Sheepeater Cliff eighty-ninth
Akashingo
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#1
All Welcome 
the drench of Ra's sunlight lit the afternoon. semnut looked out across the rolling forests, then turned his eye over the giltstem fields of yellowstone's claim.

a low note asked for @Zaahira, and as the prince awaited the jodai, he looked to the sharp bite of the sunspire and frowned a dark look.

he suddenly did not want to cross. he wanted to return.
Akashingo
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#2
senmut. why the long face?
caped with glittering shadow, zaahira descends upon the priest-man from amid the sea of sagebrush. a hawk chitters above them, settling on the branch of a looming whitebark.
she studies the tightness in his jaw, meeting him with her own leveled look. you were so cheery just the other day. has something happened?
Akashingo
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#3
she teased! his face flamed; his grin was good-natured, perhaps even sheepish. "i find that i do not wish to go over these mountains. akashingo calls, as does muat-riya."

his eyes surveyed her knowing look, and senmut offered, "i worry because i have been gone too long."
Akashingo
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#4
i miss home too.
zaahira gravitates toward him, seating herself at his side. i know. i also loathe being away for too long. but we would return having gone through all this trouble for so little reward. that disappoints me.
she casts her gaze to the jagged edges of the sunspires. being out here reminds me of when i first came to the palace. i had climbed the southern peaks to escape from those beasts at the lake, and now look at me. an unreadable emotion etches into the crease of her eyes; a feeling perhaps shared, one she did not truly have the words for. the last thing i ever want is to let her down, you know?
Akashingo
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#5
"i do." for a moment both of them existed, ensnared by the webbing of their own discordant introspection.

but it was shared also between them, this bitter fruit.

"i will let you decide, jodai. and i shall follow where you lead."

he turned his eyes upon the rock spiring. "being here reminds me of what the Duat must be."
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#6
for a long while, zaahira says nothing, caught up in her own train of thought. a soft breeze weaves between the pines.
jodai. the term still, at times, felt foreign to her ears, as if it was not she who was being spoken to. you make me sound so important, she exhales through her nose, the ghost of a laugh. i am beginning to feel as though that title only means something to those from our palace. speaking to outsiders is like speaking to a wall.
but now she was faced with a task — she was to decide? she decides that for the moment she will not answer, instead focusing on the introspection which seemed to softly croon from beneath the gold-plated exterior of the priest.
do you ever fear it? she asks him. entering Duat. the weighing of your heart.
Akashingo
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#7
"i do not fear entering the Duat or its weighing any more than any other man. but i fear leaving behind a life unfinished."

"when you see the powerful pharaoh reduced to nothing but a limp corpse which must be dried for seventy days, organs removed, wrapped, anointed — when you touch holy flesh and see that it is the same as your own, you know only the gods can change what is known and what is felt."

he smiled wanly at her. "you are indeed important, zaahira. and you are correct also: our titles mean little to those outside our reach. we speak them because we have earned the right to speak them. and in saying our titles, we acclimate those without to one day being within the sphere of akashingo's influence."
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#8
i feel similarly.
a life, unfinished; the pharaoh he spoke of had left behind his children, one of which being her beloved toula. she remembers sharply the pain in her eyes that very day she'd led her newest mazoi to the temple of Osiris.
she remembers selena.
i have accomplished so much in my life. i have all that i could ever want; power, respect, titles, men at my beck and call. and yet i feel also that-- sometimes, there is something missing, her nostrils flare, emotion pouring from the sigh which left them. i often ask myself what my afterlife will look like. if i will have anyone to wait for me. friends, a wife, maybe. children.
was it enough?
was it ever?
she drags a slender paw around in the grass, feeling the sharpness of the blades in between her toes; her gaze drops to the floor. i asked eset to marry me, once. before she became hebsut. and she-- well. we have not really connected since.
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#9
zaahira had learned that mortality had a price which life sometimes did not wish to pay. senmut inclined his head in silent regard as she spoke, feeling closer to the jodai as she shared of her heart's desire.

eset was a woman closed. the offer of marriage from the warrior-woman; he could not speak to what it was between those who were not men, but perhaps it was more than eset wished to give.

he did not pretend to know. sympathy stood friendly and plain in his green eyes.

"do you wish to court her when we return? maybe it is a longer absence that brings a heart to fond memory." or did she want more than what her words meant?
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#10
not if she does not also want it.
and, as far as zaahira knew, she most certainly did not. eset had closed herself off, had only ever approached the jodai with that smile which did not reach her eyes.
eset had once felt she was not good enough for her — but who was the one who was inferior now?
i do not know if she will listen to me. i have never been able to get through to her, to show her that-- that there are people who care for her. but maybe, her lips purse, shoulders tensing; you could speak to her.
she laughs, then, that kind of self-deprecating, dry laugh. what of you, senmut? i see the way they look at you, you know.