About the story:
Above all places, I've always wanted to visit Egypt. About 7 years ago, I got my wish granted. And for 15 days I had the most unbelievable experience that a person could wish for: to be surrounded by such a rich and magical culture that, even after 3000 years, can be felt in every temple, rock or wisp of wind.
Write about what you know, they say; write about what you love. Which is why I took this chance to drag you guys, along with the Winchesters, to the magical lands of Egypt.
I'm writing this before actually typing that part of the story, but it if I actually managed to do this, anyone reading this story will, hopefully, experience at least a little bit of what it's like to get out of an airport and be faced with a reality that is such a wonderful and contrasting departure from everything that you're used to and know that you can't help but feel like you're inside a dream; to smell the spices in the air and wake up to the calls to pray in the speakers spread throughout the cities.
On to the other stuff, the stuff that was made up, or mostly made up.
The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor was a actual secret society, first referred in 1884, heavily based in oculist practices of sex-magic and that later originated Aleister Crowley's OTO (Ordo Templis Orientis)... and that's about all that is real about the use I gave it in this story. All else, its pure fiction and elaboration on my part, starting by the interpretation of their emblem, the Oroboros encircling a pentagram and onto to their practices. Obuham Jhiram Crowley is, obviously, made up.
The location of the Ark, in Axum, Ethiopia, is, according to the monk guarding it, pretty accurate. He claims that the actual Ark is inside the church he guards, St. Mary of Axum. He doesn't let anyone see it, so there never was any confirmation to his claim.
As for the ritual that is alluded in this story, regarding the Ark of Covenant, it's documented that, in ancient times, in the day of Yom Kippur (Jewish holy day meaning day of atonement), a scapegoat was brought to the Ark by the high priest and bleed to death, in order to wash Men of all his sins. I mean no disrespect to the Jewish beliefs and culture by using this ritual here, bastardize as it is.
About the Original Characters:
Emam: Bobby's Egyptian friend was physically based on the guide that accompanied us in our travels through Egypt. He was a very handsome and funny man who, despite being bound by his tour guide responsibilities, managed to gave us a delicious and very close to real taste of his country.
Ébe: Emam's wife doesn't do much in this story, but I did want to use her to show that women in Egypt can be pretty independent and free, depending on where they are geographically. The deeper you get in the country, the more you end up finding the more closed off religious restrictions, in terms of clothing and freedom of movement. Being that Emam was a traveled man and fairly open minded, I wanted to give him a wife that showed his openness. I am in no way an expert on Muslim women and Egyptian women customs. Far from it. Just telling it like I saw it, which given that it was from a tourist point of view, might not be much.
Azeem: The Bedouin man. I think he was the hardest character to do justice. I didn't meet any of the Bedouins, but I saw their temporary camps near Giza and Sakkara. They looked like a close-knit group. The traditions about helping strangers they come across and the sharing of tales over the campfire are common traits associated with their people.
Hiram: The monk is real. I just changed his name, but an actual man is said to guard the chapel where, supposedly, the Ark is today. The description of the church is also pretty close to the real thing. All else is made up.
Obuham: The dummy bad guy. I imagined him a short, round man, who had never achieved much in his life other than manipulate others. Figured it was only fair for him to be most manipulated character in this story. His only ace up the sleeve is a ring that was passed on in his family for generations, but even that is a heirloom that he doesn't understand or respect. If he did, Asmodeus wouldn't have fooled him so easily.
Asmodeus: The demon on charge, the real bad guy, is by any means, an invention of mine. He'd name comes straight from demonology lore, as one of Lucifer's generals, said to play an important part in the apocalypse, as a destroyer of worlds.
Solomon: The famous ancient king of Israel, is a legend in himself. He was said to actually have a ring, given to him by an angel (who some believe to be the archangel Michael), a ring that was said to have the power to control demons, which Solomon used to built the famous Temple of Solomon, a temple where it was said, numerous treasures were hidden, including the Ark of Covenant. That part is as true to lore as it can get.
He only had one legitimate son, though, Rehobam. I made up Abijam, the second son, because I needed two bickering brothers as an excuse for the king to break his ring in half.
Mile-Oh: The mystery. I struggled to define what and exactly who this character was. I was sure of one thing: he was not a dog. He looked like a dog in so much as I needed him to represent a guide to Dean. Once Dean's sight is out if the picture, I could have the oldest Winchester really see some other things, things that he might ignore or not believe otherwise. Like a mysterious animal that managed to pop in and out of existence whenever Dean needed a helping hand... even if he didn't always knew that.
The name Mile-Oh is, like Dean figures out in the story, an anagram for Elohim, which is Hebrew for deity, god and divinity. Doesn't mean Mile-Oh IS God... but he's certainly a representation of Him. One that helps Dean to fulfill his destiny.
Michael: This story happens before the episode 'In the beginning', therefore, the Michael you see here is not the Michael the show gave us. This one is less of a dick and more close to what I wanted him to be: a timeless and wiser version of Dean.
Ana fahim Arabi: I understand Arabic
Adhan: the 5 obligatory prays in Muslim religion
Afwan: You're welcome
Ana mesh fahim: I don't understand
Burka: traditional Islamic garment for women that covers them entirely from head to toe
Big Abu: Ramses II Temple at Abu Simbel
Duhur: midday pray
Eksar edo: Break (his) arm
Hookah/Shisha: Middle Eastern water-pipe with either a single or a double hose for smoking tobacco, often of a fruity variety.
Insha'Allah: God willing
Ibn el kalb: Son of a bitch
Little Abu: Nerfetari's Temple at Abu Simbel
Mahdi: According to my meager Muslim knowledge (read Wikipedia, so, please forgive me if I'm wrong about this), the Mahdi is the 'guided one' who will find the Ark near the end of the days and retrieve it from the lake Tiberias, in Israel.
Min Fadhlik: Please
Shukran: Thank you
Tabut Al-'ahd: Ark of Covenant
The important stuff first...
Thank you notes:
My sincere and deepest thank you to Luc_darling (despite being told, rightly so, that Egyptians say gamal instead of jamal –referring to camels-, I used the wrong one on purpose... because I liked the joke) and I_o_r_h_a_e_l, for the Arabic translations and Muslim cultural check. Also to Tjne84, for the translations and for helping me keep the Egyptian experience real.
Anything in this story that does not seem accurate or is misspelled, is my fault, for either not asking or ignoring what these fine people advise me to do.
To my beta. My hand-holder. My number one cheerleader. The brave beta-reader who tackled this monster without fear of its sharp teeth and gargantuan size. Julie, aka Jackfan2.
To the life-saver Anne-Marie, aka Amber1960, who managed to give this monster of a story a final read-through in, literally, the eleventh-hour, a huge hug and thank you.
To all of you who have read all of this rambling so far, thank you for sharing this story with me. It really makes it all worthwhile :)