THREE LIVES

Khamet was startled by a commotion one day. The humans were crying out in agony. There were many tears. A large procession carried Pharaoh in through the front courtyard and up to his chambers. Khamet followed. Everyone bowed low as they passed and Khamet noticed a trail of blood on the ground. Some of the servants scraped up what they could. Not cleaning, but scraping the ground, carefully wrapping it in a cloth and making off with it as if it were precious thing.

The group went right up to the royal chambers and laid Pharaoh on his bed. It was soaked with blood. A moment later the curtain was yanked back and Khamet saw none other than the man who smelled of dogs. Khamet drew back and gave a fierce hiss when he saw the man. It was so loud that even Pharaoh in his painful delirium turned to look at the mau.

The man who smelled of dog’s shouted to the people and moved to the bed as everyone stepped back.

Pharaoh’s eyes rolled. He saw Khamet hiss again and leap from his perch and run to the balcony where he crouched, his hair bristling as he stared back. The man who smelled of dogs spoke to some of the others and pointed to the far curtain. They left as he bent over Pharaoh to examine his wounds. One of the guards spoke and Pharaoh responded. The man who smelled of dog’s sent him out as well.

Khamet couldn’t see what was happening, but Pharaoh cried out in pain. The man who smelled of dogs yelled something at two more people and sent them out as well.

Pharaoh raised his head and looked around the chamber and spotted Khamet. The mau was still crouched in anger staring at the man. The man said something to several others and they all left the chamber. There were only two other servants left in the room now. The man and Pharaoh exchanged words and Khamet noticed Pharaoh was no longer moving his right hand. The arm was stuck to the bed almost beneath him.

The man asked a question of the last two servants. The woman responded. The man said something else and the woman bowed and was gone. The man said something to the last one and motioned to the girl who also bowed and ran out without hesitation.

The man who smelled of dogs watched her go, then slowly shifted his eyes around the chamber. He paused again when they fell upon Khamet and a glint of familiarity passed through his eyes. He said something into the air. Pharaoh responded and the man who smelled of dogs smiled and slipped his hand into his robe and turned back to Pharaoh.

Khamet watched the man draw from his robe a long knife with an ivory handle. The mau hissed again.

Pharaoh moved, he grit his teeth in obvious pain. He rolled to the side and brought out his right arm from beneath him holding his own knife. The man who smelled of dogs struck. Pharaoh brought his leg up wincing as he did so and stopped the man’s arm with his foot. Then he leaned up as far as he could from the bed and sliced.

The man jumped back, a large rip in his robe. He was shocked. The man who smelled of dog’s dropped low to attack. He thrust his knife forward striking the wound in Pharaoh’s side. Pharaoh cried out in severe pain and dropped his knife. The man who smelled of dog’s looked to the curtain. The guards would be arriving soon.

Khamet hissed and readied himself.

The man stood high and brought the knife down into Pharaoh’s stomach as Khamet leapt. He landed onto the man’s back and his claws sunk in deep as he bit down. The man rose with a scream. He spun around trying to grab hold of the mau. He felt something and pulled.

Khamet released as he was yanked back. The man spun Khamet in the air by his tail and threw the mau across the room just as the guards burst in. They hesitated.

Pharaoh pointed to the man who smelled of dog’s and choked something out spat blood. The guards reacted instantly. Their sabers and spears flew made quick work of the man. There was a great deal of blood as the man who smelled of dogs was cut down. The guards then looked to Pharaoh and called for his attendants.

Pharaoh motioned to the mau and one of the servants scooped up Khamet and brought him to the bed. Khamet lay beside Pharaoh and waited as the servants did what they could, but it was obvious little could be done now.

Others were ushered in, humans Khamet had seen, but had not known very well. One woman was just as finely dressed as Pharaoh. Khamet had seen her on many occasions moving about and giving orders to servants. There were tears and prayers and attendees of all types and eventually, slowly, Pharaoh closed his eyes and moved on.

Almost immediately the ceremonies began. There was grieving for a day then another and then Khamet saw the priests come. They were ominous and more terrifying to him than any other individual he had ever seen. They wore dark masks that hid their faces. Khamet sat on his perch as they entered the room and ceremoniously began cleaning before they took Pharaoh away.

Khamet felt a great sadness for days. When he slept he saw things in his dreams that were far worse than any he had previously experienced. Some were similar to the visions he had when harm was about to be done to him, but this time he saw harm full acts. …animals were being poisoned, their bodies cut open, people disemboweled, and a long needle shoved into Pharaoh’s face, jars of innards, smells, sounds…

Khamet awoke and ran from his perch and out onto the roof. Through the curtain, Khamet could see two of the priests speaking to each other. They were both looking at him. They turned to him with their hands set in prayer. They smiled and they bowed and the visions came to Khamet again, but this time there was truly nowhere to run.

The next time the mau went to sleep, he would not hear the footstep that glided even lighter than his own. He would not be aware of the kind, ritualistic assault, the taking of his body, the cutting or the wrapping, or the tomb. The next time the mau slept he would not awaken in this time.

 

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