There were no audiences today. There hadn't been since her father had passed, and one day, Nailah knew she would be in here, listening to foreign diplomats and people of the country. Deciding on their problems and the like...
Her father had been an amazing leader, and had listened to and helped many people.
Of course, he had conquered plenty as well...
Nailah shook her head gently as she thought about her father. She was sitting in the throne room, hiding from everyone. She sat behind her father's throne, on the floor with her knees pulled up to her stomach. She didn't even want to see her sisters at the moment, she just wanted time to herself.
She hated the thoughts that overwhelmed her sometimes. She supposed it would eventually get easier, and the death of her father would bother her less with time, but right now... it just hurt.
Tears welled up and fell down her cheeks, and she quickly wiped them away. She did not want to show weakness, not at all. She was to be Queen after all... she could not let the country see her this way, nor the lands outside her realm. A weak leader meant invasions. Her father had taught her that.
She sighed as she leaned her head back against her father's chair, her eyes staring at the wall behind it. She was tired of feeling bad, and knew that soon she'd have to take her place...
And on that thought, she frowned. Soon she'd have to marry. She had to pick someone powerful, with military knowledge. Another sigh escaped her as she closed her eyes, willing the world to disappear.
Alcaeus had gotten back from the Southern Front only a day before, and was already feeling nervous. He always felt nervous, when in the capital, because he knew that with his rank in the military, came rivals willing to slit his throat to get it too.
But now, with politics in disarray, and people quickly choosing sides, he felt even more dangerous. People always became willing to take more risks in an atmosphere of uncertainty like this. Unfortunately, Alcaeus didn't have a choice in coming here. Whenever a general returned, whether from the western wastes, or the northern beaches, you had to report in to the pharaoh. He wasn't quite sure whether the normal people he checked into were still alive at all, actually. A lot of them were only in the position because of connections to Tachus.
He had 2 bodyguards at his back, and was walking towards the large doors, in the palace, home of pharaohs for several decades. It was strangely absent of foreign dignitaries, diplomats, and the like, and instead had only a few guards. He disregarded this, and continued.
He was wearing a red cloak, crimson colored, (His army was famous for it's success in battle, which usually involved killing enemies) with a simple white tunic, and a matching white piece of linen draped around his waist, resembling a kilt. He wore a simple white headress as well. He was never one to be too dramatic, and the red cloak was colorful enough.
He cautiously opened the doors, slowly at first, and then confidently when no one stopped him, opened the door more.
On the throne where her father sat, a few steps from the white marbled floor, was Princess, or Pharaoh, Nailah. She was composed, it seemed, though on closer inspection it looked as if she had been crying, her tear stained face and red-rimmed eyes giving her away. Alcaeus felt bad for a moment, and was going to retreat back into the hallway, but this girl needed to learn how to be a pharaoh.
She was beautiful, he knew this. Her hair was suited to the fashion of the day, yet still looked like it was her real hair, cascading down. As he looked at her clothing, he realized she had a few pieces of jewelry on, but wasn't draped in fine linens or anything of the sort. Odd, usually new pharaohs splurged on the new wealth they were given.
"Hello.." Alcaeus said, a bit nervous.
He straightened his back, realizing he might look weak in front of her, and said, "I have just returned from the southern front, my lady. We repulsed the Nubian attack on our lines, and they've retreated back into there cities. I've come back to give you the news myself." He said. He bowed, and then walked towards the throne. He was not sure how this was supposed to proceed. Her father usually discussed what happened over a cup of wine, enjoying his war stories. This just seemed... strange. Adding her beauty to the mix, made Alcaeus apprehensive, almost nervous. Maybe the stories were true, about her only skulking in the palace?
Nailah knew there were plenty of struggles going on, and had even heard of a few assassinations taking place, unfortunately. That was one reason she had not left the palace, because she knew with all the turmoil she would definitely be a huge target.
A gentle sigh escaped her again as she leaned back on the throne, thinking of her father some more. What would he have done? There's no doubt he would not be cowering in the palace like she was. She'd have to get out soon, show the people who she was and what she could do. A tour of the city, perhaps? Or a festival. Her face brightened at the thought, a festival could be very fun. It would get people's minds off the fighting and struggle of the throne.
She was so engrossed in thoughts of the festival that she didn't even notice the doors opening, nor that a man had walked in. She knew if her father was here, he would have yelled at her for that. She was supposed to be aware of everything... but she had to do something to make the kingdom happy. And if she threw a great festival, that would look favorable on her.
She jumped slightly when she heard the man speak, her body stiffening as she gripped the throne. After a moment of taking him in, she relaxed - if only slightly. He did not seem like he was going to hurt her.
She watched as he straightened and began speaking again, her eyes focused on him. The Nubians had retreated, that was promising. It showed her strength, well... the strength of her armies. That would dissuade people from attacking, she thought, if only for a bit. She studied the man as he spoke, nodding her head slightly.
"Indeed, I would love to hear the news." She pushed herself up, standing up and stepping forward, stopping in front of him. He was.. tall. A whole foot taller than she was, and.. handsome.
"Umm.." She wasn't sure what to say, unsure of how her father did this. Was she supposed to sit on the throne and listen to him? In that moment, she motioned to the chairs lining the walls in the room. They could sit there and talk. "Let's sit and discuss this." She headed over and sat, wanting him to sit next to her. She wanted to seem down to earth, and figured this would be all right.
She seemed eager to see the news, strange enough. He had expected her to wave it off to some court servant to pore over details, and to plan for the next assault, but instead, she seemed to be taking the initiative. She walked down the steps, and as she got to the bottom, Alcaeus realized that he had to look down at his pharaoh to look eye to eye with her. Then again, she was 17. And an attractive 17 year old at that.
She gestured towards some chairs, and sat on one. They were at the side of the room, and looked fairly comfortable. There was a small table a bit away from the chairs, and Alcaeus grabbed it, and set it down. He waved for 2 cups and a jug of wine.
He grabbed the chair by it's straight back, and set down the scrolls he had. He had to move close to Nailah to look over them, and he felt a few strands of her hair touch his arm, which made him blush. He scooted a bit farther away, and then unrolled the first map.
He got right to business, and explained to her that the three forts defending the nile river that were under threat had all been succesfully defended. He had led his cavalry to assault a Nubian force trying to cross the river, and the succesfull counterattack left them reeling. He was part of an assault by a young colonel, to cross the river, and with this, they sieged the fort for 3 days. After these 3 days, they broke through the gate, and charged in, killing nubians as they went. The ragtag remainders either escaped to the south in a disorganized mess, or were cut down my mop-up crews. The forts were currently being repaired, and the army was resting in any of the three, which were within seeing distance of each other.
He took a sip of the wine, after pouring some into her cup, and his.
"So." He said, finally, "My army is resting, and the Nubians won't trouble us for quite a while." He said. He was looking for her to say something, like 'Pursue them' or 'Raze there villages'.
Nailah watched as Alcaeus walked over to sit beside her, pulling a table over to them as well. She watched as he waved for a jug of wine and cups as well, a slight smile crossing her face as they were set in front of them.
She looked over at him as she picked up one of the cups, sipping out of it slowly. She leaned forward to look at the scrolls as he set them down, noticing that her hair brushed against him but she didn't notice that he noticed. She did notice however, that he scooted a bit away from her.
She wondered the reason for that, but didn't ask, instead she studied the map while he spoke, looking up at him on and off while he was talking.
She listened silently, taking sips of her wine all the while. When he finished, she refocused on him, leaning back in her chair and mulling over what he had just said. She took another sip before speaking.
"Great job, it seems like you have things under control there." She paused, studying him for another moment. She was not sure what was next, she knew her father had been trying to expand their boarders into Nubian territory... perhaps that was the next logical step, since they were on the run already?
"Do you suggest continuing into their land? Do we have a good chance of acquiring it?"
Before answering, he took another drink of the wine.
"If we try to plunge into there territory, we might get destroyed. They know the land, and have a very thick scouting network. If we try to go anywhere near there cities, they'll raise all the armies they have and strike at us. "
"Also," He said, continuing, a bit awkwardly,"With the kingdom's political atmosphere a bit... hostile right now, it might be better to keep the army close to the kingdom." He said, running his hand along his chin.
Nailah listened in silence as Alcaeus spoke of the dangers of invading, nodding her head a few times as he spoke. After he finished, she stayed silent for a moment, trying to think what was the best course of action for the army at the moment.
What he said made complete sense though, and she did not want to rush blindly into anything.
She nodded her head again, her decision made. "You are correct, and I appreciate the honesty... for the time being we will keep the army here, and perhaps we can send scouts in little by little. I want to make sure we are prepared before we invade."
She paused to gather her thoughts again, and looked away from Alcaeus. She wanted to do the best she could, but when he spoke of the political atmosphere, she got nervous. She knew she was in danger, and she was unsure of where his loyalties were. "I need to know..." She trailed off and looked back at him, tilting her head slightly. She didn't want to ask, but she knew she should. She took a sip of her wine instead, and studied him in silence.
She nodded when he finished, and said, "You are correct, and I appreciate the honesty... for the time being we will keep the army here, and perhaps we can send scouts in little by little. I want to make sure we are prepared before we invade."
She paused for a moment, preparing to speak again, and she looked away, puzzling him. She was getting nervous, Alcaeus knew what nervousness looked like, he had seen it hundreds of times from his own men. This was nervousness, seemingly of the same kind. Fearing for her life.
She asked him, saying "I need to know...", confusing Alcaeus for a second, his face crunching up. And then he understood.
She didn't realize he was on her side... or on the side of a pretender for the throne.
His eyebrows furrowed, and he realized what he had been doing this whole time. Seeing if she would be a leader that would warmonger and want to waste his mens lives recklessly, or someone who was cautious. He knew what the answer would be.
"I want you to know this, that by all the God's, I am loyal to you, as I was to your father. He was a good leader, and i'm sure you'll be good too." He said, subconsciously resting his hand on her leg, more reassuring then anything. He pulled it away as soon as he realized it was there, though, and nervously moved a bit in his chair.