Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Four
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.
"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
"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
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...