A/N: In my grand tradition, when I'm stuck for a plot I just grab a storyline from another fic with teh same character. So, this'll be a continuation of "Ever Just the Same" and "Ever a Surprise". Slight alternate universe where Set meets Kisara and she dies before he becomes a priest. Based on Egypt-verse, not Memory World, so no games, no time traveling, no gang, and Atem knows his own name. Both of my previous fics in this setting have been pretty somber. Time for something lighter.
Light on romance because they're cousins. I mean, come on.
Disclaimer: Words are mine, characters are not.
The afternoon sun, Ra-Atum, shone bright in the sky over the palace. Set stood in the shade of a tree in the palace garden, waiting impatiently for Mana to practice her magic. Atem rested against the tree trunk, relaxing in a rare moment of freedom apart from the guards, his father, and the priests. Set sighed and turned to the prince.
"How did we get roped into this?" Set grumbled. Even his ka, Duos, was bored. It examined its sword, standing in the middle of the garden between Mana and Set.
"Mana needed someone to practice with. I still can't form a ka, and Mahad doesn't want her practicing summoning a ka without his supervision," the prince explained.
"So why don't we just get Mahad?" Set asked, crossing his arms. His rivalry with Mahad hadn't faded since he entered the palace - indeed, they were more bitter opponents than the night they met in the village of thieves.
"Because he is too busy for his student today!" Mana shouted, losing her temper for a moment. All of her exercises required meditation, quiet, and extreme patience; traits and skills Mana did not posses. "But his student doesn't need his help!" She squeezed her eyes shut and concentrated very hard, defeating the purpose of the training exercise, but she was too angry for Set to bother pointing this out.
Atem chuckled. "It's not like we were doing anything else today, Set."
"No, I suppose not," he sighed. Unlike Mahad, Set had become fast friends with Atem and Mana. As Mahad entered the priesthood, he was forced to leave behind the prince to a new guard - Set, who also took Mahad's place in the trio with Mana and the prince. Mana was troublesome, to say the least, and usually thought up schemes and adventures that involved bodily harm, so a quiet afternoon in the garden wasn't such a bad deal.
Duos roared, startling Set, the only one who could actually see him. Duos gestured angrily from Mana to Set and then to the empty field in front of them. Set waved him away, and Duos vanished. When they started, Mana insisted Set summon his own ka to help with the training, but it's not like she could tell whether it was present or not. Only the most powerful, god-like kas could be seen by non-ka wielders.
Atem noticed Set's reaction to Duos. "What is it? Something wrong?"
Set shook his head. "It's fine. Duos was getting impatient."
"That's the name of your ka?" Atem asked. Set realized Atem had also never seen it. He nodded. "What does he look like?"
"He's a very tall man-" Set raised a hand high above his head. "-with a great heavy sword and wings. His skin is pitch black, but he is covered in a kind of white armor that is part of his body." He struggled to describe the odd patterns on the monster's body. "And I cannot see his face. The armor covers it."
"A black-and-white man with wings and a sword?" Atem marveled. "Wow. Do all ka look so fearsome?"
"No. Some are pretty pathetic. The stronger the soul or the magic, the stronger the ka."
"Like the dragon?" Atem asked before he could stop himself. Time had healed his pain, but Set still blanched at any mention of Kisara. "Ah, sorry. I didn't mean..."
"No, it's fine," Set said quickly, turning back to Mana. Atem cursed his carelessness and searched for a different topic.
"Can you teach me the training exercises to summon a ka?" Atem asked. Set looked back at him quizzically.
"You want to summon your ka, as well? You know it will be one of the gods. Let it come in time."
"But while we're here with Mana, I might as well practice," Atem said. Set relented. What harm could it do? No one could summon a ka with one day of training.
"You can try, but don't expect quick results," Set warned. He threw a quick glance to Mana, who was concentrating so hard, her hands had curled into fists and her face turned red. Assured that he did not have to worry about a rampant ka from the apprentice, Set gave his attention to Atem. "Close your eyes," Set instructed. Atem sat up straight and did as commanded. "Empty your mind. You must think of nothing. Your ka is the representation of yourself. It wants to be with you. It will enter your mind if nothing else blocks it."
Atem took a deep breath to steady himself. Set realized how foolish this instruction was - now he had no one to talk to. Not even his own ka wanted to stick around. The sun moved slowly as Set looked from Mana to the prince, both silent and concentrating on their tasks. Atem did not break his meditation as Mana had earlier.
Finally, unexpectedly, Set felt a spark of magic. He focused on it, tracing the source. Before he could tell which one it came from, the form of something flashed next to Atem. Something blue, humanoid, and huge. Set jumped.
He had seen the tablets of the pharaoh's gods, but never the gods themselves. It appeared again for a moment. It was as tall as the palace.
The god appeared a third time and flickered. "Obelisk!" Atem shouted, his eyes closed. "That's your name!" He did not seem to realize it had materialized.
"Prince!" Set shouted desperately. Atem opened his eyes and turned back to look at the great beast. He yelled in surprise and jumped away from it, stumbling in his haste.
"How do I make it go away?" Atem asked, concerned. They heard Mana shriek behind them and shout questions. They ignored her for the moment.
"Just tell it to go away. It's your soul. It will listen," though Set was not confident in this statement. The prince shouldn't have to ask him at all.
"It's not listening," Atem said with growing concern. "What do we do now, Set?"
Set grimaced. There was nothing for it, then. Duos appeared, and after a moment's hesitation, the white dragon as well. Atem gasped, able to see them both for the first time. The dragon turned to face Set, incredulous.
"I know, I know," he said. He knew her soul so well he could read her looks, even as a dragon. "Can you do anything to make it leave? Talk to it?" He suggested weakly.
The dragon roared, affronted. Set groaned as it took flight.
"Or, you know, attack it," he muttered. The dragon circled above Obelisk's head, but she waited for Set's command to attack. The god hadn't actually done any damage, yet... perhaps it wouldn't do any without a command from Atem.
Then it swatted at the white dragon, which roared back at it. Set mentally cautioned his dragon. Don't attack it!
They all heard footsteps from the courtyard. Mahad, Aknadin, Isis, Shimon, some guards, and the pharaoh himself all ran into the courtyard. Set dismissed Kisara at once, who after a moment's indignation at being summoned and then so quickly returned, disappeared.
The kas of the priests all materialized and surrounded the prince, joining Duos. The pharaoh ran forward before the god.
"Obelisk!" he shouted. "We honor and thank you for your service! You may return to your resting place!" For good measure, spread his arms to make himself more visible to the great monster. Obelisk gazed down on them, somewhat annoyed. But it complied, vanishing as the other kas had, a light flashing through the sky to the tower of kas.
The group of priests and guards let out a collective sigh of relief. Even the pharaoh knelt on the grass. Mahad stepped forward, furious.
"What do you think you were doing?" he shouted at Set. "Letting him summon a god like that?"
"I didn't think he'd actually... do it," Set realized both the absurdity and offense of his excuse. Mahad did not buy the excuse, and drew a breath to yell again, but Atem cut him off.
"It was my fault, Mahad," the prince tried to calm his friend. "I wanted to summon a ka. I asked how to do it."
"No," Set cut him off. "I am to blame. I am your protector, prince, and I failed in my duties."
"Though no harm befell anyone." The pharaoh put a hand on Mahad's shoulder. "Your concern is duly noted, Mahad, but I think you are too harsh on them."
"...yes, my king," Mahad said with reluctance, bowing his head.
"But let this be a lesson to you," the pharaoh said more sternly. "Do not summon a ka until you can control it, my son. And Priest Set, do not encourage him to summon such a ka again."
"Yes, father." "No, my pharaoh," they chorused at the same time, bowing their heads like Mahad. The pharaoh and his retinue took their leave. Mahad called Mana to him, and she followed reluctantly. Set and Atem were the only two left in the garden.
"You are something, my prince," Set finally said. "It took me three days to summon just Duos, and you bring out a god of Egypt in one afternoon."
"Mahad was very angry, wasn't it?" Atem frowned. "What would have happened if they hadn't shown up?"
"I don't know," Set replied honestly. "I have never seen one of the gods before. It may have simply stood there waiting for some command from you, or it may have gone out of control." Atem paled at the thought of the giant ka rampaging in the palace. "But," Set assured him. "My dragon would have stopped him."
In his mind, Kisara growled her approval. Atem smiled at the mention of Kisara. Only when his friend was truly at peace with her death did he ever consent to speak of her. Set looked past the prince, carrying on some mental conversation with his ka, the faintest hint of a smile on his face.
"Yes," Atem nodded. "She definitely would have."