Aubrise and the Gebmid Mystery: Part Three
Art by rookina
Aubrise, the Lost Desert Expert at the Neopia Central Museum, was invited
to go to Sakhmet to help a team of archaeologists discover more about the ancient
Geb culture. But the Cybunny soon found an enemy in Sarina Salen, the world-famous
archaeologist, who resented her being there. Aubrise found herself arguing with
Sarina over certain aspects of her work, but before they could try to resolve
their disagreements, Sarina had disappeared...
~ * ~
Under any other set of circumstances, Aubrise would have
been thrilled to see inside the beautiful Royal Sakhmetian Palace. However,
as they were escorted through the corridors and past windows overlooking immaculate
gardens full of fountains and exotic plants, the only thought running through
her head was 'where is Sarina?'
As they entered the throne room, it was immediately
obvious the same thought was occupying the Princess too. She rose from her throne,
brushing aside the two advisors she had been speaking with, and came down the
steps to meet them. As Aubrise made her curtsy, she felt the Princess giving
her an appraising glance.
"Tehuti, what can you tell me?" she asked, with
a concerned expression.
The Techo shrugged. "Not very much I'm afraid,
your highness," he replied. "We know Sarina was at the Archives this morning
and that she left there at around lunchtime to go into the Desert. We know she
went there because she mentioned to one of my staff that that was where she
was going. She took an Apis with her, but that returned without her an hour
ago - that was what raised the alarm. We don't know anything else yet, I'm sorry."
"I see." Amira frowned and slowly went back to
her throne. Tehuti and Aubrise followed to the bottom of the steps and waited.
The Princess sat down, still frowning. Then she
brought her fist down hard on the arm of the throne. "She must be found!" she
cried. "What if she gets caught in a sandstorm? What if the winds come? They
can last for days and she would be totally lost! If she's lost in the desert,
she will die!"
Silence followed this last statement as no one
could contradict the truth in the Princess's words. After a few moments, someone
broke the silence.
She looked at the small yellow Cybunny curiously,
and inclined her head to grant her permission to continue.
"Your highness, perhaps she isn't in the
desert." Amira arched an eyebrow, and Aubrise continued. "You see, I've been
looking at the same scrolls and documents that she has, and I think she may
be somewhere inside the Gebmid."
Amira fixed her with a regal stare. "And you
"My name is Aubrise, your highness," Aubrise
replied. "I'm a historian. I've been studying the history of the Lost Desert
for the last fifteen years. I know Tehuti would consider me an expert in your
history, your highness."
"And what do you base your assumption on?" Amira
was now regarding the Cybunny with a curious expression.
Aubrise glanced across at Tehuti, who nodded
his approval for her to continue. She took a step closer to the throne and took
a deep breath. "Well, the hieroglyphs we studied earlier today speak of the
Gebmid being full of traps and riddles. If that is true - and I believe it is
- then Sarina could well be caught in one of these traps and be unable to get
Princess Amira ran a finger over her lips thoughtfully.
"Do you think you could unravel the secrets to the traps?" she asked eventually.
"Yes, highness," Aubrise replied immediately.
"I'm sure the answers are in one of the scrolls Sarina found in one of the outer
chambers of the Gebmid. I'm convinced she thought so too..." She trailed off.
"Go on," Amira urged.
Aubrise hesitated, and Tehuti spoke up. "Your
highness, Aubrise and Sarina disagree over the translation of one of the scrolls.
If Sarina was incorrect with her translation, it is almost certain that she
is trapped in the Gebmid."
"And you believe she was incorrect."
"Highness, I have nothing but respect for the
work Sarina has done since she's been here, but I would trust Aubrise's interpretation
of an ancient language over hers every time." Tehuti's emphatic declaration
made Aubrise blush and the Princess smile.
Amira looked puzzled. "But weren't you were at
the Gebmids all day?" she asked him. "Wouldn't you have seen her if she went
Tehuti nodded. "We were, highness, but we were
so engrossed in our work I suspect a herd of Elephantes could have entered the
tomb and we wouldn't have noticed."
"I see." Amira frowned again. "Very well then.
Aubrise." She turned to the Cybunny. "I would like to place every resource we
have available to you. Our historians will work with you if you require their
help, and I will assign some of the Palace Guards to accompany you to the Gebmid
once your translation is complete. No--" She held up a hand, seeing Aubrise
was about to object to the offer of the guards. "You don't know what you might
encounter there, and even if you make a perfect translation it's very likely
the designer of the Gebmid liked to keep some traps secret.
"But," she added, "try to work quickly. Sarina
is an old friend, and I want to see her back here safely very soon."
~ * ~
Back in the Archive, every historian and librarian
in Sakhmet had been called in to help translate the hieroglyphs and scrolls
that had been recovered from the Gebmid. Tehuti was supervising them while Aubrise
collected together all Sarina's notes on the Gebmid.
As soon as possible, Tehuti excused himself and
went to find her. Opening a cupboard, he pulled out a locked box. He placed
it on the desk in front of Aubrise, took a key from his pocket, unlocked it,
and opened it. Inside lay a faded, dusty, very old scroll.
Tehuti carefully removed it from the box and
lay it delicately on the table in front of Aubrise. "This is the most recent
scroll Sarina found at the tomb," he said. "She believed it held the key to
finding her way into the heart of the Gebmid. She was working on a translation,
but she was struggling a bit."
He rummaged in the pile of documents and papers
on the desk and pulled out a large pad of paper. "This is her notebook containing
her most recent notes," he said, handing it to Aubrise. "She made notes on her
translation in here. Perhaps you can find something out from there?"
"Thank you," she said, gingerly opening the scroll.
She gasped as she read the first line. "But... this is the Sutek Scroll!" she
exclaimed. "Since the tomb was uncovered people have speculated about its existence.
It's supposed to contain the history of Sutek - the Geb in the tomb!"
"I thought you'd find it interesting," Tehuti
replied, taking the seat opposite her. "Would you like any help?"
~ * ~
The next time either of them looked up it was
almost dawn. The rest of the team had long since retired to bed after Aubrise
had identified the scroll and it became clear that this was going to be the
key to the Gebmid. They had managed to translate most of the writing, which
they had discovered to be a mix of ancient Qasalan mixed with a little ancient
Sakhmetian, a lot of the lost Geb language - which meant creating a new dictionary
based on the context and usage of the Geb words - and a healthy sprinkling of
pictures, which seemed to form an important part of Geb literature.
Tehuti yawned and stretched his arms out above
his head. Aubrise looked up from her notes. "You look all in," she commented.
"Maybe we should get some sleep."
He hesitated. "I don't know," he replied. "Sarina's
probably stuck in that Gebmid somewhere and we're going to go to sleep?"
"She's not stupid," Aubrise retorted. "She'll
have been well prepared. I bet she took a bag full of food and drink with her,
and if she's inside there's no need to worry about her getting too much sun.
She's probably only locked in a room somewhere too - not in a life-threatening
Tehuti stifled another yawn. "Hmm, maybe you're
right," he conceded, getting up and stacking his books on the table. "I suppose
we should get some rest if we're going to have to translate more of this stuff
in the tomb."
Stuffing her notebook in her bag, Aubrise got
up and followed him out of the Archives.
~ * ~
In a small room at the heart of the Gebmid, Sarina
Salen stared at her lamp. It would go out again soon and she only had one flask
of oil left. She still had a spare candle, but she didn't have any matches,
and that Wadjet in the corner was eyeing up her food and water supplies greedily...
To be continued...