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The Queen and The Dragon

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“You are destined for greatness.”

As she rarely exerted the willpower, it took a royal effort to inhibit an eye roll and force the façade of chastened daughter. Though her father, the Mummy, suffered from the occasional moodiness toward her superior behavior, his current mood had most assuredly elevated to full blown anger and demanded the absence of any and all royaler-than-thou gestures.

Everyone knew of Ramses de Nile, the renowned antiques dealer, who specialized in magical amulets and other ancient Egyptian artifacts. However, if any monster could see him now they would see he’d almost completely lost his quiet mask of sophistication.

“Nefera, I have instilled in you and your sister, Cleo, the knowledge that you are second to no one but you seemed to have taken the message to an uncomplimentary extreme. Your sense of entitlement is hindering your destiny and, in connection, disgracing the De Nile family name. This I cannot allow.”

“But Daddy, Cleo is off gallivanting with that reptile boy on Petros Isla-“

“Cleo has registered for Booversity in the fall to study geometry. Her aim is to reconstruct historical monuments utilizing her strength of mathematics. In fact, she’s aiding the normies in the renovation of the Parthenon. If she wants to enjoy herself in Greece she deserves it. Cleo has drive and, most importantly, focus. You do not.”

“Daddy, you don’t even like Deuce! And she-”

“You will cease interrupting me, Nefera.” His stern black eyes demanded obedience.

“And for the record,” he continued, “I have outgrown my prejudice against Cleo’s friend. I had the chance to speak with him and he’s honorable, though no one is good enough for my Cleo.

I used to be Daddy’s favorite, Nefera sighed.

And no more diverting the situation with talks of your sister. I am talking about you to you.”

“Yes, daddy.”

Her complacence seemed to mollify the Mummy papa.

“Now, what is this I hear that you stole a gold tiara from the ghoulery store?”

“Well, I’m destined to inherit the De Nile throne and every Queen needs a crown! And this one matched the orange gem on my cheek perfectly! Besides, how dare those peasants attempt to accuse me, a De Nile, of stealing?”

“I see you feel no remorse. After all the grave robberies our ancestors have suffered in their eternal resting places, I find it despicable that you would resort to thievery.”

Nefera bowed her head in shame. She hated disappointing him.

“I’m sorry.”

“The time for apologies has passed. It seems I must employ drastic measures to ensure that you are worthy of inheriting the throne. You have feelings of grandeur while having an unwelcoming personality accompanied by dozens of half successes. Perhaps, I have done a disservice to you...”

Her father had never been this brutally honest to her, and it hurt. It hurt knowing what he really thought of her. She had been taught never to doubt herself. It was disheartening and quite confusing to realize that the person who raised her to think like this was the same person that was telling, no ordering, her to tone it down. Nefera de Nile was not a ghoul to tone it down.

Seeing his daughter’s dispirited expression, he tipped her chin up in his burial wrapped fingers. He continued in a gentler tone,
“Nefera, do you know the significance behind your name? It means ‘inner and outer beauty.’ You have outer beauty to spare as anyone near you can see. As for your inner beauty... I have seen glimpses of it and it far outshines the other, but it seems to be a treasure you hide from everyone. Don’t be so distrusting, my child. I have never doubted that you will be great, Nefera. You just need to learn a few more life lessons and I know you will be the greatest Queen the De Nile Empire has ever seen.”

Nefera’s amethyst eyes glistened at her father’s words. He had pegged her right; he was her father after all. Yes, she was very distrusting especially after the betrayal of Amanita Nightshade, her first and last true friend. A betrayal at a time when she needed someone the most. Though it had been over four thousand years, the pain of the loss of her mother was still fresh. Due to a political uprising, her family had fled to a tomb her father had prepared beforehand for emergencies. Her mother was supposed to rejoin them in the tomb, but she never made it. The mystery of why she never rejoined them never gave her closure. And so the wound had never healed.

Her father rarely talked to them about their mother. She supposed it was because it pained him too much to think of her. Still, Nefera recognized the moments her father looked at her and saw the purple eyes of her mother staring back at him. That was her favorite feature because it was the only thing she had of her mother’s. Cleo had been born with mother’s legendarily beautiful black hair, while Nefera had long blue hair, like the Nile, with gold and black highlights to resemble her mama’s silky tresses.

“Now, daughter, I have decided you will work in the family antiques business. Meeting the Gorgon boy gave me the idea to expand the company to incorporate Greek antiques and artifacts. Due to the recent expansion, I’m shorthanded and require assistance. I have hired a freelance antiques dealer who specializes in Greek culture and heritage. He is the executive on this expansion project. His name is Draco Gorgon. He’s actually cousins with Deuce Gorgon, son of Medusa’s sister Stheno. Anyhow, here is where you come in, daughter. You will be his assistant.”

Nefera had nodded attentively throughout her father’s explanation, up until the point he said she’d be a lowly assistant. She was slave to no one!
She huffed, “Father! I figured I’d be the boss since it’s our company. Assistant to an inferior gorgon!? I do not assist, I am assisted to!”

Unyielding, he responded, “Draco is a great talent in this field and I trust his judgment. You will be his assistant and you will be respectful. It’s important to start from the bottom and work up the pyramid, daughter. It builds character. Nothing is greater than starting from nothing and finishing with everything through hard work and perseverance.”

She agreed to follow his wishes, not that she had much of a choice. No matterregardless how queenly she acted, she would always seek his approval and be daddy’s little girl.

“Your first day is tomorrow. Draco will be expecting you in his office at 8 a.m. And-“

“What?! That’s so early! My undead sea mask treatment takes a minimum…,” she trailed off on a tangent about beauty sleep schedules and the customary 72 hour warning prior to any engagement to pick a bitetastic outfit.

Meeting yet another obstacle, he forwent discussing her work responsibilities. He’d let Draco handle that tomorrow. He’d accomplished enough today. He disliked having this conversation with his eldest, but he loved her too much to allow her to destroy herself with her narcissistic and selfish ways. It was a parent’s duty to steer their children onto the path of greatness. Ramses mused over the frightmare in store for Draco Gorgon. The determined young man knew when to budge. However, the steely look in his hazel eyes revealed no small amount of stubbornness as Ramses had witnessed in the recent contract negotiations. On second thought, he decided maybe Draco was just the manster to handle this ghoul queen-in-training.