Speaking to the others about a “game plan” hadn’t really gotten them anywhere. In reality, it had wasted extra time, so Nisa spent the next four hours doing more research into this mysterious, unknown language. Oliver finally convinced her to get some sleep, but the next morning, as soon as she woke up, she was at it again.
The research hadn’t gotten anywhere, either. Needless to say, there wasn’t very many books about a language that had been hidden from the public. So, Nisa realized her only options left if she really wanted the language to be translated, was to go back to Callahan and find a way to work with him.
“What are you doing?” Oliver asked.
Nisa sighed, thumping her hands against her thighs in frustration. “I have to go to Callahan, okay? I can’t steal his information because then I’d never get official credit, so I have to find a way to translate this the right way, but Ollie… There is no more information on this unknown language. Either Callahan has the translation or the pottery we found would help him translate it. But I’m stuck. I have to go to him to cut a deal.”
Oliver shook his head. “No. Absolutely not. I’m your head of security and your best friend which sometimes means stopping you from making stupid decisions.”
Nisa shot him a look and crossed her arms as wind blew in sand from outside. “You already stopped me from being stupid and trying to steal his papers. This… isn’t that.”
“Yes, it is.” Oliver placed his hand on her shoulders, which stopped in her tracks as she had tried to skirt around him toward the tent’s entrance. “If you give him the piece of pottery, he will steal it from you just like he did from your dad. Nisa… We’ll figure out another way.”
Nisa stared up at him as frustration boiled through her. “How?”
Oliver grinned. “You’re not going to find the answers up here.”
Nisa cocked her head at him as her lips played upward into a smirk. “Ollie…”
He nodded his head in the direction of the pyramid. “Right now, your team is the only one with permission to be here. Knowing Callahan, it won’t be long before he has the legalities to join you here. Ni, if you want answers, you’re going to have to get back down there and find them. If one piece of pottery had the unknown language… it’s likely others will too.”
Nisa nodded and tightly hugged him. “You know what, you’re right. Not to mention the odd creature statue we found. If any place will have more artifacts with that language written on it, it’s here. You coming with me?”
Oliver shook his head. “No. I’ll leave that to you, Bea, Susie, and Chris.”
Nisa smiled at him and released him. “What about you?”
Oliver glanced at the tent entrance as the wind hurled the flaps open. “I’ll be staying here at the surface. Between Callahan and the protestors, I’m gonna keep an eye on the artifacts myself.”
Nisa nodded and bent down to grab her bag of tools from the corner. “You got it. See you in a few hours.”
Outside, sand blew in a maelstrom, so Nisa used the scarf around her neck to cover her nose and mouth as she tried to shield her eyes with her hand as best as she could. It didn’t really work, especially with how powerful sandstorms were in this area.
It didn’t take long for Nisa to meet up with Bea in her tent, who informed her that Chris and Susie were already down in the pyramid. Where, she didn’t know. So, the two women quickly made their way from Bea’s tent to the pyramid’s entrance and then started on the long trek down to the bottom.
Once they were inside the tomb, walking down the long staircase down deeper into the pyramid, they could finally hear each other, so Nisa turned to Bea. “Have they gotten the bottom half of the statue unearthed yet?” she asked.
Bea shook her head. “It’s almost uncovered. Chris said that’s where he went to work while, I think, Susie was still working in one of the other tombs.”
Nisa furrowed her eyebrows, holding her flashlight higher to light the way as they finally came to the end of the staircase. “They found another chamber?”
“I think so.”
Then that was where Nisa wanted to be. Although, navigating her way through the maze of corridors would be easy for the parts she knew and difficult for the newly uncovered sections. She decided to walk with Bea to meet Chris at the statue and go from there. It was a high possibility that Chris would know exactly where Susie went—considering they were married and he loved her dearly.
Several minutes later, Nisa and Bea walked into the small chamber where Chris and two other workers knelt beside a statue. Where it had been located, the floor lowered down to form a carefully dug hole, which exposed the lower half of it down to its feet.
“Bea!” Chris’ eyes widened and the lanterns hanging in the room flickered light on his dark features. “You’re never going to believe this. Take a look…”
Nisa pointed her flashlight on the statue as Bea jumped in the hole beside Chris. The other two works slid out of the way, since the room was too small to comfortably fit all of them and their tools too.
Nisa’s eyes widened as soon as she saw it; the creature’s torso was unlike anything she had ever seen; narrow in the front with one leg coming out of the center and two in the back, where the torso itself expanded outward and widened at the back hips. “A three-legged creature?” she asked.
Bea shook her head, running her gloved hands along the side of its front leg. “That’s impossible. No creature on earth has three legs.”
Chris shrugged. “Some animals could have been born as an amputee. Maybe the Egyptians used it as inspiration.”
Bea shook her head. “No. Look at the front. There isn’t room for a second leg at the front. If there were, you’d have a knob here.”
Chris nodded. “You’re right.”
Nisa shook her head at the statue in awe. Theories started running rapid in her muddled thoughts, but she shook it off. None of the theories had any value until one could be proven. “We don’t even know that the Egyptians made this.”
Chris leaned against the side of the hole, taking a deep breath. “Yes, they did. The stonework is definitely Egyptian.”
Chris was an expert on cultures and civilizations. If it was or wasn’t Egyptian, he would know.
“Where’s Susie working?” Nisa asked.
Chris pointed to the entryway. “Take a right immediately out the door, then follow it to the end. Make a sharp right and you’ll come to a circular chamber—that’s where she’s working.”
Nisa nodded. “Alright. Keep me posted as you guys get this baby out.”
“You got it.”
Keeping her hold on her flashlight, Nisa trekked out the door and followed Chris’ detailed instructions. It only took her a few minutes to enter the archway into a massive circular chamber.
Colorful hieroglyphics etched on the walls were almost perfectly preserved. Nisa gasped and used the flashlight to stop and read a few of them. “I’ve never seen hieroglyphics so preserved before,” she marveled. “It’s almost as if they’re fresh.”
“I know, right?” Susie squealed. She huffed, ducking beneath a doorway to the back of the room. “We’ve got a body. Well, a sarcophagus back here. I haven’t opened it yet. Not until we’re ready to exhume.”
Nisa nodded. As soon as they opened it, the body would start to decay; usually, it would only take a few weeks to several months for mummies to go back to terrible condition. Every other artifact in the chamber, including the hieroglyphics on the walls, would have to be studied first. “What does the room tell you?”
Archaeologists like Susie and Nisa were skilled and detailed at their work—as well as passionate for it. Every artifact, body, and painting told a story of someone who had lived. In Susie’s case, she actually enjoyed writing down her findings into non-fiction books. Nisa, however, constantly strived to find the truth. Especially with this pyramid; so mysterious, especially with how it seemed to want to keep all the answers to itself.
Susie grinned and gestured to the doorway. “Not much room in here, but she was important. I’m thinking she might have been a queen or someone in the royal family. This chamber and the ones connected to it are grand, but they hid her body in the back, probably to protect her from thieves. I’m actually surprised most of the artifacts she was buried with are still here.”
“What?” Nisa’s eyes widened as she ducked through the doorway and used her flashlight to light up the small room. Sure enough, Susie was right. Pots and pottery, mummified cats, statues, kitchenware… Regular household items filled the room all along the edges with everything the Egyptians believed this Egyptian would have needed in the afterlife. “How do you know it’s a woman?”
Susie pointed to the walls. “The story on the wall; I think it tells the story of her life. Look at these symbols here.” Susie slipped around to the front of the coffin on the far end of the room and bent down. Nisa squeezed in on the other side, careful not to touch the sarcophagus.
The hieroglyphics on the wall, as she read them, did tell the story of a woman; the daughter of a queen, who had loved a man she shouldn’t have. When their romance had been discovered, he had been killed by the Pharaoh. Rather than live a life without him, she killed herself in grief. “Whoa. That’s some Romeo and Juliet stuff going on there.” Nisa glanced over her shoulder at the coffin, wondering if this really was the same woman—the princess—buried here in this very room.
Beneath the coffin, where it was held up on sandstone stilts, sat a rock but it was perfectly cut. “Hold this for me,” Nisa said, handing Susie the flashlight. Susie held it up for her as Nisa bent down and reached beneath the coffin.
Her hands grasped the edges of the rock, which she soon realized was a flat stone tablet. Grunting, she tried scooting it out, so she reached her second hand in there to help guide it out, without hitting the coffin. “Almost got it,” she said with another grunt.
As soon as she pulled it out, Nisa leaned it against the wall. Susie shined the light on it and Nisa peered closely at it in shock and awe.
There were four different passages on it; the first, was written in Arabic, the second in Mandarin—which was extremely unusual here in the middle of Egypt. The third was Latin and the fourth—
The fourth was the unknown language.
“What does it say?” Susie asked. “I can only read Ancient Egyptian.”
Nisa swallowed deeply, heart racing in her chest. “It’s the same story… written in Arabic, Mandarin, and Latin.”
“What about that last language?” Susie asked.
Nisa squeezed Susie’s arm in excitement. “It’s the unknown language. This story… The tablet has it in full detail, more than the wall gives. My guess is Arabic, Latin, and Mandarin allowed them to tell it in full detail, whereas hieroglyphics don’t always allow for details.”
“Nisa…” Susie gasped.
Nisa laughed. “Do you know what this means?” Without waiting for answer, she pressed on. “This means I can finally translate it!”