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Tuesday, October 8, 1996

 

Kaye sank down into the plush mauve recliner.  He was glad to be off his feet after the night of running around.  Since Kaye had insisted forcefully that he wouldn’t give up contact with his family, even upon repeated threats by Seth, his sire had finally relented and had crafted the story that Kaye had met an extremely influential professor of Egyptology who, impressed by Kaye’s resourcefulness and knowledge, had invited him to attend a private school in England, where he would also finish Kaye’s tutoring.  He had sent the email that night.

 

Kaye wasn’t tired, at least not physically.  The chair was comfortable and he just wanted to…sleep.  He watched through lidded eyes as his sire gazed out the window at the passing lights of the city of Luxor, the gentle motion of the Nile luxury liner extremely comforting.  As he thought of Luxor, he felt a small twinge of regret.  “I’m really gonna miss that fatayeer…” he mumbled.  His sire chuckled.

 

Something had been nagging at the back of Kaye’s mind ever since the night had started to wind down.

 

“Did you really turn – er, embrace – me because you were bored?”

 

Seth looked over at Kaye, startled by the question.  He smiled.  “Well, perhaps not entirely.  You reminded me a little of myself, of course, you’re a lot less disciplined!”  He laughed at the sore look Kaye gave him.  “I was impressed with your thirst for knowledge and the resourcefulness you’ve shown, trying to tail a supernatural creature to find answers, even if you were wrong.  Those are good qualities in a Khaibit.  And your actions before your embrace were admirable, if a little foolish.”  He looked out the window.  “That courage and passion will serve you well as a guardian.  Too many Khaibit have forgone the ways of the ancients, unknowingly willing to allow darkness to enter the world.  They serve their masters as retainers, servants, and assassins, ignorant as to their true heritage.”  Seth fell silent and Kaye contemplated what he’d said.  The boat swished through the water, leaving Luxor behind.

 

Seth turned back to him and let the heavy blanket fall over the window, then drew the curtains shut.  He insisted it was necessary to block out all light once morning arrived.  The vampire picked up the glowing laptop from the bed and plopped it down on Kaye’s lap, startling him.

 

“Look, we’ve made the news!” he smiled slyly.

 

Kaye focused on the small text gracing the international news website.  A small blurb from Reuters described a series of attacks in the town of Armant, Egypt near Luxor by some dog-like creatures that culminated in over a dozen injured and the death of three people.  It claimed local people called it the Salaawa.  It went on to say that officials had shot and killed the suspected animals, and an autopsy was now being done.

 

Kaye was confused.  “Where are all the injuries coming from?  Did you do that before last night?  They occur over a period of a month.”

 

The vampire shook his head.  “Not me.”

 

“So these weren’t all you?” Kaye asked incredulously.

 

Seth looked at the boy.  “I don’t need to feed that often.”

 

Kaye was flustered.  He followed the links to the only photograph.  It showed an officer holding a large, pale greyhound like dog, very dead.

 

“They killed a dog!  But that’s not what a Salaawa looks like!”

 

“Well, you know, humans don’t want to believe in the supernatural.  They will believe any explanation, if rational enough, despite evidence to the contrary.  And they’re likely to shoot anything that might be a possible suspect, in a town that small.”

 

“But that can’t be it!  Can it?”

 

You’re the wannabe expert on Set,” he said slyly.  You tell me.

 

Kaye remembered clearly the night he had seen the creature that had reminded him so vividly of Set.  He looked up suspiciously.

 

“You didn’t happen to visit the Valley of the Kings a few days ago, did you?”

 

Seth shook his head.  “I haven’t been there yet this trip.”

 

“Well, they didn’t kill a Salaawa, whatever the news says.  I can’t believe they thought it was a couple of dogs!”  Kaye fumed.  “They’re just someone’s pet dogs!  They even had collars!”

 

“Well, if you’re that worked up over it, I’ll buy you a dog!” Seth sighed.  “But I’m going to bed!  The sun will be up in a few minutes.  You go to bed too!”

 

He walked to the plush king-size bed and swung himself underneath it, disappearing beneath the long dust cover.  “You can have the top!”

 

Kaye closed the laptop and walked over to the window.  He peeked out at the sky, a pale rose color just touching the dark horizon over the desert, and felt the strong pull of sleep.  “Are you sure we can’t see the sun?”

 

“I’m ninety-nine point nine percent sure you won’t live to regret it,” said the voice under the bed.  “It’s your funeral!”

 

Kaye hurriedly shut the drapes and jumped into bed, pulling closed the curtains on the large four-poster.  He yanked the covers up over his head and stared into the darkness.

 

A minute passed.  As Kaye was beginning to sink into sleep, Seth’s voice penetrated his consciousness.  “By the way, I’ve heard rumors that the Tomb of Seker is located near the Pyramids.  We’ll be there in a few days.  Interested?”

 

Visions of the pyramids floated through Kaye’s mind, and he tried to think of a witty comment, but the rocking of the ship made forming thought impossible, and then the inviting darkness claimed him.

 

 





Notes

Actual Fact

When planning my story, I knew I wanted Kaye to go to Egypt, arrive at a temple, meet a vampire, and get turned.  I also wanted them to fight off some sort of evil creature or monster of some sort, possibly something summoned, perhaps by mages.  Since Khaibit are related to Set in some way, I also wanted him to become interested in Set, possibly by seeing the Set-creature called the Salaawa.  I remembered the Salaawa from Steph’s games, and when I started looking it up, I found that there were actually supposed Salaawa attacks in Egypt.  The attacks occurring up to Oct 8, 1996?  Those were real.  Three people were actually killed.  You can find the online article here: http://alain.debord.club.fr/news/news9.htm

 

Tidbits

-         Most all the locations, culture, events (aside from most of the supernatural ones), times, etc used in this story are based on research and could actually happen.  Including the guard with the sub-machine gun.

-         Interestingly, after I did my research into locations for an actual Temple of Set for which to place Kaye’s encounter with the vampire, I couldn’t find any specific still existing temples, just general areas where he was once worshiped.  The ancient town of Ombos (now Kom Ombo) was once a location of worship for Set.  The town was named Nubt after the gold that was found in the area and was probably at or near the present location of Kom Ombo.  The information I found indicated that a temple was at Nubt near Kom Ombo, but not precisely where.  So, after reading about the Temple at Kom Ombo, which was actually dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile-headed god, and Horus, I decided that its location and looks suited my purpose, so I located a hidden Temple to Set beneath it.  The interesting fact is that afterwards, when I was browsing through various WoD manuals, I came across the Old WoD Followers of Set, and they also located the roots of the Followers at the Temple of Kom Ombo.

-         As for the giant mummified crocodile, I finally settled on it because I couldn’t figure out what other appropriate Egyptian monster to use.  It turns out that the Temple actually does have mummified crocodiles on display.

-         When I was nearly finished with the story and had already written the King’s Valley scene, I found out that tombs at the Valley of the Kings are labeled with the letters KV and a number – KV also coincidentally the first two initials of Kaye’s name.  Just out of curiosity, I looked up the tomb, KV-17, 17 being Kaye’s age, and the corresponding tomb was for Seti I, who was named after Set.

-         The town of Armant does have its share of small temples, including various associated sphinx statues.  The mages robbed one of them.

 

Interesting Thought

The tomb of Seti I is the longest, most ornate tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and there has recently been a long passageway discovered at the back leading into the hills that has still not been fully explored.  It has been said by some people who research the Salaawa (mere speculation probably), that it lives in the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.  If that is true, then KV-17, Seti I’s tomb, might be an ideal location for them to live.  It is also currently closed to the public because of flood damage, so it doesn’t get visitors.  The orientation of the tomb is such that it is possible it could have been the one at which Kaye saw the Salaawa.  However, I don’t know the relative heights of the tomb and the part of the Valley that Kaye was standing at so I’m not entirely sure.

Previous


* * * * *

 

It was so cool, and somewhat disorienting, to walk into a shadow and suddenly appear in a completely different location.  It only took about half an hour for them this way to reach the village of Armant.  Kaye wasn’t sure how they’d find the mages among the entire population, but the older vampire, whom Kaye learned was called his sire, assured Kaye that he would be able to recognize their aura.

 

“It’s sparkly,” he said.

 

“They sparkle?” Kaye asked doubtfully.

 

“Trust me.”

 

Kaye wasn’t too sure about this concept of sparkly mages, but he wasn’t going to argue.  It took the other vampire a little while to find the mage’s location.  They observed the three-story cement building from several streets away.

 

“Are you sure?” Kaye whispered.

 

“Yes,” he whispered back.  “Besides, I can hear them.”

 

“I don’t hear anything,” Kaye complained.  “How are you able to – “

 

“I could hear a lot better if you weren’t talking in my ear!” the vampire hissed, slamming Kaye’s head down into the sandy pavement they were crouched on.

 

Kaye decided to be quiet after that.

 

After a while, the vampire said, “It’s no good, they’ve set up barriers now – they’re likely preparing their final summoning.”

 

“You mean as opposed to their mistakes?” Kaye snickered.

 

“Their mistake almost killed you,” he answered mildly.  Kaye didn’t know what to say to that.

 

“Most likely they’ve set up spells and traps to guard the place while they work.  The trickiest part will be getting in.  Once we do, they should be fairly involved in their summon and hopefully unprepared for intruders.  You’re going to be a problem though,” he looked sideways at Kaye.  “You haven’t developed any disciplines yet - vampire abilities,” he amended as Kaye was about to protest.  He gave Kaye a stern look.  “You will do exactly as I say, immediately, with no questions.”  Kaye nodded, suddenly nervous.

 

“We need to move slowly until we get there.  Any sudden use of power could alert them to our presence.”  He fixed Kaye with his gaze.  Can you hear me?

 

Startled at the deep voice ringing clearly in his mind, Kaye opened his mouth to respond, but at his sire’s look, closed it and nodded instead.

 

Good.  He replied with satisfaction.  We will communicate like this.  Don’t speak.

 

Kaye followed his master as he moved off slowly and casually down the street.  The boy glanced up to the upper story windows with concern, wondering if they could be seen.

 

Don’t worry; they will not be able to see us unless they know where to look.

 

After a few long minutes, they reached the concrete exterior.  Go to the door, but don’t touch it, the vampire ordered.  The window they crouched next to was too thick and dirty to see anything inside.  Kaye obeyed.  When he looked back, his sire was gone.

 

Kaye waited nervously by the door for something to happen.  His new ‘Master’ had disappeared, presumably to arrange for a way for Kaye to enter without being detected.  Kaye sighed.  He still had to get used to that.  And what were they going to do once they apprehended the magicians?  Turn them over to the police?  Hey, we caught these guys trying to summon the ancient god Seker, there’s a penalty for that, right?  Kaye shook his head.  The other vampire hadn’t been too clear. . .

 

Whoosh!  Kaye jumped.  A window next to the door had just opened, and a middle-aged, bearded man in a green robe peered out.  Kaye teetered, trying not to fall.  His mouth opened as he tried to come up with an excuse for standing there, before he remembered that he was supposed to be invisible.  The man looked right past him and didn’t even blink.  Kaye relaxed.  A shadow caught his eye, and turning his head slightly, he saw the dark form of a cat scurry across the street.  The man apparently noticed it too, because he slammed shut the window and muttered, “Darn cats!”

 

The door suddenly popped open and the man hurried out, nearly brushing against Kaye.  He crouched down next to the side of the building and started chanting something under his breath.  Curious, Kaye tried to peer over the man’s shoulder at the strange glow that appeared.  Then he remembered the open door, and after trying to catch another look, quickly slipped through it. 

 

He found himself in a good-sized room, colored in warm shades of reds and browns.  A fire burned in the fireplace, flanked by two small sphinx statues, one of them curiously missing its head.  Kaye looked around the room for his sire, but all he saw were shifting shadows, caused by the fireplace.  The door clicked and Kaye hurriedly stepped out of the way of the mage.

 

He backed across the carpet and then heard a snap behind him.  Both Kaye and the mage turned at the same time.  The two ancient dog-sized statues reclining on either side of the fireplace shuddered and cracked as they started to get up.  The mage noticing this frowned and started to walk toward them.

 

All the shadows in the room suddenly swarmed toward the mage, blanketing him in darkness.  Kaye was momentarily distracted and almost didn’t notice as the two sphinxes leapt at him.  The headless one sailed past Kaye, nearly grazing him before smashing somewhere behind, as Kaye crashed to the floor with the weight of the intact second sphinx.

 

The animated statue snapped at Kaye with its large goat head and raked at him with lion’s claws.  Kaye was glad for once that he didn’t need to breathe because he wasn’t sure he could have.  He struggled with the heavy goat-thing on his chest, finally managing to shove it off.  It crouched and sprung, but Kaye managed a solid kick to its chest, sending it flying into the fireplace, which exploded in a shower of sparks.

 

Kaye yelped and dove behind a plush recliner.  After a second he realized how foolish that was and peeked out.  The sphinx had shattered with the impact and was lying in the smoldering remains of the fire.

 

His sire was standing over the body of the mage with his back to Kaye.  He ran his hand across his mouth and turned around.  He looked flush with life.  Kaye stared, aghast.

 

“You killed him?!”

 

Seth was annoyed.  “Of course I did.  What, did you think we were going to tell the police he was involved in summoning a god?”

 

“But…but…”

 

Seth grabbed Kaye’s arm and yanked him toward the stairs.  “Think of it this way.  These mages are trying to bring evil into the world.  Do you want that to happen?” he asked harshly.

 

“No…” Kaye replied sulkily.

 

“Then, let’s go!”

 

The commotion downstairs taken care of, the two crept silently up the stairs.  They reached a long, wide hallway with no interruptions and proceeded down it cautiously.  The only illumination was provided, oddly enough, by a flickering torch midway down.  Kaye was entertaining the thought of using as a sort of makeshift weapon, but remembered the fire downstairs, and was strangely apprehensive about approaching it.  It wasn’t the idea that it might be trapped, it was that the flame, which normally would have seemed so cheerful and inviting suddenly…wasn’t.

 

“Don’t even think about it,” whispered his sire.

 

“Oh, I wasn’t –”

 

“You are a vampire.  If you come in contact with any flame, your paper-dry skin will light up like a torch.”  Kaye’s eyes widened at the thought.  “Besides, I gave you a weapon.”

 

Kaye nodded and his eyes fell on the open doorway at the end of the hall.  “They’ll see us!”

 

“Well, we’d better make sure that doesn’t happen,” Seth grinned.

 

“You’re fond of being cryptic, aren’t you?” Kaye said sourly.  His sire said nothing, but simply sat cross-legged on the floor and closed his eyes.  By now, Kaye knew better than to complain.  He sat down next to him and waited.

 

The minutes stretched by.  The flame sputtered and dimmed.  Kaye eyed the far doorway impatiently, sure someone was going to notice them.  He glanced up at his master out of the corner of his eye.  He looked totally calm, zenning out to the world.  Kaye sighed inwardly and amused himself by watching the flickering torch.  The patterns shifted and danced, always growing dimmer and dimmer…

 

His master shook him.  “Hey, don’t zone out on me!  Stay focused!”

 

“That’s easy for you to say, zenning out…” he broke off.  It was so dark he could hardly see the other vampire.  The torch was a mere candle flame in the long, dark hallway.

 

“If you would pay attention, you would know what I was doing!”

 

It suddenly clicked.  The older vampire had been using his power so slowly that the boy hadn’t even noticed.  Kaye felt foolish.

 

“Come on!” Seth motioned.  Kaye followed him silently.

 

As they edged near the open doorway, they could see a large room again lit only by sparse torches.  A large glowing red circle of intricate designs filled one corner, and helped to give the room a crimson hue.  Two figures in robes stood before the circle.  One of them clutched a staff and had his arms raised, clearly performing the summoning.  The other one stood back and to the side.  It was the form within the summoning circle that caught their attention, however.  A writhing mass of black shadow filled the confines of the circle and sought for openings along the edge.  A figure appeared within the cloud, seemingly made of the same darkness.  It coalesced into a human form, gray wrappings loosely covering sickly green skin.  A falcon’s head with a wickedly curved beak looked out of place, and its hollow eyes shone with menace.  The creature’s bare hands gripped the traditional Egyptian crook and flail, its long nails as sharp as talons.

 

The loud chanting filling the room suddenly picked up in intensity and volume.  Seth grimaced.  “If that’s supposed to be Egyptian, their pronunciation is horrible!” he muttered.

 

“What are they saying?” Kaye asked.

 

Seth translated:  “ ‘O Great Lord with Two Wings Opened, Seker the Adorned One, known as He Who is on the Sand, and Lord of the Mysterious Region!  Arise and come before us!’  Blah, blah, blah, ‘Step from your secluded realm…He who Lords Over the Fourth and Fifth Hours of the Night…Binder of Apep…’ blah, blah, I think these people have watched ‘The Mummy’ one two many times.”

 

He looked at Kaye.  “This could go on for a while.” He whispered.  “We’ll attack while they’re still busy summoning.  You take out the one with the staff,” he indicated the man, again with a green robe, “and I’ll take the one in blue.”

 

Kaye looked at the woman standing behind the caster.  She looked unarmed.  “Why don’t I go after that one?”

 

“She’s obviously in control,” he replied, “and more powerful.  Use your dagger!” he commanded.  “They should not see you coming!”

 

“Right…the dagger…” Kaye gripped it in what he thought was a decent hold.  Seth eyed him.

 

“You and I are going to have some lessons later.”

 

Kaye glared at him.

 

“Wait here.”  The vampire faded back into the darkened hall.  Kaye waited.  He was pretty sure his sire was going to sneak into the room while the mages were occupied.  He was glad the darkened hall prevented them from seeing him while he waited.

 

The chanting reached a crescendo.  Kaye tensed.  When would – ?

 

Now! He heard in his mind.

 

Kaye rushed toward the green mage, careful to avoid touching the circle.  His progress was conveniently hidden by the deep shadows that filled the room.  The green mage didn’t notice Kaye until he had almost reached him, but then the shadows receded slightly, and the man reacted with a wall of force that slammed Kaye to the ground.

 

 Kaye managed to keep a grip on the dagger and scrambled to get to his feet.  The mage looked winded and aimed his staff at the boy.  Kaye launched himself past the mage just as the wood floor cracked where he had been lying.  He reacted without thinking and stabbed the Egyptian dagger into the man’s lower back.

 

The man gasped and the scent of fresh blood filled Kaye’s senses.  He saw the thick red liquid soak through the robe and coat the blade, dripping down the hilt, and running warm over his wrist.  The red color filled his mind, and the newly turned vampire within him, not yet fed and ravenous for blood, awoke.  Fangs lengthened in Kaye’s mouth.  He yanked the man’s head back and ripped into his neck.  The man was dead in an instant.

 

Hot, sweet blood filled Kaye’s mouth and he drank greedily, Vitae rushing through him. 

 

Finished, the body fell limply from Kaye’s grip.  Kaye glanced around, still mildly craving more as he licked the mage’s blood from his fingertips.

 

Seth and the last mage were involved in a whirling battle.  She was firing off spells in rapid succession, but the vampire was too quick, able to dodge them and strike back with his saber.  The mage was barely able to deflect his attacks.

 

She called out to the horrendous god contained within the circle.  The magic pulsed and then winked out.  His smoke like shadows snaked out past Kaye, their chill touch bringing him back to his senses.  He gasped and stumbled backwards, tripping over the body of the mage.

 

Seker leapt out toward the dueling pair, his crook and flail transforming into long, wickedly curved daggers.  The shadows flew around him as he bore down on the vampire.  Seth’s grin widened, baring his fangs as he came up to meet the twin daggers with his blade.  The shadows rushed around them, obscuring them from view.  Kaye could see small snatches of the battle, blades clashing and figures dancing.  The mage had good aim and shot spells into their midst, forcing Seth to temporarily disengage while he defended himself.

 

The vampire was clearly enjoying this.  His laughter filled the room, ringing in Kaye’s ears and startling the mage.  “Hahaha!  You think calling on the darkness of Seker is going to help you?  I AM the darkness!” 

 

Thick columns of shadow shot out of the black mass.  They curved around the room and dove toward the group.  The entire room darkened to twilight and the columns twisted into horrifying visages of the Set-creature, maws filled with fangs and eyes burning red in their sockets.  The snarling creatures tore toward the terrified mage.  She raised her short staff and the air distorted briefly behind her before she jumped back through the portal.  Instantly she seemed fainter, but out of automatic reaction, still raised her arms to ward off the massive dog-like head.  She was shocked when it bit on to her staff and snapped it like a twig.

 

Seth laughed.  “Welcome to Twilight!”

 

Seker chose that moment to rush toward the stunned mage.  He slipped behind her and stepped forward, merging into her body.  She slumped forward slightly.  Then her head raised and her eyes were completely black.  Her body radiated a black aura, the very sight of which sent chills down Kaye’s spine.

 

Seth frowned.  “Interesting…” he redoubled his attack on her, savage heads coming at her from all angles.  The mage raised her hands and shadows exploded outward.  The two of them were consumed by darkness.

 

Kaye struggled to his feet, wondering what he should do.  The shadows were erratic, swirling around the room as they continued their furious battle.  One shot through him and Kaye jumped, but was apparently unharmed.

 

Finally, the shadows lifted for an instant and Kaye saw the mage, the shadowy form of Seker superimposed on her image, with one of the massive demonic dog’s heads crushing her arm and side.  Another dog’s head struck, and blood gushed as it nearly severed her other arm that was raised to cast a spell.  Horrified, Kaye watched as a final demonic head came down and tore into her neck.  She went limp and the ghostly shadow of Seker disappeared.  The Salaawa heads coalesced back into Seth, and he stood, bent over the mage, who was now fully materialized, draining her of blood.  When he finished, he tossed the mangled body to the floor.

 

The vampire walked over to Kaye, who stood with his mouth agape.  “Well, that was entertaining.  Enjoy your dinner?  I’m surprised you made it this far without frenzying on me.”  He tousled the boy’s hair.

 

Kaye glanced around the room at the carnage.  The blue mage, scarcely recognizable anymore, blood splattered on the walls, the body behind him that he –

 

Kaye staggered to a wall and slid to the floor.  This wasn’t exactly what he had in mind when Seth told him they had to stop the mages.

 

The vampire crouched next to him.  “Kaye…” he sighed.  The boy looked blankly up at him.  He clapped a hand to Kaye’s shoulder.  “You did fine!  But…” Quickly, his hand shifted to the back of Kaye’s head and he slammed him face-first into the floor.  “Quit freaking out on me!”

 

“Y-yes, sir,” Kaye stuttered into the floorboards, shocked from his stupor.

 

Seth pressed his head down.  “Be happy that you didn’t frenzy on some innocent bystander.  This was the only way we could have stopped these mages.  In situations like these, when people are knowingly and willingly opening portals to that which should not be accessed, the best method to stop them is their death.  And in a fight, you have only two choices: their death or yours.  If you allow them to get the first strike, it will very likely be the last mistake you make.”

 

He released Kaye.  The boy sat up slowly, rubbing his forehead and face.  He was slightly dazed.

 

“So!” The vampire announced.  “It turns out that wasn’t Seker after all.”

 

Kaye glanced up carefully.  “You were wrong?” he asked, prepared to be hit again.

 

“I wasn’t wrong, the mages were.  Or rather, they made another mistake.”  He sat back.  “That was actually a creature – call it a demon – from the gate that guards the hours of Seker.  It simply took on the image of Seker when it was summoned, in order to fool the mages.  They would likely have ended up dead, either way.”

 

“They didn’t read the Book of the Dead very well, did they?” Kaye attempted a quip.

 

“When traveling through the hours of the night, one must pass through various gates in order to reach the appropriate hour.  Each gate has its own guardians.  The Book of the Dead, or the Amduat, describes the journey of Ra through twelve hours – or stages, domains, realms, whatever you want to call them – of the night, a.k.a. the underworld.  The realm of Seker is described in this book.  It is specifically the Book of Gates that describes each of the gates one must pass through.  They probably only looked at the Amduat, since the Book of Gates isn’t that widely read.  Therefore, they didn’t know they had to pass through the appropriate gate and defeat the appropriate guardian, usually by naming it.  They clearly gave it the wrong name.”

 

“That was stupid!”

 

He shrugged.  “They’re mages.”

 

Seth stood up and stretched.  “The night is still young!  We should get out and enjoy it!”

 

“But what about…all this?”  Kaye gestured, trying not to think about it.

 

Seth grinned.  “We’ll let the police deal with it.  There’s no evidence here.  As far as the police know, some animal attacked them.”

 

“That’s…some animal…”

 

The torchlight glinted off of his fangs.  “We’ll make sure of it!”

 

* * * * *

 

An eerie howl broke the late night silence in the village of Armant.  The unearthly cry woke the sleeping police officer on duty at the tiny station, reverberating in his mind and chilling him to the core.  He rushed outside, fumbling with his pistol.  Numerous lights were turning on as the populace awoke to the chilling sound.  He heard a noise behind him and turned just in time to see a pair of shadows disappear among the buildings.

 

His deputy ran out of the small office and handed him a shotgun.  He nodded.  This time, they would catch the creature…

 

* * * * *

Previous   |   Next

* * * * *

 

They descended the sandstone steps, Kaye leading the way with the flashlight.  After a few minutes, the narrow stairway seemed to come to an abrupt end, but the curator pointed out it was actually a sharp turn to discourage intruders, and sure enough, the stairwell continued to the right.  After a few more turns, the passage finally leveled off into a dark tunnel.

 

After about fifty feet, the barren passage suddenly sprang to life with ancient hieroglyphics and elaborate scenes in vivid red, yellow, green, and blue.  Kaye gasped in awe.

 

“I’ve never seen anything like this before!  Nothing this well preserved!  Are you sure this is ancient?”

 

“Oh, yes.  You can see marks along the bottom of the paintings where ceremonial robes, brushing against these narrow halls, gradually wore away the paint over time.”  Sure enough, when Kaye looked, there were wide sweeps of faded paint, in some places completely worn away.

 

“Just up ahead, we’ll reach the first of the many chambers and rooms down here.”

 

They entered a somewhat small room with a low ceiling adorned with celestial symbols and birds with their wings outstretched.  The rest of the room was surprisingly bare and a fair layer of dust covered the ground.  A shallow depression in the middle of the room indicated the removal of an altar.  After a quick check, the two bypassed a small storage room that was empty and continued down a larger hallway.

 

Kaye abruptly began to feel cold and started rubbing his arms for warmth.  Suddenly, the curator grabbed Kaye’s shoulder and he jumped.  “Listen!”  Kaye held his breath and strained to hear anything in the oppressive silence.  There was a faint scraping sound from farther down the tunnel.  Without warning, there was a large rumbling Boom! and the passage shuddered.

 

“Looks like we found the critter,” the man remarked.

 

“What?” Kaye stared at him in disbelief.  “I thought you meant mice!”

 

He shook his head grimly.  Stepping around Kaye, he continued into the darkness.

 

“Hey, the light!”

 

“I don’t need it,” he remarked as he was swallowed up.

 

After a pause, “Hey, wait!” and Kaye hurried after him.

 

With the light bouncing around, Kaye nearly ran into the curator.  When he stopped and looked up at what the man was looking at, his jaw fell.  “That’s a big critter,” he choked out.

 

Towering above them, at least nine feet high, was an enormous crocodile shrouded in darkness.  Beady eyes glowing with a sickly green light shone out from its pale visage.  Six-inch long fangs protruded all along it’s massive jaw.

 

Unbelievably fast, the monster struck at the curator with its giant claw, throwing him across the room, where he smashed into the wall.  Kaye staggered back, falling to the ground as he watched, in horror, this creature from a bad sci-fi flick, lumber toward the downed curator, who, miraculously unhurt, was beginning to dust himself off.

 

Regaining his senses, Kaye lurched to his feet, grabbed a sharp stone from the uneven ground, and raced toward the monster.  He leapt up and grabbed one of the croc’s spines to leverage himself onto its back.  The giant didn’t even notice its rider and launched itself forward, nearly dislodging Kaye.

 

Kaye tried to climb higher on its shifty back, his feet finding no purchase.  Not able to see well, the discarded flashlight providing little illumination, he kept sliding back on its papery hide.  Desperate, his foot finally found a hold on a spike, and he threw himself upward across its shoulders, his hands sinking into the thick muscle.

 

Feeling the slimy texture under his hands, Kaye looked down and realized he was gripping the bare muscle.  Bare, rotting muscle stretched across gray bone, peaking between thin layers of dried skin that weren’t skin, but wrappings. . . Kaye was aghast!  I’m sitting on a mummy!  He could feel the dampness under the cloth.  And it’s still juicy!

 

Up ahead, the crocodile’s toothy maw and the curator were engaged in battle, the snapping jaws deflected by a wicked looking saber.  On the flip side, the saber also wasn’t doing any damage, unable to penetrate the armored skull.

 

Kaye scooted forward toward the short neck, and drove the sharp rock down into the unprotected flesh.  The monster howled and arched backward, slamming Kaye into the wall and knocking him off.

 

Losing sight of its prey, the giant mummified crocodile turned toward Kaye.  With a roar that was nearly deafening, it swiped at the boy with twelve-inch claws.  Kaye rolled out of the way and had to dodge again as it pulverized a rock to dust.  It screamed in frustration and Kaye grabbed a stone tablet to shield himself as the massive head came down.  The tablet snapped in two under the assault.  The crocodile drew back to snap again.  Seeing an opening, Kaye recklessly rushed forward and hammered it on either side of its head with the broken pieces, stunning it.

 

The stranger suddenly fell from the shadows above the croc and plunged his saber deep into its neck.  The beast arced upward in pain and the curator flew downward, drawing his blade through the neck, nearly cutting it in two.  Landing in front of Kaye, he flourished his saber and neatly severed the croc’s head.  The body fell, shaking the chamber with the impact.

 

Dust settled.  The man sheathed his sword, which had been hidden on his back.

 

“So. .. that’s the sort of critters you deal with?” Kaye asked weakly.

 

“Well, sometimes they aren’t quite that small,” the man replied.

 

Small!?  Kaye trailed off as he glanced a the man’s face.  “So, there aren’t any more of these things are there?”

 

“These?  Probably not.  No, there’s probably worse.”

 

Worse!?

 

The man took a long look at Kaye.  “There’s a group of people unwisely trying to breach the barrier to the realm of Seker and bring him into the world.  This is something we cannot allow.”

 

Kaye stared.  “You’re joking, right?” he said skeptically.

 

“Do I look like I joke?”  The man’s humorless tone caught Kaye by surprise.  His eyes looked black in the dim light, and Kaye took a step back involuntarily.

 

“In any case, this summoning was probably a mistake.  Any minion of Seker’s realm would automatically seek the places of Set, since they have long been enemies.”

 

“This was a mistake?

 

The man looked annoyed.  “Do you have to repeat everything I say?”

 

“Err, sorry. . .”

 

“In any case, there may be more mistakes or worse, if they are not stopped.”

 

Kaye stared at the massive body of the partially decayed crocodile.  Nose to tail, it was over twenty feet in length.  He imagined – tried to imagine – something worse rampaging through Egypt.  “What could be worse than a giant mummified crocodile?” He whispered fearfully.

 

“Many things.  Seker’s domain is a tomb for the wicked.  It is shrouded in impenetrable darkness and crawling with terrible serpents and other hideous reptiles.  He is served by fire breathing minions that carry out the destruction of the bodies of the damned.”

 

“Why would they summon him?!” Kaye exclaimed.

 

He shrugged.  “Power.  They probably seek to control him.  Or perhaps they seek to serve him and to gain power that way.”

 

“Well why don’t you just summon Set to fight him?”

 

“Do you have any idea how powerful Set is?  You don’t simply summon a god of Egypt to do your bidding.”

 

“What about them and Seker?”

 

“They wouldn’t be able to control him.  And then he would wreck destruction upon the world.”

 

“We can’t let that happen.”  Kaye whispered.

 

The man laughed.  We?  What do you intend to do?”

 

Kaye colored.  “Hey, I stopped that thing from chomping your head off!  Besides, how are you gonna stop Seker if he’s summoned?”

 

“I have no idea.  I intend to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

 

“I can help you at least!”

 

“Heh!  Well, you might be useful,” the curator considered. 

 

“We oughta get out of here, so we can do something!”  Kaye said impatiently.

 

“The single entrance was one way only.  The only exits open out into the sands to afford the followers of Set some protection from discovery.”  He pointed down another large tunnel at the opposite end of the large room they had entered.

 

“Alright!  Let’s go!”  Kaye retrieved the flashlight and headed for the passage opening, making sure nothing was down there before entering, the curator close behind him.

 

“You know,” the man began behind him, “you haven’t done too badly, considering the things you’ve seen and heard tonight.”

 

“Well, if even half of what you said is true, and there could be more monsters like Smiley back there, we have to stop them!” Kaye exclaimed animatedly.

 

“Hehehe.  I admire your fortitude.”  Kaye suddenly felt a strong hand gripping his right shoulder and another around his left arm.  A sudden pain pierced through his neck, and he gasped.  The most wonderful, exquisite feeling flooded his body, and he sank into darkness.

 

* * * * *

 

A dull, slow pounding filled the warm darkness.  Kaye’s sluggish mind struggled to remember what it was.  A minute passed.

 

Oh.  It was his heartbeat.  Thump.  Thump.

 

It was slowing down.  Thump.

 

Kaye thought he should be concerned with that, but the darkness was so warm and inviting.

 

He drifted.

 

 

Thump.

 

 

It suddenly became harder to breathe.  Kaye felt his life being drawn away.  He struggled.  It was painful.  He ordered his eyes to open.  They slowly obeyed.

 

He saw the curator crouched over him.  Kaye tried to open his mouth to speak.  The curator smiled.  He tugged his black sleeve away from his wrist and raised it towards his mouth.  Locking his dark eyes on Kaye’s, he bit down, fangs piercing the vein.

 

Fangs.

 

Thump.

 

Red blood trickled down.  Releasing his wrist, the curator pressed it to Kaye’s open lips.  Kaye’s eyes widened as the sweet blood seeped between his lips and trickled down his throat.

 

 

Thump.

 

His heart stopped.  He couldn’t breath.  Kaye. . . died.

 

Fire suddenly rushed through his veins.  Kaye would have gasped, but no air passed his lungs.  He struggled to comprehend what was happening as the darkness rushed in.  As the curator’s pale face faded from sight, he finally realized. . .

 

he was. . .

 

. . . a vampire.

 

* * * * *

 

.His head pounded.  His mouth felt weird.  He felt. . .hungry.  Kaye slowly sat up and pressed his hand to his forehead. 

 

“Man this sucks,” he groaned.  He waited a moment for his expelled breath to come rushing back into him.  It didn’t.  He found that vaguely amusing.

 

“So, how do you feel?”  Kaye looked over to see the vampire perched on a fallen pillar.  They were back in the crocodile room.

 

He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.  He tried again with the same result.

 

“You need to take a breath first.  Your body won’t actually use it, but you need air going over your vocal cords for them to work.  It’s a lot like breathing, but your body won’t do it automatically.  Don’t worry; it’ll come back to you – you spent all your life doing it.  It’ll soon become habit.”

 

Kaye struggled to draw in air.  It felt odd just sitting there, his lungs not using it for anything.  “I feel like I died,” he croaked.

 

The vampire laughed.  “That’s because you did!  You’re Kindred now!”

 

“Wha-?”

 

“Kindred – that’s what we call Vampires.”

 

“Why –” he wheezed, “why did you do this to me?”

 

“I was bored.”

 

“You were bored!?”

 

“After several hundred years of existence with no one to share it with, can you blame me?”

 

“You turned me into a vampire because you were bored!!!?” he exclaimed.

 

The dark vampire swept his arms wide, encompassing everything around him, and beyond.  “Welcome to the world of shadows, the world of darkness!  We are an ancient line of vampires, extending back to the great Pharaohs, the God-Kings of Egypt!  We are the Shadows, the assassins, the ancient guardians, the Khaibit!”

 

The vampire noticed the quizzical expression on Kaye’s face and snapped irritably, “The Khaibit are a bloodline of vampires, you idiot!”

 

 “Oh.”  Kaye was silent for a moment, contemplating his situation.  Suddenly, his head sank into his hands.

 

“Errgh,” he moaned, “What are Mom and Dad going to say?  No Mom, I don’t feel well enough to get up right now, I have a deathly fear of . . . the Sun!’  His head sank even lower.  “What will my friends think? – ‘Oh!  You’re back from Egypt; but you look so pale.  I thought you’d get more sun?’  ‘Yeah, but I came back as a vampire.  Could you show a little more of your neck, Karie?  I’m a little hungry.’”

 

The vampire suddenly rose.  “You will not tell them anything, because even if you could make them believe you, it is a violation of the Masquerade.”

 

“Masquerade violation?  What is that?  A game?  Like football?”

 

The vampire sighed.  “The Masquerade is what hides and protects us from humans.  It is what prevents them from believing we are real.”

 

“Plenty of my friends believe in vampires!”

 

“Day-dreaming about handsome, beautiful, young vampires silently stealing through cities romancing star-struck teenagers is not the same thing as knowing the existence of undead creatures reanimated by dark forces and controlled by an eternal craving for the Vitae contained in human blood.”

 

Kaye made a face.  “Oh.”

 

The vampire continued, “At any rate, the Masquerade is the first Tradition.  Do not reveal your true nature to those not of the Blood’,” he quoted.  ‘Doing so forfeits you your claim to the Blood’.”

 

Kaye blinked.  “Ok!  Sounds fine with me!”  He jumped up and headed for the passage leading back to the entrance. 

 

“What the?”

 

“Oh, I’m having second thoughts about being a vampire.  I’d like to be un-deaded now, thanks!  Forfeit my blood and all that!”

 

Exasperated, the vampire replied, “To forfeit your blood means to die the Final Death.”  He walked toward Kaye.  “Your body will turn to ash, and you will leave this world behind.  Forever.  Blood will not revive you, and you will have no second chances.  Let me make this clear.  As a vampire, you will NOT violate the Masquerade.  You will never be able to go back to your family.  You will never see your friends.  Your old life is dead.” 

 

The shadows rose behind him as he towered over Kaye.  “You have two choices.  You can continue to come with me and live the unlife of the damned, or you can join the Pharaohs in the afterlife and this will be your tomb forever.”

 

Kaye’s mouth went dry.  Fear clenched his heart, which would have been hammering, had he still been alive. . . The true horror of his situation finally crashed down on him.  He sank to his knees.  Alive. . . He was now dead, but still living. . . He clutched at his chest.  His heart didn’t beat, but still he could move.  He struggled to draw breath, but it did nothing for him.  He didn’t even need to expel it.  He would be cursed with this unlife for eternity. . .His family, parents, friends. . . as good as dead.  They would never know what had happened to him.  He could never go back.

 

Kaye’s fingers dug into the dirt on the floor of the tomb.  His tomb.  His eyes burned.  He wanted to cry, but even his tear ducts were dried up.  A single tear splattered red in the dust.

 

The vampire’s hard gaze softened for an instant.  He looked down at the boy.  “Kaye.  The mages will not wait.”

 

Kaye despaired.  “What does it matter now?  My life is dead.  I am dead.  What does it matter if the world is destroyed?”

 

“Are you just going to give up?”  The vampire asked incredulously.  “Was that passion I saw in you a lie?  That drive for justice?”

 

Something stirred within him.  A small voice in his heart told him this was wrong.  He couldn’t let the world suffer just because he was unwilling to take action. . .A tiny spark of hope blossomed at the bottom of an infinite well of darkness. . .If he still felt this way, perhaps his soul wasn’t gone.  Kaye struggled to his feet.  Somehow, he would find a way to regain his humanity. . . a way to get his life back. . .

 

“Fine.”  He looked the vampire square in the eyes.  “But I’m not giving up.  I am going to get my life back!”

 

The vampire sighed.  “Fine, whatever!  Go find your Golconda!”  He threw up his hands.

 

“Hey!”

 

“Hmm?” the vamp turned to him.

 

Kaye clenched his fist, threw caution to the wind, and lunged at the vampire.  The vampire immediately caught his fist, twisted his arm, and flipped him into the dirt.

 

“Gaahh,” Kaye sat up, rubbing his sore arm.  Glaring at the vampire, he yelled, “This is the WORST Monday EVER!”

 

“Feel better?”

 

With Kaye grumbling to himself, the vampire asked, “I suppose the answer’s inevitable, but do you have any weapons?”

 

Kaye sent a murderous glace toward him.  “Of course I do.”  He pulled out a Swiss Army Knife from his pocket.

 

“That’s not a weapon, that’s a tool,” the vampire replied disgustedly.  He sighed and reached down to a hidden sheath on his calf.  He pulled out a bejeweled dagger, the guard in the form of a winged scarab.  He threw it into the dirt at Kaye’s feet.  “Here.  Keep it.”

 

Kaye gingerly picked up the dagger and turned it over in his hands, marveling at it.  He looked up.  “Hey, what’s your name?  And how did you know mine?”

 

“You can call me Seth.  And I read it in your mind when I was dining on your blood.”  A smile tugged at his lips as he saw Kaye’s repulsed expression.  “Come, let’s go.” 

 

The boy got to his feet.  “You said they were mages?”

 

“Yes, that’s right.”  Kaye shook his head in disbelief.  This night just promised to get worse.
 
* * * * *

Previous   |   Next

Monday, October 7, 1996

 

At about 7:30 in the morning, Kaye wandered up the long flight of steps leading into the Temple of Kom Ombo from the direction of the Nile.  At the very base of the steps, there were small pavilions shaded by pale green umbrellas that provided water and other refreshments for the few early risers who had the same idea he did.  Kaye intended to visit the temple while the day was still cool, retreat back to the hotel in the afternoon, and then come back out near sunset, so that he could avoid the heat of the day.  Still feeling the effects of yesterday’s sun, Kaye made a special point of stocking up on sunscreen, but he could only find the Egyptian variety, and was hesitant to use it.  Still, he stuck it into his backpack, just in case.

 

The sun was just beginning to peek over the lotus and papyrus-styled columns as Kaye approached the southwest entrance to the temple courtyard.  There were very few people milling about so early, so Kaye was able to take his time.  The temple itself appeared to be symmetrical, with the three beautifully carved columns spanning the entrance, hiding two more rows from view in the depths of the interior.  Twin asps framing lotus blossoms decorated the high ceiling.  Kaye counted eighteen broken columns surrounding the courtyard, most still with amazingly detailed reliefs carved into them.  Even though they were broken, most of them still stood at least several feet taller than any human.  Kaye figured the upper blocks had been removed for other building projects. 

 

Kaye slowly made his way around the courtyard, marveling at the intricacy of the carvings.  Stepping into the wide opening to the temple itself, Kaye found himself in another world.  Staring up at gigantic columns that must have been seven or eight times the height of a man, supporting a ceiling a third of that in height, the youth wondered how long it would have taken the builders, with their technology, to complete it.  It was cool inside the temple, despite the fact that it was open to the outside.  Bright light and dark shadow patterned the walls, and Kaye was amazed to find that one of the deep engravings that looked like Horus still retained some of its ancient red and green paint where it was sheltered from the wind and sand.  In fact, there were numerous carvings like that – Sobek, Hathor, Horus, and several other deities that he couldn’t identify.  Kaye frowned.  If this was supposed to be a temple of Set, shouldn’t there be relief carvings of him? 

 

After walking the length and perimeter of the entire complex, Kaye couldn’t find any evidence that this was a place to worship the ancient god of chaos.  Frustrated, and beginning to bake as the sun reached the top of its arc, Kaye decided he’d retreat to his room and come back in the evening after he’d had a chance to cool off.

 

Back at the hotel, Kaye passed the time by deciphering what he could of the hieroglyphs he managed to copy down, and by snacking on fresh honey and meat fatayeer from a nearby market.  Even his translations made no sense.  For the most part, they just gave praise to Sobek and Horus and their families.  Kaye shook his head, sure that he’d missed some important clue.

 

In the last hour before sunset, as the temperature was finally starting to go down, Kaye made his way back to the mysterious temple.  Even if he didn’t find any answers tonight, Kaye reasoned, he’d still be able to come back tomorrow after he asked the locals where to find Set.

 

Marching once again up the steps, Kaye watched as the various merchants started packing up their goods, and the temple spotlights were turned on.  This time, Kaye retreated farther into the back of the temple to study some hieroglyphs he had passed by earlier.

 

After working for a while in the fading light, Kaye stretched and wandered back out to the front courtyard to watch the sun set over the Nile.  The shadows deepened and a light wind began to pick up, rustling his hair.  The sun disappeared over the horizon, and Kaye let his eyes adjust to the gloom.  He turned back to the temple, which now looked alien, the spotlights throwing the engravings into stark relief, and turning the sandstone into gold.  The sky was dark behind the temple and stars were beginning to appear.

 

Kaye walked back to the temple, but unfortunately the spotlights didn’t really allow his eyes to adjust to the black shadows that were everywhere the lights didn’t reach.  He was about to walk through the long line of columns when something caught his eye, and he jumped back, startled.  Heart racing, he peered into the darkness cast by the columns, and thought he could make out a figure leaning against one of the pillars.  Then the black wavered, and a man strode out to the edge of the shadow and stopped, half in darkness, half in light.

 

Kaye was visibly relieved and took a deep breath to calm himself.  Though he was quite sure there hadn’t been anyone left in the temple when he had walked through earlier.

 

“Jeez,” Kaye began, preparing to tell this guy off for startling him.

 

“I’m sorry, did I startle you?” the man asked, though the smile tugging at the corner of his mouth indicated that he was more amused than apologetic.

 

“Only a little,” Kaye replied, annoyed that the man found it funny.

 

 The tall man studied the boy curiously, while Kaye regarded him with suspicion.  He was quite pale, but his gold eyes sparkling in the light didn’t seem malevolent.  His dark clothing made him blend into the shadows, but he seemed to be more muscled than the lithe boy.

 

“Heh.  Looks like you need more sun,” Kaye said, trying to break the tension.

 

“Looks like you’ve had too much,” the man retorted.  “Forget your sunscreen at home?”

 

Kaye mumbled something incoherent and turned away, stretching his arms behind his head and recovered with, “Whatever!”

 

The man laughed and stepped into the light.  “So what brings you to Kom Ombo at night?  Avoiding the crowds and heat?  Wise choice.”  He noticed the open notebook that Kaye had dropped and stooped to pick it up.  “Wow, you know Egyptian?  That’s awesome; where do you go to school?”

 

“Oh, back in the states,” Kaye replied, embarrassed.  “But I’m learning it on my own,” he said proudly.  “It’s for a school project.”

 

“Wow, that’s some school to pay for a trip here.”

 

“Well, it’s more of a vacation – I wanted to go when it cooled off and when it wasn’t too late into the year with tests and all.  And then the teacher said I could do it for extra credit if I made a presentation.”

 

The man was listening and actually seemed interested, so Kaye continued.  “I wanted to see how much I could learn about temples and places just by reading hieroglyphics.”  They started walking down the length of the monument.  “So I learned what I could before I got here, and then I went to visit some well known places to see if what I could decipher matched up with the stories.  Then I corrected my translations, and now I want to see less-well-known sites, or at least places I haven’t heard of.  But then I got interested in Set, so I came here.  But it’s still less-well--known, so it works. . .” he trailed off at the puzzled look on the other man’s face.  “What, is something – ”

 

“Set?  This isn’t a temple of Set!” The stranger frowned.

 

“I know!  I mean, there was nothing about him in any of the inscriptions!” Kaye said excitedly.

 

“Set’s temple is that way.”  The man pointed between pylons, into the desert.  “This is a temple dedicated to Sobek and Horus.  Look,” he took Kaye’s arm and guided him to a partially complete wall lit by a floodlight.  “This is Sobek, the crocodile god and his family.  Over there,” he pointed across the room, “is Horus and his.  This temple was built with the specific purpose to worship both of these deities and the symmetry down its axis reflects that.”

 

“Yeah, I know, so that’s why I was confused!  They said the temple was at Ombos, and so I’m here, but where is it?”

 

“Hahaha!  Set’s temple is near Ombos – Nubt near Kom Ombo.  Like I said, its out there a few miles.  It’s not a very well known place.  But why are you so interested in Set anyway?”

 

“Well, I just heard about some strange creature that looked kinda like Set, so I wanted to find out more. . .” he said evasively.

 

The man laughed.  “Did you see one?”

 

“I might have seen something. . . .” Kaye became annoyed at the man’s amusement.  “So why are you here?” he shot back.

 

“Well,” he said, studying the boy thoughtfully, “I’m a. . .curator.  I usually get rid of some of the. . . critters. . . that appear at these places from time to time.  And if you’re interested,” he said slyly, “I could show you some parts of this temple that most humans never get to see.  It’s usually off limits and not open to the public.”

 

Kaye’s eyes widened.  “Oh, wow, really?  That would be awesome!”

 

The man grinned.  He led Kaye farther into the depths of the temple and crouched in front of a low plinth bearing an assortment of hieroglyphs and carvings.  He looked up at Kaye.

 

“Set used to be the ruling god of Lower Egypt.  But when Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt and ushered in the First Dynasty, Set was cast out and became known as the evil enemy of Horus.  The Cult of Set, with no place they could safely pursue their religion, were forced to go into hiding.  Because this building was unique in its concept and its architecture, it would have been easy to overlook a few small modifications.  So a few powerful members of the Cult secretly commissioned some hidden chambers and tunnels.”  He turned back to the plinth.  “This is the only entrance.”

 

Reaching out toward a relief of two asps flanking a sun, he pushed in the twin snakes until there was a faint click.  Then, taking hold of the sun, he rotated it a full 180 degrees and there was an audible thunk.  The floor they were standing on, that Kaye thought was solid, suddenly shifted and started to recede.

 

The two stepped off the disappearing floor, which revealed a gaping black hole.  “Whoa!”  With a look of anticipation on his face, Kaye pulled out a flashlight.  The man motioned to him.  “After you!”  Kaye stepped into the darkness.

* * * * *

Previous   |   Next

Sunday, October 6, 1996

 

The next morning, after a resounding call of Allaaa  aaaaahu Akbar!  Kaye tiredly wandered out into the streets, munching on some local bread that served as a small breakfast.  He intended to drop by the local market and question people there to see if they knew anything about the strange animal he saw last night. . . If it was even an animal.  He didn’t speak any Arabic, but he was determined to do it anyway, and confident that he would find something.

 

Following the directions given to him by the overly cheerful clerk at the front desk, Kaye made his way to the street market.  Stretching as far as he could see (which wasn’t far, given the amount of. . .stuff. . .in the way) it completely filled the road between old buildings that were three and four stories high.  Textiles, pottery, fresh food, antiques, souvenirs, and all manner of stuff underneath overhead laundry lines were crammed together among eager merchants, and threatened to spill out into the main thoroughfare.  And it was completely packed with locals and tourists.  And what was even more surprising was that an old car that looked like a Rolls-Royce was trying to push through the organized chaos.  Some stuffy official honked the horn and waved for people to get out of his way.  When a few of his guards hopped out to convince people to move, Kaye was shoved up against the market stalls along with the rest of the crowd.  As soon as the antique car passed, people flooded the streets again as if nothing had happened.

 

As Kaye looked around for someone who looked promising, he was suddenly waylaid by half a dozen peddlers and merchants trying to sell him their wares. 

 

“Um, no thanks!”  He tried to push through them but they were too persistent, each one trying to get his attention with a combination of English and Arabic.  “Um, no speaking English. . .or Arabic!”  The merchants suddenly launched into a variety of different languages.  Argh!  This isn’t getting me anywhere!  “Nihongo o hanashimasu!”  Kaye attempted a phrase he remembered from a beginner’s Japanese tape, several years ago.  To his horror, one of the peddlers immediately switched to Japanese, and Kaye almost screamed in exasperation.  He finally remembered the phrase Hakim had taught him last night and shouted, “Laa Shukran![1]  Finally, the crown, disappointed that they weren’t going to get any business from him, dispersed and started to hassle other tourists.

 

Kaye immediately ducked away under some hanging textiles into a small alleyway that was substantially quieter and less crowded than the main market street.  He sank down at a small metal café table outside a small restaurant and wondered what to do next.  There were a few people sitting a few tables away speaking in Arabic, but Kaye ignored them.  Until he caught the word Salaawa.  At least he thought he heard right, it was hard to tell with the fluid Arabic.  Anyway, determined to find out, he pushed himself up and walked over to their table.  The men broke off their conversation and looked up curiously as he approached.

 

“Salaawa?” He asked.  “Do you know anything about it?”

 

“Salaawa?”  One of them repeated.  “Ah, Salaawa!”  He proceeded to speak rapidly in Arabic.  When he saw the confused look on Kaye’s face, he slowed down and motioned, “Big.  Big dog.  Many attacks.”

 

“Big dog?”  Kaye asked.

 

“Yes!  Big dog!”  The short man got up and grabbed Kaye’s arm and proceeded to drag him toward the alley entrance.  The other two at his table followed, clearly interested in this new bit of entertainment.

 

The man led Kaye through the crowded market, impatiently brushing anyone aside who got in their way, his friends following in his wake.  After a few turns, the man wound up talking to another tall, bearded, hefty Egyptian who listened and then proceeded to tell Kaye in broken English what Shorty was saying.  The spectacle began to draw a crowd, and pretty soon, there were almost a dozen people speaking up to give their own two cents to Kaye.  The bearded man, whom Kaye nicknamed Sallah, explained that the attacks appear to have been caused by a strange creature called the Set animal, the animal represented by the figures of the ancient Egyptian god Set.  He went on to say that there was a Set temple near Ombos, and that the attacks were at Armant.  Kaye tried to ask if there was any connection between Ombos and Armant, but Sallah either didn’t understand or didn’t know.  Either way, Kaye thanked the group and started to head out, but Sallah dragged him back and insisted that they all eat lunch together.  And so Kaye got his first taste of real Egyptian food – fatayeer, Egyptian pastries of awesomeness, filled with honey, fruit, and so good that he smiled with each bite he took, and shawarma, an import from Lebanon and Syria, which looked like roasted meat wrapped with bread.  Both were good, and Kaye bought extra on his way out.

 

Now armed with a plan, Kaye intended to see what sites he could in Luxor until his train arrived.  He spent the rest of the afternoon at the Luxor and Karnak Temples, trying his hand at interpreting the hieroglyphs and enjoying the ancient majesty of the sphinxes and statues.

 

At 5:35pm, he boarded the train at Luxor station, and headed off towards where he hoped he would find a temple of Set, Kom Ombo.

 

* * * * *


[1] “Laa Shukran” means “No thank you” in Arabic


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Saturday, October 5, 1996

 

Allaaaaaa aaa aaahu Akbar!  Allaaa  aaaaahu Akbar!  Kaye jerked his head off the pillow and groggily looked about, trying to figure out what was going on.  The loud, musical drone was coming in the direction of the open window.  He slapped the nightstand for his watch and knocked it to the floor.  The digital display read 5:51 in the pale, morning light.  Kaye groaned and let his head fall face first back onto his pillow.  The early morning call to prayer wailed on for a few minutes until it mercifully stopped.

 

A few restless hours later, Kaye wearily approached the front desk.  The clerk busily working behind the counter was alert and chipper and offered him a bright greeting.

 

“Good morning!  You look like you were awoken by the morning adhan!  Prayer is better than sleep you know![1]  He chuckled.  “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it!”

 

Kaye muttered something under his breath and grabbed the breakfast menu from its stand on the counter.  Running a hand through his uncombed hair, he walked toward the dining room.  Disgruntled, he refused ordering from the local menu, and stuck to good old American food, and had a heaping plateful of pancakes, eggs, and bacon.

 

Finally satisfied and in better spirits, though slightly embarrassed that he hadn’t at least tried the local food, Kaye set off into the city to find the ferry that would take him to the Valley of the Kings.

 

* * * * *

 

Kaye was thoroughly determined to enjoy his week in Egypt, despite the amount of homework he would have when he returned.  Despite the perpetual crowds of tourists.  Despite the unseasonably hot sun that relentlessly beat down, baking the earth and heating the sands until they were almost too hot to walk on. . .

 

Kaye hung his head as he trudged up the short slope to another tomb, feeling the sun burn his bare neck and a bead of sweat trickle past his ear.  “I should have worn a hat!  Or packed sunscreen. . .” he moaned, feeling sure he’d have some spectacular burns at the end of the day.  He passed through the tomb entrance and experienced instant relief in the dark interior.  It wasn’t actually much cooler than the outside, and it was closed in and stuffy, but at least he didn’t have to contend with the sun.  Kaye was thankful he didn’t have claustrophobia.

 

Taking a swig of warm water from his water bottle, Kaye let his eyes adjust to the dimness.  This wasn’t one of the more popular tombs, and although sections of the paintings were lit with spotlights, there were significant parts swallowed by the gloom.  The well-prepared (but not as much as he would have liked) youth lit an electric torch he’d purchased from a vendor in the car park and proceeded to take notes on the hieroglyphics.

 

“Wannabe Egyptologist, huh?” A dry voice behind him asked. 

 

“Heh.  Maybe,” Kaye turned and saw an older gentleman with a tan sun hat and khaki clothes.  “This place is just less crowded than the others.”

 

“Oh, so yer into off-the-beaten track, eh?”  He jerked his thumb over his shoulder.  “There’s rarely a tourist that goes down to the Western Valley.  Entrance is back over in the car park.  Best get there before it closes.  It’s a two-mile hike.  Hope you brought lots of water!”

 

Kaye thanked the man and gathered up his notebook, already tired of hot tombs and slow moving crowds, and needing a short break.

 

Back in the car park, Kaye found that most of the Western tombs were closed and was forced to negotiate with a main Valley tomb guard to accompany him and open the tombs.  Kaye’s jaw dropped when a security policeman, who was going on break, tossed the guard a sub-machine gun.  The guard, noticing Kaye’s look, laughed and explained it was for safety.  Still wide-eyed, they set off down the winding dirt and stone road.  The guard apparently liked to terrorize his guests, and between massive boulders and towering rock cliffs, regaled Kaye with stories of flash floods that occasionally race through the valley, leaving no survivors.  The sun was directly overhead, and left little shade in the canyon.  The guard refused any stops, insisting it was better to reach the safety and shade of the tombs – But it’s hot! - Heh!  Only for foreigners! – and so they trudged on.

 

The afternoon passed quickly, interspersed with rusty, screeching gates opening into darkness, ghost stories, failing torches, and a close encounter with an Egyptian asp.  As the light faded and the pair made their way out of the valley, Hakim told Kaye about some of the local animals, and pointed out a set of tracks that faded into the sand.

 

“There’s local rumors going around about some kind of strange animal with a long snout and square ears that disappears into the darkness and can’t be tracked,” Hakim grinned.  “Several people report being wounded by such an animal in the past weeks, but unfortunately, no one has caught very good look at it.”

 

Kaye looked at the prints, which disappeared into the gloom, and figured he couldn’t see well enough to determine whether they really disappeared or not.  He sniffed.  “It’s probably some kind of wild dog, probably not all that dangerous.  I –” Kaye’s head jerked forward as he felt the man’s heavy hand strike him lightly across the back of his head.

 

“Better watch yourself, boy, the sands hold many secrets, and you’d better be careful if you don’t want to end up like one of those pharaohs,” he jerked his thumb over his shoulder.

 

“I have a name!”  Kaye growled, rubbing the back of his head.  Hakim laughed in response.  Kaye glowered, but figured he’d better not punch the man with the sub-machine gun.

 

They rounded a bend in the rock wall and saw the Valley of the Kings laid out before them in the fading light.  It was deserted, as it was well past closing time.  Kaye figured he was probably gonna owe Hakim a big tip.  They hiked slowly down the path, Kaye’s legs feeling like blocks of lead.  Only Hakim seemed unfazed by the long day.  Kaye glanced at the lengthening shadows, encroaching on the dark rectangles that marked the openings to the tombs.  He shivered, feeling a light wind starting to blow inward from the Nile.  The shadows were kind of unsettling, the way they raced over the sands.  The sun sure set quickly in Egypt.  He watched as they literally enveloped one of the tomb openings.  He caught a glimpse of movement near the tomb and fancied that the blackness looked almost three-dimensional.  Then, Kaye’s breath caught in his throat as he saw something that he couldn’t quite believe.  Inky darkness that was somehow blacker than the black around it, suddenly swarmed into the tomb opening, sucking in blotches that he had thought were rocks and alcoves, just as the last of the light faded from the Valley.  His mouth gaped open.  What he saw next sent icy fingers down his spine and made his mouth go dry.  Some of the blackness detached itself from the void and floated up the hill before standing, silently and motionless, at the top.  They only way Kaye even knew it was there was because it blocked out the light of the stars that should have been shining in it’s place.  Kaye strained his eyes and imagined he could see the thing open what could have been its mouth, hundreds of needle-sharp teeth jutting out. . .

 

A large boulder momentarily blocked his view as they entered the empty car park, and when he looked again, it was gone.  Heart thumping in his chest, Kaye glanced everywhere in panic.

 

“What’s up with you, boy?  You look as pale as a ghost!  Did you see one?”  Hakim laughed.

 

“Did you see that?  There was something up there!”  Kaye pointed toward the top of the hill.

 

“Boy, there’s nothing up there, and you couldn’t see anything even if there was, in this darkness.”

 

Kaye suddenly had an idea and turned to see if there was anything silhouetted against the glow from Luxor.  There was nothing there.

 

“Probably how those attacks happened too,” Hakim mused.  “Middle of the night, unsuspecting person. . .Not too much light away from the city.”

 

“Where did you say the attacks were taking place?”

 

“I didn’t.  But I think the reports mentioned Armant.  Just a short distance from Luxor.”  Hakim looked at the boy curiously.  “You aren’t intending to go take a look are you?  You might be hardy enough for a short trek across the desert, but I don’t think you can take on a pack of wild dogs.”

 

“No!  I don’t – I mean, I wouldn’t – I’d never do that sort of thing alone. . .I was just wondering, it kind of looked like – your description kind of sounded like Set, or something. . .” he trailed off.

 

“Ha!  Well, if all you’re looking for is information, I don’t know much about it, but you’d be better off asking the locals about it.  I forgot their name for it though.  Something about a ghoul.”

 

Kaye shivered and rubbed his arms.  “Aren’t you a local?” He asked suspiciously.

 

“Nah, I’m from Cairo.”  Hakim grinned.  “Come on, I’ll take you back to your hotel, since you look spooked.  Don’t want you to get confused and wander out into the desert.  It’ll cost you extra of course.”  Kaye groaned.  They walked toward Hakim’s parked car and got in.  Hakim revved up the engine.

 

“Oh, I remember!”  Hakim said suddenly and turned around to Kaye, where he sat in the back.  “The locals call it the Salaawa.”

 

* * * * *


[1] "Prayer is better than sleep" is a line from the adhan, and is used only for the first prayers of the day at dawn.


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Shadows of Egypt

 

Friday, October 4, 1996

 

The stifling air outside the Cairo International Airport hit Kaye Valentine like a wave as he was swept onto the crowded sidewalk by the mass of people exiting through the large glass double doors.  The 17-year-old was glad for the meager shade provided by the airport overhang.  Even this early in the morning, the heat and humidity were oppressive.  Kaye was glad he hadn’t decided to come during the summer, when the daytime temperatures would have been unbearable, even if it meant missing a week of class. . .

 

Kaye maneuvered his way to the side of the building as he pulled out the airport map to try to locate the bus station.  Brushing the mass of brown hair out of his eyes and shading them from the glaring sun, Kaye looked around to get his bearings.  Spotting a landmark, Kaye shouldered his backpack and stepped into the throng, ignoring the line of black and white taxis waiting for tourists.

 

It was slow going, but eventually, he reached the large blue Transit building and managed to find the bus that would take him into downtown Cairo.

 

After a painstakingly slow ride through Cairo’s legendary traffic, the hot bus arrived at the building marked with Mahattat Ramses – Ramses Station.  Sweat already creeping down the back of his neck, Kaye pushed through another set of double doors, and found numerous ticket vendors lining both sides of the atrium.  Kaye walked up to the vendor advertising Cairo-Luxor-Aswan and joined the line.

 

Half an hour and a bunch of tourists later, Kaye finally stepped up to the less-well air-conditioned platform with his green ticket in hand.  The time on it read 7:40am, and it was 7:25 now.

 

The brunette was relieved that the noisy tourist group that had been right in front of him in line hadn’t caused him to miss his train.  The only other ‘tourist’ train left the station at eleven, which was a long wait he didn’t want to experience.  And the ‘common’ trains were somewhat less-than-nice.  Kaye yawned.  It had been a long flight from the states, and the jet lag didn’t help any.

 

He leaned against one of the support pillars and crossed his arms, listening to the conversation around him.  It was a curious mixture of Arabic, English, Indian, some French, and bits of broken English by the locals.  The dull roar was threatening to put him to sleep.  Just as he was beginning to nod off, a heated argument broke out between a couple just a few feet away who were furiously debating which of the many trains to take.  Kaye reflected wryly that he’d better stay awake, otherwise he might end up stranded and as lost as this couple.  Besides, Egyptian trains were notorious for being on time, and his would surely arrive in a few minutes.  The youth decided to busy himself with studying the strange variety of people filling the terminal.

 

Aside from numerous tourists, there were businessmen in suits off to their respective jobs, Arabs in traditional gray or brown robes milling about, a fair number of Indian women with multicolored scarf head covers, and a smattering of various other nationalities.  Looking around, Kaye noticed the rather old, dingy appearance of the local green and yellow trains.  He hoped the air-conditioned express trains would be better. . .

 

Yawning again, Kaye looked at his watch.  7:50 AM.  He frowned.  His train should have arrived by now.  A middle-aged local who was passing by caught him looking at his watch and chuckled. 

 

“Tourist?”  He asked in heavily accented English.  “Egyptian trains always at least fifteen minutes late!”  He laughed and walked on.

 

Kaye blinked.  “Uh, thanks. . .” he trailed off as the man continued away.  He leaned tiredly back against the iron pillar.  His stomach rumbled.  I should have eaten more breakfast, he groaned inwardly.

 

* * * * *

 

Finally, after ten more minutes, his train pulled up to the terminal, brakes screeching as it slowed to a halt.  Entering the first class compartment, Kaye was surprised at the rather bright red and beige color scheme.  He quickly found his seat printed on his ticket and was glad to see it was next to a window.  He stashed his backpack under the seat and slumped down gratefully, glad for the rest after the long wait.

 

Before long, the train pulled out, and Kaye watched as the congested streets of Cairo flashed by, sidewalks thick with pedestrians and roadways packed with cars.  The city quickly gave way to dry plains and sand.  Before the steel skyscrapers had a chance to fade away, they were suddenly obscured by lush green as the train plunged into the fertile lands surrounding the Nile.  The life-giving river snaked back and forth with the train trying vainly to follow its undulations.  Kaye glimpsed a bright glint on the horizon across the water and watched in fascination as the ancient pyramids rose up out of the desert like mirages.  He looked eagerly for the Sphinx, but as the scene wore on, he realized that the orientation was probably wrong and he was unlikely to see it from here.  I’ll be seeing it on the way back, Kaye thought, and he contented himself with gazing sleepily at the pyramids.  The rhythmic clack-clack of the swaying train and the hot sun streaming in through the window finally lulled the exhausted boy to sleep.  After all, there was nothing to do, and it was a ten-hour ride to Luxor.

 

* * * * *

 

It was nearing six in the evening as the express train pulled up into Luxor station.  Kaye stretched as he walked down the metal steps of the car, happy to get out of his cramped seat.  The terminal was filling quickly with people waiting to board and those glad that their journey was done.  All of a sudden, a weathered, unshaved face filled his vision.

 

“Need a place to spend the night?  My brother’s hotel is best in Luxor!”

 

Momentarily taken aback, Kaye responded, “Uh, that’s ok, I already have a place. . .”

 

“Ah!”  The man’s dark eyes lit up.  “I’ll take you to it!  Which place is it?”

 

“Um, that’s ok!  I already know where it is!”  Kaye vaguely remembered the map stashed into his pack.  He strode away before the man could make any other offers.  Tugging the map from the side pocket he unfolded it just as he nearly collided with the back of another middle-aged man, accosting a foreign couple.  The man turned around and grinned.  His teeth were a dirty shade of yellow.

 

“Ah!  Another tourist!”  He noticed the boy’s map.  “Need a place to stay?  My son-in-law runs a fine hotel just minutes from here!”

 

A second hotel-salesman poked his head out from behind the startled couple.  “I run a villa with an excellent view of the river!  Cheap price!”  The first man turned around to argue with the second.  Kaye took that opportunity to disappear from sight behind a pillar.

 

As he caught his breath, he looked up and saw the long line of taxis outside the station and drivers talking animatedly to foreign tourists, and had a sinking feeling in his stomach.  Looking around, he spotted an abandoned newspaper sitting atop an overflowing trash bin.  An idea sparked, and Kaye snatched up the foreign paper.  It was today’s paper, but that was about all Kaye could make out from the flowing, cursive Arabic.  He rolled it up and tucked it under his arm, making sure it was visible, then started walking confidently down the wide steps to the sidewalk outside.

 

A well-dressed driver leaning against his car opened his mouth to call to him, but his eyes seemed to fall on the paper, and he gave a small wave instead and went back to watching for potential passengers. 

 

Kaye turned the corner so that he was out of site of the station entrance, and sighed with relief.  Then he grinned.  Taking out his crumpled map from his pocket, he arranged it so that he could hide it from sight while appearing to read the newspaper.  Peering into the growing dimness as the city was bathed in orange from the setting sun, Kaye confidently strode off in the direction of his hotel.

Next

Art Theft!


Well, my pal Kaze just had her art and livejournal journal entry stolen!  And I discovered it!  That's cuz I'm cool!  XD  Anyway she talks all about it on her journal: http://cskazaam.livejournal.com/

Besides that, if you're looking for an awesome anime to watch, Black Cat rocks!  The characters are awesome, and the story is great!  I highly recommend it.  I'm gonna buy it when it comes out!

I'm currently working on the history of my newest rpg vampire, Kaye Valentine!  Which, incidentally, is how I found out about the art theft - I was looking up Salaawa (the Set animal) and since there's very few articles at all online about it, (Kaze's being one of them) I happened across the blog that stole it.

So, I'm wondering if I can get XP for cracking that case?  After all, it does deal with my character and the game. . . Cracking a crime?  I'd say that deserves XP, don't you? 

Dungeons and Dragons!

My results for an awesome D&D quiz I found here: http://www.easydamus.com/character.html

You Are A:

Neutral Good Human Sorcerer (4th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 16
Dexterity- 18
Constitution- 17
Intelligence- 15
Wisdom- 14
Charisma- 13


Alignment:
Neutral Good- A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Sorcerers- Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.


Lol, I love the sorcerer, but I'd rather be Chaotic Good rather than Neutral Good.

Man, nice stats too.  Not vampire quality, but still nice.

It's kind of interesting too, that most of my characters seem to have magic powers with some sort of weapon, though usually their prefered fighting method is with the weapon and using magic to back them up.  In Morrowind, I modified a spellsword class character, and I use a giant Daedric daikatana and only cast spells in special circumstances when I need them, since its more effiecient and easier to use a sword than spells.  Not too mention, mana drops really quickly when using spells, especially powerful ones, so it won't last in any real fight.  (In Morrowind anyway.)  And as Ikiyouyou, I use a giant katana, and I have some spells and magic type abilities that enhance my fighting style and that I can use as backup whenever I need them.

So ya, sorcerer kinda fits me!  Go imagination, talent, RAW POWER!  Down with the books!

What Do You Have To Say? - Do You Believe?

When did you stop believing in Santa Claus and why?
 I never did stop believeing.