The young woman gently brushed her fingertips over the papyrus and parchment, slowly inhaling the stale air. Scrolls from Alexandria. Ancient artifacts, of literature and others, filled even the above ground tomb. Annelise withdrew her hand after a moment, gaze traveling around the room. Ornaments gleamed in the amber warmth of her lighter, casting a dim swath in the darkened room. Scattered beads rolled across the sandstone as she moved, some crumbling to colored dust.
Annelise paused, noticing an open vat of still valuable oil, as well as a long extinguished torch. The archeologist passed her lighter to her other hand, grasping the worn wooden handle and lifting it from its holder. Sour odor drifted upwards as she dipped it, before holding her flame near it. Fire sparked, and then burst into existence.
Her crystal blue gaze moved along the now brightened room, inquisitive. Still getting over the shock and excitement of her find, knowing the rarity of undisturbed tombs. So few remained untouched, already ravaged by thieves – Ancient and modern alike. Tutkhamun, young pharaoh though he may have been, had been one of the select few who’s eternal rest had survived in peace for decades, millenniums. Yet, there was no inscription, no name. Another pharaoh lost in the sands of time, perhaps.
The heels of her boots clicked on the sandstone as she moved forward once more, this time halting at the foot of the stairs. Carefully testing her weight on the desert rock, before making her way down. Silence surrounded her, lacking all of the supposed animal life other’s had found in tombs. A thin layer of dust and sand covered almost every step, though causing her to pause upon reaching the last one. Annelise brushed a loose umber lock out of her eyes as she raised her torch, almost but not quite touching her hand to the hieroglyphics decorating the wall.
Yet, while she was well versed enough in the language to piece things together, she could only make out one longstanding symbol. Ankh, the mark of eternal life. Her eyes shifted to the floor as she shifted her weight, feeling her boots brush something that felt quite different. She quirked a brow upon seeing nothing, before cautiously continuing to the next room.
What was this? Was it really a tomb? It was lacking almost all of the usual burial markings and gifts, even the artistic hieroglyphics that told the tales of lives. Instead, olden writing was painted onto and carved into the walls. The flickering of her torch brought her attention back to the corridor ahead of her, realizing she had been lowering it in thought. Annelise quickly raised it once more, though this time keeping it level. Writing continued to line her path, inscribed up and down almost every part of the wall. Two ushabti
caught her eye as she turned, placed on either side of an opening. Usually tomb guardians, however, now she was not so certain. Their emerald eyes seemed to watch the intruding archeologist, golden scarab necklaces on the statues gleaming under the light.
Annelise’s hand lightly touched the winged scarab at her own throat, resting just above her collar bones. Her inspiration, her motivation. And now, once extinct unease was settling in her. Archeology and mythology always interested her. Why should she be finding this particular place intimidating, unsettling?
Shrugging it away, almost forcefully, the young woman slowly walked through the opening. Tensing slightly, upon seeing lit candles on the far side of the room. This time; proceeding more cautiously. The area had shown no signs of entrance outside, yet candles did not remain lit forever. Her eyes suddenly widened in astonishment – The faint pinprick of light moving further away with each step. “… Hello?” she inquired softly, shattering the silence. How had someone else gotten in? It wasn’t possible for the deities to remain ‘alive’. The days of olden priesthood were long over, too. And, even more importantly, who was it?
Almost inhuman curiosity now spurred the archeologist to continue following the light, against her better judgment. Annelise’s breath was steadily becoming shallower the longer she walked, even the stale air now coming welcome to her. With each corridor, her torch sinking lower and lower. Every turn leading her deeper into what seemed to be a labyrinth, countless other corridors springing up into her view almost every time.
By the time the light finally halted, weariness plagued her. Weak flames licked at the dark air, almost reduced to mere smoldering embers. Amber and now almost greenish light emitted from it, casting a pallid glow. “Hello?” she tried again, knowing that she was not imagining things. Lights did not move on their own; nor did candles stay lit for millenniums.
Another glow, however, caught her attention. A dark maroon. She slowly moved forward again, finally halting in front of what seemed to be an altar, or shrine. Vaguely clear writing still climbed the walls, though unreadable still. Her breath caught in her throat as she touched a hand to the large raised tablet, this time halting in shock.
“Feather of Ma’at … The ankh-staff of Anubis?” Annelise breathed, almost gaping at it. The lean staff was rested diagonally across the entire tablet, a faint maroonish aura emanating from the artifact. As if magical, bringing olden myths to life. She hesitantly finished extending her hand, fingertips only brushing the tempered metal.
Darkness engulfed her.
A faint whisper reaching her ears as she succumbed to unconsciousness, vaguely aware of a fine pelt brushing against what little skin was exposed. “… Perhaps it is time to join us, Banafrit …”