Born and raised in Austria, Inge H. Borg left home at eighteen to study languages in London, Paris and Moscow. A job transfer from Vienna to Chicago led to becoming a US citizen. In 1980, she moved to San Diego.
Borg now lives in a quiet lake community in Arkansas where she devotes most of her time to writing.
In support of her Indie-writer colleagues, Borg may highlight their books on her blog:
More Books by
Inge H. Borg
Forbidden Love. Lust for Gold and Power. The Wrath of the Devil Wind.
The joyous birth of Nefret, Royal Daughter of Egypt's First Dynasty, is overshadowed by her mother's death, and King Aha's suspicion he may not have fathered her.
The young princess’s education is left to Ramose, High Priest of Ptah, who vies for control over his weak Horus-King—as does the vile Vizier. Each man takes full advantage of the Two Lands' warfare with its southern neighbors.
Nefret’s forbidden love for the surgeon priest Tasar and a deadly feud with her half-brother thrusts her into conflict with the strict laws of Ma'at, a transgression punishable by death.
As the khamsin rages over the Two Lands, the many who seek to kill Nefret are pitted against the few who hope to save her.
Khamsin, The Devil Wind of the Nile (Book 1 of 5 - Legends of the Winged Scarab)
Inge H. Borg
Forbidden Love. Lust for Gold and Power. Wrath of the Devil Wind.
Book Excerpt or Article
Excerpt from Chapter 26
Khamsin, The Devil Wind of The Nile
(Book 1 – Legends of the Winged Scarab)
* * *
Swift-footed, they poured over the closest hillock like scavenging hyenas, their explosive rush brought to a reluctant halt when their leader raised his arms. Covered down to their scaly soles by flowing dust-reddened robes, their heads were wrapped in swaddling cloth with only a slit left for their eyes. In each pair held cruel greed. The fanatic stares left no doubt they would spare no one.
The marauders formed an impenetrable ring around the defenseless camp. Five men detached themselves from the main group and advanced with the apparent leader in their midst. He swung a long staff above his head. Usually, a warrior’s greeting for his commander, this tribesman’s motion exuded a whirling threat. Next to the ringleader, well over five cubits high and weighing easily as much as a young bull, stalked the biggest man any of the travelers had ever seen. His cold eyes bulged with lusty anticipation.
“I am Wadji, Cobra of the Desert,” the leader called, his speech strangely accented. “The Cobra Goddess bids me to take what I find on her land. You are deep within its boundaries.”
Pase, who had been asked by Ramose to stay close, dropped the corners of his mouth. The reeking man obviously had an inflated view of Wadjet’s sandy realm. As there was nothing to be gained by arguing against the man’s self-empowering assumptions, Pase waited. He sensed he might not have to do so long. The High Priest’s hurried instructions had prepared them. The two groups faced each other in coiled readiness.
A piercing wail rose high into the air. Women! As a single thought, unquenched lust lit the fires of desire in the deep-set eyes of the marauders as another keening joined the howling of the rising wind.
“In there,” one of the tribesmen pointed, and the five hurdled themselves at the largest of the tents. With brute force, the giant ripped the entrance flap away as he, Wadji, and the others rushed inside.
Sickening odor assaulted the expectant raiders like a mace blow. They gagged and reached for their flowing covering their faces to ward off the overpowering stench. When their dark pupils adjusted to the dimness, Wadji and his group stopped dead in their forward rush. They stared, horrified. The scene before them was pitiful to behold. Four figures, three men and a tall girl, lay rigid in apparent death while a pretty young woman writhed on the floor in agony, her half-naked body covered with fiery red blotches. A third woman, dark-skinned and plump, rocked back and forth on her ample haunches, wailing a stirring dirge. To one side of the square tent stood a very tall man staring at them in tearless shock. A much younger, handsome one, frothed at the mouth, his hands clasped around his throat, his eyes bulging in terror as if death was choking him.
The stench was enough for Wadji to feel he would soon be next if he did not get out of there. Nevertheless, he called out again, “I am Wadji, Cobra of the Desert. And you are mine.” He lifted his long walking staff and with a quick jab prodded the motionless tall girl. There was no movement. “Dead,” he mumbled behind his covered face.
“The plague! It is the dreaded plague. By evening we shall all be dead. For death resides within this camp,” the tall man with the frozen stare intoned as he approached Wadji. As if he thought the tribesman could save him from a horrible fate, he reached toward the stunned Cobra of the Desert. Weakened by horror and grief, he stumbled. Without thinking, Wadji reached for the outstretched arms. Too late, he saw the disgusting blotches. Bile coated the desert-hardened man’s dry throat. He jumped back two steps.
With great dexterity, and even greater caution, Ramose manipulated the tiny shafts firmly between his fingers. Then he raised his arms in front of him, careful to leave his hands below eye level of his adversaries.
“Advance no further, Wadji! The powers of Horus are greater than that of the giant cobra. I am the High Priest of Ptah and the Falcon-god is my protector. You, Cobra of the Desert, will die if you come any closer.”
“And how will you kill me, Tall One?” Wadji cackled.
“By placing my bare hands on your shoulders,” Ramose intoned, using the powerful voice of sacred supplication.
If Wadji was startled by this deep sing-song threat, he hid it well. For an instant he remained undecided, then laughed, “I don’t believe you.”
“I warn you,” Ramose sang out and took a step forward.
Wadji turned to the big man behind him, “Stinger of a Scorpion, step up!” To Ramose, he gloated, “Not often is the scorpion stronger than the giant cobra. Together, however, they have greater power than the falcon. I wager your life against his you cannot kill the Stinger.”
I can, and I will. Ramose hoped the sliver of a blade would penetrate deep enough through the brute’s dirty clothes. Who knew how many robes this bull of a man wore heaped upon his rancid body. This task would not be as easy as when he had demonstrated the poison on poor old Hanni, Mekh’s bent Ostrich-Egg Gatherer.
Wadji boxed his slow-witted man into position. “He is all yours, Priest of the Horus-god!” He laughed derisively certain to foil the priest’s alleged power while being wily enough to volunteer another for the risky experiment. One could never tell what happened with the shamans of the foreign gods.
Ramose breathed deeply. His outstretched arms were growing heavy. He advanced with measured steps, not wanting to startle the giant whose fist could smash a man’s skull. The other three marauders stood motionless and held their breath partly out of curiosity, mostly not to breathe in the foulness of this tent. Wadji stood coiled like his namesake ready to strike should the priest make a move against him.
“Stinger of a Scorpion,” Ramose soothed. “Are you ready to receive the great powers of Horus?” He locked his blue gaze into the fanatic’s black stare and placed his hands onto the enormous shoulders. As tall as Ramose was, he had to reach up. Thankfully, the other’s robe was thin and its threads parted easily under the penetrating tips.
The Stinger felt two bites. Sand fleas, he shrugged, his shoulders driving the exquisitely sharpened tips deeper under his dust-caked skin.
Ramose removed his hands, his thumbs sliding the tips back between his fingers, carefully so as not to nick himself. He stepped back just as the giant crashed to the floor where he lay lifeless, his eyes staring at nothing. The four marauders gasped. What magic was this?
Wadji could take no more of the stench. Nor of the tall priest who killed by a slight touch. He turned and pushed his way out. Back in the open, he unwound the strangling swatches from his face and greedily sucked fresh air through his nostrils. As he exhaled, he suddenly realized the air itself might carry the awful plague. Hawking fiercely, he tried to expel the unknown harbingers of death. His followers tumbled from the tent equally crazed with avaricious fear for their miserable lives.
“Away!” Wadji cried and rushed toward the hillock, his three surviving leaders close at his heels.
The rest of the band could not fathom any reason for the sudden flight. Without their curiosity or their mounting lust satisfied, they crowded around the tent opening and, one by one, peered into it, only to stare at a scene of death, its overpowering stench quelling their greed. Great Cobra! There lay the lifeless form of the giant Stinger. Whoever slew him had to be more powerful than Wadji.
“Away!” they too cried and tumbled after their leaders, petrified death might reach for them. As fast as their hardened soles allowed them to cover the rough terrain, they fled into the desert. When they felt safe at last, they reassembled.
Wadji thought it best they should not report their horrifying encounter to anyone. He reasoned there was nothing they could do. Unless they killed the rest of the travelers. But then they would have to breathe the putrid air again and thus might succumb themselves. Supposing, the plague spread further south and supposing they admitted they knew about it; their masters would blame them for their lack of vigilance. Their roaming days as free desert spies would come to an ignoble end. The Cobra of the Desert did not relish the thought of being dragged off to some forsaken mine in the Land of the Kush, to end his days writhing under the lashes of sadistic overseers.
* * *
“What happened?” Nefret massaged her throbbing temples. Sitting up, she vaguely recalled the last hour. “Dokki, promise me you will never, ever, wail like that again! It sickened me. As does this ghastly smell. I need to breathe.” She tried to jump up. Her head spun and a wave of nausea enveloped her.
“Not so fast, dear child,” Ramose cautioned. “I led you into a deep trance which rendered you as stiff and as unfeeling as a board. Your body has to readjust to its natural state. You must move slowly now.”
“It was incredible! I did not feel a thing when one of the brutes poked me, although I could hear every word,” Nefret marveled. She examined the bluish mark the marauder’s staff had left on her tender skin and then glanced shyly at her father who showed no sign of life.
“Ramose?” she asked with filling eyes. “Is Father going to be all right?” Her concern caught Ramose by surprise. The dangers of their unfortunate stop must have left their mark on this royal child. “Why does he not awaken?” she insisted.
“He will, my child. Now you know who our veiled traveler is, I caution you to preserve his secret at all cost. As to his health, you need not be alarmed. He will recover without ill effect.”
Safaga sat up and rubbed her aching hips. The writhing on the hard floor had chafed her skin half raw and with the angry red blotches on her limbs, she was quite a sight. Pase would not find her very appetizing right now. “I look disgusting,” she moaned. Standing up, she stared at the lifeless King and quickly realized why the purportedly ailing Badar had never left the Kariy without being heavily veiled.
Thinking about disguises made her wonder about Zeina’s fate, the tall slave having gone into seclusion at the palace to travel with the Royal Convoy, posing as the Royal Heiress. I wonder who is playing the King, Safaga thought, and suddenly missed even Amma’s scolding. Hopefully, they would all be reunited soon.
Nefret questioned Ramose again, “Why are we awake so much sooner than Father?”
“Because you are much younger,” Ramose said.
“Will you awaken Tuthmose and Seka now?” Safaga asked.
“Not yet. They are priests who possess special powers that enable them to stay longer under a trance,” Ramose comforted. Judging by the self-examinations and rubbings of bruised skin, the girls were more concerned with their appearances than with the dangers of people emerging from deep hypnosis. “There is little cause to concern yourselves,” he smiled. “As to your rashes, they will fade soon after you have rinsed the acid off your skin.”
“They are gone,” a voice rejoiced outside the tent.
“You can return to your own tent now; however, stay inside. Go, little doves, for I must tend to the King and Seka.” Addressing Tasar, Ramose said, “You better rinse the froth from your mouth before you scare our own men into flight. After you call Pase to accompany our brave ladies back to their tent, have Senmut make sure there are no marauding stragglers left about. After that, I need your help.” Then he turned his attention to his next pressing task. Once again, he worked with quick precision to coax his drugged King back to life. Seka and Tuthmose would also need assistance to reemerge from their self-induced trance.
First, Ramose straddled Aha, intent on breathing life back into his King’s lungs. He pounded the hairless chest and after anxious moments, Aha took his first reluctant breath. With great gentleness, he brought the vial containing the secret antidote to his King’s lips.
Aha opened his eyes trying to focus as he allowed a few drops to trickle onto his tongue. “Not again, Ramose,” he complained and pushed the High Priest’s hand away.
“It was the only way, my King,” his long-time advisor soothed. “There, another few drops will bring about your full recovery.” Ramose handed the small vial to Aha who shrugged and resigned himself to ingest another unknown potion.
After he was certain Aha swallowed the last drop, Ramose said, “Something must have gone awry for the Third Army not to have sent their fourth squad. If we are to reach Abdju by mid-afternoon we must leave now. Only then, I predict, will we be safe.”
“I mostly believe your predictions, Ramose. But never have I hoped for one to be truer than I do at this moment,” Aha admitted. Then his face grew hard with indignation. “Teyhab has much to answer for. Wait until I catch up with him at Barum’s camp!”
“No guessing what could have gone wrong.” Ramose sensed Aha’s thirst for revenge. “In all fairness, Aha, remember General Teyhab did not return to Badari after the War Council. He is trekking directly to the Kharga with Colonel Mekh. Responsibility for the mix-up rests with his Aide-de-camp, Colonel Mayhah.”
“The Colonel and his men left Badari before your boats arrived at the garrison,” Seka, fully awake now, interjected.
“Still, no excuse for Teyhab! We could have all been killed. Those responsible shall be punished,” Aha growled, not satisfied with the priests’ explanations. His head felt as if it had been split in two by a stone mace. The smell inside the tent grew intolerable.
“For Horus’ sake! Get rid of this stinking mess! Best have it burned,” Aha groaned and buried his face in a small cushion to escape the sickening stench.
* * *
The marauders rushed along the high plain until their lungs stung from gulping sand-laden air. Their breathing came in painful gasps. Only after they reached their hobbled pack-asses a ways from the doomed camp did they feel safe enough to halt their heedless flight.
Wadji forced himself to look back. Far in the distance, a dark pillar of smoke rose through the desert’s iridescent heat. “They are burning their dead,” he shuddered.
“May the sun scorch those who are still alive,” the first leader added, his face distorted with disgust and fear.
“There! Another plume of smoke,” the third man pointed, and the fourth added, “It is the Stinger’s burning Ba.”
* * *
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