MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP – EGYPT PART NINE

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Where have all the pyramids gone?

“Welcome to my throne room.”

The voice behind them was calm, with an authoritative air but it caught them by surprise. The four men wheeled and saw a tall, handsome man seated upon the once empty throne. His noble face was identical to the two busts that Bolan had in his bag. He was looking down at them with a slightly crooked smile on his face. In his hands, he held two rods and was dressed as a Pharoah of ancient Egypt. A low groaning noise could be heard coming from the doorway. A large stone block was appearing out of thin air to block the passageway, cutting off the escape. Behind the throne, the air boiled and wavered, as if a heatwave was causing the air to shimmer.

“I welcome you to my chamber, my friends. What brings you to me?” 

They approached the foot of the steps and there was a heavy pause before Bolan found his voice.

“Greetings O Black Pharoah.” he said with a bow, playing for time to recover his thoughts.

“Greetings to you Robert Bolan.” The calm reply came back, dripping with amusement.

Bolan’s mind reeled. “He knows our names!” he thought.

Greeting to you Black Pharoah.” Constanza copied but more warily.

“And greetings to you Guido Constanza.”

Singh slowly reached for his gun but held off shooting. He just kept his hands resting on it as he watched the man on the throne.

“Its good to see you all again but there are less of you now. Let’s see, one of you died and the other is reading books in a library in America. It’s a shame they couldn’t be here with you and I was sorry about the death of your friend. He was a most interesting character. I’m afraid some of my followers are a bit heavy-handed at time. You should be careful around them.”

“Are you known as Nyarlathotep?”Bolan asked.

“That’s one of my many names.” The man answered with a slight smirk. ”Now tell me, friends, why have you come before me?” 

An element of haughtiness was creeping into the voice as he spoke to the group.

There was some stuttering and pauses as they each tried to explain why they had come. They finally mentioned that a man they met said told them about the pyramid and how four of the Carlyle group had gone inside and vanished. A scowl crossed the Pharaoh’s face as they spoke of Carlyle. His tone turned to a mocking one.

“That group had their chance. They failed me and you should see now, the fate of those who came before you.”

He waved one of the rods in his hand and the air in front of him shimmered and a scene appeared. Sounds began to come out of the air and they could see what looked like a camp somewhere in Africa. Bearers ran back and forth carrying and moving items while other figures could be seen in discussion or seated on crates. A few figures became clearer and they recognised a couple of familiar faces, one of them was even Carlyle himself. As the view settled on the middle of the camp, there was a droning noise that started to fill the air. Scores of winged beasts appeared above the tents, swooping down to snap and bite at the now panicking people in the camp. 

In full view, one of the bearers was bitten in half with his legs dropping to the ground as the top half was ripped away and carried skywards. The ground beneath the remains began to break apart and push upwards. Long talons clawed through the earth and a lean humanoid figure pulled itself upwards and began to attack others in the camp. With some shock, the four watchers realised these were similar to the creatures that had been in the graveyard in Edale.

Huge protoplasmic entities boiled across the camp, crushing and absorbing all it touched. Some of the people in the camp rallied and tried to fight back but to no avail. The sights of violence carried on for some minutes before the final victims finally died screaming. The horrors flew, dug or oozed their way out of view before quiet descended over the camp. The image faded leaving the throne room quiet once more.

“But none of that needs to happen to any of you. Tell me, what is it that each of you desires the most in life? Money, power, strength. If you kneel before me and swear allegiance to me, I will grant you anything you wish.”

Each of them, in turn, answered that they only wished to leave. The face of the Pharaoh creased into a frown for a second before returning to a casual smile.

“That’s a shame. Very well, if all you wish is to leave, I won’t stop you.”

He waved his hand and the wall with a map on started to shimmer and change. They could see a marketplace in Egypt with stalls and locals walking around buying as the owners shouted and called passers-by.

Bolan reached into his bag and pulled out the two busts before offering them to the seated figure.

“These are yours I think.” Bolan quietly said, lifting the busts to show them more clearly.

“Ah yes. I think they got my likeness quite well on these, don’t you think? Thank you, please leave them there.” he casually waved towards the steps where Bolan stood. “You have some other interesting trinkets as well, don’t you?”

Bolan was suddenly aware that the medallion around his neck was vibrating slightly. He reached up and pulled the chain that held it in place. As he grasped the medallion itself, he could see two of the huge winged serpents that had attacked them in the mosque, behind the throne. It was only a faint view but he suddenly realised that holding the medallion was what made them visible and the boiling air effect they had seen, was these two creatures hidden from sight.

The four men cautiously moved towards the window back to the outside. Singh had not taken his hand from his gun the whole time, he was carefully watching the seated Pharaoh who was smiling at them with a wicked gleam in his eye.

As they each, in turn, stepped through the wall and stood in the market place they’d seen, the sounds of laughter could be heard coming from the chamber behind them. People bustled around as they stood in the middle of the street, a few turned to stare as they appeared out of nowhere but more gave them a wide berth. Looking around in the bright sun, they noticed something was wrong. The buildings didn’t look modern, there was an unusual style to the clothes of the people on the street but most shockingly of all, there was no sign of the pyramids on the skyline. Assuming they had been dropped off near to where they had been, there should have been two pyramids overlooking them.

As the portal began to close, the laughter became louder until with a faint ‘pop’, the portal vanished. They realised they’d been tricked. They had been let go, but not to their time. This was before the pyramids had been built. The group had been moved to thousands of years into the past.

Singh managed to get the attention of someone and tried to speak to him with some trouble. Fortunately the man spoke a little broken Arabic in a very unusual tongue, but between them they managed to get a brief conversation going. When Singh asked what year it was, the man managed to explain it was the fifth year of the rule of the Pharaoh Sneferu.

ANCIENT EGYPT, c. 2600 BC

As this shocking realisation slowly dawned on them, the group began to worry. What would they do? How would they get back?

They spent the first few hours of their shocked time in ancient Dashur walking around and looking at the city and entered a few temples to see what was in them. After visiting a couple they then walked down to the river where a flotilla of regal looking ships had docked. One of the priests had pointed the group towards the docks, saying Sneferu would be there with his royal entourage. Seeing one of the boats was lined with guards armed with wicked looking khopesh, they hit on the desperate plan of firing a gun into the air and causing a scene to attract some attention.

It worked enough for a priest and a number of the guards to come and investigate. Again Singh’s knowledge of Arabic was enough to get them to explain they were messengers of the gods and wanted to have an audience with Sneferu. The priest, suitably impressed, escorted them to the site of a majestic building currently under construction. 

Inside they were led through wide corridors until they reached a large open courtyard filled with plants, running water and cool shadows. At the far end, guarded by a pair of fearsome-looking warriors, a stately looking man sat on a throne watching them, a sekhemty crown rested on his head.  The priest scuttled over to the Pharaoh and the two conversed for a short time before the priest turned back to the group.

“The wise and powerful Pharaoh Sneferu, asks that you explain your presence here. He also wants you to answer if you truly are sent from the gods.” 

The dialogue went back and forth for some time as Singh tried to explain they had been sent by the gods to deliver a warning. Someone would try to raise Nephren-Ka and that a woman called Nitocris would lead a cult dedicated to the Black Pharaoh.

The meeting nearly took a dangerous turn when Bolan shouted out “Nyarlathotep!” loudly at one point at the mention of the Black Pharaoh. Everyone in the room turned to stare at him and there was an icy feeling as they were warned about uttering that blasphemous name in front of Sneferu.

All of this time, priests from different temples filed in to see these newcomers. McTavish was watching them as they stood over to one side. He spotted one of the priestesses seemed to be very similar to the woman he had seen in Cairo and had spoken to them before they had been caught up in the fight with the cats.

The discussion deepened into talk about Nephren-ka’s body, which was being held in the palace until a suitable building could be made to house it and contain the evil magic it held within it.

The day drew on and the group realised they may be stuck here for some time and would need to find a way back to their normal time but knew it wouldn’t be easy.