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Sphinx and the Coils of Apep

Chapter Text

Inky darkness blanketed the area like a thick fog. It roiled and breathed as if it had a mind of its own. Red eyes burning like embers appeared in the gloom, standing bright against the black backdrop.

So, Set has failed me. And the plan was perfect. Imhotep’s little cat Sphinx…. he is a problem. As is that undead corpse they keep around. I will have to personally take care of them so they don’t hinder my own plans….

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Sphinx woke up with a startle, quickly looking around, right hand itching to summon the Blade of Osiris.

When he saw nothing but the red candles and smelled the incense typical of the Sun Shrine, he relaxed. Then he crossed his arms, frowning as his tail thumped behind him.

Had that been a dream? What had the dream even been about?

He was almost certain he had been drowning. Not in water, but in darkness.

Glancing over at Tut, Sphinx saw that the undead prince was asleep. Or…. something. He was certain the undead didn’t need to sleep, but if Tut was acting like he was asleep, he was doing a good job of it.

Sphinx looked towards the Portal God, spotting Imhotep meditating. Sphinx wasn’t one to ask for help unless he absolutely needed it, but these strange dreams that had been plaguing him lately bothered him.

Stretching his arms out in front of him, Sphinx then got into a crouch so he could stretch out his back, appearing much like a stretching cat, tail arcing up. He shook his head then bounced to his feet, glancing down at Tut.

Still asleep. Or resting. Or faking it.

Whatever it was, Sphinx would return. He didn’t need to bother Tut for this.

Stepping over the mummy carefully so as not to disturb him, Sphinx made his way towards Imhotep.

“Master Imhotep?”

Cutting off in mid-hum, Imhotep opened an eye before he dropped his arms down and stood up, brushing himself off. “Yes, Sphinx?”

“I was wondering if you could help me with something.”

“And what would that be, dear boy?”

“I’ve been having these strange dreams lately. I don’t remember them when I wake up, but I’m certain in most of them I’m drowning. Not in water, but in darkness.”

Imhotep hummed, giving a nod as he held his chin, taking in the information.

Sphinx knew his master was an excellent mage and could receive visions, but if Imhotep hadn’t seen any that concerned future events, then perhaps the dreams were only for Sphinx.

“Those are strange dreams and could be interpreted in many different ways. However, if these dreams are in fact premonitions then perhaps it is best if you speak with the fortune teller of Abydos.”

Sphinx knew the fortune teller. He had saved her from the stone shell that had been cast around her and several others in the Cursed Palace in Heliopolis. She could possibly shed light on what his dreams meant. Any information she gave him would be helpful.

Sphinx nodded, heading over to the Portal God, the great statue leaning down, exhaling smoke from its gaping mouth. “I’ll do that. Thank you, Master.”

Imhotep nodded. “Wadjet protect you during your travels, Sphinx.”

Sphinx stepped onto the portal, glancing back at Tut who was still resting. He felt a bit sad that he was leaving without explaining where he was going or even offering for Tut to join him, but this was something he had to do alone.

With that in mind, Sphinx reached into the pouch at his waist, taking out the amulet that would send him to Abydos and held it up.

The Portal God acknowledged the offered amulet, using its magic to shift the demi-god into a ball of flames before inhaling it.

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Once the Portal God had rematerialized him, Sphinx made his way out of the damp underground waterway and up onto the main level of Abydos.

Even though he knew that the fortune teller lived in the city, he wasn’t sure exactly where. He didn’t remember coming across any signs that declared a fortune teller lived there.

Sphinx approached the tall bird that was always staring out over the water. “Excuse me.”

“Hm?” the bird turned, looking down at Sphinx. “Oh, it’s you. The one who saved the mayor’s life.”

“Yeah. Do you know where the fortune teller lives?”

“A fortune teller?” the bird chirped, setting a wing against their beak. “Hmm…. I don’t think I’ve heard of a fortune teller living in Abydos.”

Sphinx’s heart sunk at that. Perhaps he had been mistaken?

“Have you searched the Grand Canal? There are quite a few people who live there.”

He could search the entirety of Abydos and probably not find the fortune teller. However, the Grand Canal was a good place to start.

“Thank you.” Sphinx gave a slight bow before he turned and made his way towards the Grand Canal. Perhaps the fortune teller didn’t advertise her abilities.

As he headed down the walkway, Sphinx looked at any sign that was set and knocked on any doors that had no sign.

No luck.

Sphinx stopped by the last door on Grand Canal walkway.

He remembered the person always turning him away, claiming they were eating dinner.

If there wasn’t any fortune teller here then he would continue his search through the entirety of Abydos if needed.

Sphinx raised his hand to knock but before he even could, the door opened and at the threshold stood the squat reptilian fortune teller.

“What took you so long, my boy? I was beginning to think my vision was wrong. And my visions are never wrong.”

Sphinx looked around before he frowned. “You were expecting me?”

“Of course!” the fortune teller waved him in. “Come, come. I have some nice dates and honey bread.”

Sphinx stepped into the house as the fortune teller shuffled off ahead of him.

“Would you like white or red wine? And please make yourself at home.”

“Um, red wine. Please.” Sphinx sat down in the nearest chair, tail flickering nervously. “You saw a vision of me coming to see you?”

“Yes! You need help with something plaguing you.”

Sphinx nodded. He took the goblet of wine the fortune teller offered to him. “I’ve been having these strange dreams lately.”

“Ah, dreams can be powerful things indeed.” The fortune teller settled in her own seat across from Sphinx. “And interpreted in many different ways. What do you recall of them?”

Sphinx took a few dates off the plate that the fortune teller had set on the table between them, but didn’t eat them as he tried to recall his dreams as best he could. “In several of them, I’m drowning in darkness. In a few, I think there’s another presence watching me. At first, I thought it was Ra or Osiris, but the presence doesn’t feel friendly. I can’t tell who or what it is.”

The fortune teller nodded. “Strange dreams indeed. Perhaps I can offer a look into your future. It may give us some answers.”

Sphinx smiled, giving a nod. “That would be helpful. Thank you.”

As the fortune teller slid down from her seat to grab some cards, Sphinx popped a few dates into his mouth, the fruit sweet on his tongue.

“I thought you had a different way of telling the future.”

Sphinx definitely remembered the fortune teller using a pot when they first met.

“Yes, I have that as well. However, these cards will also help.” The fortune teller shuffled the deck of cards before setting three cards face down on the table.

Sphinx watched as she flipped over the cards one at a time.

“Hm. A reversed five of swords. Treachery. A reversed Star. Darkness. And an upright Strength. Courage or conquering your animal instincts.”

Sphinx stared at the cards which looked like normal cards to him. He knew nothing of the art of tarot readings though.

“Yes, hm.” The fortune teller got up from her seat once more.

Treachery, darkness, and the conquering of his animal instincts? That made no sense to Sphinx. He was more confused now than ever.

The fortune teller returned, carrying a small cauldron. She set it down with a grunt. “Let’s see if we can’t get a deeper meaning to those cards.”

Sphinx took a swig of the tart wine before he stood up to move closer as the fortune teller waved her hands over the cauldron.

“Let’s see…” The fortune teller murmured, staring into the swirling liquid. “I see a new journey ahead, for both you and your undead friend, Prince Tutenkhamen. This journey will allow you two to see through each other’s eyes. An evil older and more powerful than Set waits in shadows. Old friends will attempt to lure you onto a different path than one that has been set for you. However, this journey will not go unrewarded.”

“Unrewarded? Does that mean a cure for Tut could be found?”

“Perhaps. Nothing is set in stone, my boy.”

Sphinx sighed, tail flicking. “Where should we begin?”

“The city of lions.”

“Leontopolis?” Sphinx groaned. “Of course it had to be there.”

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Imhotep looked up from the passaged he was reading from the Book of the Dead when he heard the Portal God’s roar. “Ah, Sphinx. You’ve returned.”

Tut got his feet when he heard Sphinx’s name, making his way over to the demi-god. “Sphinx! Imhotep said you left for answers about something. Did you find them?”

Sphinx rubbed the back of his neck, tail waving. “Yeah, I suppose. We’re going to visit Leontopolis.”

“The city of lions?” Tut asked as Imhotep questioned, “Whatever for?”

“A new evil is about to make itself known. Leontopolis may hold some answers as to who it is and how to stop them.”

“You don’t seem too keen on going there,” Tut said. “How come?”

“My family.”

Tut rubbed his bandaged his hands together nervously, anxious that he had inadvertently upset Sphinx. “Your family? You never mentioned you had one.”

“I don’t see them that often.” Sphinx made his way to the main floor. “It’s about a two day walk from here. We should get some supplies before heading out.”

Tut quickly followed after Sphinx. “W-well, you only need supplies for yourself, I don’t need any food or anything.”

Sphinx looked at Tut.

Sometimes Sphinx forgot that the other wasn’t truly alive and didn’t need the things that he did. That would at least make the pack lighter and easier to carry.

“That means we can move faster then.” Sphinx resumed filling a small satchel with non-perishable food and some small jars of water.

“It seems your journey is going to be long,” Imhotep said, walking up to Sphinx and Tut. “I wish you both the best and may Wadjet protect you both until your safe return.”

Sphinx gave a nod. “Thank you, Master. We’ll see you soon.”

“Thank you for your hospitality,” Tut murmured, giving a quick bow.

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Tut didn’t seem all too bothered by the heat of the desert. Sphinx didn’t understand why he wasn’t but then again Tut was undead.

Sphinx gave a quiet sigh to himself as he and Tut continued trudging through the desert, trying to get as far as possible before the sun set. The sun overhead was beating down on Sphinx and he couldn’t wait until it set and the desert began to cool down.

Not many monsters bothered them through their walk, just some small Burbles or the obnoxious spiders that kept trying to jump and cling to them.

Once the sun finally set, Sphinx and Tut stopped for the night, making a fire to keep themselves warm and to keep away any potential monsters that popped up during the nighttime.

“What’s your family like?” Tut asked as he watched Sphinx eat. “Do you like them?”

Sphinx looked up from his food before looking back down. “I do. Well, I like my mom. And my younger sister. I don’t particularly hate my older brother, but he really hates me.”

“How come?”

“I’m only half god. My sister and brother are pure gods. He just hates that I’m a demi-god.”

Tut hummed, crossing his arms. “Seems like a stupid reason.”

Sphinx snorted. “Not to him.”

“What are their names?”

“My mom is Sekhmet. And my sister is Bast. She’s about four. And Aten is five years older than I am.”

“Your mom is the warrior goddess Sekhmet?” Tut gasped, amazed that Sphinx was related to such a violent goddess. “The Red Lady? The Mistress of Dread?”

Sphinx gave a snort, tail brushing along the sand. “My mom really isn’t as bad you Egyptians believe. She’s nice and I love her.”

“Do you think we’ll get to see her when we visit Leontopolis?”

“Probably.” Sphinx gave a shrug. “I just hope that I don’t run into Aten. I don’t feel like dealing with him.”

Tut nodded. He knew what older brothers were like, though it sounded like Aten was more of a pain than Akhenaten was. Tut was aware his brother had been jealous of him, but it sounded as if Aten completely hated the fact that Sphinx even existed.

“We should get some rest,” Sphinx suggested, already lying down and curling up partway. “We need to get going as early as we can tomorrow.”

“Y-yeah! Good idea.” Tut lay on his back, staring up at the stars overhead.

It was different going on an actual adventure instead of being confined within the walls of Uruk. Staring at the stars was something he hadn’t done in ages. It was nice. Going on an adventure with Sphinx, to new places none of them had gone to.

This is going to be fun…

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Sphinx was certain that he was having the same dream again but this time he wasn’t drowning. He was standing on solid ground.

Suddenly the ground rumbled and two red eyes appeared in front of Sphinx, lifting up to tower above the demi-god.

In reaction, Sphinx summoned the Blade of Osiris, readying himself for a fight.

 You two will not interfere in my plans! I will keep you two blundering in each other’s forms!

There was a loud roar from the being, vibrating everything around Sphinx and rattling deep in his bones, the noise so alarming that Sphinx was startled awake.

He quickly sat up, glancing around. He saw no threat, no monsters. It was still nighttime, the crescent moon hanging in the star filled night sky.

Sphinx relaxed slowly, sighing.

Had that really just been a dream? It had felt a bit too real to just be a dream.

He looked over at Tut to see if the prince was still resting. His eyes widened however when he saw that he was looking at himself sprawled out on the sand.

“…What?”

Cautiously, Sphinx looked down at his hands and saw bandages. He then looked at himself completely and saw that he was apparently in Tut’s body.

“What is going on?”

Chapter Text

After making sure that he wasn’t dreaming, Sphinx quickly made his way over to Tut, shaking him awake. “Tut, hey. Wake up!”

Tut gave a sleepy purr, stretching out as he rolled over to look at Sphinx.

Sphinx rolled his eyes. He had gotten rid of that habit and now Tut was going to ruin it.

Tut blinked at Sphinx before his eyes widened. “Why am I looking at myself?”

“Because somehow we sapped bodies! What did you do?”

"Me?” Tut touched his chest hurtfully, tail going between his legs. “Why are you blaming me?”

“This has to be somehow related to you!”

“It could be your fault!” Tut countered, pointing at Sphinx. “You and your demi-godness.”

“I can’t swap bodies!” Sphinx threw up his hands in aggravation before grabbing his face with a groan. “We need to remedy this.”

“How?”

“We’ll have to go back to Master Imhotep.”

“That’s a day away!”

“Then we should get moving.” Sphinx headed back in the direction of Heliopolis. “Come on. Faster we leave, faster we get this done.”

Tut gave a groan as he hopped to his feet. He looked down, bouncing a bit. “Wow, I’m so light and springy!”

“Hurry up, Tut!”

“Coming!” Tut raced after Sphinx, easily catching up to him.

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The two returned to the Sun Shrine so they could speak with Imhotep on the issue that was plaguing them.

Imhotep glanced towards them when they entered, giving a hum. “Back so quickly?”

“We never even got to Leontopolis!” Sphinx said in exasperation. “Something came up so we had to turn back.”

“I’ve never heard you speak in such a way, Tut.”

“I’m Sphinx!” Sphinx pointed to Tut was who busy looking at his newly acquired tail. “That’s Tut!”

Imhotep raised an eyebrow, staring at the two intently before he nodded, gripping his chin. “I see, yes. You two appear to have swapped bodies. How peculiar.”

“Can you fix it, Master Imhotep?”

“I’ll consult the Book of the Dead.” Imhotep summoned the Book, which opened in front of him. “It may have an answer.”

“Thank you.” Sphinx said down with a sigh as Imhotep began skimming through the Book.

“How do you make it stop?” Tut questioned, still looking at his tail.

“It doesn’t stop,” Sphinx said. “It always moves.”

“Even when you sleep?”

“Sometimes.” Sphinx shrugged, lying on his back.

Tut appeared thoughtful then grinned. “Cool.”

His tail waved faster and a purr rumbled in his throat.

Sphinx internally groaned. He had gotten that little quirk under control and now Tut was going to ruin it.

Tut appeared surprised at the noise coming from himself, looking around to try and find the source. “What is that noise?”

“That’s you. Purring.”

“Purring? You can do that?”

Sphinx gave a faint groan. “I can, but I choose not to.”

“How do you turn it off?”

“Just don’t focus on that. Think of something else.”

Tut nodded, frowning to himself as he tried to think of something that would make him stop purring.

After a few seconds, the purring faded and Tut perked up. “I did it!”

“Good for you.” Sphinx closed his eyes, draping his arms across his chest. “I’m taking a nap.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Tut understood the feeling he was always tired as a mummy. It was something he just had to get used to, even if he didn’t fully sleep like he used to.

So Tut sat down, watching Sphinx then looking at Imhotep.

The other was still poring over the Book of the Dead, deep in concentration.

Tut had nothing to do and he felt boundless energy buzzing through him.

Was this always how Sphinx felt? Full of energy? Perhaps that was why Sphinx never sat still for long.

With nothing better to do, Tut looked at the pouch attached to his belt around his waist. He opened it and peered inside curiously before reaching a hand in.

He began pulling out anything his hand touched, setting it on the ground.

A blowpipe, a multitude of darts, a bag of pink scarabs, the Shield of Osiris, and a handful of amulets.

“Wow.”

Imhotep hummed. “I may have found something that could be of assistance.”

Sphinx was immediately on his feet, heading to Imhotep. “Really? Are you sure?”

“Not fully, but we may as well try, yes?” Imhotep glanced down at the Book once more before holding out his hands. “Wayward souls bound to dissimilar flesh, return to your original state and be fixed.”

Sphinx and Tut remained still as a magic washed over them. After a few seconds they glanced at themselves.

“We’re still swapped, Master Imhotep,” Sphinx said.

Imhotep hummed, gripping his chin. “That is a dark magic keeping the two of you like this.”

“How are we supposed to fix this then?” Tut asked.

“The only way to undo what has been done is to confront the caster of the magic, which is quite difficult as you don’t know who did this to you.”

Sphinx sighed, crossing his arms.

Imhotep was right. He didn’t know who had done this to him and Tut. All he heard was the voice and that was in a dream. So they were stuck like this until they found the perpetrator or found a reversal on their own.

“Then we’ll continue our journey to Leontopolis,” Sphinx said, dropping his arms. “Perhaps Sekhmet knows of something concerning this.”

Imhotep nodded. “A sound plan, Sphinx. I will keep researching on my end.”

“Thank you, Master.” Sphinx bowed before turning and heading to the entrance of the Sun Shrine. “Come on, Tut.”

Tut quickly shoved the items he had taken out of the pouch back into the pouch before following after Sphinx. “Coming!”

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With the decision settled, Sphinx and Tut continued their travels to Leontopolis for answers.

The city was just as large and grand as Abydos, with statues of Sekhmet guarding the entrance, a large weapon gripped in her massive paws.

Tut looked around in awe.

He had never really adventured before, even before his curse, so seeing new cities and locations was exciting.

“There should be a library around here somewhere,” Sphinx said, glancing around for a map. “Usually Sekhmet is there.”

“Why do you call your mother by her first name?”

Sphinx looked away in the guise of still searching for a map. “I haven’t seen her since I was four.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

Tut decided to drop the subject since it seemed touchy. He wondered if Sphinx had been training with Imhotep since he had been four.

Not being able to see his family must have been hard. Or did he purposely not want to see his family? Tut wanted to ask but kept quiet. It was probably another touchy subject.

“Here.” Sphinx finally found the map he was searching for and stared at it before pointing to a spot near the center of town. “That’s the library. We should—”

“Sphinxy!”

Tut looked down when someone latched onto his leg and saw a young lioness clinging to him, tail waving madly. He looked at Sphinx for assistance, but it appeared the demi-god was amused at the situation.

The girl let go of Tut’s leg, staring up at him suspiciously. Her tail went straight up as she stomped a foot. “You aren’t Sphinx! The Sphinx I know would give me a hug back!”

“Uh….” Tut looked between Sphinx and the girl before keeling down, holding out his arms.

The girl seemed satisfied with that, jumping into his arms and clinging to his neck. She started purring. “I haven’t seen you in forever, Sphinxy!”

Tut looked at Sphinx helplessly.

“That’s Bast,” Sphinx said. “My half-sister.”

“Oh."

OH. Right. They looked like each other. No wonder Bast thought he was Sphinx.

Tut set Bast down, the girl appearing confused that their hug was cut short. “I think we have some explaining to do…"

Bast gasped when she finally noticed Sphinx. “You have a mummy for a friend?! That’s so cool!”

“Uh….” Tut looked at Sphinx before he nodded. “Yes. That’s…”

“My name is Tut,” Sphinx cut in. “I helped Sphinx here during the reign of Set. I infiltrated Uruk Castle to transport useful items back to Sphinx.”

“Wow…” Bast stared at Sphinx in awe. “That’s amazing!”

Sphinx smiled. Bast was always easily amused by stories of adventure.

“Bast!” a voice called, a tall lioness striding towards them. “There you are! You shouldn’t go running—Sphinxy!”

What is with the Sphinxy? Tut wondered as the lioness walked towards him and enveloped him in a hug.

Tut had barely any time to react as the lioness pulled away, rubbing her cheek against his, purring unbidden. He began to purr as well, closing his eyes.

Obviously, Sphinx’s body remembered the gesture. It must be a common greeting between them. Or between the feline kind.

Tut wasn’t sure.

The lioness pulled back, staring at Tut pridefully as she held his shoulders. “Look at you. So grown-up now.”

“Uh, yes,” Tut replied uncertainly, looking over at Sphinx for assistance.

“Sekhmet,” Sphinx supplied.

Sekhmet looked over at Sphinx before immediately glancing between them, tail lashing. “Who did this, Sphinxy? Tell me so I may maul them!”

Sphinx was surprised that Sekhmet was speaking to him, blinking in confusion. “You…know?”

“I can see your soul, my boy. Your souls have been switched. Who did it?”

“I don’t know.”

Sekhmet frowned, her tail drooping. “I see. I take it you’re not here for a family reunion?”

Sphinx smiled ruefully. “Afraid not, mother.”

“I see….”

Before Sphinx could explain why they were there, a deep voice called out, “Hey, half-breed!”

“Oh, no,” Sphinx mumbled under his breath, spotting a heavyset lion stalking towards them.

The lion sported a dark russet mane and scars littered his body. He was a head taller than Sphinx, rippling with muscles.

“Who’s that?” Tut whispered to Sphinx.

“Aten, my older half-brother. He hates me.”

So that was Aten. Definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Aten stopped in front of Tut, arms crossed. “What do you think you’re doing here?”

“U-uh….”

“This city is open to everyone,” Sphinx said, standing by Tut’s side. “You don’t control who goes in and—”

“No one asked you, Bandages,” Aten snapped, shoving Sphinx back.

Sphinx stumbled back, almost falling to the ground. He caught his balance and glared at Aten.

“H-hey, leave him alone!” Tut said, puffing himself up to try and appear bigger.

“What’s with that stammering, half-breed? That adventure you had make you soft?”

“That’s enough, Aten!” Sekhmet intervened, frowning at Aten. “Sphinx and his friend have swapped bodies. They’re merely here for assistance.”

“Swapped bodies?” Aten muttered, looking between Tut and Sphinx. When he saw that was indeed true, he laughed loudly. “Oh, this is priceless! The half-breed, stuck in the body of a corpse! That’s exactly what you get for being you.”

Tut growled quietly, tail lashing.

Oooh. He so hated Aten’s attitude!

Sphinx decided to ignore Aten, looking at his mother. “Can you help us? Do you know of any place that may hold clues to a reversal?”

Sekhmet hummed, folding her arms. Her tail moved slowly behind her as she thought of her answer. “Well, there is the Temple of Leon. That is a good place to start as any.”

Sphinx nodded. “Thank you, mother. We’ll check it out immediately.”

He grabbed Tut’s wrist, pulling him along to break off the staring contest that was happening between him and Aten.

“Come on.”

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry about my family,” Sphinx said as he and Tut continued towards the Temple of Leon.

The Temple lay beyond the city, past a desert and up on a rocky crag. If he squinted, Sphinx could just make out the pointed spires of the Temple.

Tut shook his head quickly. “Oh, no, it was nice to meet them. Well, not Aten. But your mother and sister are nice. I like them. Perhaps we could visit them again after all this is settled?”

Tut knew he was babbling but learning about Sphinx’s family and then meeting them made him excited.

Sphinx smiled slightly. He was glad that Tut seemed to like his family.

While Sphinx himself had some grievances with his family, he still loved them. And it was nice to see them again after so long.

“I suppose we can. It all depends on how this goes.” Sphinx stared up at the cliff that loomed before them, blocking easy access to the Temple.

Tut stared up at it as well, shielding his eyes with his hand. He looked at Sphinx. “Do we have to climb this?”

“It’s a test. To see if we have the strength of a lion.”

“Climbing then.”

Sphinx nodded, grabbing onto a few rocky outcroppings and pulling himself up with a grunt.

As Sphinx climbed up, Tut began to follow after him. His claws automatically dug into the rock, helping to anchor him.

Sphinx got to the top first, scrambling onto solid ground and flopping on his back.

Climbing usually wasn’t so difficult for him, but since he was in Tut’s body, it was obvious the other hadn’t done much strength training.

Tut came up behind him, not even out of breath. Tut sat beside Sphinx as he waited for the other to catch his breath.

“So, do you think there will be more tests?”

“Perhaps. This is the Temple of Leon, the lion. We’ve done strength.” Sphinx sat up once he could breathe properly again. “But there’s also speed and the roar.”

“Maybe speed is next then.”

Sphinx nodded, getting to his feet. He brushed himself off. “Let’s get going then.”

Tut smiled a bit.

They continued on and soon came across another obstacle.

A broad river of lava with four stepping stones spaced across. Four Spitting Toads were on alternating sides of the stepping stones, tongues already lying out, ready to sweep up anything that came near.

“Fuck me,” Sphinx mumbled. “Spitting Toads.”

“Huh?” Tut looked at Sphinx in confusion. “You know them?”

“I know one Spitting Toad. He likes coconuts. These guys…I’m not so sure about.”

Sphinx hadn’t even known that there had been more than one Spitting Toad.

“Can’t we ask them to move?”

“No. their motto is ‘swallow first, think later’. And I can’t see any coconuts nearby.”

Tut looked at the Toads before looking at Sphinx. “What do we do then?”

“Complete the test without being swallowed. Speed is the key.”

“I don’t like this test.”

“Me either.” Sphinx sighed. He moved side to side, looking at the position of the Spitting Toad’s tongues. “Looks like if you stay near the edge, you could avoid the tongues.”

It was dangerous though. One wrong misstep could either end in the Spitting Toad’s mouth or the boiling lava.

“I’ll go first,” Sphinx said. “Once I get past, follow my path exactly.”

Tut nodded, tail waving nervously. “Be careful.”

Sphinx stared at the stepping stones and Spitting Toads a few minutes longer before he jumped onto the first stone, barely avoiding the Spitting Toad’s tongue as it quickly shot back into the Toad’s mouth. Without waiting for the Toad to unfurl its tongue again, Sphinx leapt to the next stone, then the third and fourth before finally landing on solid ground on the other side of the lava river. He sighed heavily, waving at the anxious Tut.

“Your turn!”

Tut bit his lip, staring at the obstacle before him. He hopped from foot to foot then leaped to the first platform. When the Toad’s mouth snapped closed, Tut jumped, tail stiffening. He jumped to the second platform then the last two, scrabbling a bit in his panic. Tut crashed into Sphinx as he leapt off the last stepping stone, knocking both of them to the ground.

They both looked back at the Spitting Toads, the monsters grumbling amongst themselves at the loss of potential meals.

“You can get off now.”

“Oh. Right.” Tut quickly scrambled off Sphinx before helping him to his feet. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Sphinx brushed himself off before he looked towards the entrance to the Temple of Leon. “One more test.”

The Temple was massive with tall spires topped with winged lions. Lion statues guarded the closed front odor, locked in a pouncing position, their mouths agape in a silent roar.

The Temple was definitely different than the ones that Sphinx had visited.

As they approached the doors, Tut asked, “So what do we do?”

“Roar. That should open it.”

“Should?”

“Everything has worked so far. I’m sure the doors will open.”

Tut stared up at the door.

Sphinx glanced at him. “Think you can handle it?”

Tut gave a nod before he took in a deep breath. Then he released as much of a roar as he could muster.

It was a crackly roar that was pathetic, but it seemed to work well enough for the Temple. After a few seconds, Tut’s roar echoing around the area, the doors unlocked and slowly swung open inward.

“It worked!”

Sphinx nodded, heading inside. “Let’s see what’s inside.”

Tut followed after Sphinx.

The entrance to the Temple was open, lined with unlit torches. The torches burst into flames as the two passed them.

They came into an open clearing, three rooms branching off from the middle.

Sphinx looked around at the rooms. “Looks like we have to go through three rooms and do…something.”

“Maybe it’s the same test? Speed, strength and roaring?”

Sphinx hummed before he nodded. “Could be. Or could be different things. Let’s go left first.”

“Shouldn’t we split up?” Tut asked.

Sphinx shook his head. “No. We may need each other’s abilities to get past obstacles.”

That sounded logical.

“All right,” Tut said, following Sphinx into the room on the left.

The room was a dead end, save for a n upper level accessible by a ladder. A thin layer of water coated the flor while a dead electricity generator sat in the middle.

Sphinx looked around while Tut stared at the generator.

“I think I know what to do,” Tut said. “You need to activate the generator.”

Sphinx looked at Tut. “Activate it how?”

“You need to electrify yourself then return here. Avoid the water or it will erase the electricity.”

“Electrify, avoid water, activate. Seems easy.” Sphinx looked at the ladder leading to the second area. “What about you?”

“I could look at the other two rooms.”

It was a statement, but it sounded more like a question.

Sphinx sighed. “Any traps and you come right back.”

Tut nodded quickly before running off.

Sphinx watched him then shook his head. He made his way to the ladder, climbed up and followed the hallway until it led to an enclosed area.

“This must be the thing that electrifies.”

Carefully, Sphinx stepped into the machine.

Doors closed behind him and something vibrated before a bolt of lightning shot straight at Sphinx.

“Ah!”

The electrical shock that sparked around Sphinx rattled him and pulsed against his teeth.

The doors to the electricity chamber opened and Sphinx stumbled out. He returned back to the main area, climbing hallway down the ladder before leaping onto the dry floor below.

He touched the generator, sighing as the electricity was taken from him.

“Oh, you got it!” Tut said as he returned.

“It was…different. What about the other rooms?”

“One looks like a fire room and the other…all I could see was a smasher.”

Sphinx nodded. “Let’s do the middle one next. Work our way around.”

“All right.”

They returned to the center room and Sphinx saw a symbol lit up on the floor. “A lion?”

“Maybe each thing has to be lit up?” Tut suggested.

“Possibly.” Sphinx made his way to the middle room.

At the far end was an opening into another room, but it was blocked by a pair of walls opening and closing rhythmically.

“That’s something back there to get another symbol lit up,” Sphinx muttered. He stared at the moving walls before he sighed.

Another mummy ability, huh?

Tut watched as Sphinx slowly moved towards the walls.

Once the walls had slammed into him, Sphinx moved past them and looked himself over.

Flat as paper.

It was definitely a strange sensation, feeling like a light feather.

Sphinx looked back at Tut just in time to see him step closer to the walls. He held out his hands to stop the other.

“Whoa, whoa, stop!”

Tut paused a foot from the walls, looking confused. “What? I can’t follow you?”

“No! If you get hit by those, you’ll die. You and my body.”

And then Sphinx would forever be trapped in the body of a mummy.

“Oh.” Tut sulked a bit, stepping back. “Okay…”

“I’ll be back quickly.” Sphinx headed into the back room.

Tut watched him before he sat down, tail thumping against the ground.

He didn’t want to sit and wait for Sphinx to do all the adventuring but Sphinx was right.

While in Sphinx’s body he could do things he normally couldn’t, it still couldn’t do the things his mummy body could do.

Tut sighed as he waited for Sphinx to return.

It took several minutes before Sphinx returned, passing through the moving walls once more.

Sphinx gave him a thumbs up. “Got the second one. One more to go.”

Tut hopped to his feet. “Let’s go then!”

Before Sphinx could stop him, Tut ran off to the final room. He sighed, following after Tut.

Tut was waiting at the entrance to the room.

Sphinx observed the room, spotting a fire jet blocking easy access. Past it was a hallway covered in water, platforms lining the center to be used as hopping stones.

“I won’t be long,” Sphinx said, moving forward to the sprays of flame.

 He had the basic idea now and could figure out the puzzles on his own.

Tut frowned as Sphinx left before he returned to the center of the room to see how he could help. He stared at the two pictures on the floor.

A headless lion and a pair of wings.

Curious, Tut leaned down and tried shifting the picture. He found he could slide them side to side and began to shift them around to see what would happen.

No combination he tried made sense and it just irritated Tut the more he tried.

He eventually gave up, stomping a foot as his tail lashed.

Another picture appeared on the ground and Tut stared at it.

“A human head?”

That was unusual.

What did the pictures mean anyway?

“Figure something out?” Sphinx asked as he approached Tut. He looked at the pictures, humming.

“I can’t figure them out,” Tut complained.

“Sphinx.”

“What?”

“It’s a sphinx.” Sphinx knelt down, shifting the picture into the correct position.

Once he had aligned the pictures, the flooring glowed and the center of it sunk down before opening up. A pedestal rose up, containing a pair of shimmering ethereal wings on top.

“What are these?” Tut asked as Sphinx carefully picked up the item.

“Not sure…” Sphinx muttered. “Perhaps Sekhmet will know.”

Tut nodded.

Of course, Sekhmet would know. She had to know, right?

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“Hmmm…” Sekhmet stared at the pair of wings that Sphinx had given to her. “I’m not sure what this is. Sure looks like the Wings of Maat to me though.”

“The Wings of Maat?” Tut asked.

Sekhmet nodded, handing the wings over to Tut. “They’re a magical artifact that allows the user to glide short distances.”

Tut stared at the Wings in awe. He had to try them out sometime.

“They sound like they could help us on our quest,” Sphinx said. “Put them in the pouch.”

Tut nodded eagerly, opening the pouch at his side and gently dropping the wings inside.

“Fancy meeting you here, Sphinx,” a voice said.

Sphinx and Tut turned towards the voice and Sphinx scowled at who he saw.

“Horus.”