In Leg Post 112, Sauda, the religious head of Egypt, was in the Temple of Luxor, where only the god Mut was depicted, as this temple was for the pharaohs of Egypt and not dedicated to any single Egyptian God. A stranger approached her, and she feared he may have killed her bodyguards but was not afraid of him personally because of her arrogance. He offered her a deal, he would give her precious blood ink from over a thousand years ago and in return she had to craft a special weapon for him. He introduced her to a substance that could negate any and all power, including magic, and would destroy her if she was within its vicinity. He explained that she would have to use mundane followers to handle the anti-power in order to create a special weapon, which he wanted to be a sword. When speaking of himself, he explained that he was similar to a vampire, referring to NeSferatu, and that he had worked with Athena, in Leg Post 59, but that he would soon hibernate as he waited for the future. Just outside the room is Moses, listening in. When Deir-mon comes out, Moses tries to sneak away but the stranger starts to speak. Initially Moses thought he had been caught, but it turns out Deir-mon is speaking to someone called Theos. When the NeSferatu leaves, this Theos makes himself known to Moses and threatens him unless he explains himself. Theos explains that was his old name and that now he is known as Aman Tabiz. Since they have a common cause, he wants to work with Moses, who possesses a powerful staff, to get the anti-power to use against Sauda.
The Temple of Luxor stood on the Eastern bank of the River Nile and was still having additions made to it. The recent expansion was designed by Ramesses II himself, though he had been reluctant ant to add to the prestige of Sauda’s religious cultists.
Ever since the Aten heresy, the power of the religious class had increased exponentially. Many who lay on their deathbeds were dedicating their entire fortunes to various temples in Thebes, hoping to bring the deities back and get in their good graces.
The Temple of Luxor was not, unlike most Egyptian temples, dedicated to any specific deity or pharaoh. Instead it was the rejuvenating temple for the pharaohs – the crowning palace. As a symbol of this, a statue of Mut was carefully crafted from Nubian sandstone, spoils of conquest. The queen of the gods had her wings carved delicately, though many worried the stone would break, they did not; proof that Mut herself was pleased with this offering. Upon her head was the double-crown of Egypt – the united crowns of upper and lower Egypt. The lower crown was red, while the white of the upper crown protruded from it. Many claimed that the statues gaze would follow them as they passed by, watched by the god herself.
Sauda was deep inside the temple. The room was made of polished copper, creating a room of dark reflections. At the centre, however, was a basin, in which was a pool of still vril.
Sauda was writing hieroglyphs on a sheet of papyrus when the stranger entered the room. She didn’t look up when his boots struck the copper loudly, but said;
Sauda: “How did you get in here?”
Stranger: “I am here about a deal.”
Sauda: “Everyone wants to make deals, it seems.”
He took two more steps into the room before she looked up at him. Her bodyguards had better not be dead, she growled in her head.
Stranger: “I require your… assistance. I believe your abilities with arcane magick will help.”
Sauda: “I half expected you to be an assassin from the king. The last one got this far, too.”
Stranger: “You’d be no good to me dead.”
Sauda: “Who are you?”
Sauda: “Before you tell me what you want from me, explain why I should do anything for you.”
Deir-mon: “I will give you something highly valuable.”
Sauda sighed, but decided to indulge the stranger.
Sauda: “Pray tell.”
The man, who was clad in a thick, black robe that seemed very impractical for the Egyptian weather, pulled a flask from his robes and held it out to her.
Most people should exercise caution under such circumstances, but Sauda was brimming with arrogance; confident she could outmatch this stranger, no matter what tricks he had up his sleeve. Being the owner of a deity had altered her greatly since she was the sneaky liar under King Ay.
She snatched the flask from him and popped the cap.
Her initial lack of enthusiasm changed to curiosity as she looked up at the dark face under the hood.
Sauda: “Powerful blood. What is this?”
Deir-mon: “We call it blood ink. The ink of… reality. The reality written by the gods. That ink is mixed into the blood of certain people of great… destiny.”
Sauda: “How poetic.”
Deir-mon: “You can sense it for yourself. There have been few to possess blood ink in centuries. This flask you hold is over a thousand years old.”
Sauda: “Powerful blood from over a thousand years ago… and what am I to do with it?”
She saw the smile on his jaw, which was the only visible feature. White skin, like the Europeans, and perfect, unnatural teeth.
He had seen through her little ruse. Of course, she wanted it and she could think of hundreds of uses for blood magic. But trying to barter even more out of him would have been nice. A man with such resources was a man worth haggling with. She wondered what other delights he might have for her to investigate.
Sauda: “Fine. What can I do for you?”
She put the flask into the folds of her clothes. She saw him hesitate, clearly wanting to keep the flask before she completed the assignment, but she wasn’t going to be doing that. That hesitation told her that he considered her a powerful enemy should he need to fight her. When he relaxed, he was clearly ready to trust her not to screw him over.
Deir-mon: “I have something… precious.”
He took out a box but when she reached out to take it he held it back.
Deir-mon: “You cannot open it.”
Sauda: “You mean me specifically?”
Deir-mon: “Yes. You specifically cannot open it. The substance within would destroy you in an instant.”
Sauda: “It doesn’t look like much! I feel no power radiating from this at all! It’s just a box!”
Sauda groaned with impatience.
Sauda: “What do you mean?”
Deir-mon: “The box is nothing special. It is just a box. No wards, no protections, no spells, no technology, no advanced engineering… it is a simple box.”
Deir-mon: “It cannot be anything more than a simple box. Anything more than that and the box would be destroyed. The most protective box for this substance, is an unprotected box.”
Sauda: “I’m becoming irritated, Deir-mon. Speak plainly.”
Deir-mon: “The substance within once destroyed a nexus far larger and more powerful than Giza’s. The box was opened… the world was almost obliterated.”
She said the word, but she didn’t mean it. She was trying to convince herself.
Deir-mon: “You know it is true. You know I wouldn’t lie. I have no reason to.”
Sauda: “Such… power?”
Deir-mon: “No. Not power. The opposite of power. The negation of power.”
Sauda: “With such a thing, I could—”
Deir-mon: “Do nothing.”
Sauda: “Because it would destroy me.”
Sauda: “And you? I sense… a lot of power within you. I don’t know what it is. I don’t think it’s magic, yet you radiate strength. Like a vampire, but greater. Much greater. What are you?”
Deir-mon: “Another pointless question, priestess. I am a customer, nothing more. Once our transaction is complete, you will never see me again. I will return to the underground from whence I came.”
Sauda: “You’re in hiding?”
Deir-mon: “I’m in waiting. For the future.”
Sauda: “That’s not enough of an explanation. I can’t work for a threat to me…”
Deir-mon: “I rarely interact with the living. I sleep for decades in my crypt. I am awake now and in the mood for sport. I made a deal with Athena, a god among Greeks, but it was not satisfying. This is my last deal before retire again.”
Sauda: “Deals with gods and you need me?”
Deir-mon: “You control a god, do you not?”
Sauda: “You’re well informed…”
She looked at the box.
Sauda: “If I am unable to handle this substance, what am I to do with it?”
Deir-mon: “Like you, I cannot handle it. I need it in a form that I can use it. I want it planted into a weapon. It may lose its… area of affect, but that is a reasonable trade-off so that I can use it in my hands.”
Sauda thought, if it could work in his hands, it could work in hers.
Sauda: “I cannot handle it, therefore I cannot do what you ask.”
Deir-mon: “You have many human servants and slaves. My minions are… powered. So, you will need to use your most trusted servants. They perform the tasks as directed by you.”
Sauda: “I could do that… but I will need to kill them afterwards. You know trusted servants are hard to come by?”
Deir-mon gestured to her robes, where the flask was hidden.
Deir-mon: “And you have been handsomely paid.”
She patted the blood ink.
Sauda: “That I have… arcane magick is actually mechanical in nature. No aether, nor vril, no powers involved. I see why you came to me. Servants set it all up and handle the substance… it could work.”
Deir-mon: “Then the deal is made.”
She was thinking of the process that would be needed when she realised he was leaving the room.
Sauda: “The weapon?”
Deir-mon: “I am well versed in many weapons of the world. Any would suffice. But ensure that it is a simple weapon. Anything advanced or enhanced would, as you know, be destroyed.”
Sauda: “Sword it is.”
On her papyrus, she changed her writing to become a list of objects she would need for the arcane magick. Candles of many kinds, blood of several animals and people, there would need to be a heart. A good, healthy heart. Perhaps she should cut of someone’s penis too. Swords are phallic, after all.
She tapped her chin in consideration.
A big sword needs a big penis.
Moses scurried away as the stranger, who had said his name was Deir-mon, strode from the room. For a moment, the man stopped and stood stock still. Moses thought he had been caught, then the man chuckled and said;
Deir-mon: “Skulking around in the dark now, are you?”
Moses wasn’t sure if he was even the one addressed since he’d never met this guy in his whole life. He’d bloody remember.
Deir-mon: “I have no time for you, Theos. Don’t get in my way, and we will part amicably. Interfere… and we shall have to have a… conversation.”
The man strode off.
Moses wondered if he’d been mistaken for someone else, but then another man crept towards him. He beelined straight for him, so Moses turned to run, but he was caught in an instant.
Man: “You have just five seconds to tell me who you are, or you die.”
Man: “… a bit more than that will be necessary.”
Moses: “Um. I’m Moses and I’m on a mission to stop Sauda so I can free my people.”
He released Moses.
Moses: “Oh. I thought that would be harder.”
Man: “I might be able to use you. And you managed to get in here undetected, so you have some talent. I had to murder her bodyguards, how many did you have to kill?”
Moses: “None, actually. I have this staff. I channelled some divine power into it so I could be invisible to all. I wasn’t sure it would actually work on Sauda, but seems she was distracted anyway.”
The man looked straight at the staff with a look that might have withered Moses very soul if the glare had been directed at him.
Man: “Another god handing out artefacts. We’ll talk about this later. What was your plan for dealing with Sauda?”
Moses: “Oh, I… I have no idea, actually. I was planning to ask her to stop, you know, being a sod.”
The man, who had a Middle-Eastern complexion, frowned at Moses as though he had a luminous green complexion.
Man: “Are you an idiot?”
Moses: “No! I just… didn’t have a lot of time to think of anything better. I’m kind of winging it here.”
Man: “That is the key to failure. Never ‘wing’ anything. Plan. Plan every detail. We now have our weapon, at least.”
Moses: “My staff is pretty cool.”
Man: “I meant that… substance.”
Moses: “Isn’t it too powerful? That creepy dude said it would destroy us—”
Man: “Sauda. It would destroy Sauda. And him. And me. But you…”
The man eyed the staff again.
Man: “Without that, you’re just a man. And not a very brawny one.”
Moses: “Well, yes. I guess so.”
Man: “Not very intelligent.”
Moses: “Hey now…”
Man: “Untalented. Uncharismatic. Ugly—”
Moses: “Okay, okay! What did I ever do to you!?”
Man: “I am Aman Tabiz.”
Moses: “I thought that guy called you Theos?”
Aman: “I was. Once. Now I am Tabiz. We should leave.”
Moses: “Leave? Aren’t we going to enact this plan? I get the stuff and—”
Aman: “I just told you, we plan. You go in there and you die. Now come on. We make our plan and then we return when prepared. And with you, there will need to be a lot of preparation.”
Moses: “That was another insult, wasn’t it?”