City of the Sun

The Egyptian Expedition of 1901

by Giles Wright

8th of July, 1901:
The blistering heat of this damnable country will be the end of me, of this I am certain. I haven’t the faintest idea of how the natives have survived this long so far from the Nile, and for now my only solace lies in the fact that my journey will soon be at an end.

It has been several weeks since we first touched down off the shores of the great river, though it feels an eternity ago. My guide assures me that we are close now, very close, to the tomb that my employer seeks so desperately.

I have decided to pen this record in the off chance that our expedition unearths something worthwhile. I have my doubts, of course; there is very little to be found here, and I am convinced that any “tomb” that has avoided the plundering of treasure seekers has long since collapsed beneath the ever-shifting sands of Egypt.

9th of July, 1901:
Two more days, my guide insisted.

I struck him behind the ear with a balled fist; he crumpled the ground in a cry of agony, yet I felt neither remorse nor any sympathy for the native. They are savages, the lot of them. Perhaps my country’s influence will have a positive effect on their civilization in time, though I doubt I will ever see the day.

“One day,” I replied, as the man shrunk away from me.

“One day,” he agreed.

10th of July, 1901:
We have found our tomb at last. I would be lying if I claimed to feel anything other than disappointment. My frustration led to abuse, and it was the guide who received the brunt of my anger. Did he not deserve it, leading me on with lies of treasure and riches and the object – an object beyond worth – that my employer so desperately seeks?

He yet lives, thankfully, for he is still of use to me.

In regards to the tomb, I regret to inform that it is little more than a broken-down assortment of cairns.

We have set up camp here, and the expedition awaits my decision. I am of the mind to pack up and leave this very instant, but that would prove the entire journey was a wasted effort.

11th of July, 1901:
The guide came to me as I turned in for the night, imploring me to listen to what he had to say. I was ready to strike him once again, but his steadfast resolve quelled my anger; he had a spine after all, and whatever he was about to uncover, it would seem it was worth risking another beating.

“Sir,” he began, “I know how this place appears. Nothing more than a collection of stacked stones in the middle of the desert, yes? It is for this reason that the tomb remains unearthed, you see; for first impressions lead one to believe that this place is worthless. But sir, I know how to find the entrance to the tomb… I know where to dig. And I can assure you that the tomb remains intact."

I could only smile when the guide offered this tidbit of information. For once, I felt something other than apathy in regards to the expedition. I daresay I now find myself excited for the future.

12th of July, 1901:
The guide began this morning by tracing deep lines in the sand between the cairns, and we discovered that they were not placed there by happenstance; indeed, their locations were no coincidence at all.

When the guide had finished drawing his lines, it formed an almost ominous pentagram. As a god-fearing man I at once assumed the guide was playing a trick on me; that the heathen would think I’d overlook such blatant blasphemy due to my eagerness to find the tomb drove me to yet another frenzied beating.

My anger eventually subsided long enough for the guide to explain, through broken teeth, that the center of the pentagram was where we were to dig. He apologized profusely to me, but it fell on deaf ears. My focus was now entirely on the excavation at hand.

So now we dig.

21st of July, 1901:
I have ignored this record as of late; my eagerness to discover this tomb has taken precedence, and I find that writing has slipped my mind. Two of our expedition have died due to heatstroke, and the men feel I am to blame, for I work them day and night with very little rest in between. I say to them: what of it? They are tools to be used, nothing more.

A quick flash of my pistol quelled any ideas of mutiny the men might have had.

In any event, our digging has finally shown some progress. We’ve found an entrance of sorts, and brushing away the years of sand has revealed some ancient images chiseled in the stone. They’re hard to make out at present, and I cannot say for certain whether they can be restored through modern means. Still, it’s a start, and it bodes well for the future.

28th of July, 1901:
Success! A week has passed since uncovering the entrance to the tomb, and a round-the-clock schedule of digging has allowed us to pass through the collapsed entrance. I can only describe the scene as… enrapturing. What I initially believed to be a haphazard assortment of stacked rocks has led us to a vast underground tomb, complete with ornate treasures and ancient artifacts that would drive an archaeologist to the point of ecstasy.

My God… words cannot describe what I have witnessed deep beneath the sands. The entire tomb is intact, with the exception of a few collapsed passages. The amount of treasure and valuables here is staggering, worth more than I can even begin to comprehend.

The lack of enthusiasm from my team has only assured me that these natives are, indeed, savages. How can they look upon these wonders with indifference? Some even show signs of fear. Oh, I’ve spent far too long with them. Part of me wishes I had taken a good Englishman along for this journey, to act as my second; Hell, even an Irishman would suit me better than this lot.

I digress. Even if my cut from the spoils is minuscule, I believe I can live out the rest of my days in luxury.

30th of July, 1901:
We have retrieved a decent amount of treasure from the tomb, but my team seems hesitant to journey any further. When pressed as to why, they cannot explain, and they are reduced to bumbling children when I try to force them forward.

As such, I decided to venture in further by myself.

The passageway leading deeper into the tomb eventually became so narrow that I was forced to walk sideways; even then my chest and back scraped against the walls. Claustrophobia halted my progress momentarily, though I managed to steady my resolve and push forward.

Several minutes later, I came across a vast room. The burial chamber of whoever was entombed here, I assumed. My torch cast barely enough light to make out any features of the area, so I had to explore at a sluggish pace, taking in every detail in small portions.

Most of the artifacts here bore a resemblance to those found near the entrance; they too were exquisitely preserved. The paintings on the wall were of better quality as well… one in particular I have attempted to sketch on the following page.

I eventually moved towards the far end of the room, where I came upon a horrifying sight. A preserved body – a mummy, in every sense of the word – was propped against the wall. Its body was held in place by a collection of sharp daggers, which somehow, impossibly, pierced the stone wall.

I almost laughed aloud. Was this old corpse the reason my men became so fearful?

As I drew my torch closer to the corpse, I could see a slight glimmer from within its open mouth. Its visage, I will admit, radiated a sense of terror – for the expression was that of a man crying out in agony, his final moments forever preserved.

I hesitantly reached into the mouth and pulled out what was inside: a small, jet-black rock with jagged edges. I find myself baffled trying to discern why it was in the mummy’s mouth to begin with, as well as what significance it holds. It appears to be nothing more than a rock; an interesting rock, the likes of which I have never seen, but a rock nonetheless.

I returned to camp without issue, though my men seemed distant when they saw me. I avoided revealing my discovery to any of them.

I suppose that about wraps up the excavation. We’ll try to gather some more things before departing. I am eager to begin my new life of luxury, and to leave this Hell of a desert behind.

serpent.png

August 1st, 1901:
A few more days and we’ll be ready to begin our long journey back. I have mused over my findings and have begun to wonder their significance.

To begin: the drawing I sketched earlier, which was found in several places across the tomb. I suppose the bottom half appears to be a snake, and the top is easily identifiable: the sun, which is featured predominately in tombs such as these. What does the drawing imply, then? Is it the sun forcing its weight down upon a serpent of some kind? I am too unfamiliar with Egyptian lore to even begin to ponder an explanation.

More confusing is the stone I retrieved from the mummy’s mouth. Two nights ago, as I was snuffing the fire in my tent, the stone (which was concealed in my breast pocket) began to heat up… as though it was absorbing the nearby flames.

I decided to test what would happen if the stone were to be placed into the fire itself. My experiment occurred last night, and the result was spectacular. When dropped into the flames, the stone immediately began to glow a deep red. Suddenly, the fire was snuffed – like it had never been there at all!

I don’t know what I’ve found here, but I believe this is the item my employer was searching for.

August 2nd, 1901:
Nightmares. Terrible, terrible nightmares. I’ve looked upon my sketch once more and I see in it the Sabbatic Goat. Baphomet! It was there all along. The serpent is no serpent at all; what I thought was a mouth was in fact a hand. The orb? No sun… a skull? A head?
Am I seeing things?

August 3rd, 1901:
He calls to me. I see a man screaming, bringing up his hands to block the blow of knives. They pierce his flesh and the blades emerge bloodied. He screams some more, and the screams echo throughout the room. After agonizing minutes that feel like hours, he slumps against the wall and finally comes to rest.

The corpse walks to me. He puts a hand on my shoulder – a sickly, decaying hand, with maggots writhing in open, festering wounds. His eyes are hollow sockets; in his mouth rests a heart, a human heart, which beats with each shallow breath he takes.

His grip is tight; I cannot escape. I struggle valiantly, to no avail.

August 4th, 1901:
They have discovered the stone. It was the guide who found it. The bastard went through my belongings while I was out last night – though where I went, I cannot say for certain; perhaps a case of noctambulism? – and now they have become a mutinous mob.

I have disposed of one of them with my pistol and I have barricaded myself in my tent. Damn them all.

They keep shouting about the “right of the Undying King.” What in God’s name does that mean?

I cannot hold out for much longer. But damn if I won’t go down without a fight. Teach these savages a

(It abruptly ends here).

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