Prelude

I was found four thousand years ago in the deserts of Egypt. I was given unto the Temple of Mertseger and raised as a priestess for the little-known goddess.

I was on a journey for the Head Priestess when I was little over sixteen Inundations old… the caravan was attacked by bandits. They left none alive.

Myself included. I did not know what had happened to me when I woke among the dead and the jackals and vultures taking advantage of the free meal. It was nearly two hundred years before someone found and trained me, for I remained at the temple until the village below was deserted and remained on the mountain even after, maintaining the temple in honor of the goddess and the woman who raised me as her own.

She named me Sa't Mertseger—Daughter of She Who Loves Silence—and the name held even after the goddess herself was long forgotten. Eventually my name was shortened to simply Sa't, Daughter. I hold to my first name still when confronted in the Game, and in my heart. Heart and soul, I never forgot the goddess to whom I had been given as a foundling child. For the sake of her and the High Priestess of the Temple, who had taken me in, I still go and pray at the temple at least once every century, though the building has long since fallen—or did. The mountain of the cobra-goddess is still home to my mind.

In the modern age, though, I answered to the name Sharon Mercy and was called 'kid' by people four thousand years my junior. Still, it was a good life, if only one knew how to look…

I had a student who pretended to be my aunt, looking out for me after my parents had died, and friends—both mortal and Immortal—who were there when I needed them.

Yes, it was a good life.

Then everything changed.

A young Headhunter, barely over three hundred, caught my 'scent', as it were. He stalked me, believing me to be a young, easy target. He believed Karen Lutz, my student, to be my teacher. And he challenged her.

She was nowhere near ready to face one of his strength and skill, barely forty and less than ten of those years Immortal.

I got there too late and he took her head near the bounds of Stonehenge, barely outside the Holy Ground.

How dare he?

I should not have done as I did, but I was furious. My students were family to me, and there were precious few of them… I challenged him. He was a bare child by my standards—I had over three thousand years' experience on him, and having been challenged relatively often as I look like an easy target—and it was poor form to challenge so soon after a one completed, though not precisely against the Rules…

I took his head, closer to the stones than his taking of Karen's, and, as the Quickening ended, stumbled into the circle.

Oh, foolish, foolish move. On touching one of the stones, a bit of the still-settling energies sparked from my hand to ancient rock—there was a painful, wrenching jerk and I felt like I was falling…

xxxx

Don't own any but a few of the characters. Settings throughout the story don't belong to me.