Yes, I know. It's been forever. Frankly, I'm surprised I'm updating. I wasn't planning to. I hope you all enjoy this chapter. There probably won't be another chapter for a while, but I promise it will come. I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has reviewed recently, particularly lost-and-trapped. I wasn't sure I was going to continue this story, but I think it has a while left. Please read and review; it makes me happy when people do. Anywho.
Aida was with her father in the throne room. I was here. In the library. With Amneris. At first, it was a bit uncomfortable. I had, after all, recently left her at the altar to run away with her best friend. Amneris, however, being the regal Queen she was, dealt with the matter cordially. She addressed it outright by congratulating me on my marriage. I could only smile and say thank you. I'm certain that she could see the regret in my eyes that comes with hurting one you've cared about.
"Do you remember the time, when we were kids, when we'd sit by the Nile? We would build sand castles on the beach and wait for the water to rise. We used to love watching the sand as it washed into the river," she said. She was smiling. I nodded; I did remember those days.
"I feel like that sand. Build on what I thought was firm ground, but washing away at the slightest provocation. A world that was there suddenly disappeared. But, you know what?"
"It feels nice. It's a blank piece of papyrus. Something I can create–by myself this time. It's already started. Me, coming here, making a treaty with the King. I'm changing something. This war has lasted generations. We're writing history. Together. But together the way it should always have been. As friends. " She smiled. I smiled and nodded.
"You're an amazing woman, Queen Amneris," I said. She laughed.
"Come, we have another meeting with the Council." We left the library and walked down a long corridor. We entered the council room. I sat next to Aida, and Amneris sat next to the King. A scribe placed a large papyrus scroll before them; it was the treaty. The King had a pen in his hand, nearly touching the paper, when Amneris spoke.
"Wait. We can't sign this," she said. It was silent. Everyone stared at her. "It's incomplete."
"Meaning?" the King asked. Amneris traced her finger along a large map of Egypt and Nubia.
"What good is a treaty if no one benefits from it? The wealth of both our countries was disrupted when the Hyksos invaded. The trade routes were broken. I propose reestablishing the old ones and adding new ones," she pointed, "here. We can add a column north through Palestine and Mesopatamia. That will initiate more trade between us and the Syrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Israel. We can export our silks, minerals, and wood. Thus doing will create a wealth in Egypt, and Nubia, as has never before been seen."
The King considered her words, then spoke. "That is an excellent idea, Queen Amneris. However, there are the Arabians to the East. We can't simply start a trade route without protecting the roads. Without it, the goods will never reach us or those to whom we trade. And once our kingdoms are wealthy, the Arabs may well wish to invade."
"Egypt has a standing army of thousands. Perhaps we could post guards on the road. We could also have a protection unit to the east–I'm sure Radames could take care of that one, yes?" She asked, looking at me. I nodded and then spoke.
"The road guards could easily be stationed. We can send embassies to Jordan, Israel, and perhaps even Perisa to get permission to build bases in their largest cities. The guards could be stationed along them and trade in shifts. As for the eastern border, it would have to be well protected. A fleet of ships would also be beneficial if the Arabs decide to invade–we could head them off in the Red Sea. We can't just take our force from the north and west, though. We would have to spread ourselves pretty evenly. If we could create an intelligence network, that runs the whole perimeter of our borders, it would be easy to restation and change as needed."
Amneris and the King both nodded. They agreed on the embassies and border disputes, as well as the trade, intelligence, and army networks. At last, it was time to sign the treaty. The King signed, followed a second later by Amneris. What surprised me, however, was that they turned to Aida and I and offered us each a pen. Aida smiled at me and placed her signature beneath that of her father. I did likewise, beneath Amneris'. Amneris stood. She and the King shook hands.
"A unit of our army will be sent within the month, as will a small fleet of ships," Amneris said. The King nodded.
"I will likewise dispatch an embassy to join your ambassadors in Egypt. They will bring a copy of the treaty." Amneris nodded. She walked to Aida and whispered something in her ear, embracing her for a moment afterward. She then walked to me.
"Goodbye, Radames. Thank you." She also embraced me. A moment later, she was walking out of the room, preparing to board her ship and return to Egypt.
"Amneris," I said. She turned. "Godspeed." She smiled and nodded. We watched from the palace as she boarded the ship. It sailed down the Nile, and we were left alone. The King broke the silence.
"She will hail a reign of prosperity for the kingdoms of the Nile." I believe him. But she was right–we will do it together, like it should be.