Editor-In-Chief: Charbel Baini

Nightmare In Egypt…Part 14/ Feras Werr

Sekhmet returned to the castle after the burial ceremony of Seti. The ceremony was a long rough experience for her. She had bid farewell to her husband and to a great ruler. Sekhmet cried endlessly as her body shook with grief. The royal residence was full of lamentation as his wives cried out their sorrow as well. Mourning was declared and no weddings or festivals were allowed in the Empire for thirty days.
Sekhmet toiled restlessly on her bed in the chamber. This was the first night that she will sleep alone, without the warm presence of her love beside her. The bed felt like a coffin; it was cold and cruel. The room felt like a burial chambers. Everything was tasteless and colorless. There was no life in anything around her. She choked from sorrow. She choked from the pain. Her tears ran endlessly down her cheeks.
Every corner of the chambers and court had her husband's voice still echoing in it. She felt almost as if his soul was lurking around her mourning her parting as well. She almost could hear him say I love you, the exact same words he would never get bored of as long as he said them to her. On that same bed they knew each other for the first time. She served in the palace and he was always pleased at the obedience and faithfulness she showed. Nevertheless his looks proved that he greatly approved of her beauty as well. Sekhmet found it hard not to notice his eyes that constantly roamed up and down her body at every time she was in his presence. Her Splendid looks captivated him. Being well known for his love for women he married periodically, aside his mistresses that he enjoyed. His appetite was insatiable. Then it finally came.
He summoned her to his room. It was night time and her lord never summoned her at this late time of the day. He was alone in the room. She dared not refuse. As soon as she entered he took her between his arms and locked his lips on to hers'. Sekhmet can remember how her heart beat wildly at his passionate kiss. It was hard for her to believe that Pharaoh Seti, a god and ruler of Egypt lusted for her, a mere servant in his palace.  Among all the women he had she was totally special; a superb obsession that he couldn’t avoid. She melted in his arms.
Very soon it was made known throughout the lands that Pharaoh Seti took in a new wife. But the big rocking that took place was when everyone criticized him for making her word and will above all his old wives in the palace. Gradually Seti loved Sekhmet to the point were he announced that her wishes in the palace would come after his and Ramses. Sekhmet can still remember how Isis boiled at his decree. Seti always loved Isis and spoiled her with his love. She was his favorite sibling. Nevertheless she had a big argument with him and denounced his marriage formally in front of Sekhmet, Ramses, and a big multitude of people in a formal gathering.
It was upon his return from a victorious campaign. The palace was filled with nobility and guests who were there to congratulate their leader. Sekhmet will never forget Isis's eyes that filled with jealousy and hate. At that moment Sekhmet entered with her husband into the court. Her husband sat down at the thrown and she stood by him. They hadn't been united together for a long time and Seti's marriage still wounded Isis's heart. Isis unable to look at Sekhmet standing besides her husband's throne ruling, suddenly announced, "Sekhmet, go and fetch me a cup of wine. Or have you forgotten what your chores are?" The court directly grew silent. Not a word was said for moments. Seti got up his throne alarmed at the statement. His face turned red and gave Isis a look of devastating anger. He couldn't believe that his sister was trying to embarrass him in a formal court. He ordered his sister to leave the court and go to her chambers. Isis didn't let things be and kept yelling and crying "I will not have a servant rule in my palace! You have embarrassed us all Seti!"
Late in the night Seti went to Isis's chambers. The walls of the residence shook from his raging voice as he scolded his sister for her obscene remarks. Their arguing got to no where. After that moment things got cold between them for a very long time. It wasn't for years till they partially reconciled with each other. Isis came to accept her brother's choice eventually. Yet their relationship remained somewhat shaken and not as before.
In spite of the fact that her four years with Seti weren't totally comfortable from the people that opposed their marriage, his care and passion for her made things bearable. They shared uncountable happy moments of love and true feelings. On every campaign he bought her presents, riches and jewelry not at all within her wildest imaginations. He spoiled her to the extremes and her wishes were fulfilled on the spot. He made her respect a priority and boasted her with him in public celebrations and ceremonies. He never was ashamed of her origin and dealt with her as if she descended from the noblest lineages. He practically showed her what she meant to him. She was his only true princess. 
 Sekhmet got up the bed and walked out of the chamber. She passed through the court gates and decided to meet with some fresh air. Her husband's memories were sweet as honey; but their sweetness cut her up. Her innersole mourned as they surfaced within her. He was gone on a trip of no return; gone forever from her life and from Egypt that he built with his hands. She would continue her life living only on his memories and the tears that they would always bring her.
*****
The trip to Thebes was devastating. The long caravan of one hundred prisoners began its trek at one very hot summer morning. They were lined consecutively in two long lines with their hands and feet bound by heavy iron chains. The chains only allowed limited movement. Fifty soldiers on horseback guarded the caravan. The trek began under the scorching sun by the order of a whip crack that was followed by "Move Slaves!"
The population of prisoners was a variety sourcing from different countries and crimes. There were people captured during Seti's latest wars in Transjordan and the fertile crescent, local Egyptian thieves and criminals. Soldiers on horseback patrolled the slaves continuously as they treaded along the sands bonded by the bitterness of chains and persecution. It was a mass immigration of the most mistreated and cursed population in Egypt. Isis felt the ruthless side of her brother's rule from the suffering that she tasted and saw around her.
The distance to travel was humongous from Memphis to Thebes on foot but more work force was needed to continue the work on Seti's new temple for Amenram. It was a gift he wished to offer the local war deity for his latest victories in battle. A lot of the workers in Thebes got crippled or died from the harsh working conditions and replacements were necessary.
Isis was the only women in the caravan. She didn't know what could possibly be her job at such a harsh work sight but she feared the worst. She might be forced to real heavy duty work as punishment for her conspiracy. She also knew that Ramses will not spare her life once he got back from the wars. He will surely order her execution. What if she was forgotten in the prisons in Thebes till her old age and death comes. The future scared her. The trip to Thebes scared her even more. She was treading along her path with total strangers to a callous future of uncertainties.
Their travel trail paralleled besides the majestic Nile. The grounds were furnished with a carpet of superb greenery and rich forestation. To the right and left of the trail lay unending pieces of land that were full of vegetation. Between the thick greenery lay open pieces that were used for crop cultivation. Workers could be seen everywhere tending the fields and singing away songs to help keep them alive their strenuous routine. Men and women hand in hand diligently worked to seed and prepare for the crops of the hot seasons. Isis made out a beautiful vineyard of grapes. The grapes were still immature and needed tending as the summer season had just begun. Children playing about the tall bushes surfaced from time to time and filled the atmosphere with laughter. 
The chain of villages never ceased as they walked along the well defined soil rich path. There was a never-ending presence of man power thrusting life in all the areas they crossed. Merchant caravans that were heavily loaded with assets and materials passed by. Isis enjoyed the wealthy display of colored clothes that the merchants wore. Merchants from the lands of Kanaan in the fertile crescent, from Arabia, nomads with camels and anonymous convoys were crossing to and fro between the two great cities.
She began to feel how beautiful and prosperous her lands were. As she passed by she picked at the green leaves and felt them with her hands. She smelled leaves that produced beautiful odors that she had not known before. The magical moments of enjoying the natural environment that characterized her lands began changing her views drastically about Egypt and its people. Her lands were flourishing with people who possessed the vigor and energy of achievement. They built the lands her brother ruled. They were people like her exactly who had a very strong target to accomplish in their life.
The beautiful pleasures about her almost made her forget her plight. Very soon the chain rattling in her hands and legs reminded her of the humiliating bondage she was in. The happiness and life she was seeing on the faces of her people contrasted with her misery. Her subjects were free roaming as they pleased while the princess of their lands was confined to chains.
Had she been obedient to her families rule she would still be respected in her palace tended to by her servants. What a foolish lady she was to think that justice wouldn't be served. The gods must have punished her for wanting to forsake her people to the rule of the greedy foreigners. They were punishing her for plotting to kill and overthrow her brother's rule also. The thought of enslaving all those people she saw full of life, growing and harvesting hurt her so much all of a sudden. Her intentions towards her brother seemed so low. How could she even have thought such a thing? She could have swallowed her disrespect for Sekhmet for the sake of her brother's happiness. "Did I have to be hot headed and out of place?" she thought.        
After long hours of walking, the scorching sun began withering away the energy of many. An old man fell down unable to walk any further. His lips were extensively dry from the heat and his body was devastated to illness. Isis felt very sorry for his condition.  The caravan stopped and a couple of high ranking soldiers on horseback trotted back checking his condition. Isis heard the conversation. The soldiers were reasoning that they can't delay the caravan and wait for the prisoner's health to improve nor can they carry him along in the carts as he will be extra burden. One of the high ranking soldiers pitilessly stabbed the old man with his spear and spat at his body. The body convulsed wildly at the stab then laid still. They rode back to the head of the caravan and the order was given to resume the trek. Isis felt that the spear stabbed her as well. Her heart ached as she eyed the corpse on the path behind.
Ten people had perished from mistreatment by the seventh day. The two meals and drinking water that were rationed daily barely gave the prisoners the required energy for the trek. The pace of the caravan was slow accordingly. As they moved south the temperatures rose and the shrubs grew thicker. The path although still defined was a bit harder to cross as the shrubbery grew at an incredible pace.
            Isis began feeling great exhaustion. Her ankles ached from the walking. They were only allowed to slumber on long wide sheets of material during the night in the open fields while the soldiers mounted tents. She never managed to sleep well and kept awaking periodically from fear. She feared two things. The wolf howling of the night never made her feel safe at all despite the camp fires and soldiers on night duty. At times they would be so near that she would sit up till the early hours of dawn fully alert. Moreover countless insects of all shapes and sizes would keep crawling and flying about her. Joined with her watch for snakes, knowing that they sometimes roamed restlessly in times of excessive heat, shut eye was impossible to her. The other reason was harassment from the soldiers. On a long travel they were deprived of women and her presence posed an allurement for many. Despite the roughness she was in she was fair game for their unsaturated appetite. She refused and fought back well at first but the harshness of the whip made her give in eventually. She was passed on from soldier to soldier during the nighttime then thrown back to sleep what was left of the hours, shaking with disgust and fear. Their malodorous and sweaty bodies were nauseating. Many a times, long crying would wash some of the burden of frustration that accumulated within.   
On the night of the eighth day she was awakened by something shuffling at her legs. The prisoners around her were all sleeping away their daily exhaustion. She opened her eyes to find a well built soldier in full armor and uniform kissing her legs. His hands were roaming freely up and down her thighs. She sat up and moved backwards a distance. He followed her on his knees and stared at her, as if seeing a woman for the first time. His breath smelled of heavy wine and was drunk to the bones. Isis knew he will not leave her alone till he had what he wanted. She knew what was expected of her. But surprisingly he slowly began to drag her to the direction of the open fields. Death stricken with fear she opened her mouth to scream but the soldier masked her mouth with his hand. He pulled a knife and threatened her with it if she screamed. He forced her to take a very long walk with him through lengthy crops and shrubs and stopped when at a very far distance from the camp.  She looked around but couldn't see where the caravan was parked despite its lit fires. He ordered her to lie down on the ground. Isis watched as the towering figure stood still looking down at her. He swayed sideways then fell down over her in deep sleep. She gasped loudly at the thud of his heavy body and rested in her place for a while breathing heavily. "Thank the gods she was spared tonight." She managed to move him off and stood up. She circled her head in all directions in pursuit of the caravan but not a single clue was around even to help her trace the way they came from. No villages or houses were apparent. There were no fires lit in the distance to indicate a living soul about. The thick darkness was choking her. Nearby wolf howling in the background made her back chill with fear. Her heart began to beat faster than ever. She opened her mouth to release distress cries but stopped as she reasoned at the last minute that the wolves would find her path. She was more discreet lying anonymous in the bushes.
Isis decided that it's better for her to rest where she was and not move. The soldiers will surely miss them in the morning and come looking for them. She sat still in her place eyeing the reckless figure that was the reason for the present circumstance. She kicked him strongly with her foot. The sleeping body rocked from the kick. "Dog filth is better than you." She thought.
The tall crops around her began beating boisterously. Isis stood up. She faced the commotion then took a couple of steps back. She stopped as she heard a vicious beastly growl behind. She was sandwiched between two menacing ambiguities. She accumulated her courage and turned her head back. There was a huge black dog growling at her. She gave a sigh of relief. She had no fear of dogs. It guarded a piece of carrion that it fed on. The crop shaking continued in front of her. She thought that there must be a pack of them. She approached the dog who was still growling at the beating bushes. The dog looked at her and circled a couple of times around sniffing and smelling then resumed its growling. The beating intensified in front of them and strange loud howling arose from it. The dog leaped up to the bushes and disappeared amongst them. Instant bloodcurdling rows erupted. A loud pained cry was heard and the dog was hurled backwards towards her. It yelped and danced in its' place from deep wounds. Isis bent down to check on it. Although the darkness was tense she could make out with her fingers enormous slicings across its stomach. They cut deep through the flesh. Isis's shuddered with horror as it became clear to her what the bushes were hiding. She gulped hard and eyed as the beasts emerged. They were a huge pack of hyenas. They looked at her with fierce eyes as their death heralding mouths opened wide. They were big long creatures that stood with alarming majesty, as if owning the grounds they roamed on. Isis tried to step back but her legs were paralyzed with the waves of terror that were rushing through her. One of them picked up the carrion. She jumped up startled in her place at the sharp noises of snapping and crushing. Its jaw worked powerfully as it tore up the boney meat with ease. Three of the pack dragged the soldier away while the greater multitude gazed at her.
*****
            The eagle soared through the eternal skies of Egypt, cruising grandly, in its determined search that never ceased for the past eight days. It moved from region to region seeking alertly for any signs of its target. Was she alive or dead? Was she in Memphis or Thebes? Was she laboring in some construction sight or resting humiliated in some prison? The uncertainty of her life fueled its will to find her.
The bitter taste of raw flesh never came to its liking. The dirty waters that prevailed in the region were sour and unquenching. The burdens of the daily hunting performed were most tiring. However deep inside it new that this was momentary. As soon as she was found they would find a secluded house to rest in till the full extent of the plan was executed. Then he would roam freely and rule.
Setekh was being hunted down like an animal. His life was sold for three hundred pieces of gold. The announcement was made in all the cities and villages in the Egyptian Empire. For such an amount many people dreamed of killing him. Numerous bounty hunters pledged allegiance for Ramses to hunt him down. He was no longer able to wander freely without feeling endangered. Ramses knew how to limit his power greatly. 
He was presently unable to reverse the magical charm he cast upon himself without fresh human sacrifice. The temple priests were heavily guarded day and night by soldiers. With such a vulnerable body he was unable to prepare for his ceremony by himself. He knew that Isis would help him. Isis loved him and would do anything for him.
He missed her. He missed her soft touch and the feel of her body between his arms. He missed her beauty and soft caresses. He loved her to the point of insanity. She was the only woman that captured his heart of all the female Egyptian city dwellers that surrounded him. He had to find her. She was the only person that would support him in his distress. Finding her was a life and death situation for him.
The eagle glided with utmost stealth in the clear warm night skies. Looking down on the tranquil grounds beneath, it came across a huge caravan that was parked aside its travel path in a spacious ground. It glided down and searched for Isis among the sleeping crowd but its hopes soon collided with a dead end. It formed a wide circle and wanted to resume a different course when commotion caught its attention. The eagle resumed a low course and saw the dead dog being hurled back a long distance. The eagle dived with full force down as it saw the pack of hyenas emerge in seconds and surround Isis. It accurately reached her in time just as a beast rushed towards her. Isis released a petrifying scream and raised her arms covering her face as she felt the assault of the hyena coming. The eagle tackled Isis with utmost precision and picked her up by her arms just as the hyena reached her. Isis looked down unbelieving as she saw the beast spring forward and attempt to bite at her legs. She crouched her legs barely missing the assault. She felt his mouth brush at the souls of her shoes. She looked up and saw herself ascending at the mercy of an eagle. Everything went silent and dark afterwards as she fainted.
*****


0 comments: