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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Community · #2233807
Friendship can give birth to the most violent feelings.

Ancient Egypt
2680 BC

The river Nile flowed with all its power to irrigate the city of Memphis. The waters were charged with billions of nutrients to fertilize the land. Each part of the city was bustling in an incessant concert of aromas and vibrant colours.
From the peasants to the merchants everyone vacated to their occupation giving the agglomeration a blast of energy which nourished an incredible dynamism.
The priests maintained the equilibrium between the forces of nature with the help of the sun god Ra. Khepri was a young and happy girl living with their parents in the centre of the metropolis, near the main market of the capital.

Djoser was the reigning pharaoh who just reaffirmed the prominence of Memphis for the kingdom.
Khepri used to play with the children of her age in the neighbourhood.
Tanit was her best friend. She was the niece of a rich merchant who adopted her when both her parents died of the cholera.
One day Khepri was playing with a stick.
When she went to see if her friend would join her, she saw that the house where Tanit lived was engulfed in fire, and many people outside came to help to extinguish it.
She heard the desperate call of her friend trapped inside the building. Khepri without no fear rushed through the flames. She could barely breathe.
The smoke was toxic but she was guided by the screams and the terror of her friend.
She found Tanit and she guided her with her hand.
They quickly ran towards the exit before the roof collapsed.
Miraculously, both them had only minor burns.
Their throats were very irritated but after few days, they could speak almost normally.
When the fire started, Tanit’s uncle named Kenamon was dealing with his business in the market, and when he heard the news, he went back the quickest he could hoping that nothing irremediable happened.
Kenamon was utterly relived to see that his niece survived. He inspected the damages. He could only distinguished the ashes of what remained of his house.
Tanit told Kenamon that Khepri saved her life.

Her story became famous in the city. Nobody could believed that an eight old girl could be so brave.
Kenamon was so moved by her decisive action that he saw it as sign coming from the gods.
She must have had a unique connection with them.
Kenamon thought that Khepri was a messenger.
Khepri’s family was part of the bottom of the society.
Kenamon decided that he would pay for her education to become a priestess.
Khepri and her parents were puzzled at first by the offer, but finally they saw it as chance.
The gods chose a destiny for her that she should follow.
The path to become a priestess was a long and difficult one, you had first to become a scribe, by learning how to read and write, and then learn the different aspects of the life of the deities.
A very tiny percentage of people were literate at that time. Being a scribe put you immediately in a better social class among the ranks of society with the pharaoh at the top.
Khepri was a very good student. She discovered a potential for grasping the most mysterious truths to help her better understand the fabric of the universe.
She became a healer. She learned how to interpret the messages coming from the gods by observing nature.

Years of practice, a total dedication, made Khepri quite renown in Memphis.
Sometimes, she spent days alone in the temple to interpret her dreams and visions.
The gods Isis and Osiris challenged her with riddles she had to decipher in the morning.
Her parents, brothers and sisters were very proud of her even though they did not see her for long stretches of time.
Eventually, she would come to visit, and she shared with them the offerings that the devotees she cured gave to her.
But while Khepri’s fame grew, Tanit became secretly jealous of her friend. Her uncle Kenamon constantly praised Khepri for the services she offered to the wider community.
Tanit wished that something bad happened to her. She felt that she owed her something she could never fully repay since Khepri saved her life.
She thought that only her death could relived her of her torment.

It was not long after that fate struck Khepri.
She started to lose her sight due to rare disease she had contracted.
After one year, Khepri became totally blind.
Tanit saw this as an opportunity to compensate what Khepri had done earlier in her life.
She came to help her friend daily.
Khepri was grateful for Tanit’s help.

Khepri felt closer than ever to Tanit, without suspecting that it was coming from a place of guilt and resentment.

Tanit met her future husband Anen during this period. Even though she was blind and a priestess, he was impressed by Khepri’s beauty.
Tanit’s jealousy resurfaced even stronger.
Whatever happened, Khepri seemed always radiant and happy.
Tanit wished that she never met her.
It was like she was cursed.
The people in her life always noticed Khepri more than her.
Since she became blind, Khepri relied more on her memory to deepen her knowledge.
She had plenty of new vivid visions.
She was more accurate to predict what could happen to the people who came to consult her.
Her fame grew rapidly.
One night she had premonitory dream when she saw that the gods were not happy with the citizens of the city of Memphis, and with the way the pharaoh took care of the temples.
Khepri warned that a punishment was coming.
But after one year, nothing happened.
People started to doubt her abilities.

Tanit played the role of the loyal friend.
”They don’t understand, I know you are right, the hour of reckoning is coming.” said Tanit.
For the first time Khepri could feel that her friend was not totally honest with her.
Tanit felt a tinge of happiness about the fact that Khepri was less and less listened to by her peers.

Without any special warnings, a severe drought began.
At first, most people thought that it was a regular occurrence which would not last long.
But month after month, the drought was persistent. Things started to be dire.
Many people died as a result.
The tensions in the city ran high.
The pharaoh Djoser went to visit all the temples to ask the priests and priestesses to intermediate with the gods to know what they wanted to end this situation.
It went on for years, seven in total.
The city of Memphis was in a state of chaos.
An atmosphere of civil war was developing.
The citizens killed each other to control the few resources left.
Even the well off in the society were suffering.
They were struggling with the circumstances.
Khepri helped Tanit during this period.

The temples were among the few places where you could find a minimum of continual supply of food.
On seeing this state of affairs, a diabolical idea emerged in Tanit and her husband minds.
They realised they could immensely benefit financially, if they took control of the reserve of grain of the temple where Khepri was officiating.
Anen was an immoral man who could do anything if it served him.
Even though he came from a family of rich merchants , he had failed in everything he tried to establish.
He thought that if he could generate a great deal of wealth, and he could redeem himself in the eyes of his parents.
He took a while to convince Tanit to elaborate a plan to kill Khepri.
At first Tanit resisted; they could rob the temple, but murdering her friend was a different story.
Slowly, from the darkest corner of her soul, a deep hatred for Khepri emerged.
She felt that Khepri treated her arrogantly since she became a priestess, she could not explain it, but she had the feeling if Khepri was not around any more, her life would be better.

Finally with her husband they decided to do it.

On a beautiful and shiny day, Tanit proposed Khepri to walk along the riverbanks of the Nile to enjoy the fresh air, and to go to the places they liked when they were children.
They walked for a while when suddenly from behind a bush, after having checked that nobody was around, Anen jumped and violently pushed Khepri into the water. They knew that she did not know how to swim. Khepri screamed for help but nobody seemed to answer. This part of the river was quite secluded.
Anen was following them discreetly before executing his plan.

Khepri was carried away by the strength of the currents. Tanit and Anen really thought that she had drown.

But Khepri survived this ordeal, she somewhat managed to reach the opposite shore, a quarter of a mile away from where she had been pushed.
It was in a patch of high grass.
Tanit and her husband could not see her.
They made up a story to cover what they did when they went back to the city. They said that the two women were too close to the water when suddenly a mudslide carried away Khepri.
Tanit tried to rescue her friend but at the end there was nothing she could do. It was an accident.
Nobody questioned their version.

But unbeknown to them, a man who was fishing, a couple hours later, found Khepri semi unconscious on the river bank. The shock had put her in state comparable to a brief coma.
When the man proposed her to accompany her back to the city, she felt very scared not knowing what exactly happened to her.
She had partial amnesia and could not remember the immediate past.
The man told her that it was not from Memphis and was about to sail to the island of Elephantine.

He had compassion for Khepri. He could not let a blind woman here by herself, so he proposed her to come with him.
Khepri felt that the man was a kind and genuine person, she decided to go with him and his family.
They embarked and they went to the island.
He promised her that he would go back to Memphis in two months.
On the island, Khepri slowly recovered her memory. The local priest heard about her story.
He proposed her to assist him, he could use her skills.
He realised that Khepri was very gifted. She had an impressive knowledge about the gods and specially of the god Amun.
During her stay, she had many visions where the gods told her if the people of the kingdom continue to ignore them and their temples, the drought would go on for longer.

It was at the same time that Imothep, the main architect and advisor of the pharaoh Djoser, arrived on the island to find a solution for the drought because he heard that the priests and priestesses on this island were very devout.
He visited the temple where Khepri was officiating.

She gave him the advice that the pharaoh should rebuild the temples all across the kingdom to please the gods. When Imothep went back to Memphis, it was exactly what he proposed Djoser to do, and it could work to end the drought.
In the meantime, as fate went full circle, Tanit caught same disease than her parents and died shortly after. Her husband had been murdered by one of the shady person who was in business with him during the same period.
When Khepri finally went back to Memphis, people were shocked to see her again.
She learned that Tanit and her husband were dead.
She explained what happened to her but did not tell the whole story. She did not want to tarnish Tanit’s reputation. She thought that it was better to forgive her.
“Maybe the gods will send you to hell, but I forgive you, may your soul find peace.” said Khepri when she was next to Tanit’s sarcophagus
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