A lost sanctuary in Egypt…
The darkness heaved around them and they staggered as a blast rocked the sanctuary, followed by the crash of falling stone.
“It’s a trap!” Kane said.
The explosive charge had collapsed the entrance, sealing them underground.
“What the hell?” Rafe said.
“Why bring us all the way here to do this?” It was Delta, the American archaeologist. She was indignant rather than afraid.
A mysteriously chosen group, they had been driven to this unknown site in Land Cruisers by night, blindfolded.
The vehicles had departed, abandoning them, and they’d been led toiling up a rocky path on a mountain or cliff face and eventually admitted via low passages into some large underground vault where voices echoed in empty space.
When the blindfolds came off, it had revealed more darkness until they reached for their flashlights. Spurts of yellow beams began fluttering across columns in an ancient entrance hall.
Lawrence looked around, marvelling at the sight. His flashlight illuminated faces of a cow eared goddess carved into the columns.
“What is this place?” he said in an enthralled whisper.
Here, brought to life, was the setting of every historical fantasy he had ever wanted to write, every dream he ever dared to dream, every mystery he had ever wanted to believe in.
They had been brought here on the wishes of a dead man, James Hollister.
Before he died, the rich and cancer-ridden archaeologist had invited a group of chosen individuals to this secret location in Egypt.
The execution of his last will and testament. Hollister would bequeath to them a great secret discovery, which, if ever revealed, would electrify the world.
A group of intrigued beneficiaries.
Lawrence, a writer of historical fantasy fiction, including a novel about Cleopatra, surveyed his companions, five men and one young woman.
Ian, a British archaeologist and expert on Ptolemaic Egypt and especially on the reign of Cleopatra.
Delta, a US University Egyptologist, who had written a popular work on ‘Cleopatra: The Real Woman’, a young academic whose only concession to glamour was a pair of golden stud earrings in the shape of tiny Egyptian scarab beetles, symbolising the renewal of life.
Rafe, an adventurous filmmaker who had made a documentary about the underwater search for Cleopatra in the harbour of Alexandria, and Kane, a Chicago police detective who had featured in a new television ‘cold case’ homicide investigation into the mysterious death of the great queen in history.
And finally their guide and the executor of the dead man’s will, a bulky Greek-Egyptian lawyer from Alexandria who went by the name of Tasso. He was bizarrely dressed for the excursion in a white suit.
“Gather round, my friends, and look here,” Tasso said. He produced a large format phone from a coat pocket and flicked on an oblong glow in the gloom. He chose the camera icon and pressed ‘play’ using an oily thumb.
“What are we looking at?” the policeman Kane said.
“A final message recorded by my client.”
An image filled the screen of a haggard man lying in the bed of a palliative care ward, tubes snaking from his body.
“He’s made a video selfie for us,” Lawrence said.
“Welcome to a great mystery,” the dying man addressed them. “There is a common denominator between you all, if you haven’t already guessed. Yes, I am talking about Queen Cleopatra...”
Excerpt from "The Cleopatra Death Conspiracy".
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