Chapter Thirteen: New Power
Taking a secretive detour only known to him, he scanned the horizon feeling something amiss on this evening. Weird energy suddenly rippled from the east. Closing his eyes, he focused his mind and began to sense what kind of power was being emitted. Sighing under his breath, the god opened his eyes. His peaceful demeanor turned sour as his soul filled with remorse. Bursting into a sprint, he raced toward the current. Running across several sand dunes and hills, the god finally reached his location. Standing upon a small sandpit in front of him, he could feel the power emanating with such intensity.
‘The power resides here,’ The god thought.
The ground suddenly quaked from beneath his feet. He stood firmly in place awaiting in suspense. The sand caved in as black smoke seeped outwards. Whispers violently escaped the foreign origin while a blacked cloaked figure rose from the darkness. The smoke molded and defined into a person before disappearing into the air.
“Upon the years I have lived in solitude, I wondered the day you would come for me, Osiris.” Set threw his cloak off his body and took out his Khopesh from behind his back. Throwing it in front of the dark god, he kneeled down before him. The hooded figure remained still and silent.
“If I shall meet my end, then I am at peace. I will not fight you, brother.” Without uttering a word, the ominous stranger reached into his right sleeve and pulled out an Ankh, tossing it at Set’s knees. Slowly picking it up, he stared at it in awe. “H-how did you come by this?”
The god pulled his hood down. “Objects hidden are always longed to be found. Especially a powerful item such as this. It is a beacon and should be placed more carefully.”
Revealing his face, he was not Osiris. He looked like a normal man standing approximately five foot ten inches in height and had an assertive yet cunning presence to him. He had long straggly black hair, blue eyes as vibrant as the Mediterranean Sea and a five O’clock shadow forming along his jawline. Lastly, he had several Ancient symbols tattooed along both his arms that were foreign to the god as it was no language, he has ever seen.
Examining the mysterious man further, he slowly got up on both feet. “You are not he?”
The god snickered. “Nye, your gods are long oblivious to your whereabouts, Set. I am quite saddened, though, to see you in such a state. The stories told through scriptures is that of a god feared by many. A formidable opponent to any threat that crosses paths. Upon standing and seeing you before me, I expected... more.” The god looked at Set and sighed. “My apologies if the words I speak are ill-mannered, but you must understand the disappointment.”
Set grunted at him, picking up his Khopesh and Ankh. “You know not of me. Only of stories plagued by fear and anger.”
“I know enough,” the god added. “I have traveled across this foreign land learning of the gods that inhabit this realm. The knowledge I acquired required long and torturous readings, but one fact is absolute. Tales of you are renowned. The ending to such a story I found to be struck with such tragedy.”
The god paced back and forth, recalling Sets past. “Once loyal brother turned foe. Enraged with power, fueled by jealously to take the throne. The nephew? I believe Horus is the name? To strip you down to such a degree? A real tragedy of a god of your stature who’s squatting in the outskirts of Egypt.”
Set became outraged. “How dare you defile me with your tongue?! You not dare speak any further, nor my past, or I shall give you a taste of the stories read.”
The god egged Set on and retorted with a disrespectful tone. “I can see such a thing has consumed one with such shame and self-doubt.”
Fueled with a split second of anger and weakness, he lifted his weapon and swung at the God. “Silence!” he demanded.
Before his Khopesh had a chance to reach, a hand popped out of the sands and stopped the blade midair. Set looked down, and a disfigured Spartoi rose from the sands. Moving oddly, it slowly pushed Set back. With its cold, blue, inferno gaze, it stood in the way, awaiting commands. Set warned the creature to stand down.
“He only abides by my voice,” the god informed. “Such vicious wars took place in these parts. Bodies slaughtered and left to rot like the one before you. No home, no rest. If those here knew of the graveyard that consumes these lands, they would dare not step.”
Set struggled against the Spartoi strength. The creature had a firm grip on his weapon, and it dared not release. “I need what the stories described you to be,” the god continued. “This is the only way.” He looked toward his soldier and gave him a gentle nod signaling the order.
A sword materialized into the Spartoi’s hand before charging Set. Releasing its grip from his blade, he began calculating. Rusty, in his years of solitude, his body may have succumbed, but his mind was not. A skilled tactician and warrior, Set anticipated the Spartoi’s movements remaining one step ahead and dodging every swing. Knowing he had an advantage over a mindless being, he began dragging out the fight for pure amusement.
It has been ages since Set had any sort of physical stimulus. The feeling of being in battle again gave him a much needed yet dangerous rush. Ebullient by the fight, Set became cocky, taunting the dead soldier. Little did he know, they fight in numbers. From beneath his very feet, another Spartoi popped up from the ground. Blindsiding the god, the creature uppercut him and sent Set flying backward.
Tumbling down a mound, he felt the sand invade his lungs, forcing him to cough violently. Set’s mortal body was not used to the concept of pain and weakness. The sensation overwhelmed him while struggling to get up. Relentless, the Spartoi’s grabbed his foot and tossed him across the air as if he were a Frisbee. Landing on his stomach, he yelled in frustration. He couldn’t let his emotions overtake him. Set worked so hard to contain his old self and be at peace with the life he made. Even with his progress, though, he felt himself slipping and seeing his own blood escape his lips gave him a realization of vulnerability that he’s never experienced.
Without realizing their proximity, the two Spartoi ganged up on Set and began beating him where he lay. Reflecting upon his choices, Set escaped into his mind. Believing he could be bested by two mindless creatures insulted him and bruised his pride. The time of self-reflection shattered. If being mortal crippled Set this badly, then he could not allow such a thing to exist no further. Slowly rising onto his feet, Set knew what he had to do. Even if the gods would sense him, he knew he couldn’t be hidden for long. If one god found him, who’s to say another wouldn’t?
He apologized to himself before reluctantly pressing the Ankh into his chest. Shining brightly, Sets body absorbed its power before it disappeared. The strength once felt rushed through the god’s veins rapidly. Yelling with eminence force, the Spartoi were swept away by Egypt’s winds as if it had a mind of their own. He opened his eyes and they were red with rage. Fangs began growing out from the roof of his mouth and his nose became slightly elongated like that of a K-9.
Thunderous clouds roared overhead while lightning struck the desert floor around him, crystalizing into fulgurite. His voice became a powerful weapon echoing throughout the lands. “You dare lay a hand on me vile creatures!” Sand slithered into every crack and crevice of the Spartoi’s bodies it could invade. Without saying a word, Set snapped his fingers and eradicated them, leaving nothing but powder behind.
His eyes roamed until they were connected with the mysterious god that dare antagonized him. Looking up at the sky, he cast a bolt of lightning down at the god. Easily dodging the attack, Set then used the winds to sweep him away. The god only evaporated into smoke flowing with the wind that he conjured. Refiguring back to corporeal form, the desert sand then surrounded the stranger. Entrapping him, Set created a sarcophagus and tried crushing him in it. His hopes became dampened as smoked escaped through the spaces. The god became whole once more and stared at Set.
“Impressive, quite a theatric performance. Shall we carry on, or have you had your fill on these activities? For intentions of my death will not fall on this day.” Set wanted to strike down this god that so easily pushed and belittled him. He wanted to rain hell and commit so many unspeakable acts that even his father would turn a blind eye to his rampage. He knew, though, that his bloodlust would only consume him, and his performance, which he just displayed, left him exposed. He had no time to quarrel with a being who seemed to have welcomed despair upon open arms. Instead, he collected himself and turned the other cheek.
“Where do you think your travels will lead you?” the god asked sarcastically.
Set looked back, annoyed, and kept walking. “I buried the monster people swore I am. Left it behind so I could witness the god I am destined to be. Your poisonous presence that cursed me puts me in a bind I wish to not be. I must flee before my kin find me.” The olden god rolled his eyes and waved his hand. A shadow-like dome swiftly covered them whole.
Set breathed in deeply, trying to remain calm. “Let me out of such a putrid entrapment or I shall--“
The god waved his hand, dismissing his threat. “Silence, threats of death do not frighten me no matter the god you swear upon. What you see conceals you for the time I have spared. Safety is granted to you until I see fit.”
Set became restless and asked, “What business is there to be done here in order to be released by your presence?”
The god smiled at him. “Finally, a question to which an answer can be given.” He pulled out a metallic medallion with a small hourglass encased in the center out of his robes and showed it to him.
Lights that felt like energy in its purest form flickered softly out of the necklace. Hypnotized in a trance state, Set walked up and touched the center where the hour glass rested. Unknowing of its power, the unaware god saw several periods whisking by in the blink of an eye. The images he saw were so overwhelming he stumbled back and held his hand in pain.
Looking down, second degree burns stained Set’s fingertips. “W-what is that infernal contraption? What did I foresee?”
“Time,” the god answered back. “This holds the essence of time itself.”
Set looked up at the god. “I know of no god who possesses such power. Who are you stranger?”
“Names upon many tongues have been given throughout my lifetime. Stories of my infamy told through my own homeland. Most are unpleasant and crippling like your own, but there, I am known as Hades.” He bowed his head politely toward Set finally able to reveal himself.
Set distastefully grunted. “What a horrid name to call one’s self.”
He sighed, ignoring Set’s comment. “The realm to where I originate, I am the god of the underworld. Perhaps that is why you thought I was your brother. But, such titles have recently been altered to a grander appeal.”
Still in a state of confusion, Set pursued. “If this realm is unknown to you, how do you speak the native tongue?”
Hades smiled. “Wherever realms the bearer of this medallion is cast, the language of my tongue conforms to that of yours. I learned soon after my arrival for the words I chose in my homeland did not resonate with those here. Quite a jewel, is it not? The power it fully possesses even I do not know of.”
Set’s curiosity peaked, and finally asked the question Hades waited for. “How did you become such a god?”
Showing him the medallion, he answered. “The secrets of which this medallion holds will be shown in due time, friend. In exchange, join me on my quest to eradicate such vile gods who have scorned us. Who has humiliated and tossed us as if we were mere filth. One’s life can be changed to a greater ordeal. I will give you an empire and the power to which you’ve long to claim.”
He looked intently at Hades. To him, this god talked nonsense and was borderline mad. A stranger offering to change his entire life? No one could rewrite their history, not even a god. Especially one so arrogant and callous.
Set made up his mind and decided to refuse his offer. “I decline for I am content with the path, I have made. I will not be dragged into another god’s vendetta. The mistakes I have made have shown me as such. I have seen what my life will succumb to if such temptation is taken... I shall not falter into such madness again.”
Hades shook his head. “You rather live in isolation? Travel across the barren lands unable to be truly free? Is that what you desire for life?”
“It is not what I desire,” Set rebutted. “It is what I deserve. My penance for all the misfortunes I’ve done to this world and the people who inhabit it.”
Huffing in exasperation, Hades tried convincing him further. “Would you not join such a cause to avenge your beloved? Nebthet, I believe?” Set’s breathing became erratic and short. “You dare speak her name? She is free from the hardships I have given her. She now lives at peace without the troubles I caused her.”
Hades examined Set almost in a sorrowful way. “You do not know of what became of her … do you?”
Confused, Set walked up to Hades with worry in his eyes. “Know of what?!”
Avoiding eye contact with the oblivious god, he laid his hand upon Set’s shoulder. “I am filled with such sorrow to be the bearer of such hardening news. She lies within the ground among her ancestors. She has been that way for years.” Sets heart became heavy as he stumbled backward. In disbelief, he shook his head and asked Hades what events led to her death.
“Horus,” Hades replied.
His mind swirled with overwhelming thoughts. He repeated back what Hades told him. “Horus? No, no, this cannot be. Such an act is-- she was a maternal practitioner. She cared for the boy alongside Isis. He would not commit such a vile act for spite.”
“From the history, I have learned of this time,” Hades spoke carefully, “It appears days after you fled, Horus became ruler of the people. One’s mind became poisoned with revenge and paranoia. He was dissatisfied with the events that have proceeded him. He faulted Nebthet for not coming forth sooner on your transgressions against him and the throne. Though she did not know of such things, Horus made her an example. He called for a summoning were the forfeit of her life was to be shown among the people.”
“How,” Sets voice trembled.
Hades shook his head. “I believe it is most unwise to know of--”
“My beloved!” Set yelled. “How did her death go about?! How did that monstrous vermin punish her?!”
Hade’s voice became silent, trying to find a respectful way to word it. “He … Horus stripped her naked in humiliation in front of all. H-he had her hands and legs bound as she was hung upright before him. Slowly, Horus slashed into her flesh until she was on the cusp of death. From there, he signaled the people of Egypt to stone her.”
Set’s knees became weak. They swallowed the sands below as he yelled so loudly in agony, even the dead could hear his pain. Lowering his head in shame, all he could do was relish in his guilt. “It was of my doing … mine and mine alone. I should have been there. I left to spare the misery that was to follow, which only led to her death. My be-… M-my beloved is dead.”
Kneeling beside Set, Hades sympathized. If anyone knew the death of a loved one, it was him. “I know of the pain you feel. My love was taken from me before her time. Struck down by the people I called family. I relished in my madness having those scour for her, but to no avail.” Chuckling depressingly, Hades continued. “What good can come from being a god of death if one cannot bring back those they love from eradication?” He looked over at Set, who began showing signs of agreement with the Greek god.
Breathing in deeply, Hades looked intently at Set and made a pact. “Listen friend, grave mistakes may have been casted, punishment to those not deserving of such outcomes may have been given, but that does not justify their horrendous actions. They sacrificed those of innocence, and for what? A lesson? I promise upon every god there is here if you join me, I will remain by your side and kill that of your most loathed enemy who took it upon himself to wrongly kill an innocent woman. Your beloved deserves such justice as does mine. She deserves to rest knowing a murderer was lying beneath the dirt alongside her.” Set looked up at Hades, infatuated with his way of words.
“You’ve had a mere glimpse of what this can bring forth,” he continued. “What you witnessed was no signs of insanity. I assure you if you join my side in this, I will grant you your heart’s desire. She can be avenged for the cruel acts your gods did upon her. You can choose to do right by her and yourself. You can have vengeance my friend, I promise upon every god there is! All you have to do is make a choice.”
Hades graciously handed the medallion to Set and backed away from him. Examining it further, he felt the power course through his veins. He has never been in such confliction. The god he was before? He did not wish to be again. He knew if he embarked on this path, he could revert to the god he was.
“Can I bring her back?” he asked with a shaken voice.
Sadly looking at Set, Hades nodded his head. “Sadly, not my friend. The medallion cannot go back upon a fixed time it has chosen. I have tried many times myself. This godly artifact you hold is ancient and before one’s time. The power it has is fluid as time itself. Since it chose this time and year, what was and what is to come … is and will remain untouched. It leads me to you for reasons I yet knew. Now, as I look upon you, I believe it chose you for the simple fact that you resemble that of me in my realm. You were chosen because we are similar in many ways, and it knew of this.”
Looking back on his past, Set decided to embrace his revenge. Even if he could not save Nebthet from the torment Horus inflicted on her, he can make him pay for his actions. Even if there was a glimmer of hope that this could work, he had to take the risk. No matter the price that followed in the aftermath. Handing the medallion back to Hades, Set stood confidently onto his feet.
“What say you,” Hades wondered. “Will one join such a cause and find others like us to avenge those who were so wrongly slain?”
Set studiously looked at Hades, knowing what he said next could change everything. “Where do we begin?”