TITLE: Two Brothers
GENRES: Mythology, fantasy, drama, family.
SUMMARY: Sometimes, you have to dig a little deep to find the source of things...
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2005.
LENGTH: 2200+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: None.
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 just a little story. If I explain it too much, I give away the punchline. Let's just say that it might explain a few things. I wrote this up in just one sitting, but it hasn't been proofread yet, so please beware typos.
THUNK! THE ARROW lodged in the little antelope's side, right below its shoulder; it let out a squeal and darted ahead, racing as fast as its spindly legs would carry it. It didn't go very far. By the time that the two little shadows caught up with it, it was lying on the hard baked ground, already dead.
One of the shadows was cast over it as the boy holding the bow leaned over the antelope, his eyes alight. "Got it!" he exclaimed, and glanced up at the other boy, a huge smile spreading across his face. "Take a look at it! It's beautiful!"
The other boy, slightly taller--although he was younger--and darker skinned than the first, rolled his eyes. "You're going to skin and eat it, not marry it. Pick it up, I'm not going to carry your things for you."
The younger boy stuck out his tongue and grasped onto the antelope's legs. "You're just sore because I got one first!"
The other boy made a snorting noise and turned back to the desert. "First doesn't mean best," he muttered, but the other boy was too busy struggling to sling the antelope over his shoulders to hear him.
"What was that you said...?" he panted, stumbling along a few steps before catching his balance. "I didn't hear you..."
"I said to stop being such a showoff," the other boy said. "Everybody already knows how good you are so it doesn't matter if you kill the first gazelle or catch the first ball or not! You always do anyway."
The other boy's lower lip stuck out a bit. "I...I do not," he said, a bit hesitantly, since he couldn't remember well. "Do I?"
The taller boy turned to meet his eyes, and his own were dark. The shorter boy shrank in on himself a bit, which was difficult, considering that he was carrying a small hoofed mammal over his shoulders. "It's not because I mean to," he insisted.
The taller boy just rolled his eyes again and turned away. "Just keep quiet when I find mine, all right? Then you can go home and brag all you like. It's not like I need to be babysat anyway."
"But Father doesn't want either of us going out alone..."
"We're not babies anymore. Why do you always have to do what Father says?"
The shorter boy abruptly halted, letting out a gasp. "Be--because we SHOULD always do what Father says!!" he exclaimed. The disbelief in his voice made the taller boy smirk a little; a moment later, the boy with the antelope was hurrying yet again to catch up with him, and they set a steady pace across the sand.
"Just keep up, and keep quiet," the taller boy said. "And let me get my own stupid antelope!"
The shorter boy sighed, but obeyed. They had to walk for a while, and a few times the taller boy heard the shorter one mumble in protest a bit that his sandals were beginning to chafe; that made him walk even further out into the sand. His own feet felt fine; the desert had never bothered him. "Stop whining!" he hissed at the shorter boy several times, and earned a dirty look each time, but he could tell that the shorter boy was embarrassed to be so soft, and that mollified his own impatience somewhat. It wouldn't have been half as irritating to be accompanied by him, had he not always been best at absolutely everything he did. He never bragged but in fun, and the taller boy could tell that he barely even had to try at most of what he did...he always simply ended up doing well. It still stung however, especially considering how hard he worked, just to do second best.
The sun was beginning to set by the time that he spotted another shadow out across the sand, and motioned sharply for the shorter boy to stop; they crouched close to the ground to peer out at the antelope grazing on a tuft of dry brown grass. The taller boy silently brought his bow down from his shoulder, pulling out an arrow and fitting it to the notch. The shorter boy peered up at him.
"Isn't it kind of far from here...?" he whispered.
The taller boy scowled at him so fiercely that he ducked his head. "Mind your own business! You already got yours. I do it however I like!"
The shorter boy's lip stuck out again, but he said nothing. Though the taller boy thought he heard a very small, "Good luck," as soon as he rose to his feet, and that made him grind his teeth in irritation. As if he needed to be told Good luck. Luck had nothing to do with how he did things. Luck was for the shorter boy. Skill was what he used.
He stepped very slowly and silently across the desert, keeping his eyes fixed on the antelope. It was bigger than the one the shorter boy had shot, and he looked it over as he approached. Not only was it bigger, but its fur was shinier, and its horns were longer, and it looked to be overall more of a challenge to take down. He briefly wished that he had a weapon other than a bow--a spear, perhaps--just to show up the other boy--bows and arrows were fine, but real hunters used spears and daggers. He felt he could have even brought it down by hand, unarmed, but that would probably give the shorter boy stupid ideas, and if that happened, he knew who would get in trouble.
Instead he just crouched again, keeping his eyes fixed on the antelope, and holding his breath, the bow poised.
The antelope finally spotted him when he was about halfway to it. He let it spot him. Its head jerked up, and their eyes met. Then, in a flash, it had whirled around. He didn't hesitate. He lifted the bow and fired. The antelope leapt into the air, and the shorter boy sucked in a breath, eyes wide.
Not too long after, they were again walking across the sand, this time back toward the river, the shorter boy carrying his antelope and the taller boy carrying his. The shorter boy spent a lot of time admiring the bigger antelope, and the taller boy had to conceal how smug that made him feel. Sometimes, the shorter boy could be silly. The admiration and awe in his eyes was far too obvious; he would never get anywhere in life being so open about everything.
"Yours is so much nicer than mine!" he exclaimed, childishly, but there was no envy in his voice. The taller boy forced himself not to roll his eyes yet again; the other boy was also far too trusting. That could get him in trouble someday. "I just know Father will be proud of it!"
The taller boy's eyes darkened a little. "Whatever."
The shorter boy shook his head adamantly and hurried to spring a few steps ahead of him, turning around so they faced each other and he walked backwards. He looked silly walking like that, with a dead animal draped over his shoulders. "No, I mean it! You went to a lot of trouble to get that antelope, I saw it! Mine wasn't even half the challenge--" He gasped and stumbled, pitching toward one of the irrigation ditches. The taller boy's eyes went wide and he shrugged the antelope from his shoulders, leaning forward to grab onto the shorter boy before he could fall in. They both collapsed in the mud; the little antelope splashed down into the water. The two boys lay there for a moment, gasping for breath; they twisted their heads around to peer into the water, and saw how, just below them, where the shorter boy would have fallen had he not been grabbed, someone had left a hoe, its sharp blade glinting up out of the murky water. The antelope had just missed it.
They both let out their breath.
It wasn't too long before they had their kill again perched atop their shoulders and were making their way inside the home of their father, their sandals clacking softly against the hard polished floor. The taller boy scowled; the shorter boy stared at the floor, somewhat meekly.
"I'm sorry I tripped..." he murmured when they were halfway down the hall, but the taller boy jerked his head, cutting him off.
"Just save it. And feel lucky that you didn't get a hoe in your back!" He felt like adding, And learn how to not be so stupid sometimes!--but the shorter boy would be likely to repeat something like that, and he didn't need that trouble to deal with. So he kept the thought to himself.
They stepped into the main court of the building and slowed to a stop. Their father stood at the other side of the room, speaking with a servant; as soon as he saw them, he stood up straighter, his brow furrowing. The taller boy winced, seeing the look on his face; he quickly dismissed the servant and came walking toward them, his sandals much louder than theirs. His eyes grew darker with every step.
"What happened?" he snapped as soon as he reached them.
The shorter boy meekly lowered his head, rubbing a finger against the antelope's leg. "We...kind of fell...near one of the ditches. That's all..."
"Your clothes are all ruined! Filthy! Do you know what work went into them?"
"It was an accident, honestly," the shorter boy protested, even as the taller boy told himself it was useless to even bother speaking up for himself. "I almost fell in, but he stopped me. I could've gotten a hoe in my back; but I'm all right, honest."
"A hoe--?" Their father stared at him with disbelief in his eyes, then turned to the taller boy. Their eyes met.
"And you weren't keeping an eye on him?" he barked, his voice pure venom.
The taller boy barely even had to suppress his flinch, he was expecting that response so much. From the corner of his eye he saw the look on the shorter boy's face, the sympathy there, and that just made him seethe inside. As if he needed anyone's sympathy! Especially that brat's. He kept his thoughts to himself, as always. At least this time, both of them had gotten rebuked. He was actually surprised that the shorter boy hadn't been praised for not falling on the hoe.
Their father let out a gusty sigh. "Well...the damage is already done. You'll both go to your rooms and leave your clothes there for the servants to pick up. And have them replaced come morning!"
"Yes, Father," both boys said.
He snorted, and crossed his arms, his poor humor fading a little. "Well...I suppose that's it, then. You both got game?" Both boys lit up a bit now, standing up straighter when he saw the antelopes that they carried. He looked at the one the taller boy carried, and his stare lingered; the boy felt a twinge inside, and actually couldn't help it when a bit of the pride that he suddenly felt came out in his face. Their father eyed his antelope with a look much akin to being impressed, and he almost felt like laughing.
Their father then turned to look at the shorter boy's antelope, and he frowned. It was covered with mud, and dripping wet, its fur matted and one of its horns nicked from its tumble into the irrigation ditch; the taller boy fought a smirk as hard as he could. "What became of your prey...?" their father asked, and the shorter boy lowered his head again, scuffing one muddy foot against the floor.
"I...kind of dropped it," he murmured. "In the ditch."
Their father blinked. Instantly the darkness returned to his eyes. "You dropped it--?" he echoed, and the shorter boy flinched; the taller boy felt the slightest bit of triumph at that, when their father turned to him, eyes meeting his again, and it was suddenly as if his heart shrivelled up in his breast.
"You LET him drop it?"
His voice fired out like an arrow. The taller boy grimaced, the antelope atop his shoulders suddenly feeling like a boulder. He saw the flinch flicker across his older brother's face, before he turned to their father, opening his mouth to speak. The taller boy's thoughts echoed, Don't. Don't. Don't.
"But, Father, he--"
"Just bring it to the back and have the cooks wash it off! It'll still make a decent dinner. And you, do the same. We'll roast them both for tomorrow."
The shorter boy hesitated, peered at the taller one, then let out a small sigh and followed, obeying as always. He hurried to catch up with their father, but the taller boy remained behind, still standing in the middle of the court with the huge antelope over his back, his fingers digging into its legs and a fire burning in his breast. When they reached the exit his father turned to glare at him, and his voice was sharp enough to cut, though by now he was expecting it, and didn't even flinch.
"Set! I said now!" He whirled away and started walking again, muttering as he went. "The younger son is usually the more dutiful one...why you are not more like your brother...I have no idea!"
His voice died away in the dimness. Set stood in the court with the antelope, staring after them, but it was a very long time before he bothered moving. And when he did, he took his time, just because Lord Geb had said not to.