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I felt my life slipping away from me but in the next moment I felt nothing. It was a good nothing though. No one was putting pressure on my the pillow any longer.
I removed the pillow and looked across the room. Boxy had wrestled the person off of me. I could see in the darkness but it was clear that the person had some sort of mask on. The mask was black and the person was dressed in all black as well. I saw him and Boxy wrestling on the floor. I couldn't tell who was winning but I saw the blade that the person had.
“HELP ME! MEDJAY!”
My voice screamed loud in the halls and in a matter of seconds the doors broke open. I watched Boxy throw the assassin across the room and the assassin landed in the golden trays that were beside my bedside. My guards hurried into the room bringing with them torches and bows and arrows.
I watched as they took aim at the assassin but this assassin was quick. He ran towards the balcony and int hat very moment disappeared.
It was Typhis, one of the head Medjay guardians came back from the balcony.
“He got away.”
“How could he have survived the jump?” I asked.
“I don't know. We will
alarm the palace and every available man will search the
“Typhis...call Widow for me.”
I sat in my bed. Boxy stayed close to me. At this time she was given a weapon and she didn't let go of it. I thanked her several times but she didn't say a word. I knew how she was when she was on high alert. It hadn't been the first time Boxy had saved my life. I realized I wouldn't find any comforts in her at all. I wouldn't find comfort in anyone in this palace. I had surrounded myself with powerful people but powerful people also seemed to lack that show of emotion that made people human. Boxy was a guardian. That was her job and she was good at it.
It was just a few minutes later, Widow had appeared. In her presence were the eunuchs. They were powerful and rich priests in Meroe that often accompanied her.
“Are you alright?” Widow stated.
There were several physicians that entered the room at that moment. I began to make their fuss over me and I was too shaken up and tired to deny them. The eunuchs had begun to pray. I didn't feel safe even with a room full of people I could just remember the feeling that I had when I was being suffocated. I began to shake at that moment.
“That doesn't make sense.
If they wanted me dead why not do it in public.”
“Perhaps they were afraid of what the people may do,” Widow stated, “You are the king. A strike against the king would be mean riots in the cities. We wouldn't need an army. The people would be our army.”
“They would kill me in my sleep?”
“Menice every Nubian in
this palace knows that Boxy's bed is in the same chambers as yours.
If they wanted you dead why would they attack you with her
Widow was right. It had to be someone from outside of the palace. It had to be someone that didn't know me so well. It had to be the Sea People. I shook my head when a shiver came to me. They said they needed me alive. They said we would be partners. It was clear now that the enemy had made their move.
I wasn't safe in my palace.
“Should I tell the Medjay to take them while they sleep?” I asked Widow.
“No. We must stick to the
plan as before,” Widow stated, “We shall wait until
General Si Ren brings the army and we will wipe them out.”
“What if they try again?”
“They aren't foolish enough. We will be ready this time. 5 armed men will be stationed at the foot of your bed and 20 archers outside your door. We will bring in food tasters. We will double the palace security and you'll need to change your chambers. This room without a wall in dangerous. It gives easy access and exit to people who want to do you harm.”
Typhis entered the door.
“Did you find anyone?” I asked.
“No traces as of yet.
However we have a Captain Axum at your door. He heard the commotion
and would like to entreat your presence to make sure that you are
“Send him away,” Widow stated almost immediately, “Tell them the king is a god and that no human weapon can proper against him.”
Typhis looked at me as though waiting for my own acknowledgment.
“Do as she says.”
I couldn't trust them. I couldn't trust any of them. From now on I wouldn't put my guard down again. This was a war. They had started something and I was going to make sure that I'd always have the upper hand in this.
The war room was a cold place. My generals were lined over the bigger area. I had come and watched them from a throne they had assembled for me here. This wasn't a comfortable throne though. It was much harder then the other ones I had. The room itself was welcoming. All the weapons hanging high above us from statues of Egyptian gods. The carpet was the bloodiest shade of red. All the trimmings in the room were much too serious.
Widow had been dealing with all
the security issues and then she came up to me, “King...we have
opened up the secret corridors. We will have our spies enter them and
see what they are conspiring to.”
“I want to go myself.”
“Your highness that is
very unorthodox. It is unnecessary danger to put you in. Our spies
“I don't care,” I stated, “I want to see for myself. Have one of the spies guide me. What will the Sea People do if I am discovered. Can they punch through walls? I'll be fine...”
Widow looked reluctant but she
nodded, “I'll arrange an escort for you tonight.”
She went back to talking to the guards. I couldn't believe that I had been stupid enough to allow these people to get so close to me. It was just a matter of time before the Sea People actually made it to the War room themselves. Boxy played at no coyness when they walked in. She had been prepared now with a broadax and she stood right in front of me. The Medjay guardians seemed to follow her lead. They formed a wall completlely around me.
It was the scribe Achebe who lead the four brothers into the room.
Achebe announced them.
“Just the four of them,” I stated, “No escorts.”
Achebe went back and returned two minutes later with the four brothers.
Marcus, Darius, Axum and Torrance filed into the room. I was surprised to see that they were clad in their armor. They were wearing palace garments.
“No escorts and yet you look like you are about to start a war right in the middle of the this room,” Torrance mocked me.
Darius was the one who took steps forwards. He took too many steps forward. Boxy immediately lifted her broadax and pointed it at him.
It was Widow who threatened though, “Our women are deadly their weapons.”
Torrance shook his head, “You
WOMEN need to understand your place. Isn't this your war room? Isn't
this a place for men.”
“Nubian women can be far more dangerous,” I stated.
Darius shook his head, “Can we stop with these hostilities? I just wanted to make sure you were ok?”
“I'm immortal,” I stated.
It was something that Widow would have had me say. I wondered if it brought a fear to them. I refused to let them think I was afraid. I had positioned myself on this hard throne today purposely. Widow had dressed me in more gold than I could barely hold up. She wanted me to blind them with our wealth.
Torrance laughed, “If you
are immortal then why the guards.”
“Do you mock the king?” Widow asked.
“Torrance quiet!” Darius quickly stated.
“Have you MOCKED the king?” Widow completed ignored Darius trying to calm down his loud mouth brother. It seemed as though Boxy was the hand of Widow though. Her broadaxe now pointed towards Torrance. I knew she wouldn't hesitate.
“We must stop these hostilities,” Marcus started off, “We understand the your distrust and we sympathize. Torrance apologize.”
A part of me wished he had continued. It would have take
Torrance bowed his head, “I apologize.”
For some reason Torrance listened to Marcus where as he didn't listen to the others. I let my eyes burn into his. I was trying to look for truth. I was trying to look for that glimmer that would give him away. Maybe they all knew about it but maybe just one of them. Maybe just Torrance.
“It wasn't our people who did this to you,” Axum replied, “We wouldn't have.”
It was strange to hear Axum speaking with so many around. He seemed like a very private person.
Marcus quickly added to him with a louder and more determined voice as though to cement what Axum had just stated, “I can assure you that we act as a unit. We have nothing to gain if someone was to harm you. In fact we have moved to add our own men as guards.”
“Do you assume we are fools enough to allow your men to guard him?” Widow asked.
“Then guard the palace. How foolish is it that of all the men you had scouting it yesterday no one found the assassin?” Darius stated, “It seems like incompetence, Vizier, is stifling in this palace. If I was in charge of the king's guard he would be laughing at the Assassin and the conspirators head at this moment.”
“You call us incompetent?” one of my own generals butted in.
Darius who seemed to be playing
a social game up until this point just laughed, “I'm pointing
out that you almost lost the most important thing to you and you have
NO idea who did it. So here you are pointing the finger at us.”
Widow shook her head, “Why look for a needle in a haystack when all you wanted to do was feed the horse?”
“What does that even mean?” Torrance stated, “Is she saying it was us? Is she saying it was US?”
The tension was heavy. It was too heavy.
I shook my head, “Enough!”
I got up off the throne and started to walk away. I didn't have time for the stupid squabbling. I walked right past the brothers and out of the room.
I could hear the chain of footsteps behind me. There was no way I would make it far anyway without the Medjay guardians trailing behind me. I had managed to make it to the end of the hallway before I was physically stopped. I was surprised that it wasn't a guardian.
I was stopped by Axum. He had grabbed my arm and swung me around. A guardian had quickly now come between us however.
“It's fine,” I told the guardian.
Axum took a step forward.
“You can't just run off like that, especially with what happened last night.”
“I can't make it too easy for my assassin huh?”
“You do believe it wasn't us right?”
I heard screaming match going on in the room down the hall. It was clear they were still going at it.
“What I believe doesn't
“It does. I don't care what your Vizier believes, or your generals or your guardians or your eunuchs. I care about you...”
It was something that Jabari would say. I looked over at Axum.
“I should probably use
this time to get far enough for from that war room as
“Would you mind if I came along?”
“As long as you don't try to kill me...”
He laughed but I was only half joking.
We walked out away from the room and a more quiet place in the palace. I could see Boxy and the rest of my escort trailing behind us keeping a steady eye on Axum. Axum didn't have any weapons from what I could see however. He wrinkled his head and gave me a smile as we walked down.
“I came to your room last
night,” he told me, “When all the commotion was going on.
I ran to your room. I don't know why I thought they would let me in
at a time like that. I wanted to see you to make sure you were
“I have over a hundred Medjay warriors in the palace doing the same thing. I appreciate your help but I should be fine.”
I looked at Axum with squinted eyes, “I am the king of Nubia. You can't call me a liar.”
“Then tell the truth,” he stated, “You were scared.”
There were gardens all around us. I hadn't even noticed I was in the gardens now with him. The gardeners were making the safflowers bloom all around us. I crossed my arms to the thought of being scared.
“I was,” I stated.
“It's ok,” he
replied, “It's normal to be scared. Even with all your
immortality and what not. You are still a human and you still have
humans. You still get scared. That's who I was concerned about last
night. I was concerned about Menice the scared boy...not Menice the
“How do you know they aren't one in the same?”'
“How could you want
“How could all of you want this responsibility?” he asked shaking his head, “It's ok...you can tell me. There is a part of me that doesn't want my responsibility I have either. You on the other hand have to run a whole country on your own. So I would assume you broke yourself into two parts. One being this armored king and then the other one being the one who wants to run away from it all.”
I hadn't thought about it before.
I hadn't thought about not being the armored king.
“It must be a very small side of me that wants to run away,” I stated shaking my head, “I couldn't imagine myself any other way.”
“That makes you brave,” he says and smiled, “But when are you going to let that other side out? The side that isn't so protected. The vulnerable you...”
“Do you know what happens to vulnerable things Axum?”
I looked in the garden. There was a rose there. A rose without thorns.
I took the rose and crumbled it in my hands.
I let the leave fly in the wind.
“If that rose had thorns I wouldn't have been able to do what I just did to it.”
“Right but that would be
only be necessary is someone was trying to destroy that rose. What if
someone wasn't trying to destroy that rose. What if someone was just
trying to get close enough to smell it. The thrones could hurt them
“That means you are getting too close...”
He took a step closer to me.
“What if I want to be that close?”
“You should have seen the thorns from a mile away. You should have gone and tried to smell another flower.”
Axum doesn't move.
His hand grabs my hand. I hadn't even realized that I was still holding a petal of the rose in my hand. Axum looked so handsome to me at this point. It was like he was a dream or something. I watched as he took the rose petal away from my hands so gently. His fingers were so very smooth to the touch.
I found myself reaching forward longing for him. My lips were a little parted and at that moment...
“King Menice...” it was Achebe.
“There you goes one of your thorns,” Axum stated.
I smiled back at him and turned to Achebe.
“What is it?”
I returned to the room to see Babusa standing there. He was a general that I had trusted and definitely someone who was loyal to Nubia and above him was Torrance. Torrance was bashing his head into the marble floor. I watched as Widow stood over them. I had underestimated Torrance's raw strength. Babusa was a strong Nubian warrior. He was bigger than Torrance. His muscles were a lot larger. Then there was Torrance's brothers Marcus and Darius. They were acting like they didn't see this. Everyone was just letting them fight. Torrance was just standing there with a sort of egotistical look on his face.
At that moment I realized something. Nothing was stopped when I commanded it. It was the first time that I really knew that power was no longer in my hand.
It wasn't until Marcus raised his hand, “Torrance enough.”
Torrance got off of him when Marcus stated. It was like what I said didn't even matter. He was in my palace! I could feel the anger boiling up in me. Everything was turning against me. I was losing control.
I looked over at Widow, “What started this?”
“Babusa challenged them. They disrespected Queen Nyla.”
As soon as Torrance got off of Babusa, Babusa charged at him and almost immediately he got a boot to the face by Marcus.
Babusa fell on the floor...hard on his back.
He was defeated.
I turned to Widow and she looked at me. As if I wasn't embarrassed enough I could see all of these strangers in my palace. It was the first time when I looked around that I noticed just how many Sea People were around us. They had grown in numbers in the palace. They were laughing. They weren't just laughing at Babusa.
They were laughing at me.
“What the hell were you thinking?” I asked.
We were among my own people now. Truthfully I didn't care who was around though. We were back in the war room and I had Nubian guards watch the door. The sea people were still around the palace. They were probably laughing now.
I paced back and forth. Babusa was bowed down in front of me. His face was bleeding and swollen. On the other side of the room was Widow and Achebe the chief scribe.
“He disrespected the Queen,” Babusa stated.
“She isn't even here,” I stated.
Widow was the one who answered, “Torrance made a joke about the fact that you were spending time with Axum. He stated that when Queen Nyla returned she'd find herself without a home if Axum had anything to do with it.”
I crossed my arms. Torrance was an idiot to think that. My sister-wife was sent away for a reason. I honestly couldn't stand being around her but it was DUTY and not love which brought about our marriage.
spoke next, “They heard rumors that the child Queen Nyla was
carrying wasn't yours...”
He looked up at me.
It was almost as though he was trying to have me defend it. The truth wasn't legitimately mine but it was Jabari's who I'd fallen in love with. Jabari was dead and I was going to raise that child to be mine regardless. The fact is though people didn't widely know that fact.
“So because of these lies you start a fight?” I stated.
“And you lose?”
Babusa looked away. He was a sturdy man with a narrow face that grew long every time something like this happened. He was a POWERFUL man. How could he have lost? He'd been trained by the best that there was. These Sea people weren't normal. Their strength and power was something that I couldn't understand. The embarrassment of having one of my top generals lose in hand-to-hand combat was something that I couldn't afford right now.
“Get out of here.” I stated.
He turned away and excused himself.
looked over at Achebe, “I need you to write out to General Si
Ren. Get as many messengers as possible. We need help. I am losing
Achebe nodded and walked away.
I am losing control.
I remained in the room with Widow and Boxy. Widow didn't say much for a moment while she stood over me silently. I knew she wanted to though. I could tell by the deep intention in her stare that she had something on her mind but I didn't know what it was.
“Babusa made us look like weak,” I stated.
She nodded, “You shouldn't be surprised. Before you let I'd noticed Queen Nyla and him getting a little close.”
may have feelings for wife.”
“After she gives birth to my heir he can have her for all I care,” I stated shaking my head, “What he won't do is go around throwing tantrums and making our entire race look like a bunch of weaklings. This is his SECOND defeat to them. Once on the battlefield and now in a fight.”
I shook my head.
I could cry. I could seriously cry at this moment.
“Get a hold of yourself,” Widow stated, “You are still a king aren't you?”
how long?” I asked, “Everyday they disrespect me more and
more. They get bolder and bolder. Today we lost more then a fight. We
“It's time we start getting the upper hand on them,” Widow stated, “Tonight I'll have my spies come for you. They are a small group.”
I trust them?”
“If you can trust me. You can trust them. They are known as the Jackals.”
I didn't know what she had planned but she was right. I had to get the upper hand on them somehow. Torrance was becoming a huge issue and I could see his lack of respect was something that was doing a serious blow to my power. I was king and he didn't even listen to me. He kept going. He heard me. He didn't even acknowledge me. It was time to turn the tables on them.
I found myself sneaking out in the middle of the night. Two strange men came to get me. I was sure Widow had sent them because I'd seen her talking to them around the palace many times. I didn't know their names but they were both painted in black. The only thing that I could see was their eyes and a gold wristband around them. I knew they were employed by Widow. She had kept her little army around the palace and I never asked too many questions about it. Half of the reason was because I knew they'd come in handy at times like this.
you ready, king?”
“Where are we going?”
They were Widow's spies. Boxy hadn't even woken up. They were that quiet. The two brought me into the hallway and we made our way past several dark corridors. It was almost as though they could see in the darkness. They guided me holding my hand as they led me.
“The Sea people are this way. Be completely silent and you may get the answers you need tonight.”
Widow's Jackal spies went to a statue that I was not too familiar with. These corridors were definitely not familiar to me. The palace was an expansive place and I was sure I hadn't been to every part. This was a dark part. It was dark and cold. The darkness itself made my heart beat faster and these men were so quiet and strange. One of the Jackals went ahead while the other one stayed back and held my hand. He lead me through the corridor until we got a stop all of a sudden.
“Are you ready?” the Jackal that was with me stated?
Suddenly I heard him turn something and above us a saw a light. As I looked up I could see that we were underneath a room. There were small vents in the floor that seemed to not be noticed by the people standing above us. Still I could see them as clear as day. It was like some sort of magic trick. It felt as though were invisible.
In the room was Axum, Torrance and Marcus.
Marcus was laid out on a chaise while Torrance and Axum stood over him. Axum had no shirt on. His muscles were defined. He seemed to be about the same size as Torrance but favored Darius more in the face. Marcus was the odd ball out as far as looks went. He was just a much larger and extremely rough looking man. Even in luxuries of my palace he still seemed like he'd just come out of a storm or something.
“He's planning on killing us,” I heard Torrance state. He was talking to his brothers in this sure and positive way. I looked at the Jackals who leaned in very close to me and put a finger on my lip.
It was clear that I couldn't make any sounds at all at this point.
I continued to listened not knowing exactly what they were talking about.
wouldn't be so bold,” Marcus stated, “The king isn't as
brave as they make him all out to seem. To be honest I think he's
“We need to make a move first,” Torrance stated.
“You are being paranoid,” Axum stated, “Again...”
Axum laughed. He was being right though. I hadn't really gone through with a plan of actually killing them. I thought that would be somewhat of an impossibility at this point. Torrance didn't seem to think of it that way though. I could see him pacing back and forth. His sandals flapped on the vents above me sending dust down.
I felt myself about to sneeze! Immediately one of the Jackals covered my mouth making sure I didn't make a noise at all.
“You like him don't you Axum?” Torrance asked.
Axum didn't reply, “What? Who?”
course. You like him don't you.”
Marcus found this funny for some reason. Axum and Torrance were just looking at each other with this extreme tension. Marcus was the only one who was somewhat amused by this. Torrance was a threat to me. Everything about him was threatening.
the king. Do I think us taking over this country and sticking with
the plan will be a lot easier if we built a good relationship with
the king? Yes.”
“Unless he kills us first like Torrance says,” Marcus laughed.
“Which he probably is going to do,” Torrance replied.
I hated the fact that I couldn't say anything as Torrance plotted against me. He was in a guest room of mine that was in the palace. I had never seen this particular room but it looked like a nice apartment. It had huge pillars and comfortable beds. It was the first time I saw them so relaxed. I couldn't believe they were living so well off of NUBIAN luxuries.
“Or unless Darius gets to him first,” Marcus replied, “Torrance you have to think. Maybe Axum's relationship with the king may work to our benefit.”
“Do you think Darius would make a move on the king?” Axum asked.
Marcus leaned his head back, “He's going to try to get the king on his side. We all know how Darius is and what Darius is capable of. We need to make sure that doesn't happen.”
The way they mentioned Darius was strange. It was almost as though he was somehow outside of them or disconnected. I thought I was going to turn them all against each other but it seemed like the three of them were already against Darius in a way.
What had Darius done in the past to get this sort of suspicion thrown at him?
“Darius can't be trusted,” Axum stated, “I agree.
“You guys are missing the point. If Darius is going to make any moves he's going to do it with the Menice. If Menice is out of the picture Darius is going to play nice.”
There was silence for a moment.
If I was out of the picture?
was the first one to speak and he was looking at Axum, “Torrance
makes a good point. Darius is going to try to turn on us the first
chance he gets. Menice might be that first chance.”
“You two aren't thinking clearly,” Axum stated shaking his head, “If we are worried about Darius then lets address Darius.”
might use Menice to go against us. Menice might go have us killed
himself,” Torrance replied, “The common factor is Menice.
We need to get rid of him.”
Marcus nodded, “I'm starting to see your logic.”
Axum looked annoyed, “So what just kill the King of Nubia? End the entire Nubian Dynasty. That sounds REAL smart. The Nubians will just throw us all the resources we need.”
He was being sarcastic. His voice seemed to betray a sense of annoyance. It was clear that Axum wasn't the most persuasive amongst his brothers.
“His wife is the key,” Torrance stated.
“She has his heir in her stomach. Once she gives birth to that baby we can kill Menice and kill the Queen,” Torrance stated, “You know what this means? This means we have the king. He's a baby and the kingdom is completley ours...”