I write these words, the last of my account, from the sick bay of the merchant ship SS Rails Bailey. An odd name for a vessel, to my mind, yet who am I to judge any more?
The last day was filled with horrors I can only now begin to think about. I had just finished my breakfast when the strange lights about the Temple of the Great Physician began to glow and pulse once more, shifting colours as they tracked back and forth across the worn stone surface. Then the noises began. Loud thumping drums, over and over, with strange whoops between them, and the voices singing words I could not understand… I have never heard the like, and I pray I never do again. As this all became overwhelming, a great voice came from the heavens, counting “One two, one two…”
The next thing I remember is Professor McCann shaking me awake. All was quiet again, and I was curled up in my tent with my fists balled so tightly that my fingers had cramped. Doctor Widdershins checked me over and we set about breaking down my camp and securing the finds for transport. An hour or so later we were on our way, down the avenue, turning right by the great cats and heading out across the desert. I slept as we rode, awakening only when we reached the sea. A mariner appeared to load everything onto the boat and I was brought here, when I slept peacefully for the first time in days.
Shin-Dig still had one surprise for me, though: as I walked from truck to gangplank, there on the shore, the side of my boot brushed against something hard. I reached down, picked it up and put it in my pocket – and that last find sits upon my bedside table even now.
Such strange days and nights pass here. When I first came to Shin-Dig I could not credit the bizarre tales I had heard from those who came before me, but now… now they all make so much sense.
The latest strange incident came while I was examining a group of fallen columns a little way in from the entrance to the complex. I wanted to get far away from the strange wreckage and the place of yesterday’s vision, and this seemed like a potentially fruitful area of study. The carvings here tell of a mighty huntress, wreathed in flames and full of wisdom. I was just coming to the end of a tale in which she appeared ready to vanquish a beast called “The Laag” when out of nowhere, I was hailed by a voice! I had thought myself alone out here, but there before me were two travellers – a lady sitting astride a camel and a man riding… well, I’m not quite sure what he was riding, to be honest. It seemed like some kind of horse, clad entirely in black armour. What was even stranger, the lady was a friend from home! We spoke for a brief while, discussing the dig and what I had found here, and then on they rode. I watched them go, marvelling at the oddness of their appearance here and as they approached the Temple of the Great Physician I saw another figure raise an arm to greet them. A terrible figure, clad all in black and bearing a scythe that he waved above his head. I was overcome, and slid into the welcome embrace of nothingness. I do not know how long I was unconscious, but when I awoke the sun was low and all signs of their passing had gone. I was back by the pillars I had been examining and beneath my head lay another curious object…
My dreams were strange last night. I blame the fumes from that mysterious wreckage.
I can see it now, beyond the scaffolding left by a previous expedition. Not archaeologists, this group – more like dinosaur hunters if the subject of their interest is anything to go by. Of course, they had entirely the wrong subject: the beast is far too shallowly covered to be any older than the ruins themselves and they only date back a few thousand years at best. The creature does hold some interest, though, for it is no small specimen.
As I examined it, I found myself seeing something out of the corner of my eye. Something that became apparently more solid as time passed, until it was fully-realised before me. An oasis. But here? It could only have been a mirage, but so much more real than I have ever seen before. As I looked upon this curious vision, my throat became suddenly dry and I was seized by an inhuman thirst – I had to have water at once! The desert around me had become a blur, and all I could see were the cool, wonderful water and luscious palm trees. I clambered my way over the rocks and the giant skeleton without so much as a thought, and staggered towards my object. I was almost there when I fell, my foot caught on something. Looking up from the sand, the vision had gone – and with it my thirst. Everything was as it had been this morning, with one exception: the strange item that tripped me. It now resides safely in my camp, and I cannot help but wonder what might have befallen me had it not interposed itself in such a timely manner…
Today has been…. remarkable. And long.
I was awoken in the early hours of the morning by the most terrible thunder. As I opened my eyes to see what was happening, a bright streak crossed the heavens and came to earth with a huge crashing sound that left my ears ringing for some time. I rose immediately, of course, and went to investigate.
What I found was so hot as to be glowing a dull red colour, and I could barely approach with twenty feet without discomfort. As I tried to look upon it from other angles, I made another new discovery – two statues had appeared by the temple which was to be the focus of my day’s work! Perfectly coloured and without signs of age, these giant tigers sat to either side of the strange altar in the temple area. Most perplexing!
I took to my day’s labours with renewed enthusiasm. The temple seems to have been a gathering-place, judging by the state of the floor, and such carvings as I found referred to a “Great Physician” – perhaps there were healing rituals here? The altar was strange, too: shades of the strange design I found under the Great Pyramid yesterday. Combined with the unnatural lights that play about the area and the constant gaze from the newly-arrived tigers, the effect was most unnerving. I dread to imagine what strange bacchanales took place here…
Although the Temple took much of my day, it did allow time for the strange device which fell from the sky to cool so I could approach and examine it more closely. A curious thing, this: clearly some kind of machine, and I am inclined to think of it as part of an aeroplane, despite no sign of propellors anywhere about the wreckage and a design the likes of which I have not seen before. Perhaps this lack of apparent propulsion is why it crashed, although I have no explanation for the terrific heat it gave off upon landing here, nor for the foul-smelling gas that leaks from it at intervals. Sadly, aeronautics is a science of which I know nothing, so I must take what notes I can and hope that they make sense to others when I return home. At least my search of the wreckage yielded a little evidence that I can take back with me along with my photographs…
A less restful night, caused in part by the strange glow that emanates from the base of Great Pyramid. While the Lesser Pyramid seems entirely mundane despite its resistance to all attempts at gaining access (including my own), this latest uncovering seems to have revealed new details at the base of its larger (and I suspect younger) sibling. Large entrances can be seen around the base, one to each side, and indeed there is an odd glow that changes colour as I watch it – a most eerie and disconcerting thing that I have not seen before.
Gaining access first from the north, I came up into a great chamber with many carvings. Deciphering these was a challenge, thanks to the somewhat unusual dialect used here, but the panels seem to tell of a great queen, Kah-Te the ever-moving, and of the various mighty labours she undertook. It would seem, in fact, that it was she who built the magnificent city whose remains surround me now. This is a wonderful discovery – and sure to cause quite the stir when I return home! But this was not my only find, oh no: another relic was here as well, hidden among the decorations within the chamber. This one needed a little gentle help from my trusty crowbar, but the hiding place yielded and the bounty is now safely back at my camp.
The lower passages, though, caused me somewhat more confusion. Or rather, a strange device hidden therein did so. The floor is of a strange material, though, and the glow that can be seen from without is also present within. Yet there, in the middle of these mysterious corridors, was a device the like of which I have never seen. I have taken notes, and hopefully Doctor Smith will be able to suggest some meaning to what I found when I return to London.
My good feeling about this dig seems to be coming true – how lucky I am that I was able to come here after all! After a wonderful night’s sleep beneath the stars, I decided to start today by examining the large statues at the city’s entrance. Given how very well-preserved they are, I thought the carvings might give me an insight into the people who built this place, and thus lead me on to greater secrets others have not yet found. Nothing there to be found, sadly, other than the decorations previously reported and so elegantly written up by Charteris and Templar a few years ago.
However, there were carvings aplenty on the nearby pillars that did reward further study. Tales of old gods, the Seeker of Dreams and the Queen of Cats, and a reference to “Lands of Fruit flowing with New Streams” that I can only imagine must relate to a kind of paradise myth. But this was not just a treasure of new knowledge, although if my translations are correct there is a distinct chance that I may have found something to add to the small body of knowledge about the lost city. No, as I followed the carvings I was rewarded twofold – first with a magnificent view from on high of the complex towards the Great and Lesser Pyramids, and then with a small artefact for my collection. A truly splendid bonus to my day’s work!
But now it is once more time to sleep. There is yet so much more to do, and enthusiasm alone will not sustain me. Thank goodness for the supplies that Mrs Miggins packed so carefully for me, since good food and plenty of sleep are the secret of a successful expedition!
Here begins the hunt centred around the Egyptian Stage. There will be seven gifts to find, one per day. Good luck!
ADDENDUM: I’ve been asked to make it clearer that the hunt itself runs over both sims of the Egyptian Stage: Shindig and KittyCatS SL9B Party Time, and I’ve added and extra directional hint and a photo of the object in situ. My apologies if any confusion was caused – I did have a hunter check the clue for me, but if you’re going to throw rocks at anyone (please use small ones, and don’t throw too hard!), throw them at me. Mea Culpa.
A mere five weeks since the telegram arrived and I found myself on the way to Shin-Dig, just when it seemed that no expedition would go at all this year. But now here I am, sitting on high with the lost city laid out before me. A city filled with mysteries that I plan to uncover, before I am forced to return to Alexandria ahead of the sandstorms which will cover this place for another year at least. The guides say I have a week, so there’s no time to slack!
But it is difficult not to stop and admire this magnificent site. From here I can see the Great Pyramid to the east, and to the north are the pillars with their mysterious crowns of light and even a few signs of those who have come before me, preserved much as the city itself has been. So many questions here, but how many answers will I find? I wish Carruthers were here, in a way. He was always a better scholar than I, although that unfortunate incident up the Limpopo means he’ll probably never leave Hastings again. A good man, even if you could hear his snoring from across the camp.
Speaking of which, I should stop writing, clamber my way back down and find somewhere to lay my bedroll for the night – I can see my shadow climbing higher and higher up the Great Pyramid to my right, making my own small temporary imprint on this ancient place. Yet although my time will be all-too short, I have a good feeling about this dig: I made my first discovery as I climbed to the very place where I am writing this! A small treasure, perhaps, but a treasure nonetheless and I have decided to take it as an omen. Who knows what tomorrow might bring?