Un-nefer, Lord of the Underworld, also called Osiris, waited by the river, arms folded. And waited. He had felt uneasy ever since Pharaoh Amenemope died, appeared before the Tribunal of Forty-two, and submitted to the weighing of his heart. Seth, Un-nefer’s old nemesis, had been there. That put Un-nefer on alert. He had no reason to trust Seth, though Un-nefer tried to rise above old enmities. Enmities? Seth killed me, dismembered me, and…Un-nefer pulled himself away from the memory and back to the present. Seth had no reason to interfere. Amenemope’s judgment had been true. As regent Amenemope had cared for his ailing father, lost wife and sons to an accident, mourned them all until his own death, and treated his subjects with mercy and compassion. What did Seth want?
Un-nefer chafed at the delay. He looked around and froze as sudden laughter filled his ears.
“Waiting for something?” Seth asked.
“You know I am,” Un-nefer replied, filled with foreboding. “What have you done with him?”
“If you care, why leave him unattended on his journey?”
“What have you done with him?” Un-nefer’s voice boomed in the depths of the Underworld.
“He’s where I can watch him. He interests me.” Laughter echoed, faded as Seth retreated.
Un-nefer trembled, head bowed. How had things gone so wrong? Never, in all time…well, not since the first time. Seth was wily. Untiring. Un-nefer sighed. He had lost one of Amun’s subjects, no matter how. Shoulders squared, he breathed deeply. Amun must be told.
Un-nefer approached the great god with humble demeanor, stood, waited for Amun’s attention. Clouds swirled around them.
“I wondered how long you would wait, my son,” Amun said. “We located Amenemope. Only just. I would have sent for you soon.”
“Honored father,” Un-nefer said, relieved. “And?”
“He was transported beyond this time by Seth. How, I do not know. He has power. I’m sure I needn’t remind you.”
“Beyond this time? What do you mean?”
“He resides in the future.”
“How is that possible? And…if you don’t know how this happened, can we get him back?”
“With Ma-at’s help I can do many things, but get him back?” Amun sighed loudly. Wind swirled, whispered around Un-nefer.
“Was not that the purpose of finding him? We cannot leave him there to, well…live without his people and gods.”
“It is done. He has made a life for himself, with friends, and has a professional career. He’s adjusted quite well.”
“He has a what?” Un-nefer was appalled.
“A career. He’s an archaeologist. He searches for old things. Studies them,” Amun said with an airy wave of his hand. “He is remarkably suited for it, as he studies the remains of his old life. Of our land. Understandably, he’s a bit chary of studying his own times too closely.”
“I hoped to see him, talk to him. Would Ma-at permit?”
“She thinks you shouldn’t go there. It’s too dangerous. She’s considering other…options.”
Amun smiled. “What would you do?”
“I don’t know.” Un-nefer stood, head bowed, then looked up, eyes glinting.
“How far in the future is he?”
“Many lifetimes. It’s very different there. People have forgotten the old ways. Amenemope is adjusting well. I wonder, now, if he would be content living in the West.”
“What will happen if he…dies again?”
“He will die. He is not like us, and not like those who are in the West. Forces are moving in his time. His fate, the manner of his death, is not yet certain.”
“What has Seth done?”
“The things he set in motion, well, he cannot stop them,” Amun said. With another wave of his hand, added, “Go. Wait for Ma-at. Wait. Don’t try to find her, or Amenemope. Don’t worry. All will be well.”
In the deep dark of the Underworld, Un-nefer searched for Seth. Then Ma-at appeared just in front of him, with Seth beside her. Ma-at said, “Amenemope is gravely injured, three of his friends also.”
Un-nefer, afraid for Amenemope, stretched up as tall as he could and confronted Seth.
“Do you understand the price of your meddling, how many lives you’ve changed?”
Seth straightened and cursed. Un-nefer saw Seth could not quite match his height.
“I just planted him there. They got into trouble without my assistance.”
Un-nefer moved closer. “Untrue!”
Suddenly Ma-at was between them, facing Seth, who stepped back. Ma-at, wings spread, loomed, larger than Un-nefer.
“We come seeking justice for these mortals. You must rectify what you have wrought or answer to Amun. We will not intercede, Un-nefer, Thoth. Nor I. Choose. Quickly!”
“I need time!”
“Listen to him whine. Coward!”
Ma-at stood, silent, said then, “Remember, Un-nefer. Even Seth deserves justice unless he rejects the ways of the gods.” Ma-at’s voice strengthened. “You, Seth, choose well. We cannot wait.”
Un-nefer watched Seth shrink in size. He looked trapped, and Un-nefer knew that Seth would gain nothing by delay. He cannot debate me, Un-nefer realized, not in front of Ma-at.
“Very well.” Seth said. “Let’s see what we can do for these mortals.” He expelled a breath, said, “I thought you might be happy to finally have him in your care.”
“Cease! Be quiet!” The air trembled, and they both shrank in size. Or Ma-at grew larger. Un-nefer was not sure which. He felt a swirl of air move and saw a shadowy ibis head in his mind. Amun and Thoth listened.
Suddenly Un-nefer doubted his ability to save Amenemope.
“Come,” Ma-at purred. “Do not lose faith in what we can accomplish together. We must work together, with no open discord between us.”
“My lady, I will do whatever necessary, with my enemy, if he agrees to the same.”
“I have said so,” Seth began, but after one glance from Ma-at said, “I will do so.”
Ma-at nodded, satisfied. “Now we begin.” She drew feathered arms upward. Un-nefer and Seth followed her actions, cast their minds outward and began striving for life and healing for the four mortals at sea in beds of white.
ABOUT KATE FLINT
Kate Flint, a native of the Pacific Northwest, began writing novels after a challenge by a friend. She enjoyed that first attempt so much she continued writing and perfecting her craft while caring for family. She has a keen interest in history, especially ancient history, along with anthropology and archaeology, Kate loves to ask “what if” and see what happens, with just a little bit of added magic and mystery. Who know what one might find around the next corner or bend in the trail? Kate Flint presents her first published piece here, Un-nefer’s Triumph, part of a larger story where an age-old rivalry between ancient Egyptian gods repute anew when a dead Pharaoh is misplaced in time—on purpose.
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