Nieth-Amun opened his eyes just in time to see his concubine slip into his rooms holding the wine-cup in both hands. “For me?” He sat up and smiled. “Thank you.”
Her little ferret skittered around her and when he drank the wine she offered him, thick and metallic, came to writhe around his neck and lap as well.
“Honourable One,” she said. “Is it wise to make one’s self open to the attention of the Great Goddess with the smell of blood on your breath?”
“Uika,” he ran one hand gently over her cheek. It was so easy to love them. It was so easy to be loved. It was what he craved most as a priest, really. Even more than power and control. After all wasn’t it control that created love? “Amun is King of the Gods, above all others, even his wife Maat.” He leaned in and kissed her, reveling in the scent of her bloody times on her skin. “And even though the Great Goddess’s belt arcs in the heavens and the Moon trails Her crystal veil, over the stars, The Great Amun, in the form of a human man, rules over all.”
“But…” her eyes filled with tears that brimmed but didn’t fall to ruin her kohl eyeliner. “Maat and Nuit and Bast –“
He cut her off. “Goddesses yes. Powerful in Their own sphere. All bow to Amun.”
She flung herself on him, shaking. “Ni, you deny even Re?”
“The Sun is the Creator of life. I deny Him nothing.” Even though he felt a shiver of apprehension he suppressed it. Truly he was denying the Creator God nothing at all. There was no living avatar of Re to stop him. The spell he’d put on the boy to keep him human until his body died and rotted away was thinning fast. It was proof against fire and could not be cut by any blade made of stone or metal. No one could pull it off his living body. No insect could clip it, nor tooth rip it. He could feel it beginning to thin, so the body must be beginning to rot. He was sorry that the little boy’s soul had to be destroyed like that, but Re would have resurrected him no matter what happened, unless there was no mummy, unless his heart were destroyed.
Once the boy slipped into his final sleep the jackals and vultures would destroy the body and even Re Himself wouldn’t be able to resurrect him when He rose next.
Little Cleopatra was weeping as was to be expected at the death of her mother, but she was a good girl and trying hard to take up her role as Pharaoh. He would take the best care of her as he could. She would obey him for years as her surrogate parent.
He held Uika and soothed her fears. She and the others in his blood circle concubines worried so sweetly that he would offend the Gods beyond saving but his God was the Greatest of them all and he was not afraid.
His sleeping chamber was inside the palace and had no windows to let in heat or sand, so they did not see the shining stars streaking across the sky toward the deep sand.