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*****

Kalaros and Miris pushed the inner hatch of the tunnel together. It was heavy, but with their combined strength, it opened with a creak of wood against stone. It only took moments for their eyes to adjust to the candlelit room that they arrived in. The Medjai knew of where the tunnel led. He had been there many times before. The armoury. Rows of master crafted blades, spears and bow lined the walls. Stands of ornately finished armour and shields adorning the symbol of the jackal-headed one stood in the centre. This was the armoury of the Pharaoh. It contained the best weapons and armour in the lands. Weapons and armour that were only granted in times of war.

And this was war. To invade the village of the son of Anubis was an act of such. Kalaros considered this before selecting a suit of armour. Lifting it from its stand, he knew it was made of toughened leather. Light enough not to impede his agility but resilient enough to stop the slash of a blades edge. It was decorated with blue jewel studs and pure gold fastenings. Miris aided him in the fitting of the armour with haste, for they did not know of where the enemy was lurking. She looked at her husband for a moment and saw nothing but a warrior before her. Despite the odds. Despite the unlikely enemy. She felt safe.

The Medjai flexed and twisted in the armour. It felt weightless upon his shoulders like a second skin. He picked up a round shield from the impressive array before him. Its strengthened wood form was embellished with a gold etched visage of Anubis. Miris picked up his curved sword from where it was placed and lovingly returned it to his grip. Kalaros gave a half smile.

“I must go… and you… must hide.” The Medjai said, hesitantly.

Miris did not argue this time. “You will return to me, husband. Anubis favours you.” She said smiling back.

Kalaros did not have time to question. The footfalls of the dead echoed from beyond the wooden door concealing them. Without a thought, the Medjai the turned from his wife and charged toward the noise. With his full weight and tremendous strength behind his shield, Kalaros burst through the door in a display of splinter. The first of the undead suffered the full force of the warrior’s impact, sending it sprawling across the stone floor. Two more of the creatures were soon up the Medjai, but their blades clashed against unmovable shield before being cut down. More undead appeared as their brethren fell to the ground. In a flurry of well-practised strikes and parries, four more of the foul creatures lay lifeless.

With no more enemies in sight, Kalaros turned to check that his wife was out of sight. She was. He assured himself that she was in the safest place possible, given the circumstance. With that, he made his way to the Pharaoh’s chambers. A walk turned into a stride, and a stride turned into a run, as a deathly silence took over the temple. When the Medjai reached Khemtep’s room, the sight before him was foreboding. The large ornate doors were open, and the guards were nowhere in sight.

Kalaros stalked into the room, his blade and shield ready. Blood pooled on each side of the entrance, streaming from two lifeless figures. Upon closer inspection, Kalaros recognised them as his brethren. Guardians of the pharaoh that stood vigilant while he slept. The Medjai turned his attention to the curtained bed in the centre of the room and cautiously approached it. Grabbing one side of the curtain, he cautiously revealed the scene that was beyond. Khemtep, his Pharaoh, was dead. The one that he was charged to protect was no more. A wound that still leaked red was in the centre of his throat. Kalaros felt sorrow for Khemtep that he didn’t think was possible. He wasn’t sure if it was sorrow for the man or sorrow of his failure to protect him.

A scream that broke the silence startled the Medjai. “Release me!” The voice was a familiar one. It was Miris. Looking back at where he had just come from, the entrance was blocked. A line of undead guarded the way, with shields raised and spears pointed. The screams of his wife emanated from behind them. Anger soon replaced his sorrow entirely. Kalaros gripped his blade tightly and prepared to charge, but instantly felt that he couldn’t. His limbs began to grow heavy as he slumped to his knees on the stone floor. A coil of black smoke writhed around his body like an ethereal cage.

“Oh, Medjai. Your fury excites me, but it will do you no good here.” A sweet voice came from behind him, and a soft hand caressed his face.

“Let my wife go.” Kalaros pleaded. “Harming her will grant you nothing.”

“I don’t plan on harming her.” She laughed.

Kalaros didn’t respond. The mysterious woman moved into sight, her yellow eyes locked onto his as she strode. Then, she continued.

“You don’t know, do you?” She paused then whispered. “She speaks to the gods.”

Kalaros ignored her once more and asked the only thing that he wondered. “Who are you?”

“I am Maia. The chosen of Set. And I claim this place in his name.” With the last of her words, she began to walk away and approached her wall of undead. “Finish him and bring her with us.”

“No!” Kalaros roared between whimper.

With all of the Medjai’s strength, with all of his fury, he could not break the binds that held him. He could only look on as his wife was taken away and his doom approached.

*****

Thank you all for reading! The next part will be coming next week.

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