For the Love of Sekhet

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Merneptah II

The opening of the year was always both a tense and exhilarating time and it always began with an overwhelming sense of nervousness and anticipation. Merneptah’s eyes snapped open when he heard a sharp knock on his chamber doors. It was still pitch black outside, and yet now that he was awake he could clearly hear that the palace was already quite busy.

There was another firm knock on his chamber door, “Are you awake Meri? We’re going to be leaving soon to head to the river.” Amunher called out.

“Yes, I’m awake. I’ll be out in a moment. Just let me get myself together.” Merneptah called back while swiping his hand down across his face in an effort to wake himself up as he climbed out of bed. He stepped into his sandals and retrieved his Shendyt tying it around his waist before he took his seat at his vanity and grabbing a kohl pen to make sure his eyes were properly lined. He may have in fact overslept but that was no excuse for a Prince of Khemet to show up looking like he had literally just rolled out of bed, even if he had.

Once Merneptah was satisfied that his appearance was indeed satisfactory he headed out of his chambers and made his way to the main entrance hall where without a doubt the rest of his family had already gathered.

Sobeki was standing beside their mother who was a beautiful as Merneptah had ever seen her in wearing her finest silken dress with flecks of gold woven right into the fabric. Heqetifret also had a wide golden belt wrapped around her slim waist. She was also wearing a wig and around her brow was a golden circlet with a stunning golden uraeus serpent complete with tiny rubies for eyes. Her right hand was resting lightly on Sobeki’s shoulder as his bald head rested against their mother’s body.

Nefertari walked up to Merneptah, lightly knocking her shoulder against his side. “You certainly took your sweet time getting ready brother.” Nefertari teased.

Merneptah snorted, “And yet I’m still hear, aren’t I?” Merneptah replied.

Nefertari rolled her eyes, “Only because Amunher went and woke you up.” Nefertari shot back.

Merneptah shook his head, “Do you honestly think that father would have allowed me to miss the opening of the year? Even if I had over slept he still would have made sure someone came and woke me.” Merneptah replied.

“That is precisely what he did Meri. Father sent me to make sure that you were awake.” Amunher interjected as he clapped his hand firmly on his brother’s shoulder.

Merneptah chuckled, “And here I thought you came to get me of your own volition.” Merneptah replied.

Amunher chuckled, “I’m afraid I have to disappoint you there brother.” Amunher replied.

“Enough, all of you. It is time for us to be heading out. We need to be in place soon so we can begin with the prayers.” Amenhotep called out and immediately all other conversations grounded to a halt as everyone fell into line and began to make their way to the Nile river.

The royal family took their position beside the river, where it appeared that the entire kingdom had slowly arrived lining the riverbank for as far as the eye could see. Amenhotep and Heqetifret both took their seats in the thrones that had been placed by the riverside specifically for them with their children falling into their proper places beside the thrones.

“I’m sleepy.” Sobeki whined as he reached his hand up to rub at his eyes before Nefertari lightly caught his wrist.

“Well, wake up! You should have gone to bed earlier. And don’t rub your eyes Sobeki. You’ll smear your khol.” Nefertari hissed.

“I know, I know sister.” Sobeki muttered as he tugged his hand out of Nefertari’s grasp.

Beside the river all fell silent as Amenhotep rose to his feet and was joined by the high priests in offering the ceremonial prayer, to give strength to Ra so that he may once more reign victorious in his battle with Apophis, the demonic snake of the underworld who every night attempts to devour the sun god.

Following the prayers offered by Amenhotep Heqetifret rose to her feet and began to sing, she was joined by many priestesses and Merneptah could even hear Nefertari joining their mother in singing their hymns to the gods.

And then the moment came. You were able to see the first hints of Ra’s light beginning to peak out over the horizon line. It always took all of Merneptah’s self control not to call out his encouragement to Ra. For, despite the fact that Apophis mighty Merneptah knew that Ra was stronger.

The entire kingdom held their collective breath as they watched as Ra slowly began to inch his way further over the horizon.

Come on Ra! Defeat Apophis! Merneptah mentally declared, willing with all of his being that Ra would once more manage to slip from within Apophis’ jaws.

Ra continued to slowly inch his way out of the underworld, rising slowly further and further into the sky. And with Ra’s slow but deliberate return to the sky the Nile also slowly began to rise. And as both Ra and the Nile rose, Ra in victory! The people along the entire bank cheered in victory. Ra had done it once more.

And with Ra’s victory being once more assured came the celebration. Music began to play and food and drink were suddenly everywhere.

Sobeki was hopping impatiently from one foot to the other. Nefertari snorted, “Honestly, must you act like such a child Sobeki?” Nefertari grumbled.

“I’m not acting like a child Nefer! I’m celebrating that Ra kicked Apophis’ ass in their battle! He was so awesome!” Sobeki declared.

Nefertari snorted, “I’m not denying that Ra was victorious. I was just saying you were hopping around like a impatient child hoping to be let out of lessons.” Nefertari hissed.

“Children, that is enough of your squabbling.” Amenhotep hissed, his voice just loud enough so that his children were able to hear him but quiet enough so as to not attract any unwanted attention.

“Yes father.” Sobeki and Nefertari both replied, their heads bowed at their father’s scolding.

Amunher cleared his throat, “Meri, what do you say that we take these two to enjoy the celebrations? You could take Sobeki and I could take Nefer.” Amunher suggested.

“An excellent idea Amunher. Do so.” Amenhotep answered before Merneptah even had a chance to reply.

Merneptah nodded, “Come on Sobeki, lets see what sort of mischief you and I can find?” Merneptah teased. Sobeki grinned before he scampered away from his spot beside his mother’s throne and darted into the crowd. Merneptah sighed as he began to make his way briskly after his younger brother. If something happened to Sobeki on his watch no one would ever forgive him.

“Sobeki! Wait up.” Merneptah called out as he pushed his way through the crowd that had gathered around one of the many stands handing out food. Merneptah resisted the urge to roll his eyes, of course this would be the first place Sobeki would head to. He and Amunher liked to joke that if Sobeki had ever become Pharaoh, his full title would be Sobeki the Hungry.

And sure enough the little imp walked away from the stall with a honey coated sweet bread in each hand, one of which he had already taken a large bite from.

“Mmmmm.” Sobeki groaned as he continued to devour the sweet bread.

Merneptah lightly rested his hand on Sobeki’s shoulder as he attempted to steer him through the crowd that was slowly getting larger around the food stall and back over towards the river bank. Once Merneptah managed to find a spot which wasn’t overly crowded he sank down onto the ground.

“Alright Sobeki, you can sit down and eat your treat. No one is going to steal it from you, I promise.” Merneptah said.

Sobeki nodded, plopping down as inelegantly as possible onto the ground beside his brother, continuing to gorge himself on his snack. Merneptah rolled his eyes before his eyes drifted out over to the river. The river had continued to rise and hopefully would still do so for a little while. The higher the river rose the more fertile soil that would be deposited, enabling a fruitful growing season.

“Are you done staring at the river Meri? Come on, I want to go and have some fun.” Sobeki called out.

Merneptah snorted as he rose to his feet, “I’m coming Sobeki, lead the way.”

Sobeki grinned as he turned on his feet and sprinted into the crowd with Merneptah following a short distance behind him. Sobeki finally came to a stop beside a large group of children which had crowded around a young girl who was currently waving her hands through their air, conjuring multicolored lights as she did so.

The lights twisted and twinkled as she moved her hands, making the children giggle. The girl was, if Merneptah were to guess, right around his own age probably about fifteen or sixteen. She had on her head a long beaded wig which hung down to the middle of her back and her bright blue eyes were narrowed in concentration, “Who wants to see Ra’s battle with Apophis?” The girl asked.

The group of children all cheered. Merneptah watched as the girl’s eyes narrowed in concentration once more as first she created a large golden light which slowly began to morph in shape until it was a passing likeness to Ra’s mighty hawk form. She flicked her hand and everyone watched as ‘Ra’ took flight. The bright light reflecting off the girls eyes seemed to truly draw Merneptah’s attention more than her performance. In his opinion she was absolutely stunning.

“Now, for the demon Apophis.” The girl said, her voice dropping an octave and taking on a menacing sound as she once more concentrated on creating a being out of light. Whereas the girl had chosen to make Ra from a bright golden light for the serpent god she chose an earthly brown color. The light grew and twisted until it soon became that of a giant snake, the girl had clearly drawn her inspiration for Apophis from a cobra because that was what this massive snake looked like. Apophis’ jaw was open revealing massive fangs. She even kept lightly flicking her hand to make his tail swish back in forth. A few of the younger children screamed.

Once the girl was satisfied with the two creatures she turned her attention back onto the group of children crowded around her. “Now, let our battle begin.” The girl said, her voice rising once more with excitement as Ra flew high into the sky while the demon Apopohis slithered just above the ground, flicking its tail in agitation. Ra then turned abruptly and began to dive towards the ground. The demonic snake flicked its head up following Ra’s every movement with its blood red eyes.

Ra swooped down until he abruptly leveled off only a few inches off the ground. Apophis turned and dove at Ra. However, Ra was more nimble than Apophis weaving his way through Apophis’ coils as he dodged the attack. Apophis kept twisting in on himself and shifting his position so that he would have another opportunity to ensnare Ra.

However once Ra had managed to fly along the ground to the point where he was just in front of Sobeki Ra turned and once more began to climb back into the sky. Apophis opened his jaw wide and struck at Ra, almost swallowing him. The children let out gasps of horror. However, Ra was not to be defeated and with a great flap of his wings he flew from within Apophis’ jaws and once more flew high into the sky.

The children cheered. The girl smiled, and once more the bright golden light of Ra was reflecting off of her beaded wig and could also be seen reflecting off her eyes. Merneptah found himself wondering what the girls name was. And with a final wave of her hand Apophis vanished but not before one last angry flick of his tail. Ra she directed with a flick of her hand to dive and weave his way through the crowd of kids, twisting and turning as the kids cheered before he finally vanished.

“And that was how Ra defeated Apophis.” The girl said.

The girl gave the children all a bright smile as she slowly rose to her feet, “Sorry, I know everyone still wants to see more of the show but I’d like to go and get myself something to eat first.” The girl said, she chuckled before adding, “Using magic like that always makes me really hungry.”

The children sighed in disappointment. Merneptah cleared his throat, “Ummm, if you wanted...I could go and get something for you.” Merneptah said suddenly.

And just like that the girls stunning blue eyes were locked with Merneptah’s. He swallowed thickly under her intense gaze, a gaze that seemed like it was almost looking straight through him. It was both alluring and terrifying in the most amazing way. Merneptah mentally snorted...yeah, that made no sense whatsoever.

“You don’t have to do that.” The girl said.

Merneptah shrugged, “The children are all loving watching you perform. And I must admit that you are quite talented. The least I can do is go and grab you something to eat so you don’t have to push your way through the crowd.” Merneptah said, his hand coming up and awkwardly twirling the braid at the back of his neck, something he only ever does when he’s nervous about something. Although, he knew that he had no reason to be nervous. All he was doing was offering to go and grab something to eat for a girl that he had just met whose name he didn’t even know. A beautiful girl, yes, but still.

The girl seemed to contemplate what Merneptah had said before she sighed and nodded, “Fine, if you are that insistent on going to get food for me. Can you get me a sweet bread and a cooked onion?” The girl said.

Merneptah grinned, “Coming right up...” He said, trailing off as he spoke, hoping the girl would take the hint and give him her name at least. If for no other reason so he could stop referring to her as ‘the girl’ in his thoughts.

The girl picked up on Merneptah’s hint, “Sekhet. My name is Sekhet.”

Merneptah gave Sekhet another bright smile, “Then I’ll be right back Sekhet.” Merneptah replied before he turned and made his way back towards the food stalls.

Sekhet, a beautiful name for a beautiful girl.

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