A/N: Wow, I don't need a disclaimer because this is MY own story…sheds a tear… Wow, god, wow! Okay, so let's see where I go with this! And I need to tell it from the Pharaoh's POV, just because it's a part of the story, I need to get into the minds of all my characters, including ones with mystery to them. Don't worry, I'm careful not to spoil...much...and some stuff needs to be spoiled.
Duel of Love
Chapter 1: Hidden
"Katiana, get over here!" High Priest Sethos called from the main room, which everyone saw the moment they entered the temple. It was lavishly decorated on sun colored cloth and the benches were slightly padded as only this temple could be. Made of a special type of marble, the temple always seemed to reflect light. I sighed, the Pharaoh was probably coming over and he wanted me to remain out of sight, so I was probably either getting locked into my room or sent into town on some fruitless errand. I don't know why he bothered; it just must really get to him, thinking that I'll fall for the Pharaoh or something if I saw him.
"W…What is it?" I asked, and then noticed the basket in his hand. Great, he was sending me on an errand. I mean, half the time the errands were meaningless, just something to get me out of the way.
"I'm in the mood for some fresh fruit," he said and I glared at him. He wasn't in the mood for it because we had fresh fruit in the kitchens!
"I don't w…want to!" I exclaimed and he patted me on the head. I hated it when he treated me like a little kid! He said often that I was his and his alone and one day he would have me, and yet he treated me like a little kid! I was only two years younger than both him and the Pharaoh!
"That's an order Katiana," he said, "Go out the back as well…unless you would prefer to be locked in your room…" I shuddered at the thought, being locked in my room was terrible, I hated being confined, and it felt terrible.
"I don't want to!" I exclaimed again, getting angry at him. He always confined me or sent me away, half the time I didn't understand why! I wasn't going to just go and do something stupid when the Pharaoh was around, but he obviously thought that, well, that or he thought that I was going to fall in love with the Pharaoh or the Pharaoh would fall for me and then he'd lay claim to me or something overriding Sethos's claim. I didn't think that would happen though, it was really doubtful. I many hate Sethos but he didn't have to worry about me falling for the Pharaoh, not after how he told me the Pharaoh was anyways, mean and cruel and he hurt more people than the previous Pharaoh. Come to think of it, I basically remained hidden from all royalty my entire life. Either Sethos wanted me to be really sheltered or he was afraid of something I didn't know about.
"Katiana," he said in his low and dangerous tone, "You are a priestess in my temple, don't forget that, you are beneath me, and I doubt your status will ever change." Oh I knew, he reminded me every chance he got!
"I f…fight better than you and you know it!" I shouted, "And stop t…treating me like I'm a little kid! What are you s…so afraid of?" He had to be afraid of something or else he wouldn't treat me like such a child and act like such a jerk.
"Who said I'm afraid?" Sethos asked his voice still dangerous.
"Are you afraid the Pha…Pharaoh might fall for me or something or I might fall for him?" I pressed, knowing all too well where this conversation would end, seeing as how we had it so many times before.
"Just go!" he said and thrust the basket into my arms, "I know you don't want to be locked in your room, and it's a nice day outside." I sighed; nothing was going to change his mind, just like always. I hated him sometimes. I headed out the backdoor like always; at least the townspeople liked me well enough and I felt more at home among them…
"High Priest Sethos," I greeted as I entered the temple. The High Priest strode up to me and bowed low.
"Greetings my Pharaoh," he replied and I smiled at him, "It is a pleasure to see you as always..."
"Yes, it is, isn't it?" I asked and he stood back up and smiled back at me, "It has been too long since we last talked."
"Not too long, and even then, you needed me to do something. How may I be of service?" High Priest Sethos asked.
"May we sit down?" I asked, "You do know me too well…"
"Perhaps, I know a lot about you my Pharaoh, and that is a weakness as well as a strength," he replied.
"Shall we get to talking then?" I asked and he beckoned me towards some of the padded temple benches, "Very good."
I had to at least get a little fruit to prove to Sethos I was actually away for a while, but I didn't want to stay away too long. The city was really nice and I talked to a lot of the people about what was going on, sharing news that I had overheard in exchange for stuff they had heard about. Most of the time we exchanged rumors, which I didn't believe in much because they normally held little truth, but sometimes I accepted it if it was reasonable, but it really had to be reasonable. Anyways, I headed back to the temple, determined not to stay out too late this time like I usually did. Half the time Sethos's conversations with the Pharaoh didn't last too long and then he'd ask me where I'd been if I stayed out for a while. I was a little ditzy I'll admit that but he told me to go out and never told me when to come back, so I normally just ended up having to scrub some statue or some floor as punishment for being out late. He was such a jerk!
"Reading the texts you found my Pharaoh is a difficult task," Sethos said, "And I know of no one who could possible do it…" He was still talking with the Pharaoh! I hid behind a pillar to watch what was going on, praying that neither Sethos nor the Pharaoh would see me. I knew Sethos would probably kill me and I didn't want to find out if what Sethos said about the Pharaoh was true. Sethos had told me that the Pharaoh was a cruel man, someone who didn't care much for the well-being of others and he'd probably end up hurting me. He's never let me confirm or fond evidence that negates his comments so I don't really even know that the Pharaoh is like…
"Are you sure?" the Pharaoh asked, "High Priestess Renenet said that translating these texts might give us more of a clue as to the past civilizations that came before us."
"Is that really that important?" Sethos asked and I peeked around the pillar to see the Pharaoh nod. He didn't seem cruel or evil now, but that could also be because he was on business.
"These ancient civilizations, they knew so much more than we do, about medicine, about farming, they even managed to get their words onto this paper like substance," the Pharaoh replied, "And besides that, there are pictures, pictures which represent the dangers that now exist in Egypt, dangers we are struggling to control. They apparently had the same troubles before we had even begun as a civilization. I must know what happened and why they disappeared." What sort of dangers was he talking about? Was there something Sethos hadn't been telling me about the shadows?
"So you still fear the power of darkness?" Sethos asked, "Pardon me my Pharaoh but you are the most powerful among all of us, you should have more faith in your abilities than that…" I rolled my eyes; Sethos was always good at playing up to people.
"I know that but there is something about it that makes me uneasy…" the Pharaoh replied. I could probably read these texts. I always loved to read and I had read a majority of the scrolls and such that lay in our temple library. It was really the only thing Sethos probably let me do, along with learning how to be a healer. He never let me learn anything else for some reason and he always kept an eye on me for some reason.
"I understand my Pharaoh," Sethos said, "But I regret that I cannot assist you in this, for I know of no one, not even myself that can read such texts as this page you have brought me." So the Pharaoh had even brought a sample of the text?
"I could pro…probably read it," I said in a huff under my breath and then cursed myself, ducking fully behind the pillar as I heard silence, followed by a few footsteps and a muttered curse. I had been caught! Why did I have to be so curious, why couldn't I have just left again back into the city for a while, or better yet, come in through the back and go cower in the kitchens?
"It's seems you have a Priestess here High Priest Sethos who wanted to listen in," a voice said and I turned my head in the direction of the voice and jumped. It was the Pharaoh!
"My Pha…Pharaoh!" I said in a startled tone, bowing low and not even raising my head to meet his eyes.
"She must have just gotten back from an errand I had sent her on," Sethos said, realizing the damage was done and the Pharaoh had caught me, "Listening in on conversations not meant for her is one of her more unpleasant traits." I knew that wasn't true, but I wasn't about to retort right now, not in the presence of the Pharaoh!
"…" I said nothing because the Pharaoh smiled at me.
"Can you read this?" he asked, "I thought the High Priest said he knew of no one, but I could have sworn I heard you mutter under your breath you probably could…"
"He doe…doesn't like to talk about me," I said, "And he pro…probably didn't know… I mean, I'm not sure, b…but I can try. I s…spend most of my days reading."
"I might as well let you try, what harm could it do?" he asked and handed me a small page of text. The Pharaoh was being so nice, he wasn't mad a t me for listening in and wasn't mad at Sethos either. How could Sethos have said he was mean? He didn't seem like it, for a first impression he came off as a really nice person.
"I highly doubt just because she can read and reads lots of things she will be able to read from this old text, which is in a language foreign to us," Sethos said, "We don't have anything in other languages in our library, extensive as it is."
"B…Because at least I'm trying to r…read it!" I exclaimed and Sethos gave me an amused smile.
"You dug your hole, now go lie in it," he said, when in fact I knew he wanted me to just go lock myself in my room because I had told him I wouldn't see the Pharaoh, promised him I wouldn't see the Pharaoh and here I was addressing the Pharaoh, and I might undertake some sort of translation project.
"High Priest Sethos, I have never seen you act so coldly to a priest or priestess from your temple," the Pharaoh said.
"That's only because she's the priestess who's a troublemaker," Sethos replied.
"I'm not!" I exclaimed and Sethos glared at me.
"She acts like a child all the time," he said and my face grew red, "Not to mention she is only in the lower ranks of the temple, still training in the basics."
"I see…she doesn't look like a child though…" the Pharaoh said and then turned back to me, "Please do try anyways, I'm sure you're not as bad as he says you are. Unlike Sethos I believe in giving a chance to someone I don't know too well."
"I know her well enough," Sethos muttered and sighed with frustration.
"I'll t…try," I said and looked at the piece of text. It was an odd thing, it really was, and the symbols seemed so different from what our writing is. It was odder that I think I knew what it was saying.
"Can you read it?" the Pharaoh asked gently, "Don't strain yourself if you can't, it's alright."
"B…But," I began, "It's talking about s…shadows…"
"You can read it?" Sethos and the Pharaoh said at the same moment.
"A little," I said, trying to focus more.
"A little is better than nothing at all," the Pharaoh said, "Now that just leaves the fact that I need her at the palace."
"Why can't she just stay and translate here?" Sethos asked and I looked up from the paper to glare at him, why'd he have to be so possessive, or overprotective or just… so stupid!
"She could but I would feel much better if I could watch over her," the Pharaoh said.
"I watch over my priests and priestesses very well thank you," Sethos said bitterly, and then bowed, "Apologies my Pharaoh."
"It's not that, but High Priestess Renenet said she had a very troubling dream about these texts," the Pharaoh said, "And she mentioned how I would have to personally watch over the one who translated them."
"Is it really
necessary?" Sethos asked, "Would she be required to live at the Palace?"
"Yes, I wouldn't want to force her to walk back and forth from the temple to the palace and it would allow me to keep watch over her all the time," the Pharaoh said, "Is there something wrong with that? I only need her to translate the texts; I am not planning on anything else if I think your mind is going to where I know it usually goes." Was Sethos jealous that I would be elsewhere, out of his sight, unable to be picked on or where he would be unable to keep a tight rope on me? Was he nervous about that perhaps?
"She has never lived anywhere but here, I fear she might feel disconnected if she were to stay away from the temple for too long," Sethos said, "And therefore be unable to continue her training."
"Tha…That's not true!" I exclaimed, "I can t…train anywhere! It's not l…like there's something here I n…need to be able to train!"
"…" Sethos said nothing in response; instead he was looking at me with immense anger and frustration.
"Would you be alright coming to stay at the palace for some time Miss…?" the Pharaoh asked. Oh, he didn't even know my name!
"Katiana," I said, "My n…name is Katiana. I'd be ho…honored my Pharaoh. I've never b…been to the palace before…"
"Very well then, I shall send someone over to pick her up tomorrow," he said, addressing Sethos and then turned back to me, "It will be most enlightening to work with such a bright young mind, Miss Katiana." After he said that he said his goodbye to Sethos and left.
"I hope you're happy," Sethos said, "I didn't want you anywhere near the Pharaoh and now you'll be in the palace in his care."
"What are you so w…worried about?" I asked, "He s…seems so nice and polite. W…What, do you think he…he'll hurt me or try to take me from you or s…something like that?" Sethos turned away from me and began to head towards his room.
"You're mine, never forget that Priestess," he said. I really wasn't his, I mean, he really didn't have any claim to me, the laws told me as much when I read them quite thoroughly last year.
"I'm n…not and you know it!" I said and he turned around to face me, an amused look in his eyes. Why did he say I was his all the time?
"You are min," he said flatly and then began to walk towards him again. I didn't belong to him, not at all. I was a Priestess in his temple and that was that. He may treat me like a lower rank but I wasn't as low as he said I was. I had trained under him for as long as I could remember and I knew more than half the people he claimed were of a higher rank than me! Of course, I had more or a literary smart than the others and they knew more about battling and rituals and such, not that I didn't, Sethos just never let me practice any of it. And I knew he probably knew that, he was just too stubborn to admit it!
"J…Jerk," I said and chucked a piece of fruit at him. He turned and caught it before it hit him in the back of the head and he took a bite out of it, grinning as he did so. It was an arrogant grin too, and I didn't appreciate it at all.
"Make sure to put the food in the kitchen as well," he instructed. Who did he think he was? Did he think he was some overprotective big brother who claimed I was his and he felt he could order me around? I wasn't his and he knew it, he couldn't claim me!
"Fine," I said and made my way to the kitchen doors, okay, maybe I just didn't want to end up polishing another statue, that was why I did it, that and maybe, just maybe just a little respect. He was still a jerk!
The nest day a servant came and picked me up to bring me to the palace. I had packed some clothes and a few belongings to take with me and Sethos promised not to touch my room while I was away so when I came back I could have it back. I mean, I 'd have to have it back because I was still a Priestess of the temple, it wasn't like he could take it away from me, not if he still wanted to keep an eye on me when I was done working for the Pharaoh.
"Tha…Thank you for taking me," I said to the servant and he merely nodded in return. I could tell he probably didn't want to talk so I didn't say anything else. The silence was a little unnerving though, and a small part of me actually wanted to go and run back to my room and cower in my bed. When we finally arrived at the palace, I took in its size and shape and the magnificence I saw before me. It was huge! I mean, I had seen it before but from a distance, this was really the first time I had seen it up close. I really never realized its size until I was heading towards the door! The servant led me inside and I was greeted by the Pharaoh himself. I could only hope I looked acceptable in my everyday clothes. The weather was always warm and they were comfortable, but somehow they seemed to not be suitable when in the presence of the Pharaoh.
"Welcome Miss Katiana," he said and I bowed low, holding my things clumsily against me. He was really well dressed to, his lighter tan outfit with blue trim and the golden jewelry that he had hung from his ears and around his neck made him look very royal, not to mention the headpiece, which looked like it was gold too. His hair was the most interesting, because it was gold and black stripped, if that way of putting it was correct, and it really suited him. He had his hair hanging around him rather than tied back and it made him look a little childish but really cute. I couldn't tell him that though, and I wasn't about to mention that to Sethos either, he'd probably have a fit!
"Tha…thank you so much for having me," I replied and got up from my bow. He looked down at me, a warm look on his face. He regarded me for a minute and then beckoned me inside. I walked inside of the palace, taking in all the detail around me, carvings and paintings and gigantic pillars. Doors to various places and hallways were all around and I could see the throne in the back of the main room, embedded in gold as well.
"Will you follow me? I took careful time in preparing your rooms so I would love to show them to you personally," the Pharaoh said and beckoned me to follow him down a hallway. I followed him as he led me around; he was being so polite again. I still thought I looked very plain in his presence. I was wearing tan pants that sort of puffed out at the bottom, soft-toed slippers, a tan shirt that had shortened sleeves, and my hair was pulled back in several pins. My shirt and pants had an orange band outlining the cuffs, sleeves and bottom of the shirt and top of the pants, along with a tan sash that had an orange band at the end of the sash, the part that hung off in front of me. The Pharaoh led me to a doorway and then opened it slowly for me.
"Is this it?" I asked and he smiled.
"This is it," he responded and I looked inside, letting out a small gasp as I did so, "I helped to design this." He had really good taste and this was a chamber fit for a princess!
"It's so…so ele…ele…beautiful!" I exclaimed. These chambers were much more elegant by far than anything I had back at the temple. My room at the temple was much smaller and more…well, functional than elegant. As Sethos usually put it, it was a place to sleep and to recover (not to mention he would send me in there sometimes when the Pharaoh was around). I called it home though; I think I was going to be a little homesick.
"Do you like it?" he asked and I ran forward to feel the bed. It was so soft! He must have gone through a lot of trouble to make this place over in one night.
"It is too m…much!" I exclaimed, "W…Why?"
"I don't know, but I was inspired to make this as comfortable for you as possible, I know how difficult it must be to be away from the temple. I really do look forward to your company," the Pharaoh said, "I was planning to ask if you would like to join me for dinner, I know most of the Priests and Priestesses in your temple but you seem to be the only one High Priest Sethos kept from me and I would like to get to know you."
"Are you hit…hitting on me?" I asked before I could stop myself and he raised an eyebrow and I lowered my head.
"I wouldn't do that sort of a thing Miss Katiana; I am quite offended you would ask," he replied, "I am merely trying to get to know my subjects better." I was in trouble and I lowered my head in shame a little more. How could I have blurted something as insensitive as that? I was going to be in so much trouble… Besides, I wasn't like nobility or anything, he wouldn't even consider liking me for that matter, and I was too plain. At least that's what a lot of the Priests and Priestesses have been telling me; of course they also teased me a lot so I didn't know… I didn't know what Seto was afraid of though, with my stutter and all anyways. It was that and the fact I was short, severely short.
"I am s…sorry my Pha…Pharaoh," I stammered and he looked at me, "I was out of l…line; I should n…never have assumed s…something of that manner."
"Aren't you the polite one?" the Pharaoh asked with a smile on his face, "And humble as well. So, will you join me Miss Katiana?"
"F…Fine," I said, bowing low, "I'd be h…honored."
"Very well then," he said, his gaze never leaving me, "Miss Katiana, I am looking forward to getting to know you." He gave a short bow to me and then left. He was so polite! The Pharaoh wasn't at all as mean as Sethos said he was, unless Sethos was right and the Pharaoh was just trying to give a first good impression and was hiding something. I thought I was pretty good at reading people and the Pharaoh didn't seem to have anything bad about him, in his personality or otherwise.
"He just seems so n…nice!" I said and then sat down on the bed, marveling in its softness, "I'm h…honored to be here, helping him!"
"Did you enjoy dinner Miss Katiana?" the Pharaoh asked as he walked me back to my room, "I thought it was very good." He was only saying that because he was the Pharaoh, he could have the best cooks in the world serving him and he'd know that.
"Very m…much so," I said with a slight blush, "It was d…de…delicious!" Dinner had consisted of roasted meat, fresh bread and fresh fruit and vegetables. There was even desert, which was a small bowl of ripe and sweet berries. It was all really tasty and the bread even had been a little sweet, which was a change from what I had normally eaten at the temple. I was a little homesick right now though, normally Sethos would be with me right now treating me like a little kid and here I was with the Pharaoh and he was treating me like a full grown woman, which I wasn't really used to.
"I'm glad you liked it," the Pharaoh said and we arrived at my door and he opened it up for me, "Here we are and here I must bid you goodnight."
"Tha…Thank you my Pharaoh," I said and he smiled at me, although his expression changed to something slightly more sorrowful, and I wondered what was wrong.
"However there is something I forgot to mention," he said, "I need you to promise me that at night, two hours after dusk that you keep your door locked and remain in it until an hour before dawn."
"Sure," I said, "But if it's not to b…bold to ask my Pha…Pharaoh, why?" This was something I didn't expect. Was there a lot of danger that I needed to be wary of?
"I cannot explain with mere words about why, but I need you to promise me that you won't go wandering around at night and you will remain in your room," he said, "It's very dangerous at night." So there was some sort of danger, but what was it?
"How could it be da…dangerous?" I asked worriedly, "S…Should I be staying here at all?" The Pharaoh forced a small laugh, but his eyes had this certain sadness to it, something that was different than just normal sadness. I couldn't…well I hadn't seen anything like it before and I wondered what it was that made his eyes look like that, but his eyes changed to something more friendly a moment later.
"If you just follow my instructions you'll be fine, it's more like a curfew, you're used to those, aren't you?" he asked and I nodded and then he patted me on the head, which I brushed away without thinking.
"Stop treating me like a l…little kid!" I exclaimed, "I may be s…short but I'm only t…two years younger than you!"
"Beg pardon?" the Pharaoh asked stunned and I suddenly remembered where I was.
"S…Sorry my Pharaoh," I said hastily, "I'm sorry. Sethos d…does that to me…"
"And let me guess, it really bugs you?" the Pharaoh asked, "Then I apologize, I be sure to not do that again in the future. Now if you will excuse me, I still have some things to attend to before heading off to bed myself. Remember the curfew Miss Katiana and I shall bid you goodnight. I will talk with you in the morning."
"Cer…Certainly my Pha…Pharaoh," I said and bowed again, "I will obey." He gave a short bow to me and then left, shutting the door gently behind him. That was odd, what was he so afraid of at night? I shook it off; the Pharaoh was allowed his own secrets, right? He wouldn't have me over here if it was really dangerous, right? I changed into my nighttime outfit and packed the rest of my belongings into a chest at the foot of the bed and then crawled under the covers. This was so comfortable! It was really much more elegant than my room at the temple. Sethos was probably seething right now that he wasn't able to keep his usual eye on me and such. I yawned and lay back against the pillow, sinking down into it. The Pharaoh had gone through a lot of trouble getting his servants to do this in just one night and he said he helped in the design didn't he? He must have really wanted to make sure I felt comfortable, even if I was used to less…
"He's so kind," I murmured before letting the realm of sleep come to claim me.
Sethos: name for a Prince
Amun: Mythical name, god of Mystery
Renenet: Mythical name, goddess of Fortune
A/N: So, what do you think of this? Do you think this has potential to be published or not? If not, do you have any helpful suggestions? Or is this chapter too soon to tell? I would really like feedback, but any flames will be used to roast marshmallows for those that like this story.