TITLE: First Wife
GENRES: Mythology, fantasy, drama.
SUMMARY: In with the new wife--out with the old? An original myth.
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2002.
LENGTH: 1800+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Mild adult themes.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Certain characters are from Egyptian mythology. Although aspects of this story are loosely based on Egyptian mythology and culture, artistic license has been taken as this is a FANTASY story. Please take note that this story was written around 2002 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the other Kemet short stories and/or the Kemet/Egyptian mythology as I make use of it in my writing; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This story was written using prompts taken from an online writing forum. The prompt words are "awake, container, jealous, dumbfound, trivial, lotus." The plot isn't much, just a little scene about the wives of Ra. In my version, Nebhet Hotep is not related to Ra by blood, but judging by the way she reacts to things, you would think she is. Let's just hope that she and her mother-in-law, Neith ("Sovereignty"), never get into a fight. Translations--Iunu is the City of the Sun (Heliopolis), whereas the Paut Neteru is the Great Company of the Gods.
HE LIKED LOTUSES. They were almost an obsession of his. One she hadn't understood at first, though she supposed everyone must have their quirks. The sun god just happened to like lotuses to the extent that they dominated his palace. On the columns, on the walls, in the pools, they were everywhere one happened to look. Sometimes she got sick of looking at them. But she supposed also that was part of the bargain.
Nebhet Hotep sat by the main courtyard pool now and systematically destroyed one, plucking one petal after another. The first time she'd done this, without even thinking, she'd sensed his mortification; that had passed, of course, when she'd sprinkled the petals over him as if she'd been intending to do that all along. That only made things worse, as now whenever they were together, he was insistent that lotuses usually be involved. Gods, what an annoying obsession. She could hardly be in the mood when she had to make certain the flower was adjusted properly in her headband first.
She must have a quirk or two of her own, though, with which he had to put up, so she decided that flowers were too trivial to worry about. She was now the Great Royal Wife, and worrying about plants was below her. Though they did still annoy her every so often.
She finished pulling out all the petals and then scattered them in the pool. Hardly a day went by when she didn't feel like plucking all of them bare. She knew his temper was akin to her own, so she didn't dare. That didn't mean she was never tempted. Why couldn't he have chosen a prettier flower to be so absorbed with? She rather thought that something blue or red might bring out her eyes.
Ra was busy today, as usual. And so she had very little to do. With an irritated sigh she pushed herself up and wandered about the palace. When the two great families, that of Iunu and that of the great god Amon, had decided that a union between them would be fitting, she'd assumed it would be interesting as well. It had been, at first...but now that she was used to her husband's schedule--which kept him away from the palace most of the day--she found her boredom increasing. She always looked forward to him returning at night, but sometimes during the day she could barely keep herself awake. And not because of what they might have done the night before.
She stifled a yawn and went to look out over the harbor where his boat would sail in, hours from now. Too many hours.
Aside from the boatman, who would hang about to make certain the bark was moored properly on its return, the place should have been deserted. Even the boatman wasn't present, this early in the day. And so Nebhet was surprised to find the place not quite deserted. A solitary figure stood by the water, out on the dock, and he turned to look back at her as she approached. He didn't wait for her to reach him; instead he came her way, bowing deeply as he did so.
"Lord Thoth?" Nebhet had to stifle another yawn; the ibis god was hardly her idea of good company, yet at the moment she was so bored she would have spoken with almost anyone. "I hardly thought you the type to hang out around docks..."
"I actually came, Goddess, to speak with you. I assumed you might wander about here sometime today."
"Oh?" She cocked her head curiously, then smiled. "I was rather hoping for some company. Though I always thought you too busy. Has God Ra given you some sort of reprieve?"
Thoth kept one arm to his breast in a gesture of respect, yet she could tell his eyes were guarded. Her smile faded into a frown. It wasn't often that the husband of Truth decided to be so reserved.
"It was by request of His Majesty that I came to speak with you, Lady. Whereabouts would you feel most comfortable?"
"Comfortable?" Nebhet's mouth twitched. "Why should I feel comfortable? Is there anything wrong with speaking here?"
"I had thought perhaps you would require more privacy..."
"Why privacy? What exactly was it he wanted you to speak to me about...?" Her brows, before furrowed with confusion, now angled downwards a bit. "Are you keeping something from me, Lord? Do you realize how unwise that may be?"
Thoth bowed again. "Forgive my hesitation, then, Majesty. I came to inform you that His Majesty has decided to take a second wife."
Nebhet Hotep blinked. She stared at Thoth for a few moments, dumbfounded. The force that created her voice seemed to have crept someplace far back inside her and it took her a while to locate it again and bring it back where it belonged.
"What...?" she whispered.
"A second wife, Lady. This is what His Majesty has chosen to do. I thought that I would inform you."
"But..." Nebhet couldn't stop staring at him, thinking perhaps this was some sort of strange joke. A very strange joke. "But why?"
Thoth lifted his head to look into her eyes, his own still wary. Apparently he knew that she matched her husband in temperament. "God Ra has decided to wed his sister Lady Rayet. I would venture to guess that there is a mutual interest between them--"
"Not THAT," Nebhet cut in, voice rising. "Why take a SECOND wife? When he already has ME?"
Now Thoth was the one to blink, at her. He appeared to ponder his choice of words for a moment before attempting to answer. "Lady...it's not uncommon for one to take more than one wife. As for why His Majesty decided on this now, I have no answer to give--"
"Why does he NEED a second wife?" Nebhet knew her voice echoed throughout the palace now, even from the celestial river, yet didn't care. Her fists clenched at her sides and her heart felt like it was going to burst in flames from its container within her breast. "Aren't I good enough for him?"
The ibis god raised his hands as if to ward her off, and took a step back. "Goddess, if this is merely a matter of jealousy, your position as Great Royal Wife is secure. Any other wives God Ra decides to take will be only--"
Nebhet stamped her foot so hard that the tile cracked. "I AM NOT JEALOUS!"
Thoth winced and took another step back.
"What I would like to know is why this is so necessary!" the goddess fumed. "His sister? Rayet? That sheep? What sees he in her anyway? They are not compatible! They lived together their whole childhood and only now he decides he wants to bed her, too? I fail to see why I am not good enough!"
Thoth bit the inside of his mouth. "With all due respect, Majesty--the primary reason His Majesty wed you was to unite the houses of Iunu and Amon."
Nebhet's eyes widened and her face went scarlet. Thoth winced a bit again but stood his ground. She couldn't believe what she'd just heard him insinuate.
"Are you..." she whispered. "...Are you saying this was the ONLY reason he wed me? THE ONLY REASON?"
"I never said this, Majesty. Of course he would not have married you if there was not an attraction. This is likewise the manner with Lady Rayet. Yet it would be a lie to deny the political ties behind your marriage. Likewise, God Ra's marriage to Lady Rayet will help him secure his position as leader of the Paut Neteru. You know where the royal blood flows within the family. Through the royal women."
Nebhet clenched both her fists and her teeth this time. "AM I NOT ROYAL?"
"You are," Thoth answered, "yet you are not of Iunu."
The goddess opened her mouth to retort, yet nothing came out. She was too shocked. She gasped a few times but Thoth merely placed his arm across his breast. "As I said, Lady, you will remain the Great Royal Wife. Your position is untouched. And I doubt you have any reason to mistrust God Ra's motives. It was an honor that you were allowed within the family of Iunu, and it will always be so. Lady Rayet has always had this honor by blood, but now she will be allowed it by marriage, the same as you. I did not have to give you this information, yet I felt it would be best if you knew." He bowed once more. "I wish Your Majesty a pleasant afternoon."
He turned about on his heel and left, heading back toward the palace. Nebhet could barely watch him go. She stood on the dock with the water lapping around her, still unable to speak. She stood that way for a long while.
Only when the sunlight was beginning to grow a bit long, signaling her husband's trek across the sky, did she finally regain some of her senses--though not all of the proper ones--and, teeth clamping down tightly, she stalked back inside the palace. Her sandals clacked sharply against the floor. She didn't care how loud they were. Even if Ra himself had been asleep in here she doubted she would have kept silent right now.
She reached the main courtyard and passed the pool, then turned and went back for it. She stopped beside it and stared down at her own reflection, her normally beautiful face contorted with fury. A second wife! A second wife, when he already had her! Of course she would always be the first wife, the Great Royal Wife--yet what good was that when he'd seen fit to choose a second one, over her? It was merely a title. A worthless title! She was being replaced!
With an indescribable sound of rage, she dropped down to her knees beside the pool and yanked free one of the lotuses floating nearby, snapping it from its stem. The weird noise in her throat growing, she tore the flower to shreds, littering mangled petals all over the edge of the pool. She let out a scream when she pulled the next one, and only continued screaming as she tore it apart, her childish hysteria taking her over.
Nebhet Hotep destroyed every one of the lotuses floating in the courtyard pool before heading back to her rooms and throwing herself down on her bed, sobbing. She knew he wouldn't be pleased to see his beloved waterlilies mutilated so. She didn't care about his temper at the moment, though; he should know by now that she had a quirk or two of her own, and this must be one of them.
He would just have to put up with it, and with her; it was part of the bargain.