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Author's note: I wrote this piece after learning about Cleopatra's younger sister. I hope people learn that there's more than one side to the famous Queen.
Why send me here? Why send me at all? After all, my life is over, one way or another. I am no longer Arsinoe IV. I am now simple and plain Arsinoe. No elegant life, filled with riches. Only the humble life of a sanctuary and the life of a prisoner. No matter how many times I deny it, the truth is simple. I am now, for all purposes, a prisoner. I wish my life weren’t so.
“Land!” calls one of the soldiers in Greek.
“Are you sure?” The gruff voice of the captain replies.
“I am sir.”
“Get our special guest ready.” He sneers. Everyone on board this ship does. I suppose I should get used to it. It’s even harder to accept the fact that I am no longer royal. Two men come down the stairs. They talk in Latin, unfamiliar. I do not know this language. The one language I can understand on them is their faces. They wonder how me, a young child, could destroy Caesar, their leader. My sisters taught me well, as did my father. Win the hearts of the people, win the war. They did not know that winning came at such a steep cost. They grab my arms, pulling me along.
I see daylight for the first time on this voyage. They do not want me to swim away. How ignorant they are, they do not even bother to learn about their prisoners. I hate the ocean. Filled with scum from Rome, unable to drink it, I think it is simply a waste of space. But many fishermen beg to differ. They claim Poseidon will kill me for that. So I dare not voice it aloud.
I stare at the large monument. It is simply enormous. It is pure white, except for the roof. The red is an orangish color, like the sunset, only much darker. 3 buildings stand out front. They are like miniatures of the temple. But after seeing the sights of Rome, this does not amaze much. The sailors, however, stare without blushing. They gape open-mouthed at this miracle. I think it is not a miracle. What is a miracle is Julius Caesar falling for my sister.
My perfect sister. Father loved her. My own stepmother loved her. She treated me as if I was garbage. My father never looked at me. Not once. It was Cleopatra this and Cleopatra that. I found solace with my brothers. Father paid attention to them, but he gave Cleopatra more attention. They hated sharing their share of affection. But at least they got some. I didn’t have any. My eldest brother, Ptolemy VIII, was my best friend. He shared the interest that women could do more, if given the chance.
There is a jolt, and we have docked. I stare, trying to memorize the sights around me, while trying to remember what my brother would say. This is a wonderful thing. He would say. Do you smell it? I sniffed the air. It was salty, but that was no wonder, we were on a ship. Yes, I would reply, I smell the sea. My brother would smile. Well now I know why you’re mad. I would laugh and feel safe. My brother could do that.
The gangway unfolds. I walk down, feeling odd. I’m not like you, I want to scream. I’m different. I’m better. People stare as I pass. They wonder why I’m here. News probably doesn’t travel very fast here. I sigh.
The captain notices. “None of that.” He growls. “I want you in tip-top shape.” He speaks in Greek, a language I can understand. Most of the crew does too.
Priests and people line the side of the road. A priest and a priestess are at the top of the stairs. They spread their arms out, smiling. Why smile? I thought. One more mouth to feed.
“Ah, Arsinoe IV, how lovely it is to see your face at last.” The priest smiles at me. I stare at him, dumbstruck. “Perhaps if you open your mouth we can at last hear you pretty voice.” He was still smiling. “My name is Megabyzus, my Queen.”
At the last sentence I gasp out loud. “Priest, do you not know I am not Queen of Egypt?” I ask him, afraid. If Cleopatra found out…
“This is a sanctuary, we can say whatever we want here. I say you are Queen. What will they do to stop me?”
“Megabyzus, you cannot keep losing that tongue of yours. You haven’t even taken her to her rooms!” Chides the priestess. She smiles at me. “Welcome. I am Accalia. Egeria will take you to your rooms.”
At that, a woman appears. She has long braided brown hair. Crowning it was flowers that wove in and out of her hair. She smiles at me. Why is everyone smiling at me? Am I not the girl who almost killed Ceaser?
Egeria floats into the temple. I run to catch up to her. Behind me, I hear the captain telling the priests what he wants. Egeria simply floats, like a lotus flower on a pond. She turns at the end of the temple to the right, and I see a building crouching beneath the temple. She brushes past the cloth like air and I step into a cool refuge. She climbs up a rickety staircase. I look around me. There are doors on either side of the walls.
“These are your quarters.” She points to a small door. “I hope you will be pleased.” She leaves me there. I push the door open. It slides without a sound, like a bird at flight. I look at the place which I will call home the rest of my life.
Colorful wool adorns the bed. It is a pattern of flowers and vines. The walls are a yellow, a dull yellow, not like the sun. I walk around my room. There is a window. I look out. I see the sunset, and color all over. It is as if one of our artists threw his paints out of my window.
There are scraggly peaks in the distance. I peer wondering what it is. The door opens. Accalia comes in.
“I hope you are happy here.” She tells me.
“Very.” I tell her.
“We don’t have much of a schedule here. Here you can do as you please. Feel free to look around the temple. I wouldn’t be surprised if you found something I haven’t.”
“I’m exhausted.” I say.
“That’s all right.” She says with that infectious smile on her face. “I will have some dinner brought to you, and then go to sleep.” She looks out the window. “If you want to close the window, take a cloth and spread it over.” She stands up. “I have to attend the dinner.” She goes to the door. “This is good-bye for now.” She shuts the door.
As soon as she’s gone, I lie across the bed. Just a nap, I think. I feel drowsy. As sleep claims me, my last thought is I will never see home again. A tear falls down my cheek and conquers the covers.
I stare out the window. The sea smell refreshes me. I stare out, wishing I could become one with the sea. It is high noon, and everything is still.
“Arisinoe, Arisinoe!” Calls a voice. I turn around and groan. Cassiopeia is a temple priestess who believes in adhering to the rules no matter what. “You should be in your room!” She whispers furiously. “I told you, the rules must be adhered too!” She continues to rant.
I started to recall a memory. It was a wisp that grew longer with each passing moment.
I can’t remember how old I was, only that I was standing on my tiptoes at the window of our palace. I stared out to sea, amazed by its vastness. It never ended. That is what goes through a child’s mind. I hope it never did end, that it would go on forever and ever. I was amazingly innocent.
“What are you doing?” Came the cold voice of my sister, Tryphanea.
“Staring through the window!” I chirped.
“Why?” Her voice had a trace of curiosity in it.
“I can’t wait for Father to come back!” Tryphanea slapped me, hard.
“How dare you speak his name! I am Pharaoh now!” She screeched. I whimpered, putting a hand to my cheek. “Cleopatra and he will never come back. If they do, I will destroy them. I will cut up their entrails and feed them to lions.” Tryphanea was so busy ranting that she didn’t notice me slipping away.
I ran, all the way to Bernice’s room. I was crying hard by then. She took one look at me, then scooped me up in her arms. “What is wrong my darling?” She asked me, comforting me.
“Tryphanea slapped me!” I wailed. I showed her the red mark that was left by her hand. She squeezed by face and kissed my cheek, where the red mark was.
“Tryphanea is so cruel, she never knows when to stop!” Bernice smiled at me. My tears started to dry. “Poor Arisinoe, forced to carry the burden of such a sister!” Bernice had that effect on people. She always made them feel good, but she was a bit shallow. “I know just what to do to cheer you up.” She took my hand and gracefully stood up from her bed.
She took me to the market. We visited stalls and bought things. I bought a new cat as well as several bits of silk. Bernice gave me a silver bracelet, and a silver ring with a sapphire in the shape of a tear. I started to protest, but she insisted.
We visited the docks afterword. It’s always fun to see what people bring to our beautiful city of Alexandria.
“Does the ocean ever end?” I was holding Bernice’s hand and staring into the deep blue water.
“No.” Bernice told me playfully. “It goes all the way. It goes forever! There will be a huge waterfall, and when you ride down it you will be in the Underworld.” It was only later that I realized she didn’t know, and that she was only making up a story for my entertainment.
“…And it is improper for a young lady to wander about!” Cassiopeia continues.
“Who will hurt me here?” I ask.
Cassiopeia stares at me like I am insane. “As long as Julius Ceaser is alive you are untouchable.” She tells me.
A shiver courses through me. As long as Julius Ceaser is alive. He is an old man. I must look out for…
Would she really go through all that trouble? Desecrating the temple’s safety for me to die. Oh yes she certainly would. But what risk was I? Stuck, trapped here. My future is entwined with this temple. But I shudder, knowing that she doesn’t believe that, and that she will find a way to get me.
Cleopatra and Father had just returned. I was in my rooms, when Cleopatra swept in. She was shaking, shivering. I stared, wide-eyed, as she took gasping breaths.
“Bernice, Bernice.” She told me. I only looked at her in confusion. “Bernice is dead.” The tears started to flow from her cheeks. “Father had her executed.” I felt confused, angry among other things.
“Why did he do that?” I nearly screamed at the top of my lungs. Cleopatra took me into her arms.
“It’s alright. Hush, hush. Osiris may give her a place in his palace.” We both wept at the loss of our sister. We were both thinking it. O Isis, what if I am next? I know we were both thinking it. It was the first and last time Cleopatra hugged me. It was the first and last time we were sisters. But most of all, it was the first time Cleopatra had visited me and not acted like a spoiled brat, like her stupid cat.
I am standing in front of the altar. Artemis was holding her bow in one hand, and her dogs in the other. I bowed before the goddess.
“An offering my lady?” Megabyzus is standing in Artemis’s shadow.
“No.” I reply. “I just wanted to think.”
“Thinking is good for the mind.” He looks and talks to me like I’m his daughter, not a prisoner. “Thinking sometimes helps us realize our mistakes. But not in time my daughter, not in time.”
“I have made plenty of mistakes.” I sigh.
“Not mistakes. Urges, things to do so you can live your life. It is a good thing. Look at everything and you will find a good thing. Even with the Kindly Ones you can find something good.”
Even with Tryphanea? I think. Not a chance. My eldest sister was the cruelest of all. “Perhaps.” I reply carefully.
“That instinct for survival is what keeps you alive. But it will also kill you. I see a stronger one in Cleopatra, only she wants dominance. You want peace.” I am startled by his speech. I think back, thinking of a memory in which I meet a daughter of the Kindly Ones, my sister, Tryphanea.
“No!” My sister told my father. I was on a balcony, playing with my doll.
“Tryphanea, be reasonable.” My father pleaded.
“I will not! How dare you set aside your own heir-“
“But Cleopatra is my heir too!”
“I am your eldest!” At the time, I did not know that it was my sister speaking. I thought she must be an aunt or a wife. My father did have many concubines. The only wife I knew was my mother. I didn’t know Tryphanea’s mother or any other one.
“How dare you, you, preach to me about being reasonable? I have every reason to not be reasonable.” At this my sister grew so mad that she choked on her words.
“I know I have promised you, but Cleopatra has all the qualities needed.”
“And what might those be?” Tryphanea spat. “All she has is the poison in her veins that you call blood. I am the eldest, and therefore must be queen!”
“Tryphanea! I will not have you speak that way.” My father was lost, not knowing what to do.
“I promise you, Father, that Cleopatra will die, and I will be queen.” My sister was beyond control. She whirled around on her heel, her black hair flaring in the wind, and stalked off.
The next moment I saw her come into my room. I was fascinated. I had never seen someone look so much like me. My own mother didn’t pay much attention to me.
The next second I hated her. “You. How dare you look at me in that way!” She nearly shattered with the might of her anger. “You will bow down to me like everyone else does!”
I slipped off my stool. “Who are you?” I barely had time to catch my breath before she hit me.
“How dare you ask me that question!” She was almost liquid.
“Mistress!” My breathless nurse rushed into the room. “This is Arisinoe. She hasn’t done much exploring of the palace and as one such as yourself has been busy with important matters would you please excuse her?”
My sister scowled deeply. “Make sure she knows who I am by the day ends. And that I will be queen.” She swept from my rooms with a slight flair.
I cried and cried. My nurse took me to the royal doctor. After we came back, my nurse explained everything to me. Tryphanea was my eldest sister and heir to the throne. My nurse told me that Tryphanea was proud. Too proud.
“But you are not proud at all!” She told me, cupping my face in her hands. “One day, you will be queen and everyone will know your name. You will have a grand tomb built in your honor. People will revere your mummy. You will be famous, I promise you.”
Megabyzus is watching me intently. “Were you recalling your past?”
I smile sadly. “Parts of it.”
“Perhaps the past isn’t the best one. Yours certainly isn’t. But you shouldn’t let that interfere with your life. Do you understand?”
I nod. My past will never interfere with my life. After all, my life will be spent looking across the sea for my sister, waiting for her to swoop down and kill me. But I will make sure that never happened. I would not be famous for being the only Ptolemy that Cleopatra saw to personally. I would be famous for being the last Ptolemy.
I hate the sea. It doesn’t roll or call to me. Sometimes if I’m desperate I’ll think about joining it. But for the most part, I hate it.
“…so I asked him for dresses for the festival and do you know what he said? No. Why no. Why not yes.” Diana whines. Diana is a priestess here. She was born a girl so her parents sent her here. A better fate than mine. At least she doesn’t have a mad sister trying to kill her. “Are you listening to anything I’m saying?”
I jump. “Sorry. I didn’t know you were talking to me.” I apologize.
“What were you thinking about anyway?” She asks crossly.
I sigh. “Why I hate the sea.” We are sitting on the beach, Diana’s legs stretching across the sand and I with my hands folded around my knees, bringing them up to my chest.
“Tell me!” She commands.
I sat in the sands along the Nile. Ptolemy, or as I liked to call him, The One, was sitting next to me.
“Why don’t you go for a swim?” The One asks. It was a sweltering day. I was sweating so hard, as was The One.
“Father would get mad.” I pointed out.
“True.” He says smiling. “But only if he knew.”
“Father is Pharaoh. He knows all and sees all.”
“Tryphanea slapped you all the time, but did he know?”
“No.” I admitted. “He also doesn’t know how much of a viper Cleopatra is either.” We both giggled.
“All right then.” He said, business-like all of a sudden. “If he doesn’t know about her, then he won’t know that you went for a swim.”
“Okay.” I said, grinning as an idea occurred to me. “Why don’t you go swimming too, brother? After all, it is rather hot.”
The One laughed. I liked it when he laughed. It would start as a hoot, and then grow into a roar. “All right, little sister. I bow down to your wish.”
“I’m older than you!” I protested indignantly.
“Yes, but I’ve got to marry the Viper.” The One grimaced. He was to marry Cleopatra as soon as she returned from that trip up the Nile. She was going to visit the Valley of the Kings, but my brothers and I knew that she had an ulterior motive. We couldn’t figure out what it was though.
We stepped into the Nile, lifting our chitons so they wouldn’t get wet.
“I have a bet for you.” My brother told me teasingly.
“What?” I asked him.
“I bet that you can’t wade in farther than me.”
“I bet I can. How much?” I was slightly reckless.
“2 gold bands.”
“Alright.” I said, cocky.
We both started wading. Soon The One was swimming. The water at that time was to my neck. I did have the advantage of being taller. The One started to splutter and swam back.
“You win.” He gasped. I didn’t hear him. I thought he said,” I need a break.”
I continued wading. I would not lose to him.
Suddenly, my foot slipped. The current washed me away. I heard screaming. Everything became a blur. I slowly began to see more black in my blur. Then I saw Charon’s boat and the Styx. I went closer to him. Not yet, he told me. Not yet, Princess.
Diana stares at me. I blush. “I’m sorry I told you that.” I mumble.
“Don’t be.” Diana tells me. “This is the most interesting thing that’s happened to me.” She pouts. I realize that her life here is limited. She has no freedom.
“Do you wish me to continue?” I ask her.
“Yes.” A smiling voice answers from behind us. Accalia stands there.
“My lady.” I gasp. My mind races as I try to see how much she has heard.
“Please continue. It was an enchanting tale.” She tells me. She comes toward us and sits by my side, stretching her long legs in the sun.
When I came to, I was in a bed in a strange hut. I was alone, with sunshine streaming through the thatched roof. A strange man entered.
“Ah… I see you have come to Princess.” The man said, smiling.
“Where am I?” I asked, confused.
“I am the fisherman, Aapep. This is my hut.” When I did not say anything, he continued talking. “You’re lucky that you’re brother found me. He was raving mad. I thought demons had claimed him.”
“The One! Where is he?” I sat up immediately. I was very worried. If he got in trouble…
“Your brother is fine.” Aapep smiled at me. It did not sooth me. “He is simply explaining to your father why you nearly drowned.”
“Is he in trouble?” I asked. I would give anything for the answer to be no.
“Do not worry.” Aapep spoke calmly. “He simply wants to speak to you. He told me to bring you to him as soon as you were awake.”
“But I am!” I protested.
“So we shall go.”
“That is more excitement than I have had for my whole life.” Diana complains again.
“Life here isn’t so bad.” I tell her.
She says, “How?”
“It’s more peaceful than before.” I say. “I can think on things.”
“Girls, girls.” Accalia chides. She turns to me. “Why don’t you finish the story?”
The Pharaoh, my father, at the moment I saw him after my drowning is something I shall never forget. He trembled with rage. The One stood behind him. He mouthed I’m sorry.
“Here fisherman.” The Pharaoh tells my rescuer, thrusting a bag of gold into his hands. “May Bes watch upon your family always, and may Isis heal your wounds.”
“His name is Aapep.” It was the first time I stood up to my father. The nobles around him gasped.
“Arisinoe, you are already in trouble. Don’t dig yourself deeper.” My father commanded. The One pled with me in his eyes. “You will meet me in my rooms.” He boomed. “I have other matters to discuss.” I raised my eyebrows coolly and left.
I never knew the way to my father’s rooms. Unlike Cleopatra, with whom he met with every day, I was forgotten. I ended up going to my dead sister’s room. Tryphanea. She fulfilled one half of the promise she made to father. She did become queen, if only for a few months. I looked about. I saw mirrors shattered, clothes ripped. I even saw scratches on the walls. Was my sister mad? I think.
“There was something wrong with her.” My old nursemaid stepped out of the shadows. I jumped.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that something, something in her mind was wrong.” I shudder, knowing what she means. “I served her before serving you. As soon as I heard that the new baby needed a nursemaid, I agreed to go. The years nursing you were the best in my life. Although drowning.” She shook her head, smiling. “I don’t know when I taught you to drown. Or at least, stand up to your father.”
“He never cared for me. It was only about Cleopatra.”
“He does. He does care for you. Very much.” My nurse looked me in the eye. “He was so scared when reports came that you fell into the Nile. He nearly whipped your brother, his worry was so great. He would have gotten the court physicians to come to see you, and he nearly did, but you awoke.”
“How long was I unconscious?” I asked, afraid of the answer.
“Oh, not long. Only an hour or so.”
“An hour!” I gasped.
“At the 45 minute mark, he ordered the physicians to treat you. The fisherman said to give you 15 minutes or so. He was right.” My nurse added dryly.
“Did he send you?” I asked.
“Yes.” My nurse confirmed. “It was only after you left his presence that he realized that you did not know how to get to his rooms. So I was sent to find you.”
“How did you know where to find me?”
“Have you forgotten that you learned everything at my knee? That I raised you?”
“No. I have thought about you a lot. I miss the days in which you were with me.”
“Do you want me to accompany you?”
“No. But I will make sure you are honored.” I replied to her sarcasm. She was old and frail. There was no way she could keep up with me. She was bent over because of sickness of the muscles. She hurt so much. I suddenly realized that one day, I would be like that. I would be bent over, shuffling. I did not know what to think. To me, my nurse was the same woman. But to others… but to others, she appeared to be an old grandmother.
“Come.” She wheezed, holding out her hand. “I shall show you the way.”
“Was your sister really sick?” Diana asks, unblushingly. She was sitting up straight, staring as though I was Aphrodite.
“Yes. It was a sickness of the mind though. She was scarred inside.” I mumble.
“You still haven’t told me what happened when you and your father met.” Accalia reminds me.
My nurse took me through passages. I traversed countless corridors. Suddenly she stopped between two golden doors.
“This is where I leave.” She bowed to me and left.
I pushed open the doors. What struck me first was the splendor. The whole place looked like it had been hammered out of gold. I doubt if it is like that now, but it does look elegant, which was the whole purpose. My father sat in a chair at the other end of the room. His head was in his hands and he looked sad.
He looked ill. I was slightly scared. If he died… if he died it would be war. My sister would try to seize power, and it would be up to my brothers and me to stop her. He looked like an old man, worn with years of watching and waiting and learning.
“Arisinoe, come closer.” He beckons me. I hesitantly stepped forward. “A little closer.” I step so that I am in front of him.
“Are you well, Pharaoh?” I ask, concerned.
“I am old, my child. And why do you call me Pharaoh instead of Father?”
I blushed, looking down at my feet. “You were never much of a father.”
I waited, waited for the order that would end my life. The order never came. Instead my father chuckled. “You speak your mind. You are very honest. That is not something I would have expected from you.”
“What do you expect from me?” I stuck my chin out defiantly.
He paused. “I never expected you to say you don’t have a father.”
“Arisinoe, I am old. Cleopatra will be queen.”
“Because she is older.” I said dully, knowing my fate was to never be queen.
“Yes, but she is also, also unprepared. You aren’t.”
“Is that the whole reason she went on a trip down the Nile?”
“You hate your sister don’t you?”
“I hate both Cleopatra and Tryphanea.” I replied, speaking my mind as always.
My father chuckled. “You are amusing. I can’t believe you grew up without me noticing you.”
“You cared more for Cleopatra.” I answered truthfully.
“I have nowhere else to turn, no one else to turn to. Listen, and listen carefully.” He told me. I never forgot his next words. “Soon, there will be a war. After my death. There will be a power struggle.”
“How do you know this?” I asked.
“It is common in our family. But listen, if the Romans come, don’t trust them. Never trust the Romans. They only seek to glorify their empire.” I nodded, scared. But I did have a question.
“Why don’t you tell Cleopatra this?”
“She will not understand. If she is defeated, then you must, must, make sure that the Romans are thrown out. You have to make sure that Cleopatra is safe. For all else, you two are sisters.”
I though back to that moment. The moment in which we had become sisters for just a moment. I would give anything to make that moment last for eternity.
“If you are defeated, remember, you will be killed.” I nodded, still struggling to absorb it. The Romans would come. I might be defeated. I could possibly die. I had to make sure I won. And even if that meant killing my own sister, so be it. This was the game of survival.
“But you were defeated.” Diana points out.
“Yes.” I admit. “But not completely.
“No one can defeat Arisinoe.” Accalia teases me.
No one can defeat me if I don’t let them. I won’t be defeated, a part of me thinks. But then another part thinks, how long until she comes?
What I would not give for a normal life. A life in the villages along the Nile. I would probably be married. My father didn’t want me to marry. He said I could not be tamed. He thought Cleopatra could be. How wrong he was.
And the worst part was, was that it cost him his life.
“Why should I share power with him?” Cleopatra asked, sounding bored but really furious. I had heard from the servants this morning that she was in a rage. I made it my personal mission to befriend the servants. I now have an excellent spy network among them.
As I stood behind the pillar, I remembered what the servants had said. She was enraged at something, something about my brother. “You must.” My father replied huskily. “If you don’t…”
“So you are saying you don’t love me.” It was one of Cleopatra’s tricks. She would trap you in your words. “I should have expected this.”
“NO! Cleopatra, listen. I have many enemies. It is worthwhile to have one friend.”
“A friend who will turn on me once you are dead.”
“Cleopatra,” My father said desperately, “Listen to me. You have to have someone to share your power with. Otherwise you become so lonely. It’s painful. It will be your life if you do not share the power.”
I thought about my life. What would happen if The One did turn on her? I would co-rule with him. I would never betray him, he would never betray me. A relationship built on trust. Too bad Cleopatra didn’t have what I had.
“Back again Arisinoe?” Megabyzus asks me.
Startled, I blink. I am in the main hall of the temple, where Artemis stays with her bows and arrows. “I apologize.” I began.
“No need to apologize. Maybe the goddess wishes you to join her hunt.”
“Maybe.” I mutter. More likely she was warning me that I was being hunted, even now.
My father’s funeral was plain. He was mummified in the manner of our Pharaohs. If only he had survived longer. If only he had lived a bit longer. Then my life would be safer.
“Perhaps he shall have a feast in the Underworld with Osiris.” Cleopatra startled me out of my thoughts.
“Perhaps.” I chose to reply carefully.
“More likely he is dining with Set.” Cleopatra noticed my glare. “Do not think me ungrateful. But he has done precious little for our country.”
“Will you do more?” I asked sarcastically.
“I will make us a force to be reckoned with.” She replied evenly, then gracefully left.
I was left alone with my thoughts. I stood there for a few moments, then went to my room. I loved my room. It gave me a beautiful view of one of the courtyards, and it easily accessed it too.
My brothers came in. The One, and Ptolemy the Younger, who I like to call simply, The Young, had worried looks on their faces.
“May I sleep here tonight?” The One asked me.
I started laughing hysterically. “You do not want to sleep with your wife?”
“A wife that has a rose in one hand and an asp in the other.” He replied darkly. “I do not want to die at this tender age. I have much to accomplish in my rein, and I have little time to do so.” He looked directly at me. “I need your help.”
I nodded. “I will never abandon you to her.”
“We have to secure the throne first.” The Young said warily.
I looked at my brothers, they had grown old. “I wonder what Cleopatra is planning today.”
They glanced at each other. “Could you possibly go to Cleopatra?”
“She would never let me do that.” I warned them, knowing what they were hinting at.
“No, but your servants might know something.” The One did have a point there.
“I will ask them to find out all that they can.” I replied.
He nodded, then rubbed his temples. “Arisinoe, I do not know how to put this, but we must take control of the situation. Before it gets out of hand.”
“Before the common people love her.” I said softly.
“Win the people, win the war.” It was ironic that the people should decide the royal family’s fate.
“We will drive her out. And we will rule Egypt.”
“And we will make it so well-known that people will never forget about it.”
We all nodded. It was a pact, a bond that would remain unbroken. But first, I had to find out where Cleopatra was, and what she was up to. I remembered the argument she had with Father. I must get the servants to find out all they can. Before she rules. Before I die.
“What is it like, being a princess?” Anona, a young priestess at the temple asks me. Well, no. She wasn’t exactly a priestess. She was just here so often it seemed as if she was a priestess. She was actually the daughter of a wealthy senate family. It was as if luck favored her looks and her personality. She had received 12 marriage offers so far, yet she was barely 13. Her birthday celebration was a few weeks ago, and it was lavish. She was witty and clever. She also had blond hair and dark black eyes, which worked beautifully. Some said she was the goddess Venus in disguise. I highly doubted it. Venus was much more shallower.
“What do you think?” I ask, hoping for one of her finer pieces of wit.
“Everyone says that it must be beautiful.” She says slowly. I look at her surprised. “But I think different. Yes, you have fine foods, and yes, you have beautiful clothes. But the difference is that it comes with a price. You must always be on the lookout for someone trying to overthrow you. And then there are the boring officials and the corrupt officials and they are all trying get your favor so you can influence the king. The problem with the court is, is that you don’t know who is working for you and you don’t have any choices. Well, you might. But you usually make choices based on how it will help you, and then you have to think about how it will affect others and…”
Her voice trails off. “And?” I prompt.
“And everything.” She says.
“You’re pretty close. The difference is that my life was far more dangerous.”
“Why don’t you tell your story?”
“For what?” I ask, confused.
“For my engagement party.” She replies happily.
“You are engaged?” I ask.
“Yes. But I don’t know who the groom is.”
“Why not ask the servants. They know more than the normal people. You could gain a multitude of knowledge about the palace by simply asking the servants.”
“Good idea.” She tells me. “But I still want you to recite your story.”
I pause. “I’m not sure that would be a good idea.”
“It will be.” She says confidently.
I wonder what the others would say if I told them about my fall. The servants would carry the tale, far and wide. The servants… are perfect. If I could not be an ordinary person, then I would be a servant. It was through the servants that I found out how my father died.
“Are you sure of this?” I asked my nurse.
“Yes, I’m sure of it.” She told me crankily. Then she saw my face. “You look sick.” She looks like she did when I was younger. Strict, and ready to help me at all costs.
“No, I’m fine. Just tell me the tale again.”
She looked at me suspiciously. She didn’t believe me. But she went on with her story anyways. “I got all this from the servants. The servants of Cleopatra. They were telling each other about it in the halls. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cleopatra had their necks wrung if she found out.
“So, to begin. As soon as Cleopatra returned, her father came to her, and told her he had a surprise for her. She thought it must have been your execution. It would have taken care of the throne. He took her to the center of the court. He then announced publicly that she would marry her brother.” My nursemaid chuckled. “I’ll never forget the sight. Her eyes bulged out of her head, and her lips were pursed. It was for an instant though.
“She was forced to smile. Later, in the evening-”
“Yes, I know.” I told her impatiently. “I overheard.”
My nursemaid muttered something about me being a smart girl. “So you know that right after the conversation, she glared at him. That was when you father realized he was in trouble. I remember it clearly. He ordered his servants to prepare the wedding feast. He wanted to make sure that the wedding was over and done with before he died.
“As you know, the wedding took place 3 months after. It took a while to get all the things needed for a celebration as grand as that.” I nodded.
It was an enormous wedding. The only people that were unhappy were me and my siblings. It was enough that my brother was forced to have Cleopatra as his sister, but as his wife? I was sure he was plotting. Then my other brother. The Young. If The One died, then he would take over the duties. He would become Cleopatra’s husband. Then I. I would be alone in the palace. I could help advise Cleopatra at best. At worst, I would be sent to the Romans to be dealt with. I would be crucified. Not a pleasant thought.
If my father was aware of the uneasiness of the celebrations, he did not let on. He drank cup after cup of wine. I overheard him once boasting that I was as pretty as the sunset, and then some. He offered to marry me to one of his nobles. I do not know the name of this noble. But my sister, when she overheard the comment, her skin tightened. I knew that she should be the only one referred to as beautiful when she was around. Those who didn’t got killed. Which pretty much sealed my father’s fate.
“So,” My nurse continued. “She went to the royal doctor. She got directions to the house of her. The Herbalist. Cleopatra told her she wanted asp’s venom, and fast. This was all before the wedding. Apparently, she got lucky. There was an asp in the shop, and there was a servant who had a grudge against the king.
“So she took the poison, gave it to the servant, and told him that it would solve all his problems if he simply poured it into the king’s wine. So he did.”
“His problems were solved.” I said huskily.
“Yes.” My nursemaid sighed. “He didn’t want any taste tester. I suppose he knew his mission was done.” I nodded.
I sent my nursemaid to my brothers, to tell the tale. Now we knew who we were facing. We were facing a mad woman.
“So will you do it?” Anona asks. “It would be the best engagement present ever.”
Unable to talk, I nod. She claps her hands. “And I will take you advice.” She smiles then skips out the door.
I cannot help but smile too, all the while my heart twisting up into a knot.
I stand, nervously. What will people think of me now? The whole place was crowded. It seems as though everyone of significant importance turned up for Anona’s engagement party. Her groom turned out to be from another senate family.
I knew what a fall of power would be like. I knew everything about it, from my sister to my brothers to my father. O, how I wished they could be here, with me. How I wish they could see me telling about my fate.
Why are you angry? The One asks. Because I’ll be laughed at. I reply. No you won’t. The Young reminds me. You are Queen Arisinoe, and no one can replace you.
No one but Cleopatra. I told him.
“Presenting the Princess Arisinoe of Egypt.” I smile lightly at the guard who introduces me. Everyone turns to me. Expectant, waiting.
I take a deep breath, then start my story.
“What do you think of this silk?” Cleopatra held up a sheet of sky blue silk. It was pretty, but she was avoiding the real issue, intentionally or not.
“Cleopatra, what are you going to do?” I asked her.
Her lips turned into a pout. “What do you mean?”
“The Romans are going to come. What are you going to do then? Bed their leader?”
“Oh, don’t worry. The Romans won’t be a problem.” She laughed.
“And after they’re gone?”
Her eyes flashed. “I will make my reign greater than before.” Her smile suddenly returned. “We’re sisters, why don’t we go shopping? As sisters.”
I hesitated, before giving my consent. She dragged me from shop to shop. Eventually, we came to a run-down stall. She brightly pulled me in, claiming the fabrics were of high quality.
“It smells.” I complained.
“Calm down. It won’t kill you.”
“Says who?” I shot back. Cleopatra raised her eyebrows. “I’m sorry.” I apologized. “I’m just tired. Shopping is exhausting.”
She smiled, then found a violet tunic, something anyone would be jealous of. But it didn’t fit in with all the drab colors in the shop.
“How much?” Cleopatra asked the wizened old man behind the counter. He named a price, which I cannot remember. Laughing, she said, “Here, I shall pay for it. Send it to the Princess Arisinoe’s rooms at the palace. You know where that is, don’t you? And also, wrap it.” The man bowed his head and accepted her pronouncement.
“You didn’t have to pay for it.” I protested as we left the shop.
She laughed, the jewels glittering on her neck and ears and arms. The men on the street were staring at her. She wasn’t pretty, but she wasn’t ugly either. “You’re my sister. I share all with you. But,” she said warningly, “I want to see you wear it for the feast tonight.”
I nodded silently, too terrified to speak.
The audience gasps at the last sentence. Anona stared at me silently. None of them could understand the fear of Cleopatra. The fear of having someone stare at you. The fear of knowing she couldn’t be disobeyed.
They’re all too innocent, too innocent to understand. But I continue on, even though it is a pain in my heart.
“You shouldn’t trust it.” My nurse was staring at the gown with disgust on her face. “Who knows what she might do with it?”
“Either way,” I said resolutely, “I will wear it. Cleopatra has ordered me too. And I shall.”
“I’m afraid, Princess.” My nurse said. I looked up at her. Fear was written all over face.
“There is nothing to fear.” I said lightly. I took the dress from her and put it on. A searing heat spread through my body. I fell to the ground. Someone was shouting for help, and I was screaming. The pain in my back was just too much to bear. I was scared and I thought I was going to die.
People lifted me up, all the while, I the pain was unbearable. I shrieked and fought. It hurt, so badly. I wanted to die, it hurt that bad. Eventually, I faded, and blackness overtook me.
When I awoke, I was lying on a bed. My bed. I wondered what had happened. Then I remembered the night before. I remembered the moment I put on the dress and the fire had burnt my back.
My nurse was lying down on the floor, sleeping. I heard a knock on the door. “Come in.” I croaked, because my throat hurt.
The One entered. I gasped. He was wearing armor, dressed for war. “What happened?” I asked him.
“Cleopatra tried to kill you.” He replied, his look murderous. I had never seen him look this angry before. His look softened when he looked at me. “She poisoned the dress, and forced you to wear it. She was going to kill you.” A hand crept up to my throat.
“Where is she now?” I asked. He looked away. “Brother, tell me!”
“I…I banished her.”
I started. Banishing someone from court meant the offence was serious. Banishing the Queen, that was even more serious. It declared Cleopatra a traitor, an enemy of the Ptolemies. And no one, no matter how bloodthirsty, wanted to be an enemy of the Ptolemies.
“So now it is war.”
“Now it is war.” My brother echoed.
Everyone was staring at me, their mouths agape. They didn’t realize how terrible it was, how terrible my life was. They simply didn’t know how scared I was.
They have never known true fear.
Everyone still stares at me, the fallen princess of Egypt. They know that the charge of murder is a serious one, and that Cleopatra is powerful.
I wonder if I should tell them the rest. They are Romans, proud Romans. I wonder if they would be offended.
“Your Highnesses, there are ships in the harbor.”
“What type?” The One asked, holding the crook and the flail. He looked serious. Cleopatra had been banished for a while now. My brothers and I were Pharaoh.
“It appears to be Roman.”
I inclined my head. “Could it possibly be Pompey? After all, there is news that he has fled Rome.”
“True.” The Young replied. “He may be here.”
“If it is true, my lord,” A noble said, standing up, “Then it may be wise to chop off his head.”
“But that would hurt the relations with the Romans.” I gasped.
The noble shook his head. “No. Pompey is no longer favored by the Romans. Kill him,” He told the One, “And you will have Caesar’s support. Caesar now rules.”
“Brother.” I pleaded. “Brother, don’t listen to him. Caesar and Pompey are brothers! What will you do when Caesar shows? Show him Pomepy’s head? Do you think he’ll be happy? Or will he weep for his lost brother?”
“Cleopatra turned on us.” My brother reminded me.
“True. But in Rome, there is no throne. There is only power that does not pass through family. Cleopatra was foolish enough to want it for herself. But the Romans are not like that. They believe in helping their family. Besides, Pompey helped our father? Would you want to repay that debt with blood.”
“It is now that matters.” The noble argued. “Not past debts.”
“But it is still a debt. Isis would be angry if we repaid hospitality with death.”
“It is a debt no longer owed. We repaid every coin of it.” The noble declared.
“Brother.” I turned to him one last time, hoping I could make him see sense.
“No, sister.” He said, overruling me. “Pompey will die.” He looked at the commander of the army. “Make sure it happens.”
The whole audience was silent. I coughed, then went on.
Pompey was brought before us. Or rather, his head. It was large and massive. That was all I noticed before I asked to leave. My brother gave me permission, knowing how I felt about death.
The audience and my memories began to blur. It was as if they were the audience for a play, and I was narrating it.
After the murder of Pompey, and our schism, it wasn’t a surprise when Caesar landed on our shores, claiming he would make peace. My brother greeted him with Pompey’s head. Caesar was in shock, and started crying at the loss of his friend, ally, and brother. He wept and wept and wept. The One fidgeted, finally figuring out that he should have taken my advice.
We led Caesar into the rooms that we had prepared for him. “O , Meus Frater. Quare did vos intereo? Sileo securus in Elysium.” He cried to his gods. We left him alone that night, to grieve in peace. We regretted it in the morning.
The audience rose up, realizing what I was about to say. I was going to describe how my sister, my cruel, single-minded sister managed to seduce their leader.
The One arrived in my chambers in the morning, upset, and clearly ill at ease. He had also brought the Younger into my chamber as well. I sat up, wondering what could be wrong and realizing with a sinking feeling it must have to do with Cleopatra.
“She has seduced the Great Caesar.” My brother informed me, and I nearly screamed with frustration. How could our sister, the little viper, beat us at every turn?
“How did she do it?” I managed to choke out.
“She hid herself in a rug.” They Young said dryly. “I doubt it was very comfortable.”
“We must raise forces loyal to us.” The One reminded us.
“Go. I will give you my jewelry. Perhaps you can buy us a few nobles.” I shouted at my servants to fetch my jewelry box. I grabbed it and shoved it at The Young. “Hurry! I will try to get the servants organized!”
The One and The Young fled my chambers, as I started ordering the servants about. It was too late though.
As I organized the servants into a somewhat manageable force, Caesar tried to burst into my rooms. I barricaded myself in. I was later told I was hysterical. My old nursemaid came in to calm me.
“Arsinoe, do not worry. Caesar will never break through.”
“But he will!” I shrieked. “He will and he will kill me!”
The doors burst open, and soldiers poured in like an infestation of ants. One of them grabbed my arm and twisted it. I cried out and started struggling with the scarlet cloaked soldier. He called some of his fellow soldiers over and they secured me, grabbing my arms and pushing me out of my rooms. I continued screaming and struggling.
We joined the force outside of my rooms. The One was being held in a vice-like grip by Caesar while The Young was being carried like a sack of potatoes. When The One saw me, he became enraged, yelling, “A princess of Egypt! How dare you treat her that way!”
I realized that the war had begun, and I must escape.
Caesar took us to the Lighthouse. I remembered coming here with Berenice, claiming that the sea was an enormous blue jewel. The Lighthouse was still enormous, even though I was bigger now. I was kept guarded at all times. As a girl, I had less guard than my brothers, who were each a potential heir and threat. That night, there came the sound of screaming. My guards were drawn away into the fight.
I realized this was my chance. If I could get to the forces on the other side, I could help defeat Cleopatra. My mouth dry, I slowly got up. I found a dark cloak hanging on a hook, probably to dry. I snatched it and pulled it on.
I carefully moved through the crowds, my face hidden by the cloak. The door had opened a crack, but too many soldiers were clustered around it. Then I remembered something. A tunnel. I led out of the Lighthouse. If only I could find it!
I went slipped inside the actual Lighthouse. The stairs above me wound into infinity. I wasn’t looking at them though. I looked at the walls desperately, searching for something, anything. A door. I was young when I saw the tunnel, but I remember it involved climbing. Climbing downwards?
I looked around me, at the floor. I saw something that seemed out of place. A door? I ran over there, and tried to pull it. Then I realized my mistake. It was supposed to be pushed, not pulled. I stomped down, and fell several feet.
I landed on a hard floor, dust flying all around me. I looked up, and saw light. I knew I had to go fast. They would be after me soon. I picked up my cloak and ran. I fled, with a promise. I will come back for you, my brothers. I thought. Slowly, the passage started to climb upwards. Panting, I fell into the sea.
Waves rolled over me as I clambered up. I spluttered and coughed. The water was up to my knees. I managed to drag myself out of the water. Blinking and coughing up water, I headed towards a light.
It was a hut. I knocked on the door and was surprised by a familiar face. “Aapep!” I cried, hugging him.
“Princess.” He responded in shock. He looked me over, noticing my wet hair and cloak. “We thought you were prisoner.”
“I was. I was until I escaped.”
“Your brothers?” He questioned. I shook my head. His face hardened. “Hurry princess, there is no time to waste.”
Just then, soldiers loyal to me and my brother marched by. Aapep ran to one of them. The soldier sent one look at my direction, then strolled over to me.
“So you are the Princess Arsinoe.” He said it, not asked.
I straightened up, then threw back my cloak, revealing my colorful dress, and did my best to look regal. “I am the Pharaoh Arsinoe.” The astonished soldier dropped to his knees. “Stand.” I ordered. The soldier scrambled up. “Take me to the headquarters.”
The soldier barked to some other soldiers. They took one look at me, then scurried around me and soon looked like an escort. I walked in the midst of them. I followed them to the headquarters, and new Royal Palace.
There was a throne in the middle of the room. People crowding around the throne looked at me. I unclasped the cloak, and ascended to the throne. A servant came to me with the crook and the flail. I held them to my chest. Another came with a diadem, which he placed on my head after I bowed it.
“I, Arsinoe, claim my inheritance has the ruler of the Two Lands and Pharaoh.” Everyone bowed down to me, saying, “Hail Pharaoh Arsinoe.”
I immediately went on the offensive, planning an attack with the generals of my court. I decided that the best place to attack would be the Lighthouse.
“But my Pharaoh, what will we gain?” One asked.
“We will gain respect, and people’s spirits will rise. Also this is their stronghold, and Caesar is in it. My brothers are imprisoned there, and I have no intention of letting them rot in their prison cells.” I told them. I may be young, but I was no child. I knew that I had to get the Lighthouse if I wanted to win.
The generals nodded and set out preparing for the upcoming attack. The servants were still loyal to me, and from them, I gained a layout of Caesar’s camp. I used this information to help my generals prepare.
Our plan was simple, but effective. We would break down the massive doors, then rush through and swallow Caesar’s insignificant legions whole. My plans were a little different. After the attack, my brothers would join me. Then, we would execute Caesar and Cleopatra and gather an army for the incoming Romans.
At this, my audience gasps, and I realize I have spoken treachery. I shrug helplessly. “I was once an enemy of Rome. No more though. I do not dream of Caesar’s death, nor Cleopatra’s. No more do I long for revenge.” As I say it, I realize it is true. Ephesus has become my home, its inhabitants my friends. I no longer hungered for the throne of Egypt. I had let go.
I was not allowed to go into the battle, as I was a girl with no proper training. However, I did stand a little distance to watch the battle. The men pounded against the walls with a heavy beam. Finally, they broke through.
It seemed like they were sharks swarming around a struggling school of fish. I smiled, realizing victory was eminent. I saw several figures hurl themselves into the sea. Good. I thought. This will teach them to mess in Egyptian affairs. It would also teach them that the might of Egypt had not diminished.
Finally, the battle ended. A page came up to me.
“Yes?” I asked him.
He swallowed nervously. “We have regained control of the Lighthouse.”
“But your brothers and sister are nowhere to be found.” My throat tightened. “And Caesar has not been captured. But there is a prize.” He said in a rush, as if his life depended on those words. He opened his mouth to tell me what the prize was.
“No matter.” I said, flicking my hand. “I will see this prize for myself.” I went down to the Lighthouse. Remains of the battle lay littered all around me. Debris and dust. And bodies. Plenty of bodies. Mostly Romans, few Egyptians.
“Your Highness.” A soldier bows down to me. I nod me head, indicating for him to stand up. “We recovered this, when Caesar jumped into the sea.” He took a piece of fabric from a soldier standing next to him and spread it out onto the ground. It was a Roman cloak, dripping wet. I surveyed it with a smile. I looked around and my smile grew wider until I laughed.
“We have won a great victory today. The Romans and the Betrayer are gone.” I raised my hands to the sky and thanked Isis.
News of our victory spread like wildfire. I imagined Cleopatra, her eyes wide with fear, pondering her next move. She had made a mistake, and she would pay. Caesar was scared to death. We had shown our power. We had shown him we could win.
My brother parlayed with Caesar, claiming to appease us. He was brought before me.
“Arsinoe.” The One said, looking at me.
“Ptolemy.” I replied evenly. “Bring another throne!” I ordered the servants, who scurried around before setting one beside me. The One sat in it.
“I declare Ptolemy to be my co-ruler.” I stated. A crook and flail was given to him. I flicked my hand, and everyone left us. I embraced The One and wept. He wept too.
“The Young remains imprisoned.” He told me. I nodded, biting my lip. Now was the time for strategy.
“They will come.” It wasn’t a question.
He nodded. “They will come. And I will die before I let them near the capital.”
“We must defend it.” I agreed. “But how?”
“I shall take an army to stop them.”
“But how?” I asked. “The army would be massive.”
His mouth was set in a grim line. “Then I will raise as many members as I can.” He kissed me on the cheek. “I will leave some here to protect you.”
I nodded. “I wished you wouldn’t have to go so soon.”
“Me too. But I will be back soon.” He caressed my cheek, and I closed my eyes. “I promise.”
True to his word, he gathered an army. It was massive, but not big enough to stand against the Romans. “I will pick up soldiers along the way.” He promised me as he readied his chariot.
“Come back soon.” I whispered. He nodded and pursed his lips.
He clasped my hands. “I will be back soon. Give my regards to our sister.” He said, smiling coldly. I stepped off the chariot and he whipped the horses, leaving me in a cloud of dust.
“He will return.” My nurse told me. “He promised.”
A few months later, I was reading a scroll. It held reports of money. I frowned, realizing we were short.
Some soldiers nervously came into the throne room. I inclined my head. “Yes?”
“Your majesty,” One of them said nervously, licking his lips. “We have, we have bad news.”
A cold feeling washed over me and I closed my eyes. “The Pharaoh is dead.”
I sat, still and rigid. “Leave me.” I whispered. The soldiers left my presence. I stood up and rush to my rooms, gesturing for my nurse to follow. I sat down on the bed and started to cry.
“Princess, do not worry.” My nurse’s soothing voice told me. “He is in Elysium, having died a valiant death.”
“A death in vain.” I stared at the wall, placing my hands over my mouth. I closed my eyes. “All in vain.”
“My princess,” My nursemaid said hesitantly, “shall I get a cobra?”
My eyes snapped open. Suicide was common in our family. When one was defeated, they would kill themselves. I hesitated. Caesar would definitely come and arrest me. He would parade me in the Coliseum. If I did kill myself, Cleopatra would erase my name.
Humiliation or death? I faced the question, uncertainly. I suddenly sat up, cold, fierce and determined. “Fetch my finest silks and bring my best make-up.”
My nurse bowed down, scurrying off to bring what I wanted. If I did go down, I would go in style. I would make sure Cleopatra remembered me. My body servants came in. I raised my chin. “Make me look like Isis herself. When you are finished, you may go.” The nodded, frightened, and set to work.
When they finished, I took one last, long look in the mirror. A child didn’t stare back at me. A goddess did. “I will wait for my sister.” I said in a clipped tone of voice.
And so I did. Caesar and Cleopatra came up the steps, while several Roman soldiers ran up and grabbed my arms. They pulled me down. Cleopatra and I shared one glance. She, cold and ruthless, looked at me and realized what I was saying. I would always be Queen of Egypt, no matter what she did.
A few more months, and I was in the Coliseum. I sat there, in a cage, while the Lighthouse burned. I sat and cried. I was dirty, tired, hungry. The crowds cheered at me. Then they started to get angry. Caesar decided I was not be executed. Instead, he decried I be given sanctuary at Ephesus. And so ends the tale of my life as Egypt’s Queen.
As I finished, the audience started clapping. I had won them over. And I realize I had won something as well. I was at peace, for once. In an always changing world, I had found a place that would never change and would stay the same for all eternity. This would be my home.
In the audience, I could see the The Young and The One smiling at me. I smiled back. I am home. I told them. You can rest now. They vanished, turning into mist.
“She will pay.” Megabyzus said in tight voice. “She will pay for killing her.” He turned away from the sight of the tomb, workers all around it, finishing it.
Accalia sobbed into her black robes. For a month, the people of Ephesus had worn nothing but black in honor of the slain princess, the Queen of Egypt. “At least she knew she was loved, here and everywhere.”
“I can’t believe she’s gone. She was right there,” He choked out, pointing to column, “right there, playing with the children.”
Both knew what happened last night. Arsinoe had been praying to her gods, where her handmaidens left her. Soldiers had appeared out of the gloom, converging on her. She had tried to run, but had nowhere to run to. The soldiers ran to her. She started shrieking, loud enough to wake the gods. By the time the alarm had sounded, she was dead, lying on the steps of the temple, her body covered in the blood.
“Oh Artemis, protect this tomb. Guard it against all who seek to destroy and desecrate it, and help Arsinoe’s name be remembered forever.” Accalia prayed.
“It seems like yesterday I was calling her my Queen.” Megabyzus remembered. “Was it really years ago?”
“It seems like yesterday she arrived.” Accalia whispered. “I watched her grow up here. I watched her turn into a woman here.”
“She will pay.” Echoed Megabyzus.
Faison, North Carolina
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