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For three thousand years a hatred burns -In seventeenth century France two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue a brutal incarnation begun long ago.
In ancient Egypt two brothers are disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When Pharaoh dies, the physician takes the knowledge given and goes to Greece to begin a new mystery school. The general makes a deal with the priests and becomes pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.
The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.
After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.
The boatswain, a large man with scars on his arms and face, walked over to stand in front of René. “Chain him to the mast.”
Their gazes met.
“Don’t look at me, boy,” he said, backhanding René in the face. “Look down at the deck when I talk to you. You’re some over-fed nobleman’s kid thinkin’ you make the rules. I’m surprised you ain’t cryin’ for your mama. You got a mama, boy?” he asked and laughed. When René didn’t answer, he hit him again. “I asked you a question, boy. Don’t try my patience, cause I ain’t got none.”
“My mother died when I was born,” René said, watching the man’s feet to see how he moved. He was cataloging everything he could see out of the corners of his eyes.
“Well, not to worry, you’ll be seeing her soon.” The boatswain turned to walk away and then turned back and hit René again. “I had to do that,” he said, and walked away laughing.
Though they had chained him in a way that didn’t allow him to sit, René had enough slack to turn and see most of the ship. He was aboard an English slave ship. She was an older carrack in design, still with the large forecastle. She had seen better days, though. The fact that she was still on the seas suggested either a cutthroat reputation or an experienced captain. Under the wear, the ship was surprisingly clean, her ropes and sails newly repaired and in good order. Second rate though she might be, she was seaworthy. This was a veteran crew, competent in their tasks. It wouldn’t be easy getting free, and even if he could, where would he escape to in the middle of the ocean? Don’t rush fate. One thing at a time. Do what you can do, he heard the Maestro say. It was clear he would have to pick a fight, and hope he could survive long enough to begin creating allies. The next time the big boatswain walked by, René laughed.
“What are you findin’ so funny, boy?” The boatswain stuck his face within inches of René’s.
René had noticed the boatswain had one leg shorter than the other, and was certain the big man would be touchy on that point. “You walk funny, that’s all,” said René, raising his voice. It was of no use to him if he got beat up and no one knew why.
All work within the sound of René’s voice crashed to a complete stop. Silence reigned. René had guessed right. Now he could only hope he would survive his insight.
The boatswain stood in absolute disbelief, his face turning redder by the moment. “What did you say?” Spittle flew from his mouth.
Even the captain had turned to watch. René counted on the fact Gaspard’s agent had given the captain a great deal of money, along with explicit instructions that didn’t include throwing a dead boy overboard. What he didn’t know was how close to dead the agent considered acceptable.
“I said you walk funny,” René said—louder this time, so there would be no mistaking it.
“Do you know what a cat is, boy?” the boatswain said, clearly beyond rational thought. René could see the veins standing out in his neck and temples, his eyes shot red with blood.
“A small animal?” René asked.
There was a laugh from the men standing around the mast. The boatswain took one look around, and the laugh died.
“You, James, bring me the cat. I don’t think this boy has ever seen a real one. Your education has been sadly incomplete, boy. You’ll be thankin’ me for this. I promise you.” The boatswain’s voice was a rough whisper.
James walked over and handed the Cat-O-Nine-Tails to the boatswain. As he caught René’s eye, he sadly shook his head. The cat had nine long thongs of blood-encrusted leather dangling from a handle, knots tied along the length of each thong.
“This here’s a cat, boy. As you can see, it ain’t no small animal. Now, there’s a skill and a talent to usin’ a cat, both of which I’m proud to say I have. You see, you need to take care the thongs don’t get all stuck together with blood and skin, which they’re wont to do. If that happens, the cat’ll take yer organs right out, and that’s always a bad thing. So you need to run your fingers between the thongs every couple of strokes, to keep ‘em separate. I gotta tell you—as much pride as I take in usin’ the cat, sometimes I’m forgetful. I try to keep count, but before I know it, I plumb forget to clean the damn thing. I surely hope that don’t happen today.”
“I also have a skill and a talent, and I will kill you with it,” René said quietly.
For one second, the boatswain paused, confusion written across his face. “Turn him around, and chain him up. You there, strip off his shirt.”
About the Author:
Award winning novelist and international playwright Elliott Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and produced in the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to release his first novels. The Sun God’s Heir: Return, book one of the trilogy, was released this past January, and book two, Rebirth will come out in April, followed in July by the third and final book of the series, Redemption. A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sally Ann.
@elliottbaker on Twitter