Adam stared at the relics. Although a coating of hardened mud obscured the outlines of most of the smaller pieces, he easily picked out the main items. There was a tarnished shield, a broken knife, a reinforced leather breastplate, a helmet with a battered crest, a heap of crumbling leather thongs that might have been reins, a spear, something that could have been an old cauldron, a damaged battle horn—and then he saw it. The long distinctive shape could only be a sword. Adam went to where the sword lay near the carpet edge and knelt to examine it. Kim and Justin followed, kneeling next to him.
“What do you think?” Justin whispered.
Adam didn’t answer right away. To be honest, he felt disappointed because it wasn’t anything like he’d expected.
“I’m not sure,” he said, looking more closely at the sword.
The hilt was crusted with dirt, but he could make out a faint design. It looked like the heads of two beasts, possibly dragons, facing inward on the crossguard of the hilt, with a round stone or gem set between the beasts’ mouths. The sword was so filthy that it was impossible to see any details clearly. The sacred scarab had also been dirty and insignificant at first. When the peddler slipped the ancient scarab into Adam’s pocket in Egypt, the artifact looked like “a piece of old rubbish,” as Justin had said. Only later, when Adam was Dr. Khalid’s prisoner in the tomb of the Scarab King, the dirt disappeared: the sacred scarab transformed into an amazing artifact made of gold and gems. If this was Arthur’s sword and the other items were his war regalia, perhaps the same thing would happen as with the scarab. Adam slipped one hand into his pocket to feel for the replica. A shock jolted him. He had left it behind at Humphrey’s cottage when he changed his clothes! He lost his breath for a moment, stunned he had forgotten something so precious.
Kim touched his shoulder. “What’s the matter?”
Adam felt the blood draining from his face.
“You’re so pale,” she said. “Do you feel sick?”
“My scarab’s not here. I must have left it at the cottage.”
“So what?” Justin said impatiently. “It’s only a replica. No one’s after it like they were the real one. Concentrate on this stuff.”
Clang! Had someone kicked over something downstairs?
Three heads snapped round and three pairs of eyes stared fearfully at the open doorway.
Bang! Someone slammed a door shut somewhere.
“Hurry.” Justin poked Adam in the ribs. “I think the guard is closing up. We don’t have much time.”
“I’m trying. Give me a chance.” Adam tried to focus his thoughts, but his head swam and he felt a little dizzy. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw a dark shadow hover briefly in the doorway. Were the lights in the gallery flickering or was it just his imagination? There was a slight shuffling noise outside the room and then the whiff of a faint but horrible smell. The others hadn’t seemed to notice anything. Maybe the mud simply smelled moldy and he had imagined the rest.
“Why don’t you hold the sword to feel if you have any … um … sensations?” Justin hissed. “Just touch it.”
“Why should he feel anything?” Kim asked, her eyes widening.
When Justin hesitated, Adam knew he was trying to avoid telling Kim too much about their strange experiences with the powers of the sacred scarab.
“Because,” Justin finally said, glancing at his cousin, “Adam’s pretty sensitive to … uh … vibrations and things. So he might feel if there’s something special about the sword.”
His excuse sounded rather lame. Kim pulled a face and rolled her eyes doubtfully. Adam reached under the rope cordons and grasped the hilt of the sword. It felt rough and gritty from the hardened mud. He raised the sword off the carpet a few inches; it was heavy. He imagined whirling it around his head, thrusting and stabbing at the barbarian hordes as they rushed at him. He wondered about Arthur, more a famous legend than a solid figure up until now. Had he been a real king? Was this really his sword?
“Feel anything?” Justin murmured encouragingly.
Adam shook his head. “Nothing. It just feels cold and hard. How did the warriors actually fight with these swords? This weighs a ton.”
Justin’s next words sounded despondent. “I was hoping you’d get some kind of sensation if it was the real thing. Looks like it isn’t.” He stood up.
Adam laid the weapon gently back on the carpet and released the hilt. He gazed at the stone between the beasts’ heads, waiting for a gleam, a shimmer, anything to give him hope that this was the second Stone of Power. But the stone remained dull and lifeless. It was just an ordinary archaeological find, probably exciting for the experts who would soon be examining it, but of no use to Ebrahim and the people dedicated to locating and protecting the Seven Stones of Power.
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