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Section 2 | Chapter 14 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

This post is accessible to ALL patrons for a few reasons. First being that it’s been a few months since I’ve been able to deliver stuff to y’all consistently, and I want to thank you for your patience regarding that. Second, this chapter should be able to stand alone if you’re at all familiar with the world and the basics of the story. Third, I’m at the end of section 2 and I AM SO THRILLED TO FINALLY BE HERE and I wanna share my joy with everyone. Thanks to all the folks who’ve stuck with me through the very quiet months. :)

For those of you on the Read Along level you can see all previous chapters on Patreon except for chapter 13, which is here (the password for that is on Patreon).

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Chapter 14

A shade after emerging from the world of night, born again from the womb of Nut, the Kheper-sun’s rays reached into the Beetle Bay, lighting up the seven scarab heads aligned just so to catch the earliest morning light. The light and heat grew stronger, and from within ushabAny’s machine Ibi could sense the steam begin to course through the pipes. It had taken several days of meditating while in zepitep with Atet for her to become sensitive enough to subtle energies within and around her body to identify them. Next step would be learning how to manipulate those energies. That would come later. Right now she focused on her breath, slowly pulling the air into her lungs and controlling the release, all in an effort not to let anxiety overwhelm her.

The steam pressure inside reached the optimal level and six ready bells sounded up and down the Bay.

:Let’s go,: she pulsed to all the ushabs. All seven copper scarabs of the High House rose up on their legs, stepped out of their berths, performed perfect 90 degree turns, and walked out of the Bay together into the morning light.

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Section 2 | Chapter 13 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

Finally. FINALLY. I have been able to get back to writing. And this long, long overdue chapter is done. I will not blame you if you cannot remember where we left off. Click here for the TOC up to this point – only works for Patreon supporters at the $10 or up levels. (By this time next month all the chapters will be here on the Tempest blog.) On to the chapter!

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Chapter 13

After leaving Apepi’s suite, Nebthetaru didn’t make Ziwat wait long before answering the unspoken question between them.

“I won’t stand in the way of your plan,” the older kinswoman said without preamble. “You have enough support among the others that me holding firm against this would divide us in ways that are, ultimately, not to the benefit of the Kinswomen or the High House.”

“Does this mean you’ll speak in support of it?”

“No.”

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Section 2 | Chapter 3 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

Since the time Ibi began her training as an adept in the Spirit House she found it easy to demarcate the line between asleep and awake, between dream and reality. She immersed herself in dreams and the messages and symbols her ka communicated within, then emerged from them fully aware and grounded in the waking world. Until that first scarab flight.

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Section 2 | Chapter 2 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

Any thoughts Ziwat had about doing what the healer told her and getting rest were tossed to the crocodiles the moment she saw her sister Zibqat standing at the threshold of her bedchamber.

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Section 2 | Chapter 1 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

When the copper beetle landed and the song ended Ziwat wanted to leap from the bench and scream her triumph so loud Wisser would hear it in the next world. Her body wouldn’t let her do any of these things. She shook as if she’d pushed every single muscle beyond endurance and her heart throbbed so violently she had trouble breathing.

And she hadn’t been doing any of the work.

Ibi, who had been still, dropped to one knee with a huff of breath the opposite of the harmony that had come from her a moment before. Instinct took over; Ziwat pulled from the straps and was by her side before the girl could sink all the way to the reed mat. They both ended up a heap in the center of the cabin, exhausted and, for Zi’s part, in awe of what they’d just accomplished.

“You did it,” she said into Ibi’s ear, willing her words and pride and love into her consciousness.

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Section 1 | Chapter 8 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

The sun is at the optimal angle. It’s time, Atet pulsed.

Ibi didn’t feel ready. She also didn’t know what ready was supposed to feel like. Atet seemed sure. That would be enough. The shades they’d spent meditating together had given her an idea of what this would be like. The prospect of flight exhilarated her. Surrendering control of her body even more didn’t.

This is for Zi, she reminded herself.

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Section 1 | Chapter 7 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

The sound of the scarab’s gears turning woke Ziwat the next morning far earlier than she usually got out of bed. The gentle vibration beneath the fold-out bench filled her with a sense of calm and rightness. That was enough to pull her fully awake–her dreams had kept her uneasy and tense. All her anxieties played out in unrealistic scenarios that felt too real and left her more tired than rested. The gears turning, the hiss of steam, the smell of copper, those things reminded her of why she was here, why she was putting up with the things that made her anxious.

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Section 1 | Chapter 6 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

Ibi walked across the sand, head down, eyes on her feet, mind back in the scarab. She followed the same ghost of a path as before, one part of her still convinced that she would find a well if she just kept going, another part of her making the choice to walk past, or maybe to, the shrine again. She could go back down into that columned hall. She could break the sigil holding Atet to the stone. She could free her to go through the Door and out of this world forever.

And if she did that how long would it be before regret settled into Ziwat’s heart? And who would she blame for letting all that knowledge melt back into the distant past?

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Section 1 | Chapter 5 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

Back in the cabin of the scarab, Ziwat tried and failed at not hovering over Ibi as she stared at the statue, eyes gold. She also tried and failed at staying quiet and not interrupting the girl’s work.

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Section 1 | Chapter 4 – #PyramidsAndPunk [Patrons Only]

Three strikes on the bell out in the courtyard roused Ibi from sleep just about the time she was about to wake up on her own. The sky was a shade lighter than deepest black, the first indication of the coming dawn. She rose, washed, and dressed within minutes, no roommate or sleepmate to get in her way or tempt her to indulge in a few more heartbeats in the bed. She liked it this way. Preferred it to all the other sleeping arrangements she’d had to endure since leaving home, at least.

Out in the courtyard of the pilot’s housing she took a moment to breathe in the cool air and enjoy the quiet of the deep morning. The rest of the day would be filled with the sound of voices and hissing steam and metal clicks and all the cacophony of a pilot’s life. This quiet reminded her of being an acolyte in the Spirit House.

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