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31st of Keimzeit, 962 A.S.
We are four days out of Port Reynaud, and have come to the landmarks
Abdullah tells me are called the Teeth of the Asp. The
name is certainly apt - these two great obelisks jut up out of the desert
hills like the fangs of a great snake.
In the glory days of the Naptaan empire, these monuments would have
marked the boundary of the Naptaan territory, standing as a statement
of the empire’s great power and a warning against invaders. Now they
are eroded and half-buried in the dunes, but some of the intricate carvings
recording the victories of the king who erected them still remain.
I had Gunther’s porters shovel away six feet of the sand obscuring the
base of the columns — much to the amusement of Abdullah and his
guides, who were content to sit and watch our northerners labouring in
the hot sun. Beneath the dedication to the Pharaoh Oseput we found
what I was searching for — the maker’s mark of the Naptaan mason
who built the Teeth.
From the texts recovered by earlier expeditions, we already know that
among the common-born Naptaan the monument-makers were held in
high regard, second only to the priesthood. They were commissioned
to build the immense tombs of the pharaohs, and great statues glorifying
their rule. The inscription we found on the Teeth says that this
architect — one Ammtunek — oversaw two thousand slaves in their
construction, and was favoured in the eyes of the pharaoh. Intriguingly,
the inscription also says that Ammtunek is buried under the obelisks,
and whosoever disturbs him by destroying his work will suffer his curse.
These great monuments must have been his life’s work.
I put forward the idea of sinking a mine pit under the right-hand obelisk
to try to locate the burial chamber, but our guard captain Gilles refused
outright, saying the obelisk might topple and crush us all. These
people have no vision!
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