Avalon 5.6 Notes from the Underworld, part 6 of 6

“Apophis,” Kiya shouted again, and more softly added, “Don’t look in his eyes.  They are hypnotic.  Don’t look in the eyes.”  She watched as the giant serpent ground to a halt, and found something more to shout.  “Hey, moron-head, get out of there.”  She waved her arm to the side, so Horemheb backed up.

“Kairos,” Apophis said.  “Why the trouble?  I just came to thank you for preventing the Aten from returning to this world.”

“You could join him,” Kiya said.  Apophis laughed as Elder Stow stepped up, his screen device in his hand.  Kiya was going to say that would not stop Apophis, but she held her tongue. It might well stop the thousand other snakes writhing beneath the shadow of the great one.

“Why would I do that when you have given me the world?”

“Well, you have said thank you, and you’re welcome.  Now you can go back to where you were, locked up in the underground.”  Kiya seriously did not know what else to do but stall.

Apophis laughed again, a very annoying hissing sort of laugh.  “I see you are watching me closely, but for some reason, you will not meet me in the eye.”  Kiya shook her head.  The mouth was the only thing she needed to watch.  “Sutek was the only god that could meet me in the eye, and again, I need to thank you for ending Sutek’s days in the flesh.  Now the Re is mine to command.  Horus remains in hiding, and Amun will not take the power.”

A lion came up the road behind Kiya, and roared.  Two lionesses came out from the house.  One sat beside Kiya and the other bounded over to the far side of the road where she sat, though her tail twitched, nervously.  Then a third lioness came from the house and sat at that edge of the road, pausing only long enough to growl.

“Your friends cannot help you,” Apophis said.  “Even they dare not look me in the eye.”

“No need,” Kiya said.  “All they need to look at is the right place on your throat to rip off your head.”

Apophis laughed for the third time, and appeared to be preparing to strike.  Kiya interrupted him.

“So why have you come here?  You sent the ghost.  You sent the poltergeist.  What was that all about?”

Apophis hesitated before he relaxed and spoke.  “You do not frighten.  And those demons have no real power and do not do as they are told.  I am here to finish things.”

“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,” Kiya said.  “But what is it you plan to finish?  Surely you have a boast to share with everyone before you act.”

Apophis grinned an awful snake grin.  “You killed Sutek, and you killed the Aten as he attempted to return.  I decided it would be best to kill you before you imagine some way to kill me.  Hold still.”

The sound of a bird overhead came down to the group.  Apophis struck, and slammed right into Elder Stow’s screen.  Apophis would figure it out in a second, but meanwhile, the Benu bird came streaking down.

“The eyes,” Kiya yelled, before she remembered to change back to Phoenix and repeated.  “Benu.  Take out the eyes.”

Apophis tried once more, the screen being no barrier, but Phoenix raised her hands and the flames of sacrifice, the very fire of the sun drove the serpent back.

Phoenix collapsed as the Benu took one eye completely out with the first strike.  The serpent moved fast, but the Benu could travel faster, and quickly struck the other eye, blinding the serpent.  The lionesses growled and began to move forward, like hunting cats.  The travelers opened fire on both sides of the serpent.  The Benu just about had the second eye out of its socket when Apophis vanished, and thank goodness, he took his thousand snakes with him.

Alexis rushed to Phoenix.  She had a bite in her leg, and her whole leg swelled while the bite area turned green.  The Benu bird squawked, and Alexis paused.  The bird stepped up and let a few tears drop into the wound.  In seconds, the swelling in the leg went down and she was perfectly healed.

“Hurry now,” Phoenix talked to the bird like she might talk to a little child.  “You must get back to your nest.  It must be near the time for renewal.”  The bird squawked again and headed into the sky to quickly move out of sight, and Phoenix said one more word.  “Thank goodness for Harry Potter.”

The unknown goddess that had been the third lioness, butted in front of Alexis and planted a great big kiss on Phoenix’s lips.  Phoenix returned the kiss for a minute before she pulled back.  The goddess helped her stand as Phoenix spoke.  “You know if I had any inkling in that direction, you are the woman I would choose.”

“Wadjt,” Katie figured it out.  She and Lockhart had seen her kiss Phoenix several times, and always with the same conclusion.  Wadjt waved, looked around at the staring crowd, and vanished.  Sekhmet and Mihos resumed their human form, and the lioness in the center, that had stood beside Kiya without flinching, was gone.  Nana Bestet came out from the house and ran to Neferure.  Phoenix thought Bast was getting to be a bit like maybe she needed a telephone booth to change in.  Then she changed back to Kiya, dress and all.  The armor went back to its resting place.

Mihos got to say what everyone thought.  “You know he will find a way to heal his eyes and try again.”  Kiya nodded and looked at Sutek.

“If you still want me,” she said.

“Absolutely,” he said.  “And I will count every moment blessed.”

“Mommy,” Neferure called her by a name she had not called her in some time.  “I like him.”  Kiya nodded.

“Horemheb,” Katie warned.  The man marched in their direction, followed by a dozen or more soldiers.

“I think we should get married right away,” Kiya said.  Sutk liked the idea, but he had curiosity on his face.  Kiya answered his unasked questions.  “I believe Horemheb is going to want me to go back to the palace, and I am not going anywhere near that place without a husband.  My supposed nephew is Pharaoh now, and I don’t want to be on the menu.”

“Tutankaten?”  Sotek said.

“Tutankamon,” Kiya nodded.

“But what if Horemheb wants to hurt you?” Artie asked, seriously.  Several people laughed and Lockhart explained.

“After what just happened here, he would have to be a real moron.”

“That’s right,” Lincoln said.  “Did you call the future Pharaoh a moron-head?”

“An English slip,” Kiya said with a grin and a shrug.  “I was just the Princess, killing snakes.  She doesn’t respond to stupidity well.  Shh, don’t tell.”

“Kiya,” Horemheb said as he approached.

“Why, Horemheb,” Kiya said as she held tight to Sutek.  “How good to see you.  MY how you’ve grown.  Do you know my husband?”  Horemheb stopped and looked confused.  Kiya spoke to the others.  “Phoenix. She has a similar problem.  She doesn’t do polite, pleasantries well at all.”


One week later, the travelers sat around a fire, ready to move through the next time gate in the morning.  Alexis spoke.  “We have been to two weddings in Egypt now.”

“Yeah,” Boston interrupted.  “But this one was a real Egyptian wedding.  Not like mine.”

“Yes, but I listened to the words this time,” Alexis said, and with a look at Boston she added.  “Last time I cried.”

“Me too,” Katie said.  “And there is a lot of truth in what Kiya told us.  Egypt is a bit like a land of the living dead.  Osiris died before the first dynasty began.  We were with Eliyawe when she brought the coffin of Osiris back from Byblos.  The next time zone was Emotep.  He was the Scorpion King who defended the graves at Abydos.  Two time zones later, Junior was there in Egypt when Horus threw Set, or Sotek out of the two lands, and two time zones later, we finally got to Weret, concubine of Narmer and mother of Menes.  Only then were the two lands united and it became what we call Egypt.”  Katie took a breath, and Lockhart gave her an odd look.  She explained, “I stayed up last night reading.  Lincoln lent me the database.”

“Okay,” he said.

“So in the first dynasties, and the Old Kingdom, Osiris was still seen as being more-or-less in charge.  They carved his face on the Sphinx.  But he stood between life and death, so Horus was expected to actually be in charge, but the Aton Ra was still around through most of it and gumming everything up.  When he finally went over to the other side, they stopped building sun temples.  But then Horus tried to push some more democratic reforms and screwed everything up in the sixth dynasty.  So then we have the first intermediate period.  I think Horus tried to pull it together, but he could not quite get the puzzle pieces to fit.”

“Okay,” Lockhart interrupted.  “I see what you are saying, but I don’t understand how this fits with the living dead idea.”

“Well, it’s simple,” Katie said.  “Horus leaned heavily on Osiris in the Old Kingdom.  All of those pyramids, some of the greatest works in human history were nothing more than tombs.  Everything in Egypt, and by the middle kingdom, everyone in Egypt focused on dying and where people were going to spend eternity.  It’s like they forgot to live and wasted their whole lives worrying about dying.  By the Middle Kingdom, they all but stopped building temples, like the temple of Bast where we just spent some time.  All they built were mortuary temples.  I think Horus himself was still trying to please his father, and doing things to honor Osiris.  I don’t know.  But it was all focused on death and the afterlife.  Eventually, I think Horus just got frustrated and gave it up.

“I didn’t know the gods could retire,” Decker said.

“Well, I think he tried to palm it off on Amun.  Amun got all the press when the New Kingdom started, but I understand he did not want it.  Maybe that is what allowed the Aten to try and make a comeback.  I think Amun will take it from here, and he is a creative god, but I think it is too late.  After three thousand years, the cult of death has become ingrained in Egypt.”

People shrugged.  Most did not follow what she was saying.  Katie got that and turned the subject.  “So Artie,” she said.  “Tell me.  What did you think about the wedding?”

“I thought it was great.  It was wonderful.  I cried, it was so great.  I don’t understand why you two don’t have a wedding.  You could get married, and then you could adopt me for real, and I could really be your daughter, and I would be happy, and I want a boyfriend.”

Katie looked at Lockhart.  Lockhart raised his eyebrows, and found himself sitting on his saddled horse, all of his things neatly packed away.

“What the…” Decker sounded out from horseback.  Even the tents were all packed up.

Mihos appeared with Sekhmet.  Sekhmet spoke.  “You have to go.”

“We don’t normally go through a time gate in the dark,” Lockhart said, to explain.

“Poltergeist,” Mihos responded with just the one word.

“Artie, go ahead,” Katie said.  “I’m right behind you.”  And they moved through the time gate in the dark.



Artie goes missing in Avalon, episode 5.7, Little Lost Lamb.

Don’t miss it.  In the meanwhile, Happy Reading.



Avalon 5.6 Notes from the Underworld, part 5 of 6

Kiya grabbed Sutek and marched him a small distance from the camp.  “You knew that Mihos is the lion god?”

Sutek nodded meekly.  “He is the son of Bastet, the god in the temple of his mother.  I have been sweating trying to figure out how I was going to tell you.  Believe it or not, he is a good person and a good friend…”

“And?” Kiya prompted and saw Sutek’s mind race, while she raced a little herself.  This was a switch.  She usually had to worry about how she could possibly explain her strange life without causing her love to run away screaming.  She paused.  Did she just say love?

“And he took me to Hathor who showed me your image and asked if I would be interested in getting to know you.  You’ll forgive me if I say Hathor is the most beautiful woman in all the world.”

“She is,” Kiya said, flatly.  “Even back when she was a teenager.  Go on.”

“Well, I was surprised.  I didn’t think the gods ever asked mortals anything.  Mihos said he was trying to do things differently in the west.  I was not sure what he was talking about.”

“In the west, his name is Mathonwy, and maybe someday the lion of England.  He was my brother once.  Go on.”

Sutek paused before he shocked Kiya.  “You mean when you were one of those other people in the past?”  Kiya dropped her jaw, and Sutek continued.  “They showed me about that and said you were a very complicated person and thought they better ask before I got all tangled up in something more than I could handle.”  Kiya could only nod.  “I’m glad I said yes.”  He smiled for her.

Kiya pulled her thoughts together.  “So you know about the gods, and about the fact that I have lived a number of times in the past.  Do you know I have future lives that I can sometimes remember?”

He nodded.  “And I know your job in all this is to keep history on track.  They were very clear about that.”

Kiya had to think.  “And what about the little ones?” she asked.

“Hathor said you were like a goddess, not like a real goddess over people and life, but a goddess for the little spirits of the earth who would otherwise have no one to watch over them.  I’m not sure I understood that part well.”

Kiya looked down and realized she was still holding Sutek’s hand.  He would understand that part well enough in time, if he was willing.  He knew the basics.  The rest would just be details.  She looked up again and into his eyes.

“So what do you propose to do now?” she asked.  She saw his face scrunch up as his brain worked overtime.  She feared he might explode any minute.  Finally, he settled.

“Will you marry me?”

Talk about whirlwind.  She let go of his hand.  “I can’t answer that,” she said.  “You haven’t even kissed me yet.”

“Easily remedied,” he said, and he reached out, held her, and kissed her in the night on this Geb, under Nut’s sky.

Sekhmet turned Katie, Lockhart and Artie to look, and made sure they could see the couple kissing.  “There,” Sekhmet said.  “See how easy it is?”


That night, Kiya went into the house to get some things to help clean up.  She noticed the house was a shambles.  Everything looked broken and tossed everywhere.  Kiya sighed and went out to the camp.  Mutemwiya looked tired after all the excitement, and Nephthys said she would help her get to bed.  Kiya shook her head without speaking, but Nephthys smiled.

“I am sure everything will be straightened and back in place by the time two old ladies can get there.”

Kiya shrugged.  She borrowed a tent, either from Alexis or Boston, whichever one they weren’t using, and she tried to make it something fun for Neferure.  Nefer was game, and tried to get excited, but she honestly felt too tired and went straight to sleep.  Kiya worried briefly about Mutemwiya being in the house.  She imagined with poltergeist about, it was better to be around others.  Then again, she decided her worry was silly if Nephthys stayed there with her.

She looked at Sutek, drinking with the boys.  There were some things Sutek did not need to know, at least not right away.  Mihos and Sekhmet, two of the lions of Egypt ought to be enough for one day.  Nana Bestet stopped outside the tent door and stared at her.  Kiya broke.

“I’m not keeping secrets from him.  I’ll tell him.  Just not all at once.”  She made her snooty face at the cat.  “I don’t exactly see you volunteering information about yourself.”  Baestet put her tail straight up and went in the tent with Nefer.  Kiya heard the purr.

Kiya did most of the clean-up.  Katie and Artie helped, and Alexis.  Boston more-or-less pretended to help.  The men were useless, as expected.  Katie spoke to the point.  “The men are not lazy.  They just don’t care if there is a mess.  It is our problem.  We see a mess and a little bell goes off in our head and says, “must clean.”  In our day, some women are learning to not care about messes, and when women make a mess, you know we don’t do anything half-way.  I’m not sure that is a good thing, or the direction the human race wants to take.”  Katie shrugged

When they were more or less done, Kiya stepped over to the men.  She bent down and kissed Sutek on the lips, and went to bed.  It was nothing special or that big a deal, but it was the thought that counted.  That small act spoke volumes.


The next morning, Kiya woke up feeling good about the world and everything.  She thought sleeping on a thickened fairy weave blanket, with another thinned blanket on top of her was a treat she would probably never have again in her whole life.  She did not want to get up, but she noticed Neferure had gotten up and gone from the tent, so she sighed and got to her feet.

Kiya stuck her head out of the tent with a word on her lips.  “What is that noise?”  She noticed the sun was up, but just barely.  Still, she slept in, late.  That felt good.

“Seriously,” she looked around to ask what the noise was, and only then noticed no one sat around the campfire.  She looked to the road.  The travelers covered both sides of the road.  they were armed, but they were not firing their weapons.  The noise came from well down the street.  Kiya ran out, and got caught by Sutek.  He had a spear in his hand, but kept back to defend Neferure.  Once she saw Nefer was all right, she looked down the street and saw the most enormous serpent she had ever seen.

“The biggest this side of Ourboros,” she said.  “Just smaller than the Midgard Serpent.”  There were men in chariots with bows and spears, but they did not appear to be having much effect on the snake.  The horses kept trying to balk and run away.  The men had to get down and fight on foot, but they had to do that while averting their eyes.  They could not seem to look into the snake’s hypnotic eyes.

Kiya broke free of Sutek’s grasp and immediately traded places through time with Phoenix, Priestess of the Aton Ra in ancient times.  She carried within her the fires of the sun, a powerful weapon, but she became Phoenix because she needed special help.  She called.

“Benu.  My Benu bird.  Come to me my pet, my friend.  I need you.”

Somehow, she knew the Benu would hear her, no matter where she was in the world.  How long it might take the bird to fly from Heliopolis to Bubastis was another question.

“Snakes,” Decker said.  Rifles and handguns went off, including Lockhart’s big shotgun.  There were cobras, asps and vipers all over the road in front of the big serpent, and they went out ahead of the serpent, until they started to be chopped up by bullets.  Alexis blew many serpents back with the force of her wind.  Boston set several on fire with her wand turned flamethrower.  Phoenix hardly moved.  She stared at the battle, until she felt a snake at her feet.

Phoenix instantly traded places with the Princess, who whipped out her sword and long kniife, and cut one after another.  Even as the giant snake down the road broke through the Egyptian line, the Princess noticed the snakes started to back up, like they wanted to get under the protection of the giant.

“Hold your fire,” the Princess shouted, and changed back to Kiya.  She kept the armor in place, just for the feeling of some protection.  She let the sword and knife put themselves away.  The sword especially shook itself clean before it flew to its scabbard, no doubt an impressive sight for any onlookers; but Kiya could not worry about that.  She stepped forward and named her opponent.

“Apophis.”  The giant serpent came close before it stopped, a thousand smaller snakes writhing under its shadow.

Avalon 5.6 Notes from the Underworld, part 4 of 6

The travelers camped in the back yard, on the recently harvested field.  Kiya, with Mutemwiya’s blessing, offered them everything she had.  Curiously, no matter what the travelers ate in the way of fruit, grains and vegetables, her stores did not decrease.  In fact, even the meat she got that day in the market, not only refused to become less, but miraculously stayed as fresh as if just butchered.  Kiya decided it might be best not to question things too closely.

As the sun began to set on that first day, Iset, Pylhia, and Beket grumbled, because they had to go home to their husbands and children.  Nephthys stayed with her friend, but that was not unusual.  Nephthys stayed at the house more often than not, and Kiya did not mind because it gave Mutemwiya some company her own age.  To be honest, Nephthys became almost like a second grandmother for Neferure.  Mihos and Sutek thought they might stay for supper and, “for a while,” Mihos said.  “Just to be sure everyone is all right after the ghost incident.”

Kiya glanced at Sutek, who sat between Lincoln and Lockhart and seemed to have no end of questions.  She looked at Mihos and whispered.  “You and Hathor are really pushing it.”

“And we are not the only ones,” Mihos nodded.

Nefer sat with Boston and Alexis, Nana Bestet always near.  Somehow, Nefer knew they were elves, and she had a million questions of her own.  Alexis did not mind.  It actually let her judge how well Boston learned her lessons.

Kiya thought to sit down next to Katie, but she found herself sitting between Lockhart and Sutek.  Sutek smiled as she sat, and Kiya smiled in return, but she tried hard not to smile.  She could not help it.  Mihos sat with the boys on the end, where both Decker and Lincoln confessed that the beer was the best they had sipped in a long time.  Elder Stow, of course, did not drink.  He could not hold his liquor and always woke with a terrible hangover.

“I understand your friends are from the future,” Sutek said right away.  “They have fascinating stories of strange people living far from the two lands.  But they say they cannot tell me what tomorrow may bring…” Kiya took his hand and he immediately closed his mouth to stare at her.

“I can tell a story that even Lincoln does not have in the database.  It concerns the first days. before the days of history, and it concerns the gods, who were the titans who first came to earth at the time of the fall.”  People settled in to hear.  Katie and Lockhart held hands, and Katie slipped her free arm around Artie, to include her in the family.  Nefer left off asking her questions, and Boston and Alexis toyed with the meat that still smoked over the fire, but stayed quiet.  Mihos sat with Nephthys and Mutemwiya, the old ladies having the only chairs in the gathering.  Lincoln put away his database, and even Decker and Elder Stow quieted, curious.  Sutek just smiled.  He liked a good story.

“Before the first days, Shu, the air, and his wife Tefnut, the dew, met in the morning and fell in love.  They had two offspring, which were Nut the sky and Geb the earth.  Nut, the beauty of a million-billion stars in the night, was taken to be consort to the Aton Ra, the king of the gods, the overseer of all things, including the Re, the sun, who he made rise every morning and set every evening.  But in the night, Nut looked down on Geb and fell in love.  Likewise, Geb came to love the vision of beauty he saw every night…’

Kiya shifted in her seat to be closer to Sutek, and he reciprocated by slipping his arm around her shoulder.  It may have been love at first sight, but Hathor was not one to argue with.  Kiya continued.

“Geb watched the creatures that lived on his face.  He saw the hare dig a burrow, and invite the female to enter in.  He saw the birds build their nests, and invite the female to come and lay her eggs.  In every way, he saw the males make a home and invite the females to come and partake.  So he thought to build a home and ask Nut to join him, and he set out right away to building.  When he finished, he asked her to come, and she came because her heart was already his.  And he showed her the home and told her every bit that was for her.

“I know your stars stretch from east to west and from north to south, so I have made this home with four doors, east, west, north and south, for you.”  She was very pleased.

“When the night was done on that first evening, Nut came down to her home thinking of children, but when she arrived, Geb said he had to go.  “If the Re does not see my face, he will tell the king,” he said, and he added, “See?  I am going out the north door.”  And he left.

All day, Nut waited for Geb to return.  When she heard Geb moving outside, she ran to the north door and waited quietly, thinking of children.  But Geb came into the home and announced.  “See?  I returned home through the south door.”  And Nut was sad, because she had to go into the night sky.

On the second day, when Nut went home, thinking of children, Geb said he had to go.  “If the Re does not see my face, he will tell the king,” he said, and he added, “See?  I am going out the east door.”  And he left.

All day, Nut waited for Geb to return.  When she heard Geb moving outside, she ran to the east door and waited quietly, thinking of children.  But Geb came into the home and announced.  “See?  I returned home through the west door.”  And Nut was sad, because she had to go into the night sky.

On the third day, when Nut went home, thinking of children, Geb said he had to go.  “If the Re does not see my face, he will tell the king,” he said, and he added, “See?  I am going out the south door.”  And he left.

All day, Nut waited for Geb to return.  But when she heard Geb moving outside, she decided not to take any chances.  She tore herself into four parts and place them at the four doors.  That way, whichever door Geb came in, he would find a piece of her, waiting quietly, thinking of children.

Geb knew if Nut was not in the night sky, the king would find out.  So he gathered the four pieces, and with needle and thread he carefully and lovingly sewed her back together.  Then they had children.  And the four children they named, Set, Nephthys, Osiris and Isis, and that is the story of the birth of the gods.”

The travelers stole glances at Nephthys.  They knew who she was, and remembered her from the day Boston got married.  Boston even got up and hugged the old woman, but Nephthys simply said, “What a lovely story,” and Mutemwiya agreed.

“I never heard that one,” Sutek admitted.  “And I have heard most of the stories of the gods—being a priest in the temple, as you can imagine.”

Kiya understood.  That story had been told to her, or rather, it was told to Phoenix in ancient days, back when she became the first priestess of the temple in Heliopolis, the first sun temple of the Aton Re.  It got told to her by Toth while they developed the hieroglyphs and debated the true meaning of the words.

Something wailed, down by the river.  The travelers tensed up.  They heard the same sound before they came into Memphis.  It sounded twice as chilling in the dark.  People got prompted to look in every direction, but saw nothing. The wail came again.  It sounded closer.  Nefer crawled up into Mutemwiya’s lap, and the old woman hushed her, and held her, while Nephthys put one hand on the back of Nefer’s head and brushed her hair, gently.

The shutters on the house rattled.  The wail sounded suddenly like it came from every direction.  The wind rose, and the fire exploded with life, like someone poured gasoline on the flames.  People backed up and shouted their surprise.  The tents of the travelers rattled, but they did not blow down, like they were protected in some way from whatever this was.  The slats of wood on the expansion of the brick house began to buckle.

Something roared, and it came deep and reverberated around the camp.  It appeared to be a lion.

The pots Kiya had brought outside all shattered, and their contents exploded out in every direction.  Katie and Artie became soaked with water.  Decker and Lincoln got pelted with onions and leeks.

“Look out,” Alexis yelled, her wand in her hand.  One of the wall boards broke loose and just missed several heads as it blew toward the river.  The rest of the house caught fire from some source, but a second roar saw a lioness run up and shake her head.  Water droplets came from the lioness’ head, and the fire went out before it could do any real damage.  Then a third roar came, and another lioness came bounding into the camp.

Decker almost raised his rifle, but Lincoln stayed his hand.

With the three lions present, the wind and the fire died down.  The wail came from the distance, and then a moment of silence followed.  One lioness vanished around the house, and no one noticed when Nana Bestet returned from that same place.  They were too busy watching the other lioness become Sekhmet and run to hug her adopted family.  The big lion with the bushy mane also disappeared when Mihos returned, and Kiya saw that Sutek noticed.  And he not only noticed, he did not look surprised.

Avalon 5.6 Notes from the Underworld, part 3 of 6

As she walked up the highway to the temple, Kiya looked at the sphinxes, all with the face of a woman, that lined the road, and she thought of Neferure and her faithful cat, Nana Bestet.

“I hope Nefer is all right,” Kiya remarked.  Nefer stayed with Iset, Pylhia, Becket, and all the children in the neighborhood.  They were celebrating Beket’s five-year-old menace who was turning six.  “Dennis the Menace,” Kiya mumbled.

“I am sure she is fine, and having a wonderful time,” Nephthys said.  She always seemed to know, or at least she always believed the best.  Kiya took a deep breath and did not panic.

When they reached the place of offering, Kiya reached into her enormous bag and pulled out the special package she had made in advance.  She smiled and bowed her head when she presented it to the priest.  He immediately gave it to a young boy who ran off with it.  Then he returned Kiya’s smile, and she took another look.  The priests she dealt with were mostly old and cranky, and the priestesses were worse.  She did not go there in her mind.  This one, the one she had been seeing now for the last three months, appeared young, tall and handsome.  She tried not to go there in her mind, either, because it was such a cliché, but she could not help it.  She felt her lips return his smile, and only got saved by a familiar voice.

“Sutek.  The wait and work of a hundred days.  How has it been?”

“Mihos,” the priest responded.  “This moment makes it all worthwhile.”  The Priest bowed slightly to Kiya, and Kiya blushed, but she could not turn away.

“Ah, Kiya,” Mihos said, and added a tease.  “She is the pillar of this temple.  All we need is to get her to raise her hands to hold up the ceiling and carve the devotions on her back.”  Kiya frowned at her friend.  Kiya figured she had to be five-ten.  She stood head and shoulders above most women, and even stuck out in a crowd that included men.  These two men, Mihos and, she supposed, Sutek, were a couple of inches taller than her.  That was unusual.

“And that makes you two the east and west pillars?” she asked.

“North and south,” Mihos said, pointing to himself and his friend.

Sutek laughed before he turned serious.  “To be honest, I don’t know if I am cut out for the priestly life.  My heart and devotion are in the right place, but my mind wanders.”  He looked again at Kiya and she blushed again.  She couldn’t help it, even if she tried to help it.

Mihon said, “Sutek,” and he slapped the man on the back to dislodge his eyes from Kiya.  “Are we ready to walk to the market?  We have three lovely ladies to escort, you know.”  He pointed, and Sutek, with one more, sneaky glimpse at Kiya, went over to introduce himself to the older ladies.

Kiya instantly hit her friend, Mihon.  “Sutek?”

Mihon nodded.  “Hathor can be mean.”

“But Sutek?”  Kiya gasped.

“Hathor can be cruel.”

“But, Teti had to kill Sutek.  I can’t hardly say that name.”

“Hathor has a sick sense of humor.” Mihon nodded, grimly.


“Bubastis,” Lincoln said.  “In the Land of Goshen.”

Lockhart hit him.  Fortunately, Decker rode on the wing, out of ear-shot.  “So how are we supposed to find Kiya in this city since it seems clear the people here have been hiding her for these last nine years?” Lockhart asked.

“Look for trouble?” Katie said.

“Sing cockles and muscles and let her find us?” Lincoln suggested.

“Get in trouble and pray?” Artie said.

“I like that last one,” Boston shouted from the back.

“Boston!” Alexis scolded, and spoke up.  “Ask.  It never hurts to ask.”

Decker came in from the wing.  “We got trouble behind,” he said.

Elder Stow came in as well.  They were traveling on a solid road, and he commented.  “The roads are improving.”

“More traffic,” Katie said, as Lockhart looked first, and then she looked back.

“Dust,” Decker said.  “Chariots, I think.”

Lockhart nodded.  “Off the road.  Elder Stow?”

Elder Stow nodded in the same way as Lockhart, and checked his scanner.  He said, “This way.”

Lincoln said.  “So, this is the Land of…” he stopped when he saw Lockhart’ fist, but it was too late.

“Goshen,” Decker said.


Kiya felt happy, sort of giddy walking home.  She never expected to meet anyone and looked forward to a long and lonely life.  Sutek seemed to be as nice as he seemed.  He had great eyes, he was smart, he was kind and caring, and he had a fine laugh.  He actually had a sense of humor.  Her only fear was herself.  After all she had been through, could she honestly respond to a man the way a woman ought to respond to a man?  She did not know, but as they walked and talked, she felt strongly that she wanted to find out.

The gods were not powerless in the face of the Kairos.  Far from it.  Hathor could weave her love spells, and Kiya would be trapped like any other, but Hathor could not force things.  The Kairos could resist and walk away, broken hearted, but walk away.  The gods did not have her lifeline—her fate line.  Hathor could not simply twist two lines together and have it fait accompli.  Besides, the Kairos was too complex a person, and not just Kiya, herself, walking home from the market.  There were other lives stretching through time, deep into the past, and deep into the future to contend with.

“Why the face?” Sutek picked up on her mood right away.  She felt seriously drawn to him in that moment.  He was sensitive.  That felt important to her.

“I’m worried about Nefer,” she said.  It remained her first concern, and she wondered if he knew she already had a child.

“Mihos mentioned it,” Sutek said, and looked thoughtful.  “She is nine, and a cripple?”

Kiya looked down at the dirt as she walked.  How could she explain?  Nefer was not exactly crippled.  She stood a slim and tall child, like her mother, but with big incisors, an overbite and cleft palate to contend with.  Her bones and spine were straight, thank goodness, but her bones were not strong.  She had to be careful not to fall, or she might break like a china doll.  And she had inherited epilepsy from her father which sometimes made her fall, dangerously.  Kiya smiled, sadly.  “She is a sickly child, and not strong.  She has the fits.  But her heart is pure gold.”

Sutek smiled for her because Kiya could not seem to smile for herself.  “I look forward to meeting her,” he said.

That happened sooner than expected.  The women and children at the birthday party came running up the road, screaming.  Neferure came with them, though she lagged behind because of her leg braces, a bit of time tampering, but Kiya thought they were an acceptable risk.

Kiya, Mihos and Sutek all ran ahead, leaving the old women to hobble along on their own.  Kiya hugged Nefer, then oddly put her in Mihos’ hands, the one man Nefer knew.  Kiya stepped forward to where Nana Bestet arched her back, and growled.  Nana looked much bigger than normal, like a wildcat more than a house cat, and her growl sounded much deeper and more threatening than normal, too.  The gutteral sound said don’t come any closer, but somehow, Kiya felt no fear running up beside the beast and barely kept her hand from reaching out to pet the enraged cat.

An apparition hovered around the house, floating about two feet off the ground.  It appeared to be looking in the window, so it had its back turned.  It went inside, partly through the wall, and not exactly through the window.  When it came outside again, it turned to the road, and Kiya knew who it was.

“Beast.  Beast,” the ghost said.  “I will not disturb you, beast.”

“Nefertiti,” Kiya called to the ghost.  “Why do you haunt the land of the living?”

The ghost stopped.  “I know that voice.”

“It is Kiya.”

The ghost strained.  The eyes all but popped out of its head, and though the ghost never actually looked at Kiya, it seemed to see something.  “Why, Kiya.  Little Kiya.  Have you been good and stayed away from my daughters.  Meritaten hates you, you know, with a hate that is pure as can be.”  The ghost appeared to smile.

“Nefertiti.  Why are you here.”

“Why Kiya.”  The ghost appeared to start over.  “Little Kiya.  I know you.  I seem to have lost my way.  Do you know the way?  It is so dark.  Everything is so dark.”  The ghost spun around slowly three times.

“Nefertiti.  You do not belong here,” Kiya said.

“There is this baby, this boy.  He clings to my skirt.  I do not know him.  I do not want him.  But he will not leave me.”

“Nefertiti.  That is all there is and ever was of the human part of your husband.”

“Aten.  Aten.”  the ghost called.  “Why am I in the dark.  Aten, come to me.”

“The Aten is gone,” Kiya said, and the ghost stopped spinning, though it still faced off by a thrity degree angle, so it did not actually look at Kiya.

“That cannot be.  Aten is a god.  He is eternal.  He has given me power.  Why is it so dark?”

“Nefertiti.  Aton has gone back over to the other side.”

“That cannot be.  He made me.  He gave me great power.  I am the greatest living sorceress in all the world.”

“Nefertiti.  You are no longer living.  You have died.  You should go to the land of the dead.”

The ghost circled around once more.  “But I do not know the way.  This baby boy will not leave me alone.  Why is it so dark?” The ghost began to fade until she vanished altogether and the last they heard was the word, “Dark…”

“That was quite a show,” Lockhart said from just down the road where the travelers waited, and watched.

Kiya looked worried, but she opened her arms.  “Boston.”  Kiya spoke softly, but the young red headed elf flew into the hug.  Then she looked up, Kiya, who was a good bit taller than her, and she spoke.

“You’re young again, but very tall.”

“Kiya?”  Lincoln had to be sure.

“My mother,” Kiya said, without explaining to Boston, and with a nod for Lincoln.  She let go and rushed to Nefer, to hug her.  Nana Bestet, back to her normal size, rubbed against Neferure’s leg braces.  Kiya looked up at Sutek, who stayed right there with Mihos the whole time and held the girl back.

“Mother,” Nefer said.  “I was so afraid for you.”

Kiya kissed her daughter, and thought that there was so much about herself that Sutek did not know.

Avalon 5.6 Notes from the Underworld, part 1 of 6

After 1353 BC Egypt.  Kairos 65: Kiya, Queen Forgotten


Kiya ground her grain with a stone pestle in a stone mortar, which was in truth no more than a big stone with an indentation.  She added a touch of water so the grain would not dry out and blow away.  She ground away, to make the coarse flour that she would bake into the coarse bread they ate every day.  While she worked, she let her eyes wander up to the clouds, and her thoughts wandered down odd trails.

It seemed to Kiya that for the average folks, after more than three thousand years of history, they had not progressed much out of the stone age.  She had pots to keep water and food stuffs, a kind of plow and an ox to pull it, a copper pot and a copper pan for cooking on an open flame, but not much more.  The brick oven was good, and the irrigation ditches that fed her little field, but they were the only indication that she was not living in the stone age, or in the early copper age at best.  Bronze was big in the world, but she only had a couple of trinkets.

“Where is your mind?” old Mutemwiya asked, interrupting Kiya’s dream state.  Pylhia and Beket looked up from their chores to listen.  Mutemwiya sat at the loom, where she sat every day.  Pylhia had her bread in the oven and waited for the bell in her head to go off.  She was presently chewing on a piece of straw and thinking of nothing in particular.  Beket, that is, Beketamun was frowning, sewing another patch on her seven-year-old son’s clothes.

Kiya turned her head and shouted at her daughter.  “Nefer.  Watch out for Sobek.”  Nefer had wandered down to the water to play in the mud.

“I will, mother,” she shouted back.  “Nana Bestet is watching me.”

Kiya turned her head a little further and saw the big, black cat sitting there, facing the girl, soaking up the sun.  “All right,” Kiya said, and went back to her grinding.  Phlhia went back to chewing.  Beket went back to frowning and trying to thread the needle.  They figured they were not going to hear any good stories.  Mutemwiya, though, was not so easily put off.

“When you came here, you saved me from the end of my days,” Mutemwiya mused.  “You restored my life from the hands of Anubis, and you have been better to me than if you were my own daughter.  And your little Neferure, with all her troubles and ailments, is the best granddaughter there ever was.  But sometimes I worry.  You sit and dream of things that are gone, and things that never were.  This is not good.”

“Muti,” Kaya called her and smiled, shyly, as she looked down at her grain.  ‘I am happy that things have worked out.  You know Nefer does not have any other grandparents, and I know she loves you very much, too.”

“Tell us about your family,” Pylhia said, sounding very much like a child, not a grown woman of twenty years.

“Tell us,” Beket insisted.  Kiya knew the woman was frustrated with her son, and her husband was not the best sort of man.  He drank too much and worked too little. She was twenty-three and already unhappy.

Kiya was just twenty-two but she had a sickly nine-year-old of her own to contend with.  She glanced back at Neferure, and watched her hobble up to pet Nana Bestet.  She could be rough, but the cat seemed infinitely patient with her.

“I suppose it does not matter now,” Kiya said.  “Most of the principle players are dead.”  Kiya paused and looked at her friends, and her adopted mother, before she looked down, like she did not want to meet them in the eye.  “You know how I came here eight years ago, a fourteen-year-old girl with a baby in my arms.  You also know for three or four years, the whole country was up in arms, looking for Akhenaten’s missing royal wife, Kiya.  I am sure you know, that was me.”

Beket waved to Iset as she came around the back of the house, looking for everyone.  Beket patted the ground beside herself, and Iset sat while Pylhia hushed her.  All eyes stared at Kiya, who took a deep breath.

“My mother was a Mitanni princess.  They say she was the most beautiful woman of her day, outshining even the Great Nefertiti.”

“Looking at you, I can believe that,” Iset said, as she got comfortable and Pylhia and Beket hushed her again.

“I was born in the house of Amenhotep III.  My mother was his wife, but he was a very old man.  He died when I was one and a half.  And I can say with certainty that he was not my father, though I do not know who my father may have been.”

“That makes you Akhenaten’s sister,” Mutemwiya thought out loud.  Eyes popped wide open.

“In name only.  But Amenhotep IV adopted me in Thebes, before the madness began and before he changed his name to Akhenaten, and before Nefertiti began to give him daughters.  Meritaten, the eldest daughter, was two years younger than me, and hated me with an unending jealousy.  Yet somehow, when I was young, I remained special to Akhenaten, not as family, mind you, Nefertiti would not have that, but as a kind of personal playmate for the king.  You see, he married my mother after Amenhotep III died, because she was a political token of peace between the Two Lands and the Mitanni.  But Nefertiti had her put away so she would never become a rival for the title of ‘Great Wife’.”

Kiya looked back at Nefer again to be sure she was far enough away where she could not hear.  “Akhenaten married me, and I became his Second Royal Wife.  I think I was six or seven.  That was back when the madness began.  Nefertiti, the wicked sorceress, got cursed by the gods.  It got complicated, but let’s just say she could only have girls, and Akhenaten became desperate for a son.  An heir was necessary for him to complete the transformation…which…you don’t need to know about.  What matters is he decided to impregnate every woman in the house, and that included his own sisters.  Then he had me tied to the bed, since I was supposedly his wife, at age thirteen, and he raped me over and over.  One of the sisters had a son.  I had Neferure, and…and I ran.”

Kiya quietly cried but would not let anyone come over to comfort her.  She looked back again toward Nefer.  She wiped her eyes and continued.

“Things happened.  I ran.  I… I came here, and wonderful mother Mutemwiya took me in, and you all protected me, and you are my best friends, and I am so happy here.”  Kiya got up and cried on Mutemwiya’s shoulder as the old woman hushed her and patted her back, saying everything would be fine.

“Mama,” Nefer called.

“Yes Sweet,” Kiya said, as she whipped on a smile and turned to face her daughter.

“Are you all right?”

“Yes baby,” Kiya said.  “I’m just glad to be home.”


Lockhart and Lincoln came through the time gate and stopped on the other side.  Katie and Artie had to squeeze to the left to get through.  Alexis and Boston had to do the same thing on the right.  Decker and Elder Stow were lucky by the time they came through.  Lockhart and Lincoln had moved forward some, to stand out at the front of the crowd.  The view before them seemed odd, but not odd when they thought about it.  Any person watching would see eight people on horseback coming out of what had to be an invisible hole in the middle of the air.  That view did not change when a whole army watched.

Men had spears, chariots, and unhitched horses.  They had tents and sat around campfires.  Many came stumbling up to join the crowd that stared, wide-eyed.  They babbled, incoherent, held their spears in sweaty hand, and shuffled backwards in the face of Lockhart and Lincoln.  It looked to the travelers like an army camp, and plenty of the men saw the travelers appear out of nowhere.  The men looked like they wanted to be brave soldiers but looked terribly frightened at the same time.

“Who is the head man here?” Lockhart asked, plenty loud.  “Who is the man in charge?”  He felt sure the head man had already been fetched.

“I am Horemheb,” the young man jogged up to face them.  “I am the driver of the royal chariot and the Pharaoh’s voice with foreigners.  Who are you, and why have you come into the Two Lands, uninvited?”

“We are travelers, from Avalon, and we have come to the Nile in search of one named…”

“Kiya,” Lincoln said.

“Kiya,” Lockhart repeated.

Horemheb stared, no doubt his meanest stare, one intended to extract the truth from lesser men.

Katie looked across the river to the city built in the middle of nowhere.  It looked like land where the desert encroached on the river.  Not a good place for a city.  She saw a step pyramid in the distance and thought about it.  She looked at the head man and wondered if this might be the Horemheb who was or who would become the Pharaoh of all Egypt, back when.

Lincoln spoke.  “She is or was the Second Royal Wife of Akhenaten.  We are not sure exactly what year we arrived.”

Horemheb broke his stare, laughed and spat.  “You’re too late.  Kiya vanished nine years ago and none have been able to find her, though all of the Two Lands have searched for her.  I wasted three years of my life searching for her in every place she may have gone.”

“Downriver,” Boston directed her voice only to Lockhart’s ears, which elves could do.  She had secretly slipped the amulet out for a look, tried not to draw attention to herself, and before she spoke, she put it back beneath her shirt where it would hang, hidden between her breasts.

“Saqqara,” Katie pointed at the city, like she just figured it out.  “We are not far from Memphis, though the court is in Amarna, rather, Akhetaten, I imagine, unless they have already moved it back to Thebes.”

“Don’t mind us,” Lockhart said.  “Go back to what you were doing.  We will just visit some friends in Memphis and move on.”

Horemheb clearly had to think about that.

Artie caught on to where they were.  “Is my sister here?” she asked, nice and loud.

“I am sure she is around somewhere,” Katie assured her.

Horemheb looked curious.  “Kiya had no sister.”

Katie spoke to Horemheb.  “Her sister is Sekhmet.”  Katie debated whether or not to add, “the goddess”, but she did not have to.  Sekhmet came in a swirl of sand, and she appeared as the lion, who roared at Horemheb.  Artie shrieked, but applauded when Sekhmet became a woman again and jumped up behind her on the horse.  She made herself heard by Horemheb.  A goddess could do that.

“This is my sister, and this is my adopted mom, and that is my adopted dad, and these are my friends, so back off.”

“You are welcome to accompany us in our search for Kiya,” Alexis said.  She thought it would be polite.  Horemheb shook his head and hands, and stood there watching until they rode out of sight.


And, before I forget:


Avalon 5.4 The Mystery of the Madness, part 5 of 6

The following evening, the travelers entered the city of Memphis, and immediately exited the city again near the Nile where the shacks of the poor huddled close together.  Lincoln and Lockhart wondered how they would ever find one Rachel in the unwashed masses, especially since Rachel appeared to be a common enough name among the Semites.  Fortunately, Sakhmet found them first.

“Come on,” she said.  “Rachel has her detectives over for brainstorming.  I don’t know what brainstorming is, but it sounds like an interesting concept.”

They arrived at the house, and were expected.  Apparently, Sakhmet informed Rachel in advance, so they had plenty of food prepared.  Alexis did get to offer bread, but otherwise, everyone ate what the locals had to offer.  And it was more than plenty, and afterwards, Rachel’s parents and family went to visit aunts and uncles so Rachel and her friends could have the house.  After squeezing in and some shuffling of seats, Rachel introduced her detective club.

“This is Surti.  She is one of the chief cooks in the governor’s house and came here to help mother prepare this feast.”  Everyone said it tasted very good.  “Surti is the smart one, like Velma.  Meme is more like Daphne, you know, beautiful, but not much going on upstairs.”  Rachel tapped her temple.

“I would rather be beautiful than smart,” Meme said.

“Sadly, too many women feel that way,” Alexis responded.

“Hotep,” Rachel continued.  “He gets to be Fred.  While David, and his friend Joseph get to be Shaggy and Scooby.  I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.”  David and Joseph were still nibbling on supper, and the bread Alexis made.

“And what does that make you?”  Boston asked.  “You are young again, by the way.  Almost the youngest I have seen you.”

“As young as me,” Artie said.

“And you have Daphne looks and Velma brains,” Katie said.

“No,” Rachel said.  “I’m the director and Sakhmetet, my friend, is the producer in charge of special effects.”

“That means I get to be in charge of all the money, whatever money is.” Sakhmet, alias Sakhmetet said.

Lockhart, Lincoln, Artie, and Elder Stow had no idea who Rachel was alluding to, but they did not worry about it, except Lockhart who nudged Katie.  “It’s a generational thing,” Katie said.  “I’ll explain it to you later.”

Decker harumphed and stepped outside.  He understood the show and the characters, but he would not admit it.  He came back in with two of the lanterns the travelers sometimes used in the dark.  It lit the inside of the shack like day, and he settled back into his seat.  That little shack was full.  They did not have any extra room to move around.

When Rachel turned to introduce her friends from the future, she mentioned things the travelers rarely paid attention to.

“Captain Katie Harper and Major Decker are soldiers, like captains of the host, or maybe Decker is more like a general.  Decker is especially trained in covert operations; that is, dealing with secret work being done by one person or a group, and figuring out how to shut them down.  He might be able to recognize something that is not right, or normal.  Likewise, Lincoln used to work for the CIA.  He is trained to gather secret information, and whoever is cursing the men, he is doing a remarkable job of keeping his hand secret and hidden.”

“That kind of work takes time,” Decker countered.  “Digging up secrets is not an overnight job.”

Lincoln agreed.  “It usually takes months, sometimes years.”

“All the same,’ Rachel said.  “We might only need a set of trained, fresh, outside eyes to see what we might be missing.”  Decker and Lincoln did not disagree with that idea, so she continued.  “Artie and Elder Stow have the most outside eyes.  Artie’s problem is she has not been in normal, human life for very long and might not recognize something that is out of the ordinary.”

“But my sister is smart,” Sakhmetet interrupted.  “She sees more than you think.  She just has to learn to mention it and share what she sees, like not be slow to ask questions.”

“Seems to me she asks plenty of questions,” Katie spoke up.

“All the same,” Rachel said.  “Ask, and Elder Stow has special equipment that might pick up a stray energy source, for example, that might be out there, and help pinpoint things if the Masters are behind this.”

“I will get to work on that right away,” Elder Stow volunteered.

Rachel nodded by way of thanks.  “Now, Alexis, Boston and Sakhmetet all have special abilities and contacts I am not at liberty to talk about.”

“I’m not getting involved on that level,” Sakhmetet objected.

Rachel nodded, but did not respond directly.  “If this is the result of bad magic or spiritual forces, like maybe with the blessing of one of the gods, these are the ones who can figure that out.”  Rachel looked at Sakhmetet, and Sakhmetet raised no further objection to the idea that one of the gods might be behind it all.  As they thought about it, that even seemed likely.

“And the big fellow?” Hotep asked.

One chair, the eighth, remained empty at the table where Rachel, Hotep, Surti, Meme, David, Joseph, and Sakhmetet sat, staring at Lockhart.  The travelers mostly sat where they could around the room and on the floor, but they also looked in Lockhart’s direction as Rachel spoke.  “Lockhart needs a seat at the table.  He was a police officer and knows all about the law, hard clues, permissible evidence, and real detective work.”  Rachel patted the empty chair beside her, and Lockhart got up to sit.

“So, what have we got?” he asked.  “You have suspects?”

Rachel nodded, and heard no objection to sharing the list.

“You need to determine if they have means, which is to say, are they capable of doing the crime.  Motive, that is, do they have something to gain by doing the crime.  And Opportunity, which is, were they alone and in the neighborhood when the crime occurred, or do they have some alibi that suggests they could not have committed the crime.”  Lockhart turned and smiled at Katie.  “Police work, 101.  Means, motive and opportunity.”

“That is very good,” Surti said, and at least Hotep nodded.  “I will have to remember that.”

“So, here is what we got,” Rachel said.  “And my people can object if I explain it wrong, or put in information if I forget anything.”

“You mean us?” David asked.

“No, the wallboard,” Meme shot at him, and stared as they both turned toward Joseph.  Joseph had his mouth stuffed with bread at the moment, so he could only smile and wave at them.

“This is getting exciting,” Hotep said, and he slipped his hand over Rachel’s hand, and she did not object to that, but the travelers all snickered a little.  They knew the Kairos usually came surrounded by monsters, and they often arrived in the middle of a fight.  Normally there was not time to sit down to a pleasant meal and think about it.

“Top of the list is Sokar, the weasel.  He is a foreigner, a Hyksos, but he styles himself as an Egyptian.  He has the position of assigning the daily tasks to the Semite groups, and if you cross him, you will get the manure work.”

“I assume, in this day and age, that would be literal manure work,” Decker said.

Rachel answered with a nod.  “Sokar has a fine house in the city, and some servants.  He knows all the right people, and even has the ear of the governor.”

“Means, motive, opportunity,” Lockhart said.  “What makes him a suspect?”

“He wants to kill off the Jews,” she looked at David.  “The children of Abraham,” she explained, and added, “My friends know what I mean by Jews.”

David interjected.  “We have been reduced to making bricks and working in the clay pits and mines.  It is the most grueling and short lived of lives, usually reserved for criminals.”

“Is that a sufficient motive?” Lockhart asked.

“Yes, for the masters.  They, and the demons, would love nothing better than to eliminate the Jews at this point in history—before they ever get to the promised land.”

“It is true,” Hotep said.  “We overheard Sokar talking to my father, the governor, and accusing Rachel’s people of cursing the Egyptians and causing the madness.”

Lockhart nodded, and Rachel continued.  “The rest are further down the list.  Amonre is the chief of the night watch.  He is an ass, but that doesn’t mean he is guilty of anything.  The main evidence is circumstantial.  Thus far, he has managed to be in the right place at the right time, seven times now, to stop the madmen before they could do much damage.”

“He is either doing his job very well or he is very lucky,” Surti suggested.

“Or he is in on it and has inside information,” Lockhart said.  “One to watch.”

Rachel nodded again.  “Then there is old Haman.  He is a kindly old man, and I should have no reason to suspect him but for his clichés.”

David interrupted.  “You mean the royal gardener?  Our old man Haman?”

Rachel nodded again, and Hotep smiled at her, and watched her long brown hair bob up and down.  In fact, most of that time, he could hardly take his eyes off her.  Rachel ignored Hotep and spoke.

“It is the most circumstantial, but he speaks in clichés such as you know, and always gets them in the right context and everything.  Things like, there is safety in numbers, and, better safe than sorry.  This morning he said, when the demon-man showed up he was frightened out of his wits.  When I asked if they might catch the person responsible, he said, time will tell, and it is only a matter of time.”

“Purely circumstantial,” Lockhart agreed.  “But again, oddly coincidental.”

“Don’t forget Miriam the Healer,” David said, and Meme nodded strongly.

“The Healer?”  Alexis asked.

“A first-class witch,” Rachel said.  “An Ammonite, I believe.”

“Who?” Hotep asked Rachel, having missed earlier discussions of her.

“You remember,” Rachel said, as they unconsciously took a better hold of each other’s hands, and she explained for Hotep and the travelers.  “You got sick when you were about ten.  He had the measles, a good Anazi disease, thank you very much.  Your father called in the woman when the Egyptian physicians proved powerless.  She healed you.”

“I remember you stayed with me the whole time.”

“I did.  Someone had to defend you from the quacks.”

Hotep smiled for the group.  “She calls Egyptian physicians quacks, but won’t explain.”

“They wanted to bleed him with leeches,” Rachel and Hotep were both smiling broadly, holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes.

“So, Sotek, Amonre, Haman, and Miriam, the ammonite witch, who sounds like the only one who might have the means to do the work of infesting people with demons,” Katie spoke up from the floor.

“Powerful, like the Witch of Endor,” Rachel said, and turned her eyes back to the conversation.  “But Miriam has only done good, as far as I know.”

“The fifth suspect could be someone completely unknown to you that you have not even thought of,” Lockhart added.  The people all agreed that that was a possibility.

Avalon 5.4 The Mystery of the Madness, part 3 of 6

Rachel went out to the kitchen where Surti was cooking a fine meal.  She got her cloak and said good-bye to Surti and Meme, and said she would see them in the morning.  About a third of the servants in the house were Egyptians who stayed in the house overnight, to care for the family and whatever guests there might be, and to meet any needs that might come up in the dark.  A good two-thirds of the servants were Semites, and some were children of Abraham.  The latter waited for her at the gate, because she was late.  They normally walked home at sundown.

The guards, who were all Egyptians, smiled and waved her through, and old Haman spoke right up.  “It wouldn’t be safe to walk home alone in the dark these days with madmen roaming the streets.  Things go bump in the night.  I made everyone wait for you.”

“Thank you,” Rachel said, genuinely grateful, though she had not seen any madmen yet.  She had only heard about them, but what she heard scared her to no end.  They did not sound like madmen.  They sounded like demonized men who went out into the streets to steal, kill and destroy, which was all demons knew how to do, other than lie.  They were said to have great and terrible strength, to punch through walls, and kill an ordinary mortal with one punch.  They were said to cut themselves when they could, like men trying to kill themselves, though some said they were unnaturally attracted to blood.

“Never you worry,” Haman said.  “We are family, and I know there is safety in numbers.”  Haman said things like bump in the night or safety in numbers once in a while, and that made Rachel raise her eyebrows.  Mostly, they were common sense things, but as often as not, they were expressions that became clichés in the future.  It meant nothing, necessarily, but it did make Rachel wonder if the outwardly nice old man, Haman, might be one to watch.

Rachel decided then and there if her people were being accused of bringing the madness on the people, the only way to save her people would be to find the real culprits.  Rachel would have to become detective Rachel, but then she grinned.  “One old man.  One beardless boy.  And three women, one of whom is my mother’s age, and one of whom is as old as you.”

“I’m the eldest,” one of the women spoke up.

“I got fuzz on my chin,” the boy protested.

“But you are right,” She smiled for the old man.  “We are safer together.”

Old Haman nodded, but then stopped, and the whole group stopped with him.  There was a man in the street.  He held a bloody ax and chased after a young couple.  The young girl and boy were both screaming, the boy maybe one pitch higher.

The ax man stopped suddenly and turned to stare at Rachel’s group.  He yelled, though it was hard to make out what he actually said.  It sounded like, “The Kairos and the Jews.  Kill them now.  Kill them now.”

The women, except Rachel, screamed.  The boy ran.  Haman stood still in his panic as the ax man approached, or maybe he knew he was safe.  Rachel asked Amun Junior to come and step into her shoes.  It felt like a prayer, but from somewhere in the deep past, Junior agreed.  Rachel vanished and Junior appeared, and he came dressed in the armor of the Kairos.  He had a great sword at his back, and a long knife across the small of his back, if they were needed.

Junior raised his hand, and the ax man froze in place, though clearly the ax man resisted with all his might.  It made no difference.  Amun Junior lived as one of the gods of Egypt for the sake of Amun, his father.  That meant he was not only a god, but in his own jurisdiction.  His will was absolute, limited only by the actions of other Egyptian gods or the Most-High God.

The ax man did manage a slight roar, but a much louder and deeper echoing roar came from down the street.  As Junior examined the demon filled man, a lion appeared.  The women behind him, and Haman stared, and even the boy came back to stare and gasp as the lion turned suddenly into a beautiful woman.  She ran up to Junior and threw her arms around him.

“Wait, sister,” Junior told her, and she waited while the night watch arrived.  The head of the night watch, Amonre, seemed a gruff and cruel man.  Rachel did not like him.  Worse, Rachel did not trust him, but he did seem to be getting the madmen before they did too much damage.  Rachel thought it might be a bit too convenient how he knew where to find them.  The watch took the ax and bound and gagged the man so he could not escape, though he could struggle and swear through the gag.

“Thoroughly demonized,” Junior said, and gave a gentle brotherly kiss to his sister, Sakhmet.

Sakhmet returned the familial kiss with a word.  “Not a vampire type demon, though they may become that if they are killed.  I don’t know.  Demons are not my strong point.”

“They should not be anyone’s strong point.  They aren’t allowed to inhabit flesh and blood,” he said.

“Tell them that.”

“As defender of Upper Egypt, I imagined you would be in Thebes.”

“I came to Memphis to visit my father Ptah when this whole thing started.”

“And any word from mother, or I should say, not-my-mother Ishtar?”

Skhmet grinned at her half-brother and shook her head.  “Not lately.  She stays pretty much in Mesopotamia these days, and I have my work here.”

Junior nodded.  “And where is Wadjt, defender of lower Egypt.  This is her city.”

Sakhmet made a face.  “She is on the outs since she let the Hyksos in a couple of hundred years ago, and she encouraged them.  I think she is still sulking.”

Junior nodded again.  “I was with the Hyksos, you know.  I did my best to spare Memphis.  Wadjt said she did not care if the city got burned to the ground.”

“Unhappy love affair,” Sakhmet explained.  “The girl died young, and Osiris would not let her come back.  Wadjt told Horus to screw himself with his own glasses and went off to sulk.”

“She was very sulky back then.”

“So, who are you this time?” Sakhmet asked, as Amonre and the watch dragged off the demonized man.  Junior made the two of them invisible, and hoped Haman did not see.

“Rachel,” he said, and traded places with Rachel so she could hug Sakhmet herself and say, “Thank you for watching over us.”

Sakhmet frowned and said, “Tell my brother I’ve been a full-grown woman for some time now.  He doesn’t have to do things for me or think for me anymore.”

“Sorry” Rachel said.  “But I need you to make me visible again as soon as I figure out how to not make the others notice.  I’m working undercover.”

“The demon noticed you, and who you were.” Sakhmet said.  “But you seem like a sweet girl.”

Haman called.  “Rachel.”

“Here I am,” Rachel called back from down the street where she found herself.

“Tell him you got scared and ran off. Oh.” Sakhmet, still invisible to the rest of the world, paced her, but appeared to get excited.  She clapped her hands rapidly, like a six-year-old, and shouted.  “They’re here.  My adopted mom and dad.  Talk to you later.” She vanished altogether.

Rachel mumbled.  “All grown up and mature.”  She laughed a little while Haman spoke.

“I got worried when I didn’t see you.  I thought maybe you vanished into thin air”

Rachel squinted at the man.  “Yes, but I realized it would not have been right to run off and leave you to the madman.  So here I am, safe and sound.”  She squinted again when she said safe and sound, but he betrayed nothing.

“The watch came and got him, and just in time.  And there was a lion, but I don’t understand that part.”

“The lion of Judah?” Rachel suggested, and the boy perked up as they continued on the journey home.

“I didn’t know Judah had a lion.”

“It’s an old story,” the old women said.  “Older than me.”  She smiled at herself and told the boy the story.

Avalon 5.4 The Mystery of the Madness, part 2 of 6

Rachel started to come inside, and Lord Horemheb shouted down again.  “Mementep.  Don’t you have work you should be attending to?”

Meme’s eyes got unaccountably big.  “Yes, Lord,” she said, and hiked up her dress to run as fast as she could to get out of sight.

Rachel stepped into the upper room and saw Horemheb sitting at the table, reading the scroll.  She got down on her knees and sat with her eyes downcast, waiting to be spoken to.  She did not wait long.

“Rachel.  Child.  You may stand.”  His voice sounded kind, so Rachel took the invitation to heart.  She got up and stood by the table, opposite the man.  “You are an Abramite.”  It was a statement that was also a question.

“My fathers were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  So were my parent’s fathers, and their parents before them.”  That was important to say, because there were the inevitable mixed marriages.

“And I have been told, a-hem,” he cleared his throat and glanced at the closet curtain.  “I have been told that the Abramites may be responsible for the madness that has come upon some of the people.”  By people, he meant certain Egyptians.  Only Egyptians qualified as people.  The rest were Semites, or Hyksos, which meant foreigners, as a general term.

“That cannot be,” Rachel said, firmly.  “That would go against everything we believe.”

“The precepts of your one god.”

“Indeed.  We do not steal and do not kill.  We live honestly and faithfully.  We keep our word.  Our pledges are sacred to us.  We do good and avoid evil.  We do good for our neighbors, because after this life, we will come before the judgment seat of God to account for our lives.  You Egyptians believe much the same thing.  It is appointed to a man once to die, and after that the judgment.”

“I understand.  But who is you neighbor?”

“Why, you are.  The Semites, Hyksos, and the Egyptians.  You are all our neighbors.  The children of Abraham are counted in tribes, clans and households, but all of us are like family.  And you are our neighbors.  It is not in our teaching or our custom or culture to do such evil as has come upon some people.  Why, to do such a thing would go contrary to everything we are.  It would betray our very souls.”

Horemheb sat quietly for a minute and looked out the window.  The sun was going down, and he had much to think about.  Rachel stood patiently until he voiced another thought.  “I suppose you know nothing about your people wanting their own land.”

“Yes, I do.”  She surprised him.  “It has been told from the time Joseph came down into Egypt and saved the two lands from starvation, that one day a man would come, a savior, who would lead the people out of hardship and into a promised land, a rich land flowing with milk and honey.  I cannot say where that land may be, but I can say assuredly, that land is no part of Egypt.”

“Yes.  Prophecy.  Fantasy.”  He rubbed his hands together, like a chill had come upon him as the sun set.  “No, that is not fair.  It is a good hope, and better than no hope at all.  I might even hope with you that it comes true, only, please, not while I am governor of the delta region.”

“I fear it will be no time soon.”  Rachel waited to hear what else he had to say before she asked.  “Is there anything else?”

“Yes,” he said.  “About my son.”  Rachel dropped her eyes to the table and shut her mouth.  “I want to know if he ever mistreats you.  If he ever takes advantage of you, or forces himself upon you, or touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, you must tell me right away.  He is my son.  He is not too old for a whipping.”

“Oh, no, sir.  It’s not like that,” Rachel said, and she showed a warm smile on her face and in her eyes.  “We are just best friends, like we have been since we were children, when my mother served in this house, and I came with her.  You remember.”  Horemheb smiled at his memories, and nodded.

“And will you two marry?”  He had to ask.  He almost looked disappointed when she shook her head.

“I do not expect that will happen,” she said.  “I expect I will end up married to David, a very ordinary kinsman of mine.  And I am sure you have a fine young girl from a good house already picked out for Hotep.  That is what I expect to happen.”  Rachel sounded resigned, but not entirely happy about that prospect.  “I am sure the woman you have chosen will give your son many sons to follow in your wise and wonderful steps.”

“I understand,” Horemheb said, without explaining what he understood.

“There is one thing…” Rachel had the affront to speak outside of answering the lord’s questions.  It was an impropriety, and she let her voice and eyes fall to the table.

“What is it?  You are free to speak.”

Rachel just came out with it.  “I pray my lord will not be unhappy if Hotep and I remain the closest of friend for all of our days.”

Horemheb smiled.  “I would be honored to have you as my son’s best friend.  I have not told you, but I know you have had a deep and lasting influence on him.  Young as he is, he is a finer man and a finer son than I ever hoped to have.  I thank you, personally, and now we will speak of it no more.  You are dismissed.”

“My Lord Horemheb,” Rachel said, and bowed before she left the room.  The first thing that crossed her mind was it was a good thing she did not serve in the Pharaoh’s household.  She would have to walk backwards out of his presence, and she would surely trip over something or other, daily.

Avalon 5.4 The Mystery of the Madness, part 1 of 6

After 1468 BC, Memphis, land of Goshen.  Kairos 63: Rachel, Household Servant


“Hotep, get your hands off me.”  Rachel whispered in her loudest whisper.  Hotep had his hands on her waist and hips from behind while she bent over.  Rachel wiggled her butt to try and wriggle free, but that just made Hotep smile.  He bent over her shoulder to peek out the side of the curtain.  “Hold your breath,” Rachel whispered.  He breathed in her ear.  “You reek of onions,” she said.

“Hush,” Hotep responded, but Rachel heard the excitement in his voice.  They were being naughty.

“Meme.  Tell Hotep to let me go.”  Meme got squished into the back of the closet.

“I’m not doing anything.  I’m minding my own business.”  Meme had her eyes shut, and her hands over her eyes.

“Big help…oh, hush.”

‘Hush,” Hotep breathed on Rachel

“Hush.” Rachel gently shoved Hotep’s face.

“Lord Horemheb,” A man spoke as Lord Horemheb walked into the room followed by a bowing Sokar, the weasel.  Horemheb put a papyrus scroll down on the table and turned to listen.

“You have evidence?”

Sokar stroked his beard.  “No hard evidence, but I do not doubt my sources.  They are all honest, hard-working men.  They say the curse that has fallen here and there on the people is the work of the Abramites.  Most of the Semites settled in Goshen and the delta are good people, content with their place.  But I have sources that say the Abramites dream of a land of their own.  If they can drive the true people of Egypt back, as the Hyksos once did, they may get it.”

Horemheb shook his head.  “The Abramites I know are all, as you say, honest, hard-working people.  They are builders, building ships and homes, and they work in the fields, bringing in the food that feeds us all.”

“They are mere servants of Egypt,” Sokar countered. “They have no standing here, and they know it.  That is why they want to take the land, so they can be the rulers.”

“And yet, I have not heard one complain about the work, or about being here.  They have homes as well, and families to care for.  You would have me believe a whole people are nothing but strange alien monsters.”

“My sources do not lie.”

“But you have no meat on your bone.  Bring me evidence.  Bring me the names of those responsible.  Put some meat on the bone, and I will bite.  Right now, all you have is rumors and hearsay.”

Sokar looked pensive for a moment before he let out his best and smarmiest smile.  “As you say, my lord.  We would not want to accuse the innocent.”

Rachel, behind the curtain, let out a small growl.  Hotep slapped her butt softly to keep her quiet.

“Come,” Horemheb said with what might have been a small glance at the closet curtain.  “I will walk you to the door.”  They left the room together and Rachel immediately got to her hands and knees to crawl to the window.  Hotep and Meme followed her lead.

“We would not want to accuse the innocent.  Ha,” Rachel mumbled.  “That is exactly what Sokar wants to do.”  She stopped at the window ledge to look down.  The room was on the second floor.

Hotep grabbed Rachel’s foot, pulled off her slipper, licked her toes, and sucked on her big toe.  Rachel yanked her foot free, spun around and grabbed her slipper.  “You need help,” she said.

“I was just checking to see if you have meat on your bones.  Yes, very nice.”  He licked his lips.

“Sick bird,” Rachel said, as she looked down again.  She slipped herself over the edge and slowly lowered herself until she stretched out, holding on only with her fingers.  She let go and found it not very far at all.  She whispered back up in her loudest whisper.  “Come on, Meme, before the lord returns.”

Meme looked scared, but Hotep moved her over the edge until she got committed.  Meme looked down and around, and pushed a little so she would come down in a bush.  She got scratched and would have shrieked, but Rachel was right there to slap a hand over her mouth.  The shriek bounced up to her eyes which got extra big.

“Look out below,” Hotep said, much too loud, and he made faces as he dropped to the ground.  The three got out of the garden to the walkway, and Hotep spoke.

“That was fun.”  He turned on Rachel.  “You are the best.”  He leaned down to give her a kiss on the lips, but Rachel got her hand in his face to hold him back.

“I am a child of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a household servant.  You are an Egyptian of rank, and the heir in the house.”

Hotep tried to push his puckered lips between her fingers.  Rachel had to put up her other hand.

“Are you proposing?”  It was the biggest turn off for boys she could think of, but Hotep was slick.

“Not yet,” he said as he pulled his face back. “I have to have a kiss first to see what I will do.”

“No chance.  I know how this works.  You want to dally with the serving girl, and once I am used up, you toss me away and go off to marry some snooty, Egyptian bitch.”  Rachel dropped her hands to her hips and walked back and forth with an exaggerated wiggle.  “Oh Hotep, dahling.  Come and kiss my feet.”

Hotep got mad, before he laughed and nodded, and then shook his head vigorously.  “Gods I hope not.  Anubis take my senseless soul if I fall for a woman like that.”

“You shouldn’t kid about the gods,” Rachel said.  “Trust me on that.”

“What?  I thought you Abramites only believed in one god.  I thought you said the other gods were all pretenders.”

“That is not something we should be talking about.”

“But I’m serious,” Hotep said, and he put on his serious face.  “I would never betray you.  If I fall for a woman like that, you have my permission to strike me dead.”

Rachel nodded.  “We could call it a mercy killing.”  She put her hand gently against his cheek, stepped up to within a hand’s breadth, and let her lips brush against his before she turned her back on him.  “There may be hope for you yet,” she said, and could not prevent the smile that came to her lips when he shouted something like, “Yahoo!”  In fact, he ran off down the walkway, shouting the same sentiment over and over.

Rachel let out the smallest laugh when Meme touched her arm to get her attention.  “I think you really like him,” she said.

“I do,” Rachel admitted before she pulled back.  “But if you tell him that, I will never speak to you again.”  She shook her finger at the girl.

“My lips are sealed tight as a tomb.  Your words are hidden in the secret reaches of the pyramid in my heart.”  Meme said what was expected.  It did not mean she would not tell Surti and the others at the first opportunity.

“Rachel.  Girl.  Would you come up here.  I have something to ask you.”  Lord Horemheb spoke down to them from the window they just dropped from.  Rachel swallowed and Meme’s eyes got big again.  Who knew how long the man had been standing there, watching.

“Yes, Lord,” Rachel said, while Meme whispered in her ear.

“You are in trouble.”

Avalon 2.11: Joining the Club

            The question is what can be salvaged in the village and what has to be buried.  And then they can think about what to do about the chidren taken from them, and maybe about just who this runaway Sakhmet is who felt no fear at hitching a ride with these very strange people.


            Ka pulled on Emotep’s sleeve.  “How do you know these strange people?”  he asked.  He was staring at Boston’s red hair.

            “From my dreams,” Emotep said. 

            “Oh,” Aha’s voice was full of sarcasm.  He spun around.  “Not like the dream about that skinny girl going around with two goofy gods.  That was a stupid story.”

            “They brought back Osiris,” Emotep said, and then he had to find a place to sit down because he was suddenly feeling overwhelmed.  He just realized his dream people were real, and he not only knew them, but apparently they knew him as well.

            Captain Decker and Elder Stow were left with tying off the horses and getting out the tents.  Roland and Lincoln were at Father’s elbow to ask if some of the men might help them get a better idea of what they could fix in the village.  That gathered all of Father’s attention and the men began to smile.  Lockhart and Katie were doing their best to mingle and reassure the people, but shortly it was Katie among the women and Lockhart wandered back to the horses.

            Decker and Elder Stow had moved back from the center of the village to pitch their camp, not the least to get away from the smell of burnt reeds and wood.  Lockhart helped get the tents up and then he went to check on Lincoln and Roland.  Decker kept guard and turned his binoculars on the river which was just discernible through the nearby trees.  Elder Stow checked his instrument now and then while he built a fire.

            That night, everyone had some meat and bread, and vegetables, mostly onions, provided by the village.  Aha, Ankara and Usersi hovered around or near Sakhmet who seemed to be getting along great with Neferet despite the big age difference.  Ka sat beside Emotep and tried to say encouraging things when Emotep appeared particularly distressed.

            Mostly the people, even Mother Beset and Father Meni were happy, considering the circumstances.  Some of their neighbors whom they already counted as dead looked like they might recover, and all of the wounded had been treated, if not healed miraculously.  Alexis was asleep in Lincoln’s arms during most of the meal, exhausted from doing all that healing work, but there was a most contented smile on her face.

            Everyone got to work in the morning.  Aha-Aa, Ankaret and Usersi got drafted.  The only reason Emotep did not get put to work was because he escaped to the club house.  He had much to think about and needed some time alone.  It occurred to him at ten-years-old that the world was a much bigger and more complicated proposition than he ever imagined.  He was more complicated as well, but some of the things he was thinking, about living other lives in other times, was not something he really wanted to think about.  It was like losing his innocence, and here he was only ten-years-old.  He honestly did not want to think about some things, but he had no choice.  Little Nidjau was a prisoner of Lord Seth and probably frightened half to death. 

            The nominal ruler of the upper lands, the so-called king in Hierakon was worthless.  He would lose the land to Set if left alone.  Thebes was certainly its own city, and Karnak, with the temple of Amun was an independent place – the religious center of the land as Abydos was the place of the dead, but he did not expect help from any of those places either – especially since Abydos was apparently already overrun by the enemy.  And what could he do for poor Nidjau?

            Emotep considered the gods.  Amun scared him a little.  Horus was just a young adult, like Hathor, and could not be expected to do much.  Mut was reported to be sleeping with Set, so no help there.  Most of the rest were in Lower Egypt; Toth at Fayun, Ptah at Memphis and the Place of the Lion, Bast in her city, Aton the Ra – the King of the gods in his city at Helios.  Even his old protector – Phoenix’ old protector, Wadjt was in the delta.  To whom could he turn?

            He imagined Isis might be persuaded to help.  She certainly had no love for Set, but then she spent every day grieving for Osiris, even if Osiris was not quite dead yet.  Anubis the enforcer of Egypt?  Perhaps, but he had no way of getting in touch with either Anubis or Isis.  No, he concluded, getting Nidjau back and setting the children free was going to be up to him, a ten-year-old boy who never wandered very far outside of his own village.  He was going to have to depend on Lockhart and the others, though he hated to put them in harm’s way.  Their job was supposed to be to get home to the twenty-first century in one piece and not go head-to-head with an invasion of the minions of Set.

            Emotep looked up to find Sakhmet and Neferet sitting quietly by the hole and the rope.  He was startled but not surprised.  He did not hear them come up the rope, but then he had his suspicions about exactly who Sakhmet was, anyway.  He looked at her closely.  He was also not surprised that she now appeared to be more like she was eleven, if not his age, though she still had a sense of unnatural attractiveness about her.  It was like Innan, but removed from the source, and he noticed that like Innan when she was very young, Sakhmet appeared to be leaking all over Neferet.  He already liked Neferet, but it felt strange to say that this little five-year-old looked very attractive.

            Sakhmet was studying him in return with a serious expression on her face when Emotep startled her with a question.  “Who is your mother that she should go away?”

            Sakhmet’s eyebrows went straight up before she squinted at him.  “I was just wondering the same thing about you, not your mother going away bit.  I’ve met your mother.  She seems very nice.”

            Emotep sat and they stared eye-to-eye for a moment before he said, “Well?”

            “Ishtar,” Sakhmet said.  “She had to go to that other place for a time since Chaos was overcome.”

            “Tiamut.”  Emotep nodded to that much and pointed to Neferet.  “She knows the story.  But now, who is your father?  You are headed for Memphis?  Don’t tell me.  Ptah.”

            Sakhmet smiled and the sunshine in that was almost overwhelming.  “Why, yes.  That is very good.  How did you know?  But wait, who are you, because as far as I can tell you are just a normal, mortal boy?  Except I can’t read your mind.”

            “I am Emotep, a normal mortal boy, but one day I will be your younger brother, and kind of your older brother at the same time.”

            Sakhmet made her whole face squint, and it was very cute.  “But that doesn’t make sense.”

            “I seldom make sense.  But now, who are you running away from?  Don’t tell me.  Papi Amun.”

            “He won’t let me do anything.” Sakhmet frowned and stomped her foot.  “It is like I am a prisoner at Karnak.”  Emotep understood that Sakhmet was likely older than she appeared.  The gods aged slowly.  She might be a genuine teenager in years, but in her case she would not approach anything near maturity until she was at least a hundred.  Marduk and Assur were more like a hundred and fifty, and they could act like real morons.  But he said none of this out loud.  Instead, he commiserated.

            “Amun can be frightening at times, and strict.”  Emotep could not remember very many incidents, but he knew his impression was accurate, and he also knew he had many encounters with Amun in the past, and some in the future.

            “Emotep?”  Ka’s voice came up from below.  Neferet stood up and went to the hole in the flooring where the rope let down.  She cupped her hand and shouted.

            “We are up here escaping the work.  Sakhmet and Emotep are loving each other.  Come on up.”


Avalon 2.11:  Plans and Places … Next Time