Confronted by an elder mage of the previous Age of Magic, Yseult hesitated, thoughts tumbling. So MANY secrets here… A story that might take weeks to tell.
Still, they only had an hour or so if the deadline they’d been given – sunset – was at all accurate. It would be best to leave a safety margin in any case.
She’d settle for the vital details first.
(Yseult) “What is it that you need to be done exactly?”
(Sidris) “Now that magic has once more risen, we need a mage who still lives – and, preferably, a powerful one – to come here and perform the Ritual of the Opening of the Mouth. The gates of this realm will open, the pent-up magic accumulated in it will be unleased across the two lands, and those who have been gathered here, into this realm, across the centuries will be restored to life – bringing with them the lore of the prior age. This time there will be all the knowledge we gathered in the last attacks and thousands of years of warning to prepare for the Onslaught of the Scourge.”
Yseult spent a few minutes considering who might work…
Nassor was pretty torn… That would be a legendary act of magic, and would reveal secrets that have been lost for five thousand years – and he didn’t like the implications of “the Onslaught of the Scourge” – but it would be taking enormous responsibility upon themselves, and the implications for the entire world were completely unknown.
(Yseult) “There are dragons that have reawakened. Would one of them be ideal if possible? Or should it be a more mortal person?”
(Sidris) “A dragon could certainly do it. The youngster holding the portal at the moment is too inexperienced – although his magical education appears to be surprisingly good, especially for so early in the rise of magic. I do not yet have a direct evaluation of your companion’s (he indicated Nassor) skill”.
Yseult had few doubts. The secrets there… Leaving them buried in the past would be unbearable. She had devoted her life to uncovering secrets!
(Yseult) “I will attempt to find someone suitable. In the mean time is there any information that I might be able to use to entice them – or to give them some reassurance that such a project will not end in disaster?”
Sidris (perhaps the “Osiris” of later myth?) seemed surprised at that. While he could easily teach the ceremony – although his lack of a physical body prevented him from performing it effectively – the entire point of his project had been to preserve civilization (at least in his mind, synonymous with “magic”) through the ages of darkness. He found it hard to imagine how the return of the lost races and knowledge could possibly be considered a bad thing.
Yseult looked at the others. At least they were natives of Egypt…
(Yseult) “What do you all think?”
Nassor was fascinated, but also nervous. The Tour Guide wanted to see it. The Digger was wanting to know what time it was – and maybe consult some experts and authorities and come back later. Hadn’t there been something about only staying so long?
Yseult had to agree with that. They needed to get going.
(Yseult) “We need to get going – but I shall attempt to find someone appropriate for the task. I would like to be able to talk with you or someone else for a while later, it should be quite fascinating. Perhaps, after the ceremony.”
(Sidris) “There is enough magic abroad now that I can be contacted with the basic opening ritual anywhere within a considerable radius of the zone of correspondence – essentially anywhere near the Sphinx.”
Yseult thanked him – and they headed for the doors. After all, they had no idea what getting trapped inside would mean – but myths about being trapped in the underworld rarely had entirely happy endings.
As they emerged, Nassor’s Apprentice (or whoever was working through him) glanced their way and asked “Shall I again open the outer doors?”
Presumably that meant the steps. That would be convenient, but rather obvious. Still, it would get them to someone with authority a good deal more quickly.
(Yseult) “If you think you can handle it.”
The young man simply pointed – and the stone shifted and reformed into broad, even steps up before he collapsed.
Probably magical exhaustion. It was hard to blame him for that. Yseult picked him up and walked on out…
There was an audience of course. Gaza was a major tourist area, and the cloud of dust as the sand opened up and the stair case rebuilt itself had drawn a fair amount of notice – and the police were already on their way. After all, there were a lot of official guides and such around, and part of the job was antiquities protection.
Yseult nodded to the guides.
(Yseult) “This is now officially a new discovery and the credit belongs to the gentlemen that are with me. I suggest going about your buisness until the appropriate parties can be contacted.”
There was much checking of identities, and permits, and other information. On a less formal level, there was a certain amount of panic amongst the locals and tourists over “mummies”, given that most archeological digs started from the top down, instead of erupting out of ancient crypts.
Yseult had to grin and chuckle at the “mummy” comments, thinking about Sidris and his bandages…
She quietly got in touch with Dunkelzahn – or at least with a good simulation or a fraction of his attention – once she had a few minutes alone.
He was actually quite surprised; he’d heard of Sidris towards the end of the last age – but he’d been an old elf then, and subject to several medical problems. Given that that had been better than five and a half thousand years ago, the fact that he was not only still around somehow but had apparently remained awake throughout the entire low-magic period was quite impressive – and what he’d been up to was even more so.
He probably would have known about it, but most of it had apparently occurred after he’d settled in to sleep; he’d suspected that the Kaldon wouldn’t work in the no-magic period, and so he’d made his usual preparations – which had rather precluded monitoring the rest of the world as well as he usually would.
Dunkelzahn was even willing to fill in a few bits, since she could probably get the information anyway – and that allowed her to put together a pretty good outline.
Roughly eight thousand years ago, a realm called “Thera” had constructed a magical amplifier – a massive system designed to keep the magic level stable. About six thousand years ago, Sidris had concluded that the magic amplifier system would, when magic levels got too low, start to feed on life energy from the earth instead drawing on the astral plane. That would kill everyone nearby and trigger a geological catastrophe.
Unable to convince the other Therans of this, he’d left to try and find another way to preserve magical civilization.
While artificial metaplanar nexi could be made to persist through a low-magic period, they were unstable if they were too close together – and so they couldn’t be spaced closely enough to sustain a magical civilization. There wouldn’t be enough power. Ergo, Sidris must have created one, made magic – in very small amounts – available in the area around it just to keep up the memory and some small rituals, and channeled most of it into a giant spirit-binding – a sort of artificial afterlife from which spirits could be returned later, when the magic level rose again.
Presumably he’d wanted to preserve the endangered races and wisest magician-sages, From what little he’d told Yseult, however, he’d entrusted the rituals to the early pharaohs – and they’d soon started stuffing the place with friends and relatives.
So; if the Ritual of the Opening of the Mouth of the underworld was performed at the Eye, the elder sages would rise, the pocket dimension would collapse, and the stored-up power of the Eye of Ra would be unleashed to transform Egypt and power all the ancient pharonic enchantments. Many of the sages, of course, would have been seen as godlings later, so – in a way – the ancient egyptian gods would once more walk the earth, with all their ancient magical knowledge.
That was fascinating, and Dunkelzahn was all for it – but he was not quite sure what humanity would think of it or if a period of preparation was in order. After all, the dead had waited for nearly six thousand years, they could presumably wait a little longer.
Sadly, however, Yseult was losing her train of thought; she was no longer in contact with her chair – or at least there wasn’t any pressure on the relevant sensors.
She was… floating? An inch or so up? Some draconic prank? But she was feeling some very odd pains as well – and it would be quite a prank to come over her satellite hookup.
She ran a systems check.
Hmm… Neural transfer speed up, some neural changes, two new internal organs, substantial changes in her kidney and stomach function, somewhat more fragile internal arrangements, and the internal pain was due to the need to readjust her cyberframe.
She contemplated that for a few moments and then mentioned it to Dunkelzahn.
(Dunkelzahn) “Well you have been exposed to a lot of magic recently! It would probably be a lot more dramatic if you weren’t all encased in cyberware!”
(Yseult, a latent Metahuman) “Hmm… I wonder what has awakened then. I hope it wont take too long this pain is getting worse.”
(Dunkelzahn) “Well, you might want to get that adjusted. There weren’t many natural flying species. Probably the T’skrang. I thought they’d gone extinct though… There must have been a few near power nexi available after all. I wouldn’t have thought any T’skrang manifestations would occur yet; it must have been the Eye of Ra.”
Yseult sighed, stretched, and quietly pulled up the contact information for her cyberframe manufacturer so that it would be ready when she’d finished her conversation with Dunkelzahn. (Yseult) “Well, I think a period of adjustment should be arranged and to try to let most of the sentient beings on the planet know what changes may be coming here.”
They’d have to go public before letting the enclave occupants out anyway. Too much panic would ensue otherwise. Of course, if they did go public, their eventual release would become near-inevitable. Sooner or later, even if most of the world voted against letting them out, SOMEONE would find a way to do it.
(Yseult, to Dunkelzahn) “Who all in this world do you think would actually be qualified to have a say on if this should happen? I think it would be prudent to ask them and then organize a press release to inform the world about what is about to happen – or even to make a big deal out of the ceremony. I am normally in favor of secrecy but how would we hide THAT many dead people coming back to life?”
(Dunkelzahn) “And all dead for millennia – and some of great magical power. As for a say… Perhaps the people of Egypt. Those are their ancestors and gods, and it is their heritage.”
(Yseult) “What of the magical aspect? Who would be qualified to speak on that end? Though I am assuming that would be a “yes” on most accounts.”
(Dunkelzahn) “If necessary, I would do it. I will not deny a heritage and a hope that has survived for six millennia, and neither would I abandon several races to extinction due to ancient follies in which they had no say. I recall the ancient duties, even if many of my kind do not.”
(Yseult) “Should we first contact the Egyptian government then?”
(Dunkelzahn) “I believe so. Besides; you will need to discuss your finder’s fee with them, will you not?”
(Yseult) “I suppose that is true though the finders fee on something like this would probably be well above their pockets given the wealth of knowledge that they are likely to gain.”
(Dunkelzahn) “I suspect that you will share in it; after all, you still have the ritual to contact Sidris do you not? And an enchantment that allows your recall from death – at least if death occurs within a certain range of your anchor – would seem well worthwhile.”
(Yseult) “I don’t know if I wish to be able to come back from the dead. It seems a little ostentatious to me. But I will likely share in the knowledge.”