Legacy of Alexandria
Legacy of Alexandria
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Book 3 of the Alexandrian Saga
The secrets of the pyramids have been lost for two thousand years.
While Agog courts the Parthians, Heron plans to build the largest pyramid the world has ever seen to fulfill Alexander the Great's legacy. As Parthia's demands grow increasingly arduous, Heron's endeavors unleash hidden forces determined to destroy the fledgling pyramid and isolate the fragile city-state from gathering allies against Rome.
- Alternative History
- Epic Storytelling
- Clash of Empires
The secrets of the pyramids have been lost for two thousand years. While Agog courts the Parthians, Heron plans to build the largest pyramid the world has ever seen to fulfill Alexander the Great's legacy. As Parthia's demands grow increasingly arduous, Heron's endeavors unleash hidden forces determined to destroy the fledgling pyramid and isolate the fragile city-state from gathering allies against Rome.
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
Legacy of Alexandria
I am Sobek, who dwelleth amid his terrors.
I am Sobek, and I seize my prey like a ravening beast.
I am the great Fish which is in Kamui.
I am the lord to whom bowings and prostrations are made in Sekhem.
And the Osiris Ani is the lord to whom bowings and prostrations
are made in Sekhem.
– The Book of the Dead
In the temple of reeds, the bound man waited for the tortured cries of the fallen antelope to grow silent, signaling his turn to die. Plants snapped like thin bones while the restless beasts splashed amid the brackish waters, reflecting the uncaring sky.
The thrashing stilled and a chorus of insects resumed their dirge. Biting flies feasted on his flesh, already knotted with scars and pinkish wounds. The walls of the temple refused to hide him from the glaring sun, so he squinted away the light in hopes of witnessing his fate.
The priest and priestess of Sobek had left him on the stone slab. Slick moss cooled his backside. Bark ropes held him in place, strangling his wrists and ankles as they dried.
Bait, they had named him in their cursed Egyptian tongue, an offering to their vicious god.
The stone was wide and tall enough to give him protection from all but the most determined crocodiles. They seemed sated from their energetic feasting. The bound man imagined the orgy of teeth and hard, green, lumpy flesh tearing apart the antelope that had been loosed in the walled garden of the temple.
Bait for a living god. The one they called Petsuchos, who lived on the cool sands of the island. A terror adorned with jewels. The bound man could not imagine how many priests had lost their lives to fix those valuable baubles on the great Nile crocodile.
A dragonfly landed on his nose. Shimmering wings dried themselves in the morning sun. The bound man held still, for the appearance of the dragonfly had banished the biting insects from his face.
Beyond the walls of the temple garden, the bound man heard children playing. Singing even. Playing games in the white chalky streets outside.
The words of the song crawled in through his mutilated ears like a snake and curled around his thoughts, squeezing them until there was nothing left but remembrances of pain. Pain in the dark. In the deep of the temple where only the priest and priestess entertain.
The names they bade him to use. Not the others, not the one from before when he was...
No. He wasn't supposed to think of that. Not their names, not their lives, not his, either.
They were his gods, now. He whispered their priestly names and the dragonfly took flight.
Low and go, the crocodiles lurk. Chomp!
He cursed that he ever knew even a word of Egyptian. He imagined their slight, brown arms snapping together in homage to the crocodile god Sobek as they danced outside the walls.
Tooth and jaw, the crocodiles snap. Chomp!
The priest and priestess had left him on the slab before. Many times. Too many. They whispered to him that one day he would give himself willingly to Petsuchos, the avatar of Sobek.
Spin and turn, the crocodiles roll. Chomp!
The bound man tried to flex his hand, a ghost memory. There was no hand. Only a raw stump when he'd reached out to Petsuchos and the green monster had taken it clean off.
Bait. He would give himself to the crocodile god, one piece at a time. They told him that on the first day when he'd come to the temple of reeds. He didn't believe them. He thought he was stronger than them. His hands had tormented hundreds before them. The price of pain was well known.
Snap and rip, the crocodiles feast. Chomp!
The day he lost his hand he knew the limits of his will. Though he had not reached it yet, he could see the day clearly in his mind. They would let him into the garden, unbound. He would wade through the insect-ridden waters, a feverish glory reflecting on his face, the smaller beasts waiting like deadly, submerged logs.
The sands of the island would squish between his toes. The beast Petsuchos would lumber from his sandy throne and he would kneel before it, knowing the brief terror would be worth the release.
Toes. The bound man giggled, a kept madness bubbling up through his lips. He'd forgotten about his toes. Only six of them now. Memory of the day he'd offered his foot to one of the smaller beasts came back to him. Only a gristly end toe remained.
How long had he been in the temple that he could not remember when he lost part of his foot? Would he even be able to wade through the water to the sandy island by then? Or would the great beast meet him in the water?
The bound man shuddered. Not in the water. He didn't want to meet his end there. His body would spin and spin and spin. A drowning death, full of terror.
Bait. Sobk. Sobki.
Bound together. Bound like the bark ropes on his arms and legs. Just enough slack that he could stick his head over the edge and offer it to one of the beasts. Not enough slack that he could even scratch his nose.
The children wandered away from the temple walls. The song lingered in his flayed ears.
The waters at the edge of the island splashed as a massive body pushed into it. A thick, earthy smell of rich mud filled the air. The bound man imagined powerful clawed feet pushing through the water, spinning eddies of blackish water behind.
Petsuchos. The avatar of Sobek was coming.
His heart laboring in his chest felt like a beacon for the watery monster. Sending out pulses, drawing him in. The thudding in his ears reminded him of a different time. A forbidden thought, one he tried to shake free.
In the deeps of the temple, the priest and priestess always knew when he was thinking of before. They smelled it on him. Maybe Petsuchos smelled it now and was coming to punish him.
He remembered the thud of feet on the wooden box. The sightless terror of grasping for a lever that was not there. The woman who had bested him. Taken everything from him, including his name, and given him to the priest and the priestess. Sobk and Sobki.
The other crocodiles fled from Petsuchos. Watery noises fleeing to other parts of the temple. Reeds bent and crackled away from the beast.
A low grunt thrummed, part breath, part growl. He caught sight of a ridge of jewels, sparkling in the sunlight, tramping towards him. The splashes turned to sucking mud sounds. The fetid breath of a meat eater washed over him.
The bound man lay still. A rumble echoed in his breast like a drum answering the call.
Insects fled the approach of the monster; the once buzzing reed temple now a mausoleum. Even the city outside grew quiet as if it waited for the consent of the crocodile god to resume its clatter.
The bound man knew he was in the Egyptian city Shedyet. South of Memphis along the Nile and often called Crocodopolis by the locals and far, far from the white walls of Alexandria. He'd been an important—
The monstrous tail of the beast slammed into the stone slab. Rattling his teeth in his jaw. The cold eyes of the creature were upon him.
The bound man took a breath and tried to remember his place.
I am an offering to the god of the Nile. The silent death in the reeds. I keep the people safe.
He remembered the whispers of the priest and priestess. Teaching him with their knives and cruel implements with even crueler names. The Death Spin. Snapping Jaws. Thousand Biting Flies. Iron and flesh and darkness and a fear that went on forever.
Breath heaved like a great growling bellows blowing his unkempt hair into his eyes. He would only have to push his head over the edge for his pain to be over.
Sensing his fear, Petsuchos pushed its snout onto the edge of the slab. The head was turned so he could see the dead eye of the beast. The stink of rotted meat was overwhelming
The bound man reached. His fingers caressed the leathery snout, right above the white angled teeth. The mouth waited like a trap.
The creature only had to lunge with its back legs and it could crush his head. Yet, it hadn't. The bound man found his fear drained. He was mesmerized by the beast, much like the day he'd offered his hand as sacrifice.
He placed his good hand inside the beast's mouth. The air was warm, pleasant. He took a breath and slipped the bark rope around his wrist over the tooth. As the rough rope touched the yellowish flesh at the base of the hard, white incisor, the beast jerked off the slab, nearly taking his arm with it.
Petsuchos angrily slapped its tail against the stone and lunged over with its mouth, barely missing his head. With a free hand, the bound man tugged at the remaining rope. He was able to slip the other side from his other arm, because the hand was missing. Sitting up, while the beast scrambled at the edge of the slab, he yanked on the loose ropes on his ankles and around his middle until they came undone.
The bound man stumbled off and into the mud, hitting face first, as the Nile crocodile climbed over the stone. He crawled forward, trying to push himself up, but the missing hand and partial foot kept him off balance.
Mud splattered his backside as the bulk of the crocodile hit the spongy ground. He limped as fast as he could, trying to circle away from the water. The beast thundered behind, roaring and corralling the bound man back to where he didn't want to go. The small crocodiles swam away, splashing him with their tails. Reeds smacked him in the face as he sunk into the mud.
He threw himself forward, swimming rather than fighting the muck that threatened to trap him. He'd never been a great swimmer, only daring Lake Mareotis when he was a youth.
Slapping at the surface, unbalanced, he propelled himself in fits and starts. He kept waiting to hear the heavy splash of Petsuchos entering the water, but his ungainly thrashing probably covered up the great, silent beast.
Before he knew it, he found himself crawling onto the wet sands. He barely climbed to his feet, feeling the wet sand squish between his toes, just as he'd dreamed about on the stone slab, before the giant crocodile came lunging out of the water after him.
He stumbled and half ran, keeping steps ahead. On the back side of the island, there was a tree. Using his remaining hand, he scrambled into the lower branches, expecting the sharp pull of teeth on his leg the whole time.
Petsuchos ran right into the trunk, shaking the drooping limbs and nearly knocking him from his perch. The tree listed backwards, as the sandy soil was a poor base. The beast pushed again and the tree tipped backwards, throwing him into the water.
Branches clawed and slapped at him. The tree was drowning him as Petsuchos gnashed at the tree. He pushed at the branches and held his mouth above the water. The trunk snapped as the great crocodile climbed over.
White teeth snapped at his legs. He scrambled through, expecting jaws to yank him back at any moment. In the water again with the beast, he paddled hard with his feet. There could be other crocodiles ahead but he couldn't tell. There was mud in his eyes.
He reached the other side near the wall. A stubby tree without low branches was his only chance. Petsuchos was swimming toward him, its powerful tail propelling it away from the submerged tree.
On the third try, his fingers grasped the lowest branch. He wedged his feet against the wet bark and pulled, willing himself upward. His muscles felt ready to explode from effort. Toes caught enough purchase to help him climb. He hooked his arm around the branch and lifted his feet up as teeth snapped like a great trap.
Petsuchos muscled into the tree, but this one was on solid ground. Still, it shook as he climbed. The bound man found a branch that leaned out toward the wall. He edged onto it, praying to his Sobek that it would not break.
The wood creaked and bent. Petsuchos stopped bumping the tree and moved beneath him, mouth open. The jewels on the back of the beast still shimmered in the sun.
Feeling like he couldn’t go any further out on the limb without it breaking, he half-stood and leapt toward the wall. He hit the top halfway, knocking the air from his lungs and scrambled up before Petsuchos could take his feet.
He looked around to make sure no one had seen him. The priests and priestesses of Sobek were the highest members of Shedyet society. If he was seen escaping, they would hunt him down and give him back to the temple.
With no one watching, he dropped into the dirt outside the temple. The street was empty enough he could hear the rattling of a wagon wheel and the clop of horse hooves around the corner.
Free. He had escaped. Bait no longer. His limbs trembled with effort. It took many long breaths before he could calm himself enough to think.
He would need to find food and clothing. In a city of Egyptians, he would stick out. But he'd learned much in the temple of reeds. The crocodile waited, submerged like logs, until prey came along. He could be like one, gathering strength. He needed to be ready for the priest and priestess. And then, Alexandria.