Excerpt from Chapter Six
...Although no artifacts exist to confirm his existence, and the hieroglyphs that tell his story date centuries later, the Scorpion King is very much a reality to the children of modern Egypt. Just as the Western world has its Boogeyman, the land of the pharaohs has its Scorpion King, a personification of evil invoked—often at bedtime—as a threat by parents to misbehaving children.
Yet hieroglyphs of the Scorpion King portray not a monster, but a figure both fearsome and majestic,—a muscular, decidedly brutal-looking, strangely handsome warrior, who towered over the thousands of Akkadian soldiers under his command.
The image of his namesake—that desert arachnid of the nipping claws, jointed tail and deadly stinger, appeared in bas relief on his shield, and on the golden breastplate bedecking a brawny frame otherwise clad in loincloth, animal skins and various mementos of war. The soldiers who followed the Scorpion King served under that same sinister symbol, fighting beneath banners topped with gold discs embossed with gold scorpions carved into battle on poles.
Most significantly, the scorpion imagery carried over to a certain massive golden bracelet that never left the Scorpion King's right wrist. This, the so-called Bracelet of Anubis, was said to provide passage (in some mysterious fashion lost to antiquity) to the fabled Lost Oasis of Ahm Shere.
Scholars date the Scorpion King's grand campaign to unite the known world to a five-year period ending in 3112 B.C. The warrior king is said to have marched at the head of five thousand soldiers whose attack on the fantastic walled city of Thebes was met by fifteen thousand Sumerian defenders.
Bellowing commands, thrusting his scimitar high, the Scorpion King was no general directing his men from a far-off encampment. This was a fierce warrior at the forefront of his troops, charging on foot across the desert to meet the foe, his eyes blazing, almost crazed, braids of hair swinging in tandem with his flashing blade. Fighting like a man possessed, the Scorpion King and his stinging scimitar cut down the enemy like so many weeds, inspiring his soldiers to new heights of bravery—and butchery.
But still the Sumerians came, until the army of the Scorpion King was overrun by the defenders of Thebes, swallowed up in the desert dust they themselves had so unwisely stirred.
Defeated, driven by the Sumerians into the sacred desert of Ahm Shere, the Scorpion King and his army fought another battle, an even more hopeless one, their foes this time the sun, the sand, and an absence of water. The decimated remains of an army that had thought itself invincible staggered into the vast wasteland, slogging up nd down dunes on an expedition to nowhere, and, as hours turned into days, the warriors died off, one by one, their scattered corpses feeding the birds, leaving bones for bleaching, a terrible trail that no one would ever follow.
And then the Scorpion King was an army of one.
At the foot of an enormous pyramidlike dune, he gazed up where the sun painted the dune's crest golden, winking at him, as if promising treasure. Convinced that an oasis awaited over this rise, he stumbled, staggered, swayed, but never crawled, climbing, climbing, until he reached the pinnacle...
...from which he could see more endless sand, more rolling dunes.
Now, at last, the Scorpion King fell to his knees. Sturdy though he was, the days of baking on these desert sands with no water, no food, had taken a toll—within him, the spark of life was flickering. He looked to the burning sky and shook his fist, the scorpion bracelet reflecting the sun; and he bellowed a curse that echoed across the sandy canyons.
"Anubis!" he cried, the rasp of his voice like the scampering of his namesake over the sand. "Spare me, give me back my life, and let me conquer my enemies—and I will give you what the gods have denied me: a pyramid of gold. I will build you this great temple!
The sky did not reply, but a skittering drew his attention to the sand into which his knees were sunk: a scorpion...a real, live one, not a golden symbol...was crawling toward him, as if in mockery of the grandiose imagery of the warrior's battle regalia.
The Scorpion King cast a defiant sneer toward the sky and grabbed the wriggling thing, allowing it to sting him. He winced in pain, then shoved the scorpion in his mouth, and chewed, chewed, chewed some more...and swallowed.
"A pyramid of gold, and my soul!" he yelled, challenging the sky. This is my offer! I await your answer!"
And in the sands around him, in a bewildering flash of green, lush vegetation sprang suddenly up, almost exploding out of the desert, plants and trees reaching heights and achieving luxurious splendor that should have required months and years but took seconds...ad the sound of water, gently lapping, drew the Scorpion King to his feet, and he walked down the dune through exotic foliage to the sparkling waters of life, where he bathed his cracked lips and washed away the bitter taste of his namesake.
And so, legend has it, was the oasis of Ahm Shere born out of the Scorpion King's pact with the great god Anubis.
A golden temple was built, with the bounty and slaves acquired by a pillaging army led by the Scorpion King...but not an army of men, like those whose bones were scattered across the desert, markers of the failure of the prior campaign. These soldiers were fiends, monsters, Anubis-bred warriors whose tall canine exoskeletons were covered in striated muscle; whose eyes glowed like fiery coals in the hairy, horrific, doglike heads that barked and growled and shrieked with sadistic glee as scimitars slashed, heads rolled, limbs scattered, blood sprayed everywhere.
The last city to fall in this hellish campaign was, fittingly, Thebes.
Thousands of these hideous Anubis warriors swarmed through the once-grand city, laying waste. The Scorpion King no longer sought to conquer, but to destroy; buildings were torched, battering rams collapsed buildings, men and women screamed in terror as the sadistic dog-soldiers pursued their every evil whim.
In the midst of the carnage, in a swirl of smoke as black as his soul, the Scorpion King—caked with blood and mud, streaked with soot and sweat—basked in his triumph, savoring the completeness of his revenge. His massively muscular chest heaving under the golden arachnid breastplate, he swiveled to watch his grotesque warriors—these creatures who, like a great flood, had washed away all that lay before them—wander the ruins they had created. These dog-soldiers seemed lost, suddenly with no one left to kill, nothing left to burn, no city to sack, their task done.
A spasm—as unexpected and electric as lightning—shook the Scorpion King's body. Pain sent him to his knees, just as he had been atop that sand dune; and he howled in impotent rage as his very spirit was sucked from him, withering him, the golden bracelet dropping from his wrist to the ground.
Around him were the yowling shrieks of the canine creatures who had been his army, disintegrating, dissolving into black sand.
According to myth, Anubis then returned his army to the desert sands from whence they had come, where still they wait, silently until the day when some other fool might strike a bargain with the gods and waken them once more.
The next time they awake, however (it is said), so will their commander, and the next great campaign of the Scorpion King will be to lay waste not just to a city, like Thebes, but the very world itself.
- The Mummy Returns (novelization) (First mentioned)