Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 135,120,765 Issue: 267 | 22nd day of Storing, Y8
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Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Five

by rookina


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 asked.

     "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, I think..."

     "Wadjet?!" Aubrise interrupted, looking around nervously.

     "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 touch it.

     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 door.

     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...

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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 Four
» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Six
» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Seven

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