The Vampyr Wars: Witch Doctor; Book 1: When I Was a Child, I Thought As a Child…; Chapter 25: My Sacrifice

I am to go with Ninurta for a season.  I will return after the Sumerians have trained me in their ways. In my place, Sekhmet will be training a ‘youth’ named Gil-Amarek.  Of course, Gil is not exactly a youth. He is 2,000 years old, the same age as Resos the scribe. Correction. 1,000 years younger than Resos.

But our fates are tethered together, Gil and I. We are of the same…cloth. We are both neither human nor Eldyr race. Nor are we of the ancient hunters. We are a separate people altogether.  Would that be an accurate assessment?

I am both excited and a bit scared at this move. I have never been outside Egypt and know nothing of the outside world. Until recently, my little piece of Egypt was the world. Now, I will be going into another very foreign world to me.

“Will we see the city-states?” I ask.

“From a distance,” Ninurta assures me, “but there really isn’t much to them. Just small settlements surrounded by supportive farmland. Sumer isn’t really a kingdom. Just a bunch of allied cities that act independently.”

“Somewhat like Egypt,” I state.

“Well,” he smiles, “yes and no. There isn’t really a push to unify at the moment. Just a tendency to cooperate, yet war with one another when the mood strikes or stores get low.”

“I see,” I nod, “but unification is inevitable.”

“Indeed,” he nods, “as it is everywhere.”

“And your settlements?” I ask.

“They lay in the desert,” he remarks, “beyond human settlements. much like here. It is part of our treaties with the people of Sumer. As they expand, we move farther out into the wastes.” He looks at me. “Eventually, we will be left with no place. We will have to…disappear from the midst of man. That is where you and your breed come in. You blend in better. Especially you and Gil. You both can leave this realm and enter the unseen.”

“This is not normal?” I press.

“Not for hunters,” he remarks, “no.”

****

Night is falling and we have one more hunt to go on. The hunt to destroy the alliance between Tiamat and Set. The dragon and the Devil. We cannot afford their alliance to remain intact, at least not within the bounds of Egypt.

We must push Tiamat back into Sumer so she can be dealt with by her own. Just as Set will be dealt with by our hunters. Or they will flee from the known lands into the abyss. We would rather see them flee into exile if we cannot kill them.  The Wadj-men, those Fallen who fled earth with their pale shadow brethren-who are neither hedj nor kem, but a cross between the two-would take them in.

Still, the ideal end would be for them to be killed, not exiled. But it won’t be easy to kill either of them.  Balance must be restored and the breach healed. Even if it means the end of the Eldyr Race in order to protect and preserve mankind.  Yet, we must try to preserve all races. Man. Vampyr. Lycanthi. Scarabi. Scriboi. Archoni. Serephi. Terrephi. Feyin.

Harmony must be kept, balance restored. Light must overcome the dark, order over chaos. Otherwise, the universe will be destroyed. And I, I will play a part in the defense and preservation of the universe.

“Be light on your feet,” Ninurta instructs, “Tiamat can feel rhythm, especially made by heavy footsteps or marching.”

“We have noticed the same with Set,” Sekhmet replies.

“My earlier scoutings have shown me that Ammit and her pets will be nowhere near Set’s abode,” Naunet states, “Meretseger, Khepri, Renenutet, Sepa, Wadjet, and Selket helped on patrol. We patrolled in an inconspicuous manner.”

“In other words, they became snakes,” Khnum smirks, pausing for a bit of drama, “and bugs. Always fun when they become something smaller to avoid being noticed. They can go just about anywhere.”

“And where did they go?” I ask, in response to Naunet’s piece of information, but nodding to acknowledge Khnum’s wisecrack.

“They were sent westward into the western desert,” she replies, “to seek a temple. Or some safe place where Set could hold out if need be.”

“He must be expecting an attack,” Sekhmet nods, “and is seeking a place to hide.”

“If he expecting an attack,” Aten begins, “then we must strike him on all sides. Give him no room for retreat.”

***

As we near Set’s hellish abode, a great dragon rises from the ground and flies to the east. Tiamat. She is retreating to Sumer. Set is on his own. Luckily she has not spotted us.

We wait until she is no longer visible, then move in. Set, it seems, really isn’t expecting us. His blood drinkers offer little resistance.  I can’t really call it much of a battle. Apparently, they have glutted themselves on blood and are unable to put up a defense.

They die almost too easily.  It’s all a little too easy.  Almost unnerving. It is almost as if they had held a blood-feast to celebrate something. But what?

We gain access to Set’s palace. There are dead everywhere. Farmers. Slaves. Minor nobles. Town folk that have been missing for weeks.

“You’re too late,” Set says wickedly, “if you’re here to save them.” He motions to the bodies littering the floor of his throne room. “They served as a wonderful banquet to celebrate a wonderful alliance.”

“We already know that you met with Tiamat,” Ninurta interrupts him, “The question is why?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Set grins darkly. “We want to defeat you. Unfortunately, she could not stay to relish in your defeat.”

He rushes to attack me, but I see a weakness in his approach and trip him…moving quickly to one side to avoid his reaching grasp. he falls harmlessly to the ground, embarrassed. He rises, angry at the affront.

“Until next time, runt,” He hisses, then vanishes.

“Looks like you caught him off guard,” Khnum snickers.

“He’ll be back,” Sekhmet replies, “when he thinks things have quieted down.”

“You’ve just worded his pride, boy,” Ninurta smiles, “But to truly defeat him, you’ll have to come with me and learn our ways as well. The more you know, the better you will become as a fighter and a defender.”

“Then,” I nod, “I shall accompany you to Sumer.”

 

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The Vampyr Wars: Witch Doctor; Book 1: When I Was a Child, I Thought As a Child…; Chapter 24: The Wayfarer

We are playing host to a wayfarer, a traveler from Sumer. Ninurta, a great legendary warrior and blood drinker hunter, has come in search of Tiamat. He believes that she is working closely with Set.

“The Dragon,” Ninurta is saying, “has left Sumer. She is wandering the lands of Earth. Elell, or Enlil as you know him, has sent me to find her and kill her if I can. He thinks that she is here in Egypt, helping Seqt.”

“Would you know anything about a new ally of Set’s,” Sekhmet probes, “named Wishmaster?”

“He is a priest of Seqt,” he nods, “who was sent to gain her alliance for Seqt. Apparently, she accepted and they have combined their power. Something to do with a youth that has evaded death more than once.”

“That would be our young child-priest, Amun-Nekeb,” she smiles, “who happens to be more than he appears to be.”

“Ah,” he grins, “one of the promised ones, is he?”

“We are thinking so,” she responds, “he is far more powerful than he appears. And far more powerful than any other pupil we have had.”

“Power to see the future?” He inquires.

“He has that,” she replies, “as well as all of our powers combined….and possibly yours and those of your clan.”

“I believe that we must put him to the test,” he agrees, “perhaps we should arrange a pupil swap. After all, we have a youth among our own who is possibly as powerful.”

“The 1,000 year old youth we have all heard about from Resos?” She pries.

“Yes,” he avers, “Gil-Amarek….better known as Gilgamesh.”

“We shall arrange a trade before Amun is to take up the priesthood,” she states, “the more powerful he is, and the more he knows, the better able he will be to protect humanity.”

“Agreed,” he nods, “but, for the moment, we need to make sure that Tiamat and Seqt are not joining forces…or we will have a problem on our hands.”

“Indeed,” Amun interjects, “and not just a problem. A calamity.”

“When do we start?” Khnum inquires.

“I need to rest,” Ninurta replies, “I suggest tomorrow night. Darkness will give us enough cover to sneak close enough to Seqt’s little piece of desert to find out who he’s making allegiances with.”

****

Our guest is asleep and we are under attack. Seems that Ammit has sent her little servant, Kinslayer, to try again.

“Seems you have a problem,” she sneers at Sekhmet, “my master’s lover has a visitor from beyond the peninsula.”

“Kinslayer,” Amun begins, “those who hate cannot love. they can only use, abuse, and take for granted through lust.”

How dare you!!!” She snarls. “You’ll pay for that.”

“Why not try the one you came to kill?” I inquire with a humble smile.

“It’ll be my pleasure!” She hisses.

My teachers look at me with questioning looks. I smile at them and shrug. After all, she has no clue what I can and cannot do. She still thinks that all I can do is shape-shift, since that was what I was learning when she attacked the first time.

The battle begins. She slowly, awkwardly, picks at my defenses trying to find my weaknesses. Her inability to find any starts to burn as anger in her eyes.  She is frustrated, I can tell. I keep meeting her every attempt with an equal defensive move that leaves no opening.

“You’re not playing fair,” she whines.

“In other words,” I smile, “I am not as inexperienced as you believed.”

“Your cockiness will be your fall,” she threatens.

“Experience,” I respond, “is not cockiness.”

Around us, her blood drinkers are dying by the hundreds. We are locked in a life and death battle, both of us determined to win. But there can only be one winner, and we both know it. Yet, neither of us wants to cede to to other the victory.

But she is growing tired. Her power is weakening. Her resolve, now beginning to crack. But I am not weakening, nor am I growing tired. And my resolve is unbreakable.

I feign a weak point, causing my body to become a mist-like mirage. Thinking that she has the upper hand, she strikes but finds emptiness. My hand enters her chest and I grab her heart.

“If I become solid again,” I inform her, “I will be able to pull your heart from your body.”

“Do your worst,” she hisses bitterly, dropping her weapons from exhausted hands, “you have me at a disadvantage. You have beaten me.”

I materialize and yank my hand out of her chest, grasping her heart. She blinks in disbelief at the sight of her heart, then falls lifeless to the ground.

I kneel next to her and place her heart next to her.

“I really didn’t want it to end that way,” I comment mournfully, “I would rather she yield, not die.”

“They rarely give in and surrender twice,” Amun states sadly, “It is their pride. They cannot accept that one bests them the first time and chooses to die rather than surrender the second time.”

“Send her heart to Ammit,” I respond, “as a warning. I want her to know that her servants are failing her.”

“It will be done,” Khnum replies, “feigning weakness and becoming a mirage was ingenious, especially grabbing her heart and giving her a choice. You did what was right in the end.  Had you been merciful and turned away, not taking the opportunity you had, she would have killed you.”

“Agreed,” Sekhmet avers, “and she would have taken your lifeless body back to Set with her. You showed infinite wisdom in killing her.”

“What did I miss?” Ninurta asks, emerging from the palace.

“Long version,” Atum smiles, “or short?”

“Short will suffice,” our guest responds.

“We know that Tiamat is definitely with Set,” Horus states, “as is Ammit, the soul eater.”

“We were attacked by Kinslayer,” Thoth smiles, “and her blood drinkers. Young Amun-Nekeb defeated her. Ripped her heart out of her chest. The most surprising thing to watch.”

Ninurta looks at the dead Kinslayer, rolling her over to view the hole in her chest. He grimaces at the sight, then notes the glazed look of pained shock on Kinslayer’s face.

“That had to hurt,” he shakes his head in pity, “having your hand solidify inside her chest. Not to mention the extreme torture of having one’s heart pulled out of their chest. Novel approach.”

“He gave her a chance to yield,” Satet remarks.

“And yet,” he smiles sadly, “her pride was too much to allow her a second defeat.”

 

The Vampyr Wars: Witch Doctor; Book 1: When I Was a Child, I Thought As a Child…; Chapter 23: Live To Tell The Tale

The death of Negus has most assuredly reached Ammit by now. If that is the case, then so has the tale of my survival despite her attempts to kill me. Both of these facts are sure to enrage her. But then, so will the loss of most of her blood drinkers.

Thousands of blood drinkers were burned during the morning hours after being stacked like kindling. We slept through the burnings and now rise for a night of hunting. A rumor has reached Sekhmet that shadows are coming to life and attacking humans and hunters alike. She has called them the Shadowkin.

Living shadows. Vile and ruthless, they seem to be everywhere. It leads me to wonder if they will be the next weapon sent by Ammit. No matter, I shall be ready for anything.

I only wonder one thing. How will we see them after dark? Is there something special about them that makes them visible even though they seem to be made of shadow? If so, what?  And how do we know that we have actually killed them?

“Half of us are staying behind to defend the sanctuary,” Sekhmet begins, “while the rest of us will go in search of these Shadowkin.”

“Is there a reason for the sanctuary’s defense?” Khnum asks for my benefit.

“Yes,” Sekhmet admits, “we expect another attack tonight. If it comes, it will be in retaliation for killing Negus. He was pretty high up the chain of command and Ammit will be seething and wanting to exact revenge.  We must be ready from this point on for whatever she may throw at us.”

“And Amun-Nekeb?” Amun asks for my benefit.

“The boy-priest will be out hunting with us on purpose,” Sekhmet answers with a smile, “Ammit will expect him to be here, but he will not. Those left in defense must be extra careful. They will be coming to kill, not to injure.”

“Duly noted,” Isis nods, “they will be bringing the fight to us as you are taking the fight to them. Sort of.”

“Precisely,” Sekhmet agrees, “and those in the hunting party will have to be just as careful.  After all, we know virtually nothing about these Shadowkin or what their powers are.”

“Understood,” Khnum avers.

With this, we leave the relative safety of the sanctuary. We are only at half the strength we generally take with us. But I am not afraid. We shall overcome.

We travel in silence. We must not draw attention to ourselves where blood drinkers or other possible allies of the Fallen are concerned. Our targets will not be drawn by noise, but by our casting shadows. Seems strange to be drawn to shadows, but that is their tendency.

We are out three hours from the sanctuary when the first Shadowkin appears. Then, we are surrounded. They’re everywhere. In front of us. Behind us.

“What do we have here?” a disembodied voice seems to sneer. “A group of hunters?”

Their red eyes, almost slit-like, mark them as something other than shadow as do their vile white grins. Now I realize how to spot them. And I realize exactly what they are. And how to kill them.

“Thrust for their hearts,” I alert the others, “or their heads. Those are the only way to kill them.”

“The man-child is smart,” the disembodied voice hisses, “but he will soon regret his revelation.”

I wait for a Shadowkin to draw close to me, then stick my staff through its shadowy head. It screams and bursts into flame. There are bursts of flame everywhere. But the more we kill, the more that appear.

We are at a standstill in our advance, unable to move forward. Or backward. Still, we have accomplished exactly what we set out to do. We have drawn out the new foe and successfully diminished their numbers.

The battle seems to last a few hours. With dawn nearing, the Shadowkin retreat back to their world of shadows, the slowly emerging light destroying their ability to be of any effect.  Now, with our path back to the sanctuary clear, we also retreat to safety. Still, we cannot figure out why they attacked with such ferocity. What were they preventing us from returning to find?

We finally return to the sanctuary after three hours. Blood drinkers lay everywhere. Neither dead nor living, they were soulless and now lay lifeless. We find that none of those left to defend the sanctuary have been killed or injured.  This last revelation is a good thing. But the carnage is phenomenal.

“They showed a new leader,” Khnum states, “one that the blood drinkers call Wishmaster.”

“Wishmaster?” Sekhmet inquires, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes,” he nods, “at least that is what the blood drinkers called him.”

“What did he look like?” She presses.

“Almost like Set,” he responds, “but not as dark.”

“Send out messengers to the other hunters,” she gives him a concerned look, “and see if they have any information on this new foe.”

“Will do,” Khnum answers.

I watch the diminutive hunter vanish. I look around and find both Neith and Satet also missing. I shrug. They are never far from Khnum.

Atum appears from inside the sanctuary palace.

” Let’s clean up,” he states dryly, “we need to rid ourselves of blood drinker corpses.  There isn’t as much work, so we’ll be able to get some rest rather soon.”

It only takes three hours to pile the dead corpses. Atum lights the pyres and we head for our beds. As I ready for bed, I ponder what I learned this night.

Shadows can bleed. They can die. They can talk. And they can wound.

Set and his blood drinkers have a new ally. He is unlike any other we have encountered. He looks like Set…much the same way I look like Amun. And we have yet to find his weakness.

In the mean time, we will try to find out what we can of this new enemy. And hope that none of those we have encountered will return anytime soon. We need time to rest. I need time to finish my training.

The Shadowkin will be back. So will Wishmaster. And so will Kinslayer and Shezmu, eventually. We can be sure of that.

 

The Vampyr Wars: Witch Doctor; Book 1: When I Was a Child, I Thought As a Child…; Chapter 22: The Faceless Man

I can see that the descriptions given are accurate. Where there should be a nose and mouth, only slits denote any place to breathe from, but there is no mouth. He speaks through mind-speak. But there is another major difference in his appearance. His hands.

His hands look strange. His fingers look like snake tails, not fingers. And yet, they don’t. They have strange looking cups attached that hold fast to whatever he touches and draws it to him. I fight to stay at a safe distance from his fingers, but they seem to grow to any length as he attempts to catch me.

His eyes, too, seem dead. Unseeing. Or all-seeing. Not sure which.

But if they see all, then his inner sight is off by quite a bit. He is unable to predict my next move. This, I can work to my advantage. Should I time the use of a spear correctly, I can cause him to impale himself on it.

But I have to keep my intent hidden while trying to position the spear so that he will do exactly what is intended. Not an easy task to fulfill. Especially not against a man who seems to see even though he does not.

“You fight well,” He mind-speaks, “Almost like a god. No matter. All your defense is for naught. I will kill you. Maybe not as quick as I would like, But I will still kill you.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?” I ask without any emotion.

“All the time,” he responds, “But I still end up killing them.”

“With what?” I inquire. “Boredom?”

I am purposely trying to anger him. I want him to lose control. I want him to drop his guard. I want him to make a mistake.

Correction. I need him to make a mistake. It is the only way I can get him to subconsciously do what I intend for him to do.

He allows an angered growl escape.

“You’re trying to distract me,” he accuses.

“What would I gain by it?” I inquire. “After all, It was you who started the conversation.”

“I hate it when someone deflects,” he growls, now growing more angry ad he realizes that I am telling the truth, “as they attempt to distract.”

“Have it your way,” I remain unemotional, “it makes no difference to me.”

He suddenly loses all reason and makes a blind attack. Now is my chance. I get the point of the spear lined up so that he cannot see it pointing at him, then thrust with purpose. He grabs it and jerks it from my grasp, pulling it hard directly toward himself. And driving it deep into his own chest.

A mental gasp escapes him as his eyes suddenly show realization at what he has just done. I drive the spear on into his heart. It comes out his back. He goes limp as the spearhead goes through his spine.

“You fooled me,” he mind-whispers, “you knew all along what you were doing..and you fooled me. No one has ever been able to resist my draw to use emotion as a weapon. But you. You had me from the beginning. I…I…I couldn’t read you.”

“Of course not,” I smile, “I am a warrior. And a Warrior does not use emotion. And besides. I held my emotions in check with a warding spell.”

“But,” He gasps, “but human magic is not real!”

“No one said I was ever human,” I reply, “though I was born of human parents, that does not make me human.”

“No,” He shakes his faceless head, “no, of course it doesn’t.”

His eyes close and he dies. The blood drinkers flee into the night as I drop the ward. No need to hold it anymore. The faceless man, Negus, is dead.

I behead him and put his head on a pole. I place the pole outside the sanctuary where any other would-be-attacker will see it and possibly think twice before trying their luck. If Negus was the best that Set’s followers have, I truly feel sorry for them.

“Ammit is not going to be happy,” Amun states, cutting one of Negus’s hands off to send as a warning to Ammit and her minions, “You’ve killed one of her pets. And more easily than she believed it possible.”

“Was he her best?” I ask.

“Oh, no,” he responds, smiling and shaking his head, ” The god-killer is her best, but you have even bested him by taking his hand. But as far as minor evils, Negus is one of her worst…just not the worst.”

“His weakness was his strength,” I state, “What he fed upon was also his only source of strength, but was also something that created a major weakness. using his own negative emotions against him was what proved lethal to him. He could not feed off his own negative emotions and that made him weak.”

“Very good,” He praises, “you are learning.”

“One must always learn,” I reply, “if they are to grow.”

“Indeed,” He chuckles.

I look around. Cleanup is going to be a nightmare. Dead blood drinkers are everywhere. And we are all exhausted.

I look at the sky. The new day is dawning. It will soon be daylight. Still, there is work to be done.

We will be able to rest as soon as we get things cleaned up. I yawn. Then yawn again. No rest for the weary. But, then, I would have it no other way. Dreams and visions can wait.

So can more lessons. No need in worrying about numbers and glyphs. Or even spells, rites, or rituals. Those can be for another day.

There are bodies being burned everywhere.  The bodies are stacked outside the sanctuary in multiple piles on pyres of wood doused with pitch. The flames shoot high into the sky. And burn with a heat so intense that the sand itself melts.

Khnum, Neith, and Satet wash away the blood stains. Soon, the sanctuary is clean and I head for bed. Sleep is now more needed than sustenance. Though tomorrow is already here, today is pretty much wasted.

The Vampyr Wars: Witch Doctor; Book 1: When I Was a Child, I Thought As a Child…; Chapter 21: Whispers on the Wind

By noon, there is something on the wind I cannot place my finger on. A slight chill, barely noticeable, has begun to nip at me. I notice that no one else seems to notice. Or they cannot feel it.

If they notice, they give no sign. And that bothers me. Why am I the only one noticing this change?

The whispers begin. At first, they are indiscernible. Then they grow louder.

“Can no one hear the whispers?” I ask, breaking the silence. “Do you not feel the chill on the air?”

“Whispers?” Horus responds.

“Almost like a warning,” I aver, “as if someone or something is coming.”

“How cold of a chill?” He asks.

“”Deep,” I remark, “almost soul deep.”

“Silence, all!” He commands, holding his hand up to signal the need. “Our young warrior has sensed a coldness on the breeze and hear the wind whispering!”

“An attack is eminent,” Satet gasps, “they have sent someone dark and evil to deal with the boy. Someone whom we have never chanced to meet.”

“We have taught him well,” Atum smiles, “while we were busy with chattering amongst ourselves, he was in tune with the very air around him. And probing for activity on the other end….even if he did not realize it.”

“I merely sensed a change,” I respond humbly, “and followed it to its source.”

“Indeed,” Amun nods, “You have learned well from us, young Amun.”

“They intend to strike tonight,” Meskhenet announces ominously, “And shall be led by a faceless man.”

“Negus,” Ma’at responds, “The deformed. also called the syphon. He is an energy drinker. He tends to feed off your negative energy, using it to become stronger.”

“He has other names,” Isis says sadly, “But this is the one he prefers, since he prefers negativity.”

“The only way to combat him is to not give off any negative emotions,” Sekhmet smiles grily, “or to set a ward that doesn’t allow him to sense your emotions.”

“I can do that,” I assert.

“The whispers,” Menthu explains, “are his blood drinkers. His are not very intelligent, or quiet. They tend to announce themselves in advance. Almost as if they are bragging about being the ones chosen to kill innocence.”

“We must plan a defense,” Thoth suggests.

“Yes, indeed,” Aten agrees.

“Then,” Sekhmet smiles, “plan we shall.

***

Dusk. My teachers have all slid into the shadows in their defensive positions. As planned, I sit in the center of the practice arena. I have my eyes closed so as to appear as if I am meditating. I make no moves, show no emotion.

And then, they suddenly descend. Without warning, I move. Without opening my eyes, I begin my dance. As I open my eyes, I notice that there seems to be an endless number of attackers. They just keep coming.

It is as if they are meant to wear us down. Make us easy prey. Strangely, they are weak. Almost too easy to defeat. It doesn’t;t make sense.

Still, my emotions are cloaked by a ward. An extremely powerful spell meant to mask, to hide. To keep an enemy from discovering. But where , exactly, is their master?

Or is this an illusion, something meant to make me drop my ward? What if the devils are watching, waiting? NO. Can’t allow myself to think that way. No questions.

And still, they keep on coming.  I can’t help but laugh inwardly. The ridiculousness of the situation is amusing. At the same time, this seemingly endless wave is hiding something else. But what?

I refrain from using spells. Or any of the abilities I have been trained to use. I cannot afford to drop the warding spell. I cannot allow him to find me through my emotions.

Keeping my mind on my fluidity keeps it from wandering from the task at hand. Counting moves. Strokes. Slashes. Jabs.

There will likely be no sleep this night. Only battle. And death. And for some reason, I am relishing it all.

Why? Could it be a false emotion? Something to make me drop my guard? Or is it that I have a touch of bloodlust?

Whatever it is, I have to get it under control. Keep it from breaking my concentration and, ultimately, the warding spell. I need to remain resistant. Resilient.

The lives of those around me rely upon my ability to keep control. To lose control would be deadly. For all of us.

Strike. Parry. Sweep. Jab. The motions are ordered, yet staggered. Parry. Jab. Strike. Sweep.

I continue to leave no real rhythm or rhyme to my movements. Sometimes, I repeat movements more than once to throw the opponent off. Sometimes, I omit a move. No two sequences are the same.

It is all to throw off my foes. Every move, every attack. This is the ultimate training session. And, yet, It is the most brutal test.

Both too easy and most difficult, it would be maddening to anyone else. But, then, I am not just anyone. I am the son of priests, born to be a priest. I am to be a protector of kings.

And then, he appears. From out of the dark, he comes, descending from the darkened sky.  But he is still uncertain whether I am the child or not. I show no emotion. H can feel no emotion.

“Either my prey has better skills than I was informed,” He states in a bodiless voice, “or he is an empty husk.” He looks at me. “You seem the right size and build, yet you show no emotion.”

“I am a warrior,” I reply, without emotion, “A soldier shows no emotion. Feels no emotion.”

“Not even the thrill of battle?” He mind-whispers.

“Not even the thrill of battle,” I assure him.

“Then,” He looks away, “Let’s see who the better warrior is.”

“Age does not determine one’s being better. Only discipline. And practice,” I respond.

“Indeed,” if he could smile, now would be one of those moments, “indeed.”

“It is your move,” I state.

He lashes out and I catch his strike with ease. Parry. Thrust. Thrust. Jab.

“Do you know who I am?” He asks as he attempts an attack.

“Negus,” I reply, “The faceless man.”

 

The Vampyr Wars: Witch Doctor; Book 1: When I Was a Child, I Thought As a Child…; Chapter 20: Bless The Child

Over and over again, I am taken to far flung sanctuaries and trained to use different gifts. control of scents so that I can overcome an opponent. The power of love. Insight. Foresight.

the one thousand and one ways of making war. And the wisdom of it all. I learn of the heavy burden placed upon me. I also learn that the hunters that train me are called Ka here in Egypt. Souls. What an odd thing to call immortals who hunt the soulless that we Egyptians consider soulless.

But there are other names. The Ba. The Akh. And the Ma’at Kheru. Each name has a special significance. And all are a form of the concept of soul.

In essence, Egypt believes these hunters to be living souls, separated or apart from bodies, gods and goddesses, who defend and protect humanity from evil. Forever alive, they keep the balance.

I also learn that those in my city now ‘bless the child who was chosen of gods’…me. I am holy to them now. I am no longer bound by human laws of existence which means that if I don’t die, they will not fear me. I am a god in flesh form. A divine priest sent to serve the people.

I am humbled. And afraid. What of my teachers? What will be their fate?

Yet, as I ponder these new fears, I learn all that I can. I know that, if possible, they will all survive the coming changes. Their names may change over time, but they will remain. That is if they are not slaughtered by the Fallen.

Still, so far, we have only battled the servants of the Fallen, not the Fallen themselves. It would seem that the Fallen fear us. Or think us as more of a nuisance than a threat. Whatever the reasons for their restraint, I thank fate for the silence.

I know, however, that this silence could very well be temporary. After all, nothing lasts forever. Even my visions have shown me that. And visions never fail.

***

I am exhausted. Mentally. Physically. Worn out from the training of the day. Seemingly endless training. But now, it is at the end. Even the day is at the end.

I has been amazing to witness how time was stopped for hours at a time only to resume mere seconds after I was whisked to some remote training ground. Thousands of hours of training all within twelve hours. But, then, I must be ready for anything now. Kinslayer has seen to that.

But she will not be a threat again for some time. They will send someone else. But who? And when?

I sup in silent thought. No one interrupts my thoughts. They know what is on my mind. It hangs heavy over all our thoughts. It is the reason they have been training  me so intensively.

They also fear that they might not live as long as I. Though I saw no hint of them in my first visions, that means very little. It could just mean that they have very little to do with my personal journey. But that is the problem with visions. They are nearly always incomplete.

Yet, if they were complete, it would add to the urge to either hasten or prevent their events.  And I have been warned not to attempt either. It would be counterproductive. And counterproductive is bad. Very bad.

It would destroy the world. And I want to see this world safely to the end. But what lies beyond the end? Is there anything?

I hope so. Perhaps another life. Something where nothing really matters. Something where peace is all we know.

No war. No hate. No greed. Nothing but love and oneness.

Then, maybe that is too much to ask for. Or is it? I hope not.

I look around at those who are at sup.

“I am sorry for my silence,” I apologize, “I have much on my mind. Questions about a great many things. Some that none but time can answer.”

“We understand,” Sekhmet replies, softly, “go now and rest. Tomorrow will worry about itself.”

I nod and head toward my cubicle. And my soft bed of pillows. I need sleep. Badly.

I get myself ready for bed. I set a warding spell for safety. Closing my eyes, I drift off immediately. Darkness takes me. There will be no dreams tonight.

***

Morning comes too soon. Dressing quickly, I get ready for the day. I remove the ward and Ptah looks in on me.

“There’ll be no training today,” He states, “Except glyphs, enumeration, and spells. I believe your priestly teachers are readying the intermediate lessons for you today since you are already adept at the beginner spells, phrases, and mathematics.”

“Any special reason?” I inquire.

“I believe that your glyph teacher desires that you write your father,” he smiles, “a kind of update on your training.”

“How much can I tell him?” I pry.

“Well,” He replies, “I would stick with an overview. Don’t go too much into detail. Don’t want him to be bored.”

“Alright,” I smile, “I will go easy on him. After all, he is a high priest and cannot spend too much time reading about my adventures.”

“Go eat some breakfast,” he advises, “then go see your teachers. Time’s a wasting.”

“Yes,sir,” I respond respectfully, “At once.”

I run down the hall toward the great room. The smell of fresh bread and roasted lamb drawing me ever onward. I enter the great room and stop short, uncertain whether to approach or stay where I am.

“Seems the sleeper has awakened,” Sakhmet’s voice carries to me, “Come, Amun-nekeb. Sit and take your place at this morning’s fine banquet. Fresh dates, figs, roasted lamb, and a multitude of delights await you.”

I obediently take my place among the hunters and begin eating. the delicious food keeps me occupied and quiet.

“The boy seems hungry this morning,” Thoth jokes lightheartedly, “could it be that all that training yesterday caught up t him?”

laughter erupts in the room. I can’t keep myself from chuckling. After all, I am making a pig out of myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vampyr Wars: Witch Doctor; Book 1: When I Was a Child, I Thought As a Child…; Chapter 19: Living On An Island

Khnum’s island sanctuary is a drastic change from the desert sanctuary of Sekhmet and the dead wastes of Osiris. Here, life is everywhere, lush and green. To the north, a small human city is oblivious of the oasis of beauty to its south. But then, the humans there worship my hosts.

“Water is like any other element you have used,” Khnum says, beginning his instruction, “except that it is temperamental. The river and the sea can be harsh mistresses, taking everything from you if allowed to be unruled. The briny deep of the ocean keeps her secrets well, but the muddy and murky depths of the river sometimes spills hers upon the land.

“He who masters the power of water can save nations. He can destroy enemies. He can wash away evil in a single wave. Or pierce the heart with a single stream.

“All you have to know is that water will control you if you do not learn to control her. Master water, and you can master anything.” He grins. “But then, you have mastered time and space, so water should be no problem.”

“Beckon to the water,” Satet admonishes, “and let her know that you wish for her to come to you. But brace yourself and set a limit to where she must be or she will topple you and wash over you. ”

With one hand, I place a space where I wish the water to stop. With the other, I motion for her to come to me. She does as she is bid, stopping just short of my hand representing the halt.

“Good,” Neith responds, “now separate her into parts…streams.” I do as she bids me, creating seven streams of water. All held vertical in the air. “Now. Use one of those streams as a spear.”

I grasp one stream and hold it as one would a spear. An antelope breaks from the brush. I sight in on it. Then I thrust the water-spear, striking the antelope. The antelope jumps, then falls dead.

“Good,” Khnum praises, “Now form a bow and arrow out of two streams and shoot a clump of dates from that palm.”

I do as instructed. The dates fall to the ground. I go and retrieve the dates, then go and dress out the antelope. Two of Khnum’s servants come and take the meat and dates to prepare them for a meal.

“Very good,” Satet remarks, “Now show us how to walk on water.”

I allow the remaining strips of water to return to the river like snakes. The act causes Neith to giggle. After, I walk to the water’s edge and place a sandaled foot on the edge of the water. placing one foot carefully in front of another, I begin to carry out Satet’s instructions. Khnum and Neith assail me with water forms, which I fight off successfully.

“Very good,” Khnum states, satisfied, “Now return to shore.” He waits for me to return, then continues. “Like water, her beasts are also at your command. The Hippopotamus, the crocodile, and even the fish. And the snakes.

“You can train them to do your bidding, though I suggest not to do so with fish if you are sending for help. they cannot breathe outside of their watery home. They are more a weapon when near water…or a poorly planned out practical joke.”

“And the rest?” I ask, deciding not to ask him about his last comment.

“Crocodiles can go short distances,” Satet states, “as long as it remains near the river. Snakes, not so much. Snakes can go anywhere, but are a bit slow as they have to find shade from time to time in order to cool down.”

“All are best,” Neith adds, “as scouts and weapons. And crocodiles, if needed, can provide a form of travel.”

“They are the most reliable,” Khnum remarks, “and would rather eat you if they can cause you to lose your concentration. But if your hold id strong enough, you can keep them from diving on you and actually make it to your destination.”

I see a couple of crocodiles sunning themselves on the shore. I focus my attention on blocking their natural instincts. I succeed and bridle them without any problem. I lead them back into the water, then place a foot on the back of each. I command them to take me around the island, and they do. I retain my hold on them until I am safely away, then release them.

“Well, I’ll be,” Satet sighs, “The child is truly talented.”

“Indeed,” Neith responds in awe.

“Not the most comfortable ride,” I smile sheepishly, “but I can bear it if need be.”

“I do believe that we are about done here,” Khnum remarks, “Osiris was right. You are a quick study. Few, if any, can ever master what you have grasped so easily!”

“With practice,” Satet adds, “you will truly be a formidable foe to any who oppose you.”

“May you lead those you train,” Neith admonishes, “to heal the Earth should it become wounded by wars.”

“I will surely try,” I promise.

“The jar of water I gave you,” Khnum begins, “It will serve you well. It is your link to the river. Never drink it or lose it.  Keep it sealed. In your time of need, it will give you aid. It will allow you to conjure a water-spear or water-bow and arrow even in the middle of a desert.”

“Now,” we must return you to Sekhmet so you can continue your training,” Satet states, “for the hour must not grow too late as you still have many lessons to learn.”

“Yes,” Neith agrees, “we must return you.”

In a blink of an eye, we are back at the arena. It suddenly dawns on me that once they are all done, I will be more powerful than they. This thought also frightens me. Still, I know that I am not the only one of my kind to rise. I may be the first, but many others will also rise. And we will protect man to our last man with the powers we are trained in.