Khaldun hurries through the streets of Memphis, his jaw set firmly and his eyes blazing in anger. His acolytes followed at his heels and tried to keep up. The peasants reach out, trying to touch his robes as he rushes by, because to touch the robes of Ptah’s highest priest is said to bring good luck.
His anger blazes as he thinks again of the message he had just received, a hastily scribbled note from one of the court scribes, letting him know that Rashidi, the new high priest of the Seth Cult, had burst in and was trying to once again gain the favor of the Pharaoh. The name Rashidi, which Khaldun was sure was a false name, meant wisdom, but this man was anything but that. He postured and proclaimed and his empty words rang false to Khaldun.
Khaldun takes the steps of the palace two at a time, he is a broad-shouldered man, once a warrior in the holy armies of Egypt, he heard the calling of Ptah and has dedicated his life to the divine potter. He does not slow down at the entrance to the throne room; he brushes past the guards unseen for he is well-known to the royal court.
“And thus your majesty, you see that we must make peace with the benevolent Wazaam of Irem. For he is wise beyond the ken of mortal man and can help the Egyptian empire become the most powerful kingdom in the entire universe,” cries Rashidi, his arms thrown wide, his ornate staff held out in declaration.
“You say this man is wise and yet there are others who claim, that he deals with daemons and creatures of the night,” Weneg the Pharaoh says, from his throne on the golden dais.
“Only those who blaspheme against Seth himself would spread such lies, I would challenge any who make such claims to step forward,” Rashidi says, strutting back and forth before the throne looking all around the court.
“You are a loud mouth and a fool Rashidi, your god is a powerful being but you do not represent him. I have a scroll here from the Temple of Seth in Abydos, proclaiming you a heretic to your faith. They claim you never studied there at the temple, they claim to have never heard of you at all. The practices you claim to have learned there, they shun as the basest of lies. Truth be told, I am not even sure Rashidi is your real name at all. But… I will gladly accept your ridiculous challenge, if only to silence your foolish tongue,” Khaldun says, stepping forward from the entrance.
A hush falls over the room as the various dignitaries and royal guests cease their whispers. They spread apart leaving the area before the throne itself empty.
“I will not be goaded by you and your lies, my flock know the true power of Seth and my Pharaoh knows it as well, is that not right my lord?” Rashidi says backing away from Khaldun.
“I know of no such thing, you challenged anyone, and here is a challenge for you, prove your God’s power to us against this man or be banished from the land forever,” Weneg says.
“You wish a display of power? Fine then, come weakling, to your death,” Rashidi yells at Khaldun and lowers the head of his staff at him.
He speaks a few words under his breath and a bolt of black-lightning erupts from his staff and blasts into Khaldun. The bolt stops inches from his skin however against a golden-glow and reflects back at Rashidi, who flies backward from the impact and smashes into the wall. He mumbles something else and a shadow passes in between them this time the golden-glow surrounding Khaldun seem to absorb it. Rashidi stands up once more and swings his staff upright and slams it into the ground a wave of shock blasts those behind Khaldun from their feet. The priest of Ptah himself stands strong before the blast. Khaldun waves his hand at Rashidi, the smaller man flies from his feet and smashes once more into the wall of the throne room. His body lies there twitching for a few seconds and his staff drops from his hand, to roll across the marble floor.
“There you see…” Khaldun begins to say, turning back toward the Pharaoh.
“Look out!” shouts a voice from behind him.
Khaldun turns just in time to see something rip out of the corpse of the fallen priest and stand upright. Its skin is jet-black and in place of a mouth is has a terrible hooked beak, its eyes glow in the shadows of the edge of the room and its hands end in wickedly-curved claws. The thing leaps for the priest, who swings his staff and hits it in mid-flight. The impact of the staff throws both the creature and the priest back away from each other, like magnets turned the wrong way.
The young son of Weneg, a teen-aged boy named Djer is the first to reach the fallen man.
“Are you hurt sir?” he asks as he kneels down beside him.
“You see the truth now? The Wazaam at Irem, is in league with an evil not of our world, even his emissaries are inhuman beasts,” Khaldun says.
The young man nods and helps him sit up, a slave brings over a tray and a goblet of wine is handed over.
“Look here,” cries out Heneb, the captain of the palace guards.
They look over to where the beast fell and all that is left is a pile of ashes burned into its shape on the marble floor.
“What was it?” Weneg asks.
“It was one of the demons that the high priests at Irem have made their sorcerous deals with. That place is filled with evil, if we do anything in this life, the destruction of that city would be the culmination of it all. For nothing could please the Gods more and be better for mankind itself in the long run, but to smash that place from existence,” Khaldun says.
“So let it be written, so let it be done, we shall gather our armies and we shall cross over into Arabia and we shall ride forth to Irem, the city of pillars and crush it from this world, we shall sow its ground with salt and we shall put its people to death be they man or monster,” Weneg proclaims.
“It is written, it shall be done,” proclaim the scribes.
Khaldun stands up once more and begins to walk from the throne room to return to his temple, his acolytes swarm around him holding him up and chattering about their master’s bravery in fighting a demon. He smiles at them and then a pain surges up in his chest and he cries out, the Prince is on his feet and the acolytes begin to yell and panic. Khaldun collapses into their arms and his mind is a whirl with a thousand thoughts a second. Then an image comes to him, during his fight with the false priest a shadow had passed between them. Khaldun turns his head to tell his most trusted acolyte to get him back to the temple when a scream tears from the man’s throat and he drops to his knees. The high priest looks to his other young men and each in turn drops to his knees around him. Khaldun falls over with the last and kneels there with them his breath swept away and unable to stand. The pain in his head is throbbing and his chest is on fire as if he were doused in the grain alcohol the slaves drink.
“His eyes, they are all black like Anubis, oh master are you dying?” one of his acolytes whispers.
“My eyes?” he mumbles and falls over as the pain sweeps him away.
The crown Prince Djer arrives just in time to see the acolytes close Khaldun’s all black eyes; one of them shakes his head and lowers his eyes. Khaldun is gone; they wipe the black blood leaking from his nose and mouth and swaddle him in their cloaks. They pick him up on their shoulders and bear him away back to their temple for embalming.
The Prince goes before his father the Pharaoh, and proclaims he will destroy this city of demons. He will smash Irem to dust; it is his holiest of duties to avenge the death of his noble tutor and lifelong friend, Khaldun. The Pharaoh nods sagely, holding his aching chest, his eyes slowly turning black as sack cloth…
© T. Patrick Rooney
T. Patrick Rooney currently lives in Irving, Tx but his heart lies in Trenton, On, if seen please return. You can find more stuff by Mr. Rooney at the following, Amazon and Scribd.
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