Amunet, Seeress of the gods — That's what they called her. Even the mighty Ra respected her powers.
She stood by the entrance to a cave, high up on the cliffside where the ocean waves could not reach it, though they crashed a hundred feet into the air clawing at the jagged rock.
Her eyes, as white as spiders webs, rolled back into her head when the prophecy came upon her. She held out her beautiful smooth pale arms, unadorned by the gems and gold bands her status merited — her slender form was draped in torn black silks, their frayed edges swaying back and forth to the rhythm of her chant.
"Darkness and pain, darkness and pain… darkness and pain." She was muttering to the god that stood before her, an emerald-eyed god who wore the crown of both upper and lower Egypt upon his head.
The Seeress took in a rasping wheezing breath, her stretched out arms now shaking violently — she began to speak in a deep hollow voice.
"Nephthys' child shall be your doom. The child within her is cursed, cursed with the powers of death.
The gods of Egypt shall tremble at his coming.
Darkness and pain surround the beast, fear and sorrow follow him wherever he goes.
Blood of your Blood is doomed to slay you.
The woman seeks to protect the monster, She will bring the beast back to the lands of Egypt.
Into your home, unbidden, the God-Slayer shall come!"
The Seeress lowered her arms, her breathing slowed, and her lovely ghost-like eyes now looked upon the god before her with pity — she was truly beautiful, her black hair fell loosely about her shoulders onto her pale skin, her whole body was the color of pure ivory, and she had always a gentle glow to her, like the haze surrounding a full moon.
Again, she spoke to the emerald-eyed god that stood before her.
"Your own blood shall kill you, Osiris, if you do not choose carefully how you act." She said, her voice no longer hollow, but instead filled with tones of sorrow.
"Tell me, Amunet, how can I avoid this terrible fate?" Osiris pleaded, but he knew she could not tell him; even the Seeress of the gods could not see all the possible outcomes of a prophecy.
"I can only warn you." She said, "Prophecies can be avoided, but that rarely comes without great cost. Far more than the fate of this child rests in your hands now, Osiris."
The Seeress's words echoed through Osiris' mind as he paced the white-marble floors of his palace. "The child within her is cursed…"
He looked at his beautiful sister, Nephthys, whose signs of the infant-god within her womb were already becoming visible.
He was torn, the only thing Osiris loved more than himself was his beautiful sister, but he could not allow this child to fulfill its terrible destiny…
Nephthys was looking at him pleadingly with those drippingly heart-melting eyes, her hands protectively resting on her exposed abdomen.
"Blood of your Blood is doomed to slay you." For once Osiris felt something akin to fear.
His eyes met her gaze, he spoke with a calm resolution that chilled her heart to the core.
"You and the child will leave the land of Egypt, and never return." He said.
Nephthys was shaking her head, the glass ornaments in her dark hair clacking against one another softly, tears were threatening to spill.
"Osiris, please!" she said, "He is your son, to grow up in the desert lands is not a life for a child!"
"The boy shall not set one foot into my kingdom or, by the light of Ra, he shall be doomed to a fate far worse than death!" He yelled at the cowering pregnant woman.
Nephthys fell to her knees, clapping a jewel bedecked hand to her perfect mouth, tears streaming from those eyes as blue as the Nile.
"Osiris, my love, please do not do this terrible thing!" She sobbed through her hand.
"An oath has been made, Nephthys. Now leave before I call the palace guards." He said, turning away from his heartbroken sister, she began to wail, "… Osiris, I beg you —"
"The woman seeks to protect the monster… She will bring the beast back to the lands of Egypt."
He saw the woman he loved flee before his wrath — Osiris fell to his knees, placing both hands over his face, he let out a heart-broken yell of agony.
"Prophecies can be avoided, but that rarely comes without great cost." The Seeress had told him.
He was an immortal, and yet fate, it seemed, deemed him worthy of death.
Sending Nephthys out of the lands of Egypt would not prevent the child from returning — He would need to do far more than that if he wished to outlive this prophecy.
Head of the Jackal
"I'm the one who found you. When you were wandering aimlessly in the desert I was the one who took you in, gave you a name, gave you purpose — I own you Hathor."
These were the words that haunted her. Those words rushed through her thoughts as she gazed intently at the small object in her hand; it appeared to be an amulet of some kind, a gold disk dangling from a chain rested in her palm. Her molten eyes could barely distinguish the shape of a jackal, almost worn away completely by the hands of time. She sensed it was a very powerful object.
Hathor stood beside a great river that spilled over the edge of a lush cliffside; the mists rising from the waterfall dampened her hair, turning it from a bright ruby-red to a much deeper shade, like wine. It was her eyes, however, that made her stand out as a goddess — they were the purest shade of gold, as if the color itself was a solid object, a living metal that burned with a life of its own. They had a captivating way of glowing when she was overcome with emotion.
Hathor's eyes glowed now as she stared intently at the pendant; it was her desire for power that made her search it so, seeking for a way to unlock its hidden powers.
She whispered the name under her breath — "Anubis."
A shiver ran up her exposed spine. Perhaps she was just imagining things, but she could have sworn the pendant had grown cold as ice in that moment.
She traced the faint design with her fingernail before slipping the chain over her neck, letting the pendant slide down the front of her dress next to her skin and out of view.
Hathor flicked her blood red hair from beneath the chain, giving her seductive mane a shake, freeing the damp strands that clung to her bare back. She turned and made her way down the path into Osiris' garden.
It was more of a well groomed jungle, perhaps, than a garden, considering its vast expanse; but than again, one could hardly expect anything less from the God of Agriculture.
She smiled when she thought of that powerful god. The mighty Osiris allowed her to live in his palace and stroll through his gardens, the most beautiful in all the lands of Egypt; this was a favor not lightly bestowed. She bit her lip, her bright eyes flickering up from the ground for a moment — his son Horus had a small part to play in the favors Osiris bestowed upon her.
Hathor may have been one of the youngest of the immortals, but she was rapidly becoming one of the more respected and rightly feared. Understanding how to manipulate another being, god or mortal, was a skill which made even the mighty Osiris wary of her. But his son, Horus, was always more reckless than his father — everyone knew that. It was a weakness that this bright goddess did not hesitate to exploit.
Hathor's bare feet made no sound as she walked down the earthen path — she paused her movement when a great shadow passed over her. Her flame-red hair was jerked behind her in a liquid movement as the god's beating wings blew torrents of wind down upon her. She looked up to see the golden wings of Horus beating heavily against the clear blue sky.
"Glorious glorious Horus!" She sang in a playful tone as the handsome god landed before her, transforming fluidly into his human form. The golden wings were lovely, but this was better, she thought, before giving him her most pearly white smile.
She had little need of using her magical powers of persuasion with a smile like that, but the magic certainly came in handy on the rare occasions her heart-melting smile didn't get her what she wanted.
"You may be the Goddess of Love and Joy, but even you don't toss around smiles like that just because you're happy to see me." Said Horus. His voice was smooth, rich and rumbly — just as a god's should be. "Tell me, Hathor, what is it you seek this time?" He asked.
The handsome god clearly wasn't irritated by the fact she was so obviously going to try and pry information out of him. He turned and walked with her as she continued her way down the path.
"Tell me of Anubis." She said. Her voluptuously silken voice had spoiled her into the notion that she could ask for anything and it would be given her, which, unfortunately, most of the time was true. Horus visibly tensed at her demand — it didn't matter how sweet her voice may be, this was not a topic anyone in Egypt, god or mortal, discussed without great caution.
"Why do you ask this of me, Hathor?" He said. "My father has expressly made clear his wish that none speak of that horrible beast. Do you perhaps forget the great favor your king has shown you?"
Hathor swung around in front of him, her hands gently touching his forearms to halt his walk, she left them there as she looked up into his face. He stood a full head taller than her, and his ice-blue eyes glanced down to meet with her deep gold ones as she spoke.
"I do not ask out of any disrespect to the mighty Osiris," She said, "For, as you know, my respect for him rests above all others. It is out of fear for my own safety that I ask… " Her eyes flickered away from his the moment she spied the change in his expression, she turned her head, and, looking down, began to pull her hands away from him.
Hathor felt a strong yet gentle hand grab her arm, forcing her to look back at him.
"Your safety?" He asked, "What need have you to fear the creatures of the Underworld?" His eyes, so deep and ancient, searched her comparatively young ones for any trace of something being amiss. Hathor feigned shyness as she spoke a little more softly, "It pains me to admit it, but there is still so much I do not fully understand about death and immortality… I fear that which I do not know."
The expression on Horus' face softened slightly. Letting go of her arm, he gestured her over to a wonderfully carved bench that sat in the shade. A cool breeze pulled alluringly at Hathor's crimson tresses, whipping it around her face in a most pleasing way.
"It is easy for one to forget that your knowledge might still be lacking in some respects." Said Horus, resisting the urge to brush the hair out of Hathor's face. "Tell me, what do you wish to know of the afterlife?"
She couldn't resist another one of those pearly white smiles.
The two immortals sat there in the shade of the palms, discussing the world that lay beneath all life and light.
As Ra's great ship tipped over into the Duat, casting night over the lands of Egypt, Hathor finally pressed the Air God for the information she sought.
"You have told me before that Anubis is respected as one of the gods, but do the mortals worship him?" She spoke with a little more caution the closer she came to her real question.
Horus shook his head, "I neither know nor care whether the mortals choose to worship the creatures of the Underworld." He said, a hint of irritation in his voice.
"It is merely out of curiosity that I ask," said Hathor, "I know that the great god Ptah created the tokens of the gods, crafted with each god's unique symbol, to be given to mortals that they might receive our guidance and protection… but were there any such tokens made for the god Anubis?" Her voice was dripping with innocence, it was disturbing how she could look one thing and yet be so utterly the opposite.
Horus gave her a strange look, perhaps he saw through her facade?
"I do not know of any such tokens having been made." There was a hint of caution in his voice now that irritated Hathor.
"But if there were any such tokens, what power would they hold?" She asked, her voice betraying slightly the sense of urgency she was beginning to feel — she didn't like not getting what she wanted.
Horus stood up, an unpleasant look of disappointment in his eyes. "I do not know what kind of dark game you are playing at, Hathor, but I will have no part in it."
Hathor stood as he turned to leave her, but she said nothing. Short of using her powers on him, there was nothing she could say to change the mind of Osiris' son once he'd made it up.
Hathor felt a pang of regret, she disliked it when Horus was upset with her — whether she admitted it to herself or not, she preferred that tall strong God of the Air over any other.
Funny that the goddess of Love, who knew everything that could be known about the heart, couldn't decide what her own feelings were.
She turned and made her way down one of the longer paths back to the palace.
The firelight, coming from the braziers and oil-lamps placed around the palace, reflected off the large swaths of sheer fabric that hung in each room, blowing gently in the cool night breeze.
Hathor's soft footsteps made a gentle patter, her lovely figure smoothly gliding through the passageways, the jewelry that hung around her neck and on her arms reflected the warm light as she passed by, giving her a shimmery appearance.
She had been walking in the garden a little longer than she had thought, most of the servants were cleaning up the remains of dinner, while the voices of a few of the gods could be heard drifting with laughter caused by wine. She didn't feel like joining them.
Hathor slipped unnoticed into her own private chambers; they were quite spacious, and of course elaborately decorated — Osiris was a most generous king.
She blew out the few lights in the room and sat down on the large bed, covered with the most valuable silks the lands of Egypt could afford, the air flowed in peacefully through the large archway leading to the balcony.
Hathor sat a moment before reaching down the front of her dress, pulling out the large disk-shaped pendant.
So Anubis had no tokens? If that wasn't what this was, than what was it? As a goddess, Hathor could sense the power residing within the amulet, yet who could have made such an item?
Surely Horus would have known if the great god Ptah had made such an object… unless it was made in secret — or in secret by one of the other gods.
She clenched her hand into a fist, squeezing the disk until her knuckles grew white — she hated secrets! At least the ones kept from her.
Opening her hand, she again traced the design that lay in the gold with her finger.
She whispered it again — "Anubis."
She was not mistaken this time, the amulet distinctly grew colder, and in the silence of her chambers she thought she could hear faint whispers emanating from the small disk. She shuddered.
Again placing the chain over her neck Hathor lay down on her side, she closed her eyes, her mind drifting to the lord of the Underworld.
Anubis, one of the most ancient of the gods — she was not ignorant of the knowledge and power such an ancient being would possess.
As she drifted towards sleep, her mind continued to wander; from the power the pendant could potentially give her, to how lovely the waterfall looked earlier today… to the light of Ra glancing off Horus' golden wings…
She was dreaming.