"So you really think Tuttu built some massive underground chamber in Karnak, one that is piled to the ceiling with treasure, and guarded by traps, never found till date?"
"Yep, and his name is not 'Tuttu', its 'Thutmose'." The grad student exclaimed, pulling back a stray strand of blond hair from her face. "That's why I came on this expedition, to see if I could find it.Mr. Ambersworth, most of the archeologists and egyptologists are skeptical about it. They think these secret chambers of Thutmose don't exist. But I have a feeling they're wrong, and I want to give it a look."
I stared at her, again distracted by the birthmark on her shoulder-blade. We had met yesterday over the camp dinner. She was cute and she wasn't boring, so I ended up spending the night in her tent. The next morning, she had broken into conversation about this 'mysterious, hidden chamber', and she couldn't stop talking about it after that. She loved this stuff almost as much as Jacinto did.
Figures... you'd have to have an erection for this shit if you come all the way down to this place just to look at some fucking walls and pillars.
I froze at once. The girl sensed my discomfort, but I waved off her questions, claiming I was just a bit sick. She offered to go get me some aspirin and food. I said yes, anything yo make her leave. As soon as she was done, I started focusing with all my will.
Wha-What the hell are you doing?
Stopping you from coming back.
You asshole! You stop that right now! I am not going the fuck back there! Will you... argh! Will you stop with your bloody struggling?
I tried harder and harder, willing him away with everything I could throw at him. But he was just too strong, I finally collapsed to the floor, my head ringing with pain. Everything was spinning, out of focus. And with a white hot poker of pain running through my skull, I finally blacked out.
I woke up to see Jacinto's monocle staring down on me again. My hand rushed out and gripped his arm.
"What day is it? Month? What month is it?"
Jacinto spoke softly. "Calm down, Lurch old boy, calm down. You've just been out for a few minutes. This young girl found you out cold, so she called me for assistance. I've even brought the doctor with me." He pointed to a man behind him. "Let him have a look, will you?"
The pain in my head was already fading away. "No, no I'm alright. Just tired, that's all."
"Young man," The doctor sternly spoke. "The desert is a harsh place to live in, you should not be-"
"I SAID I'M FINE!" My outburst took them all by surprise. Jacinto recovered first.
"He's just a bit tired, doctor, heavy work last night, you see." He said airily, winking once at the girl as well. "Just give him a few minutes, he'll be fine doctor. I promise I'll call you, if otherwise happens."
The doctor paused as though to disagree, but I gave him one look and he nodded in consent. He left, the girl walking out after him, making some excuse to check on some equipment. As soon as they were gone, Jacinto turned to face me.
"You are sure you're alright, aren't you?"
"Yes." I sighed. "I'm just tired."
"Splendid!" He beamed. "Because I was actually hoping if you would do me the honor of accompanying me on my walks today. There is one excavation sit nearby that's relatively new, and I have an educated hunch that there still might be something left in the ground, and I'm going to go take a gander. So? Shall we make it a date?" He jokingly (I hope, jokingly) asked.
It was not hard to decide. "Well its not like I have anyplace to go to? So, yes, I like to come."
"Excellent! We'll leave for the site in an hour, its just under a mile away."
The site was definitely more than a mile away. We'd walked for hours, winding through ruined streets, climbing over fallen building. Every now and then we'd pass some statue or monument, and Jacinto would take a moment to enlighten me about it.
"See that wall there? Right next to the cracked pillar? That is a Depiction of Tuthmoses III holding a Hedj Club and a Sekhem Scepter, while standing before the two obelisks he had erected here, in Karnak. Well, they was cut to shape in his reign, but were erected thirty-five years later."
"Where are the obelisks now?"
"The first, Thutmose's tekhen waty, stands today in Rome as the Lateran obelisk. The move from Egypt to Rome was initiated by the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great. The other obelisk was also moved from Karnak to Constantinople under Emperor Theodosius I. Unfortunately, Theodosius had to cut the obelisk into three parts for transportation, and only the top section survived the journey. Both obelisks still stand to today in their new homes."
In time, we reached the dig site. Walking through a massive archway, we entered what seemed like it was once a town square. Ruins of buildings were on our sides, and I could make out what was left of the once stone ground. All around us were holes, perfect cubic depressions into the earth. I could see the overturned rocks and piles of sand around them, evidence that these digs were recent, still relatively fresh. A signboard was placed near each one, providing information about the hole. Ladders were placed in each one, providing an easy way to get in and get out. Without them, climbing out up the smooth, ten foot walls would be near impossible.
Jacinto wasted no time in darting about the place, scanning each part of the site to find the perfect place to start. I just stood there silently, waiting for him to settle down.
I had no clue of what he had done in all that time. Even now, I still only know parts of it, not the whole picture, not even close. I had spent a lot of time thinking about it. The one memory I had, of running through this hallway, massive paintings on either side of me, was clear now. It was the Louvre, which meant I had spent time in Paris. Alarms were blaring and bright red lights were flashing from the walls, bathing the rooms in a hellish light.
That bastard took me all around the map. Did God only knows what with my body, to my body. I had other memories as well, but those were just hazy images, sounds of shouting and gunfire. With my luck, that could have happened anywhere. And why the hell Paris? What was he doing there, what was he planning? I shuddered, afraid for the first time because of him. He could get me killed, the bastard could be my death. What did he do in the Louvre? What did he do for the twenty months that I-
And that was probably the worst part. In those twenty months, I had no idea of what had happened to me. Hong Kong felt like only a few weeks ago, not over a year. And throughout that entire time, where was I? I had just disappeared, a vanishing act so brilliant that even I didn't know where I had gone.
And why do I keep on remembering a small room?
"Lurch!" Jacinto shouted, jolting me back to reality."Can you come over here?"
I headed towards one of the holes, from where his voice had come. I hurried a bit, curious. There was something off in his voice when he had called for him. He sounded different, not himself.When I came to the edge, I could see him down there, looking up at me. His eyes danced wildly, and I could see his that his hands were shaking.
"Just please come down here. Fast."
I slid down the ladder and walked up to Jacinto, who was now on his knees, staring into the sand wall. I sat down beside him.
"Do you see it?"
I looked at him blankly. "See what?"
"Hold on, let me help." He grabbed my hand and made me touch the sand. Only, it wasn't sand. My fingers were brushing against something hard. And I could feel tiny grooves and rises in it as well. I looked at Jacinto in confusion.
"This isn't sand, its stone."
His eyes gleamed. "Not just stone, brush away the sand and see."
He joined me as pawed at the sand, removing the hardened layers as more and more of the stone became visible. I could now see the grooves and niches clearly, they were carvings of various images drawn into the rock. We were looking at a panel.
"Do you see these symbols? The picture of Thutmose?" He was nearly breathless now. "He's holding the Ankh, and his Ba is still with him. And he's... he's not in the Valley of the Kings!"
Later on Jacinto would proceed to explain me everything.In Egyptian Symbolism, the Ankh is the symbol of eternal life. The gods are often seen holding an ankh to someone's lips this is considered to be an offering of "The Breath of Life". The breath you will need in the afterlife. The Ba is someone's spirit, soul, personality, something like that. It would leave your body at the time of death and live freely. During the day, the Ba would make itself useful to whoever it could assist, and at night it would return to the tomb. At this time, it would look for the person to which it belonged. This would be the mummy.
Jacinto would go on to explain the rest. Firstly, there was the image of Tuttu, who still had his Ba perched on his shoulder during the time of day, which was the first time such a symbol had been seen. But at the same time, he had held an ankh to his chest, which meant that he was dead, yet his Ba had no left him.
But it was the third image that had sent my friend into a frenzy. It showed Thutmose, still with his Ba and ankh now sailing on a grand ship down a river. But as Jacinto went on to explain, the river on which he sailed was huge, with great forests on either side. The Valley of the Kings was a harsh wasteland, with just a few narrow streams that coursed through it.
"These pictographs, Lurch, do you know what they're depicting? They're showing another location for where the body of Thutmose was taken. Which means they did not send his corpse to the Valley of the Kings. If these panels are correct, then Thutmose's funeral procession sailed to a forested area on a great river. That river can only be the Nile, which means... dammit!"
I looked at him. "What?"
The Nile is actually two rivers meeting into one, Lurch." He explained. "One is the White Nile, which starts in Rwanda, and passes through miles of rain-forest before reaching Egypt. The same can be said for it sister, the Blue Nile, whose source is located in Ethiopia. And if the possibility of this panel being accurate is true, then it the true Tomb of Thutmose III could be anywhere on either of these rivers!"
I was confused. "But I thought you told me they already found his tomb, as well as his mummified remains in the Valley of the Kings?" Isn't it also on display somewhere?"
"There are theories," Jacinto was in his feet now, rushing about in mad circles, his arms flailing about as he continued to explain. "Theories that many of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings are just a facade. That, the Pharaoh's people, fearing for the safety of his mortal coil, would hide it in some secret location, with the knowledge of that location, entrusted to a chosen few. In its place, they would have another mummified body, most probably some devoted followers, placed in the intended tomb in the Valley, thus completing the deception.The true body would be safe in its secrecy, the true tombs supposedly filled with treasures that made the ones recorded in the Valley of the Kings seem like cheap trinkets. Of course, historians have found enough evidence proving that these theories are false and true, thus reducing the topic to a stalemate in today's discussions. But nothing so far has been like this. A proper, completely preserved panel. This could be the find of the decade. I could end up writing a full book on this, probably even two."
He snapped back to his senses and started to climb up the ladder speaking as he did so. "We need to get a team down here now, Lurch. I need this stone excavated and I need more opinions on this, now. We haven't got a moment to waste!"
And with that, he was over the ladder and out of the ditch, I could hear his footsteps receding as he ran towards the camp, shouting "God save the Queen!" once. I smiled at that, amused by his theatrics by his excitement. I turned around looking at the panel once more, realizing that thousands of years ago, some bugger had carved this out and hidden hit, hoping it would stay safe.Sadly, his plan had not been 'Crazy British Historian' proof, and the cat was finally out of the bag.
I gave the panel one last look before I began to climb out as well. I didn't know it at the time, but that panel would be my ticket out of here.
And it came at a cost that I should never have sacrificed.