Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh Sneak Peek Part Three

At long last, o patient ones! The newest preview of the upcoming THEODOSIA AND THE LAST PHARAOH (coming April 4, 2011!)

Chapter Two: The Mother of All Museums

If you’ve ever had the experience of being given a lovely apple, all rosy and full of promise, only to bite into it to find a wormy rotten core, then you will understand the feeling I had when I first stepped into the Egyptian Museum.

It was a large, impressive building full of hundreds—if not thousands—of ancient artifacts I would never see anywhere else. However, when I stepped inside, the force of the black magic, heka, and lingering mut nearly brought me to my knees. In fact, I actually stumbled as the magic rising off of centuries’ worth of discoveries pressed down on me. It felt as if every artifact in the place had left a trace of itself behind in the vestibule of the museum, like Mother’s perfume when she leaves the room. Only this wasn’t the charming smell of lilacs or lily of the valley.  This was a thick miasma of magic and curses. Far removed from the source of their power, they buzzed faintly through the air, an invisible swarm of tiny malevolent insects. With so much of it contained in such a confined space, there was the distinct sense of pressure building—like the air just before a thunderstorm.

“Theo, are you all right?” Mother asked, the worry in her voice overlaid with a tinge of annoyance. The word peculiar lay unspoken in the air between us.

“Yes, Mother. Just missed a step, that’s all.” I held myself as still as possible and let the noxious brew wash over me, trying to get acclimated to it.

Mr. Bing peered down at me. “Are you certain? You look rather pale . . .”

I waved my hand dismissively. “I’m sure it’s the heat. I’m not quite used to the weather here, and then the sudden cool of the museum. It will just take me a moment to adjust.”

“Well, if you’re sure, Monsieur Maspero’s office is this way.” Bing led us through the vestibule, past a large, tantalizing room lined with rows and rows of sarcophagi. At the far end of the room, two large statues sat, as if holding court over all the tourists who dared to interrupt the rest of the ancient pharaohs. My feet itched to turn down those steps, but Bing was moving along at a brisk clip, and I had already been scolded once for dawdling.

We proceeded down a hallway lined with offices until Mr. Bing finally stopped in front of a large door. “Madame Throckmorton,” he said. “You may go in as Monsieur Maspero is expecting you. While the two of you meet, perhaps you would allow me to give your daughter a tour of our museum? And perhaps find her some cool refreshment.”

“You are too kind, Mr. Bing,” Mother said. “That would be lovely.”

I was torn. If I went with Bing, I would not hear what Mother and Monsieur Maspero discussed. However, Bing might have an important message from Wigmere. Not only that, this could be my only chance to see all the wonders in the museum. Besides, I already knew the bulk of Mother’s plan—it had been my plan first, after all, to come to Luxor and look for clues to what we suspected was a grand temple built by Thutmose III. In the end, I decided I could afford to take Bing up on his offer. “Thank you, Mr. Bing. I would like that very much.”

He opened the door for Mother, then closed it after her and turned to me. “This way.”

As we made our way back down the hallway, I was dying to ask if he carried a message from Wigmere, but a public hallway didn’t seem the right place for such a question. Especially since I had no idea how many at the Antiquities Service were part of the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers. It was a brilliant cover, I thought, hiding a secret organization dedicated to minimizing the corrosive effects of ancient magic and keeping it out of the wrong hands inside the Antiquities Service.

However, the longer I thump-bumped along behind Bing, the clearer it became that he was leading me far away from the exhibits. Perhaps we were heading for the refreshment first. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge something cool to drink and a place to sit down and grow accustomed to the thick pool of heka I was wading through.

Except, as we went further and deeper into the museum, we seemed to have passed all the offices altogether. A faint niggle of concern settled along my shoulders and I remembered the rather maniacal look he’d had in the train station when he’d first spotted us. “Mr. Bing, where are you taking me, exactly?”

He looked over his shoulder at me and I was struck again by his intense eagerness. To make matters worse, his hair had escaped the confines of whatever tonic he’d combed it with that morning and was starting to stick up in odd places, which made him look slightly demented. “We’re almost there,” he said.

I know he meant it to be reassuring, but instead it was as if someone had just flipped a caution switch inside me. I wasn’t sure I should be following him.

I mean, what did I know about him, really? He said Wigmere had sent him, but surely any of the Serpents of Chaos could pretend they had been sent by the head of the Chosen Keepers. I abruptly stopped walking.

It took Bing a half dozen steps before he realized I was no longer following him. He stopped, then looked around. “What are you doing back there?” he asked.

I folded my arms and tried to look implacable. “I’m not taking another step until you tell me exactly where we’re going.”

He quickly retraced his steps until he was standing right in front of me. “I told you. Wigmere sent me,” he said in quiet tones.

“Yes but anyone could say that, couldn’t they? And I would have no way of knowing whether or not they were telling the truth.”

He opened his mouth as if to argue, then closed it again. He looked crushed. “You mean you don’t trust me?”

I hated to hurt his feelings, but if there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few months it is that everyone is suspect until proven innocent. I thought briefly of asking to see his wedjat eye tattoo—the one that all Chosen Keepers had—but decided against it. For one, if he was an imposter, I didn’t want to be the one to spill the beans about their secret tattoo. Secondly, it was beyond scandalous—even for me—to wander around, demanding to see strange men’s chests. “Let’s just say I have a cautious nature.”

His smile put me a bit off balance. “And so you should, but really, there is nothing to worry about. We’re almost there and then you’ll see. Here, come.” As he spoke, he reached out to grab my arm.

I tried to leap back out of his reach, but he had rather longish arms and was able to snag me anyway. “Let go,” I said, pulling on my arm with all my strength.

“I told you,” he grunted, trying to tug me down the hall. “We’re almost there.” Suddenly, he seemed to remember something and stopped tugging. Without him pulling on me, I tumbled backwards, nearly ending up end over teakettle.

“I forgot! I’m supposed to tell you I’m a traveler, come from the West.”

Hearing the code phrase that Wigmere had given me cleared my suspicions instantly. “Well, honestly! Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” I asked, straightening my frock.

“Sorry,” he said with a sheepish grin. “I’m rather new at this.”

Clearly, I thought.

Bing resumed walking and I fell into step behind him.  He led me down the hall to a door, which led to another hallway, which in turn led to a back staircase of some sort.  “Where are we going?” I asked.

“Lord Wigmere wanted you to meet with one of our senior research and development team members before you left for Luxor.” Mr. Bing stopped in front of a small door. At first it appeared to be a closet—a closet full of an amazing collection of ancient Egyptian bric-a-brac. There were medium sized obelisks leaning up against the wall, plinths, busts of ancient Egyptians carved from stone, unused stone tablets and stele stacked atop each other like dinner plates. A fine layer of dust lay over everything. Mr. Bing went over to a towering wooden mummy case that was at least seven feet tall and propped against the wall. As he went to lift the lid off, I saw that it was hinged, and it swung open to reveal a door.

“Very clever,” I said, admiringly.

“Isn’t it though?” Mr. Bing beamed and motioned for me to go first.

The passageway led to a large, winding stairway that seemed to disappear deep into the bowels of the museum. As we clattered down the stairs, the orb in my reticule bruised my leg with each step. The stairs were steep, almost a ladder, really, and they were circular. We went round and round so that by the time we reached the bottom, my brain was spinning inside my head. “Where are we?” I asked. The walls down here seemed to be of rock rather than wood or plaster.

“It’s an underground chamber, built under the museum, dug right into the ground itself,” Mr. Bing explained. “Most people don’t even know it’s here.” He crossed over to the two large steel doors, and pressed a buzzer on the wall. There was a loud clunk as something unlocked, then Mr. Bing pushed open the door. “Here she is, Professor. I’ll come back for her in a bit.” Then he stepped back out and closed the door behind me with a resounding clang.

I found myself in a large cavernous room. Dark shadows obscured the ceiling high above and it was easy to imagine hundreds of tons of rock and Cairo streets far above.

A scraping noise came from a distant corner of the room and my pulse quickened.

“Hello?” I called out.

Rows of tables and benches swept out in front of me, stacked high with all manner of strange things: blocks of paraffin wax, rolls of beeswax, crocodile eggs, a mortar and pestle, long skinny reeds, and papyrus leaves. There was even a large fish tank in the middle of the room, filled with what I thought might be oxyrinchus fish.

Half a dozen mummies in various states of undress lined one wall. Next to them were wine kegs, huge jars of golden honey, slabs of clay and unworked stone—basalt, granite, and alabaster. Thin sheets of gold and lead were scattered on one of the tables like playing cards, while a thick pot of what smelled like bitumen boiled sluggishly nearby.

“I’ll be with you in just a moment,” a voice called out.

I turned toward the voice, relieved to see a thin man hovering over one of the tables. He was taller even than Father and had stooped shoulders, as if he’d spent his entire life in a room that was too short for him. He wore a white canvas coat that came down to the knees of his plaid trousers. His hair was white and put me in mind of a dandelion just before all the fuzz flies away in a stiff breeze.

“There we go,” the man said. “Done.” He set whatever he’d been working on down and looked up at me. I gasped and took a step back, ready to run for the door. His face was half metal and leather, and his eyes were enormous, the size of billiard balls, as they swiveled crazily in my direction.

61 Responses to “Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh Sneak Peek Part Three”

  1. Bryn Says:

    FINALLY!!!! I’m so HAPPY!!! What’s up with the dude in the end with the mask??? Oh, who cares! I’m just happy the chapter has been posted!!! I feel so bad for Theo, what with all the HEKA in the air, I would hate to be in that situation.
    (had to put HEKA in caps because it just changes to heck if I don’t) And I’m such a greedy, selfish reader that I’m going to have to ask-no- BEG that you post, oh, seven more chapters or so. Pretty please??

  2. Mae Says:

    My curiosity is piqued! I can’t wait until it’s out!

  3. Ducky Says:

    Ooh, sounds interesting. *sobbing violently* I can’t wait until April 4th! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR…

  4. R.L. Says:

    I’m so glad you guys enjoyed the chapter! And alas, that will be the last of the sneak peeks. It comes out in less than four weeks, after all. Plus some places might have it in stock early. You never know.

  5. Halee Says:

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Urggggggggggg!!! I can’t stand it when you end chapters like that R.L.! Theo might even call it quite rude because its so good! Who is the dude with the mask? Does Wigmere have a leak and thats why Bing knew the password and know Theo is in a trap?!?!? All thaese thought always rush to my mind!!! Is this the last book? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE answer me.

    Your(posibbly
    biggest) fan,
    Halee

  6. Kate Says:

    I’m so glad it comes out soon! What plaaces do you think will have stock early?

  7. Kate Says:

    Can you give us a hint about the man with the mask?

  8. Ducky Says:

    Hoping for the “in stock early.” Hoping for the “in stock early!” HOPING FOR THE “IN STOCK EARLY!” I can’t wait for this to come out. i CAN’T WAIT!!

  9. Bryn Says:

    *Sobbing and wailing with Ducky* Ah, well, I suppose whining about it’s not going to help anyway. As my dad always says “Patience is a virtue… but waiting sucks.” Do you know where it comes out early in stock? Do you? DO YOU???? (Great, now it’s going to take another few days or so for you to respond and I’m going to have to wait…)

  10. Kate Says:

    I was rereading book 1 and I was wondering what a pink elephant is. Is it something you made up?

  11. B Tiger Says:

    Like seriously what’s with the masked dude!!!Anyway I think Chapters Indigo comes out early in stock…right…?????

  12. Ducky Says:

    14 DAYS!!! Two weeks!!! I agree with Bryn’s dad–WAITING SUCKS!!! Ugh.

  13. animaylia Says:

    i have read all the other books and can not wait for the next one come out! i have waited a long time for a good series to read now that this is the the last book im sad.so please please please! make new books. i cant survive without them.also my sister loves the books.

  14. Rose Says:

    I Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove your books they are sooooo good the Theodosia series are almost as good as harry potter series you should make some more books oh and movies you should make a movie!!!! but not one movie like 8 or 9 theo. series are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo goooooood!!! you are a great author!!!

  15. Kate Says:

    When will someone post? It’s only eight days until Theodosia 4 comes out and noone’s posting.

  16. Kate Says:

    I mean no one.

  17. Alex Says:

    Only…a week or so?? Not too far away :D & then the Kane Chronicles book comes out a few weeks later!! :-) Ima be busyyyy :)

  18. Ducky Says:

    Are you kidding, Rose!?!? The Theodosia books are WAY better than harry potter!!

  19. R.L. Says:

    Sorry to freak you all out with the dude with the mask, but remember, not all is as it seems in Theo’s world!

    I’ll be posting details for a new contest later this week (probably Friday)!

  20. Kim Says:

    hi RL, i love your books!!!!!!!! cant wait till april 4th!!

  21. Kim Says:

    by the way Ducky, i don’t quite agree with you. theo and harry potter are tied for first place!

  22. Kitty Says:

    I have to agree with Ducky Theodosia books ARE way better Harry Potter ones

  23. Kitty Says:

    Going to chapters indigo. think they have early stock of Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh!!!

  24. Kim Says:

    yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!! the new book comes out tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : )

  25. sasha Says:

    i finished the 4th book 2 days ago, and is it really the last one?, because if so im sad, but it was really, really, really, really, really good!!!!!!

  26. sasha Says:

    oh, and i think amazon might have had it early, but even so, they will get it 2 you suppa mo fast

  27. R.L. Says:

    No, no, Sasha! This isn’t the last book by any means! The word Last in the title referred to something else–not that it would be the last Theo book!

  28. sasha Says:

    oh, thanks, R.L. you just made my day!!! and I just thought it was the last because some one had posted that on the internet :D THANK GOODNESS!

  29. Caitlynn Says:

    thank you so much!!!!!! your books are so amazing and im so glad the fourth finally came out. The only problem is no books have come in anywhere near me yet, infact there isn’t a single book in all of Ontario! we live sort of close to Buffalo so i thought i might have better cahnces finding one there but also, no such luck. Patience isn’t one of my stronger qualities but i guess ill just have to wait abit longer.

  30. Ducky Says:

    Thank you for your support, kitty. It is much appreciated in the fight against those who need to find out how important Theodosia really is… (:>)

  31. Alexandra Says:

    Dear R.L
    How many more Theodosia books are their going to be? Hopefully atleast 10.
    Oh also can you have a book signing in New York please. I would and other children too would like to meet you in person so you can sign our books. Please write back :) thanks!!

  32. R.L. Says:

    Dear Alexandra,
    Not sure exactly how many more Theodosia books there will be. Ten does sound like a nice number, but we’ll have to wait and see.
    Also, I would love to do a book signing in NY! I will mention that to my publisher and see what they can arrange.
    Thanks for stopping by!

    RL

  33. Alexandra Says:

    Okay thanks R.L :) take care be sure to make in Manhattan please I live in Queens but I can make the travel to Manhattan in no problem well keep us posted please :) thank you

  34. Alexandra Says:

    HI R.L how are u?

  35. Jac Says:

    Just finished reading the Last Pharaoh. I loved it. I can’t wait for Theodosia’s next adventure. :)

  36. Alexandra Says:

    :)

  37. kame Says:

    :)

  38. Alexandra Says:

    Where is R.L ? She hasn’t written in quiet a while .. :(

  39. R.L. Says:

    RL has been busy writing and traveling! Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately!

  40. Alexandra Says:

    It’s okay we just got worried….R u going to do book signings??

  41. R.L. Says:

    I hope to do some book signings, but I don’t know what areas yet. I’ll be sure and post any appearances here on the blog!

  42. Alexandra Says:

    Okay thank you :D

  43. Alexandra Says:

    Hi R.L how are you??

  44. Alexandra Says:

    R.L is there going to be another contest???

  45. Alexandra Says:

    Seriously where is R.L :( where is she? :’(

  46. R.L. Says:

    Hey, Alexandra! Sorry. I have been swamped with this YA trilogy I’m working on.

    There probably won’t be any contests or new posts until at least December. But hopefully I can organize something then.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  47. Alexandra Says:

    Okay R.L :)

  48. Alexandra Says:

    nice to here from you :) ))

  49. Narnar Says:

    I just started with your books RL and I LOVE them.

    (by the way your books are better then Harry Potter)

  50. R.L. Says:

    So glad that you think so, Narnar!

  51. Erica Says:

    Hi R.L.! You are the BEST author in the world! I hope someday you could do some book signings in Oregon! That would be cool! i have always loved you books, Erica

  52. R.L. Says:

    Welcome Erica!

    So glad to hear you are enjoying the books! There probably won’t be any contests for a while. And Book Five won’t be out for a long while. I will post a publish date for it here on the website as soon as I have it!

  53. Erica Says:

    Nice to hear from you R.L.!!!

  54. Erica Says:

    R.L, when do you think book 5 will be out? I know next year, but what month do you think?? :- )

  55. Alexandra #1 Fan Says:

    Narnar is correct R.L I tried to read a Harry Potter book but I couldn’t. It is beastly confusing. I mean who likes Harry Potter anyways? I wish Theodosia could become a movie because if it did I would go see every movie. I love Theodosia because you can understand it and it is educational too. I don’t think magic is very educational. Thanks to your books now I want to become an archaeologist because ever since I was a little girl I loved ancient Egyptian history and now i love it even more! Well hope to hear from you soon R.L and I can’t wait until book 5 comes out! Hope maybe you can do some book signings! Boy that would be cool! Take care. :)

  56. Alexandra #1 Fan Says:

    Oh by the way this is Alexandra :) I always follow your website to see current events. :)

  57. Erica Says:

    Hi R.L! So how many books do you think you will have? I hope you have fun writing many Theodosia books, Erica 1 of your many 1# fans

  58. Erica Says:

    book #4 was really a cliff hanger! I cant wait for book 5!

  59. R.L. Says:

    Book Five won’t be out for a while, guys, I hate to break it to you. At least two years. I will post the publish date here on this site as soon as I have it!

  60. Erica Says:

    Thanks R.L!

  61. Alexandra Says:

    Really R.L two years well now I am left in suspense. Book 4 was so intriguing I am left at the edge of my seat. Well I guess I can wait a while longer. -Alexandra your #1 fan