— This piece is my favorite piece. Whether it is my best or not, I cannot tell. But it is certainly a part of my heart and soul.
Sahar found it hard to look at them, an entire kingdom of people she loved, but she forced herself, noticing Triana first, her only daughter; all that was left of her world. She had grown up to be a striking young woman, with raven black hair like her father. Sometimes she thought about Telemitri, wondered what had become of him. The Queen was sure he had survived the cataclysm, that he had been washed ashore some far off land. But she would never know for sure. Sahar smiled at her daughter, Triana would rule the new Kemet with compassion and grace. Arisnoe stood next to the young princess; Sahar waved back at him. He ran past the procession, racing to her side, calling out her name. They made a handsome pair, he and Triana. Sahar smiled inwardly, restraining the tears welling up inside her. She tried not to look at him – the anguish in his voice made her heart break into a thousand pieces. He had been like … like a son. She squeezed her eyes shut, afraid to come apart.
It seemed like only yesterday that she and Hathor had stumbled upon this land. Sahar sighed. But it had been sixty years. She had brought here people here, she and the Queen of Egypt. Sahar turned to face the pyramid. This was the hardest thing she had ever done. She wanted to turn back, to hold Triana in her arms one last time, but the procession would not stop, not even for her, the Queen of Atlantis.
Hathor paraded past the multitudes in her best silk robes. Shimmering gold fabric glistened against the sun’s brilliant glare and limned her slim figure, revealing every curve of her body. Frail legs barely kept her standing. Her stubbornness and strong will pushed her forward.
The Queen of Kemet projected an uncommon grace as she advanced toward her tomb, walking with strength Sahar had not seen anywhere in this dry desert land, or even her own domain, half a century before. Sahar knew Hathor suffered with every step she took. Everyone knew, but no one stopped her; no one dared shame the Queen, their beloved Goddess and deliverer.
Sahar had been with her the night before when the new prince had arrived. She knew Hathor’ pain firsthand. Although long past childbearing age, Hathor had given birth to a very large, beautiful son, Osiris. Hathor had been sick before the pregnancy with a blood disorder that had run rampant. Her immune system was weak; she should have never become pregnant. The palace physician had advised her against it. Sahar pushed back the tears threatening to come. The baby was too large, and Hathor too weak and fragile.
This was it, the end of their journey together. Today marked the end of their relationship, of many friendships. Sahar stared at the pyramid, squinting against the sun’s glare. It was a grand structure, larger even than a pharaoh’s tomb. Hathor stood next to her, ready to dive into the afterlife. But Sahar wasn’t ready to walk away from her family, from the life she had built in this new world. She wasn’t dying, but had agreed to be buried with the Queen long ago. She could not betray the Queen of Egypt, her best friend. Sahar turned, her gaze fixed on Hathor. This would be the last time they would see the monument from the outside.
* * *
Sahar could taste the desert all around them, the grainy sand, the olive trees, and the Nile, its scent rich and humid. She would miss it. Sahar ducked her head into the tomb as they finally arrived. A dim glow lit the pyramid as she stepped inside. A musty odor filled each chamber. Hathor wanted to die here. Sahar gazed at the queen. Why would anyone want to die here?
Hathor dabbed her tired eyes with her fingers. She looked out at the multitudes, smiled and blessed them. Sahar sighed, wishing for similar strength, when her own turn came. She turned from the entrance, trying to drown out the sounds of the world. The baby’s cries pierced her heart. Her face knotted and her jaw clenched as she slid to the ground next to the entrance, hiding from them. She would not see the newborn Osiris grow into a man. She would not see Tirana’s upcoming wedding, or her own grandchildren, when they came. Nor would she witness her daughter’s rule.
Sahar looked up at the monument of stone surrounding them. Four large triangular walls enclosed them, joined at the highest point. Together they had designed this pyramid, directed its construction, in the same way they had built an empire. It was not an easy thing. Sahar struggled to bring Atlantis to the land of the Nile. While Hathor had toiled to implement Atlantean ideas and teachings, her people simply did not understand them.
Sahar entered Hathor’ chamber. Soon the Queen would be dead. She plodded through the pyramid glumly. Vivid and powerful images of Tawa the Sun God and Spider Woman the Earth Goddess rose hundreds of feet on the stone wall over her head. A wonder she had not felt since childhood filled her. Sahar lifted her gaze, studying the faces of those inside: Men and women who patiently awaited their arrival. Atlantean healers and Egyptian men of wisdom. They would reside in the pyramid until the passing of the Queen and her complete mummification. A lump formed in her throat. Atlanteans placed their deceased in caskets of crystal and set them ablaze, releasing their souls from their earthly confines. Removal of internal organs wasn’t an option; livers and kidneys weren’t preserved, kept in vials, or wrapped and mummified.
Sahar followed the Queen, sand sifting into her sandals and rubbing between her toes as they made their way further into the tomb. An elaborate divan embedded with jewels and precious stones of all kinds sat in the middle of the first chamber with beautiful silks draped over its canopy. Floors paved in gold reached all four corners of the room. Sahar gasped. Such beauty she had not seen since her days in Atlantis.
Hathor staggered in, making her way to the bed, hands shaking. She lifted the corner of the embroidered spread and crawled under it, then curled up into a fetal position, making herself ready to enter the next world. Yesterday, they had awaited life and welcomed it. Today, they expected death.
Sahar’s heart quickened. “Get up, let’s go!” Sahar pointed at the opening, “Don’t do this, please.” She gripped Hathor’ arm, forcing her up.
Hathor collapsed onto the cushioned divan, shaking and sobbing. Sahar leaned into her. “Hathor?”
“It’s too late.” Hathor said. The Queen’s lower lip trembled as she spoke. She handed Sahar a book, a history of her own lands that she had written. Hathor shuddered, blood dribbling down her robe as she curled up. The Queen paused, struggling for breath, “You have…to finish it,” she pleaded, barely breathing. “Add your part.” Sahar nodded, clutching the book.
Hathor squeezed her eyes shut. She could feel tears coming. Masses of finely braided hair fell across her soft features.
Sahar held the book to her chest; she knew it was all that remained of Kemet. The old generation was fading, a new one without knowledge of the one it replaced, created a new nation, and called it Egypt.
Hathor shook, choking on her own fluids. Sahar reached for a small basin filled with rose water. Atlantean healers had placed it there for her. Sahar dipped a clean cotton cloth into it, saturating it and wiping Hathor’s mouth. She stared at the medicine men standing at the foot of Hathor’s bed, chanting, waiting for her soul to leave her body.
“Sahar,” Hathor gasped, her words slurring.
“My Queen?” Sahar’s voice shook.
“Your father… is here.” Hathor looked up at Sahar, choking on every word.
“Father?” Sahar could sense him all around them.
“Father, have you come for us?” Sahar squeezed the Queen’s hand, lifting her gaze, staring at the empty space occupied by her father’s life force.
Hathor nodded; her lips curled into a faint smile, then her hand dropped, “No!” Sahar cried. Flickering torches faded, and the darkness turned into a solid black haze. The Queen had crossed through the veils.
“Hathor!” Sahar cried. An army of medicine men approached. Sahar could hear their footsteps behind her, and she huddled over Hathor’ lifeless body, holding it close.
Two men tugged at her shoulders, pulling her upward.
“Don’t touch her!” Sahar rose, laying the still-warm body down. “Don’t touch her!” Her lower lip trembled and she burst into tears. “Leave her alone!”
“Please move aside, my Queen.” A man in a blue satin robe restrained her, pulling Sahar’s hands back and tying them with a silken rope. “I’m sorry.”
“I am the Queen, unhand me!” Sahar pushed her head back against the man’s chest. “She was my friend, I loved her!”
“We did too,” the man said. “You cannot interfere with this process, you are Queen of Atlantis, not Egypt. It’s sacred to us, and to her.” Sahar could tell from his expression he was as just as hurt as she. She had dropped the manuscript in the struggle; she looked at the book, flipped open on the ground. “Please, release me.” Sahar looked up at her captor.
The priest loosened the rope around her wrists, nodding toward the next chamber. “Go,” he said, gently nudging her back. “Hurry.” Sahar crouched, gathering the manuscript in her arms and slipping it under her arm. She turned, went to her knees, and kissed the Queen’s head. “Goodbye, sweetest friend.” The embalmers ignored her; they prayed and went about their work as if Sahar wasn’t even there. The princess walked away.
Outside the chamber, Sahar knelt on the floor. The marble felt cold, hard, and uncomfortable. It made her knees ache, but she was determined to remain. She gazed at Hathor, watched as a holy man entered the Queen’s chamber, disrobed her, and bathed her body with natron in a vessel he held. Sahar gagged at the stench. Her internal organs would be taken out and preserved in canisters. And in forty days Hathor’ body would be washed again, except it would be done with oil and fragrant spices, preparing it for the final stages of mummification. Sahar could not bear the thought. Not wanting to see more, she walked away, saddened she could not stop them from taking Hathor’s body.
* * *
Sahar rose in the middle of the night, shaking, drenched in sweat. A quick glance at her chamber sent a chill down her spine. She rubbed the back of her shoulder – it ached from sleeping sitting upright with her back to the wall. This place called Egypt: She could feel the pulse of it as she lay on the pyramid’s floor. Egypt had become her home, its people had taken her and her subjects under their wing, and she was grateful. Sahar reached into her robe, pulling out a writing instrument. She held it for a long time, cradling it in her hands as if carrying something precious. In the temple, crates full of them lay in the basement; nobody knew they existed. Sahar sighed – someday someone would find them, she mused, wonder what they were for, perhaps even figure them out. Hathor had taken many of them with her when she fled from the old world.
“Hathor?” Sahar’s voice caught, and she reached out in front of her into the darkness, as if to grasp a pair of hands. The idea her friend was dead had not sunk in. Sahar wrote through the night, until her fingers went numb, as though an invisible force drove her hands, sometimes aware of the words that came, sometimes not.
She would be dead before sunrise. Sahar fingered the manuscript as if seeing it for the first time. It was finished, her part had been added. She began to read: After the fall of Atlantis our people came upon the land of the River Nile. Our homeland had vanished into the sea and we became a wandering people without a place to call home. I led them into the new Egypt, an extension, a colony of Kemet, the true Egypt, a land existing before the Fall. Egypt’s people were allies. We maintained steady contact with them for centuries. Egypt became the destination for Atlantean refugees.
With the fall of our mighty kingdom I felt a terrible void nothing could fill. My brothers and sisters in Egypt knew this, and they embraced me.
For centuries before the actual cataclysm those with vision erected great cities beneath the Earth’s surface, both underwater and beneath the Earth itself in an effort to save as many lives as possible. Mystics directed the construction of subterranean tunnels, dug day after day by hundreds of citizens and leaders alike. An intricate maze was created leading to an underground civilization, called Telos, overseen by my own cousin, Adamah. Huge quantities of supplies were gathered and stored, foods cultivated beneath the surface for centuries. People prepared for the end for decades. Some built great ships, carrying and protecting thousands when the floods came. Some filled their arks with jewels and material wealth, crammed with beautifully woven silks, intricate tapestries, expensive works of art, and every conceivable worldly object known to man. Others filled their arks with animals, people, seeds, and plant life, seeking to preserve all life. Though many prevailed, a great many did not. Countless lives were lost, blameless lives playing no role in the events that determined their destinies.
Still I try to find reasons, but my own acquired humanity keeps me from seeing beyond what those reasons might have been.
The floods destroyed all records written down and recorded through the ages. As a result humanity reverted into a state of ignorance, not to be transcended for centuries.
A new world was erected from the ashes of the old. Seedlings of ancient knowledge were planted, but the harvest was not yet ripe. Every branch of knowledge compiled throughout time had been lost, with bits and pieces kept alive only within the memories of Atlantean refugees.
In collaboration with the royal family of Egypt, we Atlanteans released our knowledge to the natives of Egypt, but realized neither the Egyptians, nor any other culture in existence at that time, was prepared to use such wisdom and deal with it responsibly.
Civilization, I conclude, will remain at a standstill until the day it is ready to evolve and grow once more. The time will eventually come. The first indication will be rapid growth within a short span: technology will begin to reappear within the span of a single century. In the distant future, a thousand centuries from now perhaps… nobody knows, but there will be signs, similarities to the Old World.
Yet even knowing this, I cannot help but wonder if our efforts have all been in vain. Has society fallen, only to regress further? Has our world crumbled, only to be forgotten?
Sahar pushed the book away and slammed it shut. Her heart ached for all that was lost. In her mind she saw images of a future civilization.
The book folded and closed in her hands. History would repeat itself. The thought drifted into her mind, taking complete control over all other thoughts: As long as humanity allowed it, history would repeat itself.
She quailed, squeezing her eyes shut. Tears pricked at her heart until it was raw.
Evil had been put down at the expense of innocent lives. She herself played an influential role, and now remorse ate away at her core. Weapons with the capacity to destroy the entire planet had been obliterated; powerful leaders who once controlled entire nations exterminated, and a New World erected, but all … all at the expense of the innocent.
Flattened against the canvas of truth, Sahar saw images of a future civilization. Atlantis would rise again. The images danced in her head. Suddenly the illusion of life seemed all too real, her humanity almost concrete. Sahar had become too attached, too entangled in the issues of her world. Atlantis had become a part of her. She had lost herself in the illusion.
The Princess jumped, heart pounding: The pyramid rumbled, the earth shook beneath her: Dozens of Egyptian embalmers and priests rolled an 800-pound stone across the width of the pyramid’s entrance, sealing the tomb shut. Within hours Sahar’s breathing grew labored as the air in the chamber became scarce. She was buried alive.
Sahar lay down, trying to find comfort in the darkness. Her lungs labored; she closed her eyes. In her mind she could see an orange blur, flames flickering against stone, and waters rising higher even than the pyramid itself. Then, suddenly, she was back in Atlantis, just as she had left it, so many, many years ago.