Krenakaris's eyes narrowed. Something had happened that the lioness and sphinx both knew about and he didn't. "Now," said Sekhmet. "Thorn is yours…" Krenakaris was elated—this was it! "Takeis."

            "WHAT?" Krenakaris howled. But Sekhmet ignored him.

            Sekhmet was obviously dying. "The spirit will come closer to you," Sekhmet said, then let out a grunt of pain. "Touch it, even if only with a claw, for a moment. Then make as many wishes, declare as many changes in the natural order of the universe, as you'd care to. But the last, please—" Sekhmet cried out in pain again, but continued. "The last wish must be to set Thorn free, send him to the One." Sekhmet shrieked in pain, then slumped over on the kitchen floor. A golden light surrounded the lioness goddess of revenge and of war, and then she was gone.

            But the spirit Thorn, who had been freed from the glass vial, did not know that. It drifted over to Takeis like a quick-moving fog. As it went past Krenakaris, he reached out and touched it—but all he felt was mist, none of the power that should have filled him.

            THIS IS ALL WRONG!

            It took Takeis a long time, as the dark wizard watched, to lift her arm to touch Thorn. The wizard was going crazy inside his head. Millennia suddenly wasted! His life meaningless!

            "I wish," Takeis said quietly as she withdrew her claw from the mist. "That my broken heart will know how to mend itself without choosing Matthias or Jon."

            Krenakaris could not believe it.

            "And I wish, that when I am done with the rest of my wishing, that Krenakaris the dark wizard will first know every single pain I have ever known, and then he will die."

            Krenakaris was suddenly stricken with fear. The sphinx had been an angry person, a sharp-edged creature, all because of the pain over thousands of years. And he would experience it all in one single stab.

            "And I wish, that after I see Krenakaris suffer and die, that I will die, and never live again. And I wish that I will see Naia and Omitar, and Jon and Matt, all in the same Heaven I go to."

            Krenakaris could not believe it. Takeis could be wishing for power beyond that of the One—she could be wishing for world domination, hell, even world peace, and she wasn't.

            Takeis fell silent for a moment, thinking. She was thinking the same thought as Krenakaris at the moment. She could wish for world peace, use her power to fix the world. But then she knew she would not, and why. These were her personal decisions made her personal power. Mankind had broken itself, and it would have to be all of mankind that fixed itself.

            "And I wish that Thorn the soul go free, go to One and be peaceful in the peace we were both meant for aeons ago."

            Krenakaris wondered suddenly if this was just a bad dream. Maybe he would wake up still in Egypt, without a sphinx, griffin, and pegasus on his hands, still the Pharaoh's Uncle Ay…Let me do this all over, and I will do all right. I will hire no assassins!

            "And now I'm done with my wishing."

            Krenakaris watched in horror as the misty white cloud that was Thorn rose above Takeis, then disappeared into itself.

            Suddenly Krenakaris felt all the pain inside of him that Takeis had ever felt from the time she took his job as an assassin. The pain of all the deaths; the pain of realizing it would never end; the pain of losing her unborn child for superstition; the pain of losing Matty; the pain Matty's memory; losing Omitar and Naia; losing Jon; losing even Sekhmet. And the last pains, the pains of flight. Takeis had not known it as she flew to Egypt, but she had been dying even then.

            Then Krenakaris screamed. Takeis watched in grim satisfaction, thinking entirely of Omitar and Naia. Krenakaris continued screaming until his body erupted in flames. When the flames were gone, so was any trace of Krenakaris.

            The dark wizard was dead for good this time.

            Takeis felt a sudden peace watch over her. She was suddenly above her body, and watched as it went from her American body to her Egyptian one, then aged several millennia, and then turned to dust, just as Naia and Omitar's bodies had in 2003.


            Takeis's spirit looked around. Who—what—had spoken? It was like nothing Takeis had heard before: not the voice of a god, not the terrible voice of Krenakaris's chant (and her own chant, she realized), not a human voice.

            The One.

            The One was speaking to her.


            "Where?" Takeis asked.

            (abandon the world and come)

            Takeis smiled.

            (we have much to talk about)

            "You're telling me." Takeis said, and abandoned the world.

            Madame Rosa sat in her little shop, thinking. She had felt several odd magical tremors in the world, and knew one of them was the ultimate passing of Takeis. Rosa held the wedding band Takeis had left with her in one hand, thinking of the prophecies that spoke of Takeis.

            "The sphinx will sacrifice all and the world will continue," Madame Rosa whispered. "But only in her martyrdom will the sphinx save the world. And after that martyrdom, the mortals who follow the sphinx's trail of tears will see and will know, and will save."

            Rosa stood up and went over to her door. It was open, but no one came in today. Today was a day of mourning, though the world did not know why. Tomorrow would be a day of realization, as the world saw what it had become. And the day after would be another day of tears for that realization. But the day after that, after the people had seen and known, the world would begin to save itself.

            "Thank you, Takeis," Rosa said, and shut her door.

a/n: All things holy in my sock drawer…

It's over, now. Now it's really really over. So Takeis won and Krenakaris lost. We all knew it would happen, didn't we? But it had to be told, I guess, so I'm glad I wrote the sequel. I just realized I didn't spellcheck the last couple of chapters, so please forgive me any spelling/grammar errors. That were not purposeful.

Thanks to everyone for the Reviews, they were all helpful and they were all cool.

Love and life,

winged one