Mordred was wandering the marketplace of the trade city. After his ship landed, he quickly found a caravan heading east and convinced them to hire him as a guard. It will leave the next morning at dawn. Once that was taken care of, he went to the open air market to find supplies.
Several waterskins, oil and the like for maintenance of his chain-mail. Clarent, his sword, not needing any maintenance since he used it to break the Elder Stone and release its power on himself. He was surprised that self-mending mithril mail made by fae needed maintenance as well, but he supposed that it made sense. Magic can’t do everything, not even prevent rust. He decided to also buy clothing he saw the other guards wearing, as he assumed that they would be suitable for traveling in the desert, even though he couldn’t understand how something so thick and heavy would help.
Now wearing his new clothing to get used to it, he was wandering the market to kill time until dark, thinking about how he missed the cooler climate of Britain compared to where he was now. As he was about to turn into an alleyway, a small woman ran into him, knocking herself onto the ground. Hearing a commotion from where she came from, Mordred glanced in that direction and saw a good dozen soldiers shoving their way through the crowd.
Looking back at the 1.5 meter tall dusky-skinned woman who had her head covered, Mordred made a quick decision. He swiftly grabbed her hand and pushed her back to the wall. Closing his eyes, he began muttering, mixing Latin, Greek, and Breton. The young woman watched him, her green eyes widening as she recognized that he was performing sorcery. The soldiers all ran past the two with only a cursory glance. As the commotion behind him died down, Mordred sighed and backed away from the woman.
The woman glanced around, getting her bearings. She then turned to Mordred. “Thank you. But why did you help me?”
Mordred glanced at her, then said, “I’ll tell you why I helped you, when you tell me why Ra’s warriors were chasing you, looking to kill you, Lady Bast.”
Startled, the goddess took a step back, “How did you-?!”
“Your tail is showing.”
“Shit! Why couldn’t I have been born like Osiris or Nephtis with a completely human form?!” Bast complained as she moved her clothing around to hide her tawny tail.
“Alright, I feel that is enough good deeds for today. I’ll take my leave.” Mordred said as he turned to go down the alley he originally intended to go through. If gods were going to be hunting one another in the streets, he wanted to get back to the caravan’s camp so he can prevent anything from delaying their departure.
“Fine, thank you again for the help.” Bast said as she also turned down the same alley.
“I assume we’re going the same direction?” Mordred asked, with the sneaking suspicion that he should’ve just left well enough alone.
“Looks that way. So, your a sorcerer? What kind of magic did you use to get them to ignore us?” Bast replied unapologetically.
“It was a simple illusion. It’d have been foolish to erase us from their sight, so I simply made us look like a man buying the services of a woman of pleasure. I was engaged to a fairly powerful sorceress in my homeland. Turns out I had a talent for it, so she taught me.”
“Oh? And how did that end?” Bast asked. She couldn’t stop herself from constantly looking around, or walking closer to Mordred than was necessary. Things that didn’t escape his notice.
“…bloody. You know, I get if your scared, but I don’t have any reason to protect you.” A smirk formed on his lips, “Although, if you were to become my woman, then I would.”
Bast was speechless for a moment, then she grabbed Mordred’s clothes and said, “Listen here you bratty son of a whore! I am not some domesticated cat that needs protection! And I’m not going to become your woman just because you saved me from a situation that I would’ve gotten out of myself!”
Mordred’s smile became more genuine. “Good. You were acting so meek, that I was wondering if the stories of the War Goddess Bast that I’d heard were all made up. Oh, and my mother wasn’t a whore. I hated the bitch, but it’s unfair to actual whores to compare them to her.” He began walking again as he said that.
Bast watched him walking for a moment before starting again to catch up. It didn’t escape her notice that he had gotten her angry to change the subject. She wanted to continue with the topic of his past engagement, mostly because skilled sorcerers were rare, especially women, but decided against it because she never told him why she’s running from Ra.
They continued on in silence, Bast having regained her composure. Eventually they came to a well in the center of a square. Bast stopped and said, “This is where I’m meeting my companion.”
“I see.” Looking at the sun, Mordred judged that he had enough time to at least ensure that Bast joined with her companion. “Then we’ll be waiting for them.” He then sat on the edge of the well.
“You know you don’t have to wait, right?” Bast was perplexed about why Mordred was assisting her like this.
“You don’t have to worry. That earlier was just a little joke. I already went to the trouble of helping you once, it’d be a waste of effort if I didn’t make sure you at least meet up with your companion before I left. Besides, I’m finding it enjoyable to indulge in my whims recently.” He responded carefreely.
It didn’t take long for Bast’s companion to arrive. A dark skinned man, at 1.8 meters. He had a shaved head, and red eyes. When he arrived he stared at Mordred suspiciously until his eyes suddenly widened. “Chaos?” He muttered to himself.
“Set. Good thing you’re alright.” Bast said as she walked up to him.
“Yes. Who is he?”
“Uhh…” Bast suddenly realized that she hadn’t learned Mordred’s name yet. She looked at him, chuckling awkwardly.
“I am Mordred. I’m a traveler from Brittany.” He said, completely off-setting that claim by speaking Old Egyptian. “It’s a pleasure, Lord Set. Now that you two have met up, I will be on my way.” With that, Mordred turned to walk away, only to come up short. “Lord Set, were you followed?”
Looking around, Set and Bast were both surprised.
The square was surrounded with two dozen soldiers. Most of them held spears, one held a khopesh. At 60 cm, the sword’s length was standard, except the tip was sharpened to a point instead of the traditional rounded tips, allowing for slashing and stabbing motions.
The man with the khopesh stepped forward. “Foreigner, this is your one chance. Leave now, and you will not share their fate.”
Mordred glanced around at them all. “That is a tempting offer. But you see, I am a very greedy man, and I think I have taken a liking to that sword of yours, so why don’t you just give it to me and walk away. That way, I won’t have to kill all of you. It’s so bothersome, ensuring that I erase all of the vermin who think they have what it takes to bare their fangs at me.” He finished with a bloodthirsty smile on his face.
“Then you shall die as well.”
Bast yelled, “Mordred, get back! You might be able to hold your own against mortals, but they aren’t human! Let us take care of this!” As she said this, she drew a pair of daggers from within her clothing.
“I know they’re not human. I’m not either.” He turned back to her and drew his sword. A longsword with a bastard hilt that looked like wrought iron, the blade was not made of steel. It looked exactly like glass, and there was a crimson light swirling within it. Just looking at it filled everyone with a sense of dread.
As he pulled the sword free, Mordred released the compressed magic and chaotic miasma that he continuously suppresses. The illusion that he used to hide himself was removed. His eyes became as red as his sword, with his pupils becoming vertical slits. His eye teeth sharpened into fang-like canines, and his fingernails shifted to be sharper, almost to the point of being claws. His ears became pointed like the fae of his homelands.
As this transformation was taking place, he began chanting. “Forma, impenetrabilia circulum, vel usque ad magnum: et non est finis, vel magnum et occurrat!” At the end of the incantation, a barrier formed just inside the edges of the square, a measure to prevent Mordred’s miasma from spreading to the local populace, as well as prevent his prey from escaping his grasp.
The reason for controlling his power became apparent as 12 of the soldiers spontaneously combusted upon coming into contact with the miasma. Two of them had started running at Mordred when he began chanting, their spears nearly reaching him before they burst into flames.
Seeing this, Mordred whistled. “It’s a good thing I got that up in time, otherwise every mortal in the vicinity would’ve been destroyed, body and soul. Although, I’m surprised that so many of you survived. I’m going to have to fix that momentarily.”
Everyone was stunned. The leader of the soldiers said, “You. What did you do?”
“Oh? But I didn’t really do anything, just flexing a few muscles that I haven’t used in a while.” Mordred answered with a laugh.
Taking a step back, the soldier asked, “What are you?!”
“Beast of Chaos.” As Bast’s shocked voice carried to every ear, all eyes turned to her.
Set, being the God of Chaos, recognized Mordred’s nature almost immediately. But it wasn’t until the young man had released his disguise that the two gods had realized exactly what he was. Bast and Set had spent millennia fighting Apophis. They were intimately familiar with what a Creature of the Void feels like. Mordred had startled them, as they thought they would never see anything like Apophis after they finally killed him, but they quickly regained their composure.
The soldiers, on the other hand, had never seen anything like Mordred. Most were frozen in place, like mice staring into the eyes of a snake. Two were able to move, and they immediately turned and ran, crashing headlong into the barrier.
“Captain! There’s a barrier here!”
“What?!” The captain was unable to turn away from Mordred. He wasn’t frozen like the others, but his instincts told him that turning away from the monster in front of him was instant death.
“Didn’t I say? I hate chasing after vermin who bare their fangs at me. This way, I can kill all of you, without wasting my time. Don’t worry, there is a way to remove the barrier. If you can kill me, then you’re free to go.” Mordred said, laughingly. Everyone knew that condition was impossible to achieve.
The captain quickly said, “Wait! I-I’ll give you my sword! So please, let us go!”
“Hmm. When I offered that deal, you very rudely turned me down without considering it. Did you think that I was just bluffing? You only choose now to accept my deal? No, vermin. I already told you how you can escape.” With that, Mordred moved to the soldier closest to him, and removed his head. “Now let us begin.”
It couldn’t rightly be called a battle. The only time Mordred was injured was when the captain had managed to get in close on his left side as Mordred killed the last of his subordinates. He thrust his sword at Mordred’s face. Mordred’s sword was still planted in the chest of a man on his right side, and there was no way to dodge the strike. Instead, Mordred lifted his left arm, and positioned it so the sword would go between the bones of his forearm. Using this as leverage, Mordred redirected the tip of the sword. The khopesh stopped halfway down the blade. The three people watched, stunned, as Mordred showed not the slightest sign of discomfort.
Chuckling, he said, “Ow. That stings.” Mordred then raised his sword, and cut the horrified man in half from shoulder to hip.
Following this, Mordred calmly returned his sword to its leather scabbard. He then gently removed the khopesh still in his arm. Looking it over carefully, he saw that the sword had pierced his mail and come out without a chip or scratch. “It really is a good sword. I might have to learn to use two swords just to be able to show it off. And I definitely need a sheath for it. Oh well, plans for the future.”
Bast and Set watched him as he examined his new sword. It didn’t escape their notice that the blood that was on Mordred’s sword had disappeared before he returned it to its scabbard. And as he removed the khopesh from his arm, his shadow expanded to swallow the bodies and weapons of the 12 men he had killed, leaving no traces. They also noticed that the wound on his arm had already healed, and he was using it as if nothing had happened.
Turning to the two gods, Mordred said, “I think it’s about time you two told me what is going on. Especially because I just saved Bast twice today.”
“You’ve already figured out that Ra is trying to kill us.” Bast said. She didn’t show anymore hesitation. Mordred was already involved, and not knowing would just make it worse. “Let’s just say that Ra doesn’t cope well with a sudden loss of power.”
“When the Greeks conquered Egypt, it wasn’t so bad. As long as the mortals paid homage to the Olympians, they were were allowed to continue worshipping us.” Set said. “We even received new worshippers when our names were spread across the empire that Alexander created, which is more than any conquered country or pantheon can ask for.”
Mordred nodded in agreement, “Of course. Most conquers would have destroyed the conquered country’s royal family, nobles, and religion in a bid to remove the loser’s culture and strengthen their own. Growing up in Camelot, I was taught about the Greeks, and I always thought that they were odd how they were so tolerant of foreign religions.”
This caused the two gods to pause. They didn’t consider that the man in front of them wasn’t born as he is. They both wondered how he became what he was.
Set continued, “Yes. Even when the Romans came, not much had changed. They called us by different names, and combined us with some Olympians, but that also had benefits. Everything was fine to that point. Then came Christianity.”
“Right. The Olympians have never minded bringing foreign pantheons into the fold. It was a method of strengthening themselves that worked. Yhvh, on the other hand, doesn’t like sharing worshippers, and has no intention of it. He went so far as to make the mortals believe that the angels and demons, the minor gods of his pantheon, were nothing more than spirits and servants. A brutal, if effective, way of hoarding faith. Add that to his promises of allowing mortals into a paradise of an afterlife simply by swearing themselves to his demigod son, the Carpenter, instead of having to work for it like other pantheons, it is completely predictable that he would be able to steal everyone’s power.”
Bast and Set nodded in agreement. Their own pantheon fed the souls of the wicked to Osiris’s pet, Ammut. The Olympians sent most people to the Fields of Asphodel, where they simply wandered forever, while the wicked were sent to the Fields of Punishment and those who died heroic deaths were allowed into Ellysium and the choice of reincarnation and a chance at the Isles of the Blessed. Christian doctrine taught that by swearing yourself to the Jewish demigod, Jesus Christ, and begging forgiveness for any sins, they’d be allowed into Heaven, no matter what they did. And if they committed more sins? Just beg for forgiveness again, and everything was fine. It is obvious what the mortals would choose.
“We especially have been struggling. The actions of that brat, Ramses, caused the Judaic pantheon to have a grudge against us.” Bast sighed. “We told that fool not to push the Children of Israel, but it always happens when a bloodline rules for too many generations. They become complacent and egotistical, they even think that they know better than their own gods. We tried to warn him that their god had a tendency to bend the rules and become directly involved in his worshippers’ conflicts, something that even the Olympians don’t dare do. We told him that we wouldn’t be able to retaliate in kind, because that would cause things to escalate, and it’d have been impossible to stop until the upper half of the continent and the Mediterranean were wastelands that couldn’t even support the smallest of insects. So when Yhvh made his play to increase his power, we were struck harder than others.”
“And Ra, unable to cope with the loss of his power, turned on his vassals to increase his power as much as he can. He destroyed what was left of your cults, and now that they are gone, he is going to have you killed and absorb what energy you have left.” Mordred said, easily realizing the conclusion. “So how many of you are left?”
Set shook his head, “Just the two of us. Everyone else is either dead, or they caught on to what was happening and fled.”
“We’re pretty sure that’s what Serqet did. One day no one could feel her presence or connection to the land. I personally believe that she fled to Greece. She was always on fair terms with Nemesis and Hecate.” Bast added.
“Well, it appears that this is your lucky day. Ra can’t sense what happened within this barrier, and I doubt he was watching too closely considering sunset isn’t too far away. If you cut your connections to the land now, Ra will believe that all of his men managed to kill you by sacrificing themselves. Then all that’s left is to leave Egypt and never look back.” Mordred said.
Bast and Set stared at Mordred. What he said was certainly possible, it would hurt for a time, but it would work. The benefits are that they would become much harder to kill, but they would also forfeit the wealth of power that being bound to land and having worshippers gives to their kind.
Set responded first, “You, do you realize what you’re saying?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I missed the part of this conversation where you said you had another choice. You can certainly run while retaining your connections to Egypt, if you don’t mind having Ra aware of your continued existence and general location. Of course, that would mean spending the rest of your existences running from whatever assassins he sends your way. But if that’s what you wish, who am I to give advice to two ancient major gods.” Mordred answered.
Bast quickly stepped between the two. Set might not have been in his prime, but he was still a major god. She didn’t want to think about what would happen if a major god and something like Mordred were to fight. Especially when they both had aspects of chaos. When two forces of chaos clashed, the impact on the surroundings were often times unpredictable. “Calm down, both of you. Set, he’s right, this is the only way to survive. We’ll survive now, and take the bastard’s head once we’ve gained sufficient strength. Mordred, Set wasn’t refusing you. This is just drastic.”
“Hah. You’re right. For Nephtis and Anubis, we need to survive.”
“I know it’s drastic. I know about enough of the matters of the divine to know what I just said. Trust me when I say, I know the impact of throwing away everything to survive and see justice done. At least you two will fundamentally remain who and what you are.” Mordred said.
After the two gods completed what they needed, Mordred dropped the barrier. “I wish the two of you luck. Maybe we’ll meet again.” He said to them. He and Set clasped forearms, and he nodded to Bast.
“Maybe we will.”
“If we do, you’re going to tell us your story. You can’t drop as many pieces of it as you have and not tell us.”
Mordred just laughed off Bast’s demands and said that he would consider it. With that, he separated from them heading to the site of the caravan.
When Mordred arrived at the caravan’s camping site, the sun had just set. As he approached, a guard came up to him. Luckily, it was one of the guards that he had already met, so there were no problems with his entrance into the camp. The guard had said something about two newcomers asking to be allowed to travel with them.
Not thinking much about this news, Mordred went to the head guard to check in. Stepping into the tent, he was brought up short as he saw Bast and Set speaking to the owner of the caravan and the head guard. “You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that someone on high was laughing at me.” He commented in Old Egyptian.
“Yeah, I know that feeling. Even we feel like we’re being pulled around by someone at times like this.” Set sighed.
At the odd looks of the mortals in the tent, Mordred quickly switched to Latin and said, “We met earlier. I helped them with a small problem. We didn’t expect to meet one another after that.”
“So these two are friends of yours?” Asked the caravan owner.
“Yes, we are friends of his.” Said Bast, cutting in with a sharp glance at Mordred. “So as long as he’s here it won’t be a problem for us to be here so long as he keeps an eye on us, correct?”
At Mordred’s expression, the head guard explained, “It isn’t uncommon for bandits and raiders to plant people into caravans before they leave cities and oases. Because some of our people saw you stepping off the ship, you are getting the benefit of the doubt. We don’t know these two, or where they came from.”
Mordred looked at the two gods. “If I vouched for them?”
“You would vouch for these two?”
“It’s complicated, but they aren’t bandits. They are fleeing from someone.” At the two mortals’ expressions, Mordred continued. “That’s what I helped them with. I helped them fake their deaths. No one is going to come after them.”
“You are certain of this? Pelusla is the easternmost city of Egypt. I can’t afford to not be able to return.” The caravan owner spoke up.
“As certain as possible.”
The two men looked at one another. After thinking it over for a few moments, they came to a decision. “We shall allow you to come with us, Sa and Hes. But I will warn you now, if anything should happen, no matter our fates, you will die first. And Grisson you vouched for them. That means that you will share their fate.”
“Naturally.” Mordred agreed easily, with Bast and Set nodding behind him.
After walking out of the tent, Mordred asked, “So, who’s Sa, and who’s Hes?”
Bast raised her hand, “I’m Hes.”
Raising an eyebrow, Mordred said, “Really? That’s the best you could come up with?”
“Don’t get cheeky, brat. I doubt you could’ve done better.”
“I would like to take that bet. But that doesn’t matter now, Hes. Sa, you’ll probably be asked to do guard duties. Those who don’t work don’t eat after all. Will you be fine lowering yourself to the station of a mere caravan guard?”
“I can manage. And I won’t use magic that can be seen by others. The thing that mortals fear the most is mysterious forces and magic.” Set said. “If I do use magic, not just us would be put in a bad position, but you as well. You’ve helped us much today, I will not repay that with discourtesy.”
Nodding to each other, the three immortals turned to the nearest cook fire to get their evening meal.