Aster: Tomb

Eddy's enthusiasm was contagious. By the time we had reached the bottom of the gangplank Jericho and I were almost as excited as she. Jacer followed placidly behind, looking blankly around, uninterested in the city or anything else. I did my best to ignore him, as it seemed to prevent the tumult of emotion from welling up. With her constant stream of chatter Eddy told us of the ancient tombs and the temples, and of course the pyramids, being excavated and open for tours.

"Oh, we must go on a tour of the pyramids! I hear they are simply fantastic!" She insisted. Jericho shot me a sideways glance and shook his head slightly.

"I don't know if that's a good plan, the sun is going to set soon, we should find our lodgings for the night..." He said. Eddy wouldn't be dissuaded.

"We must go!" She cried. "I'm sure they would be amazing, we need to see them tonight! I've waited my whole life..." Jericho held up a hand to stem her babbling.

"Fine, fine, I think I know someone. But I am warning you, the pyramids at night..." Another glance at me. "They are not for the faint of heart."

I bristled slightly at the jibe and would have said something about it, but again, Eddy paid no mind to the warning and pulled on Jericho's arm.

"Thank you! This is going to be fantastic! Don't you worry, I'm not afraid of anything!"

I gnawed on my lower lip, nervous about the interrupted warnings, and remembering what Jericho had said on the ship.

I had a bad feeling about this.

Jericho arranged a tour for us with a short, round man wearing a strange headdress. The front of the garment had a serpent sticking out at us, and covered his head like a hood. The rest of his outfit was less conspicuous. He wore a light colored robe with a blue vest over it, fastened by a wide dark belt. He carried a long stick with a hoot at one end and waved it around a lot as he spoke.

"The pyramids were built thousands of years ago, to house the kings of old on their journey to the afterlife. We've had quite a hard time getting through these, they are built like mazes you know!" He chuckled, beckoning for us to follow him. "Don't worry I know these tunnels like the back of my hand!"

We walked up a long, column lined pathway to the base of the grandest pyramid. Looking up I could see the sun pass the tip of the structure, it's descent taking it directly behind the pyramid, casting a long triangular shadow over the valley.

The tour guide lit a torch and ducked into the small opening in the pyramid's base. We followed, Eddy first, then me, then Jericho and Jacer. Jericho let out a low whistle as the torchlight flickered over paintings and relief sculpture on the wall. I leaned close to the carvings, resisting the urge to reach out and touch them. The pictures seemed to move in the light, it was so hard to believe they had been painted thousands of years before. The pictures seemed to be telling a story, of fancy parties, and boat rides, with beautiful men and women shown together.

Some carvings had human heads, others animal. I didn't know what it meant but I was too absorbed in the artistry to ask questions.

Further along, I'd realized I'd taken the lead. I turned to look back at Eddy and gestured her forward. She didn't notice, looking at a series of carvings along the wall.

The scenes were interesting, a human man being led by a dog headed man, a set of scales, and a boat. Eddy approached the paintings.

"What's this all about?" She asked. The tour guide was only too eager to answer her question.

"It is the judgement process milady, the king here is being led by Anubis," he pointed to the dog headed man, "to the place where Ma'at will weigh his heart by the feather of truth." He pointed to the scales, then gestured to the aligator like creature below the balance. "This is Ammit, eater of the dead. He will eat the heart if it is not worthy. But," another gesture, to the boat." The kings heart is good, he sails to the afterlife."

Eddy's eyes were wide, she was amazed by the story and the carvings. I felt a familiar chill run down my spine. I realized where we were for the first time. Though it was nearly as well furnished as a palace, we were in a tomb. Tombs, were not my favorite.

I began to shake as visions of cold eyes flashed before me, the flickering torchlight did nothing to warm the shivers that ran across my skin. The carvings no longer seemed beautiful, only menacing as too-large eyes stared at me from each figure, the alligator creature seemed to snap its jaws open and shut at me. I closed my eyes, hearing Eddy and Jericho move off down the hall, talking about the story. Jacer followed them, I assumed, his footsteps as silent as the grave we were in.

Pull yourself together! I tried to give myself a pep talk, it's only a story, no need to be scared, no one else is scared, just a story, like a palace, think of palaces, with gardens and paintings of the rivers and boats... No not boats, of horses and carts, of chariot races and festivals.

With new, cheerier images floating in my mind I followed Eddy further into the tunnel. I needed to get better at this sort of thing. I needed to prove that I could be as strong as any man, so that when we found my father and brother, they would allow me to work with them. So for now, I needed to teach myself how to be brave. Fear doesn't help anyone, bravery does.

The End

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