Queen of the Nile
Chapter 11 - Damming Evidence
Dorothy softly caressed the gentle face of her sleeping lover. She regretted having to wake him, but he had to leave before the whole palace awoke. She hated the subterfuge but had been adamant about their relationship being kept a secret. Only Shebenet and a handful of her maids new about it, and they all knew the cost of talking.
Quatre opened his eyes and took her hand, kissing the sensitive palm.
"What a lucky man, I am, to have a such a beautiful goddess awaken me."
"I know my love, it's time for me to go."
"I don't want you to," she protested.
He smiled regretfully, "But I must." He started to retrieve his clothing that strewn around the floor. He picked his kilt, wrapping it around his waist.
"Quatre, have you thought that if we married, the problem might be solved? The nobles would have their `male' pharaoh and well... I'm sure Wufei would not attempt anything against you." She avoided his eyes as she said this.
Quatre stopped adjusting his clothes, "Dorothy, first of all I don't believe Wufei is behind the attempts against you. He wouldn't, I can't believe otherwise. And secondly, as much as I love you and hate the lies and jumping walls just to be with you, we can't marry. Everyone would think I supported you in order to reach the throne. All the support that you have gained would be lost."
"But Wufei would desist," she insisted. "He would know that his chances to the throne would be over. I'm sure we can win the nobles to our side."
"Dammit, Dorothy! How many times must we go over it. Wufei is not the one behind this!"
"Then how do you explain that the attacks stopped as soon as he left?"
"They didn't stop, that servant almost killed you."
"I'm sure he bribed him before leaving."
Quatre clenched his jaw as he finished dressing with jerking motions.
"Dammit, Quatre, when will you face the truth? When he kills me?"
"Dorothy, I believe you have to meet the engineers today. I saw your plans and I must say their brilliant. I'm sure the engineers will agree. With those new canals we'll be able to improve the planting season next year."
Dorothy huffed in frustration, he would not face the truth. A change of subject did not change the facts, Wufei was out to marry her or kill her, and she couldn't decide which was worse.
Quatre kissed her unresponsive lips, "Do your job as Pharaoh, let me find the culprit."
Shebenet and Sheftu watched as Quatre paced the open terrace, his steps echoing on the marble floors. They were waiting for Trowa, the entertainer, two lesser guards had been sent to escort him.
Shebenet fingered the gold arm-band, Sheftu had found in the servants room. They had both searched the room carefully, but it had been Sheftu who had found the damming evidence. The gold band had the inscription of the House of Light, Wufei's family house.
He considered again the wisdom of showing it to Prince Quatre. Experienced told him that getting involved in the inner wars of the nobles, always proved extremely dangerous to those of lesser rank. He had to be very careful choosing sides. He had been loyal to the Great House for his entire life, but now the waters were muddied. Was Princess Dorothy the legitimate Pharaoh? Her father had decreed her marriage to Wufei, should he be loyal to her or him? He looked at his nephew, who was frowning at him, silently signaling him to show it to Prince Quatre.
He had no choice after all, if he didn't speak, Sheftu would. Sheftu felt a strong allegiance to Prince Quatre, for the prince had saved his life when he was but a boy. Sheftu had fallen from one of the hunting barges following Pharaoh, the young Prince Quatre had jumped in the water and saved him from drowning. From that day Sheftu had looked upon the prince as if he were a god, the poor boy would have done anything for the man he admired so much.
However, Sheftu did not know about the intimate relationship between Quatre and Pharaoh. He knew, and it gnawed at him, who is betraying who? Prince Quatre as whom did you speak that day, as the High Priest of Amun-Ra or as the Princess' lover?
He shuddered at the thought of the consequences , Wufei would end up learning about it, of this he was sure. And when he did... there was no telling what he would do. He closed his eyes, he had no choice he had to surrender the evidence.
Quatre's thoughts were in turmoil, he was sure Wufei would not behave so dishonorably, however he was betting Dorothy's life on this assurance. Could he be wrong? Had Wufei changed so much?
Trowa finally arrived, Quatre dismissed the guards that had escorted him there. He could not trust anyone else.
Trowa bowed respectfully as he silently admired the handsome Prince.
"How may serve you, Prince Quatre?"
"Trowa, you performed a brave deed. Your quick action saved the life of Pharaoh. Surely the goddess Isis smiles upon you. Pharaoh has commanded that you be rewarded. Do you wish for something specific?"
"I wish for no reward." Trowa felt slightly offended, were they implying that his actions had been motivated by greed?
"You don't?" Quatre was momentarily taken aback, what kind of man refused Pharaoh's favor.
"What I did, was not in expectation of a reward."
Prince Quatre quickly understood the dilemma of the proud man standing in front of him. He felt slightly chagrined, for he had assumed such motivation.
"Worry not, Trowa. Your honor is not been questioned, nevertheless Pharaoh's honor must be appeased also. Her honor requires that she give you a reward, as great as the your act. Perhaps, you would prefer a position in Pharaoh's household, would this be more acceptable?"
Trowa considered for a moment his alternatives. He had others to think of, Catherine would probably bash him if he refused such an opportunity. On the other hand, belonging to Pharaoh's household held its perils also, for if you fell in disfavor of some powerful noble, he would make your life a living hell. He looked at the gardens, that had started to show neglect.
"I've heard that the Royal Gardener died recently, I wouldn't mind serving Pharaoh in that position."
Quatre smiled thinly, "Normally, I would think that was a wise choice, for you would be exempt of the nobles scrutiny. Perhaps you haven't heard how the previous gardener died? A poisonous snake bit him, a bite that had been intended for Pharaoh."
"Then I may get the chance of saving Pharaoh's life again."
Quatre considered the man carefully, he was too handsome for his peace of mind. Would Pharaoh notice him? His irrational jealousy was getting the best of him; no, the man was not crazy enough to have designs on Pharaoh. Only I do, he mused to himself.
"Very well, I will consult with Pharaoh. I hope you have a talent for the gardens, I enjoy them and so those Pharaoh."
Trowa turned, thinking himself dismissed.
"Before you leave, there is one question I would ask you. Did you by any chance notice the traitorous servant speaking with someone before he attempted on Pharaoh's life?"
"I'm afraid not, I only noticed him when he approached Pharaoh." Trowa hesitated before continuing. "Rumors are rife in the palace, that the man had previously served under the House of Light."
Quatre fisted his hands almost painfully and closed his eyes, trying to block the pain the information gave him.
"Sire, it is said that Prince Wufei and yourself are like brothers. But the fact remains that he would be the one to benefit from Pharaoh's death." "There is no evidence to condemn Prince Wufei." Quatre's tone was cold but controlled. "And he is not the only in line, have you considered that I am next in line after him? Does that make me the traitor?"
Shebenet took the liberty of interrupting, "Prince Quatre, nobody suspects you, and I'm afraid there is further evidence pointing towards Wufei." He opened his hand exposing to Quatre's pain filled eyes the damming, gold band.