The rewritten prologue to the 1st book of the series, "The Love of the Tayamni," The Palace at Sekhem, 3800 BCE
“…If we cannot learn to actually enjoy…small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.” Gene Roddenberry
Mau sat back on her haunches and looked up at the young woman.
The man sitting next to her laughed, “She gives you a sacrifice.”
Nebt pulled away, as the cat dropped the shredded corpse of a mouse at her feet.
“You will insult the Goddess,” Pentu teased, placing his rough hand on hers.
Nebt swallowed hard, and looked at the jeweled feline, “Thank you, holy one.” She nodded reverently.
Looking at Pentu, she drew her brows together, “Keep your voice down,” she whispered. “Even now, the Matriarch is at the portal. She will walk among the reeds this day,” she said, referring to the afterlife, the reed fields where the dead begin their journey.
Ignoring Nebt’s caution, he looked down at the cat, “You are clearly not her favorite,” he said, gesturing to Mau. He stood, knowing he must get back to the brick yards. “Otherwise, she would have given you the head.”
Nebt looked at him wondering that he was not more respectful.
Mau turned her gaze sharply towards the great hall. She lowered herself to the ground so she would not be seen. Creeping, her ears flicked back and forwards.
Skulking, silently, stealthily she made her way towards a potted bush. A small bird fluttered helplessly in thickly matted branches. Flapping its wings with futility, it tried to fly out but was caught on a thorn.
Two men wearing white kilts and covered with flour dust, walked through the opening carrying metal disks. Leaning towards each other, whispering, one man struck his toe against the door frame, dropping his disks onto the stone step. The disks, used to spread dough into flat, circular forms, made a loud clang. Two rolled from the stone step out into the yard.
Mau froze. Lowering herself further, she saw one of the disks rolling towards her. Digging her paws into the sand, she turned quickly and ran in the opposite direction, forgetting her quarry. Running into an open doorway she continued down a cool, darkened hall. Still panicked from the noise, she ran between the legs of servants and nobles.
Turning right, then left, she entered a part of the palace normally closed off. She heard voices from the end of the hall. She made her way daintily towards the sound. She smelled the strong odor of incense and stopped. Looking into the room from behind a column, she watched a young woman standing at the bed.
The woman, in her early 20s, wore a sheer toga and braided wig. She stood at an ancient bed stuffed with straw.
Clay lamps cast trembling shadows in the room. Breezes stirred linen drapes, the air heavy with incense. Women with golden faces, Hathors, stood around the bed, hunched over an old woman. She lay still, wheezing, taking shallow breaths. Wisps of hair, tangled and brushed away from her forehead framed an aged face. In outstretched hands, she grasped coverings.
They stood in silence, transmitting words and images with thoughts.
Gasping, the old woman called her daughter’s name, “Batresh.”
The Hathors acted quickly. Technology in the jewelry they wore, medallions and stones hanging from their foreheads, activated, casting light towards the woman. Closing their eyes, they chanted low-pitched spells, bodies swaying.
Acolytes shook sistrums, accompanying the chant with metallic shimmering.
Batresh’s head swam. The walls curved, bending around her. She held onto the bedpost. Incense burned her nostrils. Her heart pounded. She closed her eyes; a blinding flash of light; a sound of sizzling elements. The pungent smells of burning filaments swirled in the room, as if electric currents burned the moisture away.
Slowly, as if waking from a dream, dizziness diminished and she regained her footing. The chanting stopped.
Opening her eyes, she saw the Hathors standing back from the bed, staring at the lifeless body.
The Matriarch was dead.