By Jane Richards
"Look, if there's a village on down the road then that must be the Nubian village. Why don't we walk a little way up the road the other way and see if our troops aren't there somewhere?" asked Rami.
"Sounds good to me. Let's go. We can't do anything any worse than get taken prisoner again," Seth sighed.
Up the road they walked, stopping and carefully peering around each bend hoping to see their camp site. After what seemed like hours to the boys they had yet to see anything, but on they plodded. Their troops had to be somewhere not too far away. They just had to be. The sun was about to rise and the light was beginning to make the road more visible, which made Seth very nervous. At least in the dark they were safer. If they heard anything they could hide in one of the deep valleys which ran alongside the roadway. Now, everyone could see them if guarding on a hillside. The hills which the road was winding through began to get lower finally blending into a flat rock-strewn surface, unbroken by any trees, hills, or river. It was a desert-like scene of continuing brown for what seemed like miles. As the boys stopped to rest beside a large rock, Seth rearranged the masks that were beginning to weigh heavily at his side. He had bound them up again in the rope before they had begun their climb out of the tunnel.
"Hey, I see dust way down the road," he yelled gleefully, "I sure hope it's the right side. Let's hide here behind this rock and wait. If it's our guys then we'll just rejoin them." The boys settled back to await the large group making all the dust. But, suddenly the dust stopped. "What the heck is going on now?" muttered Seth.
"What's happening?" asked Rami.
"Well, it looks like who ever it is has stopped. It's too early for making camp. Let's go on down. We might be able to sneak nearer without being seen," suggested Seth.
Down the road they walked, carefully keeping to the side ready to hide if they had to. Without a sound suddenly they were surrounded by men. After a few seconds they discovered that the men surrounding them were friendly. They were the troops that they had traveled with for all those days! They were slapped on the back and pummeled by friendly hands, while being escorted around a sharp bend in the road. There, was Imhotep. A runner had informed him that the boys had been found--or had found them--and were on their way. Holding out his hands the priest greeted them warmly.
"We are doing what you suggested Prince Sethi, we have established a secret camp in a ravine out of view and our troops are hidden behind the rocks up ahead," explained the Visier/priest." Your suggestions were very useful. We now wait to see if they work," he added as he turned to Seth with a twinkle in his eyes.
Another runner came panting up to the small group and gasp out the message that the enemy was on the move towards them. Everyone moved towards their positions and awaited the arrival of the unsuspecting enemy troops. Imhotep motioned both boys into a small opening which led to the ravine. There they sat and rested under an overhang in the rocky terrain which afforded a small rock-shelter and shade from the sun.
"I won't let you engage in the fighting," remarked the priest. "You haven't the training that these troops have. I want to ask you about what happened to you."
As they sat quietly in the shade of the rock-shelter, the boys told them what they could, including the tunnel and the cave in the hillside. Then, Seth held up the masks they had found.
"Oh, Lord Sethi, you have found the masks of Osiris. They have been gone for a very long time. Since the rule of our first King, Hor Aha. Our enemies stole them from our temple at Nekhen. No one knows how old they are. They are said to have been fashioned at the time far back in the past called Zep Tepi [The First Time], when Osiris, himself, ruler Egypt. No one knew where they were, and now you return them. You will be remembered forever, My Lord."
The din of battle began to be heard in the direction of the road. It only lasted for a short time when one of the leaders came trotting back. "Lord Imhotep, the enemy has fled. The idea of surprise worked very well."
In the next few days the troops continued south, discovering that the village had been deserted by the troops. Only a small number of villagers were left. The leaders of the Egyptian troops decided to leave a small garrison of men in the village just in case another foray into Egypt was attempted by the small number of dissadents. After this they turned north again and made their way back to Nekheb. The problem of the King was a great worry to Imhotep, but when they finally reached home it was to very good news. The king had been found and was now back at his capital at On. There was to be a great celebration and ceremony at the Temples of Nekhbet and Osiris on the west side of the Nile.
"Isn't that where we were found?" asked Rami, as he turned towards his brother, who nodded in return. They were lounging at the side of a cool lotus pond inside the small palace at Nekheb. They had been resting since their trek south and the adventure they had experienced. Hot baths and soft beds in cool rooms had improved their outlook on life, but they still wished they could go back, somehow, and be reunited with their parents. Seth had decided that if he got back, however it happened, he wanted, quite earnestly, to be an archaeologist. He just felt that this was something he wanted to do with his life, and he had been studying his surrounding very carefully. He wanted to remember all the wonderful things he had seen----if he could return to his own time.
The large group of people crossed the Nile in many reed boats and wound up the hill towards the temple. Not only the priests and nobles of the town, but also the people who made the foods that were eaten, caught the fish, and tilled the fields. All were invited to this celebration of the return of their King, Djoser. As they neared the temple Seth found himself feeling an odd feeling. That light-headed feeling that he had felt right before he and his brother had found themselves in the inner chamber of the ancient temple so many months ago.
Inside, they were part of a long line of priests, led by Imhotep to the sacred inner chambers. The sounds of the sistrum accompanied them, shaken by the priestesses of the temple. They were standing in front of a large statue. That of a vulture with wings outspread. On all sides were the smaller statuettes of many gods and goddesses, all in their own niches. The priests had the stone masks that Seth had found. They were going to return them to their original location in this ancient temple. Chanting their adoration to the gods and goddesses, the priests and priestesses began the long ceremony.
"Seth, do you think we'll ever get back home?" whispered Rami. Seth, who was looking at his dagger, turned to answer his brother. Suddenly the dagger began to glow again, the ground began to shake. Seth was shaking from the inside, out and even as he stood there frozen, he saw his brother staring at him with wide-eyed astonishment. Then, everything seemed to fade into a big black blob.
Voices seemed to be all around them, mixed with the droning of machinery. Seth felt hands grabbing him and fuzzily thought to himself,"Am I getting kidnapped again?" More voices continued to float around him. Or was he floating? He was dizzy and sleepy. Why not just go to sleep?
"Seth, can you hear me? It's Dad, can you hear me?" Seth heard the familiar voice and opened his eyes. There was his Dad bending over him with worried eyes staring down into his. Was he dreaming again? Then, he felt his Dad take his shoulders in his hands and squeeze him gently, as he heard the same voice saying "Rami are you all right?" Another voice chimed in, "Seth, Rami, it's Mom are you two all right?"
Carried down from the site into a tent and examined by a doctor, the boys were pronounced just fine. No ill effects from being buried in an unknown chamber for two days. They were sitting up trying to explain what had happened to them. Of course, no one believed their story that they had been in ancient Egypt at the time of the Old Kingdom, had been there for what seemed like several months, and had even met the great architect Imhotep. The doctor just smiled and said it was possibly the effects of less oxygen or the bumps on the head they had received when they fell.
At about the same time that the boys were telling their story, a shout came up from the group of technicians who were still out on the mound. The boys' Dad went to find out what was going on and was told that a group of four stone masks had been found, along with the gold dagger which Seth had been taking to the lab tent two days ago.
"Well, they'll have to be sent to the University to be dated," smiled Seths' father."But at least we have the dagger back, right Seth?"
"At least 3000 B.C.E.," retorted Seth, as he looked at his father.
"What do you mean, 3000," questioned his father.
"You said those masks would have to be dated, Dad. Well, I bet they find that those masks are over 5000 years old," answered his son," and, Dad, I've decided to study to be an archaeologist. By the way, if you continue to study that site I think you're gonna find that it was a temple to an ancient goddess named Nekhbet, [She who belongs to Nekheb.], and the god Osiris," Seth smiled at his Dad, then turned and walked out of the tent with a grin on his face. "So they don't believe our story. I bet they will when they find what I've told them about," he thought to himself, "and just wait until I'm an archaeologist. I'm going to excavate at Saqqura. Maybe I can fine the tomb of Imhotep."