[RO] The Necropolis
Bedaya
#1
OOC: All characters can be assumed to speak in Arabic. Spiritual elements are left up to interpretation: may or may not be a true Ghost.

I hope you enjoy this lil dive into Bedaya!

The oasis of Al-Jawf glittered beautifully in the hot setting sun. The talk of their tribe bounced in and out of Sabeh’s ears as they dipped their borrowed ornate cup into the water to sip from it. Jasar and Obadiah did the same, whereas little Ejlaal had no hands to do so. He had not shifted yet, so the runt came up and licked the water up with his tongue. Jasar chuckled, seeing this, and said to Sabeh: “He looks so out of place. I mean, he’s as old as we are.”

Ejlaal’s ears pinned back at the words, obviously overhearing them. Sabeh sensed that an argument could start, so they gave a fake smile back to Jasar. “You only shifted first because you got scared by a little snake, Jasar.” They teased to take the attention off of Ejlaal. “You were crying so hard when Mom found you.”

Jasar folded his arms. “Shut up,” he replied, his mood contained then. Sabeh hummed, and went back to drinking their water. Their right ear flicked as they instead honed in on the conversations behind them: the ones among the adults.

“We shouldn’t stay here long,” one of them was saying.

Sabeh recognized their mother’s voice next.

“I don’t like the children being so close to it. Especially mine, for you know they can be… reckless.” She sighed. “Maybe we could head for Baris next.” Her intricate clothing swayed as she moved her arms, eventually tucking both hands in her long sleeves as she often did. A nervous habit of hers, Sabeh had come to realize.

‘It’. Only a moment passed before Sabeh knew what she was talking about. They turned their head all around until they saw it looming in the distance: the Necropolis. The kids: themself and their littermates, never were told much about it except to never, ever go there. And Amena knew them well enough to know that only drew their curiosity. None of them were particularly obedient. Sabeh stood out, of course, as the worst. Their transition to letting go of their male gender had been frowned upon not because of the gender they claimed now, but because of why they did it. They did it, to raise themself above, to feel unique and special—or so the elders claimed. Therefore, it wasn’t a true transformation. It wasn’t pure.

Sabeh clenched the hand that was not holding their drinking cup into a fist and started at their lap. If they were really impure, then the Necropolis shouldn’t have any effect on them, right? If they were already a Devil…

“Hey, Sabeh,” Ejlaal whispered. They looked up at him. His tail was wagging behind him. “Let’s go.”

They noticed that Jasar and Obadiah were distracted at this moment, bickering among themselves. And the adults were wrapped up in further conversation about where to travel to next. Sabeh gave a quick nod and they tried to inconspicuously move away from their designated spot, Sabeh leaving their cup in the sand next to the water. They went through the brush around the oasis, and Sabeh used their hands to push aside large leaves that Ejlaal could not.

They didn’t have to ask why Ejlaal wanted to go, as they knew the same thing was on his mind. He must have overheard the elders, too. So they walked in silence for a bit, traveling off into the open sand around the oasis and towards the forbidden pyramid in the distance without needing to speak to one another.

Once they were far away enough, though, Sabeh no longer held their tongue. “So, why do you want to go?” They knew why they were called to the Necropolis. Not about Ejlaal’s reasons, though.

“Well, I want to be brave.” Ejlaal answered easily. “Let’s go be brave, OK? Even if I’m not shifted yet, I can prove to Jasar and Obadiah I’m braver than they are. And why’s everyone even scared of this place, anyway? We should find out.”

It felt like the sky had changed colors in a matter of minutes. When they had begun walking, the sky had still been blue with a tinge of pink, but now it looked blood red above them. They were over halfway there. Ejlaal started to whine a bit, giving a complaint about his paws hurting. “Brave people don’t complain about their paws,” Sabeh told him, and he went quiet with a grunt.

They reached the city.

All was silent, save for an ominous wind kicking up the sand. It felt louder in Sabeh’s ears than he’d ever heard.

Ejlaal began to tremble a bit. “They said… it was haunted, right?”

Sabeh paused, stopping their steps. Ejlaal stopped too. They stood in silence for a couple of moments, Sabeh thinking if they wanted to go forward or not. Eventually, they did, this time with renewed vigor. “I bet they make up those stories, to keep us from wandering around.” They scoffed. “Well, it’s not going to work.”

They walked straight inside one of the worn buildings, the open entrance beckoning to them. There was little light left outside, but being Luperci as they were they were still able to spot the carvings on the walls. They put their hand to it, brushing the dirt and sand aside to see more clearly. “Wow,” they murmured.

“….-way… from… ere…”

Sabeh whipped their head around. Ejlaal stood in the doorway, tail tucked between his legs. “What did you say?” Sabeh asked.

“I didn’t say anything,” Ejlaal replied. “But, Sabeh, I’m thinking, Mom probably knows we’re gone by now, maybe we should go back.”

“Don’t you want to see more? We just got here.”

“I know, but…” Ejlaal seemed to struggle for a moment, then gave up. “N-Nevermind. Let’s check out another building!” He appeared to perk up, and Sabeh smiled. “Yeah.” They agreed, and walked out.

The two traveled further into the city, looking up at the big pyramid. “I wonder what’s in there,” Sabeh mumbled, but even just the question seemed to make Ejlaal frightened.

They passed through another entrance. Like the first, there were writings and carvings on the wall, even paintings, though some had eroded away. They came close, and saw a mural of a Luperci. In her hands, she held her own two large eyes, blood seeping from her empty eye sockets. Above, a goat stared down upon her. Intricate symbols that seemed to be of some magic surrounded both of them.

“GET AWAY FROM HERE!”

Sabeh nearly jumped out of their fur. Heart in their throat, they looked around the source of the screech but none was found. They picked up Ejlaal into their arms despite his confused protests and sprinted their way out of the building, out into the sand. The stars shone above now, leaving the desert in darkness. How long had they been gone? It had felt like only minutes, but had hours passed?

They kept running, listening to the demonic voice that had drove them without hesitation, akin to a whip used on a horse. At some point, seeing the oasis they needed to return to growing closer, they let Ejlaal out of their arms, and put their hands on their knees, bending over and gasping for breath.

“W-What made you run like that?” Ejlaal asked.

Sabeh looked at him. They paused. “L-Let’s try to get back, before Mom—”

They looked up, and saw Amena approaching them. Their heart sank, and they stood up straight as she stormed up. “Where have you been?!” She demanded. “No, don’t answer that. I know.” Her hands were in fists from anger but she would never raise them to strike the children. “Do you know how much you scared me?! Think of your family more!” Her eyes flashed from Sabeh to Ejlaal.

Sabeh swallowed, then lied:

“I-It was my idea, mama.”

Amena went silent.

“I-I thought… I just wanted to scare Ejlaal a little bit.” They continued lying, ignoring Ejlaal’s stare. “I didn’t mean to be gone so long. I swear, we didn’t go inside the pyramid. I swear.”

Their mother closed their eyes, putting a hand over her mouth. She took two deep breaths, then she crouched down.

“I’m… I suppose I’m just… I’m just glad that you’re safe.”

Amena reached out and wrapped her arms around Ejlaal.

Only Ejlaal.

Sabeh knew it had been coming.

Now that he had ‘confessed’ that they would be punished in the only way that the tribes knew how to. Withholding the unity, all the good in life, from the shunned. They stood there, silent, as Amena embraced Ejlaal. Ejlaal peeked a glance at Sabeh while being hugged, but Sabeh stared right through him. They looked at the ground and folded their arms.

Amena straightened. She did not even look at Sabeh now. She simply gathered Ejlaal in her own arms and said: “We’re going to begin traveling soon. Make sure you pack your things.” She left towards the oasis, seemingly uncaring if Sabeh followed her or not.

They did not, for a long moment. Then, with their own deep breath, Sabeh went forward, heart sinking to their stomach and the feeling in it growing. The feeling that they would never belong among their tribe. The moon that had begun to rise mocked them. The gaze of it never seemed to reach them in a way that felt meaningful.

“Get away from here.”


What if that voice had meant more than they thought it to?

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