I’m excited to share an excerpt from my new novella Healer of the Nile, which has been included in the just-released box set HERE BE MAGIC. Can Mehyta, a village healer, persuade the god of Fate to help her save Tadenhut, a soldier trapped between Life and Death? I’ve mixed magic and ancient Egypt with a bit of romance (of course!), to tell a new tale of life in 1550 BCE.
Here’s an excerpt:
…. Mehyta shrank against the wall as servants carried an elaborate litter into the room, followed by the lord and lady of the estate, accompanied by a grand personage in a gold trimmed robe, who she realized was Pharaoh’s physician, as well as several high ranking soldiers. Peeking over Simut’s shoulder, she observed Tadenhut unmoving on the litter, eyes closed, face pale. His arms lay at his sides, palms down on the thin mattress.
As the servants transferred the limp patient to the bed, the royal physician said, “I’ve done everything possible within the canons of good medicine. Pharaoh felt Tadenhut should be at home, now that his fate is so clearly in the hands of the gods.”
“Pharaoh is kind,” Lord Wadjmose said, his jaw clenched. Lady Nebetta squeezed his hand and he gave her a grateful, tired smile.
As the litter and the litter bearers exited the room, two more servants carried in a large chest, decorated with inlaid faience and turquoise. Nebetta directed the men to set their burden in the bedchamber itself, against the wall.
“Where’s the local doctor?” said the man from Thebes.
Simut left Mehyta’s side and bowed. “An honor to assist you, noble sir. I am Simut, trained in Memphis, at the temple of Sekhmet.”
The royal physician pursed his lips, nodding at the impeccable academic pedigree. As Wadjmose and Nebetta moved to the bedside to stare at the unresponsive form of Tadenhut, the doctors drew aside to confer. Mehyta tried to be unobtrusive as she followed Simut. If she was required to assist him, she’d better hear the instructions.
“I’m to stay the night and leave in the morning,” the visiting doctor said. “Pharaoh doesn’t want me absent from his court for long. I’ve brought an ample supply of drugs, more than you’ll need by the looks of our patient, but the Great One insisted we be generous, in case you lack anything here. We have specialized medicines in Thebes, after all. “He opened the chest and removed a papyrus, handing the scroll to Simut. “Doses and spells for administering them.” He leaned closer to his colleague and lowered his voice. “It’s a miracle the man’s lingered this long, frankly, with his injuries. Pharaoh is fond of him, regards him as a friend and a shieldmate, and Tadenhut saved his life in the battle, sacrificing his own for all intents and purposes. There’ll be gold of valor in the trunks we carried here from Thebes, which will adorn the soldier’s tomb nicely. He takes a good record into the afterlife. Now let me show you the proportions of the night medication.”
As the two men fell to discussing the merits of one potion versus another, Mehyta let her attention wander. Simut would tell her what to do. Her healing skills and the herbal remedies she used were in no way related to the Egyptian practice of medicine, but learned at her late grandmother’s knee. She stared at Tadenhut, gaunt, pale, lying on the bed equally oblivious to his father’s grief and the learned doctors’ chat. Lady Nebetta lowered her head, dabbing at her skin carefully, so as to not mar the kohl and malachite perfectly outlining her large brown eyes. No actual tears fell. Her son was next in line to inherit the estate when the current heir died.
When Pharaoh sends injured warrior Tadenhut home to die, his noble family asks Mehyta, the local healer, to ease his path to the Afterlife. Mehyta discovers he’s trapped between Life and Death, caught in the dreamspace. Touched by his fighting spirit and will to live, Mehyta vows to use all the powers Shai, god of fate, gave her. Together Tadenhut and the brave healer battle to overcome his injuries, as well as threats from devious family members. While struggling to rescue her patient, Mehyta comes to realize he matters more to her than any man ever has before. But even if his life can be saved, what do the omens say about a match between a highborn soldier and a simple healer?
I have an article over at USA Today Happily Ever After featuring Q&A with my fellow authors!