The Guide (The Legacy Series Book 2)(4)By: Sheritta Bitikofer
The men screamed and immediately fled out of the temple, abandoning the foreigner.
The pale man turned and stared with wide eyes at the naked priest, but did not move. Tor growled and snapped at the intruder, but still he didn’t flee as the others did. Either he was fearless or too stupid to move.
Instead, the man did something that Tor was not expecting. He spoke.
“Warm greetings,” he said as he placed his hand over his heart and gave Tor a deep bow.
It startled Tor enough that he ceased growling and took a few steps away. This man greeted danger with such openness. No human had ever been so bold when they faced his wolfish golden eyes.
“You are not welcome here,” Tor snarled with an underlying promise that if he didn’t leave, the foreigner might find himself dead.
Still, the man did not run. “I know this is a sacred place. I only came to learn. I’ve traveled far to be here and see this magnificent – “
“This is not a place of learning,” Tor interrupted. “This is not a place of worship. This is a house for the gods. Mortals are not to be here.”
The man paused, his lips parted as if he were ready to speak again, but didn’t have the words. His shoulders slumped and there was a brief look of disappointment in the stranger’s brown eyes.
“I thought – “
“Whatever you thought,” Tor snapped, “you were wrong. Leave!”
The man sucked in a breath and then turned back to the portrait on the wall. “I’ll leave after you tell me what this means. Who is this?” He pointed to the image of Wepwawet with his white wolf’s head and body of a man.
Tor squared his shoulders. He supposed that he could give something to this man for showing such brazenness. “That is Wepwawet and this is his temple. I am a son of Wepwawet, and therefore his hem-netjer-tepi. The high priest. It’s my duty to take care of him and his temple.”
The foreigner frowned and lowered his arm to his side. “So, this is just a temple?”
Just a temple. Tor wanted to spit at the man’s disregard for the sacred. This wasn’t just any temple. It must have been the best preserved temple in all of Upper Egypt. Nowhere else would he find images in such striking, vivid colors, nor a place that hadn’t been reclaimed by the sands of the desert. Tor had served as the high priest, as well as every rank of priest below him, to ensure that the temple and Wepwawet were well cared for. He worked hard every day to make sure that this piece of his faith was preserved, whether anyone else wanted it to remain or not.
“What were you expecting? Your guides should have told you that this place was a temple.”
The foreigner cleared his throat. “I was hoping this place would be a little more than just a temple. I’m searching for a place that was said to be the seat of a great civilization. One where people like you and other preternatural creatures lived together.”
Tor balked and sneered at the stranger. “People like me?”
A tiny spark of hope flickered in the foreigner’s eye. “Yes. There are many, many more like you around the world. Didn’t you know that?”
Tor balled his hands into fists against the very idea. Perhaps this is what his dreams were all about. All he had ever known was the priesthood of Wepwawet. The priests were the descendants of the god, his emissaries on earth. They were his chosen people because they shared his gift of transformation. The blood of the wolf coursed through his veins and it was evident in the way his eyes still gleamed a brilliant gold instead of their usual nearly black hue.
But he was the only one left. His father told him of some in the past who had moved on from the priesthood, convinced that carrying on the old traditions was a fruitless effort in the wake of foreign religions like the cult of the Nazarene. The rest, like his father, had died at the hands of men who knew their secrets. Tor, alone, had survived the onslaught and stayed the course of the destiny he was gifted, plagued by the deaths of so many other priests. This temple didn’t just house the great god, but the ghosts of those who were no longer alive because of a fatal mistake.
Now, this man was telling him that there were more like him outside of Egypt? More sons of Wepwawet? He was sure that those who strayed from the faith were no longer alive, perhaps killed by other hunters or dead because they could not survive without the support of others like himself. This stranger spoke of there being many of his kind, many priests. It couldn’t be possible.