It was a shaken, terrified and desperate man who stumbled into the little temple to the shock of the priests and priestesses who served there. His face and hands were scoured and bloodied by the desert.
Abdul ignored them, prostrating himself before the figure of the Goddess. The priests and priestesses couldn’t help him, only a Goddess could.
They’d lost Mustafa in the desert that first night.
At first Abdul thought it safe to rest and so they’d stopped to set up what camp they could.
The wind had come up. All of them had looked up, knowing the signs in the clouds, in the haze in the sky behind them.
They found what shelter they could and hunkered down to weather it out.
Still something sent a shiver down Abdul’s back. He weighed his chances.
Something told him his chances were better in the sandstorm.
As the first rush of blowing sand reached them, he leaped for his camel.
Seeing him, Najib followed.
Mustafa had not.
Even over the sound of the storm they heard him scream in abject terror and then in delirious bliss, a dying gurgle of immense pleasure.
And yes, there was something about the sound of that ecstasy that drew their manhood tight and sent a chill through them. Even as it called to them.
Najib’s eyes had turned white at that cry.
It had been a race then, to see which camel could run or be goaded faster against the fury of the storm.
Once again, Abdul won, his fingers clenched around the figurine of the little priestess as he heard the cry out of the darkness.
Still he couldn’t shake the idea he was still hunted. He could feel it.
Desperate, he raced into the first temple he found and threw himself on mercy of she who ruled there.
All he had to offer was the golden figurine of the priestess.
“Take it,” he said to one of the priests, thrusting it into his hands. “Take it as my offering to her, to Sekhmet.”
The Goddess of War.
Instead the priest looked toward the open door of the temple and his face grew grim and set. As one, he and the others backed away, disappeared into the shadowed depths of the temple.
Nearly weeping with terror, Abdul slowly turned.
Sand swirled through the entrance. Something stepped out of it.
He looked from the figure in his hand to the terrible one who stood in the doorway.
The Guardian of the Tomb.
They were the same.
His cry was first of sheer terror and then of a deep and horrifying ecstasy.
When silence came once again to Sekhmet’s temple, the priests and priestesses emerged.
All that remained of the old thief was a dry and empty husk.
The wind gusted and swept the temple clean.
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