Egypt, 1245 BC:
Two men knelt before Pharaoh Rameses II awaiting an answer.
The pharaoh listened patiently and nodded often as his magician verified most of the men’s story. When he finished speaking, Rameses turned his attention back to the men.
“I have heard your story and know it to be true,” the pharaoh said. “I will now hear your request.”
Relieved to hear this, the older of the two began to speak.
“For centuries, the descendants of Prince Amentep’s most loyal followers have guarded his tomb against desecrators. Two days past, a wizard of great power appeared and sought entrance. He was surrounded by an aura that shone as bright as that of Ra himself.
“My brothers and I are by no means great magicians, but we are not without magicks of our own. Even combined, however, our power was inadequate to deal with the wizard; we might as well have been tossing handfuls of sand at him. When it became painfully apparent that our cause was lost, my brother and I escaped to seek help. It is probable that we are the only ones left alive.”
“So,” Rameses said, after several moments of thought, “you forsook your duty and fled for your lives.”
“No!” the younger man shouted. “Our brethren sacrificed their lives so we could seek help. If you will not give us the aid we need, then give us our leave, that we may seek it elsewhere.”
The older man was certain that his brother had just forfeited their lives with his outburst. Even the guards drew their weapons and began to advance. With a wave of his hand and a smile, the pharaoh stopped them in their tracks.
“You have spoken well,” Rameses said. “Had you cowered at my accusation and said nothing, then I would have thought you were little more than thieves seeking to use my assistance in plundering Prince Amentep’s tomb. Your passion convinces me otherwise. You shall receive the aid you desire.”
Tears of relief began to flow down both men’s cheeks.
“Oh, mighty Pharaoh,” the older man said, “surely it was the wisdom of Thoth that led us into your presence.”
The pharaoh clapped his hands. “Bring these men wine that they may be refreshed after their journey.”
As handmaidens began to do as they were bid, Rameses turned to his magician. “Summon Teth-Adam.”
Teth-Adam was every bit as impressive in person as the stories about him had led the two men to believe. They had trouble convincing themselves that they weren’t in the presence of a god.
The man had the build of a warrior — the consummate warrior. His olive-hued skin stretched taut over muscles that seemed chiseled out of solid granite. His lack of body hair and attire, a simple linen kilt, no sandals, and golden torque, however, marked him as a priest. The torque, more than the man, caught the attention of the two men. It bore the symbol of no one specific deity, but rather a thunderbolt inlaid with lapis lazuli.
Teth-Adam’s kohl-lined eyes never blinked as he listened to the story the two men told him.
“The wisdom of Zehuti confirms the necessity of keeping the Ibistick where it is. Remain here and gather your strength. Your vow to protect the body of Amentep is now mine as well.”
The two men were still offering words of gratitude when Teth-Adam, known throughout the land as Mighty Adam, rose into the air and flew away.
As his speed increased, the air around him exploded. He was miles away by the time slaves on the banks of the Nile looked up in confusion at the sounds of thunder in a cloudless sky.
The wizard blasted away at an impenetrable energy force that had risen up to surround the final resting place of the object he sought. Despite the setback, it wasn’t frustration that the wizard felt.
He felt the force weaken for only the slightest of an instance, then strengthen itself once again.
“If it had been too easy,” the man said, “then I would have doubted the power of the item. This Ibistick, coupled with the other items I have collected from this world, will have all of Cilia at my feet.”
“I don’t know where this kingdom of Cilia is,” a voice said from above, “but you will not add the Ibistick to your arsenal.”
The wizard looked up a split second before Teth-Adam struck.
The Cilian was so confident in his power that he was completely unprepared for Teth-Adam’s attack. At the sound of the Egyptian’s voice, the wizard glanced around in time to see an olive-hued fist a hairsbreadth away from his jaw. Backed by the strength of Hershef, the punch sent him flying into the barrier surrounding Prince Amentep’s tomb.
Had it not been for the magic of the golden helmet the Cilian wore, he might have been severely injured by the attack. Still, he did not escape unscathed. The impact with the barrier knocked the helmet from his head.
“The time has come for you to pay for your crimes against the people of Egypt, murderer,” Teth-Adam said as he advanced on his foe.
The Cilian wiped a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth as he rose. He allowed his eyes to dart back and forth in hopes of finding the helmet nearby. Sensing the Egyptian drawing closer, he abandoned his search.
“You strike me with the blow of a coward and think you’ve won?” he said. “I am no mere human shepherd that you can intimidate; I am Nabu, destined conqueror of all Cilia.”
Teth-Adam was outraged at the wizard’s attempt to impugn his honor, but the wisdom of Zehuti kept his anger in check. He also realized that the taunts his enemy used could be his weapon as well.
“If you must skulk around my kingdom like a jackal seeking scraps of power, then Cilia has little to fear from Nabu.”
Without the wisdom of Zehuti to guide him, Nabu let his anger get the better of him. With a roar, he sprung at the Egyptian. A golden amulet hanging around his neck began to glow as he struck.
This time, Teth-Adam was caught off-guard. Despite his surprise, however, he would not allow himself to fall.
Nabu realized that he had never faced an opponent as powerful as the Egyptian. Although the man could not mount an offense of his own, the Cilian knew that he was wasting valuable time by continuing this battle. Fortunately, he had another weapon at his command. Calling upon all of his might, he struck again.
As Teth-Adam staggered back, he saw his foe pull a blue scarab from somewhere inside his robes. His ears still ringing from Nabu’s last strike, he couldn’t hear what the man said. What his ears missed, however, his eyes witnessed with amazement. The man’s once-white robes were now a deep blue, the same color as the scarab.
When Nabu struck again, it was with more power than Teth-Adam had ever felt in his life. This time, he did fall. A furrow in the sand one hundred paces long now measured the distance between the two combatants.
Teth-Adam staggered to his feet, only to find Nabu waiting to hit him again. He felt his feet leave the ground as the wizard’s fist caught him under the chin. A dozen heartbeats later, he felt the weight of a sand dune collapsing in on top of him. For the next several minutes, the Egyptian was on the receiving end of every attack. Rising afterward was becoming increasingly difficult.
As Nabu pulled his foe’s battered form up from the sand, he allowed himself a malicious smile. “My next strike shall surely be the end of your life. I have never faced a foe as powerful as you, and for that, I shall allow you to speak a final time.”
Mustering his failing strength, through blood-caked lips, Teth-Adam whispered, “Shazam.”
Lightning struck both men, throwing them to the ground. The transformation restored the majority of Teth-Adam’s strength; Nabu, however, was not quite as lucky. His unconscious form lay in a twisted heap.
The Egyptian quickly removed the amulet and the scarab from the wizard’s possession and collected the helmet from where it lay.
“You have done well, Teth-Adam.”
Although the word was spoken as a question, the effect was still the same. Teth-Adam was transformed back into his more powerful form. He looked at the old wizard standing before him.
Shazam smiled at his champion. “The pharaoh has no place to hold the Cilian, so I shall see to his imprisonment. Give me his items.”
“Master,” Teth-Adam said. “Where is this Cilia? It is not a kingdom that I am familiar with.”
“Don’t fret over your lack of knowledge,” the old wizard said. “Cilia is a world beyond the farthest star.”
“Will you send him home for punishment?” Teth-Adam asked.
“No. A tomb has already been prepared for his interment.”
“What of the items he had?”
“They shall be hidden until such a time as they are needed,” Shazam said. “If he is ever awakened, he will surely make an attempt to reclaim these items, as well as make another attempt to steal the Ibistick.”
“Then,” Teth-Adam said, “if it is within my power to stop him if he is awakened, I make this vow to you now that I will.”
“And so you are bound,” Shazam said.
Egypt, 1987 A.D.:
“Dr. Hall! Dr. Nelson! Dr. Garrett! Come quick!”
The three men, along with Dr. Nelson’s young son, rushed from the tent where they were poring over maps of the region.
Outside, Ubaid nervously tugged at his chin. When he saw the men emerge, he began to point to the south.
“What is it?” Dr. Carter Hall asked.
Ubaid grabbed the man by the sleeve. “You must come with me. Hurry.”
Dr. Hall allowed himself to be dragged along. “Where are we going?”
The Egyptian pointed toward the south again. “Last night’s storm has uncovered something two kilometers to the south. It appears to be another pyramid.”
Daniel Garrett and Sven Nelson looked at each other.
“But there’s never been any mention of a pyramid in that area,” Dr. Nelson said. His colleagues knew that he was excited, based on the way that his accent began to thicken.
With little Kent Nelson in tow, the three archaeologists climbed into Ubaid’s jeep. Ten minutes later, they were all standing in front of the mysterious pyramid. None of the three could guess the structure’s origins.
“Dad,” Kent called out. “Come see what I found.”
Dr. Nelson knew that, despite his young age, his ten-year-old son was as observant as any college student he had ever taken on a dig. The boy also knew the dangers of a dig, so Sven seldom worried when his son wandered off.
Daniel and Carter both knew that many of their colleague’s finds could be, in part, attributed to young Kent’s alertness. They followed Sven.
“What is it, son?” Sven asked. “What have you found?”
“Writing,” Kent said. “What does it say?”
Dr. Garrett began to translate. “Apparently, during the reign of Rameses II, a strange wizard from the stars came to our world seeking items of mystical power. He attempted to steal an item from the tomb of Prince Amentep.”
“Amentep?” The name seemed familiar to Carter.
“He’s the fellow who calls himself Ibis the Invincible,” Sven said.
“He actually calls himself ‘The Invincible?’” Carter asked.
Before Sven could comment, Daniel began to read again.
“The wizard was prevented from robbing the tomb of Prince Amentep when the hero, Teth-Adam, appeared and fought him to a standstill. A second wizard appeared, one allied with Rameses II, and sealed the would-be tomb robber in a tomb of his own.”
“Does it name this second wizard?” Sven asked.
“All it gives is a symbol, a lightning bolt,” Daniel said. “Oh, wait. There’s something else written here, just below the sand line — apparently a name.”
“Can you make it out?” Carter asked.
“I’m not sure, but it looks like it says Kaji Dah.”
The archaeologists, Kent Nelson, and Ubaid all jumped back in surprise as a small section of the pyramid began to sink into the sand. From the opening, a rush of stale air washed over the small group.
Although protocol demanded air purity tests be run before anyone entered a newly opened tomb, excitement over the archaeological find of the century clouded the better judgment of everyone. Without a second thought, they entered.