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Gentlemen Adventurers : Chapter Four : The Middle East, 1840

http://www.tytherleigh.com/Alarm/images/PyramidofCheops.jpeg+right

Session 019: An Invitation to Giza, Late June 1840

Ref: GentlemenAdventurers

The Party

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

Events

Deciding to take the opportunity to see the pyramids the party head west to Cairo crossing the rolling sand dunes before coming to the wide fertile Nile valley and bustling city. Taking rooms in the very civilized Grand Hotel the party take a couple of days to explore the by-ways and bazaars of the ancient town.

Hamilton and Wallace find it a very rich source of materiel on the ancient and occult ways, with many hundreds of stalls, shops and fakir's selling a vast range of cures, charms, treatments and magics. They obtain a number of ancient books and artefacts and proceed to study them intently.

Lady Macbeth visits the Gold Souk searching for fine gems and jewelry for her growing collection and is inundated by stall holders & vendors keen to show her their wares. Her bodyguards have difficulty maintaining decorum in the scrum and eventually a well spoken stall holder invites her to his home for a private viewing. This turns out to be a most civilized ad generous offer as he subsequently invites the finest jewellers and goldsmiths to the house to present their wares over tea and sweet pastries, with Lady Macbeth buying quality pieces and the traders at their ease it turns into a mini 'guild meeting' of the Cairo jewellers. Lady Macbeth spends upwards of five thousand pounds and acquires a 'collection' of both modern and ancient jewelry of great worth.

Gladstone introduces himself in the embassy and is received politely. When he mentions his company they are all instantly invited for supper with the ambassador. The embassy staff also indicate that it would be most wise if the party were on a british boat (or at least european) out of Egypt within the month, but refuse to be lead on details. Gladstone spends the day exploring the bazaars and souks looking for cheap and cheerful gifts he can give to friends and family at home, finding many unusual rugs, decorations, hats, swords, and trinkets.

http://www.tytherleigh.com/Alarm/images/EgyptianHorseMarket.jpg+right

That evening they are all entertained by the ambassadors and his wife. The ambassador Sir Rupert Garnet specifically mentions to them that they should leave Egypt within the month if at all possible.

On the second day, Elsbeth looks to improve on her string of Arab horses and visits the horse markets. She finds an established and lively market with horses of all quality on display and learns that there is a major day of races the following day which would provide a good opportunity to see the horses 'in-action' as it where. She receives many invitations from breeders and trainers to see them and their horses at the races.

That evening when Wallace returns from his days research and exploration he is met by an eager messenger who talks excitedly at his in arabic. Once Mustafa Abu translates and confirms Wallaces' identity the messenger hands over a handwritten note and waits expectantly.

Dear Mr Smith,
Thank you for accepting my earlier invitation to visit my excavations in Giza.
I hope you will excuse the most forward nature of my request but I feel obliged to ask if you could hurry as matters of great importance have arisen and I most urgently wish to discuss them with you.
Your servant
John Shae Perring.

Wallace grabs some equipment from his rooms, tells Hamilton and Gladstone he's off to investigate and leaves a note for Elsbeth, then grabs his camel and sets off following the eager native guide. leaving Cairo in the early evening they make good time to Giza and catch the last of the sunset over the great pyramids before pressing on into the low hills beyond. After a few miles the guide turns right into an increasingly steep sided narrow ravine and in the increasing darkness Wallace keeps his pistols handy. Suddenly there is a cry of challenge 'who goes there' from up ahead. Wallace replies and is asked to approach, discovering a small cave in the side of the ravine which has been barricaded. An unshaven and filthy man steps from behind the barrier holding a pistol and introduces himself as JohnShaePerring. After a very brief discussion with Perring the guide disappears into the night.

As John Perring thanks Wallace for coming it is very apparent that his is exhausted. As he drinks thirstily from Wallaces water bottles and munches on some of the light supper Wallace brought, John explains that they have been exploring an ancient tomb when a rock fall trapped some of the party inside, and his remaining staff ran off, further to this they had just discovered a treasury and rumors are spreading among the local bandits and tomb raiders ~ who have been trying to get in to the cave each night.. hence the pistols and challenge. John admits he has only two bullets left, fortunately Wallace is well armed and has substantial amounts of ammunition. He takes Wallace into the 'cave' which seems to have been blasted through solid rock for about 20 feet before becoming a finely carved passageway leading into the rock then down. At the bottom of the slope they traverse a rock fall and Wallace expects that this is where the archeologist's companions are trapped but instead John carries on down a passageway lit by torches ensconced in the walls to a seeming dead end. There, through an impossibly small gap smashed through at ceiling level John indicates his companions are to be found. Wallace stands guard at the cave mouth while John digs & blasts at the stone.

During the night Wallace is aware of a couple of people making their way quietly up the ravine, so he shouts a challenge and lets off a warning shot.. they retire, only to return in the small hours of the morning when the guard is most likely to be asleep. Wallace, fresh from a few nights in a fine hotel is still wide awake and lets off a shot at them scattering them back down the way they came. The rest of the night is un-eventful and John reports that he has broken through somewhat to the other side and has passed a water bottle through, his companions seem to be ok.

Meanwhile Lady Elsbeth returns from her day of horse-trading to find Wallace gone and Hamilton organizing to set off after him the following morning. She send her ladies' maid, Florence, to find 'half a dozen loaders' to be ready before dawn, and proceeds to prepare a small expedition. Gladstone, Hamilton and Elsbeth set off before dawn, armed to the teeth with Florence, Mustafa and two loaders following along with a few camel's worth of supplies. Mustafa leads them to the pyramids, which they see at first light in an awe inspiring moment, before Wallace who has set off at dawn from the cave to meet them rides into view. He greets them and is promptly torn off a strip for going on an adventure and NOT taking Elseth. he placates her indicating there is plenty of adventure left and he did receive a most urgent request.

Making their way back to the tomb, Wallace's fears are raised when he sees signs of a small camp by the path were the fore has only recently been damped down with sand, so he makes haste to the ravine. As they make the way up th ravine they hear gunshot. Lady Macbeth instantly puts her heels to her stallion who launches himself up the path with a speed the camels struggle to match, she rounds a small corner to the ravine and sees movement in a cave up-ahead so she pops off a warning shot with a pistol. As she charges onwards she sees a head pop up behind a rock opposite the cave so she shoots at that too.. missing but kicking up dust and shrapnel from the rock just in-front.. the man ducks back down. There is a crack of gunfire from somewhere as a shot takes here squarely in the chest. The impact unseats her, just as Wallace, forcing his camel unmercifully onwards, rounds the corner.

Wallace jumps from the camel, calls to John avoid shooting at the riders who follow and picks up Elsbeth in his arms. Hamilton and Gladstone round the corner to see him carrying Elsbeth over the barricade into the cave, while Elsbeth winded but still conscious is asking about her horse. The party arrive outside the cave and John yells that there is someone on the top of the raving, so Hamilton pops off a couple of shots while Gladstone finds a secure spot from which to observe. Choosing an appropriate rock he walks behind it to surprise a half blinded tomb-raider waving a pistol at him. Gladstone instantly draws his sword across the man, parrying the pistol away and runs him through.

The party take a few minutes to arrange themselves, initially moving everyone into the cave before being shooed out by Florence who needs to remove Elsbeth's bodice and corsetry to treat the wound. While the men mill around outside retrieving Elsbeths horse and checking the tops of the ravine Florence and Elsbeth discover that the bullet has been largely stopped by the many layers of clothing, the strap of her shoulder holster and ultimately her whalebone corset. Much to Wallaces' relief Elsbeth is heavily bruised and winded but otherwise ok.

The party now interview JohnShaePerring who explains the catastrophe that has trapped his companion behind the 'rock fall', and the party want to see more. Leaving Gladstone and the loaders on-guard they head down the passage taking Elsbeth and Florence only after a heated debate. Elsbeth just manages to pass the first rockfall when she discovers that Florence suffers fom claustrophobia and cannot proceed. She sends Florence away and the follows the party to the 'dead end' where John explains that the rock slipped from the roof blocking his parties' exit injuring and killing some of their companions.

Wallace and Hamilton both notice the strange torches in the sconces on the walls, which seem to burn with a most unusual chemical reaction that is unlike fire, John explains that he too has been at a loss to explain them but that they thought to leave them giving off their useful light while they explored. This had apparently caused a number of their local assistants & diggers to run off in superstition, the rest being the ones more motivated by greed had run off abandoning him when the rock trapped Howard, and were probably among the thieves and bandits who he has been defending the place against. Hamilton also sees a line of hieroglyphs along the entire length of the corridor about 6 inches from the ground. He proceeds to make a detailed copy and study of them.

Allowing John to rest, Gladstone and Elsbeth guard the mouth of the cave, Wallace and the loaders take over digging duties, and manage to converse through the small gap with HowardVyse, Johns' companion trapped on the other side. Howard takes a pick to the other side of the rock and oversees the use of small blasting caps of gunpowder to make a more substantial hole. After many hours of careful but exhausting work they succeed in making a hole large enough to come through. Unusually for a man trapped underground, Howard invites Wallace and Hamilton in to the tomb rather than being keen to get out to fresh air. They squeeze through and are greeted more formally, with Howard expressing mile surprise at the gravitas of Lord Arnolds full title. He shows the intrepid explorers further along the corridor and into a large subterranean temple with richly decorated walls and lined both sides with exquisitely dressed statues. Everywhere there are carvings and decoration, often picked out with gold leaf. At the far right hand end there is an obvious altar stone and only then do the pair of them spot the feet of a dead body just visible behind it.

Howard indicates that his companions were injured when the stone fell on his party and unfortunately they didn't survive. He implores them not to touch anything but is very keen to show them the majesty and brilliance of 'his find'. With the most stern warnings not to tuch anything he shows them to a difficult to find exit at the far end from the altar and down a tall narrow corridor. After a few feet Hamilton and Wallace realize that there are large alcoves at knee, chest and shoulder height all along the corridor and these are crammed with small trinkets and 'offerings' many of gold and gems stones. As they progress further there are a number of larger alcoves with mummified bodies and at the far end - in the end wall at a slight widening of the corridor are two magnificent mummies, wrapped in gold and wearing fine death masks etc. http://www.tytherleigh.com/Alarm/images/osiris.jpg+right

The explorers they hear the cries of pain from Elsbeth who, bored, has made her way down the corridor and has with the indiscrete aid of a loader managed to get into the gap above the 'blocking stone'. Wallace finds her there in a lot of pain from having to crawl through the gap, but determined to come in. He assists her with as much discretion as possible through the final hole introduces her to HowardVyse. Hamilton takes the opportunity of the distraction to check the dead body and it seems to have died from a large concussive blow - possibly more than one but he's not sure. He pockets a small ornament and rejoins the party.

Again astounded by the class of visitor Howard addresses Hamilton and Elsbeth and formally if slightly forwardly if they would finance his project to catalog and extract these items. They discuss the nature of 'return' that might be expected and Howard indicates that only a few items of 'lesser historical value' would be sold to cover expedition expenses and that he would expect the rest to be delivered to the British Museum. Hamilton suspects that Howard's original plan might not have been so 'high-brow'.

As they show Lady Macbeth around the 'treasury' Hamilton notices a fresh pool of blood at the far end, near the mummies, but is ushered out by Howard before he can investigate...

References

[Map]

[schematic I copied ideas from]


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