Lion Head Mesa Ntropí
Epoch
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#1
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I apologize, @Belen, I do not like the one called Jawahir, he offered to his guest in a gruff tone.

Truth be told, Arsenio would have readily marred the creature’s face and sent him back to the Pharaoh looking like a disfigured eldritch horror. What good would Jawahir be as a jewel of Akashingo if they looked like a half-eaten carcass? The thought carved a sinister delight in the mercenary, who imagined the numerous ways he could have shredded the coyote’s slim and cocky expression.

The Pharaoh is an important man, Belen. We must be careful when we speak to him.

Arsenio led them toward the housing quarters of the mesa, and he began to sniff in search of the ruler. If what Jawahir had said was true and he had been heated over another matter, the Greek was not certain he would like to spend much time with the spoiled king.
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Riverclan
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belen felt chilled by what she had already seen. the girl did not immediately register the arsenio was speaking until she heard careful. "is he dangerous?" belen asked. but she was not fearful, she was curious. for now the fellahin was pushed to the back of her mind. the glasswave stare was rapt on the crimson guard. "what did jawaheer do?" in the next. belen wanted to devour every secret of this place.
Epoch
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Yes, he is, and he is a charming thing.

Arsenio would not lie to the girl, not when his plan was to lure her in as a trade offer for Tamar’s freedom. There was a chance that the one called Belen would find herself enthralled by the Pharaoh and his haughty behavior. There was something to want in the way he behaved, even for the a rogue mercenary man.

Jawahir is good at sticking their nose where it does not belong. Jawahir thinks it is their duty to know all things and to speak with the forked tongue of a snake when they tell you. They’re a spoiled fool. A dirty rat raised from nothing. Jawahir does not need to do much more than breathe in my vicinity. That is enough.

This time, Arsenio smiled to the girl. He had caught the Pharaoh’s scent and he followed it slowly, waiting to see if young Belen might ask more of him.
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whatever arsenio said about furrow or whatever he was called was immediately buried under the list of jawaheer's infractions. lying. serpentine. a rat. and yet not a woman or a man. if the guard had meant to impart a lesson, he would be dismayed to discover that he had first succeeded in making the fellahin a point of interest. the man they were going to meet was dangerous and charming. belen was not sure she understood. there was a fragrance ahead of them that brought her ears forward with interest.
Epoch
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The girl did not ask further questions. Arsenio wondered if she was still listening to him or if she had ventured away in her thoughts. Surely, she sought to be reconnected with her family. The guard did not have any interest in making that happen, only in presenting the Torres girl to the Pharaoh and establishing the rules that he had established. There would be no need for facades after that.

Drawing to where the man’s scent was strongest, Arsenio slowed his pace and issued a chuff to announce his presence.

O great Pharaoh @Ramesses, I have brought someone to you, the redstone figure called out in an off-tune melody. The ice of his eyes searched for the familiar gold hood of the mesa’s leader. He wondered if he would catch the anger before he was faced with it, or if Jawahir had only been lying.

Oh! 200 for you. <3
Akashingo
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ooh!! congrats!1 <333

pharaoh held himself inside the throne room. he had wanted solitude today. even kasmut was sent away. ramesses paced in a fine furor of anger and frustration. satsu denied him her body and then his right as pharaoh. she had her place. he had his. this was the basis of akashingo.
he was incensed now, and when arsenio's voice rang out he stiffened. his back was to the door. "nothing you could have brought will interest me, mazoi," pharaoh growled, not bothering to turn as he strode deeper into his throne room.
it was not until he meant to sit upon his throne that the lazuli eyes alighted with surprise upon the delicate wisp of youth and wide eyes at the side of the greek. 
"who is this?" ramesses asked lightly, easily ignoring the girl for now to fix his piercing stare upon arsenio.
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it was odd to be below the earth. belen stared eagerly at how a room widened into a space she could not have comprehended before she saw the mesa. the girl gawked openly, not hearing that arsenio had made their first introductions. when the stranger turned to her, belen felt herself grow nauseated by the intensity of his eyes. it seemed he stared through her. this was pharaoh, and he spoke to the guard, not her. "b-belen torres, furrow," she half-whispered, feeling as though she would shrink in on herself.
Epoch
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So the man was in a mood, or so his tone would imply as Arsenio entered the throne room with the slight figure of Belen at his side.

At once, the Pharaoh caught her glassy eyes with his intense lapis gaze. The Greek allowed the man a moment to look at the girl, to take in her soft features and the sharpness of her beauty. She was not like the others who had gathered on the mesa. She was different, and it might have been an appealing feature when being presented to the ruler.

This is Belen Torres, your graceness. She has been lost from her mother and father, Arsenio waved his tail and nudged the girl on the shoulder to have her step into the room and enter the low light. I thought she could make herself useful here and we could keep an eye out for them. What he was saying was that he had no real intention of returning the girl to her parents, if the Pharaoh liked her enough. Arsenio only wanted to gauge his reaction.
Akashingo
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she was indeed different. innocent. jarred. belen torres. her name meant little to the pharaoh; he looked at her young beauty and beneath the expected stab of lust he found the blueprints for the way he might avenge himself.
the girl had become separated from her parents. she was not a pup, and so ramesses did not expect that these wayward wolves might return for her. "please, sit," he murmured, indicating the smooth stone floor.
the lapis eyes moved cunningly to arsenio. "please go to queen @Satsu. tell her we have a guest, and that i will need her at court quickly." the girl tamar would follow. ramesses wanted them both here.
"what are the names of your mother and father?" pharaoh inquired, attention given now to belen.
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for the first time, belen regretted following arsenio here. the guard spoke and asked for a place here. the pharaoh did not confirm this, only asked for his queen. the girl's eyes shifted from the glory of the throne room to the man himself. she moved automatically when nudged into the excess of the space. belen sat down where indicated and felt herself choked with trepidation. "neizan and zaira, your graceness." her mouth was dry.
Epoch
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Of course, sir Pharaoh, of course, Arsenio said to the man and bowed his torso.

There was one last glance that he offered to the girl. The tightness of his chest was unbearable. He wished that he could apologize to her, for bringing her to a place where she would never know peace. The Greek would not have done it if he had been given any other choice. His promises to his beloved were beyond the innocence of a lost girl.

Arsenio turned with a small glance toward Belen, and he began to hunt for the queen so that he could beckon her to the throne room. Something about her must have inspired his interest, the mercenary thought as he plodded through the caverns. Why else would he have softened his tongue and requested his wife?


Arsenio out.
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#12
There had been a shout for Tamar in the halls. Satsu was wary after the exchange with Pharaoh and at first would not let the maiden go; steeling her will, blocking her path. But Tamar knew the voice and pled to be free.

With a sigh, Satsu gave the women one long look and moved to the hall - toward where Pharaoh waited. She would go first, gliding to where he waited upon his throne. Herself, shaken, uncertain...

Then confused. There was a girl here. Satsu took her place beside her husband and looked upon the wolf child with a blank, cold expression as if she were made of marble. If Tamar followed the queen would not know.
Epoch
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tamar reluctantly followed.

the girl was the first one she saw. so young, so awed and terrified by akashingo. like she had done in the queen's chambers, tamar kept close to the wall until a look from pharaoh brought her to sit beside the newcomer.

she did not know why she had been compelled to return. and now she wished she had not come back, that she had instead run to arsenio.

the maidservant offered a weak smile to the girl. tamar did not know what was to come.

Mereo
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germanicus entered the room behind tamar's hesitant step. the replacement of which arsenio had spoken was there, shaken and looking around furtively at them all.

the imperator steeled himself. "pharaoh. queen." he bowed briskly and then straightened. "it is time for me to take my leave from akashingo. i have offered arsenio a place in mereo. but he will not depart without tamar."

the man did not look toward the girl.

"i asked him to procure a replacement for the indentured one." the implication was implied.
Akashingo
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the flash of red-gold announced the arrival of the treacherous tamar. ramesses saw it from the corner of his eye but his gaze was for satsu. she stood before him and it was tempting for pharaoh to leave her there, subservient and unknowing.
and then she sat in her own, and despite the anger of his heart and the rage he had felt to be so reduced, ramesses felt himself respond with want and affection.
this infuriated him. but he found he could not speak of it now, not as germanicus arrived among them and began to speak. it came to pass that the girl belen had been prearranged; ramesses considered their conversation and let breath trickle through his nostrils.
"tamar has been rendered worthless. i suggest that the girl assume the remainder of her debt." ramesses spoke formally and did not look toward the queen of the mesa.
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a very beautiful woman came then, followed by a flash of red. belen stared openly at them both. there was a tension simmering in the air that she did not understand. a man was suddenly there, a stranger. he stood tall and spoke with a decisiveness she did not like. there was speaking of debts. belen did not comprehend. she wanted to ask if they would still help her find zaira and neizan, but her tongue froze in her mouth.
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It would be punishment all around.

Satsu sat there listening, staring at the dirt for the entirety of the conversation between Germanicus and Ramesses; she only looked up to observe Tamar as she entered, and then to watch the young thing before them, each with indifference.

Information came from every angle. Arsenio was departing to the mountains, but required Tamar. Tamar, the worthless one. Tamar who held a debt — but this girl, she would take that debt?

The queen could not help but look carefully upon the rigid features of her husband. Her jaw was tight. A ringing had begun in Satsu's ears and rose in pitch until there was only silence, except Ramesses' voice.

And still she said nothing.
Epoch
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tamar stared at the hard set of satsu's lips.

the queen had only just handed her to ramesses.

she would be his now were it not for this girl.

this girl whose name she did not know.

her debt

tamar's eyes closed and the salty taste of what came before vomit filled her mouth.

her stomach bittered.

she stared at germanicus and felt herself numbly start across the room toward him.

Mereo
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"very well."

germanicus could not allow himself to care for belen. guilt rose to choke him.

"i will return to akashingo after a time with a report upon how mereo fares."

a practiced bow of his head.

"pharaoh. queen."

the imperator drew tamar toward him, pushed her gently from the room, and followed her out.

there would be no words. they would meet arsenio at the front of the mesa and leave at once.
Akashingo
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#20
PPing belen here

there was nothing said.
pharaoh's face smoothed into the cool veneer of a man who had been sated. he felt satsu's lovely eyes upon him and preened insidiously beneath their glow.
here he was the Morning and the Evening Star. what he wished would be done. what he wished would be kept.
"@Kasmut," he purred after the footfalls of the roman and the disgraced fellahin had faded, "take belen. see that she bathes. see that she eats." he blinked, lashes falling over his lapis eyes. "jawahir holds final sway."
ramesses intended to send belen to satsu as servant in tamar's place. but this time he would not entrust what was most coveted to his striking, duplicitous queen. in time he would forgive her. but it must be a time devoted to him. 
belen did not depart. she stood. her eyes struck fire at the pair. she said that she would not stay or take on a debt. she demanded at once to be freed. pharaoh watched her outburst impassively, settling back upon his throne.
"you may leave. go. into the snow. i invite you to leave."
for a moment it seemed as if he might be heeded. but she thought of the horrid cold outside. of her hunger. her anger. belen did not step toward the doorway. she stood trembling and defiant. ramesses watched her. "so you will stay?" his tone was mocking, softly so. "akashingo is safe. protected. each day you do no hunting is a day someone else ensures your meals." a debt. 
kasmut would teach her devotion.
belen's eyes flashed with rage, but she stared at the floor now. 
she glared at kasmut, refusing to be grateful for the chance to escape the man's horrible nature. come away she did then, stalking from the throne room and leaving the royal pair alone.
"what an honor for belen, to serve both her queen and pharaoh."
ramesses laughed once, descended his plinth, and paused at the door to look back. satsu filled his vision. he left.
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satsu's attention shifted only momentarily to tamar's red shape as she was ushered from the room, missing her by a fraction of a second. she caught the looming figure of germanicus and dropped her eyes again.

it felt very much like she were on trial herself. that tamar and this girl child were on one side of the scales, and herself the other, waiting to see which was of more weight.

ramesses gave his orders and the girl, yet unbroken, was not keen to listen. satsu watched this girl and saw the fire in her, saw the way she fought back with her very spirit. deep inside herself her heart applauded.

but she knew, also, there was no point in fighting ramesses if he wanted something. it was the first lesson the girl would come to understand. he was the lord of this place — he was the daimyo, he was pharaoh — and now angered as he was, nothing could stop him.

he burned brightly now, so bright that belen averted her gaze and fell victim to his whims.

what an honor for belen, to serve both her queen and pharaoh.

a laugh, echoing.

and satsu watched as the girl was whisked away, as the sun-god, her husband, descended his throne; he looked back, then left.

and satsu was alone — finding that she had been eclipsed.