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Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Seven

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. Sarina Salen, the world-famous archaeologist, resented her being there and decided to explore the Gebmid without the Cybunny's help, but became trapped. Aubrise set off on a rescue operation but she and Sarina had become separated from the rest of the rescue party...

     ~ * ~

Aubrise crawled along the narrow passageway trying not to kneel on Sarina's tail. The Aisha's torch didn't show much of their surroundings - just blank stone walls stretching away into darkness in front and behind of them. It seemed like they'd been on their hands and knees for hours, but it couldn't possibly have been that long - Aubrise knew the Gebmid was only a few hundred feet wide, even if its angled sides did continue to spread out below ground.

     A draught blew up the corridor to meet them, making Sarina's torch flicker and almost go out. She stopped and put a hand protectively around the flame, then glanced up at her companion.

     "Getting close...?" she said, with the hint of a question in her voice.

     "Must be." Aubrise nodded. "Maybe there's a vent somewhere near here - you know, to let air in for the workers who built all this."

     Sarina nodded agreement and turned back to the corridor. As they continued crawling Aubrise noticed that they were gradually starting to go downwards and the occasional draught had turned into a steady breeze. After being in the claustrophobic, stuffy, dusty atmosphere of the Gebmid for hours it was a welcome relief.

     Sarina suddenly stopped and held the torch up so Aubrise could see what lay ahead. A few feet further along the floor dropped away down a slope into blackness. They looked at each other for a moment. "I'm game if you are," Sarina said. Aubrise just nodded, and they cautiously edged forward down the slope.

     ~ * ~

     It felt like they'd been underground for days, although Sekhani reckoned it was actually only around 12 hours. His head was aching from being thrown around by the mummy they'd encountered and he could see Tomek was tiring - he'd have to make sure he got some endurance training when they got back to Sakhmet.

     He knew he was getting thirsty by the taste of smoke in his mouth - he'd always assumed that was something to do with his Fire colouring - and was just about to suggest stopping to get their drinks out when Tehuti gave a relieved cry and pointed ahead of them.

     "Look." He smiled, indicating a faint light shining into the passageway. "The way out!"

     ~ * ~

     "It's like a fairground ride!" Sarina grumbled as the corridor looped back downwards for the third time. The bottom of the first dip had been home to a nest of Spyders; the second dip had been filled with water and they'd had to swim through it and up into the next slope. 'What next?' Aubrise wondered silently.

     As the corridor started to level out Sarina let out an exclamation. "Look." She pointed at the roof of the passage. Aubrise looked up and saw a wooden door in the roof two feet above her head identical to the one that Sekhani had broken through earlier. It looked as if the wood had gone rotten and the draught was blowing through the gap where one plank was missing.

     Sarina took off her pack and pulled out a wooden mallet. Aubrise stared. "You bring a mallet with you into a historical monument?" The Aisha didn't bother to reply, but started jumping and walloping the door with the mallet. Aubrise sat down on the floor and watched as she broke down the door.

     After a few whacks a second plank fell down, and a minute later the third plank fell, bringing with it a cloud of dust and a bemused Wadjet. Aubrise squealed as it landed in her lap, standing up quickly and brushing it off her and onto the floor, shaking as she watched it wriggle away down the passage.

     Sarina threw her a disdainful look as she put the mallet away. "You're scared of Wadjets?" she asked. Aubrise didn't trust herself to answer without her voice shaking. She knew her 'slithery-phobia' was completely irrational but even so she couldn't help it - one look at a Wadjet, Cobrall, or even a Hissi and her knees turned to jelly.

     Trying to ignore her trembling legs, she stood and looked up into the hole. "Got a grappling hook?" Sarina asked.

     "Oh..." Aubrise tried to think what was in her pack. "No, I think Sekhani had one in his pack, but I didn't," she replied slowly.

     "Great," Sarina said flatly. "Now we have a way out but we can't use it."

     "I can jump up there," Aubrise volunteered.

     Sarina looked hard at her. "You realise it's probably full of slithery things," she told her, narrowing her eyes as she viewed the Cybunny with new respect.

     "I know," Aubrise replied faintly. Sarina handed her the rope they'd retrieved from the water-filled chamber, wisely choosing not to say anything, and stepped back. Aubrise looked up at the hole again. She gulped and closed her eyes, steadying herself and tried to ignore the faint sounds of slithering and hissing coming from the chamber above. Telling herself to breathe normally, she remembered what Sekhani had said to her when they entered the Gebmid: "I have faith in you."

     Taking a deep breath, she tensed her muscles and jumped into the darkness.

     ~ * ~

     Sekhani put the cork back in his water flask and tossed it into his bag. He glanced up at the moon, which was serenely making its way across the night sky.

     "Midnight," he muttered. "They should be out by now. Something must have happened."

     Tehuti looked up from his notebook. "We don't know how far they'd have had to go through that hole before they could get back into a main passage. Anyway, between them they've got more than enough know-how to get out safely - you'll be able to take Sarina back to Her Highness Princess Amira safe and sound."

     "It's not Sarina I'm thinking of." Sekhani frowned, kicking at a rock on the floor. "She does this all the time - it's her job. But Aubrise is different. She knows a lot, but how often has she ever had to put that into practice?"

     The Techo got up from his perch on the back of the cart and went over to the big Tonu. He put a comforting hand on his arm. "She'll be fine," he told him, reassuring himself as much as anyone else.

     Sekhani shook off his hand, frustrated. "I don't like not being able to do anything!" he replied. "I was told to look after her, but I don't even know where she is at the moment!"

     Tehuti stayed silent, having no reply to this statement.

     Sekhani looked over to the entrance of the Gebmid, then picked his pack up and rummaged inside, pulling out his flask, a torch and a couple of short, dry twigs. Sticking the flask in his belt, he put down the torch for a moment and rubbed the twigs briskly between his hands for a second until they burst into flame. He lit the torch with the twigs then crushed out the flame in his hand.

     Tehuti watched, marvelling at the skills that came so naturally to the Fire Tonu. But as Sekhani turned towards the Gebmid he frowned. "Where are you going?"

     "To look for Aubrise," Sekhani called over his shoulder as he walked off towards the entrance.

     "You can't - it's too dangerous!" he shouted as the Tonu reached the doorway.

     Sekhani stopped and turned back to face the Techo. When Tehuti saw the determined expression on his face he knew there was nothing he could say that would change his mind. As he watched, Sekhani ducked under the lintel and disappeared from view.

     Tehuti sighed and threw his head back, staring up at the stars and wondering what he should do now. Just as he was about to tell Tomek they were going back in, he heard a yell from inside the Gebmid. Calling to Tomek he ran down the sandy slope to the entrance and peered inside. The flickering torchlight showed not just the Tonu, but three figures, and as he watched Sekhani ran down the corridor and swept up the petite Cybunny in a huge hug. "Aubrise!"

     ~ * ~

     The sun was just starting to peek above the horizon as cart bumped over the dunes on the way back to Sakhmet. Tomek had fallen asleep in the back while Sekhani was in the driver's seat, thinking about the report he would have to make to Princess Amira on their arrival back at the city.

     Tehuti was uncharacteristically quiet, and Aubrise wondered what he was thinking about.

     "It's nothing," he insisted. "It's just that I wish we'd been able to bring out just one treasure from the tomb to show for all that effort."

     "I may be able to cheer you up then." Sarina grinned.

     As Aubrise and Tehuti looked at her, puzzled, she put her hand into her jacket pocket and pulled out the jewelled scarab from the flooded chamber.

     "You didn't think I'd leave it behind, did you?" she said, laughing at their surprised expressions. "There didn't seem any point in leaving it behind, and as we won't be going that deep inside again for a while I thought I'd do better bringing it with me.

     "I've decided you're right," she added, turning to Aubrise. "We do need to do more research before we go back in there. And... I'd be very happy if you'd like to help me..." She held out her hand to the Cybunny.

     Aubrise grinned as she shook Sarina's hand. "I'd be happy to." She smiled.

     ~ * ~

     Aubrise's second visit to the Royal Sakhmetian Palace was a much more formal occasion than her first. When Princess Amira had learned of their safe return to Sakhmet, she had requested to see Aubrise and Tehuti as soon as possible.

     When they arrived, Sekhani escorted them into the throne room. He winked at Aubrise as he left the room after announcing them to the Princess, making her wonder just what was about to happen!

     Princess Amira was seated on her throne, and Aubrise was surprised to see Sarina sitting on a chair to one side of the platform. She didn't have time to wonder about it though, as Tehuti was already making his bow to the princess, and she hurried to catch up with him and make her curtsey.

      "Tehuti," Princess Amira said, addressing the Techo. He took a step forward and bowed. "You have served as Sakhmet's primary historian for many years now and have contributed a great deal to our knowledge of our past. Now you have also helped us learn more of another ancient culture. For this, and your constant work at the Archives, I have decided you deserve some sort of formal recognition."

     She rose from her throne and gracefully descended the steps to stand in front of him. "I have decided to confer upon you the title 'Kheter-Nesu' - Gentleman of the Royal Court of Sakhmet." She held out her hand to the Techo.

     Tehuti took it, kissed it and bowed again. "Thank you, Your Highness!" he said, trying not to grin. "Thank you!"

     "Aubrise," the Princess said, turning to the Cybunny.

     "Your highness," Aubrise curtsied.

     The Princess regarded her for a moment, and then spoke. "Aubrise, in the space of a few days you have extended our knowledge of Lost Desert history by a tremendous amount. You have translated a lost language, uncovered treasures and assisted with a rescue from the heart of a Gebmid. Sakhmet owes you so much, and so I confer upon you the title 'Kheteret-Nesu' - Lady of the Royal Court of Sakhmet."

     Tehuti giggled as he looked across at Aubrise, stunned into silence and standing with her mouth hanging open and eyes wide. Amira silenced him with a glare.

     "I would also like to offer my personal thanks to you for rescuing Sarina Salen," she continued. "I have considered different ways of thanking you - jewels, clothes, the title I have just given you - but none of these seemed appropriate." She paused and clapped her hands. One of the servants at the side of the room bowed and disappeared through a doorway. "I have come to the conclusion that the best way to thank you for returning my friend to me is to give you a friend also," she continued.

     Aubrise looked puzzled and was about to speak when a strange clicking noise came into the room. She looked around and saw the servant returning. He led a graceful black creature into the room and handed its lead to Aubrise with a bow. The creature stood as high as her shoulder, and Aubrise looked down into the creature's eyes - it was regarding her with an intelligent expression. "Hello," she murmured, reaching out slowly to stroke its nose. It made a strange whining noise, closed its eyes and leaned against her.

     Princess Amira smiled. "This is a Seti," she told Aubrise. "He is only a few months old and needs to find a good home..." She paused and watched Aubrise stroking the Seti's nose. "I think he's found one," she continued with a smile. "Seti like to run - they can reach remarkable speeds in the desert. I would like to hope that you'll bring him back to visit occasionally so that he can go and run on the sand and we can talk about your latest discoveries...?"

     "Thank you, Your Highness, of course I will!" Aubrise exclaimed, still stroking the Seti's nose. He had by now lain down on her feet and was straining his neck up so that she could reach him.

     "What will you call him?" Tehuti asked.

     Aubrise frowned. "I'm not sure," she replied. "Perhaps 'Nesu'?" The Seti opened his eyes and made a chirruping noise. "Yes," she nodded. "I think he likes that. Don't you, Nesu?"

     ~ * ~

     A week later, Tehuti and Sekhani accompanied Aubrise and Nesu to the docks for their journey back to Neopia Central. The Cybunny was laden down with books, manuscripts and souvenirs for her friends back in Neopia Central. Nesu was trying to help by carrying his toys and grooming equipment in a bag slung around his neck.

     "It's a pity you have to leave so soon," Tehuti frowned.

     "I know," Aubrise replied. "But the museum needs me back. Anyway, you and Sarina will be fine, and I've got a copy of the Sutek Scroll so I can carry on translating it for you. And if you want a second opinion on anything I can always come back." She smiled at them both then turned towards the dock as the harbourmaster announced that her boat had started boarding its passengers.

     "Looks like it's time to go," she sighed.

     Tehuti smiled and hugged her. "It's been wonderful to have you here," he told her. "You're always welcome to come back."

     When he released her she turned to Sekhani. "I don't know what we'd have done in the Gebmid without you," she told him. "You were wonderful, thank you!" She hugged him too, and then picked up her bags.

     "Don't worry," she said to them. "I'll be back soon!"

The End

If you want to know more about Sarina Salen, she's in the Neopedia, as is the story behind Sutek's Tomb.

This was my first attempt at writing a series - I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you to my proofreaders justtypeitin, yuka and sarissravon! Comments are always welcome, and Aubrise will hopefully be back with another adventure in the not-too-distant future.

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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 Five
» Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Six

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