10,000 years ago in the ancient city of Khepri...

It was just a slab of rock back then, the cobblestone roads tearing away at its surface as the Egyptians hauled it through the streets of the city.

Into the shop they pulled it, a small building that sat on the busy main street of the large city of Khepri; the building served as both shop and house for the stone mason who worked there.

This stone mason's skillful hands caringly shaped and formed that piece of stone, he gave it a handsome face, strong physique, and armor befitting a king; all its features were perfectly formed in every aspect — he was truly a master craftsmen, devoted to his work.

The statue witnessed that the stone mason gave it special attention over all the other pieces of rock or marble lying about the shop. He would oft times come back long after his days work was done and pull out his tools again, working into the wee hours of the morning on the statue; or sometimes he wouldn't work on it at all, but instead sit and gaze at it in pure wonderment of its beauty. He would sit beside the lonely stone, sliding his callused yet gentle hands over its half-formed features — he had told the stone that it was special, that one day the gods would gaze upon its face, he told the stone that he would give it life.

It was in those hours, those quiet hours of the night, when it was just the two of them, the craftsman and his stone; it was in those hours that the stone had grown to love — it loved him like a father, it wanted to thank him for the love and care he put into it, for giving it a face, eyes to see, and ears to hear, but above all else, for giving it a home and a sense of belonging.

The statue was completed. It sat happily each day gazing at the people entering and leaving the stone mason's shop, and each night listening to the man it had grown to love so well tell it of his hopes and dreams. The statue was happy, content, and had a sense of fulfillment; it had everything it could ever have possibly wanted — until the day they came.

The stone mason had run into the shop, he was unusually excited, but would not tell the statue what was going on — the statue stared blankly at the wall, considering what might possibly be the matter. The mystery of it all only increased when the craftsman threw a cloth over its head and ran out the door.

The statue was beginning to panic, it couldn't see, and it heard unfamiliar footsteps approaching. Ropes were thrown over its head, synching around its neck and waist — it was scared, it could feel itself being loaded onto a cart and moving out into the street; it hadn't been outside the shop since the stone mason had found it and brought it home all those years ago. It thought maybe it was being kidnapped, it wanted to call out to the stone mason, but it had no voice with which to do so.

The cart bumped along the rocky street for what felt like hours — the statue was sure it would be chipped to bits. It suddenly felt it had come to a stop, it was being lifted into the air, up, and up; the cloth that covered it was torn away by the wind — it would have gasped if it had lungs. Before it lay all the grandeur of a great Egyptian city. The statue stared blankly at the massive people-filled streets below, hoping it would spot the craftsman; it wanted to see him again… one last time.

It never saw its stone mason again, it sat broken-hearted atop the marvelous wall, gazing without seeing down into the streets, not caring anymore, not noticing how time flowed over it…. The city grew, larger and larger, until it was the greatest city for thousands of miles. The people came and went, and the statue didn't care until it saw what the people were becoming: slaves, every last one of them. Slaves to the god that ruled this great kingdom, slaves to his lust for power, slaves to their own minds. The people that walked the streets of Khepri were now no more than shadows of their former selves, and the poor statue could only stare on in horror. It tried to remember how long it had been since it had lived so happily in the bright shop on the street… hundreds of years? Thousands?

Time drifted on, the city grew, the armies grew, and the world grew darker. The statue felt the ground beneath it tremble at their presence — the gods of the Overworld had come.

It had only heard tales, myths, legends it thought; but here they were. The city crumbled all around it, the soldiers were running frantically through the streets below, the gods were coming, they were fighting their way to the centre of the city — it might even see them with its own eyes.

It could hear them coming, there were voices calling out in a form of Egyptian it had never heard before… the soldiers ran past the statue, the street was full of people running and screaming — there was a light coming from the other end of the street, a reddish orange light, like that of a volcano. Ash filled the air, its dark cloud adding an element of horror to the already mad confusion spreading through the city, the voices of the gods roared through the running masses, their strange words made no sense to the statue sitting wide-eyed at the end of the street. It stared blankly into the crowd, fear in its heart; there was nothing to hide it, whatever was at the other end of that street was heading straight towards it.

The poor statue wanted to scream, there was a shockingly bright flash of light that blinded everything with eyes to see for several moments, the sound of the explosion brought buildings crashing down onto the helpless souls still running through the street. The statue felt itself falling — it must have been higher up than it remembered, as it was falling for a considerably longer time than it felt it should have. The cobblestone street hit it in the side of the face, it felt something break; one of its arms flew out in front of it — it had never actually seen its arm before, being a statue and all, but seeing it still came as a great shock, bringing back memories of the stone mason that had made it… it felt the poignance of his loss all over again. The cloud of ash descended on the statue like a thick fog, hiding everything from view.

The street must have been empty, there was a silence upon the city that felt like a living thing, as if the ash was itself the very essence of silence, blowing through the streets and landing on everything, covering it like a thick blanket of quiet.

The poor broken statue lay on its side, its heart trembling. A footstep landed beside its head, a sandaled leg came into view… a woman's leg, or so the statue assumed; the skin was blacker than the solidest of blacks, no human could have had skin that purely dark… this must be the leg of a goddess — the statue stared blankly straight ahead, hoping something more of these gods would come into view… it could feel the weight of their presence all around it.

The statue's wish was granted, the ash directly in front of it was beginning to clear a little — there was an Egyptian standing not more than five paces from where the statue lay… no, not an Egyptian, this was a god. The Egyptian-looking god that stood within the statue's view had a strikingly handsome visage, his chocolate-brown eyes were scanning the destruction before him; those eyes looked so soft and gentle, but beneath them lay a harsh and calculating personality.

The god before it spoke to one of the others, the statue was surprised to find that this particular god was speaking in the form of Egyptian it could understand.

"Peace, Ra. There has been enough killing this day." He said. The statue could not see who it was he had spoken to, but it heard what it assumed to be Ra's voice speaking in response. "Enough killing? After all Apophis has done to our world, his deserves to burn." — it was a strong and beautiful voice, but the statue could not understand the words he spoke.

The first god furrowed his brow, again addressing Ra. "Do not take out your hate and anger on the innocent. They were slaves, you know they did not do it of their own free will."

Again Ra's voice came drifting through the ash, "You are right, as always Thoth. But this does not change what I will do to my brother once I get my hands on his cowardly hide."

A bewitching goddess stepped into view, it must have been the woman who's leg the statue had seen earlier as her skin was black as the blackest night — there were small silver ornaments hanging from her neck and wrists, and silver chains draped through her hair; like a liquid void that velvety black hair flowed down her perfect back, swaying with her every motion. Against the pitch black of her skin, the small silver ornaments looked like stars twinkling in a midnight sky. "You will need my help as well if we are to face our brother. He has grown powerful in our absence, and we have all been drained by the journey here." Said the dark goddess. The statue hoped they wouldn't notice its staring so intently at them.

Again the Egyptian-looking god spoke. "Serqet is right, you cannot face Apophis alone. I know you blame me for what has happened here, but if you would accept it, I offer my assistance as well."

The beautiful goddess Serqet let out a sarcastic burst of laughter. "Of course we blame you, Thoth. If you hadn't created that Seeress, who I might add, is now immortal, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place!" She gestured her lovely arm towards another god who was standing just out of the statue's view, "If we had gone with Sobek's plan we would all be sitting happily in Egypt right now sipping wine and getting a nice tan. But you, in your infinite wisdom, thought it would be a good idea to make a human immortal, give her the ability to read the future, and make her a goddess of, what was it? Equilibrium!" The dark goddess was clearly very upset, and if the statue had known what it was she was saying, it probably would have been vastly curious about who this Amunet person was — she must be very powerful indeed if she could control what the gods themselves did.

The Egyptian-looking god's expression hadn't changed at all when he heard the goddess's words; he either had extremely good control over his physical reactions, or simply did not care what these other gods thought of him — the latter was the most likely, considering he had been comfortably talking in a form of Egyptian that every human could understand, while the others clearly had no wish of lowering themselves to his level, merely putting up with his peculiar habits.

He addressed the dark goddess, speaking as calmly as ever. "The worlds need balance, Serqet, you know this better than most." He said, "If I had not created Amunet, who knows if the present would really have been any worse than it is now." He said, his soft-brown eyes not budging from Serqet's.

Serqet's wrath was clearly written on her face, but she managed to contain herself; she could not however keep from dropping one last snide remark. "Only you could cause this kind of calculated crime against humanity without even batting an eye." She said under her breath.

He clearly heard her, but said nothing.

The dark goddess Serqet stepped past the statue, and the Egyptian-looking god followed. The statue gazed forwards into the dark rubble-filled street, its arm lay at a short distance in front of it, slowly becoming covered in ash. The statue wished it could look up, there was another pair of legs walking past its face, and it wanted more than anything to see the face of the god to whom the legs belonged — but alas, it could not.

The gods of the Overworld were the last living souls the statue would see for quite some time.

Time drifted on, washing over the once great city like a wave of sorrow… the world grew darker and darker, the people that once roamed the streets of Khepri were now shades, shadows of a once-human soul; twisted creatures belonging to the god that bound them there. The statue hated to see them, for it had seen those souls when they had bodies, they had been beautiful people once. But now they were monsters. Horrible, wretched creatures.

The cold winds of the Underworld had blown most of the ash away by now. The statue lay there on its side, staring at its arm that lay on the cobblestone street in front of it; it saw how time tore away at its arm, how the once highly detailed gauntlet on its hand was now barely even distinguishable… it wondered if its face had deteriorated as much.

There was a loud crack, the earth before the statue split open like a broken vase, sand whirled across the empty streets. The statue could hardly believe its eyes — before it stood, or rather knelt, a god of Egypt.

It had been over seven thousand years since it had seen another living soul, let alone a god. It vaguely wondered if he knew where its stone mason was. All the while the statue was pondering these things, the Egyptian god was attempting to stand, yet strangely, not seeming capable of doing so.

If the statue had been less absorbed with its own thoughts, it might have noticed that the god was a strange mixture of human and jackal, and that he was in a considerable amount of pain.

The black fur that covered the god's face and head was glistening in the pale light of the Underworld, his eyes were splendidly bright and shockingly blue; the last pair of eyes the statue had seen had been brown, the brilliancy of these eyes was almost blinding by comparison.

The god continued his attempts at standing, finally making it to his feet, though be it somewhat unstably. The statue wanted to warn the god as it saw him approaching its arm still lying on the ground in front of it — the god's foot struck the arm and he fell face first onto the cobblestone street. A dog-like howl of frustration came thundering out of the jackal's mouth, in his fury he tore at the black ground with his horrible claws, water swiftly filled the gashes he made; he let out an agonizing moan of despair before getting back up to his feet and stumbling out of view.

The odd encounter with the unhappy god was a memory the statue often revisited, but though it looked at the thing from practically every angle, and pondered it for hundreds of years, the thing remained a complete mystery.

The statue had nearly forgotten the jackal-headed god; it had been three thousand years since it had first seen him stumble into view, but here he was, come again — and with him was the most stunningly bright and beautiful thing the statue had ever seen in all its ten thousand years of being.

The jackal-headed god was walking slowly, leaning on a strange looking staff… he certainly looked older that he was three thousand years ago, and a great deal burned — yet another reason to be puzzled. The goddess that followed him was all the brightest shades of red and gold, she looked like a living gemstone.

The statue wanted to stare at her forever, but the sad god and the lovely goddess were soon out of sight… the statue was alone again.

It tried to remember how long it had been since it had lived so happily in the bright shop on the street, listening to its stone mason tell it of his hopes and dreams… had it been hundreds of years? Thousands?

It would wait. It had waited ten thousand years, and it would wait ten thousand more. It would wait for the stone mason to return… he could fix its broken arm, and maybe they could live in the shop again…

It would wait.

This is a short story from my novel: Slave of the Underworld