Nisa stared at the newly discovered stone, after translating the Arabic, Mandarin, and Latin languages on it. It gave her a sense of what the symbols of the mysterious language said, so using that, she was able to translate the pottery and most of the pictures of the walls. There were several symbols she missed, but she had learned enough to glean the overall messages of the mysterious language.
Shock rippled through her mixed with awe and excitement that made her blood buzz, almost as if she had been hit with lightning.
Oliver strode inside the tent, rubbing his eyes. “It’s almost noon. Have you gotten any sleep?”
Out of the corner of her eye, Nisa caught a glimpse of his sand coated hair and body.
Nisa waved off his comment. “A few hours, but I’ve mostly been working on this… Ollie, this… This is the discovery of a lifetime.”
Oliver frowned, glancing down at the stone tablet, the pottery, and her pictures. He cast his gaze from those to her scrambled notes. “Did you get it translated? What does it say?”
Nisa held her breath and turned to face him, heart racing in her chest, faster than the wind outside. “We need to gather the others!”
Oliver nodded and pointed his thumb outside. “Yeah, I’ll go get them. The storm’s pretty bad, Ni. If the entrance to the pyramid isn’t covered now, it will be in another few hours.”
Nisa should have been upset at the news, but she wasn’t; the translations were too big of a discovery, which was where her thoughts pulled her. “Hurry.”
Oliver nodded and slipped out the tent as she turned back to the translations. They were rough and probably not exact; not yet, at least. More than anything, she wished she could trust Callahan. If he had been the tutor he had once been, the good man before he had betrayed her dad, together, they would have had a complete translation of this in a few days of hard work. Now, of course, Nisa was all on her own and in some ways, it broke her heart.
When Oliver returned with Chris, Susie, and Bea, however, Nisa’s chest filled with warmth. So long as she had her team by her side, she would never be alone.
“What’s it say?” Chris asked. He took a seat in a chair beside Susie, as Bea made herself comfortable at the end of Nisa’s desk.
Oliver stood just behind her; close to her side, where he had always been.
Nisa swallowed deeply, palms sweating with anticipation. She picked up her paper and began reading her notes. “Okay, this is from the stone. The same story had been written in Arabic, Mandarin, Latin, and this language. Susie, remember I told you the hieroglyphics on the walls had less details?” When Susie nodded, she continued. “The original story was basically almost like Romeo and Juliet—an Egyptian princess, whom we think might be buried down there where we found this, loved a man that was forbidden for some unknown reason. They were discovered, Pharaoh killed him, so she killed herself in grief.”
Chris winced. “Oof, poor girl. Tragic.”
Nisa nodded. “According to the added details written on the stone tablet, in Arabic, the man was called a Traveler. Latin uses the word peregrinus, which has been translated to mean alien, foreigner, and even Wanderer.”
“What about in Mandarin?” Chris asked.
Nisa cleared her throat. “It calls him Shijie tiao zian—loosely translated to ‘world jumper.’” She paused for a moment, to let that sink in to everyone in the room before she continued. “The odd thing is, the Arabic, Latin, and Mandarin, are all written in third person—as if someone else wrote the story down to be remembered, but the final one—if I compare symbols from the unknown language on the stone tablet to the one on the pottery and on the walls, there are similarities between the symbols but the ones on the stone tablet seem to have small variations.”
Bea shook her head. “I’m good with creatures, but I think I’m missing the point here. Meaning…?”
“Meaning,” Chris started, “It’s likely written in a different tense or perspective. There is a chance this foreigner or wanderer might have written the final version of the story himself.”
Nisa nodded. “Exactly. Now, the symbols on the pottery, from what I can understand, talk about the man and his love for the woman. I think it was actually a gift he gave her, brought from his homeland as a… well, wedding gift of some sort. One of the symbols used on it is the same used on the stone tablet when it talks of their future together. So wedding, marriage, eternal love—that sort of thing.”
Susie hummed. “They were planning a life together. But was their love forbidden because he was a foreigner?”
Nisa shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, Egyptian princesses often married foreigners for alliances all the time.”
“Unless he was the son of an enemy. Have we had anything dated yet?” Chris glanced at Susie.
Susie nodded. “Well, I haven’t gotten a hold of the tablet or pottery yet, but other artifacts we have dated come back at the earliest Egyptian artifacts ever found—around 3,900 B.C.”
Chris crossed his arms, brow furrowed deep in thought. “If this pyramid is that old, then that means it’s one of the earliest ever built. The others were all constructed around 2,500 B.C. It would have been back when Egypt was still uniting for the first time.”
Nisa nodded, glancing back at her paperwork. “So, the pottery only talked about how it was a gift to her—not much else I can decipher on it, but when Chris and I were exploring one of the chambers, I finally went inside that hole.”
Oliver placed his hands on the back of the chair, staring at her with an open mouth. “You did what?”
Nisa shot him a look. “I was fine, Ollie. We found some intriguing artifacts there, but this language was written all over the walls. I got dozens of pictures, so I’ve been working to translate what I can. I haven’t gotten everything finished yet, but one wall I managed to mostly decipher… it says the man was cursed—which is a similar symbol they used to describe him in Mandarin and the reasons why their love was forbidden—‘the love of a foreign, cursed man’ is what it says in Mandarin and this symbol was the same. But this expands upon it…” Nisa cleared her throat, heart racing in anticipation as she began reading her loose translation. “The cursed foreigner was one of eight terrible curses… Only she can break the curses of eight and free his home from them.”
“She? Talking about the princess?” Susie asked.
Nisa shrugged. “That’s my assumption. The symbol isn’t the same used for her on the tablet. In Mandarin the word meant crane, which was similar to the Egyptian hieroglyphics for her name—bird. Arabic was the same. As far as I can tell, this is just the word for woman.”
“Did they kill him because they believed he was cursed?” Oliver asked.
Chris nodded. “Likely. Egyptians were very superstitious. That, or Pharaoh just didn’t want men getting too frisky with his daughter.”
Susie snapped her fingers. “You know, I think I found something on the side of the sarcophagus—it was a loose piece, so I finished carefully prying it off, so I could study it in case the tomb was buried again…” She pulled out her phone and looked through it for a minute before continuing. “It was some sort of bronze fetters, like a lock of some kind. I noticed the top of it had been cut off, so my guess was that at one time it went all the way around the coffin. Which is odd—if they’re locked up, normally, there are other types of lock mechanisms. When I first saw this, I thought it was a decoration fit for the princess, but then I read the hieroglyphics on the side.”
“What did they say?” Bea asked, throwing her hair up in a short pony tail.
Susie wrinkled her forehead. “That’s what I found odd, at least until Nisa’s translation of the walls came back. It talked about a cursed man that had been a plague upon their people and that they wanted to send him to—another world? It was similar to the symbol for afterlife but not quite the same. For some reason, they couldn’t, so instead, they trapped him here.”
Nisa held out her hand. “Can I see that for a minute?”
Susie nodded and handed it over.
Nisa stared at the iron piece, reading the hieroglyphics etched on it. “Wait… wait, that symbol for other world—I saw it on the wall in the hidden room. There weren’t too many Egyptian symbols there, but there was a small section in a corner that basically said the translation of the language. Then the rest of the room was the language repeating it over and over again.”
“Wait, repeating what?” Bea asked.
“What I translated before; the eight curses and setting his home free. I didn’t realize it before, but this Egyptian symbol is the same here, but it isn’t afterlife or underworld. I think it’s the symbol for his homeland.”
“Cursed homeland,” Oliver added. “So, they believed he was cursed and that his entire home was as well?”
Susie nodded. “Yeah, which was why they didn’t want him interacting with them, let alone the Egyptian princess.”
Nisa grinned as the story slowly started to piece itself together. “So, when they discovered he and the princess were secret lovers, they tried to send him home but couldn’t, so they locked him away here.”
Chris grunted. “Which means that sarcophagus down there isn’t the princess…”
Susie gasped. “It’s him. The cursed man.”