1 comment

Sad Fantasy

"Thueban yahmi!" Horus hissed, waving his hand nimbly. A red mass, writhing wildly, attempted to coil into a python to attack a bay of straw set up against the cell wall. However with an undignified hiss, the magic spell retracted back into the magicians hand, causing him to double back in pain. He examined his hand, raw with burns and scars, allowing the frustrated growl clawing at his throat to erupt. 


“Do not attract any attention to yourself,” Raven murmured, half hidden in the shadows. “Attention means you are a target.”


“We are already targets,” Horus muttered, throwing a dark glance to the cells across from theirs; Raven allowed a thoughtful sigh from her place in the corner, where she meditated. 


“Perhaps.”


“I’m certain, Raven. Once we enter the arena-”


Footsteps echoed a few paces away. Raven opened an eye as Horus grabbed the bay of hay and stuffed it back into his bed frame, covering everything with his blanket. Raven conjured a protective spell, casting shimmering lights to hover around them; those types of spells were allowed, even encouraged and seen as obedience. A guard arrived at the front of the cell, face smooth as he observed the candidates.


"Horus is called to attend a visitor hour."


Horus's eyebrows perked up in surprise, sharing a quick glance with Raven. "Who is it?"


"Provide your wrists, palms facing down."


Raven returned to her meditative state as Horus made his way to the bars. He presented his hands, which were promptly fitted with bejeweled chains. Anyone who lived within the poorer communities would try to slip out of them, only to face their powerful magic. Horus knew better to mess with these restraints; he has faced The One Almighty with them on, his hands bound behind his back. As Horus passed cells, he felt lingering stares from others, jealous that he had temporary freedom. The guard mentioned with his staff where to turn; down a thinner hallway, up stairs chiselled from the cave's stone, towards a room illuminated with soft moonlight coming from an unknown source.


"So it is night," Horus murmured, shivering in the cool air. The guard made no notice to his spoken thoughts, instead waving a hand towards the comfortable mat covering the floor.


"You have one hour."


"Thank you."


Horus whipped around, causing the guard to raise his staff threateningly. An old hand raised from the shadows, an amused chuckle sounding from the dark.


"I can handle myself, young hobi."


"Jom Kanon?" Horus could hardly choke out the name as his uncle stepped into the light, eyes sparkling as the guard bowed his head and stepped aside. Once Kanon was safely within the room, the guard waved his staff and the doorway materialized into the same stone that surrounded them. What happened within these enchanted walls was between Kanon and Horus; privacy was a sacred right within Immulina and was provided to even the worst criminals.


Horus didn't think of himself as a criminal. But here he was, magic fomhi chains on his wrists and Kanon's eyes awkwardly scanning the walls instead of his nephew.


"Powerful spells, huh?"


"Why are you here?"


Kannon's eyes made their way to Horus, surprised. "I imagined our first exchange within a moon to be happy, no?"


"I'm ecstatic, genuinely!" Horus breathed, rubbing his forehead only to wince as his wrists began to furiously itch. Any signs of magic usage triggered the fomhi, and unfortunately that included anything to do with your hair; hair was a sacred symbol, therefore a strong calling to magic. Sure enough, Horus's fingers had skimmed his hairline.


"Hobi, sit please."


The young man complied, sitting down on the carpet and fiddling with his pants. Kanon took his time, gently conjuring a calming spell. Long strands, similar to gold ribbons, draped the walls; Horus recognized them as one's that the city would use during The Sun Flower festival.


"I remember when you experienced your gift from our Sun," Kanon murmured, allowing his fingers to trace the air thoughtfully. "You were only six Star-lapses, and your Ommo found you clutching a lotus! Your Omma's smile replaced Moon that day, how brightly she shone as she showed you off..."


"I highly doubt my magic came from finding a small flower," Horus murmured, tracing hieroglyphs on the carpet.


“Of course not; your magic was awoken by a Sundrop,” Kanon hummed, quickly grabbing the air; when he opened his fist, a lotus flower was bloomed on his open palm. “A Sundrop in the form of a lotus, a flower known for her Egyptian roots. That is why your third name is Horus, and that is why you have accepted egyptian mythology as your magic channel.”


“If only I had my fourth name,” Horus muttered, his shoulders drooping as he watched the lotus disappear in a soft shimmer of white light. “Then maybe my spells would not require a channel to be powerful.”


Kanon’s eyes fell onto the mattress, humming lowly. “My young hobi, mastering your magic requires more than just your fourth name. Unfortunately, time and exploration of your soul is required…”


They lapsed into silence, the heavy sorrow hanging in the air. Horus looked up at the ceiling, wondering if there really were four walls around him. If his magic really came from his conscience and from his dedication to magic craft. If his future was worth seeing.


“I will die soon.”


“You are solidifying your future with predictions.”


“General Ariti’s son-”


“Do not mention them by name.” Kanon attempted a spell Horus did not recognize, humming when it flickered; blocked by the room's magic. “I understand your concerns.”


Did he really? 


“Mars Ariti. Roman descent.” A bitter feeling swept through the room. “A bloodthirsty criminal protected by his father’s government status.”


“Facing a seventeen Star-lapsed cattle thief with Egyptian magic coursing through his blood.” Kanon’s voice held the slightest bit of remorse. 


Horus gently rubbed his eyes, carefully avoiding caressing his hair. He knew why Kanon had come and not his parents; he was destined for death. A bloody, unfair war faced him and no matter what he attempted there was no avoiding his future. Kanon took Horus’s right hand, the only sounds were of faint humming coming from the calming spell, pulsing warmth and light.


Horus stole cattle for his father. There were better ways to obtain them, but Horus had been rash and knew his wealthy neighbours would not notice. Less fortunate travelers, however, had nothing to lose but all to gain. One must have spotted him. Horus’s position as a magician had barely affected his trial under The One Almighty’s gaze. He was sentenced to the Sun’s Blessing; a stadium under a blistering day, filled with one hundred prisoners fighting for their lives. Whoever would be the last one standing would win over the counsel's favor, as they have proved under the hot Sun that they were worthy of another blessing in life. Magicians or not. Whispers traveled through the hallways of the prison, talking of strategies, tricks and cheating. Mars sat in his cell, unfazed; fighting blood ran through his veins. This was simply a chance to prove himself a strong spawn, ready to continue his military duty to fuel his bloodlust. Everyone knew he had an advantage; not only protected by his military background and magic, but his father’s government status ready to pull hidden strings. 


“Your father received his business from cheating me out of it.” 


Horus glanced up, blinking out of his train of thought. Kanon kept a straight face as he fixed his long flowing sleeves, ignoring Horus’s small croak of confusion.


“He told our father that I had decided to follow the route of magic to escape the family business. Our father clearly believed him, and gave me his blessing while your father stood behind him. He shook my hand that day, looking me in the eye as he congratulated me.”


Horus frowned, an uncomfortable feeling crawling up his throat. “How come-”


“Your mother cheated her sister out of marrying your father. After framing her from stealing buns, she accompanied her family to the shop as they apologized profusely. She caught your father’s eye-”


“Jom-”


“- pretended to be his very dream by pushing her sister away, and you were brought into this world.”


“How dare you speak ill of my family.” Horus growled, feeling his ears turn red. Kanon met his eye steadily, brown eyes glowing under the warm yellow light. 


“You come from a family of cheaters.”


Horus attempted to yank his hand away, fury coursing through his collected spirit, only to freeze as Kanon suddenly gripped his hand. Hard. Harder than when Horus had nearly challenged a child of Greek descent to a mischievous battle. Kanon leaned in, eyes flaring with a hidden tsunami of unimaginable wisdom.


“I give you my blessing to pass on this family legacy.”


A cold, thin object slipped into Horus’s palm, hidden by Kanon’s long sleeve. Kanon inconspicuously rolled his free wrist, pretending to not notice Horus’s widening eyes. Horus slowly loosened his grip on Kanon’s hand, moving his open palm onto his lap and glancing down. A dark blue rock - lapis, a powerful rock associated with Egypt - was shaped into a thick, acute needle. Horus could already feel his tongue tingling and his palms turn warm with incantations.


“Jom Kanon…” 


“I know you got your ear pierced without your parents consent.” Kanon kept a smooth face as he talked. “I shall put the needle on for you, and it shall be hidden by your hair. You may channel your powers through it within the arena.”


“I promised Raven to protect her.”


“Raven?”


“A…” Horus swallowed thickly. A girl, an empath; a healer, not a fighter. “A friend.”


“We are talking of a bloody fight to the death against an experienced war general within a Roman-inspired gladiator fight, and you wish to keep promises to friends?”


Horus rested his head against the wall behind him, taking deep breaths to calm himself. How could he describe Raven? How could he explain that after only a moon cycle, he felt a connection stronger than anyone he’s ever been with? Raven was an empath, feeling his physical and emotional pain - worry, fear, shame - and acknowledged those feelings without any judgement. That lack of judgement stayed as they shared their crimes, their fears and sins. They shared secrets, and only a bit later emotions. As they lay in bed together, Horus felt the tenderness of a woman for the first time; how she held him throughout the night, gently caressing his hair and kissing his eyelids as they trembled with nightmares. How the silence they shared was comfortable; how when he practiced spells she meditated, bringing peace to her soul as he prepared to protect his own.


How could he explain love at first sight? How could he explain that connection? How could he explain the unspoken bond strengthened by a promise to protect one another, to greet death loyally while protecting one that you cherish?


Horus chose not to. “I am not a fighter, Jom Kanon. I never was, and I certainly am not prepared to murder someone who is powerless.”


“Let them perish among other hands, then. Spilling one's blood is a crime, while being a witness keeps hands clean but a heart stained.”


Horus did not reply. Kanon gently grabbed the lapis needle, moving Horus’s hair away from his right ear. Horus stood still as Kanon poked the needle through a mostly closed piercing; after a few moments of struggle, the thick lapis needle was snugly fit into Horus’s earlobe and covered with midnight-black hair. Horus immediately felt his palms itch. After a moment of suppression, he made a few calming spells to quench his urge. They came out brighter than ever, soft blue orbs floating strongly around the room as the two magicians watched. 


“If they find me with this on…”


“Throw it to the floor before the officials come down to greet you; as if they will find a needle amongst swords and blood.”


Horus turned to his uncle, meeting his eye with an unwavering worried gaze. “If I perish… tell Omma and Ommo I apologize. I pray that they flourish in life.”


Kanon gently took Horus’s face in his hands, planting a gentle kiss on his forehead and both cheeks before enveloping his only nephew in a hug. As Horus embraced his uncle, he hid his face in the crook of his shoulder, as he did so many years ago when he was younger. When he didn’t have the stressful responsibility of his family’s pride and joy; the only young man to carry on their legacy, to carry the disappointment his father had when he chose Egyptian roots as his magic source. As Horus wept, he was glad Kanon was the one reassuring his pain and accepting his tears. 


When Horus had bid his farewells to his uncle and was led back to his cell, all the magician could feel was dread. His entire soul could sense his channel; the lapis needle focused the magic, making it stronger and easier to use. Horus had already noticed the fomhi sensing the poorly restrained magic-flow, however the guard did not seem to notice the raw skin around his wrists when they took the chains off. Horus stood in the semi-dark cell, rubbing his wrists and feeling the pit in his stomach become heavier by the second. He was a son from a family of cheaters, and Kanon’s voice echoed in his ears. 


You come from a family of cheaters.


I give you my blessing to pass on this family legacy.


“You’re back?”


Horus flinched, turning his gaze to the bed. Raven sat up, blinking sleep from her eyes as she sat up. Horus made his way to the bed, knowing what was to happen. Sure enough, Raven gasped and grabbed Horus’s wrists; her powers immediately dialed into his soul and sensed his pain.


“Are these from the fomhi?” She whispered, glancing up to see Horus nodding. “How is your magic that powerful? Did something finally trigger your… what’s it, final name?”


“Fourth name,” Horus murmured, gently taking her hands before she could continue. “Raven, I must…”


Tell her his demise? Keep it a secret? As Horus met Raven’s bright green eyes, wide with worry, he could feel a metallic taste slowly spreading across his tongue. Whichever choice he made, Horus was destined for an ill fate.


To die a victim, to survive a broken hero.

November 14, 2020 04:24

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Al Johnson
17:01 Nov 19, 2020

I loved the story! Wonderfully written!

Reply

Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.