*First draft for The Feather on My Scale: Book 2 of Gods of Fire*
“He is a wab! Half-souled at that, My Lord!” Adom protested upon arriving within the temple’s main hall. We had arrived for the evening services, Wash at my side in his new vestments, a massive white robe covering most of the new outfit. “I can agree to leave your…predilections…to yourself,” the High Lectern flicked a disgusted glance towards Ptolemy who stood guard at the back door to the hall, “but this is going too far! He is here for Last Purifications. He should have already been sent on, My Lord.”
“What is he wearing?” He seethed after taking in the appearance of the hall. Seth and Nebra had been busy pulling ties to have court officials filter in, each issued a copy of the statement I had sent to Adom of the exchange of titles.
“You have done more for me that I can ever reward you for, Regent High Lectern,” I commended from my throne, Wash fighting to control his trembling at my side.
“Fifteen years in your service, My Lord, and eighteen with your guardian before,” he reminded me.
“I cannot begin to tell you how overjoyed I am that you found the perfect representative for me. It is due time. You have been well past retirement and I should not have pushed your position for so long. That was unfair of me.” I studied Wash’s frame, letting my blatant adoration show.
“Of all the people within the Temples in all of Hawria, why this wab? He’s half-souled. He’ll never be capable of taking on the position of more than a minor servant! Not to mention his transgressions against the state.” His vehement hatred elicited some minor protests in the hall from councilors.
“It is due to the nature of his transgression that he showed his willingness to follow the laws of the Temple so closely. To see no other harmed as to suffer loss of life or priviledge,” I quoted. “And it is because of his half-souled nature that he will become My Heirophant.”
Wash swallowed, his grasp tightening on a was-scepter we had sourced from the ceremonial paraphernalia stock room. More murmuring at this announcement, louder, curious. As I had instructed before we had made it into the room, Wash descended the steps to the lowest tier, kneeling before me.
“You would have a half-souled High Lectern? You mean for the Temple to fall?” Adom hissed, establishing the faction of support.
I rose at that stance, immediately sending all in the hall to kneel before me. I stepped down to the tier in front of Wash. “Rise, wab,” I demanded of Wash. He did as asked, though the rings on his staff clinked with a slight tremble. “You will be My Hierophant. You will become the High Lectern of Hawria, to represent the will of your lord at all times and in all circumstances. Take this as your service to the crown and scepter,” I leaned down, taking his chin in my palm and gently kissed his forehead, dead center of the blaze of white as I pulled the belt of his robe, the white material dropping away. A sunburst blinded the room momentarily, clamoring erupting as the councilors fell back. Golden drops rained down to send ripples across the tiles and disintegrate into fizzing motes. Wash knelt in front of me, his wings shining with the mirage.
A hush issued in the chamber. Eyes went round at the sight. Many of the wab and priests who had been siding with Adom fell into mantras, as did a surprising number of the councilors.
“You found me someone who had enough room for the god-king’s spirit. You have never let go of Ramses. There was no room for me.” I crouched, offering my hand to Wash to encourage him to stand. He took it, his fingers cold on mine. I turned him to the council.
“Who will deny the will of the god-king of Hawria?” Wash enunciated before the court, tapping the point of the staff against the tile. Adom went to protest. A set of figures rose from the floor, Thoth and Isis to bow before me. Twice as tall as me and fully colored, they could have been solid. Goosebumps ran up my arms at the image. I could only imagine what it was for everyone else in the room who did not know what Wash was doing as he commanded his fire. The power he was pulling from me was addictive in it’s intensity.
“Hail, the High Lectern of the Pharaoh of Hawria, keeper of the spirit of the god-king,” Adom acquiesced.
“You will be retained as esteemed instructor for My Heirophant, Adom. He has been provided less than necessary an education to see to the mundane tasks of the Temple. As the holder of part of my soul, he shall be my representative and as such I claim him as consort, to be by my side in the facilitation of duties within the Temple.” I made the decree. It had been with the others that I had put forth bids and causes for taking on a consort with the nobility. Ptolemy, Nebra, and Seth had been from the civilian and military sectors, and as such were within the nobility’s control. Wash however, being a child of the Temple, would be released from the Temple.
“Consort, My Lord?” Adom pailed.
“Would it be that the Temple would see to me sharing cups?” I pinned the question on Adom.
“If he is truly the holder of your soul, My Lord, cups would make him equal to you, and your soul, distributed as you see fit, shall always be equal,” Adom fell into my trap.
“Show him then what it is to conduct a sharing of cups between a pharaoh and The Great Royal Husband. In three days time a sharing of cups will be conducted for the god-king of Hawria between himself and the keeper of his soul. Send word to the farthest temples. Representatives shall be present to take back the news.” I returned to my throne, sitting down and hoping my adrenaline rush came down. Clamoring erupted once more from the court officials. Several retainers were sent running from the hall.
Wash took up a spot to my left, hand finding a bare spot on my shoulder as he brought forth more gods to stand on either side of my throne, though smaller this time. He may not have expected this outcome. I had hoped by having him show his powers as he did that he would be accepted quickly and with no fuss. I had not explained that I hoped for Adom to propose cups. This would mean a rift between the Nobility and the Temple, and I was not responsible. He was the one who said it was essential. This would free me from the chain the Nobility had placed on me in that I would need to seek an exchanging of cups with some eligible daughter of the Nobles. I had presented the concept of consort. That would not be contested. Enough people within the court had seen that interchange.
“Yes, My Lord,” Adom bowed at the command. Watching his face work over from irritation to horror, I knew when he realized the position he had put himself in. A flick of the eye. I followed the question to a wab retainer who fled the hall after the others. Someone was being informed within the nobility. A hand sign from me and Ptolemy slunk from the chamber to trail. I would find out later in the evening as to who was someone with the heirarchies to be watching.
Wash’s hand tightened on my shoulder, his skin going warm. I glanced up at the set in his jaw as his eyes went glassy. “I am tired now, Adom. Let us begin with the evening ceremonies. See to My Heirophant’s tutelage. He shall be overseeing my handling and should know what is to be expected.” I ended this minor upheaval.