Sunday, June 30, 2013
The following was related to me by a trusted follower, who I killed later. I include this so that you will have some idea as to the situation in Egypt as King Cambyses made his plans to invade:
The body of the Pharaoh Ahmose lay on a stone slab. He was dressed splendidly. Even his crown was propped into place. His arms lay crossed on his chest in the manner of a mummy and the two scepters glinted in the sunlight. Attendants walked noiselessly through the room as a phalanx of shaved-headed priests dressed in pure white stood looking at the body, as if it would get up at any moment and address them. The Pharaoh had finally entered the underworld, where he would rule forever. The heat of the day was intense. Matwa, the head priest, knew that he must give the order that the body of the god-king be taken to the royal embalmers. He hesitated because his heart was heavy with thoughts of the state of Egypt.
The great Pharaoh Ahmose was truly the god on earth and now he was Osiris and would rule the underworld. None of the priests surrounding the dead pharaoh showed any emotion, for this was a time of grave peril for the king. His body had to be prepared and this might take up to six weeks. The tomb was well prepared—it had been for the last thirty years. A priest used a fly whisk to make sure no insect landed on the king.
No, it wasn’t the fact that the pharaoh had gone to the underworld that bothered Matwa, but that he had left no real successor. The son who had been groomed for the throne of Upper and Lower Egypt was now dead. He preceded his father in death, thanks to the Greeks. Pharaoh Ahmose had been keen on strengthening his ties with the Greeks, but Ahmose III had died in a shipwreck on his way to Greece on an expedition.
Now they were left only with the sickly and effeminate Psamtik III. The priesthood opposed his ascension, but his mother was far more powerful than the other queens and it would be impossible to change the course of events now. Matwa had been in favor of a lesser ranked son, Ankhare, who was serving as the army commander. He was virile and steadfast. Psamtik, on the other hand...
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
My plan was to make Cambyses mad, as I had his father, Cyrus the Great. It began with his obsession with Egypt, one of the Persian satrapies.
“What do you think?” Cambyses asked Mihr, his advisor, cocking his head as he studied the map. Mihr opened his mouth, but Cambyses said, “Hmm, yes, I think so too.” He stroked his black beard contemplatively. Mihr did not move. The emperor cocked his head, as if listening and nodding his head slightly.
Suddenly Cambyses turned and glared at him. Cambyses opened his eyes wide in a look of indescribable hatred and began to stalk towards Mihr. Cambyses began to reach for his dagger, but Mihr reached for his holy kusti string and shook it.
“Your Majesty, I... I have answered your summons!” Mihr said in a trembling voice. The emperor stopped. Mihr’s voice had ended the trance I had placed on him, hoping to have him kill that gnat of an advisor.
His stance relaxed and he smiled at Mihr, gesturing him eagerly to follow him to the wall map of Egypt. He began to talk excitedly.
“... my destiny! I can feel it calling to me! I want to go to Egypt to conquer that ancient land. Maybe I’ll even set up a capital there eventually. Mihr, I want to become a real pharaoh. I want you to get all the information that you can on their customs and religious practices.”
“Uh, yes, at once Your Majesty,” Mihr said.
“First, however, I will begin to treat my magi more like the pharaoh treats his priests. They are landowners and nobles under Pharaoh. In exchange, they will think of me as god on earth.” Cambyses smiled slowly, his eyes taking on a far away look. “A god on earth,” he repeated, seeming to taste the syllables. He turned to Mihr, his eyes bright and intense with his passion. “Mihr, you must help me with this, I need that information! I need to become a god!”
Mihr bowed his head in reverence. “Oh King of Kings, I sense that there is already divinity in you.”
Cambyses’ eyes lit up in triumph. “You are a smart one, Mihr! No wonder my father had so much faith in you. Do you know that my mother was actually an Egyptian princess, the daughter of the great Pharaoh Ahmose, who rules Egypt? Pharaoh Ahmose has been ruling for forty years now. He is old, very old.”
Mihr made a sound of agreement, but the emperor had already turned and was studying the map of Egypt with rapt attention.
When he returned the next day, I, Gaumata, smiled. I imagined what he was thinking as a guttural voice in a strange language greeted him. There was no one else in the room but Cambyses, who sat upon his throne as straight as the depictions of the pharaoh he had seen. He wore a short skirt of golden material and was holding two strange looking scepters.
The emperor just sat there, looking straight ahead and Mihr looked as though he didn’t know whether to stay or to leave.
Finally Cambyses spoke. “Pharaoh Ahmose has just died. He came to me in a dream and told me to set out for Egypt to claim my throne.”
Everyone had already heard about the death of the pharaoh. However, the emperor wanted people to believe that he had seen it in a vision. So Mihr made the appropriate expressions of joy and wonder.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Now Prince Cambyses was assured the position of King of Kings. I had made it possible. What a clever fellow I am! I was becoming quite settled in the palace, inside of his head. The only thing was that I needed somehow to control his sexual urges. It was disgusting the way his body seemed always alert for women. One day, I saw that my training was finally taking root.
A sound from the curtained doorway made Cambyses glance up briefly. Sarada, one of the youngest of Prince Cambyses’ wives came into the room where he sat, head down, as he inspected some of the precious items he had taken from his father’s quarters. She wanted to sit on his lap, as was her custom when she wanted to complain about one of her senior co-wives.
Cambyses was annoyed, but he allowed her to climb onto his lap as he examined a small, filigreed locket. She was babbling on. Usually he found her as adorable as a newborn filly, but today, an odd rage seemed to well up within him. Her words grated on his senses and this startled him because usually he was able to tune her out completely until she was ready to go to bed with him.
“And so it I was just standing there and she said did I say you could wear my shift? And I said, well, why not, you once used the ring I left on the table that time, and she said well you stole that from me, don’t you remember? And so anyway then...”
Cambyses let his knee go limp and the girl began to slip to the floor. She grabbed him around the neck and tried to kiss him, but he shied away. Abruptly, she pulled back and wiped her lips on her sleeve.
“What is that smell? Maybe you were holding baby Xerxes on your lap? And maybe he pooped on you?”
Cambyses pushed her to the floor violently and glared at her as if she were an enemy. She ran crying from the room and Cambyses called his steward to fix him a hot bath. He just had to bathe and get the awful feel of that woman off of him. How could he bear those women—there were just so many of them swarming in his quarters, in the gardens, everywhere. “If anyone smells it’s them— the dirty evil creatures,” he growled. He stood swaying slightly as his eyes filmed over. He smiled sardonically and began to undress.
That, my friends, was my doing. My personality was beginning to rise in him.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The next day, the victorious assassin squad was near the city when a scout reached Prince Cambyses. “I see the traitors that I was to watch for, Oh Prince! They are still outside the city.”
“Prepare the troops. They are to die, each and every one of them. Do not bring me prisoners. I have been informed that they have plotted to take my life, but nobody knew why they left the city but my informant. They were conspiring with the old Babylonian priesthood to kill me before I could ascend the throne,” Cambyses watched the scout’s eyes widen. His own face was grave, but in his heart he was jubilant, for he knew now that his brother was dead. The plan was going wonderfully. He had Bardiya killed by the assassins, now he would have the troops kill the assassins. His dark secret would die with them.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Now it was time to really get to work. I made sure that by the morning, Prince Cambyses had totally forgotten about his foray to the garden Quiet Room. As planned, the princes and magi, as well as some other nobles close to the dead king, Cyrus the Great, assembled to witness the demolition of the Quiet Room. Many tears were shed as the building was beaten down until only a pile of limestone lay in its place. There was much to do. The magi would oversee the transition of the throne, not that Cambyses agreed with that, but it was the protocol.
The biggest problem was that succession was far from a settled fact. Some of the magi thought that there should be a period of waiting and finally they won out. I had to make sure that Cambyses won the throne, for he was my vehicle.
Cambyses and his brother were expected to deal with the problems that were plaguing the empire with the king’s passing. Many of the upstart kingdoms saw this as a time to rebel. Prince Bardiya was set to go to the far off kingdom of Susa to the east. Cambyses knew that he should return to Babylon, where he had been ruling, if only to quell the rumors, but he did not think it was safe to leave the capital at such a time. And there was the problem of settling the question of succession for once and for all.
Prince Bardiya was setting out for Susa, where he would quell the rebellion before returning for the decision of the magi. Bardiya didn’t even know if he wanted to rule at all. What I got from the mind of Cambyses was that all his brother wanted was to hunt all day.
I made a plan and let it enter my victim’s mind. His rage and fear that he would lose the throne made him a more than willing participant. He called together a secret meeting with a few of his most adept assassins. They would follow Bardiya as he made his way to Susa, but while the royal party slept, they would attack and kill the prince. They were to hide his remains along with those of his party. Even horses would have to be killed and hidden in the vast series of craggy cliffs and ravines.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
The night before the demolition, he decided to break in. I floated above him reading his thoughts as he moved quietly in the dark. Prince Cambyses was stealthy in the darkness of the royal gardens. He knew the area quite well, having killed many imaginary foes in the winding, flowery paths as a youth. It was very dark, providing the cover he would need. So far, he had only met one guard, for most of them were posted on the outside of the gardens and grounds. His father, Cyrus, never wanted them in his private area. He slunk toward the Quiet Room with no guilt in his heart at all. He had never loved his father. Hell, he rarely ever spoke to him. Instead of seeking advice from his true son, the old coot would rather go to the magi. Now he would see what riches were stored there, for he thought it was a thing of greed that his father wanted them to bury the jewels along with himself. He had found the key after searching through his father’s personal things.
The door opened easily and he slipped in. He lit the small candle that he had in his pocket. The room had no windows, but the roof of it was open in places, making it smell fresh. The twinkling stars above were enchanting. He could see why his father had loved this place so. He stopped his musings and got to work. He would check methodically and find whatever was in here before it was destroyed. Nobody would ever know. Looking around, he found that it was a spartan place, aside from its natural beauty. There were rare flowering bushes inside the walls. They were able to get sun from the open roof and yet they were protected from the winds by the walls. He checked under and around these bushes. The floor was simply earth except for the marble blocks used in paths. These all seemed to be undisturbed and grass grew between them. He decided that no recent digging had taken place.
He saw that there was a stone throne in a dark corner, but little else. It must be the place of the wealth, he thought, grunting with impatience. He ran over and sure enough, the throne had a lid on it—the perfect hiding place for the jewels. He moved the heavy stone cover and reached in, but could feel nothing. Laying his chest on the throne seat, he reached as far down as he could, thrusting his hand in as deeply as it would extend. There was something soft and mushy at the bottom of that hole. He quickly pulled out his hand and gagged as he held it stiffly in front of him. He dared not shake it, but began to wipe it on the stone floor. The smell seemed to have hands that caressed his face, although he struggled against it. It was thick and he felt it work its way up his nostrils. He felt it pry his lips apart and slip past the rows of clenched teeth. His lungs were full now, as if the stench were a solid thing.
“It won’t ever go away,” he muttered in panic. He ran out of the room and stuck his hand into a nearby pool. He began to wash and wash, but the substance was viscous and it lingered, slimy against his skin. The smell lingered, too. He pulled up a clump of grass and used the roots and dirt to scrub at his hand, but it slid back and forth in the slime. He scuttled toward his apartments and washed again, attempting to rub off the slippery sludge that clung to it. Finally, in desperation, he doused himself with strong perfumes and then he changed out of his sweaty clothes and went to bed.
Thus, I had found the perfect opportunity to enter Cambyses’s mind. It was so simple in that one moment of shock. The fear of the king’s curse helped instill terror into the heart of the prince. From now on it would be simple. I made a place for myself in the mind of the prince and prepared for the next step in my plan. “It was just too easy,” I said aloud as I rubbed my hands together in an ecstasy that threatened to boil over.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Oh bother! I will have to explain a bit about the political situation in Persia at the time, which was about 530 BCE as you calculate time. The King of Kings, Cyrus the Great, was dead. He had two sons, Cambyses and Bardiya. It seemed no clear thing which prince would rule, so the magi were to decide. I needed to work on this, for the next king would be my vessel.
Having found what I thought was a competent helper I left my body and examined them in turn. I saw that Bardiya was a guileless simpleton. He actually had very little ambition for the throne, but it seemed that he was the favorite of the magi. I think it was because they believed they could control him. Now, for me to be successful in possessing someone, I must discover that person’s greatest fear, or in some cases, guilt.
Cambyses was ambitious and ruthless. I decided to make him the next king. I would accomplish this by having him murder his own brother. First I had to get into his head. If you recall, Cyrus the Great had a splendid building in the middle of his great garden. It was called the Quiet Room. As far as anyone else knew, it was a place of meditation. We all know, however, that he used this room to relieve himself of the human waste products he never let anybody know he had.
I explained previously that Cyrus took great pride in being beyond mortal—a god on earth. A Greek visitor noted that the king was indeed a god, for he had no bodily needs. This Quiet Room had been prepared for the king by his royal builder, who was the only one who knew of its function, until Cyrus had him killed. Now after the death of Cyrus, his ghost was anxious. He appeared to Mihr, his advisor, and told him that the room must be demolished totally, without anyone ever entering it. He made these wishes known to the court.
Prince Bardiya agreed immediately, but Cambyses, thinking that it was the place of hoarded treasure, wanted to take first whatever he found there. The magi prevailed, and Cambyses was sorely disappointed and angry. He decided to raid the place secretly.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I was happy now with both Rustem and Cyrus the Great dead. I had punished them for deforming my lovely body. But I was not completely satisfied. It was enough to make me rub my hands together in a kind of ecstasy. It had all gone so well. Very well, except for the fact that his original goal had not been accomplished. But they were all dead now. The King of Kings, Cyrus the Great, lay in a tomb rotting. The sorcerers Rustem and his twice-cursed sorceress wife Anahita were nothing but old shits of the buzzards that had consumed their flesh.
There was much to do yet. The next on my list was whoever would succeed Cyrus and become the next King of Kings. That would be relatively easy, but a few things stood in my way. Two of them were the children of Rustem and Anahita. I spat in disgust. I had to deal with them. And it wasn’t easy. Possessing someone was something I reveled in, but it wasn’t like I could possess two people at once. With so much work to do, I’d have to do some head hopping. It might make me easier to catch, though.
Well, for now, I would find a very good place to stash my body while I visited—and I would have to find a more trustworthy servant than the one I had just killed. That wretch! He had done a bad job of caring for my body. It smelled, and the limbs had become stiff. Although he left my fingernails grow absurdly long, he had allowed a mouse to chew on my toenails, which were chewed bloody. That hurt like hell even now. Do you still feel sorry for him? Do you still think I was too harsh? Perhaps you would do the same, so do not be so judgmental.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Oh ingenious! What a clever disguise. This creature is a werewolf by the name of "RedWolf." It will serve me and nobody will be able to guess what it is. Beware! It is a babe-magnet, but above all, it will never attract attention for what it really is. I can send it to my enemies. It will mewl by the door like a lost puppy, but then it will strike. Ha! I am a genius!
Cyrus the Great knew that he was a great warrior even at his advancing age. He hated to have the killing of a woman on his list of accomplishments. He felt compassion, but then suddenly rage. The thing in his head (me)—the thing that kept trying to tell him what to do and what to feel—he felt helpless to stop the power that rushed into his muscles now. He felt as strong as a young man, and he had to kill the bitch that dared to approach him swinging her little club. She was a disgusting woman, but he would deal with her now, although her filth would be polluting.
Suddenly she charged at him and they were so close that Cyrus could see the small bubbles in her saliva as she cried out. He was too close now to swing his sword. The woman was upon him in an instant, stabbing at his gut with a short sword. Cyrus was himself again suddenly. The pain was sudden and he saw a white streak before his eyes. He was afraid now. It would happen and he could do nothing to stop it. All of a sudden, he felt himself lose control of his bowels. All the treasures that they had been hoarding during this wretched trip were suddenly let loose and he could feel it in his pants. So this was how it would be, he thought miserably.
I almost regretted leaving him, but I knew I had to push out of his mind before death took him. I did not wish to die with him, which is what would have happened. Now I tarried not. I rushed to the place where my body had hid for so long. At my arrival, my servant, the one who had been caring for my body, jumped back in alarm. I opened red-rimmed eyes and stared at him in hatred, for he knew my secrets. He had bathed my naked body for all these years. I looked around to see the miserable place and I was disgusted. He had become sloppy. My body smelled and my hair was matted. Even my fingernails were long and curling—yellowed with age.
With one hand, I grabbed his face and he screamed. I used those horny, yellow nails to gouge slices into his cheeks. Then dragging him toward my face even as he struggled, I bit his neck in a frenzy and drank of his hot blood, for my body was starved and my soul, furious.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
The barbarians were so close that it surprised Cyrus, who was now only thirty feet from his tent and already swinging his finely crafted sword at the heads of the wild-looking people. In his mind, he pictured the relief he would have carved into the mountain. He would have them portray him as a god-like hero borne aloft a Simurg bird with the sun symbol beneath him. Rows and rows of the vanquished barbarians would be pictured with their hands tied, being led to pay their homage to him. He would have to make sure that their costumes were depicted accurately. The Scythians and their pointed hats, the Massagetae with their calf-length robes, and those strange cloaks on the Scythian warriors! What were they made from? There were those among them with fierce masks on their faces. They were painted in eerie earth tones, but the impact was fantastic. As he mused, he continued to fight confidently, seeing that he was flanked by his able royal bodyguards. Not that he was afraid to fight like any other soldier, but his importance was naturally a consideration. His arm was beginning to ache.
Soon he was face-to-face with Queen Apuyani. You may be surprised to hear that a king, what to speak of a queen, would be fighting in a battle. Yes, in those days, kings were required to fight alongside the troops. If a queen wished to hold onto power, she too had to fight.
Many people suddenly stopped and the din of the melee seemed to dim around that spot. Cyrus was sure this woman was the queen, because of her regal bearing. He felt guilt now. She had appealed to him and assured him that her country was obedient to the throne, yet he had had killed her entire army, including her son. His face softened with a look of regret as Queen Apuyani approached, teeth bared in a mask of rage.
I knew it was time to take over before he stepped away from the fight. The king’s eyes fogged over and he appeared to become furious. Swinging his sword as if imbued with demonic power, he dashed at the queen. His heavy sword hit her club with such intensity that she almost dropped it. The queen’s charger backed up and then flung himself forward. This sudden movement caught Cyrus off guard. The queen pulled a half-sword from its scabbard as they closed in.
Friday, June 7, 2013
By this time, Cyrus the Great was getting a reputation for being a bit zany—ha! After all, I was in his head. When he called his army together to move against the Massagetae, his advisors, especially the now adult Mihr, were against the campaign. It would be a disaster, they told him, but he cared not. So they left for the long journey.
I have told you that Cyrus wanted to keep up the fantasy of his being god-like. People believed that he never defecated or even passed urine. Now, as the trip dragged on, he found it harder and harder to arrange a situation where he could relieve himself unseen. He became very constipated. This was my plan, of course.
The day arrived when we were very close to our destination. Our scouts reported that in the absence of the Queen, who had gone to secure allies, the foolish prince had tried to usurp the kingdom. Now the army of the Massagetae was in disarray. Cyrus ordered an attack, and most of the army was destroyed. This was very good, he thought, but he had not considered Queen Apuyani, who was to return with her allies.
The night after the massacre of the Massagetae army there was feasting and merriment in the Persian camp. By the time the soldiers had retired for the night, they were quite drunk.
The dawn was just breaking when Cyrus heard the war cries and lunged from his bed. He dressed hurriedly, for there was no way that he would appear in disarray. His guards would hold them off. He needed to urinate, but there was nothing that could be done about that now. His headache throbbed and he thought about his comfortable garden Quiet Room where he could sit in peace and silence.
His charger was saddled and pawing the ground when Cyrus appeared from his tent. The soldier holding the reins looked pale and panicky.
“It’s the Massagetae, Your Highness, and they have allies, their kin, the Paralatae Scythians. Our army is much larger, but they have attacked without warning,” the soldier’s voice broke as if he were a teenaged boy.
Cyrus was annoyed, but he felt a twang of sympathy for the young man, who could be among the dead when this was over. Taking the reins, he reassured him, “they are only barbarians without the slightest idea of how to conduct an attack. Let’s send them to their barbarian afterworld without delay so they can enjoy their reward!”
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Dark forest full of secrets call to her ancient blood. Can lovely Usha resist their seductive allure?
Professor Usha Baron embarks on sabbatical with hope, even after almost losing her tenure battle. Returning to her ancestral village deep in Germany’s Black Forest, she will finally continue the work her disgraced father had begun. He’d been laughed out of academia because of his firm belief in the existence of werewolves. Usha knew her father well. He was a peerless scientist, not the foolish madman his colleagues claimed he was. His work proved that there was a scientific explanation for this rare disorder, which he claimed ran even in his family line. Usha is determined to find rational answers, but dark castles and deep forests trigger a call in her ancient blood that cannot be explained by reason.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
When we left off, I was telling you about how I planned to exact my revenge on Cyrus the Great. I had stayed with him, learning the art of ruling while I exerted my will. Sometimes this was quite difficult, as the man was strong. People began to notice his odd behavior, especially the way he treated his wives. Previously, Cyrus had been a man who loved women, but now he was erratic, often spurning them violently. Of course, that was when I was in residence. I took to leaving when I believed he wanted to mate, for I despise that activity, as you well know. I would return to my body from time to time so that its limbs did not whither.
I saw the chance for final revenge when a messenger arrived announcing disturbances in frontier satrapies. Among them was the kingdom of the Massagetae, fierce ex-nomads who were settled into lands north of Persia. It appeared that it was the Man-Eaters, a related Scythian tribe, which was responsible, but I guided the king to think hostile thoughts against the Massagetae, who were led by a Queen Apuyani, a witch.
I also learned that she was the sister of a witch who had taken in the daughter of the Sorcerer-Mage Rustem—my now dead enemy. I reasoned that Cyrus the Great would be terribly shamed if he were killed in battle by a woman, and I was quite certain that if a woman could do such a thing, a witch would be the one. I forced him to write a letter to the Queen, ordering her to surrender and accept marriage to the king. She answered in anger, prompting Cyrus to collect his army and move in the direction of what would be his final battle.