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"Could you believe it?" Kakra stated, "The General had the king of Egypt naked in chains."
We had returned from the celebration early that day. The blood was rushing through our brains from all the things we saw. I knew it excited each one of us in different ways. It was such a huge spectaclee. Wild lions were tamed. Jugglers defied gravity...
And then there was him...
"He dared to oppose Menice and the Nubian empire," Husain replied confidently, "That is what happens."
"How can you be so stupid? What is to stop him from gaining too much power."
"There can never be too much."
"You sound like them..."
"What is it with you?" Husain stated, "You are in Nubia. You are under the employment of the royal dynasty. You should be happy about this like everyone else is."
At first as we walked through the halls I could almost see Kakra about to break down a few of the walls that he let up. He looked at the both of us for a few seconds and his lips parted. However his lips quickly shut and I didn't know why. It was almost like a silent thought had slipped past through him again and disappeared. All of a sudden he was gone again and nothing meant anything at all.
"They don't know better and neither do you," Kakra stated shaking his head, "Go on ahead to the dorms. It's right down this hallway and to the right. You can't lose it."
I looked over at him, "Where are you going?"
"You want to come and find out?" he asked.
There was a strangeness in the way he said it. It scared me a little bit. Did I really want to know what Kakra was always up to? Did I really want to be pulled into the world that caused him to be so alone and upset all the time?
grabbed me by my arm, taking away my attention from Kakra
completely, "Come on. We chanced being
out late enough. We need to get back before Lord Fukayna
I nodded at Husain and when I turned to tell Kakra goodbye I noticed he wasn't even there any longer. He was completely gone to whatever strange thing he was doing at night time. I turned and followed Husain all the way to the bedroom. Husain didn't even second guess where Kakra was going. I guess he didn't really care. It was clear that they were complete opposites and didn't care much for each other.
Husain wouldn't stop talking all the way to the room. He talked about everything. He talked about the lions. He talked about the dancers. He talked about the beautiful power that the royal guards personified with their broad chests out and oversized weapons. It was all a show to him and he had been entertained.
My heart was yearning though. Through all that I couldn't get this person...out of my head.
I couldn't sleep that night. My mind kept flowing onto Menice. I kept imagining how he looked up close. I wondered how his voice sounded like. Each moment I closed my eyes I could only see his face. My heart kept beating so fast and in the night I had sweats. I ended up falling a sleep somehow without even noticing that I was doing it. I guess my body had completely given out on me.
I woke up without even remembering being asleep. The only proof that I had that I was asleep was the fact that I had woken up. It was Husain that woke me up. He grabbed me by arm and shook me.
"Damn it we are going to be late."
"What? There isn't any class for today remember."
"Yeah but supposedly the general is meeting with Lord Fukayna and some other high scribes today," he told me even more excited than before, "He is to document his victory at Thebes over King Chenen and he needs the best scribes to do so."
"His name is General Si Ren Boos."
The energy had shot up in me. The General was the man who was in the parade. He had presented the King with the spoils of war as well as his political prisoners. I had heard the name used very commonly from my village in the last three or four years. He was a prominent figure and many thought iron ore ran through his bones. He was supposed to be a manly man...someone who could crush people with his mere will power.
"Has anyone seen Kakra?"
The voice was booming through the hall as we entered the library section where the papyrus scrolls were stacked in tall shelves all around a giant circle. All the other boys were already out here they were kneeling on the ground studying. They had formed perfect lines today. I could tell this was pre-designed by Fukayna. Everything was more clean than I had ever seen it before. Everything was arranged perfectly.
The other scribes were still arranging things in the room. It was a mass cleaning for the older scribes. There seemed to be a state of panic almost.
"Move!" I heard one of the elder scribes say to me as he rushed a handful of papyrus scrolls to another room of the library.
"Make sure you find the scrolls about the General's victories and lay them out!" Fukayna cried out at the top of his lungs, "Where is Kakra?"
He turned to me and Husain as he made his way frantically to the room. We assisted him in looking around for a while but it was more than clear that Kakra was not here.
At that moment a very heavy set man walked in. He was the biggest man I had ever seen in my life. He was huge as a matter of fact. His body was a gluttonous blubber of esteem and I could tell how completely full of himself and thought he was so important. I doubted he was wrong about the fact though. I could see the older scribes bowing to him. He had an ostrich feather in his hand and entered slowly from one of the backrooms. I could tell he was something very important by how everyone seemed to take extra measure of him.
Husain moved me out of his way as he approached us and made his way to Fukayna. We stood behind them all. We went behind them all and made our way to the back where the other 7 scribe students awaited.
"Yessir?" Fukayna asked.
"Where is your prodigy?" the fat man asked.
We turned over to him where everyone stood there looking at one another. Most of us didn't know how to stand or how to move. I myself felt like I was some sort of statue that would break something if I spoke too loud or did anything too fast.
"Kakra is...missing..." Fukayna replied.
Kakra...a prodigy? I almost wanted to grunt a little bit. Ok, he knew the answers to all the recorded questions but I wouldn't call him a prodigy. I'd just say he studied way too much and remembered things well. These people really thought that the activity of memorization was an art or something.
I turned over to Husain whispering to him as gently as I possibly could, "Whose that?"
"Achebe. He is the high scribe."
I was so confused by these people. I looked over at the fat man. They were preparing a place for him to kneel on the floor. They had put incense around it and beautiful flowers. They had made him seem so damn important.
Achebe needed help from two scribes to sit down. I could see them surrounding him making a big fuss over him. I couldn't believe these people. It was like they were inflating his ego even more.
"He can't sit by himself?" I asked completely confused.
Husain shrugged me hard. I knew he was warning me. I Just found it funny that they were coordinating this man's sitting down as though they were coordinating some large scale construction site.
"Get off me," he shoved away his assistants as he got onto the floor, "Fukayna I'm disappointed in you. The rest of your boys won't be any use now. Make sure your other scribes are aware of the rules now! They are not to speak. They must stand in the back and be invisible. They must represent the Royal library in grandest esteem."
He spoke heavily as though every word was weighing heavy on his head.
Fukayna was sitting there with his eyes still searching the room, "Yes sir. Of course sir."
I had never seen Fukayna answer to anyone in the way he was answering to this man. . He walked up to us and mouthed the words "Don't say a word" In the harshest way.
We waited for almost three hours in the same position. None of us were allowed to move. None of us were even allowed to speak besides some mere whispers. It was total silence besides Achebe's loud cries for food and drink. He demanded to be fanned constantly and by a fresh hand every time one got tired. These weren't slaves doing the fanning either. Somehow his servants didn't come so he had scribes fan him. I didn't find this Achebe character to be very intriguing. It seemed like a basic tale. His father held very high regard in society and it was passed on to him. He had been raised around money and knowledge was handed to him like the cake that made him so heavy set. He had to be over 300 pounds and seemed to not even be aware of his weight.
The anticipation was almost stifling when finally a man walked through the door. I assumed he was a soldier of the Nubian army. He had on the same armor that the men used to wear when they came to my village.
"Si Ren Boos, Royal General of the Kingdom of Nubia, leader of the Imperial Phalanx...conqueror of the Canaanites, the Sinai, the Libyans and the Egyptians..."
The man seemed to spit the words in a way that demanded attention. My eyes almost widened by how serious and intense it all was. I could see a couple of the boys next to me shaking and some of them were sweating. I was a little nervous too. As though it wasn't enough it seemed like was a roll of thunder as huge feet began to tread through the hall. At that moment men began to reel into the room. They weren't men...no these were giants. They walked taller than I'd ever seen a man before. They carried with them maces, spears, shields, crossbows, hammers and huge swords that I wouldn't have been able to wield with two hands.
They filed into the room and all took the same position in a circular motion on the floor. Both arms were held on their weapons and their eyes directly on the floor as though becoming lifeless.
Then at that moment the General himself walked in.
The announcer seemed to be more of a servant to the General as he guided the general up the staircase and to the podium floor where Achebe's presentation had was. The general had left the warriors behind in the front o the library where they still remained motionless in almost perfect discipline.
"Siren Boos, old friend," Achebe stated with a huge smile that spread across his face.
"Achebe I don't have time for this," Siren Boos replied, "You know as well as I do that we were never friends. I'm just here for business. Let's get to it. I don't have much time to waste on such matters."
I wanted to laugh as I saw Achebe's huge gluttonous smile disappear of his face. It seemed like even the smallest blow to his esteem was a huge victory. It was good to see someone put a guy like that in his place.
"We're lucky to have you. TEA! BRING TEA! We are extremely lucky to have you. Yes I must say. And I am very impressed by your entourage. Are they knew."
He was kissing the General's ass. I could tell almost immediately. I got a good look of a smile across the general's face. He was handsome. It made me wonder now how close he was to the king.
I hadn't been able to get the King out of my mind. If the king had a guy that was handsome, successful and strong like the general why the hell would he even notice a stupid scribe student like me? It felt however warm to know that here was someone who knew the king. He had spoken to the king. He had possibly even touched the king. My heart began to stir.
Damn...I was getting addicted. I couldn't even help it. The mere thought of being so close to someone who was close to Menice made heart jump.
It did seem however that he hit a note that "They are members of my newest infantry. The 23rd. These men were handpicked by me. They were crafted in the most brutal of trainings. However they have not been yet introduced to battle. In their hearts they hold the Pharaoh Menice's will. Yet there will be a need for men like them and many more...which is why I'm here."
Achebe seemed confused as did many of the other scribes. They looked at one another with these lost looks.
"But the war is over General...we have conquered Egypt. Does not the King have his emissaries going throughout all the cities of Egypt now to extend his will."
I didn't know too much about what they were talking about. What I was sure about was that there had been a recent war and it had been bloody. It had lasted years. King Menice against King Chenen. Chenen had ended up losing the war and he had been brought in chains by General Si Ren to us.
"And it isn't over..." he said taking out his notes, "Get your scrolls. I want these written in every dialect known."
"Scribes!" Achebe ordered.
At that moment the older and most experienced scribes rolled into the room. There were about 30 or even more than that which came and they all seemed to be panicking to get their papyrus's out. Some were trying to be neat and form lines across the floor but I could see others in the back scrambling for any room on the floor on each other's backs to right.
Siren Boos didn't wait for them to get organized, "This letter is for the Hittite. Say here scribes as follow; Si Ren Boos, Royal General of the Kingdom of Nubia, leader of the Imperial Phalanx...conqueror of the Canaanites, the Sinai, the Libyans and the Egyptians reaches out to the Hittite King Mursili on behalf of the reincarnation of Ra...on behalf of the reborn god Menice...king of Nubia and it's glorious empire...say here...are you ready..."
They were all frantically writing. This was so serious to them. I was amused by how fast they were going everyone trying to make sure they got his words down correctly. They were all writing in different dialects. They were all writing words and characters from different cultures and yet they were all sending it to the same person who read one.
Si Ren Boos continued, "In case he cannot read one dialect I will phrase it in many. Say here...in the simplest words...we order you...Mursili complete submission by the next inundation of the Nile..."
Everyone had stopped writing and were either staring at one another in complete surprise or staring at one another in confusion. It was almost as though they were looking for some type of explanation but Si Ren Boos didn't give one.
"General..." Achebe started out.
"That is all...is there any questions? Any at all? Anything that anyone want me to repeat?"
one said anything. The silence was so rippling that I felt like it was almost
painful. I didn't know what it
meant. Si Ren
Boos had ordered a man by the name of Mursili to submit.
I had heard the name Mursili before but it
didn't mean anything to me. I looked
over at Husain who seemed to not have heard the news correctly and still been
formulating it in his head. Fukayna offered no better guidance.
His mouth just hung open.
I guess I should have reacted.
This had to be something big that I should
have been reacting. It didn't mean a
thing to me though. Should it have? Why was
everyone looking at one another as though the world was just about to come to
an end? Why was this
such a big deal?
Achebe was the first to break the silence, "No sir."
I could see the look on the General's face as he nodded, "Good in that case I take my leave..."
"Wait! I have a question! When will it be over? When will the Pharaoh have enough power?"
At that moment I turned to see none other than Kakra running into the room. I didn't see which direction he came from but he was headed towards the area where the General and High Scribe Achebe were having their tea. Before he even reached close I noticed a soldier stop him. The soldier didn't just stop him. The soldier was quicker than I had seen anyone be. The soldier stomped kakra in the shins with a force that I had never seen before. I thought for a moment by the scream that Kakra had given that the soldier had broken his shins.
Kakra had fallen to the floor. How the guard had reached Kakra so fast and stopped him so instantly I did not know. I guess the General wasn't joking about the intensity of his new infantry.
I felt bad for Kakra.
Achibe was having a breakdown. He opened his mouth and let out the biggest wail, "Fukayna! Is he yours? Fukayna control your BOY!"
Fukayna looked too speechless to be of any help right now.
I couldn't stop from crossing across the floor to go help him. I heard Fukayna calling out to me not to interfere but I couldn't just see a fellow classmate of mine in such pain without reaching out to assist him.
Before I could even help pick him off the floor the same guard had a blade to my throat.
"Stand down," the General stated, "I serve under a most kind and merciful king. I serve under a king who acknowledges free thought and ideas. Boy, continue your thought."
I walked over to continue helping Kakra up. Kakra shook me off though refusing my help in standing. I didn't know if he wanted to be mean and continue his distant moodlet or if he was just in too much pain to even attempt standing.
Kakra spoke still even at in his knees in pain, "I remember a time not too long ago when there were differences in people. There were different kings. There were different lands. Diversity was something to be admired...not just ambition!"
He was talking about his own ethics. It made me wonder even more to why Kakra was the way Kakra was. Why had he disrespected the entire library to come late? Why would he risk being beaten to a pulp to give a speech about diversity?
Almost instantly a voice came from across the room just as loud and boisterous as Kakra's. I recognized the voice almost immediately.
"Kind General, please excuse my colleague, he does not speak for all of us," Husain shouted out across the room surprising everyone almost as much as Kakra's entrance, "The Pharaoh carries the ambition of all of Nubia on his shoulders."
"All Nubia?" Kakra asked, "ALL NUBIA? Aren't the Nubians satisfied. Kerma has grown in the last years to be a booming metropolis. Isn't it enough? General...please answer me...when will it just be enough?"
I knew this a little too well. I clamped my hands over my head in embarrassment. It was once again Kakra against Husain. Same arena, only this time it was a different audience.
"It will be enough when they are all united and recognize the Pharaoh as ruler of all lands and reincarnation of Ra."
"And if they don't...if they don't recognize..."
"They have no choice."
"Or they die. That's the alternative isn't it. Submit or die."
"Submission is a privilege."
It seemed like this would have escalated but just at that moment the general's voice rose in a loud immediate, "Quiet! Who are these boys?"
At that moment Achebe struggled to rise to his feet. His finger pointed at Fukayna almost immediately not even holding for a minute, "They are his boys! They are completely Fukayna's. I was too busy with my duties to the King to attend these matters. Fukayna this is ridiculous! You and these boys will be punished to every extent of the law!"
I felt the strong amount of awkwardness that grew at that moment when all of a sudden the General started to applause.
I was completely surprised at this.
"Well how amusing. I thought I was going to come here and be bored out my life by a group of bookworms. How TRULY entertaining. It's like watching a show!"
Achebe seemed even more surprised, "What?"
"Fukayna I congratulate you for helping promote these boy's sense of political responsibility," the General continued, "It's nice to see young boys so moved by their causes and speaking with such vigor! It reminds me of a young me."
Fukayna came forward. I watched Achebe cover his face with his ostrich feather. I would have broken out and laughed at the old fool if I didn't think he'd find a way to get back at me later.
Fukayna bowed, "Thank you sir. I have the most pride in my students."
"How many are there?"
"I would like the Pharaoh to meet them all. I'm sure he'd find the various ideals s to be quiet informative about this viewpoints about this particular demographic. Yes."
My stopped. I'd be meeting my raven.
It seemed almost not to be serious. At first the words just flowed past me but then after a second or two they sunk it. By then I had a mix of emotions. I felt fear, excitement, infatuation all rolled up into one. I could see his face all over again.
What would I do if I had to speak to him?
What would I say?
"Yes we are so
proud of the boys," Achebe stated, "I will escort them to meet the king
I couldn't believe he was taking away Fukayna's moment like that. I almost wanted Fukayna to stand up to him for a moment but I knew he wouldn't. Fukayna nodded and agreed to have Achebe escort us to see the king.
"Good to hear. The king in his meditation stages but in a week I will arrange for a private dinner with the King at the House of Safflowers. Achebe, I'm sure you are familiar."
"We will be there," Achebe stated smiling.
"Good," The general stated getting up to leave but then turning back around to add, "Oh and make sure the boys are prepared. It could possibly be one of the grandest moments of their lives."
The general turned and left after that taking his infantry with him. Achebe didn't seemed too pleased to have been upstaged by Fukayna and spent some time scolding him after the fact. I wasn't exactly sure what he was scolding him about. He did it in private which was more sensible than my first impression had given him credit for.
It surprised me that Kakra didn't get talked to for his entrance into the meeting. I think it surprised everyone. By the way the boys talked more and more it was clear that I wasn't the only one who felt so uneasy by Kakra being here. I could tell Husain had really grown to have an extreme disdain for him. They had all gathered in the room that night to discuss him. I had no idea what it was about but here we were talking about Kakra once again.
"If it was anyone else who stormed in there, they would be lucky to have their lives. Kakra doesn't even get removed from library."
The idea that Kakra was a prodigy still didn't appear to me but at the same time I didn't feel this huge need to have him gone from us. I just wanted to understand where he was coming from a little bit. I didn't know why the things he said intrigued me but they just did. Maybe because he seemed to know more about Menice than the rest of us did. I wondered how.
I saw him walk in later on that day. The boys had still been discussing him but had decided to head to sleep as soon as he came in. it was so clear and obvious that they didn't want him there.
I wondered how it felt to him to be the loner and to be so distant from everyone else.
"Not interested in talking," was the only reply that I got from Kakra before he lay down to sleep.
The only thing was that he didn't actually go to sleep and neither did I. I stayed up that night mostly because I couldn't stop thinking about Menice. I felt crazy. I wasn't sure if I had fallen for the idea of him more than who he was himself. I had fallen for the idea of how interesting he could have been. Maybe love at first sight was right.
I had always found boys handsome, but I had never acted on it. I always had more than one female pursue me at once. I was the guy all the girls wanted where I came from. I loved he girls as well. I was notorious for sleeping with girls and breaking their hearts. Fathers had come close to nearly killing me if it wasn't for my family's good reputation in the city. Yet at the same time, I had never fallen in love with any of the girls. They appreciated me because I was manly, I treated them nicely and made them feel good about themselves. I was the perfect man but at the same time I never felt like I could find anything that was perfect.
Menice was perfect to me...
I didn't get it...
My thoughts were immediately disturbed by movement in the night. I turned slightly over to see that it was Kakra. He was sneaking out again. I saw him putting on his boots and everything this time. This guy was really about to leave he palace again!
I had followed him. It wasn't like the guy even liked me enough to open up to me. He was completely closed off to me. Why not follow him? Why not see where he was going? I figured there was no harm that could come from it. It was a good idea. We hadn't gone outside but I was pretty sure that we were no longer in the library. Somhow we had gotten a secret passage to somewhere else and this place had all the wrong feelings about it. It was so cold here.
Why was he here at night? I made it my mission to remain as silent as possible.
Then at the end of it all I heard voices. They were coming from the room that he had come in at. At first I couldn't make out what the voices were saying. I was sure there were a couple involved with it though. It wasn't just one or two people. There had to be a small to medium sized group in there. These voices were talking rapidly as well.
"...We are joined here by the three queens...our contact says...Menice..."
The idea behind the conversation wasn't really getting through. I had to find a way to listen to what was going on in that room. I made my way closer trying not to make the slightest sound at all. I felt like something serious was going on in that room. I didn't know what it was but I knew it had to be something extremely important by the tone.
As I got closer the voices started making more sense. I made my way behind the door where I could see several figures standing around.
There was a skinny man...
There were three women all sitting in a row.
There were several other men who were scattered around and seemed rather interested in whoever was talking. At the very end was Kakra. He was sitting there quietly. He had to be the youngest one by far in the group.
"We have gathered here today to discuss the assassination of the king..."