Chapter 3

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    "This is where that servant beckoned us to come, is it not, princess?" Utati asked, her eyes riddled with worry as they stood within the bare, evening blue glow of the courtyard.

    Malawashina's violet eyes glimmered like those of freshly polished amethysts hewn from the very heart of the earth. Sighing, she looked down at her smaller friend. "This is the courtyard he instructed us to come to. But I am sure that his exalted highness, the king, is very busy with his affairs."

    Utati's black eyes darkened further as she furrowed her brow. "More like in the beds of his whores." She grumbled under her breath.

    "There are eyes and ears everywhere, Utati. Watch what you say." Malawashina too had lowered her voice but kept her smile of pretentiousness upon her delicately made-up features. "We shall wait, as instructed," She looked out into the dark expanse of the hall that branched off before them, curious as to why it was not lit like all the others. Regardless, it mattered not. She appreciated the soft glow of the few braziers that lit up the courtyard, casting dancing shadows across the giant murals of brightly painted lions and gods. Would the halls of Egypt be as intricately decorated? She thought to herself as she closed her cotton shawl around her shoulders from the chill on the air. Looking up to the wide opening in the roof she could see the stars, still and silent in all their sparkling beauty. Why now of all times would her cousin wish to speak with her? It was suspicious, to say the least, but she had to do as ordered, at least as long as her honour remained intact.

    Twenty minutes passed and still came not a word from Mursili or any of his servants. Whilst Malawashina was patient, enjoying the stars shining far above, her hot-headed maid was not as accommodating. "How long are they going to make us wait here in the cold?" She huffed impatiently. "If they take any longer we may as well go bury ourselves in the ground!"

    Malawashina could not help herself but chuckle at her young servant's remark, but she knew she had to calm the child before the arrival of the king. "Utati, calm yourself for my sake, please!" She pleaded, her back still turned as she gazed up into the night sky.

    "No! How dare those buffoons make you, the only princess of Hatti, wait here like some peasant!" No sooner did she cross her arms across her chest in a huff, did she drop them again in shock at the deep voice from behind her.

    Malawashina spun around. Standing before her, his hazel eyes sharp like daggers as he glared at her maiden, was Mursili, third king of his name.

    "Will you be so kind as to repeat what you just said?" he asked with a feigned kindness. "For I do not think I could hear you."

    Utati's obsidian orbs widened in fear as she shrank back before throwing herself to the floor in obeisance. Instinctively Malawashina stepped in front of her.

    "She was simply telling me that it is cold out tonight," she answered contritely on Utati's behalf. She knew her cousin's temperament, and would do almost anything to calm his tempest.

    He looked up at her now, his gaze narrowing, the slight hook of his nose twitching as his nostrils flared. He was a somewhat attractive man, Malawashina could not deny it, but his attractiveness could not mask the ugliness of his heart. Stroking the tight braids of his dark beard he eyed her for a long moment, making her shift slightly from the uncomfortable feeling of dread deep within the pit of her stomach.

    "Have the little bitch whipped." Came his order then, which he directed to no one in particular. Immediately the air within the courtyard became stifling.

    Utati squeaked helplessly at his words and pressed her small head harder against the marble flooring.

    "My lord!" Malawashina gasped, her violet eyes wide as she tried to step between the guard who now advanced towards Utati. "Please, I beg of you! She is still so young and a downright fool. She often forgets her tongue..."

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