It all started simply enough, just like your last adventure, and perhaps even the one before that. There you were, in a tavern, when someone you'd never met before approached you with a promise of great wealth complicated only by just a little danger.
"Good people, I beseech you: Hear my story. My name is Allyn, and someone dear to me has suffered a tremendous attack upon his very soul. He now lies on the verge of death.
"As a child, I was fascinated by a story of an enchanted ruby with the power to bring a lost soul back from the dead. I have traveled far and wide in pursuit of many different and amazing treasures, but I have only recently discovered that this story may be true and that the ruby might actually exist.
"You see, many hundreds of years ago - in the region we now call the Great Desert of Ninva - there ruled a wicked man named Amun Khonshu. Some say he was a powerful sorcerer, others say he was a god. In searching for this fabled ruby, I have found that this region did not become a desert until after this vile man died. Once his vast power was taken with him into the afterlife, its horrible absence left a terrible blight upon the land.
"Regardless of the effects of his disappearance, Amun Khonshu was a murderer and a tyrant who ruled over the people of these lands by a fanatical death cult dedicated to his advancement. Fortunately, upon Amun Khonshu's death, his cult was driven underground and eventually destroyed by neighboring nations. But before the cult was vanquished, the servants of Amun Khonshu managed to preserve their leader's body and seal it away in a secret tomb, along with his vast store of ill-gotten treasure. Legend has it that they left the enchanted ruby there as well, to guide his soul back to his mortal frame.
"Good people, I believe I have found the location of this tomb, but my own band of associates was sadly not up to the task of surmounting the perils of the Ninva Desert. I beg you, please help me find the Heart of Amun Khonshu to save my friend. If you do, all of the treasure of that tomb, save the ruby, is yours - all of it!
"What say you?"
* Requires the use of the Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook, Third Edition, published by Wizards of the Coast.