This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
…If we cannot learn to actually enjoy…small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.” Gene Roddenberry
It was the season of Peret, the planting.
Waters of the Great River receded. Shorn fields, under water since The Inundation, covered themselves with black earth.
Fertile lands promising harvests of wheat, barley, melons, and flax, more valuable than gold, black earth, shone like oil in the sun, still wet. This was the land of the living, the black land of Kemet.
Beyond, the land climbed higher, black earth giving way to red sand. Parched in sunlight, dry plains where sun and wind stripped flesh from bone, lay Deshret, the land of the dead. Climbing over burning rocks and boulders blasted by the furnace in the sky, three di’jin twisted roughly, throwing dust into whirls, laughing at those foolish enough to approach.
Closer, on a low bluff between the living and the dead, the palace of the Gods, teamed with activity. Behind tall, tapered walls, painted columns, and thick, silent doors, the blessed ones gathered. Nobles, jeweled and perfumed, scribes, cooks, even lowly farmers gathered to pay homage to the Queen, the Matriarch of Kemet.
Cooks prepared funereal feasts. Stewards brought amphorae of wine from seasons past, and all spoke of the Matriarch’s departure.
A musician sat in a garden near the kitchens, resting her fingers. She’d been playing all morning.
Mau sat back on her haunches and looked up.
Pentu looked at the young musician next to him and laughed, “She gives you a sacrifice.”
Nebt pulled away, as Mau dropped the corpse of a mouse at her feet.
“You will insult the Goddess,” Pentu teased, placing his rough hand on hers.
Nebt swallowed hard, and looked at the bejeweled feline, “Thank you, holy one.” She nodded.
Looking at Pentu, she drew her brows together. “Do not laugh,” she whispered loudly. “Even now, our Queen is walking among the reeds.” She moved further from the grisly gift.
Ignoring Nebt’s caution, he laughed. “You are clearly not her favorite,” he gestured, standing, knowing he must get back to the brick yards. “Otherwise, she would have given you the head.”
“Today we mourn,” Nebt scolded, wondering that he was not more respectful.
Mau turned her feline gaze towards the great hall. Lowering herself to the ground so not to be seen, she snaked across the sand, freezing stock-still with one paw lifted, her ears flicked back and forth.
With the stealth of a thief, she made her way towards a potted bush. There, a bird fluttered hopelessly in thick branches. Flapping its wings, tail feathers caught on a thorn.
Two men, covered in flour, walked from the kitchens carrying metal disks. Leaning towards each other, whispering, one man struck his toe against a door frame, dropping disks onto the step. Metal plates, used to spread dough into circular forms, made a loud clang. Two rolled from the slab out into the garden.
Mau froze. Lowering herself against the ground, she saw them rolling towards her. Digging her paws in sand, she turned quickly, running in the opposite direction. Entering a doorway, she sprinted down a darkened hall. Panicked, she ran between the legs of servants and nobles.
Turning right, then left, she entered a wing normally closed off. She heard voices from the end of the hall. Daintily, she made her way towards them. The strong odor of incense stopped her. Looking from behind a column, her eyes reflecting lamplight like brass disks, she saw a woman standing at a bedpost.
In her early 20s, the woman wore a sheer toga and braided wig. The ancient bed was stuffed with straw.
Lamps cast trembling shadows against thin drapes, the air was heavy with perfume. Hathors wearing golden masks stood around the bed, hunched over the old woman. She lay still, wheezing. Wisps of white hair, tangled, brushed away from her forehead, framed an aged face. In outstretched hands, she grasped coverings.
They stood in silence, transmitting thoughts.
Gasping, the old woman called out, “Batresh.”
The Hathors acted quickly. Technology in the jewelry they wore, medallions hanging from their foreheads, activated, casting light towards the aged Queen. Closing their eyes, they whispered rhythmic spells, their bodies swaying.
Acolytes shook sistrums, accompanying chant with metallic shimmering.
Batresh’s head swam. The walls curved, bending around her. She held onto the bedpost, incense burned her nostrils. Her heart pounded. She closed her eyes. A blinding flash of light, sizzle of heated elements. A pungent odor of burning filaments filled the room.
As if waking from a dream, the dizziness diminished and she regained her footing.
The chanting stopped.
Opening her eyes, she saw the Hathors standing back from the bed, staring at the lifeless body.
The Matriarch was dead.
Dru83: This is perhaps my favorite part of the Olafson story just because it is here that were are introduced to his "gang". The characters are so diverse and complicated that each of them could just about spawn their own story. Eric's buddies are just so captivating and the plot just rolls along. Again...
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...
Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...
maryahbeebe66: OMG I fell in love with the story and how the characters fall into place. I'm really excited to read more into the story and hope there's a sequel to it. My fav characters are Dylan and Laila. Your doing a great job keep it up 👏🏾
genlynne2379: I read the other review of this book and I must say that I disagree with it wholeheartedly. I do not believe the author put the apostrophes in the names just to be unique, but because the characters are supposedly of a different race than humans. They are Anmah. They should have different names a...
spec4huff: Thank you for creating this world. I am a 6'3" veteran that thinks himself tough. But the piece of literature you have created made me misty eyed on a number of occasions. I want a love like this. Thank you again, I would totally buy this book and hopefully the sequels to this ever enchanting lov...
ynez2005: I LOVE THIS BOOK SOOOOO MUCH!!!!Though you really need to make another book,more Princesses!!! Whoooo!!!Girl Power!!!Mabey it could even be Devona's BFF???That would make it even better!!!Plus can you pleeease make Akki come back,together with Thea and Authur amd the whole family is back!Other th...
CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...
Ding Fernando: very nice read.so realistic you can hardly put it down,i really like the character so human despite posessing immortality and eternal youth.though i would prefer a better ending..i still love this novel and i am recommending it to all sci fi fans to give it a try .you will love it too!!
Dru83: This is the second or third time I've read this one and I just love it. It has just about everything you could ever want packed into one scifi story. It still has some parts that are a little rough in terms of grammar, punctuation, and word usage, but it's still an awesome story. I love how detai...