MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP – EGYPT PART THIRTEEN

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BENEATH THE PYRAMIDS 2: BENEATHER

The tunnels below the pyramid complex twisted and turned in bewildering ways making them confused about which way they were going. Passing several side tunnels they pushed further into the stygian depths. 

Bolan paused at one of the side tunnels and spotted what looked like roses growing out of the floor around the wall but they were jet black. He pointed them out to the others who stopped to examine them. Constanza tapped one with his club and it made a noise as if it was stone. Bolan reached down to pick one only to snatch his hand back quickly as thorns ripped the palm of his hand. Singh bandaged Bolan’s hand up and they decided to leave the flowers alone and carry on.

They trudged along, passing more side tunnels of different sizes. Some seemed to be no more than a few feet across, others were huge open spaces that echoed with their footsteps. The path the followed turned and wandered before suddenly turning to reach a straight section about 50 yards long. On the right wall was a doorway that opened to a set of steps that dropped down gently towards a chamber. 

Cautiously walking down the steps and towards the chamber, they could see rows of ebon pillars rising up into the darkness but no sign of a roof above them. It was as if the pillars were holding up the darkness above them. Under their feet, highly polished black marble was dotted with tiny flecks of white and if it wasn’t for the white, it would be almost as if they were stepping into a void.

They began to suspect the room was huge. There was no sign of the back wall and silence enveloped the room. Constanza made a clapping noise to try and gauge the room size but there was hardly an echo back, no matter how hard he clapped. Faint flickering torchlight could be seen spilling out around the edges of the pillars as they moved forward and after rounding the last row, a set of steps could be seen in front of them going down. A ruby red mist was slowly boiling out of the steps and the sounds of ghastly shrieks and moans could be heard rising up from the depths. Cautiously avoiding the mist they came across a pool that was about 25m across and filled with jet black water. A set of steps led down to the water’s edge where a raft sat tied to a stone post. It looks like the water was motionless but occasionally a tiny ripple disturbed the calm, glasslike surface as if something was moving around just below.

Bolan looked at the raft but thought better of it and they all moved around the edge of the pool towards a large white marble altar which sat atop a set of steps leading up 15 feet above them. Before they could advance any further, figures began to appear out of the darkness and stalked towards them. While they looked like they had the forms of men, they stood around 8 feet tall and their heads were animals. One was a cheetah, two had snorting angry-looking bull heads, one was a hippopotamus that yawned expansively, a falcon and an ibis made up a pair of bird-headed ones and lastly, a pair of crocodiles with wide smiling tooth-filled mouths snapped and hissed. Surrounded, the investigators drew together as the 8 monstrous forms drew closer and closer. 

Guido swung his club at the cheetah but missed as Singh and McTavish fired shots off. Singh’s struck a crocodile squarely in the head, blowing it backwards. McTavish managed to hit one of the bulls but it bellowed and advanced more aggressively. Bolan, panicking, reached inside his shirt and pulled out the amulet he had and waved it at the approaching monstrosities but they seemed to either not notice or not care about it, in fact both the cheetah and hippo seemed to take an interest in him. They both bit and scratched at him drawing blood.

The falcon-headed one let out a cry and sunk its beak into McTavish’s flesh before pulling back and ripping a chunk from him. Mahmood, who was now regretting following them down, suddenly found himself running for his life as one of the crocodile creatures ran after him.

Guido, angry at his miss, swung with as much force as he could at the ibis. A sickening crunch filled the room around them as it flew backwards before falling, arms wheeling, into the water. It bobbed back to the surface in the middle of the pool and started trying to head for the side as quickly as it could. It suddenly gave a loud squawk as the water around it began to froth. It flailed and struggled as everyone seemed to stop fighting and turn towards the noises it was making. Huge sucking leeches with many mouths were clamped all over its body and gouts of blood pumped into the water, turning the dark black water an even ghastlier shade.

The lull in the fighting didn’t last long. There was a brutal tussle between Guido and one of the bull creatures. Both drawing blood from the other in a frenzy of blows and gouges. McTavish was also locked in a death struggle with the falcon creature, while poor Mahmood was being chased around by the crocodile one. He wasn’t watching and ran straight into the arms of the cheetah which bit deeply into his shoulder.

Singh finally managed to finish off one of the bulls while Guido killed the other. Bolan snapped off a shot at the cheetah which dropped Mahmood and turned on the book dealer.

Unaware of what was behind him, Singh didn’t notice the hippo until it was too late as it reached down and bit him savagely. Singh pulled away and stabbed back at the hippo creature killing it. Turning towards where McTavish was fighting the falcon, he strode over and ran his knife through its back while McTavish was wrestling with it. A squawk came out of its beak before it dropped to the ground dead. The Cheetah didn’t fair much better when Bolan managed to hold it off for long enough to put a bullet through its skull.

As the last of the monstrosities fell dead to the floor, they tried to patch themselves up a bit. Singh went around them all applying bandages and trying to clean up wounds.

After being patched up, Constanza climbed up the steps of the altar to the large stone casket on the top. Stone braziers, which burn with a sickly yellow light, are built into the four corners of the altar. Looking carefully into the alabaster sarcophagus inside he saw the mummified form of a woman.