7.10 - The Difference

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She had hoped that her urge to approach the convict's family, to explain that two of their loved ones had been slaughtered, would fade with time. But no; it had only grown stronger. And now, she knew somehow that she would never have peace till she carried it out.

This would be the last detour, the last backward step in her path across the earth, she swore to herself as she reached her destination. Even while here in Nubia, she would use her time efficiently and scope out evil souls to slay.

The task was relatively easy; arriving naked as always, she found that plenty of pigs were eager to take advantage of her. She allowed them to, in this instance, because she needed information from the people of this place, and knew that they would give it if she coaxed them with her charms and offered favors in exchange.

So it wasn't rape, as it happened. But it would've been, if the Fate hadn't had reason to consent. And it was clear to her that, had she resisted, some of these pigs would have resorted to force. This meant that they deserved to die, of course. Atropos stored the swine in her mind so as to recognize their threads on her next visit to the Cave and snip accordingly.

She also passed by women on the streets, some of whom threw ragged clothes her way, shouting at her to dress herself. No doubt because they were jealous, she silently snickered. This worked to her advantage, since she wanted to be clothed when she met the man's family and made her solemn speech. The gesture would be even more awkward if she arrived naked.

After many inquiries, by which time it was already evening, Atropos finally found what she'd been seeking: a small settlement of Egyptian exiles, squatting in the squalid fringe of Nubia, where few of the natives even knew of its existence.

The first hovel that she spotted in this sad little village somehow beckoned her. Poorly built as it was, it lacked a proper door. So she simply stepped inside, with a deep breath, all set to say her piece and then to promptly leave.

A lone woman crouched on the floor of packed earth, before a hearth, saucepan in hand as she prepared a paltry supper. She turned as soon as the unannounced visitor entered. Though withered now with age and woe, clearly the woman had been lovely in her prime — lovely enough to be, maybe, the mother of the most alluring man Atropos had ever seen.

So the Fate cleared her throat and spoke. "I know I am a stranger to you, and am sorry to intrude. But if by any chance you are the mother of a man who once robbed royal tombs..."

The woman blinked up at the stranger. Almost as if she recognized her. Atropos remembered then that she apparently bore great resemblance to a certain woman in Egypt: the beauteous temptress who had seduced the convict's younger brother, the pale, frail boy with freckles on his nose. The lover who had promised him safe harbor in her home, if he returned from exile, only to abandon him when he did... the bitch who had betrayed him... doomed the poor soul to his untimely death... The pharaoh's high steward had remarked on their resemblance. And the tomb robber himself had spoken of it, in harsh words that Atropos remembered all too well.

So perhaps this woman knew of that temptress. Perhaps she was the mother of the two brothers after all, and perhaps she now mistook her unwelcome guest as the temptress herself.

That would certainly explain the look of utter hate that crept into her gaze, as her grip visibly tightened on the handle of the saucepan. Never before had a cooking utensil looked like such a lethal weapon, Atropos reckoned.

But the Fate of death knew no such thing as fear, and so she did not feel the urge to turn and run. Stood firmly in place and pressed on. "If you are the tomb robber's mother, then I have come to tell you what became of him, and of his brother. As I feel that you have the right to know. For I sat in the court of the pharaoh, some nights ago... and..."

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