Daughter of Egypt, Part One

by Shadowriter


General: All characters in this story are of my own creation. This is an uber story, which means that two of the main characters will sound remarkably similar to the characters of Xena and Gabrielle, who are owned by Renaissance Pictures and Universal Studios. No copyright infringements are intended. Characters in this story come from my own imagination, and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. There may however be some accurate historical facts introduced.

Language & Violence: While this is not an overtly violent story, there are minor skirmishes, one major conflict, and some descriptions of violence. There is the occasional bad word, but nothing graphic.

Sexual Content:This is an alternative uber fan fiction story and therefore does depict a love relationship between two consenting adult women. So if you are under 18 or are offended by adult themes and the physical expressions of love between women please pass this story by and move on to something else.

Mummies: There are NO mummies in this story!

copyright 2001, All Rights Reserved.

I have decided that I must be insane. Not dangerously so -- I feel no need to go out and kill, or destroy things. I am not a raving lunatic by any means. Just -- insane. Mad. Crazed.

I can't say, exactly, when it was that I started to go crazy. It might have had something to do with the liquor I stole several nights ago. I drank the whole pint bottle in the barn, and the rest of the night is blurred. The only thing I clearly remember from the next day is vomiting for what seemed hours in that barrel behind the carriage house. But, after my head stopped pounding, and my stomach stopped heaving, I felt somewhat normal. So, perhaps it wasn't the stolen whiskey that made me insane.

Perhaps it was her.

I feel somewhat justified in blaming her, for it was, after all, her story that first assured me of her, and eventually my own, madness. How, you might ask? It's very simple. Her story is unbelievable, and absolutely impossible.

And yet I utterly believe her. Every word.

Which makes me as mad as she is, doesn't it?

My name is Daryl, and I am English. I was born in London, in 1913, the first daughter of Delia and James Bromley. By the time I was five, my parents had relocated to Cairo. During most of the year, my father worked at the Cairo museum, while my mother taught English to a group of children whose parents were well-to-do Egyptians. Once the digging season began, however, I would be left in the care of a family friend. My father, who fancied himself an archeologist, would disappear into the Egyptian desert with my mother at his side. While I read books and played with a few other children, my parents were looking for dead kings and tombs of treasure.

They never found any.

One year, when I was fourteen, they failed to return. After several months, they were declared dead, and I was sent to live in a juvenile facility. The orphanage was run by well-meaning, but naive members of the upper class, most of them non-native to Egypt. They tried to teach English culture to the children, who were all native to Cairo. The children, like most of Cairo at the time, resented the English and foreign elements that controlled their city. Even though I was from the same social class as most of them, being rather poor, I was obviously white, with reddish hair turned golden by endless days in the sun. Even if I could have hidden my hair, and dirtied my skin to match the deep Egyptian tones, I would still stand out as a foreigner: my eyes are emerald green, and there is no way to hide them. Because of this, I was resented by my fellow orphans, and hardly a day went by that I didn't suffer some humiliation at their hands.

I can't blame them; we English have raped their country and stolen some of their most precious treasures. But, being only fourteen, I could do nothing to make amends. All I could do was defend myself, and even that came to be a useless gesture. Finally, after six months of abuse, my fifteenth birthday arrived. I celebrated it by running away, figuring I could live on the streets as easily as in the home.

Which I soon found out was a completely ridiculous idea.

But, there I was: on the streets and in dire need of food. Water I could find (it wasn't always fresh, but it was available). Food was the one thing that I was severely lacking. My choices were simple. One, I could starve to death. Two, I could go back to the orphanage. Three, I could become a prostitute. Or, four, I could steal for a living.

The first two were absolutely out of the question and the third was very unappealing. So, I stole. And I taught myself to be damned good at it.

Now, don't get the idea that I'm proud of it, because I'm not. If I had a choice, I would have been in college, studying to be an archeologist like my father (only better). But an orphan, with no money, and no formalized education beyond the elementary years, has no chance of getting into any institute of higher learning, much less a university with a good archeology program.

So, I became a thief. I started out just swiping foodstuffs to stay alive, and graduated to picking pockets. For a long time I was satisfied to just slip the wallets out of those well-to-do English that wandered about in the market place. I learned to pick locks as well as pockets, but never really enjoyed breaking into places.  It was easier, I thought, to simply relieve individuals of their cumbersome piles of cash and jewels.  I was caught only once, and that was by a fellow who was so drunk, he thought the extra hand in his pocket was his own.

I realize that this is a very short way to describe three very long years.  Living on the streets, sleeping in abandoned buildings and sometimes going without food for days at a time is a hard way to live, and there were several times I didn't think I would survive.  But I did.  In fact, I was becoming very good at living this way, and even began to take a few extra chances, stealing books that I read by candlelight in the back store room of a local brothel.  The few friends I had made called me "little lucky" -- little, because I am rather short; lucky, because I was never caught.

I suppose that eventually my luck had to run out, and it did.

I was following this terribly obnoxious man around the market.  He kept pushing people out of the way, and yelling at the vendors.  He'd cheated several of them, and threatened others.  I think, if it wasn't for the fact that he was English, obviously wealthy, and had several military guards with him, he would have been taken into one of the alleys and beaten to a pulp.  But, he wasn't, and he continued to get louder and more irritating.

I finally slipped up beside him and snuck his wallet from his pocket.  Unfortunately it was just seconds later that he reached for it.  I wouldn't have been in trouble, except that, as he turned around in the crowd, he knocked over one of his own guards, who fell against me.  The wallet fell from its hiding place in my tunic, and the chase was on.

Now, the marketplace curves in a big horseshoe, and if you want to get out, you need to head for the wide open end. However, if you're in a hurry, which I was, you can sneak in between the booths on the west side, near the turn.  From there, it's a slip under the bottom railing on a wooden fence, and a climb over a stone wall.  Then it's a clear shot into the maze at the edge of the city, where tracking a person is virtually impossible, as the streets are so very narrow that two large men walking side by side would have trouble passing through them.

Normally this is my escape route, and I had never had problems getting over the wall, and into the maze.  This time my foot slipped, and I felt, rather than saw, the ground coming up at me in a rather hurried manner.  I closed my eyes and prayed it would kill me because if it didn't, the guards would -- and they wouldn't be nearly as gentle.

To my utter shock, I never hit the ground. Instead, I found myself caught in the arms of a person who cradled me in his arms like a child.  I looked up into vivid blue eyes framed by a tan face, and dark hair covered by a turbin. For a moment I couldn't tell if this was a man or a woman.  I didn't want to wait for an introduction, though, and twisted out of his embrace, intending to try the vault over the wall again.

I figured that it had to be a man, and an exceedingly strong one at that.  He wrapped his hand in my tunic and lifted me off the ground, wrapping an arm around my waist for good measure. I had just started kicking in earnest when the first soldier came tearing around the corner. He drew a pistol from his belt and aimed at me, and I did the smartest thing I could think of: I fainted.

I woke up on a bed that I thought was in the jailhouse.  I didn't open my eyes because I didn't want to see the bars, or the view from them.  Finally, though, it registered in my brain that I didn't smell the sweat of other prisoners, or the mildew that grows on old cement. Instead, there was the soft smell of sandalwood, and the fragrance of fresh linens.

I cautiously opened my eyes, not certain what I'd find.  To my surprise, I was laying on a large bed, with a white lace canopy. There was a sheet pulled up over me, and as I sat up, it slid down my body, which no longer was covered by the filthy remains of my shirt, or the stained and torn trousers I'd been wearing for a year and a half.

In fact, I wasn't wearing anything.

That fact made me nervous enough, but discovering that I had also been bathed had me downright upset.

Cautiously, I opened the curtains, to see the tall man who had caught me by the stone wall.  He was leaning against the wall, staring out the window, with one booted foot up on a short stool.  His back was to me, and I could see the broad shoulders outlined beneath the blue linen.  The lines of his body tapered down to a slim waist, and very long legs encased in soft suede trousers. His coal black hair was pulled back into a long loose braid.

There was no one else in the room.

I waited a moment, then pulled the sheet up around myself, and cleared my throat.

He turned and faced me, one dark eyebrow raised over an impossibly blue eye.

I nearly swallowed my tongue:  he was really a she.

The curve of her breasts was obvious even in the soft light of the fire.  The planes of her face were angular and sharp, and there was an unearthly quality in the crystal blue of her eyes.

She looked highly amused as she sipped from a brandy snifter.

I glared at her.

"Where are my clothes?"

She chuckled. "I burned them."

"You what?!"

One corner of her mouth edged up in a smile. "I burned them.  They were no more than rags, and they reeked.  I stuffed them in the fireplace." She raised the glass again and drank.  "Don't worry, I have some others you can wear."

The smile on her face irritated me. "So, is there a reason that I'm here? I expected to be in jail."

"You would have been.  But I convinced them to let me take responsibility for you."

Her voice was deep and soft, very cultured, with just a touch of an Egyptian accent.  Her English, however, was very good.

"And just why would you take responsibility for me?  You don't even know me."

She smiled, her lips parting slightly. Those crystal eyes actually twinkled in the light from the fire.

"Ah, but I do know you.  I've watched you for weeks.  I've seen you pick pockets, snatch jewelry, and slip fruit off the stands and into your shirt." She crossed in front of the fire and slowly sat down in an overstuffed chair. "I've also seen you pass food and money on to those who need it as much or more than you. Like little Rashad, for instance."

Rashad was a small boy that I had met in the market place nearly a month before.  He had been caught stealing, and had his hand cut off.  It was barbaric, in my opinion, since the portion he'd stolen had actually been marked for the slop heap.  He worked now in the small laundry room in the brothel I occasionally slept in -- the women there had taken pity on him as I had. So, whenever I could, I gave him food, or money, or whatever I could.  After all, the boy was barely eleven years old.

My heart started pounding.  If she knew about Rashad, then she really had been watching me for quite a while.

"You're not with the Cairo police, are you?"

The woman smiled at me.  "If I was, do you think you'd be here?"

She had a point. "Then why am I here, may I ask?"

"It's really very simple," she said.  "You have talents that I need to employ."

"Oh, really?" I folded my arms and glared at her. "And why would I wish to be employed by you?" I was trying very hard to be quite serious, but the effect was ruined when the sheet slid down to my waist, once again showing my small breasts to her. I grabbed the linen and yanked it back up to my shoulders.

She smiled, but didn't laugh. "By accepting employment, you will no longer need to live on the streets. You will have all that you need, including food and clothes.  At the same time I'll also make sure your friend Rashad is taken care of." She sipped from her glass. "Little boys like him should be playing, not working."

I was surprised by her statement, but tried hard not to show it. Keeping my gaze locked on hers, I asked, "So, you'll pay me for this? Or will I work for room and board?"

"You'll be paid, though not until the job is completed."

"I see." It was very tempting. "And what is this job you need my talents for?"

"I need you to steal something for me."

It wasn't really a surprise -- stealing was the only talent I currently had.

"Why do you think I'm the one to steal it?  There are others older than I am, and with more experience."

"I believe you're the one I need because you are the best.  From what I've been able to learn, you've lived on the streets for four years. In that time you've never been caught by the police, or by anyone that you have robbed.  You also seem to have some sort of conscience about you; your victims are always wealthy Englishmen, who can more than afford to give help, and don't.  I think you have the skills I need, and," she paused, "and I think you deserve this chance."

"Right. The chance to steal for someone else other than myself. Go from stealing for survival to stealing for profit. What a wonderful opportunity."

She set her glass down on the widnow sill and folded her arms. "I promise you this:  if we are successful, it will be the last time you ever have to steal anything."

That stopped me, and I stared at her for a moment.

"Okay," I said, nodding, "just what is it that I have to steal?"

Her gaze dropped to the floor, and the smile disappeared. "I want you to steal something from the Cairo museum."

I stared at her in shock.  The sheet fell back to my waist, but I didn't notice.

"The museum?  Here in Cairo?"

She nodded.

"Are you insane?"

She smiled at me.  "Possibly."

I shook my head.  "No.  I won't do it."

"Why not?"

"Because I don't have a death wish."

She gave a sad smile to that. "I see."

"So, if you'll just give me something to wear, I'll get out of your bedroom and be on my way."

"I don't think so."

I blinked at her.  "You don't think what?

"I don't think you'll be leaving.  You see, I signed papers, and paid a fine for you.  A very large fine.  You are in my custody. So, you'll either do as I ask, or I'll return you to those nice gentlemen who were chasing you."

She retrieved her drink and moved to the door. "You'll find suitable clothes in the top drawer of the dresser.  When you've finished dressing, join me in the other room.  We have a robbery to plan."

She left without glancing back.

I cursed as I got out of bed.

But I got dressed and headed for the living room.  What else could I do?

The other room held a couch and a large table with chairs around it. There was food waiting on one end, and what appeared to be a map laid out on the other.

My hostess stood looking out into night once again.  The window she was staring through gave a wonderful view of the sunset, with the Giza plateau off in the distance.  I realized, by the angle of the view, that there was only one place we could be: this was a suite in the Pyramid Hotel, one of the most expensive in Cairo.

"I ordered dinner for you," she said, pointing to the other end of the table.  "I wasn't sure what you would like, so I got several dishes."

I nodded, and sat down.  I glanced up to see if she would join me, but she was looking back at the scene in front of her.

"So, what is your name?"

The blue eyes pinned me as I reached for a slice of bread.

"It's not one that you need to know, nor would you understand it."

More mystery, I thought.  "Fine.  What should I call you?"

She seemed to think about that, and one dark eyebrow rose again.  "You may call me Shayt."

I nodded.  "Nice to meet you, Miss Shayt.  My name is --"

"No," she shook her head, "just Shayt.  No title is necessary.  It's just -- Shayt."

"All right."

"And I know who you are."

I stopped in the middle of a bite.  "Oh, really?"

"Certainly.  Daryl Chelsea Bromley.  Your parents were archeologists, and your father was a curator for years at the Cairo museum, before his disappearance five years ago."

"Four years, nine months, thank you very much."

She smiled. "My apologies."

I glared at her, and turned my attention to my food.  It had been years since I had eaten so much at one sitting, and I continued eating even after my appetite was gone.  Who knew when I'd get another such meal?

My hostess eventually came and sat across from me.  I watched her while I ate, admiring the ease of her movements, and the way she held herself.  Shayt didn't merely sit in her chair, she occupied it fully.  Leaning back in a negligent pose, she sipped from her refilled glass and watched me as I stuffed myself.

When I reached for a third helping of koshary, she leaned forward.

"Aren't you full yet?"

"No."  I was, really, but I wasn't ready to stop.

"You're going to regret it if you eat any more.  You'll be sick."

I stuffed another bite into my mouth. "No, I won't."

She sighed and leaned back.

Finally, I pushed my plate away and leaned back.  I had finished the third helping and felt uncomfortably full, but I wasn't about to admit that.

"Now, did you want to discuss this plan of yours?"

She smiled and stood.  "Come, let me show you something."

"What's this?" I asked as we approached the other end of the table.  As I got closer I could see that it wasn't actually a map, but a layout of a building.

"This is the Cairo museum, which you are probably familiar with."

I shrugged.  "Somewhat.  Though, they've redecorated since my father's death, I understand." I looked at the diagram.  "You know, there's a simple way to do this."

"Really?  And what's that?"

"Well, the best way to heist something like this has always been to create a disturbance, and then grab the item while no one's looking."

"Certainly," she nodded. "But there is a problem in that plan."

"Well, sure, because once the excitement is over everyone notices the missing item.  The trick is to hide the piece someplace on the premises, somewhere they'd never look, and then go back to get it at another time."

"Clever. But not possible."

"Why not?"

"Because the item I'm looking for is not on display.  It's somewhere in the back, in a cabinet."

"Oh."  I nodded.  "You're right.  That's a totally different circumstance."

She pointed to the drawings.  "Show me the easiest way to get in."

We went over the plans to the building several times.  I showed her the entrances to the work rooms in the back, and expained how to navigate between the rooms, of which there were many.

Finally, I sat down again, looking up at her.  "You do know which room and cabinet this item is in, don't you?"

She grinned.  "No, I don't."

I groaned.  "Do you know how many cabinets are back there?  It would take us days to find anything unless you know where it's at."

"I said I don't know.  But I believe you might."

I felt my own eyebrows rise in surprise. "Me?  Why would I know?"

"Because it was found by your father nine years ago on one of his expeditions."

My mouth dropped and I stared at her.

"My father?"


I swallowed hard.  "My father never found anything of consequence.  He and my mom dug for years, and the most they ever discovered were a few mummies, some figurines, and several stacks of stone tablets with undecipherable markings."

Shayt nodded.  "Yes.  But among those figurines was a statuette of Bastet."

"The cat goddess?"

A nod.  "That's what she is known as today.  But she was so much more."

She went very silent, and I watched her carefully.  There was something in her face that spoke of loss, and of age old pain.  Having seen loneliness in the eyes of many, including myself, I couldn't help but notice it in the crystal blue of Shayt's eyes.

I wondered if we would know each other long enough for me to learn her story.

"There might be an easier way, you know."

My words brought her head up and she looked at me questioningly.

"To get the statue, I mean."

"Really?  How?"

I shrugged.  "Well, I am my father's daughter.  Most of the stuff he discovered ended up in boxes in this chest in one of the back rooms.  The museum had no desire to display it, nor did they feel his finds held much academic value.  I know most of the people there, and it is always possible that, if I present myself request my father's papers and artifacts, that they will simply give them to me."

"Not very likely."

"It's worth a shot, though, isn't it? At the very least, I'll ask to see them again, just to remember my father.  That should give us the location of the item.  If we go in to steal it, and it's not where we think it is, it could take all night, or even several nights, to find the statue."

I waited as she considered. Her long fingers tapped softly against the table.

"All right.  We will try it your way.  You will go to the museum tomorrow and ask about your father's things.  However, I would not suggest that you mention my name to the head curator there.  He and I have had dealings in the past, and we are, in every sense, adversaries."

That's strange, I thought. "Is the curator still Mr. Randolph?"

"No.  Randolph died two years ago.  His assistant, Mr. Caster, was promoted soon after."


"Yes.  Do you know him?"

I grimaced.  "I remember Edward Caster.  My father hated him."

She nodded.  "I'm not surprised.  Still think your plan will work?"

After a moment's thought, I nodded.  "I'll just have to be careful who I speak with.  Father had many friends, and I'm sure at least a few of them are still there."

"I'm sure."

She watched me yawn, then glanced at the clock on the mantel.  "It's getting late.  You should sleep.  I'll wake you in the morning."

Shayt stood, and led me back into the bedroom.  "The clothes in the top two drawers are yours.  I believe I remembered to purchase a nightgown for you."

I opened the drawer, and found the gown, but a thought stopped me.  "Just how long have you been planning this little venture, Shayt?"

She smiled at me.  "Several weeks.  I was going to wait a few more days to approach you, but your sudden misfortune changed all that."

"I see." I turned back to the clothes in the drawer. "And after we secure this item?  Then what? You'll send me back to the streets?"

"No.  I promised you a reward, remember?"

"Yes, I remember." I moved to the bed and sat on it, the silk nightgown in my hand.  "So, you'll give me money and then disappear?"

Shayt shrugged.  "If that's what you want."

"And if it's not?"

"Then you can come with me."

"To where?"

She smiled, and moved backwards towards the door.  "Sleep well, Daryl.  I'll see you in the morning."

Shayt closed the door, and I heard a key turn in the lock.


Breakfast the next morning was a pleasant affair, even if a bit quiet.  My hostess was reading through several papers, and largely ignoring me and her breakfast.  When the attendant came to remove the remains, she allowed him to take her plate as well, even though she'd barely touched her food.

"There are starving children out there, you know."

"Excuse me?"

I sighed.  "I said there are starving children out there.  And you're throwing away your breakfast."

She glanced at the door of the suite as it closed behind our waiter, then looked up at me with a guilty expression on her face.

"You're absolutely right.  Next time, I'll invite one of them to join us for breakfast."  Then she lowered her head and began making notations on the many sheets in front of her.

I shook my head. Shayt was an interesting mix of generosity and arrogance.  She had completely forgotten about tipping the waiter, and only did so when I reminded her.  Then she looked exasperated, but gave him a more than generous gratuity.

It was irritating, and yet at the same time, merely a part of the puzzle that was Shayt.

After breakfast, we went to the Cairo Museum, with Shayt driving us in an old battered truck.  She was dressed once again in boots, with khaki breeches tucked into them, and a white linen shirt that appeared to deepen the tan on her already dark skin.

I envied her.  Instead of the comfortable breeches I'd worn to dinner the night before, I was in a yellow dress, complete with hat and parasol.  I felt ridiculous, though Shayt said I looked exactly like the English women she'd seen in her travels around the city.

I only agreed to wear the thing until after we were finished at the museum -- then it would be back into those soft trousers from the day before.

She dropped me in front of the museum, and gave me my instructions once more.

"Alright.  If you can get the statue, do so. If not, try to find out where it's located.  And watch out for Mr. Caster.  If he discovers you're working with me, he'll toss you out before you can say good morning."

I nodded, and climbed unsteadily out of the car. "You'll be nearby?" I asked.

"Yes, close enough to see you when you come out.  Don't worry, you'll be fine."

"Right." I said it with confidence, but inside there was this quaking feeling that I hadn't experienced before.

I found one of father's old friends as soon as I entered the building.  Or, should I say, was found by one.

Charles Kendrick towered over me and stared for a long moment.  I smiled at him, and was about to call him by name, when he reached out and hugged me to him.

"Daryl!  By God, it's good to see you!" He held me at arms length, looking me up and down. "Why you look like a lovely young lady!  Whatever happened to that little tomboy who loved to play in the dirt?"

I had to laugh.  "Oh, she's still there, Uncle Charles.  Just a little older, is all."

He laughed and hugged me once more. "What are you doing here, child?  I thought that since your parents were..." he trailed off for a moment, "well, you know."

"Yes, I know."

Charles looked at the ground and sighed.  Then he peered at me again and said, "I thought you'd be in England anyway.  What are you doing in Egypt yet?"

I wanted to ask why he didn't remember that they'd put me into an orphanage, but I didn't.  Instead I smiled.  "Well, I decided that I wanted to come in and see all of Father's old papers and such, and the artifacts that he collected.  I never received them after his death, so I would presume they're still here, correct?"

His eyebrows drew together in a deep frown, and he pushed his glasses up onto his very large nose. "Well, you know, I can't say for sure what happened to those things.  Could be they're still in that old cabinet of his.  Or in one of the boxes in storage."  He rubbed a hand aross his chin.  "Any reason you want them?"

I couldn't very well tell him the truth, but I supposed he did need some sort of explanation.

"Well, I'm about to enter the University, to study archeology.  I thought it would be good luck for me to have Father's things with me."

Charles looked pleased.  "Well, good for you, lass!  I always knew you'd follow in your father's footsteps."  He put an arm around me and led me towards the back, away from all the display rooms.  "Let's just go and have a look-see, shall we?"

As I expected, it didn't take long to find my father's file cabinet; it had been left exactly where I thought -- at the very back of the storage closet.  The drawers were stuffed full of papers, and old plates and cups, and even a few bones that he had wrapped up and brought back from some unknown gravesite.  There were also his tools, and a picture of my parents together.  My mother's logbooks were there as well.

But I couldn't find the statue.

Uncle Charles helped me to box things up, tying the lids closed with a thin cord we found in one of the drawers.  I figured that in order to make the ruse seem authentic, I'd have them delivered to the hotel later that day.  That way, if she wanted, Shayt could go through his papers if she wished.

Or I could, when I wanted to.

As we were packing the last one, I asked Charles about the figurine of Bastet.

He put a finger to his lips, and his face took on a serious pensive look.  "I don't remember  -- oh, wait, yes I do.  The one done in basalt, and painted black.  With the symbol of Sakhmet on the base."

I nodded, then stopped, looking at him in puzzlement.  "Sakhmet?  Why would a statue of Bastet have the symbol of the war goddess on it?"

He shrugged.  "Don't know.  I remember, though, that Mr. Caster was intrigued by it.  I think he took the statue." He looked around with a cautious air, and leaned close to my ear.  "I don't trust that man, Daryl.  Perhaps that's a piece you should let go, hm?"

One of my eyebrows went up of its own accord.  "Well, could I at least see it?  After all, it is about the only thing Father ever found that was actually worth something."

Charles put his hand on my shoulder.  "Daryl, your father was a first rate scientist.  Just because he cared more for history than gold doesn't mean he failed, you know."

"I know," I said with a sigh. "But, he did want so badly to be the next Howard Carter. He tried so hard and had so little to show for it."

The older man nodded, squeezing gently on my shoulder.  "I know, lass."  He pulled out his pocket watch and looked at it. "Tell you what.  I believe Mr. Caster is gone to a meeting right now, with the Egyptian authorities.  We could take a look and see if he has the Bastet sculpture on his desk.  All right?"

I smiled at him warmly.  "That would be wonderful, Uncle Charles."

Unfortunately, Edward Caster wasn't quite gone from the premises yet. As we rounded a corner close to his office, I bumped into him, knocking a stack of papers from his his hand.  They spilled across the floor.

He glared at Charles.

"You imbecile!  I've been working on this proposal for two weeks, and you and this, this..." he stopped and stared at me.  "You.  I know you.  Where do I know you from?"

"Begging your pardon, Mr. Caster, but this here is Daryl Bromley, James' daughter.  You remember little Daryl, don't you?"

I hoped he had forgotten me, but his expression turned to one of distaste and disgust.  "Oh, yes, now I remember." He looked me up and down while Charles bent to retrieve the fallen papers. "And just why are you here, Miss Bromley?"

"I --"

"She came to get her father's things, Mr. Caster.  She's entering the University soon, to study archeology like her father."

It was strange to hear the words of my own lie from someone else's mouth.

"Is that true?"

"Uh, yes, yes it is." I stammered.  "I'll be returning to London shortly to begin studying."

"And just how did an urchin such as yourself move from an orphanage in Cairo to the University in London?"  He folded his arms and glared at me.

"I, um, was able to get in touch with a distant cousin, you see, and he helped me.  Took me back to England, and sent me to school."

"Really.  I was under the impression your father had no living relatives save you."

"It was my mother's cousin," I heard myself say.  This lying thing was beginning to get far too involved.

"Mr. Caster, my apologies for the damage to your papers.  I'll be leaving shortly, and I'm sure you'll be happy to have my clumsiness out of your way."

Charles frowned, but Caster's gaze softened just a touch. "Well, then, many happy returns, Miss Bromley, and do take care as you leave the building."

"I will; however, Mr. Caster, there is just one thing.  Mr. Kendrick here was kind enough to help me box up my father's old papers and his tools and things, but there is one item missing.  I suppose that the museum has decided to keep it, but I did wish a last look at it before I leave for London.  It's the cat statue, of the goddess Bastet?"

He looked surprised, but recovered quickly, clearing his throat.  "Yes, well, we did decide that the museum should keep it.  It's an excellent representation of the cat goddess.  It's also the only thing your father ever found that was worth anything."

I managed to close my mouth on any kind of retort, and simply asked, "May I see it?"

Mr. Caster raised an eyebrow, and I thought for a moment he would refuse.  Finally, though, he nodded. Without a word he led the way to his desk, and went to a file cabinet behind it.  After unlocking the middle drawer, he pulled out a rolled piece of canvas, with string tied around it.  Undoing the knot, he set the bundle on the desk and slowly unwrapped the two layers of canvas.  Then he pulled away the final covering of linen, and sat the statue upright on his desk.

It was just as I remembered it.  Approximately fifteen inches high, and maybe six inches in diameter, the figure was seated on a throne, in regal robes.  It had the head of a cat, and the paws as well, but the body was human, and definitely female; the breasts stood out in bold relief from the rest of the body.

I leaned in and looked at it closely.  As Charles had mentioned, there was indeed the symbol of Sakhmet on the base, right next to the hieroglyph for Bastet.  I tried to read the rest of the inscription, but couldn't see them clearly.

"Have you deciphered the glyphs on the base, Mr. Caster?"

"Uh, no, I haven't." He waved his hand in a dismissing motion. "They're probably nothing."

"I see."  But I didn't see.

Caster picked up the piece and covered it in the linen again.  He carefully rolled it back into it's canvas protection, then replaced it in the drawer.  I watched him lock it, and then turned away.

"Well, Charles, it's been wonderful to see you again.  Thank you for your help today."

He gave a slight bow from the waist, and smiled.  "My pleasure.  It's been wonderful to see you again, Daryl. Hasn't it, Mr. Caster?"

"Er, yes, very nice indeed, Miss Bromley.  Now, if you will excuse me."  Caster picked up the papers from the corner of his desk, and left the room.

Charles walked me to the front door, and we made the arrangements for the boxes to be delivered to the hotel.  I left, thinking there was something Mr. Edward Caster was hiding.

True to her word, Shayt was waiting, and before I took two steps into the street, the truck pulled up in front of me, and the door opened.

I climbed in, wanting very much to be out of this ridiculous dress.

"Were you able to get it?"

"No, but I saw it, and I know where it's at."

"Good job.  So, we go with our break in plan tonight."

I said nothing at first. She turned and glanced at me.


Finally,  I nodded.  "I guess I should tell you, though. We'll be receiving some boxes from the museum.  They're sending me all of my father's papers and things."

She didn't say anything, and I became a little concerned.  Then she shrugged.

"Fine.  Perhaps there's something useful in them.  Besides, you're father was very meticulous in his notes.  He probably left a great deal of information behind that you could learn from."  She paused.  "If you ever decide to follow in his footsteps, that is."

I stared at her, my mouth hanging open.  "Why would I wish to do that?  And more importantly, how could I?"

"I told you, if we're successful, you'll never have to worry about money again.  And I'm sure you can find a way to get yourself into a University if you wish."

"Wait.  You told me I'd never have to steal again.  You never said I wouldn't have to worry about money."

"Didn't I?  I'm sorry."

She went silent, and we approached the hotel.  She pulled into a parking space, and turned the motor off.  I grabbed her hand.  "Is there something you aren't telling me, Shayt?  Something about the statue?"

She frowned slightly.  "Like what?"

"Well, how is stealing this statue going to make me wealthy?  Why do you want it so bad?  And why would a statue of Bastet have the symbol of Sakhmet on it?"

One dark eyebrow rose, but she said nothing.  Instead, she pulled her hand away, and climbed out of the truck.

I opened my door and got out as well.  She was waiting for me as I came  around the front of the vehicle, and she held up a hand before I could say anything.


I followed her up the stairs and into our suite.

It's funny how a human can adapt to a new situation so quickly.  Within twenty-four hours I had gone from having little or nothing on the street, to thinking of a wonderful room in a hotel suite as being 'mine'. When we entered the suite I immediately headed for my room to change into my other clothes.  As I did so, I chuckled at the strangeness of the situation.

When I got back to the living room, Shayt was there, with her characteristic glass of brandy.  She was staring moodily out the window again, and I had to call her name twice before she turned to me.

"Will you answer my questions now?"

She pondered that for a moment, then nodded.  "Some of them at least." She pointed to a chair by the table.  "Sit.  Ask what you will. I'll tell you what you need to know."

I leaned back in my chair and regarded her.

"Can I have a glass of that?"


"I'm old enough, you know."

"Yes.  But you need to stay sober for tonight."

"And you don't?"

Shayt smiled.  "Oh, I will be.  Now, ask your questions."

"All right." I thought for a moment. "How did you know about the statue?  It's been in the museum for nine years, and was never displayed.  How did you know my father found it?"

She shrugged.  "I got to meet your father.  Before he died. Before his last trip into the desert.  He heard of my interest in Bastet, and told me about the statue he'd found."

"My father's been missing and presumed dead for five years."

"Four years and nine months."

"Right.  You don't look anymore than about 24 or 25, maybe 26.  So, you would have been in your late teens, maybe just turned twenty, when you met him."

She shrugged, and looked uncomfortable.  "Something like that."

"Where did you meet him?"

"He was doing some research in Alexandria.  We met there."

I nodded. My father would make trips to Alexandria quite often.

"All right.  What is so special about the statue?  Why do you want it bad enough to steal it?"

Shayt frowned at that, and stared into her brandy. "Well, there's a legend that goes with it.  That there's something hidden inside."

"And what's that?"

"A compass."

"A compass? You mean, like something to tell north, south, east and west?"

"No.  This compass is very specific.  Legend has it that if you line it up correctly, with the exact positions of stars and landmarks, that it will point the way to a hidden tomb."

"Oh." I had to stop and think about that for a moment.  "And who is supposed to be buried in this tomb?"

She smiled at me.  "That's not something you need to know."

"Okay.  If you find the compass, are you going to look for the tomb?"


"For archeological purposes?  Or to hunt down whatever treasure might be there?"

"Again, not something you need to know. Next question?"

I frowned. "Fine.  What kind of arrangments are you going to make, or have you made, for me?  Why is it that I won't have to worry about money?"

"When we part company, I will give you the access code you need to reach the bank account I've set up for you.  I'll tell you the bank, and the account number.  There is enough money in the account to keep you comfortable for the rest of your life."

I stared at her. "Okay, where did the money come from?"

This time I got a wink with the smile.  "You really don't want to know."  She stood up, leaving her empty glass on the table.  "All right.  Get some sleep.  I'll have dinner ready for you when you wake, and we can go back over everything for tonight."

I nodded.  "Fine."

She left, going through a door into what I figured was the second bedroom.

I sat at the table for several long moments before heading for my own room.

The plan for swiping the statue was fairly simple, really.  We would wait until the guard had done his initial pass by one of the rear doors where equipment and other things were delivered, and then slip in while he was checking another part of the museum.  Then I would pick the lock on the door, and together we would slip into the work area.

Of course, inside we would have to deal with another guard, and his dog.  While we would certainly try to avoid them both, it was always possible that we'd run into them, or that the dog would hear us or catch our scent.  Shayt said if that happened, she would take care of it.  My job was to get the statue out of the locked drawer and into the cushioned sack that we were taking with us.  From there, Shayt would get us out.

Simple, right?

Everything was quiet when we got to the museum.  Shayt had parked her truck in a side street several blocks over, and we walked through the alleys until the door was in sight.  The guard was in his normal pacing back and forth in the rear delivery area.  We watched for several minutes until he finally stopped, lit a cigarette, then picked up his lantern and went around the corner to start his general round of the building.

I hear a whispered, "Move," from Shayt, and we were off, running toward the door while bending over.  It was only a moment until we were hidden in the shadows against the building, right next to the door.  The lock was so old it took me barely half a minute to spring the mechanism, and then we were slipping inside.  Shayt locked the door behind us, and we crouched against the wall to get our bearings.

The office we were looking for was off to our left, but if I remembered correctly from that morning, the quickest way was blocked by several large crates.  I led the way around several work tables and a row of file cabinets.  After several stops and starts I saw the open aisle that led to Caster's office.

Shayt kept an ear open for any sound of the guard as I approached the file cabinet.  After a moment I was able to get the lock to open and I pulled the drawer out.

That was when our luck left.

As my elbow went backward with the drawer, it tapped against a measuring stick that was leaning against the wall.  Before I could grab it, the stick clattered to the floor.  I froze, eyes wide.

Shayt whirled towards me, then turned back to the outer area where a dog was barking and a man's voice could be heard yelling.  I cringed, thinking of how long I would spend in jail for this little adventure.

I felt a slap to my shoulder and looked up at Shayt's tense face.  She was holding the sack out to me and whispering to get the statue.  I reached into the drawer and picked up the wrapped bundle. After sliding it into the bag, I rolled the whole thing up and put it into a knapsack that hung from Shayt's back.

I had just drawn the string closed and tied it off when the dog and guard came around the corner into the office.  I held up my hands, hoping the guard would neither shoot nor send the dog after me. I halfway expected Shayt to pull a gun and kill them both.

Instead, she stood straight up and flipped on one of the electric lights in the office.  The guard was blinded for a moment, and so was I.  When I could see again, Shayt was standing over the unconcious guard and the dog was sitting calmly and looking up at her. Shayt reached over and flicked the light switch back to off.

"Daryl!  Come on!" she hissed at me. I stepped over the guard and followed her toward the door.  Glancing back, I noticed the dog was simply sitting there, merely watching Shayt, his tongue hanging to one side as he panted.

We were almost to the door when we heard the voice of the second guard.  He was unlocking the very door we'd come through only minutes before.  Shayt pushed me behind a work cabinet, and ducked down herself.  As the guard entered we could hear a second voice and I cursed silently.

Edward Caster was with him. Both men had their guns drawn.

I looked over at Shayt to see an amused smile on her face.  For a moment I thought she was enjoying this, but then the smile faded and she looked at me.

"Jahi? Jahi!"

There was no response to the calls of the guard.  Caster turned the switch for the overhead electric lights, and the two of them took a winding route towards the office where we'd left the dog and his unconcious master.

I stopped breathing for a moment as they stepped past our hiding place without even glancing down at us.

After they were past Shayt leaned in and spoke quietly in my ear.

"Stay down.  Head for the door quickly, but quietly."

"What --"

She stopped me with a hand over my mouth. "I'll be a moment or two behind you.  Don't worry. Just go."

I nodded, and began to make my way towards the door.

There were curses and shouts from the office.  I could make out that the guard was yelling at the dog to attack, but from his continued orders, the dog wasn't listening.  Which didn't make sense, but I wasn't concerned with that particular piece of the puzzle.

Suddenly Caster was back and he was shouting out a name.

"Ashayt Kemshet!  Where are you?"

There was no answer.

"Come out, you damned bitch!  I'll find you, and I'll tear your heart from your  --"

I was close to the door, but if I reached for it, he'd see me across the open space.  Besides, Shayt was somewhere behind me, and I wasn't  leaving without her.

The guard returned and said he was going to check out the display rooms, and call for assistance.

"Yes, yes, go. Make your call."

I could hear the footsteps of the man as he left the workroom.  I wondered where Shayt was.

Caster continued searching in the work room.  Every few minutes he'd mutter something about 'that black haired bitch'.

"Where are you, Kemshet?  Come out and let me kill you!"

From somewhere in the room, I heard Shayt laugh.  Then she whistled softly.

The clack of the dog's toenails was loud on the tiled floor.

I decided to chance it, and I reached out for the door.  A shot took out a piece of the wood next to the handle, and I lurched backwards to where I'd been hiding.

"So, that's where you are, eh, bitch?"

"No," Shayt's voice replied.  "I'm over here."

I peeked up over the edge of the desk I was hiding behind, and saw Shayt stand up, to the right and slightly behind Caster.

He whirled around, but as he did, Shayt said something, and the dog attacked.  Caster had barely time enough to pull the trigger, and the large hound was on top of him, snarling.

I saw Shayt flinch as a bullet hit her, but she turned toward me and shouted, "Go!"

I yanked on the door and fled.

As I was running for the truck, I heard feet pounding behind me, and I turned to see Shayt sprinting up.  She slowed her pace to match mine and pulled the knapsack off her back.  We reached the truck at the same time, and I yanked open the passenger door, diving inside.

Shayt got into the truck and started it.  She stomped on the gas pedal, and we took off with a spray of dust and dirt.

We were almost to the hotel when I remembered she'd been shot.

"Shayt?  Are you all right?"

"Fine." She pulled into the parking lot and opened her. door.  "Stay here; when I get back we're leaving Cairo."

"But --"

"Later.  Now, stay put!"

I nodded and she slammed the door.

I checked the seat of the truck.  There was no blood.

She was back in moments with a few bags which she threw into the back of the truck.  Hopping into the front, she started the engine and reached for the shift to put it in gear.  Before she could, I grabbed her arm.

"Don't you think we should get you looked at?  I saw him shoot you."

Her eyes were glittering, but it wasn't the twinkle I'd seen before.  Instead it was rage that filled those crystal blue eyes, and I pulled my hand back with a gasp.

As I did, she froze, and her eyes calmed.  After a moment she shook her head and merely said, "I'm fine."

I said nothing more.

Within another thirty minutes we were on a very late train to Alexandria.

Shayt booked us into a sleeper car, and then left to order a late dinner.  I sat on the bed and went back over the evening carefully.

I remembered her flinching as the bullet hit her.  She even reached for her side.  But there had been no blood, anywhere.

She had changed her shirt before leaving the car, and I searched through the towels in the water closet until I found the garment.  As I thought, it had a bullet hole in it, just a few inches under the left armpit, and another one in the back.

I felt very cold.

When Shayt got back I was sitting on the bed, holding the shirt tightly in both of my hands.

"Dinner is on the way," she said.  "I got some --"

"Who are you?"

The question stopped her and she turned and stared at me.


"Who are you?"  I showed her the shirt, pointing to one of the holes.  "He shot you.  I saw it. You flinched."

She looked down at the shirt, and I saw her go very still.

"But there's no blood.  Not on the shirt, nor in the truck, not anywhere." Her eyes tracked up to me, and I asked her again. "Who are you?"

She sighed, and her shoulders seemed to droop a little.  She leaned against the door and seemed to consider her answer.

"Are you sure you want to know?"

I nodded.

"All right.  Let's wait until dinner arrives, and while you eat, I'll tell you the story."

I didn't know whether I was more excited or frightened.

Dinner was actually dinner for one.  Once again, Shayt poured a glass of brandy for herself and sat across from me at the small table while I ate.

I gave her time to finish one glass, and then asked her to explain.

She gave me a half smile and leaned back in her chair.

"Well, to start, my full name is Ashayt Hathor Idut Kemshet.  My father was Amenemhet I."

I choked on the wine I was drinking.  Shayt smiled while I wiped my chin.

"Say that again?" I asked.

"My father was Amenemhet, the first Pharaoh of the twelfth dynasty.  He actually was the vizier of Mentuhotep III, but when the Pharaoh died prematurely and left no heirs, my father, who was also in command of the army, decided to declare himself ruler of Egypt.  His bid for the throne was successful, and he reigned for over thirty years."

My food forgotten, I leaned forward to listen closely. Shayt continued sipping her brandy.  Her focus seemed to be on the darkness outside the window, but she continued speaking in a soft steady voice.

"I was the fourth daughter of Amenemhet and Knumhet.  I had two brothers, Knumhotep, and Senusret.  Knumhotep was the eldest, and by a different
queen.  He had expected to inherit the throne, but my father found him lacking in discipline.  Instead, Knumhotep was named a general in the Egyptian
army.  Senusret became my father's right hand, and in the 24th year of his reign, Father named him as a co-ruler of Egypt.

"Knumhotep was furious, but there was little he could do.  Instead, he bided his time, and gathered his forces.  His position in the army allowed him to
place his own men within the royal guard surrounding my father. Even then, he waited, building up his plan to steal the sceptre of Egypt."

Shayt turned her head and looked at me."I was, at this time, a priestess of the war goddess, Sakhmet.  You see, I had been dedicated to Sakhmet at an early age.  I had always been a warrior, able to hold my own against my brothers in all manner of combat.  My father even told me that if I was a man he would make me Pharaoh."  Her smile was sad.  "I told him that I was honored enough to be Pharaoh's daughter."

The darkness captured her again, and she returned to her story.

"Many years after my father declared Senusret co-ruler, Knumhotep seduced a priestess of Bastet.  The priestesses were not allowed to lay with any man, and once she had done so, the priestess became a tool in Knumhotep's plan.  He forced her to bring him the sacred texts of Bastet, where in lay the recipe for immortality.

"Now, you must understand.  In those days, magic held a much greater power in the world.  The gods were not all powerful or all seeing, but they were
more than imagination or myth.  The sacred spells of the gods contained the seeds of great powers.  It was the duty of priests and priestesses to see that
these texts never fell into the wrong hands, or were never used for evil.

"My brother's plan was purely evil.  He wanted to become immortal, and then use other spells from the scrolls to give himself the power over life and death itself.  He wanted not only control over the world of the living, but that of the dead as well. All he needed was the help of a few willing priestesses.

"I served Sakhmet at the great twin temple to Sakhmet and Bastet, which lay in the desert, east of Lisht, my father's capital city, and south of the great city of Memphis. It was at the great temple that the rites of Immortality had to be performed, and the ritual itself had to be performed by priestesses of both goddesses. Knumhotep knew that there was no one at the great temple who would listen to his plan, or help him.  There were, however, other temples, and many other priestesses.  My brother was a powerful man, with a great deal of charisma.  He secured help from a foreign temple that was dedicated to Sakhmet.  And when the time came, he brought his chosen priestesses to Memphis, where he waited for the right moment to strike.

"Senusret left the capitol for Thebes, and Knumhotep began his attempt to sieze the throne.  First, he ordered his personal guard to gather the priestesses of the twin temple.  He knew that those loyal to Sakhmet would fight -- and we did.  But we were outnumbered, and the few of us that were not slaughtered were taken to a storage room within the temple walls.  Along with us, they imprisoned all the priestesses of Bastet, save the single one who had aligned herself with my brother."

Shayt stopped for a moment and drank from her glass.  As the story progressed, I could see the emotion within her growing.  There was an anger waiting to come out, and anger, it seemed that had been there for millenia.

"The sacred ritual of Immortality had never been used before.  It took just under a full day to perform the rites.  Knumhotep was warned that it might fail -- no one knew if the spell was correct, and if it was not, it could kill him instead of granting him eternal life. He needed a test subject to work the spell on first -- and he chose me.

"I had been injured in the fighting and was locked in the storage room with the others.  I was soon dragged from its confines, however, and tied to the alter between the statues of Bastet and Sakhmet.

"Knumhotep approached me and told me his plan. First, he would make sure the spell worked, by using it on me.  And if it did work,  I could thank him for saving my life because I was obviously dying of my wounds.  Then, after the ritual, he would send men to the palace, and the royal guard would turn on my father, killing him in his sleep.  After that, while the family was in mourning, and awaiting the arrival of Senusret, the ritual would be performed on Knumhotep, who would then wait for his brother's arrival and kill him, making himself Pharaoh of the Two-lands.

"I struggled so very hard, but I couldn't loosen the ropes.  I prayed with all my soul to Sakhmet to help me, and also to Bastet.  There was no answer.

"I don't wish to go into details about the ritual.  Suffice to say it is very long and," she paused, "painful.  At some point I fainted from the pain and the loss of blood.  When I awoke I was drifting in the state between life and death.  I hoped I would die.  But at the last minute, as I was approaching the other side, I was violently pulled back into this world.  My eyes opened to see the face of the priestess as she completed the ritual."

Shayt's face was drawn, with dark circles under her eyes.  The blue crystals that normally looked out at me were dark and foreboding.  I almost felt sorry that I had asked her.

But I wanted her to continue.

"They made me immortal.  I was no longer a creature of flesh and blood, but a gebbeth, a thing outside of nature.  I cursed my brother, even as he laughed at me.  The order had already been given, he said, and my father was dead.  He would be Pharaoh within days.

"I was still weak, and they took me to the room that had earlier been my prison.  I waited there, hoping against hope that it wasn't true, and that death was still coming for me.  But, instead of growing weaker, I felt my strength returning -- and growing.

"The other priestesses tried to help me.  They offered prayers to the goddesses, and said there had to be a way to reverse the spell if they could just get to the sacred books.  As my strength grew, so did my anger.  The next time one of my brother's guards entered the room to bring food and water, I killed him with a single blow.

"I wanted to die.  I took the man's sword and plunged it into my body over and over again.  I felt the blade go through my skin, and slice into my organs. But each time, there was no blood.  Even as I watched, the wounds would seal themselves, never leaving even a trace of any scar on my body."

Her voice trailed off.  I waited patiently, but she said nothing more for several minutes.  Even the brandy in her hand was ignored.

Finally, with a slight shake, she continued.

"Since that day, I have had no need to sleep, or eat, or drink.  I enjoy the taste of certain wines and liquors, but I do not feel their effects.  I do not burn in the sunlight, nor even in flames.  There is no mortal weapon that can wound me.  Even being shot by a gun causes no more discomfort than a pin prick." She gave a half smile.  "My reaction this evening -- what did you call it?  a flinch? -- was to the feeling of a foreign object penetrating my body.  It was a momentary sensation, and quickly disappeared."

"Can you tell me what happened to your brother?  Was he successful?"

She shook her head.  "No.  After I killed the guard, I handed his sword to one of my temple sisters.  The two of us led the rest of the priestesses out of the room.  I took the front, intending to kill every single intruder into our temple.  My brother would be the last to die, I decided.

"They were in the middle of the ritual when we entered the altar room.  The guards were quickly dispatched, and the foreign priestesses were killed as they chanted the sacred words.

"My brother lay on the sacred alter, his eyes open and staring.  I knew that his soul was stranded at the border between life and death.  One tug from either direction, and he would go to either side of the veil.

"The only thing needed to call him back as an immortal was the blood sacrifice.  You see to complete the ritual, they had to pour the blood of a living soul over his body, and into his mouth.  Then, as the heart of the other individual ceased, my brother's heart would begin beating again, never to stop."

The blood of a living soul, I thought.  That meant they had sacrificed someone in order to make her immortal.  I shivered at the thought.

"Two women held the wrists of a young girl over the temple altar, and over the body of Knumhotep.  The priestess of Bastet held the knife in her hands and was preparing to slice the veins and begin the sacrifice.  I grabbed her by the back of her tunic and spun her around.  Before she knew what was happening, I had broken her neck.

"One of the other women had drawn her dagger in an attempt to complete the ritual.  Before she could, though, an arrow struck her in the heart.  The young girl, screaming, pulled away from the last of her captors, whom I dispatched to the underworld by smashing her head against a wall.

"It turned out that Senusret had returned earlier than expected.  He had been warned by a dream that there was treachury afoot at the palace, and the great
temple.  He and his troops had pushed their way past Knumhotep's forces, and joined us in the battle.

"Knumhotep did not rise.  Instead, he was beheaded, and his body sealed in a tomb under the temple floors.  The priestesses would guard his corpse for the next seven hundred years. After that, the sands would cover the temple, and spells would be spoken to hide it from those would either search for it, or stumble upon it."

She shifted in her chair, her eyes reflecting dully in the dim light.

"I remained a priestess for several years, but my uncanny abilities made people afraid of me.  My family tried very hard to love me, and Senusret made it
clear that I would always have a home in Lisht.  But, after a few years, I became aware that the people in the capitol did not trust me.  They would wave
talismans at me as I passed them, and they would look away from my face, not wanting to be caught in my evil gaze.  So, I left Memphis at the age of 54 -- though I looked even then as you see me now.  I died and was reborn at the age of 24 -- and that is the age I will be forever."

And with that, Shayt finished her brandy and stood from the table.

"We will be in Alexandria by midafternoon tomorrow.  Rest.  We will leave for Memphis in a few days."

Before I could say anything in reply, she left the compartment.

I turned off the lamp and crawled into bed.  There was nothing else I could do.

I couldn't sleep well that night.  I tossed and turned, thinking of all that Shayt had told me.

It was an absolutely incredible story.  There was no way that it was possible.  If she was who she claimed to be, she would be almost four thousand
years old.  Which was utter nonsense.

And yet I believed her.

That was the night I decided I was insane.

At some point I dozed off, because when I next awoke, I could make out the silhouette of Shayt as she sat in a chair against the opposite wall.  The
moonlight streaming in the window glinted off the ever present glass in her hand.  She was perfectly still, without a hint of motion in her.

But those crystal eyes were wide open, and their haunted look made me shiver even under the blankets.

Continued in Part Two

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