Neferu didn’t know what all the commotion was about. She had asked what was going on, but corpulent old Teta had merely pursed those fishy lips of hers and demanded Neferu “follow her.” Well, Neferu had followed, but she didn’t much like it. Teta- unlike herself- was a practicing priestess, after all, skilled in all the secrets of the Goddess Isis. What under Ra’s benevolent beams could she want then pulling Neferu, a lowly novice, out of her cot at this decidedly ungodly hour?
Scratching at her long, curling black locks, Neferu groggily stifled a yawn. Hastily hitching a fold of her robe back into place with her other hand, she resignedly padded along, trying to keep up with the surprisingly quick waddles of Teta.
Teta ushered the young girl into one of the small alcoves off the main chamber of worship in the temple. With a disgusted “hmph”, Teta left Neferu there and returned gratefully to the warm bed she had been forced to abandon.
A sound from behind. Neferu whirled around. "Rahotep! What are you doing here?"
The man's linen shirt shifted as he stood. "Is that any way to greet your husband?"
"Husband? You're no husband to me! All you ever think of is those sluts at the Blue Hippo!"
"Those 'sluts' know how to please a man." He moved closer, blocking the light. "It's time my wife pleased me."
"Stay away from me," she warned, her hand reaching behind her and finding an alabaster wine bottle. Without thinking, she crashed it down on his skull. Rahotep dropped to the floor.
Neferu let the broken vessel fall on him with a dull thud and stood still, waiting for her heart to settle down. What had she done? She had killed Rahotep, and now her heart would speak against her before Osiris.
She saw the dim form of one of the guards drawing near, and realized she would face the vizier long before she faced Osiris. Unless . . . "Help!" she cried. "Teta--Teta has slain my husband!"
Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Khazar-khum
With her other hand, Neferu wiped the last remnants of sleep from her eyes. "Jesus Ra Christ," she mumbled, growing weary of the practical jokes of the great whale Teta.
"No, I'm Joseph." A man wearing a brightly colored coat emerged from the shadows. His unruly black locks tumbled across his dark brown eyes. Neferu thought that she had seen him before, in the company of Pharoah. "Teta was right. You could pass for Jewish."
"Okay, so I'm not a practicing priestess, but I don't keep kosher either," she said. Surely Teta was just around the corner, hiding behind the statue of the all powerful Isis, laughing her fish-lipped head off.
"Look, my brothers are coming into town with my dad and I just need someone to pretend she's my wife so they'll get off my case."
The novice scratched her short black locks as she hitched up the fold in her robe. She'd heard this story before, even though she had worked at the Isis Temple only four months.
"No, honestly, I'm not interested," he said, as if the very idea repelled him. "Just tell them we're married."
Neferu unhitched her robe and followed Joseph out of the temple. She was beginning to understand some of the secrets of the Goddess Isis Escort Service.
Neferu stared groggily after Teta. What in Ra is going on? she thought. Then she remembered. Her eyes widened and her breath quicked. "Oh my Ra," she whispered.
Neferu had heard the stories. They involved pain, suffering, and humiliation. Tests, the priestesses called them. Initiation rites, if you will.
Neferu's eyes narrowed. They weren't tests or initiation rites. They were hazing, plain and simple. And they were illegal.
Good thing my brother is a lawyer, she thought, rolling up her sleeves. I ought to have a lot of material for a fat lawsuit by morning.
There's an additional continuation by Khazar-khum which I'm not posting because I think it'll work well with some future opening.
The hook--what's she been brought here for--is fine, assuming it's something important.
There seems to be a POV problem at the end. Neferu doesn't know that Teta was forced to abandon her bed, so unless we're in Ra's POV, that last sentence needs a change.
I'm not crazy about "skilled in" all the secrets of Isis. "Knowledgeable of" or "acquainted with" work better with "secrets. "Skilled in" might go better with "secret rituals."
Shouldn't "follow her" be "follow me" or not be within quote marks?
Good one, Kahzar!!
Waaaay too many adverbs and adjectives.
An interesting opening, and I'd read more. However, the abundance of adverbs in the second paragraph got me. Lose some of those -ly words and you'll have a smoother read.
I agree on the adverbs and on Teta's warm bed.
Is there a commotion? You don't mention it after that first line.
Ancient Egypt is one of my all-time favorite topics. It is rare--very rare--to find good novels set in that milieu.
I hope you can do so!
Shifting into backstory on the second sentence means you may have opened in the wrong place.
If you start with para 3, then go back to para 1, drop para 2 and take in some of the suggestions here, you have this:
Teta ushered Neferu into one of the small alcoves off the main chamber of worship in the temple. With a disgusted “hmph”, Teta left her there.
Neferu didn’t know what all the commotion was about. She had asked what was going on, but corpulent old Teta had merely pursed those fishy lips of hers and demanded Neferu “follow.” Well, Neferu had followed, but she didn’t much like it. Teta - unlike herself - was a practicing priestess, after all, skilled in all the secret rituals of the Goddess Isis. What under Ra’s benevolent beams could she want then pulling Neferu, a lowly novice, out of her cot at this decidedly ungodly hour?
I think it reads a bit better, but I don't know if it lines up with what follows. Para 2 seems to be more about describing Neferu - her hair and such - then really necessary to the story. But I'm a good one for not describing anyone when I write, so I might not be the best one to listen to on that.
I like this beginning! Great job!
Post a Comment