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Stowed away

(Karnak, Egypt, 1459 BC)

Well before morning, Brenzel opened her eyes. With the two Saras sleeping soundly, she rose slowly, silently, careful not to disturb them. One stirred slightly, but quickly fell back asleep as she waited. At the opposite end of the room, a single, solitary oil lamp burned on a small ledge, waiting for anyone needing to use it. The stone floor felt cool and smooth on her bare feet as she made her way down the long corridor, which led to the outside privy. Before reaching the exit, however, looking this way and that, Bren slipped into a side room, softly closing the door behind her.

Yesterday, she’d found it by accident. Really more of a large closet than a whole room, she’d set her plan in motion. Now, lighting it with the small lamp as she had stowed away, the bare walls welcomed her in silence.

After laying the small flame on the floor she stood, raising her fingers towards her brow, making a tipping motion. Instantly the hat, along with all her outfit, appeared. Breathing a sigh of relief, she felt the leather-like brim and the goggles above. Then letting her hands fall to her shoulders, she touched the straps holding the pouches. The tree bark leather felt cool and supple to her touch. It came from a place called Hala, she’d been told once. Her hands, grasping the handle of each gun, caressed the exquisite workmanship and patterns of their slightly raised inlay.

Clothes again!

It feels so good to be in clothes again! she thought. Holding the handles, she mused, I don’t even know how to use these. Shaking her head, feeling how her pants hugged her bottom, she realized how far she’d come, for the Seraph Hunter uniform which shocked at first, now seemed familiar, being one of the few constants in her life.

Thinking back to her last conversation with Traveler and his kind eyes and ready smile, she felt a twinge of longing in her chest. Looking up, she mouthed the words, I miss you, where are you? What I wouldn’t give for a hug right now. She thought back to the house where Charlie lived, to the room where he appeared suddenly, to her vast annoyance. He’s a bit strange and annoyingbut I do miss him.

Illumination

Taking one of the guns out of it’s holster, Bren wished there was more light to see clearly. To her shock, the room lit up. Looking around quickly, fearing someone was near, she realized the door was still shut. What the? she thought, turning around and around, looked for the illumination’s source. Then, it dawned on her, the light must be coming from her! It has to be the hat, Bren surmised, holstering the gun and tipping her bonnet away. Instantly the light left and the lamp took over again. Wow, that will come in handy, she thought, purposing to find out more of what her hat could do later.

Opening the door slightly, peering into the dark hall, she made her way out to the privy, then back to her bed. Lying down between her friends, she felt better in her heart, like something was still the same, as strange as that thing was. After all, she thought, maybe being a Seraph Hunter isn’t that bad at all.

The cock crows

A cock crowed somewhere as Bren sat among a group of women fussing and preening her. Having bathed yesterday, they all urged her to do it again, adding milk to the warm water, insisting she soak until pruned. Privacy, from a English viewpoint anyway, just didn’t make sense to any of them. Everyone was so close; they treated each other’s bodies as if it they were their own. She realized they lacked any sense of shame among them, possessing a deep innocence as they touched and ministered to each other.

They fitted several different styles of fine linen clothes on her, each pleated with hundreds of small folds. At first, they all admired the one that fell just below her bust, saying, “You look amazing!” But Bren, though not terribly self conscious about being bare, persuaded them to choose the one that lifted and covered her breasts, saying, “Dears, I’m not used to this heat, I don’t want people to see me sweat.”

Properly adorned

Maskia and Phaidra brought forward a servant girl, holding an assortment of their personal jewelry on a dark cloth. Phaidra said, beaming, “We want you to be properly adorned for you welcome party!” Rings, amulets, and bracelets, plus two large neck pieces, gleamed before her.

Bren replied, “Oh, how nice – thank you both!” One bracelet caught her eye, golden with a picture of a sitting woman. Another, one of the neck pieces, composed of hundreds of small beads, seemed nice too. It reminded her of her dress in the Lakota land. The other necklace, featuring a large beetle in the middle fashioned out of some type of blue stone, gave Bren the shivers.

Dress up doll

Looking at all the women around her, Bren thought, everyone seems to know their part and they just flow together effortlessly. She felt like a communal doll that all the girls played dress-up with. Fussing overly much, they each had more fun dressing her than a doll.

“Your hair is lovely, Mistress, but hard to work with,” one of the girls commented, trying to plait it a certain way while adding gold beads to the braids.

“It’s different, softer than our wigs,” another one said.

It’s practically the only thing of mine I still have, Bren through dryly as the girls continued to work.

The final preparations made, they all stood back, admiring their handiwork, as one handed her a staff with a funny looking piece on the end, somewhat like a flat shepherd’s crook. Looking radiant, in pure white with gold beads in rows throughout her hair, she looked like a goddess. In fact, all those present , turning to one another in agreement, said, “Hathor.”

“Wait…who is Hathor?” Bren asked.

Who is Hathor?

Becoming serious, taking on a dramatic, mystic demeanor, Maskia raised her hands, saying, “Hathor is the goddess of beauty and fertility. She is one of seven Hathors. The divine sisters of Pleiades who led our ancestors to begin civilization after the great waters receded.”

Understanding that Maskia spoke from her deep religious belief, Bren marveled at how close to truth the Royal Wife’s words were. Remembering her hatting, she thought, you know, I think I’ve met them.

Hathor lives in you

Looking at Bren, Maskia said, “We believe Hathor lives in you, Brenzel. You represent her, we all agree.” At this, they all gasped and stepped back, many putting their hands to their faces. Around Bren’s head a violet-colored halo appeared about six inches above her hair, seemingly made of a slow burning fire with small purplish embers flying off here and there. Completely unaware of what was happening, Bren said, “I am not a goddess, – But…I know what you mean. You are right, there were seven of us, one is fallen.”

Bren immediately panicked in her mind, “I didn’t just say that!” A strong feeling of sudden unwanted exposure produced an urge to run, sending chills down her spine.

“Yes!” Maskia said excitedly, “You are right, one of the seven sisters is dimmed! You know the ancient texts!”

Looking up in her heart, Bren asked, “Do you want me to say these things?”

The familiar voice replied, “Yes, speak My truth.”

Speaking the truth

Taking a big breath, letting it out slowly, Bren said, “You are right, in the beginning there were seven sisters. God created them long, long ago, before any men walked this earth. One fell, for she rebelled. The others, who remained faithful, helped to lead and guide your ancestors after the great waters left. We are not goddesses, but devoted servants of the one true God. I am one of them.”

As the words dropped from her mouth, Bren stood in her mind’s background as another spoke through her body. Inside, Brenzel’s spirit felt peaceful. When she came back to herself, though, and looked, all the women knelt before her, heads to the floor, arms outstretched and palms down, chanting, “Hathor, Hathor, Hathor.”

Looking for a moment, as her violet halo faded, Bren struggled to make sense of it all. The whole scene felt like riding a horse, who had startled, suddenly bolting from underneath her at a full gallop. Everything had changed in an instant. Coming to herself, seeing the women still prostrate, Bren hurriedly went over and took Maskia’s and Phaidra’s hands, lifting them up, saying, “No, no, you don’t do that! Please stop, everyone! Don’t worship me! Please dears, please stop! Everyone stand up, now!”

The small group slowly stood, Maskia looking at her, tears of wonder flowing hard, saying, “Command us Hathor, we will obey.”

Never do that again!

Bren, not knowing what else to do said, “I – uh – command you never to do that again, don’t bow to me.”

“Yes, Hathor” They all said in unison.

Looking around, she added, “You must treat me like one of you, and do not call me Hathor to anymore!”

“As you wish, mistress Brenzel.” Maskia replied with a wink.

One in the back said excitedly to another, “Hathor has come! She is with us!”

Another said, “Shush!”

Looking around at the adoration in all their eyes, Bren looked up in her spirit, wondering, Father, what have you gotten me into?

SEOIB.