Pharaoh's Gate: Final Sands of Fate
Written By Josh Atkinson
The chaos of the moment still echoed around the room causing his eyes to open with great effort. His ocean blue eyes searched for something they could make sense of. Devlyn's body ached from the impact of it. His senses began to slowly cut through the fog of his mind as the questions began. What had happened?
Devlyn struggled to his feet and strained to focus on the streets below. The madness of what he saw horrifying. A charred circle on the ground lay at the center of it all. The spray of blood and torn pieces of burnt flesh lay among the rubble where buildings and men once stood. A spiral of mutilation and destruction spun out in all directions. What could do such a thing?
The smell came up through the window. He stumbled backward as the putrid smell of burnt flesh clung to his nostrils. Devlyn made a vain attempt to escape it by burying his nose in the inside of his bent arm. What could be responsible for such a horror?
He forced himself back to the window once more to find some answer to the growing number of questions. Several stories below a window exploded outward, the force of it shaking the building sending trinkets and pictures crashing to the floor. An intense stream made of shards of ice flew across the courtyard mixing with broken glass from the window pane. The stream ignited by the reflection of the crimson light of the setting sun. Two soldiers flew out the window, their lifeless bodies adding to the madness of the street below.
Devlyn knew now who was responsible for this as there were only five on this world who were capable of such atrocities. There were only five capable of magic. It was the humans. The five men he kept in his confidence. His wizards. The five men that he had saved from being condemned with the others. Devlyn tried making sense of it all as new questions came. Why would they betray him?
Devlyn had overthrown his former master, Pharaoh Oba, in order to bring about a time of peace and reunite all races under the empire. He had rescued these five brothers from their fate at the hands of the council and in so doing risked his own life. In fact he was now only weeks away from reopening the gate and reuniting his wizards with their banished brethren. This made no sense.
The room rang again as the sharp sound of lightening crackled up the stairwell. The screams of his personal guard ending as quickly as they had begun. They were almost here. He was about to die. Devlyn's heart raced as the room spun with panic. Everything that he had sacrificed was about to be lost. Something in the back of his mind screamed for attention, a single memory of Pharaoh Oba. It anchored his thoughts as well as the spinning room, allowing him a moment of focused thought.
Devlyn ran to the corner of the room hurling chairs and tables in his path. He threw open the lid of an old iron chest. It had belonged to Oba and if his memory served him right contained his only protection from this assault. He rummaged through its contents, tossing aside rare and priceless items to the floor. He only needed one. He only needed more time.
A scream of warning echoed down the hallway from the last soldier of his personal guard, his life long friend, Mael. The warning was cut short by what sounded like thunder then a moment of silence before Mael body slammed into the doors. It hit with such immense force the sound of his bones shattering sent a chill down Devlyn's spine. A lifetime of memories flashed through his mind causing him to pause a moment overcome by grief. There was not enough time.
The entire contents of the chest were almost scattered on the floor. He was still empty handed though. He had no protection against the immanent danger that was on the other side of the doors. As the last shred of hope abandoned him, Devlyn's fingers found the gold chain. In one fluent motion he yanked it out of the chest, hung it around his neck, and spun around to face the door. The golden amulet hung from his neck, a ring of golden rope with each end visible. It's magic surged through his body replacing fear and anxiety with anger and rage.
The doors exploded into a thousand pieces sending splinters of wood hurling through the air embedding themselves in anything in their path. Devlyn checked himself, probing his torn clothing where the splinters had hit him. He was unharmed, the amulet worked.
Five men hurried into the room as his eyes returned to the doorway. They were Devlyn's personal wizards, chosen for their intimidating build, broad shoulders and lean muscles now enhanced by the tarnished battle armor of the old human court. In the center of each mans left breast plate, atop their heart, a polished stone was embedded. The black stone, although finely polished to a mirrored finish, seemed to absorb the last light of day which streamed through the window. It was an aissis stone, the link between magic and men, the source of their power.
As Devlyn stared each ?down the magic of the amulet intensified his anger ten fold. With jaw clenched and fists tight, the rage of betrayal rasped through Devyln's voice in a way that would have caused even the bravest soldier's courage to flounder. "Your treasonous actions are meaningless! I wear the amulet of Hu. It protects me from any harm you could inflict, both physical and magic alike."
Webs of saliva strung across his teeth as he spoke. His face was red with anger, veins popped from his neck, and his eyes wide with murderous frenzy. Even the tips of Devlyn's elven ears seemed unnaturally sharpened.
The men all looked away from Devlyn to the man at their center, Nizam. His unkempt black hair hung long over his shoulders making him look wild and majestic. Nizam's eyes narrowed with hate, yet spoke calmly through his understanding of what was happening and what must be done.
"It was made for Oba. We knew that it was in his possession. We had hoped that you had no knowledge of where the amulet was kept. Nevertheless, it will not stop us. The path to which you have lead us ends only in the death of all. Human, elf, orc, all manner of life in this land will perish at your hands. We should have intervened earlier. We will not allow you to succeed any further."
Devlyn turned his attention to the dark haired man. His response voiced in an eerily calm manner. "I will beat four of you to death with my bare hands. But you my treacherous Nizam," an unsettling smile twisted itself into the corners of Devlyn's mouth. "you I will skin alive. Your living corpse will be displayed in the center of the horror you have created here today. All of my empire will watch as you bleed to death, a reminder of why your race was sent from this land."
Nizam maintained his composure signaling the others with the nod of his head. They formed a circle around Devlyn.
"Although it is true we may not bring harm to you now. We are not yet disarmed." Together the men began chanting in an ancient language. Each word seemed to carry a sense of calm and charm. The rhythm of their words danced through the air around Devlyn drawing his mind into the spell.
"We are prepared to give our lives for this cause. We offer our souls so that we may trap yours between this world and the next. We will turn your body to stone, your soul trapped for all eternity. And as we are the last of humankind in this land there will be no others to undo what we have done."
Devlyn's eyes widened with the panic of realization his fate. He dove at Nizam, reaching his arms out for his neck. However, it was too late. He still stood in the center of the spell, arms at his side. Devlyn's body no longer responded to the orders of his mind. He felt a great pressure weigh down his body as if he were being buried alive. He could not escape it. All Devlyn could do was scream. And scream he did. It pierced through the smooth rhythmic chant of the magic.
As Devlyn screamed his eyes met Nizam's, whose skin had begun to deteriorate into grains of sand. Impossibly, a wind came from the wall behind him and blew fiercely through the room catching each grain as they fell. All five men going through the same transformation, giving themselves to the spell.
As the last grain of sand was lifted into the air the chanting stopped, yet the rhythm still danced through the howling wind. The room was now a desert sandstorm as sand whirled chaotically around him. It began collecting in the air in front of Devlyn, his scream no longer audible. Unable to close his eyes Devlyn could only watch as a wall of sand blew toward him. Although his body remained intact it felt as if it were stripping flesh from bone. His mind reeled, unable to escape the torture. As the wind passed through his back it no longer carried the sand, but tore away his soul.
Devlyn's body began to harden as it turned to stone. The last of his soul was ripped away, so to was the deep blue of his eyes. They emptied, leaving a stagnant grey. As the last of the wind exited through his back it drew with it the last warmth of life. The bitter cold cracked the dull grey of Devlyn's eyes giving way to the never ending black abyss of purgatory.