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"They shouldn't allow for women to be made like that. Her legs are too long...much too long. Damn it, the first thing you don't notice is her beauty. I've heard stories of her wrestling with men and winning. She is quaint but she is not delicate. I don't appreciate her strong looks. Look how she circles them with ambition. She has de-feminized herself. Her bosom could bear him no more sons that I can. Maybe that is why she won him. Maybe her long legs made it possible for her to STEP OVER my desires and overcome, no not over come...to conquer my king. That must be what it was...long legs and masculine ambitions of power..."
It had been many days. The king hadn't come to see me and probably because he knew he wasn't wanted around me. He had sent me gifts...many gifts as a matter of a fact. He sent me jewelry and perfumes. He sent me huge peacock feathers and all these imports he'd received from the Romans. There were huge chests of ivory full of all kinds of pleasures but I sent them all back.
"You are full of jealousy. Some would call it treason to speak of their future queen in such manner."
"But you are my slave...and you wouldn't tell."
"You needn't keep reminding me that I am bound to you. It's painfully obvious but there may be others about. Besides what did you expect?" Heb replied.
He wouldn't understand. He had no sympathy. I sat there grinding the leaves in the garden while he followed close behind with his superior gaze and patronizing tone.
"I expected for him never to marry."
"And have no heirs?"
"And the whole Emeric Dynasty should crumble because of your desire to have a king for yourself."
I nodded, "Yes and the whole country crumble with it because after me I don't even care. If they knew my pain now they'd say it was worth it. Damn it, is it so selfish? Is it so selfish to just want a man?"
Heb asked, "No, childish yes...and you are a fool, but hold on to your childish
simplicity. I think that is what
attracts him to you."
"Why are you being so nice?"
Heb didn't respond. His face just hardened up like it usually did and he turned away. I had just come across Heb of all people being pleasant to me. That was such a strange thing.
She had become the Queen before I had even known it. Weeks had passed and with weeks months had passed. It had finally happened at the end of the year. I didn't attend the celebration. The king had sent me off on a shopping trip to the Dahkla Oasis with Heb and a few other servants. He'd given me an unlimited shopping supply. I had wondered what it was about but deep down I knew. Of course I didn't question him. It was the motto in this palace. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. When I came back I found out from the little servant boy.
"Nyla is now a Kandace.
She had become a wife of the king but he had
shamed her by naming her Great Royal Wife."
Great Royal wife was the term presented to the Overall Queen or Kandace in Nubia. A pharaoh of Egypt was allowed many wives and concubines. Mostly his wives were in his family but the Great Royal Wife was the true Queen or the Overall Kandace. She was the only one with any political power. The fact that he didn't' give it to Nyla was confusing but still hopeful. As they celebrated I turned my head in disgust. The king continued to come to my room and continued on rare occasion even sleep in my bed. We never made love and every morning I'd wake up alone. It didn't matter just as long as I knew he wasn't with her I was fine. Still the fact that he didn't make love to me worried me. He was a man and men had needs. Of course he was a king. He had a whole harem to his will if he needed it. So why would I assume he was holding out. I never questioned him. I just allowed him to get closer to me. Each other day he would offer up his own information.
He'd say things such as, "I couldn't imagine a day now without seeing your eyes" or "It seems like finally I realize what I do this all for. It has something to do with you."
He came around more. It became very clear that the King was sneaking off. It was so clear that the guards had begun to stand at my room protecting it. They must have known he was with me. I'd wake up in the middle of the night to a huge supply of armed muscular men outside my door. Because they knew the king resided with me. Still it was Nyla was going to share the throne with him...Nyla who would be Queen and that worried me immensely. I wondered if she worried about me. She didn't seem worried when she passed me on her way to the gardens or the baths. She took many travels outside of the palace which was strange to me. Everything she needed was here, but she was the new breed of woman who loved to explore and be as masculine as possible getting in trouble all the way. I could care less. He never looked at her with a long look. They all knew this. It was clear knowledge. So why was I so jealous? Why did it bother me that she got the title but I got all the benefits?
Heb often mocked me for being childish and he was right. I wanted and wanted so much. I wanted what most all the other Nubians wanted but of course with them it wasn't so taboo. With them it wasn't two males or with them it wasn't trying to get the King of country to commit to one person. So I whined and I missed my mother and I threw tantrum.
Heb grabbed me by my hands and led me into the party.
The party took place at the Hall of Ma'at. It was a small feast in celebration of Ma'at and a dedication of truth, balance, order, morality, justice, law and citizenship in Nubia.
" Will he be here?" I asked.
"I doubt it. The king wouldn't bother himself with such festivities. The pharaoh only is arrives at the most pronounced of festivities."
It was my idea to come. Heb had warned me before that it would be a waste of time to make a presence here. He said that it woudn't help my plot any further. I wondered what plot he was referring to. Maybe he had judged me. He was mistaken because I had no plot, especially now with my mother gone, I just followed the rules that they all made.
Nothing even mattered to me.
"To the right you'll see some nobles. The families have been sponsors of the Emeric Dynasty since their beginning. Their financial aid had guided the Emeric Dynasty to accomplishments beyond compare. There are those who wish harm..."
I stopped the slave and grabbed the plate.
wouldn't do it if I were you," He stated grabbing my hand back, "There are many
who would wish you harm. You aren't the
most popular in Nubia and your defenses are
weak. I'm surprised someone hasn't tried
it already. "
"Heb...since when do you care about my well-being?"
"As you are so headstrong on believing I am not an evil person," Heb stated, "My task is to keep you safe and I plan on doing that through any means possible."
"Well I thank you, but still I don't think I'm a threat to the rich."
"You are. They've begun to talk and the people of Nubia only talk of threats. They say the you have the king around your finger. One of the Symbols of the Emeric is the asp. They call you snake-tamer. And it isn't a good thing."
Just at that moment the bells had rung. The crowd began to clear out. I turned to look around. I wanted to faint away as I saw how they swept the floor to make way for her walking into the room.
I walked to the back with Heb strong on my heels. We disappeared at the longest of tables. She was powerful now. She wasn't his overall consort but she could be. He could promote her at any time. Usually the first wife was the one who was given the honor. She was his first wife.
Nyla...Long Legs...walked in strutting as though she was riding a horse. Her tall demeanor was belittling. She meant to do it though. She meant to make people feel small next to her. She got off on it. I knew that much. I continued on trying to make the most of the meal. No one would talk to me. I had been somewhat of an outcast in the palace. I watched Nyla though. To say she was popular would be an understatement. Many had wanted her to assume the role of Pharaoh. She was however a woman and she was not clearly of royal blood even though the past king swore she was his. Still she had the gift of speech and the confidence of a politician. She worked her way around the crowd as though the entire party had been thrown for her. And she loved to be loved. She loved to be adored. The way they looked at her I could see that because she looked back at them the same way.
Then she came to me. Her eyes slanted a little bit as she walked past my table.
"Menice was it?" she asked.
She knew my name. The entire country had by now heard of my scandal with the king. I knew she knew my name. She paced around me though, the same way that Prince Chenen had done. This was a completely different sector now though. She was Queen now. She knew it.
"My Queen," I said bowing again.
I only bowed my head though, I didn't lower my back. I watched as her hand maidens looked at me. They were almost disgusted.
don't seem so powerful..."
"What do you mean?"
"How could you...small little thing that you are conquer the king?"
I got quiet. I wasn't going to speak on the issue. I wasn't going to argue or even acknowledge her bringing up the topic. Mother had trained me on it. I wasn't going to say anything that she could possibly use against me. I would play the innocent for now. I would act quiet and timid. Inside I was a lion though. My mother's ferociousness ran so deep in my veins.
One day even a Queen would know her place..
"Cat's got his tongue," the hand maiden said.
Nyla laughed, "Good thing I'm the daughter of Bastet...the feline goddess. As a matter of fact I just returned from Bubastis in Egypt. It was remarkable. Do you travel much Menice?"
"Of course not. You don't even travel around the palace. No one ever sees you. Why have you hidden yourself away?"
She was just like a lioness. I could feel the unbelievable strain from her eyes. It almost felt like she was stalking me. I felt the heaviness of her. The way she framed her questions was what worried me the most. Stories had come back about how the Kandace Nyla had a silver tongue. She spoke in riddles. Her intelligence was paralyzing and I was feeling that way now. I felt like each word she said was to cause me embarrassment. There were people standing there watching us. Some important nobles were present. So many people seemed interested in the way she tore me apart.
"I would think a young lad like you would be out hunting now with the king instead of at a silly old dinner," she stated.
"You think HE would go hunting?" a noble woman who had escorted her to my side dubbed in.
More faces turning my way. There were more ears on our conversation.
"Yes of course. Don't you see those burly arms," Nyla stated pointing at me, "He could wrestle an alligator with those things."
She was teasing me. They laughed at that point...completely on my accord. It wasn't just Nyla and her escorts. The other nobles were laughing as well. They all laughed on my accord. It was as if I didn't exist. It was as if I didn't even matter to them.
"I suppose he wouldn't have to wrestle. He could get his servants to do it," her sidekick stated.
"Nitokare how brilliant," Nyla stated laughing, "My apologies. You...oh great Menice...oh great thing that you are wouldn't have to engage in such sport. You must have a representative. I've heard that's been the new thing. Men send their servants to hunt for them. And how many servants do you have in the palace. I noticed no one was around."
"I have one..."
Nyla and her escort Nitokare turned to each other. Nitokare was the first to break the silence and snicker. They snicker turned into a straight all out laughter. Several who were with them laughed as well. It was a cold blunt laugh. It was almost as though they were making fun of me. I had become the jest without even meaning to. My cheeks quickly turned red. All the pride swollen up was wrestling my tongue not to say anything. She could possibly put me to death here if I did. The king wasn't around. Who would stop her? I had to hold it in.
It hurt so bad that I began to shake.
What hurt the most wasn't the laughing but the cold crippling smirk that turned on Nyla's face as she mockingly kept her glance on me.
"Oh my," Nyla stated, "You the most beloved of the king just has one servant. I have several hundred on my own. How rude of me. I can't believe my husband would neglect you in such a way. I'd have to ask an audience of him immediately. I may let you borrow a few sometime. God knows you need some extra help. Look at you...you must be turning sick. You are shaking ...poor thing..."
I couldn't take it any longer. I needed to leave.
Laughter had started rolling. The laughter scarred me as it kept on me. She pitied me! She PITIED ME! I couldn't take any much. The worst was that I could not leave her audience.
I had to ask her.
"May I be excused?"
"What...what was that?" she asked, "Menice you're muttering."
"May I be excused?" I asked once more.
It hurt more to ask the second time. Every word burned my throat. I wondered if she enjoyed it. If only I could speak my mind but she knew I couldn't. She was taking pleasure in allowing me to suffer like this to her...the woman married to the man that adored me.
Our eyes met...challenging one another.
Silence. The no dug through me. She let it sit and stir. She let it dig in my heart and I didn't say anything about it. I took it like I was supposed to. I took it like I was meant to. I didn't say anything though. I just raised my eyebrow somewhat surprised.
"I insist you stay around..."
I stayed. I stayed and watched as they watched me. They continued on with their party. After being humiliated, now I was being completely ignored. The servers didn't bring me food. They didn't include me in their local gossip. I just wanted to leave. I didn't know what was worse when it came to my pride. They all felt like they were better than me. I could tell how they looked down on me. Even the slaves looked down on me.
They didn't say anything to me. I had disappeared...
I was nothing and I was no one...
"You shaking thing!"
I couldn't help the tears dripping from my eyes and I ran into the room. Heb was there. I didn't know what it was about him that had me spilling out everything to him. Maybe it was because he was the ONLY one in the palace that was willing to speak to me.
"We are going to blockade you in this room tonight?"
you listening to me?"
"Aren't you listening to me...you may be in danger."
He was serious. I could see him grabbing some fabric and tying the door handles together. He was tying them tightly. I could see the look on his face that said this there was something to be concerned about.
"She is interested in you...that interest isn't a good thing. Nyla isn't a brute but you are a threat to her. Your relationship over her husband is very cloudy to everyone. People are talking and you know how things turn out when people begin to talk. You know how things get complicated.
"You are being dramatic."
"Oh...you talking about dramatics? You aren't in the streets anymore. The palace is a dangerous place. It is even more dangerous than the streets in Nubia sir. You are above your head in this one."
With that Heb sealed me in. He said he was trying to protect me. I didn't know. Nyla had wounded me already. Why protect me from possible assassins she may send my way? A part of me didn't care of those things. Tonight it seemed like she had already launched her first attack and she had already become something like a snake underneath my skin.
I couldn't sleep that night. I woke up to see Heb asleep on the patio which over looked the outside cities. He had really secured everything. I stood up and looked out into the beautiful city. She threatened to make me an isolated loner in a city that should love me.
I could see the Nile from the main palace. A small channel ran right through cluster of elegant palaces.
Days had passed and the loneliness began to wade in me. The pharaoh had been dealing a huge statue of Ra that would be attached to his new temple North of the city. The statue was pure gold supposedly and sent from the Hittite King Mursili. I hadn't known too much about the Hittite people except that they had been once great enemies of Egypt and the past pharaoh there. They had aided the Nubians in conquering Egypt and King Mursili had become one of Nubia's most cherished allies.
The gift of the statue was good for Nubia but it brought devastation to me. I couldn't see the Pharaoh. The only word that I got from him was a few roses left at my doorstep by a messenger every once in a while. I thought many times of running away.
I wanted to run away. Loneliness had begun to eat up at me. The Queen had completely isolated me with everyone in the palace. The nobles and the servants didn't even acknowledge my existence. I had become a shadow.
"The king has asked to see you."
It was the end of the month when they had come to get me. I hadn't known the king had returned. I hadn't seen the huge parades of nobles in the city. Then again I had locked myself away in depression. I looked over at Heb as the messenger had come to get us as the sun set in the evening.
They had dressed me in an all white robe that and fanned me as I walked. I recognized some people in the royal escort. I hadn't seen any of them by names but I knew their faces. The one man was ranked highly in charge according to the Medjay. He had very brown skin and was tall and very muscular. I picked up my arms and followed closely behind them.
were walking to the royal docks closely behind.
"Who are you?" I asked the man.
"Heb you should be ashamed of leaving your master in the dark," the man stated and turned to me, "Menice, I am Si Ren Boos ...Chief of the Royal Body Guards."
He nodded again in a very charming way. Chief Si Ren moved quickly. His presence was powerful. I could see how the royal scribes who littered along the docks quickly moved out of routes that the Si Ren could possibly take. They cleared a path for us quickly up the royal docks that led to the channel of the Nile which ran right into Kerma.
"Si Ren...what's going on tonight?"
"The king had returned and he entertains King Mursili," Chief Si Ren stated, "It is a very important event as the Taharqa will need support of from the Hittite in case the Egyptians should protest him moving into Thebes. Exclusive members of the royal family have been asked to attend. The boat will sail in luxury along the Nile to the grand first viewing of the complete new Temple of Ra in upper Kerma."
"So why am I here?"
"Many in Nubia are asking the same question..." he said but smiled in a way so charming that it made me think nothing negative of it.
Chief Si Ren Boos guided me up to the boat. So many eyes had turned to look at me again as I saw the boat. The boat was beautiful. It was a huge wooden liner that had torches lined up against the entire outside. The sale was a golden color but on the lower pier there were a 2 dozen strong slaves with oars that were readying themselves to row. On the upper pier there was a huge tent. The tent was decked with food and a few people stood there. On the middle tier were the guards.
"Just this way sir," Si Ren Boos stated.
I looked over at Heb who nodded as though letting me know I should do what the chief requested. Heb followed closely behind of course as Chief Si Ren grabbed my hand and led me up the wooden ladder onto the boat. As I got on the boat I could see it was exquisite. It was a sight I had never seen before. I was used to fisherman's boats. The luxury in Royal Nubia still seemed so shocking to me. It was amazing.
He led me to the top of the pier. Heb wasn't allowed on the top tier. He had to wait on the lower with the rest of the servants. On the top of the pier was the Kandace Nyla who sat closely to Nitokare. This must have definitely been an exclusive dealing. Usually they were surrounded by dozens of other women but today they just had an elderly lady who was to be in their company.
Closer to the food was Chenen. He was joined by his mother Kandace Amanirenas. Amanirenas still didn't seemed too interested in me. Chenen however smiled.
It seemed like the men definitely seemed much kinder than the women amongst the royals so far. There were several lighter complexioned people who must have been of related to King Mursili. All of them were women and children. I didn't know exactly who they were. Then there he was the King himself...Taharqa. He was standing next to a young lean boy. I presumed the boy was King Mursili. The boy looked younger than Taharqa. He was handsome. I knew those were his wife and children and I assumed he just started extremely early. He had been on the throne since he was 10 years old and now he was the tender age of 17. He didn't have many muscles like Taharqa or height even but his face was soft and handsome.
is the last of our guests," Chief Si Ren stated,
"Prepare to cut anchor and begin sailing up the Nile."
All of a sudden I felt alone and out of place again as Chief Si Ren left my side to make sure his orders were carried out. Now there weren't as many eyes uncomfortably judging me but these eyes were far more important in rank than just several nobles. These were kings and royal family members.
I was ignored again.
I uncomfortably just stood as I watched the boat sail across. I had never sailed the Nile before. I knew I was out of my league being on this boat. I knew I had no business being here. What was Taharqa thinking? Did he want Nyla and the others to criticize me? I saw on the faces of the royals how disgusted they were with me. Kandace Amanirenas refused to acknowledge that I even existed. I should not have been on this boat.
Still the beauty of the Nyle was calming.
Our boat parted a channel of beautiful white lotus flowers. With the reflection of the moon some of the flowers seemed to be pink and some even blue.
"You seem to be a popular face."
I turned to see Chenen standing there. I bowed to him immediately. He stood next to me. I nodded as I recognized him. He was such a strong figure and still the stealthy that he used to sneak up on me was amazing. He looked in my eyes as we stood there. He was the only other male that was present at this time besides the kings under this huge white tent.
"I can't help it," I stated, "It'd be different if I could, highness."
He shook his head, "If the king wishes it...it'd be done. He is law. Taharqa isn't ashamed to break tradition when it comes to you. Of course it is not unfamiliar for a king to love a boy. My father loved several boys. When I was younger I was jealous only to grow up and understand that this love was a different kind of love."
"I had no idea it was a popular practice," I offered.
I wanted to seem humble and innocent about it. I sounded much better than telling him my mother had planned this entire thing. I had no idea why Chenen even talked about this though. Why would he even bring such a thing up? It was as though my presence wasn't uncomfortable enough. I'm sure he meant well but once again the conversation was awkward.
"Yes to sexually take another boy. I even thought of having my own boy a time or two. My father used it to prove his manliness. Of course Taharqa has taken it to new lengths. I've never heard of a concubine being allowed to do the things you are allowed to do, especially a male lover."
"Well actually...I am not actually his lover...yet..."
Chenen's face was priceless. A part of him looked surprised but it wasn't in a good way. He seemed somewhat frightened. I wasn't sure exactly what he was frightened of but then it began to hit me. I was having such control over the king and I had not even had sex with him yet.
Chenen seemed taken.
It was Taharqa. He was in the presence of King Mursili.
"Your highnesses," I stated bowing down to the ground on my knees.
"Get up," Taharqa stated," I hope I am not disturbing anything. Brother Chenen, you seem quite surprised at something."
Chenen's expression had not changed, "I am indeed...excuse me..."
Chenen walked away leaving me in the presence of two kings. To my great surprise Taharqa now proceeded to grab my hand. He grabbed my hand openly into his and clutched into it. What was going on here? Sweat started to perspire from me. I was nervous.
For the first time I saw Amanirenas look over to me and she had the same expression on her face that I had. It wasn't only that but at that moment the Kandace Nyla stood to her feet. She was stopped by the older woman who stood next to her but I knew she would have proceeded over to us if she was given the opportunity.
Now with my hand in his the Taharqa turned to King Mursili, "This is someone very dear to me. I wanted you to meet him."
King Mursili looked at me sort of confused. I knew he was wondering why the king was introducing him to me. I wondered the same thing, however Mursili smiled at me.
We had begun to talk. I had told the Hittite king about how we met because he asked. He asked many questions. After I answered one he'd ask another. All the while I noticed something so strange. I noticed a look he gave me. It was a look I had ignored many times. I began to speak of random things and both kings listened as though I was the most interesting thing in the world. I didn't speak of educated lands and speak in different languages like Nyla would have. The things I spoke of were simple things. I told them how I dreamed of swimming in the Nile.
"And you should..."
"You dare me?"
"Swim in the Nile..."
"Swim in the Nile..."
They were not serious. I knew they weren't. The smiles on their faces just said they had too much good wine and good company. I realized my left hand was being had by Taharqa and soon enough Mursili was reaching for my right. I wondered if Taharqa noticed but I didn't say anything. To get away from the whole mess I decided I needed to take action...and now!
I jumped off of the boat and into the river Nile...