Alexandros: Ch. 32-35byJoeBarnosky©
Wait Khaldun!" Rashida yelled. "We need to wait for Alexandros."
"A stranger?" he bit back.
"He saved my life and yours back there," she retorted pointing in the direction of the city. They were stopped atop a dune almost a mile from Naukratis.
"Go ahead, we'll catch up," Khaldun ordered the remaining soldiers. Once they were out of earshot he continued with Rashida. "There is no sign of the vagrant. Besides no one could survive what we left behind."
"Vagrant?" she asked with disgust. "I've never seen a vagrant fight the way he did. He's had military training that much can be seen."
"Does not matter. He is dead and no longer a concern."
"It's final Rashida."
Khaldun could see the stranger captured her attention and if he let it continue it would be her heart. He sought after her heart since they were children and he wasn't about to allow a vagabond ruin it all.
"Your father will have a field day with this one."
"You wouldn't dare," she said looking at him venomously.
"You think not?" he asked staring her down. "If I had something to gain I would, but I hope you don't think your absence hasn't caught his eye by now."
"I'll deal with my father should the need arise. Now I'm not taking one more—"
Off in the distance a lone figure caught her eye. She squinted to focus in. Khaldun followed her line of sight riding on the same line of thought. He said a curse under his breath barely audible.
"It's him," she said waving with excitement ignoring the curse.
Alexandros Manuscript Page 123
I rode hard from Naukratis kicking up sand into dust leaving the city and its new residents far behind. For a moment I thought I may be traveling in the wrong direction when I saw two people high atop a dune.
From the clothing they wore I could distinguish them as Rashida and Khaldun. They appeared to be in an argument, which I assumed was about the surprise she spoke about earlier. Suddenly her hand went up in a wave. Seems they decided to wait for me and Khaldun took the opportunity to clear up the matter.
A few minutes later I reached the top of the dune where both of them waited atop their horses in silence. In the distance I saw the soldiers that escaped the city well on their way.
"Greetings," I said looking to Khaldun.
"Khaldun, this is our savior Alexandros," Rashida said smiling.
I could tell there was some sort of tension between these two at the moment. I kept silent not wanting to get involved in something that was none of my business.
"I guess a thanks is in order," he remarked.
"No need," I said. "I was sent to help you."
A shadow crossed his face and before he could question me Rashida spoke up. "And you called him a vagrant and thought of him as dead." Clearly I could tell she was attempting to make a fool of him. I thought it best to stay silent rather than play along with her.
"Who sent you?" Khaldun asked ignoring the remark.
"A strange old man named Madu."
The two looked at each other in recognition of the name. I decided to push for what they knew that I didn't.
"Someone you know?"
Rashida giggled which grabbed a scornful look from Khaldun. He looked back to me, "Madu is Pharaoh's high priest."
"Interesting," I remarked.
"Yes very," Khaldun agreed.
"I guess we have no choice but to bring him with us," Rashida informed. She looked at me and winked.
Khaldun grunted and turned his horse around and began to trot off in the direction of his soldiers.
"Don't worry Alexandros, my father will like you," she said before turning and following the general.
I didn't know who her father was, but I assumed he was someone of some significance. I followed not just because I had nowhere else to go but because Madu sent me on this path and he had the answers we all needed.
Alexandros Manuscript Page 127
The journey to the capital took several days. Khaldun insisted we stop at any cities that laid in the path to the capital. I didn't mind. I understood he wanted the troops at the garrisons to be prepared. Each city was already in a mass exodus since having more time than the other ones.
When we did finally reach Memphis I was in awe at the glory of the city. Statues of their gods and great kings adorned the streets and their many ordained temples. People lined the streets throwing out flowers in front of the horses. I could hear Khaldun's name being called out in triumph or praise.
Why the people weren't being evacuated like the other cities didn't make much sense to me. I hoped when I met the king I would find my answers. If not then maybe Rashida's father would have them. And if not him, Madu.
During our journey, Rashida didn't say much about her father. It was as if she wanted to keep the subject closed because of guilt or something else. I chose the latter because of her statement about him liking me. I was in for a surprise. And I wasn't surprised about that considering everything that had taken place since leaving Sparta.
The gates to the palace were on a grand scale. Built solid and tall it could withstand an attack from any foreign invaders. Any but the spawn of Hades I would doubt. I began to wonder how long before this city fell under attack and the people were forced to hide behind these walls while soldiers fought with their lives to protect the innocents.
I was in deep thought when we finally came to a halt. It wasn't until Rashida tapped my leg did I realize we had. "Do you check every city for strategic points and defenses that you visit?" she asked me.
"Why do you figure I was doing such a thing?"
"Come now Alexandros. You are from Sparta and even though that is a long way from here we hear rumors of your city's reputation. Besides, I have seen Khaldun do the same many times."
"You caught me. It's a habit I guess. Many years of military training instills certain things into you."
"My father will definitely like you then. Come, you get to meet him," she said with a wave and a smile.
"Your father," I called after her, "you haven't said much about him. Is he an advisor or something?"
She stopped and turned around. Her face was a bit redder than before like she was blushing. "I guess you could say that. In fact he leads the army and this nation."
"He's that king?" I asked incredulously.
"Pharaoh," she corrected with a grin. "I'm sorry I didn't mention it before. It's bad enough the citizens know who I am. It's nice to not get treated like royalty every now and again."
"It's no problem," I said, not really knowing to say to it.
She turned seeming to accept my answer and I followed. The doors were parted by two guards and as soon as we passed through the doors were closed. The room before us was a large expanse. Columns ran through the center of the room for support of the massive ceiling. They stopped short at a set of stairs that almost took up the entire width of the back wall. Atop those steps sat a throne that Pharaoh sat in and Khaldun. They appeared in a deep conversation that came to an abrupt halt the moment we entered.
"Ah, Rashida my daughter," Pharaoh said.
Rashida smiled. "Father."
"The daughter that defies my orders, but I am glad you are alive," he said smiling back.
Rashida cast a glance at Khaldun and gave him an, I told you so, look. The general remain passive ignoring the gesture.
"Thanks to Alexandros here," she said at last.
"Yes, I have heard. Tell me why you intervened," he said addressing me.
"I was directed to by Madu," I replied.
"My High Priest Madu?" he questioned looking from Khaldun to Rashida.
"I believe so Pharaoh," Khaldun said.
Pharaoh looked back at me with suspicious eyes. "And what exactly did he instruct you to do?"
"I was told to go to the city of Naukratis and there I would find allies," I said leaving out the majority of my quest. I got the impression Madu had not told everyone in this room about everything. "I was to aid them and from there I would learn of the next step of my journey."
Pharaoh pondered my response for a few moments, remaining silent and not moving. Then he took his eyes off me and looked at Rashida. "Rashida, my daughter."
"Yes father," she replied confidently.
"Khaldun here tells me you are quite taken by this man and though I do not fully trust his intentions yet and even though I wish for you to marry Khaldun I am going to release him into your custody."
Rashida's face seemed to brighten up at the news and I could hear the joy in her voice when she next spoke. "Thank you father."
She quickly turned and practically ran into me, grabbed my arm and pulled me from the chamber. "Father will talk with Madu and once he confirms everything you told him he will ask for your council," she informed me.
"How do you know this will go as planned?" I asked curious about the whole situation.
"Oh, let's just say I've known about you for some time now."
"Really?" I asked skeptically.
"Why yes. You see Madu as you probably know is a descendant of the Atlanteans. Not very many know any of them exist. But he can see things, in his dreams and you are in them as well as Vectivus and his demon horde.
"He has made arrangements to prepare for your arrival upon our shores to help guide you and prepare you so that you can do the same for us."
Normally I would not believe any of these things considering my Spartan upbringing and training, but after all I have seen and been through, there is nothing that can fool me now.
"So until the plan comes to fulfillment what are we to do in the meantime?"
"You'll see," she says as she takes my arm as drags me on. "I have had some time to plan this day and many more for some time."
We are here as you have commanded, Lord Vectivus. Amnischnell said as he and Malanatohiel entered the large tent center in the encampment just outside Bubastis.
We have lost a deal of weight in our ranks. The humans prove to be quite resourceful if not more resourceful than I originally thought.
No matter my lord. So long as you control the gate you have an unfathomable army awaiting your command. Amnischnell said matter-of-factly.
Just as well. We are not going to press the humans quite yet though.
Malanatohiel remained silent until now. Is that wise my lord?
Vectivus glared at the Greater Demon. Malanatohiel cowered slightly but otherwise held his ground. It will take time to summon the necessary amount of creatures to take the human's capital. We still have a number of cities between us and our goal. In the meantime I want to clear out each of the cities we have taken and fully cleanse them of any and all humans that remain.
I have to agree with Malanatohiel my lord. The longer we wait to attack the humans the greater the force they can build. And with the human Alexandros—
The back of Vectivus' hand slammed across Amnischnell's face landing him on the ground. Fury blazed in Vectivus' eyes. It is not your place to argue my commands. I am a Demon Lord with far greater power than you. I have seen the face of God and stood in his kingdom before I turned my back on him. You will respect my decisions without questioning. And as far as this pitiful human, Alexandros is concerned; he will not be able to stand against us. You will have the opportunity to face him and get your revenge and if you fail then he will not survive my wrath.
Forgive me Lord Vectivus. I seem to have forgotten my place. Malanatohiel said with a bow.
Pray you don't forget it again.