The crunch of decaying weeds leftover from last harvest crunched under the sandals of two figures rushing off into the cloak of night. The night air was thick and humid sticking to the figure’s bodies.
“I’m going to get in trouble, princess!” the male servant whispered, his voice soaked in the concern weighing down on his consciousness.
“It’ll be fine! Just keep your voice down.” The princess snapped at the shaking man running behind her, holding her hand. Several moments passed, that felt like hours under the stress of avoiding guards, they ventured onto a small oasis tucked between the roaming sands of the Egyptian desert. Palm trees and bountiful stalks of papyrus spread around the oasis like cracked glass as if it was built by the gods just for them. Two palm stumps had merged into one creating seat for them to relax on.
“If Pharoah finds out about us, you know what will happen. Not just to m-” Salihah cut the young man off putting in her own thoughts.
“Ziyad, I don’t care, my father doesn't scare me. Pharoah or not he is still my father. He would never hurt me. You worry too much.” her words flew out of her mouth like silk. Every word perfectly punctuated performing her educated mind.
“That is easy for you to say... You are royalty. Me? I am just a worthless servant. We may have grown together but we always knew that this wouldn't work.”
“Stop that now! Don’t talk about us that way. You confessed you loved me since we were babies. Was that all a lie? I don’t think so. Look me in the eyes and tell me you were lying.” she paused for a moment, her emerald eyes locked onto his. “Tell me…”
He looked away, watching the sand roll over his worn down sandal. Salihah opened her mouth to ask him again but found Ziyad’s lips pressed against hers. For a moment, the two embraced within the cool night. Pulling away, the two had no thoughts just the adrenaline rushing through their veins.
1 Month Later
Salihah strolled the hallways of the stone temple; her well kept sandals clicking on the floor as she walked. The heat steaming over the sand caught a gust of air flowing it through the halls, her white linen flowed producing the form of each leg as they grazed past each other. Turning the corner she noticed Ziyad on all fours scrubbing a patch of dust off the polished stone floor. Using every ounce of self control contained in her slim body, Salihah held her bearings giving her the ability to walk past unaffected by her lovers presence. However, across the time of the past month since their evening adventure to the oasis she found keeping a hold of herself becoming increasingly difficult. Every so often, a bit of emotion escaped the still face of the royal. Those who has possibly seen would be let into the tightly kept walls of the blossoming romance. Unknown to the princess and priest had been let in via the tongue of another servant, Sera. Sera had been tasked to the caring of Salihah’s family strictly her mother and the Pharaoh.
“Ra, ruler of the land, I come to you in need. It seems we have a forbidden alianced blooming between Salihah and a… A servant. We ask your guidance to stop this unholy travesty.” the priest pleaded to the sun god. Only if the young lovers knew what horrors were heading right for them. As the rains passed through bringing the Nile to the level needed for the harvest and turning of the field, all the male servants were forced to tend to the vast field of grain. Ziyad was included in the bunch sent to the farthest field on the horizon, far from Salihah’s wandering gaze. Hours upon hours in the baking sun left its mark on Ziyad’s flesh, drops of sweat caused his bright red skin to stand out more against the barren yellow portion of field he had already harvested. His eyes scanned his area but immediately noticed an oddity, there wasn't another soul within eye distance of him. Ziyad felt his heart plummet into his stomach as a horrible feeling spread across his body. A large shadow protruding along the ground from his own, snapped the young man’s attention. Two large horns stretched out past the shadow of his own head adding onto the feeling creeping over him. Swinging around 180 degrees he found himself staring face to face with an overbearing white bull with black fur covering his face. This bull was no ordinary bull cluing into his large size and bright red eyes like two rubies contrasting against the dark fur. A huff escaped the bulls muzzle shooting steaming air to the ground blowing the sand all around them. Faint sounds of spectral warriors filled the air as if they were standing in a battle field. Standing before the young servant was none other than Montu, the god of war. Ziyad fell to his knees basking in the glory of the mighty bull staring down at him. What felt like an eternity of locked eye contact the massive beast tucked his head below him and with the power of a thousand men swung forward plunging his log like horns into the young man’s body. The once golden field was now decorated with a bright red. Ziyad was no more. Montu had done what was commanded of him and vanished in a cloud of dust and sand. As the smoke cleared a jackal head was formed before the dust was completely blown away.
After the death of her beloved Ziyad, Salihah found everyday tasks becoming more and more difficult. The weight of her sorrow pounded down on her, increasingly chiseling away at her somber facial structure. A frown had found its way into an almost
permanent place on her face. A sigh exiting her lips every hour turning into every half hour, finally leaving off at every ten minutes. Several individuals had questioned the state of the princess but was given nothing to work with. Not even the Pharaoh himself could reach his once cheerful daughter. Night had fallen on the desert kingdom and Salihah tossed and turned in her plush bed, her several linen blankets pushed off to one side by the movement of her legs.
“Salihah….” an ethereal voice called out in the dark. The voice called once more jolting the young maiden from her slumber, her eyes reaching out into the thick darkness surrounding her. A thick layer of sweat covered her body.
“H-hello?” she called out, her eyes slowly adjusted revealing a figure staring at her from the edge of her bed. Taken aback in fear she returned the figure’s gaze. The figure snapped her finger causing the torches in the room to come ablaze revealing a women in a long golden gown decorated with jewels. Two cow ears protruded from her head along with two large curved horns reaching straight up. Slowly igniting between the two horns a small ball resembling the sun was placed. Standing before the young princess was the goddess of love, Hathor. Salihah found herself completely stunned, basking in the immense presence of the beautiful goddess.
“I have seen and felt the pain you hold within your heart. It is time that you move on. Ziyad is gone my child, there was nothing that can or could be done to prevent his untimely demise.” The goddess spoke, her voice echoed off the stone walls adding onto her overwhelming being.
“There must be something that can be done, he was properly buried. I made sure of it. I gave him the burial needed for his soul to venture into the next life. There must be a way to bring him back. Please…” she begged. Keeping in the sorrow had weighed down on her for so long it bursted out through the words she cried out. Her tears leaving black stains from her thick black eyeliner on her face. Hathor raised a hand stopping the cries of the broken princess. A small sigh excited the goddess’s lips before she spoke.
“Find an article belonging to this individual and both a blue and white lotus, bring these articles to this young man’s burial site. Light these articles on fire and speak what is in your heart. Give your whole heart to this man you claim to love. If the love you two held was true, he will appear. That is all I can give to you. Now sleep child.” Hathor instructed very carefully. As Salihah returned to her rest Hathor’s eyes swiftly flashed a bright red color before she completely vanished, a single lotus drifting to the floor. The following morning Salihah immediately ran off in search of the items spoken to her the night before. Questioning several of the servants known to have been associated with Ziyad, she found a small necklace carved from the horn of an ox. Within the several ponds of the temple several blue and white lotuses floated across the still water. Several Ibis peacefully stood in the crystal water. As if the flowers knew where to go, a gust of wind blew the lotuses across the shimmering water towards her. With all of her items in hand Salihah ventured to the burial mound of her lost love. Following Hathor’s instructions very carefully she lightly held the torch next to the items watching the flames dance from each item with the direction of the wind. She then let her heart bleed the love she had been holding for Ziyad all the years they were together. Growing together from children, constantly causing mischief only getting out of it minutes later, always being attached at the hip unless civil duties came between them. Her face expressed the longing she craved for her lost love, the longing that was felt with every word that exited her lips.
“I give you my heart, now and forever.” Salihah’s final words cried out. As foretold by Hathor a figure appeared, however it was not the body of Ziyad. Anubis stood before her, his jackal jowls curved back into a toothy grin. Bright red eyes with a small black slit of an iris stared at her. “Wha...What is this?” her voice for once was sharp and cracked.
“You have gifted your heart and soul to me to do with as I wish. For you my dear I have two choices. Spend the rest of eternity within purgatory and endless trail leading to nowhere or you can come with me to the underworld. I will gift you the power of a goddess and you can live on forever praised and worshiped by the same people who betrayed you. I can tell by the look on your face that you knew Ziyad’s death was quite suspicious. No beasts were anywhere near that field yet hoofprints were left at the scene. Your priest prayed to Ra and Montu was sent to finish off your beloved. Since you have been praying for a new found purpose I am here to give you this… you have no choice in the matter. I highly suggest you take my kind gesture.” Salihah’s body crumbled in the essence of her defeat, collapsing to her knees she stared into the sand that blew past white gown.
“Since I clearly have no choice… I accept.” she spoke softly.
“Excellent.” Anubis grinned placing his staff into the ground. A large circle of ground surrounding the end of the staff began to slowly break away showing the dark atmosphere of the underworld. A chilly wind blew up from within the opposite side of the portal clashing against the hot air bouncing off the sand. Following Anubis’s direction, Salihah stood at the edge of the broken ground in front of her. Falling forward into a reflection she fell forward into a place that transcends in time. A world that turns her upside down and lands back onto the ground of the underworld. As her body passed the barrier linking the living to the dead, her human soul seeped out through the holes in her skin escaping with her final breath. As she layed on the cold ground, covered in a thick layer of low mist, she realized her legs had taken on a new form. The form of two golden horse legs the heavily furred hooves. Along with these gold coated legs a long white tail stretched out behind her fraying along the ground. Both her new hooves were a dark brown shod with bright silver shoes. Anubis held out his tanned hand pulling her off the ground. Salihah stumbled as she attempted to get the bearings of her new limbs.
“Welcome to the underworld Salihah, Goddess of Decay.”
Like a baby fawn she stumbled, pulling away from Anubis she falls to her knees weeping in confusion and sadness. She analyzed her new surroundings, clouded green sky white orbs flying around the sky like little stars. The earth was cracked ashy black stone that stretched on for miles. A single pillar stretched out from the cracked ground, spewing out from the top a thick waterfall of fog softly fell to the ground.
“Ziyad…” she whispered. Anubis blew a puff of air deep from his chest. The breath transformed into a white orb followed by long glowing trail. The glowing orb danced around the space around them before plummeting into the ground. Right before impact the orb transformed into a human form. As the figure’s features became crisp Salihah let a gasp escape her lips. A sigh expressing as if her heart skipped a thousand beats. Ziyad stood before her as a spectral ghost, brought to the next life to serve the Pharaohs of old.
“I am unable to stay with you my love. My time in the past world is over with, I must take on the new task given to me by the gods.” Salihah’s final attachment to the human world she left behind snapped leaving an empty shell. Ziyad wrapped his spectral arms around his love embracing her tightly, slowly he disappeared leaving the saddened Goddess to creep into her newly found role in the rank upon the gods.