The Legionnaires were dead. Bertie was incapacitated, and both Henry and Esmeralda were badly injured. Outside they could hear the Bedouin working themselves up for an attack.
Bertie was carried into the Barracks, which were in a total shambles. In a pile of torn blankets and personal effects was a satchel holding the diary of a Sergeant Drummond. Esmeralda skimmed through it and read out a few entries detailing that a rich French couple had visited the fort a few weeks ago, escorted by the patrol of Lieutenant Dubois . The group had met with Captain Winter. The night of their visit, Dubois and a quarter of the command deserted with the French socialites.
The captain would have followed to bring them back and try them, but Bedouin raiders had started pestering the Fort. attacked the fort. Worse, within a day the men started coming down with fever and red splotches. Between the epidemic and the raiders’ constant
assaults, the captain had snapped and ordered the dead placed on the walls to make it look like the ranks were still strong. The men obeyed, but it seemed to make those suffering from the fever worse. Even Drummond himself had started to feel ill.
“There are no more entries” said Esmeralda.
Saleem rushed in. "There are six healthy camels in the stables " he said. “Also two crazed horses – sick like the men. I had to shoot them.”
“I’ll check the officers quarters said Henry. “Might be useful supplies or more medication.”
Moments later they heard him cry out, and peering into the courtyard saw Henry being chased by an officer, blotched and bloated like the rest. They watched in horror as his sabre struck Henry down.
Shots from pistols and rifles rang out, and the crazed Captain Winters slumped to the ground.
As Henry was carried into the Barracks, Sebastian and Esmeralda searched Winter’s quarters, and soon the found his journal, which shed a little more light on the sergeants comments.
“When Dubois returned I commandeered an old, elaborate scroll case he carried from his recent patrol near the Egyptian border.
He refused to divulge from whom or where the scroll was obtained, but I insisted that I hold on to it, to be sent through to the proper authorities. The French couple who arrived back with him then started to pester me about it, and I foolishly allowed them to examine it.
Monsieur Bourgeois, much to my annoyance, opened the scroll container – a matter best left to the museum experts. A pile of blood red sand poured to the floor, and I demanded that he return the scroll and its contents. I wondered why the scoundrel was smiling, and it was then that I was struck from behind.
When I awoke our civilian visitors were gone, along with Dubois and a quarter of my men. . Apparently they poisoned the well before they left, as a horrific contagion struck the men after morning meal. The sickness seemed to twist their minds, and then to make things worse the Bedouin attacked.
“Look at this” said Esmeralda. She leaned down and using a small brush from her satchel, scopped what looked like some dust and tiny fragments from the floor, including a small, broken corner of the scroll case. The scrap bore a few strange glyphs."
“The remains of the Scroll of Annubis perhaps?” she mused. “But why did the French civilians break it open? Mystery upon mystery….” Esmeralda paused.
“They come!” shouted Marko from the walls. “The Bedouin return!”