Scions of the Sphinx, Chapter 8, holds one of my favorite scenes of all time. Here, finally, we get some of the history and mythology behind the Great Sphinx at Giza. It is the research behind this scene that prompted me to first start writing this book. Virtually all of the information in it is true. The Sphinx does show signs of water erosion caused by rain and many scientists speculate that it predates Egyptian civilization. All the historical references to restorations are accurate to the best of my research abilities. Oh, and we also get some fun hi-jinx, pun intended. You can catch up on earlier chapters at RScottBoyer.com/blog or on Wattpad.com
Bobby awoke to rough hands shaking him by the shoulders.
“Bobby, get up. Get up, Bobby!”
He shooed away the hands and rolled over, reaching for one of the thick blankets to wrap around his shoulders. Instead, his hand hit stone, scraping his knuckles to expose red underneath. Bobby’s eyes popped open.
The giant, fur-covered bed was gone, replaced by the shallow ditch in Khafre’s temple. Jinx stood over him, urging him to get up. Raising a hand to his brow, Bobby blinked, trying to block out the intense glare at his cousin’s back.
“What’s going on? Where’s Isis?”
Jinx frowned, hands on his hips. “You mean Zaria? I saw her hop over the wall and race past Hayward. She bought us some time, but we’re going to be caught for sure if you don’t get up right now.”
Bobby stood up and rubbed his head. “I just had the craziest dream.”
“Tell me about it later,” said Jinx, tugging on Bobby’s arm. “Right now, we need to get outta here before those goons come back.”
No sooner did the words leave Jinx’s mouth than a dark shadow loomed over them. Omir grabbed Jinx by the back of the neck, encircling his throat with meaty fingers.
Still a bit dazed, Bobby swung a foot at the mountainous Arab’s shins, but his leg sailed wide, hitting nothing but air. He tried again, using his good hand to punch the man in his stomach. With a yelp, Bobby pulled his arm back and shook it—the man’s abdomen felt like an iron skillet. The chauffeur glowered at him and squeezed Jinx’s neck. Jinx screamed, and Bobby promptly abandoned further efforts to free his cousin.
The stone-faced manservant, with his flat nose and thick forehead, pulled his lips back into what Bobby could only assume was a misguided attempt at a smile. The man’s mouth held nothing but black gums and broken teeth. Squeezing Jinx’s neck with one hand, he held out his other arm and beckoned. Bobby complied begrudgingly, stepping forward. The manservant clamped a massive hand around Bobby’s bicep in a vice grip so strong Bobby’s eyes swelled with tears.
Mu’at arrived moments later, followed closely by Hayward and Simpkins. Both agents averted their eyes as they came to a halt before their master.
“You let the street rat escape?” said Mu’at, glaring at them. “I ought to skewer you both and leave you in this ditch!” His accent was crisp and perfect, each word sliced from the next as if cut by a knife. “Lucky for you both, I have what I need literally in my grasp.” As he spoke, Mu’at snatched Bobby from the manservant. For his part, the chauffeur just stood there, with an idiot grin plastered on his pugilist face.
“You two, bring that one.” Mu’at nodded at Jinx. “I wish to conduct my interrogation in a more private setting.”
Neither Bobby nor Jinx said a word as they marched out of Khafre’s temple back to the parking lot, where they were unceremoniously shoved into the back of the stretch Bentley. Jinx was positioned on the side next to Hayward, with Bobby on the other, next to Simpkins. Mu’at took a seat in the back of the limousine, while the chauffeur climbed up front.
With pitch-black eye, Mu’at stared at Bobby from across the dim interior of dark leather, rich mahogany, and plush carpet. Silence hung heavy in the air.
“Proof of life!” blurted Jinx.
Mu’at shifted his gaze to Bobby’s younger cousin. “Excuse me?”
Jinx lowered his head and said, “In a hostage situation, one must never concede to the demands of the ransoming party without first receiving proof of life.”
Mu’at straightened his silk tie, head swinging from one boy to the other. “And have I made any demands?”
“Proof of life!” repeated Jinx.
Mu’at affected a condescending smile. “I assure you, Bobby’s parents are perfectly safe.”
“Proof of life!”
Mu’at sighed. “How old are you, young man?”
Jinx sat up straight, arching his shoulders. “Old enough to know a villain when I see one!”
Mu’at set two fingers on the bridge of his nose. “This is hardly productive. You two,” he said, gesturing to Hayward and Simpkins. “Take the boy outside and keep him quiet. I will speak to this one alone.”
“But, sir,” said Hayward, “he needs to be watched at all times. The boy has a history of—”
Mu’at swung his one-eyed gaze Hayward’s way, and the corpulent agent shut his mouth.
“I can handle him just fine,” said Mu’at. His cold tone made Bobby shiver. Apparently, it had a similar effect on the Core agents. With surprising speed, Hayward dragged himself over to the door and pulled Jinx out after him. Simpkins followed his partner out into the desert heat with only the briefest glance at his boss. The look he gave Bobby, however, spoke murderous volumes.
The door shut with a resounding thud. Silence reigned once again as Mu’at studied Bobby with a penetrating stare. “So unfortunate, these circumstances,” he said, shaking his head. “We could have avoided all these unpleasantries if you’d simply joined me at the airport.”
Bobby made no reply. Finally, Mu’at said, “They really are safe—your parents that is. I have no interest in harming them. I just want you to complete a small task for me.”
Bobby wriggled in his seat. “And then you’ll let us go? My parents too?”
“Of course,” said Mu’at, clasping his hands together. “I just need one tiny favor, and then I will let you go. I’ll even buy you all tickets back to the U.S.”
Bobby frowned, sensing a hook. “What’s the favor?”
Mu’at leaned back in the plush leather seat and tented his fingers. “I need you to retrieve something from the Sphinx.”
“I don’t understand. Everything worth finding has already been discovered. There’s nothing out there now but sand and ruins.”
Mu’at smiled, clearly amused by this statement. “Tell me, Bobby, did you know that the Sphinx predates Egyptian civilization? It’s true. Unlike the surrounding pyramids, the Sphinx exhibits patterns of water erosion caused by rain. Yet the Sahara has been a desert for at least seven thousand years. Which means that the Sphinx is much, much older.”
Bobby had to fight the urge to laugh out loud. “You’re saying that the Egyptians didn’t build the Sphinx? Wow, you really are crazy.”
“I may be crazy, but not about this. What the Egyptians did was rediscover the Sphinx. They renovated it and built the surrounding pyramids in honor of its greatness. We know this first part to be true of Thutmose who found the head buried in the sand in 1397 BC. What scholars failed to realize is that the same is also true of the pharaoh Khafre, who is largely, and erroneously, credited for having built the Sphinx around 2500 BC. Alas, this is not the case. Like Thutmose, Khafre simply restored the Great Sphinx, just as the Romans repaired it around the time of Jesus Christ. Then Baraize from 1925 to 1936 AD…And again by modern scholars off and on since 1955.”
This time, Bobby really did laugh. “OK, genius, if what you’re saying is true, then how come the Sphinx has a giant pharaoh head on it? Looks pretty Egyptian to me.”
Mu’at waved dismissively. “Cultures frequently steal images and icons from one another. The Japanese adopted their entire alphabet from the Chinese. The Romans and Greeks share the same gods, albeit with different names. Christmas and Easter are adaptations of pagan holidays worshiping the winter and spring solstices. The list goes on and on.”
As Bobby pondered these comments, Mu’at leaned over and poured himself a brandy from the limousine’s built-in liquor bar. “With that being said, the ironic truth is that the Sphinx originally possessed the head of a lion. The human head we see now was likely sculpted by Khafre out of the weathered body of the original statue because the first had become too eroded. The result is the disproportionate figure that exists today.”
“I heard this theory before, from my cousin,” said Bobby. “What I’m not hearing is what any of this has to do with me or my parents.”
A knock on the door intruded upon their conversation. Pinning Bobby with a stare, Mu’at pushed a button to roll down the window. Simpkins appeared in the horizontal gap. “I’m sorry to bother you, sir, but we have a bit of a situation…”
Mu’at swung his head from side to side. “Where is the boy?”
“That’s just it, sir. We were standing here, watching the boy as you instructed. He’s never been a problem before. He doesn’t even have any abilities—”
“Get to the point,” snapped Mu’at.
“Well, sir, we were standing here, watching him, when smoke started rising from Hayward’s leg. Somehow, the boy set the bottom of Hayward’s pants on fire—”
“Idiots! I suppose he managed to run off as well.”
Simpkins swallowed hard. “Hayward went after him. I’m sure he’s already caught the boy by now. I just didn’t want to go after them without telling you first.”
Mu’at glowered as he slid across the seat, climbed out of the Bentley, and shut the door. Alone in the limo, Bobby thought about trying to escape, but nothing came to mind. Then Mu’at’s manservant appeared, stationing himself directly in front of the door. Mu’at and Simpkins took off toward the temple. Bobby rolled the window up not just to trap the cool air inside but also to provide a barrier between him and his captor glaring at him through the opening.
A few minutes later, the door reopened. Mu’at stood there, his forehead beaded with sweat. Behind him, Simpkins and Hayward held Jinx firmly between them, each clutching an arm as though he were a wishbone they planned to snap in two.
Mu’at pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket and dabbed at his forehead. “All of you, get in the car—Now!” First Simpkins and then Hayward squeezed into the back of the limo, squishing Jinx in between them.
As Hayward settled his massive girth into the leather seat across from him, Bobby noticed that the bottom third of his left pant leg was black and crisp. The flesh beneath was angry and red. Bobby shot his cousin a querying glance. Their eyes caught, and the corner of Jinx’s mouth twitched up in the barest hint of a smile.
Simpkins produced a magnifying glass from his breast pocket. “The little brat used this,” he said, handing it to Mu’at. “Must have used his powers to help it along. I’m telling you those flames sprang out of nowhere.”
Mu’at took the magnifying glass thoughtfully, twirling it around by the stem. “Get out,” he said in a hushed tone. “Both of you.”
“What about my leg?” protested Hayward. “I need to heal. Not to mention my pants.”
Mu’at turned so that his good eye stared directly at the disheveled agent. “You have three seconds.”
Hayward sprang for the door, shoving Simpkins in the back so hard that his skeletal partner barely had time to fling the door open before falling face first into the sand. Simpkins yelled as the hot desert sand burned his hands and cheek.
“Go check on the others, and see to their progress,” said Mu’at. “I am taking the boys back to the base.”
“What about us?” whined Hayward. “You’re just going to ditch us here without a ride?”
Mu’at remained stone-faced. Pushing a button on the arm console, he said, “Omir, take us home.” The rear door slid shut of its own accord, leaving Bobby and Jinx alone with Mu’at. Seconds later, gravel crunched as the car pulled out of the Sphinx’s parking lot, heading toward the main road.
The shocked looks the boys exchanged were nothing compared to Hayward’s and Simpkins’s, who stared after the car like abused dogs abandoned by their master.