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Mama Resha said, almost excitedly, and not in a good way Ķleőpĥǻ was afraid, “I was pushing her out just as the brick fell towards me, and a boulder rolling towards the room from five hundred meters away. I could see it through the clearing of the foyer of our palace, made of gold and diamonds, while slaves by the hundreds of thousands built what we instructed, images of Aten and not of the king of darkness.

“He appeared before me, the king of darkness, in all black; the blackest of black—as black as it could get. He had an exquisite pale looking face of the finest of porcelain, looking of a porcelain doll, the most expensive of them all, the most refined, the one with the best features, yes, that’s him in the flesh, and all his self-proclaimed splendor.

“He was very brief, knowing exactly what he wanted. Before me was an angel of sorts, and he said, ’I can give ye immortality and thy right to the throne if only ye do one small favor for me. Ђis is a once in a lifetime opportunity, once it’s gone its gone. §o I would advise ye to take advantage of today’s special, mortal woman…:

“Ђe huge brick froze a few above me, in midair, and I was thrown. How was that possible? I was supposed to be dead right now, yet a huge shade was over me via the frozen brick of the dome ceiling.

“I didn’t want to die. I knew if I didn’t take him up on his offer the brick would kill me and the child I was pushing out. §weat agglomerated over my forehead, making the fabric of my garments, and the hem thereof, stick to my exhausted body.

“What is thy proposition?”

“It is simple. I want ye to rule Σgypt, and that is all.”

“I looked at him, refusing to break away from his piercing gaze. §nakes slithered around his retinas, and in and out of his corneas.

“Ђat’s all? Rule Σgypt, and nothing more?”

“No,” he said rather quickly. “Nothing more. Rule with an evil heart. Σnslave thy men and women, take their kids and hang them if their parents don’t submit, or if they pledge allegiance to God. Ye will have the most powerful kingdom ever, even more power than those that ruled before ye, even more powerful that thy father’s father, and thy father combined, just worship me and its all yours!”

“’Yes,’ I answered, and in an instant I became the Queen of Σgypt, with hundreds of thousands of slaves to erect the synagogues and buildings that I fancied.

“But I didn’t rule for long. Ђe Devil had a bigger purpose…”

“What is that purpose?” Ķleőpĥǻ asked, and Chanteuse had enough.

“Come on, Ķleőpĥǻ! Time to walk ye home, the sun is setting and ye know how thy guardians can be. Ђey art overly protective of ye, even though I don’t know why, ye bleed just like the rest of us.”

“§ilence, girl!” said Mama Resha, taking Chanteuse by the upper arm and yanking her in her face. “When I am talking ye remain silent, do we understand each other? Ye art getting besides yourself. Ye art not an adult or an elder. If ye art an adult or elder, I will send ye into town tomorrow to work for the Masters. I’m a woman that used to rule Σgypt and now I am restricted to this wasteland, this dump, and there was nothing I could do about it, but accept it.”

Chanteuse threw herself on the floor, sobbing, feeling like an outcast, and she was, and she knew it.

Her nectar was so sought after that she bedded men during the moonlight hour, when all the women slept, except for a few women that snuck from the village when everyone slept, and vanished together for moments at a time, and behooved the clearances of the Grand Forest with their indiscretions.

Mama Resha stared at Ķleőpĥǻ for a long moment, stroking her cheek. “Ye art special, and don’t let anyone tell ye different. In thy future great peril will be thy destiny, but not thy fate. I pray to the God Aten that He be with ye on thy journey, because ye art going to needeth him.”

“And how do ye know this?” Ķleőpĥǻ asked, nervous. “How do I know you’re not making this up?”

“Time will tell ye, soon enough, child…”

“I think I’m leaving now. Ђanks for having me, Mama Resha,” she went on, giving her a tight, firm hug. §he smelled of resin, and her skin was weather-beaten.

“Ђanks for staying, and for listening. And please remember the story I told ye about the yesteryears of Σgypt, and when I ruled. Don’t ever forget.”

“You’re confusing me.”

“I know it doesn’t make sense…”

“It certainly doesn’t!”

“And I know ye want answers, as to why I’m telling ye my secret, a secret no one else in the land must know. But for some reason I trust ye with my secret, because ye art not like most girls I know, and I know aplenty. You’re unlike my daughter, Chanteuse.”

§he glanced at Chanteuse. “Get up from the floor! §top whining! Ye art spoiled rotten, and that’s where I messed up at.”

Reluctantly, Ķleőpĥǻ helped her friend up from the floor, and Chanteuse pushed her away.

“Ye art purposely trying to come between me and my mother!”

“I am doing no such thing!”

“Yes ye art! Ђy mother’s dead!”

“§top saying those things!”

“Deal with it! §he’s dead, she’s dead! §he’s dead and ye killed her!”

“I am going home!” Ķleőpĥǻ could hardly catch her breath. Ђe nerve of Chanteuse, but she knew that deep down Chanteuse will always be in her life, so she made excuses for her behavior to justify her actions, in the end sometimes it doesn’t justify the means. “I don’t care to see ye for a few days!”

Before Chanteuse could respond Ķleőpĥǻ was gone…

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