The Soul of the World (Legends of Amun Ra #2) by Joshua Silverman @jg_silverman

5 Jan


Caerus Anius pulls the throttle of her urban terrain vehicle. She grips the steering wheel, her knuckles turning white. The large rear tires turn, spitting out dirt as it accelerates into the Erebus forest on Potara. This is a forbidden place, long thought to be haunted and ruled by Achlys, the spirit of the eternal night. She enchants the forest, keeping it in eternal darkness and an unholy mist. According to legend, Achlys was the embodiment of misery and sadness. She is a pale, sickly looking woman with bloody cheeks, long nails, and white hair. Yet, despite the warning, this is where Caerus Anius drives.

The Erebus forest is located thousands of miles from northwest of the Thothian empire. Along Thoth’s southern border are the Olympic Mountains, which butt against the ocean. The Olympic Mountains are identified by Mount Parnassus at an elevation of over forty thousand feet. It is a massive empire which, over the course of thousands of years, has dominated the Hellenes.

Once, it was led by the Priesthood and became the most advanced society. Then, almost two thousand years ago, the Amun Priests’ power dwindled. The monarchies of the High Priests were replaced by the Ephors, a republican government. Since that time, the Amun Priests have been thought of more as a cult than a religion. Most Thothians discount the Amun Priests’ beliefs with a wave of their hand. They are called ‘mystics’, ‘magicians’, or ‘zealots’ of a long forgotten time. Yet, the historical impact of the Amun Priests cannot be ignored, despite their irrelevance.

The tallest building in the empire is the Great Temple of Amun, located in the southern district of Amun. Built into the face of Mount Parnassus, anchoring it to the mountain, it is home to the Amun Priests. The exterior of the Temple, from the ground to peak, is covered in hieroglyphics and Egyptian sculptures of the gods and the lesser deities. Outside, on the ground floor of the sandstone Temple, are two hundred-foot high crystal statues. One is sculpted in the form of the Egyptian sun god, Ra. The crystal statue of Ra is sculpted as a man with the head of a hawk. Above his head is a sun disk. He holds the Scepter of Seth in one hand and in the other, Ankh, the symbol for the ancient word ‘life.’ The second crystal sculpture is of Amun, which is the god to whom the Temple is dedicated. He was revered as the King of the Gods in Egyptian culture and was depicted as a man with the head of a ram.

The UTV zips along the dirt road. Cruising through the forest of eternal darkness, the gentle hum of the engines does nothing to stop Caerus’ nagging fear of the child in the back. It’s her third child, a third boy. But this one is different, this one was never meant to be born. When Caerus saw what the boy was, she knew she had to get rid of him. He was far too dangerous to keep. He had to be taken somewhere safe.

The woman pushes on the throttle, decelerating as she drives through rougher terrain. The hoot of the owls and the caw of the crows unnerve her very soul. Outside of the windshield, the forest floor is covered in a white mist. Caerus manipulates the buttons on the dashboard. A needle rises from the hood and a red light sweeps over the landscape. An electronic display of the topography appears over the steering wheel, allowing Caerus to see where she is maneuvering. This should have never have happened to me. Why did I bear this child?

She hears a beeping on the display, indicating a house to the right. From its looks, she has no doubt that this is the house she seeks. She maneuvers towards it, parks, and steps into the mist. The chill in the night air hits her, sending a shiver up her spine. The hairs on her arm rise with fear as the owls and black crows cry above her head, hidden by the dark trees that sway under the breeze. The UTV hisses as the door opens. Caerus lifts the child, covered in an emerald green blanket, out of the car and tucks him in her arms.

A large, sheer crystal sphinx looms up, almost hidden from sight and covered in an overgrowth of dark forest shrubs, leaves, and vines.

Beyond the forty foot sphinx is a clay doorway covered in the same vines. A porch light hangs over the door, illuminating the immediate area. The doorway itself is arched in ancient Egyptian style architecture and between the two lotus bud columns, one on each side of the arched heavy oak doorway, lies a maze of ferns leading like a path out to the sphinx.

The front door opens with a loud creak, startling her. She puts her hand to her chest to quiet her pounding heart. Looking in the doorway, she sees a clean-shaven old man with dark eyes and dirty white hair. His white robes expose his grey haired chest as they came to a point. Over the white robe, the old man wears an emerald padded coat with gold trim, extending to the floor.

“Leukos?” she asks the man in the doorway. “Leukos Trismegistus?”

“I am,” he replies. Caerus moves closer. She holds the child to him for inspection. Leukos Trismegistus takes the child into his arms. She exposes the child’s forearm to Leukos.

“Do you see it? Do you see the symbol?” she asks.

Leukos holds the child into the light. On his forearm is a birthmark of two dragons, their heads wrapped around each other. One head faces the sun and the other faces the moon. The blood drains from Leukos’ face, though he keeps his composure in front of Caerus.

“I see the symbol,” he says.

“Well?” asks Caerus with both dread and anticipation. It would do no good for Leukos to lie to her; in fact, it would only make matters worse for the Hellenes.

“You have borne the child with the symbol of the Emerald Tablet.”

Caerus’ face goes slack. She pushes the child into his arms and backs away. “Then you take him. Keep him secret, keep him safe, Leukos. He’s far too dangerous with his brother.”

“His brother?” Leukos asks.

Caerus struggles to speak. “He bears the symbol of the Heart of Gold. His older brother is already with the Priests of Amun. They must be separated, Leukos.” She grabs his forearm. “Promise me you’ll take care of him.”

Leukos appraises her in the dim light. She has risked her life to come to the enchanted forest to save her last child. The prophecies by the oracles foretell a time when the bearer of the symbol of the Emerald Tablet would fight the bearer of the symbol of the Heart of Gold to decide the fate of the world. The two people who bear such a mark would be brothers.

Caerus’ first child bears a birthmark with an uncanny similarity to the symbol of the Heart of Gold. The brothers are destined to fight each other, and only one will prevail. Leukos nods his head.

“You will never see him again,” he says.

Caerus nods, swallowing. “I know, but it is for the best.”

“Then you know his destiny is to fight his brother. The boy’s fate is sealedby the gods.”

Caerus weeps. Only one of her sons will prevail, forced to kill the other. But which son, she doesn’t know and, even if she did, how could she ever choose between her children? No, this way is best. The other brothers do not know of this child yet, and it’s safer for them to never know. In the end, she is saving both of her son’s lives.

“Swear you’ll protect him with your life,” she squeezes his arm again.

“I swear, Caerus.”

She kisses her child goodbye.


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Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy

Rating – PG-13+

More details about the author and the book

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