Chapter One

 

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Authors’ note: This story may be just a story, but it is imbued with complete truth. It is the truth of Thoth, of Osiris, of Moses, of Hermes, of Einstein and Newton, perhaps of all the great minds of our history, and before. You will certainly find the familiar word of God. Why? Because God is within, and we are One. This story comes from within. It hinges on an event in biblical history, the significance of which was not ignored at the time but has long since been ignored and forgotten.

 

Light banished, almost as the night,

The darkness comes with all its forces.

In fear and discord and ungodly smite,

The hand strikes, and blood no longer courses

 

 

Peering through the heat haze across the shimmering sands, he pulled the paisley patterned cloth from his trouser pocket, folded it in half, then into quarters and mopped the stream of sweat from his neck. He had no idea he was about to die.

His water bottle was clipped to his belt. He released it and grimly unscrewed the cap, his line of vision following roughly hewn rocks that made up the low hills, sandy outcrops and gorges in front of them.

He was about to make the biggest discovery of his life, which minutes later was going to end.

It had to be here somewhere, he told himself. He felt sure he was on the right track. Although the old text was far from precise and time was bound to have changed the scenery, Sir Roger Lambert scanned the horizon and its features and then poured over the copy of ancient hieroglyphs.

Over the years, working in this type of climate, he had adopted the local style headdress and pulled the tattered fringe of cloth down a little so that it shielded his eyes a little better. Though the sun beat down he was used to it.

As the sweat trickled down his back, little did Sir Roger know that he had only nine minutes and thirty-eight seconds of his life remaining...

For a split second he stopped and thought about the way his emotions were running. His search, deep in the desert here, was dominating his every spare moment. If he wasn’t making hazardous treks out into the Empty Quarter, he was pouring over ancient texts searching for crucial evidence. Risking attack or kidnapping from feuding tribes, Sir Roger had shunned the idea of employing armed guards when he went out into the desert on his own – it was bordering on crazy behaviour.

The vital reference he had found in the ruins of Mahram Bilqis archaeological dig site, talked of a sign in the desert which reveals ‘to the one whom would understand it’, the secret of ‘the Seven Guardians, conflict and revelation.....  and the key to destiny’.

Sir Roger felt his heart flutter as he imagined what he might find..... but at the same time, there was nothing to guarantee that there was anything out here now. If the marker hadn’t been moved or destroyed, surely the sands will have worn it away by now. And even if it did exist, without very precise instruction about where to look, it would be impossible to find – a needle in a haystack…a haystack of unbelievable proportions.

But he was driven now and had to keep looking. He felt it in his bones... it was there, out there, hidden ....just waiting.

That flutter in his heart had started to irritate him. If there was an obelisk, stelea or standing stone of some kind, it would quite possibly be under twenty or more metres of debris and sand. Every year there were numerous sand storms, and each one can significantly change features of the landscape significantly in some places.

Sir Roger looked down at his desert boots and kicked a scuff of sand two foot into the air front of him, and as he did, that odd irritation became a pain, a cramp that spread insidiously across his chest. He fought it off

He started to walk on... around a craggy outcrop, stopped and staggering backwards, as if he had been pole-axed between the eyes. Sir Roger wiped his mouth with his sleeve and ran forward again.

From a six foot dip in the ground emerged the top, and the last ten feet of an obelisk which he knew might well go down into the sand a further 20 metres. The four faces of inscribed four-sided stone, narrowing and coming to a point, stuck out of the ground before him.

Sir Roger was stunned. It was everything he hoped to see.

Fighting back the excitement Sir Roger started blurting out the words.

“Just look at the incredible clarity of the carving...”

He had imagined that weathering over thousands of years would have blasted away the definition on the cartouches, so this was quite astonishing. By rights the faces of the obelisk should have been worn flat and undecipherable. But here they were, clear as the day they were carved.

He rooted about in his knapsack and took out his newly bought digital voice recorder, fumbling to get it operating. Without the usual professional approach to an important find, he just said what came to him...

“It must have been buried completely,” he mumbled, “brought back to sunlight by the latest sandstorm. This is amazing...”

Sir Roger described what he saw, flicked off the recorder, replacing it in the knapsack and then scrambled down the dip, dropped to his knees in front of it and scraping sand away from its base with his hands.

He worked feverishly away, at the same time transfixed by the inscriptions he was seeing unearthed. He thanked God that he had brought a notebook to make some drawings. He was never without it and, to him, it was almost as important as the water that accompanied it.

Working quickly to expose as much as he could, sweat poured from Sir Roger’s head and neck, and large wet patches quickly formed under the arms of his shirt and across his back and chest.

Eventually, beaten by the sand collapsing back into the depression just as quickly as he scooped it out, he sat back against the sand, took a large swig of the water. He took out the recorder and notebook and quickly started to pay more attention to the inscriptions, oblivious even to the increasing pain in his chest.

No more than twelve feet of the stele was exposed, although it was clear it went much further down. There were four faces, four cartouches to read.

He clipped the recorder to the top of his shirt and flipped the ‘on’ switch, took out the notebook and simultaneously started drawing.

“I have seen a lot of ancient Yemeni inscriptions oh...going back to about 350BC, but this looks different, I’m not sure....

“....Mmmm that’s probably because this dates back to at least 950BC. Some of the hieroglyphs would appear to be the same for numbers as they are for phrases, and you can only tell when you see the ladder symbol. If you see two of these, everything in between is actually a series of numbers, not letters – very economical, and very clever?”

“Ooofff”, Sir Roger gasped as he clutched his chest, “Ooh, that hurts...

“I ... I ...want to copy as much of this as I can, right now. I need to find a way of marking this position so that I can find it again tomorrow, when I can bring some equipment up here to expose more and also have to figure out how the site is going to be protected. I need to act with all speed. ”

The afternoon was passing quickly and it would be dark in less that two hours. All the time he was talking, he was drawing.

While he was drawing he was able to get the gist of the carving, certainly enough to give him an idea of what it was about. His excitement grew as he imagined more stelae and maybe other structures. If this was had been buried and protected by the sand, then what else might be there and in as well a preserved state.

The stele was like a marker post informing travellers from times gone past, the importance of what lie ahead.

It mentioned another temple near Marib, which Sir Roger immediately recognised as being the site of the excavation known in Arabic folklore as 'Arsh Bilqis’ or ‘Throne of Bilqis’.  Bilqis being the name people attributed to Sheba. This was the first actual evidence, the first inscription ever found, which actually named the previously mythical lover of King Solomon......

“The Queen of the South....Sheba!” he whispered.

Arsh Bilqis had been excavated by The DAI (German Archaeological Institute) between 1988-1997, and restored it quite spectacularly.  But the site was often mistakenly portrayed as the Mahram Bilqis in popular press and guidebooks, because of its similarity.  Like Mahram Bilqis, this sanctuary was outside of the city walls of ancient Marib, just a couple of kilometres away from Mahram Bilqis in the ‘southern oasis’. It was also dedicated to 'Almaqah’   symbolised by a crescent and therefore often referred to as a moon god. His cult animal was a bull and another sign was the ibex.

This was truly amazing and tied in with the sites now being excavated. But it talked of other things and there were significant Egyptian influences, sometimes a mixture of the two and then something else…. There was reference to the ‘path of sentinels’, ‘protectors of the words of God’ and ‘Sanctuary of the Creator’ and there was a symbol the like of which he had not seen before, and more inscriptions, one referring to the Blue Void and the ‘Eternal Abyss’ references Lambert recognised from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Sir Roger started to feel sick. The pain was now becoming intense and was starting to affect his breathing....he put away the notebook and recorder.

The symbol was a square with what appeared to be wings, and lines emanating in all directions from it. The sun and crescent moon were above.

Sir Roger started to climb out of the sandy depression and neared the top when suddenly the pain stabbed through his chest and seemed to shoot straight into his head. The physical reaction’s recoil thrust him back into the bottom the sandy pit.

Blood vessels bulging he struggled to right himself in the shifting sand, and he looked anxiously up.

He tried to wipe the harsh grains of sand off his face and away from his eyes. It was sticking to his sweaty body and face after he had rolled over and over. He started the climb back out, the pain now excruciating.

He struggled to draw in any air at all his vision blurred. Tightness gripped him, but there was no release from the vice-like which seemed to be cruching his lungs and the effort from the previous exertion had left him drained, Sir Roger felt his head start to pound as he fought to get some oxygen into his body. His vision darkened around the edges and his eyes began to roll and little spots of white light burst. He struggled to keep calm despite the wave of panic coursing through his veins

As he teetered on the edge of consciousness it was as if Sir Roger could see clouds forming and the sky darkening, and he looked up for the last time. Close to the rim, he fell again.

Sir Roger was struggling, thrashing pathetically to remain conscious. He could think of nothing but trying to get air. He felt he was in a vacuum, and he fought.

Illogically, he imagined that if only he could get out of the pit everything would be alright. If only he could get out, he would be able to breath. On hands and knees he tried to crawl, but the sand just kept falling away from beneath him. All the elements seemed against him. He needed a handhold and he kept grasping for it and the panic just grew. The pounding in his head brought zigzag light patterns to his eyes and every muscle and sinew screamed in agony. He fell back against the sand again, tearing at his throat, as if that would help.

As he teetered on the edge of consciousness all became silent. Faces and names flashed in front of his mind. Dominating them was the image of his daughter Vianne... and an overwhelming feeling of sadness...

Soon the pounding in his ears ceased. A moment’s pure peace, silence coupled with calm. At this moment all became clear. His fear left him, and his rasping breath no longer hurt him. What he felt as his mind floated was bliss and he understood the inevitable and prepared himself…. his body was now completely relaxed, no longer a part of him.

He raised his head towards the sky




 
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