Unearthing the Dawn Excerpt

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EXCERPT

Ice-cold fingers dragged along my neck before shoving me for- ward into the fire-lit chamber of judgment. My eyes adjusted to the dim light, and the ghostly forms around me faded into the fog, leaving the smell of sickeningly sweet incense. Gold and red carpets that had stretched onward now ended. Fear wracked my trembling body.

I had entered the Duat—the Egyptian underworld.

I wore silky white robes that caressed my skin as I stood before Anubis, the towering god with the head of a jackal. My own heart sat in my open palms. The squishy flesh of the organ beat faster and louder, its contracting muscles vibrating my hands and carrying up my arms and into my chest. Its pounding radiated into my ears, and sticky blood streamed between my fingers.

Anubis reached out with a human hand three times the size of mine, and his fingers wrapped around my heart, squeezing. My chest burned, as if filled with fire. I nearly collapsed in pain. Golden eyes bored into mine, searching my soul. Saliva strung from his curled lips. The fog of my breath billowed from my mouth like smoke into the darkness. Anubis snarled and set my beating heart upon one of the massive scales.

The feather on the opposite scale fluttered in a breeze that I could not feel. Squawking, a baboon ran back and forth atop the scales, testing the wood and twine.

Shrouded in shadow at the far end of the room, the face of a man rested atop another giant being. His skin was deep green, and he sat atop a golden throne. Osiris himself. My hands shook. Small creatures with gangly limbs scuttled around his throne, squeaking and pointing at my waiting heart.

Then deathly silence.

Something squawked. I jumped in surprise. A falcon perched atop a stone pillar beside me, but its face was human, and young … familiar.

It was my face. My ba—part of my soul—awaited our fate. I shivered in terror.

The scales tipped, and my heart descended, foretelling that my very existence was going to end right here and now. Seated in the audience sur- rounding the hall, robed humanoids with animal heads shouted and jeered, their voices pounding into my brain.

“You have not lived a balanced life,” a figure with the head of a falcon yelled through a parting beak as it stood, its voice screeching and ringing my ears. Its purple robe waved open to reveal a human chest, shaven and toned with thick muscle. “You have not listened to the god within you, and you have not cared deeply enough for your friends and family. Nor have you helped those who are less fortunate.”

“I have,” I screamed, attempting to deny all the accusations. The taste of salt filled my mouth. My ba shrieked as it took flight to escape. This would be the end, when everything, even a piece of my soul abandoned me …
I quaked with fear, but something sparked in my mind. A memory.

Anubis glanced to the Devouring Monster’s platform. The creature would be waiting to consume any hearts tossed his way. I imagined that I could see the crocodile jaws gaping from the darkness, awaiting their next meal, though such a feast would never end its eternal hunger.

“Hail to you, gods in this Hall of Judgment,” I shouted, unable to control my words. My voice was soft at first, but it grew louder and echoed through the chamber. Spinning and facing Anubis and Osiris, I recalled the spell from the Book of the Dead—the one upon the walls of the tomb at Crocodilopolis. “I know you, and I know your names on this day of great reckoning. I was born in Rosetjau. I have given bread to the hungry and water to the thirsty. And your power was given to me.”

The contingent of humanoids in the audience didn’t budge. Their shining scepters sat frozen against colorful robes as they stared in silence.

I held my breath.

The scales wavered, and Anubis howled like a wild beast. My legs tensed, telling me to run away and—
Then, the scales righted—my heart and the feather an even weight. Air rushed from my lungs in a burst of relief as I collapsed to my knees. My chest spasmed as I gasped for breath.

Anubis paced around the scales and scooped up my still-beating heart. He glanced back for the Devouring Monster, but it was gone. Akhenaten had somehow summoned the Devourer to the world of the living to consume souls of men there. Only a pile of dead hearts sat waiting beside the monster’s platform.

Anubis sighed, as if he missed his horrid pet.

The scratch of a pen on papyrus made the roots of my teeth twinge with discomfort. Another bird-headed figure behind the scales wrote and nodded, the long, hooked beak of an ibis parting to speak.

The dark ceiling opened up and blinding light poured down, engulfing me. My ears rang.

 

PRAISE FOR

Unearthing the Dawn

Simply, I loved it!

This third and final book of the series is pure greatness. It was a hard book to put down. Heb’s and Gavin’s stories come to a glorious conclusion. It jumps right in and doesn’t slow down. I highly recommend reading this book, of course only after the first two. Simply, I loved it!

– Amazon 5 Star Review –