Here I am in Bergama, only a few days before the Ruby Eye makes its appearance. I was staying with Mesud Osman, a renowned preservationist fighting to keep artifacts in their country of origin and out of German hands; he swore he would help me recover the Ruby Eye when the time came. I was just getting comfortable and chatting with Ahmose with his magic bug, Kheper, when I heard a ruckus from down below, like Mesud was arguing with some people.
Unfortunately, sneaking around when you have a loudmouth, wacky bug stone attached to you is easier said than done. I'll be in Bergama a little while longer... perhaps these people will come back?
Those Germans that were harassing Mesud Osman came back last night. I decided to try my hand at eavesdropping on them again.
Unfortunately, we couldn't hear what they were saying or make out the German, but I decided to try and sneak closer so Kheper could use his translating magic.
The Germans were accusing Mesud of stealing from some of their crates of antiquities... an accusation Mesud naturally denied, and with quite direct language as well. When they demanded to search his estate, he refused, even when they threatened to call the police. Just when it seemed like they'd reached a stalemate, Miss Tall-Blonde-and-Teutonic looked up at where I was hiding and asked me to come down.
Her name was Lorelei Krause; she apparently is a German archaeologist and a correspondent of Professor Hemsworth. It seems he's been boasting of me, as she already knew of my reputation. Pardon me while I preen!
Lorelei laid out her terms pretty bluntly; either I would help her recover three relics meant for the Berlin museum, or she'd call the police on Mesud, which would probably result in some artifacts getting broken.
I didn't like the way things were going, but I agreed to help her in order to protect Mesud's treasures... Lorelei's henchmen were looking at his priceless vases a bit too keenly for my tastes.
I refused to help her, but in return, she made one of her goons smash a priceless vase! Horrible, though I suppose she certainly knows how to make a point. I agreed to help as long as she left the rest of the estate alone.
Lorelei took me to the ruins of the Pergamon library. I thought those ruins had been picked clean, but to give Lorelei credit, she showed me otherwise: there was a giant cache of scrolls, jewels and other antiquities that she and her team had uncovered. Most interestingly of all, however, the cache had been in use until quite recently; many of the artifacts were more modern. Lorelei believed that the location of the cache had been a secret passed down for generations and that we were in an honest-to-goodness thieves' den.
Unfortunately for Lorelei, in the past few days, it seemed as if the thieves' den had attracted a genuine thief. Two days ago,, she had been moving some artifacts through the bazaar by trucks only to have one crate stolen while the truck was broken down... hence the accusations against Mesud. She was, however, able to uncover the thief's 'shopping list' of the most valuable artifacts to steal; the list was ripped and only three remained, and those were in written in riddle. A Turkish riddle for the first one, no less.
With a bit of help from a certain magic bug, we were able to translate the first riddle: 'Dough on the board/mud fields/Give Allah, give/rain water.' The second riddle was in English and was quite lengthy: 'She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders. She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. She never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.
I wracked my brain but just couldn't come up with the connection. After promising Lorelei that I would continue to help her and gaining her promise that she wouldn't harass Mesud, I went to go do some research. I should head back to Bergama when I've got a better idea.
I'd been puzzling over that riddle that thief left in the underground treasure cache Lorelei found. I had to solve it - not only to clear Mesud's name but to find out the truth. I went back and joined Lorelei to take another crack at it..
It hit me in a bolt of light; the clue is a reference to Benjamin Franklin and describing America as a snake that would threaten Britain if trod on. Lorelei seemed to buy it, but pointed out the use of 'she' in the riddle - she thinks it's a reference to me! Well, I am American, I suppose...
The last riddle was too vague to make much of: The Holiest of Tomes Here. That could mean almost anything. In any event, Lorelei is not sure whether these artifacts were in the box that went missing or have not been picked up by the thief yet. While she searches the cache, she asked me to search Mesud's house as well. I didn't really know what to think about that... it seemed like a bit of a betrayal, but then, Lorelei might have been on the up and up...
As usual when I have deep and soulwrenching moral quandaries, I contacted Ahmose. I pointed out that Mesud might have come across the missing artifacts legitimately, that Lorelei may have been setting me up, that Mesud might be completely innocent, a dozen other reasons why it was important to look. Ahmose, being Ahmose, boiled it down to one: I wanted to know for myself. But before I got to know much of anything, I suddenly got a bag over my head, my hands restrained, and a henchman taking me off to meet some mysterious boss.
The mysterious boss had a lot of questions for me, mostly about Lorelei, how I knew her, what she'd shown me, etc. etc. All I could tell was that it was the thief - he talked about how Lorelei had taken his things and shown me 'his' treasure trove - and that he knows me somehow. He gave me a warning to pass to Lorelei - note to self, do not annoy the man with the big knife or earn any further warnings from him! - then dumped me out on the Bergama streets. Ugh. Now I have to walk back to Mesud's place again...
I was still a bit shaken from my kidnapping by that thief Lorelei's been dealing with. I can't believe they just snatched me off the street like that... and I believe a hundred unbelievable things a day! After calming Ahmose down, I was considering leaving Bergama for a while to stay out of danger when I saw some young girls pouring water on a doll while singing a nursery rhyme.... that sounded entirely too much like the first clue.
I arrived home to find Mesud desperately worried about me. I told him the bare outline of what had happened - I'd been kidnapped, they wanted to know about Lorelei, etc - and he decided to post guards outside my room. After all, he pointed out, the thief had said he would have me watched, so I needed that protection. One tiny problem with that... I'd never told Mesud about the thief threatening to have me watched.
I was definitely beginning to think there was more to this Mesud than met the eye, and that maybe Lorelei wasn't as far off base as I thought. Unfortunately, thanks to the whole, 'Let me make sure you're safe by putting guards outside your door!' thing, I didn't have much freedom to get around either. I looked instead at the dolls in the room. I keep thinking of those kids I saw saying the rhyme as they poured water onto the dolls... maybe one of these dolls was the right one.
Unfortunately, the dolls aren't talking. Just my luck, the nutty scarab beetle talks a mile a minute, but I couldn't get a darned doll to talk. I should take a rest... Mesud will allow me to wander out as long as I'm sticking to more general ventures or digs, but I can come back here to Bergama and try again later.
So, let's see... we had some suspicious behavior from Mesud, we had an old nursery rhyme about water, and we had a room full of dolls. I was sure I could figure out something from all this.
Thinking about water and rain, I picked out a doll that was wearing a rain hat and felt just a tad bit heavier than it should. I ripped it open, and inside was probably the largest sapphire I'd ever seen. Darn it, Lorelei will never let me hear the end of this... I grabbed the sapphire necklace and woke up Kheper to help me distract the guards.
I suppose Kheper didn't think the situation was tense enough, because he decided to drop it on me that that Ruby Eye I'm trying to get? If he doesn't get it back within a year of it being taken, he dies. No pressure or anything.
Kheper distracted the guards superbly, but as things fell out, the guards came upon his pendant on the way out. Hmm, if a sentient scarab stone is grabbed by goons, does that count as kidnapping or theft?
Things just went from bad to worse... not only was Kheper gone, but now Mesud had obviously stopped hiding his extra-curricular activities and had a bunch of extra henchmen walking around. One of them almost got the drop on me until I accidentally triggered a secret door that dumped me in a room full of carpets. Carpets get trod on all the time, just like in that second clue...
Then it hit me: Mesud had a beautiful carpet in the foyer that he nicknamed the Scheherazade magic carpet. Lorelei was right, the clue was about me after all! ...sort of.
From there, I made my way into a library, which brought up the last clue: The Holiest Of Tomes Here. Take the first letters of each word, and what does that spell? T.H.O.T.H. The Book of Thoth. And who do we know who stole The Book of Thoth in the first place? \n As if by magic, Mesud burst into the room with his goons behind him, my magic scarab in one hand, and his secret identity in tatters. All this time, Mesud Osman was really... Zul al Zan!
Zul had apparently been making quite a tidy sum by fencing the stuff underneath Pergamon, at least until Lorelei got in his way. The three items on the list were his most valuable. But luckily, I had a few valuable things myself. Pulling out The Book of Thoth, I pretended I was reading from it and communed with the animal and the god by summoning Khepri... just in time for Ahmose to give a truly award-winning performance via Kheper, full of fire and brimstone and YOU HAVE ANGERED THE GODS and all that good stuff. I think Zul nearly wet his disguise in fear. Ahmose really is always looking out for me....
Everything ended up working out quite nicely in the end. Zul was arrested, and Lorelei is making sure all the artifacts go back to their proper homes. I hate to admit it, but she's not all that bad at times. Kheper certainly seemed taken with her, if you know what I mean.
Ahmose, however, did not... I'm pleased to say. It seems he has a type... and I'm happy to say that I'm it.
Not that that'll stop Kheper from trying to set Ahmose up with her. Good luck with that, little guy.
Besides, Ahmose could never love a woman who breaks vases. At least, not unless they're broken during some thrilling heroic adventure. I hope. Perhaps I'd better keep quiet on that score...