Gentlemen Adventurers : Chapter Four : The Middle East, 1840
Session 020: Dark Discoveries, July 1840
- ArnoldTodgersHamelton - DaveF
- GladstoneArchiboldThynne - TimE
- LadyElsbethMacBeth - CathyE
- WallaceTiffinSmythe - PeteN
After seeing the impressive tomb and it's contents Hamilton agrees to assist HowardVyse
with his further exploration and Howard's demeanor visibly relaxes. Lady Macbeth asks for a further chance to look around the temple, and the whole party, with the exception of Gladstone who is guarding the entrance, are given http://www.tytherleigh.com/Alarm/images/pillarsm.jpg+left
a second, detailed guided tour by the eminent egyptologist. Despite the parties' concerns about him he does exhibit a good deal of knowlege on the subject and shows them many interesting and amazing objects and hieroglyphs .. Elsbeth takes a particular shine to the finely wrought gold bracelet of rubies and emeralds that is worn by the main mummy at the end of the burial passage. After a short period demurring Howard agrees that if they are to get more 'diggers' and others down here is is best of the most valuable and mobile objects are 'cataloged' and held in safe keeping by the 'team'.
About this time Gladstone, still carefully on watch is hailed by a germanic voice asking for 'Mr Vyse'. A fellow egyptologist from a nearby dig, Richard Lepsius, has hear that Howard is having problems and has popped over to check everything is ok. Gladstone has the presence of mind to aks Elsbeth to cover her 'trinket' before it is seen. Richard has a pleasant cup of tea with the party and, assured that all is in hand returns to his excavation near Giza inviting the oarty to visit his dig whenever they wish.
MustafaAbu rustles up a rather pleasant meal, and the whole party except Wallace retire to the fresh air to discuss further plans. Wallace, with Howards' approval, and another round of warnings not to touch anything, spends some time meditating in front of the mummies at the bottom of the burial passage.
He soon becomes aware that 'nothing's happening' that there is no especial power or focus here and investigates some more. Spotting something behind the main mummy he very carefully moves it to reveal that there is a broken spear trap behind it - with the spear obviously having struck someone here and being broken off. This might explain the pool of blood that is currently soaking into the dusty floor here. A quick check of the bodies behind the alter confirm this sort of wound. He has just enough time to restore the mummy's position before Hamilton and John return. While doing this he notices that the mummy is 'too light' and appears to be a well decorated fake, possibly to distract grave robbers.
Returning after luncheon Hamiton, Howard and John explore the temple further, examining and documenting the painitings and hieroglyphs which cover the walls. Wallace confronts Howard about the trap and Howard admits that the trap was set off, fightening the native diggers etc. who fled and he and the slower ones were trapped by the falling stone block at the temple entrance, where another of the natives was wounded. Discussing the mummies further Wallace points out that they are fake and Howard once again congratulates him on his observation, Hamilton, listening to the conversation about the mummies being fake is drawn back to his notes on the hieroglyphs in the entrance passageway, which he had thought he missunderstood when trying to work out who's tomb this was. Re-examining it he reads it as;
The false god Mastabashepseskaf keeps Nephren-Ka on his right.
Rushing back to the end of the burial passage Hamilton puts himself in the position of the 'main' mummy and looks back at the widened end of the passage - indeed it is rather 'inelegant' and lacks the detail of carving and effort that a true tomb might expect. He taps on the right hand wall (when looking back) and finds it to be plaster over stone. John and Wallace follow his lead and take pick-axes to the wall and after a few hours work have revealed a 5'x3' stone block set in the wall and plastered over - a secret passage! Wallace takes no chances and mutters a spell to avoid curses and bad-luck under his breath as he works - John is disparaging saying he sounds just like the native diggers!
A long night of digging ensues, while Lady Macbeth and Gladstone keep watch. Gladstone, hiding out in the ravine while Elsbeth 'hold the fort' with Florence and the loaders, hears something early in the night and sees a shadowy figure moving at the top of the raving cliffs - he shoots and bags a wild dog! Later however he becomes aware of someone moving with exquisite care +down+ the ravine. Before he can investigate he, and Lady macbeth both hear multiple people coming up the raving with a little less care. There is movement at the corner of the raving and Lady Macbeth takes a pot-shot starting a noisy and difficult exchange of fire where neither side can really see the other. Gladstone does not join in and instead watches for the more sneaky attacker. Eventually his patience is rewarded and he sees a shadowy figure slip behind a rock just a little way up the ravine and start to prepare something. Taking a difficult shot in the gloom Gladstone surprizes the sneak who flees.
Meanwhile the sustained firepower of Lady Macbeth and 4 loaders (3 proper loaders & Florence) aided by Howard Vyse and the camel staff drives off the lower attackers, leaving the ravine ringing with the echoes of gunfire and the smell of cordite. Gladstone investigates where his man was working and finds a satchel which he brings into the light to reveal it contains two hand grenades! Later examination reveals these are of the latest manufacture from St Petersburg and not the napoleonic cast-offs that would be expected in this region.
About midnight the underground crew come up to report that they have broken through the passage blocking rock and discovered the passageway beyond is backfilled with sand - they will need proper diggers and equipment to move it all. Hamilton asks why Wallace was so superstitious about the dig and Wallace recounts the tale of Nephren-Ka, also known as the Black Pharaoh, the last Egyptian pharaoh of the Third Dynasty, and the dreadful curses and bad luck that beset grave robbers.. A perfect midnight frightening tale, told in the mouth of a cave around the fireside.
In the early morning light Walace and Gladstone examne the upper ravine area for tracks, and find that even while fleeing and being shot at by Gladstone the sneak from last night was very careful. Only in one place do they find a clear footprint - and that appears to be a well fashioned boot with a heel. find boot print.
In the morning it is agree that Hamilton and John should go to Cario to get native diggers, equipment and guards. The party conjecture that German RichardLepsius? was behind the attack, but John indicates that his guess is 'Lescluze' ... a Belgium merchant/middle man who it transpires was the original sponsor of the expedition. After some questioning the party piece together the story that Howard was given a pretty accurate lead to where to start blasting for the entrance, and a substantial £500 of backing by JeanBaptisteDeLescluze on behalf of an unknown backer.
Leaving the rest of the party working hard to clear the temple of 'nickable' items, Hamilton, JohnShaePerring, Hamiltons's Shikh manservant and MustaphaAbu? take their leave and head for Cario. They are approaching Giza when Hamilton's man sees a figure on the ground some way off the path. Approaching carefully it appears to be a man sorely wounded by a gun-shot - perhaps Lady macbeth was luckier than she thought. The man is nearly dead and delerious, o Hamiton administers first aid and they make for the closest aid they know - RichardLepsius? 's dig. They are greeted warmly and the wounded man is taken to a well equipped medial tent, Richard runs an efficient camp. Hamilton takes care to notice the footwear of all of the european's present and no-one appears to wear 'boots'. After coffee, a chat about news from Europe in which the merits of the newly finished gothic style houses of parliament building are discussed, and a polite guided tour of the dig, Hamiton and caravan make their farewell's and leave for Cario, politely asking if there is anything Richard want's - to which the response is beer!
On the trip into Cario, Mustapha Abu recounts that the delerious man was talking of a 'blue-grey man' who was apparently the villan of the piece and had left him for dead in the night. Hamilton wracks his brains for the trip and finally remembers the distinctive eyes of his nemisis CountVladimirIvanoff.
Arriving in Cario they soon find the requisite native diggers, and with some effort find three unconnected european mercenary 'thugs' (not hired for intelligence) - these together with provisions and the rest of Hamiltons' 'men' - 3 Shikh guards are all readied for the return to the ravine. Meanwhile Hamilton visits the British embassy and exchanges some breif updates of information - especially warning them of the presence of a potential Russian agent-provocaeur.
Upon his return, late in the evening, Hamilton discovers that the party have been very busy - the tomb is laregly clear of small items, and the trap-stone that blocked the entrance has been split in two by blasting and is easily cleared by the native diggers.. making the sand clearance much easier. That evening with many guards and constant excavation activity there appear to be no further attacks, however Gladstone still carefully places the grenades where he can fire at them to set them off behind potential hiding places.
Exhausted by a days' work in the tomb, or travelling to Cario, the party have a fitfull nght's sleep. Wallace awakes in the early hours alarmed by nightmares of falling into dark chasms. he runs below to see how the dig has progressed and finds the men excited because they appear to have reached the bottom of the stair-way, another hours digging will have the way clear.