Amunet doesn’t feel hungry nor tired. Even though she has been up all night, and hasn’t eaten for about twelve hours, she feels invigorated, full of love, kinship, and purpose. She kneels upon a woven straw mat on the clay floor of her small room, the dimensions not much larger than the length and width of her own body, yet three times as high. There is a small window at the top to allow for the escape of hot air, and the admittance of a little bit of light. The walls are bare except for two built-in shelves and the wooden door.
The built-in shelf near the door holds a pot to be used for excrement and other waste products, while the one at the opposite end of the cell contains a large container of ceremonial red wine and anointing oils.
Kneeling, she reaches for a small clay jar of oil, swirls it, and then brings it to her nose. She smells lavender and sandalwood, frankincense and jasmine. After dipping a finger into the mixture, she rubs it at her temples, then wrists, and over her heart, retrieving more as needed. Her final act is to trace the ankh on her forehead. She drinks some of the wine, the spices of cinnamon and black peppercorns assaulting her senses. Closing her eyes, she swallows the heady mixture, the sweet taste of pomegranate left on her tongue.
Amunet slows her breathing, lays her hands in her lap, and opens herself up to her goddess. She is excited as this will be her first vision. She has expected a gentle melding of minds and will, a simple communication between herself and her deity. That is not at all what she gets.
As she closes her eyes, the ankh glows gently on her skin, and a warming heat flushes her face. She whispers aloud, “Come to me.” She senses a presence in the room with her. It brings a smile to her face. Her goddess has arrived.
Waiting for some long minutes, her smile falters. The silence is cavernous. She tentatively reaches out with her power and feels a foreboding thickness at her back. A smell of rot and decay fills her nostrils, and she vomits onto the floor at her knees, reeling with dizziness. As her stomach clenches to expel more contents out from her throat, her head and body are thrown back by an immense punch of power, and a dark smoke forces itself into her mouth. She swallows back her bile, the acid burning a sick path to her stomach. Her arms spasm and are thrown backward and to her sides. Her bowels and bladder release, and a sickening warmth that she doesn’t feel spreads out beneath her. Her physical body is no longer of any concern to her.
Her spirit arrives in a dark place with a jolt, as if she has gone from top speed in a horse-drawn chariot to a kneeling position of prayer in one instant. If she had been in her physical body, the experience would have caused dizziness and nausea. Although she doesn’t seem to experience inner physical discomfort here, her mind is not as lucky.
She has never felt so frightened and alone. She feels the cold, clammy walls of some type of rock against her skin and all around her. If it is possible for her to sense these things, could she possibly experience pain here? Her mind reels from the thought as she looks inward, seeking out the extent of how she experiences sensation here. Her body is forced over into a bent position, and she cannot stand. While not a pleasant experience, she only feels the idea of pain in her lower back, as if by merely thinking that she should feel pain, she does.
She is blind. There is no light in this place. She imagines that she hears a roaring or a rushing of wind through the passage, but other than some ghost of sensation, she has no evidence that it is so. There is a wall to her back, which means that there is only one way to go. She moves forward. As she continues ahead, the passageway becomes narrower and narrower until she is forced to her belly. She thinks of retreating but finds that the way behind her no longer exists. With every palm moved forward, a palm of her retreat disappears.
Amunet panics. She lies in a coffin that is getting smaller with each cubit forward. She is sure that she will never see the sun again. Nor feel the wind on her face. A sob escapes her, and she crawls forward, her nails digging into the pocked crevices of the porous walls as she drags her body onward. Her phantom nails break, and she does indeed feel pain. She imagines her bleeding nails left like bits of cheese in a trap and fears what rats they might attract here. Surely, in this world, there might be creatures who would wish to feed on her blood and bits.
Amunet’s breathing is ragged, and she feels as if her lungs are weighed down with the hot and humid air of a crocodile’s breath. After what seems hours, she stops her tortuous advance, exhausted and hopeless. She cries out in her anguish. “Ma’at, save your Anointed One!”
At once, there is a reply. “You must save yourself, daughter.” It is barely a thing heard, and so quickly gone that she is sure it has been imagined. But it gives her pause. She is no mere babe. No neophyte, unused to the ways of the Duat. No fresh initiate more intent on playing with friends than learning of her purpose in life. No, she is an Anointed One, a Scale chosen to follow the path of magic and justice.
Her breathing resumes a steady pattern, and she realizes that she must learn how to exist in this world. She is not here as some physical body whose lungs need to take air in and out. She does not have nails with which to lose in the walls of this place. No walls can contain her. Here, she can be whatever she needs to be. She is but spirit here, and a spirit needs no body.
All at once, she is free. She exists in a vacuum, formless, and outside of time. Her mind is empty, her will stripped away. She is no longer an Anointed One nor a Scale, rankings nor titles meaning nothing here.