This week we had another unavailabilty but fortune favoured the group as it was the player who is Bolan. Leaving him on the boat to recover from his terrible wound seemed like the obvious reason for him to skip this session.
Catch up with previous antics elsewhere on the site.
Trouble at t’dig
Saturday 28th February
The steamer worked it way slowly along the Nile before docking at a small jetty outside Memphis. In the early morning light, three figures slipped down the gangplank and headed towards the location of the Clive Expedition dig. The three were wrapped in old desert robes that disguised who they were. Tatty and ragged, the robes were the best that Singh had been able to get in the short space of time he had the previous day.
Constanza, Singh and McTavish had donned disguises in an attempt to blend in a little and see if they could find out anything about the Clive dig site before approaching it directly. With Bolan staying on the boat to try and recover from his injury the previous day, they thought they had better take a more subtle approach this time.
Passing through crowds of workers and heading up to the top of a small hill, the three looked out over the site of the dig and took in the view. Barbed wire surrounded the perimeter with armed guards wandering up and down watching anyway approaching the area. The nearest thing to a main entrance to the site was a dirt road made from hard-packed sand and a gate in the wire. Trucks trickled in and out loaded down with sand but most of the activity was at a couple of dig spots with workers clearing around stone walls.
Singh hadn’t seen anything so well guarded since the Great War but McTavish, having something of an interest in Archeology, commented that this was heavy protection but also not out of the ordinary for a country that was currently in a state of upheaval. With the British pulling out of Egypt, the country was being left in a state of political flux and looting could be an issue.
After observing the dig for a while they backed down the ridge and headed for the main gate. Two guards, armed with rifles, slouched in the shade against some crates by the gate. They picked themselves up and unslung their rifles as the trio approached. Greeting the guards politely, McTavish introduced himself as a member of the Penhew foundation which got the attention of the guards. Stiffening into a slightly more upright pose, one of the guards offered to lead them to the head of the expeditions tent.
Following the guard through the dig allowed them to get a better view of the work. Diggers cleared the area while others moved among them collecting possible artefacts for examination. Other workers carried huge buckets of loose material away to be dumped for trucks to remove. The whole area was a hive of activity with clouds of dust being thrown up into the sky. Leading the group towards a large tent on a ridge above most of the activity, the guard motioned towards it.
“Doctor Clive is probably inside there. We will see if he is available.”
Outside the tent, a young man was leaning over a table looking at papers spread over the table. At the sound of voices, he looked up. He was tall, lean and blonde with a slight sneer on his face.
“What’s the meaning of this? Who are these people?” he demanded as they approached.
The guard started to stammer out an answer but the man held up his hand as McTavish stepped forward to introduce himself. After announcing they had come from the Penhew Foundation to check on things, McTavish asked if they could speak to Dr Clive and have a look around the site. The man’s sneer grew a little larger as he listened to McTavish speak.
“Very well. Dr Clive won’t be happy to be bothered. You can leave your hired help out here.”
Singh growled out that they’re also members of the Penhew Foundation and would be staying with McTavish.
“Oh. I suppose you do work in other areas as well then. Very well. Come inside.”
The man lifted the flap of the tent and stepped inside without holding it open.
Inside the tent, it was hot and stuffy with little breeze to keep the air cool. A grey-haired older man sat at a folding table and looked up with a slight scowl as they pushed through the tent flap. The space inside the tent was filled with shelves lined with bits of pottery, stones and a few unidentifiable pieces. Canvas chairs and wooden storage chests also sat in different spots around the inside space. One chair was occupied by a kindly looking woman in a big floral dress and wearing a lot of costume jewellery. A mop of long white-grey hair was kept under control by a headscarf and a straw hat was hanging around her back by a thin cord. She beamed at them as the man rose from behind the table.
“Who are these people Winfield?” he snapped.
“Sorry to intrude Dr Clive, these people are from the Foundation. They say they’ve come to check up on things.”
“Really?” Clive harumphed. “Well get out Winfield. I’ll deal with this.”
The younger man scuttled out of the tent as Clive settled back in his chair.
“Well then, who are you? Speak up, I haven’t got all day.”
McTavish introduced them and explained they had come from the Penhew Foundation and wanted to make sure everything was ok after the trouble at the previous dig site. Also they had heard one of the team had been fired from the dig before they moved from Giza to Memphis.
Clive harumphed again. “That Dutch fella was a mess. Shouldn’t have kept him around for as long as we did.”
The woman tutted a bit “Oh he wasn’t that bad. He was a nice young man but he did have his problems.”
Realising Clive hadn’t taken the time to introduce them to her, Singh politely greeted her and asked what her name was.
“Oh aren’t you a sweet gentleman. I’m Agatha Broadmoor.” She said. “Van Heuvelen was a little too fond of his drink but he could have been a good archaeologist if he put his mind to it.”
“Rubbish.” Clive snorted and waved a cigarette around. “He was a fool. Now, stop wasting my time and let’s get on with things, what are you looking for here?”
McTavish explained that they’d come from England to check on security and make sure everything was safe. Also to find out a bit more about the missing mummy from the Giza dig.
“Yes. That blasted mummy has caused me no end of trouble.” Clive waved his hands in an annoyed manner. “That vanishing act it pulled has baffled everyone. If only we’d been able to get it out sooner.”
As the discussion continued, the name Nitocris came up and Clive froze, his moustache twitching as he stared towards the three men.
“Who mentioned that name? We never identified the mummy correctly. There wasn’t anything in the tomb which gave her name.”
Singh could tell he was hiding something and they pushed him on the scrolls that had been found. Clive told them that the only scrolls found had been damaged after centuries of being improperly sealed away. They knew this wasn’t true. Van Heuvelen had told them he had seen the scrolls in almost perfect condition when he was in the pyramid with Clive but hadn’t been able to get to view them. Singh took a risk and confronted Clive over this, he told the older man that they knew the scrolls had been in better condition than that when recovered and they wanted to know where they were now.
Clive’s face began to change to a shade of red that normally wouldn’t be healthy. His eyes began to bulge from his face.
“ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR? HOW DARE YOU!” He screamed. “I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS!” He pounded his fist on the desk. “GUARDS! GET IN HERE!”
“Now I’m sure the nice young men didn’t mean to upset you Dr Clive.” Agatha cooed. “Please calm down. I’ll take them outside and show them around, get them out from under your feet.”
Clive stood up, ignoring her. He marched around to one of the wooden storage chests and flipped open the lid. He reached inside and pulled out a smaller metal chest and opened it up.
“There! These are your blasted scrolls. Have a good look.” Thrusting the box at Singh, Clive stomped back to his seat as Singh examined the scraps of papyrus in the box. McTavish was able to identify them as ancient fragments from an old dynasty but it was too hard to date them from a casual examination.
Trying to defuse the situation, Agatha rose and started to shoo the three out of the tent with her. She managed to get them outside and away from the main tent before turning to them, the dotty aunt routine slipping away.
“Watch out for Dr Henry Clive. He’s a dangerous man and not one to be trifled with. You’re on thin ice with him. There are some people you need to meet. Follow me.”
She turned a different direction and steered them towards a different tent. Inside a man and woman were discussing something but both fell quiet and turned as Agatha entered. She quickly introduced James Gardner and Johanna Specht before telling them both that these three had been getting into an argument with Dr Clive.
The six of them spent some time discussing Dr Clive, the dig at Giza and the current dig at Memphis. James had a number of theories about a secret city with tunnels under the sphinx at Giza while Johanna believed there was a number of artefacts which could help her beloved Germany recover from the state it was in after the Great War had devastated it.
While discussing the theory of the tunnels, Agatha poo-pooed the notion and said that some ancient powerful force has spirited away the mummy and its sarcophagus while James argued there were secret passages in the tomb which he could have found if he had time. Agatha pointed out the police had looked but not found anything but James still stuck to his theory.
Agatha also told them she had joined the expedition to try and stop the dig at Giza. She had been plagued by visions of Nitocris rising up and a great disaster would follow if she did. While she wasn’t able to stop the dig, she still believed that if she found the mummy, she could excise the spirit within it and stop the apocalypse that would follow.
Realising there may be something to look into at the dig site at Giza, the three men left to rejoin Bolan back at the boat and carry on up the Nile to see Nuri before returning to Giza.