Animal Profile: Luma

Age: 2

Likes: Everyone, climbing, snuggling, sniffing cats, talking back

Dislikes: Not being in the front

Luma is an American Staffordshire Terrier and is the newest addition to the household. She weighs as much as Spaghetti, but she is lankier and has longer legs. She’s faster and is a professional-grade digger.

She’s an absolute sweetheart, but she has also taken on the role of sheriff of the house. Toki, the oldest floppy boy cat, likes to beat up the other two cats, so when Luma hears tussling and hissing she knows to spring into action and break up the fight. Discord weakens the pack, you guys.

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She and Spaghetti are two peas in a pod despite their age difference. Long story short, both of them broke out of the house while I was out of town. They stayed together during their adventure and proceeded to travel down busy streets. They made it all the way to the hospital where they chased nurses until someone called Animal Control.

When I got the call in Washington DC, I was furious but relieved. At least no one had gotten shot, stolen, or run over. Even the lady I spoke to said that these weren’t vicious dogs.

If she doesn’t like something, she’ll walk right up to you and let you know. First, she flaps her flappy face and then she’ll just grumble at you, making Wookiee noises until she forgets what she wanted in the first place.

Character Profile: Eshmedi

Image Source:  Simon Wijers  from Pixabay

Image Source: Simon Wijers from Pixabay

Age: Well into his seventies

Hometown: Uftem

Likes: There is only duty in attending to the Final God, although he likes a good fig from time to time.

Eshmedi knows how to take the blackness from the river and distill it into a purer, more potent form. This would be used in the embalming of the dead as well as for other important ceremonies and rituals. When he was a young man, he was working to distill a batch of khemu when it ignited in the sun and brutally burned the side of his face.

Some say he was never the same again. He says that’s mystic nonsense.

Eshmedi is the Listener of Uftem Temple. Every day, he went deep within the temple crypt and poured out a basin of khemu, that sacred viscous black substance that animates the dead. He had to drink it and wait in the darkness for the High Hierophant, Uskandr, to speak with him through the khemu and tell him what he must do.

Uftem is not an important town. It never needed orders until Ashira washed up on the banks of the Neferamtat River. Then Uskandr became very interested in the boring little town and requested frequent reports on the girl’s recovery and development.

Eshmedi was trained in how to read signs and portents in everyday goings-on. When Ashira survived being drowned, he took it as a sign that she was favored by the gods. When she healed the sick, he thought her a saint. But when she commanded the dead, he knew she was the return of the Black Pharaoh.

Some say that drinking the khemu will drive a man mad. Eshmedi is content to let the people believe what they want. They are already fearful of his scarred face. Nothing he could do or say would sway them otherwise, so why should he exert himself? Raising a pharaoh in the way she ought to go is taxing enough.

Character Profile: Memnon

memnon

Age: Unknown. Looks to be in his late 20s, early 30s

Hometown: Wherever he lays his head to sleep.

Likes: The satisfaction of a job well done, high places, fruit, good beer

Memnon is an assassin for the cult known as the Eclipse, but he couldn’t tell you for how long he’s been employed by them. He couldn’t tell you a whole lot of what he did before he joined, though he knows he was in the Khemeret army for a long time. He was a scout, sneaking into enemy territory to gather information and potential weaknesses.

As dangerous and lonely it was, he enjoyed that job until his troop was ambushed by an Alvari war party. Ambushed because he did not see them. Ambushed because he had not done his job.

He will not make the same mistake with his new master.

He was Mwarthes’ superior for a time, and he was quite certain that the absurdly tall man would either get himself killed or be punished for incompetence. But year after year, Mwarthes thrived in the secretive organization. He’s just too silly for Memnon, and he tries to keep his distance whenever possible.

Memnon is not a handsome man. With his heavy brow and long greasy hair, he does not attract the eyes of women. Years of work with the bow has given him a much larger left shoulder, while the right side of his back ripples with muscle. Though he was never tall to begin with, he has a hunchback look to him.

He doesn’t care how he looks. There is only his work.

Character Profile: Mwarthes

Illustration by:  Quinton Thomas

Illustration by: Quinton Thomas

Age: Unknown (Somewhere between 28 and 35? Don’t worry about it. Age is just a number.)
Hometown: Nowhere special
Likes: Hawks, snakes, having a good time

Mwarthes (pronounced M’war-thez, shut up, he knows it’s not a good name) is an assassin for the cult known as the Eclipse. If its agents do good enough work, they receive gifts like regeneration and access to the Silence, a method of communicating wordlessly with the Master over great distances.

Also the Eclipse serves the legendary pharaoh Nephtet-Ka and is preparing for his return to the living world.

Or something. He didn’t pay much attention during orientation.

Mwarthes gets to see exotic locations and meet new, interesting people, frequently for very short amounts of time. He doesn’t die as easily as others, and he gets to enjoy a kind of limited immunity to most ailments.

Sometimes he is called back to the Master and undergoes certain rituals. He wakes up changed, but usually it’s for the better.

Though when he wakes up again, he’s unsure what day it is. Or week. Or…

His latest job? Something unusual, a little out of his wheelhouse. He’s usually told to go to a place to kill a certain person. Instead, he has to guide Ashira all the way across the country to fulfill some prophecy. Even though he’s ordered to escort her such a long way, he doesn’t mind. He’s good at traveling, and his charge is a sheltered, spoiled, and prideful girl.

He’s going to have so much fun.

Character Profile: Ashira

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Age: 17
Hometown: Uftem
Likes: Riddles, cats, roast lamb

Ashira was fished out of the Neferamtat river when she was a little child. No one knew who she was or where she came from. But the fact that she appeared during the river’s sacred black flooding led the priests to believe she was of some importance. When she healed a boy’s withered leg, the holy men figured she was a gift from the gods. But when she commanded the dead servants, the fellahin, they knew she was the return of the legendary pharaoh Nephtet-Ka.

Little girls are haughty enough. They don’t need to be told they are actually royalty. It will only make things worse.

As she grew up, the priests’ narrative changed. She wasn’t the actual pharaoh. She was just a container for his essence to reside in until the time was right. Except no one knew when that time might come about so she was forced to watch, and wait, and hide herself while the memory of the pharaoh fueled her dreams.

Teenagers are terrible at waiting. This is known. Ashira burns with a vengeance she does not understand and if she isn’t careful, it will consume her.

Ashira is a prideful young woman, quick to anger and indignation. She has a love of learning but only where it concerns her interests or the growth of her power. Having eaten well from the temple’s offerings, she is heavier than the other girls of Uftem. Working with the dead for so long has given her a practicality beyond her years. She has no need of useless things like fine clothes or jewelry. There is too much work to do for all that.

She’d like a cat though. That would be nice.