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Among the grave goods Valdes brought us was the golden icon. It
incorporates common elements from the Naptaan religion, such
as the winged scarab and the radiant sun. It is also inscribed with hieroglyphs
proclaiming the praises of the king. It seems likely that this
formed a part of the king’s banner.
Most interesting to me, however, was a carving we found on the decayed
remains of the banner pole. From what legible sections we could
recover, it read:
LOYAL SHEKTUK, FIRST AMONG THE FAITHFUL SOLDIERS OF THE
KING, BEARS THIS STANDARD.
LET ALL WHO OPPOSE HIS LORD TREMBLE AT ITS SIGHT.
This constitutes one of the few mentions in the written history of the
Naptaan of anyone not of the royal blood, for we can presume from his
name and lack of titles that Shektuk was a simple soldier. Valdes’ men
claim they found this artefact inside the tomb of Kharatep himself, a
position of great honour for one so lowly born.
One of Valdes’ crew in particular — one Miguel — was willing to tell
me a little more. According to Miguel, the banner-pole was found still
clutched in the hands of an intact skeleton, at least a head taller than
the other bodies in the tomb. Valdes was forewarned about how lightly
the dead sleep in Naptesh, and ordered the men to smash it to powder
with clubs and hammers. If Miguel is to be believed, it killed three
men before the icon could be prised from its phalanges — and even
then, one fleshless hand kept hold of the banner pole long after the
rest of the undead creature had been destroyed.
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