A/N: Takes place in the same universe as "Ever Just the Same". Because what do I do when I'm stuck for a fic idea? Find a fic universe I've already created and build on it.
Thanks to everyone in the contest being so cool and supportive with reviews in general, and behaving like nice people on the internet.
Egypt-verse, not memory world RPG game, so Atem knows his own name.
There stood a tall winged man, his skin like leathered armor. His great sword cut through the night, landing on the neck of a great white dragon. The dragon, beautiful, terrible, and powerful as a god, did not flinch as the blade stopped. It turned its long neck and piercing blue eyes on the warrior, reared back its head to strike, and-
-and Set awoke, heart racing, as the spirits within him warred over his body. He sat up and threw a tattered blanket off himself. His eyes adjusted to the bright desert moonlight and he could see his room clearly. His room in the deserted village of thieves.
Just as his heart was starting to settle, he heard a noise - A piece of stone shifting under someone's clumsy fotostep; a stifled gasp; then extreme silence.
Set focused on the spirit within him, as he had been training to do for so many weeks. Duos, the tall armored man appeared before him. Set grinned. Finally!
Then it vanished.
He grumbled. Duos flickered again. Set closed his eyes and pushed harder on the mental link. Stay, he willed his ka. Appear. Fight for me.
Duos stood tall. Set held his breath. But his ka stayed, crossed to the window, and pounced on the intruders.
A girl screamed. Set ran to the door. Two boys shouted, and just as Set stepped out into the desert, a blast threw him off his feet. He fell to the ground, and from what, he couldn't tell. Nothing actually hit him. Duos flickered and vanished.
"That's it?" One of the boys wondered aloud. A spellcaster stood before him, its staff outstretched. "You're living in the village of thieves and your ka can't take more fighting than that?"
"Boy" wasn't really the right word. He was at least a year or two older than Set, and well into his manhood. The one next to him was younger, though, and his hair... and a girl who had screamed rounded out the trio. The oldest boy waved his hand and the spellcaster vanished.
"What are you doing here?" The magician asked.
"I could ask you the same thing," Set growled. "Why did you hide outside my house?"
"Your house? This is the abandonded village of thieves!" The girl spoke up. "No one's lived here since before we were born!"
"You're trespassing. No one's allowed here," The older one stepped forward. "The priests will arrest you if you don't leave."
"Priests," Set scoffed. "Let them try."
"You mock the priests?" The boy with the weird hair spoke with quiet authority. He looked Set over, but he didn't judge Set like they had. It was more like he was trying to understand.
"Yes, I mock them. They're worthless! Corrupt!" Set shouted, a little taken aback at his own vehemence. He hadn't spoken to another person in many days. "Blinded by their own power and hatred!"
The spellcaster appeared again. The older, plain-looking magician boy held his hand out and the spellcaster raised its staff right at Set's heart. "Those are traiterous words. I will not stand for them."
The injustice burned at him. "You don't know what you're talking about!" Set remembered Kisara falling to the ground. He remembered the shape her drops of blood made on the pale stone. Red blood, like everyone else's. Life blood, like everyone else's. Her skin color made no difference. She was just the same.
The white dragon burst forth from Set, unbidden. It roared and shot white fire into the night sky. The three of them flinched. The girl hid behind the smaller boy. The oldest one even jumped. Set knew he couldn't control it, but he didn't think about that. He just focused on the anger, for he knew that would keep the dragon out longer. The dragon looked at the three and turned its flame on them.
The spellcaster leapt in front of the blast, held its staff high, and blocked. The fire vanished, and the dragon and spellcaster stared each other down.
"What is that?" The oldest shouted.
"A god!" Set screamed. "And justice is in the name of the gods, right? So who is truly just?"
Set willed the dragon to attack them again. Instead, it whirled its long neck around to stare at Set. He felt his ba draining from the force of supporting the great ka.
"I am just!" Set protested. "We are just!" The dragon continued to stare at him. "Kisara... we... we are! I will beat the priests and show them..." His legs grew weak; he fell to his knees. "I will show them... true justice..."
The white dragon roared one last time and vanished, leaving Set kneeling in the dirt, and the other three huddled behind the spellcaster ka. Set stared at the ground, partly recovering from using so much of his ba, and partly struggling with his desire for revenge. The realization washed over Set. Not justice. Revenge.
"How can you summon two kas without a stone tablet?" the older boy demanded. Set said nothing, neither understanding or caring.
The younger boy stepped forward to answer the question for him. "You came to the palace weeks ago. Your village was burned down the great white dragon residing in the soul of the white-skinned girl."
"But... that was the dragon!" The older boy exclaimed. Set closed his eyes. It took less effort to listen than to stop him.
"She was sentenced to death. You tried to save her. But... she died anyway."
Quiet fell over all of them. The desert winds calmed, and the moon shone bright, and the four of them all looked at the other, not quite sure of their initial judgements.
"What's your name?" Set asked the younger boy.
"Atem," he answered without hesitation. The oldest one jumped. Set wondered at it, but did not think to question it more.
They looked to the oldest boy. "Mahad," he said after a time. He narrowed his eyes; he did not trust Set.
"Mana." Just as the girl could give her name, the earth shook.
"What was that?" she asked. The boys took fighting stances and looked frantically about the village, but no other person was there. The ground trembled underfoot. Set stepped cautiously away from his house. The trembling grew. He started to walk towards the source. Before he took more than a few steps, spirits exploded from under the sand. Dozens of them, swirling around, looking for their revenge.
"What is this?" Set shouted.
"The spirits of the dead thieves!" Mahad replied, his magician at the ready. The other two hid behind him, neither yet able to summon their ka.
"What do they want with us?" Dead thieves. Despite their differences, Set felt a twinge of guilt and fear at the soul of his own dead loved one; had Kisara communicated with them somehow? Had Set become so corrupt since she had gone that these spirits were looking to punish him?
"I don't know. Maybe they think we're the target of their vengeance. Maybe we just disturbed them. If we wait, they might-" one of the spirits swooped low at Mahad. The spellcaster leapt forward and struck it out of the air.
"-might leave?" Set finished hopefully.
"Not now," Mahad replied grimly. "Set, was it?"
"Summon your ka, Set. We will need to fight our way out of this."
Set focused on Duos. The man flickered once and vanished. Angry soul swarmed around them, Mahad's magician sweeping them aside as fast as it could, but slowly inching towards closer to the four teens.
"Focus!" Mahad shouted. Atem and Mana stood together, neither willing to let the other sacrifice themself. Set gritted his teeth. His ba was all but gone from the dragon. He fell to his knees again as he tried to give his life force to his ka. The spirits grew ever closer, Mahad's spellcaster running itself ragged trying to stop them from all directions. Set closed his eyes.
Duos appeared and jumped into the fight. Now the ghosts stopped their advance. But neither ka could really destroy the spirits. Duos flew overhead, and the magician ran beneath, but their swings always missed or cut through. The spirits simply drifted a short way, only to quickly recover and return again. Set knew they would not last long. Kisara, help me.
His eyes were closed, but he heard the mighty roar. The white dragon shone brilliantly even in the night, and with a blast of white lighting, started to dispel the spirits. Set fell over onto the ground as he expended his life force on the creature. He tried to stop it before it could drain him, but he had no control over the great ka. His senses dimmed. How ironic, that he would save their lives at the cost of his own...
Set felt a hand on his chest. The muffled sounds of the fight grew clearer. Set blinked. The dragon loomed over Mahad, both staring at him with concern.
"Are you alright?" Mahad asked. Set realized it was Mahad's hand on his heart. He felt his strength returing. The dragon vanished, and with it, the strain on his life force. He sat up easily. Mahad removed his hand.
"I think so." Set looked around. Duos stood on the ground before him. The spirits were nowhere to be seen. "What did... did you heal me?"
"You should not summon a ka you cannot control," Mahad chastised, breathing heavily. Even on his knees, Mahad was about to fall over. Set put a hand on his shoulder to steady him. "That dragon would have killed you."
"And the spirits would have killed us all," Set countered, though he knew the boy was right. Mahad scoffed. The two looked at each other with mutual respect and dislike.
"Why did they leave?" Atem asked. He and Mana ventured from their hiding place at the wall of the house.
"They were satisfied that we were not worthy of their vengeance. We did not commit whatever injustice was done to them."
Injustice. The word rang in Set's head. Mahad looked at him pointedly.
"Can we leave now?" Mana insisted, after several moments of the two boys staring at each other. Mahad had recovered enough to stand on his own.
"Will you come to the palace with us?" Atem asked Set before he could consider his next move. Set looked to Mahad.
"I am training to be a priest," Mahad revealed. "You should do the same." He held his hand out to Set, who was still kneeling on the ground.
If you do not think we are just, the pharaoh's words echoed in Set's memory. Then become one of us, and show us true justice.
Set took Mahad's hand. "No hard feelings if I make a better priest than you."