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Papyrus (EBOOK)

Papyrus (EBOOK)

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EBOOK. Book 3 in the USA Today Bestselling Relic Hunters TaskForce archeological adventure series. Sweet and clean suspense. 

The murder of an antiquities dealer. An ancient Egyptian papyrus. Goliath's spear. A race through an ancient labyrinth under the Black Pyramid . . .

Relic Hunters Taskforce sends Abigail and Riley to Cairo too late. Their contact is already dead, and missing is the 3,000 year-old Egyptian papyrus holding the clue to the location of Goliath's spear.

Abigail and Riley must find the papyrus, decipher the code, and navigate the labyrinth under the Black Pyramid, a structure that was unsafe as soon as it built by King Amenemhat III thousands of years earlier.

If they can locate Goliath's spear, can they keep it from the hands of ruthless agents who will stop at nothing to take the spear?
And will Abigail learn she cannot trust all those closest to her?

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Chapter 1.

The Philistine warrior crept through the reeds by the banks of the Nile, watching in horror as Pharaoh Ramses III’s ships attacked his people’s fleet.
It was a trap.
Still, the Philistine had one mission—to retrieve the famous spear of the Pharaoh, captured by Pharaoh’s ancestor on an expedition to the land of Mitanni from the renowned King Tushratta himself. The spear was said to have mystical powers. After all, the kingdom of Mitanni had fallen once the spear was removed from the land.
He rubbed his forehead hard and did his best to avert his eyes from the slaughter in the Nile behind him. The Egyptians had lured the Sea People’s ships into the mouth of the Nile, where Egyptian ships as well as archers on the Nile banks were waiting.
He crept from the shelter of the reeds along the sand. It stuck to him, worse than the dirt of Syria.
He hoped the scouts had been right and the spear was where they said it was. He crept along. When there was no longer any cover, he crouched down and ran as fast as he could, expecting to be impaled by an arrow or a javelin at any moment, all the while covering the flickering flame of his oil lamp with one hand.
It was with a mixture of surprise and relief that the Philistine reached the walls of the building. He crouched behind a column and peeked out, but no one was pursuing him.
This was his first time in Egypt, and hopefully his last, but he gazed up at the great columns before him. Still, now was not the time for artistic reflection. The Philistine took off at speed. He ran along the wall colonnade and down into the hypostyle hall.
He glanced around constantly, looking over his shoulder. He was surprised the area was not guarded. Still, he figured Ramses had been planning the ambush for some time, possibly even for the two years since the Sea Peoples last attacked Egypt. In that case, Ramses and his advisors would not have suspected that anyone would be after the spear. It would be the last thing on their minds.
The Philistine hurried into the central court and turned left, following the informant’s directions. When he reached the column, he at once dropped to his knees and brushed the sand away after placing the oil lamp in a safe place away from any threatening breeze. After five minutes, he was beginning to doubt the informant. There was no sign of a trapdoor.
He was about to give up when something showed through the sand. He worked more feverishly, moving the sand away until the top of the trapdoor lay revealed. With scarcely a thought as to whether venomous snakes were waiting for him, he let himself down through the trapdoor into a tunnel.
The Philistine stood stock-still and clutched his rushlight, a bunch of bulrushes tied together and soaked in animal fat. He had not dared risk carrying a lighted rushlight while above ground, not with the battle so close. Now safely underground, he produced his bronze oil lamp, and with it, lighted the rushlight.
He smiled at the sight. The tunnel was wider than he thought, big enough to bring the spear through without too much trouble. What’s more, the rushlight was burning fiercely, showing there was sufficient air in the tunnel.
So far, luck was on his side, but the Philistine was careful, more careful than an egotistical pharaoh.
He crouched down, hurrying along the tunnel as best he could. The air was foul and rank, but he took heart in the fact there were no scorpions, no asps, no blocks of granite falling on him—not yet, anyway. He came to a dead end and gasped with frustration until he saw the trapdoor above him. It took some effort to move it aside. He hauled himself up into a room with some difficulty.
The Philistine gasped when he looked around the room. He looked around for exits. There was a door. No, he at once realized it was the false door used in tombs by the Egyptians to let their Ka, one of the three elements of the soul according to Egyptian belief, pass into the afterlife.
He shot a glance at the other door. For all he knew, there were guards posted outside that permanently. He had to be quiet.
The Philistines had paid heavily for the knowledge of the tunnels. The man walked carefully around the room, waving the rushlight before him.
He had never seen so much gold in one place, golden jewelry, golden sandals, golden statues, gilded masks, golden shields.
But it was not gold upon which his eyes alighted. It was the spear, the famous spear of the Pharaoh. It took a big man, one over six feet tall and of a muscular build, to wield this spear.
He crept over to look at the spear, marvelling at the loop on the end to direct it more efficiently. At the end of the spear was a large clump of iron.
Full of reverence, the Philistine wrapped his hands firmly around the spear and lifted it a little to test its weight.
He immediately put it back down and wiped his brow. This was indeed heavy, heavier than had been reported. Still, it was the described length, and he was sure he could get it back. He had no option.
He himself was over six feet tall, one of the best warriors. That’s why they had sent him. He lowered the spear into the tunnel and then slipped into the tunnel after it, careful to close the panel above his head.
So far, so good. Now he just had to get it back to his ship and back to the Philistine city of Gath.
The Philistine lamented that going through the tunnels was hard with this spear. It was heavy, and the way was made more difficult by the fact he had to crouch.
When he climbed out, he was glad of the cover of the rocks of the tunnel’s exit. He struggled to shove the spear out first and then sat on the ground, rubbing his sore shoulders and biceps. It was one thing to carry a spear in a chariot to frighten an enemy at the thought of hand-to-hand combat, but dragging this spear anywhere for any length of time was sheer madness.
He could still hear the sounds of fighting, but he had to get back to the river and get this spear onto a boat. He judged the distance. If only his accomplice had gone with him, but his accomplice had wanted to guard the boat.
The distance to the Nile was short, but it seemed like an age to reach it.
“Do you have it?” the other man said.
“What does it look like?” the Philistine snapped. He was exhausted from half carrying, half dragging the heavy spear all the way.
The other man slapped him on the back. “Good work.”
“How are our people faring?”
The other man shook his head. “We won’t get any help from them, I’m afraid.”
“Then how will we make our escape?”
“The way we came in. We can slip around behind them, and since we’re dressed as simple Egyptians, I don’t think anyone will give us a second look. We won’t be going anywhere near the fighting.”
The two Philistines slipped away in what looked like a simple boat made of tamarisk but was, in fact, a boat especially strengthened by the superb work of the Philistines to carry the weight of the spear.
“Many a Philistine champion will carry this spear into battle,” the other man said with reverence.
The Philistine snorted. He didn’t quite care at that point. He just wanted to get away from Egypt as fast as possible. Little grains of sand had found their way into his ears and his mouth. He spat.
The two men sailed in the cover of darkness away from the destruction of the Sea Peoples, of which the Philistines were one group, by Ramses III.

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