Mummies Alive!

Part 2

By Jena McWaithe

**PS- I have no idea how Nefer-tina's friend Kenna appears in her life. So I just stuck him somewhere. Hope no one cares alot that he's probably a completely different person.

Chapter 5: Testing a Skill

Her teeth chattered nervously. The reigns felt like iron weights against her callused hands. She had been waiting for this for what seemed like forever. She knew that she could win, if only once, but a small part of her wanted to run away and continue running forever.

" The horses are ready." Lekher came up to greet her. " It is all up to you now Nefer."

He smiled back at his teacher. " Thank-you, I would never have gotten here without you." Nefer's face suddenly got an expression of dissapointment. " But, I am not sure I can do this."

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" What?!" Lekher exclaimed, dumbfounded. " Of course you can. Kid, you are an excellent charioteer."

" But everyone here is older than I am." He said quietly so no one else could hear. " If I lose, it will make me look foolish."

Lekher crossed his arms smugly. " Just remember Nefer, if you quit now, you will have to wait a whole other year to race in the games again."

The student rubbed one of his eyes with the side of his finger. " But I have been training for almost five years..."

" Yes, I remember." He told him, pointing a thin finger to the boy's nose. " The first three years you were not ready. Fourth year you claimed the horses were not getting along very well."

" Well sorry!" He blurted out. " But I need some closure, do I not!"

" You will never know if you never try!" Lekher yelled back. A few other charioteers looked over from their stable areas at the squabbling couple.

Nefer glanced around him, embarrased. 'Why couldn't I have picked an easier sport to love? Like moving rocks', he thought.

" You will not feel so bad once you are out on the course." Lekher told him, toning down his voice a couple hundred knotches. " Just remember what I told you, stay away from temptation. The horses will work better if you do not push them."

" I remember." He answered back, testing the reigns weight once again. " I just hope I am not the last one past the finishing line."

" You won't be if you remember your training." His teacher told him, slapping the side of the chariot. " Just do not fall over on the first turn."

Nefer smiled. " I will try not to." He said sarcastically. And with a tiny wave of his hand, the small man left her stall.

A tall dark man strolled into the building. He walked down the isle and examined each charioteer finishing with their horses. Nefer-tina glanced up from her own horses to see him sliding from entry to entry, viewing the appearance, size and stance of the animals.

He walked over to her team. She felt herself beguin to blush. He inspected the horse's legs and pushed down on their strong backs, testing their muscles and bones. He stood up and eyed her from over the two stallions backs.

" What are their names?" He asked.

" Excuse me?" She answered.

" The horse's names." He repeated. " On the entry form you did not specify the horse's names." He held up a small leaflet of papyrus with her distince curved writing. " You need to write down their names."

" Oh!" She said quickly, beguinning to feel flushed once again. The tall man handed her the form and a brush to copy down their names. She did so as quick as she could. When she was done, she handed it back to him.

" Hmmm." He mumbled, looking it over. " Well Kger and Una, hope you have a good race." He gave the first one a hearty pat on the back and moved on to the next stall.

Nefer-tina sighed. She had absolutely no idea what was wrong with her. She had had boyfriends, most of which were only so for a day or two, others wishing for her hand in marriage. She had moved out of her parent's house, and made a living for herself by sickling wheat and working as a farm hand through the months. Now she was an independant woman with real goals in mind. So, if she was so sofisticated and evolved, why was she always getting scared when anyone else besides Lekher talked to her about chariots?

" May I have your attension please." Her line of sight turned towards the center floor. Standing there was the man once again, holding his hands up to quiet everyone down. " I would like to welcome and congradulate you on being chosen to run in the games. I am the royal charioteer Jehr." A rumble began to stir throughout the crowd. Nefer-tina dropped her jaw in amazement. He was suppose to be the finest charioteer in all Egypt.

Jerh motioned towards the open door, and as if like one, all the charioteers suddenly began to move their teams out of the building to the track. Nefer, with a humongous knot in his stomack, stepped up onto his red chariot, grabbed the reigns in his sweating palms and cracked them ever so slightly. The horses jutted forwards and pulled the chariot out of the dim room into the blinding sunlight.

* * *

The crowd's cheers filled her mind with anxiety and fear. She just tried not to look at the roaring spectators sitting in the bleachers above her head.

Quietly, Nefer-tina glanced around at all the other charioteers walking infront, beside and behind her. All of them, she was sure, had drove in the races before. They all looked so confident, their heads held high and their shoulders relaxed.

The horses suddenly slowed in front of her, pushing the chariot forewards. She gripped the handles of the chariot, pulling back on the reigns to stop Kger and Una. They were at the starting line, the long stretch of the track before them.

Nefer-tina heaved a mighty sigh. At least she did have an advantage over most of the others. All except two others had travelled from other cities and towns. They didn't know the track as well as she did. Or the fact that after the first three lanes, the turns were far sharper than the race tracks in Thebes, or Amarna. She had rode this track she didn't know how many times. Every lane with every speed. It was as familiar to her as the back of her hand.

" Good luck." She looked to her left. A boy, probably about her own age was standing on his own chariot, holding his right hand out. He was from Gizeh, she guessed, his skin was very dark and he wore a large gold pendant with a pyramid hanging from a silver chain. She felt herself blushing again.

Never the less, she brought out her own hand and clasped his firmly. " Thank you." She told him. " You too."

He smiled. " This is your first race, isn't it?"

She bit her lip. " Wh, what makes you say that?"

He smiled, revealing bright white teeth. He chuckled. " You're shaking and your hand is sweaty."

" Oh, sorry." She apologied, pulling her right hand away to her side once again. " I did not think it showed."

" That is alright." He told her, resting his arm on the railing of the chariot. " I was the same way when I had my first race. My name is Kenna."

" I am Nefer." She told him.

" Nefer? But that means..."

" I know what it means." She said, looking down in embarrassement. " What were my parents thinking?"

Kenna laughed out loud, throwing his head back into the air. He looked at her, amused. " You know what Nefer? You are alright."

" Thank you." She said flatly. " I didn't know I had to prove myself to you."

" I did not mean it that way." He exclaimed, flagging her away. " I have just noticed that alot of the people competing in the chariot games are, well...conceited, arrogant and obnocious."

" Like that guy in lane seven." She said, gesturing her head towards a tall, snottish looking man wearing a rounded hat.

" Yes." He agreed. " Have you seen the size of his nose?"

" Please, it is big enough to set a crook ard plow on." The two began to laugh hysterically, various other charioteers looking in their direction, confused.

After some time, the two were finally able to control their laught- er. Kenna wiped one of his teary eyes with the back of his hand. " It is funny because it is true."

Suddenly, a man wearing a nobleman's garb walked up onto a large stone pillar holding a bright red banner. Everyone around them quickly took their starting positions, reigns in hand.

" Looks like it is time. " Kenna informed her, taking the same position as the others. Nefer-tina nodded and carefully grabbed her own reigns, her hands still trembling and her palms still sweaty.

The man on the pillar began to speak to the crowd, but she couldn't tell what about. She was only thinking about one thing. ' Alright, I am on lane three. Round fast on the first turn, but hold out every so slightly on the others.' She looked over at Kenna's chariot. It was very beautiful. A deep magenta color covered with bands of silver. The horses were a very light grey, to match the silvery color of the chariot. ' He is in lane two,' she thought. ' Slow on the first three turns, fast on the last.'

The flag was in position. The horses were bucking their heads in antisipation, the chariots were slowly rocking back and forth.

" Kenna," She suddenly said.

" What?!" He asked quickly. " The race is about to start."

" Listen to me. On the first three turns, slow down. On the last turn, do not." She told him, her eyes still on the flag thrower.

" What are you talking about?" He asked.

" Just trust me!" She shouted. A millisecond later, the flag was thrown, and the race was underway.

* * *

Like a reflex, her arms reached out and with a mighty snap, the reigns cracked in the air. Kger and Una rushed forewards, trying to get out of the way of oncoming horses. Nefer-tina pulled to the left, hoping that by doing so, the horses would have more freedom.

Finding a space available, the team rushed through it. The chariot raced down the track as quickly as she could remember. The anxiety and the tension built up inside the mighty animals must have brought on an extra burst of speed. At this rate, she wasn't sure she could handle them.

They were finally at the first turn. Carefully, she pushed on the horses once again. Obediantly, the animals sped up, rounding the first bend as they had hundreds of times before. She frantically looked around her, seeking for any other chariots in her range. There was only one, to her far right , but the charioteer was farther back than she was. Other than that, beyond the clouds of sand, there was no one else in sight.

Nefer-tina smiled a wide smile. The race was going to be over in a matter of seconds, but the rush that came with it always seemed to last alot longer. The stamping of the horses hooves were like a piece of her soul. At first she only enjoyed it, but now it was almost like she needed it. The wind was flying by her head, a roar almost as loud as the rumbling chariot wheels below her.

Second turn. Slowly, she pulled back on the reigns so the horses would slow down. They obeyed, and the corner was taken with the skilled ease of any charioteer.

She looked to her left, hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of Kenna. There was none, and if there was, the clouds of sand and dirt would have covered up the image. ' I hope he took my advice.' She thought. ' Rounding the first turn too fast could have toppled the chariot.'

Third turn, this was the easiest. Pulling back on the reigns once again, the horses slowed down and pulled the chariot around the corner. The wheels screeched as they brushed up against the sides of the chariot, rubbing the paint off of the polished wood and metal. She made a discontented face, knowing that after the race, it would have to be repainted, and if the wheels did that again, they may break or snap off.

The crowd cheered and clapped over the sounds that filled her ears. This troubled her. If they were cheering, than someone must have been close to the finishing line. But she wasn't close to it yet, so maybe there was someone ahead of her that she missed because of all the sand clouds nearly blinding her vision.

Finally, it was the last corner. Nefer-tina's heart began to pound hard, harder than it ever had before. Harder than when the race started, even harder than when she had riden on her father's chariot the very first time. To her, everything was riding on this. She had to prove herself, she had to show herself that she could be as good as any boy at driving chariots.

The horses heads whipped around wildly, their speed picking up drastically as they saw the finish line. Nefer-tina didn't even have to snap the reigns, they just knew to go for the end. It was only now that she could see clearly ahead of her, and she could see that there was no one in front of her.

She lifted her head high into the air and laughed as the heads of the horses crossed over the finishing line. If she thought that the spectators were loud before, she hadn't seen anything yet. The sound nearly knocked her off of her chariot. It was only by grabbing on to the front railing that she had managed to stay on it.

Once the horses slowed down, she looked around and waved to every- one. She had done it. For once in her life, no one had held her down, and by taking a chance, she had accomplished what she felt was right. For Nefer-tina, it was the greatest feeling in the world.

The first person who came up to her was, of course Lekher. He looked as excited as she was, maybe more. He grabbed her wrist and she stumbled off of the chariot.

" You were great!" He shouted over the crowd.

" Yes, I won!" She shouted back, her face alive with light. Some of the other charioteers came over to them. There were many hands to shake and many compliments given around. Most were asking how she had learned to drive like that, while others wanted to simply look at the winning chariot and pet Kger and Una.

She was still meeting people as Jerh walked up from behind, trying to get through the large crowd of charioteers. They tried to make way for him, intent on staying beside Nefer's chariot, but he waved them away and told them to return to the stables.

Nefer-tina finished greeting with a charioteer from Akhentaton when she felt a strong hand on her shoulder. Smiling, she turned around to meet with what she thought was another charioter, but was quite surprised when she saw the the royal chariot master in front of her.

" Jerh, I..." She began.

" That was expert driving today,"

" Nefer." She ended his sentance. " And thank you very much."

" You must feel very proud of yourself." He smiled at her. " Especially now, just before the ceremony."

" Ceremony?" She asked, her eyes growing wide. She never knew that there was to be a celebration. Lekher had never mentioned it, and her father had never once spoken about it.

" Well, maybe not a ceremony," Jerh contradicted. " More of a... crowning. It is when you stand up on the royal balcony of the stadium, right up there, and the king presents you with a metal for winning the race."

" Oh." She sighed. Her heart started to race again. " The King?! King Amenhotep?! He will be there?"

" Yes, and Queen Diphthera and young Prince Rapses." He told her, running his hand along the slick railing of the red chariot. " They will want to congradulate you on a well done job."

" What did I tell you!" Lekher said from behing Nefer. " This kid is the best there ever was."

" Lekher." She said warningly through clenched teeth.

Jerh laughed, his hand pulling away from the chariot. " The ceremony will be in about an hour. If you want to house your chariot in the winner's circle and pat the horses down, you can do so." He held out his right hand for her to shake it.

" Thank you, I will." She said, grabbing his hand with her own.

" Once again, excellent job." He told her and began to walk back towards the royal balcony.

Nefer jumped up gracefully onto her chariot. The team was already tired, the race taking alot out of them. With a little crack of the reigns and a quiet yip from her to start moving, they began to trot behind Jerh. The trio passed him quickly, however, and they waved at each other as she moved ahead of him.

The winner's circle wasn't very large. In fact, it wasn't even a circle. ' Must have been one of those names that didn't make any sense,' she thought, pulling Kger and Una into a small straw covered area. On the stone walls there were whips and reigns on hooks, and cleaning utensils and bags of grain stationed on tabled and benches.

Nefer-tina unhooked the chariot and removed the straps from the horse's backs. The team began to bend down and chew on the straw that was covering the floor. She pulled the equipment to the far side of the room and returned with a brush that she had picked up off of a shelf on her way back. Humming a soft melody, she began to brush Una, the brown horse never fidgeting.

" Hey, Nefer!"

She knew that voice, and she smiled as she turned around. There standing in the doorway, was Kenna. He was holding a small whip in one of his hands, and he was smiling too as he walked into the stable.

" Kenna! Good to see you!" She exclaimed, ceasing with the grooming.

" I am sorry that I was not able to meet with you outside, but there were too many people and I could not get through." He apologized. " You were great though! I have never seen anyone go that fast in my entire life!"

" Thanks!" She told him. " I am sorry that you did not win."

" Why?" He asked, leaning against one of the adobe walls. " I knew I was not going to win, and I did better in this race than in any others. I came in third!" He exclaimed proudly.

" That is great!" She yelled, looking up to the sky. " This is the happiest day in my life!"

" Oh ya!" Kenna exclaimed, holding his hands out. " I feel great!" " Hey Nefer," He said as an after thought.

" Yes?"

" After the ceremony, would you like to go out for a victory celebration? Some of the other charioteers were planning to get some dinner and then have a party in the area beside the large statue of the Pharoah."

" Alright, I will be there." She assured him, picking up the brush to groom the horses again.

" Sure." He told her, running out to the doorway " We will be meet- ing outside the track just as Ra hangs low in the sky!" He called over his shoulder.

" Great!" She shouted back. This was a chance to get to know the other charioteers that she had raced against, and maybe make Nefer some friends.

Just as she was about to start brushing Una again, another voice ran through the room. This time, instead of being pleased about it, she was not. Nefer-tina knew that voice, and fear began to creep through her body.

She froze. She couldn't move. Her only wish would have been that the figure standing behind her would go away and never return there again.

" Good day." The voice said. There were no more options left for her. She either turned around and faced him, or run and hide in a closet somewhere. Biting her lip, she slowly turned around, the bright sunlight making her eyes hurt. She shielded her face with her hand. The figure was now walking towards her. She took a deep breath, mouthed a little prayer, and stood all the way up, facing him. Her father, Mhete.

" Good day." She said back, trying to keep the fear out of her voice.

" I came here to congradulate you on your job today." He told her, putting his hands on his hips. " That was fine work, and it took alot of skill to accomplish."

" Thank you." She told him, quickly turning back to her horses.

Mhete walked over and stood beside her, patting the horse's back. " They are beautiful. What are their names?"

" Kger and Una." She said hurriedly, brushing out some sand out of Una's soft fur.

Her father smiled a little unusual smile. " You are not a very talkative boy, are you?"

" No, guess I am not." She told him, moving in front of the horse to the other one, trying to keep her back turned to him without him being suspicious.

" Too bad you are not like my daughter."

Nefer-tina stuttered, the brush nearly falling out of her hand. 'What does he mean about that?' With a perturbed look, she turned around to Mhete. " Excuse me?" She asked with a slightly stern tone.

" My daughter. She is probably a little older than you are." He explained. " She is a wonderful girl, but when she was young, we could never keep her quiet. It was a little annoying actually." He chucked softly to himself.

Nefer-tina stood with a disgruntled look on her face, her arms crossed across her chest. " Really." She stated flatly.

" Yes, especially about chariots." He told her. " When I brought my chariot home and she rode with me throught the streets, all she could talk about for the longest time was chariots or horses or charioteers." He brushed his hand across Una's side, extra dust flying out of it. " But now," He began. " She doesn't care for them at all. She will not even ride with me to the fields. Which is a pity, because I love them, and I bet you do too."

" More than anything in the world." She said in a loud whisper.

" I believe that." Mhete informed, looking towards her. She ducked down a little bit so he couldn't see her fully. He still continued looking at her. " That is why I wish I had a son like you."

This time, the brush did fall to the ground. Nefer-tina stood there, completely shocked at what she had just heard. That the truth had finally come out. All this time, her father had wanted a boy, a boy to ride in the games with him, a boy to pass his skills onto. She had never been good enough.

" Hello?" Mhete asked, looking over at the boy's suddenly awful expression. " Is there something wrong?"

Nefer-tina looked at him. Even throught the light falling through the door and windows, she could not see him clearly anymore. He was not the same man she thought he was only a moment ago. And even though, in theory, his daughter was never meant to hear that, it was not right for him to say that to anyone. So, with a heart heavier than the great pyramids, she turned and ran as fast as she could by him, racing through the door, and out towards the track, never turning back or regretting her actions towards the man standing in the stable.

* * *

Finally, the time had come. Nefer stood before thousands and thousands of people on the royal balcony. It had only been about an hour and a half since the greatest thrill and happiest time of her life, but she still didn't feel like celebrating.

The great Pharoah King Amenhotep stood poised in front of her. She felt severely intimidated by him, him standing there wearing the double crown and wearing nothing but the finest clothes in the country, and her, wearing only commoners clothes and a tinted golden helmet. Behind the Pharoah stood a very elegant lady dressed in fine linen and golden beads in her hair. This she was guessing, was Queen Dephthera. Her beauty and wisdom was know all across the desert and Nile delta. To the queen's left, there sat a young boy, only about seven or eight, wearing a royal robe and gold leader's hat. To his left were two men, noblemen she thought. The first one was older than she was, but not by many years. He wore a gold helmet, gold armor, and a bright blue cape fell from his shoulders. The second was most definitly older than everyone sitting there, and had a sense of sofistication around him. He was wearing a gold collared white robe and a tall yellow and green hat. Beside him was an empty seat and beside that was Jerh, sitting contently and watching the procedings with appealing interest.

The Pharoah strolled up to her with encredible ease. He seemed as calm as anyone she had ever met in her entire life, and was a strong, handsome man. In his hands, he held a gold medallion on a purple ribbon, the shimmering metal nearly blinding her in the rich sunlight.

" I, King Amenhotep, ruler of all Egypt, hereby present you with this metal of honor." He reached over her head, letting the amulet fall around her neck and small shoulders. " It is a great skill that you have Nefer," He told her, looking down at her with authority. " Never let it go, and you will go far."

" Thank you." She said quietly, bowing down before the Pharoah. Nefer-tina turned around and faced the entire stadium. At first, there was no response. She felt very awkward there alone, but didn't really care. King Amenhotep stood up behind her, and quickly thrust up his legendary golden sword. At that moment, the whole stadium roared to life, everyone stood up and shouted and cheered at the tops of their lungs. Everyone was excited and happy about what had happened today. Everyone except Nefer-tina.

While everyone else was overjoyed and extatic, she was completely miserable. Thoughts of how great the day should have turned out made her heart ache. If only her father hadn't shown up at the stable, everything would have turned out alright. She would have continued to groom the horses and would have still been the happiest person in all Egypt. But that never happened. He had to show up, he had to ruin her excitement. He had to tell the truth.

Chapter 6: Destiny Come to Life

Life rolled on, as it always did. And once again, Nefer-tina had to get over a humongous disapointment. Months after the race, the hurt had long since gone away, but the feeling she got everytime she met with her father never changed.

The metal that she was given was now safely secured inside an impressive wooden box, just in case company ever came over. She still continued working as a farmhand and training as a charioteer.

Unfortunately, ever since the race, she hadn't had any goals to strive for or any other oppertunities to prove herself. She felt so...bored.

One day, after returning from her employer's wheat field, she had a very pleasant surprise.

She walked through the door of the small hut, dropping a few bowls and a dirty towel beside the washing basin. With a loud sigh, she fell into one of the two chairs located in the one room house. She was terribly tired. Her hair was messed up, her make-up had long since worn off and her clothers were filthy.

Nefer-tina stood up, brushing one of her dirty hands on the side of her dress. She went over to the windowsill to get her hand towel. She found it where she left it, beside a small clay pot with a small lotus bloom in it. The flower always made her smile, because no matter what her age, she had always had dreams about lutus' and they made her feel at home.

She stopped to look out at the street in front of her. There were mostly consumers walking the streets right now, but there were some men carting grains and a chariot passed by her window.

She sighed again, picked up the towel, and slung it over her left shoulder. Life was old and boring once again. It almost made her sick.

There was a loud knock at the door. She quickly set the towel on the counter and went to go see who was knocking at her door at this hour.

She walked to the doorway and pulled back the faded rug in front of it. Standing before her was a tall, thin man, dressed in shades of brown and gold. Behind him, the chariot she had just seen sat contently in the dirt street.

" Yes?" She asked, both intrigued and curious about this strange visitor.

" Good day my lady." He told her, bowing slightly. " My name is Zefur. I am the Pharoah's personal messanger with a very urgent message for, Nefer." Nefer-tina inhaled quickly. ' Think of an excuse, think of an excuse!'

" Um, he is not here." She told him slowly. " He went to get some, bread for supper."

" Oh. And who are you?" The man asked intently.

" I am...his sister. My name is Terhua, and I am visiting him from... Karnak."

" I see." He said, reaching into a leather bag hanging from his shoulder. From it, he pulled out a long scroll of papyrus, entwined with a golden snake seal. He held it out, and she carefully took it from his hand.

" Will you see that he gets this? It is very important and must be obeyed, by King Amenhotep's orders."

" I will. Thank you." She told him, holding the scroll up to her bust. " As soon as he gets home, I will give it to him."

" Thank you very much. Good day." He bowed once again, then walked back to his chariot. She stood there admiring the cart, the angles and the golden trim looked really slick. With a crack of his whip, the mess- anger and his horse were gone.

Curiously, she walked back into the hut, the scroll still concealed in her hands. She sat down again on the wicker chair, and placed the scroll down on the small table opposite her. She stared at it, wondering what it could be, wondering what could be inside it. Finally, she couldn't stand it any longer. With a mighty swoop, she grapped the seal and ripped it off of the papyrus sheet.

There on the page were hundreds of hyroglyphs. She had never been able to read that well, only learning writing for about seven years in her childhood. But all these symbols were fairly familiar to her, so she began to read. It said:

" To Nefer, chariot games winner of the fifteenth year of the reign of the great Pharoah Amenhotep. You have been called upon by the great King because he is in need of your services. Only days ago, the royal charioteer Jerh was met with an unfortunate and noble death. Now the royals are calling upon you, Nefer, the greatest charioteer in the Egypts, to become the royal charioteer for all formal and informal engagements."

Her grey eyes grew wide. The royal charioteer? She didn't think it was even possible. Once again, she read throught the papyrus sheet, concentrating on all the key words. Sure enough, that was what the words said, all the way to the nearest hyroglyph she could make out.

Nefer-tina couldn't believe what she was seeing. The royal chariot- eer to the King of all Egypt and his family. This was too incredible!

" This is wonderful!" She shouted, holding her hands up into the air. "Thank you gods! This is wonderful!" She shouted, nearly falling backwards in her chair. " Finally, a new challenge! Something to work for!"

As quickly as she could, she ran towards the back of the house. There, she had the few special possessions that she would wish to take with her to the palace. A few pieces of clothing, her helmet of course, and a small sealed wooden box with the inscription of a lion's paw on the top. She bundled these all up into a small package, and stuffed them into the closest thing she could find, which was a small sack for carrying fruits and vegetables like grains and apples.

After that, she got dressed. In her bag, she had only placed her boy clothes, leaving the girl ones still encased in the big chest. She changed as quickly as she could, exchanging her linen dress for a man's kilt and her delicate sand shoes for black sandals. And for a finishing touch, she pulled back her black beaded hair and slipped the helmet compfortably over her head.

A quick look in the mirror confirmed the satisfaction of her appearance, and slinging the sac over her shoulder, was out the door.

* * *

In the end, she never even needed the sac. As soon as she got to the palace, King Amenhotep gave her a completely new wardrobe. Kger and Una were placed in the royal stable behind the palace and she was lead up a long flight of stairs to her new room, which was even bigger than her own house.

In the short time Nefer-tina had been there, she had also met Queen Diphthera. She was very beautiful, and her words were soft, yet stern and demanded respect. She had met the prince's personal guardians, one of which was someone she had heard alot about. He was the most well known and skilled hunter in all of Egypt and he had said that he remembered her from the games months ago. The second was tall and massive, but not very bright, she noted. He was also very nice and welcomed her to the palace with open arms. She met the king's vizier, a man with a image of a beetle on his hat. He wasn't too friendly, but she knew it must have been because she was new there. She had also, although briefly, met the king's personal scribe. She remembered him from the games, and although being a little overbearing, seemed well enough to get along with.

But the best part was meeting the young Prince Rapses. He and Jerh had been close friends, and although he was still grieving for his companion, still took the time to welcome her. He made her feel like a child again, and that made her feel good.

Nefer-tina flopped down on the cusioned bed of her large room. The walls were lined with paintings and there was a large copper sculpture of a horse in the corner by the veranda. She had never felt this way before. It was thrilling to be in a new place, meeting new people and making new friends, and great to leave her old, common life behind. But something was missing. Maybe it was the fact that she didn't want to forget her roots. Where she came from, all the heartbreaks she had to go through.

She rose from the bed and lazily strolled over to a handcrafted table on the other side of the wall. There, she had placed the only things that she needed from her old home. The small wooden box from the bottom of her chest.

She grabbed the lid with her thumb and index finger, gently prying the compartment open. Inside were two things- the first one was the gold amulet she had one at the games, the images of a race engraved on the valueble metal.

The second was the most precious thing she owned. She lifted it out of the box and examined it delicately. It was a pendant, a small amulet that she had purchased years ago. It had the symbol of Bastet, the cat goddess on it. She had loved it the first time she had layed eyes on it, and after months of saving and working, was able to save up enough curren- cy to purchase it.

Nefer-tina walked out onto the balcony. Below, she could see palace guards protecting the back entrance. Directly below her was the prince's room, and she knew that by now he was probably already asleep.

The sun was setting in the west, the sky now a dark purple, a deep full moon coming up in the distance. She thought back to that night, that horrible night in her childhood when she had learned that horrible, horrible truth. But in the end, it wasn't so horrible. In fact, it had helped her alot. Only through her pain and anger could she had been determined enough to persue that which she loved, and only by letting old things go could she pick up new things. She remembered Maya, the fun they used to have, their adventures. She remembered Ukel, long since gone, and how for the longest time he was her only companion.

She then thought of her lotus plant, still growing on her window- sill. Why hadn't she brought that? Did she even know?

Of course she did. The flower had always made her smile, because no matter what her age, she had always had dreams about lutus' and they made her feel at home. But she didn't need it anymore. She knew deep in her mind that she was home.

A wind blew across her face, and as a spur of the moment decision, she pulled off the gold helmet, letting her smoke black hair fly through the wind the way she remembered it to have. Nefer-tina held the pendant in both her hands, putting up to her chest, her hair still flying behind her like a silken kite. She wouldn't forget. Ever. Those were her special memories, and no matter what, she would always remember them.

And with that, the girl know as Nefer-tina, and the boy known as Nefer, went to sleep in their new home, dreaming of chariots and lutus', awaiting their next new adventure in their new lives to appear under a bright Harvest Moon.


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