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Nine Lives PROLOGUE
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Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-21-2012 11:06

The inside of the tent was sweltering, and rivulets of sweat streaked the back of Mollys neck as she perused a scroll. The only illumination offered was a dusty old lamp, nearly clogged with the desert sands of Egypt that surrounded her on all sides. Her eyelashes were clogged with the damned sand- her ears, her hair, it gritted between her teeth when she spoke, and her entire mouth tasted of parched rocks and sunlight. It was more torture than a soul should have to bear.
But she only had to bear it for a night longer, she thought as her blood began to pound with adrenaline. For there on the scroll, concealed in the centuries-old hieroglyphics, was the answer to the riddle they had been searching for. The location of the 9 scored ankh of Hatshepsut, or The Nine Lives as it was called in most theory. A priceless ankh cast of white gold, encrusted with 9 huge rubies around the rim, and priceless stones all down the hilt. It was a long-lost treasure, coveted by many seekers. It was said to be cursed, however. Some said that the Gods grew infuriated at Hatshepsuts arrogance, of her taking the sacred symbol and making it gaudy with worldly accoutrements. The very thing that was to guarantee her enduring life, was said to have cursed her, and brought her downfall. It was said that Senenmut, her chief architect and lover, had realized this mistake and hidden the artifact away. But it was too late for he and his queen both. The only thing that remained of this legacy was the tattered papyrus scroll he had left as a riddled guide to the ankhs location.
Molly had pored for hours over the papyrus, and the singular riddle it contained.
"If you go where it is most holy. The ninth will grant you life." Just beneath this was a crude sketch of a pillar. Molly had suddenly been struck with its meaning. Most holy. The temple Senenmut had built for Hatshepsut at Deir El-Bahari. It was called Djeser-Djeseru, or "Holy of Holies" The ninth will grant you life- the

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Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-21-2012 11:12

location of the ankh. "No matter, she led us right to the treasure. Onward!"
So saying, he spurred his mount, and with an answering cry, his men urged their horses towards the great silent complex of Deir El-Bahari. When they had gone, Thomas turned to his partner. "I do believe the jig is up."He said sadly. Molly was chewing her lip in thought.
"No, Thomas."She finally said, narrowing her eyes."That man has taken enough from me already, I'll be damned to hell if he gets this one too!"
Before he could blink, she had sprang onto her horse and torn off in hot pursuit of her husband.
"What a spectacularly troubled marriage." Thomas muttered to himself as he laboriously drew himself into the saddle again.
By the time the two had reached the complex, 5 horses milled about complacently, the reins dropped in the sand. Molly and Thomas dismounted a ways away, dropping their reins and pulling out their guns in unison. On fleet feet they darted up the endless stairs and terraces, once filled with gardens so long ago, now just stones and sand, drawing closer to Hatshepsuts temple. They heard voices at the top, and the unmistakable clanging of a shovel on stone.
"I'm certain this is the one, dig faster!"Jack was saying, and the man he spoke to nodded once and struck out harder with the shovel at the base of the colonnade. Sparks rang out. Thomas made a move to run forward, but Molly stopped him, her brow furrowed in concentration. "That isn't right, Thomas." She whispered excitedly."the scroll, the column in the scroll was from a different perspective. This isn't the right side, it' the opposite column."
Both pairs of eyes moved to the other column, rising up into the darkness 10 yards away. She quietly shushed her partner and led him to it in a crouch, praying the group would not turn and notice their progress. She got down on her knees and felt around, tracing the ancient symbols with her fingertips until she found one,

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-21-2012 11:14

rough-hewn in a crude ankh. The stone beneath her fingers gave a little, rattling. Praying to the Gods for silence, she groped for its edges and slid it out of the column. There, just behind it, winking at her in its obscenity, was the bejeweled artifact. She grasped it and passed it to Thomas without a moment to spare, rising as he dropped it into his satchel. She turned to him with a triumphant look and suddenly registered the eerie silence, and Thomas' pale face in torchlight that was suddenly too bright.
"Well done, my darling wife." Came Jack Billings voice, and she spun on her heel to find her husbands handsome face an inch from her own, as was the pistol he had aimed at her. "Now hand over the ankh, and I won't have to become a widower."
"Don't do it, Thomas." She said immediately, but concern for her well-being won out, and Thomas handed Jack the satchel.
"Good man" Jack said casually, and then shot him between the eyes. The men circled around the scene chortled at Molly's scream. "Tell you what, dear. We'll give you a fighting chance. You'll get a three minute head start, then we'll be after you. We'll see how long you can last in the desert without your faithful assistant."
Tears streaking down her cheeks, Molly wasted no time, turning on her heel and fleeing as fast as she could. As she darted down the terraces towards the horses, she prayed to God for Thomas, and for the strength to face her husband some other time, in some other place, and regain the cursed treasure her friend had died for."


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