this is the full story of the eye of the sphinx and in case you haven’t been following the segments you can just read this in one post.
It was just a normal day in Omdurman. The streets were filled with traders, shopkeepers, apprentices, shoppers and mainly, beggars. This last category is what Ali’s family was. His grandmother is much too old to work. His sister Chione is only eight years old so she is too young to work. Both Ali’s parents died before he was born for unknown reasons, unknown by Ali at least. To pay for food, Ali’s grandmother and Chione beg throughout the day. So that leaves Ali. He is 14 and old enough to work but nobody will take him as an apprentice. This is because many people think he is cursed because of what happened to his parents. That leaves only one other job: Stealing.
Sometimes Ali got caught and sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes he came home beaten up and with no money and sometimes he came home with enough for a good meal for everybody. Ali was a very minor thief because most rich people had too many guards to steal from. His life has always been the same: Wake up, buy breakfast for everyone (if he had enough pearls), start his thieving, come home, have dinner (if he had enough pearls), and then go to bed.
One day he was coming home from his “job” and he passed by his sister’s usual begging spot, but she wasn’t there. He saw his grandmother on the ground. There was no heartbeat. There wasn’t a mark on her so he had no idea what had happened. It could have been natural causes, considering her age. Suddenly, he heard screaming and shouting from an alleyway and he started running towards it. “Chione, Chione!” Ali shouted. But a man was blocking the alleyway. Behind the huge man, he could see shady men taking his sister forwards. “Chione, I’m coming!” With the thieving skills and nimbleness of a fourteen-year-old Ali sprinted forwards and ducked under the huge man’s arm. He ran to catch up with the mysterious men, but they were well trained and it was hard to keep up. He still kept running and running but he was losing them and he was getting tired.
Suddenly, he was pulled into an alleyway by a strange man. In all his rage and panic, Ali was a bit delusional. “GET OFF ME YOU MONGREL, THEY HAVE MY SISTER AND I WAS ABOUT TO CATCH THEmmm…..” He trailed off as he realized he had been hit on the head with a club. “I’m sorry,” the strange man said, “…but it is better this way”. Then everything went black.
Ali woke up thinking, for a few seconds, that he was at home on a normal day but when he looked around there was nothing familiar. Suddenly there was a huge blast of pain from his head and he remembered all of yesterday’s events. Ali assumed that he was in the man’s house that had taken him into that alleyway. Just as he was thinking this the man came in the room. “So, let’s start with introductions. My name is Mura and I’m 56 years old. Now you.”
“M-my name is Ali and I need to get to my sister quickly; she’s been kidnapped!”
“Woah! Now we’ll get to that later, besides that was 6 days ago.”
“WHAT! How am I ever going to catch up with the kidnappers and save my sister?”
“You’re not going to catch up with those guys before they reach their base. They’re probably already halfway to Kemet by now.”
“Well, then I need to get to Kemet fast because who knows what they will do to my sister.”
“You’re going to need training and you’re going to need some background on this cult that has kidnapped your sister”
“So are you willing to teach me this?”
“Well, all the other people I have helped have never come back so what makes you think you’ll be any different?”
“Please help me. I need to get to my sister. I swear I’ll be able to save her.”
Ali eventually convinced Mura to start teaching Ali basic fighting, endurance, and the weaknesses of this cult and what they do. Most people call this cult “The Arcanum Umbra”. It has around 700 members and their home base is in Kemet, but people only know that the entrance to it is somewhere in a sphinx, but no-one knows exactly where. They’re known to kidnap people with unusual ancestry, but nobody knows why. “Faster! Harder! Better!” Mura was not a very forgiving teacher. Over time while Ali was training with Mura he got to know a bit of Mura’s past. The reason that he knew so much about The Arcanum Umbra was because he also had a family member kidnapped and taken away. It was his mother and when she was taken he was only 10 years old; just old enough to know his mother well and love her a lot but just young enough to make the loss that much more devastating. He has tried but has never found his mother in all his years searching. She would have, of course, passed away by now. Mura has held a grudge against The Arcanum Umbra all his life because of this incident. That is why he was so willing to help any other who had gone through the same thing as him. He has helped other people before Ali and when he deemed them ready and they set off he has never seen them again. All this made Mura hard and he was determined not to fail again.
Ali was a fast learner and he quickly began to learn how to wield a sword and a spear. He trained every day for two years to improve everything he needed to get into the Sphinx. Eventually, the suspense got too much. He couldn’t stand the feeling that his sister may be suffering, or worse, dead. He told Mura how he wanted to go after them now and that he was ready. Mura responded “Are you sure you want to go now? What if you just disappear like everyone else?”
“I won’t, I’m ready to save my sister,” said Ali confidently.
“There is a test I made up and if you pass it then I will see if you are truly ready.”
“Ok then, what’s the test?”
“Are you sure you want to do it now?”
“Yes Yes, now tell me what it is!” shouted Ali.
“It will be dangerous,” Mura warned.
“It won’t be easy”
Mura told Ali about a different group that was similar to The Arcanum Umbra. It attempted to copy what they did by also kidnapping children except instead of using them for some unknown reason they sold them to The Arcanum Umbra. “This group is usually called ‘Opus’. It’s not as advanced in fighting and running as the Arcanum Umbra, but it should still be quite a handful for a boy like you. If you manage to get out of their base with a kidnapped child without my help, then Ali I deem you ready”
“Where is this base then?” Ali asked, sounding determined.
“You’ll have to figure that out for yourself. And if you ever want to find the entrance to the sphinx then you’ll need to learn some important interrogation skills because this is going to be easy compared to what comes next.”
The next day, Ali set out in town to find out where Opus was. He was looking for especially shady streets where some bad people might be hanging out. Of course, he knew exactly where to look because of the people he used to know and work with. He found a middle-aged man who looked like he may have some knowledge about gangs and cults.
“Hey, do you mind if I ask you a couple questions?”
“Well that depends on what kind of questions, boy.” said the man.
“Have you by chance ever heard of a group called Opus?”
“Just someone who has some business to take care of,” Will said a bit suspiciously.
“I’ve heard… rumours” The other man said.
“Have you seen anybody shady running a specific direction while dragging an unwilling person along?”
“Let me ask you a question boy. If I knew where Opus was then why would I tell someone like you? You know what, you know too much already, I guess I’ll have to kill you then.”
Suddenly the man pulled a knife out of his pocket and swung at Ali. Ali jumped out of the way just in time and he also drew his dagger. “We don’t have to do it this way,” Ali said, but the man wasn’t listening. He tried to swing at Ali again but Ali parried and that made the knife fall out of the man’s hand. Ali went up to him and put his dagger to the man’s throat and he surrendered. After some interrogating and maybe just a few threats Ali found out that this person works for Opus. A while later Ali finally got him to reveal the location of Opus. It was close to dark when Ali got to Opus’ hideout. There were 15 guards patrolling the area, but Ali was very good with stealth, so it wasn’t a great challenge to sneak around them and get to the back entrance (every criminal hideout has to have a back door).
There were also two guards at this door. He was trained to use slingshots so he slung a rock at one guard while he dashed forward and knocked the other out with the flat of his dagger blade so they both wouldn’t make any sound. He grabbed a key off one of the guard’s belts and used it to unlock the door. He went inside and found himself in a gigantic hall. In the middle of it was a single child surrounded by more guards. They saw him and Ali grabbed his sword and started fighting. He had already dealt with eight of the ten guards when the child started crying. He looked about seven years old. Quickly, Ali dashed up to the kid and scooped him up. “Just hang on tight and I’ll get you out of here” He ran out of the back door again, but the guards didn’t follow. Presumably, they were frightened because of what Ali had done to the rest of the guards. Ali ran a different way then he came in because he wanted to throw off the guards that were guarding the main entrance. He came out onto the street and kept running. When it seemed like the guards would never catch up Ali set the child down. “Do you know where your mom is?” “I-I-I think it’s just a few blocks down.” Suddenly, Mura appeared on the corner. “I see you’ve done your job well. Take the child home then meet me back at the house. Ali had a good night’s sleep and the next day he set off to Kemet with all the supplies he needed.
The journey was about a week long of heavy walking but there was no unusual trouble on the way. When he finally got to Kemet he was extremely excited to see his sister again. He asked a lot of townspeople where he should go to find the sphinx and they were more than willing to tell him because they all hated The Arcanum Umbra. He went to the Sphinx and there he saw nothing that was out of the ordinary, but when he put his ear to the stone he thought he could hear faint screaming. He looked at the whole sphinx but couldn’t find anything that resembled an entrance. When he looked at the Sphinx again he thought that there might be a hidden panel somewhere in the stone. He couldn’t find anything. Then he realized that if he were in the Arcanum Umbra he would put the entrance in the hardest part of the Sphinx to get to the head. Ali climbed up to it and pressed one eye. Nothing happened. Then he pressed the other eye and it opened up. He had finally found the entrance. Ali surveyed the inside of the Sphinx and it was huge. There were hundreds of cult members and it seemed to him that it would be a lot easier to rescue his sister using stealth. There were a bunch of children in the middle of the sphinx and guards all around them. He descended a staircase and hid behind a pile of bricks. He looked beside him and realized he was standing very close to a cult member. He had a plan. Ali smacked the guard on the side of his head with the flat of his blade and the guard became unconscious. Ali stole his clothes and went forward to the children.
“Hey what are you doing here?” a cult member asked.
“Ummm… the boss wanted to see the child named Chione.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yup I’m completely sure.”
“Well take her then.”
Ali took Chione to the entrance and she didn’t recognize him yet. Then when he was almost at the entrance the cult member he had talked to moments ago shouted “Hey, where are you going? That’s the entrance, not the bosses room.” Ali dashed out the door while picking up Chione and he ran down the Sphinx and into the town. He ran as far as he could before he put her down and took his mask off. “Ali!” Chione said in a delighted tone “How did you find me!?”
“It’s great to see you, Chione, but we have a long way to go and we can catch up then.”
On the journey home, Ali and Chione had more than enough time to talk about what had happened to them in the past two years. Because Chione was not trained on endurance it took a few days longer to walk back to Nubland than it did for Ali to get to Kemet. Ali decided to introduce Chione to Mura.
When they got back to Nubland, Ali told her the bad news about their grandmother but it turned out that she already knew what happened because she was there. Ali took Chione to Mura’s house and they knocked on his door. “Who’s there?” Mura said.
“It’s me, Ali, and I have someone I would like you to meet.” The door opened and Mura stepped out.
“Ali, I’m so glad to see you, and I assume this young lady is your sister, Chione.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Mura, I’ve heard a lot about you,” Chione said. They shook hands And Mura led them inside his house. He gave them food and something to drink.
At the end of the night Mura asked: “So, I could take you home if you like.”
Chione responded in a sad tone, “We don’t have a home anymore and we have no-one to take care of us anymore.”
“Well, sometimes it is a bit lonely in here and I could use some help shutting down The Arcanum Umbra,” Mura said softly.
“Are you saying we could live with you?” Chione asked.
“Ummm… I guess so,” Mura mumbled.
They helped people who had family members who were taken by The Arcanum Umbra. Slowly they figured out what The Arcanum Umbra were doing and why they were doing it. Slowly they were shutting it down and at the end of this, they were planning on completely destroying The Arcanum Umbra.