Three nights of traveling with rests during the heat of the sun convinced Namose Hebu was right. Without a camel and supplies he would never make the return trip to Tebes. Sand, dunes, jutting rocks. The desolation of the land lowered his spirits.
The camels began a bone-jarring gait. As he fought to keep his balance, in the distance Namose saw hints of green against the blue horizon. Trees meant an oasis. They drew closer and he saw a large tent with stripes the colors of the robes the priests wore.
Namose swallowed against a lump in his throat. They had reached their destination. He had no idea where they were except far to the east of the river, the bringer of life. He wanted to cry but he couldn’t waste tears. He wouldn’t find sympathy from the priests of Aken Re.
The camels halted and folded their legs. Hebu released Namose. “Carry the scrolls to the tent.”
“What are they?” he asked.
Hebu chuckled. “You will soon see. Your father named you as one who could read the ancient writing used by the priests of the false god Toth.”
Namose gulped. “I know a few words.” Why had his father said he could read the ancient writing? “I’m no scholar.”
Hebu’s chilling smile sent a warning. “The scrolls contain knowledge about powers only the priests of Aken Re, the true and only god, should possess.”
Namose rubbed his arms. Even in the heated air he felt cold. “What if I refuse?”
“You won’t. Your life is mine to command. Tomorrow you will begin.” He pushed Namose to the tent. “Eat and sleep until I wake you.”
Once again the desire to escape arose but there was no way. Refusal to obey Hebu would mean his death. He opened the flap and stepped into the enclosed space. After storing the bundle in the rear of the tent, he helped himself to cheese, dates and water. He ate and retreated to where he’d placed the scrolls and settled to sleep.
He dreamed. Toth appeared. Spoke.
“Do what you must to stay alive. You know enough to satisfy the evil one. A time will come when you will act. First you must become a man. The scrolls are mine and will be returned to my temple.”
The vision faded leaving Namose’s questions unasked. Could he believe what he’d heard or had his desire directed the dream?