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Gentlemen Adventurers : Chapter Four : The Middle East, 1840

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Session 022: Escape to Cairo, August 1840

Ref: GentlemenAdventurers

The Party

ArnoldTodgersHamelton - DaveF
GladstoneArchiboldThynne - TimE
LadyElsbethMacBeth - CathyE
WallaceTiffinSmythe - PeteN

Events

Lady Elsbeth Macbeth awakes to find herself in a well appointed but unfamiliar room, getting up she becomes aware of the nasty lump on her head where she was struck by her abductors. She explores her room and finds her clothes & weapons (although no ammunition) carefully laid out on the dresser. Seeing the only window is barred and looks out upon a courtyard, she tries the door and finds it unlocked, and is immediately approached by a servant girl who asks in halting English if there is anything Lady Macbeth requires, when Elsbeth insists that she wants to leave the servant tries very hard to explain that she must not - for all the servants have been told not to harm her in any way but not to let her leave on pain of (their) death. Finding Florence in the next room the ladies dress and prepare to leave anyway, while the servants, the girl and an elderly man-servant who brings them fresh lemon-juice cordials, try desperately to dissuade them.

As Elsbeth approaches the courtyard an 'Arabic' figure comes in to the gateway and once the gate closes he stands upright and shed's his outer coat to reveal the erect figure of a Russian gentleman - CountVladimirIvanoff .

The count sees Elsbeth about to leave and shoots the elderly servant in an off-hand way. Stepping over his dying servant he effusively apologies to Lady Macbeth about the manner and circumstance of their meeting, and any rough handling she has received. Elsbeth is decidedly frosty. Inviting both ladies to a spot of luncheon he describes the awkward situation Elsbeth's unplanned abduction has placed him in, and the necessity to hold her hostage so he can get what he needs. He also explains how difficult it is for him to operate because of Wallace pressing him so hard on the night - running from Giza to Cairo chasing the camels and placing such a large reward for her. When Elsbeth refuses to offer him her parole to stay in the house until the matter is resolved he reluctantly assigns a 'man' to guard her and assures her that unlike the servants he will be under no instructions re her personal safety.

Meanwhile Gladstone is finding himself exceptionally busy, with 50 camels waiting outside the ravine and a throng of bounty hunters and neer-do-wells loitering around the growing pile of looted treasures he and his men have their work cut out guarding. He approaches a particular group at the head of the ravine and indicates that if they can keep themselves to themselves, and more importantly everyone else away he will consider them as porters to help move the kit in the following days. The he instructs MustafaAbu to bring all 50 camels into the ravine making it so crowded that fewer of the loiterers can approach - he then posts 3 mercenary guards at the bottom of the ravine with instructions not to let anyone pass in either direction. Somehow in the sweltering heat and crush of the ravine Gladstone organise the loading of the camels without too much loss of time or loot.

Below Gladstone and the bedlam of camels the Egyptologists led by Wallace and Hamilton make their cautious progress down the 'spiral' passage, roped together 15' apart. Wallace comes to a dead end after 50' or so and only after careful checking finds a hidden side passage to the left just before the dead-end. The side passage widens after the narrow entrance and again is decorates with inlaid spiral 'tendrils' on a black marble, Wallace follows it for another 50' before it abruptly opens into a wider room about 20' wide and 30' long, with a spiral motif on the far wall providing an optical illusion of the corridor continuing until you are almost upon the room.

Stepping gingerly down into the room Wallace finds it simply laid out, with curious animal-headed figures upon the walls among many tentacles, and a plain floor with two low stone 'tables' at the sides. Closer examination shows these to have slopes and channels that suggest their use in some form of sacrifice, and a small silver 'cup' in the floor between them is the receptacle for any blood spilt. Hamilton joins him in searching the room and on the far wall they find 4 alcoves / slots cut into the wall containing some curious daggers & artefacts, some ceremonial robes, a collection of flasks and containers and a set o scroll cases respectively. The explorers grab these items. They are joined by John and Howard who proceed to explore while Hamilton attempts to lift the silver cup from the floor and eventually finds it has a 2" 'pipe' cut from the sandstone beneath it which disappears to an unknown depth. Thinking perhaps there is a further chamber below this point Hamilton has John Shae Perrin set a substantial charge in the hole and they all retire quickly to the surface.

Back in Cairo Lady Macbeth starts goading the Russian guard about his drinking prowess and demands vodka! After a hour or so of effort the guard decides to shut her up by having a few drinks with her. Being exceptionally careful not to drink anything that might be 'doctored' or to drink a drop more than the 'ladies' the guard plays cards and drinks toasts with them. Within no time, and long before the end of the first bottle Florence falls off her chair and lies snoring on the floor. Lady Elsbeth fears she may have met her match in the drinking stakes as they both start the second bottle with relatively few ill effects.

Returning to the final chamber the explorers find the floor around the hole blown away and a small crater reveals that the 'pipe' went about 6' before coming to an end in a soak-away. However on closer examination the walls and floor of this place are covered in small alcoves - sometime no larger than a few finger widths wide, each one stuffed with valuable offerings. http://www.tytherleigh.com/Alarm/images/skull.jpg+right It appears on closer examination that each of these slots is placed near one of the 'facets' of the animal headed figures and might be a place to make evotive offerings. The explorers find such amounts of gold and gems they need to fetch sacks to hold them all. Once looting has finished they agree that this is the final 'level' of the tomb and that it is "not a 'good' place". The explorers decide to try to close the tomb forever. Assessing the remaining levels of blasting powder they don't think they can bring down the roof, so instead they spend several hours laying a series of smaller charges along the spiral corridors with the aim to close them up. When all is done and the fuses are laid, Wallace asks for Hamiltons' Lidford Penny and for an hour or so alone in the tomb before they blow it up. Hamilton agrees and leaves with the egyptologists. Wallace starts a ceremony to summon the evil spirit of the place and uses the sacrificial knife he found in the alcove to draw a substantial sized symbol in his chest, letting the blood flow into the crater in the floor. He in a deep trance like state when Hamilton's curiosity forces him to return and find all of the fuses lit with very little time before they blow.

Waking Wallace from his trance Hamilton tries to drag him from the tomb and finds Wallace curiously reticent, arguing that he (Wallace) is trying to save Hamilton's soul. Hamilton has just enough time to say tosh , that his soul is his own lookout and Wallace has a responsibility to save Elsbeth and not muck around in tombs before running from the tomb past the smoldering fuses. Wallace sees sense seconds later and charges after him, with the two of them diving clear of the falling masonry as the blasts tear down the corridor. The two arrive at the top battered and bruised with their ears ringing and instruct John to set off the final charge they laid in the sand-filled stair so that it too may be re-filled.

Thus, with the 'lower chambers' looted and destroyed and with no further sign of Elsbeth the party load up the last of the camels and prepare to set off for the port in Cario the following morning. Wallace is overcome with remorse about his 'lost' fiancee and takes a camel to Cairo to find news. Later that afternoon a dozen troops from the 'caliph' arrive and demand to take possession of the tomb, which is freely given , Hamilton also discusses with them the possibility of building a mosque on the site, and arranges a sum of 500 and small stipend to ensure this happens.

Hamilton send letters to his staff in Bombay instructing them to send loyal Islamic Clerics to help with the construction on the Mosque. They are to make sure that the Tomb is never investigated and the evil if it can't be destroyed is left well alone.

Elsbeth's marathon drinking session wears on into a bottle of poor whisky and just when she feels she can't go on she notices that Ivan is no longer noticing wether he is matching her drink for drink. Shortly afterwards Ivan is snoring on the floor while a severely drunk Elsbeth has his gun and is dragging Florence feet first off down the stairs towards the gate. After much difficulty getting them both down the stairs Elsbeth opens the gates and hails some passers buy who simply glance at her mutter and hurry on. Hearing the hubbub of a market of some sort at the end of the street she drags poor Florence towards it and starts asking passes by and store-holders for a lift to the embassy. Outranged by her behavior the stall holders scold her, while various 'elements' in the crows realize who she is and start fighting among each other to 'claim' her for the 500 reward. Things are turning ugly when Elsbeth fires the pistol to warn someone off, but is saved by the guards from a passing sedan chair which stops and offers her aid.

Waking again in an unknown bed chamber Elsbeth nurses an almightily hang-over to discover herself in a harem of the palace, and is quickly re-introduced to her saviour, one Fatima, wife of Hassan Ali Mahallati [Aga Khan I]. Fatima sees that Elsbeth is given breakfast and re-united with her dresses, equipment and a very sorry-for-herself Florence, remarking only on the shere quantity of military hardware an English lady carries on her person. While listening intently to Elsbeths tale of capture and escape Fatima summons a representative from the embassy and introduces him to Elsbeth after breakfast so that he can make arrangements for her. Thanking Fatima greatly Elsbeth leaves for the embassy and learns that the plans are that the camel train of 'artefacts' is due in the port later the next day, she resolves to get some sleep and meet them.

http://www.tytherleigh.com/Alarm/images/boulaq.jpg+right Wallace arrives at the embassy in the early hours, still shirtless, dishevelled and bleeding from his self-inflicted wounds and informed by the gate keeper that Elsbeth is alive and well and sleeping in the embassy. They are re-united and Wallace collapses from exhaustion & relief. In the morning they 'discuss matters' over a LoversBreakfast at the embassy, before begin reunited with the rest of the party at Boulaq (Cario's the port on the Nile), where Hamilton and Gladstone are arranging transport to the coast and the frigates apparently to be found there under the command on one CaptainCharlesNapier.

References

[final tomb map]

[The First Aga Khan - 1840]

[Interesting 1840 timeline]

[interesting timeline 2]

Pictures

View of Cario Street & View of Boulaq, David Roberts (Egypt and Nubia, 1842-9)

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Last edited January 30, 2007 8:07 pm by HowardT (diff)
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