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Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Four


by rookina

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Art by rookina

Aubrise, the Lost Desert Expert at the Neopia Central Museum, was invited to Sakhmet to help a team of archaeologists discover more about the ancient Geb culture. The Cybunny soon found an enemy in Sarina Salen, the world-famous archaeologist, who resented her being there, but before they could try to resolve their disagreements, Sarina had disappeared. Aubrise reasoned she must be inside a Gebmid, and Princess Amira ordered a rescue operation...

     ~ * ~

Aubrise was woken by the sound of someone pounding on the door. Yawning and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, she pushed off her covers and slowly stood up. "I'm coming!" she called as, still yawning, she made her way to the door.

     Pushing her hair back from her face, she opened the door and found herself staring at the chest of a very tall, very wide, fire Tonu. Taking a step back and shaking her head to clear the fuzziness of sleep, she blinked twice and looked up, squinting against the bright morning sunlight.

     "Miss Aubrise?"

     "Uh, yes?" She stifled another yawn and rubbed her eyes again.

     "My name is Sekhani. Her Highness Princess Amira has sent me to help with your search for Miss Salen."

     She blinked again and looked properly at her visitor. He was wearing the uniform of the Sakhmet Royal Guards - a bronze-coloured helmet and wrist bracers, the off-white and tan tunic she'd seen all the palace staff wearing, and a sword attached to a wide leather belt around his waist. Not that he'd use it much, she mused, imagining that most criminals would be intimidated into giving up by his sheer size and bulk!

     "Uh, come in," she invited. "I'm sorry, I've only just woken up. Would you mind if I had something to eat before we go to the Archives?"

     "Not at all." He grinned a slightly dangerous grin. "If you show me where you keep the food, I'll make you breakfast while you get ready."

     "Thanks," she accepted gratefully, suddenly aware that pyjamas weren't very practical to go exploring in!

     Five minutes later she had changed into her robe and hat, brushed and plaited her dark hair, packed her bag with her notebooks, pencil, torch, candles, matches and a bottle of water, and was sitting down at the table eating breakfast.

     "So how does the Princess want us to work this?" she asked between mouthfuls of Tchea fruit on toast.

     "She said you're in charge," Sekhani replied. "We're to go with you and assist you if needed, and make sure you are protected."

     "I see." Aubrise took a drink of fruit juice. "And who is 'we'?"

     "My colleague Tomek is with Mr. Tallinn."

     "Ah." Finishing off her juice, Aubrise wiped her hands and pushed her chair back. "Shall we go?"

     ~ * ~

     When they arrived at the Archives, Tehuti was waiting for them with a blue Tonu - Tomek, Aubrise assumed correctly. They had a cart ready harnessed to an Apis, full of supplies and various tools. They climbed in and Tehuti took the reigns. As they made their way out into the desert, Aubrise explained the origin of the Gebmids to the guards.

     "Legend has it that there was an ancient Geb named Sutek," she told them, as the cart bumped over the dunes. "He was stronger, fitter, and cleverer than the other Gebs and was praised by all for his courage and wisdom. Before he died, he ordered that the other Gebs built him a tomb that was the same shape as him. The structure - known then as a Gebmid - had four triangular sides and a square base and was the first to be built to this pattern. Over time the name 'Gebmid' fell out of use as later Sakhmetian rulers started constructing pyramids using the same pattern."

     She paused as the cart jolted over an especially large bump. "But Sutek's Tomb was unlike any that followed it," she continued, when the cart settled again. "To stop people getting at Sutek's treasures - rumoured to be worth millions of Neopoints - his advisors placed a series of traps, puzzles and locks on the tomb. Salina believed she'd deciphered the code, but if she's trapped inside, she can't have gotten it right. Tehuti and I think we've managed to translate a scroll that describes the layout of the Gebmid, but of course, a really cautious builder wouldn't have included every trap in his plans just in case they fell into the wrong hands. We'll have to be very careful not to set off anything that he may have 'forgotten' to mention!"

     Half an hour later the cart rumbled to a halt at the base of the Gebmid. Sekhani and Tomek jumped down and started unloading the bags while Tehuti tied up their Apis. Getting down slowly Aubrise stood watching them working, feeling a bit left out with nothing to do.

     Seeing her bag, Aubrise grabbed it off the cart and pulled her notebook out. She flipped it open to the page where she'd translated the hieroglyphs from the Gebmid.

     "I've been thinking," she said, as they shouldered their packs. "'Blessings upon Sutek; mighty Geb. May he rest forever peacefully within these walls. May whoever negotiates the tests within never disturb his rest or else risk being interred forever with him in this, his tomb and final resting place.' That's what's written over the door of the tomb. We should have realised - they weren't talking about a curse, they were warning people they'd never be able to negotiate all the traps inside without getting caught in them and being trapped forever."

     She glanced at the guards. "Are you sure you still want to come inside?" she asked, seeing Tomek looking a bit nervous now.

     "We're still coming," Sekhani replied straight away, not giving his colleague time to answer. "Mr. Tallinn has an extensive knowledge of the thinking behind the construction of a Gebmid, you can translate everything written here, and I have faith in both of you. Besides, you may need us!" he added, smiling at the Cybunny.

     "Thanks." Aubrise smiled back.

     ~ * ~

     Inside the Gebmid was cool and dark. Tehuti had brought lamps, and they lit one each as soon as they entered the main corridor. Aubrise paused and consulted her notebook. "If Sarina was continuing as she had done before yesterday, she would have been in one of the central chambers, I think," she said, frowning. "This way." She pointed straight down the main passage. "And don't touch the walls," she added, as she started down the corridor.

     After 100 yards they reached a junction with another large corridor. Consulting her notes, Aubrise turned left, then right into another passage, and a little way down the corridor turned again into a room with writing in the ancient Geb language covering the walls. "This was the last room Sarina had been exploring before she disappeared," she explained, going up to the walls and studying the hieroglyphs.

     The rest of the group followed her inside. Tehuti, fascinated by the hieroglyphs, went over to Aubrise, while Sekhani looked vaguely interested but stayed by the doorway, more concerned with watching out for their safety than looking at writing he couldn't understand. Tomek looked curiously at the markings on the walls and walked over to the far side of the room to look at a curiously large serpent-shaped mark. As he ran his fingers over the carving, it suddenly moved beneath his hand. The door slammed shut and the walls begin to move in towards them. Aubrise spun round. "Did you do that?" she shouted at the Tonu. "Did you think I was joking when I said not to touch the walls?!"

     "Well, yes!" Tomek yelled back, staring round wildly at the incoming walls. "I mean, who puts traps in walls?!"

     "The Geb do!" Aubrise retorted, looking around frantically, trying to read the Geb language in the flickering torchlight.

     Sekhani had thrown down his pack as soon as the walls started moving and now pulled out a thick, heavy chisel. Running to one of the walls, he jammed it into the corner and held it there as the wall ran into it, slowed as it squashed the metal into the side wall, then gradually crunched to a stop. Letting go of the chisel, he swung round to face the others. "Anyone got another chisel?" he asked, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

     Tehuti was holding his lantern near to the floor and suddenly gave a yell. "Look!" he cried, pointing urgently at a stone near the centre of one of the walls. Aubrise ran over to see what he had found. The stone was very clean compared to its neighbours, almost as if someone had wiped it to examine it more closely.

     As the two historians examined the stone, Tomek was watching the incoming wall warily. Its progress had slowed a little when Sekhani had jammed the other wall, but it was still steadily closing the gap between them, and in a few minutes... He poked Tehuti nervously. "Can't you leave the arkey-lology for later? We need to get out!" he said, his voice rising in panic.

     Aubrise turned and gave him a withering look. Sekhani pulled his colleague away and pushed him across the room. "Stay there unless you've got something useful to contribute!" he ordered roughly.

     "Ah!" Tehuti exclaimed, leaning towards the stone to examine a small dent in the slab.

     "Found something?" Aubrise asked.

     Tehuti frowned and ran his fingers around the inside of the dent. As he did so, something clicked and the slab silently slid away under the floor revealing a dark hole beneath.

     "Can we get out through there?" Tomek asked, coming over to peer into the hole.

     "It'll be tight, but yes," Aubrise replied. "Unless you'd like to stay in here with the moving walls?!"

     "I'll go first," Sekhani volunteered. "I'll take a torch with me. If I can fit through, the rest of you will have no problem."

     "You can say that again," Tehuti muttered, staring at the Tonu as he squeezed himself down into the hole.

     "Pass me a lantern," he asked Aubrise. She handed him the lamp and followed him down into the hole. Tehuti tossed their bags down and jumped down after her, followed closely by Tomek. As he looked around he saw the walls of the passage were roughly-hewn chunks of stone. Unlike the rest of the Gebmid, these walls had no markings on them. He shivered as he glanced back up the passage to the chamber they had just left. The moving wall was starting to grind over the top of the hole, sealing them into the tunnel.

     "I hope you're right about this going somewhere," he whispered to Tehuti, indicating the now-sealed hole.

     "So do I!" the Techo replied, following Aubrise down the tunnel.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part One
» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Two
» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Three
» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Five
» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Six
» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Seven



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