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The Order of Sekhmet

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The Old World: Decision

No, our kingdom is not at peace. Those large city walls and massive gates? Most of it finished only very recently. A lot of places are still under construction. The royal family residing in a heavily fortified castle? Established only several years ago. Only the wealthy and those with notable influence live within this compound called Capital. Enjoying their fake peace while the Ashura ravage the rest of the kingdom’s people. If you pledge allegiance and undergo their ritual, they will spear you. Doesn’t matter whether you’ll survive transition or not. They enjoy watching you tear your loved ones to pieces when you get lost in rage. To think Father would consider negotiating with them. Then again, I am not surprised. That bastard. Seized power by pushing my birth father, Ra, into a frontal battle unprepared. Ra fought bravely but died. He believed his adviser Geb to be a trustworthy man. I had to watch this man take Mother as his wife and crown himself king. Forced to call him ‘Father’. Watched Mother die a bit every time she bore him another child. The only reason I am alive is that many people dislike him. By being a ‘Father’ to me and seemingly being kind to me, he wins their trust. A pawn. He was not sad the day I left the Capital.

There is a knock at the door.

“Come in.”

A human slave enters. She brings me food.

“Thank you. You may leave the tray by the window.” I point to the large window on the left of my bed. The sun’s heat has returned, but a pleasant wind cools the building. The woman flinches, but nods. I then notice she is not a Retainer, but an average human. Incapable of correctly understanding my words. To some, I speak with many voices. To others, there are only vague emotions. And many more who only hear ear-shattering sounds. I assume she belongs to the latter group. She will not last long here ere she turns deaf. But I don’t care. The moment she leaves, I inspect the food she brought me. The cooks have prepared a lavish meal.

I enjoy the pompous lifestyle for once. There is nothing else I can do but wait. Days go by. I am finally free to roam the castle premises, but not leave. I practice swordplay with Seth and our youngest sister Nephthys in the green courtyard. She adores us. Wants to be like us. She fights well. But Father often summons her away. He does not like our influence. At night I hear him and Seth often argue over trivial decisions. Ra would have loved brother.

Days turn into months. My patience slowly wanes. I cannot fathom how my family enjoys such a dull routine. Living in wasteful decadence. The food consumed in one day could keep my village fed for a week. Easily. Unbeknown to them, I have some of the grains in their storage sent to the area I came from. They should know that at least someone thinks of them.

Finally. A messenger arrives with a letter from Bastet herself. It seems she has been appointed to lead the newly established Ashura kingdom. The throne room nearly bursts with anticipation. Father waves his hand to silence the commotion and lets the messenger read aloud.

“Your highness Geb. We are utterly surprised by your recent inquiry. It is not surprising that your oldest daughter has presented a rather distressing version of matters.”

I shudder. Bastet knows Father dislikes me. I look at the messenger angrily. He starts stuttering and shaking. People start talking again.

“Silence!” Father gets up and releases enough magical energy to intimidate everyone. A gust of wind blows through the hall and immediately puts a stop to the talking. He then sits down again and waves his hand. “Proceed, messenger.”

“A-after all, y-your e-eldest daughter...”

“Boy, if you are incapable of reading, mayhaps you should consider changing professions?” Isis stepped in with her annoyingly soothing voice.

“I believe we are still in need of boys who only clean up manure?”

“No, ma’am. I-I will continue r-reading properly,” he muttered. He was not keen on losing his job. “After all, your eldest daughter,” he continued. “Has succumbed to injuries, and it is highly probable that she suffered delusions. Her ‘beloved’ Ptah has decided to follow us and leave behind a life full of conflict. It is with great pleasure that I hereby announce he and I will become husband and wife. I am sure this will forge a peaceful pact between your kingdom and ours to come. I look forward to you supporting our bond. Sincerely, Bastet.”

I cannot believe the words I hear. Neither can the rest. Bastet had always had a weakness for Ptah. But even in the old days, when she was no Ashura, he had ignored all her advances. He never took great interest in pleasures of the flesh. Yet Bastet was the living embodiment of lust. Everybody knew this. For him to suddenly marry her was the most out of character thing to proclaim. Stupefied, I look up to Father. He just rests his head on his hand, deep in contemplation. After a few moments, he finally speaks.

“Very well. So be it. We shall send the couple some gifts to honor them.”

“WHAT?!” I was not the only one who said that. Seth and a few of the guests shouted in unison as well. Even Mother, who is not wont to intercept, stood up in protest. She was seething with rage.

“Why are you selling away a high-ranking official?” She asks, trying to hold back her anger in her voice.

“We have been trying to gain peace for years now. If this is a proper chance, then so be it!”

“Keeping him as a hostage is fine?!” I scream. There is no patience left in me.

“Silence, daughter!” He gets up. “Had it not been for your failing, we would not have this situation in the first place!”

Failing. Failing?! He is too afraid to battle a single Ashura one versus one, but I fail for not being able to defeat an entire group? I grab a knife from the banquet table and rush up to him. Horus and Osiris put themselves before Father and parry my attack with proper weapons. I back off.

“I will not abandon him. I refuse to go down in history as the one who just watched in the sidelines.” I spit on the floor. I have nothing but contempt. For all. The jewelry I wore to please them. I tear it from my body, throw it to the ground.

“You will not leave the castle premises!” I hear Father’s intimidating voice. But I do not turn around. I know what he is going to do. A sizzling sound. Blue shimmer. He has trapped me within the throne room. Or so he thinks. Using the expensive knife I still had in my hand, I thrust it against the barrier. I channel all my energy through. If he can build barriers, then I should be able to break them. There. I hear it cracking. It is difficult, but not impossible. With a scream, I pierce the barrier allowing my escape. Everybody is startled by the sheer display of powers. Nobody stops me. I run out. I am free. If they do not help me, then I will have to do it on my own. I am sorry, my beloved. You must be suffering dearly. I will come, I promise you.

I march down the roads. People stop and stare, recognize my royal outfit. I ignore them all. I pass through the city gates. I leave this compound behind me. And whistle. There it is. It has waited all this time. It has lost its saddle. I don’t care. My trusted horse will take me anywhere. I ride away. To the Ashura kingdom.

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