Pyramid relate a tale that Anok Fero, angered by the poor production of his tax collectors, turned into a thousand blue snakes and devoured his failed servitors before finally transforming back.10 Anok Fero was frequently associated with the color blue, but the true significance of this is unknown. Before he was entombed in a pyramid of veinstone, the Cerulean pharaoh ruled from a structure known as the Palace of Blades in Tumen. Inside, the Cerulean pharaoh was said to have kept detailed records of the whole of Osirion's nobility which (impossibly) included the names of descendants still yet unborn.16
The Pharaoh of Numbers (True name unknown)
The Pharaoh of Numbers was both an astronomer as well as an architect and is thought also to have been a numerologist specializing in sacred geometry.17 His passion was his study of the distant planet Aucturn. It is said that Aucturn inspired the magic that fueled the pharaohs' binding pact and its influence infuses the design of much of the architecture that comprises the pyramids left behind by the Four Pharaohs of Ascension.186 Although their relationship is poorly understood, the Pharaoh of Numbers had a particular affinity for the numbers 56 and 11. The Pharaoh of Numbers was said to have constructed some of Tumen's greatest centers of learning and study.19
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- Occult Mysteries, 6. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- Entombed with the Pharaohs, 2. Paizo Inc., .
- “Tumen” in Lost Cities of Golarion, 45. Paizo Inc., .
- “Tumen” in Lost Cities of Golarion, 45–46. Paizo Inc., .
- Entombed with the Pharaohs, 18. Paizo Inc., .
- The Pact Stone Pyramid, 5. Paizo Inc., .
- Entombed with the Pharaohs, 15. Paizo Inc., .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 50. Paizo Inc., .
- Osirion, Legacy of Pharaohs, 5. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- Entombed with the Pharaohs, 14. Paizo Inc., .
- The Pact Stone Pyramid, 19. Paizo Inc., .
- Entombed with the Pharaohs, 26. Paizo Inc., .
- The Pact Stone Pyramid, 16. Paizo Inc., .
- The Pact Stone Pyramid, 18–19. Paizo Inc., .
- Entombed with the Pharaohs, 16. Paizo Inc., .
- “Tumen” in Lost Cities of Golarion, 48. Paizo Inc., .
- Occult Mysteries, 48. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- Entombed with the Pharaohs, 7. Paizo Inc., .
- “Tumen” in Lost Cities of Golarion, 49. Paizo Inc., .