Disclaimers: See Part 1
Additional Note (Please Read): Just a reminder, this story is tied with, Xena and Gabrielle, A Turn of Fate. If you have not read the first two chapters of that story, I got three words for ya . Go read them . ;-)
Feedback is always welcomed at,
The Conqueror and Ri,
A Twist of Destiny,
Chapter 3: : Accomplishment
The General hated Egypt. Not because of its people, the language they spoke, or the Pharaoh.
It was the endless amount of sand and the damn excruciating Helios that felt like fire. He couldn't fathom how the Egyptians could live here all year around, especially in this season of spring. Though his skin was as dark as the people of the ancient country, Helios still did murder to his flesh, and the golden armor he wore made it severely worse.
While gazing out at the Nile river, he remembered the trek through the dry desert, onwards to the Egyptian palace of Alexandria with a contingent of forty troops, twenty men from both the Second and Third army. To his amazement, his fellow General either was unfazed, or simply tolerated the sufferable heat. Strange, since he was way lighter in pigmentation.
"Just drink lots of water, and hope that the royal couple is as miserable as you are."
He recalled Palaemon's laughter as he failed to lighten the mood. The dark Elite General been to Egypt before when the Conqueror advised the same liquid element to fight back the effects of Helios. Water quenched his thirst, but did little for his agitation towards the shining celestial.
A light knock was barely audible on the door of the guest chamber he occupied.
"Come in." Draco answered while staring out the small window of the decadent room.
Without turning around, he stated. "Finally Palaemon, lets get this visit over with, and return home from this inferno of a city."
Draco then reached for the silver cup that was on the oak stand next to him, bringing the crisp cold water to his lips. After drinking his fill, he began to face his compatriot.
"I can't believe Cleopatra's audacity to stall us for a whole-" His sentence was dropped once he caught sight of the person standing by the chamber door. It wasn't General Palaemon.
The soldier's fist came over his chest in salute to his commander.
"Lieutenant Hector, what is the meaning of you coming here?" Draco was clearly annoyed at the young man who origins hailed from Carthage.
Hector's complexion was a few tones lighter than his own. Draco had always coincided Hector's birth with the conquest of Carthage, by the ambitious younger Julius Caesar. With Rome's history of pillaging, it's easier to agree that Hector's mother were either raped, or willingly available to one, if not many of the soldiers. However, the Lieutenant of the Second army never talked about his parentage, and the Lord Conqueror hadn't inquired about it. The only thing she cared to know was if he was a capable fighter, which he is.
"General Draco, I have come to inform you that, General Palaemon is indispose. He has been unwell since last night."
"We have an audience with the Pharaoh." Draco said in eloquence. "What caused his indisposition?"
"The General is suffering from over consumption of water." Hector replied.
Draco stared at his Lieutenant dubiously. "What? I haven't ever heard of such an ailment."
"Yes, General Draco. He is enduring water intoxication. It has been confirmed by the palace's physician." Hector rectified.
'Damnit Palaemon.' Draco cursed internally.
Spinning sharply, he tossed the rest of the water in his cup out the window, and watched the slaves work outside the palace while mumbling. "Drink lots of water they say. Ha, now the fool is sick."
"I also have reports on the three scouts who went on reconnaissance."
Still observing the drudgery taking place, the General asked. "What of them?"
"Out of the three that left, one returned deeply dehydrated. The other two perished from exposure to the elements." Hector answered.
It was a shame to Draco when warriors died by different means instead of battle. "Which army do the casualties belong to, and did they discover any oddities?"
"One, from both the Second and Third army. Argin, the scout that had returned, did mention that an-"
Draco held out a hand for Hector to be silent. "If you have the report on your persons, bring it to me."
The young Lieutenant realized what Draco meant. One could never be too cautious in another's residence. Spies were plenty, from experts to novice servants. All with their ears open to catch any kind of rewarding information.
Hector was disappointed in himself for almost making a rookie mistake as he handed the small slip of parchment to his commander.
Draco skimmed over it, before ripping it to shreds. 'Just as the Conqueror assumed.' he smiled.
Another rap on the door brought both men to full attention. Draco gave his Lieutenant a signal to open it.
A half naked slave, only having a cotton cloth to hide his lower private member, bowed and reported in broken greek. "The Pharaoh is ready to receive you."
Draco inclined his head in acceptance.
"I'll await your departure." the Egyptian said.
Taking a second bow, he closed the chamber door.
Hector remained standing erect while Draco addressed him. "I suppose the General of the Third army will recover."
"Correct. With plenty of rest and a sufficient amount of honey milk, General Palaemon will be good as new."
In an out burst of dissatisfaction, the General of the Second army threw the empty cup against the wall. Hector's posture faltered for a moment at his commander's behavior.
After regaining his composure, Draco spoke. "How are the men holding up?"
"The Second army is lodged in their own barracks, separate from the Third, as it was since we first gotten here a half fortnight ago. Both armies are still comfortable, far as what Lieutenant Batius of the Third army had shared with me, but there are some concerns." Hector responded.
"The Second and Third armies both lost a man. Argin spent three candle-marks after he came back from recon, deliriously saying, Helios will kill us all. He's stable now and appears able to handle his duties, but his words has frighten most of the men. They are worried about the return trip to our ship." he replied.
Draco pondered on the issue. The two scouts that had died did so in service to the Realm, and no matter the manner, or how anyone felt about it, showing cowardice is not acceptable. He was hoping he hadn't selected cowards for this simple mission.
"Tell them that Argin and his fellow scouts had underestimated Egypt's temperature. Now that we all know Helios is dangerous here, they must learn from others mistakes, so be sure to drink and store up enough water to keep them hydrated, but not too much. We don't want them coming down with the same illness as General Palaemon."
"Drink sparingly." Hector confirmed.
Draco nodded while securing a dagger in his gauntlet. 'I can not be armed when I am in the presence of Cleopatra, but now that I'll be alone with her, I'm not taking any chances.'
He then whispered in Hector's ear. "After you speak to the army, make your way back here and wait for my return. My next orders will correspond with the outcome of this meeting. If I don't show in a candle-mark, gather the Second and Third armies with, or without General Palaemon and head towards the ship. Slaughter whoever stands in your way."
"As you command, General."
After saluting each other they left the guest chamber, with Hector going to the barracks and Draco following the servant through the palace halls.
The Elite General was happy to almost be done with his charge. If he never see another half dressed Egyptian slave, he'll be fine for the remainder of his life. Although his stay in Alexandria wasn't all that bad. The slave women was pleasantly accommodating.
Finally they had arrived inside the Hall of Pharaohs.
"The Pharaoh will join you soon."
And with that, the slave took his leave, leaving Draco by himself.
Taking in the space he was in, the General looked over the many golden statues of the Pharaohs that ruled Egypt in its ancient past before the fledgling Ptolemaic dynasty. The statues were illuminated in its brilliance by the decor of the walls, with drapes the color of honey brown and white hanging off of it.
Draco walked towards one of the golden imageries that beckon his attention. As he touched the gold face he heard a voice behind him.
Draco whipped around quickly. The Egyptian in front of his view was relatively old. Possibly more older than the Conqueror's age range. He wore linen cloth dyed brown that covered his upper and lower body, to the General's relief. Brownish gold sandals also adorned his feet. Black eyeliner circled his dark eyes, and a medallion representing some Egyptian deity graced his neck. The Egyptian's arms had interlacing golden bracelets covering them. His head was shaved bald, save for a long rat tail that hung from the back of his head to his lower shoulders.
Draco continued to eye the man with disdain while he went into his tale. "She was never a Pharaoh like the others that are immortalized here. However, the Pharaoh Cleopatra the VII decided that the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten should be beside him, since they ruled together side by side. Nefertiti was known for her great beauty, not unlike our ruler today. After her husband died, she became de facto Pharaoh, changing her name to, Neferneferuaten, and ruled Egypt for three years before dying from an outbreak of plague. Nefertiti symbolises everything our Pharaoh inspires to be. A devoted ruler to her people, a wonderful provider to her children, a loving wife to her husband, and above all else, a harbinger of peace."
His yarn finished, he questioned Draco. "Can your Lord Conqueror say the same?"
The General's ire was greatly provoked. "Who the fuck is you? Where's Cleopatra? My audience was to be with her."
"Forgive me." he said bowing. "I am, Ansem, the Pharaoh's High Priest."
"Do you take me for an idiot!" Draco yelled, his anger getting the best of him. He was tired of this gods forsaken land and wanted to head back to Greece. "Priest belong in temples, not handling the affairs of politics."
"On the contrary." Ansem started explaining, keeping his calm attitude. "We High Priests are the closest to the gods here, but unlike the feeble minded people you call priest from your lands. High Priests has served and participated in public affairs along side their Pharaohs for centuries."
To further shock Draco, Ansem went on to say. "I served as High Priest for twenty-five years. It was I who summoned your Lord here when she was known as the, Lion of Amphipolis."
The General couldn't stop a contorted expression. He knew of the Lord Conqueror's tale, of how she barely made it out of Egypt alive, after the betrayal of the Egyptians.
Draco folded his arms across his chest staring Ansem in his face. "So it was you who also betrayed her?"
Keeping eye contact, he replied. "What happened to your Lord them many years ago, were between her and Caesar, for which he paid for with his life just last year." Ansem then added. "We had also paid for that fiasco."
Draco allowed a smirk to play on his lips.
"Yes. The raiding of your precious library. It fits wonderfully in Athens." he teased.
That comment actually got a reaction out of the High Priest as he recalled scenes in his mind from that day three years ago, when the Conqueror came with a massive army to besiege Alexandria. The Pharaoh Cleopatra was terrified, Caesar had left her many moons beforehand to obtain Brittania for the Roman Empire. After failing to do so, Brittania winded up being annex by Greece growing Empire instead. The Dictator never came back to Egypt again, he chose to try and keep hold of the territories Rome still held.
Cleopatra was alone and had to face down a vindictive Conqueror. Needless to say, the Pharaoh had to surrender without a fight, and accepted all of the Lord Conqueror's preposterous requirements, which were. Free trade of grain up to three years, a huge sum of monies was to be distributed to the Conqueror's Realm, and the most famous library in all the known world was processed then packed away, to be delivered to Greece. Cleopatra was so overwhelmed, she promised the Conqueror that she would be her personal whore, if she ceased anymore demands. Luckily, the demeaning act coerced the Conqueror to relent, but she never took Cleopatra up on her offer, to the Pharaoh's dismay.
She needed someone as strong as the Lord Conqueror to stand with her, but the Conqueror knew that too. Although she could have fucked Cleopatra then left her with empty promises, she always disliked the Pharaoh's use of sex for power, even way back when the Conqueror was a naive Lion of Amphipolis, playing bodyguard to a younger Cleopatra, who was trying to grab power from her brother, Ptolemy II, and keep the Romans at bay.
In the end, the Lord Conqueror of the Grecian Empire left Alexandria with almost everything, leaving Cleopatra VII with a crumbling kingdom, that thankfully wasn't annex, nor was a garrison placed there. Hard cronus lied ahead, and when word of the Dictator for life, Julius Caesar was dead at the hands of assassins, all of the Pharaoh's hope for a restored Egypt laid to rest with the once great Roman General. If it was not for Marcus Antonious taking an interest in Cleopatra, all could have been lost.
Getting back his bearings, Ansem retorted. "What a pity to lose our grand library. It was filled with such profound knowledge and history. Even you barbaric Greeks should be thankful."
"Oh, we are." Draco smiled, then inquired seriously. "Enough of your dido, where's the Pharaoh?"
"She is currently preoccupied at the moment."
Next, Ansem walked over to the white marble table, signaling the General to take a seat. "This is a matter of overseeing the Lord Conqueror's change on the trade agreement that was forced on us. It doesn't take a genius to know that what ever she commanded, isn't negotiable, which allows me to listen and pass it on to my Pharaoh."
After they both took their seats at the table, the High Priest confirmed. "The Pharoah has a husband and twin toddlers to care for. So General Draco, lets begin."
Sitting across from each other, Draco yielded. "Fine, Priest."
Pulling a scroll from his side pouch, he handed it to Ansem. Taking the proffered rolled parchment, Ansem scanned its contents critically.
"Eh." he sighed in scorn laying the scroll on the marble. "The Greeks wishes to extort Egypt again. These are not suitable commands. Their as ludicrous as the last demands forced on us."
"The Conqueror of the Realm states that, free trade is lifted, but Egypt will only receive thirty percent of the proceeds instead of forty-sixty. To ensure the continuing peace of the Realm, Egypt's army is not to expand beyond the White, or Blue Niles, and shouldn't be anywhere near the east or west of the Mediterranean sea close to Grecian boarders." Draco reiterated what was written on the scroll.
He then said. "Lastly, and this was personally told to me by the Conqueror, to tell the Pharaoh. It is not on the scroll and seeing that you are the only ear here for her, I'll say it to you. Marcus Antonious must leave Egypt as soon as traveling arrangements can be made for him." he grinned before continuing. "And his troops."
Ansem was surprised by the General's last remark. 'How could they have found out? Marcus was very discreet when he stationed his army here.'
"Don't ponder on it too much, Ansem. The Lord Conqueror is nobodies fool. They were well hidden. It caused us the life of two men as they surveyed your hot ass land. You are fortunate that I don't seek reimbursement, but Egypt has enough problems."
"Ah. It seems our little Lion, has grown up from her naivety since her first visit here. However. She is still foolish, and none of you will survive if-"
"I am here as an acting ambassador for the Realm of Greece. If anything drastic was to befall upon me, General Palaemon, or any of our men from the Second and Third army, Egypt will pay the consequences." Draco promised.
Ansem was appalled by Draco's misconstruction. "I'm not threatening you General of the Realm. I'm offering a friendly warning. If you let me finish what I was trying to say."
"Get on with it, just be mindful of your words. My tolerance of you and your disrespectful tongue is reaching its limit." Draco elucidated.
"As I was trying to say. None of you will survive if the Conqueror doesn't destroy the true enemy of the Realm." Ansem said cryptically.
Draco wasn't impressed.
"The Romans? Their Triumvirate?" he listed sarcastically.
"Not the Romans, nor Egypt either, but the Amazons." the High Priest revealed.
Draco ran into the warrior women before that lived off the land. They were fierce fighters, and hated men. He encounter them along with the Conqueror. Both was left with antithetical opinions on the surviving Amazon tribes remaining in the world. Especially when the tribes, that were once scattered, united together in Greece not far from the Realm's capital, Corinth. It was only a matter of cronus before they were fully ruled by one queen, and seek revenge. Retribution against the Lord Conqueror.
"The Amazons are of no importance. They are nothing compared to the Realm's might." Draco affirmed.
"You don't believe that." Ansem challenged.
"It doesn't matter what I think. The Lord Conqueror-"
It was Ansem's turn to interrupt. "Is a fool."
In an explosive rage, Draco jumped up from his chair. "I warned you to mind your tongue!"
Ansem kept his cool. "Look around yourself General, there's not a guard, or slave protecting me. This." he picked up the parchment. "Is suppose to be a meeting for the Realm's renewal of the treaty that the Lord Conqueror had constrain on Egypt."
His dark eyes gleamed with exactitude as he let the scroll fall back down. "But we both know the truth. It's not a negotiation, or diplomacy, it is an act of dictatorship. Now can you comprehend exactly why I am here in Pharaoh Cleopatra's stead. Your Lord is a monster."
Draco was very close to broadcasting his hidden dagger into the High Priest's throat. "You presume to disrespect the Realm, and not accede to the Conqueror's will?"
"Settle yourself, General Draco. Unless you plan on using that dagger underneath your gauntlet."
Draco kept his stupefaction at bay.
"Spies." he surmised.
"Doesn't every kingdom use them?" Ansem asked the rhetorical question, before gesturing that the General sit back down.
Draco decided to still stand.
"Have it your way. Besides, Egypt will recognize the Conqueror's decree. I will put it to the Pharaoh and she will make it so." Ansem said.
"Good." Draco replied.
Turning around to make his exit, Ansem halted him with an inquiry. "The Amazons, General Draco. What are you willing to do in order to rid the Realm of them?"
"Nothing. It is not my place." he answered.
Ansem rose to his feet and walked slowly to Draco while speaking. "But it is in a sense. You foresee how dangerous they will be in the future."
His legs stopped moving to stand behind the dark skinned man. "A plot is set to obliterate the harlots."
"Why would you, or your Pharaoh care about the Amazons? They are Greece's pest, not Egypt's." Draco asked with his back still to the High Priest.
"The Conqueror left an onus of money troubles for us three years ago after her departure. Egypt struggled to make ends meet. Cut backs here and there, tax increase, and slavery helped with adjustments. Just before the Egyptian Amazonian tribe profligate our land, a group consisting of thirty members was captured. These rodents make an exorbitant amount of money to slave traders. We made an amazing profit off enslaving and selling them." Ansem explained.
Worried that he hadn't snared Draco's intentness, the Egyptian High Priest persisted. "Men will pay almost anything for these exotic so-called women, to not only bring them to heel, but to teach them the ways of man, since most of them never been touched intimately by one. You hate them Draco, don't bother denying it. Imagine how priceless this opportunity can be. You will be rich, and the Amazons would also be swept away from being a concern to the security of the Realm. Killing two birds with one stone."
It was no lie. Draco hated the Amazons and all they stood for. First impressions are everything, and after meeting the Serbian tribe, they really bequeath a bad distaste for all of their kind.
He didn't like Ansem either and wondered how the High Priest knew how he felt about the savage women, but he was more curious to learn more about the plot. "What would this stone cost me? I must be deceitful to my Lord?"
Ansem smiled wickedly. "A small appraisal, to aid in moving our plan in motion. Nothing extreme."
Draco needed more information than that. "When? What am I to do?"
Ansem clapped Draco's shoulder. "We'll keep in touch, then you and the Realm shall truly have a sense of accomplishment."
Their meeting concluded, the General finished his walk out of the Hall of Pharaohs, to prepare his men for the circuit back to their Grecian ship as a pair of eyes that was concealed behind a secret aperture watched.
Return to the Academy