CHAPTER THREE: Sekhemib
It was late one night when he felt it: that quiet, almost unbearably drawn out moment when he knew that the time to awaken was finally upon him.
Then it passed, and he awoke.
His bandaged hands caressed the stone slab above him. It was almost the gesture of a master to an obedient guard dog.
Then, a flash: the interior of the sarcophagus lit up as brightly as a desert .
The bandaged figure cried out in a language not heard since before the Great Pyramids had been finished: “The decay! Has it really been so long?”
A quick scrabble in the cramped enclosure, and a small, secret recess was opened. A staff and a pectoral were withdrawn.
Slowly, Sekhemib closed his eyes and cast a simple spell. He then knew that it was about . But how long had the sleep been? That was always more difficult to tell.
The state of his bandages told him the sleep had been very long indeed. He concentrated on his staff. Certain gems set along its length glowed. He knew then that magic was awakening at a fast pace.
It is time, he decided, to take my place of power again.
It is a shame that no archaeologist was there to witness the rising of Sekhemib, because it would have answered so many questions: why was he buried in a sarcophagus with no coffin, for instance.
It would also have been an opportunity to see something that no one had seen in over three millennia: a mummy gasping in shock.
Where he expected the close-fit, yellow stones of his crypt, he saw white walls of an unknown substance. Where there used to be torch sconces, there were recessed holes in the ceiling emitting a glow unlike any magical light or fire he had seen before.
Someone had dared to move his sarcophagus.
His anger was quickly replaced by terror. What situation do I now find myself in? he asked himself. Will the powers who rule here know the name of Sekhemib and quake? Or am I the one who should fear them?
The lights were what he focused most on, sitting in his half-open sarcophagus. It is far too early for these to be magical lights, he thought. The rate of awakening is too quick, the learning curve too steep.
The humans have a grasp of technology, he realized, far in advance of anything I had previously dreamed.
He regretted, then and there, his decision to let the priests learn to read and write. That was the first push that allowed learning to supercede the short individual lives and become permanent. Every generation then knew a little more than the last.
This is terrible, Sekhemib thought. I may not be able to control them at all, if they have this sort of power.
Just then, a man ran into the room. He skidded to a stop.
“Barhg srowng sroe!” the man said. Or, at least, that’s as close as Sekhemib could understand him. He fixed his eyes on the man. The man wore strange garb, not a robe at all, but a set of clothes that lay much closer to the body. The shoes completely covered the feet. He wore nothing at all on his head, and though he seemed to be well into adulthood, had shaved so that he had no beard at all.
A droning sound erupted from Sekhemib’s throat. Soon the man stopped shouting, then stood as if stunned.
Sekhemib crawled from his sarcophagus and walked towards the man. Fangs erupted from his withered smile.
With a clang, Sekhemib crashed against an invisible wall. He nearly lost concentration on his spell. “Osiris on a stick!” he swore, and redoubled his efforts on keeping the man under his will.
Once it was clear the trance had been maintained, he examined this wall. It was of an unknown substance, but not quite invisible, now that he knew it was there. It was remarkably smooth and completely flat. There were four of them, all the way around his sarcophagus.
Looking up, he saw that the ceiling was a good six meters up, but the walls only extended three meters or so.
With a chuckle, he crouched and leapt over the wall.
Time for a quick snack while I consider my options, he thought. Better keep this one alive. He was easily entranced, and undoubtedly has information I need.