Warning: Gore and traumatizing content
Terrified beyond all the limits of what his pedantic mind could comprehend, Lumeri could only watch as his body went through the motions of preparing to write down the old man’s account. He was a helpless spectator and his ears couldn’t believe he said what his sacrilegious mouth just uttered. A Pharaoh of Darkness. He had never heard of such a being. It was a blasphemous claim, a travesty of what Lumeri’s mind held dear, and an affront to the normalcy of his world.
“As we got to our quarters, the reactions of my companions couldn’t be more dissimilar. Meren was excitedly reviewing his copious notes. Henunu, on the other hand, was kneeling on his bed, eyes closed and continued his orisons to his inutile gods. I was surprised and even, I have to admit, starting to be irritated. I went to the mage and sat on his bed. I whispered my query, not wishing to upset the men with groundless rumors and fanciful fears.”
“What did he say?”
“A disturbing and terrifying answer. He told me that the black Pharaoh did exist and brought into this world an age of such blackness, of such vile corruption and foul practices, that the mages, priests, and rulers of ancient Kemet did decree to expunge his name from all annals and sculptures of the world. His name was not to be uttered under pain of death. And so the memory of his long blasphemous reign faded and disappeared from the memory of men. Until now.”
The old man again paused and looked out the window where the now unpleasant rays of the leering moon invaded the palatial room. Though the increased illumination of the beams did brighten the window sill, the gloom inside the room didn’t abate. It worsened, to Lumeri’s dismay. To his unbelieving eyes, the darkness appeared to feed on the unclean light, now tinged with tiny flickers of a malignant emerald color.
“Pray, Henunu said. We’re doomed, he repeated. Our lives already forfeit, and all we have left are our souls. He said he was praying that the gods would pity us enough to let us leave this world with our essences whole and unsullied. I was appalled. My soldier’s mind warring between what a possibly deranged priest was saying and the well-being of the rest of the company. I decided in favor of the greater number. To my eternal regret, paid for by our souls in full.”
At that moment, Lumeri wanted nothing more than to be back in the warm and comforting walls of his home. Far from the frightful phantasms his blasted imagination already created. But his body refused to budge.
“Disregarding the ravings of Henunu, who I deemed to have already lost his mind, I went back to the men and made my rounds. Doing the duties of a commander. Little did I know it was our last night as free men.”
“Why is that, great one?” Lumeri heard himself ask.
“When I woke up, it was already night again. A massive moon greeted our eyes as we lay helpless on that pavement of stone. It was a moon similar to that one,” Khamet pointed outside with a visibly trembling hand. “We all had slept throughout the day. The villagers must have slipped a soporific in our food. We were tied in spread-eagled fashion to ornate golden frames arranged in the square. Chains of silver bound our legs and arms. Our mouths were covered with cloth and leather mouthpieces, preventing us from talking or shouting. Or screaming. My mind then was still in a curious and debilitating fog though I noticed I was at the end of the row of captives. Beside me was Henunu. He already had his eyes closed as if he already had accepted his fate.”
“You were going to be sacrificed?” Lumeri heard himself ask. He was astounded at how calm his voice sounded.
“Sacrificial dinner. Consecrated to their god, then the main course in a communal feast. I did notice the number of people around us had increased. People from nearby villages must have arrived while we were conveniently asleep. Smoke from censers around us covered the entire square in an eerie fog. I noticed the cave statue of the dark Pharaoh was now at one end of the square while the votive on the other end now sported a large iron pot which contained a roaring fiery blaze. Except for the sound of the roaring fire, the entire square was quiet. Then Toru came forward, dressed in his peculiar robe which I now suspect to be made from extraordinary prey. A loud and continued chanting commenced, finally concluded by a great shout echoed by the obviously pious and entranced crowd. The brazers were infused with a new element. Something cloying and sweet. A narcotic. With an aroma which worsened the odor of the incense, slowly drowning our perceptions and numbing us in body and mind.”
“Ah, scribe,” Khamet continued, now looking at Lumeri’s figure. “Soul-numbing horror, terrifying scenes beyond what you can imagine, all in an oppressive atmosphere of eldritch terror and foul magic. The first six victims, my warriors, were meticulously flayed, their skins to provide new religious robes. But they were left alive for a while, their bodies drenching the square with their copious blood. The scribe was carried off by men of the village, accompanied by chanting women, each holding a small knife. Henunu was also carried off, accompanied by robed priests, the hunger and excitement evident on their obscene faces. Some were actually drooling. It was a nightmare scene born in the deepest and darkest parts of the domain of Ammit.”
“What happened to you?”
Khamet laughed. “Their god had a different fate for me.”
(to be continued)
Ammit – Egyptian. The mythological devourer of souls in the Afterlife. He eats souls found wanting.