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I write this in haste. If I escape this place, it will ensure I forget
nothing of what I have seen — if not, I hope it will serve as a warning
to those who come after.
With our escape blocked by the collapse of the tunnel, we headed
down into the darkness. It seemed like an age until we reached the
bottom of the narrow passageway, each sealed with a stone slab. One
had been broken, no doubt by Valdes’ men. This, then, was the burial
chamber of King Kharatep. Inside, the light of our torches reflected
from a dazzling hoard of treasure.
A golden casket of exquisite craftsmanship stood on a stone dais above
the other grave goods. If the histories of Kharatep’s reign are true, this
was one of the nine funerary caskets of the god-king Phatep himself,
recaptured by King Kharatep at the Battle of the Burning Sands. It
shone magnificently in the light of our torches, as bright and untarnished
as the day it was made.
Before I could shout a warning, Gunther and the porters rushed forwards
to open it, overcome by greed. The moment they had levered
open the lid, a searing light burst from inside, and howling spirits
swarmed from the casket, babbling curses on those who defiled the
mortal remains of their god. Where they struck, men fell dead without
a mark on their bodies, faces contorted in terror.
To my shame I fled, leaving the others to die. I ran until I could no
longer hear the screams of the hunting ghosts. Now I hide in an alcove
of the pyramid’s internal passageways, writing these words. I
will never forget what I saw — not only when the casket was opened,
but during my flight. The second archway we passed — the one still
sealed with a stone slab that would have taken a giant’s strength to
move — is now open.
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