Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chapter 10 - The Jewel of Myhohotep

Legend had long expounded on a jewel of magnificent size and beauty that had exhibited extraordinary powers. Over the ages the jewel was rumored to imbue the owner with traits that matched his or her personality and desires. It was said these powers could be transferred to inanimate objects and these were then controlled by the owner of the jewel, but that was never clearly described. Thus, over the millennia, the jewel had been used for good and evil. The last reports of the existence of the jewel were over one hundred years old, and it was assumed that the jewel was lost forever. Its name was Myhohotep.

Professor Archibald Swithington had made landfall on Zimdar some months before, and after a fabulous reunion with his daughter Sarah had become engrossed with exploring this strange sub-continent. The flora and fauna was a strange mixture of pre-historic and modern plants and animals. Each of these assumed their own particular niches in the food chain and natural pecking order.

Exploration of Zimdar uncovered vast resources of minerals, including the strange X-Matter substance that could defy gravity when exposed to electricity. This discovery alone made Zimdar a target for subjugation. On one of his many wanderings, Swithington discovered a pyramid in the remote regions of Zimdar. Actually, if truth be told, all regions of Zimdar were remote. During the initial discovery of the pyramid, Swithington and his party were accosted by several groups of natives that chased his party away from the entrance before he could determine how to enter the structure. He was determined to return to the pyramid, gain access and explore it. Who knew what could lay within? There certainly would be archeological treasures inside.

Swithington made his plans and with his faithful guide Nocshee Azih gathered some of the toughest Askari together to return to the pyramid. The plan was to return to the area at dusk, slip into the valley during the evening and get inside the pyramid. This plan was predicated on the belief that the natives of the area would be too superstitious to be anywhere near after the sun set. The plan worked to a point, Swithington and party were able to return to the pyramid and gain access to it. Swithington had worked quickly, he had made a rubbing on his previous visit and had time to study it.

Once inside the pyramid, Swithington was amazed by the amount of ancient artifacts that he found, He ordered his men to begin packing the gold and jewels in various barrels while he examined some of the more esoteric treasures. The pyramid was a tomb that contained two sarcophagi and appeared to be Egyption in nature. One was much smaller than the other, possibly for a child. However, before Swithington could open either for a closer examination, his attention was drawn to the skeletal remains of a corpse in the corner of the chamber.

He had been killed by a spear through the heart, but that was not had grabbed the Professor's attention. Around the dead man's neck was a necklace, it was a simple setting of gold wire holding the largest and most flawless ruby he had ever seen. It was the length and breadth of his thumb and shaped like a faceted teardrop. When he saw it, the ruby was an acquiescent dull red, since very little light was being collected in the gloom. As he approached the ruby, he sensed a pulsing resonance beginning deep in the crystal. It must be his imagination. He was drawn to the jewel as if he didn't have control of his own volition. The nearer he got the brighter the ruby became, and he realized it was pulsing in rhythm to his own heart beat. As he reached out to touch the ruby, he became aware of another, much larger crystal, lying on the floor and covered in dust. It too was pulsing to the rhythm of his heart but in counter-point to the ruby. It was hard to see the large crystal pulsing, it was almost like it was pulsing between a visible ebony and an abyss-like darkness. The large black crystal was huge, easily three foot long by one half foot in diameter. It would probably weigh one hundred pounds, maybe more. A sense of foreboding came over Swithington as he stared at it. Wrenching his gaze away from the black crystal, he returned to observing the ruby and again was overcome to reach out and take it from the neck of the corpse.

As his hand closed over the ruby, he had the sensation of a jolt of electricity throughout his body. All his senses became heightened as if he could hear the smallest whisper or see as an eagle. He also became aware of the vastness of the dark jewel which was now pulsing in parallel with his heart and the ruby. The internal crystalline lattice of the stone was immense, if he let his mind drift he could detect lattice inside lattice. There was a seemingly endless matrix structure to the crystal. He felt he could reach out through the ruby and then through the dark jewel and move mountains. He was ecstatic; he could do anything, crush any enemy, and grant any wish. It was incredible, it was rapturous, and it was…too momentous. What would his sainted wife Grace have said to have fantasies like this? Reluctantly he released the beautiful gem and returned to himself.

This thing, this jewel defied imagination. He needed much more time to study and a safer place in which to do so. He ordered that the black monolith be packed carefully, in a small barrel. He wrapped the ruby in his handkerchief and stuck it in his rucksack. Once it was safely tucked away, he turned his attention to the other contents of the pyramid, and began carefully packing other items of note. This went on for several hours and as they finished and began the transport of barrels and sacks out of the structure he realized that it was daybreak. At this point his carefully laid plan failed miserably. As his heavily encumbered group exited the pyramid they were met by an eerily quiet valley; a sense of being watched was prevalent. Then suddenly the drums started, first off to the north and quickly answered from the south, east and west.

Swithington shouted to all to scatter and make their way back to the camp. Precisely at this moment a hail of arrows pelted the ground around him and his Askari. Two were killed immediately, spurring the others to follow his orders with elan. Scatter they did, going in whatever direction that seemed to lead to safety, barrels and bags were discarded in attempts for more speed. The professor lost track of the barrel with the dark stone, but was too preoccupied with saving his own neck to worry about it. He and Nocshee made a beeline toward the South-East hugging cover whenever possible. As they made there way out of the valley they managed to avoid anymore serious encounters and returned to their base camp relatively unscathed. As the day passed and his men slowly returned, which delighted him, he grew more and more despondent about the lack of barrels and archeological treasure accompanying them. Swithington set about bandaging his men in a perfunctory manner. He was preoccupied; ruminating about returning to the pyramid and recovering the Jewel. He could still feel it, way off in the distance, beckoning to him. He and Nocshee sat by the fire, late into the evening discussing possibilities for recovering the Jewel.

No comments:

Post a Comment