Chapter 10 The Stealer of Souls
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Remus Lupin was transfixed as he stood in the midst of the group in the desert, looking up at the tortured and heaving sky above their heads. The temple ruins behind them lost its burnished colour as the ever-present sunlight was suddenly cut off by the darkness that formed above. His brow creased as he delved into his memories to retrieve the word that still echoed around the desert.
And then he had it, and his eyes grew wide as he contemplated the horror of it all. He shouted above the sound of thunder issuing from the swirling vortex in the sky, and the gusting wind that swept across the desert, hurling sand at their bodies. "Quick. We've got to Apparate away from here right now!"
The teens were each held by one of the adults as they prepared to Apparate, but they all looked about in astonishment when they failed in their attempt.
"It's too late," shouted Remus. "She's here and she's blocking our escape."
"Who's here?" shouted Sirius.
"It's Lammashta," he replied. "The she devil that was spoken about in the Necronomicon. I learned about her at University in my DADA studies, but we all though it was just a myth."
"What can we do?" shouted Ceri.
"She's been summoned from the Dark Realm," he replied, "probably by 'You Know Who'. All we can do is stick close together. It's pointless trying to use magic on her, it just won't work!"
"Who is she?" shouted Sirius.
"She's the Stealer of Souls. She invades her victims' minds and tempts them with their deepest desires. It's absolutely imperative that you don't listen to her. Once you start to be tempted and look into her eyes, she's won. She'll get right into your head and steal your soul, and then she'll take it back to the Dark Realm where she, and the ones like her who live there, will torment it and feed off its agony for the rest of time. So whatever you do, don't listen to her or look at her!"
"How long will she try to get at us?" asked Nadine fearfully.
"Once summoned," he replied, "she won't be able to return to the Dark Realm until she's captured at least one soul. If she fails here, she'll just go elsewhere looking for victims."
They all looked fearfully up at the swirling vortex above them, trying to keep the horror of what Remus said out of their minds. Then, slowly, they saw something in the depths of the darkness above their heads. At first, it was just a small speck shimmering almost beyond their field of vision, but it rapidly grew in size until it filled the vortex. Lammashta burst out of the Dark Realm, a monstrous, hideous creature, made all the worse by the beautiful face it wore. But the face, although beautiful, was filled with evil. She looked about the desert and laughed, a terrible laugh, anticipating the glorious hunt for souls, a sport that she hadn't been able to indulge since the Nephilim were banished many thousands of years before.
"We can help," Harry shouted at the others, reaching out to grasp Hermione's hand. "Gather round and make sure every one of you touches either myself or Hermione. We'll make contact with our joint mind and help you resist the temptations."
"And don't look at her," shouted Remus. "Keep your eyes towards the middle of the group. Make sure you don't look into her eyes."
They all did as Harry asked and waited, a small and pathetic group of humanity huddled together in the desert in the presence of the unspeakable evil from the Dark Realm. Lammashta spotted the ten souls below her and again filled the air with her insane laughter. She swooped down and circled the group, toying with them all, trying to attract a curious glance from one of them.
Harry and Hermione searched their memories for something that would help focus the minds of their friends - a mental image that would serve as a defence against the coming attack. And then they had it - they'd seen it in the carvings and paintings in the temple behind them - the ancient Egyptian symbol for life and truth - the ankh.
They sent a vision of a glowing white ankh into the minds of their friends. 'Concentrate on the ankh,' they sent their joint thought.
Lammashta howled when her first ploy failed to attract even a single glance in her direction. She hovered directly above the group and started to send visions into their minds, visions that she knew couldn't fail to catch their attention.
Ron's eyes were screwed tightly shut as he concentrated on the glowing ankh in his mind, but just at the edge of his thoughts lurked an even more beautiful image. He saw the radiant beauty of Margot step from behind the ankh, smiling and beckoning to him, urging him to fall into her waiting arms, urging him to experience the love that she had for him.
'Ron!' Hermione shouted into his mind, pushing past the tempting vision. 'Don't listen to it. It's just a false vision put there by Lammashta. Concentrate on the ankh!'
Ron's chin set in determined defiance of the she-devil and banished the vision from his mind, looking at the glowing ankh. Lammashta again howled in frustration and moved her focus to Ginny, the youngest and most vulnerable in the group.
Ginny saw the beautiful young boy step from behind the ankh. He was naked, apart from a loose cloth around his hips, and his shining muscular body just screamed out for her to touch it, and in turn to be touched by the sensuous hands that beckoned to her. But far more tempting was the look of pure love in the boy's eyes. Love for her, Ginny, who had only had the most fleeting of contacts with the opposite sex. The boy's eyes seemed to bore into her very soul, stripping away her defences and exposing her desire for love. Ginny was on the verge of opening her eyes to look at the vision directly, wanting to reach out for his strong and adoring embrace.
'Ginny!' shouted Harry urgently through the vision. 'No don't look - it's just a trick. Concentrate on the love around you, the love and truth that's held within the glowing ankh.'
Ginny resisted. She delved into the depths of her being, reaching down into her reserves of concentration, forcing the vision of the boy from her mind.
Once more Lammashta howled, and so it went on. She offered temptation after temptation to each one in the group, but each one resisted, helped by the marvellous powers of concentration of the Anima Summas and the active mental support of the others. For an hour she raged around and over them, doing everything she knew to find a chink in their armour. But she failed. With a final shriek of frustration, she rose into the air and drifted swiftly in the direction of the river Nile, where she knew there would be more and easier targets to tempt.
Harry and Hermione broke contact with the rest and slumped, exhausted, to the desert floor, their mental energies almost spent. Everyone looked towards the Nile, seeing the black vortex and the shimmering demon beneath moving towards it.
Nadine spoke shakily, "There's a small fishing village over the hill just a little further north along the Nile. It looks like she's heading in that direction."
"We've got to warn them, protect them somehow," gasped Hermione, getting groggily to her feet. "Come on."
They staggered over the barren desert towards the tiny village, and scrambled up the sandy hill that overlooked it. They got to the top, panting heavily, and looked down.
"Oh no!" The strangled words showed the deep despair that Ginny felt as she saw a cluster of villagers gathered around three pathetic bundles lying at the edge of the village.
"It's too late," said Remus sadly, looking up at the sky. "She's gone. She's returned to the Dark Realm, and that can only mean one thing - she's found her victims and stolen their souls."
They all ran down the hill towards the spot where the villagers were gathered and looked in dismay at the three young people lying on the ground, their friends and relatives wailing in despair above them. Bill eased his way through the ranks of the people and looked down into the faces of the unfortunate trio. What he saw would haunt him for the rest of his life. Two young girls, not much older than Ginny, and a slightly older boy stared unseeing at the sky. They still breathed, but they didn't move. The horrified and haunted look in their eyes reflected the mental torture they must have endured as Lammashta sucked their souls from their beings.
Bill walked back to the group, his eyes wet. "It's horrible," he said. "They're only kids."
Ceri laid a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, and Nadine reached out to hold his hand.
"What will happen to them Remus?" asked Ginny quietly.
"I don't know, Ginny. It's too late for their souls I'm afraid. They've been taken back to the Dark Realm, but without their souls, their bodies are just empty shells, incapable of coherent thought and emotion. I just don't know."
"Come on," said Sirius, "we can't do anything to help these poor people now. We'd better get back to the Portkey site and back to Hogwarts. You'll need to get those hieroglyphics translated Hermione."
Sirius tried to lift their spirits as they walked slowly back towards the temple, but with his own spirits at such a low ebb, he just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to do the job properly. He eventually gave up and walked in silence like the rest of them.
The next day, Sirius, Remus and Charlie walked into Hogsmeade and up to the Shrieking Shack, the new headquarters of 'Weasleys Wizard Wheezes'. They went in through the side door and found the place buzzing with activity. They threaded their way through the piles of boxes packed with Whammos, stacked in a seemingly haphazard way throughout most of the downstairs rooms.
"Charlie! Mooney! Padfoot!" shouted George as they walked into the front room, the hub of their empire. "What brings you here?"
"Where's Fred, George?" asked Charlie.
"He's up with the others on the first floor. Hang on a minute - Fred, we've got company!" he shouted.
They heard the sound of feet thudding rapidly down the stairs, and Fred shot into the room. He grinned widely when he recognised the visitors and greeted them warmly.
"So," he said, "what's new?"
"We ran into a spot of bother yesterday," began Sirius.
"Come and sit down," said George, noting the concerned looks on their faces.
"We don't know how," said Sirius, "but the Death Eaters managed to disable a load of Whammos we had covering our camp site."
"Harry and Hermione were captured," said Charlie, and raised his hand quickly when he saw the look of panic on his brothers' faces. "But they managed to escape. They're all fine."
"When we looked around the site," continued Remus, "we found that some of the Whammos had been crushed, probably by fairly mild Flipendus curses. They didn't go off, probably because they were disabled from beyond their detection range."
"But what concerns us," said Sirius, "is how they were recognised in the first place."
"We'd better get Lee, Angelina and Alicia down here," said Fred, looking worried. "They should hear this."
A few minutes later, Fred and George's workforce joined them at the table and listened as Charlie filled them in on the events of the previous day.
"So what do you think?" asked Charlie. "Can you do anything to improve them?"
"You can be sure that the word will get out to the Death Eaters both here and in America," said Sirius, "and they'll be looking out for them now."
"We could disguise them a bit better," said Lee. "Different sizes and stone colours, and we could make them to look like fallen twigs from trees, leaves, anything. We could produce separate batches to camouflage them for just about every type of terrain in the world."
"We could toughen their casings as well," suggested Alicia. "So it won't be so easy to destroy them."
"There's probably a lot more improvements we can come up with," said George. "I'll get onto the ministry and arrange a meeting. It might be a good idea, Fred, if we went on a little trip to see them in action for ourselves. We could talk to the people who rely on them - the aurors."
"Sounds good to me George," replied Fred. "See what you can arrange. But there's something we've got to get to grips with - if we're going to start making a lot of different varieties, we just won't be able to keep up with demand with just us five and the weekend help from the students. We'd better ask the ministry if they can provide some help. We can ask them to recommend some of their most trustworthy people to help us here. I'm sure they'll agree, because it's important to the safety of their people."
"Well we'll leave it in your capable hands," said Sirius, getting up from his seat. "I know you're very busy, so we won't keep you any longer."
The four walked into the headmaster's office to see that Professor Denarnaud was there. Ron rushed up to him. "Professor! How's Margot?"
Jules looked sadly at Ron. "Still the same I'm afraid Ron. I've tried a few of the spells I found in my research; the ones I thought would be the most help, but they haven't made any difference at all. She's still very withdrawn and doesn't want to talk about her condition."
Hermione rubbed her hand on Ron's back, trying to comfort him, and he turned and smiled at her. "It's ok Hermione. I know Professor Denarnaud's doing everything he can and that's all I can ask for."
"How are you all?" asked Jules. "The headmaster told me you had quite a scare yesterday."
"We're fine Professor," Harry replied. "But we hope we won't be meeting Lammashta again for a very long time."
"No I'm sure you won't. That must have been terrifying for you all. Well - are you ready for your next accelerated learning session this afternoon?" asked the grand master.
"Yes sir," Harry answered. "But first, we'd like to ask Professor Dumbledore if he'll translate some hieroglyphics Hermione found in the Osireion at Abydos."
"That sounds interesting," said Jules. "I studied ancient writing a long time ago just after I left University. Do you mind if I help?"
"Please do Jules," said Dumbledore. "Let's see what you've got Hermione."
"I found this writing under some ancient and crumbling plaster in an annex off the main part of the Osireion," said Hermione. She nodded at Ginny. "Ginny wrote it onto some parchment exactly as it is."
"I haven't heard of any new scripts found in Egypt for a long time Hermione," said Jules. "Funny I haven't heard about this."
Hermione flushed pink and whispered, "I'm afraid I was very naughty Professor. I had to pull the plaster off the wall to get to it. You won't tell anyone will you?"
"You didn't!" gasped Jules in mock indignation. Dumbledore chuckled as he slowly shook his head at the image that suddenly sprung into his mind of Hermione, in her insatiable quest for knowledge, pulling away the plasterwork that had, until then, been stuck to the wall for many thousands of years.
Ginny pulled the piece of parchment from her robe pocket and placed it in front of the two professors.
"Ah - now let's see," said Dumbledore slowly. "It's very ancient. Old Kingdom do you think Jules?"
"I agree Albus, perhaps even older," he replied. "Have you got any books on Old Kingdom hieroglyphs? I don't recognise some of these pictographs."
"Hmm, yes, I see what you mean," he replied, walking over to his bookcases and looking along the line of books. He pulled a very large tome from the shelf and placed it on the table.
"Right, let's get started shall we?"
An hour later, after much discussion between the two professors about the meaning of some of the symbols, Dumbledore declared that they had a working translation. "I'll read it out, shall I?"
'This message is for the eyes of the seekers of the Light. Your path lies beneath the site of the Ancient Neterw, upon which many of their monuments still stand. Follow the mystical journey of divine Osiris and be sure to arm yourselves with the spells and device to ward off the terrifying forces that lurk in its hidden depths.
'The spells of protection can be found in the tomb known as the Pyramid of Unas, and also at the Temple of Horus at Edfu, where there is also a secret message hidden among the inscriptions on the inner enclosure wall of the temple. This will guide you to the Shemsu-hor and their sacred device and to the place where you can gain the ancient secret of the point of entry into the Duat.'
Professor Dumbledore looked up into the excited faces of the four youngsters. "That's it," exclaimed Hermione. "That's what we've been looking for - we can get the spells and then find the entrance into the Duat. We're nearly there! But who or what is the Shemsu-hor?"
"Not so fast young lady," said Jules, smiling at the infectious enthusiasm of the girl. "You won't be able to waltz into those places and just read the spells, you know. I know for a fact that the burial chamber in the Pyramid of Unas and its entrance chambers are covered from ceiling to floor in hieroglyphic writing. The scripts, known as the Pyramid Texts, comprise hundreds upon hundreds of spells, and you'll have to find out which ones are relevant to your quest. It's a similar story at Edfu - loads of hieroglyphics cover the walls of the temple. Perhaps you'll find out there about the Shemsu-hor. But most important of all, you can't even read hieroglyphics. How are you going to find a secret message in all that script if you can't read the texts?"
Hermione's face had fallen further and further as Jules spoke, and now looked quite deflated. But then she brightened. "Well you can help there, Professor. You can teach us how to read hieroglyphics using your accelerated learning spell - can't you?"
"Us Hermi?" asked Ron looking quite ill. "Don't you mean 'you'? I don't fancy holding all that stuff in my head for ever more."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Well all right, me then!" She looked expectantly at Jules.
"I suppose it's possible, but I haven't got an established schedule for the subject so it might not work."
"What if Hermione and I link together mentally - would our heightened state of awareness help with the process?" asked Harry.
"Again it's possible," replied Jules, "but you must realise that we're sailing in uncharted waters here. I haven't had a pair of Anima Summas as subjects before."
"But you'll try?" asked Hermione.
"Of course," he replied. "Will you help me Albus?"
Dumbledore nodded. "Of course. The other two can have their normal session, but Hermione and Harry can catch up with their normal lessons on the next session. We'd better start preparing for the lesson Jules, we'll only have a few hours to get it all ready."
"Do you know where the Pyramid of Unas is Hermi?" asked Ron as they walked back up to the common room.
Hermione shrugged, but Ginny answered, "I remember seeing it on the map. It's about ten miles south-east of the Great Pyramid of Giza."
"What about the Temple of Edfu?" asked Harry.
"That's between Luxor and Aswan," she replied brightly.
"We'll have to study their lay-out," said Hermione. "There must be loads of photographs and commentary on those two places, and the better prepared we are, the easier it'll be to find what we're looking for. And we need to look for any references to the Shemsu-hor as well."
"Oh no! More reading!" groaned Ron. His friends smiled, pleased that he was acting more like the normal Ron at last.
That afternoon, the four walked into their accelerated learning classroom where they found Professors Denarnaud and Dumbledore waiting for them. They took their seats at the front of the room and looked expectantly at the piles of books and parchments on the table.
"Jules, if you start Ron and Ginny off with their session," said Dumbledore, "I'll quickly brief Harry and Hermione about Middle Kingdom hieroglyphics."
"Uh, Professor Dumbledore," said Hermione. "Shouldn't we learn about Old Kingdom writing as well?"
"I'm afraid it hasn't been possible to prepare a session for that Hermione," he replied. "There's very little material on Old Kingdom writing here at Hogwarts, and it would take weeks to gather everything together to teach it. Most of the texts in the Pyramid of Unas and at the Temple at Edfu are written in Middle Kingdom, so it's best if we cover that. If you come across anything you can't translate, you'll have to copy it and bring it back here for us to do it."
"Yes Professor," said Hermione.
"While Professor Denarnaud activates the spells on Ron and Ginny and gives them their material to read, I'll just give you a brief history of the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics. It all started in 1799 when a French army officer uncovered a granite rock carved with three scripts - hieroglyphs, demotic or popular Egyptian, and ancient Greek. This proved to be the key to deciphering the writings of the ancient Egyptians. The stone slab came to be known as the Rosetta Stone, named after the town in which it was found. A French scholar named Champollion got hold of a copy of the writings in 1808, and managed to complete the first translation. The first things he noticed were a number of a series of glyphs contained within an oval enclosure, called a cartouche, and he equated them to the names of several Pharaohs in the Greek text. He soon identified the names Ptolemy and Cleopatra, and saw that each of the glyphs corresponded to a letter. From that, he was able to draw up a small alphabet, which grew over time. The odd thing about hieroglyphics is that they can be written both vertically and horizontally, and not only that, from right to left and from left to right. The only way of telling which way the glyphs go is by looking at some of the human or animal heads in the script - the line starts at the end in which the head is looking, so if they're looking to the right, then the script is read from right to left, and the opposite way if they look towards the left.
"And just when you think you've got that sorted out, you come up against two other oddities - there aren't any spaces between the words and there aren't any vowels! That's why no one is really sure how each word is pronounced."
"I'll have to have a word with Thoth and Seshat when I see them next," said Hermione with a grin. "I'll ask them why they couldn't have invented an easier written language to learn!"
"Ah, Professor Denarnaud is ready, I see," said the headmaster. "This session will be different from your earlier one because both myself and Professor Denarnaud will interact with you constantly. We'll have to explain a lot of the things you need to learn, such as the complex grammatical forms. Right, let's get started shall we?"
The learning session continued throughout the afternoon and into early evening, but by the time it came to a close, both Harry and Hermione were confident that they'd be able to translate most of the hieroglyphics they'd come across. They were, however, very tired and didn't even bother to grab a quick sandwich before crawling into their beds.
Oliver and Katie sat on Oliver's bed in his tent, waiting for the time when the Portkey to Hogwarts would be activated. Katie'd had a message from Professor Dumbledore asking her to visit him on her next leave, because he had some news for her. She sat looking down at her hands, twiddling her thumbs nervously.
"Don't worry Katie," said Oliver, gently rubbing her shoulder. "I'll be with you."
"But what if my parents won't budge Oliver?" she asked. "They were so adamant they wouldn't tell me who my real father is the last time I spoke to them."
"If anyone can persuade them Katie, Dumbledore can," he replied, looking sadly at the beautiful girl next to him. He hated to see her so upset, and he drew her close and wrapped his arms around her, trying to comfort her. He kissed her on her forehead and then looked at his watch. "It's nearly time. We'd better get ready."
A few minutes later, they materialised outside the main entrance to the school. They both shivered in the late January air, so different from the heat of the Dead Sea area, and they quickly walked up the stairs towards the headmaster's office. As they approached, the gargoyle stepped to one side and allowed them entry to the spiral staircase leading up to headmaster's room.
"Ah, Katie, Oliver - come in and sit down," said Dumbledore, smiling at the pair. "How are things at Qumran? Any sign of Death Eaters lately?"
"No Professor," said Oliver. "It's been very quiet - too quiet I think."
Dumbledore nodded and looked at the girl sitting nervously before him. "Katie, I've been to see your parents, and I spent several hours talking to them about your real father. They explained why they don't want you to know who he is, and I've tried to get them to change their mind. But I'm afraid I failed. I'm so sorry."
A little tear ran down the side of Katie's cheek. "I was afraid of this. They were so adamant about it before. But I just can't understand why they won't tell me."
"Katie, they're afraid they'll lose you if they tell you who he is. I tried to explain that you still regard them as your parents and knowing your real father wouldn't change that, but I think they've lived with the fear that you'll find out for so long, that it's ingrained in them. They just won't risk losing you."
"What can I do Oliver?" she asked pleadingly.
Oliver frowned as he regarded the headmaster. "Did you see any glimmer of hope when you spoke to them Professor?"
"Well there was one stage in the conversation when I thought I'd managed to convince them, but they just seemed to recoil from the idea. They withdrew into their shells and from then on there was nothing I could do."
"Do you think it would help if I went with Katie to see them?" asked Oliver.
"Well you can try Oliver, but you'll have to put up a very convincing argument."
"Katie?" asked Oliver as he held her hand.
"But we haven't got long before we have to go back to headquarters to organise the provisions, and you wanted to call in to see Fred, George and the others," she replied.
"We can see them another time Katie. This is more important."
"All right. Thanks Oliver, and thank you for trying Professor Dumbledore."
Dumbledore smiled at the pair as they prepared to take the Floo network to Katie's parents house.
"Mum, Dad," Katie smiled as she greeted her parents, who caught around her lovingly.
"We haven't seen you for a long time," said her father. "I hate to think of you out there waiting for 'You Know Who' to attack."
Her mother, in the mean time, looked curiously over Katie's shoulder as Oliver stepped out of the fireplace. Katie turned and run to him, clasping his hand in hers, and dragging him over to her parents. "This is Oliver," she said, smiling prettily.
"Mr and Mrs Bell - pleased to meet you," said Oliver nervously.
Mr Bell shook Oliver's hand while his wife eyed him appraisingly. "I take it that you and Katie are… together?" she asked.
"Yes Mum," said Katie. "Oliver was our Quidditch captain at Hogwarts, and now he's our team leader in Qumran."
"You're with Katie in Qumran?" said Mr Bell, looking with some respect at Oliver, and thinking that he was still very young to be in charge of a group of twenty aurors.
"Yes sir," he replied. "And don't worry, I won't let anything happen to Katie if it's within my power.
"I'm sure you won't," said Mrs Bell, smiling at the handsome young man.
"So is that why you're visiting?" asked Mr Bell. "To introduce us to your boyfriend?"
"Well yes and no Dad," said Katie slowly. "We've just come from Professor Dumbledore - he told us what you said in your meeting with him."
"Now look Katie," said her mother. "We've been over this time and time again, and we haven't changed our minds."
"But Mum, even if I find my real father, it won't change the way I feel about you both. Your still my mother and father."
"It's good to know that Katie, but we just can't," said her father.
"But why Dad?"
Her parents looked at each other sadly but didn't reply.
"Mr and Mrs Bell," said Oliver. "I think I know how you feel about this, but I've seen Katie agonising about finding her biological father for a while now. I … I know I said I'd protect Katie, and I'll guard her with my life if I have to, but we're in a very difficult position at Qumran and 'You Know Who' could attack at any time. If anything should happen to us… well, I think Katie deserves to know who her father is before anything does happen. It might be too late for you to change your minds then."
"Please Mum, Dad," Katie implored her parents.
Mrs Bell had to wipe a tear from her eye as she contemplated what might happen to her daughter. She'd always known, of course, that Katie was in constant danger but when Oliver put it those terms, it seemed more real somehow. She looked at her husband and raised her eyebrows questioningly.
Mr Bell smiled wryly. "Your mother and I'll talk about it this evening Katie, and if we decide you should be told, I'll get in touch with Professor Dumbledore. I think we'd want him to tell you… I don't think we could."
Katie stretched up and kissed her father, and then her mother. "Thank you both, I know it's the right thing to do."
"Are you staying for tea?" asked Mrs Bell brightly.
"Yes - thank you Mrs Bell," said Oliver. "But we have to be back on Salisbury Plain in a few hours."
"Father! What are you doing here?" asked Draco at the unexpected appearance of Lucius Malfoy in the Slytherin common room.
"You're coming with me tonight Draco," he replied, quietly so the other students in the room couldn't hear. "The Dark Lord feels that you should get a little advance tuition in the noble art of Muggle and Mudblood baiting."
"What do you mean father? I can't leave the school!"
"I've spoken to Snape and he's given his permission. I told him that your mother's ill and wants to see you."
"Where are we going?" asked Draco, feeling the excitement starting to build.
"To a little place not far from here," replied his father. "I'll tell you more on the way to Hogsmeade. We'll Apparate from there to meet a team of our best Death Eaters just outside the place."
A little later, Draco stood overlooking a small village just off the lonely secondary road that skirted Loch Rannoch. Rannoch Moor was one of the more wild and desolate places in Scotland, even in summer, and the freezing winter wind that whipped around Draco's robes sent a shiver through his body, a shiver that was attributable not only to the cold. Lucius had warned his son to stay well away from the action, his task being to watch and learn, but Draco had eased closer to the village, not wanting to miss anything.
The attack started when one of the Death Eaters came too close to a Whammo, sending a loud explosion over the village, together with the attendant glowing yellow light that covered the Death Eater's robes.
Several of the villagers, obviously witches and wizards, burst out of their cottages looking for the tell-tale signs of the source of the explosion, and rushed from house to house warning their neighbours, both Muggle and Magical person alike, to run from the attack. Some of them managed to get away from the village and hid in the many nooks and crannies along the bank of the loch, but most didn't. Deadly green beams of light cut across the narrow space between the moorland and the village, and people started to die.
Draco looked on in horror - he hadn't really known what to expect. He'd had the idea that he'd see the victims being taunted and perhaps even mildly tortured, but he hadn't expected to see death. The thing that caused him the most horror was the vision of a hauntingly beautiful young girl with long auburn hair, not much younger than himself, and reminding him vaguely of Ginny Weasley, who cried out in pain and despair as a powerful Flipendus curse hit her in the middle of her chest. He'd never forget the look of terror in the girl's eyes as she collapsed to the floor, her life extinguished in the blink of an eye.
Draco was very quiet on the way back to Hogwarts. He'd been sickened just after the raid ended at the boasts and laughter of the Death Eaters, and kept seeing in his mind the face of the beautiful young girl as she dropped to the ground. His father didn't really notice his pensive mood, too elated with the success of the raid. Draco flopped onto his bed and thought long and hard about the events of the night. He didn't really understand that the influence exerted by Dumbledore and Snape had actually started to stamp some higher moral values onto his previously cold and heartless life, but he now slowly came to realise that he wanted no part of the terrible crusade of the Dark Side.
He thought back to the time when he'd spied on Potter and his friends in the library, and the confusing feelings of jealousy he'd had for their close friendship. And he thought of Ginny Weasley, the girl that so resembled the unfortunate soul that had been callously murdered that night. Draco then did something that he hadn't done before, not since he was a little baby. He cried, but most importantly he didn't cry for himself - he cried for the young girl whose life had been so mercilessly snuffed out.
The first day of February saw Hogwarts covered in a blanket of snow, deposited by the storm that raged around the school's venerable towers the previous night. Ron sat in the common room looking out of the window onto the bleak scene, wondering if it had snowed in Rennes-le-Chateau last night. He jumped when Hermione asked him a question. "What?" he asked.
"Ron, I said is there a diagram of the Pyramid of Unas in the book you're supposed to be reading?"
"Uh, I don't know Hermi. Hang on a minute, I'll look." Ron thumbed through the book until he came to the list of photographs and diagrams. "Yes. Page 178." He turned to the page and spread the book out on the table.
"Let's see," said Harry. "We go in through an entrance chapel built just outside the northern slope of the pyramid, and then we walk down and along a tunnel to the middle of the pyramid into an antechamber, and the burial chamber's on the right of that."
"Can we narrow down what section of the texts we should look at?" asked Hermione. "See if there's anything about the Pyramid Texts in your book Ginny."
"I just read something about it," she replied, turning back a few pages and scanning the section she'd previously read. "Here we are. Well there's one place that we needn't bother looking. It says that on the northern wall of the burial chamber, the first two hundred and twelve utterances, that's what they call the verses written there, have been dismissed by established Egyptologists as meaningless and worthless, and they've put them down to fantasy and myth. Now let's see if they say anything about the other walls…"
"Hang on a minute Ginny," said Hermione looking thoughtfully at her friend. "That's precisely where we should start looking. If we're going to find anything, it'll be there."
"But if the Egyptologists say the text is useless, why should we bother?" asked Ron.
"Because," she said testily, "they most probably don't know what they're talking about!"
"You haven't got a very high opinion of Egyptologists have you Hermi?" said Harry, grinning at his girlfriend.
"No I haven't", she replied. "Do you know, they…"
Ron interrupted her as he looked pleadingly at the ceiling, "Oh no, I feel another rant coming on!"
"Yes Ron," she said, "and with good reason. They've got their heads so far up their arses they can't tell fact from fiction."
"Hermione!" they all looked aghast at the smouldering face of their friend, and settled down to listen to her views about Egyptologists, knowing that they wouldn't be able to stop her.
"For over a hundred years they've held back the flow of knowledge, they've repeatedly misread the finds that have been made, and stick to their illogical theories like flies round sh…"
"Hermione!" they all shouted again.
"Do you know that one discovery turned up a number of amazing diorite jars, dated to over 3000BC, in pre-dynastic times."
"What's diorite?" asked Ginny.
"It's a very hard dark coloured rock found in the Nubian Desert, south of Egypt. It's the hardest rock known to man, harder even than granite. Even today, tempered steel drills can only just scratch the surface, yet those jars had long narrow necks, ending in bulbous compartments. They'd been perfectly smoothly hollowed out, and engineers state that even using today's technology, we wouldn't be able to do that. Yet Egyptologists would have us believe that the strongest tools possessed by the Egyptians were made of copper - one of the softest metals."
"So how do the Egyptologists explain it?" asked Harry.
"That's just it Harry, they don't! Whenever they're faced with something that disturbs their precious preconceived ideas, they either put it down to coincidence or just ignore it like they did with the jars. They consign it to a dusty museum archive, and hope it goes away. And it's been the same all throughout history in other branches of learning, not only Egyptology - the establishment stick to their beliefs in the face of evidence to the contrary. It's just an entrenched protectionism of the status quo. The leading scientists of every generation dogmatically reject any new innovators because it often contradicts what they've been telling us for the last couple of decades. Take Galileo for instance - just because he agreed with Copernicus that the Earth wasn't the centre of the Universe, the church threatened him with torture under the Inquisition unless he recanted his views. No, the self-styled scholars stick to their beliefs, thinking they're the fount of all knowledge and teach it to the rest of us, but ultimately, they know very little and just perpetuate ignorance."
"Does that include Dumbledore?" asked Harry, grinning.
"No Harry, it doesn't! And you know what I mean."
"Have you finished now?" asked Ron.
"Well the north wall of the pyramid of Unas it is then," said Harry referring to the diagram. "That's on the right as we go in through the antechamber."
"I've found something about the Shemsu-hor," said Ginny. "It says here that there's an old legend that the origins of the ancient city of Edfu are accredited to the mysterious Shemsu-hor - it means the Followers of Horus - who established their cult centre there in honour of their leader, the god Horus, long before the coming of the first Pharaohs. The author says that the Shemsu-hor are still thought to be active as a secret cult."
"Hey, I wonder if they're anything like the Priory of Sion," exclaimed Ron. "Perhaps they're the spiritual guardians of the secret chamber of Thoth!"
"It doesn't say anything more about them here," said Ginny, "except that they're referred to in the Building Texts at the Temple of Horus in Edfu."
"We'll have to look for that piece of text Harry," said Hermione, now fully calmed down.
The four friends wouldn't have noticed Draco Malfoy spying on them from beneath his invisibility cloak - even had he been there like he normally was. At that moment, Draco was lying in bed, wrestling with his thoughts, trying to find a way to get himself out of the clutches of the Dark Lord.
"Fred, George, come in… come in and sit down." Cornelius Fudge greeted the twins like they were long-lost sons. "I'm very impressed with your… uh… Whammos, they've played a big part in our security measures."
"Thank you minister," said George, "but Sirius Black came to see us the other day. It seems that the Death Eaters have somehow been able to recognise them and disable them from a distance. We've discussed various improvements, and we're currently putting them into production."
"I see," said Fudge slowly. "Is that why you've come to see me?"
"Yes and no," said Fred. "We'd like to visit some of your aurors out at the sharp end of things and get their views on any more improvements they'd like to see. Would it be possible for you to arrange it for us?"
"One moment," he said as he got up from his chair and spoke to his secretary in the next room.
"We've got another problem minister," said George when Fudge sat back down. "One of manpower. We desperately need more help in producing the Whammos. We wondered if you could recommend any trustworthy witches and wizards."
Fudge thought for a few moments. "I think I can help you there. Some of our departments have almost come to a full stop since the conflict started, so I'd be only too glad to second some people to your operation, just to keep them occupied. Ah, Marcus - sit down please. Fred, George this is Marcus Heatherington-Jones, the head of auror defences in the country. Marcus, the twins would like to visit some of our operations to get the views of our aurors on their detection devices. What would you suggest?"
Marcus shook hands with the twins and sat back in his chair. "I think it might be an idea to visit 'Mad Eye' Moody; he'll be only too pleased to give you his views, and he's right up to date with the current tactical situation. And after that, we could see Dave Henson at Qumran - you won't find any place closer to the action than he's in at the moment. When would you like to start?"
"As soon as we can Marcus," said Fred.
"Right, there's no time like the present. Let's drop in on 'Mad-Eye' first."
After shaking hands with Fudge, the twins followed Marcus into the outer room where they took the Floo network to Camp Merlin. Their meeting with 'Mad Eye' and his ex-aurors turned out to be a real eye-opener in more ways than one for Fred and George. They hastily scribbled onto their parchments as they noted the very valid comments of the experienced crew of the training camp.
Then Marcus took them back to the Salisbury Plain headquarters, again via the Floo network, to the place where a permanent Portkey to Qumran was set up. They materialised into the heat of the desert just inside the canyon entrance, and Marcus led them up to meet Dave Henson, who stood talking to a group of aurors in their defensive positions.
After the introductions, Dave walked with them into the canyon to his normal meeting place, inside a large rocky enclosure.
"The next watch change will be in half an hour," said Dave. "I'll be able to get all my team leaders together for a meeting then. Why don't you take a look around until then? I'll meet you back here in half an hour."
"Thanks Dave," said Fred. "Uh, can you tell me where I can find Oliver Wood?"
"You know Oliver? His tent is over there," he said pointing to one of the many tents at the base of the canyon wall. "But if I were you, I'd knock before you go in."
The twins looked puzzled, but thanked Dave and set off in the direction of Oliver's tent, leaving Marcus to discuss some business with the task force leader.
"I wonder what he meant by that?" asked George.
"Perhaps he's sleeping before going on duty and doesn't like being disturbed," answered Fred.
"Well he's going to get one rude awakening," said George grinning.
They stopped outside the tent and looked at each other when they heard some strange noises coming from inside.
"If I didn't know better," said George, "I'd say he's got a girl in there."
Fred grinned slyly. "Well the old dog's going to get a shock then, isn't he."
They held up their hands and silently counted down on their fingers. 3-2-1-open.
"Surprise!" they both shouted. But they were the ones who got the surprise, their broad grins changing to looks of disbelief and then back to broad grins again when they saw Oliver and Katie in a clinch on the bed - both fully clothed they noted.
"Fred, George, what the hell are you doing here?" exclaimed Oliver, pulling his lips away from Katie's.
"I think we got here just in time," said Fred.
"How long have you two been an item?" asked George.
Oliver and Katie got up from the bed, hastily straightening their clothes, and welcomed the twins, Katie giving them both a big hug.
"I'm glad to see you took our advice Oliver," said George.
"Alicia, Angelina and Lee are going to be knocked out when we tell them," added Fred.
The twins insisted that Katie tell them exactly what happened to get them together, knowing that Alicia and Angelina would expect to hear nothing less than the full story in every detail. She spent the next twenty minutes doing exactly that, but leaving out the more intimate bits. She knew, of course, that her two female friends would drag those out of her when they next met.
Then it was time for the meeting and Oliver walked with them to see the other team leaders. It proved to be just as informative and worthwhile as their visit to 'Mad Eye', and the twins were happy that they'd gathered enough information to make even more improvements to their devices, as well as some ideas for an entirely new range of security enhancement devices. They couldn't wait to get back to Hogsmeade to put the ideas into practice and to build some new prototypes.
They waved goodbye to Oliver and Katie, who promised to visit them on their next leave, and walked back to the canyon entrance to take the Portkey back to the U.K. Eventually, they arrived back at their office in the Shrieking Shack and were pleased to see five ministry employees waiting for them. Fudge had lived up to his promise.
Bill Weasley shook Sirius' hand soon after the Hogwarts group materialised at the Portkey site just to the southern end of the Pyramid of Unas. He then walked quickly over to greet his brothers and sister and the rest of the group, paying special attention to Ceri. The American noted a slight change in Bill; his eyes didn't quite have the same devil-may-care twinkle in them, and she felt his sadness as he held her hand.
"You haven't got over the she-devil's attack yet Bill?" she said quietly.
Bill shook his head. "I've lived here a long time Ceri and I've come to love these people. Those three kids didn't deserve that fate - no one could deserve that. I don't know why, but I feel a bit responsible for it happening."
"That's just silly Bill. You can put that out of your head as soon as you like. 'You Know Who' caused that tragedy and no one else."
Bill smiled. "Thanks Ceri, I wish I could believe that, but if I hadn't brought you here he wouldn't have come, and neither would have Lammashta."
Ceri looked closely at Bill, seeing a side to the man that she hadn't suspected existed. Bill sucked in a deep breath, pulled himself away from his gloomy thoughts and smiled. "Come on then you lot, we've got a pyramid to visit."
Bill led the group along the eastern side of the crumbling pyramid, through a jumble of fallen masonry blocks, and towards the entrance at the northern end. "It doesn't look much," he told the others, "and it hasn't stood the test of time very well, but the inside is far better preserved."
Bill and the protectors kept a wary eye out for Death Eaters as the four youngsters walked towards the entrance to the complex inside the pyramid. They settled down in a defensive semi-circle outside while Harry led his three friends into the tunnel.
They lit their wands as they walked down the steps into the gloomy corridor and then along the tunnel until they reached the antechamber. They all looked around, trying to comprehend the ancient skill of the scribes who'd covered the walls with the vibrant carvings and hieroglyphs more than four thousand years ago. Hermione gazed at the work with excitement as she felt herself immersed in the history of the place.
"The burial chamber is through here on the right," said Harry, visualising the diagram of the tomb. They walked through the antechamber into the burial chamber and raised their wands high in the air to get a good look at the place. They found themselves in an enclosed room about twenty-two feet long and ten feet wide and a two-sided sloping roof above them. At the far end of the chamber was a black basalt sarcophagus cased in alabaster, although the funerary coffin was no longer inside.
"The roof is covered with five-pointed stars," whispered Hermione reverently. "And look at the walls - they're absolutely covered with hieroglyphs. We're looking at the oldest sacred book ever discovered." She reached out her hand and lightly drew it down the wall to her left, her eyes wide and full of wonder.
"The north wall is on the right," said Ron. "That's where you want to look isn't it Hermi?"
Harry and Hermione stepped closer to the northern wall and looked at the writing, holding their wands close to it to get a better view. "There's masses of writing here," gasped Harry. "Where do we start? We'll be ages translating this lot!"
Hermione had a twinkle in her eye as she looked to the bottom left hand side of the wall. "I don't think so Harry," she breathed. "Look at that!"
The four looked down and gasped as they saw what Hermione was looking at. It seemed that about a dozen columns of text close to the floor and just visible behind the side of the sarcophagus, were glistening with a faint internal light.
"Switch your wands off," she breathed. They all said the spell that extinguished the lights and stood as the darkness enclosed them. Then, as their eyes became more accustomed the darkness, they saw the slightly illuminated text. Hermione walked closer and the twelve columns of text grew brighter.
"These must be the spells we need," she said. "They seem to be attuned to react in the presence of witches and wizards."
"Or the presence of the Anima Summas," said Ginny.
"Ginny, Harry and I'll say these spells and you write them down exactly as you hear them. We won't translate them into English, because I've got a feeling that they have to be spoken in the language of the ancient Egyptians."
"But how do you know how the words sound?" asked Ginny. "Dumbledore said that the scholars can only guess how the language sounded."
Hermione looked at the first column and spoke words written in the hieroglyphics. Harry nodded. "That's how I'd say them as well."
"But how do you know it's right?" asked Ron.
"We just know Ron," Hermione answered, shaking her head slowly. "We just know."
Ginny pulled a parchment and quill from her robes and asked Ron to light his wand and hold it close so that she could see what she was writing. "I'm ready," she said.
"Harry," said Hermione. "I'll say each word and you spell it out for Ginny. Use the phonetic system that Professor Dumbledore taught us. Right, spell one.
'USIR UDJAT HOR UPI EN EK RE EK---BIA NETJER SHEMOU BIA NETJER MEHU'
"Got that Harry?"
Harry spelt out the words and Ginny dutifully wrote them onto the parchment. "Just as a matter of interest," said Ron. "What the hell does that mean?"
"Well," said Harry, wrinkling his brow in concentration, "the nearest I can translate them is - O Osiris activity of the Sacred Eye of Horus, there will open for you your Tunnel Opening --- god's Star lustre of the South and god's Star lustre of the North."
Ron exhaled a loud breath. "Bloody hell, I think I understood the Egyptian words better that the English ones!"
Harry and Hermione grinned and pressed on with the rest of the spells. Half an hour later, they'd finished and Ginny folded the parchment and put it inside her robes.
"That was weird," she said. "It's strange writing things down and not knowing what you're writing."
"This is all over my head," said Ron. "I think I'll just stick to Potions - it's easier."
"Did you spot it Harry?" asked Hermione. "All through those twelve spells, the Udjat Hor was mentioned."
"Yes, I think that must be very important to the journey through the Duat."
"What's the Udjat Hor?" asked Ron.
"It's the Sacred Eye of Horus," Harry answered. "It's mentioned in all twelve spells."
"Do you think that's the sacred device mentioned in that secret message that Dumbledore and Professor Denarnaud translated?" asked Ginny.
"I think it must be Ginny," Harry answered. "And I think we'll find out more about it in the Temple of Horus at Edfu."
They walked back through the antechamber, down the tunnel and up to the top of the steps, where they stopped and peered cautiously outside. The protectors were still in the same positions as before, still looking warily around the site, but there was no sign of any attack. Harry walked up to Sirius. "No sign of trouble then?"
"No Nothing," his godfather replied. "They can't have known we were coming. Did you find those spells?"
"Yes," said Hermione as the other three walked up, "and we need to get to Edfu now. Apart from finding how we get into the Duat, we think we've got to find the Sacred Eye of Horus."
Remus raised his eyebrows at the mention of the Eye. "Phew. Well I hope you find it - I've read a lot about that mythical relic."
"Mythical?" asked Ceri. "After the last few months I'm beginning to think that the myths of the ancient past are more factual than we ever thought possible."
Bill took them back to the Portkey that he'd set up on the other side of the pyramid. "Grab hold of this fallen pillar," he told them.
The next instant, they materialised in the desert, not far from the west bank of the Nile. The first thing they noticed was a marked raise in temperature. "We've come a fair way south." Bill smiled as they all started fanning themselves. He pointed behind them. "That's the Temple of Horus."
They turned and saw the stunningly well-preserved temple, and the massive pylons, standing over two hundred feet across and a hundred feet high, of the western enclosure wall rising majestically into the clear blue sky. As they walked towards the temple, Bill told them about the site. "It's the best preserved of all the temples in Egypt, thanks to the fact that it was buried in the desert sand for many centuries before it was excavated in the 1860's. Legend says that Edfu was the site of the mighty battle between the gods Horus and Seth…"
"When Seth lost his left…" started Ron, grinning.
"Ron!" shouted the other three, cutting him off in full flow.
"And Horus lost his eye," said Ginny quietly. "I wonder, we haven't got to find his… you know… his proper eye have we?"
The others looked at the redheaded girl but said nothing.
"It was built in the second century BC," Bill continued, "but again legend says that it was built over a much more ancient temple, although the Egyptologists are still arguing about that one."
"That figures!" said Hermione darkly.
They stopped when they reached the massive entranceway leading inside the temple enclosure and looked at the two large stone statues that stood on either side. "Two Falcons," said Bill. "Horus was always depicted with the head of a falcon."
They walked into the paved outer temple courtyard and looked around in awe at the colonnades on both sides and in front of them. They approached the main temple building, directly in front of them, and gazed up at the colossal black granite statue of Horus as a falcon, that guarded the entrance.
"All these walls, wherever you look," said Nadine, "they're all covered with carvings and hieroglyphics."
"This is huge," said Ron. "Where do we start looking?"
"At the centre," said Hermione with great assertion. "I think we'll find something in or around the inner sanctuary of the temple."
They stepped into the temple and found themselves in a massive hypostyle hall, the roof supported by twelve tall and massive stone columns. They walked across and entered another hall, similar to the first, and also supported by twelve huge columns. Beyond that they came to the inner sanctuary, the most sacred area of the temple, surrounding which were a number of other chambers.
"This is where we have to start looking," said Hermione. "Let's check out the inner sanctum first." The protectors stayed in the outer hall and the four youngsters entered the central chamber, holding their illuminated wands high to see the details of the carvings and writing on the walls. After a few minutes, Hermione shook her head. "These texts are all to do with the rituals of worship that the priests used. I can't see anything here that'll help us."
They walked back out and started to look in the chambers surrounding the inner sanctuary. The first one they entered had similar carvings and writings to the ones they'd seen earlier, and they quickly walked out and entered the second chamber. The hieroglyphics in this chamber were slightly different, but Harry and Hermione could see nothing of interest.
"Hey look at this," said Ron from the far side of the chamber. The other three looked across the room but couldn't see Ron.
"Ron?" said Ginny quietly. "Ron, where are you?"
"I'm right here Ginny," he said, laughing.
"Where!" she shouted.
Ron stepped out into the room, seemingly directly out of the solid rock wall. "This is clever," he said. "There's a hidden chamber here that can only been seen if you stand right in front of it. From where you three are standing it just looks like one straight wall."
"What's in there Ron?" asked Harry.
"Uh, I didn't look," he said.
All four walked into the hidden chamber and held up their wands. Every square inch of wall space was covered in carvings and hieroglyphic writing. Even the ceiling was covered in carvings depicting the gods, surrounded by the same five-pointed stars as in the burial chamber in the Pyramid of Unas.
"Look over there," said Ginny pointing her wand to the top-right corner of the chamber. "It's Horus isn't it? It's got the body of a man but the head of a falcon."
Below the carving of Horus were a number of columns of hieroglyphs, stretching from just below the carving all the way to the paved floor. Ginny walked towards the corner, her wand held high, and studied the carving more closely. "He's looking up at the stars on the ceiling and he's holding something that looks like a key in his left hand. His right hand is pointing down to the columns of writing below him."
Harry and Ron walked over to stand beside Ginny, but Hermione stopped in her tracks after she'd taken only two steps. "Do that again boys," she said quietly, looking intently at the columns of writing.
"Do what?" asked Harry. "We didn't do anything."
"No. Come back over here and then walk towards Ginny again."
Harry and Ron shrugged their shoulders but did as Hermione asked. They walked back over to her and then turned and walked back towards Ginny.
"No!" exclaimed Hermione. "Not like that, do exactly what you did earlier."
"Hermione! What the hell do you mean?" asked Ron.
"Come back here again, but when you walk back towards Ginny, hold your wands in the air exactly like you did the first time."
Again, Harry and Ron walked back to Hermione, turned, and holding their wands in the air started to walk towards Ginny in the corner of the room. They'd gone about halfway when Hermione shouted, "Stop! Stay exactly where you are."
They stopped and looked back at Hermione in confusion. "Is this some sort of silly game your playing Hermione?" asked Harry with a pained expression on his face.
"Of course not Harry," she replied. "Look at the columns of writing - can you see anything that looks odd to you?"
Harry looked at the columns of writing intently. "I can't see anything unusual!"
"Well from where I'm standing, some of the glyphs seem to be slightly out of alignment from the rest of them. You can only see it when the light's in a certain position. Ron, you stay there and Harry, you come and stand beside me."
Harry walked back to Hermione once more and looked at the columns of writing. He gasped, "You're right! I can see it now!"
"Do you think it's that secret code?" asked Ginny.
"I think so Ginny," Hermione answered. "You stay here Harry and I'll go over to Ginny. When I'm ready, direct my wand to each of the misaligned glyphs and I'll read what they say. Ginny, get your parchment and quill ready."
Hermione walked over to the corner of the chamber and held her wand above her head. "Right Harry," she said.
"Move your wand to the top of the left-hand column, third glyph down," said Harry.
Hermione studied the hieroglyph. "It says 'Go'. Next one?"
They continued the same procedure for the next fifteen minutes until all the misaligned writing had been translated.
"Can I move now?" whined Ron. "My bloody arm is nearly dropping off!"
"Yes, we're finished now Ron," said Hermione. Harry and Ron joined the two girls in the corner of the chamber. "What have we got Ginny?" asked Harry. "Read it out."
Ginny held her wand over the parchment and read, 'Go to the left pylon outside the enclosure wall. Go to the carving of holy Horus and look to his eye. He will direct you to the foundation stone of the first ancient temple built here. Enter the tomb.'
"Come on," shouted Hermione as she turned and ran out of the chamber. The others followed and rushed past the startled protectors standing in the hall outside the inner sanctuary.
"Where the hell are you lot going?" shouted Sirius.
"Come on, follow us," Harry shouted back.
They finally caught up with Hermione outside the enclosure walls. She walked along the massive left-hand pylon looking up at the huge thirty-foot carvings on the wall. She stopped when she stood below the second carving and looked at her friends as they approached. "This one is Horus," she said.
They all looked up at the head of the falcon. "I can't see anything odd about his eye," said Ron.
Hermione started to walk backwards, looking up at Horus' eye all the while. After about thirty yards she stopped. "That's it," she said. They walked over and looked up at the carving. They were astonished when they saw that Horus' eye was now quite large, and it was looking down towards the corner of the left-hand pylon.
"It's the way the carving was made," said Hermione. "From this angle, you can see more of the eye than you can when you stand directly below it."
"So the foundation stone must be just past the corner of the pylon," said Ron.
They walked over and looked around the sandy ground at the corner of the building. There were several large stones on the ground, but none of them seemed to fit the bill. They widened their search area, but couldn't find anything that looked like a foundation stone. The protectors formed a wide circle around the four, keeping watch on all sides for any sudden movements.
"Wait a minute," said Ron. "If it's a foundation stone, wouldn't it be buried in the ground? Or at least partially buried?"
"You may be right Ron," said Hermione. "Let's look back at the corner of the enclosure wall again."
They walked back and started looking closer at the ground. "Here's something," said Ginny pointing to the corner of a flat stone protruding from the sand.
They all knelt down and started sweeping the sand from the top of the stone to reveal its flat surface. "This could be it," said Harry, shovelling away the sand from around its sides. Soon they'd uncovered a large oblong block of dark granite, but they couldn't see any markings on its stark sides and surface.
Hermione plunged her hands below the sides, feeling around for any anomalies on the parts of the stone that were still below the sand. "I can feel something here," she said, shovelling away more of the sand. She bent lower and looked closely at the design that was carved into the very base of the stone.
"It's the eye!" she exclaimed. "It looks like the eye on that huge carving of Horus.
All four looked down at the carving. "What do you think we should do?" asked Ginny.
Hermione chewed her lip, deep in thought. "This is the foundation stone of the original temple, the source of everything that's been built here ever since."
"The source!" exclaimed Harry. "Perhaps we should use the spell we used in the labyrinth; the one we used to show the source of those seven rainbow lights."
"Let's try," said Hermione getting back to her feet. "Point your wands at the carving and say the spell together."
"Uh, remind me what the spell is Hermi," said Ron.
"It's 'Ostendo Origo' Ron. Three…Two…One…"
"OSTENDO ORIGO," they all said together.
Four silvery blue lights shot towards the carving, merging into a single, powerful beam of energy just before striking the carving in the centre of the eye. They watched the light slowly fade into the stone, and then heard a rumbling sound over to their left. They looked to see the sand churning about ten yards away from where they all stood, and then sliding down into the dark depths of the cavity that suddenly appeared.
Harry walked over and looked down. "There's steps going down," he said. "Come on."
Harry led the way down into the darkness, and they lit their wands to reveal rough blocks of granite on both sides, and the smooth stone steps leading further below the ground. Cautiously, they went down the steps until they stood in a small chamber, with an entranceway leading off to the right.
"The Eye of Horus," whispered Hermione as she looked up at the painted carving over the doorway. Harry walked through the entrance into a larger chamber, quickly followed by the other three. They held their wands high to see four bare walls, but the ceiling was covered in the same five-pointed stars as before.
Hermione gasped when she spotted the raised black granite altar in the centre of the room, but it wasn't the altar that made her gasp, it was the object that sat on it's smooth polished surface. The four walked slowly over to it and stared in awe at the Sacred Eye of Horus. It was about twelve inches across and six inches high and looked like a stylised eye, made from different coloured stones and metals. At the centre of the iris was a small white iridescent crystal, shimmering in the light from their wands.
"It's beautiful," breathed Ginny. Harry reached out and tentatively touched the eye; then he picked it up and brought it closer.
Hermione shouted when she saw something move on the table. "There's something underneath it." She leaned over the altar and looked at the ancient and faded parchment that rested there, the corners curling up when the Eye was lifted from its surface.
She reached over and lifted the parchment, holding it delicately in both hands. "There's writing on it. But I don't recognise all these hieroglyphics."
Harry looked at the parchment and shook his head. "It must be Old Kingdom," he said. "But look at the glyphs at the top, I recognise those."
Hermione looked closely and nodded. "Shemsu-hor," she breathed. "The Followers of Horus. It must be a message of some sort from them."
"We've got to get back to Hogwarts," said Harry, carefully placing the Eye of Horus into the pocket of his robes. "Professors Dumbledore and Denarnaud should be able to translate it."
They turned and walked back out of the chamber and over to the bottom of the stone steps, turning back for a last look at the painted carving of the Eye of Horus above the entranceway. The cover stone lifted back into place as soon as the four walked back out onto the sandy ground, all traces that a secret chamber existed below their feet gone.
"The Eye of Horus," whispered Dumbledore reverently. "I never thought I'd see the day when this sacred artefact was uncovered."
"Mon Dieu," said Jules in equally hushed tones. Harry and the others grinned at the reaction of the two professors; they just knew they'd be as impressed as they'd been with the mystical Eye.
"And we found this," said Ginny, pulling the parchment from her robes and spreading it out on the headmaster's desk. The two dragged their eyes from the Eye and looked down.
"This is just as old as the writing Hermione found in the Osireion Albus," said Jules as he and the headmaster pored over the ancient parchment.
Dumbledore walked over to his bookcases and pulled down the same large tome as he'd done a few days ago. "It might even be older Jules. This might take us a while to translate."
The four youngsters sat impatiently around the headmaster's desk as the two professors worked to decipher the script on the ancient parchment. Everyone looked up when they heard a loud rumbling sound. Ron, slightly red-faced, sat rubbing his stomach. "Sorry. Hunger pangs. Do you think we can get some sandwiches while we're waiting?"
"You four go down to the kitchens," said the chuckling Dumbledore. "I'm sure Dobby can rustle up something for you."
An hour later, the four walked back up to the headmaster's office, now feeling pleasantly full. The two professors were still hunched over the papyrus, discussing the meaning of several strange glyphs that they'd been unable to translate. Dumbledore looked up as they entered. "Ah, here they are. Come and sit down. We've translated the message, for that's what it turned out to be, but there are a few phrases that we're having some trouble with."
Jules picked up his parchment, on which he'd written the translation, and sat on the edge of the headmaster's desk. "I'll read out what we've got so far. The heading on the old parchment is 'The Followers of Horus'; they are the ones who left the message. It says…
'These words are for the eyes of the Anima Summas, the Seekers of Light in a world grown dark with evil. In a far place, across the Sea of Reeds, lies an ancient mine where the precious 'What-Is-It' is fashioned. Follow the signs of Ma-na in the Temple of Hathor on Mount Horeb. Seek, ye seekers of Light, and ye shall find the earthly portal into the mystical realm of the Duat. But be warned that only the bearers of the Magical Eye will be able to gain entry.'
"There's one line at the bottom that we haven't been able to translate fully. We just haven't come across some of these glyphs before and there's nothing in the headmaster's Old Kingdom book. We've only managed to get…
'… mfkzt… and die… shades… beware… portals.'
"I'm sorry, but that's the best we can do."
"Thank you Professor Denarnaud and Professor Dumbledore," said Hermione.
"What is 'What-Is-It' and Ma-na?" asked Ginny, looking confused.
"We don't know," replied Dumbledore, "but where it was written on the parchment, it was followed by a curious symbol - a tall conical shape resting on a plate of some sort. The same symbol appeared after the strange word 'mfkzt' in the last line."
"So the three words could refer to the same thing," said Hermione. "And it was mined, or made, somewhere across the Sea of Reeds, wherever that is."
Harry stood up and looked at the translation. "It seems that it's on Mount Horeb in the temple of Hathor." He raised his eyebrows questioningly.
"Mount Horeb's mentioned in the bible quite a few times," said Hermione. "But I can't remember where it is."
"And who's Hathor?" asked Ron.
"She's an ancient Egyptian goddess Ron," Hermione replied, "but I don't know much about her. I just remember reading her name when we did our earlier research."
"Well you'll have a few days to do some more research," said Dumbledore. "Professor Denarnaud has to go back to France for a couple of days to spend some time with Margot, then he'll come back for your next learning session."
The four looked at each other sadly when Margot's name was mentioned. Ginny picked up both parchments before they went back to the common room.
Nadine sat in Ceri's room, fiddling idly with a quill as she glanced at the American. "You and Bill seemed very close in Edfu Ceri - I thought you weren't interested in him."
Ceri smiled. "There's more to Bill than meets the eye. When I met him first I thought he was a very shallow person, just out for a good time, but when I spoke to him yesterday a very different Bill emerged. He's suffering agonies about those three poor kids that were attacked by Lammashta - he thinks he's partly to blame. He's really a very sensitive person."
"So did he ask you to go out with him again?"
"No Nadine, I think that romance was very far from his mind yesterday."
"But if he had asked you, would you have said yes?"
Ceri grinned wryly at the French girl. "I don't know Nadine; I really don't."
"So what about Sirius? I saw the way he was looking at you both yesterday, and he didn't look very comfortable."
"Sirius is a big boy Nadine; he's handled things far worse than that."
"I think he's in love with you Ceri - you do know that don't you?"
"I know no such thing Nadine. Oh I know he acts a bit jealous on times, but if that's how he feels he should come right out and say it, not mope around all the time."
"That's not fair Ceri. You haven't exactly encouraged him, and the way you've been flirting with Bill is bound to make him unhappy."
"Nadine! I am not flirting with Bill! But I have to admit to being just a tiny bit flattered by his attentions - any girl would be."
"And what about Sirius' reaction to it, are you flattered by that?"
Ceri chewed her lip as she looked long and hard at the French girl. "All right, I do feel something for him," she said quietly. "I never thought I'd have those feelings for any man again, but that doesn't mean I have to do anything about it."
"Oh Ceri, Ceri. Listen to yourself - you just admitted that you're in love with Sirius and you don't think you'll do anything about it?"
"I didn't say I'm in love with him Nadine - I just said I had… feelings for him."
"Is there a difference?"
"Oh I don't know Nadine!" Ceri exclaimed. "I'm just so confused by it all. I need time to think things through properly."
"Well don't leave it too long Ceri," said Nadine smiling. "Sirius is smouldering so much these days he might just burst into flames right in front of your eyes."
The four sat at the corner table over by the window in the common room surrounded by mounds of books, both Hermione's and the ones they'd borrowed from Dumbledore's library. They were trying to find where their next stop would be on the road to the Duat.
"I've found something about Hathor that makes her involvement in all this pretty clear," said Harry. "She was the wife of Horus."
"Osiris and Isis's daughter-in- law," said Ron. "Well at least we know the connection now."
"Where's the Sea of Reeds?" asked Ginny. "I can't find anything about it in my book."
Ron looked up at his sister. "It says here that the Sea of Reeds is the Red Sea - you know, the one that Moses and the Israelites crossed during the Exodus out of Egypt."
"Of course!" exclaimed Hermione. "That's it! I remember now. Mount Horeb is the mountain that Moses went up when he saw God in the burning bush, and the one he later went up to get the Ten Commandments."
"But that's Mount Sinai isn't it?" asked Harry.
"Well yes, but it's first referred to in the bible as Mount Horeb. It's only later that it's called Mount Sinai."
"So do you know if there's a mine and a temple of Hathor up there?" asked Ron.
"Let's look up everything we can find on the two mountains," said Hermione. "It's bound to say somewhere."
An hour later, they still hadn't found anything about a mine and a temple on Mount Sinai. "This is stupid!" exclaimed Ron. "There's loads of stuff on it here, and plenty of references to Egyptian mines in the Sinai Desert, but not on Mount Sinai!"
"This is interesting," said Ginny suddenly. "Listen to this. 'When Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, chose Jebel Musa in the Sinai Peninsula as the site of the biblical Mt. Sinai, the Christian world blindly assumed this to be true. But in actual fact, she only proclaimed it to be the Mountain of God because she had a dream when she was camped at the foot of that mountain.' So how did she know? That was seventeen hundred years after the Exodus happened!"
"Sounds like the biblical scholars are a bit like the Egyptologists, wouldn't you say Hermione?" asked Ron, grinning. Hermione pulled a jib in Ron's direction.
"Now this is very interesting," said Harry. "It says here that there's a Temple of Hathor in the Sinai Peninsular on a mountain - but it's not Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai. It's on a mountain called Serabit el-Khadim. It's a lot further north on the western side of the Sinai Desert. What do you think?"
The three others looked quickly in the alphabetical indices of their books and soon found references to the temple. They turned to the relevant pages and began to read. Soon, Hermione let out a gasp.
"The bloody Egyptologists again! There's an account here about an excavation on Serabit el-Khadim. Flinders Petrie - he was a famous archaeologist - excavated the Temple of Hathor in 1904. His expedition was funded by an organisation called 'The Egypt Exploration Fund' and their brief was to find relics that supported the biblical account - that means that if something was found that didn't support those beliefs they were simply not published - bloody typical! Anyway, it says here that Petrie made some astounding discoveries and although he reported them to the fund, they were never published. Close to the summit of the mountain, he found extensive ruins, which proved to be the temple complex of the goddess Hathor. But what made this find significant was the location of mines around the temple area. At first, it was supposed that they were turquoise mines, Hathor being the goddess of turquoise, but there were no traces of turquoise found on the high plateau where the temple stands. There were plenty of deposits further down the mountain, but it seems stupid to think they'd carry it all up to the top to be processed. Then they thought they were copper mines, but there were no deposits of copper in that particular area. What Petrie found was an alchemical workshop! He talks about alchemist's crucibles and such, but listen to this. 'In several of the chambers, we found the floors covered in a fine white powder, the like of which I've not seen before.' Ever since, Egyptologists have passed it off as the product of copper smelting or incense burning, but that just doesn't hold water. Petrie took a large sample back to the British Museum for analysis, but nothing was ever heard of it again."
Hermione looked up at the others, excitement in her face.
"That sounds like the stuff we found on Mount Olympus," said Ron. "The Ambrosia of the Gods - the Philosopher's stone."
"That's right Ron," she replied. "And it's probably rotting away in some cold and gloomy vault underneath the museum, forgotten by everybody. The scholars walking right on top of it don't even know they're walking on the find of the century - the Elixir of Life!"
"But there should be plenty of it left up on the mountain shouldn't there?" asked Harry.
"It says here," said Hermione, "that a later expedition found nothing - it seems the chambers exposed by the expedition lost it's astounding secret, blown to all four corners of the desert by the wind."
"Hey!" exclaimed Harry. "It suddenly just struck me. Ma-na referred to in the papyrus - could that be the 'manna bread' that the Israelites collected to feed themselves in the desert?"
"Hang on Harry, there's an old Hebrew dictionary in the library. I'll go and get it." Hermione jumped up form her chair and raced out of the common room. Only ten minutes later she was back, slightly out of breath, holding a dark-covered book.
"I've found it," she said, excitement in her voice. "And do you know what Manna means? It's ancient Hebrew for 'What-Is-It'!"
"So it looks like Moses had something to do with the mines then," whispered Ron.
"I'll wager it's more than that Ron," said Hermione. "The bible says that Moses went up into the Mountain of God, where the summit breathed fire and smoke. I think that was from the alchemical process for producing the white powder. I think that Serabit el-Khadim is the Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai of the Bible. And that's where we've got to go next!"
Author's Note -Please take a few moments to leave a review - I really do need to know what you think of this chapter. Many thanks to those who've reviewed so far.
There's a few images relating to this chapter on my picture board :
- Osiris holding two Ankhs
- The Pyramid of Unas
- Example of the Pyramid Texts
- Burial chamber inside the Pyramid of Unas
- Temple of Horus at Edfu - The falcon-headed god Horus is the second carving on the left pylon, looking towards the ancient foundation stone.
- Huge granite statue of Horus at Edfu
- The Eye of Horus
The link is : /bc/animasumma/lst?&.dir=/Book2/Chap+10+-+The+Stealer+of+Souls&.src=ph&.view=l Just copy and paste into your browser and type the usual http etc in front of it. (etc = ://uk.photos.yahoo.com)
Coming soon - Chapter 11 - Written in the Stars.