Midnight at Mackintosh University saw Doctor Dee and Professor Bombastus bent over a sarcophagus. “Your formula does seem to have restored it perfectly, the skin is pliant, one could almost say supple,” remarked the necromancer turning the tap to begin draining the rehydration liquor.
Bombastus grinned widely behind his dark beard. “I told you it would, John, it is a formula I invented myself.” The mummy been steeped for over a month in the pungent yellow liquid and now the resin imprisoning it had finally given allowing Ptankh to float free from the bottom of the coffin. Dee, impatient for success had determined the mummy to be viable for an attempt at bringing it back to the world.
Ptankh had been a high priest and sorcerer in the retinue of Hatshepsut, one of the few pharaohs confirmed to have been female. She had, of course, virtually been erased from history by successive male rulers and any mention of her priest sorcerer had been expunged completely, that was until Dr John Dee had found a reference to Ptankh on a stele in the Cairo museum. Several magical favours later, a clandestine expedition to the edge of the Valley of the Kings uncovered the burial site of the hitherto unknown priest.
Dr Dee excitedly translated the hieroglyphs inside the lid “I will do good for the people of the underworld and will take my rightful place upstream with Re, I am an excellent, well equipped spirit, Ptankh a ritual priest whose mouth knows powerful spells for Hatshepsut, worthy king and queen of Kemet. Bless my journey on upon the Atet.” He knew it for certain, he’d found the most powerful sorcerer ancient Egypt had ever known.
Professor Phillipus Bombastus, the senior reader in alchemy, had listened to his friend patiently and had at first been inclined to dismiss his idea completely but Dee was most insistent and the chance to use his patent rehydration liquor seemed too good to waste so he agreed to assist his friend in the endeavour. The problem was Principal Crowley, who did not approve of mummies, having had a bad experience in Egypt several years previously, so the sarcophagus had been smuggled into Dee’s cellar laboratory with the aid of the university’s driver Jenkin and a hefty bribe.
“Well John,” said Bombastus. “The box is completely drained, best get to work before he dries out again.”
“Eh, is that likely then, I thought this stuff was fool-proof?” asked the Lecturer in Necromancy.
“Well, it probably is, you see the problem is, John, old chap, is that it’s never been tested on anything larger than a dried toad.”
“And?” asked Dee nervously.
“It worked fine until it dried out and caught fire.”
“Only kidding old chap, made a wallet out of it, lovely supple leather,” laughed the alchemist.
“We are not making a wallet out of Ptankh!” snapped Dee.
“No, of course not, far too big, how about a nice leather bound trunk?”
“Phillipus!” snapped Dee.
“Only joking!” replied Bombastus. “Now this opening of the mouth ceremony thing, are we doing it or what?”
Professor Armstrong looked at the cellar door hanging by one hinge. “So, this Pétanque tore off the door and disappeared into the night?”
“It’s Ptankh.” muttered Dee.
“Yes, everything was going fine until we tried to remove the bandages, then it went berserk and smashed the place up.” Bombastus informed them as Mrs Blavatsky applied a plaster to his head.
“Silly professors!” she scolded. “Sometimes is best to leave sleeping mummies to lie, no?”
“That’s sort of right, Yelena,” Armstrong had finally managed to get the Senior Lecturer in Applied Folklore to go out for dinner with him but, upon returning to Mackintosh they had been taken aback by an Egyptian mummy dashing past, making a sort of keening noise. With all thought of romantic liaison gone from their heads the couple had traced its path back to Dee’s cellar to discover the devastation within.
“Look at this place, all my apparatus is ruined!” bemoaned the necromancer, who had hidden behind the upturned sarcophagus leaving Bombastus to try and placate the enraged Ptankh.
“Don’t worry about me John, I’m fine,” announced Bombastus sardonically.
“Principal Crowley is going to go spare when I tell him!” said Armstrong with a chuckle.
“Winslow, do not be cruel!” scolded Yelena. “Do not rat on your colleagues.”
“Alright, you two owe me for this, so how do you propose to get him back?”
“Not my field, old chap, better ask John,” suggested Bombastus.
“You don’t know do you?” asked Armstrong.
“Never considered it, Armstrong, I expected it to behave itself, you know, fellow mage and all that.”
“Brilliant, we had better find the bloody thing and bring it back in chains if we have to.” He scratched his head. “So who else knows?”
“Just us and Jenkin the driver, he’ll want a bribe to help, no doubt.” Said the alchemist taking the initiative, his colleague sat despondently.
“Oh, no he won’t or I’ll tell him I’ll turn him into a toad,” a lot of the university staff feared the Professor. “So that’s Jenkin, you and I, we’ll need a few more bodies.”
“You forgot me darlink?” said Mrs Blavatsky.
“No, Yelena, you look after Dr Dee, I know a few students I can trust.”
“As you wish, Winslow, I know some ancient languages and will look at coffin of mummy for clues, yes?”
Jenkin drove down the road to Exford with the two lecturers plus Scuttle, Wilkins, Hilditch and Gwennie Poole who was apparently helping Derek to study when Armstrong had knocked at his door. Jenkin parked his brown Land Rover next to the library and the group emerged into the dimly lit street.
“Right,” announced Armstrong. “Jenkin and Bombastus search north, Wilkins and Hilditch south, Scuttle, you and Miss Poole east and I’ll go west. You students know your restraint spells?” They all nodded. “Good, these mummies are pretty easy to control magically despite what the films tell you, take care and good hunting.”
They split off and went their separate ways, Bombastus accidently stunned a courting couple who were down a dark alley and Esther deliberately slapped Trevor Wilkins who suggested they go down a dark alley for something distinctly non-magical. Armstrong retraced his steps and looked at the clock on the town hall, it was half past two.
“Professor Armstrong,” Derek rushed up and in a hushed voice, said. “We’ve found it!”
“Good man, Derek, did you stun it or restrain it?”
“Neither sir, I left Gwennie looking after it.”
“What! Derek, it tore a door open with its bare… bandaged hands and you left it with the refectory maid, she’s not even a magic user!”
“It was sat in a doorway, crying,” related Derek.
“This is strange indeed, lead the way, Scuttle.” The others had returned and followed the pair to a chemist’s some way from the town centre.
Gwennie was sat in the doorway with her arm around a creature wrapped in brown bandage. It was certainly a mummy of the type Hollywood liked to portray but next to the buxom girl it appeared slight and seemed to be sobbing quietly. “It’s very upset, Professor.”
“So I see, young lady.” He noticed the wrapping had dislodged considerably from its leathery face. The mummy looked at him and said something in an unintelligible babble with a strangely light voice. “Phillipus, this Pétanque was a man?”
“So Dee said.”
“Any canopic jars or suchlike found with it?”
“John said not, in fact he wasn’t even sure if the usually grisly stuff they did had even been carried out.”
“Hmm, how are you with rejuvenation incantations?”
“I can do a few spells but mixtures and potions are my thing, Winslow, if you want gold turned into lead I’m your man, but rejuvenation? No sadly not.”
“Good job we’ve got you lot then, Trevor, you like a good incantation don’t you? Esther and Derek I’ll need you too.” They formed a semicircle around the shop door. “Better move, Miss Poole, unless you want to be regressed to a foetus.”
Armstrong chanted the incantation of Samael and the three students followed suit, the mummy, who had been sat huddled in the doorway looked up and the exposed skin was definitely different, healthier, smoother not at all mummy like.
“Miss Poole, you seem to have a rapport with this Ptankh, point to your face then point at your reflection.” Armstrong cast a mirror spell on the shop window.
Gwennie did as was asked and the mummy looked at its own image before slowly pulling at the bandages around its face. The head was shaved, of course, as Egyptians were prone to do but the face did not belong to the priest Ptankh.
Dee was tidying his cellar laboratory while the Professor of Folklore, and now it seemed ancient Egyptian writing, studied the mummy’s previous resting place. “They must find him, think of all the secrets he knows, the arcane knowledge he could pass on.” He lamented.
Yelena Blavatsky lifted her head from the sarcophagus “You are silly man John Dee, you read hieroglyphs all wrong.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Does not say Ptankh know powerful spell, it says Ptankh make powerful spell for Hatshepsut, was not Ptankh in box, silly man!”
“Don’t be ridiculous Madam, who else could it be?”
“You’re quite right, Yelena.” Armstrong had returned with the search party plus one. “Dee, you are a bloody idiot, let me introduce you to Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Upper Egypt.
A beautiful bald woman, still wrapped in bandages, stepped forward bowed and gracefully. “Em hotep?” she asked.