Dreams of Days to Come
Part Three – Dreams of Old
The deep echo of drums thrummed their way through the dark, steamy corners of the shrouding jungle. Thick vines hung down from the tight packed trees, so closely woven that they formed a veil through which barely an arm span ahead could be seen. Roots writhed in the black soils, heavy laden with mosses and bright fungi of a multitude of hues. Heat clung like a spider to everything, a moist heat that could rot the flesh and the mind of any ill disposed to it.
In the middle of the jungle, alongside a rippling stream that flowed across a shallow bed of smooth worn stones, a small, crude village stood. Around it had been constructed a wall of logs, bound together with lengths of vine, forming a primitive barricade to keep the beasts of the jungle at bay. Within, on cleared ground, had been built huts with mud smeared walls and roofs of rough thatch. Totems of bones and fur and feathers and teeth hung around the village, and piles of skulls stood before certain huts, some still bloody.
Aum-Nher ignored the drums, just as he ignored the sounds of a piercing scream that cut off shockingly short. The victim, and those who had come before, had been offered up on the heathen altars of the wild men of the jungles. They were of little concern to him. The deaths of single Metsheputi were not his aim. Rather he sought the deaths of many.
He sat back on his throne, one that was little more than a stump with logs lashed to it to form a back and covered with jaguar hides, and stared at the two chieftains who sat on the dirt flood before him in the hut that he had taken over. Both wore armour stripped from the dead and battered into shape to fit them. They possessed no metal working skills of their own and relied on what they could scavenge. Their weapons were heavy wooden swords set with sharp obsidian shards to make a brutal weapon, one that some said could cleave the head from a horse.
The wild men spoke of the obsidian coming from an ancient temple that lay in the heart of the jungle, and claimed that it was the blood of a dark power that dwelt there, and one that they sacrificed to in order to appease its wrath. The obsidian itself was not important, but Aum-Nher desired to check out the temple when he could, for it sounded as if it had been built by the ancient Xoacana, and it could still contain long lost secrets and powers that he could use.
The two chieftains sat watching Aum-Nher with a mix of brutish indifference and fear. They were not men, at least not in the manner that Aum-Nher knew of. They were something else. They may have once been men who had sunken into an animalistic existence, or they may yet to be men, or perhaps were a distant offshoot, or even a different form entirely, much as the Xoacana had been. Bow legged, stoop backed, with long arms and jutting brows, they were a hairy people and spoke in a crude, guttural language.
While they were a primitive people, ones who lived brief and violent lives and were in the thrall of archaic superstitions, they were the perfect tool for Aum-Nher. When first he had ventured into their jungles, coming south through the lands of the hated Metsheputi, they had had the audacity to try and take him for their sacrifices. A small display of his powers had disabused them of that idea. He had sought out the chiefs of the disparate, feuding tribes and one by one cowered them to his will, welding them together as they had never been done so before, giving them purpose and unleashing them upon the ancient enemy.
Aum-Nher stared off towards the north, towards Metsheput that he could not see. He could fell their Queen, close now. The attacks had drawn her out as had been intended, and soon the centuries of torment and humiliation would be avenged upon her. She would suffer as he had suffered at the hands of her ancestors, back before Metsheput had been a nation, when they had been simple slaves under his control. All that had ended at the hands of their chariots and bronze spears. It had been they who had imprisoned him within his tomb, dead yet not entirely so, and chief among those responsible had been the ancestors of the Queen, whose bloodline he had cursed long and often. Now all Metsheput would suffer in turn and once more he would rule the lands that were rightfully his.
And then would follow the cities of the plains that forever squabbled among themselves. There were no other Baktheri remaining to challenge him, none with the power to oppose him. He would fulfil the ancient desires of the Baktheri, to follow in the footsteps of the Xoacana and claim dominion over all lands and peoples.
“What is your bidding, master?” one of the two chiefs grunted.
“The time is almost upon us,” Aum-Nher announced. “The enemy has fallen into my trap, just as I foretold that they would, and soon we will destroy them all. Do as I say and you shall be well rewarded. Fail me and you will wish that you hadn’t.”
“We are yours to command, master.”
Aum-Nher exalted at the control, the abject deference they paid him. It had not taken much to bend such primitives to his will, yet after having been denied such pleasure for so long, the sweetness of having it once more was exhilarating. Soon Metsheput would be his, and from there his power and influence would spread. None could stop him.
Previous Part Next Part
If you have enjoyed, please vote for Tales From a Thousand Worlds over at Top Web Fiction.