Change of Address

Playlist: Duat - Myrath
Keeper Note: It's been 2 weeks since the session, so apologies if the notes+my memories have misremebered anything!.

Major Blythe-Manders' House, Cairo, Egypt, 19:22 26th June 1940


After Jimmy had taken his photographs, and Birapeer wandered out to a balcony where he could covertly watch the street outside the house, the others settled down with the documents and translations they had acquired. While the Major was still very dismissive of the Atlantis theory, he proved an agile scholar in the ancient heiroglyphic writing, and meaning slowly emerged from the Black Stone.

Where the German archaeologists of the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft had been led by Burgdorff's translation to believe that the relic - referred to in several places as The Disc of the Sun - was under Armana, the corrected translation indicated that it had actually been hidden in the Duat - the Egyptian land of the Dead. Blythe-Manders sat back with a wry chuckle. "Well, that's it," he said, "It's obviously apocryphal. It's lost or destroyed or never existed, so myth declares that it was assumed into the Land of the Dead and it becomes part of the mythology. If it ever existed at all." Marcus toyed with the idea of performing some magic for the Major to try and shock him out of his scepticism, but decided against it.

THE SHORT FORM OF THE AM-TUAT AND THE BOOK OF GATES (VOL.II)—in English and Hieroglyphics, E. A. Wallis Budge, pub. 1905.

The second in a series of three, Budge’s work contains the hieroglyphic text of the short form of the Am Tuat (the journey of the soul through the Egyptian underworld, whose complete text is in Volume I) and the hieroglyphic text of the Book of Gates, along with his translations of both. The Book of Gates describes the journey of the barge of the Sun through the Duat (representing both the underworld and night) and the challenges Ra faces before he is reborn again in the morning. Split into twelve decans (portions or hours), each stage of the journey is blocked by a gate the barge must travel through in order to continue on its way. Each of the gates and the lands, gods, and strange creatures associated with them is described in slightly baffling detail.

Various weapons are mentioned for defeating an array of different snake gods, but one appears to be called a “metau” (a forked stake used as a stabbing weapon), whilst the god Apep/Apophis is finally defeated by being bound over with five sets of heavy chains.

Blythe-Manders thought for a while, then went off to search in his library - widely famed as one of the best collections in Africa. "This may help," he said, placing Budge's book on the table.

Joe, never prepared to accept a "mumbo jumbo" explanation where a practical one was possible, asked "So how do we get to this Duat place?" The Major laughed. "Well, usually by dying and then being disembowelled and mummified properly, then sealed into a stone tomb with all your valuables."

The Sheikh's Tattoo

The party gathered all their gear, and thanked the Major for his kind hospitality and help. As they emerged into the garden, however, the sheikh was waiting for them by the garden door. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and it was obvious that he had been weeding from the dirt on his hands. As he stood up, he rolled his wrist, and an old, slightly faded tattoo on the inside of his right fore-arm came into view, quite clearly not by accident. Marcus recognized it immediately as the same symbol he had discovered interwoven with the text on the Black Stone.

Sheikh Janin took his hand, and speaking in a peculiar blend of English, French and Arabic urged him and his companions to return after dark, when he would be able to assist them further. By a mixture of sketches in the dirt and pointing to his eyes, he managed to get across that he wanted them to bring the flowers of the Blue Lotus when they did. Then he ushered them out and closed the door.

Museum of Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt, 23:07 26th June 1940

Museum of Antiquities

Late that night, Joe and Anné slipped quietly through the grounds of the Cairo Museum. The place was long deserted, but they were fairly sure that their intentions were not likely to go down well with the authorities and they were taking no chances.

Blue Lotus Flowers

Gently they reached out into the decorative pool that stood in front of the building and harvested eight of the electric blue flowers. Then they slipped away again to keep their appointment with Sheikh Janin.

Major Blythe-Manders' House, Cairo, Egypt, 23:32 26th June 1940

Sheikh Janin

When the investigators arrived back at the Blythe-Manders house, Sheikh Janin was waiting for them at the gate and silently ushered them in. Only when they were safely inside did he ask for the blue lotus flowers, which he haltingly explained were important if they were “to travel the road of truth”.

Pressing his forefinger firmly to his lips in the universally recognised sign for silence, he led the investigators through the salamlik to the interior courtyard, which was bathed in the cool silver light of the moon. Anné asked the sheikh why he was helping them, and with an enormous, warm smile he merely answered, “Because I have helped you, am helping you, and will help you, as I have always done.” Joe looked closely at him. "But why us?" he asked. "Because you are agents of the Light," he said, "and the forces of Darkness are closing in on us all. The Aten is no longer safe, and it needs to be in the hands of the Warriors of the Light."

As they passed through the salamlik, the agents could hear the sounds of fairly thunderous snoring coming from somewhere inside the house; the Major was well and truly asleep and oblivious to their presence. Joe asked whether he would remain asleep, and the sheikh grinned. "This is not his way," he said, "he lives in the world of fact and words. He will sleep well tonight." He began to remove the rather large ornamental cover from the courtyard’s well. Quickly, Cyril moved to help him with it, and between them they slid it to one side and away.

Swirl SymbolTitle

A small raised lip of stone, only a few inches high, supported the cover and, once exposed, the calm, dark waters of the well could be seen only a foot or so below the courtyard’s flagstones. As before, the little sheikh spoke in a mixture of French and English. Desppite this, they had no real difficulty in understanding the old man, who patiently explained that the power of the sun had entered the Duat and lay there waiting for them to free it. But first they must find the doorway to the land of the night, and the only way they could do that was through the Well of Stars, which grants a vision to those who know how to conjure up its secrets. The sheikh handed Cyril a long, fluffy brown ostrich feather and mimed making a swirling action with his right hand while pointing at the well. To make it perfectly clear what he meant, he also drew a symbol in the dirt - the all too familiar double swirl. "The answer to at least one of your questions will appear when the ripples you make have ceased," he said.


Cyril knelt next to the well and began to trace the double swirl onto the surface of the water. Before feather touched the water, the moon was clearly visible in the mirror-like surface of the well, as were the group’s reflections. The feather’s touch instantly broke the image, fragmenting and distorting it. All the while, the sheikh was chanting something softly to himself; he stopped only when Cyril ceased drawing the symbol on the water. At first, it looked as if nothing was happening but, as the ripples faded, what the investigators could see in the well was most definitely not their reflections. Instead, there was a massive sandstone façade supported by six pillars; each of the pillars contains the carved head of a woman with cow’s ears: Cyril and Marcus immediately recognized the goddess Hathor.

The image shifted to the ruins of a building to the right of what was undoubtedly a temple and, as the investigators watched, the ground split open and the sun began to rise through the crack in the stone flagging, blinding them. A few seconds later, when their vision cleared, the well had returned to normal and their own faces were staring back at them.

After a few moments, Marcus spoke up. "That looked like the Temple of Hathor at Dendera - it's a few miles to the southwest of Qena on the west bank of the Nile." He paused, then clicked his fingers. "I remember reading somewhere that hidden deep in a subterranean crypt within the temple are strange carvings that some purport to show the ancient equivalent of light bulbs (the so-called 'Dendera Lights')."

Temple of Hathor at Dendera

The vision had not shown that crypt, but another building instead. This was once the Sanatorium, where the sick would come to find cures for their ailments through prophetic dreams, induced by the drinking of narcotic beer

Sheikh Janin calmly informed the investigators that in order for them to reclaim the sun, they must make their own
journey into the Duat and face the challenges the gods have waiting for them. If their hearts were found to be in the balance (a reference to the belief that the goddess Ma’at weighs the hearts of the deceased against her feather of truth, and any that fail the test are devoured by the eaters of the dead: the am’mut, terrifying hybrids of lion, crocodile, and hippopotamus) and they can defeat the dread Apophis (the evil snake god who will destroy the world), then the sun would be theirs.

The old man also volunteered to make for them the “red ale of truth” that they would need in order to undertake their journey into the Duat; this was why he had needed the Blue Lotus Flowers.

Major Blythe-Manders' House and Elsewhere, Cairo, Egypt, 09:00 27th June 1940

Map of Egypt - click it for larger image!

Considerable planning went into their next move. The last thing they wanted to do was lead anyone who might be tailing them straight to Dendera. Therefore, a communication was sent to Clemens Park via a code that RJ knew to be compromised, informing Alec that they were following a lead to Crete.

Meanwhile, a plane was organized for them to collect at the Rosetta airstrip. Resources were stretched; the best they could do was an elderly Whitley MkV; an ancestor of what would one day be the mighty Lancaster. Train tickets were booked for them from Cairo to Rosetta.

Their prisoner, al-Samael, who had been languishing in a wardrobe all this time, was turned over to SIME who agreed to hold him until everything was resolved. They also said farewell to their Cairo guide Achmed at this point, thanking him for his stalwart help. Birapeer hung back, and as the man was leaving, passed him a thick wad of banknotes; fifty Egyptian pounds. Achmed seemed deeply affected by this, and swept Birapeer a low and respectful bow before leaving.

Then they headed back over to Blythe-Manders' house to collect the Red Ale, Cyril at the wheel. As they drove through Cairo, Anné suddenly leaned over the side of the car. She'd caught a brief glimpse of a man, completely inconsistent with even this cosmopolitain crowd; an asian-looking man in a blue monk's habit. Only after the momentary glimpse was gone did she recall why it had caught her attention; Marcus' sighting of a similar figure in deepest England...

As he passed it over, individual clay pots carefully wrapped in straw, Sheikh Janin carefully instructed them again in its proper use before uttering the following as he handed them the precious drug: “Keep your metau sharp, and do not be chained by thinking that willow is only of use for making cricket bats.” He declined to expand further on this.

By now, the agents had gained enough respect for the sheikh's words to take them seriously. After leaving him, they sought out timber merchants and sporting goods shops, in the end collecting a complete set of cricket equipment as well as some willow wood in various shapes and sizes.

When they came to check out of Shepheard's, Cyril and Birapeer noticed that their rooms had been thorouhly and efficiently searched. This they reported to the management, though the latter were a little baffled that the effendi were complaining that nothing had been stolen from their rooms.

Rosetta, Nile Delta, Egypt, 13:28 27th June 1940

Egyptian Railways

After a reasonably comfortable train ride (First Class, naturally!) through the Delta the group detrained at Rosetta station. As they did so, Birapeer noticed a man, nondescript and unremarkable, reading a paper on a bench but almost certainly watching them. Thinking quickly, he committed the face to memory as much as he could, then nudged Jimmy and suggested a group photograph under the station sign - a fairly common picture for European tourists to take in places like this. Adroitly, the photojournalist arranged things so that the picture just happened to include their watcher. As the camera clicked, the man seemed to realize what had been happened, and hastily folded his paper and left.

The airstrip turned out to be a very basic military installation, with a couple of buildings, a perimeter fence and a dusty airstrip. Birapeer made straight for their plane, and began very detailed checks of its airworthiness, preparation for a desert flight and non-possession of surveilance or destructive extras. He also ensured that enough parachutes were loaded for all of them.

Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley V

While he did this, Joe wandered up to the control tower. From there he could see most of the perimeter, and not to his surprise he noticed a beat-up old motorcar, apparently broken down on the road outside the fence, bonnet up and two local men arguing over it with much waving of arms. Quite by chance, apparently, they had a perfect view of the airfield. He brought this to the Duty Officer's attention, and he glanced disinterestedly over. "Oh," he said casually, "you know what the natives are like," Joe frowned and continued to watch the distant figures make no effort whatsoever to repair their vehicle.

With their flight plan for Crete filed, the Sikh settled behind the controls and took the plane into the air, swinging to the north and heading out over the blue Mediterranean. He kept this course until they were well out over the sea, then turned in a huge arc to the east, crossing back over the land well away from the centres of population before angling south back up the Nile towards the British air base at Luxor.

The plane was largely unarmed, being assigned for cargo work, but the dorsal turret was still present. Joe settled himself into the seat, and warmed the guns with a quick blip. Just in case...

Session Date: 25th June 2018