Oh my goodness, guys… I'm soooooo sorry! I know how slow I've been and I beg your forgiveness! I'm such a horrible author and an even more horrible person to deserve you guys. I promise that I will be more hasty in my updates! I was just serfing the web since forever (since my brother NEVER lets me on!) and I saw your wonderful reviews for my totally UNDESERVING story and I just HAD to write the next chapter! Any way, hope you guys enjoy and see you soon!
Chapter 12: The Impending Future
It was the dead of the night. A band of voyagers still pressed on through the stifling darkness that traversed the deserted Sahara. Lingering, loamed sprays of clouds slugged across the darkened sky, the celestial lantern shinning down upon a cobalt robe wrapped around a dismayed beauty.
The unfamiliar horse she was riding on was held between two soldiers, under the command of their leader. Pharaoh of the South gazed behind him several times to keep an eye on her while leading the large group. However, he avoided her empty stare, small drops of liquid still clinging onto her long eyelashes, tear stains blemishing her heart-shaped face.
It seemed eons before they finally reached the Southern border and they passed through the gates of the city without sound. Passing through the villages were resistant against shame, they respectively held their questions. The cities were the same, no one dared to anger their distraught Pharaoh. Nonetheless, Anzu was oblivious to their intent looks and mutterings as the procession made its way to the palace gates and the guard unfastened the entrances noiselessly.
The soldiers bowed and made their disappearance when Pharaoh waved them away. As Pharaoh strode down lighted halls, a poignant Anzu trailed a few paces behind him and her head lowered in a faraway anguish.
Arriving at the doorway, a soldier guarding the door pushed it open for them and they stepped inside without a word. Seto kept walking up to the balcony, staring at the marvelous city down beneath. His mouth thinned, face expressing no emotion. Anzu stayed in the middle of the room, gazing down at the beautifully woven carpet spread across the floor. She waited in feared anticipation and nearly gasped when the door was slammed shut behind her.
That was when Seto moved his head slightly to glance at her through the corner of his eye. A shocking shiver traveled rapidly down her spine, feeling his cold sapphires bore into her. "Anzu," he called, barely audible.
Her voice caught in her throat and she didn't answer. A few seconds passed before he came back at her with anger burned into his words. "Answer me ANZU!" She shut her eyes in pain when he spit out her name like venom.
"Y- yes?" Her voice was meek and small; fear had gripped her hard and strong. He had turned fully now with his whole body facing her and then he started to walk toward her. She whimpered as he approached and then he stood before her, a mere 8 inches away.
Several pained seconds crept by; she could feel the heat burning from his body and then, without warning, his hand was raised. In the next instant, he struck across her cheek, she felt her head jerk to the right and her body was thrown onto the floor. Her delicate cheek was numb and she raised her hand to caress it while trying to sit up on the ground; her robe slipping down her shoulders.
"Do you know what you did?" he snarled through his clenched teeth. Anzu's chest abruptly hurt and her eyes burned like hot coal. She felt tears leisurely roll down her face and her hand moved to her mouth to stifle her soft sobs.
"You kissed him, didn't you…" when she wouldn't face him, he kneeled down and grabbed her shoulders, shaking her roughly.
"Didn't you!" She held her cries when his strong fingers dug into her skin through her thin clothes sewn out of the finest material. The cuff mark was still bright red on her cheek and she also fought the urge to rub at the stinging pain.
She stared pitifully into his eyes with her bright, innocent pearls the complexion of lapis-lazuli and a sharp jolt struck right in the very depths of Pharaoh's heart. Suddenly, his hands released her shoulders and snaked around her body. Before Anzu could comprehend what was going on, Seto had leaned down to capture her soft lips with his in a rough kiss.
Even though it was forceful, Anzu could feel the immortal love and the infatuation that Pharaoh still held for her, despite all that she had done. She was shocked but soon found herself leaning against him and nothing else lingered in her mind except the influential love she never knew she held for him. His lips caressed hers powerfully, parting her lips with his tongue and then found he open to the sweet essence that was his beloved Anzu.
Finally releasing his hold on her, he held her cheek in his hand and she leaned her head into his consoling hand. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, looking into his eyes now soft with fondness. She gripped onto his hand with both of her small ones and warm tears rolled down her silken cheeks. Instantaneously, Seto pulled her towards him and wrapped his arms around her, covering them both in his cape for warmth. Anzu closed her eyes and sighed in his chest and they sat together on the carpet, relishing in each other's comfort and peace.
"Anzu," she unfurled her eyes as he continued. "Don't leave me again." She could hear the pain in his voice and heard instead the voice of one that had been rejected love for too long. He had yearned for her to love him back for so long and had been patient enough to wait for her for years. Hugging him with her might, he captured her lips in another heated kiss. "I won't," she muttered against his lips. She believed that Seto was the one. That she had finally solved the conflict inside her mind.
Or had she...
Moonlight filtered through the vacant room, occupied by only one person, lying unconscious. Grunting in imaginary pains, he cracked open one surprisingly royal violet orb to gasp elegantly and then pop open both. Forcing himself to sit up, he scanned his permeable surroundings of holes dotting the clay walls. "Where am I?"
"You're in my house," his attention was drawn to a soft voice muttered beside him. Head shifting over to catch the face of the owner of the anonymous voice, his eyes landed on an elderly woman who stepped out of the shadows with a solemn expression crossing her face. With a soft groan, she kneeled and bowed her ancient head, "My Pharaoh."
'What? How did I end up here? What's going on? And… where is Anzu?' The images of what had happened flashed through his head: their escape into the village, the soldiers, and the stone knocking him out cold…
"Woman, please tell me what has occurred," Atemu's face portrayed no trace of the turmoil that was raging in his heart and the impatience that made his fingers twitch. However, when he prepared to sit up, a shooting pain surged through his veins and he let out a howling groan.
"Pharaoh! Please lie down! You need rest," the woman rushed forward, holding his back. All of a sudden, Atemu felt one of his heartstrings snap when he reached a sudden revelation. 'Those soldiers… that sigma… they were Seto's soldiers!'
"Pharaoh!" Groaning from the pain that tore at his body, but could not reach the greater ache in his heart, Atemu pushed away the old woman and staggered along the wall. "Please! You cannot go out there! The villagers!"
"Bring me my horse," Atemu yelled back at her while stumbling to rise from a sudden fall and clutched his cape that was handing by the wall. The woman hesitated; she couldn't disobey him, after all, he was Pharaoh. However, with his injuries, he wouldn't last long in the unmerciful desert.
"MY HORSE!" Atemu shouted, his deep voice thundering throughout the frail house. With no further indecision, the woman rushed out of the room, returning shortly with his handsome midnight-black horse, who whinnied upon seeing his master. With great effort, Atemu climbed onto his horse, swinging his long legs over the sides and grasping onto the saddle for support. When he was positioned regally, regaining much of his royal upbringing, he nodded his head to his benefactor. "Thank you for your hospitality; you will be greatly rewarded once I return to the capital."
With a mute nod, the woman retreated back into the shabby house.
"By the power of Ra! It's the Pharaoh!" As soon as Atemu rode out of the old woman's house, the villagers all shouted as he went by, dropping their hoes and vegetables to shout their blessings. Many came up to him, but crowded his way through.
His horse neighed angrily at the clambering crowd. Atemu still did not lose his majestic manner, but inwardly growled with impatience.
"Part, in the name of the Pharaoh!"
Everyone turned their heads at the bellowing voice and Atemu looked straight ahead, only to see a huge array of guards and soldiers, only this time, with the Pharaoh of the North's sigma. As the front row of guards parted, a figure cloaked in red rode forward. The familiar face looked grim as he gazed back at his Pharaoh.
"My brother. You must return to the palace. There is chaos in the capital!"
Mutterings spread like wildfire all around the royal procession, as Atemu questioned calmly what was happening.
"Queen Nefertine is furiously demanding your presence and is threatening to executer your closest friends for she believes they know where you are hiding."
With an airy sigh, Atemu racked a hand through his hair in exasperation. "The Queen had to learn how to control herself and learn it is not in her place to make such atrocious assumptions."
"Brother… I'm afraid there is something else…"
"What is it, Yugi?" Atemu had a dark feeling of what trouble was about to become known to him, and his heart thumped loudly at the thought of his Anzu, his Anzu, who was now stolen from him and in the arms of his most hated rival… His blood boiled at the thought.
'I will have her back with me… to be my queen. Seto has made a grave mistake.'
"The Pharaoh of the South… he had declared war on Northern Egypt."
Screams rang in the crowd as many shouted in panic. A noticeable color drain from Atemu's face was for the safety of his people, of all the people of the two halves of Egypt. But this might be his only chance... his only chance to have Anzu back, once and for all.
His stoic face in place, his heart determined and set, Pharaoh sent two of the soldiers to Southern Egypt to accept the proposition of war and allowed the convoy of guards that came with Yugi to escort him back to the capital. As the huge army filtered out of the crowds, Atemu turned back suddenly to the frantic villagers.
"Do not fear, my people. Ra will shine his glory upon Northern Egypt, and we will triumph over this evil that has threatened us. You will be safe before long and Egypt will once again fall into peace."
'Anzu… my love… I will come for you… we will finally be together…'
Cheers and shouts were laden in the hot and sere air as the Pharaoh and his army left hastily, and among them, the old woman was the only one frowning sadly; a heavy burden lay heavy upon her tired heart.
'My dear Pharaoh… if only I could tell you… death is lingering in the near future…'