Be’loi and Eyah ate and rested and had been jogging for the duration of the day after their nap but made sure to stay close to the river for a double use. They used the river as a marker. Elu, Ongaro, and then Hu’Ru told them that the river would lead them to the Chanu Canyons. Then secondly once the sun set and if by some chance the horde caught up the pack would have the safety of the river to use as cover as they did the night before. Be’loi ran alongside Eyah, he shot a quick glance over at his brother debating to hold conversation with a mute. 

“I’m amazed that I am not sore, my muscles no longer ache as they did this morning.” Be’loi said to Eyah. “The sleep did me some good, how about you?” He asked, Eyah nodded his head yes. Be’loi’s bare feet crushed the high grass beneath his heels, it was therapeutic in a way, it reminded him of when he was a boy running along similar grasslands in his birthplace of Zhannu. He grew up in the kingdom not out in the villages, his father was a blacksmith who specialized in making weapons, he was one of the inventors class. But the crowded kingdom was not where Be’loi enjoyed being. When his father would take him out in the wild for hunting excursions, it was out there that put his mind at ease, he would take off his sandals letting his toes touch the green grass. Running barefoot in the grass as a youth was his greatest joy, even though his peers would find it uncivilized. He found it fortuitous that such joyous emotions flooded him at a grave time as now. He did not think that his body would have healed so quickly, he had not anticipated that the magic that flowed through him would work so fast. And yet here he was feeling better than ever jogging with his pack brother on an unknown perilous journey. They had taken small breaks here and there to eat and briefly rest through the day, he looked up seeing that the sun was starting to set, he told himself to be ready this time. To fight whatever came at him, if it was the will of Eyahvah that he should live so be it, but if he should die fighting? Then he was fine with that as well. Be’loi swore that before he died he would take as many of the Dipur’ah with him as a gift for his fallen brothers Zutsi and Lemangra. Eyah slowed and and quickly tapped Be’loi on the shoulder, he had been in such deep thought he had not been paying attention allowing Eyah to lead the pace and direction. Off in the distance there was a great forest that spanned across the river spreading out to the south, east, and west. Eyah tapped Be’loi on the shoulder again before lowering to the ground. Sticking his finger in the soft moist earth he drew something, Be’loi watched intently until he finished and instantly recognized what the drawing was. Eyah stood up pointing off in the direction of the forest then back down at the drawing before making a few hand motions, then Be’loi understood. Looking toward the forest his eyes lit up.

“When we get to the forest you want us to make a boat.” He said it without questioning. He smiled with realization then began laughing. “We can make better time going down the speedy currents of the Trinity River! And still be under its protection!” He looked at Eyah who looked back at him with complete adulation. They began laughing like little boys jumping about. Then after getting their fill of laughter they both set off to get closer to their goal before sunset. 

The cell reeked of urine and fences, the stench magnified by the afternoons blazing sun that beat down upon the cage. The wave of heat danced about mercilessly reminding Pu’sotep that he was the tormented and the heat his tormentor. Yet through all of this a smile was upon the face of the high priest for he knew that his God was with him. It was not just a belief, for him it was a sound truth. The master mage Hu’Ru had come to him the night before telling him what must be said to King Raies, that the king must bow and show repentance and then and only then would he and his kingdom be spared. After the message was delivered Hu’Ru left but not before leaving a parting gift of a large bowl of fruit which seemed to remain in his belly throughout the afternoon. Through all that was abhorrent in his present situation there was a great joy that filled his heart. No matter what he suffered his wife and baby were far out of the city safe from harm. He smiled remembering how bewildered King Raies looked upon seeing that his threats did not make him shudder. Leaning back against the rough off white wall of his cell he laughed aloud thinking how outraged the king would have been upon finding out that Pu’sotep’s wife and child could not be found. He began humming a holy song from the temple feeling that only the best of outcomes will occur for him regardless whatever King Raies threw at him. He closed his eyes humming loudly. 

“Hmm, hmm, hmmm.” 

“Glorious Light I do believe that hym is?” Pu’sotep was startled looking over at the bars seeing that it was Ahnkuth. The politician seemed reborn after last nights events of being belittled by the high priests unbreakable spirit. Pu’sotep was even more so surprised that the head of the politicians class knew what song the high priest was humming after only a few notes, Ahnkuth showed a brief crooked smile upon seeing how surprised Pu’sotep was. He knew the surprise was not that he was back at his cell, but merely for the knowing of a song that only a true worshipper of Eyahvah would know. “Without a doubt you are startled by my knowledge of the song you hum, but do not become excited in thinking that I am a changed man seeking the way of your God.” Ahnkuth leaned against the bars crossing his arms. “My mother used to sing that song to me, she was a follower of your God. She would go to the temple of light daily to pray. And she would read to my younger brother and I the holy text.” 

“Your mother, she was a good woman then. You should have learned from her example politician.” 

Ahnkuth scoffed at the words. “My brother had become very ill when he was four cycles old. He came down with something horrid. He could not keep any food down, and all he did was vomit blood. My mother went to the temple of light and she prayed for my brother day in, day out.” 

“She was a woman of faith, blessed be her heart. For Eyahvah hears the prayers of the faithful.” 

“Funny you should say such things priest.” He scratched his nose with irritation. “My brother died four days after the sickness came. My mother was devastated. She went to the pond up on the hill near the temple, do you know of it priest?” 

“Yes, I know of it.” 

“Well she went there thinking that your God had turned his back upon her, she felt that she was unworthy of Eyahvah’s aid. She had lost her youngest son, this was good enough reason to believe what she felt. My mother’s prayers had not been heard, her precious innocent son had been lost. She walked into that pond into the deepest part of it, her heart broken, her mind destroyed.” Ahnkuth sigh just briefly before continuing. “She was found floating on its surface hours later. My father who now had to deal with the loss of his son and beloved wife took me to his brother for he could not bear the loss of her or my brother; it was my uncle and his wife who took care of me as one of their own after that. I never saw my father again.” Pu’sotep looked up at the politician with pity but said nothing. “Ah so there are no verses to quote?” Ahnkuth’s eyes were watered with the remembrance of the pain from his past, his eyes fumed with anger. “Now that there are no quotes to make your God look worthy you remain silent!”

“You blame The Almighty for what this world has done.”

“And you praise your God for what he has not!” For a moment it seemed Ahnkuth was going to lose his temper again, he closed his eyes briefly taking a deep breath he opened them again forcing a smile. He did not want this to be as it was last night. “But let us talk of other matters shall we?” 

Pu’sotep did not look up. “There is nothing to talk about, last night I think you said what you had to and even then it was too much.” 

“Even if it pertains to the safety of your wife and child?” He grinned wickedly. Pu’sotep stiffened before looking over at the politician.

“My God will protect them.” He said firmly. 

“Like He protected my little brother so long ago? Let us see.” He paused gathering his words. “They were caught trying to flee the city by the kings elite guard you know, your wife and child is who of I speak. King Raies intends on bringing them here to visit you tonight to dangle them above your head as reminder of what you must do!” 

Pu’sotep quickly stood up at hearing what Ahnkuth said, he was angry. “You lie!” His voice seemed to crack slightly, Ahnkuth detected slight fear in the high priests tones, this was good. He had his full attention.

“Do I priest? I saw them this morning being taken away. Of course I bribed one of the guards with gold to confirm my suspicions! It is true what I say!” 

Pu’sotep realized that his heart was beating too fast, he had let his emotions run away from him. Now it was his turn to control what he was feeling, he sat back down lowering his head between his legs. “I know what you’re trying to do politician, take your forked tongue elsewhere!” His voice was more controlled now. Ahnkuth brought his face close to the bars, he gripped them with both hands while looking down at Pu’sotep.

“I can promise you that King Raies has your family! And we shall see if the king breaks your will! My mother was a faithful servant of a dead God, and she only realized this after the loss of her beloved son! She lost all hope of Eyahvah then. Let us see how you will be once you lose your family! All because you refuse to bow to the new gods!” 

“And what have the new gods blessed you with Ahnkuth?” Pu’sotep asked. He kept his head lowered, he all of a sudden sounded tired which made Ahnkuth feel quite elated that he was starting to wear him down. 

“I am the head of my social class! I am one of the most wealthy and powerful men in this kingdom! Re and Luma have blessed me with much! Eyahvah has only taken from me! How can you be such a fool not to notice this?” 

“All that you have, you have aspired for on your own. Had it been divinely given you would not have to lie, steal, and cheat your way through it all to attain it!” He looked up at Ahnkuth. “Tell me who really is the fool to not see that? Re and Luma are merely stone idols, there is no life within stone! But the One True God is a Living God! His promises are real!” He lowered his head again telling himself to speak no more with the politician, but Ahnkuth was not finished. 

“You know, I could care less of what happens to you, but your wife and child are as innocent as my mother was. Do you know what King Raies did when the Kulu brought them to him?” He paused waiting for a response but got none. “Your child was sent to the kings slave quarters, to be taken care of by one of the slaves. The child will grow up to be a slave sadly, there is no life in that. And your wife?” He paused again seeing Pu’sotep’s body slightly shaking. “He sent her off to the whore house. But he knew how superstitious people can be, who would have relations with the wife of the high priest? He had a grain bag tied around her head, and offers her to the lower clients for pleasure…” 

Pu’sotep stood up bolting at the bars reaching out for Ahnkuth who was barely able to get out of reach. It startled him briefly before he laughed. “Oh my! Look at you screaming like a man demon possessed. Is it only now that you see your God does not protect what is dear to your heart?” He began laughing finally seeing Pu’sotep uncontrolled in rage screaming loudly, tears flowing from his eyes trying desperately to reach beyond the bars to grab hold of the politician. “Look at you now, pray to your God to soothe your pain priest!” He said mockingly making sure that his voice could be heard over the yelling of Pu’sotep. He gave a final glance before walking away feeling better this time than the last meeting that was had between them.