Author: WritersRule PM
Auset is the mortal child of Anpu, Egyptian god of death. Her mother is dead and she lives with an uncle. Soon, mysteries and ancient prophecies arise, and she is forced to flee her home, trying to survive and deal with her new identity and her growing love for her fellow fugitive. A blend of romance and mythology.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Mystery - Chapters: 8 - Words: 17,623 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 12-30-12 - Published: 07-31-11 - id: 2938545
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The child is a girl.
She is a small babe, expected since she is early, but her lungs are healthy and clear, if her loud screams are anything to go on. She has her mother's eyes and her father's face, and if one really squints, there are signs of Uncel Kahotep in her hair and smile. She is called Hime, for her mother, who had just enough life left in her to name her child. I suggested it, for I could not bare the thought of my lips never shaping that beloved name ever again. I held her, as well, for a minute or two, before she was given to be nursed by the Hebrew slavegirl — who, I have only just realized, must have just given birth herself, for her breasts are swelled and full of milk, though it appears she has no child.
I knew exactly when my cousin's ba* left to join her ka* (it was in the early morning, when Khepri was just rolling the sun into the sky*),and my grief erupted like a flood. I do not know how long I sat in the hallway, weeping and tearing at my hair. The slaves, too, were shocked and dismayed when they learned of their mistress' death, for they also loved her dearly. Even now I can see silent tears streaming down their cheeks as they prepare my cousin's body to be brought to the Beautiful House.* Oh, why, dear Auset, powerful Wor-seer, have you seen fit to take Hime from this life? Indeed, I know that she will enjoy peace in the Field of Reeds, but how empty life will be now! And to leave two young daughters - how cruel it seems!
The gods have tried to comfort me, assuring me that my cousin shall surely pass the Feather Test, that she will find love and peace in the next life. Indeed, they try so hard that, as they all clamber to be heard, their voices begin to give me an awful headache.
At least this was a peaceful, nearly painless death, Lord Sutekh tells me. I feel so surprised that he is trying to lift my spirits (and so of course he then starts ranting about how wonderfully understanding he is) that I do not notice when Kamenwati appears behind me, seeming out of nowhere. He places a hand on my shoulder, and I whirl, startled. He looks at me with sympathy, and though I'm sure it is genuine, I cannot help but hate the way it looks on his face. Why should he be sorry for me? Why should he feel my pain? Like always he brings out a whirlwind of emotions I can hardly control.
"We must tell Itennu," he says. I frown and look at him, uncomprehendingly. If it were in better circumstances, I might notice how close he is to me, or perhaps how intensely he gazes at me, but now those things are nothing. He sighs and elaborates,
"Itennu, Auset. You know, Hime's husband? He must be told that his wife is dead." I flinch at the word, and the blunt way he says it. But Kamenwati is a blunt man, isn't he? He says things that no one else will, simply because they are truth. And now that he reminds me, I realize he is right. I turn to one of the male slaves and order him,
"Go to the temple and retrieve your master. Tell him his wife, Lady Hime, has given birth to their child, and that..." I take a deep breath before continuing,
"And that Hime has gone to be with the gods." The slave nods, but stands there for a moment, eyes wide as he stares at me. Irritated at his slowness, I snap, "Go!" He departs with much haste.
I lean against the wall and bury my head in my hands. My head is silent; the gods are letting me grieve alone, it seems. I wonder vaguely what things little Shemeit's nurses have told her to keep from inquiring about her mother and baby sibling. Does she even know the child is a girl? Ah, what will my little niece do when she hears the news? She is only two! And the babe herself (Hime, my mind, or perhaps another god, whispers to me, the child's name is Hime) is without a mother, as soon as she entered the world. I feel the tiniest bit of resentment towards her; she was the one to kill my cousin after all, but it is such an ugly and evil thing to blame a newborn for anything, least of all for being born. Not every mother survives the act of giving her child life; my own died the very same way. Oh, then what is my fate? Could it be that this weakness, this infirmity, is passed through my mother and uncle's family? Will I too suffer and die because I desired a son or daughter?
"Auset." I look up from my reveries to see that Kamenwati is still there. Sympathy is still in his gaze, but there is something else. Determination - fortitude, even, swims in his black orbs. He seems to want something. What? What could I possibly offer him in my distressed state? I barely have the strength to think straight.
"What?" I say, and my voice sounds tired. My throat and head hurt from the tears I shed earlier, and I imagine my face is red and blotchy. What a wonderful compliment to my pale, foreigner skin, I think bitterly, once again wishing I was not as pale as death.
"You came here for a reason, did you not?" he asks. "You came here to hide, from the soldiers." I bolt upright. That is correct. In all this time I have forgotten why I came to Hime's house in the first place. Oh, sweet Auset, are the rest of my family all right? Uncle Kahotep, Baraka, and Kebi? What about Aunt Merit, and Anu, Kebi's new husband? And again the question: why am I being hunted? What does Per-roh want with me?
"You've no idea what you may have done?" Kamenwati asks, once again bringing me from my thoughts. I frown at him, uneasy with him. It is all well and good to come visit his niece once in a while, which I grudgingly admit is his right and Hime's right to let him, but it seems that he is here for another reason. As if he can read my thoughts, Kamenwati leans in and confesses,
"I have no idea what I might have done either. Though I'm sure you will have no trouble doubting that." I look up in surprise. So I was right, and he does have another reason for being here: he, like me, is hiding from Per-roh's guards. But what in the world could he and I have in common, that our holy and esteemed god-king would want to persecute us both?
Oh, what do else can you expect from one under Heru's protection? This is Lord Sutekh's scathing remark, and the hate in his voice makes me want to scrub my mind to get rid of such nasty emotions.
This is absolutely not my fault, another voice says. Given the context, I conclude that this strong, young-sounding voice must be that of Lord Heru, the god who through the Per-rohs reign. Knowledgeable about the two gods' histroy, I sincerely hope they don't start fighting; I would rather my mind not be their next battlefield.
Shush, now, both of you, comes once again another voice. This one is female-sounding, and makes me think of the Sacred River's rushing waters. They are trying to have a conversation here.
Are we? I look at Kamenwati, and he is still staring at me urgently, as if my face holds answers to a question he's had for many years. We stay like that for a long time, silent, and probably would have stayed like that for a long time, had the door not shuddered and cracked as someone bursts into my cousin's house.
At first I am afraid it is the soldiers, but soon I realize it is just Itennu. He has crashed into his home, eyes wild as he looks around, as if his wife will be standing in the hallway. Not seing Hime, he lets out a heartwrenching wail and races into the back room — the room of life and death. My cousin-in-law, though he must have seen us, does not seem to notice me or his ex-brother. Some of his servants try to prevent him, crying "My lord!" as he passes them, but Itennu will not be deterred. He reaches the place where his wife's body lay, and when he does, he wails and screams some more.
Against my better judgement, perhaps, I go stand in the doorway to see Itennu tearing at his clothes and sobbing by Hime's bedside. Kamenwati follows. The slaves who had attended baby Hime's birth stand about, looking terribly unsure of what to do. Only the Hebrew slave has the courage to approach him, and with what looked like disgust in her eyes, she asks her master,
"Will you not look at your daughter, my lord? Do you even want to know her name?" Itennu snaps his head up, staring at his slave as if she has nine heads. Then he rises, slowly, and reaches out to take little Hime. He stares at her, though without seeing his face I cannot tell his reaction.
"What is her name?" he asks quietly, and I feel compelled to answer,
"Hime." Itennu startles, whirling around to finally notice the guests in his home. His eyes widen when he sees me, and his jaw drops when he catches sight of Kamenwati. We face off against one another as Itennu struggles to compose himself. Finally he manages a quiet,
"What are you doing here?" I am about to explain things but Kamenwati jumps in and says,
"Oh, just running from the authorities. You know, like usual." I turn to him, hardly believing my ears, as Lord Sutekh chuckles in my head. Itennu stares at us, confused for a moment, and then curls his lip in disgust.
"So you are crimminals, then?" he asks, in an indiscernable tone. I begin protest, but his eyes have glazed over and he does not seem to be listening. The Hebrew stiffens all of a sudden, and her eyes widen in horror as she looks at her master. I am trying to understand her reaction when all of a sudden Itennu thrusts little Hime into my barey-ready arms and jumps back as if burned. His voice is shrill now as he shrieks at us,
"Go! Go, you filthy law-breakers! Leave my house and take that dirty murderer with you before I alert Per-roh's guards!" As we stand there dazed, he grabs a pot off the bedside table and makes to throw it at us. Kamenwati moves forward, perhaps to shield me as I instinctively turn the child away, when the Hebrew boldly catches her master's arm and demands of him,
"How can you? How can you as the father of this child abandon her within the first day of her life? And what of your other daughter — shall you tell her you played favorites and kicked her sister out of your home, all for being born? The LORD God Elohim* curse you for your actions!"
Itennu turns toward her, and strikes her hard across the face, knocking her to the floor. I think I yelped. Another slave (also Hebrew), younger and who looks remarkablely similar to the slavegirl, rushes forward as Itennu rages,
"You dare grab me and procerd to scold me?! You dare call down curses on me from your filthy forgein god? I may do as I like in my own house! And Shemeit — well they can take that little brat along with them, too!" It takes me a moment to realize that, in all actuality, Itennu is abandoning his daughters to Kamenwati's and my care, all because he has decided baby Hime is to blame for her mother's death. I glance at Kamenwati, whose face is a mask of calm, but I can see in the set of his jaw and his clenched fists that he is furious. I decide to try and reason with my cousin-in-law.
"Itennu," I say, attempting to make my voice soothing. "come, calm down. I know how grieved you, truly I do; but you have no excuse for giving away your children. Try to calm down and be reasonable. I'm sure once you let a little time pass your feelings will be changed." It seems my speech did not work, for Itennu only gets angrier and snarls at me,
"Oh, do not you attempt to control me! Do not you presume to lecture me where I am master! Here lies my wife, newly departed, and so I must bring her to the Beautiful House. I will not tolerate crimminals on my property, so I am telling you — I am ordering you — take that evil child, and Shemeit, and yourselves and leave before I call for the soldiers. And while you're at it, take her, too!" He reaches down and takes the Hebrew by the arm, and then flings her at us. The younger slave hurries to her side, clutching at her arm and crying out in their native tongue.
Kamenwati steps forward, trembling with rage. Little Hime is wailing her little lungs out and the rest of the slaves seem too shocked and/or terrified to do much more than tremble in the corner. I, too, am frightened by such violent behavior; who would have thought Hime's seemingly sweet-tempered husband could be capable of such fury?
There is movement behind me, and a little body squeezes between me and Kamenwati. When Shemeit sees her father she begins talking non-stop,
"Father, Father, what's going on? There was crashes and screaming and my nurses wouldn't let me leave my room. Is this my new brother or sister? Where's Mother? Why is Aunt Auset here?" As Shemeit rambles on, her father glances between his daughters, and perhaps the resemblance between the sisters fuels his ill-concieved rage; without warning he reaches out and slaps Shemeit across the face, sending her sprawling. Again, I may have cried out. I do know I gathered my young niece off the floor and pressed her to me, her shocked silence scaring me more than crying would.
I don't know what either Kamenwati or I might have done then, but then the Hebrew girl — actually she is about four years older than me, around Itennu's age — scoops up Shemeit and hisses at me,
"We must leave now, Kemetian, or else he will call your heathen soldiers and they will take you. You do not want that to happen. The children are better off with us, so come with me." I am baffled, and I'm not sure I want to follow, but between her insistence and Itennu's glaring, I decide it's best if I do. The other houseslaves make no objection as we file out into the night, the Hebrew and I carrying the girls and Kamenwati and the younger slave right behind us.
"Don't worry," Kamenwati whispers in my ear. "Leah knows exactly what's she doing. You can trust her."
Is that so? When I barely trust Kamenwati, or understand the situation I am in now? Oh, but I hope I can trust them. Oh, gods of Kemet, I do.
A.N — A bit more lengthy than I had planned on, but I think it worked out well. Let me know what you guys think.
ba — one of the seven parts of the human soul, in life it is the conscience; in death it enables the soul to travel to the underworld and reunitewith the ka, to take the next step in reaching the afterlife
ka — one of the seven parts of the soul, sort of like a spiritual twin that lived on after death; the ka was the reason the body had to be mummified so the soul would be able to live and move on to the afterlife
When Khepri...rolling the sun - There were three aspects of the sun god. He was Khepri in morning, a giant dungbeetle that rolled the sun into the sky at dawn; in the afternoon he was Ra, and in the evening he was Atum
Beautiful House (per-nefer) — the place where the deceased where brought to be mummifie
The LORD God Elohim — for Hebrews and modern Jews, the name "The LORD God" means that the Source of all being is also at the same time the personal God and Creator of the entire universe; Elohim is given also when referring to God as Creator of the universe, implying strength and justice, and when He is judging His creatures, such as man:
"The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to those, You want to know my name? I am called according to my actions. When I judge the creatures I am Elohim, and when I have mercy with My world, I am named YHWH" (Exodus Rabbah 3:6).
I thought this would be appropriate for someone calling down a curse on someone who is acting unjust. I hope I am using these sacred Names correctly, as I am Christian and while I respect the Lord's great Name, I don't know too much about the different titles He has in Judaism. If there is something wrong with my use, please let me know and understand I meant no offense.
Okay, that's it for now. See you next time!