I Left my Heart in Hamunaptra

For some people getting a phone call from the guy you were dating asking if your second date could be a destination affair might be odd but for Lilly it wouldn’t have been the strangest thing Gladstone had sprung on her. There was a little errand his Uncle had asked him to take care of (as everyone else was busy and a bit of luck would be a plus) in Egypt.

“We just have to pop into Cairo, drop off some amulet and then we can just do whatever! We will admire pyramids from afar so no ghosts or vengeful mummies get any funny ideas.”

He’d said, full of enthusiasm, feeling a bit proud at being trusted with such an important task. Besides, getting away from St. Canard might be good for them, so often their adventures went off the deep end in the city or because of the city so putting it half a world away seemed very tempting indeed.

He was sure that she’d have to decline (though he hoped she wouldn’t) what with her shop, her uncle, her job at the club, her uncle, the short notice, her uncle, the traveling halfway across the world at the drop of a spat, and her uncle, but she had accepted. It did nothing to deflate the balloon of validation and good vibes that was floating him dangerously close to being a new lunar satellite.

On the evening of their designated departure a McDuck company car had picked her up, taken her to a private airfield, to a private jet, and to her travel companion.

“Hey! There she is!” He beamed at her when she arrived, and pulled her into a warm hug. The cold air was peppered with tiny snowflakes as attendants took her bags on board for her. “I’m so glad you could come, I was afraid I’d be lonely in this big old jet by myself.”

    • Lilly Teal
      Lilly Teal

      "Cairo?" Matthew's eyebrows had gone up so high as he had looked at her over his paper that she was sure they would go flying off.

      "I'll be fine."

      "I don't trust him."

      "Gladstone's kept me safe before."

      "It's not that boy's ability to keep you safe I don't trust."

      "Oh uncle."

      But that aside, she was here! She was here and very happy as she hugged him back just as warmly.

      Lilly opened her mouth to stay something, maybe thank you for inviting me, or ooooh isn't this exciting, or even yay warm hugs in cold weather are the best! But the world would never know, because a voice came not from her mouth, but from over her shoulder.

      So either she had recently learned ventriloquism or...

      "Oh wow, you're right it is big. Good thing there's three of us, then!"

      Hi Darryl. What are YOU doing here?

      • Gladstone Gander
        Gladstone Gander


        Gladstone’s genuine wide smile abruptly lost it’s way down the path of “YES DARRYL WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE??”But he was still technically smiling, so... points for that? He tore his eyes away from Lilly to the mallard admiring the size of his family’s-well whatever he he was looking at. Gladstone gave Lilly a suspicious glance before he offered a hand to Darryl to shake.

        “Hello Darryl, good to see you. What brings you here?”

        And how long until you leave? No offense.

        • Lilly Teal
          Lilly Teal

          "A car."

          NO, REALLY?

          Grinning, Darryl took the gander's hand in a friendly shake, not all bothered by the non-verbal but very loud 'why are you hear and how soon can you not be'.

          "Mister McDuck wants me to look over some machines he's setting to work. Turns out I actually helped make some of the parts and they're having trouble getting the whole thing going."

          "In... Egypt?" Lilly asked a little hesitantly. Sweetie I love you but this was kind if supposed to be a date...

          "Yep! He said Gladstone was going so we could share the flight!" he said cheerfully, before giving her a big, mischieous smile. "And what are youuuu doing here?"

          "I was invited!"

          • Gladstone Gander
            Gladstone Gander

            “Guess... he forgot to mention it.” Gladstone tried to remember but his mind had begun to  formulate this flawless plan before the old coffer cuddler had finished talking. In actuality Scrooge had told him he would be traveling with a specialist three times, but his mind had checked out by then. Attention spans, who needs em?

            A bunch of equipment was loaded into the cargo bay as if to validate this tale.

            “Lilly’s my handler, can’t do a thing without her.” he supplied to Darryl merrily with a light squeeze of her shoulders. “I would insult half the country if I didn’t have her along. Besides, with a twelve hour flight I’d like to have something pretty to look at, no offense to your lovely self Darryl.”

            And you know, this was supposed to be a long flight with lots of time to fill with creative activities. None of which he had prepared for three participants. Especially not her brother from another mother. And yeah of course the date too.

            “We’re almost ready to board folks.” Called the pilot.

            “Ah, why don’t you take first pick of the seats, we’ve got a few bottles of champagne on ice in there too.” He leaned in to whisper to Lilly. “I’m sorry I didn’t know, but when he’s working we’ll have plenty of time to ourselves.” He kissed her cheek. “You look beautiful by the way.”

             

            • Lilly Teal
              Lilly Teal

              Yes, I'm only pretty enough for six hours, I can see why you needed backup.

              "Alright, cheers." Darryl clapped Gladstone on the shoulder, give Lilly a little squeeze, and then headed obliviously into the plane.

              Well, first he made a detour towards the cargo hold, obviously, to make sure everything was going in. It would never do to have a vital box accidentally left behind or stored upside-down.

              Lilly giggled a bit. "And you're eternally charming. It's alright, really."

              And as he said, Darryl would be mostly busy after all. The Darryl who was currently calling from the plane, hurrying them to board.

              "Come on, guys, these bottles aren't going to finish themselves."

              • Gladstone Gander
                Gladstone Gander

                He had a point.

                And so all three of them settled in to the jet. It was not as fancy as it could have been, as it was a McDuck funded trip but Gladstone had arranged to make it a little more cushy on his own. A few more pillows, a lot more to drink, some rose petals that were surreptitiously hidden in a sheet and shoved into an over head compartment. The champagne was soon rescued from a lonely fate and the hours pressed on. The late flight allowed for a good chunk of the trip to pass by while they slept. Gladstone of course slept longer than any one of them, it was one of his many honed skills. He could sleep like a baby curled up on a bed of nails. So it was lucky that Darryl was there otherwise Lilly would have been bored.

                Well, “bored” because the flight was as uneventful as most things that happened to them. There was a little situation with air pirates, a touch of mechanical failure, a close brush with the Bermuda triangle and a tiny situation with some goblins on the plane wing. Typical stuff. Not worth hashing out in great detail.

                But soon the trio, and very shaken pilot and copilot would land on foreign soil and their true adventure would begin. Gladstone had planned his outfits in great detail for this trip, vain creature that he was. Light colored, breathable and yes of course stylish, ensembles replaced his usual green. So as he met their guide in the airport, briefcase of precious cargo in hand, he blended in about as well as a fire engine in a snowfield. After a bit of conversation he reported back to Lilly and Darryl.

                “So, it seems that we’re ahead of schedule. They’re not quite ready for us yet. You guys want to hit the streets of Cairo for a little bit? Maybe grab something to eat? I know a great spot where we can see the Giza pyramids from a rooftop bar.” He leaned in conspiratorially lifting the briefcase. “Maybe we can crack open this bad boy and see what all the fuss is about?”

                 

                • Lilly Teal
                  Lilly Teal

                  Lilly's "I don't know if we should-" was overridden by Darryl's "YES" as he leaned over her shoulder to look at the case. No doubt the boys had been absolutely dying to see what was inside it.

                  Feeling outvoted, she just sighed. It was a patient sigh, a sigh that had been sighed many, many times through many instances of outvoting. "Something to eat would be nice, first?"

                  Before we get into trouble for opening that. I'm sure there's some kind of alarm or anti-theft dye or something, if it's as important as all that.

                  "I like that plan. Rooftop bar, you say?" Darryl linked arms with the two of them so that Gladstone could pull them along if he so wanted. "So what did Mister McDuck tell you about it anyway? Or is it all very hush hush?"

                  • Gladstone Gander
                    Gladstone Gander

                    And lead them he did. Through the busy airport, leaving their guide to oversee the unpacking of their jet much to her displeasure, and out into a waiting taxi.

                    “He didn’t say anything much, just that it was really old, and that he’d arranged to return it to the scholars at some stuffy historical society after they harassed him for years claiming that he stole it. He probably found it on one of his dynamic adventures and kept it as a souvenir.” He leaned in toward Lilly. “If you think our little outings are wild you wouldn’t believe the stuff the old boy gets up to. Even today...” he considered a moment. “-especially today.”

                    What he neglected to tell them was Scrooge had insisted that Gladstone NOT open the case. That it’s contents were sensitive and best left alone. Because.... really? Who says that and expects to be obeyed?

                    “But we’ve come all this way what harm can a little looksee do right? Oh,” he patted the driver’s shoulder. “Stop here, thanks.”

                    The streets were busy and they were jostled through a crowd of staring faces. Tourists were rare these days and Gladstone held her hand tight, remembering all to well what happened the last time they were in a press of bodies. He wouldn’t lose sight of her again. Vendors cried out to them, children shouted random English phrases for their attention and he deflected them all with an easy smile.

                    He was feeling particularly lucky by the time they reached the rooftop bar. They were escorted to a table under a canopy, out of the blazing sun with as promised a dazzling view of the pyramids hazy and and mysterious in the distance. As they settled in he took the liberty of ordering food and drinks for the table.

                    “So... first time in Egypt guys?” He beamed at them, as if they were guests at a backyard picnic.

                    • Lilly Teal
                      Lilly Teal

                      Darryl leaned back, enjoying the atmosphere. "It is. And it's feeling pretty good so far."

                      Lilly had put a her chin on her hands, taking in the view in utter delight.

                      "It looks so beautiful!"

                      "She means yes."

                      "Oh Darryl." Turning her attention back to the boys, she gave them a sunny smile. "This is such a lovely place to enjoy our first time from."

                      But there really weren't a lot of tourists, were there? Lilly and Darryl may have had dark hair, but their blue eyes stood out starkly as the only ones on the rooftop, and their accents rang strangely as the only ones of their kind. Still, even if people stared a little, they were awfully kind and hospitable.

                      The waiter brought them some complementaries to pick at before their food arrived, drifting away as politely as he'd appeared.

                      "... do we really have to wait until the food gets here to look inside?" Oh Darryl.

                      • Gladstone Gander
                        Gladstone Gander

                        There was a “click” from under the table and Gladstone looked up at Darryl a little guiltily.

                        “Uh sorry I wasn’t paying attention.” He put the briefcase on the table having picked the lock in his lap. A sly grin slipped across his bill. “I was a little preoccupied.”

                        Oh dear these two.

                        “Open sesame.” He said as he opened the case for them all to see. There were several letters affixed on top of a secured bundle. One of them had his name on it with a nasty little subheading. He snatched that one up quickly and tucked it away embarrassed. “Aha-he knows me too well.”

                        He brushed the other letter off and unwrapped the parcel until a bit of gold glinted in the sun. Fully excited now he leaned over it and slowly uncovered an amulet set with rubies and sapphires. It was in the shape of an ibis and a loon intertwined. He let out a low whistle.

                        “Now that’s a treasure.”

                        • Lilly Teal
                          Lilly Teal

                          "And we're just carrying it around in a briefcase?" If it had been anyone but the lucky gander, that would have been a highly worrying thing to do. "No wonder that historical society was all up in arms about it."

                          Darryl leaned forward, tilting his head to look at it from different angles as Gladstone held the thing out for them to see. "It looks heavy." Priorities.

                          Lilly scooted forward too, fascinated despite herself and itching to touch it. "It's gorgeous..."

                          "Gorgeous sure, but it looks like you could knock someone out with it." It certainly did, but oddly enough it wasn't all that heavy. Quite a pleasant little heft, actually, solid without being overwhelming.

                          As they gazed at it, the waiter arrived again. He looked as if he didn't quite want to interrupt, but the amulet caught his interest.

                          "Ah, very nice replica. Looks almost like the real thing," he said sagely, setting down their plates.

                          "Oh, you've seen this before?" Darryl looked intrigued, shifting his focus from the amulet to the waiter.

                          "Not in real life, no. But the the amulet of the Enduring Embrace has a fascinating story behind it."

                          "That's a name and a half." The drake grinned over at the other two at the table with him. "But you two would know all about that, wouldn't you?"

                          "Darryl."

                          Under Lilly's scandalised reply, the waiter leaned closer, dropping his voice to a conspiratorial tone. "What a story. Love. Loss. Devotion. Obsession. DEATH. You can hear all about it on this tour my cousin runs, tickets very cheap."

                          Sliding a little business card across the table, he was gone.

                          "... I think we just got advertised to."

                          • Gladstone Gander
                            Gladstone Gander

                            Gladstone was very distracted by the shiny antique but perked up as the waiter came over. He fought the urge to cover it back up, that would just look suspicious. Amulet of Enduring- before he could make a comment or wink of his own Darryl was on it like white on rice. He let out a burst of laughter, but covered his mouth to keep the rest in with an appreciative glance at Lilly.

                            That glance said: He’s so funny. I like him.

                            Oh but then the dramatic intrigue hit. Gladstone’s eyes widened in anticipation and the moment the card was on the table he snatched it up, this caused the precious amulet to fall into Lilly’s hand as it had been hovering so near the glamorous thing. It felt strangely right in her hand, as if the metal warmed to her touch. And that ibis, had it’s shining emerald eye... looked at her? And the loon, were her sapphire eyes... somehow familiar?

                            “We have to do this!” He hissed to them. Holding the card in both hands as if it was the priceless artifact and not the thing he’d just carelessly dropped. “I’m gunna call right now, we’re doing it before we fork it that-“ he pointed at the amulet. “-over to those eggheads.”

                            He got up from his chair already dialing the number. After a brief moment he came back and drained his drink in one go before motioning for a refill and wandering off in an enthusiastic burst of conversation. ‘Please rip me off.’ Said his tone of voice.

                            • Lilly Teal
                              Lilly Teal

                              He's left his food and everything. But there was no reason they should do the same, and Darryl dug in with an amused half-laugh in Gladstone's direction.

                              "Dangle some intrigue in front of him and he's off, huh? Is he single-handedly keeping the tour-guide industry in business?"

                              "Well it does sound interesting," Lilly smiled. "I'm curious as well."

                              She was going to eat too. Really. But the amulet was so very pretty, she wanted to really look at it before she put it down.

                              "This is really beautifully made," she said distractedly, running a finger down the intricately carved neck of the loon, and up the ibis from where they were intertwined. "Look at the detailing, they look so alive."

                              Darryl nodded, though he wasn't so distracted that he wasn't eating. "Craftsmanship. And you know, everyone says the old stuff's got more craftsmanship and quality, but this looks like it was pretty important to have all that work done on it."

                              "You don't think it's important because it's gold with precious stones, honey?"

                              "Well yeah that," picking up his drink, Darryl waved a hand. "But you can buy that. With all the effort put into that, maybe it was a custom piece. You know, somebody rich and really demanding commissioned it, or some eccentric artist went crazy and spent their whole life on it. That kind of thing."

                              "Well I suppose we'll find out on the tour!"

                              "I'm telling you right now, he's going to tell us the story, but then stand us in the middle of nowhere and say something like 'and nobody knows, to this day, where it all took place.' Oooooooo."

                              • Gladstone Gander
                                Gladstone Gander

                                A face suddenly leaned in beside Lilly's looking over her shoulder at the sparkling antiquity. 

                                "We will find out." Gladstone grinned, eyeing the way her fingers moved along the figure of the ibis, and gave her a sidelong glance. "Unless you want a moment alone with your crush?" His hand traced up her spine teasingly out of sight of their third wheel, before he sat back down. "This is quite the errand! We're booked for the next tour, he's gunna meet us downstairs in about half an hour. Said he'd cancel his plans to give us a private one! It'll be worth it I have no doubt!  I'll tell you, there's no shortage of this kinda lore and stories in Cairo! The last time I was here, a guy told me all about Chancellor Hyperbolist the Placebo, interesting guy! Seems like he used to go around giving out wooden nickles to stupid people to mess with them! I got a good price on one, apparently it was authentic, but I don't know what happened to it."  Sweetheart. No. Stop. Don't tell them that. They're not as gullible as you. That wooden nickle wasn't even real wood. It was soap. You forgot it was in your pocket when it was washed and... you know what never mind. But isn't he so cute? Look at how smiley he is. Yes. One very authentic tour coming up.

                                 

                                "I'm so happy you're here." He grinned at Lilly and then the sincerely pleased smile was on Darryl. "You too! Usually I get stuck doing these things with my cousin and he makes everything such a chore.  I am determined to make this a fantastic time for you guys." A hand under the table rested on Lilly's knee with a small thumb stroke. Maybe better for you, it implied.  "So tell me Darryl, what's your story. All I know is that you appreciate a well mixed drink, you work for Oz occasionally and that you have a fine, FINE sense of humor." He made a small motion to himself with a 'modest' smile. "And don't think that I'm going to grill you relentlessly, if you have any questions for yours truly don't hesitate to ask. I'm feeling generous too so I'll even answer inquiries about my illustrious Uncle if you're more interested in him. I won't be insulted."

                                He would. But he'd be gracious about it. 

                                 

                                "Although I can assure you whatever he's paying you for this job-" he picked up his newly refreshed cocktail and pointed at the mallard with it. "-you're getting robbed." He took a long, easy drink. This was really nice, he felt really good about this.

                                 

                                • Lilly Teal
                                  Lilly Teal

                                  The hand may have been out of sight, but the blush and the half-shy, half-giggly little shoulder motion it brought on was not. The third wheel just rolled his eyes, smiling as he finished off his own drink.

                                  The story might have invited more eye rolling, but he was just glad Gladstone was actually glad to have him here.

                                  "That's nice, usually nobody's happy to see me," he grinned. It was only half a joke. He did tend to end up in a lot of places where he was least expected and perhaps not entirely wanted. Which wasn't his fault, of course, he was just working. But it happened all the same.

                                  Thankfully he was a rubber duck who bounced back from any and all ego-pricking comments, and it never bothered him, hence the cheerful grin.

                                  "And yeah, I'm just barely being paid. With all he talked about how I worked on the product and it my responsibility if people can't run it, I'm lucky I'm not paying for this trip."

                                  It had still been a very close thing. More drinks, please!

                                  "Well, huh. I don't know. Freelance engineer. I've got a whole pack of brothers I try to avoid," said in a joking manner, the way you avoid your siblings, not actually because you're avoiding them. "And a cousin who runs damage control when I offend people."

                                  "Me."

                                  "Her," he confirmed. Clearly she was a handler to many people. "And what about you? All I know is you're amazing at mixing drinks" and you're a sap "and if someone asked you to pick a card, any card, you'd somehow pull out a hundred dollars."

                                  Well, that wasn't exactly wrong.

                                  • Gladstone Gander
                                    Gladstone Gander

                                    A warning finger was waved at the drake.

                                    “Don’t ever say anything about paying my Uncle to work for him within earshot, because he’ll take you up on it. Not even joking.”

                                    He perked up at cousin Lilly looking out for this scamp information.

                                    “Aw, you two are so cute. I’m jealous, not even gunna lie.” He confessed grinning broadly.

                                    Gladstone swallowed the next quarter of his drink as the question was turned onto him. He shrugged lightly.

                                    “Me? Well, you’re right on both counts. But I’m the luckiest person alive. Unnaturally so through my mother. She was lucky too.. until she wasn’t. So when my parents bit the big one, I was adopted by Scrooge’s sister, and she took real good care of me. Uh... don’t have a job, hate working...er I’m one of the top five frontrunners for the McDuck fortune-“ he leaned in a stage whisper. “I’m never going to inherit that. I’m out classed by a trio of ten year olds, and I’d never know what to do with a business that big anyway. But that always seems to interest people. ”

                                    He stopped to think for a moment.

                                    “I think that covers the broad strokes about me I just kinda float around seeing what happens.” He gave another little shrug. Run of the mill kinda stuff right?

                                    • Lilly Teal
                                      Lilly Teal

                                      And he likes gardening!

                                      She looked like she very much wanted to say it, but then he did say it was a deep, dark secret. ... though he hadn't exactly mentioned it like it was very deep and dark. Oh noooo she was bad at secrets, she had to be strong.

                                      "Well hey, just as well you probably don't need to get a job then, if you hate working." Darryl had gone right ahead and finished his food, on another cocktail refill for good measure. "Still, I bet St. Canard's been a crazy place to float along into, even someone as lucky as you. You've been in the papers, what, twice lately?"

                                      Only twi- oh. Right, the market stuff wouldn't be in the papers and we escaped out the back of the club. But then Darryl was probably in the know about all the other events too.

                                      "Egypt must feel like such a break."

                                      Speaking of breaks, we should get heading off to be scammed soon.

                                      "Well I for one think it is," Lilly added happily. She had felt strange about putting the amulet back on the table in full sight, in case anyone might try to steal it, so she had tucked it into her lap while she ate. "The food is lovely, the view is lovely, and we're staying far away from the beautiful and possibly adventure filled pyramids."

                                      • Gladstone Gander
                                        Gladstone Gander

                                        “We certainly are.” Gladstone confirmed to Lilly. “No craziness for us, nope. Just relaxing and mundane exploration.” He blinked and waved an apologetic hand toward Darryl. “-and working.”

                                        After they were finished eating the check was quickly settled with a McDuck company card. Rather than take the briefcase with them Gladstone took the other letter and cloth from it and put them in his pocket. In the bottom of the case he found a sturdy gold chain and instead of having her give the amulet back he strung it on the chain and fastened it around her neck.

                                        “I’ll leave this with you for safe keeping Lillypad.” He said as he tamed a few fly away hairs from her
                                        dark waterfall of a mane. Once their cargo was secured he clapped his hands a few times. “Alright it’s time to get our tour on.”

                                        Once she was standing Gladstone took Lilly’s hand (also for safe keeping) and brought them down to street level.

                                        A Falcon with a wide grin was waiting for them.

                                        “Mr. Gladstone? I am Jabari your guide.” He clutched his heart at the sight of Lilly. “And who is this enchanting creature? She would put Nefurtiti to shame.” He gave her a courtly bow, with a rather uncourtly visual inspection.

                                        “This is Lilly, and this is Darr-“

                                        The guide put an arm around her waist and placed his other hand under her chin inspecting her as if she were carved from marble and started taking her down a side street.

                                        “Ah such a beautiful name, come Ms. Lilly a fair bloom such as yourself should not be made to wander alone. I will make room for you in my-“

                                        A hand grabbed the overly touchie feely guide by the scruff of the neck. He looked back at Gladstone who’s face was set in a stern but calm frown. A silent warning to maybe reconsider how he was going to continue this little interaction. The guide smiled and carefully released her, as he raised his hands lightly the gander’s grip relented.

                                        “Many apologies. I was just struck with how royal you look Ms. Lilly, why, you remind me of the princess Aquack su NaLoon herself. But come, I will tell you all about her on the tour.”

                                        He lead them along, pointing out bits of interesting architecture or shops that they might want to checkout later until he came to small monolith, about waist high. There were complicated etchings on it, hieroglyphics peppered all over its surface.

                                        “This is one of the last remaining records of the ill fated lovers who are depicted in the amulet of The Enduring Ebrace. Imhonktep was a priest of Toth, god of wisdom, truth, and learning, he was said to be almost his god’s spitting image.” He indicated a flat profile of an ibis. A strong looking figure to be sure.

                                        “He was proud and powerful, he had strange gifts that helped the pharaoh undo his enemies. Terrible dark magic, learned by abusing his Toth given intellect. He did not respect the pharaoh, he had no love for him. Instead,” he motioned for them to come to the next side of the stone where he pointed out a lithe figure. Gladstone’s eyebrows lifted in silent surprise.

                                        “His loyalty and love belonged to the Pharaoh’s intended, the Princess Aquack su NaLoon. Her beauty was without equal, the princess had eyes unlike any the kingdoms had seen, blue as the Nile and just as deep, her hair as dark and soft as the fertile river soil, all who saw her fell in love with her.” Jabari smiled at Lilly and indicated the carving of this legendary woman.

                                        “You do look a lot like her Lillypad.” Gladstone agreed.

                                        “I hope the lady will forgive my earlier indiscretions, as I had thought the Princess had returned just like the tale. For you see, while all loved her, her heart belonged only to Imhonktep.” They moved around to the next side of the monolith and the symbol that was currently hanging around Lilly’s neck carefully tucked into her shirt, was right in the center. “ the lovers conspired in secret to escape the pharaoh and his guards, to live a lifetime of simple pleasures with one another. But their infatuation made them soft and sloppy.”

                                        He brought them to the last side where there was a violent scene of the woman being cast into a river filled with crocodiles with the pharaoh serenely watching on. The rest of the carvings had been chipped off.

                                        “They were discovered in an deep slumber in the pharaoh’s chamber in an intimate embrace. The pharaoh’s rage was beyond measure. He ordered the princess killed before her lover’s eyes, returned to the Nile which she so resembled. Imhonktep’s grief gave a terrible strength to his power and he swore an oath of vengeance upon the people of this land, the pharaoh most of all. He swore that one day Aquack su NaLoon would return the symbol of their love and they would be immortal. Death would not stop the unfathomable revenge he promised of fire and blood. The details of the fate of the priest Imhonktep are lost, said to have been too horrible to left recorded. But one thing is for certain, his end was as gruesome as this princess’. Perhaps even more. But though they may have not escaped they share that enduring embrace in death.”

                                        “So the amulet, Imhonktep made it?”

                                        “It is said the priest stole great treasures from the pharaoh and hid them away in hopes he and the princess could escape. The amulet was made from these stolen jewels, an act of further defiance against their tormentor.”

                                        “So where’s this treasure now?”

                                        “Oh some say that it’s all a lie, a tale of a boogeyman to keep children well behaved. But others say that it’s a actually somewhere near the city buried under the sands, lost for eternity. To this day, no one really knows where it took place.”

                                         

                                        Ooooooo.

                                         

                                        • Lilly Teal
                                          Lilly Teal

                                          A fine figure of a man indeed. Not that you could see any of that in the carvings, really, and in any other circumstance Lilly might have laughed at Gladstone's comment that she looked a bit like the princess. How could you even tell?

                                          Except... you could kind of tell. Not because of the carvings themselves so much, maybe, but there was... a feel to them. That strange aliveness that the amulet had. Maybe it was the effect of getting so wrapped up in the story, but you could almost see them. The strong, powerful ibis. The stunningly enchanting loon.

                                          "That's dreadful." Lilly put a hand over her heart as she spoke, her fingertips grazing the amulet under her shirt in the motion. And he'd made this? Darryl had been right, it was specially made.

                                          Darryl's eyebrows raised at the way the story ended, shooting his cousin a 'you see I called it' look. "They don't make legends out of happy endings, Lil."

                                          "I suppose..."

                                          "I thought curses and ancient Egyptians and crocodiles were done and over with after the mess at the club."

                                          "Oh, well that wasn't real exactly," the duckette said, only half listening.

                                          "Better stay away from the Nile just in case."

                                          Somewhere behind them the tour guide had switched from solemn storyteller to ingratiating salesman as he tried to press Gladstone into buying tickets to a dramatic re-enactment of the legend, tickets were a bit expensive but what an experience and there was only room in tonight's show so time was of the essence and it would have an authentic Nile crocodile though of course the girl wouldn't actually get eaten but it would seem very realistic.

                                          And incidentally, would you care to buy a recreation of the amulet? They were much smaller, of course, and not the same material. They were actually a bit shoddily made, especially after having seen the real thing, but Jabari wasn't to know that, was he?

                                          • Gladstone Gander
                                            Gladstone Gander

                                            Gladstone was not having any of it. A short walking tour was one thing, but dramatic reenactments of tragedies of people dying, one of which looking like Lilly, was not what he wanted to do. He couldn’t hear what the other two were saying over the hard sell pitch that was being lobbed at him. No, no, no. No. Nope. No thank you. Ugh, he tried to walk away but his bicep was grabbed and he let let out a sharp cry. Jabari’s hand had closed at just the wrong angle to upset the stitches that hid beneath his clothes. The reaction seemed to startle The guide and he backed off. The tickets were only offered once more before he retreated.

                                            Sore and irritated but blissfully alone he rejoined his friends.

                                            “So,” he looked between the two of them rolling out his shoulder, as if that would ease the ache in his brutalized arm. His eyes stayed on Lilly’s face for a moment taking in her strange expression. “I vote we hand this amulet over to the eggheads as soon as possible. Before any mummy curses come crashing down on us. Or anymore pushy salesmen. “ he put a hand on her shoulder a little concern flickering across his face. “You ok? Are things getting weird for you again?”

                                            Because we don’t want that. Right?

                                            • Lilly Teal
                                              Lilly Teal

                                              The guide wasn't the only one who was startled. Seeming to wake up suddenly, she put her hand over the one that was on her shoulder.

                                              "I'm fine. Are you alright?" She hadn't seen what had happened but she had certainly heard it. "Did you hurt yourself?" Touching the shoulder he was rolling lightly, she frowned a little. "It sounded very painful."

                                              Jabari was long gone, or she would have shot a small glare at his retreating back. What did you do he was fine a minute ago.

                                              "I second the vote of giving this thing in as soon as possible," Darryl nodded, also giving Gladstone a slightly concerned look. "Then we're done and you can both rest."

                                              You sound like you need it anyway, Glad.

                                              "Where are they supposed to be, anyway. Think there's a shortcut?"

                                              Shortcuts are, of course, always useful and never potentially disastrous.

                                              • Gladstone Gander
                                                Gladstone Gander

                                                “I’m fine.” He said a little too quickly. “It was just-“ what was it just? Some torture wounds that I’ve been desperately trying to hide from everyone. Yeah. Thats what it just was. “-I’m fine. Really.”

                                                He looked around.

                                                “Uh, theres a museum around here somewhere. That’s where we’re headed.” Shortcut, shortcut... hm maybe-“Let’s try this way.” He nodded toward a side street, it was very quiet back here, wherever they were it was off the beaten path. The side street was actually just a dirt road running between two buildings.

                                                Had he been paying more attention he might have noticed that the symbol of the Enduring Embrace had been etched into the bricks on either side of the path. Which was kind of not a big deal considering the monolith was right there, but the moment the necklace passed between the marked bricks it suddenly started to vibrate. Gladstone just managed to look back at Lilly and Darryl when the floor caved in.

                                                There was a long drop that ended in hitting a slick surface causing them to careen down a steep decline before the ground gave out below them another time. In the pitch black and echoey underground they splashed into an icy deep pool of water.

                                                It took him a while to breach the surface gasping for air, panic hammering through him as he tried to see... well anything.

                                                “LILLY! DARRYL!”

                                                • Lilly Teal
                                                  Lilly Teal

                                                  "GLADSTONE!" two voices called back, one fainter and farther than the other. It should have been easy to tell which was which, but the echoes careening back and forth made that next to impossible.

                                                  Darryl spluttered, splashing about as his body tried to remember he could actually swim, and through calls and responses managed to come near enough that he could at least hear Gladstone next to him, if not see him.

                                                  As soon as Lilly had hit the water, she had felt a sharp sense of deja vu. The memory of a sensation coursed through her, of water, of sinking.

                                                  Of teeth. Long, long jaws opening wide-

                                                  But at the next blink, there was nothing there, and she broke the surface with a loud gasp, scrabbling for land at the edge of the deep pool. It took a moment or three to pull herself up, she was already shivering violently from the cold, but with a concerted effort she was out, and lay on the ground panting for breath.

                                                  The panting was soon interrupted by startled noise as the amulet started to glow. It was a warm glow, but it didn't do much to illuminate the cave. Not something you could see your way by, then. What it did do was illuminate Lilly and make her position obvious, almost like a beacon.

                                                  "Light!" Darryl gasped, hoping the gander next to him could see it too. "Come on."

                                                  "Darryl? Gladstone?" Oh good, she could hear them. Sitting up and still shivering, she tried to orient herself a little.

                                                  I just got out of the water. And if the water is here, that means dry land should continue... over...

                                                  She waved a hand slightly, and connected with a wall in some relief. A wall, nice and solid and-

                                                  "There's an opening here!" she called back to them. "It looks a little bit lighter at the end of it!"

                                                  • Gladstone Gander
                                                    Gladstone Gander

                                                    Yes, yes he could feel Darryl more than he could see him. They were both trying not to drown, and that sort of makes an impression in surrounding water. So where was- just as Darryl pointed it out he could see the dim light and Lilly’s voice was attached.

                                                    How appropriate.

                                                    He started swimming toward the light until he felt the lip of the basin connect with his outstretched hand. It was tricky to get himself out but he managed it on his first try. He allowed himself a second of deep breathing before he reached down and helped Darryl onto the small strip of solid ground.

                                                    He sat shivering for a moment just letting everything sink in. A deep breath flowed through him and he clapped his hands once as he got up.

                                                    “Okay.” He said brightly. “Alright, so it’s not just St. Canard. Let’s get crackin’ the sooner we’re through this the sooner we can get back to the hotel and drink.”

                                                    “Welcome to the crazy train D-man.” He gave Darryl a smack on the back and felt his way along the wall to Lilly.

                                                    “Doin’ okay sweetness?” His eyes fell to the glowing amulet and he shook his head lightly. Of course. “I’ll lead the way, just, stay back a little in case there’s traps.”

                                                    He slid into the opening she found and he froze. There was a crunch of bones underfoot. In the dim light, he could see a lot of long thin shadows all over the ground.

                                                    “Snakes.” He didn’t scream it, and despite the announcement he just walked ahead, pushing bones aside to clear a path for the others. When he got to the center of the room he stopped. “I mean, they were snakes. Quite a lot of them but they’re all long dead. You know all the movies have snake pits but... if this tomb or catacombs or whatever has been so sealed tight... it only makes sense they’d all die. Once they’re all out of other snakes to eat... what then? I, for one, prefer this.”

                                                    His cheerfulness was in absolute stark contrast to the dark cold place they found themselves in.

                                                     

                                                    • Lilly Teal
                                                      Lilly Teal

                                                      "Crazy train? How do I jump the tracks?" Darryl asked with humour as Lilly gave a little shudder at the snake skeletons, grateful that Gladstone had cleared way for them.

                                                      "Do you see anything else?"

                                                      "Mostly just dead snakes. Ah!" An old fashioned torch was set in the wall, which brought with it a beacon of hope. He fumbled in his pocket a moment to produce a lighter. He didn't smoke, but you never know when you might need to light something on fire. Like now. He was a little surprised at the fact that it lit without trouble despite its age, but why look a gift horse in the mouth?

                                                      The skeletons looked even worse in the shifting, flickering light, but at least they could see a little way.

                                                      "Well then Gladstone. Lead the way."

                                                      Whatever traps there would be, none of them were going to impale, behead, or poison Gladstone. And then after they were sprung they could carry on harmlessly.

                                                      At least, that was the theory. In reality they all crept forward, jumping at the slightest sound or shadow, but not a single trap rained down on them. Or up at them. Or sideways.

                                                      "I guess the traps ended up like the snakes. Makes sense, they were as old as each other."

                                                      The passage was at times incredibly narrow, sometimes wide enough to be another room, but always strangely quiet. All the light could do was illuminate the stone sides of the caverns.

                                                      Until it didn't.

                                                      Darryl gave an impressed whistle.

                                                      The warm torch light flickered over the contents of the cave, and a mass of gold gleamed back, dotted here and there with brighter, more colourful glints like coquettish winks in the gloom. The Pharaoh's treasure, completely untouched in God knows how long.

                                                      "I guess it wasn't just a story after all, huh?"

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