Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Five
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 fallen victim to one of the many traps inside
the Gebmid. Princess Amira ordered a rescue operation, but things hadn't gone
according to plan and Aubrise now found herself sealed in a secret passage in
the depths of the Gebmid...
~ * ~
The flickering lamps showed no immediate way out of the
tunnel, just bare rock with no clue as to where they were or where they were
going. They continued in silence for a few minutes before Sekhani stopped suddenly.
He was looking at something on the floor. "What is it?" Aubrise asked, trying
to see what the Fire Tonu was looking at.
In the ground at his feet was a square hatchway
taking up about half the width of the passage. There was a wooden trapdoor set
into the hatch, strangely clear of dust and looking as if it didn't quite fit
properly. Sekhani tapped it cautiously with his foot. It sounded hollow - as
if there was a big drop below the hatch.
Tehuti looked at Aubrise. "What do you think?"
he asked, raising an eyebrow. Aubrise looked at Sekhani.
"I have a long rope in my pack," he said. "If
we could find something to attach it to, we could try to open the hatch and
one of us could go down and see where it goes."
Tomek had been hanging back from the others,
but now he spoke up. "There's a big sticky-out rock here," he volunteered. "Could
we tie the rope to it?" Sekhani went back to examine the rock. It had originally
been one of the stones used to construct the Gebmid, but it had been split from
top to bottom somehow creating a large peg still attached to the wall that was
ideal for securing the rope around. The Tonu quickly did this and then went
back to the hatch. He wrapped the end of the rope around his wrist, then knelt
down next to the hatch and put one hand on the wood. Carefully he pushed on
the door; it creaked ominously. Standing back up he stood with one foot right
next to the edge. Getting a firm grip on the rope, he stamped on the wood heavily.
The wood creaked on his first attempt, cracked on the second, and splintered
on the third.
Readjusting his grip, Sekhani stamped heavily
again. The door gave way completely and he found himself hovering over a large
drop. Pulling on the rope he swung himself easily out of the way.
Tehuti took his lantern over to the hole and
peered into the blackness. It seemed to go straight down for a few feet, then
change direction and carry on downwards diagonally. He picked up a stone and
carefully tossed it into the hole. They all listened as it clinked and clicked
its way out of sight down the shaft.
"Around 50 feet, I think," Sekhani commented.
Tehuti nodded in agreement, and took hold of the rope. "Shall we...?"
The passage was very dark and smelled very peculiar
in places, but Sekhani's guess had been correct and it was only around 50 feet
long. They emerged near the doorway of a long chamber with a very high roof.
The rope only just brought them to the end of the passage and they had to drop
from the ceiling; Sekhani first, so that he could help the others down. They
had to leave the rope hanging there and hope they wouldn't need it again.
Aubrise poked her head out into the corridor.
It stretched away in both directions, and there were no carvings to give her
any clues as to where they were. She was about to go back into the chamber when
something caught her eye. "Sekhani..." she called the Tonu, and pointed to the
floor. "Do those look like footprints?"
He followed her gaze to the floor where something
had disturbed the dust. He frowned. "Possibly..." he replied.
Tehuti joined them in the passage. Cupping his
hands he called loudly, "Sareeenaaaaa!" His voice echoed around the walls followed
by silence, but then very faintly, they heard a scratching noise.
"Sarina?" Tehuti called again. The scratching
answered again, louder this time. Sekhani followed the sound along the passage
a little way and stopped next to what appeared to be a blank wall. Aubrise knocked
on the wall - it sounded hollow - and they immediately heard an answering knock.
Aubrise put her ear against the wall and called,
"Sarina! Are you in there?" Nobody heard anything, but Aubrise suddenly grinned.
"She's in there!" she told the others. "Cybunny ears," she explained, smiling,
to Tehuti when he looked puzzled.
"So she's in there, but how are we going to get
her out?" Tomek grumbled. Tehuti pulled his notebook out of his bag and started
comparing the marks on the wall with his book. While he did that, Aubrise carefully
made her way along the section of wall tapping the wall carefully and listening
to the sound it made.
"Ah!" Tehuti suddenly exclaimed. Aubrise went
over to him and looked to see what he'd found. A large symbol was written on
the wall with an indent in the centre. Aubrise carefully put one ear against
the wall and tapped gently, then carefully ran her fingers over the carving.
Instead of pressing the middle as Tehuti had expected, she carefully pressed
a wavy line underneath the symbol.
A click sounded inside the wall followed by a
whirring sound. Tomek looked around, worried, and retreated back into the long
chamber they had come from. As the other three watched, a section of wall slid
backwards and upwards revealing a small chamber. A pale face looked back at
them, blinking in the torchlight, but grinning happily.
"Sarina!" Tehuti exclaimed, rushing forward to
pull her into the corridor. She stumbled as he did, and Sekhani quickly scooped
her up in his arms and carried her through into the long chamber.
"She needs to eat," he said firmly. "Then she
can tell us what happened and we can find our way out."
~ * ~
"I came out of the tunnel in the same place as
you - in that long chamber," Sarina told them between mouthfuls. "I didn't want
to hang around down here for long, so I decided to get out and then bring back
a team to explore more later."
"So how did you end up in that room?" Tehuti
"I heard a noise coming from there so I went
in to have a look and see what it was. I tripped over something - a Wadjet,
"Wadjet?!" Aubrise interrupted, looking around
"Yes," the white Aisha replied, staring at the
Cybunny. "Anyway, I tripped and put my hand out to save myself, but I must have
pressed something and the door slammed shut. I had enough food and drink, and
oil for the lamp, to last for one day, but I'm glad you showed up when you did,
or else..." She trailed off and looked at the floor.
The rest of the meal was eaten in silence. When
they'd all finished, they decided to explore the room they were in before finding
a way out. It was easily 100 feet long - probably longer. The walls were covered
with intricate carvings, some inlaid with precious gems that glittered and twinkled
in the torchlight.
At the far end of the room was a pedestal. Although
there were no lights in the chamber aside from their torches, it seemed to be
surrounded by a faint yellow glow. Tehuti headed for a panel of hieroglyphs
halfway down the chamber while Sarina and Aubrise walked down to examine the
pedestal more closely.
As they approached the pedestal they saw the
top was inlaid with beautiful gold carvings - decorative rather than informative
- and in the centre lay a beautiful jewel-encrusted golden scarab. The two historians
gazed at it in wonder for a full minute before Sarina reached out to lightly
The moment her finger made contact with the scarab
a strange grating noise started. Aubrise looked around for the source of the
noise, then gasped, horrified, as she saw the heavy stone door at the other
end of the room starting to close.
"Quick!" she cried. "We've got to get out!"
Sekhani ran to the doorway and, bracing himself
against the wall and the floor, tried to slow its descent. "Hurry!" he shouted,
straining against the weight of the door. Tomek ran to help him as Aubrise pulled
Salina away from the scarab. "Leave it!" she ordered, turning towards the doorway.
Tehuti was already running for the door, but
suddenly slipped and fell heavily. He looked up in horror to see water starting
to pour into the chamber from a hole high above them in the wall.
"Get up!" Aubrise shouted, pulling him roughly
to his feet. They both ran for the doorway with Salina just behind them. The
Tonus were having difficulty holding the door and it was edging closer and closer
to the floor. Tomek ducked out of the room, exhausted, and collapsed on the
floor in the corridor outside.
Left alone, Sekhani struggled to slow its progress
and buy them a little more time to get out. "Hurry!" he gasped. Aubrise, Sarina
and Tehuti ran for the door. Tehuti stumbled a little as they reached it. Aubrise
gave him a hard push as he tumbled forward, making him skid through the puddle
that now covered most of the floor and through the gap at the bottom of the
As he did so, he pushed Sekhani out from under
the door and it slammed down, hitting the ground with a sickening thud.
Aubrise hammered at the solid piece of stone
with her fists, but it was no good. They were trapped - and water was still
pouring into the chamber...
To be continued...