01 Feb The Fourth Pyramid of Giza
My friend, Dr. Geoffrey O’Hare, had not been the same since we began our excavation of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The most brilliant of minds can easily be warped and corrupted by madness. My friend Geoffrey was no longer a man that I knew. It started small, beginning when he noticed strange hieroglyphics within the pyramids. He jotted them down in his notebook, being the great scholar that he was. Though, even the greatest of scholars can be blind to their own desires. He became obsessed with his notes, believing that it was an ancient language, one older than the first dynasty of Egypt. I did not believe such things. I’d seen the ancient symbols but thought more practically on the matter. I should’ve known…
Geoffrey would stand on the edge of the excavation site at dusk, watching the glowing orange orb of the sun fall behind the sand dunes. Sometimes he would call out to me, shouting for me to come and see something. Every time I arrived, there’d be nothing there but what appeared to be an endless expanse of sand. I saw nothing of what he spoke. Yet, he swore he saw it, his obsession, the Fourth Pyramid.
He began rambling on about such nonsense for about a month. It all began when he thought that he had deciphered the ancient hieroglyphics. I didn’t believe him. I thought that his desire to be remembered throughout history, to be the one studied, set his academic brain off kilter. Yet, it consumed him. It’s all he spoke of. He stopped bathing. He stopped eating. He became a shell of the man that I once knew, only spewing the mad ramblings of folklore and misunderstandings. We’d seen the three pyramids, hell we’d spent two months there exploring the innards of such great feats. He was persistent though. He honestly believed there to be a fourth and I thought him mad.
It wasn’t until Geoffrey began leading some of our diggers out into the desert that I became concerned. He’d watch the sunset. He stopped calling for me. Instead, he needed the superstitious workers to listen to his authority. Over the course of a few nights, he took three workers out into the desert, stumbling over starlit dunes into the depths of the white sandy void. The workers began to fear him, but I did not believe him to be so cruel and I dared not listen to rumors. That said, I waited one evening, watching as he led the third worker out into the shadow-swept desert. I became shaken to my core when I’d see that he returned alone, tired and out of breath, sweating in the cold desert night. He stumbled back into camp and fell asleep, muttering of the great Black Pyramid.
I had no choice. I feared the worst of Geoffrey. I did not know what he did to those men, but I did not know him anymore. He was nothing to me. My childhood friend, my colleague, my partner, was nothing but a lunatic that I became trapped with. I ordered the workers to keep a close eye on him and to never let him out of his tent. They did as I asked. They watched him like hawks to a rabbit. They refused to let him leave, no matter how hard he begged them. I should’ve kept him contained. I knew better…but it wasn’t until I saw it too that my strength buckled, and doubt supplanted its throne.
I stood alone at dusk, staring out across the endless expanse of sand. The orange sun turned a hellish red, glowing with such vibrancy. It appeared larger than normal too, and the raising waves of heat from the sands stretched out towards it, causing it to bend and contort as if it were being asphyxiated by the coming night. That is when I saw it. At first, I thought it to be a mirage or a vision of exhaustion. No, I could tell it to be a reality. Just beyond the ancient dunes stood a massive structure, one made from black granite and obsidian. The red haze of the sun danced across its four sides. Its tip glistened as if it were a clear diamond. I stared at a mighty sight. I stared at the Fourth Pyramid of Giza.
It was in a moment of rash realization that I acted without thinking. As soon as the sun dissolved behind the rising dunes did the structure vanish from sight completely. I raced across the campsite. I needed no more validation, something that a scholar should never believe. I felt a sense of relief, for O’Hare could not be crazy. He knew something existed out there in the lost sands of time. He knew it, but I was too blind to see. I ordered the guards to release him from his tent. They did so.
When Geoffrey emerged from his makeshift prison, he looked about the many blank faces that stared at him. He began screaming and kicking dirt. He shouted, “Which of you saw it? Which of you must I take?”
I stood before him, out of breath and tired. Sweat leaked from every pour of my body but I was so excited that I smiled upon my old friend and said, “I did, Geoffrey. It was me who saw the Fourth.”
O’Hare’s eyes grew wide. They watered a moment and I believed that he found safety in my vision of clarity. He stood, stumbling to his feet. He pressed his hand on my shoulder, face saddened at first, but a smile slowly lifted his cheeks. He chuckled to himself for a moment. I foolishly believed it to be out of relief, not cold malice.
Geoffrey led me into the desert alone. He stayed ahead of me, and I liked that. I did believe his claims, but he still felt mad to me. I did not know what he did to the other men whom he led into such a perilous place. I feared that he killed them, abandoned them, but a foolish part of me believed that he took them to the pyramid to begin excavating. How stupid of a thought that was. I feared that Geoffrey’s own historical ambitions hindered him, yet they hindered myself. I feared him, but yet I still followed him blindly into the shadows of the night.
We trekked over many dunes. The desert is cold at night, cold enough to freeze the very marrow of bones. I shivered consistently, trying to stay warm as I followed Geoffrey over another massive dune. The sand parted as our feet connected, causing our feet to shift and move. The sands of Egypt were unstable, as was my mind.
Geoffrey rested for a moment at the top of the dune. He chuckled to himself. I moved behind him, reaching for the top of the shelf of sand. I collapsed to my knees out of sheer exhaustion. I felt as if we walked for miles, but as I turned back, I could see the twinkling lanterns of our excavation site. I could see the three pyramids lit under the low moonlight.
O’Hare said quickly, “Look, scholar and see. Look and see its majesty.”
I turned, looking out to the endless expanse of sand and dust. The winds blew violently, creating large twirling masses of tan dancing across the desert floor. They blocked my vision momentarily for I raised my hand to shield my eyes. It was only when Geoffrey demanded me to look that I lowered it and saw the majesty of which he spoke. Before us stood the great black pyramid that I’d seen in the setting sun. It towered over us, massive and hulking with such a power. It did not appear to be made of individual stones, for if it were, they had to be blended with meticulous precision. By sight alone, I assumed it to be made of obsidian. The moon shimmered across its lofty sides. I could see lines of black granite extending from its base to the top of the pyramid. Atop it, a massive white diamond sat, glowing with the color of starlight. Yet, no stars glowed around the structure and I feared, for whatever reason, that the pinnacle of the structure devoured their light. It radiated across the desert, becoming a lone beckon in the night. I could not break my gaze from such a structure, and it could not break its from mine for the diamond stared back, as if it were the eye of the aether itself.
It was only when Geoffrey placed his hand on my shoulder that my amazement broke, and my gaze shifted back towards the camp. The lanterns were extinguished, and the tents vacated. Nothing sat on the distant horizon but the wonders of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, unchanged and ancient with time. As I stared at the ancient structures, the only pieces that remained of my world, did I ask, “Is this where you’ve taken the workers, my friend? What have you done with them?”
“I will show thee,” Geoffrey muttered, moving closer. “For the wonders of the Fourth are greater within.”
As I looked upon the Fourth Pyramid again, I could tell that it sat untouched by the sands of time. Not a piece of it withered or waned over the eons. A grand entrance stood at its base and the glowing color of hellfire flowed from it. Dread itself flooded from the open mouth of the structure and I knew then, in that moment, that I had made an error. I knew that the workers did not dig and that Geoffrey brought them to such a place for other reasons. I wanted to weep, but as I stared at the glowing diamond eye and the hellish maw of the structure, wonder took control. It is something that I cannot explain. For, as a scholar, I’d dreamt of such a sight in all my life, no matter how dreaded it was. As Geoffrey moved towards the bottom of the dune, I did not hesitate to continue following.
At the entrance to the great structure, two statues loomed over us. They too were made of the black granite. Their eyes, one diamond and one obsidian, stared down at me as I approached. One was the likeness of the great deity Osiris. The other, larger and with arms in a sweeping motion towards the doorway to the ancient temple was Isis.
Geoffrey moved ahead of me, moving towards the great entryway. It was then that I could see the work of such a great open doorway. The hellfire glowed with such a vibrant light that O’Hare became nothing but a silhouette before me. Yet, as I stared in such awe and amazement, I could see that the doorway was the maw of a great statue, one of Ammit. Her mouth, that of a crocodile, sat agape and was the doorway itself. Her eyes were pure diamonds and glistened under the light of the non-existent stars. The mane of a great lion was meticulously carved around the maw, flowing outwards and resembling roaring flames. Two feet, those of a hippopotamus, sat beneath the arched door, resting atop the sand that dared not bury such a sight.
My friend and guide disappeared upon entry. The glowing light of the pyramid’s innards beckoned me. I felt helpless in its gaze. I stumbled forward, lost to wonder and awe. My feet could not lift from the sand and I merely dragged them behind me. It was as if I were pulled into the infernal maw, unable to let go and run from such a grasp. I became blinded by the orange light, blinded by the dancing red that came with it. My mind vacated my body and I felt as if I too were a shell, a husk of my former self. Then, as I passed through the doorway, the light vanished in an instant and I stood alone in the dark.
I felt around, trying to find my bearings in such a dark, horrid place. My rationality returned to me. The wonder of the Fourth and the amazement of the doorway had faded from my mind quickly. Looking back, only do I realize that it was the shadows of the thin corridor in which I stood that brought my mind back to me, only the darkness delivered common sense.
I screamed out for Geoffrey several times. He was not there with me. I truly stood alone in an ancient structure, one of which could not be seen by the eyes of a mere mortal. My hands rubbed the sides of the corridor. I could feel ancient carvings, those of hieroglyphics. I tried my best to read them in the dark, but they were not of Egypt. They were symbols, somewhat remnant of long dead druids and even symbols similar to the Cretans. I screamed for Geoffrey once more. My voice echoed through the corridor, carried on the back of shadows. As it faded from the hall, a dim light glowed towards the end of the tunnel, something of which I feared would never end. I ran as fast as I could, careless of what may lurk within the shadows. Freight took control and I needed out. The only way was towards the dim light. It was only when I reached it that I realized I should’ve stayed in the darkness. I should’ve never entered such a dreadful place. I should’ve never followed my old friend into the desert. It was too late for all of that, though. For when I exited the hall, I stood within the heart of the ancient temple. Hollow, the Fourth was. A grand room was all that sat within the structure. It extended upwards, up towards the diamond eye of the pyramid. I could not see it though, only assume, for the black shadows hung overhead, blinding any vision a few meters up.
Where I stood was raised, but five steps led down a small granite lip, leading towards the great floor of the pyramid. Not a lantern was lit, yet the room itself glowed with the light of many flames. The shadows danced across the great floor, mimicking sand in the wild winds. In the center of the room knelt Geoffrey. He kotowed before a great statue. It loomed overhead, and it appeared to be that of an ancient pharaoh. Its likeness, I could not tell for I had not seen such a face in my life. Thin it was, gaunt as if it were a skull atop a well-fed body. I expected to see diamond and obsidian eyes, however there were none. The face was expressionless, eyeless, and only odd hieroglyphics sat atop where the sockets should’ve been. Before the statue was a table, covered in old parchment, marked with a dead language. Behind it, a great archway stood with nothing beyond.
Geoffrey spoke in tongues, his body raising and lowering as if it were a wave in the Mediterranean. His chanting continued, and I feared him truly. I feared that the temple of whatever lurked beyond the archway corrupted his mind, turning him into nothing but a zealot. I stepped down onto the floor with only the rhythmic chants of Geoffrey filling the air. It was then, as I moved across the great floor towards my lost friend, that a voice echoed from above. It sounded as ancient as the structure itself, as withered as the Sphinx. It spoke in a language that I’d never heard before, but yet, I understood it, Who comes to meet?
The chanting of O’Hare stopped quickly. My friend hunched over, bowing to the statue and the great archway. He spoke that strange language too, and I understood. I don’t know how…but I understood…He said, “Another I’ve brought, four that is.”
Great servant, called the voice from above, Dare you think four is enough?
“Show thyself to me,” Geoffrey said, keeping his face to the granite floor. “Show thyself so he too can see thy majesty.”
Doubt it, does he? Doubt the First of the Pharaoh’s? Doubt the First of the Summoners?
“For he must see,” Geoffrey replied.
So be it…
A great cacophony of noise flooded down onto me. It was nothing but sound, but with it came weight that brought me to my knees. The darkness above split, dividing, opening with such a swirling terror that I feared my heart to stop out of sheer fright. The great glowing diamond atop the pyramid radiated with the light of the moon so brightly that I felt I would be blinded. I tried to look away from the darkness above, but I could not. I could see through the grand whirlpool. I could see the faces of lost souls, withered more than time itself. I could see the fields of Elysian, empty and bare. I could see…
The noise stopped, and I fell forward onto the floor, drained of all will to fight or flee. I laid still for a moment, trying to gather my strength. I could hear the chanting continue, and it drew my attention. I gazed across the warm granite floor, seeing that the great statue had vanished. The archway no longer sat empty, for in it radiated a great darkness. In front of it, where the statue once stood, a figure rose with its hands outstretched. An odor radiated from it with dread clasped to the necrotic scent. The figure was that of a man, thin to the bone. Its skin, dark and withered, shriveled and flaked around the bones and joints of the moving corpse. Its hands were decayed, and in one, the figure held a great black book. Its face was death itself. What skin remained laid tight to the bones and opened cheeks. The teeth of the figure shimmered under the light of the great diamond. Its lips were pursed, decayed and corrupted by its speech. The figure possessed no eyes, only a flap of skin stretched over the sockets as if it were a blindfold of sorts. On it, where the eyes should’ve been, those symbols that I’d seen on the statue glowed with a haunting purple aura. Atop the figures head sat a great and elegant headdress of lavender and shadow. The golden trim of the head crown was tarnished, becoming the color of faded, dying posies.
The voice of the dead pharaoh cracked and hissed, strained to speak. It was raspy, dead, that of the calls from the shadows above, Who dare you bring to my great temple, servant?
“One who has seen thy temple under the blood red sunset,” Geoffrey exclaimed, keeping his head to the ground. He looked up slowly, fearful of what he might see. Upon the sight of the great dead pharaoh, Geoffrey screamed in horror but slowly lowered his head back into the granite.
Why dost thou exclaim upon my sight, servant? Why dost thou fear thy ruler?
Geoffrey stammered. Fear overtook him, and his voice sounded as if he wept, “So mighty and majestic, thou art.”
The figure raised its arms up into the air, waving them around slightly. As it did so, the great shadows above swayed as reeds. The pharaoh moved away from the swirling darkness in the archway, moving towards my old friend. It spoke that dreaded tongue, that dead language, saying, A Doubter, you brought…
I laid motionless. Those glowing symbols of eyes that the figure possessed stared up into the abyss, but I felt them gazing at me. I could feel the warmth of the hellfire, the coldness of death as the being glared at me through the visions of the outer dark.
The First of the Summoners, I am. The greatest of the pharaohs, whom in my likeness they built such great wonders.
I lowered my head towards the floor again, trying not to look at the figure. I feared that the sight alone would drive me mad. I thought of running but became nervous that I would not get far, for great powers were at work in the Fourth, great powers indeed. I did not understand them and test them I would not.
Look upon me, Doubter. Look upon my face, for thou has seen my Great Eye and it has seen you.
I did as the old one asked, looking back towards the figure. It loomed over Geoffrey, loomed over me, with its arms outstretched, still swaying the darkness above.
Speak, vile doubter! The pharaoh exclaimed. Its mouth did not move as its corrupted language vacated its body.
“I see your majesty!” I screamed, so petrified by the sight of the great one.
Am I so majestic? Am I so beautiful as my servant described? I am the great priest of the Others. I am the one who speaks with the Devourer of Stars. I am the bender of realms. I am the granter of Lingua Mortis. I am Neferkahor!
Geoffrey spoke, still shaken, “Oh, great one…you asked for a doubter and four I’ve delivered! Will thou not keep thy word?”
The great pharaoh rose up from the floor. The stands of darkness elevated him, working as if they were a solid mass. He spoke quickly, hateful, Dos’t thou ask a favor from the Great Priest?
“Thou promised…thou promised to release thee…” Geoffrey stammered. As he did so, great serpents of shadow writhed across the floor, over me and towards my friend. They wrapped around him tightly, forcing him upwards. He screamed in pain and of fear, for his questioned offended the long dead priest. He hollered out, “Forgive me! Forgive me for asking!”
A promise I gave and release you I will…three doubters you’ve given, and a fourth to replace.
The swirling darkness within the archway formed together, becoming stagnant for a moment, only to split again at the center. A great city laid beyond and a host of dead there were. Around many great spires they wept, floating among a wild wind upwards into a never-ending abyss. The spires were that of ivory, faded and yellowed. Obsidian structures there were too and many strange black pyramids in the distance. Above the long dead city, a great eye lurked, belonging to a hulking mass of shadows and aether. White it was, with no pupil, but an iris that radiated a cold hue. It looked upon us, through the archway and I gazed into it, lost within the pale.
The Great Priest spoke again, Beyond I will take you, great servant…to the lost city and the Other that lurks above…
Geoffrey screamed and cried, hollering for me to help him. I dared not move, for the great white eye glared into me, devouring my soul and in its gaze, I lost myself. It was only when the dead priest said, Doubter, no more you are…thine servant you will be…three I need, and four will be release…
I screamed, for I knew that my friend, a brilliant mind but a wretched soul, had damned me as he did himself. I hollered with all my might, hollered with such self-pity, “Release me! I beg of you, great one!”
Nay…thou art my servant…for thou had doubted my majesty. The only release is that of three…dare not test me…for if thou doubts again…say thine name and remember my majesty…
The Great Pharaoh moved towards the archway. The shadow serpents followed him, Geoffrey still within their clutches. They moved towards the archway and the great cacophony roared down on me again. I wept. I felt my heart burst. I felt the world around me collapsing. I felt alone. Yet, my gaze did not break from the Great White Eye that lurked beyond the archway. It was only when the shadows of the room grew taller, wider, and consuming, did I truly sit alone in the shadows…
I awoke in my tent, screaming and hollering. I sweated profusely and scrambled to my feet. A terrible, great nightmare it was. I opened my canteen, splashing my face with warm water and downing quite a bit of it. Relief overtook me for a moment, but it was only when my workers entered that fear reared back. They asked me what I’d done with Geoffrey. They asked what I saw out in the desert, for they saw me return alone across the ancient dunes at sunrise. I dared not speak of such troubles that I’d seen, for I feared the worst.
I did not stay in Egypt. I returned home the next day. Many nights though, as I watch the sunset, I can still see the Fourth Pyramid out across the horizon. I can see its glistening black panels. A duty was thrusted upon me, but I not the heart to complete it. I dare not doubt what it is that I saw, but I doubt myself to carry out such a task. The Great Priest demands three, but a fourth would be my replacement…a fourth would be my end.
It is out of sheer fear that I do not return to Giza. It is out of fear that I dare not speak of what it is that I saw. Mad, people will call me, for I know firsthand. I doubted Geoffrey. I doubted my sight. I abandoned rationality to better myself, but what I discovered is worse than a reality. Beyond the great archway they call to me in my sleep. The Great Priest speaks to me in dreams, demanding that I finish my assignment. I cannot.
But I dare not doubt, and often dare I say his name…