Welcome to my World: Chapter Sixteen

"Freakin' impossible!" I yell, eyes practically glued to the computer screen. Bastet and Ammit. Right there, right on the front of the book I was holding when I was a little girl.

Seeing it brings back memories I'd rather not remember. Not right now, anyways.

"How. The. Hell." I bite the lining of my cheek.

Ra paces back and forth. My brother is now sitting next to me on the cot, looking intently at the photo. Sasha takes a bite of some kind of brown taco filled with meat shavings. He grunts and crosses his legs.

"Bastet had it all planned out from the very beginning." Ra states, smiling to himself as if he'd just solved the mystery of the decade. "She knew the story. She knew that this-" Ra gestures around the room, "-was going to happen. I can't believe that I didn't see it before."

"See what before?" I swallow. My throat is as rough as a sheet of sandpaper.

"Bastet is a Goddess. She's the patron of passion, pleasure, sensuality and love." He folds his arms over his chest. "I don't understand why she's connected to you. To this…this whole unraveling tale. Why would she, out of all the possible Gods, be involved?"

Sasha finishes off his taco and rests his arm on my shoulder.

"Hey, Ra, ever think that Bastet and your ex have been planning this together the whole time? I mean…if Bastet knew that all of this would happen, then she knew damn well that Vereo would fuck over the deal and haul ass back to Egypt."

"That doesn't make any sense!" I close the laptop, placing it next to me. I rub my temples in circles.

"Think about it. Thousands of years ago, Ra died. Then thousands of years later, you were born. Now, you release the Pharaoh from his curse and fall madly in love with him in the span of less than a fucking week. Who does that? Who the hell would give up their life for some dead dude they only knew for a literal damn week?"

Hm. Bastet is the Goddess of love, so maybe…

"No. NO!" I shove my brother's arm off of me. "You can't possibly be thinking about what I assume you're thinking about. Plus, I'm not madly in love."

Sasha's whole body seems to relax a bit, and he looks almost sorry for me. Almost.

"Your brother's right about one point." Ra chimes in, "Bastet could have planned it all along. She's played us like a deck of cards. It's time to consider the possibility that we're together because Bastet made it happen. Somehow, she could have cast one of her spells and-"

"Nope." I jump up. "If my uselessly expensive education has taught me anything, it's that Gods don't screw with freewill. Ain't nobody screwin' with my freewill."

Ra tilts his head and casts his eyes downward. "We're living in revolutionary times. The Gods…they'll do anything to keep the throne away from me."

"And for a damn good reason, too." I chewed on my lower lip. Man, I need some serious Chapstick.

With a regality that only Ra can express, he lifts his head and approaches me.

"Vereo, I think it's time we should talk." Keeping his voice low, he uncrosses his arms. "Alone."

"That's my cue to join Abdeen in the kitchen. Peace out." My brother promptly heads off through the beaded curtain hanging over the back doorway.

It's not like things could get any worse.

"As I have said, I am not the traitor that Ankhe so gracefully characterized me as." A wry smile forms on his lips, "you see, Vereo, everything I did, I did it to save my people. Now I beg of you, please know that there are always two sides of a story."

He takes a step closer, tentatively, as though he's walking on ice.

"Back before the war seized Upper Egypt, when Ankhe and I were together and my father passed the throne to me, I had the lovely task of overseeing the Egyptian army. Obviously I was never one for battle, so I gave the role of leading our military to my half-brother."

"Okay." I nod once. It sounds believable enough. Hell, Lucifer could appear with Santa Clause right now and start belting out Sex Bomb and I wouldn't even question it.

"As luck would have it, my brother was a raging psychopath with narcissistic tendencies. I found out that he-" Ra paused, taking in a deep breath. Eyes closed, he pinched the bridge of his nose, shaking his head as if to dispel a recently remembered nightmare. "He enslaved Libyan men, and sold their young daughters into prostitution. He forced the boys to chip slate in the rock quarries, and I can't even begin to describe what he did to the women."

The King-turned-commoner steps closer to me, hazel eyes peering into mine, searching for a hint of emotional response.

"Shortly after I found out about my brother's activities, my relationship with Ankhe fell apart. I refused to kill my own brother, so I defected from the palace and joined Abdeen with the Libyan resistance. I became their leader, and we fought against Egypt. We tried to free the slaves. We tried to save the women and children that my soldiers and my brother tortured. I was a mercenary betraying my country in order to save it and make it a place for all people."

Ra should really think of changing his name to The King of Badassery.

"That's what you were hiding from me?" I can feel a grin spread across my face. "That's freakin' brilliant, you jerk!" I lightly punched him on the arm.

"…You don't think that I screwed up history?"

I rolled my eyes. "Of course you did."

He blinks. Dark lashes framing deep hazel pools-

Stop, Vereo. Now you're just being creepy.

"History is full of screw ups! I mean, look at Cleopatra. Real good job she did with Marc Anthony. Not to mention Romeo and Juliet. Awesome example they set." I wonder if our story will end up as messed up as theirs.

"Cleopatra killed herself and so did Juliet. Although Romeo and Juliet is fiction and-"

I launched myself at Ra, nearly knocking him off of his feet. My arms wrapped around his shoulders in a very comfortable hug.

"Oh. Oh?" Ra squeaks out, thoroughly mystified by my obvious sentimentality. Yup. I'm just one big sack of feelings.

His hands glide across the back of my cotton top, lightly returning the spontaneous hug of relief. I let my head rest on his shoulder, and yes, I am totally milking this moment for all it's worth. Sure, lots of women would pass up a chance to hug a long-dead historical figure…

Scratch that. I'm sure tons of chicks would sacrifice a kidney to hug a hot Egyptian King.

His skin feels real and alive. He feels like life.

"My precious Vereo." Ra's voice is soft and warm against my ear.

What could possibly be going through his mind right now?

Xoxo Ra's Point of View oxoX

I love her.

It is a sort of odd love that burns and cuts deeper than any physical wound.

We cannot run any longer. Ammit is set loose, and he will chase Vereo down until-

I don't even want to imagine it.

"Um, Ra?"

"Yes?"

"You're kind of squeezing me."

"Oh! I'm sorry." I loosened my arms. She leans back, her expression straining to hide a mark of concern.

She can tell that I'm tripping over my words, stammering as if I were a little boy trying to catch the attention of a girl he fancied.

"You're going to get a groove in your forehead if you keep frowning like that." Her smile is bright. "I know this situation totally bites. But, hey, at least I still got some time left to live."

"You're not scared of death, are you?" I question, running my fingertips over her back.

Without a moment of hesitation, she nods. "When I was a kid, I read a lot of books. I mean, a shit ton of books. My favorite was called Peter Pan."

"I've read that as well." I recall the time I spent residing at Harvard University, as a part of an old professor's private collection in the mid 1940's. He taught me many things- and the love of English was one of them.

"See, Peter could never get old. He lived in perpetual happiness with his friends, fighting Captain Hook without an ounce of fear. Peter thought that death would just be another fun adventure."

"It isn't." I said bluntly. "The day I died was less than magnificent. I remember my brother, standing in front of me, with his spear raised high and ready to strike. I brought up my shield as arrows pierced the flesh of my soldiers who fell like flies all around me. I screamed my brother's name as his weapon plunged straight through the center of my chest."

Her mouth gapes in incredulity, eyes wide with wonder and shock.

"I looked up as I fell backwards onto the blood-soaked earth. The last thing I saw was one of my soldiers charging at him with an arrow, plunging it into his throat and quickly beheading him with a farmer's sickle. It was then that I felt my soul fragmenting, ripping apart in a slow, agonizing pull away from my body. I met Lord Anubis, who agreed with Isis and Osiris that I should be cursed for an eternity. They molded a piece of my soul into The Set Lapis, and vowed that I should never have peace until I reunite with it."

"That…blows." She runs a hand through her hair, frowning. "We're stuck here now, so we need to make the most of it."

"You must understand, Vereo," I pause in thought. "That the Gods are kind but vengeful. I am a traitor to them, and by association, you and Sasha are too. They will stop at nothing to punish you along with everyone and everything that you love."

Her back tenses. "There's no way out of this, is there?"

"There may be." I answer, attempting to convey hopefulness. "I am still a Pharaoh, and I have The Set Lapis. There may be one thing that we can do to bring Bastet and Ankhe down."

"Like what?"

"Every curse can be broken, and every deal can be re-made. So, we'll play their game and we will trade."

"Um, no offense, but I don't think we're in a position to play venture capitalist." She traces the outline of my bicep with her thumb, absentmindedly, as if she were trying to stay awake.

"If we don't have anything to trade, then we can steal something to trade. Something…or someone that the Gods need." We'll all be cursed a dozen times over if we fail.

"Do you mean…a God. We're going to kidnap a God!?" She exclaims.

I nod. "Not quite. Although, I do have a certain demi-goddess in mind."

Xoxo End of Chapter Sixteen oxoX

Sorry for the three-year hiatus!

Now, it looks like things are gettin' good.

Hm. I wonder what Team Horrible Histories will be up to next?

Please review and tell me if you like it or love it!

With all due respects,

Victorian Conspiracy