[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
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