In Leg Post 64, Pirithous was born the son of an Egyptian prostitute and a Greek sailor who abandoned the woman once she fell pregnant. Pirithous grew up on the streets and learnt, the hard way, to avoid the police until he turned to extortion, blackmailing and pimping to rise to wealth and start his own gang. He then hired Aman Tabiz who rose through the gang to become Pirithous' right-hand man and the true leader of the organisation, while Pirithous was the figurehead of the gang. The men had received a message to meet at the Temple of Hothar in the Theban Necropolis. They came to Deir el-Medina, the village of craftsmen that worked on the necropolis, and were met by the god, Ptah. He didn't want strangers upsetting the villagers and so he guided them around the village to the temple where he was shooed by Hothar herself. She led them through the temple to meet their employer, another god named Hera of the Greek Pantheon. She contracts them to murder the mortal offspring of her husband, Zeus, as she is angered by his constant infidelity. The men accept, though Pirithous is concerned, and prepare themselves for a year, obtaining many objects to aid them. They took on many successful missions, leading them to Mount Oeta to kill Hercules. Pirithous feigns to be a worker for a necklace merchant and asks Hercules' wife, Deianira, if she liked the necklace her husband bought. She didn't know anything of it and Pirithous described it to her, certain Hercules would give it to her soon. He travels to town to his girlfriend's house and asks her, Hippodamia, to arrange a party for her and her son, who he nicknamed Spud, and to invite Hercules and Deianira. He gives her a beautiful necklace, as he had described to Deianira. He is absent from the party where Deianira spots the necklace and is distraught, naturally believing her husband gave it to Hippodamia. Aman Tabiz acts as the merchant boss and invites her to his store to make a purchase to win back her husband. She buys a shirt from him, which he promises will enhance lovemaking between them. However, when Hercules wears the shirt he dies from being poisoned by the hydra's blood. The shop is gone when Deianira tried to point to Aman and, instead, she is found guilty of Hercules' murder and executed. The murderers then plan to leave the town, though Pirithous tells his girlfriend he would return in a year, to seek out Helen of Sparta next.
GANGS OF THEBES
The sky was bright blue without a single cloud to mar it. The sun was at its height and its bright rays blasted down upon the Theban Necropolis. Most of the land was silent with the dead kings and queens of Egypt’s past, as well as the nobles that were able to afford entry to the holy district. There was no wind; there was no relief. Two men walked across the entirety of the necropolis having done business in the main city of Thebes several miles away. The two men were Aman Tabiz and the Greek-Egyptian named Pirithous.
Pirithous was a short man with a stooped gait, his shoulders hunched over and neck stretched out like a preying bird. He wore thick desert robes to shield him from the sun. They may be hot to live in, but they spared his skin from the blistering sunlight. The robes were white to reflect some of the light but years of use rendered them yellowed and torn. His skin was well weathered and bronzed, inherited from his Egyptian mother who had worked as a prostitute for sailors. His father had been a Greek merchant who visited his mother with every trip into port. Soon as she was pregnant, however, he never returned to her brothel. Pirithous had grown up as a street rat, pickpocketing and stealing. He had been punished by the police numerous times as a teenager, resulting in a lot of scars from being caned repeatedly. The final time he had been caught they have cut off his left ear. He learnt from that – never get caught again.
Now he was a middle-aged man, though he looks many years older, and was in a position of influence and power. He turned his skills from petty theft to extortion and blackmail. He became a pimp, having learnt the trade from his mother, which led to him having very wealthy customers for certain exquisite beauties under his protection.
He started to hire other thieves and crooks to help him and soon enough he had a small gang. Then he met the enigmatic Aman Tabiz. The man had been studying in Thebes but had finished his sessions and was looking for employment. Aman was initially hired for his knowledge and strength. He quickly became trusted to perform his own operations. Then he became Pirithous’ right-hand man. In truth Aman was running the organisation and Pirithous just sat at the top, making the coin. Pirithous was the figurehead of the outfit now. The ambassador. He was the one that greased the officials’ hands, dealt with the police and paid the taxes to the government. But no move was made without the approval of Aman Tabiz.
Aman’s hair was greying around the temples but that was all that seemed to tell of his true age as his body was a grand temple of muscle that made his brown skin taut and youthful. He wore a loose-fitted tunic that exposed his chest and worn linen trousers with thick, sand-proofed boots. To keep the sun off he carried an umbrella made of papyrus that created shade over him. He had started hiring women to carry it for whenever he did venture out. Usually, however, he remained indoors and out of sight, allowing Pirithous to be the face of the gang.
While most of the gang members had started wearing jewels and fine clothes, symbols of their improved status, Aman retained simple attire. Likewise, Pirithous was a traditionalist and he maintained his old desert robes, giving him the nickname of beggar king amongst the gang’s members.
The two of them rarely met together in the open any more. That was too much of a risk should a rival gang try to take them out them, or worse yet a police officer looking for a major score. However the client had insisted on the major players only as the job was of the utmost clandestine nature. The runner had been a boy employed by priests of Hathor, whose temple was close to the workers’ village within the necropolis.
As they neared, Deir el-Medina came into clear view. The village was small, but well built and the people appeared to be constantly working. This was the workers village for then necropolis. Though slaves were often brought in to haul the heavy loads, most of the actual work was performed by professional craftsmen who were given homes deep in the necropolis. Not far from the village they came across a strange man.
His skin was green and his hair was blue. This was the immediate tip off that this was no ordinary person. He wore a skin-tight, white suit of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that clung to every crevice of the body. He didn’t appear to be muscular but instead he was very lithe but his buttocks were pert and his crotch bulged. Even the very shape of the man’s genitals, in far too much detail, was observed by the two gangsters. Aman was completely unfazed but Pirithous was horrified at seeing another man’s junk with very little to the imagination left behind.
Ptah: “Welcome to Deir el-Medina, strangers. I am Ptah. This is a peaceful village. I hope you’ll be respectful here?”
Aman Tabiz: “We’re not here for the village, Ptah. We were send word to attend the Temple of Hathor.”
Ptah: “Ah, I see.”
The man placed a green hand on his hip and stood at an odd angle. His lips twisted round as he studied the two of them.
Ptah: “You look like a couple of rogues.”
Aman Tabiz: “Does it matter? We are not here to harass the village, like I said.”
Ptah: “That doesn’t mean you aren’t going to bring trouble. What’s your business?
Aman Tabiz: “We’ll know that when we arrive at the temple.”
The man mused some more.
Ptah: “Fine. Then you won’t mind if I accompany you there?”
Aman Tabiz: “If needs be, though once there our meeting will be private.”
Ptah: “We have a deal. I shall lead the way.”
The man walked with swaying hips that caused Pirithous to choke. He looked up at the sky as they walked.
Pirithous: “You don’t look… normal. In fact, you look like a damn anime character!”
Ptah: “A what?”
Aman Tabiz: “I assume you are the Ptah? God of craftsmen?”
Aman Tabiz: “And that’s why you’re so protective here. Is that your shrine further ahead?”
Ptah: “It is! And beyond that is the Valley of Queens, straight down this road. But we’re not going that way. We’ll be turning to the right here. We’ll take a route around the outside of the village.”
Pirithous: “You don’t want us mingling with your people?”
Ptah: “I’m just not willing to take chances. These are good, hard-working people. They’re paid well, they serve their pharaoh well and they respect the gods and the dead. They deserve protecting.”
Pirithous: “What happened to your son? Is he here too?”
Ptah: “Who? What son?”
Ptah: “Not this again! It’s been centuries since then and that story still circulates. I don’t know any Imhotep. I think I’d know if I sired one.”
Pirithous: “Yeah… you don’t seem like the type of guy to… sire…”
Ptah: “What does that mean?”
Pirithous: “Nothing! Just… you’re quite fond of these craftsmen, aren’t you?”
Ptah: “Yes I am. I like to help them with their work. I provide inspiration and reserves of strength when they are fatigued. I introduced them to keeping well oiled and strong.”
Pirithous: “I bet you did.”
Ptah: “And what does that mean?”
Pirithous: “Nothing! Aren’t you supposed to have a wife?”
Ptah: “Ah yes. Dear, dear Sekhmet. Warrior goddess, you know? Very, very strong. She could probably rival your handsome friend here.”
Aman Tabiz: “Indeed.”
Pirithous: “To each their own. I just hope your wife is happy.”
Ptah: “Why wouldn’t she be?”
Pirithous: “No reason!”
Aman Tabiz: “There is the temple.”
In the distance, stood upon a hill, was the Temple of Hathor. It was grand, built by the skilled workmen of Deir el-Medina. Aman had to wonder why there was a temple of hers here in the necropolis. She was a deity of femininity and the rights of women. Though she did cross the boundaries of the mortal realm and Duat, he would have expected temples to Osiris or Anubis to be more prevalent in the necropolis than hers. The building was squat but wide with sandstone pillars and murals on the walls. Outside it were garden beds that were home to a row of sycamore trees, which were symbols of Hathor. Even as they reached the large doorway to the temple, the coolness of the interior wafted upon the men’s skin.
Hathor: “Halt! Who goes there!?”
Ptah: “The best god in the necropolis!”
Hathor: “Impossible! That’s me!”
Ptah: “Guess again!”
Hathor: “Why are you here, Ptah, you green-skinned bastard. Go back to your village.”
Ptah: “You see how she treats me? Is this any way for a lady to behave?”
Hathor: “I’ll show you ladylike behaviour in a minute if you don’t bugger off.”
Ptah leaned close to his male compatriots.
Ptah: “Must be that time of the month, amiright!?”
She leapt at him but he vanished and instead she turned on the two mortals.
They both threw their hands into the air.
Hathor: “What do you two want?”
Pirithous: “We were told to come here by a boy from the priests.”
Hathor: “Ah. You must be the gangstas!”
Pirithous: “You mean gangsters. We’re not rappers, you know?”
The woman beckoned them to follow her. She was tall, over six feet, and her skin was as yellow as a Simpsons[Ext 1] character. Her hair was a colour somewhere between blue and black and worn to her shoulders in bunches on either side of her face, wrapped in loose leather laces. Two very long, thin horns protruded from her head and between them was a glowing sphere of red and gold, like a miniature sun. The two men were mesmerised by it as it was quite unlike anything they had seen before; even Aman who was well travelled and world weary. She wore a long, free-flowing toga of gold, which blended with her unusual skin colour. On her feet were high-heeled sandals, which boggled Pirithous’ mind.
The walls of the interior of the temple were decorated with more murals, depicting all levels of Egyptian life from the farmers, to the merchants to the royals. Amongst them were depictions of the gods; Abunis, Osiris, Isis and Hathor as they welcomed the dead to the underworld. There were fewer images Ma’at and Thoth but they were often found alongside the dreaded Ammit. Deep into the temple they saw a god that looked like a bedsheet with eyes.
Pirithous: “What in the name of Amun-Ra is that weird looking thing?”
The men glanced at each other.
Pirithous: “A walking tea cosy?”
Hathor: “Lucky for you, Medjed is eternally merciful and won’t take that as an insult.”
She ushered them to a separate room. When they got inside they found another woman. She appeared refined, to the point of regality, and had the white skin of the Europeans. Pirithous recognised her first, having studied the culture of his father when he was young.
Aman Tabiz: “Why would a god hire mortal gangsters?”
Pirithous: “And Egyptian ones at that.”
Hera: “No Greek God must know I had a hand in this. This is of the utmost secrecy. This is why I am contacting you both personally. The fewer people know of my involvement, the better.”
Pirithous: “I see. And what exactly is it you expect us to do for you?”
Hera: “Murder most foul.”
Pirithous’ hair prickled and he straightened his back in surprise. His outfit very rarely dealt with murder. People were far more useful when they were alive. Why kill someone when they can be blackmailed? The only people they tended to murder were police officers, and only when those officers strayed too far into their business and couldn’t be bought off.
Pirithous: “I do.”
Aman Tabiz: “As do I. I met him once.”
Pirithous looked at Aman with utter disbelief.
Pirithous: “Yeah right.”
Aman Tabiz: “He taught me and my classmates politics. At least he was supposed to. It devolved into a lesson on wooing women.”
Hera: “Then you have touched upon my problem. My husband’s infidelity had led to a great many children that are not mine.”
Pirithous: “I can see where this is going now.”
Hera: “These children are an insult to me personally. But they are also a means to undermine me. When I act against him, he turns to his illegitimate children for aid. Athena, the little pest, is prime among them.”
Hathor: “And this is why I haven’t married. I have had a string of boyfriends, but never married any of them. It’s the best way, Hera. You should get a divorce!”
Aman Tabiz: “I don’t know if divorce exists yet.”
Hera: “I will not lose my position as queen of the gods. Besides, he might be a cheating bastard but I do love him and I know he loves me. He just can’t keep it in his pants.”
Hathor: “Greek lives are so messy. You should take some advice from us Egyptian gods, we have much more simplicity to our lives. Less of the soap opera nonsense.”
Hera: “It doesn’t matter. The point is, I want you to kill these children. Wherever you find them. You will be paid per kill. Do whatever it takes. You will not be able to slay such as Athena, she is a true god, but many are demi-gods or entirely mortal. Those are to be taken out.”
Aman Tabiz: “I think this is a contract worth considering.”
Pirithous: “Are you serious? Demi-gods? Sure, they’re mortal but only to an extent. They’ll be way too much for us to handle.”
Aman Tabiz: “No matter how powerful, everything has a weakness that can be overcome. Human ingenuity is the greatest force in the world. We can prevail if we figure out how.”
Pirithous: “This is a huge undertaking. We’ve done missions aboard, but nothing even approaching the systematic murder of a family tree of half-gods.”
Hera: “Remember, this is a secret undertaking. It doesn’t matter if Zeus knows his children are being killed, but he must never know it was me. Protect yourselves and you protect me.”
Aman Tabiz: “I expect our punishment from Zeus would be extreme. We will not be caught and so we will not expose you. No one else will ever know of this.”
Hathor: “This is going to get really ugly. I’m glad I’m not Greek!”
And so the killing spree began after a year of preparation and intelligence gathering. They obtained weapons and trinkets to aid them in their quests, all divinely powered or magical in nature to grant them boosts in given situations. They always approached their targets unawares and never confronted them in open combat. Whenever their secrecy was compromised, they went underground for many months and moved onto a new target with the intention of returning, one day, to finish the job.
One such job they had reached Mount Oeta in Thessaly. Aman Tabiz and Pirithous hid nearby and used a ‘seeing lens’. It was a magical mirror, devised by followers of Thoth, to allow sight of nearby locations, even through walls. The hut was about a mile down the mountain where the great hero and son of Zeus, Hercules, was shacked up with his wife Deianira. As the mirror activated they could see the interior of the hut as though they were inside it themselves. The hut was a simple affair but well decorated and furnished, clearly meant as a holiday home for the couple as a retreat from the life of a celebrity. Hercules was an old man but, like Aman himself, incredibly muscular and retained all the trappings of youth. His wife was three decades younger than himself and had an air of innocent youth about her. They soon concocted their plan.
Several hours later they saw Hercules leave the hut and head to town. Aman looked to Pirithous.
Aman Tabiz: “You know what to do.”
Pirithous: “I’m on it.”
Pirithous got up, stretched, and then started to head to the hut. He hunched his back more than usual and trotted down the mountain. He reached the door and gave it an uncertain knock, trying to give the air of a lowly man unsure if he should intrude. The door opened and Pirithous kept his head down in a revering gesture.
Pirithous: “Good day, madam. I’m sorry to disturb you. Is your fine husband home?”
The girl leaned against the doorframe and shook her head.
Deianira: “Sorry but no. He left for town a short while ago.”
Pirithous: “Oh, I see. And did your lady enjoy the necklace?”
She blinked her big, brown eyes.
Deianira: “What necklace?”
Pirithous opened his eyes wide and stooped his head even lower.
Pirithous: “Oh my! I apologise, madam! I must have made some kind of mistake!”
Deianira: “I think so! I have no necklace!”
Pirithous: “I should… I should leave. Thank you for your time, madam.”
He turned and hobbled away. He got down the garden path before she called him. He had almost thought she really would allow the matter to drop but sighed with relief when he heard her delicate voice.
Deianira: “Wait, wait. Please tell me what necklace?”
Pirithous: “Oh. Nevermind, madam. I am not here to cause you any distress.”
Deianira: “I tell you, I am quite distressed now as it is! Please explain yourself. Are you saying my husband has bought a necklace for me?”
Pirithous: “That is quite right. I’m sure he just hasn’t given it to you yet. He wanted to show it to his lady before making the rest of the payment to us for the necklace, so I came to see if it was suitable. Perhaps he just hasn’t shown it to you yet?”
Deianira: “That… that must be it.”
Pirithous: “You’ll know it when you see it! It has a fine red gem right at its centre. Quite a beautiful piece. Well then. I shall take my leave. I hope you can keep this secret, my lady? I would hate for the honoured Hercules to be disappointed if it isn’t a surprise.”
Deianira: “Of course. Thank you good sir.”
Pirithous started towards the town, following the small path that led from the house. The path was mostly overgrown with the grass of the mountain but a few rocks clearly marked the way. Ahead of him he could see the figure of Aman going the same way. When they reached the town, Aman went one way and Pirithous went the other. Eventually he reached the home of a woman named Hippodamia and knocked, much more confidently this time. The woman answered and grinned when she saw him.
Hippodamia: “Pirithous! Thank you for the fine gift!”
Pirithous: “You’re welcome, my dear! Anything for the woman I love!”
He ascended the few steps to enter the abode. Hippodamia was a woman of thirty years, a decade less than himself, and a fine example of Grecian women. She was daughter of the town’s leader and considered a grand prize by any nobleman. However, it was the rich foreign trader she had fallen for as he lavished her with exotic gifts and tales from across the world. She had been married once before but her husband had perished in war. Her son, Polypoetes, already looked to Pirithous as his adopted father and addressed him thus. Pirithous complained that the boy’s name was too difficult to say and nicknamed him Polypotatoes, which eventually got the boy to be named Spud by his friends.
Hippodamia was friends with everyone in town and when Pirithous suggested inviting several guests to an outdoor party, the name of Hercules was included on the list. She had met the hero many times but had never partied with him or his wife. Pirithous vowed he would be at the party too and the date was set and the invitations sent.
The days passed until the party came. Pirithous was, as he professed, unfortunately busy with work and couldn’t attend after all. This was a major disappointment for Hippodamia but she was resigned to his work taking his time at all hours. She did, however, wear the new necklace he gave her. A beautiful piece from Egypt that came with a large red gem in the centre.
Hercules had a grand time at the party but his young wife was troubled having seen another woman wearing the necklace she had expected for herself. She had been anxious day after day as no sign of the mysterious gift arose and when she finally saw it around the neck of another woman, Deianira became distraught. She left the bulk of the party to sit alone in the garden, taking a perch on a rock under one of the old oak trees. She tried to hold her tears in as a man neared her.
He crouched down.
Aman Tabiz: “I believe I know why you are upset, my young lady. I am the unfortunate merchant that sold the necklace to your husband.”
Deianira: “It is not your fault, sir.”
Aman Tabiz: “Perhaps not. Hercules is a man of many lovers in his past. Your are his third wife, he has had many affairs with other married women and he has had countless male lovers.”
Deianira buried her face in her hands, beset with mortification. She had married him knowing all of this but she foolishly believed she could be the one and only.
Aman Tabiz: “But I would like to help you.”
Aman Tabiz: “Come to my shop in the morning and I shall show you something. Keep it a closely guarded secret, however. It is an item of great magic.”
The next morning Aman Tabiz showed her a precious shirt of excellent tailoring, down to the smallest of fine stitches. Despite this, it was a simple design with just some minor details etched into the lining. It was, assured Aman, a shirt imbued with magic that would make the wearer all the more passionate and receptive during lovemaking. Hercules would want no other if he should wear this shirt when in bed with her. Deianira instantly snapped it up, at a small price, and took it home with her.
That night, Hercules donned the magnificent gift but as he crawled into the bed he suddenly toppled over, his face planted into the pillow. Stone cold dead.
Police investigated that very night as the young Deianira ran to the town for help. An alchemist from the town was brought in and discovered that the shirt had been laced with poison from a hydra’s blood. Deianira insisted that she had bought the shirt from a man in the town but when they came to the shop, the building was empty and nobody remembered there ever being a shop there at all. Deianira was arrested for the murder of her husband and, several weeks later, she was executed for the crime.
Pirithous: “Another one bites the dust and the culprit caught. We remain completely undetected.”
Aman Tabiz: “On to the next then.”
Pirithous went to his girlfriend, Hippodamia, and explained he would be gone for a year with work. She and Spud were sorrowful but understood. She would wait for him to return, she promised. He gave her plenty of money to support herself and the murderers left the town.
Pirithous: “Who is next one the list?”
Aman Tabiz: “Someone named Helen of Sparta…”
"This is very, very loosely based on the story of Pirithous[Ext 2] and Theseus[Ext 3], though Theseus is replaced by Aman Tabiz. A major component of this post was to develop the background of Aman Tabiz, who would later become Arkng Thand. I incorporated many elements of Egyptian Mythology[Ext 4], but also the real place of Theban Necropolis[Ext 5] and locations within it. The death of Hercules[Ext 6] is a completely separate story woven into the story of Pirithous and Aman, though the nature of his death is the same. Hera's[Ext 7] desire to kill off the children of Zeus[Ext 8] is partially tied to one of the conditions of the Trojan War[Ext 9], though there it is Zeus himself that wants them dead. The inclusion of Ptah[Ext 10] was a callback to his reference in Al Ciao the Writer's Leg Post 58 because I noticed a shrine to Ptah in the necropolis." ~ Britt the Writer
- ↑ The Simpsons article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Pirithous article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Theseus article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Egyptian Mythology article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Theban Necropolis article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Heracles article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Hera article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Zeus article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Trojan War article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Ptah article, Wikipedia.