Schrodinger lowered her head and was silent for a long while before answering: “Yes, I did not pass that final test, but I was not destroyed in the judgment of fate either, and this is the achievement which I obtained from three hundred years. Although I am still a cat, I perceive myself as Bastet, the cat goddess.”
Amon lowered his head and looked at her. “So you are not just an ordinary cat, since no cat can be as amazing as you are. You are the imprisoned cat goddess, Bastet. That’s what you perceive yourself as. Even though you don’t want to hear me mention the name, a fact is a fact. You are different because you once were guided by the Ennead and lived a wonderful life. So you need to cut off all ties with them and give up everything you have, or you will always be in this status. You don’t want to be the goddess in the shrine, but you didn’t give up everything Bastet once experienced and possessed.”
There was great reluctance in Schrodinger’s voice. “Osiris had asked me to open my spiritual imprint to him, but I refused. Everything I had was the result of three hundred years of practices, all the hard work, fights, pains… it’s impossible not to cherish, not to mention to give it up.”
Amon said: “I understand you, but the achievement you obtained from three hundred years of practices is not your spiritual imprint, but the three hundred years of time you once have enjoyed, the life and power you once experienced. My goddess, look at the mortals of this world, what do they get in their whole life? What do they still have after death?”
Schrodinger’s head lowered even further. “You’re right. If three hundred years of wonderful life is still not enough, what about the mortals living in the dust? I’ve had enough misery for holding it, it becomes my burden. I may be the most extraordinary cat in the world to you, but who can understand my suffering?”
Amon certainly knew Schrodinger’s pain, having witnessed her spiritual imprint and felt what she had been through. Amon gently brushed the cat’s fur and changed the subject: “You refused to give your spiritual imprint to Osiris, but you were willing to open it to me.”
Schrodinger whispered, “No one can take my imprints against my will. Osiris, Bair or Nietzsche, none of them is worth me taking the risk. You are the only one I choose.”
Amon stood up and said: “It’s time to tell you my discovery now. You may already know it, but as a bystander I see it better. Let’s go talk in the shrine, the shrine I built for you.”
The young man and the cat left the residence and walked through the courtyard towards the shrine in the backyard. Amon’s courtyard was so large, it was actually an open field where one could ride a horse around, and the shrine of Bastet was built at the location with the best view. Under the setting sun, they walked very slowly, their silhouettes gradually growing longer. As they stepped into the shrine, the last rays of the setting sun just happened to disappear at the top of Mount Horeb in the distance.
Amon stood with his hands behind his back in the center of the shrine, gazing at the statue of Bastet on the altar. The goddess’s statue had the head of a cat with a mane of long hair like a lion, while beneath the head was the body of a young girl, graceful and tempting.
Schrodinger, upon seeing Amon so engrossed in looking at the statue, felt a little embarrassed and asked: “Who are you looking at and what are you thinking about?”
Amon replied, “I was thinking about the endless arising and ceasing cycle, it is like a river that has no end which eventually flows back to its source. It is as if experiencing and witnessing many lifetimes. I am able to see everything so clearly, but I cannot pull a single thought for any of it. What’s the key to the way out? Forgetting or leaving behind? I cannot tell the nuance. I witnessed it in your spiritual imprint. And I have been thinking about it since. It could be the journey of life for many. It could also be the multiple lifetimes experienced by one. But would there be a difference?
After passing this test, you are who you are and you now obtain the source of eternal power. You are goddess Bastet, not any other being on earth, not those who lived the lives in those past journeys of life. Your achievements come from the guidance given by the Ennead, so you still have to follow the vows you have made. You don’t want to be the goddess Bastet in the shrine anymore, you don’t want to repeat what happened in the past three hundred years, but you still recognize it, cherish it and you don’t want to really move on. That gives Osiris the power to seal your power and cage your soul. As you have told me, the test is not a one-time thing. You are trapped in the cycle. The way to freedom is simple: cut off the ties, leave it behind and move on. Only when you cease to exist will Bastet be truly free.”
Schrodinger lifted her head to also look at the statue and murmured: “When I cease to exist? Then where will I go?”
Amon was actually a little afraid to look back at her and sighed softly. “You have accomplished far more than I have, and if even you do not know the answer, how will I know?”
However, Schrodinger stubbornly shook her head. “No, I must have an answer from you. Even if it’s just a guess, I want to hear it from you!”
Actually, Amon had already thought of this answer, he just didn’t want to say it. But since Schrodinger pressed him for the answer, he had no choice but to say: “I am not sure where you will go, but I know where you will be. Perhaps in the future, you will be in someone’s endless arising and ceasing cycle. But by then, someone will not be the cat goddess Bastet. She will see everything you have experienced like I did, but she cannot pull a thought for any of it. Only by doing that can she pass the test. Someone may be lucky enough to pass the test, or maybe someone will never be lucky enough to even meet the test.”
Bastet closed her eyes: “I understand. Actually, I should have been able to see this long ago, but I refused to see the truth.”
Amon finally turned back and looked at Schrodinger. “You are always able to see the truth. All you need is someone else to say it to you. I am that someone else, and you unfolding your spiritual imprint to me is the process. Thank you for telling me the secrets of everything you have accomplished in your life.”
Schrodinger still closed her eyes. “Yes, I can finally put down this burden, but when it comes to the end, I still can’t bear to let go of everything.”
Amon asked softly: “What else can you not let go? Would you rather continue being like this forever?”
Schrodinger finally opened her eyes, which was surprisingly filled with tears. “I am ready to let go of the three hundred years of life as Bastet. The only thing I cannot let go is you.”
Amon didn’t know what to say as he certainly couldn’t bear to let the cat go either. Ever since the day he left his hometown, Schrodinger had been accompanying and guiding him all along. Amon couldn’t even imagine what he would do without Schrodinger. But he finally hardened his heart and said, “I am also one of your experiences as Bastet. The prison is not just about pain and misery, but also happiness and love. It cannot be easy.”
Schrodinger said in a pitiful tone: “Amon, can you tell me if you will ever recognize me again?”
Amon crouched to touch her, but his hand didn’t reach out. Instead, he lowered his head and said: “Maybe you won’t even know who you are. You will enjoy a complete new life. Maybe we’ve met before, maybe we’ll meet again. The spiritual imprint of Bastet was opened to me, and this is in your spiritual imprint too. So I will be in your spiritual imprints whoever you are. In the future I certainly will recognize you and you will certainly recognize me. With my current accomplishments I shouldn’t be able to do this, for I haven’t passed the test myself. But our fates have been so deeply tangled. I believe I can recognize you with this special bond.”
Schrodinger closed her eyes again, and tears fell from the corners of her eyes. The goddess finally understood what she wanted in this lifetime. Amon suddenly felt something behind him. The statue on the altar suddenly seemed to come to life, and he hurriedly stood up. Then he heard someone behind him say: “Amon, are you looking at me?”
It was the voice of a woman truly speaking, not a voice from the soul, and he turned to see her again. The cat named Schrodinger had finally become a woman, with the same body as the statue on the altar, but instead of the head of a cat with a lion’s mane, she was a pretty woman with lovely lips and a slightly turn-up nose.
Amon took a step forward and said: “I finally see you, you are finally free.”
Schrodinger shook her head gently. “No, I am not truly free yet, this is just a farewell before I leave. I have regained the power of Bastet temporarily, but as soon as I use that power, I’ll be truly gone.”
Amon: “Perhaps there is no need for you to go so soon.”
Schrodinger: “There are things you can’t understand yet. By using the power of the goddess Bastet, I can help you fulfill one last wish, and that would mean that I will disappear from this world for good. But, I don’t want you to see that scene. Before sunrise, I will leave.”
Amon looked at the starlight spilling over the entrance of the shrine and opened his arms toward Schrodinger, “At least for now, the sun has not risen yet.”
Before sunrise the next day, Schrodinger quietly left. Amon sat in the shrine for three days without the cat by his side for the first time in his life. He didn’t know how Schrodinger would say goodbye to the world, but he knew Schrodinger didn’t want him to see that.
Amon, who had never been frustrated no matter what hardships he faced, had a deep sense of loss and powerlessness at the moment. Schrodinger moved on and he also had to. There were many things waiting for Amon in the distance, but he couldn’t muster any interest in them. He just sat alone in the shrine as though hundreds of years had passed.
Three days later, Amon finally walked out of the shrine and sent one of his servants to report to the city of Heliopolis that a messenger from Celia had come, and that he was about to go to the duel that had already been arranged, and entrusted the lord of Heliopolis with relaying the news to the capital. Amon was merely informing the duel to the Pharaoh, not applying for one, for agreement of the duel had been witnessed by the sovereigns of each country, and there was no need to consult anyone, including the new Pharaoh. If he did not show up for the duel, the honor lost would not only be his, but also that of the empire.
After the servant departed, Amon departed as well. He crossed the Nile without any followers in a small boat alone, and when he reached the other side he did not tie the boat but simply let the boat drift away. Without Schrodinger, without a leather bag, and without his iron stick, Amon walked empty-handedly, with only the rib of Osiris hidden inside his body. All the important things were in the rib.
Amon did not travel stealthily. He walked along the big roads. When he arrived at Heliopolis, his arrival surprised the governor and the local garrison, all the nobles hurriedly came to receive the Supreme General. They asked why he had come alone, and Amon answered frankly at the banquet which they prepared for him that he was going to the duel that the world knew about, and produced the letter sent by a messenger from Celia.
So that was it! The Supreme General drew admiration from everyone present for his decision to travel so far all by himself for the duel. When Amon departed, the governor sent a carriage and guards to escort him.
Word spread quickly, and as Amon passed through the various cities, there were grand receptions along the way, like a welcoming ceremony. When Amon arrived at Cape, the welcoming ceremony reached its climax.
Rod Drick, the nomarch of Cape, personally went to the border of his territory to greet him, and the generals of the Ra Legion lined up to welcome the Supreme General, ushering Amon into the city in great numbers. Most of the generals here were old subordinates who had followed Amon in the battlefield through life and death situations, and they treated Amon with great respect, similar to how they treated a god.
Aside from the reception he received along the way, Amon did not make a special trip to say goodbye to anyone, nor did he make personal contact with anyone, and he even held back from going to Memphis to see Maria, as it was a trip that he would not return, and his private actions could cause trouble for those concerned. Because of the new Pharaoh’s religious reforms, the current Ejyptian Empire was very sensitive to many matters.
Rod Drick had escorted Amon all the way across the Red Sea, and expressed a great desire to accompany Amon to the duel and be a witness. But Amon firmly refused this request as he did not want to get the governor into trouble.
The landscape of Cape had changed dramatically, a flooded area appeared at the original defense line at Khenmet, becoming part of the ocean. The locals called it the Red Sea, since Khenmet meant “red rocks” in the local dialect. It formed a natural barrier, leaving only a narrow passageway at the southernmost tip, and this was the place where the Ra Legion was currently heavily garrisoned. The southern tip of the Red Sea was now not only a military fortress but also a bustling market town.
As Amon passed through the area, he realized that Moses and the rest couldn’t possibly leave the divine realm of the Ennead by land, because there was only one narrow path and it was a heavily fortified checkpoint. If the fugitive slaves wanted to leave Ejypt, they could only cross the Red Sea.
The time Amon arrived at the town, after the long trek, Moses and the other Ducians also reached the shores of the Red Sea a hundred miles away from Amon.
Starting from the outskirts of Heliopolis, through the cities of Bubast, Djanet, and Cape, Moses and the rest had travelled on foot for six months. The journey on foot through deep valleys without wagons or animals was extraordinarily difficult. The disciples sent by Seth hindered them in many ways, and they encountered terrible storms on the way, as well as huge hailstones falling from the sky. Overwhelming locusts had eaten up all the leaves in the mountains and fields they passed, and animals had fled far away from their route, leaving them without supplies of food.
Moses, armed with the iron stick, overcame the dangers with the help of the Twelve Judges, while Metatro and Lynk used every trick and method at their disposal to deal with the disciples of Seth. When the ragged Ducians finally reached the Red Sea, they were finally unable to continue travelling on foot. Lynk directed Moses to lead his people to harvest wood and quietly build boats in the valleys by the sea, intending to escape across the sea in the calm of the night.
But for many days the Red Sea was so windy and rough that they had no way to cross and had to be stranded in the valley and wait. Even if Metatro and Lynk were anxious, there was nothing they could do about it, as they had already made an agreement with the disciples of Seth that neither side would directly intervene.
But the boats had already been built and the winds and waves on the Red Sea could not possibly cease. Thus far, the disciples sent by Seth did not manage to make the Ducians give up their faith by any means. If Moses crossed the Red Sea, he would have left the divine realm of the Ennead. But at that moment, something that Amon had been worried about for a long time finally happened.
While Amon passed through the southernmost land passages of the Red Sea, Rod Drick made his way back to the city of Cape on urgent business, for an important guest had arrived, and it was Prince Snek of the Ejyptian Empire.
Prince Snek was the eldest son of former Pharaoh Ramses II and brother of the current Pharaoh. His arrival in the Cape was said to be due to an important mission, a personal order from the Pharaoh himself, and Rod Drick did his best to cooperate. As for what this mission was, Rodd Drick had no right to ask.
In fact, Prince Snek was not on good terms with the new Pharaoh. As the eldest son of Ramses II, he had failed to inherit the throne, but he still had his own faction power and vast territory in the country, and he was not submissive to Merneptah. But this time Merneptah had ordered Prince Snek to hurry to Cape due to an oracle given by Seth himself.
Seth had ordered the Pharaoh to stop Supreme General Amon from leaving the Ejyptian Empire. As for how to stop it, it was up to Snek to figure out a way. If he couldn’t do that, Snek had to catch up with Amon and read the oracle to him directly. But it was not good to make it public before then, and it would be best to persuade the Supreme General back by gentle means.
As soon as Amon left, Prince Snek arrived at Cape’s main city. Having heard that the Supreme General had already passed, he immediately sent mages to chase after him in a flying shuttle, saying that there was an important matter to be discussed, and that Supreme General Amon and Lord Rod Drick should return to Cape as soon as possible.
Rod Drick made his way back to Cape immediately when he received the order, but Amon did not do the same. He asked Rod Drick to tell Prince Snek: “Once I set out on this road, I will not turn back. This duel, the establishment of which was witnessed by both sovereigns, is a matter of honor and commitment for a warrior, and cannot be reversed. No matter what mission His Highness has, it will not be prioritized!”
There was nothing Rod Drick could do with Amon unless he let the Ra Legion capture Amon and take him back to Cape, but how would Rod Drick dare to give such an order? Besides, Prince Snek did not say anything specific, so Rod Drick could only go back by himself to tell the Prince that Supreme General Amon wouldn’t come to see him and had already continued his departure.
When Snek heard Rod Drick’s report, he realized that something was wrong, and it seemed that Supreme General Amon wanted to leave Ejypt. Because before that, Amon had already sent all his men away, and the Ducians who had become slaves had already fled. As such, it seemed that it was going to be necessary to keep him here by force.
Prince Snek intended to set out with his army to catch up with Amon at first light the next day, while that night, the priests in the Shrine of Cape were again given another oracle by the neterus. The group of fugitive slaves that Pharaoh had ordered the nation to seek had finally been found, and they were in a valley by the Red Sea, quietly building boats to cross the sea.
It was the last resort of Heqet and the rest, directing the pursuers to come and capture Moses and his people, who are now in a desperate place where they can no longer hide if they are exposed.