The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh

Something ancient and evil is awakening under the sands of Egypt

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4. Chapter 3

The night was still. The only sounds that of the rustling of palm fronds in the cool breeze, and the distant barking of a dog. On the rooftop of Professor Havensworth's residence in a nearby town, the Doctor and Donna were seated in comfortable chairs. The three of them were relaxing after a light meal of cold roast chicken, sliced melon and warm flat bread. After pouring small cups of thick, black Turkish coffee for them, the professor lit his pipe and leaned back in his chair.

"I'm sorry you had to come upon my dig at such a time, Doctor. I should have liked to have shown you around. You seem to have quite an extensive knowledge of the history of the Old Kingdom."

"Oh you know," the Doctor said modestly, taking a sip of coffee, "I get around. Been there, done that, got the white linen kilt to prove it. And I have to say," he said confidingly, "they may have been the hippest kit to wear back then, but one's backsides could get quite drafty, on nights like this. That's why I prefer trousers. I do dislike a bit of a breeze going up my bum, me."

"Yes. Erm—quite." Was all the professor could say. He raised his eyebrows and secretly wondered if the Doctor had been smoking the wrong kind of hookah.

"Although, I'll tell you, what I really dislike professor," the Doctor continued, setting his cup down and leaning forward earnestly, "is some individual arbitrarily deciding to circumvent the natural progression of humanity. So tell me. What did you mean, when you said that there's something down in that burial chamber, which could change the course of human history?"

After a long hesitation, the professor said, "Let me show you something."

Professor Havensworth went downstairs to his study, leaving the Doctor and Donna alone on the rooftop. Sipping his coffee, the Doctor stared pensively at the stars overhead.

"Why do I get the feeling there may be more than just a mummy down in that burial chamber?" Donna commented.

"Yeah." He replied cheekily. "Could be dad and the kids down there, as well."

"Oh, here we go. Just what the world needs. A Time Lord moonlighting as a stand-up comic. All I have to say is, don't give up your day job. But, seriously, Doctor. Those dead bodies in the tent...that was horrible. It didn't look like anything I'd ever seen before." She gave an involuntary shudder, her recent meal suddenly turning sour in her stomach at the memory. "Not even in one of those gory slasher films the Americans are so fond of. What do you think could've done that?"

"I dunno'. Wish I did. Then, if it's bad, I could just go in and put a stop to it. Whatever it is." He sighed, pouring out the cold dregs of his cup into a nearby potted plant. He sat quietly, simply holding the cup, absently turning it in his hands.

After a moment's pause, Donna said sympathetically, "Somehow, things are never that simple, are they?"

The Doctor looked at her, his eyes grave. "No. They rarely are. Still," He mused, "the universe would be incredibly dull and meaningless, if everythingin life came easy. But you're right, Donna. They didn't die from any sort of weapon found here on Earth. At least, not in this time period."

"Sorry I took so long, but I thought you might be interested in seeing this, Doctor." Professor Havensworth called out, walking up to the Doctor gingerly carrying a small gold and cedar wood box in his hand.

"I probably needn't ask you to be careful handling this scroll. As you'll see for yourself, it's thousands of years old. Written by the personal scribe of Pharaoh himself. It's priceless." He said, handing the box to the Doctor. "Not only for its age and rarity, but for the contents within the letter."

Opening the box, the Doctor carefully lifted out a brittle piece of rolled papyrus. Slowly unrolling it, the Doctor silently studied the hieroglyphics on the paper, before reading out loud to Donna. She'd gotten up to see what was in the box. Crouched down beside the Doctor, she looked on, fascinated, as he translated the scroll out loud for her:

"I the king, the son of Re, praise Re the creator at sunrise. I bless his coming." The Doctor spoke solemnly, "I have witnessed him open the primordial egg and climb the golden stairway to his home in heaven. The eastern souls all sing acclamations to Re. He sails away on the sky. There he can see every town and person which are all part of God's land. From his body beams the the light of the world. He is seen in the flood and the drought. He hears the voices of his crew as they drag the bark of the Horizon Dweller through the Netherworld...and so on and so forth. All praise to Re, yadda, yadda yadda."

The Doctor then deliberately skipped over the strictly religious parts, which took up most of the scroll. Professor Havensworth frowned at the Doctor's irreverence. The Doctor didn't notice. His eyes swiftly scanned down the page, until he got to the heart of the letter:

" Here we go. That's more like it." The Doctor muttered to himself. Out loud, heread: "I the king know the secrets of Re. Re is my joy and strength and goodness. I have heard his speech which only is only for my ears. For he has imparted to me a great gift. Re has given me a talisman his of everlasting power, so that I might prevent unbelievers from desecrating his temples. With Re's magic amulet of burning gold, I will one day conquer the whole of the world in God's name. The searing flame of Re shall be mine and we shall be as one. My name shall dwell in heaven beside God. My double crown will rule over all of heaven and the mortal world. I am a king whose speaking is acting. By these actions I will live forever. With this amulet I shall use my hand and my heart to this the greatest of tasks. The world will be as one with God. Only God shall possess gold, which is his by right. I the king shall be the keeper of Re's gold. All who refuse tribute will perish by the power of Re. For to reject God is evil. All those with evil hearts shall be punished with God's amulet. They will burn in the heart of Re, until not one flake of ash remains to mark their existence..."

"Not a very inspiring religion, was it? 'Worship me or die'." An unimpressed Donna said, shaking her head. "If you ask me, no matter what the time period, religious extremists are always completely bonkers."

"Yet, it worked. For a while, anyway." The professor shrugged. "Pharaoh used the threat of the burning amulet to convert all of Egypt to the worship of Re. For the duration of Pharaoh's reign, all of the other gods; Osiris, Sutekh, Horus, Amen and the rest, were shunted aside. To worship any other god than Re, would mean a terrible death. Not only for you, but for every member of your family lineage. However, that wasn't the only threat posed by the king. One of Pharaoh's contemporaries wrote that the amulet contained the power to destroy an entire army in less time than than it takes to draw a breath. That it could burn whole kingdoms in a single heart beat. With a threat like that, the people had no choice but to worship Re."

"Sounds a lot like a shotgun wedding, if you ask me." Donna commented. "What about this Pharaoh? If he's buried in a tomb, obviously he didn't live forever. What happened?"

"The priests of other religions weren't pleased at this sudden loss of their power." The Doctor explained. "You see, Donna in Ancient Egypt, to be a priest, especially a high priest, was often to be the most powerful and wealthy man in your town or village. Like an A-list celebrity. Or, maybe more like a Big Brother contestant." He shrugged. "Either way, everyone wanted a piece of you. Then, along comes the king and his edict. It's as if one minute you were a Donald Trump or Richard Branson. Then, without warning, you're sacked and replaced by priests handpicked by Pharaoh. And then, just to add to your misery, the government has taken away your of your gold to give to Re. Suddenly, you're just another unemployed bloke, standing in the benefits queue. No one wants to know you.."

"What did these priests do, then? Rise up and kill Pharaoh?" Donna asked.

"No, they signed a petition. Wrote letters. Staged a few protest marches. Chanted stuff like 'Down With Re!." The Doctor said dryly, with a mischievous glint in his eye.

"Now you're just taking the mickey!" Donna laughed, giving the Doctor a playful slap on the arm.

The professor frowned at the Doctor and Donna's irreverence. "No one really knows how he died, Donna." He told her seriously. "The ancient stories say that one of the other gods became angry with Pharaoh, and came down from the stars to punish him. This god took all of Pharaoh's golden hoard and turned it to silver. Then, this unnamed god turned turned the king into a silver statue, for good measure. However, most contemporary historians assume that one of the displaced priests had bribed someone in the royal residence to assassinate Pharaoh."

"That's all very interesting professor, but..." The Doctor began to say.

Without warning, a commotion began down below. Somewhere from within the house came excited shouts and curses. Feet came pounding up the stairs to the roof, followed by more shouting. Onto the rooftop burst a young man in a badly fitting suit. It was Ahmed, the professor's former interpretor. His hair disheveled and his eyes wild, Ahmed flung himself down at Professor Havensworth's feet.

"Forgive me, professor!" He said breathlessly. "But I had to see you. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that it is a matter of life and death. Please, sir. I beg you. You must hear what I have to say."

"Of all the arrogant..." The professor said, leaping up from his chair, his face clouded with anger. "How dare you barge in here, Ahmed! What's the meaning of this?"

"The amulet, professor! You must leave it where it is. You must not go into that tomb. Do do so, would bring death upon us all."

"What's he on about?" Donna asked the professor.

"It was later written, after Pharaoh's death, that before he died, the king hid the magic burning amulet. And that one day, it would be found again, and the power of Re would save the world."

"No, you do not understand! Don't be a fool, professor. That amulet will destroy the world!" Ahmed shouted in dismay.

"You stupid savage! I told you to keep away from me!" Professor Havensworth snorted, kicking Ahmed in the side.

"Oy! Leave him alone! Or I'll kick you in a moment, sunshine." Donna yelled. "And trust me, I know just where to aim." She quickly helped the young man to his feet.

"Are you alright?" She asked the shaken Ahmed.

"I'll ask you to keep out of this, Miss Noble." The professor growled, his face abruptly grimaced with an almost fanatical anger.

"Donna..." The Doctor began to warn her, seeing the professor's hand reaching into his pocket. But, he was too late.

Professor Havensworth yanked a pistol out from his jacket and pointed at Ahmed. The hammer clicked back.

"Professor, you must leave the amulet where it is. Or find a way to destroy it. It was never meant for mortal hands." Ahmed said.

"You're the fool, Ahmed. You and the rest of your lot. Can't you see? If this Hitler chap takes on all of Europe, then England will be next in his sights. I can't let that happen. If Re's amulet is real, it has the power to destroy our enemies." His finger tightened on the trigger.

"No, you don't!" Donna said abruptly, pushing Ahmed out of the way.

"Donna!" A horrified Doctor shouted, leaping towards the professor's outstretched arm.

It was too late. The Gun went a split second before the Doctor tackled Havensworth. Donna and Ahmed both cried out. Then, there was silence.

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