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Nightmare in Egypt…Part 12/ Feras Werr

"It is I, you fool!" Setekh thought, reading the exact words of mind of his adversary on that particular moment of encounter. 
*****
The python moved very slowly and calmly through the long corridor of prisons in the army fortress. It passed unmarked by the many guards that were dispersed around the premises. It released a very low shuffling sound as it dragged its lengthy body behind it. Its sound could only be noticed in the tranquility of the night and not in the busy day time hours of the fortress. It stopped as it reached the proper cell. Its prey lay unconscious and helpless on the ground in front of it. It slipped itself diligently through the thin iron bars of the prison; it managed to propel itself under the lengthy weight of the body and started roping itself around it, waist first then working itself up to the chest. The squeezing began. 
The spy's sleep lightened with the shuffling of the python. He attempted to move right and left, only to find himself constricted, as if tied by a rope. As his vision was clearing he was unable to decipher the identity of the big head that was staring at him. As the choking became unbearable the striking reality of being bound by the beast hit him instantaneously. Waves of terror and pain thundered through his body. He managed to release a terrorizing scream of pain as he thrashed about on the ground torn apart by the agony of suffocation. Two guards that were only a few meters away ran up to him and released cries of surprise at the scene. By the time the guards opened the prison door it was too late. The spy had taken his last breath and lay motionless on the ground. A guard bravely attempted to take a stab with his sword at the creature but it violently lashed at him. His mate picked up his spear and accurately speared its upper neck to the wall behind it. The Beast's blood sprayed all its surrounding and then it ceased motion. 
Setekh released a powerful cry as the feeling of pain pounded his mind and body. The strong mental telepathy with the beast bridged the pain that tore it when it was killed. Setekh fell to the ground and crouched until the connection faded away. He released loud cries as his body shuddered from the bitter experience. The cries lessened to gasps gradually as he recuperated and regained control of himself. Despite the pain he felt he was relieved that the spy died. He was no longer a threat to him and Isis. 
Setekh gave a sigh of relief as he sat up for his second mission. Despite his weak body he approached the boiling pot of human organs that was boiling in the middle of his quarters. The scent still caused his nausea to surface from time to time. He looked back and checked that the door was securely locked. He wouldn't want the other priests in the temple to know what he was up to. None of them knew of the special rituals and ceremonies that he was performing in the Temple.
The fire slowly boiled away all the water in the pot and started frying what was left of the contents. The potent aroma of the burning flesh grew stronger and concentrated within the limited environment. Setekh closed his eyes and began a deep session of meditation. He let his mind clear and think of only one thing, the black force of evil. After a long pause he began saying magical incantations. 
"Channels of all evil, whose power is very lethal, your subject requires your presence, to set him free of his body, and roam freely above all people. Channels of all evil…" After a while his quarters filled with very thick fog. Setekh was no longer able to see a thing clearly around him. "It's time he thought." He closed his eyes and concentrated on only one thing, Seti.
*****
Setekh watched Seti and Sekhmet ponder the events of last night in the royal court. Seti was seated on his elegantly decorated throne of pure gold and Sekhmet was standing right behind him. His throne was decorated with seventy rare gems that were brought to him as presents from his recaptured territories of Transjordan and the fertile plains upon his wedding to Sekhmet. The royal court lit brilliantly with the Sunlight that came from the east side windows and the fresh breeze was extremely relaxing. The rich colors of the paintings on the walls gave the huge court a touch of magnificence and majesty. They all spoke of Seti's excellent military conquests and his glory as Pharaoh, ruler of the Egyptian Empire, god and supreme commander. Usually these paintings caused joy and happiness in the heart of Seti, but the new events made his heart bear only gloominess and bitterness. 
The court swarmed with women who were singing and playing their instruments to his honor. The songs played were excellent and spoke of his valor in battle and of the people's love to him. The dancers danced at the tunes for his entertainment and pleasure in the middle of the court. Hunefer, the royal court steward and Ptah were seated on a side bench discussing the army rations given by the court. It seemed to Seti that the discussion wasn't very harmonious between them. It was totally peculiar how they never agreed upon any matter and how he always had to mediate things between them. He knew what a hot tempered person his friend Ptah was and how cool and balanced Hunefer was. He sometimes thought that they completed each other. Hunefer was a man of normal height, figure and strength. He was a young man coming from a healthy family who wrote and spoke well. His circular face radiated with frankness that made him very comforting to deal with. His wide black eyes always caught the attention of eligible women who dreamed to have him as a spouse. His bald head that he shaved to reflect his rich spiritual life complemented his young facial features well. Seti was very happy with him and with his work output. He was always there for any advice and had very healthy ideas to give in times of need. 
Ptah a very lengthy six foot personality with rough facial features that included huge ears that stood up resembling almost that of a fox's, a long nose, thin cheeks that made his jaw's retractions clear as he spoke and visible skin wounds on his right cheek and upper arms from the battle ground. However one soothing characteristic made his rough face a bit presentable, a pair of wide blue eyes.  
Ptah's strength was well known in all of the Egyptian empire and no sane man dared frustrate him or be his adversary in any fight. Once angered by a donkey that blocked his path in a public square and in front of the masses of people that were busy with the usual business of the day, Ptah gave the donkey a strong punch on its neck causing it to crack. The Donkey was put out of its misery immediately by a spear stab from one of Ptah's accompanying soldiers. A great portion of the people circled around the poor creature unbelieving what the first commander of their army can do when angered. "Quite a pair he had for advisors," Seti thought. 
Seti stood up and turned to Sekhmet. He eyed her superb beauty. She was extremely attractive and gorgeous with a superb feminine figure. Her long black abundant hair, green eyes and soft white complexion were all a fabulous portrait that captivated him always. Her eyes were magical magnets that mesmerized him every time he looked at her. Her elegance moved powerful male instincts within him that he never knew with any of his other wives. Sometimes his only meditation was to look at her and enjoy the sugary sweet sensation she bought to his soul. 
"Do you know something? Last night when you were in the grip of that murderer, I was terrorized by the thought of losing you."
Sekhmet smiled and felt extremely elated by her lord's remarks. She knew always deep inside that Pharaoh placed her above all his women. Many a times they tried to make problems for her and harden his heart on her only to find deep opposition from him. Sekhmet was like a magical charm that he couldn't extract from his life.     
She answered, "The only thing I thought about was your safety. I wasn't thinking about myself. My life wasn't important as much as saving yours. You're so important to me and to Egypt. I would pay my life as collateral for your life any time." 
"I fear the future. I fear what it holds for us and our people. I fear those ruthless Barbarians of the east. I fear Muwatallis and his unquenched thirst for our destruction. Our lands and splendor frustrated him always. I feel a huge eminent up coming clash between our mighty powers. Oh how much I want to be around to see my son Ramses blossom into a ruler. But with the obviousness of wars I know that a dark destiny awaits me…"
Sekhmet gasped and interrupted, "Seti stop, I will not let you lead any battle. Do your hear me. I will not lose you. There is a chance that the whole issue will be resolved without another war…"
Seti erupted like a wild storm, "A chance you say, ha… a chance…" Seti grabbed his heavy golden throne and turned it over while screaming madly. The throne shattered into four big pieces.  "Don't you see, don't you understand!!! That sick bastard won't rest until he crushes us under his power." Hunefer and Ptah stood up amazed at what Seti did. The musicians and singers ran out of the court and the soldiers closed the huge gates of the court and gazed at their leader dumbfounded. 
Seti continued shouting, "We are at the verge of a massive clash here!!! Thousands of our people will get butchered… for what…for wanting to regain my countries sovereignty over Transjordan and the fertile lands…the same lands that they stole from us while my grandfathers were busy discussing silly religious reforms…I had to be the person paying the price for Egypt's glory to flourish, prosper…I had to take things into my own hands and to save our race and glory from extinction and from being stepped upon by the greed of ruthless leaders…I don't know if what I did was worth the price that we are going to pay… I waged war on Muwatallis and now I plunged my Kingdom into lurking devastation!!! 
"Seti stop please, calm down." Sekhmet walked up to Seti and wanted to embrace him. He brushed her aside and continued. "Those people will fight endlessly till they accomplish what they want. Nothing will stop them but the annexation of our lands." 
*****
"Or your death," Setekh thought.
*****
 "Then we fight mighty Pharaoh…your not alone with your fears my lord. I'm sure we give Muwatallis the same nightmares. We are a mighty power like they are. We can defend ourselves." Ptah said assuring.
"Is there any glory in continuous battle? Is there any consolation in bloodshed Ptah? Battle and bloodshed only quenches the thirst of beasts like Muwatallis."
"I say we fight too." Young Ramses walked in the court with a sword in his hands. I will make those feeble animals pay for daring to murder my father."
Seti eyed his young son reveal his zeal for conquest and valor. "Son, come close to me." Seti smiled as he saw his son of seventeen springs boil with vengeance to protect his father's pride. He was a young complete look alike of him. Seti embraced him and said, "Son you haven't seen the bitterness of the brutal play of the swords and spears. You don't know what a battle ground looks like after a war; cut up bodies, body parts, heads that sometimes still hold the screaming faces of the moment of death and pain…the pain that surged through me as pharaoh and leader of my people when I saw the wounded and dead lying helplessly about me when we recaptured Transjordan. Although I was happy with my victory, that particular moment made me rethink the cost really well." Seti walked up to the drawings on the wall and said, "These are only lifeless drawings that reflect want the painter wants too without feelings, the real world is totally different son."
"But father, you said they will stop at no price until they capture our lands. The ruthless don't know but the language of the sword and battle. We have to speak their same language and show them that we don't fear them. Maybe only then will they back off and leave us alone."
"Mighty Pharaoh I do support Ramses in what he said. Please give me an order to organize a full campaign. Let us show these people what a real Egyptian army looks like."
Ramses boasted, "I have the will to lead this war myself…"  
"No!!!" Seti placed both his hands on his sons shoulders, "No, you will not pay the price of your father's choices. I will lead this army."
"But father, I'm grown up enough, I can handle this campaign. Ptah trained me well on weaponry and he believes in me."
The huge court gates opened and a soldier came up running to the assembly. All looked at him as he went down on his knees and paused for a while catching his breath. His face was pale and his body shook frantically with every breath he took. "Mighty Pharaoh, I wish I had good news to tell you but unfortunately I'm the bearer of catastrophic news."
Ptah approached him and helped him up, "speak, you have nothing to fear."
"The Spy died. He got choked by a huge snake like beast. The strange thing about it is this snake is totally unknown in our areas."
Ptah exclaimed, "Beast, snake like beast. Are you drunk?"
"How dare you mock Pharaoh's council?" Sekhmet reprimanded. "I will lash you myself for this mockery!" Sekhmet grabbed a whip that hung on a wall near her and approached the soldier. The soldier fell down to his knees again and raised his hands in defense of the expected lashes as he saw Sekhmet raise the whip. He managed to explain in the proper time, "Your majesty I assure you I'm not mocking anyone. I have proof of my words." The soldier looked up at Sekhmet who ceased her attack upon hearing his assurance. The soldier feeling more relaxed looked at the court gate and motioned with his hand. Four men barely able to walk entered with the heavy beast. Everyone opened their mouth in total amazement. As the soldiers neared the assembly Ptah and Seti touched it with their hands.
"I was the one that speared it." The soldier eyed the huge long creature along with the assembly.
"From where could this beast have come from?" asked Seti.
"This animal is not from our lands," announced Ptah. "I have heard stories from merchants that have come from the southern kingdoms, while crossing thick forests, to have encountered these creatures. Once they lock on to something they keep squeezing their prey till suffocation." 
"Who ever brought it here, brought it with the intention to kill the spy, an extremely smart way to kill and not be the center of accusation." Seti rubbed his chin with his hand and went into deep thought, "The betrayer we are looking for just covered valuable information to remain anonymous. Although I'm disgusted with his behavior I have to admire his smartness. He is careful and keen minded." Seti paused for a moment and restudied the beast. 
Hunefer asked, "Our Egyptian history hasn't seen incidents like these ever. Mighty pharaoh we have to act fast and stop this assault now." 
The messenger soldier stood up and announced, "I have more bad news." He eyed the whip that was still in Sekhmet's hand and moved back a couple of steps. Sekhmet noticing the soldier fears placed the whip back. The stunning view of the serpent was overwhelming.   
"Our forts in Sidon and Tyre, they've been attacked by Muwatallis's armies. The soldier gave the Papyrus scroll to Ptah. Ptah opened it and read,
"To lord Ptah, from the commander in chief of fort Tyre, our fort in Sidon fell to the enemy after a surprise raid. Our soldiers were all killed. Our enemy has managed a massive strike force that is marching on to us. I'm most amazed at how they had the power to reestablish an army so quickly. There is a strong rumor that the armies of Aleppo have taken their side. While I right this message they are three days travel away from us. By the time support comes I don't know of our outcome. I will assure my allegiance to Egypt by fighting the enemy till the last man and breath, but I know with an army that huge we will only last a few days. Lord Ptah, please tell our mighty Pharaoh that we will all be honored to die fighting for our lands and honor. Tell my wife and children that I love them and always will. If I'm not back to tell the story of battle and valor tell them not to lament and weep, for their lord died as a true soldier would, in the line of duty, defending our mighty Pharaoh and Egypt. Long live Egypt."
Tears came to Sekhmet's and Hunefer's eyes as Ptah rolled up the scroll. Ramses ran up to Ptah, took the scroll from him and read the contents himself. Engulfed by sheer madness he threw it on the ground and stepped on it till it turned into dust. "Do we need more proof as to what the next step is? Father please."        
"I have taken my decision. Bury this creature where it will rest in peace." Seti was left alone with his two advisors, son, wife and the unacknowledged spiritual presence. It hovered close to him as he was announcing, "I Seti, Pharaoh and god of Egypt formally order a war campaign to be arranged on Muwatallis and his allies. As of today, full priority shall be given to the preparations of the campaign. Let it be known through all the lands that it is an obligation for every eligible male to enlist in the army and be prepared for battle. Hunefer prepare the war rations for the army as it leaves in less than ten days…" Seti felt a strong breeze on his face. It was as if somebody was breathing directly on to him. Strong pain struck the left side of his chest. He screamed and covered his chest with his hands falling down on his knees.  He swayed side ways unable to attain any balance. Everyone ran up to him panic stricken and yelling.
"Father what is wrong!" Ramses had tears in his eyes as he saw his father fall down in illness. 
"The Doctor, Please! Someone!" Sekhmet screamed out as she hugged her husband. 
Ptah hastily carried him and headed towards his chambers. He placed him on his bed and ran out to summon the doctor. Hunefer and Ramses hovered over him while Sekhmet sat beside him in bed. He was groaning loudly in pain. Massive sweat covered his face and was soaking his clothes. His hands covered the pain stricken area of his chest and his tongue was paralyzed. He was unable to speak a word. Sekhmet and Ramses were crying hysterically not having a clue as to what to do. 
*****
"Die Seti, your body will never live through this massive stroke ever." Setekh laughed loudly in triumph of the events. He left his quarters in the temple of Amenram and headed towards the statue of the war god. He sat down and thought about what would the next coming events look like. Upon Seti's death he would have to inform Muwatallis. Ramses will be taken care of. It was coming closer, the power, authority and glory. He has waited a long time for this to happen. "Egypt will kneel under my will soon. It will soon be my will and rule."
"Setekh! Setekh!" Setekh knew this voice very well. He turned around and greeted Isis Uncomfortably. "Why are you here?" I told you we shouldn't be seen together."
As soon as Isis hugged him his will went weak and he hugged her back. He stroked her long red hair and kissed her milky white cheeks. Before the needs of his body could control him he managed some restraint and pushed her back. "I told you we shouldn't be seen together at these times." 
"I came to tell you that Seti just had a major illness. That rubble of filth is useless as a cripple lying in his bed."
"I know…"
Isis paused for a moment and processed what Setekh just said, "But how, this just happened moments ago."
"Who do you think arranged this?"
"I don't understand…Oh you cunning smart devil. I always admired your skills and power." Isis hugged Setekh and rubbed her lips against his. "Don’t you want some reward for your superb planning? I'm in a very generous mood." Her black eyes sparkled like a night with a thousand stars. Her eyes were nets binding Setekh, turning him into a slave that didn't want to do anything but please her. But he had no time. He had to execute the rest of his plan before Ramses could set his army to leave. Satis also mustn't see him with Isis at all. The temple was a near distance from the residence and Satis would get here soon. "Isis you have to leave right now. I can't put our entire plan to risk. I will come to you tonight, to your chambers. Stay awake."
"But the guards…"
"Don't worry, The guards will never be able to see me."
Isis hurried out towards her chariot dreaming of the romantic night ahead.  
*****
Satis worked the horses' backs with the reigns restlessly to attain more speed. She must summon the head priest Setekh quickly, before night time, as her queen had told her so he can give offering to the gods for Seti's health to recover. The thunderous trots of the three horses that pulled the chariot echoed through the pathways. The wheels grinded fiercely with the grounds underneath and sparks flared from the iron helms. People in its wake jumped to the right and left as they viewed the chariot tear recklessly through the roads. In a few moments the temple began coming into focus. Satis instantly brought the chariot to a halt as she viewed another chariot at its entrance. The horses screamed and bucked as Satis pulled harder on the reigns in fear of losing control of the vehicle. As she maintained the situation she parked her chariot at a far distance and stepped down. She walked rapidly to the entrance and carefully examined the chariot and horses. It was certainly a nobleman's chariot from its status and condition. Satis entered but after a couple of steps chose to stand still in her place as she heard Isis's voice. "What was she doing in the temple?" Satis immediately reasoned that she was there for the same purposes as what Sekhmet sent her for. However before she resumed her paces the dialogue made her chill with fear.
"I came to tell you that Seti just had a major illness. That rubble of filth is useless as a cripple lying in his bed."…
Satis was bewildered at the words of treason that Setekh and Isis spoke. Upon hearing Isis's footsteps growing louder she hurried out of the temple and raced towards her chariot. She, as silently as possible, steered herself out of sight heading back to the royal residence. Satis felt that she was in a dream, that she would wake up soon and come to reality. She had no idea as to what forces of evil would drive Isis to betray her brother. The way that harlot would hug and kiss him at every time they met. The way she would display obedience and allegiance to him and his rule totally blinded him. He loved her and spoiled her with riches and splendors. It was totally amazing that during all this time she harbored nothing but jealousy towards him. Pharaoh was a very good ruler and managed the kingdoms affairs brilliantly. All the people of Egypt prospered under his reign. No famine knew the people or hardship ever since he came into rule. His cities flourished with trade, culture and grandeur not known in long years. Satis felt very sorry for her lord and hoped that he would recover well soon. She had to hurry and tell her mistress what she heard.

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