Prologue: Death, a Beginning
“Let’s take you to a medical bay. This will be simple to treat,” Batresh told her.
The Matriarch shook her head and raised her face to look into Batresh’s eyes. “You know we can’t do that,” she wheezed. Batresh wiped her mother’s mouth with a cloth, and caressed her forehead.
She looked at her mother’s withered hand, as she held it in her own. She knew treating her mother’s condition would only prolong her suffering and subvert the reason she was dying. Seeing her suffer was painful. Her mother wheezed as she inhaled, her lungs rattled.
“Will you remember me?” Batresh asked as she wiped her Mother’s face with a damp cloth.
The Matriarch lifted her thin arm, placing her hand on Batresh’s cheek, “My daughter,” she took in a breath. “You have been a blessing to me.” She paused, “Help me.”
Batresh stood and placed her left arm behind her mother’s back, helping her to lie down on the bed. “We should summon the Seven,” she wheezed again.
“Mother,” Batresh fought back tears. “Not yet.”
“My child,” the Matriarch responded, looking into her eyes. “Summon them.”
Batresh looked down at the fabric on which her mother lay, feeling as if she was already gone. She knew what must happen. She held her head in her hands and rubbed her eyes with fatigue. She wanted to delay. Her mother inhaled painfully.
She lay there with her eyes open, seemingly focused on an object in the distance, high above the roof of this ancient palace. Batresh felt her own shoulders grow tense. She stood slowly, and walked over to a chest adorned with golden serpents, and pressed a red jewel. A blue square of light appeared above the case, and the view of an empty room with desks and display-mounts appeared. She was surprised that no one was there. “Hello?” she whispered.
An elderly, hunched woman walk to the display. “Batresh,” she responded. She sat down at the desk over which the display hovered. “Is she ready?”
Batresh only nodded and the transmission ended.
Batresh turned around, facing her again. She watched labored breaths for long minutes. After a time, she heard the whirr of a vehicle as it sat down on the tiled roof above them. They would be here soon.
Batresh stood and walked over to the bed, sitting near the old woman. She heard what seemed to be a hissing sound coming from the old woman’s lips. She bent down closer. She heard people walking down the stairs that lead from the roof to the garden in front of this room. The old woman whispered, “Yes…”
Batresh lay her face next to her mother’s cheek, pressing her lips against the dry, withered skin. “Yes…” her mother hissed.
Tears stung the corners of Batresh’s eyes, “Yes, Mut?”
“Yes,” the Matriarch said again, “I will know you again one day.”
The door opened, and an elderly, hunched woman entered. Several other women were behind her.