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By Hadjidakis, P. J.

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Tricky, that,' he said thoughtfully. 'Interesting idea. ' 'No,' said Teppic, trying not to laugh, 'I think what he meant was, buried without-' 'Teppicymon XXVII means that he would want to be buried without delay,' said Dios, his voice like greased silk. ' 'No, I'm sure you've got it wrong,' said Teppic. Dios's face froze. Ptaclusp's slid into the waxen expression of someone with whom it is, suddenly, nothing to do. He started to stare at the floor as if his very survival depended on his memorising it in extreme detail.

Thin eagle, eye, wiggly line, man with a stick, bird sitting down, wiggly line",' he read. Dios winced. 'I believe we must apply ourselves more to the study of modem languages,' he said, recovering a bit. 'His name is Pta-ka-ba. ' Teppic realised what it was about the man's speech that was strange. Dios would bend any sentence to breaking point if it meant avoiding a past tense. He pointed to another fresco. ' he said. 'She is Queen Khat-leon-ra-pta,' said Dios. 'She wins the kingdom of Howandaland by stealth.

A pyramid unequalled along the Djel,' said Dios. 'That is the command of the king. ' 'Yes, yes, something like that. Er.

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