Leg Post 107 continues the story of Moses as he meets with his wife, Zipporah, and their son, Gershom, as she travels across the Sinai Peninsula. They must get to Thebes to free the Hebrew people, but find an inn to stay at on the way. The innkeeper of The Prince's Death relates the tale of the inn's name, relaying the story of the Hattusan prince who was killed in the inn in Leg Post 98. Zipporah is very impressed, a lover of tragic romance. They find the room to be pleasant, despite its history, and put their son in the small, single bed at the end of the room while they flirt and get onto the bed. Zipporah alludes to the bad, sexual behaviour of the priests and priestesses of the Midian religion, and while Moses doesn't want that in Yahweh's new religion, he doesn't want celibacy. They are suddenly disturbed by a stranger in the room, who reveals his name is Mastema and that he is an angel of Yahweh. He demands a sacrifice to Yahweh, but when Moses offers to sacrifice a cow, the angel scoffs. Instead, he expects the sacrifice of their firstborn son, Gershom, since they have a second on the way; revealing to Moses that Zipporah is actually pregnant. The parents refuse and try to escape the angel, but when they leave the room, they find themselves in an unusual greyscale landscape they have never seen before. They are chased through this domain, which begins to rain blood, by the angel. But the angel of punishment is suddenly engulfed in flame and replaced by Yahweh, who is disguised as a teddy bear. In desperation, Zipporah cut the foreskin of Gershom and threw it at Yahweh as blood sacrifice, much to Yahweh's horror. But he diplomatically confirmed the sacrifice was made and teleported them to Egypt so they could take the boy to a doctor. Sometime later, Yahweh and Moses are on a bench and Yahweh apologises for what happened and affirms that Mastema is gone from his service as a result. Instead, they discuss the means of freeing the Hebrews from slavery, to which Yahweh will send several plagues, such as frogs and locusts, to torment the Egyptians into freeing the slaves. The gods are not allowed to interfere in human affairs directly, so Moses has a magc staff to summon the plagues himself, and the Egyptian Pantheon will not send their own counter-avatar because they are under the sway of Amun-Ra, who is being controlled by the high priestess, Sauda. They must now deal with the dangerous and powerful Sauda to succeed.
The Angel of Punishment
When word of his wife’s approach, Moses descended Mount Horeb and travelled north, across the Sinai Peninsula, until he found her and her small caravan. She had brought their children and, after a long embrace with Zipporah, Moses took up Gershom into his arms.
Zipporah: “It’s a strange experience to actually be visited by gods and their messengers. The gods were always… kind of… metaphorical to me.”
Moses: “I’m worried about all this, but it could be a good opportunity for us. And I can help to end the slavery of my race. I just hope Yahweh doesn’t let us down.”
Zipporah: “He’s a god. He can’t let us down.”
Moses: “You didn’t see the burning bush. I mean, it was literally a bush that was on fire. Why would anyone thing that was a good way to impress someone?”
Zipporah glanced at the sky.
Zipporah: “Maybe be careful how much you criticise him…”
Moses: “If you’re going to set fire to innocent shrubberies, you’d better be ready for criticism. God or not.”
Zipporah: “Well, if we’re going to have a bitch, I wasn’t very impressed with the messenger he sent me. That angel.”
Moses: “It’s like we wound up with the bargain basement deity.”
They felt a rumbling in the ground.
Moses: “Okay, okay, we’ll stop complaining.”
The rumbling stopped.
Moses: “You know, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the fire!”
The rumbling returned.
Zipporah: “Maybe we should just hurry on. We have a long trip to Thebes anyway.”
Moses: “Maybe our god should teleport us there? Or give us holy chariots? Or let us ride on clouds? Something?”
Zipporah: “Well, I was able to find these smelly, old donkeys. Maybe he sent us these?”
They followed the main road across the Sinai Peninsula. They had to rest for the night and came to an inn.
Innkeeper: “Welcome to the world-famous Prince’s Death Inn!”
Moses rose an eyebrow.
Moses: “That’s an unusual name.”
Innkeeper: “Oh ho ho! You don’t know the tale our of fine establishment, I see!?”
A few of the regulars groaned as they had heard the story many, many times over.
Innkeeper: “Back when my dad ran the place he admitted a customer who seemed to be just another traveller but, in fact, he turned out to be a prince! Not any old prince, but a prince of Hattusa! He had been in disguise to hide from the evil vizier who wanted to stop him from marrying the beautiful queen of Egypt. Alas, his enemies found him in this very inn and murdered him in his sleep!”
The man grinned eagerly and pointed to the ceiling.
Innkeeper: “Right above us, in fact! If you want his room, we call it the Prince’s Suite, it’s available. Costs a bit more, but the experience is worth it. A piece of history!”
Moses: “History? You said it was your father’s time, it wasn’t that long ago.”
Zipporah: “It sounds very macabre and romantic! We’ll take it!”
Innkeeper: “Lady knows a good yarn when she hears it! Be careful, some say the prince’s ghost appears in the dead of night! OOOooooooOOOOoooooOOOOooo!”
Moses: “If I wake up in the middle of the night and find you under a white sheet, I will not be impressed.”
Innkeeper: “Is he always like this?”
Zipporah: “No, not always. It’s the stress of our travels.”
The innkeeper showed them upstairs to the room. They found that it was a very large room, though they could see the imprint on the walls where the original wall had been knocked down to expand two rooms into one large room. The bed was very fancy, and the sheets were dyed a deep, dark red. There were even dried flowers hanging in bunches on the walls.
Zipporah’s eyes bulged with delight and she admired the room, while Moses placed Gershom into the single bed at the far end of the room where the boy fell asleep.
Moses: “Thanks, innkeeper. It’s a nice room.”
The man left with the promise that he would return in a few hours with a mug of wine to help them sleep.
Zipporah: “Isn’t it romantic?”
Zipporah leaned in and kissed her husband’s cheek.
Moses: “The thought of murdered prince’s turns you on, does it?”
She smacked his arm.
Zipporah: “It’s the idea of the handsome prince trying to reach his dearly beloved queen! The tragedy just makes it more beautiful!”
Moses: “Wouldn’t it be better if he succeeded? A happy ending?”
Zipporah: “No! That’s boring! Sad stories make me happy.”
Moses: “That’s an oxymoron.”
She slit her eyes at him.
Zipporah: “Sad means happy for cultured people.”
Moses: “Says the farmgirl to the prince.”
She poked him in the chest.
Zipporah: “EX-prince! And who says farmgirls can’t be cultured!?”
Moses: “I suppose you got me there. But now, aren’t I prophet?”
Zipporah: “Oh! That’s true! That’s kind of sexy…”
Moses grinned and waggled his eyebrows at his wife.
Zipporah: “In a celibate, sterile, chastised kind of way.”
Moses: “Wow. Just wow.”
She laughed at him and rested her head on his shoulder.
Zipporah: “I’m teasing you. Besides, you know those priestesses in Midian are dirty, horny, whores.”
Moses: “Ah yes, I remember. Especially the ones dedicated to Asherah. At least your father wasn’t like that.”
Zipporah lifted her head from Moses and frowned at him with a bemused expression.
Zipporah: “Why on Earth would you think that? Do you know who my mother was? No.”
Moses: “You refused to tell me.”
Moses: “Well, we won’t have any of that in Yahweh’s new religion.”
Zipporah jumped onto the bed and threw up her bare shoulder to her chin. Her figure lounged and she curled up one of her legs.
Zipporah: “So you do plan on celibacy, sterility and chastity?”
She bit her lower lip.
Moses: “Not on your nelly!”
He jumped onto the bed as they started giggling at each other.
Man: “Just imagine how many other people have fucked on this bed.”
Moses leapt from the bed while Zipporah scrambled along the bed to the headstand. Both stared with horror at the unexpected intruder.
Man: “Oh, don’t let me stop you…”
He was tall and lithe, with thin but firm muscles on his bare arms. His hair was long, blonde and lank that hung heavy and limp past his shoulders. His eyes were bright blue, but they were dark and sallow with sleep deprivation. As he looked from Moses to Zipporah, who was in a state of undress, he sucked on his tongue admiringly.
Moses: “Who the hell’re you!? Get out!”
Zipporah’s eyes widened and she thrust a finger at the stranger.
Zipporah: “The prince! He’s the ghost!”
The man’s laughter trilled. His high-pitched voice was haughty but effeminate. He held a hand to his mouth as he laughed at them. When he settled down, he looked at Zipporah condescendingly.
Man: “I am no mere ghost. I am a servant to your master.”
He walked away from the bed and, when in the middle of the room, wings appeared from his back. It was as though they had merely been invisible until that point and, when he turned around to face them, the wings vanished again. Despite the human appearance, his clothing was unusual enough to stand out, even without the wings. It was a white, leather vest that was pristine and unsullied with any sign of dirt or wear. He had black, leather trousers that shone in the candlelight of the room and he had heavy boots that were of an alien and advanced design to the couple. Around his waist he had a red jacket fastened, tied by its own arms. On his hands were white, fingerless gloves.
Zipporah: “You’re one of those angels? Like Bertwick?”
Man: “I am an angel, but entirely unlike that unless prick, Bertwick. I forgive you for that comparison because you’re an ignorant fool, but make that comparison again and you’ll regret it.”
Moses frowned and moved into the line of sight between his wife, on the bed, and this angel.
Moses: “I don’t care who you are, you don’t threaten my wife.”
The stranger threw his head back and laughed.
Man: “Or what, exactly? You’ll shout at me? You’ll, gasp, dare I say, attack me?”
The man straightened, but he still wore a cocky smirk on his lips, and leaned towards Moses.
Man: “Don’t make me laugh.”
Zipporah: “What do you want!?”
She had crawled to the edge of the bed and seemed to be growling inwardly, with a deep, primal fear and hatred of this creature.
Man: “I am here to scald you. That’s all. You haven’t performed your duties to your lord adequately.”
Moses: “Exactly who are you? Why is Yahweh not here himself?”
Moses: “Punishment!? What for!?”
Archangel Mastema: “Why, the sacrifice, of course!”
Zipporah leapt from the bed.
Moses: “I mean, it’s kind of gross but I can get a cow…”
Moses: “… I don’t think the innkeeper will mind, Zip. He’ll probably like it! Prince murder and cow sacrifice in one room.”
Zipporah: “That isn’t what he wants!”
Moses turned to Mastema, who was smirking broadly and his eyes were wide with delight.
Archangel Mastema: “Did you think a cow would suffice? This is the god of gods. Deity of cultures a million years ago, deity of worlds beyond your ken, ruler of Writers – and you want to offer up… a cow.”
Moses: “Dude was a bush.”
The angel faltered.
Archangel Mastema: “The office may have fallen into new hands, but the role must be given all due deference by you… pitiful mortals. And you have failed in that duty.”
Moses: “Well, now I’m having second thoughts about this whole thing.”
Mastema tilted his head coyly.
Archangel Mastema: “You think to desert, do you? And what do you think the punishment for that will be?”
Moses gulped but puffed up his chest.
Moses: “You don’t scare me! I can’t exactly free the Hebrew slaves if I sacrifice myself, can I?”
Zipporah: “He doesn’t want you.”’
Moses looked to his wife and then to the angel.
Moses: “You’ll not have my wife either!”
Zipporah: “He doesn’t want me.”
Moses: “Then wha-?”
He realised there was yet another person in the room. He looked past the angel to the sleeping form on the single bed.
Moses: “No! Not my son!?”
Zipporah: “That’s what they do, Moses. The priestesses. They take the boys, they… use them and then kill them in honour to the gods. You asked why I wasn’t so devout as my father, that is why.”
Archangel Mastema: “The firstborn son of important houses must be sacrificed to the Trinity when the second is conceived.”
Moses: “But we haven’t…”
Zipporah: “I was going to tell you after you did you business. I didn’t want to distract you from freeing your people. Sorry…”
Moses: “I will find time to be happy later. For now, we’re leaving. You can tell—”
The angel was gone.
Moses: “Um… that was easy. I thought I was going to have to kick him in the nads.”
He dashed across the room and picked the boy out of the bed. Gershom lolled his head, still asleep, but managed to whine a complaint at the disturbance. Zipporah was slowly picking up their things;
Zipporah: “We can’t escape, Moses.”
Moses: “I’m not going to stand about and wait for that creep to come back.”
Zipporah: “We’re doomed… Yahweh… Asherah, Ba’al… they’re everywhere.”
He looked at her in earnest.
Moses: “We’ll seek the protection of the Egyptian gods.”
Zipporah: “Egypt? We’ll be slaves!”
Moses: “Better to be slaves than have our son butchered like an animal.”
Suddenly the colour from the world vanished. It was a surreal experience for the humans to find themselves in greyscale. If they knew what black and white televisions were, they might have made a connection. Zipporah tried to speak, but her voice was muffled and fuzzy like static. Moses shouted, but it was just as distorted, despite being louder.
He marched across the room and opened the door, but he found himself stepping onto a wide plane of black and white. The ground was grey and the sky was stark white, but black, dead trees lined the landscape like a forest.
He turned to go back, but the door was gone and the three of them were trapped in this barren, alien landscape. Moses tried to tell Zipporah to follow him, but the words were lost so he motioned with his head as he carried the child onwards. They trekked for fifteen minutes but the world around them never altered, never changed. Zipporah screamed at the sky, her wail sounding like a garbled screech of a radio signal.
Then, there was a point of red in the sky that grew and grew, like an expanding sun. They started to run in the opposite direction to it, but the red circle exploded in a splatter of red; drops of red splashed the grey-white terrain and stained it like brushstrokes of ochre.
Zipporah fell to her knees and, again, screamed at the sky.
Archangel Mastema: “The demand for blood cannot be ignored.”
His voice was the only sound in this wilderness, sounding loud and clear against the muted world. Zipporah leapt to her feet and launched herself at the angel, but he slapped her aside. Moses almost dropped his son as he tried to grab Zipporah.
Archangel Mastema: “Yahweh is your master. You are his slave. Your child belongs to him, not you. You are all his property and he demands the sacrifice. The child’s blood will be spilt.”
Then, there is the look of surprise on the angel’s face and, a moment later, Mastema is engulfed in a blaze of bright, yellow flame. The humans shielded themselves from it instinctively, but there was no heat. A moment later and the flames burst apart and disappeared, leaving a new figure in the place of Mastema; Yahweh himself. Or rather, another proxy for Yahweh. This time, he was a teddy bear.
Yahweh: “He’s gone.”
Zipporah had reached breaking point, tears were streaming down her face.
Zipporah: “You want my son’s blood!? Then here!!”
She didn’t notice that her voice now blasted through the air clearly. She turned and yanked the trousers of her son down, much to the surprise of Moses, and she cut off the boy’s foreskin.
The child screamed in sudden agony, blood went everywhere.
Yahweh: “Holy shit! Did you just cut off that kid’s dick!?”
Zipporah: “HERE IS YOUR SACRIFICE!”
She threw it at the bear.
Yahweh: “What in the blue blazes!? Did you just throw foreskin at me!?”
She roared at the bear.
Yahweh: “What in the hell have you been smoking, lady!? Calm your damn tits! The asshat is gone. You don’t need to kill the kid!”
She stared wildly at Yahweh and he thought to resolve this a little more politically.
Yahweh: “Your, uh, sacrifice of foreskin was sufficient. Even though you fucking threw it at me. Well done. You win. Now we should probably take that kid to a doctor or something. I’m pretty sure open wounds get infected.”
The was a loud groan, like the creaking of old wood, as the world around them stretched and then slammed down on them. Moses winced and ducked his head but nothing hit him. He found himself in a city, which he instantly recognised as Egyptian, and was right outside a medical clinic. He rushed inside.
Yahweh: “I have dismissed the crazy bastard from service. He’s no longer an angel, arch or no. Sorry for what happened to you, bro.”
Moses: “It was bloody traumatic! Sorry isn’t really enough, is it?”
Yahweh: “I suppose so, but there’s no real way to fix it. I could erase your memories, change time, but I don’t think that is any kind of resolution, is it?”
Moses: “No. Just… make sure you don’t have any other crazies in your angelic ranks, yeah?”
Yahweh: “I think a degree of crazy is necessary for the job, to be honest, but there’ll be none so eager to torture innocent people, at least. Most certainly not my mostest favouritest people in the world!!”
The teddy bear fell over.
Yahweh: “Uh, bro, don’t suppose you could… help me out?”
Moses reached out and propped the bear back into a seated position.
Moses: “At least you’re not on fire this time.”
Yahweh: “I figured something cute and cuddly was needed after what you guys went through.”
Moses: “I don’t even know what you’re supposed to be.”
Yahweh: “I’m a teddy bear!”
Moses: “You’re supposed to be a bear!? Why in the hell would you think bears are cute or cuddly!? You know they eat people?”
Yahweh: “Well, I mean… I’m a toy bear! Give me a break!”
They were sat on a bench in the middle of the city, watching people wander around them. Moses was snacking on a fried scorpion, while trying not to look like he was talking to a stuffed animal.
Yahweh: “Are we ready for Operation Scare the Piss Outta Egyptians? We’re gonna slam them with plagues!”
Moses: “Egads! That’s horrible!”
Yahweh: “Not actual plagues. They’re not going to get sick and die. That would defeat the point. We need to break their will. So one day, I’ll send frogs to the city.”
Moses glanced down at the teddy with a frown.
Yahweh: “Like, millions and millions and millions of them.”
Moses: “Okay, that does sound kind of gross.”
Moses: “Really gross.”
Moses: “Really, really gross.”
Yahweh: “And festering boils!”
Stranger: “Yeah, I hate fried scorpion too.”
Moses looked at his food and then nodded.
Moses: “Yes, sorry. Didn’t realise I said that out loud.”
The stranger laughed and kept going.
Yahweh: “Haha, you look like a crazy person.”
Moses: “Okay, so what’s first?”
Yahweh: “First, I will make the rivers turn to blood!”
Moses: “Holy shit! That’s first!? If they don’t give in at rivers of blood, they’ll never give in to bloody frogs and locusts!”
Yahweh: “I know, but those will be hilarious. Especially frogs. Can you imagine? It’ll be great!”
Moses: “Won’t your rivals try to stop you?”
Yahweh: “You mean the Egyptian Pantheon? Technically, they can’t interfere in human affairs directly.”
Moses: “But you can?”
Yahweh: “Not directly. That’s what that magic staff I gave you is for. You summon my powers through it.”
Moses: “Okay, won’t they be able to get someone to do the same thing?”
Yahweh: “Most of the gods are now under the sway of the most powerful ruler of the Egyptian Pantheon.”
Yahweh: “And he is under the control of another. Deal with her and they’re powerless…”
Moses: “Her? You can’t mean—she’s still here!?”
Yahweh: “And as dangerous as ever.”
Moses: “My brother always said she was dangerous. If she’s so powerful, how exactly are we going to deal with Sauda?”
"Fortunately, I found an interesting element to the Moses' story to work on; namely the little-known angel Mastema[Ext 1], that allowed me an interesting angle I could use. I was feeling uninterested and uninspired by this current line of narrative in the Greek Legends chapter and was left stumped as of the last Moses' post. However, this new insight gave me enough interesting material to tell a unique and interesting tale. I was also able to connect it to HFU Post 1, through the region of Hell, giving me the chance to reuse this character in the future. I did enjoy the relationship between Moses and Zipporah, especially Zipporah herself." ~ Britt the Writer