Chapter five - The Mummies Curse
I doubt there are many people who've experienced something
like it. Sure, you can hang-glide in some pretty fantastic places, but nothing
on Earth compares to leaping off the edge of a gigantic cloud that hovers at
roughly the recommended altitude for stealth bombers.
Thankfully, I had done my maths right, and after
five minutes we reasoned that a horrible fiery death was not forthcoming. It's
the most wonderful thing imaginable, being able to float on the wind almost
as if you had wings of your own. From this height, Krawk Island is a rock in
the ocean, Sakhmet Palace is a grain of sand and the Peak of Terror Mountain
is far, far below. You get a different perspective on things, this high up.
All I could think about, though, was the fact that we could see everything,
but we couldn't see Waterlily. She was somewhere totally unreachable.
Immacolata dove, banking sharply to hover level
with me. She turned her head, her voice battling with the sound of air rushing
"There is a very tall thermal near the Healing
Springs. If we ride it up to the point where oxygen starts getting scarce, we
should have enough impulse to reach the offshore thermals near the Lost Desert!"
"Fair enough!" I shouted back, as the four of
us made a ragged line weaving along the edge of Faerieland. After a few initial
steering difficulties with Hina's parrot, it was plain sailing.
If only the Lost Desert had been that easy to
Two hours later, I unclipped my glider; spat
out a mouthful of sand and crawled out of the dune I had crashed into. A quick
examination of Marialysra established that although the tail was a bit bent,
she'd be okay to fly again, as long as we could somehow drag her to the top
of a nearby rocky outcrop. If we could find a nearby rocky outcrop. Another
few minutes ascertained that all my pets were all right, just a bit sandy. We
covered the gliders with a tarpaulin, shouldered our rucksacks, unfolded a map
and started planning out our route.
"Mutankhanune's tomb is in the Valley of the
Kings, like most of the ancient graves." Immacolata explained. "Getting in might
be a little tricky, as it hasn't been disturbed in over a thousand years, but
I believe we can improvise. I estimate that getting there will takes us approximately…
I sighed. "Four hours means we'll have to camp
at the entrance to the Valley… which I'm not going to enjoy." I tied a scarf
caftan-style around my head. "At least for the last hour, we'll be travelling
at dusk. That'll be much cooler."
Hina trotted to the top of the nearest sand dune.
With his fur, he would have blended in if it weren't for the brightly coloured
punk clothing he was always wearing.
"Well, what are we, like, waiting for? Lets
go kill some mummies, man!"
* * * * *
"It's a perfectly simple spell that even YOU should have no trouble
Anuina carefully put a large apple on one end
of the long table, and then walked back to stand beside Waterlily, who was sulking
as only an Ixi knew how. After Nightwing had attempted to drill the basics of
magic into her, Anuina had decided she needed more motivation.
"Now remember, focus. If you want it bad enough,
it'll happen. See, little Ixi? If you want food, you have to levitate it over
here. Quite ingenious, yes?"
"Not really," she mumbled. "One flaw; I don't
"To tell you the truth, I don't really care."
The Faerie cuffed her round the ears. "Levitate it over here NOW or I'll hang
you upside-down in the moat for a week."
"Well, get me a bathing suit and pass the nose
"Argh! You infuriating, MORONIC little…"
Anuina stopped, staring at the apple hovering
sixty feet above her head. Waterlily smirked.
"I can do THIS too."
It's surprising how much damage a piece of fruit
can do when it falls from a significant distance. Waterlily settled back in
her chair, grinned, and yelled down the corridor.
"Clean up on isle five! I repeat, severely concussed
Faerie on isle five!"
Learning magic had its good points.
* * * * *
I sipped a cup of strengthening Strongberry Tea. I needed it. Another
night in the desert wasn't something I would be able to stand. The winds screamed
over the dunes, blew sand into every available opening and collapsed the tents
whenever possible. Not to mention howling packs of desert Lupes, renegade Sahkmetians
and the occasional Anubis trying to make life, and sleep, difficult for us.
The other pets were just as windblown and exhausted as I was, preparing their
choice of morning beverages with a minimum of effort.
Tired, dusty and peeved, we searched the valley
in silence for the seals of Mutankhanune's tomb. The sun was just rising when
Elenna gave us a shout, scrabbling sand away from a large, stone door.
"I think this is it!"
Immacolata ran the inscriptions through a translator.
"Correct, Elenna. This is the one, though how we are going to get inside…"
I dug in my backpack, producing a small canvas
bundle of tools. "Well, White confiscated my Demolitions kit, but I can always
"Oh dear." Immacolata wiped her forehead with
a sandy wrist. "Do the words 'minimal impact' and 'preserving our history' mean
anything to you, Chrissy?"
It took about fifteen minutes to prise the carved
fronting of the door off, which Immacolata insisted on keeping intact so it
could be studied, and another three quarters of an hour to set up a carefully
rigged set of explosives that would (hopefully) blow a circle of stone about
three feet across into the chamber behind. I consider it a testament to my abilities
that apart from a slight rock slide, some major structural fractures and about
a ton of sand coming down on our heads, it worked. We took a few moments to
prepare, lighting some torches and leaving the petpets to guard the entrance.
Eventually, we stood, dirtier and dustier than before, in an impressively sized
chamber carved out of the living rock, the arched ceiling held up by huge rock
pillars. Opposite us was a large, circular door, covered in hieroglyphics. It
was constructed in three pieces out of the natural sandstone, like a set of
interlocking wheels. Immacolata almost smiled.
"A puzzle door. How ingenious. Quite a challenge,
I had other concerns. "I bet that floor's trapped.
Doesn't look like there're any holes in the walls or the pillars, so I don't
reckon it's scything blades or poison arrows…"
"Could be a pit trap." Elenna offered helpfully,
her knowledge of fantasy Role-playing games neatly overlapping with mine. "Or
sleeping gas. Or maybe spikes come up through the floor…"
"Like, dude! It, like, doesn't HAVE to kill
us." Hina rolled his eyes, slapped his forehead, dropped to all four feet and
sprinted towards the door. There was a simultaneous scream.
"HINA!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!! DON'T!!!!!!!"
The Kougra ignored us, ploughing own relentlessly.
A tile sunk into the ground as his foot impacted with it, causing the floor
to start shaking. With great, grumbling groans, the elaborately carved pillars
slowly toppled towards the ground and one, very small Kougra. Hina checked his
speed just quickly enough to avoid one falling monolith, leaping into the air
to bounce off another at a precarious angle. Leaping, pouncing, using every
available surface, including the ceiling, as a springboard, Hina finally came
to rest delicately in front of the puzzle door. With a final, grinding noise
and a cloud of dust, the last pillar slid to the floor.
"Okay, Dudettes. It's safe now."
We picked our way over the fallen stones with
as much speed as we could muster. I picked Hina up by the scruff of his neck,
shook him, them gave him a big hug.
"Sweet mother of Wombats, you stupid, stupid
kitty. You almost stopped my heart! You EVER do anything like that again, I'll…"
"Yes, thank you, Hina, though it was a little
unorthodox." Immacolata was examining the door with interest, as was Elenna.
The Uni looked like she was remembering something.
"Ah hah!" Elenna whinnied, finally realising
where she'd seen the pattern of door before. "There was one of these in 'The
Mummies Curse XVIV'! What you do is, you pull the middle bit like so…" She grabbed
a metal ring imbedded in the centre with her teeth, yanking hard. The three
circles separated with a groan. "And then you line up the symbols so they make
"Hmmm." Immacolata glanced at the hieroglyphs,
then gave a small, self-satisfied smile. "This is easy. The first set of three
there are Muh, Ooh, and Tuh. If we twist the middle ring so the Ankh lines up
with that glyph…" Flinging her weight against it, the slight Aisha was just
able to get the stone symbols to align. "And the for the centre, it's quite
simple. See, we have the earth, the earth with the sun low on the right hand
side, the earth with the sun at its zenith and the earth with the sun low on
the left." She twisted it so the third pictograph lined up, then with Elenna's
help, pushed the rings back until they were flush. "And there you have it, Mut,
Ankh, Noon. Mutankhanune!"
The door responded with a stony creak and a puff
of dust as it swung open slowly. We tiptoed inside, unsure of what we would
"Sweet mother of all Wombats."
It was an even bigger chamber, going deep into
the ground as well as having a high ceiling. We were on a balcony, high on one
side, and on the other was a raised platform, lying on which was…
"That's it." Immacolata nodded towards the weapon.
We couldn't see it clearly, but it looked like some kind of spear or javelin.
Across the floor between the plinth and us was a maze, the walls so high and
the passages so narrow we couldn't clearly see the floor. Elenna asked the obvious
"How do we get across?"
A voice, much louder than I had imagined possible
without some pretty high-tech equipment, boomed across the darkness.
I, PHARAOH MUTANKHANUNE, CREATED THIS MAZE TO
KEEP THIS BLESSED WEAPON SAFE FROM TOMB ROBBERS SUCH AS YOU! FLEE NOW OR BE
"Tomb robbers? I, like, resent that!" Hina yelled
back. There was a pause, the Pharaoh apparently unused to getting a reply.
I'M SORRY. THAT USUALLY SCARES PEOPLE OFF, MOST
OF THEM ARE TOMB ROBBERS. ARE YOU ARCHAEOLOGISTS, THEN? WE HAVE A FEW OF THOSE,
TOO. THEY TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES AND ASK ME STUPID QUESTIONS ABOUT LIFE IN MY
ERA. THEY USUALLY SEEM VERY INTERESTED IN THOSE HIEROGLYPHS THERE.
I turned around and looked at them. They looked
much like any other hieroglyphs, but you never could tell.
"Is it a curse? An ancient secret? Instructions
on how to find the lost city of Ee?"
NO. IT SAYS 'MADE IN SAKHMET.'
To be continued...