[livejournal.com profile] writers_muses - 35.1.D - Never Supposed to Find Out (Intro)

May. 7th, 2008 07:21 pm
sekhmet_mrytamn: (candlelight)
[personal profile] sekhmet_mrytamn
We were never supposed to have found out about the poison; not, it is, until it was too late. I certainly was not intended to know.

Is it any wonder since that day I have always hated most Romans? That harlot, once my friend, had added insult to injury enough by enticing my royal husband to take her to his sleeping couch. That was just the beginning of the trouble. She was, in those days of her return to Egypt, too proud, believing that her boundless promiscuities somehow made her equal to any of his wives or concubines. Caelum Valeria Messalina, claimed noble blood and it was true that she was my friend If I had only known what mission she had been sent on, friend or no, I would have had her hacked to bits and fed to the palace lions.

The marriage of my husband, Per'aa Tjeti Amenhotep I, (Life, prosperity and health upon him!) to his niece, the Princess Ashere, was a political consideration. Like any other Egyptian royal wedding, though not a religious event, it was a social celebration greater than any other pageant in Waset since the Inundation. The air was heavy with perfumes of lotus, rose, frankincense, myrrh and endless spices. Everything with the Court glittered with the gold and semi-precious gems and laquered black ebony. Silks form the East, mostly from Bharat and the finest linens of Egypt were in profusion. The world is an infinitely paler place now compared to then. Not since that time has the pain of colour been so acute. I had personally overseen every detail, every spice that garinshed every dish that was to be served, as well as every pillow on each divan near each table in the place central hall. Of course, I had been foolish enough to accept when my friend, Messalina had offered her own slaves for they were wine bearers and cooks of unsurpassed skill and knew well our traditional fare.

MY husband was a powerful presence in that room that night. Even without most of his kingly regalia,Tjeti could be recognised as King. The air between he and I was strained, even though the entire matter of taking Ashere to wife had been my own idea. Politics made it necessary, I will maintain that stance even now; in spite of the judgement of modern scholars on the matter. But in spite of his new bride, it was I who was sitting in the place of foremost honour next Tjeti. I was dressed in cloth of gold, the vulture crown and double plumes sat atop the plaits of my hair that had been braided with gold and ruby beads. As my hand settled around the lotus sceptre that bobbed an tincled softly like wind chimes, I watched Messalina's slaves weave in and out of the crowd of people. Messalina was on the side of the room, nursing a fig, her arms clutched tight against her midsection as she spoke softly with the chief physician Itet. I thought nothing of it, they were friends. We were friends, all of us, and so the Roman woman's behaviour was the first thing that stuck out in my mind even as all of the guests feasted heartily and laughed with great amusement amongst themselves.

Tjeti almost spilled a second serving of the full-bodied red wine from Dashur upon his fine white wedding kilt. It was then that I tasted it. The savin mingled with honey that had been used to sweeten the wine, no doubt it was honey that been made from the pollen of oleander was almost imperceptible except to someone who is themselves a physician or a poisoner. I had taken but my first sip, but I knew that it was too late for Tjeti - or anyone else who had drunk the lethal elixir. My eyes caught Messalina's and Itet's and they both watched. I glanced to the doorway, somehow, oddly, there were no guards. How had it happened? I glanced again at Tjeti and then back at the two conspiring blackbirds in the corner. I reached for my husband's hand and squeezed it. He squeezed mine in return and then gave me a small smile. It would all be over soon. I raised my alabaster cup slightly in the direction of my two 'friends' and drank deeply. By the look in her eyes and the way that her face blanched, I was certain Messalina had gathered that I knew that we had all been poisoned. I did not want to continue my life without Tjeti. How could I?

The first death is never quite what you expect. I remember the room beginning to spin. There was a scream from a woman at the banquet as I fell against my husband's chest. With a roar he clutched me and stared directly at Messalina. Tjeti made his way across the room, not letting me go, my crown now fell upon the floor, a sacreilidge in gold as he himself became wide-eyed, fell and was at last still. Pharaoh was dead. I wanted to cry and clutch him to me, but I could not make a single tear come. I was barely conscious, my heart I could feel slowing and my throat begin to swell and close. Immediately the room began to erupt into chaos. I could not move, I could only watch as it all played out in vivid and horrifying detail.

The Lord Senechal, Nebmaatre fell next, folding in a billow of linen onto the marble floor. Those who were dressed as guards were certianly not. They were knocing their way past those who were fleeing the scene and slaughtered all that were still at their tables. Trays food and bowls of fruit were splashed with the deep red wine that spilled from amphorae. The flowers, the linen, the walls and floor were soaked with it and it was all juxtaposed in a twisted and horrifying metaphor. It was so much like the hacked and bloodied bodies on the floor. Before the blackness overtook me totally, I could still hear the sound of weapons cutting through air only to catch those who were left. The last, a sobbing slave girl was caught by a khopesh that parted her skull, blood pouring in rivers down her shoulder and breasts as she crumpled to the floor with the rest.


I awoke in one of the tents put up by the priest of the House of the Dead, the scent of blood and death assailed my nose, flies lazily buzzed in the desert heat. It was a voice that brought me to wakefulness. I looked up into the eyes of the Medjai, one whom I had seen but never spoken to. His face , chest and arms were covered in the traditional tattoos that made them look so fierce to Kemet's enemies. I could barely manage a sound, every muscle in my body felt as if it had been tightened like a great bit of leather and released so that I was too weak to even move. "Where were you - any of you, Medjai?" I croaked in a voice that was as close to anger as I could make it. He did not answer me right away but merely brushed a braided plait out of my face. "Forgive me, Nebet. I glanced and fought to focus on the room about me, and the beir upon which I was lying was partitioned off from the rest, yet there were still voices of those intoning prayers for the dead.

"Forgive you...I should have all of you slain," I turned my head away, "how is it that I live and his Majesty? "

"His Majesty is already dead, Nebet, the Medjai said softly, "as is everyone else who was at the banquet.."

"The Roman woman...."

"She was found, Lady," he said, "and I personally hacked her into pieces and sent them back to Rome. She was, according to what we found in her correspondence, one of Rome's best poisoners. She was your friend?" It was not so much a question as a statement. I nodded, I winced as my head was explodied with pain. "You asked how you survived, Nebet. " he said, finally he looked at mer. "The truth is you didn't. You died, and you will continue to live, but there is much for you to know, and more than I can explain to you here. I have arranged that you will come with me and stay among the Medjai, at least until it is safe. We will have enough time through the seventy days of mourning to arrange for another to take your place in the tomb that you were to share with your husband. Again, I am sorry, Majesty"

I pulled myself up, squinting, still barely able to see, my body still weak as that of a temple kitten, "Who are you?" I asked, " I have seen you, but I do not know you."

"Around the palace, Majesty, I was only called, 'Medjai'. But among the Medjai I am known as Ardeth Bay."

Muse: Sekhmet Meritamen
Fandom: OC / Highlander / "En Intw Djerw Henenet" series at Pan Historia
Word Count: 1510
crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] writers_muses

*private conversation, in a quiet garden corner*

Date: 2008-05-08 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] all-forme.livejournal.com
"I have found the loss of loved ones to be infinitely more painful than the pangs of death itself. Was it so for you?"

His voice was low, his tone near melancholic as he observed the light shining down into the pale gold of the wine held in his hand, the goblet intricately carved of a single piece pale, near translucent jade.

"And how is your wine Meryt, is it acceptable? This is a new vintage, I named it Fleur 'd Or, in homage to my daughter Caroline."
From: [identity profile] sekhmet-mrytamn.livejournal.com
"What was hardest was that I was unable to be a part of Tjeti's funeral, which was ironically held with my own. It was surreal, beforehand, the night before. Looking at the things within the tomb that you know are yours, a coffin that holds a body that is not your own, and next to it the man whom you thought you would spend eternity with." She drew a ragged breath and exhaled it slowly. "Thankfully, they have not discovered his tomb, I've made certain of that."

Sekhmet gave him a slow smile, "I find the irony that we are sipping wine after my story ridiculously amusing. And to answer your question, yes. The wine is quite good. No chance of any poisons being hid in here, the tastes are far too subtle for that," she said, genuinely amused now. "Your daughter is lucky to have a father who names such things for her. Have you other children, Monsieur?"

From: [identity profile] all-forme.livejournal.com
"It is good that his body remains hidden, unplundered for the sake of science, or for the sake of some un-named art collector."

He gave a smirk, the irony of their sipping wine as she talked of her death not beyond him by any means. "No, no poisons. Not here, not now. And not for you." He paused a moment, his thoughts drawn to his family.

"I've yet to name a flower for her, I cannot find one that fits the color of her eyes, or her hair. This now?" He raised the glass once more. "The lightness of the grape, the joy, the delicate flavor it imparts, this I name for her. This is worthy of my child."

Shaking his head, he once more put the goblet on the small table between them. "She is my eldest, but I've another on the way. My wife will not let me coddle her, but she does allow me to fuss upon occasion. Not that makes any difference, you understand. She has an independant heart, that one; as well she should."
From: [identity profile] sekhmet-mrytamn.livejournal.com
"I never wanted Tjeti to be reduced to a museum display, and to be honest, no expense was spared in his burial. The cache is considerable. I daresay it would most defintely dwarf what was found in the tomb of King Nebkheperura Tutankhamun."

She gave a small smile to his insistance that there were no lethal elixirs in his employ this night, "Not for me? I feel honoured, Monsieur."

'Your daughter sounds delightful. Such children are an absolute joy to their parents.
I am sure that your daughter is no exception. I am of course unable to have children, but I have adopted in the past."

Sekhmet listened as he spoke of the impending delivery of another child. "Another? Well congratulations to you, then. Your wife sounds to be a formidible woman, and that you speak of her without one remark of disparagement speaks volumes about you. Most men have some soft of complaint about thier wives - that they don't understand them, or that they are harping shrews....but not you. You were quite....." she struggles to find the exact word that she is looking for in his language. In her own, she would have been able to use it. Translation between languages could always be so difficult. "honouring." she said at last. Tell me, she asked after taking another sip of wine, "Does she equally honour you?"
From: [identity profile] all-forme.livejournal.com
"Non, not for you." Not this day, he finished mentally. Not that he'd ever planned to do her harm, or even that he wished to. But still, she was an unknown, and all unknowns were possible threats until proven otherwise. It wasn't paranoia if they really were out to get you, and in Rochefort's case, most times they were. As to whether this particular intriguing lady was out to get him? He doubted it, but that would remain to be seen.

"She is a joy, and a blessing."

Rochefort took a sip then, letting the wine sit on his tongue before slipping down the back of his throat. "Merci, I am looking forward to the occasion with much joy." And more than a little trepidation, no matter how much his wife tried to convince him that modern medicine and modern shudder doctors would be able to keep her and the babe alive and healthy quite well.

"Complaints about my wife? I am only a man, and of course she has many. She's far too fogiving, she makes mercy one of her call words rather than the more reliable concept of dominance. She tries diplomacy where deviasness would work better, and allows far too many insults to her person. And she never, NEVER allows me to step in and adress these wrongs to make them right." The look Rochefort gave her now, was more one of amusement, nearly mischief as he spoke.
From: [identity profile] sekhmet-mrytamn.livejournal.com
"Well, that is a relief then," her lips curled into a smile, "I can, as you have heard, withstand poison, but it does not make it any more pleasant than it might be for anyone else."

Sekhmet noted his concerns for his wife. They were written all over him, in the way that he took the sip of wine and savoured it, and in the way that he spoke. Like most husbands, the idea of the unknown realm of childbirth was a frightening one, and until recently, women could and did easily lose their lives in the process far more often. He seemed a man of other times, but then that was not entirely impossible, certainly not for an Immortal such as herself to understand.

"Even in what you think are complaints, monsieur, you do not fail to compliment your lady wife. It would seem that she holds the velvet glove of the diplomat and prefers to be a sovereign who is respected rather than feared. Both viewpoints have their place, of course. And it would seem that she also rules you with that velvet glove of hers," She took a sip of wine and noticed the slight shift in him at her observation, "you are constantly thinking of her - even now. That creates the strongest of bonds, I find. I can respect that in a man, and to be fair, I could never get involved with any man who did not respect his wife, for certainly my husbands always respected me," she looked over the rim of her cup that hid her smile, "until such time that I found that they didn't and then they were simply swept away."
From: [identity profile] all-forme.livejournal.com
"My lady rules all with a velvet glove. She is my lady, my queen, my" he spread his hands wide, and tilted his head. "Ah well. It is so apparent then?"

At her talk of involvement, he stilled, his eye staring at her, the brow raised slightly in curiosity. Definitely not a shallow woman, this one. One to speak her mind, and one confident of her abilities. It was an interesting change from the normal young ladies of this time he'd found himself alive in. Interesting, and refreshing.

"And I would do nothing that would cause harm or disrespect to my wife as well. Your husbands seemed to have been intelligent men, Meryt, by and far. But then, I do not see you as a lady who would allow such insult, such disrespect to her personage. In fact, I have the thought that you would make plain your displeasure with such."

Date: 2008-05-08 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-roman-w-power.livejournal.com
I do believe I am very glad that you chose not to see me on the same light as most Romans, despite my willingness to serve my empire in any capacity. It means a lot coming from one of my own, at least in the immortal sense.

*says nothing in regards to her personal losses, as he was never very good at consoling ninety nine percent of the time*

Date: 2008-05-08 09:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sekhmet-mrytamn.livejournal.com
I saw how things were for you when you were in Egypt with Octavian. You weren't the same as Messalina by any stretch of the imagination. Women like her are spoiled and think that their noble connections can buy them whatever leniency from anyone anywhere in the world they choose to by just by the virtue of their being Romans. Being proud of who you are and where you come from and serving your homeland is one thing, acting with impugnity and treachery against those who shewed you only kindness, friendship and succor - that's another.


Date: 2008-05-08 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-roman-w-power.livejournal.com
And while he is what I aspired to, it was his mother, of higher birth than Messalina and as equally ...indulgent, though it was her right, that I was under many years before him. I adored her as any servant would. The difference between the two women was that my Domina had discretion and actually had not other reason to do the things she had done, other than to further Octavian's power.

Did your Messalina ever leak out to you why it was done before she was justly hacked away at?

(ooc - this is not the same Messalina as Emperor Claudius' third wife?)

Re: locked

Date: 2008-05-08 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sekhmet-mrytamn.livejournal.com
When Ardeth interrogated her, it was revealed. It seems that her patron in Rome, and I never did learn which noble Roman that it was, wanted to test her. In Rome's view, my husband and I were a political faction that needed to be swept away, for with our alliances with Bharat (India) and Nubia, we very well could have rebuilt the glory that was Khemet. Not since the heretic was that ever possible. Certainly Nebmaatre Rameses almost accomplished it. I do believe we would have done it. After it was over, it was clear, Egypt would never rise again. Measalina's reasons, she said were her brothers that were serving in Rome's army in Gaul. I later found out that was a lie. They had already been killed.

Date: 2008-05-09 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-roman-w-power.livejournal.com
*isn't and never was too sure what to think of Ardeth, but wisely kept that to himself*

A pity that he was never caught, Sekhmet.

All in all, after two thousand years, you bear all that better than most. *as good as it got when it came to compliments*

Date: 2008-05-10 05:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sekhmet-mrytamn.livejournal.com
Yes, well, I suspet that Father Time caught up to him and he had to answer to his treachery to Ammit. I have broken the red pots over Itet's name, so even if he did escape in this life, he most certainly won't in the next.

*surprised smile* Well, thank you, Marius. You haven't done too badly either, truth be told. I have heard rumours about you, but I never made it my business to pry. I hope that you have been enjoying yourself well enough in the time since we last met.

Date: 2008-05-10 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-roman-w-power.livejournal.com
I have in between our meetings in the past, quite enjoyed myself. I've taken to learning new things in between each soldiering lifetime, in order to keep the mind fresh and active.


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