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The lord of the dead, p.1
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       The Lord of the Dead, p.1

           Sekou Gaidi
The Lord of the Dead
The Chronicles of Angelique:

  High Lord of the Abyss

  High Lord Osiris Harakte stood behind his throne, peering through his balcony so he could see the endless Netjer-khert stretching beneath him all the way to fierce and jagged peaks and beyond; his green eyes and short brown hair were fierce as the turmoil beneath his rippling bronze skin. He wore a metal kilt and a white shirt, the Master of the Land of the Dead who could not be moved from his judgments; all the Damned eventually came to the Hall of the Two Truths and either became food for his creatures or, if they chose, they could become Executioners to serve at Osiris’ side for all time.

  All of them had been Dead for so long that the Underworld’s energies had left them almost demons themselves; they were a strange hybrid that could freely cross between Du’at and the many Earths of Creation through Limbo.

  Then there were the Executioners.

  Like all the demons, the Executioners of Osiris fed from mortals and enjoyed physical strength that eclipsed those they hunted. Yet long ago, Horus Harakte, Osiris’ own son, had brought many of the remnants of the demon races of Earth from the results of the horrible battle. For that horrible error thousands of years ago, Osiris’ vast kingdom had become the sanctuary for the Followers of Seth and the other demons to dwell therein; he asked only that they heed his word as law. Any that got too ambitious vanished without a trace, for the Executioners were silent and efficient and were Osiris’ own chosen.

  The Executioners: the Enim, the Giants, and the Naphiem, among others, had become Osiris’ army, and he did need one: the other Lords of the Underworld and the Lords of A’aru who ‘served’ Horus openly envied Osiris, and would topple him if they could. Osiris didn’t mind a final Death, for he had lived long and long; however, the other Lords would rupture the Veil and flood the Earths with demons that would use mortals as hosts for their “Final Battle.”

  High Lord Osiris had held the line for thirteen thousand years, and would as long as he needed to: he deserved no less for the deaths of millions which lay upon his spirit. Nuit, the woman he thought of as his mother, had bidden him do this for her before her body was destroyed by slamming the Door in the Sky.

  Ah, Nuit! She was his brother’s physical mother, and such a complex being couldn’t be summed up in a single word, or a paragraph. She was the Queen of the Night Sky, the greatest of all and only toppled in the end by the betrayal of her husband and half-brother Gheb; after the two had freed her, she had become the greatest of allies.

  “You said you’d return,” Osiris said to his own dreams. “I knew it was possible, but do I dare believe my dreams?”

  The bronzed and cloaked form of Prince Horus strode through the air and became solid.

  “What news do you bring me, my son?”

  The baby-faced man smiled at Osiris. “At your border with Kur, the hordes of Ereshkegal gather. She looks serious this time.”

  Osiris walked to his throne and slumped in it.

  “I think she’s been sending sorties, as well,” Horus continued. “Nergal’s agents infiltrated an entire village!”

  “Ereshkegal is always serious,” Osiris said. “She needs to get out more.”

  “We need to drag her out into a bonfire,” Horus grumbled.

  Osiris shrugged. “Nergal is her general. Kill him…again…and her Ekimmu will fall apart.

  What news of Nuit’s descendant, she who was foretold?”

  Horus’s face fell, and his arms folded behind his back, his eyes cast down upon the velvet floor.

  “You know that news would have been first,” Horus said with a sigh.

  “You’ve been waiting for her for a long time, Heru,” Osiris said.

  Horus had been promised that his true bride would be an angel with green eyes from the stars themselves, with skin of gold and hair of wool; she would be his treasure whom he must protect with his life and undeath. Osiris would expect no less from a true child of Re-Atum

  Horus feared not Death, nor its attendants Aging and Illness. He had battled his own uncle Seth and defeated him in combat, incurring a curse from Seth’s lover which he still labored under. He had battled the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and helped drive them back into their tombs. He had helped seal the Underworld so it would not fuse with Creation, consuming as was its nature. He had battled the Sons of El at the heart of all worlds and the Spellweaver Guild that conquered the Unknown Gulfs between the galaxies. He had stormed Troy with his uncle Seth, defeated Ares and stymied the Greek pantheon, and fought Xipe Totec as the Spaniards infiltrated the Aztec. The Aztec, or the Mexica people, were the blood-kindred of the Egyptian gods, and so Horus had felt obligated to try to save them from their own trusting natures.

  “I’m dreaming of her nearly every night now, Father,” Horus said. “Her curves, her eyes, and her touch drive me. I’ve gone over every detail, looking for a hint, for my dreams are always true. She wears a white dress over her gold skin, as a house slave in the English Colonies, but hides in a black cowl and walks upon a stormy ocean’s shore. It’s a town she heads towards, though no town that I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been a lot of places. The people there are like the Cianteto, the Daughters of the Earth; they are brown skinned with straight hair, though there are more that resemble Kemetians than Mexica.”

  “Doesn’t that narrow your search to that particular continent?” Osiris said.

  Horus thought, the wheels in his head grinding. “It’s better than that, Father. In all that Earth, there are only a few fiefdoms that fit that exact description; in a two-hundred year time period, the kingdoms of Afrika were stripped of precious gems and lives. Many of the captives the Caucasians took were imprisoned over a long ocean, and those who survived became restless servitors, ever more entwined with their conquerors by blood. If she is anywhere, she is upon those shores facing the cold Atlantic.”

  “You have a starting point: you spoke of the Thirteen Colonies, I assume? And the time period, by definition, is after the Europeans engulfed Afrika?”

  Horus nodded, but that old glint was in his pupil, and Osiris smiled as he recognized his son again after he had been buried for so long.

  “That’s a two hundred year span,” Osiris said. “It’s not so long when you can use your Maqet Gates to go anywhere in Creation from here. I wish I could, but…”

  “You can’t leave in your original body,” Horus said. He laughed. “Don’t worry, Father. I’ll be back in a few. After all, what am I but a hunter?”

  Osiris thought. Then he looked upon his son’s waist, his leather belt holding up Heaven’s Wrath; the spaded head was jet-black and the iron span was dancing with runes of protection.

  “Make sure you take that,” Osiris said.

  “I don’t usually need weapons,” Horus said, his nails becoming long and black, the talons of a hawk, then sliding back into his fingertips. “And I intend to seduce the woman, not slay her.”

  Osiris groaned. His son was so mission-oriented it STAKED him sometimes.

  “Think, boy! The Queen of the Night Sky said she would return again from the seed of old. She will be one of your ‘grandmother’s’ many scions…she will smell like Nuit and perhaps even act like her. Fortunately, the girl is distant kin to us, and even though I miss the nights when you didn’t have to look further than the next room for a wife…”

  “You don’t,” Horus said with a laugh. “You only ever did it because of royal tradition. I, on the other hand, am one of the last of the gods of Kemet; everything I do now is tradition.”

  Osiris rolled his eyes. “Make it a tradition to wear Heaven’s Wrath. Only one of our family, or extended family, can touch it without pai
n. And I know how you are about your precious monkeys. It will only take a touch for the woman to react, and it will be a slight sting. Of course, the sting for one who tries to take it from you will be much worse…”

  They shared a private laugh at the mental images of those who had tried to steal Heaven’s Wrath and their varied fates.

  Then Horus said, “Grandmother Nuit had many, many, many descendants upon the Earth. This will be a search for the ages.”

  Osiris frowned. “There are quite a few, I believe. But I have seen far more of them flood the Sixth Gate lingering because of their violent deaths. I don’t know where they are on Earth, but believe me, my son; I try to find them down here.”

  Horus shook his head. “I wish you’d let me flood the Earth with my Shemsu-Her. Narmer can track anything. He’s your grandson, after all.”

  Osiris smiled. Horus had expressed that sentiment, in various forms, since ancient Kemet; he knew his son was enough like himself to mean it whole-heartedly. Horus was no tyrant; he only sought to make all things balanced and in order, but for him to establish lasting Order, he’d have to truly become not only the Lord of Creation, but it’s King, a thing which Horus had never seem inclined to press. Perhaps it was because Horus lacked the desire to dominate and control others. Osiris knew that wasn’t the case. That was HIS son. Horus’s desire to dominate and control others was TOO great, that’s why he controlled it so well. He’d gladly rule the Earth and make things right, but he was wise enough to know that what he considered right was not necessarily so.

  “You know I swore not to let your angelic bounty-hunters overcome the Earth, ” Osiris said. “Just because your uncle is part of the Darkness now, lacking a body with which to influence the Earth, doesn’t make my word void.”

  “Tell me you had your fingers crossed,” Horus said. He and his father stood and clasped wrists in the warrior’s embrace, hugging each other.

  “The artwork of the Craftsman knows one of the blood of Re-Atum whatever or whoever she is,” Osiris said; the enigma was a familiar one for one who wore weapons made by the immortal mystery-laden Craftsman as Horus and Osiris both had.

  Horus gripped the blade and vanished.

  Osiris smiled. “Good luck, my son. May you find your bride, and may she help you stand tall, as your mother did for me.”



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