Queen of the Nile
Chapter 3 - Pharaoh Awaits
A month later
Prince Quatre had retired to his home in the outskirts of Avaris. He could not bear to be close to Pharaoh. He felt betrayed, used, and he still loved her. He had sworn to protect her, and for now he felt that distance would be a better protection. Afraid of betraying his feelings in front of others, afraid of her treatment towards him.
He walked through his walled garden, enjoying the evening breeze. The garden was a peaceful oasis, designed by his late mother, the sister of Pharaoh Tutmosis II. He remembered playing here as a child, running around the shallow pool with his royal cousins, his mother chiding him for their sometimes reckless behavior.
The time he had climbed the wall, dared by Wufei, and fallen, almost braking his arm. For the first time he had seen Wufei cry, crying in shame and guilt. But Quatre had not cried, he had been to afraid of his father's wrath. His mother had sent for the physician, who thankfully came quickly. The physician bound his arm tightly with some fowl smelling herbs. The arm healed and they soon forgot the incident, as children are wont to do. Not much time had passed when they were running again and daring each other into foolish acts.
// Wufei have I betrayed you? //
He searched his heart for an answer. It was clear to him that the princess had used him, she had invited him to her bed, seeking an assurance of his later support. And he, blinded by his love for her had foolishly fallen into the trap.
// Would I have chosen differently, had I known? Damn you, Dorothy! Why did you not trust me? I would have protected you. But no, I lie I could not go against Pharaoh, how could I oppose the will of a god? Have I then betrayed my sacred trust as a High Priest of Amun-Ra? NO! The words that I spoke were true. She is pharaoh's daughter, the blood of Horus courses through her veins she is Horus now, the falcon god. Do not falcons come in male and female form? Yes, she used me, but then it most have been the will of the gods. //
"My Lord Quatre," the voice of Rashid, his faithful servant and lifelong friend, interrupted his thoughts.
"What is it my friend?"
"A royal guard has arrived, and has asked for you."
Quatre tensed, "Is he alone?"
Quatre took a few moments to compose himself. His question had not been an idle one, more than one guard could only mean badly for him. One guard was needed to convey a message, more than one to arrest him.
"Send him in, Rashid."
Quatre was surprised when he saw the messenger. "Shebenet! Indeed I am honored that Pharaoh, may she live forever, would send the captain of the royal guards as a messenger."
Shebenet smiled thinly, "She could trust no one else."
Shebenet straightened even more and in a formal voice announced: "My Lord Prince Quatre, High Priest of Amun-Ra, may Isis engulf you in her protective wings, and may the glory of Amun-Ra shine upon your face. I bring you this message from Pharaoh, may she live forever." He then took a papyrus attached to his gold belt and handed it to him.
Quatre took the papyrus, broke Pharaoh's seal and unfurled it. The message was short, Why have your forsaken me. Quatre raised his eyes to meet Shebenet's.
"Pharaoh, may she live forever, bids me to bring you back with all haste."
"Have there being problems?"
"Many, but perhaps is best if she tells you herself."
"Then let us rest tonight, and leave tomorrow before the glory of Amun-Ra shines upon the earth."
In the temple of HatHor.
"Why do you seek an audience with me, my Lord Prince Wufei?"
"Is it so strange that I seek your presence?"
"Yes, it is. I believe we agreed that my presence was a threat to your ambition to the throne. I would think now, you would have to be even more careful."
"We agreed no such thing! Why must you twist everything to your point of view? You could have married me, and all this foolishness would end."
"Marry you? So I can be one of your lesser wives and languish in the in the woman's court? Or worse, so I can feel the Pharaoh's cold dagger on my back?"
"I would be Pharaoh! And she would only be the Great Royal Wife."
"Yes, only the mother of your heir, and quite incapable of getting rid of any rival."
"She would not dare harm you!"
"She dared refuse you! Oh I understand now, she would welcome me, seen as she loathes you so. My presence would mean that you would seek her bed less often."
Her sarcasm rubbed him raw.
"Dammit, Sally! Her dislike of me it's just a child's petulance, remains of when I teased her as children, she will overcome it. And must we come to this? My marrying her is my duty, or do you think I could have refused Pharaoh Tutmosis?"
// But he is no longer Pharaoh - thought Sally - to whom do you owe your duty now? //
"I repeat my question, why are you here?"
Wufei clenched his teeth and looked away. This was going to be more difficult than he thought.
"I came seeking the help of the High Priestess of HatHor."
"I see and why would you need the help of the goddess? Don't say that your little pharaoh is not rising?"
Wufei growled in anger, barely containing himself, wishing that he could take her right there on top of the altar. "Woman you go too far! Do you wish me to demonstrate how far he can rise, right now?"
She wisely remained silent.
"Bah! I come here to offer a sacrifice and request a blessing from the goddess."
"Very well, what do you wish me to ask for?"
Wufei once again lowered his eyes, avoiding her gaze. "I wish for Pharaoh to fall in love with me."
"What?" Sally could not believe her ears. She started to laugh, madly thinking hoping this was some kind of sick joke. But Wufei's contained expression, his pressed lips, his avoidance of her eyes told another tale. She shook her head trying to deny it. She felt betrayed and clutched her stomach feeling as if she had been stabbed. How could he be so cruel? She desperately fought to keep the tears from her eyes and her throat from closing completely.
"So you wish me to ask the goddess for love between you and Pharaoh?
"No, I only wish for her to fall in love with me. I certainly do not wish to love her."
"How convenient for you, and cruel to her! You must desire the throne very badly."
"I do not! I just wish to protect Egypt."
"As you wish. I will pray the goddess on your behalf. But beware, HatHor answers as she pleases."
"Just ask her what I said." He muttered impatiently.
Sally nodded her accent, turned and left, entering the inner sanctum of the temple. Tears at last springing free from her eyes and streaming silently down her pale cheeks.