Background: Shabti

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  • Background: Shabti

    Table Of Contents


    You want to hear about the Kingdom of the Dead,
    you say. You ever heard about statues that walk,
    twelve feet tall and swinging blades bigger than
    a man? I thought not.
    I used to fight for the empire, but the verminkin
    caught me. Made a slave out of me, sweating
    down in the dark, ‘til they rounded a dozen of us
    up for their expedition into the desert. All us humans
    had heard the stories about that place, but
    you don’t say no to a rat with a whip.
    Some people call the rats cowards. They’re probably
    right. But rats are damn good at saving their
    skins — a rat will be running before a man has
    even soiled his breeches. We were about three days
    into the journey when suddenly the rats went all
    twitchy. There was a big sandstorm blowing in,
    and they could feel it in their whiskers. The overseer
    screams something in their filthy language and
    next thing we’re all running for cover in a crack in
    the cliff-face. Us slaves in the back barely make it
    in before the storm hit.
    It wasn’t just a cave, though — it was a tomb.
    With the rats’ green lamps we can see the walls are
    covered in marks — glyphs — and there are these
    statues, huge things, surrounding us. The floor around
    them’s covered with pots and boxes, I figure valuable
    stuff — but the rats go dead quiet, all twitchy again.
    Next thing I know, the overseer flies across the room,
    stuck with an arrow the size of a spear.
    The statues are moving. There are four closing off the
    exit, each with the head of some animal; a bull and
    a crocodile and an eagle and a fox. It’s hard to see
    their movements in the flicker of those damn lamps,
    but they’ve got giant bows, bigger’n me. The rats get out
    their pistols and start firing back, but it’s no good. Behind
    us, the other statues are coming alive too, one right
    next to me. This thing is fifteen feet tall if it’s an inch,
    all stone and bone, with a blade even bigger than those
    damn bows. I’ve never been so scared in my life.
    After that it was a blur. The rats’ stolen horses are
    shrieking and the monster is slamming its jaws open
    and shut, making an awful clacking sound as it kills.
    Seeing the rats running, I grab the pack horse beside
    me, motion my friend Lora to do the same and we
    flee the cave, out into the storm. Never looked back,
    not once.
    Wulli Schmidt,
    once of the Seventh Auldheim Spears

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