|Photos are all Author's Own|
Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time at the current King Tut exhibit at the California Science Center, admiring golden, glorious objects from 3000+ years ago and it really put me in the mood to write another ancient Egyptian paranormal romance. I've shared a few of my photos from yesterday here for you, to pair with my Bring It Back(list) book, Ghost of the Nile.
The blurb: 1550 BCE
Periseneb had no idea how many years he’d been wandering in the gray lands of the Afterlife. Time had no meaning here. For time unending he’d done battle with monsters and demons, experiencing neither pain nor emotion, despite the horrific combat, until a startling moment when he felt pavement underfoot, not shifting gray sand. Raising his head with a rare flicker of curiosity, Periseneb found himself in a tunnel, walking toward an illuminated room. Radiance and warmth from a golden light beckoned him onward. He slowed and then stopped, fighting the tug of the summons bringing him here. Whatever was about to happen, he wouldn’t go as a supplicant.
I was a warrior.
He straightened his shoulders.
One of Pharaoh’s own guards.
He tightened the leather straps of his breastplate and drew his sword, intent on facing this new challenge as he’d lived, with pride.
Jaw set, eyes focused on the light ahead, Periseneb marched forward resolutely, braced by the discipline he’d learned in his life as a soldier.
He crossed the threshold into the chamber, his steps faltering at the sight of the deity waiting for him. But then, who had he expected? He was too lowly a shade for Isis or Osiris to bother with. Standing at attention, he saluted. “Lady Ma’at.”
Calm smile on her face, the Great One, goddess of truth, nodded to him. Taller than he, dressed in a finely pleated red sheath, the goddess was imposing. Her expertly painted face was accented by the towering red ostrich feather in her hair, and her expression could only be deemed welcoming. Eyebrows raised, eyes gleaming, she inspected him from head to toe as a commanding officer might.
He assessed the room with a glance, hope dying as quickly as it had sprung. Ma’at was alone. Neither of the other two judges, Anubis and Thoth, was present. Their chairs sat empty. The most dreaded occupant of the judging chamber was, thankfully, not paying any attention to him. As grotesque as the depictions of her hinted, the beast Ammit, Destroyer of Souls, slept snoring in a corner. Claws curled possessively, one hideous cheetah forepaw was draped over a gleaming human thigh bone. She snuffled, long pink tongue scraping the sharp crocodile teeth in her jaws, while her hippopotamus hind legs kicked in some dream. Repressing a shudder, Periseneb averted his eyes.
“I’m not here for my heart to be judged at long last, am I?” His voice sounded rusty to his ears.
“No indeed, Periseneb. The laws of the Afterlife haven’t changed—you can’t receive judgment, since none did you honor at the time of your death. No one performed even the tiniest ritual from the Book of the Dead on your behalf. You’ve no tomb, although your bones do lie in the soil of the Black Lands.” Ma’at’s voice was soft, her eyes misty with tears, apparently for him. “A paltry blessing, I know. I’m sorry.”
He knew she was sincere. Truth was the only utterance Ma’at could make. He rammed his sword into its sheath and rolled his shoulders. “Why then am I here? I didn’t seek this place out; I swear to you.” Pride stiffened his spine. He wouldn’t beg favors, not even when unexpectedly drawn into the presence of a gatekeeper, someone who could free his ka from ceaseless wandering…sentenced to defending the green serenity of the blessed duat, never to set foot there himself, banned for lack of proper ceremonies. The rule was harsh but just. No one deserved eternal life in the duat without proper judgment from the gods.