Part One – The Old Man and the Camel
Karl curse and swear at the surrounding landscape around him. The army he is leading is the most well armed expedition force equipped by the Empire in years, yet for weeks it had neither contacted any enemy nor reached its objective, the Necropolis of Khemri. They have been going around in circles and already there were barely enough rations and water for the trip back into civilised lands. Karl was aware that some soldiers were harbouring thoughts of desertion or worse, mutiny.
“Curse this land, curse this sun, curse these Mummies.”
“Look! There is an Araby camel rider ahead.” Remarked Josef, Karl’s first cousin. Immediately pistoliers were sent forward to fetch the lone traveller. The traveller’s face was covered by a wooden mask but from his posture and withered hands, Karl deduced that the wanderer was an old man.
Karl snorted at the newcomer, “You. Old man. Tell me the directions to the Necropolis of Khemri. Say it now or I will shoot you squarely in the face.”
The old one stared deep into Karl’s face and spoke slowly, “Your nation’s map-making skills are the best in the world. Have you not realise that your failure in seeking the city of the dead kings was not due to you losing directions but rather the dead were eluding you. Listen to me young one; leave this place while you can. There is nothing from the desert other than death and despair.”
Karl snorted again, “Well you are half correct old one, there is always something to be taken from the desert. Men, take his camel and leave the old fool to die in this desert. In this respect you are right old one, there is death but the death will be yours. Hahaha.”
Several spearmen shove the old man off his mount and threw him into the sand. Josef, who felt a little guilty as he’s the one who spotted the man first; tried to intervene but got reprimanded by Karl instead. The empire column continued its march with Josef turning back every few moments to glance at the old man but suddenly the old hermit was gone. Josef was puzzled but he guessed that it must be the sand that was obscuring his sight.
The old man was indeed gone. He was mysteriously picked up by the desert wind and appeared five miles away in front of three other individuals. “Well Imhotep, it seems your plan to avoid bloodshed has failed and I can tell that u lost the camel which we seize in the last battle.” Remarked one of them.
The speaker is only a man in the loose sense of the word. The correct term will be an undead. He was dressed in magnificent golden armour and clutched a spear on his left hand; his right hand was holding something rather inappropriate for this setting, dice.
Imhotep simply smiled, “Well oh Great King Rameses, what is yours is yours and what isn’t yours isn’t. Losing a camel is a small matter but losing Khemri’s treasures will be disastrous.”
“Ha, how can a tiny expedition like that take down the might of Khemri, my Great Great Great…erm whatever Grandpa, Settra will simply crush them like ants. Not to mention the armies of my other kinsmen. But still, I must stop those barbarians before they reach Khemri. I want to seize for myself their arms and armour which fetch a high price in the markets of Araby. But let me finish my game before we attack.
Part Two – Night Attack
In the end it turned out that the attacking force consist of just two individuals on foot. Rameses and the Hierophant Imhotep. Rather that charging into battle like the usual practice of the time, the two, wrapped in heavy cloaks simply walked into the Empire Camp and demanded to see the General(Karl).
“Tell your general that we demanded payment for our camel.” Shouted Rameses to the guards. “I want all your horses, all your armour and all your weapons.”
Dismissing the supposedly old hermit as a lunatic fool, the guards simply laughed, “You can get a better price in the markets of Araby Old fool. Hahaha”
“Are you laughing at me?!!” with that, Rameses grabbed a stone and threw it at the guard who mocked him. The makeshift missile hit its victim at the head and smashed the skull flat, leaving all the surrounding troops in shock.
“What are you standing there for? Call your general or do you want more stones?” Rameses grabbed more rocks and start throwing them at the guards. It turn out that he can aim as well as elves and often his missiles lead to very unsightly deaths for the guards. Finally appreciating the fact that they are being attacked by something out of this world, the guards immediately sounded the alarm. A few hand gunners were already aiming at the Tomb king but strangely whenever the Undead is injured, his wounds tend to patch up instantly. This is the second of Rameses’s creative plan. The Hierophant, Imhotep had long ago take shelter among the rocks and chanting incantations of summoning to heal his King.
The brawl soon lead to the muster of the entire Empire force to the gates, sensing the presence of magicians, Rameses knew that his trick will soon be discovered. Yelling at the top of his voice, Rameses took his favourite weapon and charge into the midst of the enemy. Seeing his King’s reaction, Imhotep immediately summoned the desert wind and teleport himself a mile away to the rear of the Empire encampment. There stood the rest of the Khemri army.
“Alright Prince Seti, the time has come”
The Prince simply nodded and gave the signal to charge forward. Teams of chariots rushed straight into the empire camp, their icons shinning brightly in the night. Spear equipped cavalry guard the chariots’ right flank while light horse archers guard the left. In the rear are the mighty ushabti holding huge ritual blades followed by ranks of bowmen with Imhotep in their midst.
The attack took the living with surprise. Alarms were sounded from all directions and everywhere there was chaos. Tomb Scorpions bursted out from the ground and carrion birds harassed the Empire magicians and gun crews. Josef bravely led a contingent of knights to face the threat of the Khemri chariots led by Prince Seti. However just as he thought the chariots were at his mercy, ushabti’s miraculously appeared at his flank and unhorsing his knights. It turned out that the chariots charged the knights rather than the other way around.
Karl knew that his army was being routed, with a quick presence of mind; he reined his horse to the west gate trying to escape. To his horror, the Tomb King Rameses spotted him and somehow that abomination was catching up on the Empire general despite being on foot. Karl also noticed that this strange Tomb King seems to be very talkative as he seems to cry out in weird languages as he approaches. Finally King Rameses caught up, he punched Karl’s horse with such a force that the beast fell sideways, trapping its rider who leg was stuck underneath.
“Trying to escape young man? Now, let’s discuss our business.” Rameses seems to have a tone of humour in his voice.
Part Three – The Deal.
All the survivors were rounded up. The soldiers were bounded in chains and led away. The empire magicians were buried alive. Karl himself was surprised to find him sitting inside his former tent, with his cousin Josef. They were tied up of course and facing them were Tomb King Rameses, his son Seti, Hierophant Imhotep and another Lich Priest.
Rameses spoke, “Well, well welcome to Khemri. I was overjoyed when I knew of your presence in the desert, for I am interested in your beasts, arms and armour. I suggest a trade.”
Sensing that he will be spared, Karl’s shrewdness took over, “You want to trade? I am most willing to have it. But mind you I wanted to be paid in pure gold.” Perhaps there is much to be gained in this expedition after all.
Rameses laughed, “I guess you have forgotten that you already receive your payment. Didn’t you take a camel from my Hierophant earlier today?”
“What! This is nonsense! A camel for my entire army’s horses, arms and armour. It’s daylight robbery.” Karl yelled.
“You are quite right. It's daylight robbery. You know, I had a short “conversation” with your guards earlier and I decided to pay you more but this will be the final deal.” Rameses seems very serious and sincere.
Rameses smiled, “I will give you one more camel. You and your kinsman can use your payment to get you out of the desert and once you reach Araby, you can either sell it or eat it. Quite a good deal isn’t it? Young Man, you should be happy that I did not even punish you for being rude to the elderly…”