by Silverhope

The following is a work of fiction, and is geared toward the adult reader. Strong sexual themes and some adult language are included. It is assumed that the reader is of legal adult age in his/her country, and that local decency standards do not object to such works. The intersection of names or events with persons or events in real life is purely coincidental, and should not be construed as pertaining to such actual persons or events, their habits or proclivities. This work is copyright 2003 by Silverhope, a pseudonym for the author, and all rights are reserved.

Zanika studied the goodies laid out on the table with a growing excitement. The rings, the bracelets and collar, even the tall crown modeled on the bust of Nefertiti, all of it was precisely what she desired. She turned to James with a smile; "James, this is all perfect! But where did you get all of this? It looks like real gold and jewels!"

James shrugged slightly. "I have my sources, don't worry. They're some of the best prop makers in Los Angeles County; when they say something looks like the original, they could swear out a court affidavit on it. If you're really going to do this, you might as well look as authentic as possible. This way, when they put you away, you'll make the best looking corpse in the cemetery."

"They do say leave a good looking body," she replied, putting out her cigarette in a nearby ashtray and exhaling the last of the smoke. "And doing it this way, now instead of waiting for the damned AIDS to do its thing, I'll have some control on that."

"Are you really sure you want to do this? The treatments are getting better and better all the time."

"And more and more expensive all the time, as well. My insurance gives out in a month, James. After that, nothing to do but sit back and let the virus titer increase until it overwhelms me. At least we're living here in Washington, where I can do assisted suicide right now legally."

"I think they were thinking in a little more controlled environment than this. Okay, though; let's do it if you're determined. It'll be a damned shame to lose a good friend like you." He sighed and turned away, and Zanika saw his shoulders start to shake.

"Hey!" She reached out and took him by the shoulder, making him stiffen. "We agreed, no tears, remember? You don't think I want to die, do you? But, if it has to be like this, I want it on my terms, okay?" She wrapped her former lover in her dark brown arms and rocked him back and forth, kissing his neck until he sighed again and let himself relax and nod. He was not convinced, but he would acquiesce at least. "I'm going to go pee and get ready, okay? You get the stuff arranged, and you can start painting me when I get out of the john."

"Alright, Zani," James said. She kissed him again and left him there; after a second more, she sighed again, and began the final preparations for her plans -- although he was going to throw in a small curve or two of his own. Actually a large curve or two, but he doubted Zanika would object....

It had been two years ago that Zanika Ndake, a Hollywood scriptwriter, had been diagnosed with HIV following a contaminated blood transfusion that had slipped through the screens. As she said, her self-bought health insurance was about to give out. Bought during her younger days in the top of the bubble economy, when she had thought herself invulnerable, she had not bothered to read the fine print too closely. The policy had been lousier than she had known; she had fought for most of the first year for approval for the AZT and other therapies she needed. By the time she finally won approval, the virus had progressed to full-blown AIDS, and a nasty strain at that. It was, as they knew, only a matter of months. And so Zani, whose family had maintained for centuries that they had been descended from the lines of the pharaohs of Egypt, had chosen to die in a manner fitting that tradition.

In his mind, though not in his heart, James Carperman, a studio makeup artist, sympathized and agreed with her, and had been persuaded to help her along to the next world. Now they were in Washington State, at James' vacation house on Puget Sound, preparing for that passing in earnest. Or at least that was Zani's plans. The love they had once shared for three years had never completely died in James' heart; and, whether or not that, she was too young to die from some stupid disease. James shared Dylan Thomas' sentiment about going gentle into that good night, and doubly so when the one dying was only 32, and he had some way of helping her.

He opened the first can of liquid latex, and began stirring in the coloring agent, adding a powder to it that he had found at the magic shop he frequented as a practicing sorcerer. This was the first part of the surprise he had for Zanika; he couldn't cure her, but other things could be done besides simply killing her as she desired. Zani had never believed that his magical studies in his off hours were more than a pastime; of course, he had just been an apprentice back then. He was considerably more powerful now, though not in the way he would have liked to be for her sake.... As he stirred, the latex began glowing with a bright light deep in its liquid heart, then quickly settled back to the golden color she had specified. That was just the reaction the sorcerous catalyst should produce, and he nodded in satisfaction.

Then the door opened, and a naked Zanika came out of the bathroom. Involuntarily, James sucked in a breath. Not yet touched by the ravages of the disease, she was tall and lithe, graceful as the dancer that she had worked at for years for exercise. Her arms and legs were long and strong yet, her body trim and well shaped, her breasts firm and bouncy. She had sported a magnificent set of dreadlocks for years; but for the purposes of her planned suicide, she had shaven her head smooth and removed the wig that had concealed her baldness, which seemed to accentuate the African beauty of her large nose and lips in a strange way. Resolutely, he shoved away the natural reaction of his body for now.

"All set?" Zanika grinned; she knew what she must be putting him through, standing here in the nude. They had been lovers at one time, parting amicably and remaining friends. That history had helped her convince James to help her with this suicide plan. Idly, not for the first time, she wondered why he had decided to start growing that curious goatee beard he had been sporting for the past month...though it did make him sort of resemble a pharaoh himself. A rather handsome pharaoh, at that.

"Yeah," James said to her question, pointing to his left. "Just step over on that mat, so we can keep down the mess."

"No problem," and Zanika moved over. It was weird to feel her body still moving so well at her command, and yet know that she was essentially a walking dead woman. Well, soon the fact would become apparent to all, not just her friends and doctors, if she didn't do something now; and if you were supposed to leave a good looking body, then by damn hers was going to be the best ever seen. Not to mention what the archeologists would go through if they dug her up in a thousand years or so, she laughed in her thoughts. And she was going to go out in a way that would make her forefathers and –mothers proud; the only things missing would be real gold and jewels and a pyramid.

"Here," James said, passing her something as she stopped on the mat; "a sort of going-away present for you."

She shook her head with a sad smile at his remark, then glanced at the long object. And then her eyes popped. "A -- a vibrator??"

James shrugged. "Well, why not go out with a smile on your face? It has a timer on it; just push this button twice before you insert it, and it'll give you a few minutes before it starts up. It's set for low at first, then will progress upwards at a random timing."

"Weird, but sweet." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Another moment, before she quirked a smile and added, "Why not?"

"Here's some lubricant," and he handed her a tube of jelly.

"Thanks." She tapped the timer button as he had said, then greased the vibrator liberally before bending down; she was strangely amused to see him turn away as she opened herself and eased the toy inside her labia. Straightening back up and clenching her legs shut, she said, "Okay."

James turned back around, and picked up an alabaster goblet shaped like the Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis. It contained a colorless liquid, and Zanika drank it off with another sad smile and gave the cup back. Then James took a sponge brush in a latex-gloved hand: "Here we go." And, dipping the sponge in the liquid latex, he began spreading the first coat over her naked black body. A few minutes later, a thrum kicked gently in within Zanika's vagina; she moaned and shifted, while James grinned and continued working.

It was a little difficult to think with the vibrator's stimulation going through her, but Zanika felt a sweet affection for her old lover; it was nice of him to give her such a pleasant sendoff. The poison she had drunk was slow acting and painless, according to James, and this vibrator within her would make the last moments even more pleasant. It was a bloody shame it had to happen at all, but this would be fun, in a strange way. Having experimented with safe-sex fetishes in her time, the inspiration for the latex in the first place, there was nothing overly unusual in the vibrator to her mind...just its use now.

James finished the first coat quickly, muttering something to himself all the time, while Zanika forced herself to keep as still as possible and not twitch from the vibrator. Then she saw him come over with a hand hair dryer; clicking it on, he started passing it rapidly over her body, and she felt the latex quickly curing and contracting -- far more than normal for liquid latex, which she had some experience with. It was a little disconcerting, but still enjoyable to feel her legs, then her arms and body squeezed more tightly than she'd ever been before. It made the pleasure ratchet up another notch, while the latex cured into a gleaming second skin about her body. She felt herself starting to tremble -- or trying to tremble. She unexpectedly noticed a fresh facet of the goop, that she could not move. What the hell was going on?

"What's going on, hon," James said suddenly, "isn't the latex, or at least not completely; it's also in the drug you took. That wasn't poison in the cup; it was partly an arcane paralyzer I discovered at the magic shop. When coupled with the activation spell I've been mumbling, it selectively freezes the muscles of the ingester; at full strength, it should last for some seventy to one hundred years. You can still blink your eyelids, but that's it. Another component of the potion allows the taker to exist without needing nourishment, again for maybe one hundred years. That way, you won't need to worry about food."

James?? Can you hear my thoughts?

"Loud and clear, Zani."

Why the devil are you doing this?? I told you I want to die now; what's the use of giving me these potions, even if they do work, when the AIDS is going to take me in a year anyway?

James stood and looked in her eyes with more than friendship. "Because I couldn't let you kill yourself. The next component in the potion places your metabolism in a controlled suspended animation, keeping the disease from spreading even as it preserves you. The combination allows me to turn on and off your gross movement at will, while your internal muscles can still flex. I can't cure you, Zani; but I can help you stay alive until someone does find a cure, which they should in about forty to seventy years, according to the auguries."

You're serious? You can actually do this?

"And you thought all that magic stuff I was fiddling with was bogus," James grinned; "but as further proof...." He waved a hand, and Zanika suddenly felt herself floating upwards toward the cathedral ceiling. She stopped, she saw, when she had risen about four feet. James knelt down and began dabbing golden latex on her feet, saying, "As for the rest, why not let you indulge in your fantasy? I always thought you a goddess before, and this will help confirm you in that status, after a fashion. And you won't get bored, either, I promise. For one thing, that vibrator has an arcane power cell; it'll last as long as the rest of the spells, but it'll fade and increase in intensity, so that you'll never be able to predict when you'll come, or how hard." He mentally crossed his fingers as he told her that; little did she know now, but the future was going to be a hell of a lot more fun than a simple vibrator could produce.... "There's more to it later, or will be, but you'll see then." And he dipped and continued painting away, while Zanika sighed and moaned mentally in delight.

Ten coats later, with the time long past noon and the sky darkening, Zanika had been so thoroughly coated with the latex that her body had been rendered perfectly smooth, all of her moles and other imperfections hidden beneath glistening gold. The only "bumps" left on her surface were from her areolae and nipples. The last coat of the stuff had contained a diamond-sparkle additive, adding even more to the shine of the stuff. And the curing process of each coat had increased the tightness across her body, until her musculature stood out in incredible hyperdeveloped relief. Sighing with fatigue, James laid aside the pot and brush and stripped off his gloves -- the fourth pair he'd donned in the process -- but smiled with satisfaction. "Perfect; of course, you were perfect before, but now...," and he waved a hand with a wider grin. "See for yourself," and she began rotating where she floated in the air. There was a full-length mirror on the wall; her eyes, carefully painted so that the lids were covered but able to open, focused on her image.

She automatically clenched herself onto the buzzing vibrator. She had become a smooth golden statue of herself, and she had never known that she could be so beautiful. She wished deeply that she could move to caress herself and help out the dildo in her core -- and then she felt it kick in more strongly, and her mind cried in delight. She raced even higher than she had been so far, though she had climaxed twice as James worked on her. "Perfect" was the right word for her; she had played with liquid latex in the past, but never in gold color. Now, aside from the clearly rubber appearance of the substance, she could have passed for a golden statue in a museum, carved by a Grecian master.

"Ah, but that's not the end of it," she heard James say. Light suddenly engulfed her, making her close her lids, the one thing she was allowed to move, in reflex. In that darkness, Zanika felt something -- twist -- about her, pleasantly not painfully, throwing her to another level of ecstasy. When she opened her eyes again, and the dazzle had cleared, she saw herself as before, except for some difference about the latex; it glowed even more brightly, and now looked distinctly metallic. And the tightness had increased, especially about her chest and waist; she was deeply grateful that she did not seem to need breathing for survival now, as she wasn't sure she could, her chest was so constricted.

And then James came into view beside her said, "What do you think now?" A wave of his hand again, and she floated to the ground; then she suddenly shuddered, and he reached out to stabilize her. "Oof; you heavy now, kid."

Zanika did feel much heavier, but not out of proportion to her body. But that wasn't important; she wanted to touch herself, to know what it felt like beneath her fingers, if that was possible. She brushed a hand over her arm, and paused when she heard a distinct metallic clink, as if crockery were being stacked in a pile; and she did find that she had sense of touch, for her fingers contacted...metal. It took a few seconds to realize that she was no longer covered in rubber, but in metal; she was actually coated in real gold. Her eyes went round in amazement, and she felt herself draw in a breath far deeper than she believed she could have. Whipping around to James, she gasped, "How???"

James grinned and shrugged. "Magic." He carefully brushed a hand over her face, making her moan in pleasure and press her cheek into his palm. "I traded some favors to get a few large pieces of Philosopher's Stone for this; that was the sparkle in the last coat of latex. But something was also in the drink as part of the suspended animation potion. Not enough to make you immortal; no sane person wants that, believe me. But it was enough to react with the transmutation, and the serum was throughout your system. Everything sandwiched between the two ‘layers' of potion was included in the spell."

"You mean--" Zanika whispered.

He nodded. "It's not just your surface, hon. You're now gold, living solid gold through and through. Before you start worrying, it's reversible, otherwise I wouldn't have done it to you."

"By who??" she said as softly as before. "You won't be here in fifty or a hundred years!"

"How do you know?"

"How do you know?"

"Because I have this planned. Ride with me, and you'll see. Please?"

Zanika looked deeply into his eyes, but saw nothing except love and sincerity and absolute certainty there. She had always been able to read his emotions, if not his thoughts, like a book, and this was no exception. Finally she shook her head in the affirmative. " if I had much choice in the matter. I'm glad you have a concrete slab floor here; if I'm really solid gold, I'd break through an apartment floor."

"I know what you mean," he said cryptically, but turned away and picked up something before she could question him. He handed her a bundle of golden satin and other stuff she could feel beneath. "I need a break to clean up; why don't you take these in the bedroom and put them on, enjoy for a half-hour or so. Then I'll prep the makeup and finish you."

"Okay," and she kissed him on the cheek. The slightest touch of his flesh made her moan again, and she kissed him once more, then reach for him and turn his face to her. This kiss was full on the mouth, deep and heavy, and he was suddenly wrapping his arms about her and pulling her golden body to him, kissing and caressing her. She was quickly crying out in joy and tugging at his shirt, then his belt and pants --- the latter slightly difficult, because he was already quite erect and hard. But he was naked soon enough, and she had dropped a golden hand on his erection, massaging it to keep him up while she continued to kiss and embrace him. Then his mouth was on her hard, gleaming breasts, the nipples frozen by her transmutation into permanent erectness, while his hands brushed and caressed her back as if he was playing a flute, each touch sending another delicious shock through Zanika's libido. It was not very many minutes before James had scooped her up and carried her into his bedroom, laying her out on his bed and draping himself over her. She kissed and hugged him one more time in delight, then lay back, pulled the vibrator from her labia, and opened herself to him; and as his penis slid home and he started pumping in rhythm, began crying out in sheer pleasure. Never had her sense of touch been so sensitive, so linked to her sex centers! She began coming almost immediately, and kept on crying for more until James finally shouted in triumph, his face screwed up as he climaxed powerfully, then fell across her in near unconsciousness.

It was a few hours later when both woke up, Zanika's stirring rousing James. They gazed into each other's face with renewed passion as full consciousness returned, and Zanika murmured, "Gods of my mothers, that was incredible! Is that part of the magic, what we've just been through?"

"Yeah," James whispered, a delighted grin stuck on his face. "You're filled with residual magical energy, and it often manifests itself as sexual energy...though I'd like to think that there's still something there for me."

"If there wasn't before, love, there is now." She stroked his cheek tenderly, moaning again as a fresh shaft of inflamed pleasure shot through her. "I don't think I want to go through with this now; survive or die, I don't want to let you go."

"Don't worry about it, lover," he said; "remember, I have things planned."

She stared at him a second. "What do you mean? That's the second time you've said that."

"You'll see; I promise. Like I also said, ride with me, and all will be revealed."

Zanika sighed after a hard stare, but finally said, "Okay.... But another thing; if I'm solid gold now, how were you able to lift me up?"

"That, too, will be revealed, I promise."

"Mmmm; quite the man of mystery now."

"I was before; you just didn't believe me when I told you I was a magician on the side."

"But if you have this power, why--" She waved a glittering hand.

"Why can't I heal you?" He sighed long and hard. "Believe me, Zani, I wish I could. I'm just far better at transmutation and transfiguration than healing. I can barely heal a paper cut; I definitely can't touch a disease like AIDS, and the mages who can charge hundreds of thousands to do it, as well as living in New York and the D.C. Even if you went to one, you'd need a second or third mortgage to afford the treatment; it's long and involved, and takes tons of arcane ingredients. Believe me, this is the only route I can offer you."

"Well, I'm glad I came up with the scenario."

"So am I. Come on; I think we're both rested now, and we can get on with the last parts. Did you leave the clothes out there?"

"Yeah; I dropped them in our progress," she grinned.

He grinned back. "Hang on, then," and he rolled out of bed and went out, returning a minute later with the pile of golden satins he had given her before. Dropping them on the bed, he then went to his closet and opened it, pulling out extraordinary things: a pair of woman's thigh boots with heels that must have been six or seven inches high at the clear stiletto heels, and made of gilded gold leather stamped with dozens of Egyptian hieroglyphics. The toes were capped in some kind of crystal, and the edges of the cuffs, which reached almost to her hips, were encrusted with the same glittering crystals, a band an inch wide on each.

Zanika stared at the objects for a second, then said, "Kinda against what I'm aiming for, isn't it? I know, I know; 'Ride with it.'"

"Right; I promise, all will be revealed, and I swear you'll enjoy it. Okay?"

"Okay." She got up and kissed him, gritting her teeth against the surge of sensation, and backed off to take the boots and place them on the floor. James nodded, and left her alone to change.

She came out twenty minutes later, and James smiled in appreciation. The one-shouldered golden satin gown was cut to her measurements perfectly, hugging her aureate flesh like a second skin, and leaving nothing to the imagination where it touched. About her hips, she had buckled a kirtle of golden leather, stamped with mystical symbols and her name rendered in royal cartouches. She had donned the boots, and was now walking toward him, the crystals flashing from the toecaps and heels and the cuffs of the uppers. The arms she held out to embrace him were encased in another anomaly, a pair of golden leather gloves that reached to just below her shoulders, loose enough to let her pull them on herself.

"God, but you're getting more and more beautiful," James said, and kissed her again; pulling back quickly, before they lost themselves once more, he took up a cup of brazen metal and offered it to her. "One last potion, love; then we finish up here." Zanika nodded and quaffed the liquid, grimacing slightly at the metallic taste; then James motioned to a chair set before a lighted makeup mirror and table. With a smile, she quietly seated herself. James froze her muscles again, and began examining the reference materials one last time.

Tack boards around the portable mirror stand carried several dozen pictures of Egyptian women from tomb walls, as well as vidcap shots from documentaries and movies of Cleopatra and other royals of the Land of the Desert. All had been selected by Zanika as her preferences for what she wanted James to do. Using these as "notes," he began the slowest, most careful makeup job he had ever taken on; it was nearly eleven at night when he finished. And as Zanika, again unfrozen, examined herself in the mirror, she saw why James was one of the best in the business. Her lashes were now the thickest they had ever been, augmented by using false lashes, and their lids were as thickly lined in blue-black kohl in the classic fashion, then shadowed in royal blue and purple and dusted with just enough gold dust to give a rich sparkle to the color; the paint rode below darkened brows of the deepest black. Her lips now glowed in a moist ruby red, making it hard for James to resist kissing them and spoiling the job. The longest part of the work had been on her shaved skull; he had insisted on doing something up there, and had produced a page of hieroglyphs that he taped up on the mirror. Taking an artist's brush and a pot of blue ink, he had painstakingly duplicated the glyphs on her smooth golden skull, explaining that it was a blessing and prayer to Ra-Osiris-Horus for their protection. But she had seen a slight glow in the mirror as he worked, and felt the now familiar tingle of magical power along each fine brush stroke, and realized that there was more going on here than his simple explanation spoke of. She let it pass in peace, trusting in James' promises to her and his love for her, now burning again in her own heart after a few years dormancy.

"You are a master, James," she said aloud with a sigh of satisfaction. "You could command triple what you're getting paid by the industry, you know."

James merely shrugged, but Zanika saw the glow of pleasure in his eyes. "And now," he said, "if Your Majesty will stand and allow me to assist her in the rest of her dressing." He held out his hand, and Zanika gracefully dropped her own gloved one in his and stood. But, before he let go, a shot of power zinged through the connection between them. She popped her eyes in surprise, then gasped even more as she felt the gloves rapidly tighten about her arms until there was no looseness left, as if they had been vacuum-sealed to her "flesh." So did the boots suddenly suck down to encase the length of her long golden legs, and the golden web that covered her golden body become even tighter. Somehow, she found as she carefully flexed her arms and bent her knees, she could still move in the new constriction. "Amazing!"

"Even more is coming, I promise," James whispered huskily in her ear, making her shiver delightedly with the promise those words carried. Slowly, lovingly, he began picking up the costume rings and bracelets and sliding them onto her wrists and fingers. A long snake armlet was wrapped around her upper arm, its ends glinting with clear stones in the room lights. Then he took up the ceremonial collar of an Egyptian queen and stepped behind her to wrap it carefully about her neck and shoulders, snapping the several catches closed. A goldtone metal cap followed, just a trifle loose upon Zanika's smooth skull of real gold, until he shrunk it to fit her precisely. And, at last, what she had been waiting for -- James picked up the tall conical headdress of Nefertiti, "The Beautiful One Who is Come Among Us." Kissing her gently on the brow, he ever so slowly lowered it onto her head, while Zanika closed her eyes and savored the moment of her "coronation." She soon felt the weight of it on her head and neck, its mass falling behind her and making her raise her head up until she opened her eyes and looked out at the world from a royal tilt. James nodded, and said, "That's all. Take a look."

Zanika smiled, then turned and regally strode across the room to the full-length mirror. She no longer saw herself, but a Woman of Royalty, a master of Earth, subservient only to the gods in heaven. She glowed in the richness of gold, the only deviation being the prop jewelry she wore. Then a fresh blast of James' magic encircled her; she could feel its warm, comforting sizzle across her body. And the jewels suddenly glittered and gleamed as much as she did; the stones in her rings and earrings and the many pieces in her collar split the light into thousands of rainbows. The tall crown of Nefertiti, before a dark blue piece, suddenly glimmered as gold, while the weight had strangely vanished from her senses. She spun back, the skirt of her gown flapping, and gasped, "Did you---"

"Yes," James grinned, dropping his hand. "After all, a goddess-queen doesn't wear ersatz. And now...." Another motion, with words added this time--

And Zanika found herself standing in a large, high-ceilinged chamber with white-plastered walls, lit by burning oil lamp-torchieres all about. The walls were covered in paintings and hieroglyphs, indecipherable to her; the wall she faced first held a large portrait painting of her, sitting on a throne and holding the crook and flail of Egypt crossed before her breasts. The duplicate of that throne rested before her on a three-step marble dais, carved in black granite, veined through with gold, incised with hieroglyphs of virtue, as well as with the disk of the sun god Ra and the Wings and Eye of Horus. Doors were in both side walls beneath the chiseled glyphs and paintings; one was sealed with doors of what appeared to be gold, while the other was without doors. Through the archway she could see the bright gleam of gold from hidden objects, shimmering on the walls in the flicker of more torches.

She stepped across the polished marble floor and ran a gloved golden hand across the throne's smoothed stone surface, smiling sadly. After all this, she somewhat regretted what she had talked James into doing...or, rather, what James was doing to her; she had provided the framing story, but James had doctored it to his own specifications. But if this gave her a fresh chance at life, Zanika was going to embrace it, and she thanked him deeply in her heart and mind for the opportunity.

She turned again at the crackle of energy behind her, and saw James standing there, a golden crook and flail grasped in one hand, a heavy cape of gold with Egyptian holy symbols, the wings of Horus and the ankh of life, engraved all over its outer surface. "We almost forgot these...."

"We wouldn't want to do that," she said quietly, suddenly wanting to prolong the moment. Looking about her again, she added, "You never told me about this, either; where are we?"

"In the big hill behind the house, the one you were walking up yesterday. There's a cavern in its side facing the Sound. I simply adapted things to our needs. Do you want to take a look around?"

"Yeah, I think so...if you'll come with me." James nodded, then stared at the sealed doors; they swung smoothly inward without a sound, and he gave Zanika his hand to assist her.

Outside her "tomb," she found a grotto within the hillside. A wide path had been slagged into the stone and smoothed for walking; Zanika ascended it, one hand still in James' to keep him with her, the other plucking up the hem of her gown to avoid tripping. They reached the mouth of the cavern in a few minutes, and gazed out together; the lights of the small town lay below them past the sight of James' house, and beyond that Puget Sound, with a freighter discernable by its running lights and the sound of its horn. Two minutes stretched into five, and five into ten, until Zanika sighed and said, "Did you take care of my will and other papers before you left L.A.?"

"Yeah," James said. "In my own fashion, of course. I found a witch friend to cast a spell of illusion on herself, and she posed as you; she signed everything you own into a blind trust, and gave your lawyer papers naming his firm the administrators until you reappear with the proper code words to release the trust. A caretaker will be hired to mind your house."

"You were really confident that I'd go through with this."

"I know you, remember? Three years together taught me a few things about you. Once you make a choice, it's made. I just gave you an opportunity for life instead of suicide, and allowed you to reassemble your life with the minimum of fuss when you come out. As for this place, I have spells on it that will gently dissuade all but the most determined who try to explore in here. If they try to go through the cavern opening, they'll usually want to turn immediately around. The rooms should be safe."

She nodded, and finally said, "Let's go back down, then." She led the way, and with every step her confidence returned to her. A hundred years was a long time, but it would eventually pass by. What would the world be like then? The thought made her more eager, and she passed back through the chamber doors with good will restored. The doors swung shut behind her, locks clicking into place; and an ancient seal, the seal of the royal necropolis of Egypt, strung through loops on the doors, marking their closure until the inmate had risen to eternal life.

Within, Zanika stepped back onto the dais and faced James. "Are you prepared?" he said.

"I am." But, before he could do anything, she came to him and kissed him on the forehead in thanks. He grinned, and she felt a sizzle of energy across her lips; he must have fixed her lipstick, since she had left a big ruby imprint on his forehead. A second later, the mark disappeared, and she grinned back at him.

She returned to the throne, and allowed him to fasten the voluminous cape about her neck, then at last reclined onto the high seat. James fussed a few more minutes about her, arranging the cloak to smoothly and completely surround her shoulders and body, then retrieved the crook and flail and gave them into the Queen's hands. She crossed them in front of her, a golden duplicate of the painting behind her, and said, "I thank you for all of this, James, more than you'll ever know. I just hope you weren't handing me a line about being around to pull me out."

"I promise you I wasn't," James murmured; he raised his hands and chanted. This time Zanika felt herself beginning to freeze into place, though more slowly than before; she was surprised by how rapidly he was finalizing affairs, but quickly composed her face into a mask of serenity, just before the effect hit her in full. And now a beautiful golden statue of a queen of Egypt sat there, not moving, not breathing, gazing out on the world with power and surety and confidence in her face. Even her eyelids could not move now, and the spell had converted her eyes themselves to glittering sapphires.

"I promise you I wasn't fooling you, Zanika," James said again, gazing down on her. He bent over and kissed her again, on her lips covered in myriad small brilliant-cut rubies, and passed a loving hand over her brows of diamonds that flamed in the firelight of the torches. Her shadowed eyelids now sparkled with thousands of tiny sapphires and amethysts. The other jewels she wore glittered as well, even the diamonds that he had converted the crystals on her boots into. All the jewels had fused onto her body, including the crown, so that she even more seemed a beautiful golden statue, should someone break past the wards and enter the tomb. "And I promise you something else, that you won't be alone for a hundred years, either. You'll see in a few hours; until then, love." And with that, he disappeared from her view, melting into the air.

Zanika, still conscious within her frozen golden form, puzzled over this, though it was now impossible to frown. And then she realized several things: one, she was still conscious, and two, James had not given her back the vibrator. Suddenly, she was sincerely hoping that he would soon return, and fought to compose her thoughts. A century of solitary confinement like this would leave her stark raving crackers before long....

Some time later -- she had no idea how long, but assumed it was the few hours James had mentioned -- a ball of light erupted into existence at the other end of the chamber. Zanika's eyes were beyond dazzlement now, and she simply watched it coalesce into a duplicate of her own throne. The hieroglyphs on the wall behind it suddenly seemed to melt and morph; and when they were done, a new portrait had been added to the chamber -- of a golden man in costume similar to hers, a tall golden staff in his hands. "Do you like, my royal love?" she heard James say, and he came around from behind her throne. His chest was bare, smooth and golden; he was dressed similarly to the painting as she was to hers, with the royal cloak of protection about him and the Blue Crown of the Warrior Kings on his head. The long goatee beard that he had sported was now explained to her; it was now also a long length of curly golden hair. Truly, he was a fitting consort for her personage. "I think you can see now how you'll be kept company over the years, love. I couldn't let you kill yourself, and I couldn't let you go alone."

And so you're going to freeze yourself into a statue along with me? she thought at him. Not the greatest of ideas, though I'd love you to be here. Besides, you have a life of your own yet; I'm in here...well, partly by choice, and partly by your lovely, loving manipulation.

"And you'll be glad of it when we emerge from here in 2103, love. But I have as few strings holding me to the world outside these walls as you do, and I've sworn me an oath to King Osiris to take care of you for the time; the Egyptian gods are holy to sorcerers, and he'll listen. As for me, I've been transmuted for about a week already; that was how I was able to lift you up after you changed over. I've just been under a full-sense illusion until now. I've put my affairs into the same sort of trust as I did yours, with the same lawyer. Barring economic or societal meltdowns, we'll both be prepared when the time comes. Of course, just in case, I inscribed that spell on your skull; it's not just a prayer, but an incantation. It's sort of like a time-release lock that will break all the spells in case I can't. As for this costume and makeup," and he waved a golden hand topped by a golden wrist bracer across himself, "it was easier to prepare myself with magic. The longest part was for the latex treatments to dry. This is an amazing feeling; thanks for coming up with it."

Glad to oblige. But are you just going to sit here with me for a hundred years now? We're good conversationalists, but I think we'll run out of topics in that time, unless we see a newspaper or a hundred.

"Don't give up trusting me yet," he laughed. "But first things first." A quick kiss for Zanika, and then he seated himself in his throne. A few minutes were spent in adjusting his cloak beneath him and getting its lay right across his gleaming shoulders and body; then the tall golden staff of his wall painting appeared in his hand. Setting the heel of the staff in a socket on the floor, he murmured words of power that Zanika just heard, and set his face. Moments later, she saw his eyes turn into solid blue crystals of sapphire, and his brows become decorated with diamonds, his lips with rubies. The Warrior King had joined his queen in their long home. Then Zanika heard in her head, Do I make a good statue, love? A rippling feeling of laughter permeated the question.

Beautiful enough. And now what?

Do you remember that last potion I had you drink?

Yes; is that part of the long-term plan?

Indeed so. Let your mind go while I activate it; just relax and let the sensations flow through you.

Okay, she said, and forced herself to relax, simply gazing at the stern golden beauty of her love in his new throne. Then she gradually felt sensation dissolving around her, vision beginning to blur, her mind hurtling upward and outward from her body--

Zanika blinked and drew in a sharp breath, then stared about her. The chamber within the mountainside had vanished, though a quick glance showed her golden appearance had not altered in the least. But she now stood on a stone porch above a long white limestone staircase, looking out across a large city of white buildings and mud-brick lodges and apartment houses. Beyond the city, all was sand and heat until the eye met a distant line of green along a river course. Graceful birds like herons or ibises flew through the air of a deep blue sky, bluer than any she had ever known before. A bright sun burned in that blue sky, raising gleams and glare off Zanika's golden body, the beams fracturing in the heart of the gems she wore. Banners waved in the cooling wind from tall poles running down the sides of the broad steps.

"Do you approve of your kingdom, my queen, my love?" James' voice said, followed by a step behind her. Without turning, she simply extended a golden, gold-gloved arm. A golden hand took hers a second later, and she calmly turned to look on her golden lover and pharaoh. Pleasure filled her at his touch, matched by the sight of him before her eyes and the clean scent of him, redolent of sandalwood and frankincense, in her nostrils.

"I do indeed approve, my lord," she said to him, falling automatically into the rhythms of the role as if she had been born into it. "Is this truly Egypt, then?"

"An Egypt of the Otherrealms; we are here by crossing through a door created for us by the last spell I cast. All here is real because we will it to be so...more properly, I will it so. The will gives reality, and the reality enforces its own consistency. But I will teach you the spell, so that your mind will share in the creation, and even create other realms as well for us to visit."

"How so?"

"Do you think this is the only world the spell can take us to? Not even we, with all of unchanging Egypt about us, are fixed points within the power surrounding us now. Behold."

The world of Egypt melted about Zanika. Now she stood in an apartment lavishly furnished in a very futuristic fashion -- at least if your future vision was shaped by terminal reruns of The Jetsons. James stood before her, as golden as he had been when he seated himself in the tomb; but his Egyptian costume had been exchanged for a fitted suit of silver foil material, with a coat of the same stuff over an open vest. Its shoulders were piped in a heavy silver rope wound with green cords. He stood before a floor-to-ceiling window, and the view was of open space, cold and dark and empty, as opposed to the warmth of the world about them. James said, "Take a look at yourself now, lover," and pointed behind her.

Zanika turned to face a floor-to-ceiling mirror, and gasped at the complete change in her appearance from the queen of Egypt. Now she was wrapped in a super-tight emerald green jumpsuit with a halter neck. The plunge of the halters just covered her golden breasts, leaving their swell invitingly exposed to view. An overgown was placed on top of this, also tight, with a skirt that fell to just above her knees; the hem was done in two inches of silver rope. Her gloves had been replaced by green gauntlets with huge flared cuffs at her wrists; her boots were still there, down to the diamond stiletto heels, but had been changed to the deep green color, and the leather was smooth and unadorned by jewels. Silver and diamond bracelets wrapped her forearms in solid runs to just below her elbows, while diamond and emerald rings glittered from her gloved fingers, and a necklace of diamond and emerald brilliants in silver circled her throat. And a massive tiara of two dozen diamond stars on stiff silver filaments of varying heights sprung from a silver headband, creating a sparkling constellation of stars deep within her massive pileup coiffure of open black arabesques streaked with glistening green and purple highlights. Emerald lipstick coated her mouth; and diamonds glittered from the edges of her black-lined lids, adding sparkle to the black whipped crème of her lashes and her thick green eyeshadow. The whole of her head was framed by a tall standing collar attached to a full-length cape of green and silver satin, hemmed all about with a palm's width of diamonds and emeralds.

"What are we here?" she breathed, turning back to James.

"I'm the richest industrialist on planet Zanika," he grinned. "Yeah, I had them name the planet for you." He stepped over to a side table and opened a box there. "Would you care for a cigarette? It's been a long time since you had one."

"Yes, please," Zanika said, and joined him at the table. As she took a long, blue-wrapped cigarette with a golden filter from the box, she saw an intriguing thing: a thin golden cigarette holder encrusted with several rings of diamonds, with both a diamond bell and mouthpiece, that must have been nearly a half-meter long. Smiling at the completeness of the scene, she fitted her cigarette into the holder and held it to her lips; James lit it for her with a table lighter, followed by his own cigarette.

Without thinking how natural it all felt, simply accepting the control the spell was exerting on her actions, she drew deeply on the holder and blew out the smoke over her shoulder with practiced, seductive skill. She posed with the holder in her fingers, smiling at James from beneath artfully drooping lids, an open invitation. She said, "And so here, we're not limited to anything."

"All the possibilities are here, waiting for our minds to tap them," James said with a nod, his own grin sliding into knowing at Zanika's clear invitation. "But there is something waiting for us back in the tomb, as well."

"And what's that? You've been so full of surprises that I wouldn't have a chance to guess." She stepped closer to him and dropped her free hand softly on his smooth, bare golden chest, beginning to massage his nipples as she drew another puff on her cigarette.

He smiled even as he sighed in pleasure at her touch; his sensorium was as exquisitely receptive now as Zanika's. "You'll find out in three nights."

She exhaled a long cloud of smoke and tapped off her ashes in the ashtray, not missing a beat as she continued teasing his nipples. "And what happens on the third night?"

"Mercy, you want to know everything right off! Haven't you enjoyed my surprises so far? I'll tell you this much...the moon will be full in the Real World in three nights. And then the most enjoyable part of your ‘exile' will come."

"More enjoyable than this, lover?" Her tall-heeled boots gave her enough height to bring her head level with his. She leaned in and planted her lips on his, her green tongue plunging deep into his mouth as she wrapped her arms around his neck; her golden cigarette holder stood above his head, the cigarette forgotten in her passion. James instantly pressed back and pulled her to him, returning desire for desire, the sorcerous energy flowing through both pushing them on. It wasn't long before they had pulled each other to a nearby couch, and James was consummating their love in great earnest on Zanika's willing golden body.

Some hundred years of the most passionate, loving sex she had ever known? Zanika reflected in a brief moment of lucidity, before she climaxed like a volcano, that it might have almost been worth it to have received that lousy infected blood transfusion.

The next three days were not spent only in sensational lovemaking, notwithstanding the passion that had been renewed between Zanika and James. Despite the attractions of living as an empress in an ancient land, Zanika chose to start their new life in the retro-future world. James' spell gave her perfect knowledge of any world that they would create, and so she knew precisely what she could do and where she could go, and took advantage of it. A teleport ride to "Earth" gave them the chance to explore a strangely familiar yet alien world. Mornings were spent shopping at the most expensive stores they could conceive of, with Zanika buying outrageous fashions and jewels. The first two evenings gave her an opportunity to wear the new costumes; they were spent at delightful supper clubs, followed by visits to, unbelievably, pleasure houses, where Zanika found that she could enjoy sex with more than one person and still keep her love for James alive and intact. She even tried a session with one of the female performers; while she found it interesting and satisfying, she decided that this was one aspect she would not indulge in frequently.

But the third night, instead of going out, James simply smiled at her and asked her to sit down, joining her on the divan she chose. He kissed her deeply, then closed his eyes; and Zanika felt the world dissolving about them, her mind and spirit plunging back down into a receptacle. A few seconds later, she was gazing across the darkened tomb at James in his Egyptian panoply, the room lit by dim green magical luminescence instead of the torches. As I promised, love, he thought to her, here we are. Actually, it feels as if we're a little early.

Early for what? The moon? Zanika replied.

Indeed so. But I get a sense of building selenosorcerous energy, so it shouldn't be long.

Whatever you say. I just barely understood that word. You're the sorcerer, not me.

Would you like to be my apprentice?

Apprentice?? Are you serious?

Quite. It doesn't take anything special to do magic, other than will to enforce your desires in some cases. And, lady, you've got plenty of will!

I'll take that as a compliment, Zanika said dryly, but with a smile in her voice. And as for tonight, what's the special event?

You'll see in about ten seconds...five...three, two, one.

Promptly after James said the last, Zanika felt a flood of energy shoot through her, followed by a release of her body from its fixity. The torches flared back up in that instant; James stood, and she quickly followed suit, laying aside her crook and flail. "Is it over? Have you warped time somehow?"

James shook his head no. "It's simply another facet of the spell. I added a twist that allows us to ‘wake up' on the nights of the full moon. The moon is powerful in sorcery, and I can use it to temporarily waive the paralysis without breaking the suspended animation. We can be together here every lunar month, free to do what we want, until the time comes that the auguries are fulfilled."

"Anything we want?"

"Anything," he whispered again, the sapphires of his eyes glinting. Zanika nodded then, and he needed no words to understand that bob of her golden head. He had left his staff standing in the floor socket; now he took her hand and squeezed it, dropped a kiss into her palm, and then led her quietly into the chamber she had not yet seen.

Within, she saw a treasure trove that James must have created or transmuted with magic, treasure such as Howard Carter must have beheld when he opened the tomb of Tutankhamun. Statues of the gods of her ancestors, gilded furniture, open coffers filled with coins and jewels, personal possessions suitable for a royal family, all placed in a large hall, arranged as if it were a combination living quarters and temple -- the riches of imagination were laid out for her use in the afterlife, if she had been an actual Egyptian queen. Then Zanika turned to the other side of the room, and saw things that delighted her even more -- an area set up for shared companionship. A comfortable loveseat was placed against one hieroglyph-covered wall, between two blazing torches; before it was an open expanse of floor that she could imagine as a dance space. And against the opposite wall was placed a well-cushioned bed, ample enough for the most energetic of lovemaking.

"A pleasant enough apartment for six or eight hours a month, wouldn't you say?" James murmured from behind her. More energy flowed through the room -- Zanika was becoming able to sense its pulse in the spaces between things now, even without training in sorcery -- and tall alabaster vases carved as papyrus plants formed in an instant, their flaring bowls filled with creamy white lilies and roses the color of passion and heart's blood. Their sweet scents drifted through the hall from the scattered urns, bringing more delight to her already swelling heart as she breathed them in.

"Gods of my mothers," she whispered, leaning back into James, "I wish you had been this romantic when we were first lovers, or else I was plain blind not to see this side of you!"

"The first, I think," James said, and wrapped his strong golden arms about her. "We did have some good times for that year; but they were almost all physical, and I was to blame for that. I finally got it through my head that love isn't just great sex; you've got to hold and please her--"

"You've got to try a little tenderness?" She twisted to grin impishly into his face.

"Ooooh! I'd forgotten how fast you were."

"But you have it right.... Although, from what I'm feeling trying to poke into my ass right now, your body has other things in mind." She reached back to grasp the hard golden shaft of his penis, permanently erect from the gilding of his body.

He moaned in delight, though all he said was, "Ehh, that thing; it has a mind of it's own. Although I wouldn't mind an opportunity here in the Real World...."

"Perhaps later, lover. For now...," and she whispered in his ear for some little time. He smiled and nodded, and flicked a glance at the ceiling, laid out in the ancient constellations with tiles of golden stars and lines of pure gold. A soft, slow music began playing from those stars, making her smile even more. "The Music of the Spheres?"

"If you like," he grinned back. He flicked a finger at Zanika's pleated satin gown; a second later, she found a slit in the front, stopping just short of her navel. She turned to him then, draping herself squarely over James' erection, feeling its hard head slide across her labia and just touch her within; and they began to dance, making soft, gentle love to each other at the same time. Zanika felt him grow in height and smiled, then leaned into James' chest, savoring the feel of smooth gold beneath her cheek, the hard lumps of his nipples under caressing golden fingers. She flicked out an emerald green tongue and licked at him; and found the metallic taste of pure gold not only strangely unstrange, but massively intoxicating and attractive. She did it again, glorying in the added pleasure it gave both her and him. She could feel the desire growing in her, making her growl with need; but she resolutely pushed it down, banking it for later, when they were both ready to stretch out on the bed. She felt something beneath her chin, pressing her up; she stared into the crystalline blue of James' eyes. And then he was dropping his mouth on hers, and the feel and taste of rubies against her own jeweled lips was bliss to her mind and heart. Eagerly she returned the kiss, crushing her body tightly against his, before they went back to their weaving dance across the floor.

And so they continued exploring each other even as they danced, pausing to kiss and caress each other to near frenzy, then going back to the place before. Until finally, Zanika caressed James' face with a gleaming hand covered in rings, and murmured, "Please, now, love; take me now," in his ear. James needed no further encouragement; his mouth fastened on hers in a kiss of passion as he began pulling off her now loosened costume. The heavy crown was last; it hit the couch with a solid thump, and then he plucked her golden body up and carried her to the gold-covered bed. Soon, he was in her with determination and completeness, and their bodies climaxed together at the top of their passion….

...just as the spell that had freed them from their paralysis gave out and froze them in place on the bed. They were unable to separate themselves, and the intense pleasure continued scorching through them as they once again became statues. To Zanika, it was as if every cell, every crystal of her now golden body burned with Light and Sensation, unable to push aside, impossible to resist. She surrendered to it, and felt James surrender as well through their connection, somehow forcing her thought to take cover in a deep corner of her mind....


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