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A Balance of Mud and Sand

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Isfret fed on the lie. She fed on injustice. She was the clothes stripped away to make the body nude and the sand storm that covers the sun, bringing nothing good.

Isfret lived in the dry Red Land and in the moan of the wind. She wanted to live in the Black Land. She wanted to live where the people were. There was little for Isfret to eat in the desert. Wickedness was her bread and her meat.

She was restless one day. Roaming the sands when she came upon Sekhmet where she was raging. A battle had ended between two tribes in the desert over a well, but few had lived to celebrate and drink of the water they'd won.

With no celebration to calm her, Sekhmet raged on.

Sekhmet lashed the air and made it shake with her roar. She was making the desert with the fire of her breath. She strode through the bodies of the dead shaking her sword and raking the air with her claws.

Now Isfret trembled before her. Isfrhet trembled and did things that were pleasing to Sekhmet with her tongue to make her desirous of doing what Isfret requested. Even as Isfret whispered words that further fed Sekhmet's rage. "My sister, Ma'at says that strife is unjust. She calls you unjust and without reason. She wants you to be tame. She wants the destruction of your battles to end. I want you to be wild and scorch the earth with your breath. I want all the world to be the Red Land. I reject the mud and choose the sand."

Sekhmet roared for Isfret's words were pleasing to her. She mauled at the wind and the earth. She raced in from the Red Land. She raced into the Black Land made rich by the rising Nile.

Ma'at who was always looking saw her shape on the horizon and called out to her. "Perfect. You are perfect in your timing. You are exactly on time. Come drink from the river. It has flooded the earth as it should, but now it is almost too high. Now you are here to save the people."

The rising Nile was blood red. This colour was enticing to Sekhmet. The very smell was fetid with life. She gulped down the overflow eagerly.

Ma'at rubbed at Sekhmet's head as Sekhmet lapped at the rising water, the colour of good red beer. Ma'at scratched behind Sekhmet's ears where she hadn't even known there was an itch. Where she had not even known that Isfret had given her fleas. Ma'at plucked forty-three fleas from Sekhmet and tended to her as she drank the overflow to save humankind. As Sekhmet drank, Ma'at praised Sekhmet. She said, "You are the Protector of the Pharaoh. You keep him safe in the battle with the Hyksos. You help keep the Black Land safe. You make the Red Land that keeps the Black Lands safe. Sand and mud work together to care for the people."

Even when Sekhmet rolled over, quite drunk, Ma'at praised her. She praised Sekhmet with her belly round and full of the Nile. Sekhmet lolled happily on a porch of drunkenness that Ma'at had prepared for her. Ma'at said, "Now is the time of year when you should be drunk. For you take on this pleasure and later the pain for the good of the people of the Black Land."

Sekhmet mumbled, "Later I will be a goddess of medicine." She flailed a hand in the air knocking over papyrus, which sprang right back.

"Yes," soothed Ma'at. "Later you will need medicine and will create it to heal your own ills and the ills of the world. For tonight, you should sleep."

Sekhmet hummed and closed her eyes with her head in Ma'at's lap. Ma'at was not displeased by this. She kept watch over Sekhmet, even as she looked up to the wheel of stars that had shown now was the time of the rising of the Nile. Even as she looked up into the sky where everything was in order.

Isfret peering over the railing of the porch of drunkenness sneered, but she was not daunted. She wanted to live in the Black Land and schemed as to how she would do it. In that moment, that very moment, she choose mud over sand. For it was well within her skills with lies to have roused Sekhmet into rage when she woke with her head pounding, but she choose not to do it.

Ma'at knew Isfret was there and comforted Sekhmet when she woke abandoned. She said, "My sister wants to live in the Black Land. She does not care for you. For she cares for no one."

Isfret did not know this. She was too busy going to Upper Egypt, to Lake Moeris, where the Hyksos were. She went to where Sobek snapped at rich horse meat let to drink by the lake. The Lake was full of Nile water and currents of rich red bloomed through the brown.

Isfret went to where Sobek was eating a horse with his sharp teeth while mating with the nubile Queen of the Hyksos. The Queen of the Hyksos wore her crown and only that. She'd stripped away all her clothing herself.

These long seven parched years, the Queen of the Hyksos had been forced to make do with the dry stream of the King of the Hyksos. For seven years, she had watched the general she'd been married to spin in dust. For seven years, she'd had seen him rule the kingdom conquered by her father's father and made only whirlwinds of dust with his deeds. She had been dreaming of seven dead stalks of wheat that had been devoured by seven mighty ones. She had been dreaming of seven dry streambeds full of dust that were drenched by seven mighty rivers. She woke when Sobek, who delighted in robbery, snatched her from her couch by the lakeside.

Presented with the Sobek's virile flood, as ferocious as the white rapids of the Upper Kingdom and as vibrant as the wide waters of the Lower Kingdom, the Queen of the Hyksos choose her path though she did not know it. She had stripped her own clothes away in the reeds by the lake with no more urging than Sobek's hands cupping the trim handfuls of her breasts and stroking at their berries. She had spread wide her lean horse riding thighs eagerly and bucked against him. She writhed with her back in the thick black mud and made wide her flat delta to his current. She loudly cried out her delight to the startled birds. In no way did she allow the blood of the horses upon her breasts and slender flanks disrupt her enjoyment for Sobek's surging movements were that of the Nile itself that satiated where it fell, but in no way was ever itself completely satiated.

Sobek had taken the horses of the Hyksos King. He had taken the Queen of the Hyksos to the place of his heart's fancy.

Sobek had done these things at the urging of his Mother, Neith, who was arguing with her husband, Set.

Set was helping the Hyksos find oasis in the desert. He had taken the appearance of the Storm Mare of the Hyksos. He urged the Hyksos to rule across all Egypt. He had dismembered his brother, Osiris.

Neith made the arrows meant to cushion in Hyksos soldiers. She'd jabbed her husband with her harpoon and went to her son, Sobek, and urged him to his theft and fornication.

It had not taken much urging.

Isfret urged Sobek now as the Queen of the Hyksos cried out her great enjoyment and Sobek snapped horses down his throat. Isfret said, "My sister, Ma'at, she disdains you. You are a god of disorder and pleasure like I am. She disdains pleasure. She forbids sleeping with the wives of other men."

Sobek glanced at her slit eyed as he chewed and snapped his hips to the delighted cries of the Queen of the Hyksos as if to say, "No sleep is involved in what I now do."

"She forbids debauchery." Sobek nodded as if to say that phrase was more to his liking and quickened his pace. Isfret said, more quickly now, "She forbids committing robbery with violence. She forbids violence and disturbing the peace. She forbids all the things you like to do."

Finally, as the sun turned to old age in the sky, he groaned his completion and the Queen of the Hyksos fell back quite exhausted in the thick black mud.

However, there were more horses to eat and Sobek's appetite was that of the Nile itself that satiated where it fell, but in no way was ever itself completely satiated.

Isfret was prepared for this. As she'd watched their debauchery and having heard somewhat of Sobek's reputation, she pressed a cotton bud soaked with vinegar inside herself. She did this as she stripped off her clothing with no more urging that a look.

Soon it was Isfret upon her back in the thick black mud as they coupled to Isfret's great enjoyment. She urged him on, "Faster, faster, once you've pleased me, go to where Ma'at is and devour her whole." Sobek went faster, but this did not mean he was in any way done. Isfret spread her thighs wide and welcomed him in for wickedness sake, as the Queen of the Hyksos lay sleeping beside them.

Isfret lay with her back in the fertile black mud and actively participated in debauchery. She made wide her flat delta to his flood. She delighted in the blood of the horses upon her breasts and flanks. Sobek's movements were that of the Nile itself that satiated where it fell, but in no way was ever itself completely satiated.

Finally, as Isfret fell into an exhausted stupor next to the Queen of the Hyksos, she did not chide him for the time he'd taken with sun long set in the sky. She merely waved him away as if she were one drunk.

It was only as he was gone, that she rolled over to consider the Queen of the Hyksos still sleeping. Her body bearing all the marks of her pleasure. Isfret smiled and pulling the cotton from her body, flung it in the black mud with a laugh.

She went joyfully to bear word to the King of the Hyksos where the Queen might be found and related all that she'd seen for she delighted in disruption. She was gleeful as she told him of the Queen's great delight.

She might have been less gleeful if she had stayed long enough to see the cotton bud she'd pulled from her body take root and grow buds of its own. She might have been less gleeful if she'd seen Sobek pause on his way down the Nile to please himself. Green life sprouting wherever his seed fell. But she was engaged in inciting ruin and was not there to see it.

Sobek made his way down the River Nile and sauntered onto the porch of drunkenness where Sekhmet was sleeping. Ma'at raised a hand to her lips and whispered, "Excellent. You are exactly who I have been wanting to see. My sister sent you here for wickedness' sake, confusing vibrant life with evil. But you are the force of the Nile and hold no grudges. She sent you to kill me, but there is one who needs your protection." She gestured for him to follow. He followed her through the temple. She did not go too fast and she did not go too slow. She smiled as she looked at him. She brought him into a room where Isis was at labour. The priestesses of Hathor were around her urging her on. Ma'at whispered in his ear, "Her husband was murdered, dismembered by your Father, Set. Now she has no husband to watch over the child she brings into the world. Now she must run from place to place pursued by your Father, who is her brother."

Isis gave a great scream and pushed her child into the world. The priestesses of Hathor tended to her and helped her through the cleansing of her body after birth, while Ma'at tended to the baby, Horus. She took the bloody squirming boy with his fluffy hawk's head from the priestesses. She held Horus out to Sobek and said, "He has no Father, because of what your Father has done." Sobek looked at the child, covered in blood and took Horus to his own breast. He held him there, as crocodiles do with their young, and whispered with all his fierce heart, "I will play a Father's part to you. I will protect you. I will find the pieces of your Father and unite them together, so he may rule the land of the dead. I will keep you safe from my Father. I vow it."

He made this vow and smiled with sharp teeth as he handed the baby back to the weary Isis. He went right out of the temple and sought up and down the river looking for the pieces of the dismembered god. He found most of the pieces of Osiris. It took him nearly nine months, but he found all but one, which he regretted. That was his favourite part of his own body. He ate the pieces of Osiris it was true, but that was the easiest way to assemble them again. He ate them and coughed them back out a body whole.

Osiris wheezed and looked down sadly for the part that was missing, but he thanked Sobek before descending into the Land of the Dead, for he was going there to rule.

Now Isfret had been seeking Sobek for she had heard of what he had and had not done. She spat in the water, which hissed where she spat. She grumbled curses and said, "This is not what I intended at all." She could have chosen red sand, but she had chosen to pursue black mud instead. He grinned with great delight to see her for he was full of life. He grinned with sharp teeth to see her nine months round with his child. He pleasured her from behind with quick strokes. She groaned, "This is not what I intended at all." Then she yelled it, so great was her delight at his insistent movements. At least she rejoiced, as her child drummed her body from within and Sobek joyfully seeded her anew, he could plant no further child in her than he'd already done.

Ma'at always looked to the distance. She saw Sobek pleasing Isfret and knew she'd have some time to plan, for well she knew that Sobek would never stop in his pleasures for once started they were like the Nile always flowing forward, and even further that none would dare interrupt him lest they be eaten.

As she guided the stars and the seasons, Ma'at knew something that Isfret did not know, and she would need to distract Isfret if Horus, the rightful King, was to survive. Upper and Lower Egypt must be united. The Red Lands must protect the Black. Ma'at wanted Isfret anywhere but in the Black Lands, but if she was to be there, she wanted to slow down her wickedness.

Ma'at summoned Sekhmet and asked her help in her gentler face. Sekhmet roared and said, "I will do it for the forty-three fleas and for how Isfret made me think she'd choose sand over mud."

Ma'at looked all the way to the horizon, and saw that this would not be enough to bring order to the lands. Ma'at went to the oasis where the Queen of the Hyksos had fled to save her life and said, "You are owed the support of your child's Father. Come into my house to receive it."

The Queen of Hyksos did not look on Ma'at with any favour, for the Storm Mare was her goddess, but she had no other place to go. So, she nodded her head, having retained her crown, if nothing else, and went with her.

Now eventually, after resting exhausted in the mud, Isfret convinced Sobek that he should take her to Ma'at, for she thought that her problem was she'd given the task of disruption to others.

As soon as Ma'at saw her sister, Isfret, weighted down with child, she said, "My sister, here have a seat. You must be weary." She turned to Sobek. "You were quite right to bring her to me where I can better care for her and her child."

Isfret shuddered for she heard the truth of that. Still, her plan was a good one. For now she was close to Ma'at and could better disrupt her household from within.

Ma'at said, "I have just the companion for her." She waved a hand at a sunken cheeked woman in plain linen, but still wearing a crown. The Queen of the Hyksos, her belly round with nine months of bearing a child. "They can be a comfort to each other in this their time of reflection."

They looked at each other, Isfret and the Queen, in dismay. The Queen of the Hyksos in rage for she well knew Isfret's role in revealing her disgrace. Isfret laughed at the blow that the Queen of the Hyksos dealt her and would have dealt more, but that Sobek sat between them with a grin of delight upon his sharp teeth. He laid a hand upon each of their rounded bellies and laughed with great vigour. "What a joy. Now I may play a Father's part three times over. Have no fear. I will well provide for our children."

It was then that Isfret and the Queen of the Hyksos turned their looks of dismay upon Sobek, who was not capable of seeing them.

Ma'at smiled with great cheer and bustled about the room for Isfret had disarranged some items merely by walking in.

Finally, when all was as it should be, she wagged a finger at Sobek. "Now that your vow to assemble Osiris is done, you must keep your other vow and watch over Horus and Isis. You must keep them safe from your Father, Set. He is assembling an army of Hyksos to ride against this place. I have sent Sekhmet into the desert with Pharaoh to fight the main army, but I will need you here to ward away evil."

Sobek paused where he's been fondling the Queen of the Hyksos lush breasts to her enjoyment. "I will summon my Mother. She can be of great help with armies and children on the way." To the Queen's disgruntlement, he bounded from the room in a burst of great energy.

Isfret eyed her sister. She lied quite pleasantly. "I am overjoyed to see you so well and will do all that I can to help you with the armies of Set at your door."

Ma'at smiled benignly. "I am delighted to have you here where I can keep an eye on you. But come, I have a room prepared for you."

"I think the view is better here," said Isfret. She waited for Ma'at to argue with her. She waited for her to yell. Isfret was ready to storm about the place, but Ma'at smiled and said, "Then I will wait for you here."

Ma'at waved at where Hathor sat, saying, "The goddess of child bearing will see to you both in your time. I promised her she could do so." Isfret was not displeased. For she was more than ready to push the child inside her out when last weeks of her confinement were over.

The Queen of the Hyksos made a good companion once Isfret had spread a balm of lies over the injury she'd done. The Queen of the Hyksos was bitter over her lot for the King of the Hyksos was only King in that he'd married her. She had been forced to flee him when she'd been found out, and he'd taken up her younger sister as his wife and so stay King.

Isfret easily spread her balm of lies. Isfret told the Queen that she could convince the King of the Hyksos that the Queen's child was his own. In fact, such was her greatest pleasure, which was true. She proved it with cunning letters and messages and the Queen of the Hyksos was astonished to learn the King had set her sister aside.

With the Queen of the Hyksos' help eavesdropping, Isfret learned gossip, which was bread and meat to Isfret. Every day, there were opportunities for inciting hearts to wickedness. Daily Isfret ticked up the column of ill deeds that Ma'at had not prevented. Her only sorrow was that weighed down as she was, she had not the speed to incite more.

Isfret sent messages to Set, and Set would descend for an attack with his forces.

Forces that were rebuffed by Sobek in his ferocity. Now it was true his way of celebrating victory was to Isfret's and the Queen of the Hyksos' great satisfaction, even as they were dissatisfied with the reason. It was also true that the Queen, with her belly great with child, was more than willing to let Isfret take her turn with Sobek's vigor in exchange for certain skills Isfret had with her tongue as they lay in their great tripled bed.

Isfret did not think much the matter until the Queen of the Hyksos went into labour and bore a boy child with no more crocodile head than a long nose and skin as black as the mud of the Nile. The Queen of the Hyksos did not see how little Sobekhotep could be taken for the child of two Hyksos, but conceded to Isfret's skill with lies.

Isfret was now more concerned with truth to her dismay. She said to Hathor, "A child was planted within me within a half day of the Queen's. How is it that she has come to term and I have not yet given birth?"

Hathor returned a blank eyed cow's stare. "Children take their own time to come forth." She smiled. "Of course, any child you'd have had with Sekhmet would have left your belly flat and taken the longest of all. But you chose mud over the sand and now you must wait."

As Ma'at could not lie, Isfret confronted her next. But Ma'at only said, "Do you expect me to know more than the goddess of childbirth?" As it was a question, Ma'at knew this was no lie. Though, as she guided the stars and seasons, she knew something that Isfret did not know.

Sobekhotep, the son that the Queen of the Hyksos had of Sobek, cried constantly with great lusty cries. Sometimes as Sobek paced about their current home with Sobekhotep cradled carefully in his sharp mouth, while carrying young Horus close to his chest, Isfret imagined him snapping his jaws shut and swallowing the boy down. She considered how she would abandon such a screaming bundle of chaos to her sister. She could see the rings of sleepless nights under Ma'at's eyes and was well pleased.

Now Isfret hatched a new plan. She told the Queen of the Hyksos to send word to Set of an hour and day when Sobek would be too busy to defend Isis and her son. She told the Queen of the Hyksos that soon she would be returned to her King in triumph. Faced with the prospect of the dry streambed of the King of the Hyksos, the Queen sighed. But she delighted in the shape that Isfret's plan took.

They waited just until the Queen of the Hyksos was healed from childbirth. They prepared well. They placed a bud of cotton soaked in vinegar within the Queen to catch any seed. She chewed on certain seeds to ensure her body would resist all planting.

They invited Sobek to leave where he guarded the household and join the both of them in celebration of the newly slender curves of the Queen of the Hyksos' body. Celebration he set to doing the moment they suggested it. For well they both knew that Sobek was incapable of stopping in his pleasures once started, and even further that none would dare interrupt him lest they be eaten.

The Queen of the Hyksos spread wide her plump thighs eagerly and rode fierce Sobek as if he were her battle stallion. She made open her soft delta to his flood in the face of future drought. Outside the room, the sounds of battle filled Isfret with her own sense of delight. Sobek did not hear them. He was busy mating with the Queen of the Hyksos and quite forgot his vows.

Ma'at sighed to hear them, but she'd ordered her household for such an occasion.

Isfret and the Queen of the Hyksos had not counted on Sobek's Mother, Neith, who ran into the room and slapped Sobek across his knees with the flat of an arrow. "My Son, we are under attack from the forces of your Father and Horus will be killed if you do not cease fornicating and turn your ferocity to the battlefield."

Sobek did not pause in his motion, but merely firmly gathered the Queen of the Hyksos up with one arm and picked up his sword with the other. "Mother, I can do both!"

So it was the Hyksos were treated to the sight of their nude Queen riding Sobek as eagerly as a wave slaps upon the banks, and in no way allowed the battle to disrupt her delight, which instead seemed to only increase it for Sobek's ferocious motion was that of the Nile itself.

Afterwards, the Queen of the Hyksos reported to Isfret, "As the dust heap that was my King saw me clearly, I think it is unlikely that even you, with your skill at lies, to turn those events." She withdrew to a separate room then with Sobekhotep not wishing to further tempt fate and refused to mate further with Sobek to his mournful tears. This did not stop him from coupling with Isfret, who realized to her dismay how much of his time the Queen of the Hyksos and Sobekhotep had taken up. Now she found herself with no force for mischief. For when she was not crying her pleasure as Sobek mated with her while he snapped down this or that stolen horse or ox, she was lying down weary from the burden he'd already planted in her. At least she rejoiced, as her child drummed her body from within and Sobek joyfully seeded her anew, he could plant no further child in her than he'd already done.

It was with great relief that Isfret greeted the Queen of the Hyksos when she returned to their tripled bed for as it proved the Queen of the Hyksos' caution had been too late and their care had not been enough. Sobek's seed had caught root, and she once more swelled with child.

When Isfret expressed her disbelief at this to Neith and went on to complain about her own burden. Neith slapped two arrows together. "The Queen will try my patience if she does not learn soon to no longer be misled by you. While you, the only reason I have not driven you from this house is the burden you bear and for some reason I cannot fathom, your sister desires your pestilence near. But for all his Father is dry as dust, Sobek takes after me. His seed has but to fall on a rock with a cleft and that rock sprouts life. You might want to consider that as you spin out your schemes from my son's bed. For my son's heart is fierce, but tender." She'd have said more, but Ma'at stopped her from speaking.

Ma'at invited Isfret and the Queen of the Hyksos with Neith to her porch. She poured glasses of water from an oasis that she knew. She said, "When water is faced with an obstacle, it goes another way."

The four of them watched Sobek joyfully swing Horus from one arm, while dandling Sobekhotep with the other. The sight of which filled Isfret with some disgust, but she comforted herself that one of the servants serving them dates was stealing a little from every container in the larder and selling it to her illicit lover at Isfret's suggestion.

Isfret made several marks in the tally of wickedness she kept in her head and smiled sweetly at her sister.

Ma'at drank deeply from her cup. She said, "Queen of the Hyksos, your husband was king because of his marriage to you and now to your sister, who he has taken up again."

The Queen of the Hyksos leaned on the porch and glared at the brown flow of the river. "And I wish her much joy of him."

Ma'at said, "Look to your son and how lustily he cries and already grips his Father's fingers hard."

The Queen of the Hyksos laid her hand upon her belly, not yet showing curves. She said quite slowly, "In unthinking drought, I set myself on this path. Now in well watered lands, I may consider future harvests." She took the cup of water that Ma'at had poured and drank deeply.

As it happened, soon after she returned to their tripled bed, the Queen of the Hyksos was marked with the ink of a priestess of Hathor round as an eye around her belly, for as she said, "Hathor said they will aid in birthing, and given the path I once foolishly and now with a will set out on, I shall need them."

Isfret grumbled at that and requested ink as well, not that it improved the speed of her own burden. Isfret said to Hathor, "How is it that the Queen of the Hyksos grows heavy with a second time, while I still bear the first? We were planted on the same day."

Hathor returned a blank cow eyed stare. "Children come in their own time." This was no answer, and as there was chaos and injustice to create, Isfret greatly regretted the weight bearing her down. At least, she rejoiced as her child kicked from within and Sobek joyfully ploughed her, his seed could sprout no further child than it had already done.

Still she did her best every day to tempt men and women from the path of Ma'at. Such was her skill at lies that even burgeoning, she convinced them to debauchery. She whispered lies that convinced them to steal bread from children's mouths and argue to violence. She disturbed the peace every day and in the tally she kept in her mind was well satisfied with her actions.

As she was napping though, the sight of Isis and little Horus, incited a baker to give them bread, and offer them protection, which made Ma'at smile.

Still every time Ma'at moved them to new safety, they were unsafe newly proved for Isfret sent word to Set of their location.

Isfret even tried the same trick again when the Queen of the Hyksos was delivered of a second boy, Khonsu, with a wide flat nose and skin as black as the mud of the Nile.

It took all of Isfret's skill to convince her of the plan. The Queen of the Hyksos insisted that Khonsu be weaned for some nine long months in which the Queen slept apart. Finally she agreed to Isfret's plan saying, "I want my sister's husband to see that I have chosen the fiercest of warriors. I want the Hyksos to see that I ride the devouring force that seizes its prey as my battle stallion."

"So you will do it? You will distract Sobek from the battle while I keep his Mother from our room?" repeated Isfret.

The Queen of the Hyksos bowed her head, her crown still firmly upon her brow, and smiled. "I will do it." She disrobed her body's curves softened from bearing two children and summoned Sobek, who bounded into the room joyfully.

Isfret did her best to distract Neith during the battle that raged outside of the bedroom. She made Neith's arrows go awry. She set servants to lying when Neith asked where Sobek was. She did her best, but in the end the results were much the same. Once more the Hyksos were treated to the sight of their nude Queen moving against Sobek eagerly while he snapped their soldiers up.

To Isfret's great surprise after the battle, the Queen of the Hyksos was in no way displeased though she said she'd have no more of Isfret's plans. Still, she returned to their tripled bed saying, "I am already drunk upon this course. There is no reason not to enjoy more draughts." To Isfret's great disgruntlement, the Queen of the Hyksos soon swelled with a third child while Isfret was yet weighed down with her first.

However, her queries to Hathor only returned much the same reply as she'd ever gotten before.

She grumbled further when certain Hyksos abandoned the King and came to join their household in service of their Queen saying, "You have chosen the fiercest of warriors and abandoned the weak one. You ride the devouring force that seizes its prey as your battle stallion. " Isfret grumbled because the Queen of the Hyksos greeted them and Neith greeted them and there was no division in the household.

Still Isfret's tally of sins was heavy upon her own side. She only regretted that her burden made her so weary and Isfret often found herself often napping when she would rather have been at inciting ill deeds. Still she rejoiced as Sobek with mighty arms stole her away from Ma'at's home to the place of his heart's delight with his mouth full of stolen horses or cattle and snapped them down as he surged within her. At least, she rejoiced as her child kicked from within her as he joyfully ploughed her anew that he could not plant any more child in her than he already had, unlike she smirked the unfortunate Queen of the Hyksos.

Seeing Sekhmet weaving and drunk after driving the Kushites out of Upper Egypt with Pharaoh's army, Isfret kept to her scheming. Sekhmet was a genial drunk. When Isfret said, "You are nothing, but a tool to my sister, Ma'at," Sekhmet laughed.

She laughed and she said, as Sobek began his own celebration between Isfret's thighs, "That is very funny. You'd have been better off keeping to the wicked use of your tongue with me, but you choose mud over sand. Mud over sand." She began to sing that in the way the drunken sometimes will.

Ma'at moved their household soon after. She moved their household often. She was often at conference with Isis upon the porch, while Isfret took advantage of their new location close to the city of Pharaoh to spur wickedness within the Black Lands. Her only regret was her great weariness when the Queen of the Hyksos withdrew from their tripled bed as the latest swell of her plump body subsided and for a time Isfret bore with delight and annoyance the full force of Sobek's insatiable flood alone. At least, she rejoiced, as her child knocked from within as Sobek joyfully seeded her anew, her soil was already well planted and would bear no further harvests until this one was finally done.

Watching Sobek showing Horus and his son Sobekhotep how to swing a sword, while his sons Khonsu and Suchos thundered about the floor wrestling, while infant Soknopais suckled greedily at his mother's much suckled breasts, Isfret was startled to realize that Horus was a youth. She questioned Horus for a time as to his age, but the youth blinked at her with Hawk's eyes amid feathers that had lost all their chick softness and said, "I do not know."

Eventually Isis said, "His skill is in war and vengeance, not numbers. Who can remember, we are forced to move so often, because of your trickery you pestilence on the Black Land."

Isfret was not hurt by these words. They delighted her. She decided it was time to change tactics. She sent a message to Set to declare peace, and in that peace make the acquaintance of his growing number of grandsons. For by then, the Queen of the Hyksos had enjoyed four healthy sons of Sobek, and Horus had grown as tall as Isfret's breasts and was a handsome enough youth.

The plan was for Set to seduce Horus and fill him with his seed. Then by Ma'at's own rules, Set would be the ruler and Horus the ruled. Three days into the visit, Set gave them the signal that all had gone well, and they settled down to a meal as one family.

Set sniffed at his salad saying, "What is this dressing?"

Horus blinked hawk's eyes, while Isis shrugged. Isfret looked to her sister, but she was not there.

Sobek sniffed it once and laughed. "I know that scent well," but could not say more as his Mother, Neith, had stabbed his foot with her harpoon and his only words were confused howls.

Set ate his meal, for salad was his favourite. But when it came time for their plan to reach its conclusion, Set summoned his seed, which called out from the river where Horus had cast it from between his thighs. While Horus, his voice still high if cracking, summoned his own seed, which it seemed was in Set's own body and Isfret had to appreciate the deception of the salad, if not the result.

After the celebration with Sobek that followed, the Queen of the Hyksos swelled a fifth time. She said to Sobek, "Five draughts from the cup are enough. Much more and you will wear me out. When this child is born, I will withdraw to my own rooms and couple with you no more. I have all the army I need. If I cannot take what I want with five ferocious children, then I am not worthy to be Queen of the Hyksos."

Sobek wept many tears, but the Queen of the Hyksos said, "Let us not waste what time we have," and hot backed urged him to couple with her.

Later, Isfret was to look upon that time as a respite. Although at the time, she was much disgruntled that she was forced to please herself in their tripled bed.

Later, Isfret wished she'd taken more time for disorder.

Once the Queen of the Hyksos no longer shared in the burden of Sobek's attentions, and turned her attention to other things, it seemed that Isfret hardly woke from the nap of her burden, but Sobek bounded into the room with a stolen calf or horse, which he gulped down insatiably as he engaged in pleasing her. He hardly seemed to realize these days that what beat and flailed at the inside of her belly was even a child, seeming to think that Isfret was in her natural state there in the Black Lands.

Hathor would only blink at her mildly when questioned and say, "Children come in their time."

It seemed Isfret that no sooner than the Nile had flooded, but that it was flooding again, with Sekhmet weaving about drunkenly singing that Isfret had chosen mud over clay.

The burden that Isfret bore kicked and pounded within her setting a constant rhythm. She'd long but forgotten the appearance of her feet. When the Queen of the Hyksos returned to their tripled bed for one more draught, new battle scars on her lean body from riding horses and deep lines about her eyes, the Queen said, "Perhaps you bear twins." When she returned a second time more for one more draught to Sobek's great joy, both of them laughing that their eldest had married a woman of Lower Egypt and was to have a child of himself, the Queen of the Hyksos said, "Perhaps Isfret bears triplets."

Isfret had barely the energy to curse the Queen weakly, and wonder that Horus led battle forces of his own with the deepened voice of a man.

Finally, Hathor said to her, "Your time is near."

Rejoicing, Isfret sent word to Set by means of a flea that she'd disrupt the Kingdoms Upper and Lower in all the ways that she could on whatever day was to his liking, if he would but strike with all his might.

He sent her a day, and she set to her schemes. She demanded that Sobek stay by her side until she finally pushed his long waited spawn into the world. She set ripples and wants and desires and all was at its greatest disruption.

Only disrupted by the giving of birth. Only disrupted by sending Sobek from the room for being the origin of her pains. Only disrupted by the great and terrible sand storm that raged as she finally pushed her child from her body. Her child came forth a babe, but seemed in one moment to unfold a man of mature years with a grey streaked beard. He held a feather in one hand and a scale in the other. He said to her, "Mother, why did you keep adding to our number?"

She dropped her sweat streaked head back onto the bed and said, "At last you are out."

But her son shook his head, "Mother, your labour has just begun." He went to stand by the window and look out at the world. A daughter came next, as mature in her age as the first, also holding a feather and scales.

Isfret screamed in her labours and rage, cursing Sobek and Ma'at and all of the world, as she pushed out child after child, each one a little younger than the last. By the time the priestesses of Hathor finally laid an infant wizened and small upon her breast, Isfret had lost count. Isfret said, "How many does that make." She narrowed her eyes. "How many years has this been?"

Her eldest said, "There are one of us for each type of sin you've committed. Why did you keep adding to our number? We'd have been out long ago if you'd stopped."

Another, a daughter in the middle of her nubile years crossed her arms holding her feather and scale. "That is not it at all. There is one of us for each nine month term when you lay with Sobek. Why were so insistent on that tripled bed?"

Another son, this one with the look of a young warrior looked to his sister of nearest age beside him. "Because our Mother delights in debauchery, as much by now as it repels us."

"Yes, delighted in debauchery no matter how we beat the walls for her to stop," his nearest sister replied.

This was no useful answer. Isfret grabbed a priestess of Horus dandling a toddler. "How many?"

The priestess yanked away from Isfret, so weakened was she by her labours. "Forty-three. Forty-two virtues and one," she looked at the babe at Isfret's breast, "who has not decided."

Another priestess of Hathor combing the hair of a young girl said, "You should not have given Sekhmet-Hathor fleas. There is one for each you gave her and as many years."

Under the circumstances, Isfret could not disagree. She held her daughter, Meri-Isfret, and ignored all the rest.

When the priestesses of Hathor would finally allow her to rise from her bed, Isfret walked onto what remained of the battlefield.

Sobek was at celebration with the Storm Mare of the Hyksos to that Mare's surprised and delighted whinnies. Isfret wished that Mare well of the burden she'd bear, and then had to wonder how exactly that fruit could be born given that Mare was also Set. She grinned and for once, did not carry tales.

She said to Sekhmet, "Your revenge was subtle. You are right, I should have chosen sand over mud." She looked about the field thick with the wounded and the dead, "What happened here?"

Sekhmet weaved with a jug of bear in her hand. "We won! Set was defeated by Horus. And," she grinned, "I'd have done worse, but your sister advised me." She giggled, "The look on your face each time you asked me when you'd birth your child." She laughed and laughed. Isfret could get no more out of her.

Isfret went to her former companion, the Queen of the Hyksos, now Queen again in truth, having taken full control of what remained of the Hyksos army with her seven sons. The first three of which were warriors grown. That Queen said, "Set was lucky that Isis spared him. I am lucky," she smiled at her sons. "For I have a kingdom that Neith helped me to gain lush with raging waters." She looked to the Hyksos. "They are lucky, for now I will give them land there that will make them strong on well watered earth." She was not interested in anything else Isfret had to say.

Isfret went into the Red Lands with her baby. Her daughter was screaming. It was a horrible sound. Isfret laid Meri-Isfret down in the sand of the Red Land and said, "What will you do?"

Her daughter flailed at the dirt and picked up a stone that she flung away from herself.

Isfret considered the tally that she'd been keeping. She threw it away. It meant nothing. She laughed. "Yes, that is an excellent idea." She walked into the Red Land with her daughter and set to making disorder among whoever she found. That was her bread and meat.

While in the Black Lands Ma'at watching Sekhmet weave about the battlefield and Sobek at his celebrations said, "I do what I can to create balance from wickedness. But it is not always easy." Then she went about the battlefield putting things to rights.