The Son of Sahkmet: Part Five
Kontar and Barca walked down a long palace hallway. Pictures
of Khamettes with jade eyes hung on the tan colored walls.
"I don't understand," said Kontar, "what if
this 'Pazori' really is related to Coltzan III?"
"It was our job to know such things," said Barca
dismissively, "and a potential heir, no matter how distant, would have been
something we'd have known about."
"Well they can't just make it up."
Barca wheeled around, stopping suddenly.
"Why don't you get it?" she cried, "Abasi controls
the court and the court now controls the Lost Desert! They can do whatever they
Kontar backed away, stunned. Even Artu was startled.
Never in his life had he seen Barca lose her temper, let alone at him.
"Hey," he yelled back, "I didn't ask to be a
part of this! You're the one who dragged me away from MY life and into this
whole mess! You promised to tell me," he looked away, "you promised to tell
me about my parents. But you haven't; you haven't even told me why I'm here."
Barca held his paw in hers. "You're right, and
I'm sorry, it's just," she shook her head, "we've never faced anything like
this before. We could defeat Sloth and his forces, but I never expected to be
attacked from the inside…at least not since Sankara."
"Vyssa told me to find her," Kontar said, suddenly
remembering the princess's request.
"And what would that do? Even if she admitted
to it, again, no one would listen. It's only a matter of time until Pazori is
crowned, and do you know what her first act as queen will be? To eliminate anyone
who would oppose her, meaning us."
"I have to do this," Kontar said determinedly,
"whatever comes of it."
Barca smiled. "I never knew your mother," she
said, "but you are just like your father." Kontar's eyes brightened at the mention
of his parents. "That's why I took you here," Barca continued, "because the
desert is in your blood."
She looked up at a clock on the wall. "Princess
Sankara's location was kept a secret for obvious reasons, but I will tell you
where she is." She looked down at the floor and sighed heavily. "And when you
get back I'll tell you everything."
Kontar slowly descended down the stairway and
into darkness. Artu was on edge so Kontar knew he should be too. He followed
Barca's directions as best he could with only the light of a torch in front
At last he reached the bottom floor of the palace
dungeon. The pungent smell of mold and rot rose up to greet his nostrils. Some
pets growled at him as he walked past their cell while others stared off into
nothing, not even noticing he was there.
He counted down to the seventh cell and stood
in front of it for a moment. Taking a deep breath he pulled out the key Barca
had given him, shoved it into the lock, and turned it as quietly as possible.
He knew that if someone saw him there they could tell Abasi that Vyssa's friends
were snooping around in places they shouldn't be.
As soon as he stepped through the bars his Horus
began flapping about wildly. Kontar scanned the cell nervously.
It was completely empty.
He felt the blow to the back of his head and
collapsed to the ground. Artu flew off his shoulder and out the cell door. The
room spun and tilted in the darkness and for a moment he couldn't tell up from
down. Four shadowed figures seemed to stand over him, but after his eyes went
back into focus they merged into two, and then into one.
"Oh dear Kontar, you look just like your father."
He could now make out the features of the wrinkled old Brown Techo looking at
"You're not Sankara," he groaned, rubbing the
back of his head.
"Not as bright as him, though," the Techo mumbled,
still holding the large stone she'd hit him with.
Kontar ignored the statement. "Who are you?"
he asked. "How do you know who I am?"
"I'm Masika and I've known you since you were
a little pup," she said, laughing hoarsely, "such a cute little thing. Your
father loved you dearly."
"You knew him?" he asked in amazement. His childhood
had been a blur of memories; his Uncle Sani teaching him to swim, or the first
time his Aunt Pohanah had let him cook on the stove. He remembered nothing of
his own father. His Aunt and Uncle had simply refused to talk about him. The
topic was always changed so rapidly that Kontar had eventually just given up.
"Oh we all knew him," said Masika, "but no one
was to know about you. Only Masika knew, only I," she moved closer and closer
to him, "and it cost me my freedom."
Kontar rolled his eyes. "Lady, you're crazy."
He started to walk over to the cell door, realizing that he wasn't going to
find was he was looking for here. But he pulled on the bars and they wouldn't
"And now it's just you and I, a poor nurse,"
she smiled her evil, yellow toothed smile, "and the son of a King."
He let go of the bars and felt his heart jump
to his throat.
"What did you say?" Her words didn't quite register
in his head.
Masika looked at him, her dead eyes gleaming.
She laughed her cackling, screeching laugh. "Ah, what a good day. The boy does
not know who he is!" She walked closer to him. "Tell me, what do you remember
of your father?"
"Nothing," Kontar said, backing away.
"Nothing? You lie!"
"No," he repeated, stumbling onto the ground
and trying to feel his way around for the key.
"Nothing of crowns or perfume, not even a memory
of the royal service you were given?"
Kontar shook his head furiously.
"Nothing of old Masika, I who lost my free life
so that you could live yours?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," he
said softly, wanting more than anything to get out of the awful cell.
"You selfish malignant thing!" she spit, "they
took everything from me! I was there when you were born, barely a minute after
your twin sister."
Kontar heard the word sister and the room faded
a little. Having another sibling, a real one, had never crossed his mind.
"Isn't it funny how a few seconds can determine
the rest of your life?" she said amusedly, "the way they determined mine." Her
eyes bore into his. "They wanted to keep you a secret; they couldn't have two
heirs to the throne when the second in line for it was a boy. They shipped you
far away to a remote island so that no one would know another heir existed.
But I knew," she said again, "and they couldn't have that.
"They locked me away for seventeen years," she
hissed, "so that I could never tell anyone the great secret I possessed." She
buried her head in her hands. "I've counted all the bricks in this cell one
million three hundred and fifty two times."
Kontar couldn't speak. His face was a ghostly
"All because of you," she said. She stood on
her wobbly legs and pulled a long knife from her tattered black robes. The golden
head of the cobrall dagger gleamed venomously.
"It was Coltzan who imprisoned me," she said,
holding the dagger above Kontar as he leaned helplessly against the metal bars,
"and I'll see to it that no child of his shall ever take the throne again!"
"No," he yelled, "I'm not his son! You've got
the wrong person!"
She thrust the knife forward, and Kontar ducked,
barely evading it.
"Hold your tongue, you wicked child!" she yelled.
"I speak the only truth I know. Your screams cannot stop Sankara from taking
As she was about to go for another stab, the
cell door slid open, allowing Kontar to scramble out. A red Acara guard came
storming in, with Artu on his shoulder. He tore the knife away from Masika's
hand and hit her over the head with his bat. She fell unconscious to the ground.
"You're lucky I saw this Horus coming from the
cell," he said. "What are you doing here anyways?"
Kontar only stared down at the limp body of
the brown Techo. King Coltzan's son, he thought, and Vyssa's brother. Why did
no one tell him!?
"Hey," said the guard again, "I asked you a
Kontar bolted, running as fast as his legs could
carry him. He was running from his past, running from the wicked old woman in
the cell, and running from his destiny. He sprinted up the stairs, not even
hearing Artu's wings beating furiously behind him. He ran past members of the
court, all socializing merrily and burst through the palace doors so that he
stood out in the desert sun. He fell to his knees before Coltzan's shrine. Time
passed, but it was no concern of his.
"I'm sorry," said a voice from behind him. He
turned to see Senator Barca walking slowly towards him. "It was not how we planned
for you to find out."
"Then it's true," he murmured.
"Oh, Kontar," said Barca, sitting down beside
him, "it all seemed right back then, when we were always at war. We feared that
you would be killed if we kept you in the Desert and we planned a long time
ago for you to be our replacement, I suppose, were Vyssa overthrown or worse."
"So that's it, that's why I'm here." Kontar
stood abruptly. "I was your backup King?" he cried, "kept away like bad little
secret until I was needed? My whole life has been a lie!"
"There would have been wars, Kontar," she said,
ignoring his childish outburst, "Desert pets against desert pets, each fighting
over the right person for the crown. Coltzan could take no more wars. By keeping
you a secret he kept you alive. Think of what would've happened if Abasi had
known about you? You would already be dead, simply because you stand in his
way of putting whoever he wants on the throne."
Kontar looked down at the sand. "It's too much,"
"All your life I've prepared you for this, all
your schooling and training were to one day prepare you for the crown," she
said soothingly. "You were second in line, but now Vyssa is gone. We brought
you here because we knew her fate was sealed from the minute the poison was
found in her room."
He stared at her in terror. "No," he said, "I
can't do this. Just yesterday I was a kitchen boy. I cannot be King."
"You must be," Barca said, staring into his
eyes, "for the sake of the father you never knew. He was a great King, Kontar.
You can't let his work perish at the hand of an unworthy, corrupt ruler. It
is your destiny."
"They won't listen anyways," said Kontar. "The
court will deny that I'm his son." He swallowed hard, "and then they'll kill
Barca nodded. "That is why you must still be
kept a secret until the crowning ceremony of Pazori, before this very shrine
and before the spirit of your father. He shall reveal the truth, I am certain
of it. But if anyone should find out who you are before then," she said sighing
heavily, "then you are in very grave danger indeed."
To be continued...