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(Karnak, Egypt – 1458 BC)

Brenzel sat trying to balance on the hind legs of her chair as she steadied herself on the balcony rail overlooking Pharaoh’s court – Hatshepsut receiving a steady stream of reports and petitioners below. Bored with the morning’s proceedings, Bren said to the Saras, “I’m going to use the privy,” then tactfully delayed returning. Strolling down the corridors of Egyptian power, fingers touching the stone walls and hieroglyphics, she looked around, thinking, all this seems normal now.

In her mind, though, Bren wandered the paths of the past, cutting a small carrot while cooking with Momma, holding her newborn daughter as she slept, seeing Wichapi for the first time at the lake, dancing with Desere in Elysia. It felt as though the sun had finally come out, happy memories warming her heart.

All the time in the world

But always – always, her pleasant thoughts seemed drawn back to Joshua. Smiling, she remembered how they’d chatted at the beginning of her time in Egypt, the sound of his voice so reassuring; the time they laughed by the river until their sides hurt; trying to impress him in Elysia. She remembered his encouraging words, his easy manner, and she smiled to herself. Putting her hand on her chest, feeling a dull ache, Bren said softly, “I miss you, Joshua…where are you?” Granted three wishes, her very first would be to see his smiling eyes.

Just then, a servant girl trotted up, saying, “Mistress, Pharaoh requires that you stand with her. Priests from Amun’s Temple are arriving shortly. Please, come quickly.”

I don’t like priests, Brenzel thought, as she followed.

Shrouded in mystery

(The Library, Eternity)

Michael and 3 walked the grass of the Librarian’s sanctuary escorted by a bevy of young women in flowing white dresses. Each chattered with one another, gay and free, enjoying each and every moment of their outing. 3 looked at them, realizing how much they reminded him of Dove’s five sprites in Elysia.

Michael, tapping his shoulder as they approached the library entrance, said, “I feel you’re supposed to meet her alone, old friend.”

Looking up at the big warrior, 3 nodded, saying, “Yes, I feel she wants to talk with me privately, too.” And with that, Michael followed some of the girls towards the arbor around the side of the sanctuary.

Welcome, please come in!

Having only visited the Librarian once before, a very long time ago, 3 self-consciously fingered his abacus. Alone of all the Seraphs, the Librarian, or Libby as she liked to be called, was shrouded in mystery. The other apex Seraphs all had known creation dates, but the silver-haired antiquarian’s origin was lost somewhere deep in eternity, misplaced – or perhaps deliberately hidden.

As 3 reached for the door, it swung open before his fingers touched it, when a warm, slightly excited voice said, “Welcome, welcome! I’m so happy to see you again! Please, come in; I have tea ready.”

Moving through the door, the prophetic seer walked down the hallway, lined with pictures of various creation days, then entered into the sitting room, where the Librarian stood smiling with an open book, a tea pot in mid air, pouring by itself into a porcelain cup. As 3 walked over and sat down, the cup offered itself to him as Libby said, “Though I’m very, very busy, I so welcome your visit! It’s been long, my friend, very long. How have you been?”

Oh? Who said that?

Looking at the ancient oracle, 3 thanked her as he accepted the cup of hot brew. Sitting on the paisley divan, sensing that they weren’t entirely alone, 3 relived, in detail, what he’d been up to since their last meeting – the tall, silver-haired woman chiming in to say, “Oh my!” or “You don’t say?” or making slight corrections as he related what God had spoken.

Finally, as he began to confess about Hatshepsut, the incarnation of every great aunt ever known, said, nodding, “Good for you, 3, its about time you found love.”

Looking pained, 3 said, “That’s precisely why I’ve come. Have I erred? It’s common knowledge that such unions are forbidden.”

“Oh? Who said that?” Libby commented, quizzically.

“Well, everyone remembers what happened in the beginning. Since then, no one has ever – “

“Shush,” she said.

3 fell silent.

“God never said that you couldn’t have a relationship with an Edenite.”

“But I assumed. . .”

God never forbade it

“A lot of people do, but He never forbade it. There is nothing at all to that effect in His Library. A lot of people assume a lot of things about YHWH, 3, but you have to listen carefully to what He says, as well as pay attention to what He doesn’t say.”

Silent for a moment, 3, a light dawning in his mind, asked, “There’s nothing in His Word that forbids our love?”

Shaking her head, Libby smiled slyly and said, “Absolutely nothing.”

A look of immense relief washed over 3’s features. Libby sipped her tea as she studied him over her cup. After a moment, she asked, “Do you remember when our Lord said “the two shall become one flesh?” 3 nodded. “What do you think that means? And, more importantly, what do you think it doesn’t mean?”

“Adam and Eve would become one and have children. But…” 3 thought for a moment, “It doesn’t mean others would not have children.”

I don’t do interpretation

“As you know, I don’t do interpretation, that’s another department altogether,” Libby commented, “but if I were you I would resist assumption. What He says is always what He says. No more, no less.”

“Yes,” 3 said, his analytical mind reeling with the implications.

Just then, one of the girls came bubbling in, carrying a bowl of grapes, and whispered in the Librarian’s ear. Nodding, Libby said, “Michael sent these over, saying you have to try them.” Handing the bowl to 3, she smiled as she stood, “I’ve got to go, lots and lots of new revelation to add – where am I going to put it all? So busy!”

Hugging 3 as he stood, she said, “God says, my friend, ‘You are as the eyes on the wheel within the wheel. Open, and look upon what our Lord is making.'” Then she left, exiting through a side door.

3 stood there, feeling immensely better as he popped a grape into his mouth.

Hathor’s Hat

(Karnak, Egypt – 1458 BC)

“No! I will not! It looks ridiculous!” Bren said, as she sat in the preparation room.

“But, mistress!”

“No! The dress, the jewels, the makeup – fine, but not the hat!” Bren declared emphatically. “I’m not a cow! Besides, it will probably fall off!”

Appealing to the Saras, the exasperated servant girl said, “If I displease Pharaoh, I will be punished! Hathor always wears her crown. The horns and orb declare to all who she is!”

One Sara said, glancing at Brenzel, currently scowling, “There’s nothing you can do. When she says no, she means no.”

The other Sara chimed, “Useless to try to convince her after she says that. Just do everything else. If Pharaoh is displeased, we will entreat on your behalf.”

Enter Hathor

A few minutes later the servant, carrying the hat, led Bren into the Great Hall. Except for her blond hair, Brenzel looked strikingly like one of the hieroglyphics on the court’s walls. Her tall, voluptuous figure slimmed by the vertically pleated linen dress, bejeweled, made up in the Egyptian style of eyeliner and lip rouge, entered into the court, gracefully ascending the steps to the throne of Hatshepsut. Unsure of what to do in Hathor’s presence, some people in the court bowed low to the floor, while others stood.

Hatty looked at Brenzel, smiling inwardly, thinking, I didn’t think she’d wear it.

Enter Anubis

Drums, booming from down the wide corridor, sounded with great authority, announcing the coming of High Priest Hapu from a distance. Pounding out a slow marching tempo, they grew in intensity as the priestly company approached. Bren, standing beside Hatshepsut, felt her friend’s nervousness, though Hatty showed no outward sign.

The smell of frankincense, believed to connect mortals directly with the gods, filled the great chambers as the first of the procession entered. Men carrying golden censors, handles shaped like cobras, advanced a few steps, whirled, fell to one knee, then stood in unison, only to repeat it all again. Semi-clad priestesses, with high wailing voices, followed behind, giving the sense of a door from another world opening. Finally, a group of sixteen priests turned the corner, carrying a seated man dressed in the headset of a jackal.

Bren thought dryly, Well, that’s appropriate. Then, sensing the gravity of the situation, fingers motioning to the servant girl next to her, she said, “I’ll take the hat.”