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Nightmare In Egypt…Part 17/ Feras Werr

Memphis was almost camouflaged with the darkness that was maturing quickly over the Egyptian cities. Nearly all the lights were out in its houses aside the few that were dispersed in different areas. Average sized bonfires were lit on various points of the city by guards to scare off the beasts and their attacks. Apart from the army not a living sole wandered the streets. Stray dogs from time to time howled in the near distances rioting over leftovers. Tranquility was almost, without the soft insect sounds in the backgrounds.  
The warm currents made the fire in front of the two guards watching the temple entrance flicker occasionally. Thutmose gazed with wanting eyes as the aroma of the frying chickens over the flames fed his hunger. Amasis, suffering from the same hunger spell but managing more patience, rolled the bar steadily. The two chickens were beginning to tan as the scorching tongues grilled their surface. Only short moments kept the hungry soldiers apart from their much craved for meal. 
Thutmose and Amasis were life long guards in the army. Both served as personal guards in the court as they enjoyed good reputation and records. Ptah confident of their loyalty assigned them with the task of guarding the temple and its priests. He knew that they were not the type to be bought or remolded at all.
Thutmose and Amasis were both at average height with dark hair, heart shaped faces and very common facial features. They boasted huge biceps and muscular builds from the massive training they undertook during their long years of army service. Both used the sword and the spear skillfully. They could cut a leave in half by one sword strike and spear a target with exceptional accuracy.   
Chanting and hymns prevailed in the near backgrounds as the temple priests fulfilled their evening prayers to the gods and gave in their sacrifices. Their prayers were no more than murmurs to the guards who were engaged in dialogue to waste away cooking time of their food.
"They say her funeral was yesterday." Thutmose said,
Amasis shook his head sideways and commented, "She and Pharaoh Seti never got along in their past years. Rumors have it that she fell in love with Setekh the sorcerer."
"She never liked Sekhmet. Ever since our Pharaoh married Sekhmet Isis never liked her. After she insulted her live in front of an assembly she and Seti had a vicious fight. I could hear their voices all the way to the court." Thutmose's stomach released a low growl. He eyed the chicken once again and continued, "Falling in love with a sorcerer was the least of Seti's worries back then."
Amasis announced proudly, "Ah, our chickens are ready." 
Thutmose rubbed his hands together merrily and watched as Amasis slid his share off the bar and gave it to him. Thutmose attempted to grab the chicken but it proved to be roasting hot for his fingers. 
"Calm down, Thutmose. Wait patiently for it to cool down a bit."
Thutmose rubbed his stomach and commented, "I'm dying."
Amasis asked, "I wonder where they found her. The soldiers in the caravan told me that she disappeared along with another soldier. The soldier was never seen again."
Thutmose answered confused, "Satis and Anukhis told me something else. They told me that Seti ordered her death and that she ran away frightened. They found her serving in a bar of some kind. There was no prisoner caravan."
Amasis commented assuring, "Oh she was in a prisoner caravan al right. The soldiers told me of their many sexy adventures with her." Amasis punched the ground with his fist, "I wish I was with them. They told me wonders of how beautiful her body was...the softness of her breasts."
Thutmose laughed and said, "I would have gone and made her strip to my pleasure."
Amasis whistled, "I saw her once walk past the residence gate with her servants. Milky white complexion, red hair flowing till the bottom of her back, awesome figure, hips swaying right and left as she walked steadily. Just looking at her hurt so much." Amasis suddenly gave Thutmose a sharp look, "You heard she was in a bar and you hid something like this." He punched his shoulder, "Next time I'll kick your behind."
Thutmose defended, "Hey, I heard that very late, after she had already killed herself." He looked down at the chicken, "I think its cold by now." 
Amasis and Thutmose picked up their food and nourished away. The ghost crept very slowly and cautiously, surfing the atmosphere, unnoticed by them.
"I wonder what happened to Setekh." Thutmose asked with a big morsel of meat in his mouth."
"I heard that he died, the bounty hunters killed him in Thebes while taking refuge at the head priest's house there. Is it true that the temple priests were ordered to place a curse at Isis's grave?"
"I heard the same thing. I would never dare to go near her tomb."
Amasis commented while taking drumstick bite, "You couldn't. Not many people know even were she was buried. I heard rumors that her tomb was cursed to be lost forever. Nobody will ever find it. If anybody should find her tomb and try to enter the curse would plague him. " 
"Well she and her brother are dead now. I only hope that scorpion Setekh got killed…" 
"Setekh will never die."
Thutmose put down the chicken and stared at Amasis. "What do you mean he will never die?"
"I didn't say anything."
Thutmose requisitioned, "Then who said…"
Amasis gave shriek of pain. Thutmose watched horror stricken as his partner rose in the air above the grounds thrashing in pain at the apparition's grip. The sounds of bone breaking froze the blood in his body as his partner fell to the floor lifeless. Thutmose took his spear and threw it at the apparition. It hurled through it as if flying through thin air. The apparition glided towards Thutmose. He walked back until he hit the outside wall of the temple. "I'm immortal you fool."
"Leave me alone! Somebody help!"
Very soon he felt hands firming around his neck. He tried wrestling them off but could only touch the skin of his neck. It was a very hard feeling as the hands tightened their grip. He found it gradually impossible to breath. His legs and arms started thrashing wildly. He gasped helplessly for air. In seconds the apparition released him as it saw him grow lifeless. It eyed as the soul departed far away. 
It raised up its' hand and gestured summoning. Its body appeared in the distance walking steadily down the path in front of the temple. It kept close eye contact with it till it reached the temple. The apparition calmly glided towards it and united. Setekh returned to life. 
He picked up Thutmose's body and dipped his teeth into it lacerating the flesh. He sucked wildly quenching his suddenly felt thirst. Every sip he took relished his body and revived his soul. The scriptures did say that once the departed soul returned to the body the changes will be felt. 
Once done he threw Thutmose's body back and raised his hands in prayer, "Very soon I shall announce your covenant with the rest of the priests. Your rule shall be established mighty lord." Setekh entered into the temple saluting his priestly breeds. All stopped their chanting and eyed their leader, marveling at his comeback. 
*****
The victorious Egyptian army paraded through the walled city of Madaba part of its immeasurable force. Ramses feared to release his entire army within the city's quarters lest he over pack the neighborhoods and arouse problems and accidents. Accordingly he picked his finest divisions and headed them, his three horsed chariot in the lead followed by Ptah riding a two horsed one. The rest of the army rolled neatly afterwards, two horsed chariots then infantry and wagons. Thousands of Moabites ran to the streets to hail and cheer their victors. Waves of happiness and joy raced through Ramses at the sight of the multitude. Scores of Moabite women danced in triumph in front of him. 
A Moabite lady approached and kissed him while placing a crown made of tree branches on his head. The multitude showered the Egyptians with flowers of all types and kinds. People from the roof tops threw leave branches in welcome of the great leader and his forces. The procession gallantly made their way to King Mesha's palace while saluting back their cheerers. 
The Moabites had been at the mercy of the Egyptians ever since the rule of Thutmose III. His armies struck hard the fertile crescents and placed a wide portion of the region under his domain. Their came afterwards famine that swept the entire Transjordan area and the Moabites immigrated to Egypt where they were helped against a pact of allegiance their forefathers made to the Pharaohic ruthless rule. For many long decades the Moabites were considered allies and fought many battles with the Egyptian army strengthening its rule and helping in its' military conquests until Akhnaton came to power with his brawls with the priests. The Egyptian rule over the far domains weakened drastically. Egypt was thrusted into turmoil for long years as the disputes rose to bitter phases. The Moabites roamed freely till Seti I decided to refocus the worship of the gods in his kingdom and regain his lost inheritance that once extended from Sinai till Transjordan. The Kingdom of Moab turned into a governorate with its king simply running the day to day life of his people with no real power. 
Mesha never really liked Pharaohic authority. His people believed in their own rules, religious gods, constitution and sovereignty. The big Temple of the war god Amenram built whose purpose was to please the god and to totally eclipse their local gods was met with sourness. No other gods were to be honored but the Egyptian gods. The tiring taxes requested by their masters kept them working around the year trying to meet up the demands and still make enough for themselves. In addition a fourth of their annual crop yield and cattle grazing were sent to a reserve in Memphis; a government tradition established my Joseph ever since the great famine days and required of everybody under Egyptian rule. Despite the pressures Mesha never dared any foolish tricks with Seti. He was wise enough not to confront the Egyptians face to face. He had initiated secret contact with the Hittites and promised them to back them up by sending troops to Kadesh to fight with them. He furthermore promised Muwatallis a free guarded pathway through Moab in case he beat the Egyptian army and crossed their lands to conquer Memphis and Thebes. In return Upon Hittite victory they would grant him full authority of his province for his allegiance and alliance. But these hopes were soon curtailed when he saw the size of Ramses's army go north towards Sidon and Tyre. Mesha read the forecast well and knew that the Hittites would never win as he had planned. He cancelled his proposal and never sent the forces as he had pledged Muwatallis. He was truly thankful that he didn't because Ramses wouldn't have had any mercy on them and would have slaughtered them on their grounds. 
The parade ended outside the walls of the grand Moabite royal residence in Madaba. It was a huge piece of architecture resembling a fortress made out of stone bricks and with a lavish garden planted across its entire perimeter. Ptah and the divisions detoured to join the rest of the army that was camping on an open piece of land on the outskirts of the province. Ramses entered the wide gates of the fortress and was escorted by twelve high ranking soldiers inside the fortress premises, which nested elegantly in the heart of Madaba. The wide gates of the fortress entrance opened as Ramses along with his officers descended their horses. Mesha dressed in a fine burgundy dress stood at the door with a big smile on his face. He had a young bilingual advisor beside him for communication purposes. Egyptian speakers were found but at a minimal level and only within the population of the traveling merchants and scholars. 
The advisor was at normal height with very regular facial features and dark complexion. Mesha was an old man of eighty years with black hair, black eyes, thin cheeks and an oval face full of wrinkles reflecting his advanced years in life. 
He stretched out his hands, which were thin and boney, as he greeted the young strong Pharaoh in his native tongue. "Mighty Pharaoh, you are welcome to our lands always. The news of your great triumph made our hearts light with joy." 
Balak translated in very articulate Egyptian. Ramses nodded his head in amusement at the well spoken translation. 
He replied, "Undoubtedly Egypt will rule these plains for many long years to come." Ramses shook hands with the king as he was ushered in to the main court of the fortress. Mesha and Balak showed Ramses to the throne and gestured him to sit down. 
"Muwatallis has long posed a threat for our kingdom as we are very near to the front with him. My people have fought with your father's army many times till we pressed them back to far borders."
"Then you served our purposes well. Muwatallis was truly a joint threat but after the massive blow he received from us he will think twice before organizing another attack. I firmly believe I have curtailed his strength for long years to come."
"You know, many a times he sent me messengers wanting a joint meeting with me to discuss any future ties with them…" Ramses who was leaned back at the throne and relaxed suddenly sat up at the news. Mesha's and Balak's faces turned tense. 
"That bastard wanted to organize an uprising from within…"
Mesha gestured Ramses to calm down, "Relax mighty pharaoh, I have made a pact with your father that not Muwatallis nor a thousand like him can shake." 
After the latest events with Setekh and what happened in the palace with the spies, Ramses stopped lending his trust to anyone easily. He did fortify his forts in Sidon and Tyre with double the amount of troops that once was available but Mesha's words added a new horizon to things. "My friend Mesha, I do thank you for your allegiance to my kingdom. We are truly strong to have allies like you at our side. And this truthfulness and trust has bought you even more troops to guard you. I will give my orders for an additional fort of troops in your lands as a sign of the strong bond between us."
Mesha knew that his honesty was a double bladed sword. However bad it was it still prevented the worst from happening. He just blocked any gossip that might come to attention about his pact with the Hittites. "And to this we shall drink and celebrate this evening. You and your commanders will enjoy our excellent Moabite hospitality."
Ramses felt an uneasiness creep into his heart at Mesha's latest words. Despite his comfort at his decision to fortify his army's grip on Moab he read easily between the lines. His young years weren't a source of foolishness at all. Their will have to be a way to seal this whole issue once and for all. 
The evening proved to be relaxing. Mesha's fortress erupted into life with music and singing. Dancers leaped with joy entertaining their guests. The wine was formidable and the lamb meat exquisite. The twelve Egyptian commanders soon found themselves female mates and coupled with them. After long months of deprivation their presence posed a tough allurement that they couldn't resist. The women had real revealing robes that pleasured their suitors quickly and minimized the language gap between them. Leisure conversation and chatting echoed within the majestic walls of the courtroom as the double nationality assembly socialized. 
As the effects of the wines were felt, some of the commanders grew drunk and began dancing foolishly at the tunes played. The women soon joined them and massive laughter erupted from the viewers. Ramses and Mesha found it hard to prevent giggling themselves at their awkward steps and movements performed in the middle of the courtroom. One commander found it quite amusing to dance with a cooked lamb leg in a hand and a cup of wine in the other. He kept munching morsels from it and sipping wine while jumping up and down and turning in circles in an attempt to catch the musical tempo.  The other commanders found the game amusing and soon joined him each with a lamb leg and a cup of wine in their hands doing the same moves. Soon a new danced was created.      
Ramses, Mesha and Balak toasted their wines endlessly as they drank to the victory at hand. One cup after the other soon loosened the two leader's defenses and they talked as life long friends. The sincerity between them was mounting to a point not at all expected. The red drug released the secrets walled within their hearts and minds. Mesha told Ramses what he really thought about the heavy taxes his father had implemented on them and how he always hated surrendering a fourth of his crop in. Ramses honestly told him that he was thinking of drafting many Moabite masons to help in the new palace he was thinking of building to himself in Thebes. Mesha agreed to send the masons to work in return for a decrease in the crop quota. Both parties found it feasible and pleasing. 
Suddenly Ramses stood up from the throne. The whole assembly quieted down. The music ceased and the silly dancers sat down with no clue as to what was happening. Some of them continued munching at the meat within their hands while the others sat down eyeing the beautiful princess that had just entered. She was Ruth Mesha's daughter. She entered through the main gates of the courtroom and walked down the isles towards Ramses. Ramses did nothing but watch her astounding beauty. She was tall with long black hair. Her fit figure swayed lightly as she glided smoothly down the isles. She had a milky white complexion, friendly heart shaped face, black eyes, and thin cheeks that gave in to a light pink. Her lips boasted a natural red color that made the redness of the wine shame with fakeness. Ramses felt knives stab his body at the sight of her natural lady like sway as she approached and knelt in obedience to him. For the first time in his life he found the worship of a person in front of him to be unrequired as he felt the urge instead to worship and adore her gorgeousness. He bent downwards and picked her up by her arms. The sweet touch of her white skin made him shiver with want. 
"You boast beauty that only the goddesses of our lands host."
Ramses looked at Balak gesturing him to translate. Balak hesitated at first then fulfilled the request. 
Ruth shot a glance of surprise at the unexpected compliment and blushed. "I'm elated that my beauty meets the high taste of my lord Ramses. Egyptian women splendor with loveliness and charm too." 
Balak felt his face go red as he translated the warm passionate words. He looked at Mesha who seemed uncomfortable from what was happening. 
"I have always felt that my fate will take me abroad, to distant lands. Perhaps fate is knocking at my door right now."
"Intuitions can be illusioning sometimes. They make us feel that we can grasp things that are perhaps beyond our reach."
Ramses replied softly, "Is love an illusion? It is a reality that people live and feel everyday."
"Real love is very rare. It can be only found in the purest hearts and souls."
Mesha body rushed with anxiety. Such an unplanned meeting would buy him favor and happiness at Pharaoh's court till eternity. Ruth took a seat near Ramses who sat back down at the thrown examining her closely. Her black eyes glittered magnificently like the night stars of the sky. Mesha gave his daughter a smile of pleasure at her wise decision to sit beside the young leader. He looked back at Ramses as his mind rushed with anticipation and continued his conversation on internal issues. He began negotiating a plan to lower taxes but Ramses was no where near his topic of interest. He was basking in another soft and warmer world. 
*****
The top of the incandescent sphere was showing in the distances. The horizons of Memphis began shimmering as the bright sunny rays stretched out along its long frontiers. The low nightly sounds slowly began to die off and were replaced by a variety of lively bird chirping. The flowing waters of the Nile turned into murmurs in the backgrounds as the streets gradually began to fill with people taking off to their shops and businesses. The fields bustled with workers who harvested the mature yields. The hot season was coming to a close and preparation would be soon underway for the winter crops.   
Everything seemed to function normally in the early morning hours up till cries and groans began to be heard in different places in the city. Ailment struck and caused panic between the masses of people. A foul taste and smell rose from the waters of the Nile and drinking facilities. Many people ignorantly drank not knowing the consequences and were stricken with illness. A greater half chose not to risk and suffered from thirst. Life in the city came to a halt. The doctors had no clue as to what the causes were or to any possible medication. Towards midday illness and dehydration caused deaths among the children. The heavy fevers with time began to wither away the health of grownups and deaths in their category were recorded in the afternoon. Hundreds of cases were reported to the palace as night time fell again. The case was feared to spread to Thebes and messengers were sent to check the situation out. 
Setekh watched the image hovering over his death pot and laughed in amusement. "Ramses you shall rule a dead city. I will make you pay for my suffering and for Isis's death. You shall be the prince of the desert with only the sands to worship you."
Setekh's heart was full of hate towards the royal family. His merciless target to inflict suffering upon them knew no failure. He was determined to make Sekhmet's and Ramses's life miserable and shame full. He wanted to make them die in deep suffering, just like they ruined his life and caused Isis to commit suicide. They made him and Isis pay a very dear price for conspiracy. He will make the pay too.  
The frying human ingredients were beginning to release the required potent aroma.  He opened the lid of a wooden box that rested beside him and grabbed its big black content. It bit him over and over again with its poisonous long tale but Setekh enjoyed immunity from the black evils he served. He placed it inside the pot and watched as the insect began racing wildly at the high temperatures. The scorpion jumped and sizzled at the scorching heat. In seconds it turned into a tormented body and rested lifeless. He stood up and backed far away from the pot. He closed his eyes and went into deep meditation. The entire chamber filled with thick mist. The pot began vibrating powerfully. In seconds scores of scorpions gushed from it. The pot over turned as the flood poured out and began circling Setekh. The black lethal army rising uncontrollably in number stood obediently around its master who began organizing his mental power in preparation for command. Suddenly it raced randomly for a minute or two then directed itself outside of the temple. 
The black army, camouflaged by the night, resembled a ground blanket of locusts that attacked with precision and brutality. Blood curdling screams of terror tore through the city as the swarms released their wrath. The people ran about their homes and streets madly looking for refuge but the assailants populated the entire city. The excruciating stings of death stuck down the bodies in seconds. 
In the palace the insects mounted their human preys that were caught off guard while sleeping, and stung massively different areas of their bodies. The place turned in a jiffy to a madhouse with its inhabitants wailing and dancing their sufferings away. Sekhmet screeched violently as five scorpions raced up on her and thrusted her into living hell. Her feet and ankles swelled up as the hundreds on the grounds accurately did their job. Very soon her energy drained. She surrendered and her body fell down with a thud. She saw the swarms climb on her but couldn't resist as her body felt extremely weak and numb. She convulsed as she felt something about to tear away from her then silence engulfed her.    
Setekh looked at the image over his pot with pleasure. The suffering he saw in front of him was enriching his soul and feeding his sinister appetite. Sekhmet's death was victory to him. He clasped his hands together then jerked them apart. The entire population of scorpions dismantled to dust in seconds. The city was a ghost town with nothing but dead corpses and their pained yelling that still echoed within its walls and streets.   

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