The Guide (The Legacy Series Book 2)(2)

By: Sheritta Bitikofer

Tor gripped the edge of the cot and looked down to his bare feet. His skin was tanned by years spent in this isolated desert. His hair, a few shades blacker than his eyes, was slicked back by oils to keep it clean and out of his eyes.

The sun couldn’t have come at a worse time. In his dreams, he roamed foreign lands covered in luscious greenery. He could even smell the exotic food he had never tasted and saw the faces of strangers from all walks of life in clothing that appeared so strange and alien to him. Such dreams were coming more frequently. If his father were here, he would have told Tor that it was an omen, a prediction of the future to come. His father knew such things of the future that no other did and his guidance would have been invaluable to Tor now.

As Tor’s eyes swept over the painted walls and inscriptions of the temple that overflowed into his private room, he couldn’t see how such premonitions were possible. He was bound to this place where he was born and raised, and if he was any judge of fate, he would die here as well. His soul ached for exploration, but his mind confined him within these walls. He had a duty and he would take pride in it until his dying breath.

He sighed and rose from his bed. With heavy, lumbering steps, he prepared himself for the morning rituals. He cleansed his body with anointed water and oils that he had blessed himself. He took the incense and set it to smoldering, so its fragrance would permeate the temple.

Then, he donned his linen robe before stepping out into the secondary chamber of the temple, where the priests were permitted to carry out their daily tasks. With his bowl of burning incense in hand, a tiny wisp of smoke rising from the herbs, he wrinkled his nose just as he had done as a child. Some things, no matter how often he did them, were never easy. The aroma was always too strong for his keen nose. All priests that came before him had to bear the stench, and so would he.

The chamber’s high walls were covered in the images that told the story of creation. Rich and vibrant colors showed Ra drawing the earth from the primordial ocean to begin the process of life with the other gods of old in attendance to the momentous event.

Tor looked to their faces in profile, their eyes unblinking and staring. They reminded him of his duty, of the task that he had been born into just like his father and grandfather before him. The gods scolded him for his dreams and secret longings for other lands. He was Egyptian and Egypt would always be his home. Why should he want anything else?

He approached an adorned set of doors that were coated in the precious golden metals of the gods, which led to the innermost sacred chamber of the temple.

As he stood alone, the only beating heart in the temple, he could have given a thousand reasons why he should leave. Yet under the stares of his deities, the will to escape left him for now. He set the bowl of incense on the small altar table beside the doors, and what was left of the resigned priest bowed his head and lifted his hands in supplication.

His lips moved, forming the ancient words of the gods. His voice droned on, reciting the spells that he uttered every morning and every night for the last three hundred years.

When he was finished, he reached out and opened the two glittering doors just as the sunlight struck its gold embellishments.

Inside sat a statue of his god, of his ancestor, Wepwawet. Meeting the stony eyes of the half-man, half-wolf god, Tor was struck once more by the gravity of his position. He alone was left to summon the god from his resting place each morning so that the daily cycle of rebirth would not be broken.

If he was not here, who else would maintain the balance between chaos and Ma’at? Certainly not the native people of his country. They had given up on the old ways. They were no longer a proud people, but weak and submissive to the powers that had invaded their lands and stolen their way of life. Tor knew better that their link to the past was the only thing that could preserve their future.

Ma’at, order, must be maintained for the universe to continue as it had been. If he did not, Wepwawet could not be the last functioning god, fueled by Tor’s dedication. Upon the god’s shoulders, he carried the burden of the ignorant people as he battled the demons of the netherworld and kept the waters of the Nile from consuming the cities.