Chapter 10

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Stretching out her long, nimble limbs she yawned loudly, blinking and rubbing her eyes to rid them of the crusts of sleep.

She had not slept so soundly for weeks, not at least since before the incident back in her homeland. Perhaps her deep rest had been thanks to the gentle rocking of the carriage as the retinue traversed through the night. Perhaps it was due to the knowledge that she was far out of Mursili's grasp now and in the gentle and caring hands of the Minister and the young Prince of Egypt. They both had done well to set the turbulent worries of her mind at ease. Alas, that one niggling concern continued to cause her deeper anguish; what if it were all but a ploy to keep her pliable till her arrival in their city? But then, surely they would not have gone to such elaborate lengths to do so...

Shaking her head of the thought she allowed her violet gaze to scan the horizon. For her protection, her tent had been set up within the centre of the camp, but she was allowed to stroll the outskirts to take in the surrounding scenery.

The air was cool and crisp as she breathed in. Dust swirled from the breezes that swept through the valley where they were now camped, and the tiny groves of Acacias that jutted from the valley side swayed and danced. The jagged rocks of the valley reached high to the clear skies, their brilliant shades of ocher and golden yellows shimmering as the rays of the sun caressed them. They were within the Sinai now, within the land of Egypt, but still a five-day ride from the Nile Valley where the grand city of the Pharaoh awaited them. This mere thought caused her heart to race suddenly, and she steadied herself from the sudden lightheadedness that it had caused. With the size of the retinue, they would take somewhat more time to arrive, but it would be within the new month depending on the weather. Praise to all the gods that the weather had been mostly in their favour for the duration of the journey.

"You have risen earlier than expected, princess."

"Oh, Minister!" Malawashina gasped as she spun around from the voice behind her. He chuckled as she nearly tripped up on her own feet.

"Good morning! I did not expect you to be awake this early, either!"

"I guess we both wished to see the lovely scenery," he answered with a mischievous grin, but it was soon to fade to something more austere.

She looked upon him with honest surprise. "Is there something the matter?"

"No, not at all. As you know we are in Egypt and soon will come upon the capital city within the week. In order to notify the city of our impending arrival, I will ride ahead."

Malawashina's eyes widened at the prospect. "Why do you have to go?

"You do not wish me to go?" He asked casually.

"Well... I... well... you see... no..." she fumbled, her cheeks burning bright with embarrassment.

"Do not fret, my dear princess, you will see me again before long."

Her expression remained crestfallen. How could he not pity her with the look she was now giving him?

"It will only be a week, surely you can wait for that long?" His voice was almost pleading. 

What she was to do next was completely unexpected. Her arms wrapped around his waist tightly, her soft head nestled against his strong chest as she embraced him. Immediately he could feel her racing heart against his, and the wetness of the tears through his shawl as she wept. Sighing, he rested his head against hers and returned the embrace in kind, stroking the back of her hair as he did so. To their advantage, there was not a soul about at such an early hour, especially considering the copious amounts of drink the camp had consumed the night before.

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