The Scarab of Anubits
Also by goten__10
"If you didn't take them, then where the heck are they?"
Merouladen shrugged as he pulled on his blue cap. "Beats
me, but I tell you I didn't take them!"
With a dark glare at his younger brother, Heermeedjet
pulled the cushions off the couch once more. "I know I had them last night,"
he muttered, shouldering Merouladen out of his way as he preened in front of
the mirror and adjusted his cap to a more rakish - in his opinion - angle. Heermeedjet
simply snorted in derision and continued his search.
It was a good twenty minutes later that he found his
goggles, suspiciously trapped beneath a flower pot in the back garden. He speared
his brother with a dark look, receiving an all too painfully false innocent
look in reply.
Merouladen laughed when he heard the older Meerca's
muttered threat and he waited until Heermeedjet had pulled the newly found item
onto his head. Really, he was far too attached to those goggles and Merouladen
had been unable to bypass a small spot of teasing. Hiding them had been simple
fun. Of course, Heermeedjet far from saw it in the same light.
"Ready?" asked the younger of the pair and Heermeedjet
nodded. Today they were to check out their next target... although perhaps a
better description would have been 'casing the joint'. An important part of
their work as going in anywhere unprepared would see them end up in the dungeons
deep beneath Amira's palace in Sakhmet. Worse still, they might even find themselves
incarcerated in Qasala. After all, most of their exploits seemed to take place
in that town. Qasala was still reeling from its recent war, making it easier
to do what they did best - namely, to relieve the locals of their wealth. And
if that meant breaking into the palace there and stealing directly from Jazan
and Nabile, then so be it. They'd done it before.
The Meerca Brothers were still under heightened suspicion
following their pretty public theft of King Coltzan's crown. The most annoying
part of that was the crown had been found soon after they'd taken it, making
the risk null and void. They had nothing to show for their troubles - other,
of course, than setting the guards of both Sakhmet and Qasala onto their own
backs. It made their life that much harder, but far from impossible. All it
meant was they had to take more care when doing their groundwork.
The brothers left their hideout located in the seedy
back streets of Sakhmet's marketplace. The perfect place to hear any snippets
of news or gossip as well as to pick the pockets of the richer residents of
the city. Easy money could be made that way, but today they were after something
far more valuable. They headed for the Scratch Card Kiosk, checking to make
sure the guards were otherwise engaged. It was to cost them 25% of their profits
but it was worth paying that to Stan the Kyrii. After all, only the fastest
of men would be able to keep up with the wily and swift thief and many a good
Elephante had tried. None had yet succeeded.
On cue, Stan set about his distraction, grabbing the
biggest, plumpest and juiciest Ummagine in the entire market. The Kyrii pushed
the fruit beneath one arm and ducking his head he sprinted for the alleys, guards
close behind him. That neatly left the way open for Heermeedjet and Merouladen
to spring into action...
* * *
It was almost a full hour later that the pair came
to a gasping halt and the younger Meerca bent low over his knees, fighting for
breath while his brother readjusted his goggles before taking a look inside
the sack he held. Countless scratch cards that would collect a small fortune
on the black market lay inside, but the only pitfall was it would mean once
more working with the Skeith, Malkus Vile. Vile knew ways to pass stolen goods
on that would make sure the Meerca Brothers couldn't be traced as the thieves.
Neither of them particularly wanted to deal with Vile, but this time they had
Or so they thought...
* * *
Ever since Nabile had married Prince Jazan, Tomos
had been bored. Bored out of his Lupine mind. Sure, Horace and Zina were great
company, but he sorely missed the little Ixi.
The three remaining members of The Desert Scarabs
wandered the sandy plains outside of Sakhmet. They had food enough to last the
week, but after that, Tomos knew they had to forage once more. That meant a
return to the richer pickings found in the wealthier houses that were located
in the shadow of the palace itself.
But life was duller than General Dacon's IQ and Tomos
was keen to find a way to bring back the spark that had gone with Nabile's departure.
The sight of the two Meercas brought him hope. After all, Heermeedjet and Merouladen
were well-known figures in the area and rarely were they seen without some kind
of mischief also being involved.
"Let's go see what those two are up to," Tomos said
softly to the Blumaroo and the Zafara he was with and they padded silently across
the Lost Desert until they reached their goal.
"So... what's new?" Tomos asked, peering curiously
at the bag Heermeedjet held. Or was it Merouladen? All Meercas looked alike
to the Lupe.
"Nothing!" snapped one of the brothers.
"Why do you ask?" demanded the other.
Tomos smiled slightly. "Scratch cards? Isn't that
a little... um... low? Even for you?"
The pair scowled. "Like you know of a better way to
earn some money!" sneered the older brother. "That why you and your friends
here have to steal food just to survive!"
"Oh, I know of a treasure just waiting to be found,"
"Then why haven't you gone after it?" asked Merouladen.
"Because," answered the Lupe, leaning closer, "some
of the tunnels are too small for us to pass through." He paused, adding, "Not
too small for... oh... say, a Meerca."
Tomos stepped back to allow that to sink in. Really,
Meercas could be incredibly slow and it felt like an eternity passed before
the proverbial Neopoint dropped with a resounding clatter.
"Hey! We're Meercas!" exclaimed Heermeedjet.
"You don't say," muttered Horace and Tomos hushed
him with a terse gesture of his hand.
"So you are." The Lupe beamed. "Maybe we could work
* * *
"A scarab, you say?"
Tomos looked back at Heermeedjet and shook his head.
"Not just any scarab," he replied. "This one is made of the finest gold with
the beetle's body a perfect emerald the size of my fist." Tomos clenched a paw
to demonstrate. "Not only that, but the head and legs are encrusted with rubies
and sapphires with two perfect black diamonds representing its eyes. It's past
priceless," he stated, crossing his arms loosely over his chest. "So... are
The two brothers glanced at each other, hints of smiles
on their faces but Tomos was sly and not easily fooled.
"You'll never find it without us," he said. "The Temple
of 1,000 Tombs is enormous and riddled with pitfalls and dead ends. Without
our map, you would be lost in there for years trying to find your way back out...
Assuming you survived the traps. Many have tried and failed. It's said their
ghosts still prowl the endless chambers and tunnels, looking for the Temple's
Tomos shot Horace and Zina a look, knowing they had
the Meerca Brothers right where they wanted them and the parts of the Temple
that had thus far been inaccessible were surely now open to exploration. That
said, Tomos didn't trust either of the Meercas, but as there was only one way
in - and out - of the Temple he felt reasonably confident the crafty pair would
be unable to make off with the scarab. That was always assuming it even existed,
as the Lost Desert was filled with grand tales of treasure and the like. Horace
and Zina had been on their own quest for some time now, trying to find the fabled
Golden Scorchstone in the long-abandoned desert ruins but to no avail. Hopefully
the scarab would be easier to find.
As expected, Heermeedjet and Merouladen agreed to
the conditions of the plan, promising to return with the scarab. Of course,
they intended to do nothing of the kind, but finding another way out of the
Temple was sure to prove virtually impossible. They'd cross that bridge when
they came to it. For now, they had to get inside and avoid countless deadly
traps, but they were nothing if not determined...
* * *
The Temple of 1,000 Tombs.
Desolate and long-since left to decay, although recently
it had been the scene of some pretty frantic activity. It was during this time
that Tomos had stumbled across the map, left in one of the libraries and behind
a door displaying a coiled snake. Three other doors with serpentine designs
on them had been found by other explorers but the one with the coiled asp had
been undetected... by all bar Tomos, of course. The map had been found inside
an urn in the corner of the room and the Lupe had immediately seen its value.
The map that led to the legendary Scarab of Anubits. The same map now inside
his vest and against his chest.
He pulled it out and handed it to the older of the
two Meercas. "Follow the trail marked with red dots," Tomos said. "It will lead
you to the library and then on to the chamber where the scarab is supposed to
Heermeedjet scanned the map and shot Merouladen a glare
when he leaned too close to see for himself, almost knocking them both to the
"And watch out for the traps," added Tomos. He'd come
close to falling foul of them himself and he knew how dangerous the Temple could
be to anyone not taking due care or watching where they placed their feet. "Avoid
the rooms with coloured doors," he warned.
The Meerca Brothers nodded and headed inside, only
sparing the briefest looks for the engraved words above the main door...
The waking dawn on the dunes
Window into the soul
The words meant nothing to them anyway and wasting
time pondering seemed insane. That said, willingly entering into a catacomb
riddled with traps was hardly sane... wasn't it?
Tomos and the other Desert Scarabs dropped back to
sit under the shade of a nearby palm tree. He knew it would take them a while
to make their way through the Temple. Ample time for a short snooze...
* * *
A good two hours later and the pair had to admit they
were lost. They'd just arrived at a door depicting not a coiled serpent but
one fashioned out of some kind of a blue inlaid stone, shaped like a sweeping
"Are you sure that doesn't count as coiled?" asked
His brother speared him with a dark scowl. "Do you
even know what 'coiled' means? Does that LOOK coiled to you?"
"Well, no... Not really."
Heermeedjet huffed a breath of sheer irritation. "Then
permit me to hazard a guess that this is the wrong door! Let me see that map
again," he snapped and Merouladen handed it over. A few seconds later a hand
cuffed the younger brother's left ear, sharply and in sheer annoyance.
"What was that for!" demanded Merouladen.
"Idiot!" growled Heermeedjet, making a great show
of turning the map the correct way up and he began to retrace their steps, this
time making for the right section of the Temple.
Twenty minutes later and they knew they were close
but the two weary Meercas needed a quick rest. Merouladen dropped down to sit,
leaning back against a door shaped in an oval and of the deepest green.
"NO!" yelled Heermeedjet, but he was too late.
He made a wild lunge for his brother, but they both toppled inside with the
older brother's jacket catching on the rough stone wall. The room opened out
into a vast pit and one lined with pointed stakes. Heermeedjet just had time
to grab his brother's arm before he plunged into the pit and it was some time
before either of them felt able to move. First Merouladen, who clung to the
wall, inched back towards the door where he reached back to help Heermeedjet.
It was only when they were both back on solid ground once more that Heermeedjet
cuffed his brother's other ear.
"Owww!" whined Merouladen, but from now on he was
determined to be more careful.
A lot more careful.
* * *
"This HAS to be it!" exclaimed Merouladen. "Look! That's
Heermeedjet peered at the door and nodded. "Looks coiled
to me," he agreed and he reached out to open the door, breath held and heart
racing. This was it... The end of their quest. Well, almost. From here it would
be a short distance through the small tunnel that Tomos had been unable to fit
in... then the treasure would be theirs. Sure, they had to get out of the Temple
again but with the scarab in their hands it would be a piece of Coconut Tonu
Cake. The Meerca Brothers peered inside, pushing cobwebs out of their way as
they slipped into the dust-laden library.
There, behind a bookshelf was the tunnel Tomos had
told them about. The two Meercas squashed themselves into its cramped confines,
crawling towards their goal. They straightened as they emerged in the secret
room and drew close to the pedestal where the scarab would be found... only
to stop in utter shock. No scarab but instead what looked to be seeds.
"What are they?" asked Merouladen and Heermeedjet
picked up a couple.
"Still fresh, so they've not been here long, and if
I didn't know better, I would say they were Ummagine seeds."
He looked at his brother as the same thought struck
them at the same time and their voices rang out in anguished unison, echoing
around the empty room.
And outside the Temple of 1,000 Tombs, a lone figure
straightened and dusted himself off. He'd used a trap that although it'd left
him coated in sand it had also deposited him out back of the building itself,
out of sight of Tomos and his friends. Stan the Kyrii and grinned down at the
emerald beetle in his hand before pushing it into a pocket and sprinting away
from the scene. No one would catch him. No one ever did!