Background: Mahatesh

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  • Mahatesh, handmaiden of Teput, wife of Kharatep, Queen of Djedesh

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    As best as I could make out, there were at
    least five thousand skeletal warriors, accompanied
    by squadrons of chariots that
    seemed almost as numerous. The statues
    of the necropolis strode between their
    ranks, like giants among children. I recognised
    the great sphinx we had passed in
    the desert, and the winged beast that had
    killed Grunstein. The moonlight picked
    out tattered banners flying over the ruins
    of a temple near the pyramid’s base. A convocation
    of wizened creatures in white and
    gold — the tomb city’s priests — stood on
    its walls, awaiting the arrival of their leader.
    A single figure stepped out of the darkness.
    Armoured in bronze scales, she carried
    a tall spear, and her face was hidden
    behind a serene death mask of shining gold.
    For a moment, her blank eyes passed over
    where I crouched on the pyramid’s side
    and I froze, convinced against all reason
    that she had seen me. I did not need to
    understand the dry syllables she uttered
    to the legion below to know who she was.
    Mahatesh, handmaiden of Teput, wife of
    Kharatep, Queen of Djedesh, whose deeds
    were written in chronicle and whose slumber
    we had disturbed with our reckless
    rummaging through her husband’s grave.
    Through the gates beneath her, a procession
    of skeletal guards carried out the casket,
    now firmly shut again. They loaded it
    onto a gilded chariot, and the army began
    to file out of the square, heading north into
    the desert in a winding column of bronze,
    bone and ancient stone. The queen rode
    with them, riding beside the precious chariot
    that carried the casket. Having seen its
    power first-hand, I have no doubt she intends
    to use it as a weapon.
    I clung to the ledge on the pyramid’s side
    until the last of the living dead had disappeared
    over the dunes and the sun began
    to rise in the east. With trembling legs
    and aching arms, I painstakingly picked
    my way down to the ground, where I now
    write this last entry in my journal.
    We have her husband. The chronicle
    cannot call her Mahatesh the Vengeful
    for nothing, and unless I am very much
    mistaken she and her army will be heading
    for Eichtal and the headquarters of
    the Society. I must get there first.

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