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The Buried Pyramid
 


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The Buried Pyramid


  The

  Buried

  Pyramid

  Jane Lindskold

  A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK

  NEW YORK

  NOTE: If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

  This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously.

  THE BURIED PYRAMID

  Copyright © 2004 by Jane Lindskold

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

  Edited by Teresa Nielsen Hayden

  A Tor Book

  Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

  175 Fifth Avenue

  New York, NY 10010

  www.tor.com

  Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

  ISBN 0-765-34159-X

  EAN 978-0765-34159-4

  First edition: May 2004

  First mass market edition: February 2005

  First electronic edition: November 2008

  Printed in the United States of America

  0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Tor Books

  by Jane Lindskold

  Through Wolf’s Eyes

  Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart

  The Dragon of Despair

  Wolf Captured

  The Buried Pyramid

  Table of Contents

  Acknowledgements

  Prologue: Beneath the Eye of the Hawk

  Chapter 1: The Arrival

  Chapter 2: Sir Neville’s Secret

  Chapter 3: A Letter from the Sphinx

  Chapter 4: Unexpected Traveling Companions

  Chapter 5: Auguste Dupin

  Chapter 6: Alexandria

  Chapter 7: Papa Antonio

  Chapter 8: Bazaar

  Chapter 9: Anubis

  Chapter 10: Miriam’s Tale

  Chapter 11: The Great Pyramid

  Chapter 12: Mozelle

  Chapter 13: The Sphinx Again

  Chapter 14: Riskali

  Chapter 15: Destruction at the Hawk Rock

  Chapter 16: Four Watchers

  Chapter 17: Better and Verse

  Chapter 18: Dire Warnings

  Chapter 19: In the Pit

  Chapter 20: The Boat of Millions of Years

  Chapter 21: Magic

  Chapter 22: Apophis

  Chapter 23: Negative Confessions

  Chapter 24: Condemned

  Chapter 25: Tomb Robbers

  Chapter 26: Sweet Balm

  For Jim, my favorite archeologist:

  Indiana Jones could only hope to be

  as exciting as you are.

  And…

  For Kay McCauley:

  Thanks for believing.

  Acknowledgements

  I’d like to extend my thanks to a few of the many people who made their resources and knowledge available to me while I worked on this novel. My husband, Jim Moore, offered advice on weaponry, as well as his usual irreplaceable assistance as first reader and sounding board. Pati (P. G.) Nagel shared information about period steamboats and attire. John Miller and Gail Gerstner Miller loaned me period travel material and works on Egyptian magic. The staff at the Taylor Ranch Branch of the Albuquerque Public Library provided assistance tracking down works I wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise.

  Yvonne Coats and Sally Gwylan both read earlier drafts of the novel and offered some cogent comments. My editor, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, offered numerous comments and an ear for period diction.

  A special service was provided by the folks at Tekno Books, who gave me an excuse to investigate the background of this novel in “Beneath the Eye of the Hawk,” which appears here in slightly altered form following its debut in Pharaoh Fantastic, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Brittany A. Koren.

  Profound thanks go to my agent, Kay McCauley, who wouldn’t give up on this project, even when I might have done so. Thanks, Kay. You’re a trump.

  For those of you who are interested in this book or other of my projects, I can be contacted through my website at janelindskold.com.

  Prologue

  Beneath the Eye of the Hawk

  Twisting around on his galloping camel and glimpsing the pursuing Bedouin resolving into form within the dust cloud stirred to life by their own pounding mounts, Neville Hawthorne spared precious breath to curse the day Alphonse Liebermann had come to Egypt.

  “Alphonse Liebermann is a cousin of Prince Albert,” Colonel Reginald Sedgewick explained to the tall, broad-shouldered man standing in front of his desk. “A German, of course. Something of an archeologist and theologian.”

  Colonel Sedgewick smiled rather deprecatingly.

  “Or rather I should say Herr Liebermann fancies himself an archeologist and theologian. If my reports are correct, he is a hobbyist more than anything else.”

  Neville Hawthorne, captain in Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s army and currently assigned to the diplomatic presence in Egypt, didn’t permit his lips to twitch in even the faintest of smiles. He knew such wouldn’t be appreciated.

  Colonel Sedgewick—in civilian life a lord and knight—might feel free to comment on the foibles of his social betters, but Lord Reginald Sedgewick did not think his junior officers—at least those without honor or title—should share that privilege.

  Indeed, there were times, Neville mused, that Sedgewick probably thought that those without appropriate social rank and fortune shouldn’t be permitted to hold officer’s commissions. However, snob or not, Sedgewick recognized talent and ability. It was for both of these qualities that he had summoned Captain Hawthorne tohim.

  “As a courtesy to our queen’s German relations, I’m assigning you to be a nursemaid to Herr Liebermann. Won’t call it that, of course. Aide. Bodyguard and translator. Liebermann will need the latter. Understand he doesn’t have much in the way of Arabic, though he’s fairly fluent in French.”

  Neville Hawthorne nodded, hiding his sudden interest behind a properly impassive face. Fluency in French was not only useful but necessary in some circles of Egyptian society. France, like England, had numerous interests in Egypt. Indeed, despite—or in some cases because of—the reforms instituted by Muhammad Ali and continued with more or less enthusiasm by his heirs, French remained an important language in both Egyptian society and government.

  What tantalized Captain Hawthorne was that his commander had singled out Arabic from the slew of languages spoken in modern Egypt—Armenian, Greek, Coptic, and Turkish, in addition to English and French.

  Most Europeans didn’t have much Arabic. Nor did they need it. Even if this cousin of Prince Albert’s was interested in archeology and theology, he could research to his heart’s content without ever speaking a word to the Arab population. Indeed, the majority of archeological matters were still administered by the French.

  “Then Herr Liebermann wishes to travel outside of the usual areas, sir?” Neville asked.

  Colonel Sedgewick nodded, his eyes narrowing appreciatively as he reconstructed the course of deductive reasoning through which his subordinate had reached this conclusion.

  “That’s right,” he said, glancing down at a letter on his desk. “Says here that Herr Liebermann wants to do some desert exploration. That’s why he needs you to ease the way for him. Wouldn’t be necessary if he were staying on the usual tourist routes.”

  “Very good, sir,” Hawthorne replied. “When do I meet Herr Liebermann?”

  “He arrives in Cairo two days
from today.”

  A stack of papers, including Liebermann’s original letter, was pushed across the desk, and Neville gathered them up. He was careful to not so much as glance at the documents until his commander had finished speaking.

  “To enable you to be at Herr Liebermann’s disposal at all hours, you’re to put up at whatever hotel he chooses. If he has no preference, use Shepheard’s. My clerk will have expense vouchers for you. Make reservations, just in case.”

  “And my staff, sir?”

  Colonel Sedgewick looked momentarily irritated, obviously thinking that Captain Hawthorne should be thanking him for his generosity. Then he reconsidered.

  “Yes. I suppose if Prince Albert’s cousin wants to go out in the desert, you’ll need help. You can hire natives to handle the baggage and camels, but I’ll give you a sergeant to wrangle the lot. Any preferences?”

  “Sergeant Bryce, sir. Edward Bryce. He knows Egypt well, speaks Arabic, and has a way with the natives.”

  “Bryce… ”

  Sedgewick frowned. Captain Hawthorne held his breath.

  “Wasn’t Bryce just brought up for something?”

  “Disorderly conduct, sir,” Neville replied stiffly. “Drinking. Brawling.”

  Whatever Reginald Sedgewick’s snobbery regarding the proper social class from which commissioned officers should be drawn, he was also a seasoned veteran and no great advocate of the stricter discipline some of his colleagues tried to enforce off the field.

  He snorted.

  “Disrespect to officers?”

  “No, sir. Bryce took exception to how a lady was being treated. Got into a fight.”

  “Did he win?”

  “Yes, sir, but he’d had a bit too much, got rather battered, and consequently was late getting back to quarters. His uniform was wrecked. Officer on duty wrote him up.”

  Colonel Sedgewick shook his head in disbelief.

  “You can have Bryce. If anyone protests that he’s being rewarded with soft duty for unbecoming behavior, send them to me. I’ll tell them a few hard truths about just how soft a bed of desert sand actually is.”

  Alphonse Liebermann proved to be short, wiry, and somewhere into his fifth decade. Bald as an egg, he sported the most magnificent eyebrows Neville had ever seen—bushy, even sweeping grey specimens that leapt to punctuate their owner’s every exclamation. They completely intimidated the German’s perfectly unexceptional mustache and, indeed, made it hard for one to remember that he had any other features at all.

  Liebermann was accompanied by one servant: Derek Schmidt, a tall, thin man with bristle-cut greying hair. Schmidt possessed a soldier’s erect posture and a distinct limp that showed why he was no longer in active service. He had taken charge of the baggage with such efficiency that Neville had been unsurprised to learn later that Schmidt had begun his career in the Prussian equivalent of the quartermaster corps.

  “I have a secret, Neville,” Alphonse Liebermann confided several days after their initial meeting. He kept his voice low, and his English was so heavily accented that the phrase sounded rather like “I haff’a secret.”

  Neville Hawthorne nodded, not certain how to respond to this strange confidence. However, he liked the little man—who had insisted immediately they place themselves on a first name basis—so he replied encouragingly, “I’m not at all surprised, Alphonse.”

  Neville had not needed to be a great genius to figure this out. In the first few days since he’d arrived in Egypt, Herr Liebermann’s actions had been focused and purposeful. He had avoided all the usual tourist attractions—although he had looked longingly toward where the Pyramids at Gizeh created a magnificent backdrop for the modern city.

  When Neville had offered to arrange for Alphonse to take a tour, the German had shaken his head determinedly.

  “No. That will not be necessary. I have seen the Great Pyramids before. I have more important tasks to perform than visiting them again.”

  His tone had held portents of grand deeds to come, and Neville was reminded of it now as Alphonse continued speaking.

  “I am preparing to make,” Alphonse said, “a discovery that will set my name in the pantheon of archeology, alongside Winckelmann, Belzoni, and Lepsius. I have finished my preparations here in Cairo. You have our tickets?”

  “I do,” Neville said. “Tickets for a steamer to Luxor. From there we will change to a dahabeeyah. Sergeant Bryce has gone ahead to make arrangements for camels and a few native servants.”

  “Very good.” Alphonse returned to his prior topic of conversation. “Neville, mine will be a landmark discovery. It will make a turnover of archeology, reveal things about not only the days of the pharaohs, but about our entire conception of reality—about the relationship of gods to men.”

  Neville nodded, trying to match Liebermann’s serious intensity. It was difficult. This crazed German seemed so like something out of a stage play that bouncy music hall tunes kept playing across Neville’s inner ear.

  For a fleeting moment Neville wondered how Prince Albert’s family actually felt about this cousin. Perhaps Alphonse was an embarrassment. Perhaps he was supposed to get lost in the desert. Maybe that was why Neville had been picked for this honorable duty rather than one of Lord Sedgewick’s more socially advantaged cronies.

  Alphonse lowered his voice still further, “When we are away from Cairo, then I will confide in you what—and who—we are seeking. For now, I do not wish attention drawn to us. Would it be too much trouble for you and Sergeant Bryce to wear civilian clothing?”

  Neville cocked an eyebrow, but forbore requesting clarification.

  “It will be no problem at all.”

  On their first evening aboard the steamer, Alphonse invited Neville to his cabin for brandy and cigars.

  Although the weather on deck was pleasant, and several of the young ladies taking the cruise were not nearly as snobbish as Colonel Sedgewick, Neville reported to the German’s spacious stateroom. He was unsurprised to find Alphonse poring over a sheaf of closely written pages.

  “Captain Hawthorne,” Alphonse said with more formality than he had shown since his arrival, “please, be seated. My great thanks for your coming to me. I have given Schmidt the evening off so we may speak in confidence.”

  Neville nodded, accepted the brandy offered, declined a cigar, and leaned back in the well-upholstered chair Alphonse indicated. He’d had a heavy dinner, and the rhythmic thumping of the ship’s engines threatened to put him to sleep.

  “In Cairo, I told you I had a secret,” Alphonse began. “Now I will reveal this secret to you. You will become the second European alive—or so I believe—to know a great mystery.”

  “I am honored,” Neville said and hoped that his suppressed laughter would be taken for British stuffiness.

  “Very good.”

  Alphonse swirled the brandy in his snifter and settled himself more deeply into his chair. Although he kept his notes spread near, he never once consulted them. Clearly this was a tale he knew by heart.

  “Some years ago,” Alphonse said, “when I am doing research into the historicity of Moses, I hear an amazing tale from a Bedouin rug merchant.”

  “Wait,” Neville said, raising an inquiring finger. “I thought you didn’t speak Arabic.”

  “I do not,” Alphonse said cheerfully, “but this merchant spoke French. Now, I must tell you that I do not think I was meant to hear this tale. The Bedouin was very old, and when I asked him about Moses, calling him ‘the Lawgiver,’ the Arab began to speak of another lawgiver, one from long ago. His lawgiver was a pharaoh named Neferankhotep. This name means ‘Gift of a Beautiful Life.’”

  Or “complete” or “perfect,” Neville thought. He didn’t read hieroglyphs, but he had worked his way through some of the modern commentaries and found the material fascinating.

  “Now, even in ancient times,” Alphonse continued, “Egypt possessed an excellent legal system, one that—in theory—protected the commoner on equal terms with th
e highest noble.”

  Alphonse grimaced, those amazing eyebrows lowering then rising once more.

  “But, Neville, we know that theory and practice are very different. In practice, those with title and property are treated far better than the peasants who have little or nothing.”

  “True enough,” Neville replied a trace sourly, “even today.”

  Alphonse’s gaze was so penetrating and sympathetic that Neville was embarrassed at his own petty grievances.

  “But not when Neferankhotep reigned,” Alphonse went on, waggling an admonishing finger. “When this good pharaoh reigned there was perfect justice, such perfect justice that all his people loved him. They wished that his mortuary complex would be finer than any pharaoh had ever known. The good Neferankhotep would not have this.

  “He indicated an outlying valley, far from the fertile lands and said, ‘Give me only a simple rock tomb, make my shabti figures from clay, my amulets from common stones. If these charms and honors are enough to serve my people in the afterlife, then they will be sufficient for me.’ ”

  Guess we won’t make our fortunes in gold and precious stones, then, Neville thought and poured himself a touch more brandy.

  Alphonse’s voice fell into a sing-song, storytelling mode in which his German accent became oddly, pervasively musical.

  “Eventually, Neferankhotep’s life upon the earth ended. The mortuary priests immediately began the arduous process of embalming the pharaoh’s mortal remains. On the very day that they began their work, a terrible sandstorm arose in the humble valley wherein the pharaoh had requested he be entombed. Watchers claimed that they could see towering forms moving purposefully within the clouds of sand and grit. The sandstorm raged with unabated fury until the very day that Neferankhotep’s body was ready for burial. Then, as the last seal was set upon his sarcophagus, the storm vanished.

 
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