By Jane Richards
A great commotion around the outer door to the room made the boys crane their heads to see what was happening. There in the doorway stood Imhotep, talking to some white-robed priests gathered around him. He strode to the place where the boys were seated and bowed low. "Your Highnesses, your fathers' whereabouts is now thought to be in Nubia. He has been taken prisoner by the chieftan of that area and taken as a prisoner to their city south of here. We have sent troops there, but due to the Lybian threat in the North, we can't stop the battles there, as yet. Our capital of On has to be defended. It is up to us to try and rescue your father, King Djoser. Do you think you are ready to lead a rescue mission?
The boys looked at each other and then the High Priest. "I believe I am ready, Sir," nodded Seth and his younger brother piped in with his agreement. With this agreement both brothers were swept up in the preparations for the rescue of Djoser from the Nubians of the south. Imhotep explained some of the important points to them as they were preparing.
"The Nubian warriors are the personal guard of the King, you know. Most are very happy with the arrangement. Some have positions of importance within the army, and we have a trade agreement with the leaders of many of the Nubian towns, but, there are those who are not satisfied with this arrangement and wish to change things. The group who took your father is one of these groups. We will have to find exactly where they are holding him. Our spies are doing this as we speak. We will begin the journey immediately and await their findings on the road. I have gathered what troops we have here. It is a small army, but well trained and well armed as well as experienced."
Seth was thinking about this as they mounted the litters. The troops were gathered around them and were walking at a brisk pace. Seth could remember studying the history of the U.S. in school, and wondered if changing the form of battle would make a difference here, as it did in the Revolutionary War. The colonial soldiers fought a guerilla type warfare from behind trees, rocks and such instead of out in the open. He decided to broach the subject to Imhotep as soon as possible.
Their journey was long and tedious with several stays under the stars with very little in the way of comforts. Seth discussed his battle ideas with Imhotep many times on the way. He explained the idea of fighting under the cover of protective objects, and also of surprise attacks and the setting of ambushes for the enemy where the advantage could be of aid to them rather than fighting in the open after the enemy had chosen the site of battle. These disussions were quite interesting to Imhotep as well as some of the other military leaders who began to take part.
Well in to the trip both boys had decided to walk rather than ride in the litters provided for them. They felt much better doing this. The night had come upon them and they had lain on their mats and fallen asleep quickly, being very tired. Seth halfway awoke at a sound when he was grabbed, a rough hand placed over his mouth and suddenly all went black.
As he awoke, his head throbbing, he carefully laid still listening. When no sounds seemed to be close, he opened his eyes and tried to see, but all was dark around him. His first thought was for his brother. Was he alone, or was his brother, Rami, with him? Suddenly, he heard a slight moan behind him and carefully rolled over making sure he did it as quietly as possible. There was Rami, or he thought it must be. He couldn't really see very well. Both were bound like Thanksgiving turkeys, but not gagged. He quietly squirmed nearer and poked the moaning body next to him with his head, which certainly didn't help the headache any!
"Rami," he whispered, "are you all right?"
A moan first and then, "My head hurts. What happened?", was the answer to his question.
"I guess we were taken by somebody. I don't even know where we are. Must be prisoners somewhere," Seth returned. "We have to try and get out of these ropes and get away," he said as he struggled with the bindings on his arms, which were tied behind him. They were rough and seemed like they could stretch. After struggling for some time they stretched enough for him to ease one of his hands through and he quickly and quietly untied himself and then his brother. He felt for his flashlight and surprisingly both his light as well as the dagger were still in the bag attached to his belt. His captors must not have even bothered to search him. "That was a really foolish thing to miss," he thought to himself as he first looked around trying to pierce the darkness with his eyes before he dared flick on the flashlight.
Not hearing or seeing anything, he carefully pushed his thumb on the light switch. There they were, in another tomb or temple or some type of large room!
"Here we go again," he groaned to his brother. "I wonder if the only thing we're gonna do in this --uh--dream or what ever it is, always ends up with us in a dark room!" He left the light on and scanned their prison. The walls were wet, with water dripping down the greenish slime. "We must be near the river or some place where there is water." He flashed the light on the walls and floor. Where he had laid there seemed to be lumps or humps of dirt. Kicking at them, his toes hit something hard. "Ow," he whispered with clenched teeth, as he bent down and dug a little further down in the small pit. Suddenly, he felt a stony object at his fingertips. "Rami, I think I've found something. Could you hold the light?"
"Sure," said Rami, as he took ahold of the light and directed its beam to where Seth was feverishly digging. Out of the hole came a stone object. As Seth brushed it off it became clear it was a stone mask. A very old one at that. He continued to dig and out came three more. "Look at these! They must be very old. Much older than even this period," he excitedly whispered, then turned to his brother suddenly remembering their plight. "Give me the light, and let's get out of here."
The boys hurriedly found a small door which they quietly cracked open. They could see two guards lounging on the other side of a small room. They looked like they were sound asleep with a snore coming from one of them. Carefully opening the door just wide enough to creep out they inched down the hall which continued off the room. They stopped when they were out of sight of the sleeping guards to check for any movement both ahead as well as behind them. --Nothing. On down the dark tunnel they continued, Seth worried about just how long their little flashlight would continue to give them light. "I wonder how deep we are under ground, or maybe we aren't under, maybe we're in some cave," he muttered.
"Seth, I think I can feel fresh air," Rami said as he nudged Seth."We might have found an entrance," he continued as they inched forward around corners and down the dark corridors. A few moments later Rami suddenly stopped. "There," he almost shouted," I see stars!"
Sure enough, they had discovered an entrance. But, as they came to the end of the tunnel they had a bad surprise. The tunnel end was many feet above the bottom of a canyon. "How the heck are we going to get down from here," Seth thought, then an idea came to him. He had tied the stone masks in a bundle and put them around his waist. Why not make a rope ladder and go down that way. But, the rope was too short to reach to the bottom when they tried this. Then, Rami made a pleasant discovery. He looked up instead of down and found a stairway chipped into the stone right above them. Holding on to the stairs, they worked their way upward and slowly made it to a hilltop. Down in a valley they could see a road. The moon was rising and the road could be seen in the ghostly light. But, was it the road to the troops, or the road towards their enemy? The other way they saw a small town. There were a few fires built in front of what looked like small houses. Down they climbed until they had reached the road. Now, which way to go!