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Tales in the Sand

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The sand was scorching beneath Anubis's feet as he trekked ceaselessly into the desert. Any features other than ceaseless drifting sand had long since disappeared behind him on his long journey. He did not know precisely where he was headed, but he also knew that he would know when he arrived. The glowing sun, Ra, traversing the sky in his barge, shone high overhead, bathing Anubis in heat and light. He did not oft trek to the surface, and the brightness had been startling when he first emerged, but he had become somewhat acclimated over the course of his walk.

He reached the top of a rise, stopping and looking around about the featureless desert. A hot breeze blew by, and he nodded, and spoke to the empty air.

"Sutekh. Uncle. I call upon you, for I am in need of your counsel."

The words hung on the air for a moment, and for a while, nothing happened. Anubis stood, waiting. If he does not come...

The breeze shifted, then. It caused the sand to cloud up around him, obscuring his vision and causing him to throw an arm over his eyes to protect them. It continued for some moments, and then died just as quickly as it had begun.

"You called, nephew?"

Anubis dropped his arm, then, looking to see Set standing beside him, amusement painting his features. "I did. I must ask you something."

"It must be something of tremendous importance to drag you from the gates to the middle of the shifting sands. And for you to wish to talk to me, of all your options."

Flicking an ear unconsciously, Anubis replied. "It is. To me, at least."

"I must admit, I am intrigued. Very well then. Ask your question."

"Your... association... with Ash. How did it begin?"

Set laughed. "Association! Interesting choice of words, I think, Anubis."

"As good as any, I think."

"No, not nearly. Of course," he mused, "I am not entirely sure that any would be." He tilted his head somewhat. "And why is it that you wish to know? I highly doubt you came all this way just for a tale."

"My reasons are my own, Sutekh."

Another barking laugh, then. "Oh, are they? And how am I to know those reasons are justification enough for me to tell you?"

"What harm would it do you to tell?"

Set chuckled. "None whatsoever. What harm would it do you for me not to?"

Anubis was silent for a moment, then, considering. At last, he spoke. "There is... someone, that I wish to..." He trailed off.

"Associate yourself with?" At Anubis's nod, he smirked. "Feel your wives are lacking?"

"No, not at all, but..."

Set nodded, then. "Very well. I shall tell you. Although I am not sure how much it will help you in your venture. But at the conclusion of the tale, I wish to know who you wish this... association of."

Anubis nodded, then.

Set began the tale.

~~~~~

It was a day much like this one. Hot, clear, and bright, with the occasional burst of wind strafing along the sands. I was walking, surveying my domain, when I decided to head towards a remote oasis that I knew of. I shifted my course and headed in the proper direction. Aside from the stirring sands, there was no other motion. A hawk flew distantly overhead, but I took little note of it. After some time, I finally approached the oasis. To my surprise, I saw another figure resting in the shade. I frowned and came closer.

Anubis, your face tells me that you have identified the figure, and you are undoubtedly right. Do not look overly pleased with yourself. The nature of the story hardly makes it a difficult realization to come to.

At the time, of course, I hardly had the benefit of retrospect, nor any expectation of seeing anyone else at all. So I approached carefully. Once I was nearer, I recognized Ash. We had, of course, spoken before, but rarely at length.

He spoke as soon as I was within earshot. "Set. I have been waiting for you."

It startled me, I will admit. "How did you know I would be here?" I asked him.

He gestured above and said, "I saw you walking this way."

I remembered the hawk, then. "Ah," I said, "What is the occasion?"

He shrugged and offered me a seat next to him. I took it after a moment. He spoke, then. "I have been wanting to speak with you."

I frowned and asked, "About what?"

"I have been watching you for some time," he said. "Longer than you know."

I was understandably taken aback. "Why?" I wanted to know.

His answer surprised me, at the time. Now, it would not. I have grown rather accustomed to his flattery. "You reflect the desert in many ways. Strong and powerful, and yet forbidding in countless ways." He was studying me closely. "And yet despite its harshness, the sands hold many treasures and wonders within. I wish to know what gifts you have to give."

I barely had time to think about what he was saying before he kissed me. I barely wanted to think at all after.

We stayed at that oasis for quite some time.

~~~~~

Set was smiling in memory. Anubis was just staring, surprise on his face.

Tilting his head, Set asked, "Why the shock?"

"You mean that Ash was the one who..."

"Spoke first. Yes, he was."

"Then it seems your tale will be no help at all."

Set chuckled. "And what help did you seek in my tale?"

"What to say. How to go about things."

Set was amused at that. "And even had it been me, how would my tale have told you that? It would have said nothing except how I could have tamed him. And, in the end, it merely told you how he could tame me. Neither way would it have said how you were to tame the one you are intent upon."

Anubis looked down, frowning a bit. "Then what do I do?"

"Consider your target. You will be trying to convince him. Not myself, and certainly not Ash." He frowned. "I hope. Who are your intentions toward?"

Anubis scraped with a toe in the sand for some time, saying nothing, before he merely turned and walked off.

Set was about to call upon some wind to hinder him, when he felt a warm arm wrap around his waist from behind and his lover's voice in his ear. "Before you do, look at the ground."

He did so, and was rather surprised to see an ibis roughly sketched in the sand by Anubis's foot. He chuckled. "Well. That will certainly be interesting." He then turned to face Ash. "How long were you listening?"

"Long enough." Ash kissed him lightly. "How do you think he will do?"

Set turned his head a bit to watch the retreating form of Anubis. "Either way, he will certainly have a tale to tell."