Chapter Three: The Eternal Grove

"Divine gods, but this is a pleasant spot." The shapely, golden-haired slave girl looked around the eternal grove, her eyes wide with wonder. "Do the priests in the temple know that such beauty exists outside their sacred walls?"

"The priests are forbidden to marry," Prince Hotesin replied. "Such beauty does not concern them." He drew Yellow Flower close and kissed her. She responded eagerly, wrapping her slim white arms around his neck and spooning up his royal kisses like honey.

"Marry me," she breathed at last, her blue eyes heavy-lidded with desire. "Make me yours, and I will gladly die with you on this very spot, and go with you willingly to the afterworld!"

"Don't you remember?" For a moment the prince's dark eyes looked terribly sad. "This is the afterworld. Our love was cursed by the priests. We died four thousand years ago."

"But we live now," Yellow Flower objected. "We love now." The spirited young slave girl seized her royal master's hands. "This moment is ours, to live and love as we choose!"

Prince Hotesin kissed her as he always had, as he always would. The pain of losing her faded as he died in her arms, sinking to the ground with the high priest's spear in his back.

"Come with us now, Yellow Flower." The high priest's voice was not unkind. His head was shaved, and his eyes were outlined with dark paint just like a woman's. But he not a woman. His followers waited. His spear was dripping blood as he pulled it from the body of the dying prince.

"You want to keep me safe?" Outrage made the slave girl's voice tremble. But then came a great sadness. She had killed her royal prince! Her love was like a poison to all men.

"You are sacred to the sun," the high priest replied. "Come with us now. In time you will forget Prince Hotesin."

"I will never forget him! Not in a thousand lifetimes!" Yellow Flower stuck her chin high in the air. Then she began to run, and the endless cycle began again.

Outside the eternal grove, a wind was blowing.