Chapter One

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“Papa!” a young Irisi ran through the halls of their home in Thebes. “PAPA!” her shrill young voice screeched.

“Young lady, it is beneath you to run screaming through corridors.” Her mother chided.

She looked up at her, “But where is papa, mother?” she asked, her grey eyes, big and soulful, gazed up at her, brimming with tears.

“I have bad news, child.” She said, taking the young Irisi by the hand. She sat her down on a bench, “Something has happened.” She told her. “Your father won’t be coming home, Irisi. He’s been killed.” She said.

Irisi looked at her, her grey eyes going hard, “Lies!” she shouted, running away. She left her home, taking her big grey and white pony and riding through the city. "Come on El-zarka," She said, running her fingers through his white mane. There was only one place she would find an understanding ear. The palace was where she would find the truth. She only thought of reaching her dearest friend. His father would know what happened. She didn’t trust her mother.

Two of her family’s guards followed her, as she knew they would. She cared not if they did so, she would be safe, and she couldn’t say how she knew. When she reached the pharaoh’s palace, she slowed her pace, walking through the halls. She found Atemu leaving his afternoon lesson. He frowned in concern when he saw her tear stained face, “Irisi! What is wrong, dear friend?” he asked.

“Mother says my father is dead. I cannot bear to believe it to be true. I hoped to gain more information, knowing that my father was good friends with yours. I could not stand to be there, with only my mother, a moment longer.” She sniffled. She had shed many tears on the ride over.

“Dear friend, I am sorry to hear this. We will search out my father right away and gain the truth from him.” He assured Irisi. He yearned to comfort her with an embrace, knowing she would welcome any sort of comfort as long as it didn’t come from her mother.

“Thank you.” She said, allowing him to lead her away from the room. They found Atemu’s father, the pharaoh, in his throne room. They approached respectfully, Irisi shaking with silent sobs that she was unable to halt.

He stood and went to the weeping girl. Kneeling before her, he rested strong hands on her shoulders, “My dear, Irisi, I know why you have come. I wish I had better news for you, dear child.” He told her. She looked at him, her grey eyes dark with sorrow.

“I would not believe it from any but you.” She said. “I cannot trust my mother.” She told him. “I know you, who was his dearest friend would not lie.” she said, "How did it happen?"

Pharaoh Amun sat her down in front of her. He could feel the eight year old's eyes on him as he ordered the court to empty the room. When the three of them were alone with none but the guards he spoke. "I am not sure if you should be hearing this at such a young age, but I will not tell you a falsehood." He began. "As you know your father was in Alexandria. The report from the nobles in Alexandria stated that there was a Roman assassin that they caught. They believe this man to be the one who killed your father." He told her.

He wrapped her in a warm hug, disregarding nonsense about men and women. The child needed someone. “I am sorry for your loss; I feel the bitterness of sorrow as a knife’s keen edge.” He said. “Atemu, take Irisi to the kitchens, Sagati will know what to do for her.” He instructed.

“Yes father.” He said with a bow.

He led Irisi to the kitchen, where the head cook, Sagati, took one look at the miserable girl and set about gathering food and drink for her. Atemu sat beside his friend, comforting her with soft words and a tight embrace. He knew his father would approve, even if others would not.

Sagati smiled approvingly at the two, she was glad to see the prince offering his friend support in her grief. She would need him if she was to get through the turmoil of losing a loved one. She set two plates of food down for the children and two flagons of fruit juice before continuing her work.

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