Night of the Lamia

Night of the Lamia

A Story by RIO

Edward Hines gets more than he bargains for when he is dispatched to Egypt as a junior archaeologist. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for him but will he get out of it alive?



Egyptian Nights: the night of the lamia


August 6th:  I fear the stories were true. I’d believed them to be merely tales; mutterings from a highly superstitious bunch that if listened to, could scare the bravest of hearts. Tomorrow they say, is the Blood Festival…and I am the sacrifice! I am quite certain that the aforementioned event is bound to happen. Everything they’d said would take place up to now has occurred, why would the festival be any exception? I can barely write now; my hands tremble so! But I must continue. My story has to be told. Time is of the essence. If…if a-anything happens, Yasmin would hopefully find this.



August 1st:  Egypt! A land oozing with such history that was almost tangible. Alas, I was here. I shall keep this journal as it might well aid me in my research. I write this in my room now. It is quite comfortable. The ceiling fan provides some much needed relief from the burning sun. Its incessant whir serves as a constant reminder that I am not back in London.  The bed, though quite small (even for a slight man such as me) is quite agreeable. I’d had a good night’s rest (apart from an occurrence which I shall speak of shortly). And now, I shall write about the journey of yesterday. With all expenses paid for by the Institute of Anthropology and Archeology, I’d boarded a ship from London to Syria where I’d crossed the border on camel-back to Cairo. A group of four men clad in white gallabeyas escorted me to the Temple Of Askar where the bulk of my research will be carried out and where I shall dwell ‘til the job is done.

“You go to the Great Temple do you not?” one of them asked me. They had formed a formation around me. One travelled in front, with another behind me whilst the other two were on either side of me. It was the one to my right that had asked the question. I was glad that my Arabic was excellent for I wouldn’t have been able to understand a word he’d said otherwise.

“The Temple of Askar? Yes.”

“Were there not two that came before you?”

I think I became immobile for a bit. How had he known about them?

“Er, yes. Samuel Briggs and John Kelly were drafted to work here some time ago. But…” I wasn’t sure how much he knew so I couldn’t say too much. I myself knew little about the disappearances of my colleagues and it was a mystery I was willing to uncover given the chance. So I said, “You knew them too?”

“We took them to the temple the same way we take you now and would have taken them back when their business here was over. But they never showed.”

“Did some disaster befall them at the temple?” My curiosity had been awakened and I looked at him keenly. Briggs had been dispatched two years ago and Kelly the year after. Their absence had caused such a commotion back at our base in London that Egypt was declared an off-limits area by the senior archeologists. I was the only one eager to take on the job and as a junior officer wanted to establish myself at the Institute. I only had qualms about travelling alone as was the policy which, I must say, I have considered redundant on many occasions. My interest wasn’t humored however, as my other companion to my left said, “We do not discuss matters of the Temple. We are here to take you there and that is all we shall do!” A pointed look at his brethren signified the end of conversation and the rest of the journey was spent in silence. Our camels were slow and with the occasional stops we took, I doubted we would reach our destination before nightfall. But as twilight approached, I saw in the near distance a dome in the richest yellow that, against the backdrop of the great Egyptian pyramids and the coming sunset, gave it a majestic and picturesque feel.

“We stop here,” said my escort in front, bringing his camel to a halt. “I…hope you find what you seek here.” Then bowing slightly, said, “May Allah guide you and keep you!” The others echoed his words. I began to feel a little uneasy. It wasn’t their blessings that got to me but the manner in which it was said- with such intensity- that gave me a general feeling of foreboding. But I was reading too much into it all! Maybe it was because I’d be spending close to a month in a strange land. I thanked them for their hospitality and set out towards the Temple but not before Abdullah-for that is what the companion on my right is called- took my hand in a firm grip and said, “Allah save you!” In my palm was a wooden amulet with some symbols I couldn’t fathom at the moment. He gave me a knowing nod and set off with the others in another direction. I couldn’t ignore the feeling of apprehension that grew in my stomach with every passing minute.


The gate of the Great Temple was made of wrought iron. I counted seven bars that made up the gate with the one in the middle being the tallest, giving it a triangular shape. A miniature snake had been carved on the fourth and fifth bars so that when opened, half a snake remained on either side. A man stood outside the entrance and I took him to be the Temple’s guard. He looked me up and down, from my brown travelling boots to my tousled dark hair.

“You must be Edward Hines, the Englishman, no?” I nodded in the affirmative. “Beasts are not allowed in the Temple of Askar.” He directed me to a stable, where I left the camel with the stableman. Although there are some details I’d really like to for-go (due to the mere fact that they do not in any way add to my purpose of being here), I consider myself a…professional so I shall add every little detail. The stableman asked me if I was the Brit come to stay in the temple a while to which I nodded again, being too weary even to speak. He took my arm in an iron grip that I would’ve thought impossible for someone his age. His dark eyes widened and the wrinkles on his forehead seemed to double. “Do not go in there,” he said in a crackly voice. His English was understandable, though spoken in an accent. I asked him, as politely as I could, to release my arm as it was starting to feel numb. He did, and as I turned to leave, shouted, “Listen to me, my man, for those that go in never come out. Beware!” His words stopped me and I have to admit, the speed at which my heart beat accelerated. He came over and faced me, eyes sharp, and said earnestly, “She will drain you of all that makes you a man, and your soul shall be no more!” I almost burst out laughing but I quickly realized from the look on his face that he’d meant every word.

“Sir,” I said. “I thank you for your… concern but I really do have to set off now. I tire from the long journey and the guard awaits me.” I walked briskly to the temple entrance but not without hearing him say, “Look for Yasmin, she might be able to help you, God willing!”


The walls of the Temple were built in bricks much akin to some of the houses in London. From the entrance, I walked through a large courtyard and getting to the temple proper, I was met by two ladies who helped me with my travel bags. Bowing low, they welcomed me in Arabic and said that they hoped my journey was safe and that I was to follow them to my room. I bowed back my thanks and went with them. As I walked I observed the temple walls. Shapes and hieroglyphics- the language of Ancient Egypt- filled them. Weariness prevented me from studying the shapes like I ought to have but in retrospect serpents seemed to dominate most of the illustrations. I thought nothing of it then; it was a well known fact-to archeologists and historians anyhow- that these creatures featured chiefly in the lives and religion of the peoples of Ancient Egypt and perhaps it is so that this tradition has stayed with them even to the late nineteenth century. One of the illustrations caught my eye though. It showed female figures surrounding a basin full of red liquid, in which a female lay. I knew it to be the story of Queen Amina, wife of Pharaoh Tetmus from the Elchyamus    dynasty. She’d murdered children and bathed in their blood, believing it would retain her youth. Some records claim she’d even killed her only daughter in order to achieve the prize of youth. Although I was no novice to stories like this, I still shuddered at the drawing.

Arriving in my room, I quickly made use of the lavatory (must remember to ask about a rather curious dagger I’d found there. Dirtied with sand, it lay just behind the door) and fell upon my bed. I don’t recall ever being this tired out after a journey but I suppose I’ve never been on a long journey such as this one. I must’ve fallen into a deep sleep for I dreamed a terrifying dream that seemed so real. I’d been asleep on the bed just as I had in reality when I felt…something move over my legs. I wasn’t a deep sleeper so I awoke- in my sleep- to find a large cobra crawling over me! I yelped; for as I became more alert I saw several snakes of different species, coming in through the window and making for my bed. I think I cried out for real as I had in my nightmare for as I opened my eyes I saw a figure hovering over me. My vision was blurred so I shut my eyes tightly and opened them again. This time I saw one of the women who’d welcomed me at the entrance and shown me my room. I looked around me and checked myself to make sure nothing was on me.

“Oh, what a horrid dream!” I sighed and sat up on the bed. The window was open but I didn’t see any creature slithering into the room. I looked up at my savior, for I believed that was what she was. Any minute more and that cobra would have had me. She had a bemused, no, amused expression on her face. As if she was having a joke at my expense. I explained as best I could that I’d had a horrible dream. I hadn’t realized how beautiful she was. The moonlight did wonders for her complexion and she seemed to be aglow. She made me think of my Jane back at home and I realized with a jolt that it was the first time I’d spared her any thought since yesterday when I’d said goodbye. I prayed to God to guard her in her present condition and mentally promised that I would be back before the baby was due.

The girl’s voice broke me from my reverie. “I brought you some food, sir. I came earlier but you were fast asleep and I did not wish to disturb you. If you still do not wish to eat I can…” I suddenly realized how hungry I was- I’d hardly eaten a thing since I got off the ship, safe for a snack- so I told her that I would love some food. It was a delicious meal and I ate to my filling. When she’d cleared away the cutlery, she returned with a message: “Queen Leilah bade me wish you goodnight and she hopes you have a wonderful night’s rest. She requests to see you tomorrow, if you will?”

“I’d be honored to!” How could I stay in the Temple without seeing the Queen who’d graciously allowed my stay? She gave quick smile, bowed and made to leave. A sudden idea came to me and I seized the opportunity. I remembered the words of the old stableman as I left his stable. So I said audibly, “Yasmin?”

She turned to me, a look of confusion on her face, “sorry, sir?”

I smiled, “Oh, nothing. I was just thinking aloud.” She left and I was alone again. I made sure the window was shut this time and turned the ceiling fan to the highest. Sleep didn’t come, of which I was glad. To pass off the time, I read a few chapters of a novel and wondered later, if there was a special way of saluting the queen of a temple that dated back thousands of years.


August 2nd: Well, I have just met the queen! Magnificent being, she is! After breakfast, another girl came to my room (this one called Farida. I have made it my business to know all their names. The ones of yesterday were Aisha and Salima. I wonder when I shall get to meet Yasmin? Not that I paid heed to the stableman’s words, I was just curious) and led me through a passageway with brown oaken doors on each side and a woman guarding each. They were clad in figure-hugging, sequined bras and ankle-length skirts that clung to their hips at the top. They would surely be deemed coquettish if they walked on the streets of London in their wonderful attire! After a few minutes of walking- it was quite a long passageway! �" we finally entered a spacious circular room and I coughed at the stifling smell of burning incense. I wryly thought of my mother and her favorite saying: too much of everything is not good! Though a pleasant scent, I felt dizzy at its excessive use. More scantily clad women were here; some laid out a long table full of dishes I don’t think I’ve ever seen. On a golden throne sat an exotic looking woman, with dark, flowing tresses. On either side of her were ladies that fanned her unceasingly. Queen Leilah stood when I entered the room and I really hope she didn’t notice how I stared. I’d never seen anything so…gorgeous! It was almost inhumane. She walked towards me in a graceful and elegant fashion as if she were about to break into dance. She was dressed in a similar manner as the others I’d seen here, exposing her toned middle area. However, she was adorned in the finest jewelries, with several gold belly chains on her waist and even more golden necklaces on her neckline. Her eyes were dark charcoals that I felt burnt deep within me and her lips, pale pink and voluptuous. I do not in any way wish to exaggerate her appearance though I feel I have in some way underestimated her finery. I shall settle, however, for what I have written. With an elegant bow, the queen of the Temple Of Askar took my hand and led me to a rectangular glass table that had been laid with all kinds of assorted dishes and wines.

“Welcome to the land of Egypt and the Temple of Askar, Mr. Hines. I trust your first night was enjoyable?” Her voice was musical to the ear and her English great but I couldn’t help but notice that her tongue seemed to linger on words that contained the letter ‘s’ so that she seemed to make a hissing sound.

“Ah, yes.” I replied, taking my seat which was drawn for me by one of her female subjects. “I must thank you for your hospitality.” I mirrored her actions, choosing from the variety of foods and putting them on my plate.

“Oh, do not worry,” she waved her hand as if averting a fly. “Your sponsors pay us handsomely for our hospitality. How long do you intend to stay?”

“A month at the most. That is the duration I have been given to finalize my findings here.”

“Ah, so you will be here for our annual festival!” she said with a cheerful smile. “I’m sure you will have a lot to learn then, Mr. Hines. The Festival of Life has been held since ancient times and this year shall be no exception! You will join us, will you not, sir?”

“Certainly! I’d be more than delighted to.”

She laughed, a sound like birdsong, and with lean, long fingers took a sip of red wine without once releasing me from her gaze. As I stared deep into her eyes, I thought I saw a flicker of something…indescribable and sinister but it disappeared as soon as it’d come so I wrote it off as mere imagination. Halfway through the meal, trilling music began. This was much different to the ones I hear on my occasional visits to the Opera.  Soft at first, its unassuming sweetness was like rain on a scorching day. I welcomed it wholeheartedly. Five ladies of equal height, coloring and beauty took places before us and with never-ending tresses that fell down their backs like a waterfall began strong, fluid movements much akin to that of a snake. Swiftly, the decibels of the slow music I had become accustomed to became an octave higher and without effort on the part of the dancers, the dance became much quicker and more energetic, every movement in tune to the beating drums. It was as though they themselves directed the drummer’s hands. I am not ashamed to say that I was mesmerized as my eyes followed every hip and arm movement. I felt as if the drums themselves had found their way into me and flooded my very soul. I was all ears and all eyes and, as the queen later pointed out, all mouth.  

“Mr. Hines, there will be more dancing such as that in the festival,” I heard Queen Leilah say as the music stopped and the dancing came to a halt. “You needn’t act as if you will never again see anything of the like.” I suddenly became hot under the collar and if I were to look in the mirror, my face, I am sure, would have been two shades lighter. I knew she was teasing for she had on her face a devilish grin. I desired to look anywhere but at her so I let my eyes drink in every detail of our venue. Of the departing dancers and their graceful gait they approved. The floor was of dark marble that would have been cool to the feet where it not for the shoes I had on and the stretch of plush red carpet that lay beneath the dining table. We were enclosed in a circular room draped with silky peach curtains. The door from whence I came in stood as it had with a barefoot female guarding it. She nodded and gave way for another female carrying a deerskin drum. I was struck by a sudden revelation and I tore my eyes to the waiting ones of the queen. I caught a hint of red in those dark eyes. Could it have been the reflection from her glass of red wine as she brought it up to drink? The thought of red eyes went as soon as it had come and I concentrated on the question I was about to ask. It is only now that I write this that I remember.

“Your majesty,” I began. “It is my second day in this temple and it has come to my attention- though I may well be wrong- that there are no men here! Right from my entrance ‘til this moment I have only seen the opposite sex.”

“Of course,” came the reply. “I do not blame you; it is a well known fact only within this city so you would have in no way known. The great Temple was built by the original goddess, Sphina. It was and still is a place of solitude, you could say, for women.”

“So no man is allowed in?”

“No, not unless invited. Of course that would require sacrifices and the like, for any man that sets foot dies instantly. You are still alive, Mr. Hines,” she added with a subtle smile. “That means all precautions have been taken. As it were, three goats have had to be killed and their blood sprinkled on the gate. Three goats for you and the two others that came to conduct their research before you.”

“You mean my colleagues, Briggs and Kelly!”

“I do not quite remember their names but yes, that does ring a bell. We bade them goodbye with the assurance that their research had been completed.”

“So…so they left?” I asked, quite aware that my voice had taken a darker tone. I was disappointed. I had hoped that my visit here would unearth the mystery of my missing colleagues. I decided to ask my companion and be done with it. “They never returned to England. They have been gone for a while now”

Her lovely eyes became huge and her face the perfect picture of concern. “Really? Oh my! I was quite fond of the tall dark one.” I took it she meant Kelly.

The conversation was stirred towards brighter topics, most of which I cannot remember. Now that I write this I can remember my escorts to the temple who’d told me they’d never left the temple. And yet the queen claimed they’d left. There is something sinister here and I am determined to find out what it is. I think now of dear Jane and as my eyelids droop I hope she is holding up well at home. How I long to see her gentle face and hear her happy laughter. But alas, we can’t have it all. I shall get to work tomorrow and hope to finish soon enough so I can be home with my darling Jane.


August 4th: Yesterday passed without incidence. There is something terribly sluggish about this place that saps your energy. I had to look to my work to get mentally stimulated. The servants of the temple (female, of course) were very helpful, informing me about the history of their great land. Enthralling stories that I’d never heard before were recorded in my little handbook. It was with a full head and weary spirits that I retired.

Today I awoke to an azure sky and a blistering yellow sun. After bathing I awaited breakfast, looking for something to pass the time. On a little desk by my bed were papers littered with my writings and flitting through them, I came across a jewel that caught my attention. It was a wooden amulet, smooth to the touch and carved in the shape of a diamond. In its middle was a flat, amber jewel that caught the sunlight. I wasn’t sure if it was an actual diamond but it certainly looked like it. How had I forgotten about it? This was the amulet Abdullah had given me when he’d bid me his strange farewell. Holding it up to the sun, I saw the same symbols intricately carved all round the outer edges of the wooden area. Squinting, I made out…a double-cross, simply. It was a drawing or carving of two crosses, one drawn on top of the other so that they joined in the middle. I made a mental note to ask anyone I could about it. Just then, there was a knock on the door. At my request, a woman entered with a plate of what I assumed was my breakfast. She wasn’t like the others who had attended to me before. Her hair was of a brown color cropped short to her head and was clothed in a plain flowing white gown. I knew her to be a servant as this was their mode of dressing. Servants who stayed in the temple of their own accord doing menial jobs, forever a class lower that the queen’s several maids. She kept my food on the table and gave me a timid curtsey, keeping her eyes to the ground. The servants of the temple had kept me company the past days, passionately telling me of their culture so I beckoned her close, seeking to inquire about the amulet. Her eyes widened when I showed it to her and she looked around her as if she feared we were being watched. I reassured her that we were very much alone and she need not fear.

“That is the jewel of the Danamans!” she said in a whisper.

“The Danamans? Yes, I’ve heard of them. The original occupants of Egypt, aborigines if you like. But what has this,” I held up the amulet. “Got to do with them?”

“It has everything to do with them, Mr. Hines,” she said, stressing ‘everything’. When the nomadic people of Gomar entered Egypt they brought with them Sphina�"”

“Sphina?” I interjected, frowning. “Wasn’t she the builder of this temple?”

“No sir,” she said, somewhat sharply. “The temple of Askar was built by the Danamans. It was formerly their place of worship to their gods. You must let me finish the story sir, without any interruption.” At my nod, she continued. “When the nomads of Gomar entered Egypt, they saw that the land was fertile so they decided to make it their permanent home. But they were met with resistance in the form of the originals, the Danamans.” With bright eyes, she spoke with so much passion that commanded my attention. “Amongst the Gomars was Sphina, a Lamia, a hellish creature that had the ability to hypnotize the strongest of men and toy with their spirits. In her human form, she possesses such beauty that makes any man do her bidding. She captured the heart of the leader of the nomadic tribe and willed him to kill every last one of the Danamans. Some of the doomed escaped but majority of them died under the sword of the Gomars.

“Sphina had gotten everything she wanted. With no one to guard the temple, she set out to occupy it. But she was met with the resistance of the Danaman priest of the temple. Foreseeing his death, he’d carved an amulet much like yours, an amulet that is said to have the power to defeat the Lamia. He passed it on to his son and so it has been passed on for generations. Sphina murdered him, but he died with the hope that he’d created a weapon that could defeat her in time to come. But, I am curious. How did you come by the amulet?”

I’d been so engrossed in her story and the thoughts it provoked that I was hardly aware when she’d finished. As a historian, I was very familiar with the defeat of the Danamans by the Gomars but the story of the Lamia added a heady twist. Of that I’d never heard before. “I inherited it from…a friend,” I said when she’d repeated her question. “But going by your story I do not think he would part with something so precious. I am just a stranger after all.”

“You do not believe me, Mr. Hines? I see from your face that you do not. If the others had had such a weapon as you do in your hands Mr. Hines, I think they might have had a chance at survival.”

“The others? Forgive me I�"”

“A festival is held annually. Each year a male is killed. On this one night, the male soul she feasts on replenishes her spirit and soul keeping her alive for at least another year.”

“My God! Why, this is surely too much! You don’t mean to tell me that you actually believe this.” I suddenly wished I hadn’t brought up the topic of the amulet. Lamias? It was just like those vampyre stories that continue to make their rounds in London! “Why, it’s almost as if you are insinuating that my colleagues were murdered by this…this…Lamia. I find that very hard to believe�"sorry, your name?”

She’d resumed her former demeanor of staring at the floor. “Yasmin.”

“Yasmin?” Recollections of a tanned old man with scanty white hair and shiny, warning eyes came to me. “You are friends with Syed then? The stableman?”

“He is my uncle,” she said, her gaze still pinned to the ground.

I began to pace the floorboards of my room, a habit I did when I was nervous or thinking furiously. In this case, it was the latter. A sudden idea struck me, and I paused, turning to my companion. “Your uncle, Syed? He said ‘she’ will drain me of all that makes me a man. I assume he meant Sphina. The war between the Danamans and the Gomars occurred centuries ago, that I know. Now, you say Sphina…the Lamia…whoever, will kill me. How is that possible? I suspect Sphina’s corpse would have turned to dust by now, no matter how much supernatural power you claim she may have.”

She looked at me then, a look of utter pity and when she spoke, it was with a low tone. “Queen Leilah is Sphina, Mr. Hines. They’re one and the same. She has gone by many names. Sphina, Eva, Jezbeel, Leilah. It is of her opinion that a new ritual is a rebirth which requires a new name. I’m sorry. I-I…it’s in two days, Mr. Hines, the Blood Festival. I�"” She suddenly let out a shriek, color flooding her cheeks. A finger pointed shakily at the open window and I gasped when I saw the subject of her fright. Slithering over the windowsill was a foot-long cobra with wicked slits for eyes and a mean, red tongue.

“It’s heard us. It’s coming for me…” I vaguely heard Yasmin say. I was stunned; my feet were roots in the ground. My companion burst into action, running to the bed and grabbing something. I shouted a warning as the snake lunged, only just missing the spot where Yasmin had been by the tiniest of inches. She shifted away towards me, holding out the encrusted jewel that was my amulet in her right hand as if it were a beacon of light in the dark. The Cobra had landed on the bed after its unsuccessful strike and it hissed menacingly at Yasmin, but made no move towards us.

“Mr. Hines, quick! Do you have a weapon? Anything…we haven’t much time.” I heard Yasmin speak and I willed myself to move, to get over the initial shock of seeing a mighty cobra in my room being repelled by an amulet. I thank God for Yasmin’s incessant urging, for I snapped out of my shock soon enough and scampered past the serpent to the bathroom in search of a weapon, my footsteps sounding heavy on the floorboards.  It is rather amusing that it was the first place I thought to look when faced with mortal danger but I remembered a dagger I’d seen there once. I had thought to ask about it but it had continuously escaped my mind. It still lay in its usual position and grabbing it by the hilt, I ran back into the room, heart in mouth. The Cobra, its back to me, was still being warded off by Yasmin’s brandished amulet so I took a similar stance and approached the monster, not fully knowing what I intended to do when I reached it. I swiftly plunged the weapon into its surprisingly hard back; again and again without ceasing. It gave a screech and began writhing on the ground, blood oozing from its wounds. And then, it began to change form before my very eyes! Its tail was replaced by feet and dainty legs and where there’d been scaly neck there was now a head and messy curls. The still form of a female with multiple stab wounds greeted my eyes, sending me into renewed bouts of shock.

“She’s…she’s one of the queen’s maids. Where did you get the dagger?” Her words were greeted with silence and I wondered how she could speak after such an encounter. Then she said, “Look, it has the initials ‘J.K’ on its hilt.” I made no move to show that I’d heard her words but instinctively knew what the letters stood for: John Kelly. Only God knew what fate had befallen my colleague.

“Thank you, Yasmin,” I croaked. “That- that will be all.”

The soft sound of the door closing signified the exit of the girl. I was well and truly alone, safe for a dead body at my feet.

Later: The sun was beginning to set, bringing with it the crimson tinge of twilight which illumined all my perplexity, dread and isolation. I wondered and marveled at the wickedness of humanity; of all the atrocities committed under the blanket of darkness and, worse, under the open glare of the sun. My mind conjured up images of monstrous serpents with their twisted tongues and murderous venoms; of a beautiful queen whose seeming innocence and composed courtesy belied her thirst for blood. Of a pregnant wife back home who would probably birth a fatherless child. With everything that I’d witnessed, I desired to be alone, to allow my thoughts free will to swim around in my head. But my need for loneliness was outweighed by my dire need for survival and I speedily began to gather all my belongings no matter how little they were. In my haste I knocked down a few of my untouched breakfast things. Yasmin- God bless her, she’s been so helpful! - she’d brought a few of her servant friends and together, they’d disposed of the body, assuring me that a soul would not be told. I considered writing the Institute of Anthropology and Archeology to warn them of my impending danger but I doubted they would believe. Though this journal would by no means be more of a proof, I intend to leave it in a hiding place and tell only Yasmin of it. At least Jane would have some kind of idea-no matter how farfetched it may seem- of my undoing (if it led to that). My travelling bag (with the amulet safely tucked in a hidden opening) firmly in my hand, I shall seek my freedom tonight.

August 5th: I don’t know what to do. I feel I am going insane! With all that happened yesterday, I am convinced, thoroughly convinced, that supernatural forces- things that beggar belief and formerly thought to exist only in the world of literature- those things do exist in life and have come to fruition in my life! Last night, assured as I was that I was going to do whatever in my power to get out of this inferno, I set off. The temple at night was serene, much so that I could hardly believe it could house such evil. Oil lamps- tall wooden things with a spherical top that protected the fires- adorned each corridor I entered. I walked swiftly but silently so that my feet barely made noise on the marble floors. I tried every door as I passed and wasn’t surprised that they were locked. I soon reached the lone pillar that signified the beginning of the long walk to the entrance gate. The glare of the moon came at full force now, and I realized I no longer had the blanket of the pillars to protect me. Would I ever again see the moon in London? I willed my feet to move, a step at a time, but they were like bricks, heavy to lift and exerting energy when put down. The chirping of the crickets was much louder here and I shivered as a cool breeze blew, lifting green leaves off the pavement. Not long to the gate now…

Images of a laughing beauty clouded my thoughts; an ebony-haired woman with dark pebbles for eyes. Flashes of a dance I’d been mesmerized by entered my head and my legs acted of their own accord, turning and heading back the way I’d come. Back to the Temple of Askar. I gritted my teeth and stood my ground, trying, to no avail, to dig my feet in the concrete ground of the courtyard. An exotic melody, rife with low drums and accompaniments of trombone began to waft towards me, and my resolve to leave began to weaken, my head a cloudy clutter. My feet began seeking the music, moving towards it; I was like a thoughtless zombie! Soon afterwards (and I don’t remember how long exactly it took) I found myself in the venue I’d supped with the queen. I staggered to a door at the far end I hadn’t noticed before, pushing it open to reveal a room, severely dim. My travelling bag fell to the floor with a dull thud. A high window at the right end let in some moonlight that bathed the room in a silver hue. Well, here was a room that reeked of mystery! Most of the moonlight shone in the middle of the room, like a giant spotlight and I spied a bathtub the shape of a circle but big enough for more than three persons. Crystal clear water spilled over the top, drenching my shoes and the tip of my trouser legs. I walked on however, for it was not the sight of the massive bath that thrilled me, but of the lady that stood in it that startled me. My instincts warned me to go no further. Somewhere in my head even, I was aware that this was danger; that I was to run and never look back. But I was pinned by the acute gaze of my observer and didn’t even flinch as I entered the ice-cold water. Her skin had taken a translucent look, how much of it was due to the light of the moon I did not know. Queen Leilah smiled, a smile that sent a shiver down my spine and made me think of bats and witches and secluded graveyards. Yet I stood fixated and didn’t even bat an eyelid when a large python, its skin the color of jade, began encircling her nude body, starting from her ankles. She looked at me whilst she caressed the enormous serpent and said in a voice that made me think of chiming bells, “You are just like the rest, my dear Englishman. Easy prey.”

Was this what it meant to be like a moth drawn to a flame? Here I was, staring danger in the face and yet my heartbeat quickened at the sight of her. To write this now, to rethink the ordeal of last night, I am filled with a tremendous, overwhelming repulsion. It was like a dream and yet, even then, I knew it was real. I could utter nothing, the chilling sound of music more hypnotic than anything I’d ever heard. And yet it must have been a dream for I later found myself in my bed, the blinding morning sun pouring in through the window.

 I had failed to escape.

Glancing around, I saw that the clutch of my bag was undone and the contents spilled onto the bed. My heart was filled with terror as I frantically searched and found- nothing! All my month’s work- gone! Flustered though I was about that fact, it was a consolation to find that the amulet was intact.

I feel like a deer caught in the headlights. Like a sheep waiting patiently to be slaughtered. Only I am not patient! It is the morning of the last day of my life.


August 6th, 10:33

One of the girls just left with my breakfast things. It is a wonder that I was able to eat at all. I would’ve thought the fear in my heart would have been able to quench the hunger in my stomach, but no. I ate like a sheep being fattened up for its day of slaughter. Oh no! What to do? What to do? I must reach Syed. He foretold all of this after all. If only there was a way to get hold of Yasmin now…


I am in luck for once since I arrived this…this…dungeon. The better part of the last hour was spent by me trying to write an understandable note to Syed and Yasmin just came to inquire about my health. I was a bag of nerves and in a state of panic and she seemed to me to understand my plight. I gave her the note to give to her uncle, and bade her return as soon as possible for my life depended on the reply I would get.

She was back within ten minutes and handed me the same note I’d given her. I pounced on it with alarming speed, almost tearing the paper. I struggled to read through his hurried scrawl but just made this out: my friend, you ask for a way to escape. That I cannot help you with. The place where you are now, nobody can leave without the consent of the queen. I am sorry. But Yasmin tells me you have the ancient amulet of the Danamans? Use it to your advantage, my friend. You have been given a most powerful gift. I wonder how your friend was able to part with such power.

“He offers no help, whatsoever!” Yasmin took a cautious step at my sudden outburst. “Oh, what the deuce possessed me to leave London? Why didn’t I just stay put? Am I doomed to face this kind of end? What happens to my Jane now?”

“Mr. Hines…?” I saw Yasmin approached where I sat, warily placing a comforting hand on my shoulder. When she spoke, her voice took a relaxing but firm tone. “I can help you. My uncle, he actually suggested this but insisted I told you myself.” Her chest heaved as she sighed but she continued. “The reason we- I and the other slaves choose to remain here and stay subservient to the queen and her maids is because we dream of a day when…when,” she faltered, her hesitation managing to catch my attention. I beheld her, willing her to continue. Her eyes seemed like there were laden with some kind of weight but she thrust out her arm. “Look at my wrist, Mr. Hines.” There was no real need to squint but owing to the persistence in her voice, I did so anyway and, embedded in her flesh, was the slight drawing of a tiny cross beneath another cross- the same symbol as that on my amulet. I looked up at her, and needless to say, my mouth hung open.

“You are a Danaman?”

She gave a rigid nod. It wasn’t so much that she was a Danaman that quickened my pulse (though very surprising, it is possible that there are a few of them alive today, after all, not all were killed the night Sphina took over) but the fact that I finally saw a light, however dim, at the end of the tunnel.

“How have you evaded the queen for so long? Surely she would have noticed if―”

“She has turned a blind eye. She knows who we are but recognizes we pose no threat to her now nor in the near future due to the power she has so she allows us to work as slaves. I doubt she is even aware of the existence of the amulet, or chooses to disbelieve. It was mere legend ‘til you brought it here.”

I rose from my perch on the bed, and with eyes wide open, implored her to help me in any way she could get through tonight alive.

“We, the Danamans are willing to help you, Mr. Hines. My uncle had this idea, you may take it or choose to forgo it. We already know there is no escape so you go to the Blood Festival tonight.”


“Please hear me out, Mr. Hines. You go to the festival with the amulet somewhere on your person. An amulet isn’t called an amulet for nothing, no? It is a charm. The priest that fashioned the charm meant for it to destroy Sphina and destroy it will, hopefully. I see no other way around it, Mr. Hines.”

“Very well, then.” My voice had lost any of its hopeful tone and my face became deadpan. I questioned the power of my likely savior, the amulet, on which my life depended. But had I not also questioned the existence of the Lamia? Had not that turned out to be true? Who knew all the secrets the world held, and who can prove to know all that there is to be known under the sun? I came to Egypt oblivious and impervious to things of fantasy such as the Lamia, and now, am I to fall prey to one? What will become of me?



It is with the heaviest of hearts that we confirm that Edward Hines, junior archeologist at the renowned Institute of Archeology and Anthropology, has been declared missing.

Mr. Edward Hines had been dispatched to the country of Egypt on an assignment and did, in fact, send a letter to his superiors at the Institute, stating his arrival in his host country. He hasn’t been heard from since then.

Mr. Hines, who ought to have returned from his duties, is the third in a line of missing archeologists sent to Egypt, the first being Samuel Briggs, 43 and John Kelly, 46. They have not been seen or heard from for nearly a year.


YASMIN’S DIARY, August 7th

I have decided to follow Mr. Hines’ footsteps and keep a journal. It will also help with my English.

Ah, poor Mr. Hines. What an ordeal these last few days must have been for him! He seemed…shaken after I’d told him of my uncle’s plan but managed to give a somber nod. I left him then, needing to make other plans. I went down a flight of stairs, right down to the vaults where most of the slaves held sway.

“Sisters, please, listen.” The flurry of activity that had mere moments ago characterized the cellar died down, and so my voice could be head. I explained to them the situation at hand, that the Englishman was to be sacrificed in mere hours, and that we were to help put a stop to that.

“And how do you suggest we take down Sphina?” Aisha, one of the more elderly women, said. “We have no power. We are descendants of the Danamans and yet we have nothing! We are condemned to slavery, and slaves we shall remain or risk the wrath of the Lamia.” Murmurs of agreement began to echo throughout the cellar, and I realized I only had a few minutes before I lost their interest altogether.

“No! Tante Aisha. With all due respect, you were right only about one thing- that we are indeed Danamans. The rest, as Mr. Hines would say, is poppycock. Nonsense,” I added when it was clear they didn’t understand.

Aisha was a woman respected amongst us for her wisdom, but as she walked towards me, deep dark eyes squinting, I stood my ground. When she spoke, her voice was hard and challenging. “Tell us, young one, how we help your dear Englishman. How we get past the Lamia. We have nothing. Nothing!” The voices of some forty-something women could be heard, many of them echoing Aisha’s words. I looked away from her then, making sure my next words would be heard above the rest.

“We have the Amulet of Priest Amar.”


 It was 11:30pm- some thirty minutes until the festival. The vault was as quiet as a graveyard; nobody had said a word since we’d agreed to help Mr. Hines. I think most people felt they might not live to see the sunrise tomorrow. I certainly did at the time. It hadn’t been too hard convincing everyone once they knew about the actual existence of the amulet. Aisha had been stunned to silence. After much discussion, we’d made plans. I hurried to the gate where I was able to pass a message to Uncle Syed.

And so we waited.

By 11:45, four of the queen’s maids approached the courtyard. Mr. Hines had been stripped to his bare minimums, his underwear the only thing protecting his modesty. I wondered where he had hidden the amulet. His hands were tied but he walked with an air of determination. Where his colleagues had yelled and struggled and pleaded, he kept a high head and a calm disposition. He was led to temple proper, which was reserved for sacrifices and worship. A high altar had been set up, and all of Sphina’s maids surrounded it. From where I watched, I could see Mr. Hines being tied up to the altar, and sensed the excitement of the maids. The smell of burning incense drifted through the cool midnight air.

There was an abrupt hush amongst the maids, and I soon saw why. The queen, clothed in a flowing gown with slits down the sides, descended the steps that led to the altar.

“Oh, Edward,” she said, looking down at her prey as she patted his fair hair, making it look even more tousled. “It’s a shame, really. You were my favorite.” She smiled then, pale lips parting to reveal uneven jagged teeth with spiky edges. Even from where I stood, I could see her pupils constrict into narrow slits the colour of coal. She began to tremble, little tremors at first then rapidly, like a high jolt of electricity passed through her. Her hips began to contract and she gasped in what I presume was pain as scaly skin replaced human flesh. Her shapely legs were gone, and I saw a giant tail the colour of copper. She signaled to one of her helpers who stood before her with a golden platter. Reaching out, she picked up a mean-looking knife that caught the gleam of the moonlight. I inhaled sharply. This part I did not like.

“Sisters,” she cried, lifting the weapon for all to see. “Tonight marks a new era, a new dawn. Behold our sacrifice, who so graciously gives his life to such a cause. He shall be paid generously in the Afterlife. For Hani, goddess of the moon!” Mr. Hines mask of tranquility had finally worn off, and he struggled against the binds that held him. Queen Leilah glided towards, half-human, half-serpent. She held his wrist in a vice-like grip and proceeded and I winced as the skin of his forearm was slashed, drops of blood falling onto the altar. The victim cried out in pain. “And now, for us…” Her lips drew back, like a wolf’s when it spots its prey. She took a deep breath and smiled, anticipating the kill. The air suddenly felt hotter. I gasped as Queen Leilah thrust her head forwards. Mr. Hines stopped struggling, his legs going limp. The excitement in the temple was almost palpable. I waited. And waited.

“Nothing’s happening!” I had forgotten two of my fellow slaves were beside me. The Queen’s head came into view, her mouth stained red.

“Come now,” she beckoned at her maids, “there should be enough to go round. And when―” her hands flew to her throat and she began to retch. Her maids rushed to their queen, in a bid to console her. “What sorcery is this?” I heard her exclaim in between fits of coughs. It was the perfect time to execute our plan. I came out of my hiding place, as did every slave. Most of them hurried towards the temple but I and my two companions, Miriam and Sarai, took a different route- to release Mr. Hines. We soon found the door through which Sphina must have gone through, an entrance reserved only for her.  I opened the door a crack to survey the situation in the temple. The queen, still clutching her throat, had her back to us which meant that we could approach the altar without her knowledge but would also mean risking discovery from her maids that faced her. We needed some sort of distraction.

Right on cue the main oaken doors to the temple shut and we took advantage of their momentary lapse in concentration. I grabbed the bloodied knife that lay on the altar and severed the ropes that bound Mr. Hines. He seemed to be unconscious. A hiss was uttered somewhere among the maids. I continued my frantic search. If he wasn’t wearing anything above his waist, then it must be somewhere below…

“How dare you come into the Holy Temple?” one of the maids asked. My hands closed around the wooden part of the ancient charm just as something slammed into me, knocking the air from my lungs. I landed roughly, my right arm breaking my fall. Sarai and Miriam had begun dragging Mr. Hines towards the only unlocked exit. I was pulled off and met face-to-face with Sphina. Vicious-looking veins trailed from her collarbone to her chin and even as I watched, bright-green tendrils snaked their way to her cheeks, branching off in various directions. She looked like she had aged some twenty years. I shudder now to remember it. Like an anaconda would do to its prey so she wrapped her broad tail around my middle and I feared for my life as it curled round, tighter and tighter ‘til it became hard to breathe.

“What is happening to me? Was it his blood? Why does this happen? Tell me!” she screamed when her questions were met with silence.

“Because…because…” How she expected me to say anything sensible when she’d cut off the air to my lungs was beyond me.

“Yes?” she prompted.

“Because of this” I brought down the amulet hard and the air was filled with the acrid smell of searing flesh where it had touched her. The queen launched into a series of earsplitting screams and for the second time that night, I hit the ground with a dull thud. Her maids could do nothing but watch as their mistress twisted this way and that, her large tail thrashing everything in its path. An oil lamp was knocked down and the curtain next to it ignited. I rushed towards the exit, struggling to see through the thick smoke that had already gathered. On my way out I shoved another lamp, smiling with satisfaction and it added to the already ablaze temple. Miriam and Sarai waited on the other side of the door and I made sure that Mr. Hines was safely out too. Then I locked the door. The Lamia queen and her cohorts would surely perish in the inferno.


It was until later today that Mr. Hines opened his eyes, some six hours after the failed sacrifice. He took a long, hard look at his surroundings and with a weak voice asked where he was. I replied that he was in Syed’s house and that we had to move him here because we still could not take up residence in the temple after the fire.

“Syed…temple…fire” He sat up suddenly, then regretted it and lay back down, holding a bandaged hand to his forehead.

“The pain will subside soon, Mr. Hines. Just relax, please” I said.

“What…what happened? She bit me.”

“Yes, Mr. Hines. We saw.” His fingers trailed to his neck where I was sure he would feel the dents in his flesh. “It will heal in no time.”

He slowly sat up, using his arms to support his weight. He surveyed his surroundings again, this time completely wide awake. “Where is Syed?”

“He went to the temple to make sure the queen was truly dead. Although I’m sure she is. You should have heard their screams. I imagine that’s what hell must be like. The amulet did wonders to her. She―”

“The amulet? It’s safe?”

“Yes, Mr. Hines”

 He sighed. “Thank you, Yasmin. For a while I thought I was…”

“No. Thank you, Mr. Hines. You brought us the amulet. The queen wouldn’t be dead if it wasn’t for you.”

He smiled. “Well, I suppose it could’ve been a lot worse.”

“You are indeed lucky. You would have been a gone man if she had fornicated with you.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Well, it is a well-known fact in these parts that Lamias have to have intercourse with their prey a few days before they eat them.”

“Oh. Well it’s a good thing that didn’t happen to me. Just out of curiosity what would happen her prey didn’t die like she intended?”

“They become like her. Male Lamias, only they’re called Incubi.” Mr. Hines’ eyes glazed over, like the thought of male lamias were horrific (which in fact they are). Then he smiled. “Well, I suppose I am indeed lucky.”

He informed me of his plans to leave for London tomorrow. I was a little surprised by how quick he intended to leave, but I suppose after everything he’s encountered here, he must be itching to be home. I was glad he was alive. Syed and other men plan to rebuild the temple. I am glad.



© 2013 RIO

Author's Note

So this has been on my laptop for over a year now, just waiting to be finished and ta da, I finished it today. Phew. Um, just tell me what you think. Very different form anything I've ever written. Starts off a bit slow but it gets better, I hope.

I spaced out the writing very well but it looks sooo jumbled up on here! Sorry!

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SPOILER ALERT: Wonderful tale. Reminded me of Lovecraft a bit. Though I have to ask does Edward become an Incubi at the end?

Posted 9 Years Ago


9 Years Ago

Yay, you got it right..I realised some people might not get that part but yeah, he does. Thank you s.. read more
sorry it took me so long to review this. oh my god that was so good! i loved every bit of it. jeez. you got some serious talent. i dont think there's anything you should change. nice work.

Posted 9 Years Ago


9 Years Ago

You commented! That makes up for the taking so long part:) Thank you so much for reading. Glad you l.. read more
My, my! such a wonder! Make some more and don't let the want plunder.

Posted 10 Years Ago


10 Years Ago

Nice rhyme:) Thank you!
Are you a professional? I thought this, the whole lamia thing some kind of Egyptian myth or history but you wrote all this? Wow. So wow. And a great story too.

Posted 10 Years Ago

great job!
i really likethe way you organized this.
great job and i can't wait to read more of your writing.

Posted 10 Years Ago


10 Years Ago

Thanks for taking the time out to read!

10 Years Ago

This is really good... I love how you can tell that Edward is British. And the spark between him and Yasmin... even though he has his beloved Jane at home... I just wish it wouldn't have ended so abruptly I would have loved to read more about his adventures!

Posted 10 Years Ago

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6 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on March 14, 2013
Last Updated on March 14, 2013
Tags: Lamia, egypt, queen, hines, snakes, syed, yasmin, amulet, danamans



Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

I like to read and write. Now try saying that to someone when they ask what you do for 'fun' :p more..

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