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Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part One

by rookina


Art by rookina

The Gebmids were built more than a thousand years ago - but is there still someone watching over them, waiting to take revenge on anyone who intrudes... ?

The Yurble made his way through the museum corridors until he reached the office he was heading for. A yellow Cybunny was sitting there hunched over her desk, pouring over a large manuscript and making small, neat notes in a blue notebook. Sighing, she sat up and pushed her dark hair out of her eyes. As she did, she noticed the figure in the doorway. Stifling a yawn, she rolled up the manuscript and smiled at him. "Hello, Mr Chem."

     "Good evening, Aubrise," he replied, returning her smile. "Are you busy?"

     She shook her head. "Not really," she answered. "I'm working on the new exhibition guidebook, and trying to translate this manuscript so that we can have the most interesting parts available for visitors to read. I'm just having trouble with some of the words and phraseology." She shrugged. "It's no big deal, though. I'll get it done by the end of the week."

     "Good, good." He nodded. "Because I have an interesting proposition for you." She raised her eyebrows and gestured for him to sit down. He pulled a letter out of his pocket as he sat. "I received this today," he told her. "It's from the curator of the Sakhmet Historical Archives. Let me see... what was his name?" He glanced at the letter. "Ah yes, Tehuti Tallinn."

     "I've heard of the Archives." Aubrise nodded. "They have an amazing selection of old scrolls and manuscripts. I've always wanted to go and examine them in detail. What did Mr Tallinn want?"

     Mr Chem paused as he found the relevant part of the letter. "Here it is," he said, and read aloud. "We have been researching the origins of the mysterious Gebmids for many years, but haven't made as much progress as we expected. We were wondering if Aubrise, your Lost Desert expert, would like to come and spend some time here with us to work on this project. In particular, we have discovered some interesting writings that we have only partially been able to translate. It is this in particular that we would like help with, as we believe these writings hold the secret to the history of the Gebmids. What do you think?" he finished, looking up.

     Aubrise was grinning. "How long is 'some time'?" she asked.

     ~ * ~

     As Aubrise got off the boat, she looked around. Despite her fascination with the Lost Desert and its history, this was only her second visit there - the first, fifteen years before, having been the trigger for her interest.

     There were many people milling around the port - some greeting people who had arrived on the boat with her, some standing around waiting to board for the return trip, a few traders loading a boat with crates a little way down the quay, fishermen getting ready to go out for their evening catch, and several Desert natives standing around with Apis harnessed to carts waiting to take the new arrivals to their destinations.

     As she was wondering whether a cart ride would be safe, she was approached by a brown Techo. He was dressed in a long white robe and a headdress to protect himself from the sun, and when he spoke, although he spoke perfect Neopian, his accent was unmistakably Sakhmetian.

     "Excuse me, are you Aubrise?" he asked politely.

     "Yes," she confirmed. "How do you know my name?"

     "I'm Tehuti Tallinn," he said, holding out his hand to her.

     "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Tallinn," she replied, taking his hand and shaking it warmly. "Thank you for the invitation to come and visit. I'm really looking forward to seeing your archives."

     "I'm glad you could come," he told her, leading her away from the quayside and towards a cart a little way off. "But please, just call me Tehuti."

     On the journey into Sakhmet, Tehuti explained the progress his team had made so far into researching the origins of the Gebmids and the elusive 'lost Geb culture'. Investigations had started with the discovery of a tomb belonging to a Geb named Sutek. He must have been an especially rich and powerful Geb to be able to pay for such a structure, but despite all the theories and speculation, next to nothing was known about him or his culture.

     "I take it you've dated the Gebmid?" Aubrise asked.

     "Of course," Tehuti replied. "It dates back to around 1300BN - at least 500 years before Sakhmet was built. We just have no idea what happened to the Geb civilisation in those 500 years."

     "I can't wait to get started." Aubrise grinned as the cart rumbled into Sakhmet.

     ~ * ~

     The following day, Aubrise explored the market and bought herself some robes and a headdress more suitable for the heat than anything she'd brought with her. Then, at ten o'clock on the dot, she met Tehuti outside the Sakhmetian Historical Archives and he took her inside to show her around.

     "In these archives we have a copy of every scroll written in the last 100 years, as well as more than 90% in the previous 150 years," he told her as they passed room after room of floor-to-ceiling scroll racks. "We have a large amount of manuscripts dating back from 500 years ago to the time of the first Khonsu Dynasty, and several carefully preserved papyrus scrolls detailing the construction of Sakhmet in 873BN by King Coltzan I.

     "But now I must introduce you to the archaeologist who's been working in the Gebmids," he continued, heading down a flight of stairs into the basement. "She's made some very interesting discoveries, and I'm sure the two of you will have plenty to talk about." Tehuti led Aubrise into another room filled with scroll racks. A cluttered table sat against one wall where a white Aisha was studying a scroll, occasionally referring to a second, larger scroll for reference. She didn't look up as they walked in, and Tehuti coughed to get her attention.

     She looked up with a scowl on her face. "Yes?"

     Unabashed by the rude greeting, the Techo pushed Aubrise forward. "This is Aubrise, the expert from the museum in Neopia Central," he told her, before turning to Aubrise and introducing the Aisha. "This is Sarina Salen. I expect you've heard of her."

     "I have." Aubrise nodded. "I'm pleased to meet you, Miss Salen. I've read all of your journals and reports from your archaeological expeditions to discover more about the Geb culture of ancient Sakhmet. They make fascinating reading."

     "Yes, they do," Sarina said, pointedly ignoring Tehuti and returning to the study of her scrolls. There was an awkward pause for a moment, then the Techo excused himself and Aubrise found herself alone with the archaeologist.

     As Sarina continued to ignore her, Aubrise decided to try to make conversation. "I was asked to come here to help you with your investigations," she started. "I..."

     "I don't need your help!" Sarina snapped, her eyes still on her work.

     "I don't understand..." Aubrise replied, puzzled by Sarina's attitude.

     Finally, she looked up at the Cybunny and sighed. "Look, I'm sure you're a very fine museum curator, but I don't need any help. I'm doing fine by myself, and I don't appreciate other people trying to hurry my work along by bringing in other people. I work much better when I'm alone. So I'm sorry if you've had a wasted trip, but feel free to read some scrolls or go sunbathe in the desert before you go back home."

     Aubrise was a little taken-aback by this. She knew Sarina's reputation was one of an independent Aisha who wouldn't let something go once she'd started investigating, but she hadn't expected such a point blank refusal to her offer of help. Making a quick decision, she moved a pile of scrolls from a chair to the desk, pulled the chair up at the desk and started looking through the scrolls.

     Sarina looked surprised - 'No doubt she expects me to just go,' Aubrise thought, catching the Aisha's expression out of the corner of her eye. 'But I'm not going to.' Aloud, she said; "I was asked to come here by Tehuti to help him with some investigations. His invitation still stands, and even if you don't want any help I'm intrigued by the history of the Gebmids, so if you don't mind, I'll just stay here for a while and do some research. You won't mind if I go out and look at them sometime, will you?"

     She smiled sweetly, picked up a scroll and started reading. "If you don't mind, I was using that," Sarina said, twitching the scroll out of Aubrise's hands.

     "Go right ahead," Aubrise replied, getting up and going over to one of the scroll racks. She selected another scroll and brought it back to the table, sat down again, leaned back and put her feet up as she unrolled the scroll and started to read.

     Sarina stared at her, then her expression changed to one of annoyance and she picked up her scrolls and stalked out of the room.

     Aubrise blew out a sigh and rolled her eyes up to the ceiling. 'Was that a stupid thing to do?' she wondered. 'She won't want me anywhere near the Gebmids now, and all I've done is make an enemy and make things more difficult for myself. What do I do now? Should I go home, or stay and try to work with Tehuti?'

To be continued...

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