Chris Evans


Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase

Part Seven-

“We documented every inch of the wall,” Eesha reassured Ahmed. “Believe me, Mr. Al Hazzan, Mr. Ahlid isn’t interested in fortune or fame. He wants to preserve the past so our children can be told about it and maybe their future will be different.”

“Hmm…” Ahmed was obviously no longer paying attention to them. He’d walked on through the opening in the wall and stood in the middle of the room they’d discovered.

Jamil gestured for Eesha to return to her own unit. She nodded then left while Ahmed turned slowly in a circle. Jamil waited, wanting to see if Ahmed spotted the most important thing in the room.

The man froze when he faced the far corner then slowly edged closer to it. He crouched down in the dirt to study the marks carved into the wall. Ahmed reached out and Jamil was about to say something, but Ahmed stopped a few inches away from the wall.

“Do you know what that says?” Ahmed glanced back over his shoulder at Jamil.

“No. Same language as the jars,” he pointed out.

“A prince was held here,” Ahmed murmured as he studied the lines of writing.

“You can really read it.” Jamil was overjoyed. Now they’d be able to find out who—or what—was in those canopic jars.

Ahmed inclined his head slightly but kept his attention on the writing. “There were three people kept in this room by a great enemy. A prince, his wife and a son. They were here for four days then on the fifth day, they took the son.”

He frowned. “That doesn’t make sense. From what we know about the Nabataeans, they didn’t have that kind of trouble with the other nations around them.”

“They weren’t Nabataean,” Ahmed told him, suddenly standing then moving fast from the room as though he couldn’t take being closed in like that any more.

Jamil had to almost run to keep up with the long legged man. “Wait. What do you mean they weren’t Nabataeans? Who the hell were they then?”

Ahmed skidded to a stop at the top of the stairs leading down to the entrance yard. He inhaled deeply then exhaled as though he was cleansing his lungs. Jamil came up next to him and rested his hand on Ahmed’s arm.

“Are you all right? If you have claustrophobia, why did you go in there?”

Shaking his touch away, Ahmed cleared his throat. “I’m not claustrophobic. Hell, if I was, I wouldn’t have even gotten an inch inside that place.”

“Then what’s wrong?” Jamil shook his head. “Was there something else you aren’t telling me about that writing?”

“There’s nothing wrong.” Ahmed rubbed his chin then checked his watch. “I need to go. May I meet you tomorrow at the museum to look at the canopic jars?”

Jamil hadn’t planned on going into the city for the next couple of days, but since Ahmed asked and it seemed like he needed to see those jars right away, he said, “Yes. I’ll meet you there around ten?”

Ahmed nodded. “That will be fine. I’m sorry to be leaving so quickly, but I forgot about an important meeting I needed to attend.”

“No problem. It was good meeting you and I’ll see you in the morning.” He held out his hand to shake Ahmed’s.

“Certainly.” Ahmed bowed slightly before leaving.

Jamil stood in the entrance of the treasury, watching Ahmed stroll away. He wasn’t sure what had happened in the antechamber, but whatever Ahmed read on the wall had upset him, no matter what he actually said. He was going to have to see if he could the truth out of the man, though he wasn’t exactly sure how to go about that.

“He’s a bit intimidating, isn’t he?” Eesha joined him.

“Definitely, but he knows what he’s talking about. He could read the writing, Eesha. We could have a breakthrough on this dig. He said they weren’t Nabataeans though.” Jamil shot her a confused glance. “I didn’t think any other people lived in this place.”

Eesha shrugged. “There are many things I don’t know about Mr. Al Hazzan, but I do know he’s the best expert on ancient Middle Eastern societies and peoples. I’m not sure how he’s come to have the knowledge he does. Maybe some of it comes from his own people. There are few of his tribe left wandering the desert. Most have moved into the cities and settled down. Yet they have histories we’ve never heard and their ancestors were in contact with people we’ve never encountered before.”

“And ones that we’ll never learn anything about because we can’t read what they wrote, or they didn’t have a written language,” Jamil muttered.

“Right. I’ve told my professors over and over that we need to go and talk to the nomadic tribes. We need to learn their stories and legends before they disappear as their elders die.” Eesha gestured to the canyon around them.

“They won’t listen to you because none of them care about the nomadic tribes. They want the big name discoveries and finds, just like they get in Egypt.” Jamil rubbed his hands over his jeans. “It gets them the money.”

“True. That’s why I go out on my own during the weekends and talk to the elders. I ask them about their legends.” She pointed in the direction Ahmed had taken. “They speak of a group of men who live forever. They are brothers fighting to save the world from the greedy and evil.”

Jamil lifted his eyebrows at her. “And you think Ahmed is one of those men?”

She chuckled. “No, but he is such a man who will do what he must to protect the land he comes from and the people who gave birth to him. Al Hazzan is a vocal opponent of allowing national treasures to leave the countries they are from. He fights to make places historical sites to keep companies from destroying them for monetary reasons instead of cultural.”

“You make him sound like he’s a Robin Hood, only he’s keeping the artifacts for the national identity and people of his country. Yet he strikes me as a rich man.”

“Being rich doesn’t mean he’d steal from national sites. I know he has purchased some artifacts that have come onto the black market. Once he receives the object, he returns it to whichever country it came from.” Eesha wrapped her arms around her waist as they turned to go back inside. “Don’t discount Ahmed Al Hazzan as a rich man who dabbles in ancient societies. He knows far more than many others do. It would do you well to cultivate his interest in the site.”

Jamil wanted to cultivate more than Ahmed’s interest in the site. He wanted the man interested in him as well. That’s not appropriate at all.

One Response “Anubis”

  1. can’t wait for the next excerpt! thanks, TA 🙂

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