Chapter 5

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Farewelling her father, Hattusili, her brothers and her sister was a heart-wrenchingly painful affair. Not only for herself, to which she had shed enough tears to inundate the Nile, but for all involved. All besides Mursili. The constant dark smirk upon his face made her stomach churn. The embrace she was forced to give made her want to vomit. The words he had whispered to her, his vile lips brushing her ear, chilled her to the very core.

"Your virtue belongs to me. Forever it will. I have claimed you. You are mine."

Now she sat upon a carved marble throne beside her mother, trumpets of copper deafening her ears as the Egyptian herald prepared himself to announce the arrival of the retinue. Alas, the words spoken to her by Mursili still taunted her mind with its haunting whisper, even after two drawn-out months of arduous travel to the fortress city of Kadesh.

"Grand Lady of the Hatti people, beloved of Ishtar, beloved of Isis, Lady Puduhepa, and her beloved daughter, her Royal Highness Princess Malawashina, may I present to you his Royal Highness, Commander of the troops of Egypt, Fan-bearer on the King's Right Hand, Effective Confidant, Eldest Son of the King of his Body, Prince Amun-her-khepeshef!"

Malawashina had been wringing her hands against the ivory silken handkerchief she was holding when the mention of the royal prince broke through her troubled thoughts. She was thankful for the sheer veil that shielded her appearance from the large gathering below, for her nerves sent a thousand tiny butterflies to seek refuge within her stomach. The mention of the first-born prince of the Pharaoh being present took her rather by surprise, but why she did not quite understand. Perhaps it was due to the fact that emissaries and other nobles were often sent to deal with such gatherings. Raising her amethyst gaze, she looked down at the prince who now stood, bowed low in respect, near the landing of the steps. She could see that he was adorned in all the regal finery warranted for a Prince of Egypt. Upon his tall frame he wore a long, pleated kilt of the finest woven linen, a brilliant blue sash interwoven with fine threads of gold wrapped around his waist and hung down the front of his kilt. An almost translucent linen shawl was wrapped around his upper body, and a heavy gold and jewel set collar accentuated his shoulders. His head was shaved, apart from the long side-lock of raven mahogany hair that was braided down the right side. He wore a circlet of gold with the Uraeus, the symbol of the protective cobra goddess, Wadjet, upon its front. His side-lock meant that he was still relatively young and had yet to reach full manhood. The titles afforded to him at such a young age must have weighed heavily upon his youth, Malawashina thought to herself, sighing at her own responsibilities as one of royal lineage. It was not until the prince stood and stepped to the side that she could see how young he truly was. Though he was tall, he could not have been much older than twelve years old. 

"...Presenting his Exalted Lordship, Foreign Minister to Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Pharaoh's stables, Lord Seti-nekht!"

Malawashina's eyes widened as she focussed. She caught a glimpse of the man's face before he prostrated himself before her mother and herself. As he rose, his bright emerald eyes, accentuated with delicate lines of Kohl, flicked up towards her. His mere glance sent her heart racing. His features were so fine and sharp, like a freshly hewn statue sculpted from the finest diorite. His own attire was not so dissimilar from that of the prince, but instead of a circlet of gold upon his head, he wore a fine, long, braided wig which was pulled and tied behind his pierced ears with ribbons of gold, reds and blues. Not only did his brilliant eyes catch her attention, but the musculature of his jewelled arms as he outstretched them did as well. "Seti-nekht..." His name fluttered within her mind like the butterflies still within her stomach. She could feel them flying up her very core to covet her heart. The names and titles of other various emissaries and nobles were stated, but the princess could not tear her eyes from the beautiful man that now stood beside the prince. Had one of their gods disguised themselves as a human to join this entourage? So enamoured was she, she had not realised that he too was looking up at her, as now he spoke directly to her mother. His voice, deep and smooth, caressed her ears, though she could not make out a word that he and her mother spoke to each other. The fluttering of the butterflies had taken over.

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