"Are we ready to lock it up, Chief?" Melek asked the soldier in charge of the scene.
Chief Lokenus looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "My soldiers will have everything packed within an hour. Why are you so anxious to close it?"
"Lokenus, I've been waiting twelve years for this to happen. I'd like to savour it a little, but unfortunately I've got things to do. We need to replace the king, soon."
King Ordiph, ruler of Sakhmet, had been found unmoving in his bedroom the day before. After being taken to the medical tent, it was announced that the king had passed away. Worse still, the king had not left an heir - a different family line would have to ascend to the throne.
Ordiph had ruled for twelve years, and proved to be a very popular leader among the people of Sakhmet. His chief advisor had been Melek, from the moment he took the throne until the second he lost it.
"Are you saying you wanted His Majesty to die, Melek?" Lokenus asked the Brown Techo suspiciously.
"Yes, Chief, but there's no reason to suspect me of foul play. I can give you an alibi. Careful with those jewels, soldier!" Melek yelled at a soldier carrying one of the king's crowns. "I always hid how I felt, but I couldn't stand Ordiph. The power went to his head when he became the king, he became insufferable. There were a couple times when I almost quit my position, but I knew that someday he would go away and I'd be able to advise someone new."
"Help me carry this crate of Ummagines," Lokenus said to Melek. "I want an excuse to see the king." Each took one side of the crate, heaved, and began to carry it toward the pyramid - King Ordiph's final resting place.
For each king that ruled Sakhmet, an enormous pyramid was built in the desert; the tradition had started two hundred years prior, and there were now twenty pyramids standing proudly. To build one, a hundred labourers spent hours upon hours of their time placing stones; however, they were paid very handsomely for their time and work.
Inside each pyramid was a king, of course; aside from that, there were mountains of food and precious metals. No one knew why they put in food; it was just a tradition. Traditions must be followed, of course. Most importantly, however, in each pyramid was the crown of its king. Every king had a unique crown, crafted to fit His Majesty perfectly.
The pyramids, Sakhmet officials were proud to say, were almost impossible to break into. There had been only one successful robbery during the two hundred years of pyramid history, and it had been long, long ago. There was only one door for each pyramid, and it was sealed very tightly, very carefully, when the king was laid to rest with his possessions.
"How will the next king be chosen?" Lokenus asked Melek. "I know that I'm supposed to play a role in the selection somehow, but I've been too busy to find out anything."
"All citizens of Sakhmet are allowed to apply for king; after everyone interested has thrown in their name, a final decision will be made by five people, including you and including myself. But you'll find out more tomorrow."
"Sounds good." The two reached the central chamber of the pyramid - the king's room. Contained were the king's body (not left out to the open, of course), his crown, and whatever gold and food would fit. All of the other gold and food that had been brought would be placed in the storerooms that had been built inside the pyramid. "There he is... There's the king." Lokenus went to inspect Ordiph's sarcophagus. Melek remained adjacent to the crates, a scowl on his face.
"It's amazing what some people can do with gold," Lokenus remarked. The Desert Eyrie stood up. "Well, let's get out of here and let the soldiers get the last of the crates."
Lokenus left the chamber, but Melek stuck around for just a short moment. Long enough for him to remove the lid from the sarcophagus. Just a little symbolic gesture, a final farewell. No one else would ever know, after all - the central chamber had been filled, and the soldiers knew better than to step out of line. Melek left the chamber.
Not long after, everything had been placed inside, and Lokenus confirmed that everyone had exited the monument. "We're clear... Seal it." He nodded to his soldiers, who with great difficulty placed a large stone door into the entrance. Grunting from exhaustion, they fit it in very snugly so it would be impossible to remove.
"Good work, soldiers," Lokenus announced. "Let's go home." He and his forces began to march back to Sakhmet.
Melek stayed behind, staring at the enormous pyramid. Too much grandeur for a man like Ordiph. He gave a mock salute to the cold stone door that stood between him and his former king. "Good riddance," he muttered as he began to walk away.
Over the next few days, almost everyone in Sakhmet applied to become the next king. Most were very much unfit to be royalty, but if someone asks you if you want to be a king, you say yes, no matter how unqualified you are. The royal palace is much better than the tents that everyone else lives in.
One citizen of Sakhmet disagreed with this - and it was Advisor Melek. He wanted power, and he had plenty of it as an advisor, but he didn't want to be in the public eye at all hours of the day. And besides, he was prohibited from applying, because he was on the committee that decided on the new king.
In the end, the committee of five came to a 3-2 decision on the leader of Sakhmet. The chosen one was Chief Lokenus's second-in-command - one of the greatest leaders in the Sakhmetian army. His accomplishments set him apart from the other applicants, and he was given his crown five days after King Ordiph was entombed.
The new king allowed Melek to stay on as his advisor. They went on to lead Sakhmet through two wars and three horrible sandstorms. Sakhmetians regard the king as one of the greatest leaders in the city's history.
Some days later, a Desert Krawk awoke with a startle. He felt as though he'd been asleep for days - and he was hungry. Then his eyes began to focus. Why was it so bright? Sure, the desert sun exuded a lot of light, but nothing like this... It seemed like faerie magic. He supposed Fyora had come to give him an unexpected gift. Was it his birthday? No, that wasn't for another few months. Oh well.
And what was that smell? Like Ummagines, Tchea Fruits, and all of the other delicious desert fruits - tasty and helpful, because the juices inside quench both your hunger and your thirst.
Goodness, where was he? The ceiling was made of stone! The walls were made of stone! And there was his crown, sitting atop an enormous Meowclops statue. All around were crates-- what was he sleeping in? he wondered suddenly, suspiciously. He stood up and looked down... and his fears were confirmed.
It was his pyramid.
Oh Fyora, why the pyramid?!