Anubis

Anubis

 

Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase

Part Eleven-

He dropped the paper he’d been studying and glared at Jamil, who laughed and shook his head.

“Dude, you’re jumpy today. Maybe I should wear bells or something to let you know when I’m near,” Jamil suggested.

“No. I was thinking about something else,” Anubis said, forcing his mind back to the present and not dwelling on his past memories. He couldn’t afford to get caught up in them. At least not right then.

“What had you thinking so hard?” Jamil pulled out the chair next to Anubis, then sat. He propped his chin on his hand as he stared at him.

“Just old memories of when I last heard this language spoken,” Anubis admitted. He didn’t have to say when that was.

“Did your tribe used to speak it?”

He could see the gleam in Jamil’s eyes. The man wanted to study Anubis, to learn all he could from him, and while Anubis would usually be willing to talk about the things his ‘tribe’ had passed down to him, the secrets of Petra were his to keep.

“Yes. The young people of my tribe are scattered throughout the world now, but there are a few elders who still speak this language and know our stories. When I was young, I understood the importance of keeping our past alive, so I begged them to teach me.” Anubis stared at the jars, but he was seeing Rahkoum, his grandfather, frowning at him when he pronounced a word wrong. His knuckles stung in phantom pain from being struck by a reed if he spoke poorly while talking to his grandfather.

“My grandfather was a scholar, as much as any of my tribe could be called one,” he clarified. “I guess you would call them storytellers nowadays. He was the one who taught me.”

Jamil tilted his head. “You were close to your family?”

Anubis huffed. “Not really. I was close to my grandfather until I came of age, then I was needed to guard the herds and go on raids.”

He bit his tongue. The nomadic tribes still around in this century didn’t raid any more. Now that the world was more civilized, those who lived in the cities frowned upon those activities. Hell, most of them thought nomads were heathens and beneath their city brothers.

“Does your tribe pray to Allah?”

“Are they Islamic or heathens who worship the old gods? Is that what you want to know?” Anubis turned to meet Jamil’s curious gaze. “They have accepted the new religion.”

“New religion? Islam has been around for centuries. It isn’t new,” Jamil pointed out.

Anubis nodded, acknowledging Jamil’s statement. “That’s true, but my tribe has been around since before Mohammed established Islam. We accepted Allah as our true god, yet we still respect and honor the old gods that called the desert home.”

“Covering your bases, huh?”

“You could say that.” Anubis looked back at the paper he’d written the inscription down on. “The writing states who the jars belong to and when they died.”

Jamil hummed, obviously trying to encourage Anubis to keep talking. He didn’t want to say anything more, but he needed to stay in Jamil’s good graces in case the man discovered more artifacts. There might be things uncovered Anubis needed to take back to Scotland and keep out of enemies’ hands.

“The organs in this jar,” he pointed to the larger more elaborately decorated one. “They belong to Prince Okilma’s wife. I’m not entirely sure when she died or how. It doesn’t say, but she was only nineteen.”

“How do you know that? And who the hell is Prince Okilma? There’s no record of him in any books I’ve read.” Jamil pursed his lips as he thought.

“His reign wasn’t very long,” Anubis muttered. “The smaller jar holds the organs of Prince Okilma’s young son. The boy was only five years old when he died.”

Jamil leaned back. “How do you know that?”

Swallowing, he tried to think about how to cover up what he said. There was no way he could know that. “I might have heard something in my tribe’s legends about the prince.”

“Really?” Jamil’s eyes lit up. “I would love to hear all those legends, especially if they’re about a previously unknown prince. At least, we have proof that he existed.”

“Actually what you have is my word about what this writing says,” Anubis informed him while gesturing toward the canopic jars. “I could be making this all up.”

Jamil laughed and shrugged. “You could be, but you wouldn’t have the reputation of being a honest man if you were going to lie to me about anything. Plus UNESCO wouldn’t allow you to work as a consultant for them if they doubted you.”

That was true. Yet Anubis had every intention of fudging his stories to make sure Jamil didn’t learn the entire truth of what had gone on all those thousands of years ago. Luckily, Jamil would never think Anubis’s knowledge was anything other than legends, not first hand.

“Do you know anyone else who could collaborate what you think this says? Are there any of your tribal elders near that I could talk to?” Jamil eyed him with a rather knowing look in his eyes.

“Unfortunately the answer is no to both of those questions. The elders of my tribe wouldn’t come near here or Petra for that matter. To them, spirits haunt the place and they see no reason to visit there. There are very few elders left who read this language. My grandfather was one of the last and he died years ago.” Anubis wasn’t lying about that. He just kept out how many years it had been since his grandfather lived.

Jamil swore softly. “Damn. Well, I guess we’ll have to go on your translation, though I’ll start sending out emails. Maybe there’s someone we don’t know about out there who can read it.”

“Maybe.” He wasn’t worried about that.

::I’m going to send Thoth to you. He’ll be an expert and also be there to support you if need be.::

::You don’t have to do that. I’ll be fine.:: He didn’t want one of his brothers there, watching over his shoulder.

Isis’s sigh echoed through his mind. ::Jamil wants proof that what you said is the truth. This way he’ll have it without anyone else interfering.::

He didn’t argue, knowing it was worthless. Isis did what he wanted and the only one who wasn’t subjected to his manipulations was Sekhmet.

New Cover and tattoo

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This is the cover for the last Delarosa Secrets book, Cold Truth. It features Victor and Perez. It’ll be out in June. :)

Also, I got my newest tattoo worked on yesterday, so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to work on Anubis, but I will be posting something tomorrow. :)  I thought I’d share a picture of what I got done.

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Have a great day.

Anubis

Anubis

 

Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase

Part Ten-

And for centuries now, they’d been warriors for their gods and goddesses. Throughout the years they’d lived, doing whatever they were bid, they’d learned how important education was to make a person feel like they were worth something.

“I’m impressed, Mr. Al Hazzan.” Jamil tossed a smile back at him before stopping in front of a door. “I haven’t met a lot of people in your position who would care for a museum guard’s son.”

Shrugging, Anubis entered the room after Jamil opened the door and gestured for him to go ahead. “A person in my position?”

Jamil cleared his throat, looking slightly embarrassed. “I guess I’m assuming you’re rich and I haven’t had good experiences with rich people thinking they can make decisions about my digs because they’re funding it.”

“I can see that, but I don’t plan on telling you how to run your dig as long as you’re obeying the rules and guidelines laid down by UNESCO.” Anubis held up his hand when Jamil seemed about to say something. “And so far I haven’t seen anything that makes me think you’re doing anything wrong.”

“Thanks.”

“Where are the jars?” As much as he didn’t want to see them, he glanced around the room to see where they might be. There were tables and shelves covered with boxes, fragments, chards and ceramics.

“Over here.” Jamil motioned to the far corner. “I had them locked up in the vault because I didn’t want to risk something happening to them. Only a few people have permission to touch them.”

Anubis took a deep breath, straightening his shoulders as Jamil unlocked the safe room. It was going to be hard, no matter whose remains were in those jars. He was afraid it was the Prince and the heir. He had no connection to the Prince’s wife, though he didn’t like the idea of her being killed either.

He watched as Jamil lifted a box from a back shelf then brought it over to the closest table. Anubis caught the gloves Jamil tossed at him before reaching in to pick up the first jar. He carried it to the nearest light and set it down gently.

Leaning over it, he held his fingers over the writing and traced the letters without touching them. He didn’t want to take a chance on wiping something. But there was still dirt on some spots.

“Can I brush the dirt off?” He didn’t want to overstep his bounds, just in case Jamil wanted to be the one who cleaned it.

“Here.” Jamil held out a small paintbrush. “This should work fine. I don’t think anything will come off that we don’t want gone.”

Anubis held his breath as he carefully ran the brush over the writing, doing his best to reveal the letters. There was a tray underneath the jar to collect the dirt and debris. It would be analyzed to make sure there wasn’t something important in it. Like paint or ink.

Once the letters were clear, he stepped back to exhale and said, “Do you want to take some pictures before I read it?”

“What?” Jamil jerked. “Oh right. Yeah, I should snap some then you can translate and write it down for us. I need to go grab a camera. There’s a notebook and some pencils over in that desk in that corner. I guess you can start the translation while I’m gone.”

“Fine.” Anubis watched as Jamil left before he went to get the paper and pencils.

::Are you ready for whatever you might find writing on those jars?::

He swallowed and nodded, even though he knew Isis couldn’t see him. ::I’m as ready for this as I’ll ever be. To be honest, I never really expected them to have lived after I was killed. Never trust your enemies.::

Isis’s sigh rang through his head. ::We all learned that lesson the hard way. Contact us if you need us. Your brothers are here for you, plus we all know what you’ve been through.::

::I will.::

He felt Isis leave his mind as he sat. After tilting the lamp so the light didn’t shine directly on the jar, but gave off enough reflection for him to still see the writing, he closed his eyes.

“Are you okay?”

Anubis jerked, not having heard Jamil return to the room. Thank God, I didn’t have the jar in my hand. That would’ve been disastrous.

“Sorry. I didn’t realize you hadn’t heard me come back.” Jamil touched his shoulder lightly then held the camera up. “I’ll grab a couple of photos then you can get working.”

“Okay.” He noticed how his hands shook, so he tucked them under his thighs. He’d have to get a grip. Jamil couldn’t know the jars were more than just an intriguing discovery for Anubis. “Did I do a good enough job cleaning it off?”

“Oh yeah. I’ll probably have some of my grad students go back through and do a more thorough cleaning, but it’s good.” Jamil snapped several pictures before stepping back. “I’m going to go download these on one of the museum’s computers and get them labeled. You get to translating.”

Anubis chuckled. “Yes, boss.”

Jamil joined in for a few seconds then he left again.

The laughter helped ease Anubis enough that he could look at the writing without being too emotional. He started translating it, the scratch of the pencil across the paper filling the room as he mouthed the words to himself. He didn’t allow time for himself to think about what it said. That would come after he was done.

Time slipped away and he was back in the anteroom listening to his prince talking with an emissary from one of the visiting societies. He’d stood in the background, watching for any sign of danger from the strangers, yet his prince’s presence was foremost in his mind. He always knew where the man was, even in a crowd of people.

“So what does it say?”

Weekend….

Sorry…again real life got to me and I found the hours running out. :( I didn’t get to write a second installment for Anubis this week. I’ll do better next week.

I hope you all have a good weekend.

Anubis

Anubis

 

Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase

Part Nine-

Anubis glanced at his watch for the third time in the last five minutes. Where the hell was Jamil? They were supposed to meet at the museum by ten and it was already five after. Not that he needed the archaeologist to escort him in to see the jars. With his credentials, Anubis could stroll in and demand to be allowed to examine them without any supervision.

Yet he’d wanted to try and play by the rules. He didn’t want to antagonize Jamil before they even started working together. It made things a lot harder when he had to go above people to their supervisors and get things done.

“I’m so sorry,” Jamil panted as he raced up to Anubis. He bent over, propping his hands on his knees while he caught his breath. “I ended up staying out at the site way longer than I planned last night. Then there was an emergency out there early this morning and I had to go back.”

“An emergency? What happened?” Anubis was no longer annoyed by Jamil’s tardiness. His concern was Petra and the other artifacts hidden in its undiscovered rooms.

Jamil held up a finger and kept Anubis waiting while he calmed down. “Two of our security guards disappeared last night and some weird offering was left in the room where the writing is.”

Anubis wanted to shake the man, but clenched his hands instead. “Do you have a picture of what was left? Did you remove it already?”

“We removed it, but not before we documented everything. Took pictures. Drew it out. Then I had Sandy and Eesha bag it up. I brought it back with me for the professors here to look at.” He glanced at Anubis. “You should take a look as well. It has the same weird writing on it.”

Startled, Anubis jerked. There shouldn’t be anyone else alive who knows that language. Everyone else died shortly after I was killed. He nodded. “Yes. I would love to examine it along with the other artifacts you’ve dug up.”

“Come with me then,” Jamil motioned for him to follow then froze. He laughed. “Actually, you’re more likely to be allowed in then I am. I get patted down and my bag searched when I enter and leave. Even though I’m here at least four times a week.”

“They have to be thorough. Priceless antiquities are big on the black market. I’ve seen even the most ethical man be tempted to make some hard cash that way.” Anubis shrugged. “So many of our oldest societies have lost treasures to unscrupulous dealers and diggers.”

Jamil inclined his head in agreement. “I wouldn’t do that. I cherish the past too much.”

“You wouldn’t do it now, but you never know what the future holds for you and what you might be driven to.” Anubis smiled at the guard watching them approach the main desk at the museum. “Ah, Kalid. It’s good to see you again. How is your family?”

Kalid’s grim face lit up. “They are all doing very well, Mr. Al Hazzan. Thank you so much for asking and for putting in a good word for my eldest son at Cambridge.”

“Bright minds should be give every chance to flourish,” Anubis said as he bowed. “I understand he is doing quite well there.”

“He loves it.” Kalid looked over at Jamil. “Mr. Ahlid, it is good to see you as well. I had the items you brought with you taken to the storage room where the other artifacts from Petra are.”

“Thank you, Kalid.” Jamil stood while Kalid went through his bag then ran a wand over him to make sure he wasn’t carrying any weapons.

Anubis didn’t undergo that much scrutiny, though his credentials were analyzed and scanned into the computer. When he came back clear, Kalid waved them through.

As they headed to the elevator that would take them to the lower levels of the museum, Anubis felt Jamil’s gaze on him. It wasn’t until they were in the elevator car that he met Jamil’s eyes.

“Yes?”

“You recommended Kalid’s son for a position at Cambridge,” Jamil said, his tone more of question then a statement.

Anubis nodded. “Not a position. Samir wants to be an astrophysicist and Cambridge is one of the best places in the world to study that. I merely wrote a letter to the head of the department, recommending he take a closer look at Samir’s schooling and his potential. There were only three scholarships to be given out the year Samir was old enough to go.”

Jamil exhaled. “Your letter had a lot of influence, I’m sure. But why would the head of the astrophysics department listen to an antiquities consultant?”

Chuckling, Anubis said, “He listens to me because I donate money to the different departments there, not just the historical ones. I believe education is important, no matter what the focus is on.”

“Did you give the money for Samir’s scholarship then?” Jamil led the way out of the elevator when it stopped at the basement level.

Anubis followed him through the dimly lit hallways, trying not to let his gaze drop lower then the middle of Jamil’s back. He needed to stay focused on the artifacts and not on how fine the man’s ass looked in those faded jeans. He gave himself a mental slap then answered his question. “I might have given the seeds of money that grew into the scholarship. I was not the only donor though.”

That was true. The other six of his brothers gave money as well and the grant they endowed for Cambridge wasn’t for any specific area of study. As Anubis had said, they believed in education period. It didn’t matter to them who studied what. It wasn’t like they wanted to only help out those who studied Ancient Middle Eastern Cultures or anything like that.

Even when they were still alive in their old lives, they were each fascinated by other things besides the warrior path. Yet none of them had ever been given a chance to be other then what they were, warriors for their kings and queens.

Two New Books…

I had two new books come out this weekend. On Friday, Cead Mile Milte came out. It’s a St. Patrick’s Day story. :) Here’s the link to the MLR page for it, but it’s available at ARe and Amazon as well. :)

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And Trailing Air, book 4 in the Preternatural series and Rover’s story, is out at Amber Allure. Here’s the link to it.

TrailingAir

 

 

If you get a chance to read either or both of them, I hope you enjoy them. :) Also, have an awesome Monday, everyone.

Anubis

Chris Evans

 

Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase

Part Eight-

As soon as Ahmed rounded the edge of the canyon, he took a deep breath then shifted. His jackal took over, some long remembered memories surfacing to take him across the desert. He didn’t fight the animal part of his soul.

It had hurt so much and been so very hard to walk up those steps, through the entrance. He’d been swamped with memories and emotions that he’d thought he’d gotten rid of.

Then Jamil had taken him back into the anteroom behind the main meeting room. When he saw the writing on the wall, it was like he’d been punched in the gut, though it shouldn’t have shocked him. Ahmed had known their enemies weren’t to be trusted.

Why did you do it, my prince? Why did you trust them to keep their word after they killed me? They killed you, your sister and your son. Is it your organs in that canopic jar? If I were to touch it, would I hear the last screams you made as they killed you?

The jackal shook its head, not liking the foreign thoughts dancing around his head. He only wanted to run and hunt, then sleep under some brush during the hottest part of the day. He inhaled deeply of the arid breeze with sand particles floating in it.

::It is nice to go home once in a while.:: Isis’s voice eased into his head.

::My jackal is happy only because he knows this is where he was born. He doesn’t remember anything that happened to me before our souls merged.::

::Maybe our lives would’ve been easier if the gods had erased our memories when they changed us. That way we wouldn’t judge our new world on what happened to us in the past.::

Anubis gave a mental sigh. ::Yet we probably wouldn’t be as determined to keep the world safe if we didn’t remember the evil done to us. It’s hard to care.::

::That’s true. I’ll talk to you tomorrow about the canopic jars and whatever else this archaeologist has discovered.::

::His name is Jamil Ahlid.::

There was a ripple of surprise through his brain as Isis tried to put the name to the image of the archaeologist he’d seen.

::I know. It’s a little odd, but I’m sure there’s a good story to go along with that name.::

::Maybe you should spend some time learning Jamil’s story.::

::Are you trying to set me up?:: He snorted, then promptly sneezed when dust flew up his nose.

Isis disappeared from his mind and Anubis curled his lip in a jackal grin. The scent of a desert hare filled his nose, signaling that such a creature hid near by. His animal wanted to go for a chase, though he wasn’t hungry. It was just the thrill of the hunt and being able to straight his legs.

Anubis took off, leaping over rocks and dodging around shorts shrubs. He surprised the hare that took off further into the desert. His jackal yipped then dashed off after it.

* * * * *

“Hey Jamil, come here,” Sandy called, excitement tingng her voice.

He shot to his feet, thinking she’d found some new artifact, but when he went to find her, he saw her standing outside. “What are you doing out here? I thought you were digging near the amphitheater.”

“I was, but someone saw something while they were coming in. They videoed it.” She tapped some buttons on a phone then handed it to him. “I think you’ll like this one.”

“I don’t have time to watch a video, Sandy. I have to go into the city to meet Mr. Al Hazzan tomorrow, so I won’t be here to help with the units,” he told her, taking the phone from her anyway.

His eyes were immediately drawn to the life-and-death chase going on in the video. A large jackal hunted a small desert hare. There were spectacular leaps and lunges. The agile hare dodged a last minute attack from the jackal then kicked the animal square in the face before scurrying off.

“Holy shit!” He met Sandy’s gaze with his own awed smile. “I’ve never seen something like before. Hell, I didn’t even know there were jackals in the area.”

“No one else did either.” Sandy took the phone, turning to hand it to some guy standing near her. “Can you send that to me?”

“Sure.” The guy nodded as he took it from her. “I spotted the jackal first and that’s why I stopped. It’s so odd to see them hunting during the day like this, though I got the feeling he wasn’t trying very hard to catch the rabbit. There were plenty of times he could’ve nabbed it.”

Jamil smiled. “Yeah. I got that feeling too. Maybe he just wanted to play with it.”

He encircled Sandy’s shoulders and gave her a quick hug. “Thanks for sharing that with me. Now I’m going to be looking for the jackal every time I’m coming or going from the site.”

“Wasn’t Anubis, one of the Egyptian gods, often portrayed as a jackal-headed human? He was the god of the Underworld or death, right?” Sandy hugged him back.

“Yes.” They wandered back toward the treasury. “Why?”

“Maybe we should take seeing one as a sign,” she said.

“Seeing a jackal as a harbinger of death is a good sign or a bad one?” He asked as they joined the rest of the group gathering around for a lunch break.

She shrugged. “Sure, though maybe he’s a good sign of more discoveries. More canopic jars or maybe even a burial site.”

He motioned toward the back areas of the treasury. “We won’t find them here. We’d need to search the caves for those and I’m pretty sure most of them have been found, or they won’t let us excavate them.”

Sandy shot him a glance and there was something in her eyes he’d never seen before. “You never know what we’ll find the more time we spend here.”

A shiver ran down his spine as though someone had just walked over his grave.

Thursday Work in Progress…

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I know today is supposed to be another installment of Anubis, but you’ll get that on Friday. I promise. :) I thought I’d share with you one of the new stories I’m working on. This is actually the first book in a new series as well.

The series is titled The Blood & Thorn Ranch. It mixtures cowboys and vampires…along with other various supernatural creatures. There’ll be six books in the series. This one is called Bulls and Blood, featuring Wesley, the youngest Thorn brother (The Thorns are vampires) and Mino (a human cowboy)

Here’s a little taste of it.

Bulls and Blood copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase

Excerpt-

“Wesley?” Day shouted as he barrelled into the house. “Where the hell are you?”

Wesley grimaced as he studied the figures on the spreadsheet he was working on. “Where do you think I am, Amadeus?”

Day burst into the office where Wesley spent a majority of his time. Wesley watched as Day almost bounced off the walls while muttering and waving his hands around.

“What seems to be the problem, brother dear?” Wesley leaned back in his desk chair, resting his hands on his stomach.

Day whirled to point at him. “Did you know Loman bought another bull?”

Wesley sighed. “Yes. I did know that because I’m the one who okay’d the purchase. Why are you upset about it?”

“I wanted to build another cabin, so we can bring more visitors here. Which will bring in more money.” Day threw his hands in the air. “I can’t do that when Loman’s buying more animals that we don’t do anything with.”

“First of all, did you read the email I sent to everyone last week before he got the bull?” He gave a mental eye roll when Day dropped his gaze to his feet then shuffled them against the hardwood floor. “No, you didn’t and I’m not surprised. Why do I spend this extra time trying to keep you all in the loop when none of you read what I send you?”

Day glared. “They’re so wordy. If you just put the important stuff at the beginning, I’d read it.”

“You mean the stuff that matters to you,” Wesley commented then motioned for Day to stay quiet. “If you had actually read it, you would’ve seen I’ve budgeted the money for you to build that silly cabin along with Loman’s bull. We have more than enough to make improvements to the ranch and the herd.”

“Seriously?” Day stared at him. “Why did you tell me earlier?”

“Because silly me, I thought you might have read the email. Next time, I’ll remember no one does and come see you each separately.” Wesley nodded toward the door. “Now that you know you can build it, get out of here. I’m trying to arrange the schedule for the next couple of hunts we have.”

Day folded his arms over his chest and kept looking at him. Wesley went back to the computer screen, trying not to let Day’s continued presence bother him. Finally, he glanced up and scowled.

“Why the hell are you still here?” Wesley threw the pen he held at Day.

His brother caught it then sent the pen back to him in one quick moment. He batted it out of the way, not caring where it ended up. Amadeus was the third oldest Thorn brother while Wesley was the baby, and having five older brothers was a pain he’d grown used to over the thousands of years they’d been alive.

Anubis

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.

Okay…

Don’t hate me too much. I was up until 3 this morning finishing Cold Truth to get it turned in. So I didn’t have time to write today’s installment. But I promise there will be two new ones this week…just on Wednesday and Thursday.

I hope you all have a great day.