Chapter Sixty – Evil does Not Die!
Sefani sat in the doorway of their home below the snowline on the eastern slopes of the mountains above Ain Beida, making chains of flowers with Talia, as the baby inside her grew. They had all witnessed the celestial event when Onet and his captive, Melos, were removed by the giant planet as it passed by. For several months life in the idyllic surroundings of their home followed its peaceful pattern.
One day in late autumn, Talia had just brought her father a cool drink in the field where he was ploughing, when her keen eyes spotted someone far below, steadily climbing up towards them. Nehket scooped her up and ran to the house, telling Sefani to take her inside and lock the doors and windows. He armed himself with bow and arrow and began working his way down the mountainside. An outcrop of rock above the lower slopes marked the halfway point between where the person was climbing and Nehket’s family were, as he continued towards them.
He had to stop from time to time, resting in the rarefied air of the high mountain pastures, because he was not used to high altitude. When he was less than two hundred meters from Nehket, he stopped and sat down on the edge of an old stone wall. Then he shouted, “Do you always greet your visitors this way?”
That night and for the next few weeks until Sefani’s second daughter Lea was born, Max stayed with them until it was time to return to Atlan. He told them about the birth of his son, Set and how Sefani’s father, Goran, still continued to live in isolation on the northern coast of Atlan. Sefani gave Max Onet’s account of how berserkers came into being and their struggle for survival after he had entrusted it to her. She insisted it be kept in the great library in Marsaxlokk for all to read and benefit by.
As for Max, he lived a long and hard life for years. Many things contributed to who he was. He considered himself toughened by the life he led. The day he sailed away on the return journey here to Atlan, his heart broke for the third time at leaving the girl he cared for most, his beautiful god-daughter Sefani.
Life in Atlan continues to blossom. They now trade with their neighbours in Kirenia and Gilgama. They send their brightest to school to be taught by Ausar and other knowledgeable scholars. There are no more tribal wars, since all the tribes united to defeat and drive out Meral and her cannibalistic followers.
Seti and Besal came to visit Goran and Max, staying for nearly a year before returning to Gilgama aboard the trading vessel. Goran shifted back to Marsaxlokk where he now lives with Max, his dear wife Bast, and their son Set. One day soon, Goran will make the voyage across to see Sefani once more.
Max closed Onet’s manuscript, leaving it on the writing desk in the library. He made his way back through the narrow streets of Marsaxlokk, stopping off at the outdoor café for a chat with some of his friends and having a nightcap before bed. When he entered his home, Bast took her ageing husband into the enclosed back garden where she had lit the fire beneath the earthenware bath over an hour before. She stripped him and helped him climb into its warm waters. After she had washed him, she left him to relax as she prepared the meal. Max lay looking up at the stars twinkling above. He drifted off in the comfort of the warm bath, closing his eyes. Moments before he began drowning, a powerful mind from afar sent him a warning. But it was too late.
Bast screamed when she found him lying at the bottom of the bath with his feet sticking up in the air. Set held his mother close as she trembled with grief and cried. Ausar ordered an autopsy that night, which thanks to Onet’s influence, only confirmed that Max had drowned when he fell asleep. Bast and Set followed the funeral entourage when Max was laid to rest a few weeks later, with Goran, Tihke, and Shaila close behind. Word had been sent to Besal and Seti, but because of ill health and their advancing years, they were unable to attend the funeral of their old friend.
Both girls splashed each other happily in the warmth of the summer showers. “Time to eat, my darlings,” Sefani smiled, as she watched her daughters playing in the rain.
“Coming mummy.” Talia replied as she turned and smiled back at her mother.
Her baby sister Lea stared into the puddle, watching the scene unfold before her as Set writhed and screamed in agony, bleeding from his mouth, nose, and ears. “Do it again, Lea, that’s funny,” Talia giggled. Baby Lea struck the image with her tiny fists, smiling and gurgling. The boy’s head lay in a pool of blood, squashed like a rotten tomato. Lea’s eyes flashed deep ruby red as she watched the heavy drops of rain fill the puddle, distorting the smooth surface.
After the girls had gone inside, the rain stopped and the surface of the puddle cleared. The image faded from view as the water turned blood red in the strong summer sunlight.
The planet that was my prison is now Onet’s as it continues on its endless path through the cosmos, passing beyond Orion’s Belt. Now I am free once more, I shall concentrate all my energies to guide my new young protégé Lea as she grows. She shows definite promise for what I have in mind for mankind.
Until we meet again…
“I am interested only in the relations of a people to the rearing of the individual man. Not by any means owing to the goodness of the people, but because of the struggles of their evil instincts.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.