Chapter 12 – Ma’at
The soul, which is spirit, can not dwell in dust; it is carried along to dwell in the blood. ~ St. Augustine: Decretum, IX 32, 2.
March 23, 2006, Saqqara, Egypt
It seemed as if we had walked in a complete circle through the maze of corridors and secret passageways trying to evade being caught by whatever was following us. Once again we stood in Ma’at’s burial chamber. We entered through a secret passageway. I was unaware even existed. Yet here we stood. “Stephan? You realize that we are in Ma’at’s tomb, again, which means that there is another entrance in and out of here. I guess we should be thankful. But, I thought you said a creature was after us? And what did you mean exactly, by creature? Someone like us, or something else?” Bug eyed, I stood, as still as darkness itself. I could detect no one or hear a sound except for us. My eyes vacillated between Stephan and at Queen Ma’at’s, his mother’s sarcophagus.
“Lexis, I am trying to think. I have no answers what the creature is. I merely know, that I have picked up another’s scent. I am uncertain what shared the crypt.”
“Is it possible you could be more, vague? I guess since they are gone, I should be thankful.” My cheeks sunk inward as my lips pursed. Can you at least tell us if we are still in danger?”
“I believe we are alone. For how long, I have no answer. We must hurry with your business and leave at once.” His eyes momentarily quelled.
I shook my head. I understood we needed to leave but, the Egyptologist in me wanted to stay, gather and record data. I knew while how significant the discovery. The complex, including sarcophagus, tomb, and chambers were more magnificent than King Tut’s. I wanted to study the glyphs. But, knew that was out of the question, at least for now. The objects had to stay out of the public’s hands. I only hoped, we would find the tablets and learn why Abdul and Robert were killed. My stomach was in fluttering nervously. I couldn’t relax. Out of courtesy for Stephan, I would wait, or at least until he gave the word it was okay to look inside.
My attention lay upon the magnificent details of the ancient sarcophagus. Confusion filled my head. I was being selfish. I should allow him time with his mother. Maybe he had forgotten it had been four thousand years. Or maybe it was like yesterday I had no idea.
It also occurred with me that a creature, what ever it was, was near. It would be horrible to die now. We were so close to finding out the truth. All I wanted to do was retrieve the three tablets at the very least capture photos of the tablets and high tale it out of there. Why was everything always so complicated? All his talk of creatures gave me the crawlies.
I ogled at the sarcophagus; it was constructed of fine granite not limestone as I had originally thought. Dusted off, it became nearly the same shade, ironically, as the counters in what was my kitchen, in New York. Like many of the sarcophagi this one, etched with intricate polished details, more so than most. The details of the hieroglyphs and engravings were amazing and in perfect condition. It was if the carvings were recent, not four thousand years ago. I tried to decipher some of the hieroglyphs, which told stories of death and a possible threat. I was unable to read further. I really needed my translator program to decipher the unfamiliar images, there were so many and most very small, which didn’t help. The light wasn’t that great either. “Stephan can you read the hieroglyphs? These are in a language I don’t understand. I need my translator. Or at the very least allow me to get some pictures.
The hieroglyphs are not legible for a reason, Lexi. Written in the secret language of the light. Only a true god or goddess could read them. The sarcophagus has some of our secrets.
I blinked. Confused. The tomb sealed for thousands of years. The tablets were hidden merely a few hundred years ago, under the false door of the lower mastaba, which was underneath us. Curious. Abdul had found two, where the heck was the other three. I know you mentioned before that I likely walked over the tablets when we walked atop the bones in one of the other areas of the tomb. That is not true. Abdul wouldn’t leave them in plain sight for someone else to steal them. He told me that they were under the false door of the lower mastaba they await me at the base of Ceres.
“Stephan I don’t mean to rush you either, but we need to find the tablets.” I refused to leave here without the tablets. I would as soon die as to allow them to slip from my hands reach again. I will photograph them if I had to, and get out of the tomb before the creature returned. I needed Stephan to help me there was no way I could carry or in all likelihood move three large sand or limestone tablets.
“I understand.” His thoughts were obviously drawn to his mother, and the defacing of her tomb. I felt horrible; I was no different from the any other Egyptologist who found objects in the tombs. All I wanted to do was look at them and take them back to the lab, but that wouldn’t be happening this time. While Abdul and Robert had brought back, several items from small intricate statues to large tombs, including a gold sarcophagus, and several other items, like the sarcophagus if possible, or they remained, in efforts to not ruin the rest of the tomb. Robert and Abdul may have thought they had retrieved everything from the tomb, only they hand found the Queen’s tomb, and all the luxurious treasures, that were held. It is doubtful anyone except for maybe Abdul had located the room. Well except for what ever was following us. Creepy thought.
My eyes gazed at the face on the sarcophagus. It was beautiful and detailed. Ma’at’s strong yet delicate feminine features outlined perfectly. The sarcophagus was constructed of granite, not limestone or other stones like some of the others in Saqqara. There were such fine and intricate details, of gold and lapis lazuli with inlays of black and white glass, which emphasized her dark intense eyes and eyebrows. Her funerary dress was intricately etched; around the neck a brilliant necklace inlaid with sapphires, amethyst, and carnelian. The piece was like nothing I had ever seen before.
The lid was slightly ajar at the base. Curiosity seized me, evaporating any signs of distraction or nervousness toward the creature, which apparently was at one point in the tomb with us. I wanted to inspect the entire contents of the tomb. I was like the adage “a kid in a candy store.”
My eyes engaged Stephan’s as our faces in near unison glanced at the coffin. My stomach fluttered with excitement and fear as we jointly peered in. From the lower part of the casket, one could tell the inner casket was granite, composed of rust and jade colored specs. Inside was dark and dusty, and lined with cobwebs, which covered a distinct pair of legs and feet – a mummified corpse. My heart strummed as I bared witness to the glorious discovery. The linens, which hugged her body all, but turned to a morose color of gray. We needed to push open the upper section of the coffin to see the face. Rags, snugly hung from a hardened shell of a once delicate woman. Overcome with fascination I felt the deep sense to place my hand on mummified corpse of such a creature as she. I thought I would wait until he pushed the rest of the lid.
Torn by my own selfishness. I knew Stephan should open it. Our eyes met for an instant. With an enormous shove, the lid moved open. We looked at each other than simultaneously, looked inside.
“Ma’at,” I delicately whispered. Consumed, by my fascination, I never heard Stephan speak. My eyes were adhered to the object in front of me.
He wore confusion on his face. But his eyes, spoke something else; filled with fright or confusion mixed with reservations. I wasn’t sure. Perhaps if I had listened, I would have understood what he said. My heart raced. As if Stephan felt my anticipation, his cold hand touched mine, with a gently squeeze. Our eyes met one last time as if signaling he bore no issues with what we were about to do. His gaze fell to the tomb as he easily pushed the lid of the casket away from its base the sound, a hard scraping, which echoed as the casket opened.
Inside, revealed an intact mummy, the face adorned in a golden mask. It was precisely the second I felt struck in the leg with a shot of adrenalin; a jolt shot through my veins as I reveled at her beauty personified. My gaze rose toward Stephan. I expected him to be relieved to discover her body lying peaceful seemingly as it had for over four thousand years. His face wore obvious discord and grief for a reason I couldn’t begin to understand.
Stephan looked at me curiously.
As I gazed at the casket, the mask that covered coffin was layered of fine white linen, the underneath, exposed a beautiful portrait of Ma’at made of beaten gold – simply extraordinary. A charismatic smile inlaid in carnelian outlined her lips. The inlaid blue glass and quartz of her eyes sparkled like tiny gemstones, her lips outlined in red carnelian, to which, gave the mummy a lifelike appearance. Her brows were inlaid in glass as well. The mummy wore a long striated wig the color of the night, kept in place with a floral headband that contained a gold triangular symbol engraved in the gold. The symbol represented the House of Thoth, Stephan explained. Covering the upper body a huge golden collar composed of rows of leaf and petal shapes inlaid into a background of colored gems: lapis lazuli, carnelian, turquoise, and amethyst. Her arms crossed over her chest, her hands clasped together as if they once held something close to her heart.
I was as captivated as was he. I wanted nothing more than to examine the mask and mummy more intimately. My soulful side did not wish to disturb Stephan’s mother any further. Uncontrollably my hand drawn to hers. It was if she spoke to me, influencing my hands upon her face. I complied with her wishes. My fingers touched the coldness of the gold my head spun dizzily, an obscure case of vertigo.
I inhaled deeply into my lungs the scent of dried jasmine, which ironically emanated from within the casket. Exhaling, my body felt if it were floating to the heavens, transporting me back through time – to the time when Ma’at was alive.
My eyes were a fog. I saw an avenue of human and beast headed sphinxes, which expanded down a long corridor at least one mile long, connecting the legendary city of Ineb-Hedj, modern-day Memphis. It was the outside world to Queen Ma’at’s palace. I drank in the vision with my eyes.
Then as if a DVD recorder reversed backward, I was transported to the palace, to Ma’at’s chambers. The room constructed of mud-bricks, plastered and painted vibrant colors of yellows, carnelian, blues, and browns, onto which several stamped with cartouches of Ma’at, Hathor, and Thoth also incorporated intricately painted ceramic tiles, wood, granite, limestone, and sandstone. The walls contained floral patterns and intricately etched murals depicted a variety of scenes incorporating the gods, nature, and strangely – the daemons of my dreams.
One mural in particular decorated with brightly colored tiles illustrating flowers, vines, and grapes, and birds, which surrounded a great altar. Near the altar was a woman, adorned in white, golden jewels, braids of golden straw color with dark-colored eyes. She held in her hands a golden athamae. Its handle covered in glyphs inlaid with precious stones. She was holding the athamae up toward the gods. Above the altar, glyphs of the sun, moon, and stars aligning. Below the altar were similar glyphs, purposely lined the base of the wall.
Adjacent to the mural a wide array of glazed tiles decorated with geometric patterns and more representations of animals, magnificently decorated woman, and obscure images of bound servants. If I wasn’t mistaken, the necks portrayed punctures as if bitten by the very beasts that hovered above them. Servant girls held vases to the base of captive’s necks, collecting crimson fluid that flowed into each.
I held my place, uncertain whether I was visible, dreaming, or an apparition. Everything surrounding me appeared surreal. The Queen in her grandeur stood by an open window of what I suspected were her quarters. She gazed toward the city of Heliopolis. Mere yards from her I was mesmerized by her delicate beauty and poise. She was far more stunning than I could have imagined. Skin the color of the honey, as if kissed by the sun, hair the color matched the color of the sun, braided tightly in many tendrils falling to the line of her breasts. A lone feather adorned from a golden crown upon her head. Her eyes painted with extended black eyeliner, and green malachite eye shadow, which drew upon the sparkling emerald color of her eyes. Her lips delicately painted of redden paint extracted from a jar with what I judged to be crushed carmine beetles. While I understood this was common practice, the thought of placing crushed insect paint or otherwise on ones lips seemed utterly revolting. I withdrew that particular imagine like an etcha-sketch my eyes strained to see.
The Queen dressed simple for a woman of such stature, white linen tunic draped with two straps over her shoulder. The dress nearly translucent, illustrating the round curvatures of her breasts and hips which shown through the material. A gold and lapis lazuli pectoral suspended from her neck by a golden chain, inlaid with carnelian and emeralds. In one hand, she held a golden scepter. The other a golden ankh with which twisted between her fingers like a coin.
I approached. She raised her head toward me. Her eyes penetrated my body, not in recognition but as if addressing another. My eyes searched the room. I was an apparition, standing docile, Stephan’s hand held mine. We both were present as ardent observers.
“HeKet, why have you come to me?” She questioned the ethereal figure of woman who stood along a black wolf-like dog. As the figure spoke, she and her pet, transformed. She into a beautiful goddess with flowing raven colored hair and eyes the color of the liquid grass. Her gown harmonized that of her eyes and hugged the voluptuous curves of her body. Her pet turned into that of a ferial beast.
“Ma’at,” she spoke, her voice that of an angel.
Fear etched upon Ma’at’s face, lines etched between her brows, eyes sunk and gray, and her face turning most pallid, gaunt even.
“You needn’t fear me Ma’at, or that of my pet.” HeKat said as she gave the large beast a gentle pat on the top of its head. “I assure you, we bid thee no harm – I am merely here to present you with a token.” She replied as she held within her hands a golden athamae.
“And what is the significance of this token, this athamae?”
HeKet gestured for Ma’at to grasp hold of the athamae. Ma’at reluctantly nodded as she accepted the embellished gold knife clutching it into her hands. Her eyes inspected the gift inquisitively. The object was intricately engraved with the crest of the House of Thoth within its handle – inlaid with large precious gems – diamond, emerald, yellow diamond, sapphire, and ruby.
“Chaos abounds the House of Thoth. The balance of goodness must be maintained. There will soon be discord and unrest amongst those of your bloodline and those who have been your loyal servants. You must promise to keep this athamae with you always in this life and in the next.”
“But for what purpose will this athamae serve?”
“For now, the athamae will serve to protect you and the unborn child you carry in your womb. There will be a time soon; they will come for the boy and the athamae, a time when evil will rise over the House of Thoth. The athamae must be protected, as shall the boy. You must protect both now and always, even during your afterlife. Until the sun becomes the moon and the stars the planets align with dawn – a time begot a forgotten one. Blood doeth flow of one and three, untwined be the curse for which beith sowed.”
Without questioning HeKet, Ma’at vowed to protect the athamae with her life.
“Should the athamae fall into the hands of impure souls, beware the wraith of witch be- toiled.” As HeKet spoke, her body and that of her pets slowly evaporated into a darkened mist. My eyes watched the mist disappeared. The room spun as the world before me turned to blackness.
I heard Stephan’s voice. My lids were heavy, as if weighted with lead. “Lexi!” His hand cold pressed against my cheek.
My eyes staggered open to find Stephan inspecting me with concern, and then realized I was sitting at the base of the sarcophagus. It took me several minutes before my eyes could focus. My head throbbed as if I had blunt force trauma. I swore I heard each beat of my heart. I opened my eyes. And there it was in plain sight – the symbol for which Abdul spoke of in the lower mastaba. Instead of being in the lower mastaba, under the false door, the symbol Ceres, the astrological sign carved into the granite with the other symbols signifying the House of Thoth, right here on this sarcophagus. Utterly brilliant Abdul a mere safety precaution.
I located the false door, at the base of Ceres. I brushed off the granite. I placed my hand on a section of the sarcophagus near its base where it seemed loose and pushed with all the strength. I couldn’t get it to budge.
I tried to push again.
“Here let me help you.” Stephan offered.
“Thanks. I am not entirely sure what happened or how I managed to find the hidden storage place of the tablet, but I am not going to complain.” I said as I dusted myself off.
As Stephan reached in for the tablets, I pulled out my camera. I wasn’t about to take with us the tablets. They were extremely noticeable, roughly two feet by two feet in size. I snapped the last pictures of the three tablets I started to tell Stephan what I had seen. “Stephan this is going to sound crazy but you and I were standing in your mother’s bed chamber. Then a voice inside my head spoke to me; I must retrieve the athamae to fulfill my destiny.
“I saw what you saw.”
“How is that possible?”
“I believe that you not only have the power to sense those around you, but you have the gift to travel between worlds, and have the rare ability to foresee the past and one’s density.”
“Yes, it is indeed an extraordinary gift. I have told you that many of us possess different gifts. Yours it would seem is such as I have described, what you and I moments ago experienced – which also would explain the nightmares and visions you have experience throughout your life.”
I wasn’t sure if I was relieved to finally know I was not crazy or whether I was distressed by the fact I could travel between worlds and see into the past and the future. Why couldn’t I have merely developed the ability to have super human strength? I shrugged my shoulders as I dismissed the thought.
“Stephan, there was no athamae when we opened the casket.” I whispered.
“I am well aware the athamae is missing.”
“What is worse is that I don’t remember Robert ever logging an athamae from the tomb. So what happened to it?”
“We must find it and how its significance pertains to my destiny?”
“It means you hold in your power the ability to change destiny.”
“I mean no disrespect, Stephan. But I am not sure I have the power to change anything.” I took the last photo. I prayed they were not terribly blurry. Photography always interested me, but I found I was never much good. Most of my images would turn our blurred. Or strange shadows would appear, which was equally frustrating. It occurred to me.
I felt strange again, as I popped out the memory card from the camera and placed it in under my bra for safe keeping, and placed the camera in my bag. Stephan placed the tablets back into their hiding place and shut the handle. While relieved, I held in my hands the answers I sought, to clear not only my name but to figure out why exactly Abdul and hopefully Robert were killed, or at least I hoped. My head pounded, my eyes shut. My body slide down to the sandy floor.
“In time you will understand your fate, my child. For now, know you are safe with my Stephanos. Trust him. He is aware of the discord within our House. Go with him. He will guide you on the path toward your destiny. But heed my warning. Beware of those unsavory souls, biding for yours. You must retrieve the golden athamae, raided from my grasp. Soon you will discover its place; when you have, it is then and only then will you encounter your destiny.
For as the sun becomes the moon and the stars and planets align at dawn. A time not begot a forgotten one. A soul of two, of one and three, gives rise to another of reflecting soles. Shield what is adrift from unworthy souls; hieratic sign fore witch doeth toll. Thru earth and see yea fire and sun, together a journey shall be undone. Trust not before of one and three, or five of those of one and thee; Blood doeth flow eternal and with those of one and three like thee, untwined be the curse for which was sowed.”
As my eyes reopened, I was in Stephan’s arms again. I squinted, blinked several times told him what I had heard. He was all too aware of what had occurred?
“Stephan the voice,” I hesitated. “ I, I, it was your mother.”
“I heard the voice. The athamae and stones are no longer in Saqqara Lexi. Our mission here complete. We need to vacate the tomb.” He said with urgency in his voice.
“Yes, but that isn’t all, your mother I saw her, she had blonde hair. The body in the tomb wore black. Certainly, who ever placed the mummy in the casket would have also placed a blonde wig on the body.” Those words I spoke were similar to those that Stephan had said when I wasn’t really listening. The corpse was not Ma’at! Then who?
“Who indeed!” I have no idea.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. Other than what we thought was your mothers casket, turns out to be someone else’s. Gee you tell me what is wrong!”
“We must go. There is a hidden passage, one that will take us toward an underground corridor to Caius’s tomb.
“Caius? The Caius, as in your grandfather, my grandfather’s tomb?” I stuttered. “Really?”
“It and many more; I will explain later. If you have everything we must leave and quickly. Something is stalking us!”
“It is not whom that concerns me, rather by what and why?” He pushed the arm on the coffin and the floor from underneath slide open revealing a hidden staircase. He grabbed the torch and we entered the staircase. As soon as we were safely inside, I heard the tomb seal itself.
“We will be safe here, but not for long. We must hurry!”
Before I could even glance back, Stephan had zipped passed me with lightening speed and tugged on another sconce. A stone door moved aside. As I reached, the opening I too quickly passed through the entrance and the door as it promptly sealed behind us.
“What are we running from?” I quizzed again. To which he finally replied.