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Ancient Greece

“It still doesn’t add up,” 3 said, working his abacus and shaking his head as they walked, “no matter how hard I try.”

Michael, looking at his friend sympathetically, eyebrows raised, hands spread, said, “Believe me, it never does.”

Passing beneath the remnants of the Parthenon, Michael shared, “Love isn’t a math problem, 3, it’s an inspiration, a pure illogical desire – it’s fate! You don’t figure it out, you just go with your gut and enjoy the ride. Besides, when have you ever done something not in line with His will? You deserve a relationship, 3, numbers are poor company.”

“I happen to like numbers, they’re consistent.”

“A woman will do you good, make you…less…stuffy.”

Leaning against the marble, 3 put away his abacus, saying, sheepishly, “There’s more…”

“What do you mean? What “more” could there be?”


“Out with it, 3.”

“Well. . .she’s an exceptional woman.”

“They all are.”

“Smart, capable, beautiful…uncommonly beautiful.”

Michael thought, Everyone is beautiful in the six realms! What is this abacus-wielding maniac driving at? Then it struck him like a thunderbolt.

Please tell me you didn’t

Michael, said, “Please, tell me you didn’t.”

3, looking away, answered, “I didn’t mean it to happen. Before I knew it, one thing led to another, and…”

“You slept with an Edenite?! My God, 3, what were you thinking?! How could you do that? You know what happened when the fallen ones did that!”

Indeed 3 did, in vivid detail; the cursed earth, ever-increasing violence, not to mention giants. “I know what everyone will think, but I tell you old friend, it felt right – it felt… holy.”

Pacing now, Michael, arms crossed said, “First you champion this wayward Seraph Brenzel and now you’ve taken a daughter of Eve for a lover! What’s next, are you going to get a puppy and settle down?! What has gotten into you 3? Have you gone native! That sort of thing was a bad idea from the beginning and it still is!”

3, seeing his friend grow progressively alarmed said, “Don’t be like that, Michael, you always go straight for the worst possible outcome. I’m not a fallen one and besides, Hatshepsut said she can’t get pregnant so it’s not going to be a repeat.”

Are you kidding me?

Looking at him incredulously, Michael said after a moment, “Hatshepsut?! You slept with an Egyptian Pharaoh!? Are you kidding me?!”

At that moment, Michael stopped talking. In all their many years together, he’d never seen his friend so conflicted and miserable. Looking hard at 3, the big warrior realized: His friend was really in love. Remembering his own first love, the thrill, the wondering, days and nights of irrational yearning. Seeing how love had turned his logic into pure mush, Michael admitted to himself, he must be connected to this woman, he sighed, for reasons beyond knowing.

Michael calmed, thinking, what am I doing, he needs me. After a moment’s reflection, Michael made a leap of faith, faced 3 and put his hand on his shoulder, saying, “I don’t understand what you’re doing, old friend, but I trust you, you always do the right thing. Just… be careful, this is dangerous territory.” Then, an idea lighting his mind, Michael said, “If I were you, I’d ask the Librarian, she knows everything He’s ever said. Why don’t you find out if there’s any more revelation on the subject?”

Brightening, 3 said, “Yes, I hadn’t thought of that. You’re right! I’ll ask Libby.” Then 3 looked up at his friend, asking, “Will you come with me?”

Smiling, slapping him on the back jovially, Michael said, “Of course I will! It’s you and me all the way. And,” he said with a wink, “she has great grapes!”

Walking a few more minutes in the moonlight, looking up at the columns lit by its cool beams, Michael said, “You know, these Greeks really had style.”

3, in agreement said, “Yeah, nothing beats a good toga.”

Trying to sleep

(Karnak, Egypt – 1458 BC)

Bren watched Hatshepsut toss and turn on the other side of the bed, slightly regretting her promise to stay with her throughout the night. The day, an endless discussion of her love, hate, revenge, then forgiveness of 3, had now turned into a sleepless night. Who was this person who managed to sweep her off her feet? Bren wondered. Was it just a rebound from her loss of Senenmut, or was Hatty truly in love, as she confessed? To hear the smitten woman tell it, 3 was very nearly divine, perfect in every way. In fact, if Traveler wasn’t in her life, she might have felt deeply jealous hearing about her rapturous romance.

Turning over towards Bren, after tossing and turning since she went to bed, Hatty said, “I can’t sleep.”

Bren, trying to bury her head in her pillow, said, “Yes, I know, you seem very restless.” Sighing, Brenzel said with some exasperation, “Trusting someone means you believe them. He said he’d be back…so he’ll be back. Have a little faith, my friend.”

What if it’s weeks?!!!

Sitting up, cross legged, Hatty said, “But he didn’t say when he’d return. What if it’s weeks? Or months! By Hathor, I would die!” Realizing who she was with, she said, “Sorry…” Bren rolled her eyes in the near darkness as her small friend, went on, “You know, there’s probably some crisis in the kingdom. From time to time, things simply demand your attention without warning. But, if that’s the case, why not wake me that morning and tell me? What part of the kingdom wouldn’t be my business?”

Bren said sleepily, “Um…I don’t know.”

Then Hatshepsut began to cry, saying, “What if he’s gone to be with my nephew, Brenzel, with my nephew Thutmose? What if they are in league together to take over my kingdom? I’ve been such a fool!”

Bren, knowing within herself that wasn’t the case, reached over and took Hatty’s hand, saying softly, “Hatty, I really don’t feel like that is what is happening. Don’t imagine the worst of all possible futures. If he loved you like you say, he isn’t planning to do you any harm.”

It was only supposed to be for a time

Quieting, Hatshepsut wiped her tears, saying, “He did suggest I step down. But…” sighing, she added, “It is true that I was only to be Thutmose’s regent until he came of age. It was only supposed to be for a time, but, honestly, Bren, he didn’t want to be pharaoh! The boy loved hunting, his women and the army. Even when I suggested it was time to ascend, he refused – asked if I would tend the kingdom a while longer. But why has my nephew not come ahead and met with me? Why stay with his armies when I’m in trouble?”

Bren, eyelids heavy, said, “Maybe he suspects things are not good in the kingdom. I mean, people said you were dead and now you’re alive. Frankly, sweetie, he has good reason to be cautious.”

“That’s true…yes…when you put it that way, and he’ll be here in a few days, near the 17th, anyway. My captain says he’s moving.”

Getting up again, pacing, Hatty finished with, “I am sure there is a perfectly logical reason for all this.”

Bren, looking at the Pharaoh walk back and forth, as if she were intent on wearing a hole in the floor, said to herself, Ugh, this girl’s got it bad.

Feeling compassion, Bren, holding out her arms to her worried friend, said, “Come here, let me hold you.” Dutifully, Hatty stopped pacing and, slipping into bed, snuggled up to her big, warm friend. Bren, dozing, said, “Don’t worry, it will all. . work out. . .in the…” as she drifted off to sleep. Heart quieting, Hatty fell asleep too, as bliss softly wrapped around her, easing her troubled heart.


(Rome, 1693)

Matteo stood with his manservant by his side in the main foyer. Odd, Matteo thought, there are no servants around, even the butler left. A trap? Looking around at the ornate decorations, pictures, furniture, he thought, you’re just paranoid. Presently, the door to the reception room opened and Fiammetta emerged in a fine blue dress – looking poised and somber.

“Greetings, Prince, how may I be of assistance to you this evening?” I had better get this over with quickly, or I don’t know what Tim will do, Fiammetta thought. Though kind and protective to her and their children, she understood what he was: A man who did not suffer fools gladly.

“I beg your forgiveness for this intrusion, I know it’s importune, but I must speak to you about a matter of mutual concern. I ask only that you hear me out.”

Looking at him suspiciously, thinking back to his grandmother’s unexpected visit, she felt uneasy about his true motives. It makes no sense; he’s doing the exact opposite of what he should do to maintain our agreement. Yet, looking at his expression and finding sincerity in his eyes, Fiammetta said, “Of course, welcome. Come, let us talk.”

Stay here

As Pietro naturally moved forward to accompany his master, Matteo quickly wheeled, putting up his hands, saying “Remain here, I must speak to the lady alone.”

Watching the door close, Pietro stood outside, alone.

After nearly an hour, the door opened and Matteo emerged, smiling, speaking in confidential low tones with Fiammetta, who seemed convivial, too. Pietro’s master, acting like himself again, said, loud enough to hear, “Thank you so much for speaking with me and for understanding my heart in the matter. It’s settled then, all will be as it should be.”

Fia, nodding, agreed, “Yes, I think this will be acceptable to all. Thank you for coming.”

Matteo bowed, then turned and walked briskly to his servant, saying, “We will leave now, fetch my cloak and call the carriage while I use the privy.”

Pietro, waiting for an explanation – any morsel of understanding – remained speechless.

Know your place, man!

Feeling his world slipping away, like sand through his fingers, Pietro followed the prince down the hall, saying, “This is madness! She is probably the one in league with the demon priest who sent the assassin!”

Matteo whirled around and said, angrily, “Know your place, man! I am doing this because I must!” Then turning, he entered and shut the door to the privy forcefully.

Standing outside the privy, confused, the prince’s lover fidgeted as he began to break into a thousand pieces. Staggering back down the hall, ducking into a side room – a drawing room of some sort with an ornate desk to one side – Pietro broke completely, quietly sobbing, face to the wall. His chest heaving, mucus driveling out his nostrils, he howled in his pain, muffling his sounds, covering his face with his palms. Why, why!? What have I done, what have I not been! Body shaking, Pietro moved towards the desk, slumping into one of the chairs positioned in front of it. I have no life, there is no reason to live, I must end it. Then, realizing, his master would be out soon, he dried his tears and blew his nose with the tail of his shirt, stuffing it back into this trousers, slime and all.

Back at the door to the privy, Pietro stood stiffly, arms straight by his side, silently swearing to himself, never again.