Kashe sat on the edge of his bed and stared at the sky. Ever since the priests of Aken Re and the hawk from Horu had arrived he had felt restless. One night he’d managed to escape and find relief at his favorite beer house. Three wins at arm wrestling had eased his edginess. His problems remained. He had to leave the compound before this moon ended to escape being further enmeshed in his father’s plans. Something held him back. He wasn’t sure what loomed ahead but he hoped he would soon learn.
The moon was a quarter full. The days until his father’s command must be obeyed oozed away. Kashe wore the Horu amulet and wondered why the remaining priest, his father and older brother had failed to see the medallion. Several times he had tried to inform the nomarch about being chosen by the god of the skies and discovered he couldn’t speak the words. Was there a reason? How would his father accept the news that his plans to rid himself of his troublesome son had failed?
With a groan Kashe walked to the window and searched the sky for his unusual companion. Hawks were birds if the day but Horu Ka flew by night. Why was the avian different from others of its kind?
Kashe studied the bundle he had prepared for a stealthy departure. He considered what weapons he should take when he left to find a
He intended to find one even if he had to travel to the delta. temple of Horu
A whisper of wings and a harsh cry announced Horu Ka’s arrival. Kashe held his arm for the hawk to land. Instead the bird’s cry demanded action. Kashe slipped through the window. The avian flew toward the rear gate. Kashe followed.
Just as they reached the edge of the village Horu Ka shot into the air. Kashe checked the area. What had caused the hawk to depart? A group of burly men swaggered from a beer house. He noticed one of them had a club. He searched for some way to avoid them. He had no desire for a fight. The gang surged forward.
When they parted Kashe saw the reason for his uneasiness. Hebu, beloved of Aken Re, his father’s recent guest, walked with the men. Why?
“That’s him,” the serpent-eyed priest shouted. “Bring him to the house on the waterfront where I’m staying. You will be rewarded.”
So Hebu wasn’t content to wait until the moon ended. Did this man of the enemy have an agenda different from the other members of his priesthood? Kashe slid his knife from the sheath and prepared to fight.
Hebu paused. “See that he arrives alive.”
Though those words brought a lessening of Kashe’s tension, the odds against him were eight to one. Still he intended to fight. The first of the attackers sped toward him. Kashe waited until the man’s intentions were clear. He slashed with his knife and a line of blood appeared on the enemy’s chest. The man howled and retreated. Kashe moved to the side in an attempt to prevent being encircled. He ducked a swung club. The dodge saved him from a knife wielder. Instead of Kashe the club bashed the man with the knife.
A cat yowled. An eerie shout answered. For a moment the attackers froze. A stranger kicked one of the enemies beneath the chin. An ally, Kashe thought. Another attacker charged the new arrival. In a blur the man flew through the air and slammed against the street. Kashe evaded a fist and dove forward. He connected with an attacker’s stomach. His ally faced another of the enemy and slashed the side of a hand against the man’s throat. Before long the eight river men sprawled on the ground.
Kashe drew a deep breath and turned to thank his ally. He stepped over fallen bodies. “Don’t know who you are or where you came from but you have my thanks.”
“No problem. You were in trouble.”
His eyes widened. The new arrival was a tall beautiful woman. Her skin was a warm brown several shades darker than his. Black hair, clipped short, formed tight curls. Her eyes were as dark as night. Her gaze filled with desire.
She strode toward him. Her eyes glittered and he saw her beaded nipples press against her breast band. His body responded to her scent. He was primed and she seemed willing.