Chapter 18: The Reality Behind Legends
Hospitals were something I was familiar with from having Sophie as my aunt. There was no way for me to remember how many times I had gone to the hospital for whatever accident she had that couldn't be fixed with a first aid kit. It was depressing; seeing all the people who were sick and family members walking around with gaunt faces. But one thing I always enjoyed about the hospital was seeing family I don't see that often. It was always a time of exchanging stories about the past and laughing off the troubles of the present.
I thought about those days when I walked into the hospital with Paws and Wadjet. I had been subjected to Wadjet's beautification that morning. My hair was curled into bouncing locks. She must have bought me clothes in the city while I slept because she had them lying on my bed when I woke up. The top I liked; a silk green blouse that was very oriental looking. However, the pants she got me were a black leather I normally wouldn't be caught dead in if I didn't have Wadjet giving me a glare that said I would be dead if I didn't put it on.
I was uncomfortable with people looking at us (though ignoring Paws, lucky dog) as we headed upstairs to Anubis' room. I, at least, had some imperfections in my appearance I was grasping to. One was my bandaged shoulder. Wadjet had nearly put a healing spell on it before I realized what she was doing. "Why stay injured when you can be healed in two seconds?" she scolded in exasperation. I could tell she was disgusted by it, but I didn't know how to tell her how much I needed it.
Then there was the medical mask I had over my mouth. When first walking outside I had thought it was a foggy day. However, the fog was actually smog, and it wasn't long before I was coughing as I desperately gasped for clean air that wasn't there. My voice sounded different to me. I wondered what kind of filter the hospital had to clean out the air in the building. The clean, though stale, air was refreshing, but I didn't want to rid myself of my mask even if I could breathe.
We found Imhotep standing in the hall when we arrived. He appeared discontent as he stopped us in our tracks.
"I'm sorry. You'll have to wait. I'm not allowing visitors." He locked eyes with Wadjet saying, "I can't get the Pharoah to listen to me. Perhaps you could talk to him."
"Why?" I asked. "What's going on?"
"Anubis is awake," Imhotep replied.
Simultaneously as Imhotep said that, a body appeared to be blasted out of the room and crashed into the opposite wall with a tremendous force that no doubt caused some damage. Dark shadows seemed to seep out of the cracks of the room and carefully closed the door until it clicked shut. Everyone rushed over to the crumpled blond man slumped on the floor. Imhotep reached him first scolding, "This is why I told you no visitors."
Horus the Child chuckled. "You know, I've always said his bark is worse than his bite, but," he let out a groan as he stiffly stood up, "his bite still hurts a lot."
"You had it coming!" Came an angry voice from behind.
An entourage of gods and goddesses came to join us in the hall. In the lead was Thoth, looking surly as he stormed towards us. He was wearing his usual white lab coat but being out of his chaotic office and into the clean hospital made his attire look messier than I remembered. Following behind was Horus the Elder looking like he had just left the gym after lifting weights. Isis was beside him dressed in an outfit beautiful enough to be in Wadjet's taste.
Thoth towered over Little Horus and he looked like he would rather be anywhere but here. "I finally have you cornered!"
"I wouldn't say I'm cornered. This is a pretty long hallway - "
"227 books! It was 227 books and a whole isle of bookcases that you destroyed!"
"It wouldn't have been so bad if the bookcases weren't electric and hooked into the floor - "
"Not to mention the terrified mortals I had console!"
"They wouldn't have seen me using magic, so I'm sure what they thought they saw wasn't so bad - "
"Isreal, Horus!" Thoth bellowed. "You pulled your stunt in a library in Isreal! They all thought you were a terrorist! I can't say they were wrong!"
"I'm a king!" Horus shouted back, standing up from the cracked spot in the floor.
"Are you? Then it's about time you stop acting like a child and start living up to your father's name!"
Horus' pride finally crumbled and he looked away with shame written in his face. In a mutter he asked, "What do you want then? Money for the damages?"
"I don't want anything you can summon with magic. You are going to work off your debt."
"What?" Horus replied as though he had never heard the phrase before.
"You're going to work in one of my libraries helping with cataloging and whatever other work the mortals will think up for you. You won't be done until you've completed 5,000 hours of work, and I expect you to finish by the turn of the century."
"You want me to be a librarian?" Horus asked in exasperation. "I can't waste my time working in a library! I have to catch Set for what he's done to Anubis! I need to enter the American government so I can become President and rule again! Even Nakia's helping me!"
"Hey, don't drag me into this," I voiced up. "I like books."
"It won't be so bad, kiddo," said Horus the Elder. He came over and rested a hand on Horus the Child's shoulder. "Just lug some books around for a while and make Thoth happy. I'll handle Set for ya."
Little Horus shrugged off his hand saying, "I'm not a kid!" as he did so. Little Horus held so much resentment in his glare it was easy to tell he didn't like his uncle. It surprised me that with how much they were the same, from names to the funky two eye colors, that they would be so different in every other aspect.
"Enough!" It seemed that everyone, including me, had forgotten Imhotep was there. We all looked at him. He looked flustered over his shout and gave a deep bow before saying, "Excuse me, but I'm not allowing visitors as Anubis needs his rest. Could you please take your conversation into the waiting room?"
While Imhotep spoke, Paws snuck past him to Anubis' door. He pawed at the door with a soft whine. The handle turned without any visible force, and the door cracked open enough to let the dog in. By the time the door softly closed itself even Imhotep had turned around taking notice.
Little Horus smirked. "No visitors, huh?"
"No unwelcome visitors," Imhotep retorted while Horus crossed his arms still standing on the cracked tile.
The group began to disperse. Big Horus walked off with a muttering Thoth with Wadjet trotting behind him without a glance at Little Horus behind her. Isis walked up to Little Horus and ran a hand through his hair. "I'm glad you're doing well," she said to him.
Little Horus grumpily mumbled something I couldn't understand. I spark of anger at Horus' disregard lit in my heart but I didn't let it show. Isis smiled at me and left to join the other gods. Little Horus turned to me and asked, "Have you eaten?"
"Good. Let's get out of here." He grabbed my hand and practically dragged me to the elevator. "You're hair looks nice," he said at the elevator door. I scowled. He didn't mention my appearance again.
China's breakfast is nothing like America's breakfast. If they have a staple breakfast food, I didn't find it. It all looked like food you would eat for lunch or dinner to me. While Horus was fine eating noodles in a hot broth, I could only settle with eating bread. They were very soft and slightly sweet.
Horus didn't speak, instead jabbing chopsticks into his bowl and loudly slurping his noodles. I was in my own lapse of silence. I couldn't stop from revisiting the fight against Set. It terrified me, both being caught into a trap with that god and nearly losing Anubis. But what disturbed me the most was, in the moments I was sure I was going to die, I would think of my parents in that paradise within the duat and would hope for death. Since then, I've told myself I don't want to die. I believe that. So why had I invited death when it was so close to me if I believed I wanted to live?
I was jolted out of my internal thoughts by Horus slamming on the table making some of the broth splash from his bowl. People looked at him and there was a moment of silence before they continued their conversations. After so much silence, Horus bursted into a rant.
"How could Thoth do that?! I'm not some sort of slave who has to do whatever he tells me! He has no idea the responsibilities I carry on my shoulders! I am the king of humanity yet I haven't had a position of power since the great wars! It used to be that being born into the family line got you into power, but now humanity has complicated things with voting and electing leaders! The last two countries I tried to rule didn't vote for me because they thought I was 'too much of a dictator'! I told them, 'I'm not a dictator. I'm a king,' and they all blew up like I wanted to destroy their countries!
"On top of taking care of humanity, I also have the personal responsibility of keeping Set in his place! He's gotten himself out of control! He nearly killed his wife's son, my brother, and like hell I'm going to let my stupid uncle go after him without me! If I can't bring a stop to Set, the balance of chaos and order will become unstable which could threaten the existence of humanity! How then am I supposed to rule as a president if humanity is dead?! But, no! All Thoth cares about is his stupid books!"
"Yeah, he has some really messed up priorities…"
"Exactly!" Horus 'hmphed' and drank out of his bowl like it was a cup. After Horus' temper tantrum I wasn't sure whether to laugh or be disturbed.
"Why did you blow up those books anyway?"
Horus took an extra moment to finish drinking from the bowl before answering. "Well, mostly I wanted to see what he would do, but I guess I'm still a bit bitter that he wouldn't get rid of those statues like I asked."
"They're in one of the museums he funds. I told him they're terrible and their existence should be erased. He said he wouldn't do such a thing!"
"So you blew up his books instead of the statues?"
Horus was taken by surprise. "Ra Above," he muttered, "why didn't I think of that?"
"So what was so horrible about those statues that you wanted them destroyed?"
"They're monuments to Aten?"
"And that's bad?"
"Of course! You weren't there. You don't know how bad it was for us when a human banned our worship. The guy even used his made up god, Aten, to get Egypt to worship him."
"So Aten isn't a real god?"
"Not at all. Humans will make up their own gods sometimes, like we're not standing right in front of them. Aten is about as real as Amun."
My head started to feel fuzzy, like a storm had formed inside it. "I thought Amun was a god?" I asked, hearing how different my tone had turned but unable to control it.
If Horus noticed, he didn't show it. He was playing with one of his chopsticks earning him sharp looks from several people. "Nope, just another figment of human's imaginations. I never could make Amun's followers go away. But you know," Horus pointed his chopstick at me with a large smile. The people staring at him looked even more offended. "I was smart when handling that problem. His following was becoming too large in Upper Egypt. The followers of Ra in Lower Egypt were growing unruly over Amun's growing popularity. It threatened a second civil war. So I played the human's game. I made up the god Amun-Ra to bring the two sects together. Worked like a charm."
"You combined two gods together? Not exactly creative."
"Yeah, but at least Ra got half the credit. He wanted his name to be first, but how weird does Ramun sound?"
Horus sighed, resting back in his chair and looked out the window. I was feeling a strange twinge holding my heart. Horus was wrong. Maybe all the gods were wrong. I've seen how Anubis can't see Amun like I can, but it looks like all the gods are ignorant to his existence. Should I tell him? Even if I did, I felt like it wouldn't do anything. Amun had half of Egypt worshipping him and the god's still believed he was a made-up god. What would my word mean compared to that?
"I tried to wipe his existence off the Earth…" Horus said softly.
"Akhenaten and his fake god Aten," he answered. "I took the throne back from him and had his name wiped from all the records, destroyed any image of him, tore down the temples to Aten he built… I wasn't diligent enough."
Horus eyes were distant looking out the window like he could see Egypt outside of it. "A lot of our temples were affected during that time. Most were repurposed into temples, but some were simply dismantled.
"I remember when Anubis had a temple to him taken apart. At that point, many of the gods were outraged over the destruction that was taking place, but Anubis always stayed out of it. I found him sitting at the steps of his temple with only the foundation remaining. I thought he would finally be angry enough to help with forcing Akhenaten off the throne. I told him, 'If you help me reclaim the throne, I can get your temple back.' He smiled at me and said, 'I don't serve mortals so that they'll worship me.' He left his temple behind and never did get involved."
Horus leaned forward looking at his empty bowl. "I wish I had asked him why back then. It always puzzled me. By the time I did, it was too late."
"How was it too late?" I asked.
Horus shook his head. "It was probably a decade before Anubis lost his heart that I thought of asking him. He was in a bad mood that day. He kept asking things like, why do we keep doing these things? Why do I keep serving as a king to humans? Why does Ra continue sailing between the Earth and duat? Crazy questions like that.
"I reminded him of what he said that day. I finally asked him, 'Why do you continue collecting their dead if you don't want them to revere you?' He said, 'If I had a reason, I have long forgotten it.'"
Horus chuckled. "Sorry, I got a bit nostalgic there. Let's go back. Maybe Anubis won't hurl me out of the room this time."
I followed him out. I could relate to Horus. I wanted to know what kind of god Anubis was before he lost his heart, but we both were unable to understand him. It seems there was a time that even Anubis didn't understand himself. I did have half a mind to ask, "Why did Anubis throw you out the first time?"
He smirked and replied, "I haven't the faintest clue. All I did was bare my soul on how much he had frightened me and how happy I was he didn't die. All he said was, 'I had forgotten how annoying you are,' and he threw me out.
"Just like old times."
There was a whole wing dedicated to Anubis' visitors. Poor Imhotep had his hands full trying to keep the coming and going gods placated while also keeping to his human patients. He still wasn't allowing visitors.
"Anubis is pretty popular," I remarked to Horus.
Horus shrugged. "He's respected. I think half of the gods here wouldn't have come if dad wasn't losing his mind right now."
"Are you kidding? Dad hates being cooped up in the duat. I bet he's going to every god he can asking how Anubis is doing."
"I didn't think of that. I can't imagine what it was like for the person who broke the news to him?"
Horus furrowed his brow. "What are you talking about? You were the one who told him."
Horus pointed to the center of my chest. "You told all of us. Scared the death out of me when you said he was dying."
I touched my chest feeling the indent of the amulets under my shirt. I remember how I had clutched at my chest when I didn't know what to do and felt my necklace grow burning hot. It wasn't until then I remembered the card Thoth gave me. Thoth must have heard me through the amulet. I didn't think that Horus and Osiris would also hear me through the amulets too.
Speaking of Thoth, Horus stopped where he stood when he saw Thoth at the end of the ward. Thoth was talking with Isis by a window. I could feel the waves of anger and contempt radiating off of Horus.
"Come on, Nakia. I'll introduce you to some gods."
He grabbed my arm to carry me into one of the side rooms but I pulled away. "I'll catch up with you in a second, Horus. Okay?"
He looked between me and glaring daggers at Thoth, but he eventually turned and stormed into the other room. I approached Thoth and Isis as they were carried away in their own conversation.
"…but then I found that directing magic to the atmosphere around the molecules worked better than electrical based magic. I have figure out how to create proper chemical reaction. I just need to find a method that mortals could replicate."
"Human technology has progressed far enough that it should be possible for them to create the same conditions."
"Yes, one of my apprentices is already coming up with his own idea. The only thing that bothers me is how much energy it wastes."
"Hello, Nakia," Isis inserted. Thoth turned and nodded to address me.
"Hi, I'm sorry to interrupt."
"Not at all," she said. "We were only making small talk. I'm so glad to see you're doing well, especially after all that's happened."
"Thanks," I replied, flustered. "I actually wanted to thank you, Thoth. I wouldn't have been able to help Anubis if you hadn't helped me."
"You never said you played a part, Thoth," Isis remarked.
"I had Seshat direct her here so I suppose I did."
"I wanted to ask you about that, actually. Seshat said she was your other, but I don't know what she meant by that."
Isis interjected explaining, "Many gods have others. A god can be powerful enough that we make a reflection onto the world that has a physical form. They are neither their own god nor are they duplicates of ourselves. They are something in between."
"What would that make them, then? Like shadows, or what was the name… sheut?"
"Shadows are very different from reflections," Thoth said. "A shadow is just one of our souls. A reflection is its own existence."
I rubbed at my head, not being able to wrap my head around it. I already struggled with viewing shadows as souls. It was something else to think of reflections being anything other than a reflection.
"It's okay if you don't understand. Us gods don't fully understand them as well. There are many with strained relationships with their others."
"Useful creatures, though. Anyway, we'll have to continue our talk on thermonuclear magic later. I need to get to Italy for a conference. Could you let me know when Imhotep will be allowing visitations?"
"Certainly," Isis replied.
"Then if you will excuse me, ladies." Thoth waved to us and left. It was just me and Isis standing by the window now. I wasn't sure what to say.
"Set always goes after my loved ones," Isis said while gazing out the window. "First Osiris, then my little Horus, and now Anubis."
"You must hate him," I said.
"No. I'm angry with him. I don't like what he does, but he is my brother and I will always love him."
"How can you love him? He killed your husband, didn't he?"
I realized too late how insensitive my statement was. But Isis only asked, "Do you have any siblings, Nakia?"
I shook my head.
"Maybe if you did you would understand. When you have a brother or sister, no matter how different they are from you and how much you can't get along, there will always be a part of your heart that will continue to love them. Maybe that's why it's always so much more painful when these things happen."
I never had any siblings, but what she described reminded me a bit of my aunt and uncle. It was hard adjusting to living with them and I remembered how angry I would get at them sometimes. I had said I hated them out of my anger, but that was never true, and it never would be. But I couldn't share the feelings she had for Set. She may love her brother, but all I saw in him was a chaotic monster.
"You know," Isis said, "Ever since arriving here I keep thinking about Anubis when he was a child. He was such a sweet boy, but too serious for such a young boy. I guess he's always been like that."
"Do you have any pictures?" I asked.
"There weren't any cameras five millennia ago, and the arts weren't developed enough for accurate portraits, either."
"Oh, yeah… I forget how old he is."
She smiled and looked out the window. There was silence as we drifted in our thoughts. I eventually gathered the courage to ask, "Could I ask you something that might be a bit personal?"
"I don't mind."
"You said you don't hate Set because he's your brother, so I'm guessing that you feel the same way about Nephthys since she's your sister. But were you mad at her when she had a child with you husband?"
Despite my expectations, Isis laughed and asked, "Who told you about that? It couldn't have been Anubis."
"No, Thoth told me about it."
"Oh, I wouldn't expect him to skip any details. I suppose he was being sensitive towards you." She crossed her arms in front of her, and smiled in a way that made me think of her son Horus. "Would you like to know a secret?"
"I guess…" I said.
Isis leaned her head by my ear and whispered, "It was my idea."
I was shocked, and pulled away to look at Isis. "No way. Why?"
She leaned on the window sill looking pleased with herself. It was very different from my impression of her. "She wanted her own child so badly. How could I not help her? Besides, she isn't clever enough by herself to pull it off, not to mention she would never think to do it if I hadn't pushed her into it."
"But what about Osiris?"
"What about him? As far as he knows it was Nephthys' plot. She happily took the blame and never mentioned how I was involved. Of course, some gods know better. Thoth saw right through it from the start but promised to keep out of it. I'm sure Anubis has found out as well, either from Nephthys or he figured it out himself, but he wouldn't tell anyone."
I couldn't say anything so I stayed quiet and looked out the window. There wasn't much to see. Only some buildings and the smog making it look foggy. I had pegged Isis as a sweet and loving person. She acted as much and always seemed so motherly to Horus and Anubis both. Her story changed all that. It wasn't so much she lied and used her husband, but that I was disturbed by apathy about it; like it didn't matter. As I thought about it, a dangerous question lingered at the tip of my tongue. I needed to know, but I didn't think it would be safe to ask Isis. I swallowed the question. I would find out another way.
"It all worked out," Isis reminisced. "In the end, Anubis came to be. It really was a great idea, don't you think?"
She looked at me so intensely she must have seen through me. She understood that I disapproved of what she did. It was like she was asking, 'Would you have done anything different had you known Anubis would never be born otherwise?' I couldn't answer that. I could only think to slyly remark, "You're lucky to have a sister like Nephthys."
"Yes, that's very true," she said. She looked down the hall, smiling.
"I can't imagine where we would be without her."
Little Horus was good on his word and introduced me to the gods that came to visit. I can honestly say I cannot remember a single one of their names. If they had names I was used to maybe that wouldn't be true, but I was overloaded with so many Egyptian names, they all started to blend together.
What did stay with me were the different impressions I had of them. I could tell which ones had the closest relationship with Anubis because they treated me as though I were an equal to them. There was one god (whose name reminded me of a type of bread, I recalled) who spent a lot of time making pleasant conversation and seemed to care about getting to know me. Apparently he was once a mentor of sorts to Anubis when Anubis was young and I felt ashamed I couldn't remember his name.
The rest of the gods didn't seem so pleased to make my acquaintance. There were some that didn't quite know what to take of me; a mortal who became the eye to a god. Others seemed offended by my existence and were quick to find a reason to break the conversation. And then there were the ones that saw me as insignificant as if Horus had found a nice potted plant he wanted to show them. I thought their impressions were probably the most accurate.
The whole time I was growing more and more irritated at Horus' boastful way of introducing me. Every time the first thing out of his mouth was, "This is Nakia, the Eye of Anubis". It made me feel self-conscious that he had to mention my connection to Anubis to everyone, especially since I still didn't understand what this connection was. Eventually, I pulled him aside and asked him to stop. He seemed a bit surprised but patiently explained, "What's wrong with that? It's your title, just like I've been telling you all the god's titles too." In an exaggerated voice, he proclaimed, "This is the god of thunder. Please meet the god of the sea. And this here is the goddess of music."
"Is there really a goddess of music?"
"Mhmm. Hathor's a patron of music, dance, the arts, and all that stuff."
"Not really. She's a bit schizophrenic. You don't want to meet her other personality. Anyway," Horus emphasized, "it's just a traditional part of observing each other's roles. You don't need to take it so seriously."
"Titles aren't really important," I said as I recalled Anubis telling me this when I first met him.
"Exactly!" Horus asserted.
Through the day, gods and goddesses continually came in and out. Imhotep was stern in holding his "no visitors" policy, and many gods were perturbed to come all the way here to only be turned away. It was near dusk that the stream of visitors began to trickle out. Horus explained that many gods would be assembling with Atum (god of the setting sun and another alter-ego of Ra, he informed me) on the Millennium boat to make the daily journey through the duat. Others would be catching up on work they put off today and Horus spitefully wished that Thoth had an extra mountain of paper work on his desk.
Eventually, Little Horus was coaxed by Big Horus and Wadjet into leaving as well, though he vehemently insisted he would be back before the break of dawn. I was left alone in the waiting room of the empty hospital wing. Even Paws was not with me as he never returned after slipping into Anubis' room. I did take the chance to board our lonely boat drifting in front of the hospital to change my clothes. I brushed the curls out of my hair and vigorously wiped away the makeup. I was glad Wadjet left with the two Horuses.
Returning to the empty waiting room lit with the artificial lights of night, I was plagued with horrible thoughts. I had spent my day in the company of many but through the whole day I felt terribly lonely. I wasn't one of them. When Bastet and Wadjet were in a corner talking together, I couldn't approach them. Being the eyes of a god should have given us something in common with them, but my humanity separated us. I didn't belong here, and I wondered what I was doing acting along with them when I would never be a part of this world.
I wasn't sure if I dozed off. I was laying on one of the couches staring at the floor. I felt like I had been looking at the tiled floor for a long time when a hand softly shook me. I looked up to see Imhotep standing over me.
"How is he?" I asked.
"He's sleeping now."
"I'll stay in our boat for the night, then."
"No, you can come to see him." I was a bit wary, but when Imhotep waited for me to get up, I decided I should go with him.
In his room, there was no longer a curtain drawn around his bed. Anubis lay in the bed with the covers drawn up. Paws was curled up at his feet. He perked up when we came in, but otherwise didn't leave his spot. I sat at the edge of the bed beside him and scratched behind his ears. "I missed you, buddy."
Paws rolled on his back with his tongue hanging out. As I rubbed his belly, Imhotep interrupted our love fest. "I've told the nurses you're allowed to be in here for the night. I've been here for most of the day so I'll have to leave. I can't have my staff wondering why I don't sleep."
"Are you leaving me in his care?"
"It is night now. He'll heal quickest in the moonlight. He should be fine. I would merely feel better if you were here with him along with the nurses."
"I can do that."
He smiled and nodded. "I've already pulled the couch out into a bed. If you need anything else, there is a button to page the nurses with."
"Take care of yourself, Nakia."
Imhotep turned to leave. Unbeknownst to him, when he opened the door someone slipped into the room. Completely unaware, he stepped out and the door clicked shut behind him.
"I knew you would come," I said to the figure.
"And how did you know that?" Amun asked.
"You warned me not to give Anubis his heart but I didn't listen. Now you're here to rub it in."
"I wouldn't say 'rub it in'. I would say it's more like a friendly reminder that heeding my warnings is usually a good idea."
"Consider your friendly reminder noted."
Amun took no hesitation to sit beside me at the foot of Anubis' bed. Although Anubis was too deep in slumber to notice anything, Paws raised his head. Paws perked his ears, but seeing as I wasn't showing any signs of distress, he decided to curl back to sleep. It didn't surprise me Paws could see him. I suppose I had come to trust his senses could pick up these things.
"I need you for something," I said to Amun.
"I need you for something as well, but that can wait. What is your need?"
"Since you're the god of hidden things, if someone were keeping a secret you would know about it, right?"
"Of course. No one keeps secrets from me."
"So you know that Isis lied about her involvement in tricking Osiris. Nephthys took all the blame even though it wasn't even her idea."
"Oh yeah," Amun snickered. "It's not a tightly kept secret. Osiris knows but chooses to pretend he doesn't, as well as some other gods. Why do you bring it up?"
"I want to know what else Isis has done that Nephthys is taking the blame for."
Amun smiled in a way that made it look like he was holding in a laugh. There was a moment of silence before he uttered, "Go on."
I sighed and confessed, "I think Isis may have been involved in taking Anubis' heart."
This time he did laugh, bursting out in near hysterics. At first I panicked he might wake Anubis but realized Anubis wouldn't be able to hear him. I waited, growing frustrated with him.
"Oh, that's grand," he finally said. "I like the way you're thinking."
"So I'm right?"
"No, you're dead wrong. Isis would never do that to Anubis. But this is good."
"What's so good about it?" I skeptically asked.
"You're no longer swallowing everything the gods tell you. You're questioning them. If you want to know what is really going on, that is what you'll have to do to find your answers."
I was uneasy. Being completely in the care of gods, it didn't seem right to always be skeptical of whether they were telling me the truth. Yet no one knows why Nephthys stole Anubis' heart. My impression is that there wasn't motive. That or no one wants to tell the whole truth of what happened just like no one wants to say that Isis betrayed her husband.
"Fine, I'll think about it. At least tell me why Isis wouldn't -"
I was cut off by a nurse walking into the room. She came in holding a clipboard and looked up from it with a stern expression. "I hope you could keep your voices down while the patient sleeps. I could hear you laughing from the hall."
"I'm sorry, ma'am," Amun replied courteously. "I wasn't trying to wake anyone. I promise it won't happen again."
She looked between the two of us suspiciously. "Dr. Ankh said only a young woman would be staying in this room."
"Oh, he must not have had time to tell you. I'm Nick Darnell, Andrew's brother. I wasn't supposed to arrive until tomorrow but I got an earlier flight and just got here. He let me come in with Nakia, but I won't be staying. He said it was fine as long as I didn't stay long."
"I didn't hear this from the doctor."
"He looked awfully tired, ma'am. He must have been working a long shift."
The nurse tapped her feet, but gave a sigh and said, "Fine, I'll give you ten minutes to wrap things up and then I'll expect you to leave."
"You are too generous, ma'am." She seemed unable to keep up a fight with Amun. After checking on the IV and machines hooked up to Anubis, she swiftly left the room giving Amun a pointed look before leaving.
"I see why I have to question what the gods say."
He smirked and replied, "Of course. You can't trust any of us."
"Why would you let her see you, though?" I asked.
"It's not that I let her. Mortals can see me fine. It's only the gods I hide from."
"It's a secret."
I frowned, but Amun was enjoying himself too much to care. He stood up, stretching his arms as he did, and spoke. "I suppose no one has told you the story of how Set managed to kill Isis' child."
"No," I answered in shock. "I've never heard of that."
"It's no surprise. Those who remember that day don't speak of it. Isis' cries of pain were so terrible she even made the sun go still. It's a painful memory even to those uninvolved."
"Who was the child?"
"I could show you. Seeing it is the only way you can appreciate what happened. Then you would understand why Isis could never hurt Anubis."
I shifted uncomfortably. I wanted to know. Curiosity was bursting in my chest, but I knew where this was going. As last, I blurted out despite the nurse's scolding, "Why does it have to be a kiss?"
Amun actually looked surprised and questioned, "What's wrong with that?"
"It's perverted, that's what!"
With an impassive look, he walked directly in front of me and bent to my level until our noses were inches from each other. I was waiting for it, but he only said, "I don't find you the least bit attractive." He back away and mused, "This world has become so ignorant about magic."
"I've seen magic and it didn't involve any kissing!"
Amun sighed and took a seat at the pull-out bed. He seemed dejected, like this conversation had suddenly become a chore. "We'll start from the top. What do you need to perform a spell on someone?"
"The magic word," I replied sarcastically.
"Do I look like a magician?"
"First, you need a part of the person. The easiest to obtain is the person's name."
"How is a name part of them?"
"It is one of our souls, and as much a part of us as our limbs. We call them our ren. If someone knows your name, they can work whatever magic they wish on you, which is why we guard our names so adamantly.
"But you can use other parts of a person. Things like blood or a lock of hair works as well."
"That sounds like voodoo."
"Magic has many names but it's all the same. If you're in the presence of the person, then you can work the magic directly on them, but there are limitations depending on the spell your using and if your contact is just at skin surface or deeper."
Amun leaned forward where he sat and continued. "Now this is where it gets interesting. Do you know which part of the body the blood is most exposed."
I shook my head.
"The lips. That's what makes them red. Of course, the Egyptians didn't understand what it was about making contact with the lips that made magic so easy to perform. They just knew there was something special about it."
"That's a terrible excuse! You're a god. You should be able to work magic without having to do that."
"Taking and giving memories is very difficult to do. But, like you said, you're not a magician so I don't expect you to understand."
I folded my arms and scowled at him.
He remarked, "You're right in a way. There are gods that those kinds of spells come naturally to them." He fell backwards lying on the bed. He outstretched a hand, fingers spread out, as he said wistfully, "What I would give to be one of those gods."
"So it's about working magic on the blood, I take it."
"Essentially, yes," Amun replied from where you laid.
I got up from the bed and walked to the trolley that sat next to Anubis. The top drawer had what I wanted. I took the small scalpel and swiped it across my finger. The cut opened with a small drop of blood growing from it. I walked over to the bed and held my hand for him to see.
Amun knit his brows. "You're so reckless. You have no idea how dangerous that is."
"I'll burn the band-aid when the cut heals." The blood started to curl around my finger.
Amun stayed where he laid, but lift a hand to hold mine. His finger smeared across the trail of blood. The hospital room disappeared into the darkness.
Author's Notes in the profile! The first four chapters have been redone so make sure to check out the profile to see what changes were made!