Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 182,656,530 Issue: 231 | 16th day of Running, Y8
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Solkaris: The Narrative - Part Four


by x_marks_the_spot

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I was in Sutek's Tomb.

     And there was his treasure.

     It was a feast to relish. I stuffed myself at the sight, my eyes drinking everything in greedily, sucking up all the sweet, golden, glittering, expensive nourishment. It was just as I imagined it to be! No, it was more than I imagined! It was too much to bear! Glimmering gold, twinkling jewels, coins that were once jangling in King Geb's very wallets were scattered by the thousands…millions about the room. Shelves piled high with elaborate boxes, hewn from ivory and intricately fused with graceful arabesques and scenes from everyday Sakhmetian life; stacked also with rolls and curses and spells taunting anyone educated in hieroglyphics to dare to read aloud. The wall paintings were still stained with their color, splashed in reds and blues, in yellows and greens and gold and silvers and bronzes too! Their majesty and splendor once more displayed its vain feathers to the three, insignificant spectators that gaped in awe before them. Intricate scarabs were buried in the walls, and they wore gold and blue collars and bracelets and bangles and the carved gods themselves seemed to jump out at us, heavily garmented with real jewelry; bracelets and necklaces and earrings of lapis lazuli and other precious stones worth a fortune. Golden goblets, scarab amulets, solid gold, silver, and bronze statues and statuettes of noble Lupes, Kougras and many other Neopets alike were all half-buried beneath the treasure amassed in this one single chamber! It seemed to stretch on forever, reaching away with no end in sight. Scarlet shields were hung on the walls, Sutek's very own hunting spears and elegant scimitars preserved neatly in their stands…there was just so much! And yet the real envy remained the solid-gold, jewel-encrusted sarcophagi that surveyed the scene from beneath its blanket of treasure; its glassy, gold-rimmed eyes gazing in almost every direction at once. Half buried beneath the gold was the final resting place of the great King Geb, a coffin to be proud of! The golden mask of him brandishing his crook and flail sparkled and glittered in the firelight, and he almost seemed to wink slyly at us in the dancing torchlight. What a grand and fine Sakhmetian he must have been! What an effort was put into keeping him safe!

     And yet, I would rob his tomb.

     I would steal from the Great King himself!

     I stepped lightly, as if in a trance, as if no more than a patter would blow the whole dream away. I sidled up to the treasure, still unable to believe that it was mine, all mine! My arm reached out, my thin fingers groping, and I grasped the bound handle of a sharpened scimitar, feeling the soft folds of the fabric with wonder. I brought the weapon down from its holder and gazed at my reflection through its mirror-like blade, admiring the fine craftsmanship.

     "It's ours, Sibil!" I breathed in disbelief, my hollow voice hardly audible, "It's all ours!"

     And then that sharp voice knifed through my fantasy like a Kadoatie's claw would tear through a delicate, dancer's veil.

     "NO WAY, SOLKARIS!!"

     I jumped at the sudden harshness of it and found myself brandishing the scimitar at Sarina. Yet still she continued passionately, despite the blade thrust in her face.

     "This belongs to archaeological research!" she spat, like an enraged Wadjet. "You have no right to take anything here!"

     "Oh yeah? I don't see your name written all over it, and what can you do about it anyway?" I jeered at her, withdrawing my weapon and placing it back on its hooks before I accidentally resorted to using it again. After the Guard incident, I had no further intention of hurting another Neopet, even if it was one in the way of me and my passion.

     "I can have you arrested!" she stammered loudly. I rolled my eyes. Not that reason again! I was tiring of her repetitive threats.

     "…And I can put a curse on you!" I yelled back, grabbing the first scroll off the shelf that I could get my hands on. I saw her eyes go wide with fear, and rather than take that warning, it only boosted my ego.

     "That's right!" I boasted, "I've learnt to read hieroglyphics, you know, and despite Advisor Wessle's stinging remarks, I intend to use that knowledge! You just try to stop me, you Adam-forsaken Aisha! I've had enough of your whining and bossing me around! Hah, with any luck you'll turn into an Apis and I could barter you off for profit!" I was screaming at her now, too infuriated to stop.

     I slid off the fancy gold band that kept the scroll rolled up-a rather fetching gold band with a ruby scarab embedded in its center-and I slipped it around my wrist for safekeeping. Unrolling up the scroll, I began to read the ancient words of warning without heeding their meaning, my eyes scanning the cryptic pictures in their neat rows with hardly a second thought. I hadn't gone far, however, before I began to realize my stupid mistake. My voice faltered then finally trailed off as the chamber began to shake and rumble uncontrollably, until loose sand and rock from the ceiling began to bounce off our heads as they fell. I looked about frantically. Wrong curse!

     "The door!" Sarina barked, pointing at the huge rock slab that was about to do just as the poetic verse had stated: to encase us forever with the treasure.

     "It's closing!" she screamed, stating the rather-too-obvious. "Get out! QUICK!" Her voice was cracking and reaching into a high-pitched wail only a Neopet of Aisha-build could ever achieve. I resisted the natural impulse to cover my ears with my hands and dove under the rapidly disappearing gap, barely sliding out in time to grab Sibil through with me before the door groaned shut with a slam that echoed down the corridor we had thrown ourselves into.

     Cobwebs floated like wispy tendrils of smoke as Sarina looked wistfully at the door separating her from her greatest find yet, the stone eyes of the Geb depicted in the door laughing at her in their cold silence. In the firelight of the torch she still gripped, I sighed and secretly mourned the loss of my greatest find yet. I admired the simple scarab band I now wore around my wrist: the only token of what lay beyond that forever-sealed door.

     A sort of calm and satisfaction seemed to come over me then. I was contented; I had found the treasury of the Great King Sutek, and I had some of it…well, it was one small piece; but in that golden band with its ruby scarab, its beady crimson eyes winking up at me, I suddenly felt at peace, and I slipped the small token into my sash for safekeeping.

     For a while me and Sarina and Sibil just sat lay there, slumped against the painted walls, breathing heavily after the incident, our hearts hammering away in our throats. It took us a while to recover from the terrifying realization of how close we had just been to death in there. It seemed natural for me now that Sarina was the first out of all of us to really come round enough to make or tail of our surroundings. I saw her look at the heavy door to her right, sealed tight forever, I saw her look left down the dark passage we were in, and a sad grin spread across her face. No doubt that feeling of loss would haunt for a while to come.

     "Come on Solkaris!" she said, trying to sound bright and awake again. "This passageway should take us out of this underground section of the tomb and back to the surface."

     That motivated me. Suddenly wanting nothing more to have to do with ancient pharaohs or treasure or tombs. I leapt to my feet, stumbled backwards as dizziness and stars exploded in my head, and found myself leaning heavily against the wall. Sibil squawked in alarm and hissed a sort of warning as Sarina came towards me.

     "Are you okay?" the Aisha asked. Concern filled her voice and took me by surprise. Before I was quite certain she would have walked right on without me!

     I steadied myself and waited until the sparks stopped shooting across my vision, shaking my head and blinking profusely to make sure I was okay to go.

     "Yeah, I'm fine," I assured her, and we started off down the tunnel, gazing passively at the painted figures depicted on the wall, but by now far to cautious to even dare brush our paws across their chipping surface, lest something happen again.

     That's not to say that the whole trek out of the Gebmid was a piece of cake. No, it was more like a Puntec, I'd have to say. It had its odd spikes and nasty surprises in it, and we had to tread carefully to make sure the whole place didn't collapse on us…yeah, it was like a Puntec, a Puntec that explodes if you hold it too tight.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Solkaris: The Narrative - Part One
» Solkaris: The Narrative: Part Two
» Solkaris: The Narrative - Part Three
» Solkaris: The Narrative - Part Five
» Solkaris: The Narrative - Part Six



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