Netjeri.

This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.

Even though my first adventure to the Duat with Sekhmet ended with me undignified and drooling on her shoulder, we ended up going back fairly regularly. I began to feel as though I was merely there to observe the proceedings. Any comments I made were generally ignored and anything I felt like discussing afterward was also ignored. She would ignore it gently at first, with subterfuge and deflection and just generally changing the subject to inconsequential matters. The point was made early on – I was there to observe the proceedings and to keep my trap shut.

I’ve always been a loner, an outsider. I have never really felt comfortable within large groups and so, quite often, I relegate myself to the role of the observer. During those excursions, I fit that little niche all too well and it was so boring. Without hearing the gist of the conversations and with beings that were more than adept at keeping their body language and facial cues to a minimum, I had no possible experience with which to go by in my observations. All I had was a million brimming questions that I squashed like a bug, attempting to figure out what the point was.

It wasn’t that I was unhappy, per se. It was more like I was tired. Things in real life were gearing up and I was scared. I wanted to discuss those things and what I could expect from the next year with Sekhmet, but she kept shushing me. It was like I was an obnoxious child with a million questions, which really isn’t a far off assessment. Sometimes, I felt more like a pet or a pretty piece of jewelry. I was to be shown off. I was to be paraded before the beings that came to her, but I was not allowed to have a mind of my own, have a thought process, or do anything remotely embarrassing. I felt, well, I felt less than.

Adventures to the Lake of Fire weren’t the only instances where I was relegated to this role. Sekhmet decided to throw a huge party before the New Year and before my official role was to begin.

The party was, of course, to take place in her beautiful palatial sprawl in the middle of the desert. If we weren’t in the Duat, then we were there. I was allowed to explore, but minimally. If I asked questions about the reliefs on the walls or where the netjeri were or anything, she would deflect me. The point she made without having to say it was that I was getting focused on details that weren’t important. I understand that, of course, to a degree. But I’m a curious person with curious people habits. I wanted to know everything and she was, per usual, keeping secrets.

Nothing, I can assure you fellow readers, has changed.

The first party that Sekhmet threw was, as she would tell me later, was a success. She threw herself into the preparations. Honestly, I felt like I was watching one of those movies or television shows about really rich people who orchestrate even the finest details of a huge shindig. It was almost endearing, seeing how nervous she was about who would appear and what they would bring to her as gifts and what sort of foods to prepare. She let me help her with the menu and I ordered grapes. (I love grapes, okay?) They were red and green and they were juicy and honestly, they were the best part of the whole fucking thing as far as I was concerned.

Before the party, Sekhmet made me change from my usual wandering outfit into something more “fitting.” She made me feel like a princess and it was the first time I was able to meet the human servants that she had around. I felt vindication upon meeting the ladies who came to outfit me in typical ancient Egyptian dress. I knew that it wasn’t her demon servants who did these petty things, but human servants that had probably always served her. I attempted to ask them questions, but they just giggled and coquetted with me instead of answering anything. I was frustrated, of course, because again, the secrets and again the lack of answers. But I was also a little bit excited.

Sometimes, it’s kind of hard to not feel really feminine when there are people making you look the best that you can be.

I was outfitted in a red sheath that hugged my body a little too well. It was sheer, although not nearly as sheer as the white linen outfit that Sekhmet forced me to wear in the Duat. The tube-like top came up and over my breasts, but there were two thick gold straps that kept it fitted to my body. There was golden thread swirled in the thin red garment, imitating the pattern of stars maybe. They placed an amulet around my neck, a sort of “this is mine” sign post.

The amulet was made of gold and an image of Sekhmet was front and center. She was in her seated leonine-headed form with the solar disk upon her head. She carried the papyrus tipped scepter that is often associated with her. On either side of the register were uraeus serpents. The pendant, itself, was threaded through delicately made strands of beads of different stone types. There were a total of four strands and they held carnelian, turquoise, bloodstone, coral, onyx, and lapis.

They painted my face, which was strange. I’m not used to wearing makeup at all, in either life. Makeup is one of those things that reminds me of war paint. Women are forced to put it on in an effort to remove their most basic selves from the world at large, in my opinion, and I honestly don’t care how the world views me, either world actually. So, as I fidgeted under the careful ministrations of these servant women, I tried not to feel uncomfortable.

It’s hard, however, when you suddenly realize that you, yourself, isn’t quite good enough for whatever plans someone you really trusted and cared for has. You have to change some very fundamental aspects of yourself in order to please them properly. This has always bothered me because I’ve always wanted at least one person, one being, one creature to accept me for being the strange adventurer/outsider that I am. Instead, the very being that I thought could accept me was changing my style, my clothing, my belief, and my very soul with each turn of the wheel.

I honestly tried not to feel sad about it. It is what it is, right? There’s no change here. I had made the choice to do this shit for her in this life and apparently, that meant I had to suck it up and fucking go with the flow. I didn’t have to like the flow, of course. Hell, I didn’t have to like a damn thing that she threw at me. I just had to try and do it with poise and finesse. And if I couldn’t do it that way, then I could at least do it with my characteristic sarcasm and cynicism.

Neither option really was appealing, though, in that moment.

The finishing touch was my hair, of course. I thought I would be forced to wear one of those thick, black wigs that Sekhmet was fond of. I was obviously being marketed as “hers,” so it stood to reason that I would match her clearly. Instead, the silent women brushed out my hair and left it alone. It shown brightly after their brushing and hung down to my butt. I stared at myself in a mirror, studying my reflection.

I looked weird. I looked like not-me. The jewelry was nice, though.

I wandered around the palace while Sekhmet got ready. Since I was unobserved and not being shepherded around, I wandered around in previously unexplored areas.

My first experimental door open was boring. I ended up in a giant hall-like room with a heated pool. There were mosaic tiles that made up the floor around the pool, picturing really explicit sexual positions. If I hadn’t figured out what she used this room for, the décor of the floor would have given it away. In areas across the room, there were little seductive alcoves. In each, there were blankets, gold and red throw pillows, and everything I had ever imagined may be used in a classy den of iniquity. I walked away from that room as quickly as possible.

I ended up finding a bunch of unused rooms with furniture covered in sheets.

I stumbled on a kitchen area that was going insane with all of the preparations. The room was humid beyond belief and people were running back and forth, trying to get everything ready for Sekhmet’s big party. I had to wonder what would happen to these people if they screwed something up. Was she a benevolent mistress to them? Did she take care of them? Did she care for them? They had probably been with her for a while. Not wanting to muddy up anything going on, I quickly shut the door.

In my forays, I found a lot of unused space, which seemed like a total waste. Why build a huge palace in the middle of fucking nowhere with a million spare rooms that were dust ridden? I had to wonder if, maybe, at one point this place was filled with people. Maybe instead of hanging out in the Duat, her priests and priestesses and their children and their children’s children and their children’s children’s children all came here. I liked the idea of Sekhmet as a distant mother-figure, to be honest. It made me feel like I could connect with her, somehow, again.

But the cynic in me reminded me that she was also a narcissist.

I opened another door at random and found the fucking jack pot.

I had found the room of all of her war paraphernalia. And there was a lot.

There were chariots for decoration. These were done in gold foil with classic ancient Egyptian bowman on the sides, pointing their arrows at the enemies. There were glyphs all within the center, probably prayers or homages to her. There were also sturdier and well used wooden chariots with dried blood upon the wheels. (“Why not roll right on through the entrails of the fallen? What a lovely idea!”)

There were also mace heads and full blown maces. Again, some were obviously decoration with beautifully etched scenes of pharaoh destroying the typical enemies of the ancient Egyptians. Some were definitely no decorations, however, and well used. Some mace heads were broken with the force that had been used to destroy an enemy. Those were laid upon tables as macabre reminders of how fierce she and her people once were.

And then as I turned to look, they were in front of me: the Seven Arrows of Sekhmet.

I knew, instinctively, who they were. I didn’t need anyone to tell me. They weren’t how I pictured them, but maybe it was my mind attempting to give an obvious face to them. They kind of reminded me of the mummies that had been reanimated in the movie, The Mummy Returns. Their mouths were wide open and glaring, full of teeth. They were green and gray and brown. They wore shredded garments that hung from their skinny bodies. It was hard to get a clear picture of what they looked like as their forms were mercurial. One moment they appeared very humanoid and in another, they appeared more like a sphinx creature. In the next moment, they would look like lions and then they would go back to the humanoid figure I had originally seen.

Staring at them made my eyes hurt.

I squinted at them, trying to catch their measure. I had to wonder if I should run or if that was a bad idea. And what were they doing in this room, far away? Wouldn’t she want them nearby? Or, in a fit of kindness, did she hide them away from the servants that staffed her kitchens and made her pretty? If anyone would be worried about meeting up with one of her Arrows, it would have been the very people who had once given one another amulets of protections with Sekhmet’s face etched upon them, trying to stave off the pestilence and chaos these Arrows could wreak upon them.

I was pretty sure I should be scared, but a part of me also pitied them.

They moved like animals, more like dogs or perhaps gorillas, than the humanoid things they were supposed to be. One of them chuffed at me. Another moved forward and sniffed at the golden sandals on my feet. Another backed up and bumped into a table. They were all trying to figure out what I was or who I was and I was trying to do likewise.

I knelt down in front of the one that had come right up and sniffed at me. I held my hand out to it, wondering if it would tear my flesh from my bones. Instead, it moved every closer, sniffing me suspiciously. My eyes watered at their constantly changing shapes. My heart broke a little because I knew that they probably rarely saw the light of day anymore. Once, Sekhmet had probably unleashed them on a whim for the sake of inspiring fear in others. Now, she had to keep them locked up like animals, away from the people who staffed her home and away from her guests. I felt sorry for them and that was probably not a good reaction.

“Ah,” a voice said from behind me.

I spun around, startling the being in front of me. It shuffled away from me while the other six crowded around, running to Sekhmet’s feet. They basked in her glow, I noted. They seemed to like her or maybe worship her. This was the love I saw in my own dog’s eyes in the real world. It was an undying and untempered love. They crowded around her, bowling into her in their attempt to get ever closer. She reached out to them and pet them each upon the head. “So you found them?”

“Yes,” I said uncertainly. I was kind of waiting for her to get mad at me. Here I was, dressed up and ready to party, hanging out in a dusty room with a bunch of netjeri. “Why do you keep them here?”

“They have to be kept safe,” she said simply. She knelt down and scratched the throat of one just as someone would do with a dog. “They prefer this room. It reminds them of their power.”

“Do they still have power?”

“Of course they do,” she snapped.

“Do they ever go out?” I asked timidly.

“Periodically,” she said with a shrug. She stood up and cracked her neck. She stared at me, her eyes dark and fathomless. I could fall in the pit of those eyes and never find myself again, I thought stupidly. “There are still people who deserve to feel the power of my harnessed isfet.”

“Do I know anyone who you’ve unleashed them on?”

She grinned. “Maybe,” she said. She looked down at her pets, lovingly. “I think they should run, don’t you?”

“Where?” I said stupidly. “The people here; they’re scared of them, right?”

“Oh, darling, you really are as young as you look.” She knelt down in front of them again. And grinning at them she said, “Run, my darlings. Run and run and run some more. Find someone who deserves to be punished and wreak the havoc you so enjoy. And come back to me and we will all play later.” The netjeri made chuffing sounds of excitement. They wanted to run.

And they ran. They ran across the walls to the open windows and the sunlight beyond. I watched in awe as they moved together, like the pack they were. They had such grace and such beauty in their movements. I watched as they slithered across the walls and over the tables. Even as their feet and hands or paws touched the surfaces of the table, nothing moved. They were sure in their movements. They were sure in the places where they put their feet/paws. They knew how to move elegantly.

They jumped through the windows and into the wide desert beyond.

“Come, child.”

“Who have you sent them to punish?” I asked uneasily.

And she laughed. She laughed then, full throated and gorgeous. The laugh sent tingles up and down my spine. It was a turn on and I could understand how all the people who had ever used that pool room with her would never want to leave it. But the laugh also sent shivers of fear up and down my spine. It reminded me that this was not a being with whom to fuck. And someone, somewhere, had clearly fucked with her and they were going to pay the price.

In that moment, I had never felt so lucky in my life to be on her side.

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