Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus-Chapter Two

For your reading pleasure…

WARNING, Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus is Book Three and the chapters MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR BOOK TWO, Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris. So if you haven’t read that yet, STOP RIGHT NOW. The rest of the chapter is up under the cut in order to protect those who haven’t read Book Two yet.

Chapter Two
Curioser and Curioser

THE SPACE WAS DARK AND SMALL and smelled of mice. Once he’d gotten his bearings, Ratsy led us through a twisting set of hallways.

“How does he know his way around so well?” I asked Will.

“’E’s worked ’ere before, miss. When you’re a rat catcher, you get to know your way around a lot of places.”

Will’s words filled me with unease. I risked a glance behind me, afraid giant rats might be following us even now, but I could see nothing in the gloom.
Will came to an abrupt stop, and since my attention had been behind me, I bumped into him with an oof.

“Careful, miss. There’s people about now.”

Indeed, I could hear voices and the sound of steps hurrying back and forth.

Backstage was a confusing collection of small rooms and closets opening off a crooked hallway. To make matters worse, the entire floor listed sharply to the right. A faint odor of old sweat and pipe smoke hung in the air.

Ratsy held his finger to his lips, then pointed to a door that was slightly ajar.

“Take’s dropping off,” said a voice. If I wasn’t mistaken—and I rarely was —it was the announcer’s voice. It had the same flat vowels and oratory quality.

“Some days are better than others, are they not?” This voice was softer and had a lilting accent. Awi Bubu’s? “And the daytime shows, they are never as good as those at night.”
“Mebbe. But that’s the whole point of keeping a foreigner around, to pump up the profits. If you can’t do that, I’ll get someone else in here.”

“You have had three weeks of very good profits.”

“And I want three more. Now keep the money coming in or you and that mummy of yours are out on your ear.”

“You don’t really mean that.”

I flinched, certain the other man would begin yelling that he certainly did too mean it. Instead, there was a long pause, and then he spoke again. “You’ re right. I don’ t. Just try to bring in more than you did today.”

Before the three of us eavesdroppers could react, the announcer came barreling out of the small room directly into us.

We stared at each other in surprised shock before my instincts kicked in. “Is this where the Great Awi Bubu is?” I asked in a breathless voice. “Do you think it would be all right if we spoke to him?” I clasped my hands together as if in adoration.

The announcer looked nonplussed for a moment, then shrugged. “I don’t care what you kids do as long as you’re out of here in five minutes.” He pushed past us, and we were left staring at the door.

“Go on, then.” Will nudged me. “You ’eard the man. We only got five minutes.”

I suddenly felt shy. What was I going to say to the magician anyway? Ho there, were you using real Egyptian magic? Are you by any chance a member of the Arcane Order of the Black sun?

“Do come in and quit hovering at my door,” the magician called out.

We all froze, then shuffled into the room like a small herd of sheep.

“’Ow’d you know we was out there, guv’nor?” Will asked, his eyes round again. They were going to pop out of his head if he kept this up.

“Did you use yer Egyptian magic on us?” Ratsy asked eagerly.

“Nothing as exciting as all that, I’ m afraid. I heard the stage manager talking to you.”

As the magician spoke, his eyes drifted to me. He blinked twice, then asked, “How can the humble Awi Bubu serve you?”

“Whoa,” Ratsy said, ignoring the man’s question. His eyes were glued to the cloth-wrapped figure propped against the wall. “Is this the mummy you use on stage?”

It was so clearly a fake that I couldn’t help but snort. Awi Bubu cocked his head to the side and studied me. “You do not believe in mummies, miss?”

“Of course I do, but real ones, not fakes like this.” I turned to Ratsy. “It really is a fake. Go ahead and poke it. With your permission, of course,” I hastily added.

Awi Bubu nodded; his glittering black eyes still sharply focused on me. “But of course.”

Will grabbed Ratsy and pulled him back. “’E ain’t touchin’ that thing. No way, miss. It’ d curse him, it would. You should know that better’n anyone.”

I felt Awi Bubu’s glance sharpen even more.

“But that is the point, Will. I do know more than most, and it is clearly a fake. Here.” I sighed in exasperation, stepped over to the wall, and poked the wrapped figure (I refused to call it a mummy) in the stomach.

It grunted, which startled Will and Ratsy so bad that they squealed and leaped backwards.

“See?” I told them. “Real mummies don’t grunt. And they aren’t soft, like this one is. It’s a man wrapped up in linen, just like I told you.”

“Let me introduce you to my assistant, Kimosiri,” Awi Bubu said.

The tall figure reached up and unwound the wrappings from his head, revealing a large lumpy face with weathered skin and small black eyes.

“Very pleased to meet you,” I said.

He nodded solemnly at me.

“So Little Miss is a skeptic?” Awi Bubu said. “How does she come to be such an expert on mummies, I wonder.”

The room grew a little warmer and for a brief moment, I found myself wanting to tell him just how very much I knew about mummies and Egyptian magic. Instead, I said, “That’s funny, sir. That’s exactly what I wanted to ask you. Some of the tricks you performed were very authentic reenactments of ancient Egyptian rituals. I wondered how you came to know of such things.”

“Ah, but I asked you first, did I not? Shall we agree to a trade of information?”

“Very well,” I said, intending to tell him as little as possible. “My parents run a museum with Egyptian exhibits. Since I spend a lot of time there, I’ve picked up a few things about ancient Egypt. Now it’s your turn.”

“I’m afraid I’ve nothing as interesting as a museum in my past. I am but an exile from my own country, Egypt, as you rightly guessed. When I found myself alone in a strange land with no means of support . . . well, one must make a living however one can.” He glanced pointedly at Ratsy and Will, and I was suddenly afraid that he somehow knew that Will was, or had been, a pickpocket. Then I realized I was being silly. He was most likely referring to Ratsy’s profession.

“Which of my tricks most impressed Little Miss?” He smiled at me, revealing a gold tooth. “Clearly not my mummy act.”

“Er, no.” For some reason, I was reluctant to let him know what exactly had alerted me. “It was the oracle trick. The one where you used Ratsy here.”

“Ah.” Was it my imagination or did his face relax slightly? “In fact, I wanted to ask if by any chance you know Aloysius Trawley? I’ve seen him perform the very same trick.”

“Alas, I do not know this Mr. Trawley, and I am crushed to hear I am not the first to perform this act in London. However, I am curious as to how Little Miss comes to know so much about ancient Egyptian rituals?”

Bother. That was the problem with asking questions. Sometimes one revealed more than was wise. “I told you, my parents run a museum.”

“Yes, but museums do not generally offer insight into the actual rituals performed by ancient Egyptian priests.”

I ignored that for the moment. “That thing you had Ratsy say, about the black sun and red sky. Is that something you have all your volunteers say?”

Awi Bubu turned to Ratsy. “Did I tell you to say that?”

Ratsy shook his head.

The magician spread his hands wide. “I said nothing other than what you and the audience heard. Do his words mean something to you?”

“Of course not,” I lied. “They were just odd, that’s all.”

“Exactly which museum do Little Miss’s parents run? Perhaps I may come visit next time I am feeling homesick.”

“The British Museum.” The lie popped out of my mouth like an eager toad. Startled, Will turned and looked at me. Before more questions could follow, I bobbed a quick curtsy. “Thank you very much for letting us chat with you. It’s been lovely, but your manager said we only had five minutes and we don’ t want to keep you.” I grabbed Will’s arm and we headed for the door, Ratsy right behind us.

“Goodbye, Little Miss! Thank you for honoring me with your visit.” Awi Bubu’s mocking voice followed us out into the hall.

As Ratsy led us to the nearest exit, I realized the conversation hadn’t been as informative as I’ d hoped. I had no choice but to chalk up the similarities between Ratsy’s prediction and mine to coincidence. The only problem was, I wasn’t very fond of coincidences.

We met up with Snuffles, and when we were outside, I asked Ratsy about it again, hoping that with Awi Bubu nowhere in sight, he’d feel free to tell me the truth.

“No, miss. ’E didn’t whisper nothing in me ear or slip me a note.”

“Ratsy couldn’t read a note, even if Awi Bubu had given him one. ’E doesn’t know ’ow to read.”

“Oh.” I didn’t know what to say to that.

Will motioned his brothers on ahead, then pulled me aside. “So, wot’d you fink?”

“About what?”

“About the magician, o’ course!”

“Oh. He was fascinating.”

“So don’t you fink that proves I have a nose fer Egyptian magic? Don’t you fink I could ’ave a future in the Brotherhood as somefink more than a errand boy?”

“I would certainly think so,” I said. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my decision. It was up to Lord Wigmere, head of the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers.

“Then you’ll put in a good word wif Wiggy next time you see ’im, won’t you?”

Somehow, I didn’t think a group of men dedicated to protecting their country from the influence of ancient magic and curses would give two figs about the Alcazar Theater or penny-show magicians. However, I promised that I would talk to Wigmere, then left Will to his brothers and began walking back to the museum.

My mind whirred frantically, trying to puzzle out just who exactly Awi Bubu was. I suppose it was possible that ancient Egyptian rituals were common knowledge among Egyptians. Except that was one of the things that were so exciting about archaeology; it unlocked the secrets to the past, secrets that even the Egyptians themselves had forgotten about their history, so that explanation didn’t really work. It seemed more likely that he was simply unwilling to confess
that he was a member of the Black Sun. Or, I thought, my steps slowing, perhaps he was a plant for the Serpents of Chaos. They also knew quite a lot about Egyptian magic.
And were dedicated to using it to plunge our world into, well, chaos.

As I turned the corner off Phoenix Road, I detected a flicker of movement nearby, and then a man fell into step behind me. I thought it was Gerton, but I couldn’t be sure. Either way, it wasn’t good news.

Half a block later, another man stepped out of a recessed doorway as I passed. I kept my eyes in front of me and pretended I hadn’t seen him. If I ignored them, perhaps I’ d make it back to the museum without a confrontation.

However, when Basil Whiting, Trawley’s second in command, stepped out of an alley and leaned up against a lamp- post, effectively cutting off that avenue of escape, it became clear that not only had the scorpions found me, but they weren’t about to let me pretend otherwise.

13 Responses to “Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus-Chapter Two”

  1. Paige Says:

    So good, Maybe for the Holiday Season you, RL, could release two chapters??
    Pretty Please??

  2. Kara Says:

    yea!!! that would be awesome!! like a present or something!!!! please talk to your publisher about it!!!

  3. Arania Says:

    This is a truly amazing book! Sure to be suspenseful!

  4. Xaris Says:

    I’m really glad you released these 2 chapters, but now I’m so hyped up for the book to come out I don’t know how I’m going to wait until next year!! ^.^

  5. Kaitlyn Says:

    Very cool. And very suspenseful. I can’t wait. Guys, I think she should only do it one at a time…otherwise we’ll be too far read in the book when we finally get it.

  6. Miss Clark Says:

    Truly enjoying these chapters! Many thanks to you (and your publisher) for the treat!

  7. R.L. Says:

    So glad you all are enjoying the chapters! And Kaitlyn is exactly right, if I post too many chapters, then you’ll have read too much of the book by the time it comes out!

    Plus, my publisher already did a us a HUGE favor by even allowing all this.

  8. Naomi Says:

    So far So GREAT!!!! I love it already! Can’t wait 4 the next chapter, and for the release of the book!!! R.L, You are a great writer!!!

  9. Brin Says:

    great!!! i l-u-v ed it!!

  10. Sofi Says:

    I LOVE Theo! ive barely finished chap. 2. it is A-MAZING!!!!!!!!!

  11. R.L. Says:

    Hi Sofi! So glad you are enjoying Theo!

  12. Sai Says:

    So amazing! R.L. you are such an amazing writer! I have been chewing my fingernails off and sitting at the edge of my seat waiting to read the third and fourth book. Ever since elementary school I have read your books at the least 5 times per year.

  13. R.L. Says:

    Hi Sai!

    I’m sorry you have been chewing your fingernails off, although I am very happy you enjoyed the books! And five times per year! Wow. I think that might be a record!