AN: (1/22/06 – 10:19 am) lol, I almost made Marcus fall in love with Ellianne and then I thought…that's just straight out ridiculous.
Anyway, hope this next chapter will be enjoyable,
Ellianne pulled at her clothes, the thick, muggy air getting to her. A layer of perspiration glistened on her face, making her hair stick to her face and neck. She tried to fan herself with her hand, but it all but consumed her energy. The heat was unlike any other. It was not the Egyptian heat she loved. The desert heat of Africa was thick, sticky and smelly. She gripped onto the walls of clay bricks tightly as she felt her head spinning. Retreating from the window, where she was watching Ramses unload their luggage, Ellianne quickly stripped herself of her veil and shawl, trying to cool herself down as much as possible. She gathered her thick curls and twisted it tight, gathering it in a bun. She looked around for something to hold her hair in place.
Ramses gently inserted three long ivory pins, tipped with gold and embedded with turquoise, holding her hair in place. Ellianne turned around and looked up at him. He smiled down at her and then his eyes traveled her face as he lifted his hand, wiping the perspiration shining her face. Ellianne closed her eyes, exhaling softly, for his hands were cool.
"The next ship doesn't leave until tomorrow noon." He said softly. Ellianne opened her eyes.
"That's fine. I could use a night's rest without the swaying of the sea," she answered. She pulled away from him, pushing aside any unnecessary emotions, and sat at the bed.
Ramses crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, watching her. The commotion and bustle on the streets were calming as the sun began to set.
"You are not hungry?" he asked.
As Ellianne opened her mouth to refuse any food, her stomach grumbled loudly. She blushed darkly and Ramses chuckled.
"Stay here. I'll send for some food."
Ellianne watched Ramses wrap his head, hooding his face, and then exit. She clenched her hands tightly, pursing her lips. She laid a hand on her chest, willing it to calm down.
Ramses had been nothing but kind and gentle to her throughout the entire trip from Rome to Carthage. He tolerated her discomfort and complaints and treated her like a queen. When they had landed on Carthage, Ramses had paid a small bar for Ellianne to sit while he went searching for an inn. While waiting, hers stomach was in a knot, nervous, as curious glances made their way on her. In the back of her mind, she even feared that Ramses had abandoned her there and when that rude thought cut through her mind, she had felt the panic spread through her limbs like wildfire. When he returned after 4 hours, she saw that it took great effort from him, but still he greeted her with a gentle smile. It gave her great relief and she visually relaxed when she saw him make his way through the crowd towards her. He scolded her for not eating anything and Ellianne was too embarrassed to tell him she was too scared to eat anything. She did not pull back her hand when he took it, leading her through the crowds to their inn.
Ellianne looked around the room. It was simple, but roomy and clean. Nothing furnished the walls but a couple of torches. On the unevenly tiled floor was a small carpet, laid at the foot of the large bed. The bed was well made, stuffed with feathers and fur. There were no blankets, as the inn provided none, but she had laid their own. She doubted she'd need it, for the air was still hot. She looked out the window and saw that it was already dark. She found herself wondering about Ramses again, somewhere in her heart afraid he'd left her.
Ellianne shook her head from such silly thoughts. When have I become so dependant on him, she thought vehemently.
At that moment, Ramses entered, pushing a small cart heavy with food. Ellianne smiled at him, her previous angry thought having disappeared immediately.
"It isn't much, but this all they had that seemed any filling." Ramses noted, unwrapping himself of his little cloak. As there was no other furniture, save for the bed, they sat on the bed and laid the food out before them. There was a small roasted duck, with a bowl of thick, dark gravy accompanying it. On the side were small bowls of honeyed nuts and figs, with fruit and a small platter of sliced bread. To finish the meal was a small bottle of wine and another bottle of water.
Ramses poured a bit of wine into a goblet and mixed it with water, watching Ellianne tear bits of the duck and dip it into the gravy. He smiled as she closed her eyes in bliss at the delicious food. He offered her the cup and she drank it lightly. Ellianne ate and then paused, looking up at Ramses, who continued to watch her. "You are not eating." She said.
"I am not hungry." He answered.
Ellianne frowned, skeptical. She was sure he had not stopped to eat while hunting for an inn. Then, interrupting her thoughts, Ramses' stomach growled loudly. Ellianne burst out laughing.
"You are hungry!" she said, accusing him.
"Not for duck, anyway," he grumbled, embarrassed. He turned away, frowning.
"Ramses," Ellianne called. He turned to face her and was shocked to find meat in his mouth. She had shoved some in, forcing him to eat. He glared at her. She merely smiled back. "You may not want to eat, but I need you to. What will I do if you collapse in fatigue?"
"Oh, so it's for selfish reasons," he said, muffled from the food in his mouth.
"Whatever the reason," she replied, smiling at how childish he looked at the moment; "you need to eat. I will not have you starve."
"I'm not starving," refusing to eat.
"Eat!" she ordered, taking more meat, dipping it generously in the gravy and putting it in his mouth. Ramses quickly swallowed and shut his mouth so that she couldn't feed him anymore. Ellianne gave him a scolding look. She made her way to Ramses' side, and he let out a small cry as the bottles threatened to spill. He frowned when Ellianne managed to stuff the meat in his mouth again, laughing. "It is not so bad, Ramses. Now eat." She said, smiling widely. Ramses chewed and swallowed, glaring at her, but then he smiled.
"Fine." He opened his mouth, waiting.
"Don't be ridiculous. You have hands."
"Then I won't eat." He replied stubbornly.
Ellianne narrowed her eyes. "I'll be glad to be rid of you," she muttered, feeding him. He smiled. Ellianne laughed when she accidentally smeared some gravy on his chin. He wiped it clean but in vain. Ellianne spilled more gravy on his chin. She laughed as Ramses complained.
"Stay still! I'll wipe it off," she laughed, holding his face. She took her thumb and wiped the gravy from his chin. Her laughter slowly died, her eyes resting on his parted lips. She lifted her gaze to his eyes. She found them half closed, his yellow eyes watching her. His lips tilted in a crooked smile and Ellianne soon found herself robbed of her breath. Her fingers softly ran down his cheek, still rough with his stubble. She leaned down slowly, entranced by his eyes, his lips. He wet his lips slowly, as if beckoning her, welcoming her. When his lips were only a breath away, Ramses turned his head.
"You feed too slow, Ellianne. You're no good." He said, ripping himself some meat.
Ellianne blinked, awakening herself from the trance. She exhaled slowly, and then hot blood filled her cheeks. They continued to eat in silence.
But as they ate, Ellianne quickly became to realize there was only one bed in one room. She looked around. There was nowhere else he could sleep. They'd have to sleep together!
If Ramses sensed her trepidation, he made no note of it. He ate calmly and finished his meal with a deep drink of watered wine. He got up, startling Ellianne. He gave her a questioning glance and then turned away from her.
"You should get some rest, Ellianne. You won't find such comfort on the next ship." He said.
"Where are you going?" Ellianne asked, her voice high. Ramses stopped at the door and looked at her with a look that wondered why she asked that question.
He motioned to the room with a wave of his arm. "There is only one bed. It would be rude of me. You are married, after all." He added with a smile.
Ellianne set her teeth. "Of course. Well then, good night."
Ramses was smiling when he left her.
Ellianne stayed close to Ramses as they boarded their new ship. The company was less pleasant than their first ship and Ellianne felt unnerved. When people bumped into her, she gave a gasp and instinctively latched onto Ramses' arm. He looked down at her and laughed. But as the crowd on the ship grew thick and worse, Ramses laid a protective arm about her shoulders. "Draw your veil closer to your face, Ellianne." He warned. Ellianne nodded and obeyed. Ramses did the same. When a group of snarling men moved closer to Ellianne, laughing and murmuring amongst each other, Ramses drew back his cloak to reveal two handsome swords fastened to his side. When they saw the sword, they eyed Ramses warily and moved away.
"Ramses," Ellianne muttered, clearly frightened.
"Hush. We need to find a spot where we won't be disturbed."
They managed their way below deck, only to find it crowded still. Cabins were locked, and the ones that weren't were filled with people, trying to make their own space. Ramses tightened his arm and pulled Ellianne closer to him as a group of rowdy men went swaggering by, casting curious glances at their direction.
"Come on." Ramses said softly, pushing his way through the crowds. They found an empty cabin with two guards standing nearby. Ramses gently nudged Ellianne inside and closed the door. He beckoned the guards. "I will pay you two handsomely if you do not let anybody else enter this cabin."
The two guards looked at each other and then studied Ramses.
"You look no better than anybody else on this wretched boat," one snapped.
"You just sit there quietly. It's none of our business who goes where, as long as there's no fighting."
"You will be well rewarded." Ramses urged, lifting up three large, gold coins. The guards' eyes grew round. One noticed another glint of gold and looked. He pointed to Ramses' swords.
"Those look mighty fine, too."
Ramses surrendered one of his swords and was able to station the two guards at the door. He joined Ellianne inside the cabin. She sat huddled on one of the mats, hugging her knees to her chest. She looked up at him, her eyes large and gleaming. He smiled at her reassuringly.
"We won't be disturbed for the trip, so rest easy." He informed her with a sigh.
"How long until we arrive at our next stop?" Ellianne asked, trying to keep the uneasiness she felt out of her voice.
"Not for another two weeks." Ramses replied, taking off his cloak and laying it out on his mat, which lay across the cabin from Ellianne's.
"Two weeks," she breathed out, closing her eyes. Ramses sat on his mat, looking at her. She bit her lower lip, staring at the door apprehensively. Ramses got up, lit two lamps, and sat beside her, his hand under her chin. She turned to him and attempted a weak smile. "You chose a rotten ship, Ramses," she commented.
Ramses laughed. "There was none other that left port in the time we wanted."
She frowned but said no more. She was grateful already that he'd found a ship so fast. Still, it was an experience unlike any she'd been through. There were villains on this ship!
Ellianne let out a small gasp as Ramses pulled her to him, her back pressed against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her waist and drew up his legs by her sides. "Rest easy, Ellianne. You're safe. I'd never let anything happen to you." He whispered into her ear. She was trembling.
She forced herself to nod.
"Relax," he murmured. She was stiff and rigid from anxiety. Again, she forced herself to nod. But when Ramses began to hum softly, his chest vibrating against her back, and the warmth of his body seeped into hers, she felt herself relaxing. She breathed in slowly, leaning into his warmth. "See, that's better," he mumbled, eyes half closed. Ellianne looked up at his drowsy expression and decided she liked it very much. She leaned up and kissed his jaw. Ramses looked down at her and smiled.
With the two lamps flickering, casting dancing shadows on the walls, the two fell dozed off, warmed by each other's bodies, taking comfort in each other's presence.
When Ellianne awoke next, she found herself cold. She looked around and when she could not see Ramses, she began to panic.
For a whole week on this cursed ship, she had become dependent on his presence and his warmth, perhaps too much. He provided her with a sense of security she'd never felt. For an entire week, Ramses stayed by her side. Together, they talked, ate, and slept. There was little else to do. Ramses advised Ellianne against roaming the ship alone, and when he was not in the room, she had nothing to do but think. And think she did, for wild thoughts did nothing but loiter her mind.
She grew more and more attached to Ramses and she didn't like it. But against her will, her heart lightened when she saw him, and her body wanted more of his warmth when he was near her. As she listened to him talk of Egypt and his experience in court, she was enchanted by his deep, husky voice. And that cursed, lazy look of his! It made her want to kiss his eyes and every inch of his face. Ellianne shut her eyes and shook her head, slapping her cheeks. No, no, no! She had to concentrate on getting to Egypt safely and on how she was going to approach Fenius. Oh, how her heart yearned for Fenius as well!
Ellianne hadn't seen her brother for over 2 years, with nothing but slow letters to correspond with each other. To her knowledge, he was not married yet, and he was not interested in anybody, either. Still, he professed he was happy and well satisfied. She worried for him, but she knew it was a waste of effort. If anybody in this world could manage, it was Fenius. She missed him dearly! She looked anxiously forward to her arrival in Egypt. There was so much awaiting her there! She couldn't help but smile every time she thought of it. She often wondered what the first thing she'd do was, once she arrived. Memories of Egypt flew through her mind, finally letting her thoughts dwell on other things than Ramses.
Ramses entered the cabin with three fresh lamps. Ellianne looked up, relieved to see him. He smiled at her, but if he had noticed her relief, she did not know. She didn't know what went on his mind, actually. He did not possess the arrogance or the taunting nature he carried with him back at Rome. He did not try anything funny, nor did he seem to need her as she needed him. She was upset to find that it upset her.
"We must use our lamps sparingly. I had enough trouble getting these." Ramses said, setting them down on a table.
"I don't mind the darkness," Ellianne answered, drawing up as much courage as she could.
Ramses smiled and nodded. "We'll only light them when we eat. Are you hungry?"
"No," she replied quickly, not wanting Ramses to leave the room again.
"Very well." He let out a sigh and laid down on his own mat. Ellianne made out his figure in the dark. He was lying with his forearm over his eyes. His chest rose and fell in his soft breathing and a small smile rested on his lips. His stubble had grown into a small beard, making him appear older than he was, but also giving him a gentle and softening look.
Ellianne jumped, startled, at the noise outside the cabin door. She hugged her knees closer to her chest, waiting for the noise to die down. She let out a small cry when someone came crashing into the door with a loud thud. Ellianne scrambled out of her mat and into Ramses'. His eyes flung open as Ellianne climbed atop him, her arms wrapped around his neck.
"What is this madness?" he muttered, though he smiled broadly.
Ellianne trembled and Ramses did not have her answer. He wrapped his arms around her and turned to his side so that Ellianne was between him and the cabin wall.
"I told you I won't let any harm come to you, Ellianne." He whispered, kissing her brow.
"I'm frightened," she murmured.
Ramses chuckled, deep in his throat. "Ellianne, frightened? Now that's a first, isn't it? Come up, I won't have anymore of this nonsense,"
"Do not jest with me, Ramses," she muttered angrily, withdrawing her arms from his neck. He stopped her, grabbing hold of her arms. She looked up into his eyes. Though veiled in darkness, she saw the gleam in his eyes and the smile that danced on his lips. "What are you thinking?" she whispered, her heart suddenly beating wildly. Ramses felt it, for her chest was pressed against his. It sent his soaring as well until Ellianne didn't know whose heartbeat was whose.
Ramses gave her a crooked grin. "A trip like this is not so bad," he answered her. She inhaled sharply when she felt his hand by her knee, his thumb kneading her thigh. His yellow eyes clouded over when Ellianne closed her eyes, her lips parting slightly.
"A trip like this," she repeated, her voice soft.
"Yes?" he murmured, his lips kissing her cheek.
"A trip like this will never happen again," she said, opening her eyes and looking up at him. Ramses did not reply and only smiled. When he pressed his lips against hers, Ellianne did not struggle. Her mind, her heart, nothing protested. She welcomed him, daring him for more. A deep sound erupted from the back of his throat when their tongues melded. His hand, pressing firmly against her skin, ran up her thigh, drawing up her skirts. His other arm was wrapped around her waist, his fingers idly caressing her hip. Their kiss deepened and Ellianne lost thoughts of everything; where they were, what she was doing, nothing mattered. Ramses' mouth strayed from hers, trailing kisses down her chin and neck. Ellianne let out a shuddered sigh. Ramses nuzzled into the crook of her neck and laid still.
Ellianne opened her eyes, rudely awakened. "Ramses?" she called out.
Ramses placed a soft kiss on her collarbone.
"No longer scared?" he murmured. Ellianne blushed and shook her head. The noise outside had died down and in truth, she had completely forgotten about it. Ellianne wet her lips, her mind still reeling from what had just happened. She looked down and blinked. Ramses, resting on her arm and nuzzled into her neck, was fast asleep.
When next they stepped ashore, both Ramses and Ellianne were relieved. They decided to spend two days at an inn before boarding another ship. They had both agreed they'd spent too long without the sun. Fortunately, the sun did not beat down so harshly on Cyrene. Rather, it was refreshing, with clear, clean waters, towering palm trees, and buildings of white clay shadowed by plenty of vegetation.
Ellianne, as relieved as she was to get off the ship, was not so happy. Ever since that one moment, she was uneasy around Ellianne. She didn't know how to act towards him. She was fidgety, anxious, and worst of all, she longed for his attention. Yet, Ramses seemed indifferent to it all. Either he didn't notice or he did not care. He was not affected by her as she was by him. She was grieved by his behavior. He was calm and collected, while Ellianne was falling apart beside him, nearly collapsing every time he touched her. What's the matter with me?
They ate outside, a small meal of soup and bread. After basking in the sun for a while, they slowly made their way, searching for a decent inn.
"I've word! I've word!" Amseth cried out to Kanofer.
Kanofer looked up, wiping the sweat from his brow. He has just been sparring with his men, training endlessly, when Amseth came running to the field of sand. The other soldiers bowed and took their leave. Kanofer nodded at them and turned to Amseth. Kanofer was stark naked, save for a thin loincloth. His powerful body gleamed in the sun, and the bad on gold on his right, upper arm glinted as he reached out for a towel. As he wiped his face of sweat, he made his way towards Amseth.
Amseth was also lightly dressed, wearing but a thin linen skirt and sandals. He had on a linen headdress of blue and red, covering his shaven head, and three amulets hanging about his neck.
Kanofer crossed his arms and waited expectantly for the report.
"Ramses has just departed Cyrenaica and his on his way back to Egypt." Amseth let out quickly in one breath.
"We are to expect him, then, in less than two weeks." Kanofer noted, rubbing his chin.
"If the winds are fair, he can be here in a week." Amseth said, smiling widely. The palace had been in an uproar for the past two months over the absence of their young to-be pharaoh. The coronation was in three less than 3 weeks, and there was no heir. Everyone was in panic.
But having received note by one of Fenius' associates, Amseth was thoroughly relieved. Apparently, so was Kanofer. He placed a hand on Amseth's soldier and squeezed. "It's up to you, then, to continue with the plans of the coronation."
Amseth nodded and departed, knowing he had much to do and not a lot of time left to do it.
"Memphis," Ramses said proudly, closing his eyes and breathing in the air of his land. He turned to Ellianne with a grand smile. "Within a couple more days, we'll be in Thebes!"
Ellianne returned his smile. Ramses' demeanor had changed as soon as they began their sail down the Nile. His arrogance was returning, and his teasing came back. He was not so gentle with her anymore and liked to provoke her, push her temper. But it did not infuriate her as it used to. Rather, she took note of it with amusement. He was like a child, scared and quiet in unknown lands, but as soon as he stepped onto familiar territory, he was boasting and sauntering with his head held high. Ellianne couldn't help but smile.
"It's been well past 8 months since I last visited Memphis," Ramses informed her unnecessarily. She smiled and listened as Ramses reported to her all he knew of his great city. He pulled back his hood, letting his people know that great Pharaoh dwelt their streets.
A pair of dark eyes watched the future Pharaoh walk proudly in the open streets, noting his broad smile and the beautiful foreigner walking beside him. He drank the rest of his wine and made his way swiftly towards him, eyes flashing violently.
"My great lord," a voice murmured.
Ramses swirled around to find a hooded man, bowing deeply. He smiled.
"Nestefnut!" Ramses greeted cheerfully. Nestefnut was under Kanofer's army, a well-thought of captain, stationed at Memphis. Nestefnut was often teased by Kanofer, for he was a handsome man, almost pretty. He had deep, dark green eyes with thin brows and a sharp jaw. He was thin, for he was the runner of Kanofer's team, but tall and lithe. He was well known for his skills with the bow and arrow, and very valuable as a friend and soldier to both Kanofer and Ramses.
Nestefnut looked around warily and shot his eyes at Ramses. "My lord, you must be quiet. Come into the shadows. Leave the girl."
Ramses nodded at Ellianne and followed Nestefnut only a few steps away into an alley.
"What's the matter?" Ramses asked.
"The Hyksos, my lord. They've invaded northern Egypt."
"What? Impossible!" Ramses said, smiling.
"No, my king! They are here, in this very city! It would be unwise of you to walk around, so open to any enemy attacks!"
A scream pulled both men's attention. Ellianne was being harassed by a large group of men, who were now taking entertainment in pushing her around. Ramses' eyes grew wide and he immediately moved to her rescue. But Nestefnut was faster and held Ramses back.
"You must not!" Nestefnut hissed.
"Release me!" He bellowed. Something in the shadows moved and three more hooded figures stepped out onto the street. The tallest of the three had his jaws set hard, his green eyes glinting angrily. He wore no emblem proving his soldier's status, but the way he carried himself boasted everything of a soldier, and a good one at that. His long strides showed his strength and agility, though untrained eyes would not have noticed.
"It is Pedihor. He is the one of us that deals with the Hyksos. They know him and will not attack him. Please, my lord," Nestefnut pleaded. Ramses wrenched his arm away but stayed within the shadows by Nestefnut. He watched, impatiently, as Pedihor and the leader of the band of Hyksos exchanged angry words. Ramses let out a cry as he watched the Hyksos gag Ellianne and tie her up. Nestefnut had to restrain him again when the Hyksos carried her away, laughing. Pedihor and his two companions looked cross as they made their way towards Ramses, who struggled furiously against Nestefnut. He let out a sob, Ellianne disappearing in the crowds. He fell on his knees as Nestefnut released him. "My lord," he called out.
Ramses cursed and stood up, his eyes boring into Pedihor.
Pedihor bowed. "My lord, the Hyksos demands a trade. They've promised to treat the foreigner well and to return her to you alive and unharmed." He informed.
"What am I to trade in return for Ellianne?" Ramses demanded.
"They command you take the Hyksos chief's daughter as your wife. Only then will they release your foreigner to you."
Random Fact: Both Egyptian women and men often used great amounts of cosmetics and oils to protect themselves from the desert sun and winds.
AN: (1/22/06 – 3:35 pm) Whew, that was a hard chapter to write. Don't know why, actually, lol. Anyway, hope you guys enjoyed it! More to come soon.
This story is fast becoming one of my longest stories yet. I'm nowhere near done!