GENRES: Mythology, fantasy, drama.
SUMMARY: Who would have the gall to challenge the sun god himself? An original myth.
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2005.
LENGTH: 3600+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Fantasy violence, mild adult language.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Certain characters are from Egyptian mythology. Although aspects of this story are loosely based on Egyptian mythology and culture, artistic license has been taken as this is a FANTASY story. Please take note that this story was written around 2005 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the other Kemet short stories and/or the Kemet/Egyptian mythology as I make use of it in my writing; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This is my first new Kemet story in about three years, and is my own version of how Sokar joined the pantheon. Not of where he came from, exactly...as it turns out, the story he gives isn't quite the truth. But that's for another story. Some definitions for newer readers: "Kemet" is Egypt; "neter" means god, whereas "neteret" is goddess, and "neteru" is the plural; the Paut Neteru is the Great Company of the Gods; Iunu is the name of the City of the Sun, i. e., Ra's city--there's an earthly one where the humans dwell (Heliopolis), and a celestial one where the gods live; the "House of Iunu" is, therefore, the family of Ra. Another note, most of these "myths" I write are NOT taken from the actual mythology--I made them up myself, hence why I call them original myths. So don't try to learn the facts about Egyptian mythology by reading my stuff; just read it for fun. This hasn't been proofread yet, so please beware of typos.
SPARRING WAS SOMETHING God Ra did best alone, on his own time. There was no one else within the Paut Neteru who could even begin to hope to take him on and succeed for long. Although swordfighting wasn't exactly his favorite pastime, at least it gave him something to do, kept him fit, and allowed him time to think things over without having to resort to the annoyance of discussing them with the other neteru. Ra disliked discussing things very much, and so sparring was also a good way to hold his temper in check.
He thought over the few times that he had been interrupted as such. The first time had been by his son Shu, when he was still just a boy. Shu had always been dispassionate, and coldly unemotional, very unlike his father; which was why Ra's temper must have had quite an effect on him then, as he had blinked and paled before turning and running out of the courtyard. Ra had never had any trouble with Shu since. Once the wolf, Khenti Amenti, made the mistake of walking in on him and received a sore tail as a result; the third and only other time he had been interrupted had been by his daughter Bastet, and she was the only one he had not reprimanded, though the look in his eyes had been enough to make her meekly retreat. No one had dared set foot in on him since.
He swung his sword at the air and his mind raced over everything that had been happening lately. As leader of the Paut Neteru, it was his place to assign duties to the other gods, those roles which fit them most appropriately. From the very start, he had been the god of the sun; Shu was the god of the wind, his daughter Tefnut was the goddess of the rain, and his other children Nut and Geb were the sky and the earth. Although he had been born long before Ra, Thoth served now as his vizier, and kept all of his affairs in order; his daughter Maat presided over the law. Bastet had shown no real inclination for doing much of anything other than dancing and playing about and doing her best to cheer others, so he supposed that was as good a purpose as any. What was bothering him now was the duty he so far hadn't seen fit to give any of them.
Of course it would have to be that none of them are suited, he thought blackly, swinging his sword at a nearby tree and slicing off a branch. The one duty of such vast importance, and none is fit to take it! How is it that out of this entire Paut there is not one who would be suited for this task...?
So far, he had managed to get away with assigning the duty temporarily. But this never lasted for long before burnout occurred. It had never occurred to him that anyone might find it exhausting to bring death to mortals on a daily basis, but when he thought about it now, he supposed it was understandable. He would never deign to bring all sorts of deaths imaginable to mortals. Not that he had any reason to, he reminded himself, what with his daily duty of sailing the boat of the sun across the sky. It would be ridiculous to think he would possibly have the time.
Still, this left open the question of to whom the duty would finally fall. And so far everyone recommended had been either too busy already with preexisting duties (Thoth came to mind), or not interested in performing them at all (Bastet was a fine example). And so the role of Deathbringer was only a temporary one, always in danger of falling through, and Ra had no ideas left of who to turn to or what to do to convince somebody that the chore was worth the trouble. He knew it was tedious, but how weak could everyone be? Surely he'd raised a better Paut Neteru than this.
He turned toward the far end of the courtyard and held up his sword, scowling. It was dark out, oil lamps keeping the court lit brightly enough to see as he swung the weapon out before him. His eyes glittered angrily.
"Everything they know and have been taught," he muttered as he spun on one heel. "Everything I myself put into them. You would think the gratitude would go a little bit deeper than this!" He spun and swung again, jabbing the blade through the air. "If they believe I will simply take on this reprehensible duty myself, then they have other things to think of. I hardly have time to see to such matters! Yet I am betting many of THEM have as much time as they need! I do not care if I have to drag them out and chain them to this duty. Either way, something will get done. So I can stop all this asinine WORRYING!" And with this, he snarled and cut down a sapling, watching it topple to the ground. He hefted his sword and scowled even harder.
"Everything I have given this Paut," he growled to himself. "All of the honors I have bestowed upon my children and my children's children and all the rest! How is it that they repay me by turning this away--?"
"Perhaps you had best seek outside the Paut Neteru, if you truly want the job done right."
Ra stiffened and choked off a gasp, the sword nearly falling from his hands. He remembered to grip hold of it at the last minute and whirled around, trying to see where the strange voice had come from. At first, all that he saw was the darkness just beyond the courtyard; nothing was out there with him. Yet after a moment, his eyes began to grow more accustomed to it, and he thought he saw something standing just outside the ring of lamplight, something darker than the shadows themselves, with eyes that glowed faintly red. Red--? None of the House of Iunu had red eyes...
Ra started to scowl again and held up his sword. "What sort of mutt are you to interrupt me during my training--? And to trespass within my palace, no less? You must not be from here, else you would have never dared to do such foolish things!"
"You are right," the voice said. "I am not from here." He saw the faint red eyes flicker, and seethed when he felt that the stranger was amused by his anger. "In fact this was the whole crux of my offer."
"Offer?" Ra took a threatening step toward him and leveled the sword. "The only offer here is that you leave NOW, before I cut your eyes from your head!"
The dark shape let out a low noise which Ra had to puzzle over for a brief moment before recognizing it as laughter. This incensed him no end and he took another step forward, shaking his free fist.
"You think to come and laugh at me and MOCK me--? Then perhaps you'd best be GRATEFUL that you are not within the Paut Neteru, as I would have flayed your backside YEARS ago for such horrid insolence!"
The dark shape shrugged vaguely. "I had thought you had bigger things to worry about that insolence. But perhaps I was wrong."
Ra opened his mouth to shout at him, who did he think he was, addressing him in such a manner? And without even using proper titles, either! But before he could speak a word, the dark shape was gone, and he blinked in confusion at the empty space left behind it.
"I heard you have a job offering," the voice said from right beside him this time, and he practically jumped, nearly falling over in his attempt to back away. He gawked when he saw the person standing not too far from where he had been. He was dressed all in shades of gray and black, with just a trace of red in his carnelian necklace and earrings; a black cloak descended from his shoulders and nearly enveloped him. What startled Ra the most however was his face. He looked just like him.
Ra blinked again. He let out his breath when the differences between them became clear, but he was no less startled. The stranger bore a hawk's face just as he did, only instead of Ra's blue eyes and white and brown and gray feathers, this one bore red eyes and white and gray and black feathers. If they had been stripped down to their kilts and sandals, however, he would have been able to swear that they were twins. Whoever this stranger was, he was a neter also.
Ra started to bristle. He made it his business to at least try to remember the names and duties of all of the neteru, and so to be suddenly faced with one he didn't even know was infuriating. He briefly wondered if this was some sort of elaborate prank--but set up by who? Thoth was the only one smart enough to pull such a thing off, and he had never shown a propensity for pranks. Khenti Amenti loved pranking, but his idea of sophisticated humor was to leave cow droppings on the steps. Ra clenched the sword grip at his side and gave the stranger the most venomous look he could muster.
"You are not of the Paut Neteru," he growled, "and so perhaps you do not know the rule. None are allowed within my courtyard while I practice. Perhaps once I am done, we may speak--but until then, I would highly suggest that you leave!"
The stranger cocked his head, mouth twitching. "I come all this way just to alleviate your troubles, and all you can do is throw me out--?"
Ra's scowl grew. "As I told you, I am practicing." He lifted his sword. "Or would you prefer me to show you?"
This time the stranger arched an eyebrow. "I assume you practice because you need the experience--?"
Ra felt all of the air leave his lungs. Then the blood rushed up into his face and he started hissing in rage. Before either of them could speak, he swung his sword forward, straight at the stranger's head, and didn't even care who he might be killing. No one, not even a god, set foot in his courtyard and said such things without expecting a heavy price.
His eyes flared when he felt the sword meet the stranger's skull. Only that wasn't what happened. He blinked when he heard it go clang rather than thud, and he had the brief ridiculous thought that the stranger somehow had a head made of metal, before he felt his sword push back and nearly lost his balance. To his surprise, he saw another sword now, and before he knew it, the strange neter was running at him with a sneer and his sword was now swinging at Ra's head. Ra gasped and managed to parry the blow just in time. He gaped into the stranger's face in astonishment.
The stranger smirked at him. "As I was saying, I heard you had an unpleasant duty you wish to foist off on someone, yet nobody will take you up on it. Is this much true?"
Ra bristled again. "What business is it of yours, stupid dog!"
The stranger rolled his eyes. "You are truly so dense--?"
Ra let out an enraged snarl and pushed him back. He hated that the stranger didn't stumble as he had, and swung at him. The other god easily blocked the blow, then the next, then the one after that. Ra couldn't understand it. He was one of the best fighters among the neteru--he had to be, in order to put up with the demon snake Apophis every night. So how was it that some strange god was so easily fending him off--?
"Stupid ass! Stand STILL!" he shouted, aiming at the other god's head. The stranger dodged to the side, then struck away another blow.
"You are so interested in cleaving my head, rather than in hearing my offer--?" he asked, his voice raised somewhat but still as calm as ever.
Ra flailed his sword at him. "I am HARDLY interested in anything YOU might offer!"
"And so this unpleasant job you need to hand off, you will simply perform it yourself--? The mighty god of the sun will descend to the earth every few moments to kill off the mortals--?"
Ra let out an unpleasant rasping hiss. "It is better than sending YOU off to do it!"
The stranger merely rolled his eyes again. "In case you feel I am not qualified," he said, "perhaps I could convince you. Since you don't seem to be listening to reason then maybe you will listen to something spoken in your own language." With this, he shoved Ra back, then launched himself at him, slashing his sword at his face; Ra deflected the sword, but had to duck the next swing, and this galled him--he was the sun god, he shouldn't have to be dodging anyone's blows! With a shriek he started swinging at the stranger as if he were slicing down a field of grass, yet landed no blows. Instead the strange neter cut him off short, clanging his sword at Ra in just the same manner that Ra had been using. Ra's face screwed up and he was ready to scream at the other for stealing his attack, but he didn't get the chance. For then his sword went flying from his hand, sailing through the air, and he watched in surprise as it arced gracefully before crashing to the ground, cracking the tiles. Ra blinked. He then turned his head and the butt of the stranger's sword slammed into his face.
Ra toppled as if his legs had suddenly turned into river reeds. He landed hard on his elbows, wincing; a painful throb started up in his cheek, and he lifted a hand to rub at it. It was swelling already. He blinked the daze from his eyes and looked up at the shadow advancing toward him. The strange neter halted and stared down at him with a maddeningly neutral look; Ra stared back in disbelief, unable to comprehend what had just happened.
I...I am a NETER! The SUN GOD! How is it that this--this--STRANGER can defeat me so easily--?!
The strange neter responded by sheathing his sword and crossing his arms. "As I was attempting to say," he said mildly, "I have heard recently that you have an unpleasant job offer, and no one to accept it. I thought perhaps I would deign to recommend myself for the task. I have little else to do, and it sounds as if it would provide a nice diversion from all this tedium."
Ra gawked, then the color started to rise in his face. "Who--who do you think you are, that you can recommend yourself for my trust so easily! For all I know that Duat-spawn Apophis dropped you! You think I will give YOU such power so willingly--?"
The stranger snorted lightly. "Actually, this is not where I came from at all. You needn't worry about my parentage, as I have none. And I always own up to everything I do, so if you wish to peek on my background, feel free to do so." He adjusted his scabbard and tilted his head. "And so? You know anyone else wishing for the job--?"
Ra scowled. His eyes grew huge when the stranger reached out his hand; his feathers bristled, and he put out his own hand to push himself up, not even bothering to bat the other god's hand away. The stranger watched him stumble to his feet before shrugging noncommittally. He even ignored the crackle of blue which appeared around Ra's hand when he crooked it, and just looked at him again.
"I take it you would prefer doing this job on your own...?" he inquired.
Ra hissed. "You must think me very foolish indeed to grant such a duty to a nobody! I do not grant favors to strangers! Take your condescension and utter lack of respect elsewhere!"
The stranger sighed. "So you do not care that you have no one to take over this duty," he said, as Ra started stalking toward him, hand crackling. "You would rather search for another party all of your life, without ever finding the right one." Ra growled and tossed the fire at him, but the stranger merely ducked aside and it vanished into thin air. "You would rather continue to put up with this burden," he said, "instead of handing it off to another who asks for it, simply so you are not proven wrong, for perhaps the first time in your life."
Ra's arm froze in midair. His eyes grew again as he stared at the stranger, who stared right back. A deadly silence filled the air, and Ra's fingers began to curl into a fist.
"What have you just said to me...?" he hissed under his breath.
The stranger gave him a frank look. "Oh...so there is another reason why you will not accept my offer...?" His mouth twitched. "You do know what happens now if you let me take this job, and then I do it so well that you are proven a fool and an idiot?"
Both of Ra's fists started to clench this time. By now, none of his thoughts were making sense--it was just a big confused screaming jumble in his mind. He was dangerously close to throwing back his head and screeching like an enraged hawk when the strange neter crossed his arms again and tilted his head to the side.
"Of course...if nobody else ever knew of this little spat we've had today..." Ra took in a breath and froze, blinking. "...Then I suppose you couldn't be proven stupid, or foolish, or anything...because who in their right mind would believe a stranger over the mighty sun god, correct...?"
Silence fell. The two gods stared at each other for the longest time. After a while Ra's muscles began to untense, and a scowl grew on his face.
"As if I am to believe a word that you say...?" he growled.
The stranger hitched his shoulder. "I have no reason to hold it over your head. The only one to lose out is you." When Ra's look began to grow dangerous he sighed and rolled his eyes. "If I swear on Maat, then, will it make you feel better?"
Ra's nostrils flared. "You could very well be the one god who CAN swear on Maat and not mean a word of it!" He sliced his hand through the air. "You tell no one of this day! Not a single soul living or dead! These words lie between you and me and NO ONE else! You take over this duty, AND you keep it until such a time as ANOTHER more insane than you should decide to take it over! I am the ONLY one who may relieve you of this duty! And should you tell anyone else of what transpired here tonight...I need not even begin to tell you what I will do with your heart once I have KILLED you!"
The stranger shrugged, unconcerned. "As I said, I thought it would merely make an interesting diversion."
Ra bristled. "State your name, so that if you renege on this promise, I will curse the damn thing into the Duat!"
The stranger drew his dark cloak back around him. "Sokar," he said, and again Ra felt irritated beyond all reason that he didn't even know him. "I will be going back to my own home now," Sokar continued, "as I'm finding it a bit stale and...sunny here." He turned, glancing back over his shoulder. "I take it that the job has been transferred and I am expected at work, then...?"
"Start it tomorrow," Ra snapped. "This day is ruined enough already as it is!"
Sokar lifted his shoulder again, and bobbed his head. He turned and walked away from the courtyard, cape swinging, and once more the palace was plunged into silence. Ra stood listening to it for quite a while, before grasping the handle of his sword. He pulled it loose and looked at the blade, seeing his reflection warped in it. Yes, he did look oddly like that strange neter.
This fact made him hiss and toss his sword at the ground with a loud clank. "I hope you are only too happy spreading death around mortals!" he barked at the still air. "I hope that you are satisfied, when every human is cursing you into the Duat themselves! I hope you are happy when everyone HATES you!"
He had been peeved and frustrated beyond anything else, but the moment these words left his mouth, he blinked. It was true. Every time he had assigned this duty to one of the other neteru, he had heard the complaints about that god rise like swarms of biting insects, until it was passed on to the next, who was then cursed just the same. People tended to hate he who brought death to them as a duty.
He found that the thought of giving this stranger this job no longer infuriated him quite so much, and stood up straight. His eyes narrowed and his mouth twitched but he decided that it would be best for Sokar to find this out on his own. With a derisive smile, he turned and headed for his household, his step considerably lighter than it had been, even before the two of them had met up here today.
"I hope you enjoy your new position, Deathbringer," he said aloud with a smirk as he disappeared inside his palace. "I hope you find it to be quite a challenge."