I want to take the opportunity to thank my reviewer; i know exactly what you mean about that phrase but i can't for the life of me make it work and nor can anyone else i've asked. It's driven me insane to be perfectly honest and if you can put me out of my misery i'd be really grateful.
One reason i love the Egyptian gods so much is that they weren't perfect; they had many flaws to temper their strengths. I want this to come out in their characters in this story; Ra might be powerful but he's become arrogant with it, etc. This whole story is set after the initial wars within the House of Kemet (the original name for Egypt) so while the animosity between certain gods may be present at times it's not usually acted upon.
Hope you enjoy this short chapter anyway!
Chapter One: First Impressions & the Road to Recovery
"Now whatever you do, make no fast movements or loud noises."
Anubis looked at Seth blankly. It had taken him a long time and much persuasion to get his father to allow him to meet the young goddess hidden behind the door; since her recapture she had been confined to her room. Many of the younger members of the House were scared of her. Several of the older ones too.
Sakhmet had, after all, nearly obliterated half of the world single-handed.
"I thought you said she was better now?" Anubis asked him pointedly, tucking ebony-coloured strands behind an ear. He looked around his father to the wooden door again curiously.
"And so she is," Seth smiled wryly, "But she is still a little unsettled. For various reasons." he glanced now to the door as well and Anubis realised with some surprise that he was sad. "It does not help that no one in your generation save perhaps her two sisters and yourself want to have anything to do with her. Even then, Hathor and Bastet rarely visit her." Seth shuddered slightly now, "And the nightmares . . ."
Seth gave the young man no time to consider his words and ignored Anubis' quizzical expression. He knocked on the door with a quiet but firm rap and called softly through the wood. "Sakhmet, it is me, Seth. I have brought my son with me, Anubis, remember my telling you of him? He wishes to meet you and I would like to introduce you to him."
There was the sound of movement inside and Seth nodded, looking satisfied with the response. "We will go inside in a moment. Remember, no sudden or fast movements, no loud and sudden noises; she scares easily at the moment. And if she moves towards you fast and without warning for Kemet's sake don't flinch or cry out. She does not realise she is doing it. Remember she is trying to get used to her form as well as regain her sanity."
Anubis nodded solemnly; his father had told him a little about the captured star and what her actions and the actions of her father had done to her mind. His eyes found their way to the wooden door once more; all movement in the room beyond had stopped now.
A few seconds later the door was opened from within, revealing a woman who was darkly tanned and with deep black-blue eyes and glossy black hair that cascaded down her back and to her knees. She wore a long white linen gown with sheer sleeves, a necklace of seven strings of amethyst beads matched by the strands that lay around her waist and around each wrist. On her upper arms were slim silver circlets etched with hieroglyphics.
Isis watched Seth and Anubis carefully and silently. Anubis had met the Heaven Queen many times as he had grown up, and she was as much like an aunt or a mother figure to him as she was to the others of his generation.
"Isis, I didn't realise you sat with her today." Seth smiled warmly at her after making a customary bow. All fighting within the House had now ceased, quarrels and feuds ended long ago, and so there was a kind of peace for the moment. Despite what they might say about each other, each member of the House was bound to the others by kinship and by mutual understanding of some kind. Arguments seldom lasted long any more, and grudges were rarely spoken of, if at all.
Isis nodded gently, and now her dark eyes turned from father to the son. "Greetings Anubis, what brings you to this wing of the compound?" she asked in her softly-spoken voice.
Seth placed a hand on his teenage son's shoulder for reassurance and Anubis stood a little taller; he always felt slightly ill at ease around the other elders. "I am here to see the Lady Sakhmet." he said in a clear voice.
The Heaven Queen kept her gaze on him for several long seconds before a smile graced her lips. "Is that so?" she looked to Seth, who nodded, before opening the door wider and moving aside. "Then come in. You are welcome in here, young god."
Anubis nodded, again feeling that sense of unease but it was quickly dispelled by his curiosity. His view of the room from the hallway hadn't given him a glimpse of the one he wanted to meet.
Sakhmet was something of an unknown entity in the House, although that, Seth had explained bitterly, was entirely the fault of her father; Ra kept her confined to her room, claiming it was safer. The last time he had visited his own daughter had been to introduce her two sisters to her and extract certain promises from each of them, and that had been well over two years ago. Since her capture and imprisonment the others – Isis, Osiris, Seth, Ma'at, Amun and some of the other elders – had taken her under their wing. They looked after her, visited her in her room, entertained her and tried to help her regain what she had lost through her father's 'interference'.
"She will be happy to meet you, young one." Isis continued from her seat by the window. "She does not have many friends from her own generation."
"It is my honour to meet her." he replied, bowing to the woman. He had just began to straighten up again when there was a rush of wind and a near-silent thud beside him, as though something had fallen from above.
Anubis froze; he had the distinct feeling that he had just been ambushed. The two older House members had now gone silent and he could hear soft breathing to his left. He knew all eyes, even those he hadn't at first been aware of, were on him. What unnerved him most was that he hadn't sensed this third person at all, and still couldn't sense her power signature even though she was undoubtedly right beside him.
Slowly, carefully, deliberately, he straightened and turned to face his ambusher, and all but gasped aloud when he found himself almost nose to nose with a young woman.
The eyes that burned into his were somewhere between light brown and dark amber, continuously shifting in hue and shade chaotically. Her hair was long, barely off the ground despite her impressive height, for she was a mere inch or two shorter than he was himself, and cascaded in dark fiery waves of auburn about her face and shoulders. She was dressed in a simple red linen dress that left her arms and shoulders bare, with golden wrist and arm bands and a golden circlet upon her head, each studded with a single, oval, deep red-orange carnelian.
Sakhmet was scrutinising him, watching his every movement. She was suspicious and wary, the eyes almost feral in their stare, and yet her curiosity overrode it all and so she was willing to be so close. Close enough that he could detect her base scent on the air; cedar wood and orange blossom, warmth and something like wood-smoke, and a very faint metallic scent of blood alongside the smell of the desert. He realised that she had been sitting in the rafters, and that was why he hadn't seen her when he had first entered. It was to become a favourite place for her.
"Anubis, this is Ra's middle daughter, Sakhmet." Isis said. Then, softly, "Sakha?" the amber-brown eyes flickered towards Isis, flashing gold in the sunlight as they caught it, recognising the nickname. "This is Anubis," she explained, "Seth's only son. He wants to meet you."
The young goddess returned her steady, slightly feral stare to the young man, and now the burning intensity of those eyes softened a little. "Anubis." The whisper was so quiet that if he hadn't seen the movement of her lips he wouldn't have known she spoke at all. Those lips now moved to form a slight, cat-lazy smile.
"It is my pleasure to meet you, Lady Sakhmet." Anubis spoke clearly and took several steps back and bowed to her slowly. When he stood straight again she was frowning. "Is something wrong?"
She shook her head and looked to Seth. "Amun?"
"He will be coming to see you this evening." Seth explained, "He sends his apologies but his attention was needed elsewhere for the moment. He will be bringing Bastet with him."
That brought another small smile to her face, although her eyes barely changed in their expression. She turned her olive-toned face back to Anubis, amber-brown meeting onyx. After watching him a few moments more she slowly fell into a small bow that was the custom of the lands they watched over, though her movements held an undertone of something altogether exotic and unknown to him. "The pleasure is mine." she intoned softly.
For a long while afterwards Anubis would never be entirely sure which fact was the more disconcerting; the realisation that she was carefully moderating her voice and pitch when she spoke and that she had to, or the fact that, as he quickly discovered, she could come across as completely rational in her insanity.