O Fate, thou art ruler of Kings and men.
Their self preservation thou dost make in vain.
Te'kham Khune woke up to the sound of the trumpets announcing the return of the raiding ships. He opened his fourth-storey window, which afforded him one of the best views on Atlantis, and looked directly toward the harbor where the returning ships would be docking. The sky was clear and the sea was calm, but the returning ships seemed to be drawing the wrathful Olympians to Atlantis. Darkening clouds began to gather where the sky met the sea. The gentle sea breeze started to gain strength by the minute; each wave that crashed into the shores of Atlantis grew a little more potent than the last. Flashes of lighting emerged from the horizon and marched relentlessly toward the island. Change was imminent.
Te’kham Khune was a very lucky man, lucky enough to reap what his forefathers had sown, even luckier to be best friend of the Crown Prince, his ally and protector in the King’s treacherous Court. Te’kham Khune was part of the Descendants who fled to Atlantis after their Titan forefathers and protectors were defeated by Zeus and the Olympians. The Descendants first landed on a beach controlled by an alliance of tribes who were fighting for their own survival against the conquering Hawks, the most powerful tribe in Atlantis.
The Descendants’ landing unnerved the allied leadership and therefore it decided to mount an attack to deal with the emerging threat. But before the allied tribes commenced their attack against the Descendants, the Hawks disastrously opened an attack on them. Seizing the opportunity, the Descendants stealthily maneuvered to the rear of the Hawks’ formation and charged. The onslaught took the Hawks by surprise. They panicked at the sight of the fierce, towering Descendants. They broke their formation, threw down their weapons, ran, and got massacred.
After that battle, the Descendants were invited to join the alliance, which they readily accepted. It took ten years and massive losses before the alliance gained the upper hand in the war. On the day of the battle to destroy the Hawks' last stronghold, the tribes were to make a frontal attack, aiming to punch a hole in the Hawks formation and continue to push forward until the Hawks' formation is broken into two, while the Descendants were to encircle them from the sides and the rear, trapping the Hawks in the middle and innihilate them.
However, as soon as fighting started, the Descendants realized that their golden chance to eliminate both groups - and to be the masters of their own fate - had come. So rather than unleashing all their might on the sides and the rear of the Hawks' formation to cripple their fighting spirit, the Descendants held back, allowing the Hawks to maneuver and trapped the tribes after they had punched a hole through their formation. Two thirds of the tribes were killed in the first three hours of the fighting. But before the tribes were completely decimated, the Descendants increased pressure on the Hawks, forcing them to divert a substantial number of their soldiers away from the tribes to defend against the Descendants' incursions. That was enough to lift the tribes' fighting spirit, their renewed push inflicted heavy losses on the Hawks.
Fearing that they were in real danger of being split into two and trapped, the Hawks made a last ditch effort to exterminate the tribes by sending the diverted soldiers back, but the tribes kept on fighting, believing that the Descendants would soon shatter the Hawks' fighting formation and spirit. It took the Hawks all day to annihilate the tribes. After the fighting had rendered the Hawks too exhausted to defend themselves, the Descendants moved in for the kill. They left no one alive.
With the tribes' warriors exterminated, the Descendants spent the next few months hunting down and capturing remnants of the Hawks, who were to become their sacrificial victims.
Even before the last Hawk warrior was captured, The Descendants began to build a huge temple complex in the middle of Atlantis, which they dedicated to the Titans - whom they referred as the Elder Gods, their powerful divine forefathers and protectors. In the middle of that complex they built a sacrificial ground five storeys high with gigantic statues of the Titans looking inward to the sacrificial altar as if they were accepting the sacrifices. When the Descendants captured the last of the Hawk warrior, they gathered everyone on the island of Atlantis to witness the sacrifices and to formally accept them as the rulers of Atlantis.
Each of the victims was drugged and led to the sacrifice altar where he was pushed down into a sitting position on a long end of the rectangular stone bed. Then two Descendants held his ankles, another two held his elbows and shoulders. The two holding the victim’s elbows and shoulders pushed him down on his back, against red hot stones. The stones’ burning heat forced the victim to arch his chest upward, making it easier for the King of the Descendants to plunge a sharp knife into the victim’s stomach, forced it upward to his chest and split it open. The King adeptly ripped the still beating heart out and raised it high for all to see, then he carefully put it back into the open chest. The two Descendants who held the victim's ankles dragged his body to each of the Titan statues then hurled it down to the crowd to make room for the next one.
The Descendants soon built up their navy and took control of the sea-born trade routes, extracting riches from merchant ships. Those riches fueled their appetite for even more, and they began to conduct raiding expeditions for slaves and ransoms to places farther and farther away from their island homeland.
Knowing that he would soon be summoned to the King’s Court, Te'kham Khune ordered his two favorite concubines to prepare his bath. When the preparation was done, they led him to his bathhouse where they bathed and clothed him in his most regal robe, befitting one of the King's Advisors.
While Te'kham Khune was getting ready to go to the King's Court, the Crown Prince, his best friend and protector, came to welcome the return the raiding expedition, for it was the most successful in the last few years.
Among the slaves brought back was a very beautiful girl who walked with her head held high. She was tall and slender; her body statuesque; her face chiseled; her skin smooth and sun-kissed; her hair lustrous and silken, light brown and shoulder-length. She carried herself in a dignified, regal manner, as if she were on her way to conquer Atlantis.
Aroused with curiosity, the Crown Price walked toward her to take a closer look. Upon seeing the Crown Prince, the girl let out a scream, said something unintelligibly in her native language, dashed off from her procession, and leaped for his throat. Being a highly trained warrior, the Crown Prince easily sidestepped his attacker. He instinctually grasped the collar of her dress and pulled her toward him, intending to deliver a fatal elbow blow to her head. Fortunately for the girl, her dress ripped, exposing her large, round, supple yet perky breasts.
The sight of the girl's beautiful breasts incited more lust than the Crown Prince had ever experienced. At that moment, he completely forgot the strict taboo against sexual contacts, even rapes, with slaves - newly caught or otherwise. He rushed forward the slave girl, seized her body, tore off the remaining of her clothes, slung her over his shoulder, and carried her kicking and screaming back to his palace. There he threw her onto his bed and raped her, repeatedly, for the remainder of the day.
A spy for the First Advisor saw everything that had just happened. He rushed to the First Advisor’s house to report the incident. Gleeful at a chance to extract more power and prestige from the King, the First Advisor hurried to the King’s Court and report the Crown Prince’s grievous offense.
The report left the King visibly shaken; he resignedly dismissed the First Advisor. The King then called the Queen and said, “That uncontrollable son of yours has committed an unpardonable sin against our ancestors and against me. He had caused me so much grief, and to lose so much power and prestige to that damned First Advisor already. My throne is in real danger of being usurped by him. First your son raped the First Advisor’s niece and killed her betrothed, then he murdered two of my own Advisors, then he massacred one hundred of my defenseless slaves. Now he raped the slave girl and destroyed what is left of my power and prestige. I swear to the Elder Gods that he must be banished from Atlantis! It is of no import to me whether he dies in the vastness of the ocean where the fish nibble at his bloated body, or in a distant foreign land where the vultures feast on his rotten corpse.”
The Queen said nothing, she buried her face in her knees and began to sob. For she knew full well that if her son were to die from the danger of a faraway land, she would die from the treachery of her own home. The King cancelled his Court for the day, his mind was busy trying to come up with ways to limit the damage being inflicted on his power and prestige by the rape of the slave girl.
On the following day the Crown Prince learned that he had been summoned to his father's Court on the following day. The Crown Prince immediately snuck to Te'kham Khune's house for advise. The Crown Prince reminded Te'kham Khune of how he had saved Te’kham Khune’s life on so many occasions during their years of going on raiding expeditions together. "Now I am the one who needs to be saved. And it is your turn to repay that debt," the Crown Prince demanded.
Te'kham Khune immediately realized the magnitude of the peril that had fallen on the Crown Prince and him, for the Crown Prince was his sole ally and protector in the King’s perilous Court. Te’kham Khune kept pacing the floor trying to figure a way out of this potentially mortal danger. But all he could think of was to enlist the Queen’s help, for he knew that the Queen had realized that she was in danger, too, albeit for a different reason. So he composed a message to the Queen seeking her council at the palace that very night, reasoning that together they might be able to come up with a way to sooth the King’s wrath and to salvage what was left of his favor to them. Te'kham Khune secretly went to the Queen; and she agreed to meet them that evening. The Crown Prince, meanwhile, came up with his own idea.
After the King had fallen asleep, the Queen ordered the palace guards to let the Crown Prince and Te'kham Khune in. The Queen dismissed the guards and led them to her chamber. As soon as the guards were out of sight, she said, “My child, what Demon possessed you, why did you do such a foolish thing? Why could you not control your own lust? You are the Crown Prince of Atlantis, are you not? Why did you defile our sacred blood? Did you not know that the King would be fearsomely wrathful? Did you not know that you could be banished from Atlantis?” Without saying a word, the Crown Prince drew his dagger and stabbed her in the heart. The Queen was dead before her body hit the floor. Te'kham Khune stood stunned, his world had changed irreversibly in a blink of an eye. The Crown Prince was the only one who did not want him dead now, he had no choice but to follow his lead.
Stealthily the Crown Prince tiptoed to the King's chamber, Te'kham Khune could not think of anything except following him. The Crown Prince quietly snuck up to the sole guard from behind, grabbed his head twisted it forcefully. The guard's neck snapped before he could utter a word. Then Crown Prince kicked down the King chamber's doors, took out his dagger and rushed in, Te'kham Khune followed likewise. Before the King could rise up to defend himself, they plunged at him with their daggers. Moments later the King was reduced to a bloody, lifeless corpse. Te'kham Khune dropped to his knees and sobbed, he could barely believe what he had done.
The next morning the Crown Prince and Te'kham Khune summoned the King's Advisors one at a time. When First Advisor came, the Crown Prince pointed his index finger to the King's corpse, which he had left lying uncovered in the middle of the Court and said, “I have killed both the King and the Queen because they dared to contemplate dishonoring me again, and strip me off my rightful place in Atlantis. Now you have two choices: submit to me, or die.”
The First Advisor laughed contemptuously at the Crown Prince and then thundered, "Submit to you? Never! You are nothing but a degenerate, a disgrace to the Descendants, and a murderer no less. How dare you defile our sacred blood by raping that girl? If I were you, I would slit my throat with my own sword and die an ignominious death."
Then the First Advisor lowered his voice a bit and said, “However, for the sake of our people, I shall allow you to ascend to the throne if all of your allies, including - no, especially Te’kham Khune, stand on trial for the murders of the King and the Queen.”
“How dare you take me for a fool! Did you think that I would fall for your ploy to eventually strip me of my Crown and murder me?” the Crown Prince screamed. “Listen to me you damned insubordinate bastard: submit, or die."
“We shall see about that,” replied the First Advisor calmly, “Tomorrow I shall call for the council of Advisors to decide your fate, you disgraceful degenerate, a murderer of your own parents.”
Enraged, the Crown Prince unsheathed his sword and aimed for the First Advisor's head. Just as quickly, the First Advisor unsheathed his sword and blocked the Crown Prince's. And he charged, forcing the Crown Prince to retreat in panic. The Crown Prince tripped over a step in the Court and fell backward, leaving his body dangerously exposed to the First Advisor’s attack. Reacting fast, Te’kham Khune unsheathed his sword as the First Advisor raised his and sent it smashing down to the Crown Prince’s head. Te’kham Khune’s sword blocked it, giving the Crown Prince an opportunity to drive his sword to the First Advisor’s stomach. As the First Advisor crumbled to his knee, Tekham Khune swung his sword at the First Advisor’s neck, sending his head flying to a corner of the Court.
Seeing the King's and the First Advisor's corpses, the other Advisors submitted. They were allowed to keep their roles as Advisors to the new King - for now.
After he had met with all the Advisors and secured their submission, the Crown Prince announced the news of his father's passing to all Atlanteans. And declared himself King of Atlantis. Then the new King left the preparation for his crowning to Te'kham Kune, he went to his harem and took the slave girl into his chamber. There he ripped her clothes off and enjoyed her. Three days later he promoted her to the title of First Concubine.
Meanwhile Te'kham Khune grew increasingly worried about the sincerity of the other Advisors' submission. He also wanted to take advantage of the Advisors’ apparent disarray to eliminate them as a threat to his new King - and to him personally. So with the new King’s blessing, Te’kham Khune sent Atlantis’ most elite warriors to the Advisors' houses to finish them off.
The warriors left at midnight in secret for their assigned houses. Half an hour later, all of them returned and reported to Te'kham Khune that all of the Advisors had left for their training base in the mountain, and that there were signs that the Advisors had been planning an uprising.
Hastily Te'kham Khune assembled all of his troops and led them to the mountain, for he knew that he would not stand a chance against the Advisors’ organized attack. It took them only half a day to reach the base of the mountain where barriers seemed to have been erected haphazardly. As soon as they reached the first barriers, the Advisors emerged and attacked. It appeared to Te'kham Khune that all of the Advisors were involved in the attack. It took Te'kham Khune and his elite warriors just two hours a so to gain the upper hand. The remnants of the rebels retreated to the mountain pass leading to their camp.
Without any hesitation Te'kham Khune's warriors pursued them, before he was able to give any command. Te'kham Khune was almost certain that they were heading into a trap, but it was too late for him to stop the pursuit in the heat of the battle. Te'kham Khune had no choice but to follow his troops.
When they reached the middle of the mountain pass, Te'kham Khune heard rumbling noise on the mountains on both sides behind him. Before he could figure out what was making the noise, huge stones started to roll down, killing warriors in the back of the line. Then stones started to roll down in front of them, killing those in the front of the lines. In just minutes they were trapped.
Stones kept coming down until everyone except Te’kham Khune had been either killed or gravely wounded. The rebels then turned back, climbed over the stones, and killed every wounded warrior who was still breathing. Luckily, Te'kham Khune was able to climb over the stone to escape because he was not wounded.
The rebels pursued him until he was within the sight of the City of Atlantis. The small number of the warriors who remained in the city loaded the catapults with explosive balls and fired them at the advancing rebels. There explosions were enough to keep them from advancing further. Or so Te'kham Khune thought.
The next morning the rebels assembled before dawn and began to advance. This time the explosive balls slowed but did not stop their advance, however. They reached the outermost line of defense and slaughtered all the palace guards in a matter of minutes. The remaining guards watched in terror and some of them began to throw their weapons and ran away in panic.
Despite all the confusion and chaos Te’kham Khune reached the palace and got inside with the remnants of the guards. He immediately went to search for the King. He went from command post to command post but the King was nowhere to be found. Then Te’kham Khune heard a loud woman's sobbing coming from the building that housed the underground munition storage. So he went down to check.
Upon descending the stairs Te’kham Khune saw the slave girl naked with her wrists tied to the handle of the door of the storage room. She looked at him pleadingly. Inside the storage room the King was holding a large torch, about to light the fuse of an explosive ball.
The King moaned when he Te’kham Khune, “You’ve failed me, and everyone else on Atlantis has betrayed me. But I shall not let it go unpunished; I shall destroy the entire island even if I have to die with it.”
Quickly Te’kham Khune snatched the torch from the King’s hand, spun around, leaped out of the storage room and ran up the stairs, three steps at a time.
The King let out a curse, picked up a javelin, and rushed after him. He reached the ground when Te’kham Khune was almost a hundred yards from him. The King aimed at a spot just below Te’kham Khune’s neck and threw his javelin. Te’kham Khune swerved at the last moment. The tip of the javelin pierced him in the shoulder of the hand that was holding the torch.
The sudden and searing pain caused Te’kham Khune to drop the torch. Before he could recover from the pain, the King picked up the torch, turned around, and ran back down to the munition storage room.
Te’kham Khune rushed after the King, but when he reached the munition storage room it became apparent that he was too late, the King had lighted the fuse. So he turned around and with a flick of his wrist he cut the rope that tied the slave girl’s wrists and motioned her to follow him.
By the time they emerged from underground the rebels had knocked down the palace’s doors and headed for the main buildings. A group of inexperienced rebels was headed to the building that housed the munition storage room. The first rebel who saw Te’kham Khune hollered to his mates and dashed forward to confront him. Te’kham Khune unsheathed his sword and stood ready. The rebel swung his sword at Te’kham Khune’s neck but he quickly leaned backward to evade the oncoming blade. The rebel’s swing robbed him his balance and so he staggered forward, exposing his right rib. Te’kham Khune plunged his blade into the rebel’s exposed rib, gave it an extra push, and then yanked his blade out. The rebel fell to the ground dead.
The slave girl picked up the dead rebel’s sword just as the second rebel closed in on her. She quickly blocked the rebel’s thrust, kicked him in his stomach. The rebel was momentarily stunned by her kick, he bent his body slightly forward as if to lessen the impact of the kick. In a move she had practiced a thousand times before, the slave girl raised her sword above her head and with all her might smashed it down onto the rebel’s head. Blood and grey matter spouted from his gaping wound as he crumbled into a lifeless corpse.
The rest of the rebels saw how efficiently Te’kham Khune and the slave girl had killed the first two, they nervously waited for enough of their comrades to come before beginning their slow and deliberate advance. Seizing the opportunity to escape, Te’kham Khune motioned the slave girl to run toward the beach. They climbed onto one of the sailboats, and hastily sailed it out to the open ocean.
No sooner than the boat caught some wind and began to gain speed, one enormous explosion came after another. Soon the entire Palace was engulfed in an inferno. They could feel the entire island shaking, tearing itself apart. Within minutes they heard an explosion that was several magnitudes louder than the others, ashes shot up thousands of feet skyward. Moments later rocks and debris started raining down. Te’kham Khune and the slave girl hurried to one side of the boat and slid into the water. With their hands holding on to the side of the boat, they clung to the deck of the boat as closely as possible and used it to shield their bodies from the falling rocks and debris. They hang on until the boat sailed safely out of the danger zone.
As soon as they had climbed back onto the boat, Te’kham Khune and the slave girl reached out to each other. They both wept: he for the life that he had been given, she for the fate that she had chosen to accept. Together they wept for what lied ahead.