Princess Hematra leaned curiously over the swirling river below—imperial coils of her gilded hair glistened off the sullied, brackish silt-ridden waters.
The Nile—or so it appeared—had been stained.
“Hasina, Rena, come quick, look,” she paused, pointing over the sides of the dusty stone walls, her tight braids held in place by an ornate comb that flowered around the back of her head like a celestial crown.
The riverbed was glowing, blazing amidst hundreds of jewels the size of rocks—some moss colored, some opalescent, others the shade of glorious sanguine ruby, velveteen sapphire and fiery citrine. All dancing harmoniously under the basking rays of the sun.
“Don’t touch the water,” Hasina hissed, swatting Rena’s hand back.
“We don’t know what is down there, could be a curse.”
“Don’t be silly Hasina, who would curse the Nile?” Hematra whispered as she drew closer to the beckoning water.
“I would listen to your sister,” a stern voice interrupted. It was their father—King Amhersnef. He stood stoic and poised. His fluid, linen robes were dipped in gold capped tassels and wrapped by lapis encrusted belts—matching his collar and wrist guards. Each bead was lined in threads strewn from the gods themselves. He was a regal man, a protected man.
“The Nile gives what it takes, and many people want to take from us—remember that, and please keep away from the river’s edge, I can’t lose you too.”
Hematra smiled. The sun was starting to climb over the distant horizon. Her eyes lingered, drawing her closer and closer; it was all she could think about for days at a time.
From the rise of day to the fade of night. Solstice was upon them. The same time of year their beloved mother had fallen ill, dying from a peddler’s plague. It hadn’t gone unnoticed by Hematra.
Her father and sisters had done all they could to keep her away from the banks of the Nile but tonight their efforts were futile. Hematra sat high up in the towers of their sprawling palace. No armed gates or stone walls would keep her safe. From her balcony above, the scalloped edge of the fountains seemed to come to life, glittering in the gardens below like thousands of tiny jewels blanketing the cool waters. The curse of the Nile was upon them, calling the princess hither.
It was the same magnetic pull that had summoned her days before. Hematra found herself walking aimlessly between rows of neatly laid stone obelisks. The glow from polar sconces and flickering torches lit the way where the moon didn’t.
Hundreds of colorful carvings dotted the stone surfaces, hiding amidst curling blooms of sleepy-midnight jasmine as she rounded to her favorite spot, the lotus fountain.
The moon had equal effect on the rippling water as Hematra stepped quietly into the wading pools. Nothing happened—just as she suspected.
She ventured further and further in until she had no choice but to stand on the tips of her toes. The water was cool, refreshing; inviting. She hadn’t made it back to the fountain edge when the light of intense moonlit embers caught her eye once more—there were rose, lava, peach colored gems, jewels the shade of sea-glass. Colors she’d never seen before in all her years.
They were mesmerizing, enticing; she had to take one for herself.
Her feet slipped on the smooth, slimy rocks as she sunk under the calm draw of the water as it blanketed over her. Hematra grasped hold of the closest glowing jewel. Her hair suspending around her like a basket of angry snakes.
Before she knew it, a blinding ray of light pierced the water. The stone was blistering to touch but she couldn’t let go, it held onto her; piercing her skin as she screamed in terror.
Hematra gazed up at the new world that appeared around her. This was not the silt stained Nile that bore up from it’s Earthly confines, no. Puddles of jade toads sopped up the water around her lifeless body. She stared into the water’s edge as it rushed into the domed cave. The reflection was different, her skin was a wilted flower, scaly and covered in jewels. Her hair alight with thousands of hissing snakes. Her eyes twirling tentacles of orbs. She was cursed.
It was soon clear; things would never be the same.
About the Creator
Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.
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