**This is a story set in E.R. Donaldson's Nethraverse** Part 1

"Behold and shake with wonder at the magnificence of the Temple of Khepri!

It's ancient walls carved before any known sentient beings inhabited this world and the relief sculptures of our fearsome and wise god are nothing if not inscrutble to all who are not schooled in the runic languages of the Kheprian Priesthood.

Yea, though ye may sit along the shores of the Kheprian steam and study leaves of wisdom with the maidens of the temple, those hours must be paid for with the blood and sweat of the men and women who dedicated themselves to the furtherance of our God's five-fold plan.

I am Inshotep Five, a simple priest of Khepri and I implore you to not waste these opportunities put before you! In my youth, I was like you, drawn to the temple for reasons that the heart knew but which reason itself could not discern."


Scaring the newcomers is part of the fun of my job. Don't get me wrong. I take my job seriously, but of all the gods, Khepri is the one who would be least appreciative of taking things too serious. Scaring the newcomers is a serious business though - it sets the tone for their entire stay.

Having taken my turn for the day, I march headlong back into the temple leaving the pilgrims to contemplate the overt seriousness of my words.

In truth, the Temple of Khepri stands as a monolithic testament to ancient power and divine mystery, its imposing structure hidden deep within the dense, untamed jungle of Wataru, a jungle world with no oceans but criss-crossed with myriad streams.

The ancient walls of the temple, weathered by millennia yet still formidable, were carved long before any of the known sentient beings walked this world. Each stone is etched with the wisdom and might of Khepri, the scarab-faced god, whose enigmatic gaze seems to pierce through the veil of time. These carvings are consistent with Kheprian carvings found on other worlds - including those on ancient and long lost Terra - but these are far older than anything else.

The temple itself is a labyrinth of corridors and chambers and as I head towards my real work of the day, digging within the ancient hidden city, I hear the haunting echoes of sacred chants and see the faint glow of ethereal light - some of it from my fellow priests - but most of it false light that can never be chased down or identified.. The relief sculptures that adorn the walls depict Khepri in his many aspects – the god of the rising sun and the harbinger of transformation and rebirth. He is both wisdom and foolishness for only a fool can ever achieve anything like true wisdom. Some of these carvings are understood though intricate and elaborate, others have withstood countless attempts at interpretation -their meanings inscrutable to all. The runic languages that describe the god’s deeds and doctrines are a closely guarded secret, known only to those initiated into the highest levels of the priesthood. I've learned some of them - but without permission.

At the heart of the temple, I pass through a grand hall, its ceiling adorned with a vast mosaic of celestial patterns, symbolizing Khepri’s dominion over both the sun and the cycles of life and death. An altar stands at the center, draped in rich, dark fabrics and surrounded by offerings of rare herbs, precious stones, and golden scarabs. The air is thick with the scent of incense, a blend of myrrh and sandalwood, which perpetuates an atmosphere of solemn reverence. I approach the alter and perform my obeisance seven times as required -though no one is watching. I take my prayers seriously. I don't want to piss off Khepri.

Feeding the temple is the most sacred of streams on Wataru that meanders through the jungle, its waters dark and reflective, mirroring the canopy of ancient purple and crimson trees above. This stream, known as Khepri Vascular, is said to originate from a hidden spring blessed by the god himself. Some claim the water is the god's blood. I've drank plenty of it - if it be Khepri's blood it has given me no powers. The water is revered for its purported life-giving properties, believed to carry the essence of Khepri's transformative power but to all who can see, I am still a man like any other. Priests often gather here at dawn, performing ritual ablutions and collecting the sacred water for their ceremonies. Right now, none are here - they are gathered in the temple barracks to hear the latest broadcasts from the outer worlds - hoping that Terra and the Sol system have been found. They should know better.

We will know when Khepri wants us to know. Not through broadcasts but through our souls. This is the truth and far too many ignore it. The world will distract you but you should not let it.

The path to the temple barracks, overgrown and rarely trodden, is shrouded in a perpetual twilight cast by the thick foliage overhead. One grows used to the green sky and the distinct colors of the trees - but at first it can be a shock. The sounds of the jungle – the calls of unseen creatures, the rustle of leaves, and the distant roar of waterfalls – create a symphony of the wild that harmonizes with the spiritual sanctity of our temple.

In the depths of this ancient sanctuary - in the part I am now entering, time seems to stand still, held in the thrall of Khepri’s eternal presence. The ancient city has slowly emerged and with it the hope that we might find out who it was that built it. While it is never said - it is each of our hope that we might find something that will allow us to transmute our mortal beings into a vessel of the divine.

The temple is not just a place of worship but a realm where the divine intersects with the mortal, where the faithful come to seek the god’s wisdom and the power of rebirth, transformation, and the perpetual cycle of the sun's rise. Here, in the shadow of the jungle and the embrace of the sacred stream, the true legacy of Khepri endures, a dark and sacred path for those who revere the ancient ways.