Saturday, June 9, 2012

GZ Legends 1: The Temple in the Sand

The Egyptian sun glared fiercely as Hakim stumbled in a stupor. The wind blew hot and sand stung his face.  With each lumbering step his knees threatened buckle and the sand shifted under each footfall for extra strain.  His tongue swelled in his mouth from dehydration and his vision blurred. He stared blankly ahead of him as his body went through the motions of step after step.  His body screamed in pain, but Hakim couldn’t hear it. The desert is vast and unforgiving of those who get lost in the dunes.

           Disorientation owned him and death looked over his shoulder with favor.  Somewhere in his subconscious Hakim knew he was in trouble.  Several days ago he stowed away on a trip to an archeological dig about a thousand miles from the Thebes ruins. It wasn’t his class, but it was worth it for the sake of a beautiful girl.  From the first time he saw her, Ella glowed in his mind.

He was so enthralled, he skipped classes and followed her around campus. Any time she would see him admiring her from afar, she would just laugh and shake her head. Despite his silliness, she fell for him too. Hakim’s friends wondered how he was going to graduate, but he didn't care. Neglecting his classes paled in comparison to being in love. That’s why he snuck himself into the back of a jeep.   

            “Are you crazy?” Ella asked when she found him at the dig, “What about your classes. And what if you get discovered here? You could be kicked out of school.”

            “I don’t care,” Hakim said, “so long as I’m with you the world is right in all ways.”

            She sighed and shook her head. Hakim leaned toward her.

“You are very cute when you do that,” he whispered.

Ella grabbed his hand and pulled Hakim along with her.

            “Let’s find something you can do to stay out of trouble. You’ll work with me so I can keep an eye on you.”

            Ella and Hakim sat down in a cordoned off square of sand and rock. She handed him a pair of brushes. “Now be very careful and do as I do. We want to preserve as much of this as we can. That means not breaking it any further than it already is.”

            Hakim smiled as he took the brushes and swept dirt away from a piece of pottery. He couldn't help but pause to watch her working on her own pieces. She pursed her lips and blew some dust and sand away from an ornate shard of pottery. He felt like she was an angel softly blowing away a small puffy cloud.

            “How are things doing here?” the Professor said as he stood directly over Hakim.

            “Oh! Wonderful, Sir, very exciting,” Hakim said.

            Ella looked up and caught her breath, expecting the worst.

           “I don’t think I know you, young man,” the Professor said.

            “I’m Hakim, Sir, I transferred just in time to make this wonderful trip. I’m very glad to be here.”

            The Professor nodded, slightly impressed, “Well, alright then. I’ll have to have a talk with records about how they notify me of these things. How about you stop staring at the girl and work then, right?”

            “Yes, Sir,” Hakim went right to dusting again and the Professor walked away.

            “That was close,” Ella said, “and I'm sure you will be kicked out of school when we get back.”

            “I’m not worried, I have big plans.”

            “Like what?”

            “Well, I’m going to be a comedian,” Hakim said.

            Ella laughed.

            “You see? I’m funny already.”

            “No. You have to do better. Maybe get into another school. My father will never let me marry a comedian, Hakim.”

            “I’ll prove myself to your father,” Hakim touched her hand and felt her warm smooth skin, “You’ll see.”

            “We’ll see, now get back to work, the Professor is looking over here again.”

           The dig they worked at was making news as a historical find. It appeared to be a shrine dedicated to Anubis. There were crypts, writings never seen before, and several sarcophagi. It was the kind of work that put classes like Ella’s into journals and magazines. The idea of it all excited Ella very much.

            After a few hot hours, it was time for lunch. Hakim and Ella shared dates, unleavened bread and tea. Hakim stared into her eyes the whole time. It was enough to make a couple of Ella’s female classmates giggle amongst themselves.

            “You draw too much attention to us,” Ella said.

            “Let them laugh, they don’t have what we do,” Hakim said.

           Automatic machine gun fire shattered the peaceful gathering and laughter turned to screaming. Dust from bullets filled the air while bodies dove for cover. Hakim grabbed Ella’s hand and pulled her behind a section of pillars.

 Not everyone was happy about the dig. A faction of zealots called it blasphemy. They even sent death threats to the Professor when the dig project was announced.  The Professor dismissed their threats, not realizing just how dangerous they were.

            “We have to get out of here,” Hakim whispered as he peered around the side. Men with guns were running in and shooting anyone they saw. “Maybe we can reach one of the trucks and make a run for it.”

            Hakim went to pull Ella by the hand for another run, but stopped short. She didn’t move. Hakim gazed in shock at Ella as she leaned on the stone pillar, a red pool covering her chest.

            “No! NO! I can’t lose you now! I only just found you!”

            Shouting and shooting came closer. Hakim glanced in all directions; there was nothing he could do. Amidst bullets tearing into the sand and pillars around him, Hakim ran for his life. His vision blurred through tears and dust. He ran into several students also trying to flee. He tripped over several of the dead.  Hakim didn't stop. He ran frantically with only one sense of direction, away from the dig.  In a few moments, the gunfire became a distant echo. He didn't stop running. Even when he only heard the wind, he didn't stop. When he couldn't run anymore he still plodded forward. Terror and grief overwhelmed all other thoughts. When his face finally hit the sand, he had no idea how long he had been walking blindly through the desert.

           As Hakim lay nearly lifeless, the wind whipped up hard. About 80 yards away, the top of a stone pyramid became exposed from the shifting of sand.  The ground shook and the pyramid rose with the wind polishing dust away. The top section of the pyramid was supported by four pillars and all of it shined with gold. As the open section cleared from its burial place, a blue light shined from within. The light came from a smaller crystal pyramid that hovered over a pedestal upside down. As it spun it glowed more fiercely. It spun faster and faster until a beam of energy fired out and hit the body of Hakim.  It lifted him into the air. His tattered clothes were ripped away and his body contorted in metamorphosis. Wounds healed and health was restored. Muscle grew and his head began to contort.  All the while these amazing changes took place; the beam drew Hakim into the opening of the pyramid.

           Hours later, Hakim opened his eyes and was surprised to feel cool temperatures against his skin. He could tell he was on a solid surface and could see a golden pillar and the blue sky beyond. He put his hands against the floor and went to push himself upward. He turned his face toward the floor and hit his nose.
           “That’s weird,” he thought, “Why does my nose seem so big?”

 He shook his head and sat up. Looking at the shining floor he could see his reflection.

            “I’m a dog!”

            Hakim staggered to his feet after seeing that he had the head of a jackal. He looked down at himself and found golden and purple armor covering most of his body. He also noticed the blue glow in the room and found a crystal pyramid hovering in the center of the greater pyramid opening.

            “What is this?” He flexed a newly muscular arm, “I’m strong!”

And he became Anubis
            He put his hands to the sides of the helmet on his head, “And what are all these sounds? Something is trying to tell me something. I don’t understand.”

           Leaning against a pillar he saw a long staff with two parallel blades at one end. Hakim walked over and took it into his hand. 

            “Amazing,” then he saw more of himself in the reflection of the golden pillar. “I’m Anubis! But how can that be? And why?”

            Memories surged back to Hakim of the recent days and attack on the dig. He saw his Ella and remembered how he had to flee and leave her lifeless body behind. And he remembered something else.

            “That site was dedicated to Anubis. Those men killed everyone. This must be the will of the gods. Not that I ever believed before, but that’s clearly not an issue now. Those men must be punished and I have been chosen!” Without even realizing he could do it, Hakim lifted his body into the air and flew away across the desert, clutching the bladed lance in his hand.

Jump to: GZ Legends 2
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