39: Walk Like an Egyptian

14th July 1925

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities - Reginald Fortworthy
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities – Cairo

Cairo, Egypt, Africa:

18:18 PM:

Heading down the Nile, Cairo looms into view. There have been recent elections in this young and turbulent democracy. Noise and smell. Thousands of minarets. The docks are in Old Cairo, beneath the main city, built on ancient Roman foundations. The impressive Cairo Museum is nearby. The investigators will want to try and find the time to visit it later. We will need a guide. The British customs wanted to know where we will be staying. We told them a fake location and consequently never received our letter of welcome from the British Consul. The Clive Expedition has gone to Giza from Memphis. The Red and Bent pyramids are in that area.

The morning call to prayer reverberates across the flowing water and as the glow of the sun crawls up into the night sky there is no doubt that the day ahead will be sweltering hot. It is July after all. And this is North Africa. Mosquitoes.

A throng of welcoming boats swarm out to meet us. Simon negotiates with them with his limited Arabic.

Arab: “Effendi! Effendi! Mister!”

There are two boys, one looks well fed, the other looks run down and two elder men, beautifully turned out with parasol and all the paraphernalia of an Englishman in the midday sun.

Reginald Fortworthy: “Hello! Ahoy there!” He says jovially.

Natalja: “Valk up zee gangplank with your hands where I can see them! I vant to see if you are carrying guns!”

Reginald Fortworthy: “Oh I say! I am Reginald Fortworthy. You fellows look like you could do with someone trustworthy to open doors for you? I have been here for years! I wouldn’t pay a blind bit of attention to all that nonsense about curses and suchlike. I am glad to see someone here in the hotter months! Fleeing the Bolsheviks?”

Simon: “Care to join us for a G&T, old boy?”

Natalya: “Do you speak Egyptian Arabic?”

Reginald Fortworthy: “Why of course!”

Trixie: “What does a girl do for fun around here?”

Reginald Fortworthy: “With the right introductions you will get introductions to some of the exclusive clubs here. I’ll put together an itinerary for you. I’ll find you a hotel but sadly, Madam, you will never be far from the smell in this city. The Street of Jackals? Sounds like it is in the old city. I’ll help you to find it!”

Simon: “Who are the movers and shakers?”

Reginald Fortworthy: “Well, there is a European elite, but I’m afraid that the ladies would have difficulty mixing with the Muhammadans. I can recommend the Ozbeki hotel.”

Natalja: “Uzbeki? It sounds Russian. They are good fighters. I like this hotel. We wish to see, how you say, working expedition. In Giza? Clive Expedition?”

Reginald Fortworthy: “I heard about this! Yes I am sure this will be possible assuming everything is above board. If you want to spend a day at the athletics club, etc. I can get you the necessary introductions. And I can introduce you to the curator of the museum. The local newspaper is the Cairo Bulletin. I can find you a second guide if you wish to split into two groups. I also recommend the Continental Savoy Hotel that would be very convenient. Close to the Egyptian Museum and the US Embassy. You may as well throw yourselves into things: This is Cairo! Come gentlemen and ladies, we will get some taxis!”

The investigators decide to split into two groups. Wesley, Simon, Natalja and Irma go to the hotel. The others (Trixie, Joe and Gupta) stay on the boat. The traffic is slow. And even slower when not on the main streets. We get twin rooms at the hotel just in case the others want to stay. It is a good, clean hotel – colonial style. Receptionist: “I understand about what ‘other guests’ mean on the upper floors…”

Arrangements are made to meet up again with Reginald Fortworthy in the evening after a “siesta” at around 7pm. – “After the heat dies down.”

Some quick research is done in the phonebook. No entry for Omar, but Faraz and the shipper are listed. We are unable to find a map of the old city that features any street names. Just the names of the markets. There are a lot of poor people, cripples, beggars in the wealthy European part of the city.

Reginald Fortworthy: “I phoned ahead and reserved a table for us at the RAC!”

Back on the boat it is hot and sweaty. Mosquito swarm and hawkers hawk. Incessantly. It is impossible to keep guard.

15th July 1925

Cairo - Old Town
Cairo – Old Town

08:12 AM:

The next morning: Wednesday, July 15, 1925. We collect currency in the hotel. Reginald Fortworthy is well turned out. He has put a lot of thought into his dress. But maybe times are tough for him…? The four staying at the hotel will go to the museum, while Reginald will accompany the other three to the street of jackals…

At the Cairo Bulletin Nigel Wassif is the editor. Irma and Simon go to meet him. “Do please come in!” He is smart with a pencil moustache. “I believe it is important to be proper. How can I help you Gentlemen? Ah Mr Grand, you are English. Travelling through Africa? How interesting! How can I help you? Unusual story? Digs around Giza? A Penhew foundation expedition I believe. They found Mitacris’ tomb but the sarcophagus and its contents disappeared! Would you believe it?! Most curious. That would be something to whet the appetite of readers in the United States! The Carlyle expedition in 1919 also came to a sticky end. There was a fellow here briefly last year, Jackson: Do you know him? He was here briefly and in a hurry. Not quite the ticket, you say? Sadly all members of the Carlyle expedition perished. Jackson was also interested in that and was looking at the cuttings. You think he was on to something? Feel free to look through my archives!”

Irma decides to look and finds photos and stories of the Carlyle expedition at a Gentlemen’s club when they arrived in 1919. The infamous Black Pharaoh is mentioned several times. “Omar Shakti? Oh yes, he’s a wealthy cotton plantation owner. I find him unpleasant and unsavoury, not wishing to be indiscreet I will say no more. How to contact him? Well… Cotton, perhaps? North of Cairo in the town of Gazeera Mohamed he has a residence I believe.”

It’s 38 degrees centigrade. The investigators reach a burnt out rubble. Gupta notices some of the Arabs are acting listlessly. Reginald Fortworthy: “Are they on drugs? The word ‘gin’ is being mentioned. Five or six years ago a hideous demon descended on the shop and set it alight!” A man walks past and spits in Trixie’s face! “Whore!” He hisses in Arabic. Trixie does not react. Reginald: “But why has the shop been burnt to the ground? And where is Farraz? Apparently it was revenge of the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh! Apparently he stole some stuff which was valuable and sold it to a rich American!? Farraz was horribly burned but has moved to another location…” The investigators learn of the location and decide to head there after having a spot of lunch.

Close to Faraz’s new shop there are a number of pottery shops. Other places with touristy garbage. Run down tenements. Inside, Farraz can be found. His face has been horribly burnt down one side… “Hello? English? Wh-wh-what do you want? Ah for the lady I have many nice things? You want to buy something nice for the lady?” Mostly tat in his shop. Some of it is quite nice for tourists, but nothing we are looking for.

He starts to look more suspiciously at us. “I am an honest and pious man! What do you want? I think you should leave! We are closed now!”

Gupta: “Please do not be afraid. We are not here for trouble.” And offers him money to persuade him to talk to us.

Faraz whispers: “I cannot talk here. We will meet tomorrow in the mosque. After morning prayers. In’shala, no one will see us.”


11:01 AM:

It is a hulking neo-classic building. A brave new museum of the world and a treasure trove of Egyptian antiquities. Open from 9am to 4.30pm. We try to get an appointment and enter the museum to talk to someone on the front desk.

Museum Clerk: “Talk to Ali Kuffour if you want to know more of the obscure facts.”

Says the clerk:

Museum Clerk: “You want an appointment?”

Ali is a short thin man in a tidy suit.

Ali: “I believe the Carlyle expedition uncovered a secret about the Black Pharaoh and it resulted in their tragic demise. Penhew rebuffed me when he was here. He underwent a marked change and became curiously malicious. I’m not sure why? He definitely found something.. The stories of sunstroke are simply nonsense. What do you know of the Black Pharaoh?”

Natalja: “The Bloody Tongue, the Sand Bat, should I go on?”

Ali: “Nefren Kar came here from the city from Irren, as described in Alazif: The Necronomicon by Al Azred. Nefren Kar worshipped an old foul god and Kar became synonymous with the god. The Black Pharoah was very powerful and founded the 4th Dynasty. A pyramid was built to contain the sorcerer’s body. Records imply that Kar’s body was removed but no trace was found in Dhashur. The Black Pharaoh has many names. Among them Nyarlathotep. Abominable and inhuman dedicated to chaos and madness. His voice was carried on the Black Wind. The prophecy claims Kar will arise 20 centuries after Jesus. The great sphinx at Giza had an important role in this. What know you of the Black Pharaoh? What know you of all this? The Clive expedition uncovered a secret room under the pyramid. The symbol of light and darkness? What is this? Horus? I would need to research this. I am a scientist: I hold that Nefren Kar existed as do the elder gods and are led by Azathor! I suspect the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh is growing and spreading throughout the world. New York, too, you say? These men are evil maniacs! Many thousands? Oh my goodness. This is terrible news. I do not know what has happened to the Clive expedition. I heard the Penhew Foundation has been wound up in London following the tragic death of Gavigan in a fire. But there have been ten secret digs in Egypt. The Clive Expedition is totally secret, surrounded by barbed wire and guards! Jackson Elias, I do not know this man. What is your story? Why are you here? I have studied the Al Azif! I have corroborative evidence! I don’t know Omar Shakti. I don’t move in these circles. I am an academic of the occult. Queen Miticris was buried alive and entombed, but I believe she may rise again…”

Wesley: “They must be stopped. What knowledge can you share with us?”

Ali: “Knowledge? What do you mean?”

Wesley reveals the Ankh and Sceptre: “These are no simple decorations. They have power.”

Ali: “You know magic? How?! From Gavigan? Did you stop him? Well, the it is as I suspected… I will look in my vault. It is warded: By me. It is guarded by Isis. Beyond lock and key…”

Journal Wesley

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