After her bath, she remained in her room for fear of running into him.
Imhotep knocked on her door.
Ten minutes later she was hearing that the Shiites were building up near the border. All signs indicate they plan to invade within a couple of days. General Ammuhtep was in the room. He heard all that was said. Seems he would go fight his old enemy after all these years. He couldn't wait. He was much like Marcus in temperment. Though a big man himself, he was still dwarfed by Marcus.
Within a matter of hours boats were leaving for the southern border.
Marcus found out what was going on. Now would have been the perfect time
with the main body of troops leaving, but he couldn't do it. Caliecus
looked at him.
Marcus looked at his brother. Caliecus could see something was wrong. Marcus was not himself. If this had been any other place there would have been no hesitation. But since coming back last night from the garden he wasn't the same. Marcus could think of nothing but her. He knew she was not experienced from her kiss. But the way she fit in his arms, as if it were natural for her to be there. She had not fought him, but clung to him. The mere thought of being alone with her again sent him reeling.
Maati had much on her mind, with invaders at her southern borders and wondering what Marcus was up to. She decided to go to her private spot for meditation and perhaps something else.
He had seen her go to her private spot. He freshened up. Caliecus just shook his head. His brother had changed since meeting her.
The smell of roses was in the air. The moon was full again, guiding her every step. She stopped at the fountain to listen to the running water. She thought someone else was there and turned around to see who it was.
Marcus had been slowly following her. The tunic she wore was very sheer, the moon silhouetting her shape. He let out a gasp when she turned. She wore nothing underneath. Her eyes were shining, her lips were slightly parted. He approached her slowly, as if she would somehow turn and run.
Maati did not move. In truth, she couldn't. He hadn't taken his eyes off of her. The scent of her perfume had him reeling. He cupped her chin and bent to kiss her. When their lips touched, sparks ignited. He wound his arms around her, molding her body to his. Maati put her arms around his neck, returning his kiss, learning from him. He moaned, kissing her more passionately. She clung even tighter. His hands started feeling her body. How warm and soft she felt. He then kissed her cheek, her neck, feeling her quiver with excitement.
The next thing she knew, he had laid her on the grass, her tunic somehow under her. He kissed her again. His lips were now kissing her neck, then her breasts. Maati was running her fingers through his hair, reveling in the feel of it. His lips started going lower, down to the place no man had ever known.
Marcus was not unaffected. The feel of her skin was like no other he had
known, her scent sending his head reeling, her body quivering at his touch.
He came up and looked in her eyes, which were glazed with desire. The
next thing she knew, he was putting her tunic back on. She gave him a
In truth, Marcus knew she was more than just a conquest and deserved to be treated as such. He couldn't believe that she would have loved him without complaint. He kissed her lips lightly and took her back to her room.
Maati was shaking when she got into bed. She would have made love completely without protest. Marcus had awakened emotions in her she never knew existed. She closed her eyes, dreaming of what almost happened.
Marcus couldn't believe what he did. He never did that with any woman before. She had aroused an emotion in him that no one else had. He didn't want to admit it but he was falling in love with her. Marcus still could feel her skin, how she touched him ever so gently, returning his kiss. He closed his eyes, dreaming he would be the one to unlock her desires.
Maati was listening to Ammuhtep's report. The Shiites had been beaten and were scrambling back across the border. She ordered him to tend to the wounded, especially those who were exceptionally brave, and told Imhotep was to make provision to those families who suffered losses. There was one more bit of news that disburbed her. He reported seeing Sinuhe there. It was clear to her now who had been behind the rebellion.
Marcus entered just as she had given orders to Ammuhtep and Imohtep. The minute he entered, his mind went back to last night in the garden. She looked up and blushed when she saw the look in his eyes. Her heart was racing when she ordered wine to be served.
Simset usually served the wine, but this morning she did not feel well. Maati told her to stay in her bed. Another girl came and served. Maati did not recognize her but there was something oddly familiar about her. She then got a sense of forboding.
Maati was just putting the cup to her lips when it was knocked from her hand. She saw Marcus had put his hand to his throat and grow stiff and fall to the floor. The serving girl tried to run but Caliecus caught her.
Maati screamed for Imhotep to get the physician. She then looked at the
girl, who was trying to get away from Caliecus and looking at the Queen
with hatred in her eyes. She looked at the girl again, then she knew,
Horeb, the palace physician entered. Maati gave him the cup Marcus had drank from. She then told the guards to take Marcus to her chamber. It took four men to carry him. After Horeb had examined Marcus, he went to his quarters to test the wine. Maati stayed with him.
Meanwhile, Ammuhtep was questioning the girl, who still refused to talk.
Caliecus towered over her. The girl saw the look on his face and became
afraid. It was like seeing a demon.
Maati had come in just as Caliecus had asked her. When she heard the girl
answer, Maati stood in front of her. The girl looked at her in a demonic
manner, but quickly changed when she looked in the Queen's eyes, looking as
if they were ready to shoot daggers of lightning.
The girl then realized what was going to happen to her. She was to be burned and thus could never be embalmed. She want away screaming.
Maati went back to her room. Horeb had returned and explained that the
poison was made from a root of a tree that was from the southern region.
Fortunately, Marcus did not drink enough to kill him, just make him
paralyzed. It would take 3-4 days to come up with an antidote. For right
now he was to stay in the bed and have nothing but broths given him. Horeb
then left to see the palace cook to tell him. Maati held Marcus' hand,
never letting go. Although Marcus could not move, he could feel her hand
Although paralyzed physically, he wasn't mentally. He was thinking, "I'm in her chamber, in her bed. I've wanted to be here, but not quite this way." She laid next to him, curling as close as she could. He was going out of his mind. He just wished he could put his arm around her and bring her closer. As if she knew what he was thinking, she moved his arm and got even closer, his arm around her. He closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Simset brought food, but it was Maati who fed him. Simset had to beg her to take a break. She assured the Queen she would take care of him while she looked after herself. Maati did not stay away long as she wanted to be with him as much as possible. Simset was in her mid-twenties, and had not been nowhere but with the Queen. When Maati was not looking, Simset would look at the two of them. She was young but she was old enough to know what she saw - love.
Four days later Horeb entered with a yellowish-looking liquid in a vial. He put the liquid in the broth and had Marcus drink it. It tasted horrible. Horeb said the antidote would take a couple of hours, but he should begin to show improvement. As Horeb said, a couple of hours later he began to move his toes and fingers. Gradually over the next day or so, he was slowly getting movement back in his legs and arms. By the fourth day he was able to stand and stiffly take a few steps. Horeb came in and checked on his patient. His prognosis was that perhaps in another day or so he will be able to move normally, as if nothing had ever happened.
They began to take brief walks then eventually were able to go outside. It was during this time that Marcus was thinking about what he had originally set out to do. He found that in the short time he had been here, things had changed. He no longer was interested in the conquest of Egypt, only in the lady that had stayed with him. He knew that he had to tell her the truth and do it soon.
When he took steps on his own and moved about quite freely, he said he needed to talk with her. They went to her private bench by the water fountain. He looked down into her eyes and told her what he had originally come there to do. How he had had reports that none of his spies had seen her so assumed she was ugly and not too intelligent, therefore, an easy conquest. Maati listened intently, never changing her expression. She knew it was taking a lot for him to tell her. He went on to say he had been trying to find something to use to his advantage to, he hated the taste of it, blackmail her.
"When I first saw you, never did I expect to find someone as beautiful or as intelligent. For the first time I found someone who was not intimidated by me. When I saw you in the garden it was like seeing a night spirit. Then you let me make love to you in the garden, I knew I had to stop. I couldn't do this to you."
Maati touched his cheek with her hand. "I had known for some time that a tall man with long, red hair was coming to conquer Egypt. When I saw you, I knew you were the one I had dreamed about. Never did I expect that I would find someone who would touch me the way you have."
Marcus saw something in her eyes - desire. She was wanting him to make
love to her. His hands cupped her face. He bent and kissed her, exploring
every inch. Maati found herself kissing him back. Marcus groaned and
pulled her closer, molding her to him. When he pulled back, looking in her
eyes to see if he still saw desire there. Her eyes were even more full of
desire than ever. She took his hand and led him back to her room. When
they were outside her balcony, he asked, "Are you sure? Once I go in I
He carried her to her bed, laying her down ever so gently. He slowly undressed her, brushing her skin with his fingertips. When he had undressed he laid beside her and kissed her again. This time she did the exploring, learning from him. His kiss deepened even more, his fingers now exploring every inch of her. He was now kissing her ear, her neck, tasting her perfume as he went. Maati closed her eyes, her breathing getting heavy.
He cupped her breasts, kissing and licking each pink tip. Her hands were now running through his hair, arching her back as he went to her abdomen, nipping at her naval before going lower, to the center of her thighs, doing to her what his fingers had previously done. Maati could not stop running her fingers in his hair, moaning in ecstacy.
He was beside her again, her eyes clouded with desire. Marcus started to groan. Maati was brushing her fingertips over his body, focusing on that part of him that was growing with desire every time she touched him. He soon found himself joining their bodies. She felt a slight twinge of pain as he entered her, but then felt a wonderful warmth throughout her body. He moved slowly at first, letting her get used to him. She began to move with him, matching his rhythm with her own, her fingers digging into his back with every stroke. He began to move faster, Maati moving with him, riding the tide of passion. Marcus called her name at his release as she bit into his shoulder. He kissed her till she could barely breathe. When they caught their breath, they held on to each other. Maati closed her eyes.
Marcus looked at her as she slept. She had made love with him, giving herself fully to him. He had been with countless women, but knew they were nothing compared to the woman beside him. She had captured his body, his mind, his soul, his very heart. He knew that she was his life now, that he would die if anything ever happened to her. "I love you Maati," he said before he closed his eyes.
Simset had come in to see how Maati was doing. She saw the two of them together, fast asleep. Simset smiled to herself. Finally, the dreams were over.
Caliecus was walking in the hallway and saw Simset closing the Queen's
door. He was wanting to talk to Marcus about what was going to be done now.
It just so happened the two of them made eye contact for the first time.
Simset started to blush. Caliecus had wanted to talk to her but had
thought she wouldn't. In one of his many battles, he had gotten a deep cut
to his face, which had turned to an ugly scar. He finally got the courage
They walked around the grounds, getting to know each other. Never once
was Simset repulsed as he feared. They stopped by a palm tree.
Caliecus and Simset spent the greater part of the night talking. By early morning they were tired, but felt they knew each other well. Simset said they should return as she had duties to do. Caliecus walked her back to the Queen's chambers. He kissed her on the cheek and left.
Simset got as much rest as she could, thinking about Caliecus all the while.
But things were happening that were greatly to effect the new found loves of four people. It wouldn't be too long before they would feel the effects.
Sinuhe had just arrive in Rome with a plan to put before the Emperor himself. A plan that would assure him the throne.
Octavious was a short, fat, ugly man, with piggish eyes, who took great pleasure in torturing whomever was handy. It was said that he would take a dinner guest and for the fun of it have him tortured in front of everybody. No one in Rome liked him, but they were too afraid to say anything as people were known to disappear. He also had a crack unit of Pretorian guards at his beck and call.
When informed an Egyptian wanted to speak to him, he thought about using this Egyptian for his sick pleasure. He had not heard from his general so he decided to give him an audience. Sinuhe introduced himself and told the Emperor of a plan to get Egypt and in return, wanted to be made king of Egypt. When told of the plan, Octavius agreed, besides, when the time was right, he would get rid of this Egyptian as well.
Marcus and Maati were steadily growing closer. Their relationship had spread through the kingdom. Some had resisted this trieste at first, but others felt the Queen had a right to go with whom she pleased, as her father had brought someone from another land to be queen.
Simset and Maati were talking one morning during her ritual bath.
Simset informed her that she and Caliecus wanted to marry. Maati couldn't
have been happier. She had been noticing how they were around each other.
If their love was half of what she and Marcus had, then their marriage
would be a blest one.
Simset smiled and ran to tell Caliecus. Maati was in the receiving room
going over some maps with Imhotep. Marcus came in. Maati did not see him.
He came up behind her and put his arms around her. She jumped at first
but knew whose arms they were. Imhotep wisely left, knowing things would
happen when they were like this.
Marcus and Caliecus were busy finding a way to stay in Egypt as they had received a message from Rome wanting to know their progress. Maati had gone on her barge to help dedicate a new temple that had been built in Basta. As the journey would take a couple of days, they planned to spend the night on shore.
During the night, Maati woke up to hear strange noises. Before she could get out of her room, she was grabbed by two men and blindfolded. Simset had been knocked unconscious and dragged from the boat. Maati felt herself being put on a horse. She smelled something burning. It was the barge.
It was two days later when she smelled smoke and knew she was at a camp.
After being shoved into a tent, she took off the blindfold, trying to
figure out where the camp was. She didn't have to figure too much for she
heard an all too familiar voice enter the tent. It was Sinuhe.
Maati knew where Sinuhe was sending her, to a brothel. She would have cried but she was not going to give Sinuhe the satisfaction.
Word reached the palace that the royal barge had been attacked. Marcus and Caliecus rode to the spot, making their horses go nonstop. The next day they came upon a sad sight. The guards had been butchered so no one would be alive, or so they thought. Marcus saw the burned barge. He looked for a sign of some kind showing she may be alive. He then spied her necklace among the ashes. He assumed the worst. Tears began to stream from his eyes.
Caliecus meanwhile was looking for Simset, assuming she also was dead. He found her wandering around with a bump on her head. She did not know the Queen had been kidnapped. Both of them went over to Marcus, who was standing there holding her necklace, tears still flowing from his eyes.
It was a sad ride back. When they reached the palace, they were informed they had been stripped of their command and were to be shipped elsewhere. Marcus didn't care, he had lost his life on the barge. Caliecus was not so easy. He fought the guards when Simset was taken way. They had to put him in chains and threaten he would see her dead body. He had no choice.
The next day they left. Each going to a different destination. On that same day Sinuhe was crowned. Everything had gone according to plan. Sinuhe sat back and smiled like a crocodile.
Marcus was sent back to Spain to defend the frontier, which kept him on the move and constantly fighting. Caliecus was sent to the east to defend against the Persians. The brothers being kept apart so they would not be able to help each other.
Maati was taken to the brothel Sinuhe had told her about. It was not a dirty place, but it wasn't pleasant either. Travelers from all over would stop there. She was put in a cell in the back part of the house. The man who ran the brothel had been paid by Sinuhe to keep her there. The man looked at her with a menacing gleam in his eye. He didn't know it was the Queen, he thought she was only a wayward slave. Sinuhe had not trusted the man not to tell.
She was told she could do one of two things, either work with the other women for money or clean the brothel. Maati decided that cleaning was far better. She worked hard everyday, barely getting any rest at night. She did, however, manage to make one friend, Ami, who also cleaned. Although they were friends, Maati did not trust her enough to confide in her.
The brothel owner was a tall, pudgy man with pig eyes, who rarely took a bath. It was hard sometimes to be around him. She herself was missing the daily baths she used to have. Her hands were calloused and red from all the cleaning that was done. She had hoped that Marcus would find her, but that hope faded as time went on. She realized that he had to think she was dead. There were nights when tears streamed from her eyes as she was sleeping. Maati had been there for two months now, with no hope of being rescued. Ami came in and was busy chatting away.
"There is a story going around about a barge that had been attacked some weeks ago. It was said that the queen was on it, but no trace was ever found. It had been burned and that no one survived."
Ami had been a slave all her young life. When she first saw Maati, she
knew there was something about her, as if she was born to give orders. She
tried to get Maati to talk but to no avail. She had to gain her trust.
She knew Maati was reluctant to say anything.
Maati was surprised at the young girl's observation. She had no choice
but to trust Ami and tell her.
Maati then told her the whole story, starting from the time Marcus came,
of the love that had developed, and what had happened on the barge. Now
Ami always kept her ears open as to what people were saying. She had heard
from various sources about the Queen and the Roman. She had also heard of
what had happened after the barge was found.
Maati was disheartened. Marcus and Caliecus sent far away and apart.
She started to remembered the spells her mother had taught her when she was
a child. She had to take a chance.
Ami was staring at the Queen when she said this, wondering what it was she had in mind. Maati told her what she would need. Ami agreed to get the items and help her.
It was late that night and there was no moon. It was the perfect night for her to do what she was about to do. They went out into the back part of the yard, to a spot where no one would see them. Ami had gotten the items she needed. Maati took stones and set them in a circle. Then she took a linen cloth and put it on the ground towards the middle of the circle. On the cloth she put various herbs and powders, plus a container of hot coals. Maati then took off her tunic. Naked now, she knelt on the ground and mixed the herbs and powders as her mother had shown her. She put this mixture on the hot coals and murmured words only she understood. Immediately a blue smoke came and formed a protective curtain around the circle of stones in case someone was to stumble upon her. Ami became frightened.
Maati then stood up, turned to the east, raised her arms in supplication
and asked that she be allowed to stand before the goddess Isis herself to
plead her cause. She turned to the north, then the west, and then the
south, asking the same request every time. A slight breeze began to blow
on Maati's naked form, but the bushes and flowers nearby were not
disturbed. Ami looked and could not believe what she saw, it was Isis
herself. Maati knelt before Isis.
The blue smoke that had been around her turned white, enveloping Maati completely. Ami thought Maati had disappeared, but the smoke floated away into the night. Ami was wondering what kind of woman is this that can call the gods and they come to her. Maati was still kneeling on the ground. Ami helped her up and put her tunic on her. They put the stones back where they were and took the items back inside. Where the circle had been, a hibiscus plant grew. Ami was even more frightened. Maati's plea had been answered. A force was set in motion that no god or man could stop until it had reached its destination.
Marcus had not been the same since he found the necklace by the barge. His life had been taken from him. He had not cared where he was sent or what would happen to him. He wore her necklace as that was the only physical link he had. There wasn't a night that her memory wasn't with him. Tears would come to his eyes when he thought of those golden eyes closed forever. He would also think of Caliecus, wondering how he was doing, if he was alive, remembering how he had been when they took Simset from him.
There was constant rebellion on the frontier. He was always fighting, barely having time to rest. But it was one of those rare times when he rested that he felt something burning his chest. It was Maati's necklace burning him. He took it from inside his tunic. He saw white smoke start to come from it, forming a familiar shape. Marcus thought he was seeing things. Were the gods playing tricks on him? It was Maati's form. A pair of yellow eyes opened within the smoke. A voice started to speak. He thought the gods were still playing tricks on him. It was Maati's voice, telling him she was still alive and for him to rescue her. Her voice said a rose-scented trail only he would be able to smell would be left for him to follow. Then the smoke disappeared.
Marcus sat there. Had he just seen his beloved's eyes and heard her voice? He looked at the necklace which was glowing in the dark. It was true, he had not been seeing things. He closed his eyes thanking the gods. He now had a purpose, to find her and rescue her, but first he had to get away from here.
As it so happened, talk of mutiny within the army had begun. Men were getting tired of fighting a war that was never going to be won, and they were also tired of a madman emperor. Most of the men had been with Marcus in Egypt at the time and were sent with him. They knew he would be the one that could lead them in a mutiny. Talk reached the generals who had replaced Marcus. They tried to have him executed for treason. But his men killed the generals, thus making Marcus their leader. He knew he had the men behind him to go to Egypt, but he wanted to rid the world of a madman first. They were less than a day's journey from the coast and the barges needed to take them to Rome. No one tried to stop Marcus and his army from leaving. They soon were on their way to Rome.
Caliecus had been plotting for sometime to escape to rescue his Simset. As if the gods too were tired of a madman, half of the armies on the eastern front were beginning to rebel. It was no problem for Caliecus to be made leader, as his reputation for being a fierce soldier had preceded him. In no time they were on their way to Rome.
Word reached Octavius that units on both fronts were in rebellion against Rome and were on their way to overthrow him. Had it been any other leader he would have had no problem. But he was told the units were being lead by Marcus and Caliecus. He knew with the two of them leading the rebellion, there would be no mercy for those who stood in their way. He ordered the army of Rome and his Pretorian guards to be on the alert and to fight to the last man to protect Rome. In actuality it was to protect him for their wrath.
Two weeks later, both brothers landed on opposites sides of Rome. It was not going to be easy. They met with resistance every step of the way. It took them nearly two weeks to reach Rome.
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