Saturday, September 14, 2013

Serial Saturday: Suggestion Box #8

Featuring the contributions of Lyon Richardson.  

*Apologies in advance for the undoubtedly brutal rendering of Arabic pronunciation... it was the best I could do with the audio feature on Google Translate.

The List:
Neal D. Parker
1930's and 2030's
a puzzle in 4 pieces

The Result:

Part I:

The Cord binds the Arrow,
True its flight
Strike the Oppressor,
Gain his might.

Doctor Neal Parker mopped the beads of sweat from his brow as he pored over the notes. They had been digging at a well-known treasury in Cairo for several months now. They had unearthed many treasures and artifacts from ancient times--and yet the verses still made no sense.

One thing was certain: where there was mention of an Arrow, there was also talk of the "Pharaoh's Might." Through quizzing the locals, Parker had discovered the legend that Narmer--the first great Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, had a repository of endless wealth that no one ever knew about, entirely separate from his royal riches. The legend held that, as he was dying, Narmer called his strongest generals and asked for a bow and arrow. Drawing the bow, Narmer shot the arrow into the night sky as his last living act, and told the generals that the arrow would show them the path to his secret hoard... if they could find it.

The simple verse that Parker pondered before him now was also a part of the legend, though no one could say whether Narmer himself provided the clue, or it was added later by someone trying to make the search more complicated.

Parker squinted up at the unforgiving sun piercing the cotton tent above him like a needle and bent over his notebook again. Every day he made copious notes, hoping that at some point, things would fall into place and begin to make sense.

September 14, 1932
Uncovered more pot shards and flagstones in the third hour. Definitely a dwelling of some sort. Royal seals indicate that the structure--if not the whole area--was under the rule/ownership of Akhenaten, the Sun King. "Oppressor" seems to indicate a certain Pharaoh--Ramses the Great, perhaps? Still researching the notorious Pharaohs for some additional clue to identity. "Cord" is still unclear. Some leather has been found, with remains of animals nearby; a stable of sorts, apparently. Nothing that could be termed as a "cord" though, and no idea as to whether the Arrow is something that can be--

"Sayyidh! Sayyidh! En'ha Wushadat, Sayyid'ha! Dusfi'ha!"  

Parker stopped midsentence as the cry rang out over the excavation site.
"By Jupiter," he whispered to himself, coming to the mouth of the tent and watching the cavorting workers. He translated their ejaculations. "They've found it."

Part II:

The sand-skimmer slipped smoothly over the dunes toward the ruins of Wudina Lysyan--the "City of the Arrow." Behind the wheel, Neal D. Parker III, better known as Trey, squinted under the Cairo sun as they approached the still-buried portion of the citadel his grandfather first discovered. Men in long linen robes nodded and salaamed as Trey skated past them.
The Parkers had become something of celebrities since that first discovery of the oddly-shaped metal pieces--one bronze, one iron--in small chests bearing the seals of both Ramses the Great and Mentuhotep, two of the greatest Pharaohs in Egypt's history. Further excavation did not turn up anything related to Narmer's Arrow before Neal Sr.'s death in the late 1960's, but the excavation of a hitherto-unknown municipality in the middle of the desert was remarkable enough to thrust the family into the local limelight. Now, one hundred years later, Trey basked in the princely attention while he dug deeper into the caverns beneath Wudina Lysyan, trying to find something else that would explain the two artifacts. Why were they in similar chests? Why couldn't he shake the feeling that they might interlock somehow? He'd tried dozens of configurations; the two pieces didn't seem to fit together. Could there be more to it?
Trey parked the sand-skimmer and ducked into the cavernous underground hall that might have been an ancient thoroughfare, now buried beneath the surface. This was the latest "base camp" for archaeological dig teams.
"What do you have for me?" Trey asked Dreya, the "dig chief."
Her dusky skin glowed in the dim lamplight and she pressed her full lips in appraisal. "Seismic imaging shows a chamber just a klick-and-a-half beyond the back wall," she explained with a flip of her dark ponytail. "Picked up readings of heavy metals--could be more of the trove, like we've been looking for."
Seismic imaging took sound waves projected through sand to produce three-dimensional digital images of topographic aberrations, or any kind of surface that was fundamentally a different substance than the one through which you were measuring. Hence, it could find things like pockets of air, flowing water, and metals--but the images produced did not account for individual objects, just the overall variation beneath the sand. Hence, what they were looking at could be a pile of treasure--or it could be an outcropping that just happened to be rich in metallic mineral deposits.
"Crypto found this, though," Dreya flicked through images on a digital tablet and showed him a rendering of hieroglyphic pictograms. It appeared to be a section of a much longer passage.
"Look familiar?" Dreya's impossibly-blue eyes twinkled.
Trey stared at the image. It had been stamped with the date: 9142032. One hundred years to the day from Grandpa Neal's discovery of the first two pieces and the answer to the riddle that had stumped him for years. He'd grown up with an affinity for Egyptology like his father and grandfather. He recognized the first sequence of symbols mainly because it was part of the family legacy.
"The clue to Narmer's Arrow!" He breathed.
Sure enough, in all it's ancient Egyptian glory, there was the simple verse that started it all:

The Cord binds the Arrow,
True its flight
Strike the Oppressor,
Gain his might.

This tablet went on with a second verse:

Seek the Arrow--with the Sun,
Light your eyes,
The Boy within the Son
Will also Rise.

Trey could feel his spine tingling with anticipation.
"Have they figured out what it means yet?" he asked.
Dreya shrugged. "Still working on that. Sure beats me! Cords and Oppressors and Suns, Sons, and Boys! If it didn't keep harping on the Arrow, I'd be tempted to shelve it altogether as just another archaeological find."
"Dreya!" Trey admonished her. "This is not just a find! Finds are the stuff of decades. This is the discovery of the century! We found a city, for Pete's sake! And we're on the way to proving that a legend of incomparable wealth just might be true! Get them on it! I want every Pharaoh researched, every generation! The first verse led to the discovery of evidence connecting Ramses and Mentuhotep--it could be that this second verse, with it's Suns and Sons, could very well be hinting at two other Pharaohs. Figure it out!"
Dreya shook her head and turned away. Before Trey decided himself to depart, she hesitated.
"Wait, Trey," she turned and stepped hastily back to him. "There's one more thing I forgot to mention."
"What?" he asked.
"You're going to want to see this in person. Follow me."

The 2013 Suggestion Box Series:

#1  #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13