MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP – EGYPT PART TEN

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ANCIENT EGYPT, c. 2600 BC

Several months went by in Dashur. Each of the time-displaced group began to settle in. They had been granted space in the palace to stay while they tried to find some way back to their original time.

Singh spent much of his time training with the palace guard, trying to hone his fighting skills. Bolan and McTavish began to go through the scrolls and books that had been taken from Nephren-Ka when he had been defeated. They were aided by the pompous Waaiz al-Shaki who was in charge of guarding the blasphemous library of works. Constanza wanted to understand more about the funeral rites of the priests so began to work with them. 

As the days passed, they began to slowly learn the language and be able to read some of the hieroglyphics so could fit in better.

Constanza learnt how the priests would prepare bodies in preparation for burial including ways to protect the area around the body in case of intrusion by anyone who wanted to desecrate the body. He also learnt of a powerful way to deal with any reanimated bodies which came back to life due to tampering or curses.

Bolan discovered a set of scrolls which had been part of Nephren-Ka’s personal collection. Although hard to decipher, both he and McTavish spent some time trying to read them with McTavish using what few pieces of film he had left, to photograph these scrolls.

McTavish, while reading a number of other pieces, found a detailed description of how a Pharoah of a distant time, had been cornered by some of his enemies and prayed for help. The Pharoah was then able to breathe a foul air over his attackers and drive them away. Attempting to replicate the same process, McTavish repeated the incantation and exhaled. A gas crept out of his mouth and filled the room causing al-Shaki to choke and gasp before fleeing the room. It took some time before the room cleared but McTavish felt he was able to repeat the process.

Bolan was approached by the priestess of Bast saying she had been shown in a dream that they had some items which belonged to a temple of Bast. Realising she meant the scrolls which they had taken from the Dutchman, he showed her the set. She was captivated by them, realising they detailed much information about the rites of worshipping Bast and asked to study them further. Not wanting to let them go just yet, he agreed to bring them to the temple the next day which she agreed to.

He took them back and that night carried out a psychometry reading on the ancient papers. Opening his mind to the vast history of the scrolls, he found himself standing on the banks of a river with a cat watching him. Behind the cat, a large crocodile stalked slowly towards it and the cat seemed unaware. At the last minute, the cat turned, saw the crocodile and started to slowly walk away. The crocodile turned towards Bolan, who stood transfixed. As the crocodile reached him, it opened its mouth wide and snapped lazily at his legs but couldn’t reach him fully. Bolan saw a chain around its neck holding the beast back. Looking up the chain, Bolan saw a man holding it tightly in place. With a start, he recognised the man as the Black Pharaoh, then jolted out of his trance.

The next day he took the scrolls to the priestess of Bast who eagerly poured over them, pointing out details in the text as they talked about worshipping rites to Bast and other gods. Its mentioned the Terrible Lord of the Riverbanks and his children primarily but Bolan took an interest when she mentioned the Carrion Feasters of the Desert. When he asked about those, she explained they were human-shaped creatures who lived in necropolis and parts of the desert. They were intelligent creatures but would eat those that fell in battle or had been buried in the ground. The description she gave made them sound similar to the creatures they had met in the graveyard in Edale.

Singh had been spending some of his spare time finishing reading the copy of Song of the Djinn. After much time studying the descriptions in detail, he had discovered an incantation to summon something called the living flame. The description explained it was able to melt even the most sturdy of metals, even magically imbued ones.

Back in the library, McTavish was busy taking photographs of the scrolls that had been taken from Nephren-Ka. As his eyes wandered over the crumbling papers, he was able to read some of the text as he had been learning to read the Hieroglyphics. He read descriptions of the Daemon Sultan, of creatures which dwell beneath the desert, of mystical symbols to protect and more. His vision began to swim as he saw more and more of the blasphemous wording before he finally blacked out.

He awoke sometime later standing on the edge of the desert with no memory of how he had got there. Looking down he could see his upper body was bare. It was also covered in strange characters which had been carved into his skin. They had been there for a day or two, from the looks of the way the blood had begun to congeal into scabs. He carefully touched a couple and they felt a bit sore but not painful. 

There was no sign of how it had happened or if he had done this to himself or not. Slowly, he trudged back towards the city in the distance but was approached by two bandits waving rough knives at him. Raising his hands in defence, he willed them to leave him alone but instead, a pair of blue lightning bolts shot from his palms, striking the men and shocking them. The pair turned and ran at the display of such raw power, leaving McTavish to stare at his palms in disbelief before he carried on his walk back to Dashur. When he finally returned he found he had been gone for about a week. He had last been seen in the library but nobody had seen him leave. The guards had spent days searching but no sign of him had been found anywhere.

A few weeks after McTavish’s return, the four were summoned to take part in a ritual in one of the temples within the palace. 30 or so acolytes lined the walls while several priests carried out the ritual itself. A large block of stone was being carved with symbols and the four recognised part of the block to be identical to the ones they had been given by Nuri. As the stone block was finished, the moon was starting to rise and the acolytes began to chant.

“SA- MA, SA-MA, TE-YO, SA-MA”  

For hours and hours, the chant continued and many began to sway and fall to the ground. Those that fell looked drained of life, as if they were now nothing more than husks. A cat was brought out and placed on the stone over the stylised eye carving. One of the priests produced a small knife and, holding the cat in place, sliced along one of its legs. A small drop of blood fell into the eye but seemed to soak into the stone. The cat seemed to not notice its wound and remained calm throughout the whole event before it was carried off.

The ritual seemed to go on most of the night before suddenly as if by some ungiven signal, the chanting stopped. A cloth was laid over the stone and it was carried away for some unknown reason.