A Sandpit of Bodies
His thoughts still on the girl who could rewrite the course of events, Ashlar followed the Nile all the way back to Abdju. The sun was yet to rise from its dark prison beneath the earth, and yet he knew right away that Kunai’s plan had succeeded. The undulating horizon was disturbed by a large bench of stone; a flat-roofed rectangular structure worthy of gods and of kings.
The mastaba was not the only new building in sight. Piercing the dunes like a great, silver spear was a temple of limestone, adorned by lean statues. Its white walls were adorned with carved pictures of worship for the great gods of old.
Two slivers of gold launched across the grey skies. At the heart of the desert, the Temple of Abdju and the Tomb of King Sobek received the first light of day in great shine and valour, like two rare desert jewels. And yet, for all their might, there was no eye left to praise them.
Divided across the field were endless slews of cadavers. Cut, twisted and mangled stood the bodies of men, slaves and their masters, sleeping their endless sleep beneath the cold sands of morning.
A lone figure stood out from the dunes. Ashlar made his way across the blood-spattered desert, the Tear of the Goddess safely tucked in the folds of his hand. Kunai un-Nefer was sitting on the ground, his fingers brandishing a small, jagged object. Around his small person, all the sand had turned black.
Oh no, oh no, what had he done? Ambition was the fuel of madness, he knew, and still he had sent the lad to his doom. All this death, all this mayhem, for a small sip of honour.
Ashlar’s feet broke into a frenzied run. ‘Kunai, Kunai!’ he called out.
But the creature he called to was Kunai no more. The front of his shirt was soused in the blood of his brethren and his sweet, boyish face was disturbed by long shadows.
‘What happened here, little slave?’
Kunai’s expression did not change. A vile presence seemed to be weighing him down, adding sharp edges to his physiognomy and gathering shadows into his dimples. Ashlar’s gaze fell upon the strange-looking shadow escaping his fist.
‘I happened here, little god,’ hissed Kunai, his tongue between his teeth. Small wisps of smoke escaped the boy’s nostrils. There was black smoke on his breath each time he exhaled.
‘The slaves and their masters, you had them all killed,’ said Ashlar. It was a blunt and clear statement, but the question of ‘why’ was implied.
‘Every last man, woman and child,’ Kunai confirmed. A large cloud of greyish-black smoke erupted from his mouth as he said it. ‘I had a dream, you see. A breathing vision of forthcoming things. A sick man’s dream,’ the boy grinned impishly. ‘And you were in it, O Dominus. At the end of all things.’
To be continued...