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It was the dead of midnight in the Valley of the Kings. The silence was so great it nearly matched the darkness in the ancient stone cliffs that slumbered, unwavering, with their secrets. The ancient pharaohs who slept there since time immemorial were beyond the world of light above them, beyond the busy potters and masons who sold their handiwork to tourists for their daily bread, beyond the incessant trade of the small villages nearby, beyond even the rise of modern Cairo in the last two centuries. The shades of the pharaohs lived in the earth itself, in the geological time of millions of years.

Or so they had thought. The pharaohs of the deep past, convinced of their immortality and the irrevocable legacy of their rights and traditions, were evicted from their tombs by robbers and archeologists. Even the most ancient and sacred things of this world lost their power to living humans who, restlessly, brutally, inexorably, carried the fiery torch of life. Life flowed forever onward as the Nile always had and always will, indifferent to the vainglories of one species. Now it was an age of darkness, of people reaching out blindly for their sustenance, not unlike the scorpions of the desert night, but how much electricity there was in the air!

The general of the Egyptian army, Muhammad Heishin Mubarak, contemplated all of these thoughts on his journey to the great valley. He did not so much budge from the occasionally bumpy ride of his army jeep. The only lights in the dark valley were the headlights from the jeep, and the only sound the patient rumbling of the jeep’s engine as the jeep trailed through the vast dessert’s sand and rocks. Near the tomb of Seti I, the driver and lieutenant in the army signaled to Heishin that they arrived, and so Heishin got off.

Near the entrance, a tall and monstrously fat man and a pale young woman with long dark hair patiently waited for him as vipers do before striking at their prey. The strange couple was surrounded by unsavory characters in dark cloaks, people Heishin recognized as Ghouls, the vast crime syndicate that used Duel Monsters as their main racket.

Heishin greeted the large and fat man, who went by the name of Gernand, and shook his hand. Heishin was tall and muscled, hardened by years in the army, but even the vast Gernand with his mighty hands could break him like a twig. With the introductions out of the way, they went to business and discussed their terms.

Heishin, hungering for the glory we wanted, replaced contemplation with impatience. “I want to clean the corruption of Egypt and expunge the decadent West once and for all. Give me the power so I may rule Egypt as mightily as a pharaoh and forge her into a great caliphate. In the future I may unite all the Middle East so the princes of an unborn age may take part in a new world.”

The small and fair woman tried to suppress a few laughs but failed, chocking a snort. Heishin glared at her. The small creature was not amusing. Something about her, the way the torch lights illuminated her face in the darkness, casting her dark eyes into a glowing hue of red, made her look familiar to the snakes and other desert predators of the night. He wished he could strike her in the head the way he would finish off any other venomous predator.

Gernand was quick to admonish her with a stern rebuke. Then, he delivered his argument to Heishin. “If you examine my proposal closely you will see that you have every good reason to accept my turns. My apprentice and I will generously provide you with the Ghouls that constitute the majority of criminals in Egypt. They not only bolster over several thousand members but they rule Egypt’s black market, holding an enormous supplies of weapons and drugs. Not only will they strengthen your army aboveground, general, but they will give you access to the underground, with all of the wealth of Dis at your command. You will control Egypt at all levels.”

Hieshin was about to speak up but Gernand interrupted him. “What do you owe me? Nothing! All you need do is let the Ghouls do their business as usual. Turn a blind eye to their crimes – and why should you not? Their crimes profit you. – and all will be well. With the Ghouls by your side the Egyptian President’s corrupt regime will fall under your superior strength. You will rule Egypt as a new caliphate, as a new pharaoh, and Egypt will enjoy an era as peace and prosperity she has not been privileged to in the last three thousand years.”

Heishin knew the terms already, but he still needed time to think them through. He sat on a dark stone near the valley cliff. It seemed so clear! Ultimate power was in his grasp! And yet…

“You hesitate. You exercise caution in spite of your ambitions. Let me explain to you the frustration and weakness you will forever be privy to if you do not accept the terms to my most liberal proposal.”

But before Gernand could finish the pale, small woman spoke for the first time. “Don’t nag him, master. You’ll make him cooperate even less. He needs more to convince him.”

Heishin rubbed his long, braided beard. “There’s more?”

The woman gestured for him to come close, a faint smile caressed her face. “Follow me into the tomb. Alone.”

Heishin’s soldiers, their suspicions aroused, cocked their guns only slightly higher, but the body language was obvious. Heishin waved his hand and his solder’s fell at ease, but their faces still showed their nervousness. He followed the woman into the tomb, alone, carrying only a pistol on his hip in case something happened. Gernand did not join them. Deep inside the tomb the woman gestured to a narrow corridor winding downward into the earth. Heishin recognized it as Corridor K. It was too small for Gernand.

With only their torches to guide them, they descended downward. The torches with their faint red light only revealed the bottomless hole ahead, and the air was boiling. Heishin had good reason to hesitate. The Ghouls spanned the whole globe, yes, but ever since Yugi defeated Malik at Battle City the Ghouls fractured into national syndicates. He knew the boss of the Egyptian Ghouls, but Gernand and his apprentice weren’t them. Who were these people? It was like they had a different agenda. For a moment the gravel beneath his heavy wake gave way. He slipped down the corridor a meter and gripped the stone wall for dear life. A torrent of gravel and rocks fell on foot, breaking it, but he shrugged it off.

They reached the very bottom of the one hundred and ninety four meter drop. It was a dead end, as Heishin knew. No secret burial chamber. But then the woman pushed hard on the wall It opened! The door was very small just above the floor. The woman easily slithered through it, but Heishin barely made it through, choking on the dust beneath him. Then they walked through a narrow dark corridor for about three hundred meters and a door that was thankfully larger.

Heishin couldn’t believe it! It was one of the lost Ozymandias Tombs, or so they are called! They’re the stuff of legend like Atlantis! But he could not deny his eyes. The floor and walls were entirely made of sparkling emeralds, and carved within the walls were reliefs of twelve colossal beasts. Despite the miracles he saw, Heishin made sure his stern, hooked face was unmoving.

The woman gave him the same sweet smile as before, so sweet as to be almost maternal. “All of this forbidden power will be yours. Use it to secure your future. Use it to secure the future of your son. Give him what only you as his father can give.”

“My son…” Heishin grew up in the Egyptian wilderness, shooting desert foxes and rabbits to stave off hunger. He climbed through the ranks of Egyptian government and sired a son. But he knew that any political turmoil could take all that away from him and his son. He wanted Hassan, Prince Hassan, to be the Prince of Egypt.

“I accept.”

The woman offered him her white arm. “Take my hand and I will give you the powers of darkness. The monsters of the Dark Games will be at your command.”

Heishin grabbed it, and his lower arm burst into flames. None of the hard life and army discipline he endured prepared him for this! He winced but then finally gave in and screamed in pain. He doubled down, collapsing on the floor while the woman kept his hand locked to hers in a superhuman grip. While his arm burned his blood boiled in his veins, pricking him a thousand times as if every cell was a hornet. He was bitten by a cobra! No, worse than that!

When the bristling, fiery pain finally passed away, his arm was burned black, and a scaly claw replaced his hand. The forbidden treasure of the ancient sorcerers was finally his.

Yugioh! Children of Prometheus

A New Dawn

 

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January 2015

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