Hello there, guys! :) I hope you had a great Halloween and have been keeping well, and yes, this is a SPONTANEOUS fictional work after I was inspired just yesterday by an absolutely beautiful ByaRuki artwork. I haven't been writing at all recently and doing some other stuff and with the fandom sort of dead, there really wasn't any nice inspiration for me to write.
But this Halloween, there was a really beautiful artwork by keelerleah depicting Byakuya and Rukia in Egyptian costumes. I spent hours gazing at the artwork, and still do. XD So if you haven't seen it yet, go gawk at it and give her a favourite or a comment. :D It's awesome.
And based on that artwork, I spontaneously decided to write an Egyptian AU ByaRuki fic, a first for me. ;) I will see what the readers think of it, before I decide what to do with this story.
Also, as you might have noticed, I have placed HIATUS tags on the profile of all my fanfic works, save for 'Demons From My Past'. And ALL stories with a HIATUS on them will not be updated anymore, until the tags disappear. Only those without the tag might get updates by this lazy author. I'm really sorry again about this but there's no point in me updating and giving you hope if I'm not going to be able to finish the story.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Bleach or its characters. I own this story and the plot, though.
Hope you will enjoy my ByaRuki AU, Egyptian style. :)
"Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for Incaz?"
"Yes." The female voice was unwavering, strong and firm.
"This is our last resort, to prevent a war between the capital Memphis and our province. I am very sorry to ask this of you, my dear daughter." The old man held a younger pair of hands in his own wrinkled ones.
"Father, I was born here in the province of Incaz, and I grew up here. I love the people… and I would do anything to protect them. Most of all… I love you, Father."
"My daughter, my little princess… Rukia…" The old man's voice was filled with regret.
"Worry not, Father. I grew up learning everything about our province and our beloved country Egypt, from you Father. The dictator Pharaoh will have to go someday, and I'm prepared to be a bridge between that, Father. He is a cruel leader, and the people have suffered enough. Since our province is the only one daring to rise against him, I, the princess, shall not hide myself away."
"Yes, the Pharaoh is unfit to rule Egypt, he is unmerciful and unforgiving. I pray to give the people of Egypt a second chance at a better life."
"And I will support you, Father." Rukia nodded as she squeezed her Father's hands in turn. "I do not fear."
The old man looked at his guard. "Send the treaty."
Byakuya looked up as one of his advisors dashed through the throne room.
"What is it, Abarai?"
"A peace treaty… from the governor of Incaz province, Inebo!"
At this, the young Pharaoh looked up, disregarding the documents before him on the table. "Hand me the scroll." His grey eyes were suddenly wary.
"Hmm… I wonder what that sly dog Inebo has up his sleeve now." The main advisor, Urahara, stood to the right of Byakuya.
Byakuya took the scroll of papyrus and read it carefully. "My dear King Byakuya. In light of the conflicting matters between the capital Memphis and my own province Incaz, I have decided to ease our tense ties with a peace offering from our humble state. Our daughter, princess of Incaz, has recently come of age, and I now offer her hand in marriage to you, my King. While Incaz may not be one of the richer states, her beauty has been said to be unrivalled by all who lay eyes upon her. I now offer this precious pearl of mine, my daughter, to you, my King, to whom I serve to the end of the ages. I hope that with our families joining into one, peace shall once again be restored to the states. Inebo."
"Not one of the richer states, my Scarabs!" Renji cursed slightly. "He has been imposing heavy taxes on all the Incaz people, and tell them that it is the King's doing! And he dare speak of his undying loyalty in the treaty! And who would join families with that corrupted old man?"
Urahara was silent. "Our spies in Incaz also tell us of the silent massacre of loyal ministers in the Incaz court who threaten to report many matters of his corruption to the King. All have been mysteriously killed or fell ill and died before they could make the journey here."
Byakuya was still staring at the piece of papyrus in his hand. After a while, the young Pharaoh spoke, "Inebo is an intelligent man. He would have served our country well, if not for his corrupted nature."
The Pharaoh had long known that Inebo was very corrupt, but also highly skilled in concealing his true ways and appearing as a good governor to the people. He engaged many of the people in slavery under supposed orders from the King, and commanded them to build lavish palaces for his own. The taxes were heavy, also conveniently announced by Inebo as the King's instructions, from which the money was siphoned into Inebo's own pockets. Byakuya had caught wind of the governor's activities from last year, and had been planning a coup onto Incaz to seize control and spare the people.
Byakuya leaned back into his chair. "He must have his own spies in my court. If not, he would not have known of preparations to conquer Incaz, and sent this peace treaty to push us a step back."
"Push us a step back? We'll just go ahead and attack Incaz as planned!" Renji fisted his hands together.
"No." Urahara paused as he looked at the letter. "It is indeed a step backward for us. By sending a peace treaty to the capital, Inebo is making sure that everyone knows that he has made the good step. If we ignore the treaty and attack, many people will sacrifice themselves for him. He knows King Byakuya will not do such a cruel thing, at the expense of innocent lives."
"And he is willing to sacrifice his own people, but still talks like an angel in front of them! Inebo gets on my nerves every single time!" Renji huffed.
"I wonder if his daughter knows of his true nature, or if she is innocent in this matter." Urahara mused. "By sending her over, it is also a thorn in our side, she will most probably serve as a very useful spy in the palace."
"And our King has to marry an unknown woman? I'm going to personally strangle that old man the next time I see him!"
"Silence." Byakuya's voice was cold this time, and both his advisors bowed their heads. After a second of deliberation, the young Pharaoh looked up. "Draft a letter of agreement, and arrange for the princess to be brought to the capital Memphis."
"I hope I will be forgiven the next time I see your father-in-law and punch him," Renji muttered under his breath.
"Very well, my King." Urahara bowed. "And whilst drafting our reply, may I assume that our army preparation continues? I shall order for the barracks to be moved to a more, ah, discreet location in time for the princess's arrival."
Byakuya nodded in agreement. "That is a very good move, Urahara."
"All due to my King's benevolence." Urahara bowed. "And may I suggest that my King practices more caution around his soon-to-be bride when she arrives here in the palace?"
Byakuya nodded again.
The wedding took place a week later in the central city of Memphis, capital of the country. The bride was brought to the capital within three days of Byakuya's letter, accompanied by fifty maids, one hundred pots of gold pieces, fifty rolls of animal hide and twenty chariots. Byakuya himself had earlier made a marriage payment to the governor, double to what the bride brought with her to Memphis.
There was widespread celebration in the capital, as this was the first wife to be taken in by the Pharaoh. ('And I hope the other provinces won't get any ideas, because then your palace will be turned into a harem,' the advisor Urahara had dared to snicker.) The people danced and sang for three days and nights before the wedding. Invitations were sent out and many officials and governors began to pour into Memphis.
The wedding feasts began in the evening, with the Pharaoh hosting an elaborate affair in his own palace. Inebo and his entourage were not present at the wedding, citing an important effort to curb the floods in Incaz ('Curbing the riots due to their high taxes is what it is,' Renji had put in here), and Byakuya was secretly grateful for their absence.
The bride was not present at any of the ceremonies, only making a single appearance into the palace grounds covered in a thick veil, seated in a chariot. She was considered the Pharaoh's woman and was only to be seen by the Pharaoh and no other men on the wedding day. The princess was then escorted into the wedding chambers, to await her husband.
The fires burned bright in their torches against the wall as Byakuya strode past them, an entourage of ten servants following in his wake.
The dinners and celebrations had finally ended, and he was to see his new wife for the first time tonight. Byakuya briefly wondered what Inebo's daughter would look like.
Evil eyes. An insincere smirk. A leering mouth.
Byakuya arrived at the door and dipped his hands into a customary clay bowl filled with rose water, which was held by a servant. The servants then bowed and retreated, leaving the Pharaoh to greet his new wife.
Byakuya lifted a pale hand and pushed the door open. The wedding chamber was equal to his personal chamber in size, with a huge silk bed against the wall. And it was there that the Pharaoh slowly took in the sight of the Incaz princess for the first time.
She was sitting on the bed and looking out the window, her head turned away from him. The princess was apparently a very small woman who, by the looks of her body frame, did not look like she was out of puberty yet.
Byakuya's careful mind slowly formed a plan of attack. They had sent over a princess to ease ties, but he could turn it back on them and accuse the governor of offending him by sending him an extremely young woman, maybe even underaged. It might serve as a useful reason for a formal attack.
The princess looked up swiftly as she heard his approaching footsteps, and this surprised Byakuya a second time. Her reflexes were extremely sharp, too sharp for a noble woman bred in the palace. The Pharaoh noticed how her body posture immediately became defensive as she turned to him.
Did they send over an assassin? Not that he couldn't take care of himself, if she really was one.
The third thing about the princess that surprised Byakuya was her eyes. Despite her deceivingly small frame, she was rather beautiful with an oval face and sharp chin. Her hair was black and falling just at the level of her jawline, with a single stubborn strand between her eyes. She was dressed in royal Egyptian garb, with a gold crown and an expensive gorgerine necklace made from turquoise beads and gold plates. More jewelry adored her arm and legs complimenting the flimsy brown of her two-piece dress. The dress was made of fine muslin, with the upper piece stopping just below her breasts to expose a fair waist and the lower one continuing as a skirt.
But her eyes were the most striking feature of her face, they were a bright violet colour against her pale skin. The only time Byakuya had ever seen this shade of colour was when he had gazed upon the rare jewels of Thinis city.
"You are the Incaz princess." Rukia heard the Pharacoh's voice for the first time, and it was a low, deep tone bereft of emotion. So what Father said about him was right, he doesn't having feelings akin to a human.
The Pharaoh had spoken the words in a statement, not a question but he kept silent as if waiting for her answer. Rukia finally nodded, not saying a word.
She hadn't heard him when he had come in the bedroom, and that itself was a very bad sign. Rukia often prided herself on her keen sense of hearing and prompt reflexes. And the fact that the Pharaoh could let himself into the same room without her noticing him was a scary blow to her ability.
She had only caught sight of him when he had been walking toward her, and then she had had her first look at the Pharaoh's face for the very first time.
Having heard many terrible tales about his deeds, Rukia had imagined how the king of Egypt would look like. And the real Pharaoh Byakuya looked nothing like what she had imagined he would.
He was an extremely handsome man, with an elegant and regal aura about him. If Rukia swallowed her pride, she would admit that he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. His eyes were misty grey and piercing and they were beautiful, even if they held no emotion whatsoever. His facial features were perfect and oddly almost feminine, but his body was strong and built. His royal robes were made of brown transparent silk, and opened at the front to reveal a well-toned chest. His royal collar was made of gold and turquoise beads and spanned the length of both shoulders from his neck, with a single gold belt fastened at his waist. More gold arm guards adorned his hand, and she could make out the muscles of his arms where there were no jewelry.
Rukia realized she had been gaping at the Pharaoh and hurriedly looked away, not noticing that he had also been gazing silently at her.
"What is your name?" There, that cold voice again.
Rukia looked up again, willing herself to look into those misty grey eyes. Just because you are the Pharaoh doesn't make you any better than me.
Byakuya mentally tested the name out in his mind.
Her voice was strong, and not very feminine or weak. Again, very unlike a princess.
Also, she did not use any honorific when referring to herself. And worse, she did not use any honorific when addressing him. No, worst still, she did not even bother addressing him.
"You will address me as King or Pharaoh when speaking to me," Byakuya instructed coldly. He watched the princess's violet eyes widen as she realized her mistake.
"Yes, my King."
Byakuya walked closer to Rukia, who immediately recoiled slightly on the bed. The slight gesture did not go unnoticed by Byakuya, who then sat on the bed some distance away from his new wife.
"Where did you live in Incaz?"
"It is imperative that a princess remains in the palace, and that is where I have lived in Incaz," Rukia replied, her head bowed down politely. She was starting to feel curious at the Pharaoh's question. Why was he asking about that, about herself?"
"It might be imperative for a princess, but sometimes a princess might not think so," Byakuya spoke simply.
Rukia looked up angrily at the sarcastic statement but her eyes widened then, as Byakuya swung his right hand out as if to strike her. Rukia swiftly threw both her hands out in a defensive stance, ready to hit the Pharaoh if necessary.
Rukia's eyes widened.
Byakuya's right hand hovered in front of him, where a black beetle was trapped mid-flight between his long fingers. "They bite, sometimes." The Pharaoh dropped the sacred beetle to the floor.
He turned to the princess. "The Incaz palace must be very conscious of their defence, for their princess to be trained in the art as well," Byakuya remarked coolly.
Rukia quickly dropped her hands to her lap, her cheeks burning in anger. He was testing me! And I was stupid enough to fall for it!
"Understand that I do know why you are here, princess Rukia."
Rukia looked up. "And pray tell me why then,…" Rukia challenged. "… my King?"
"Your interests are not in this marriage. I can tell by how defensive and unwilling you are in my presence."
How can he tell so easily? Well, two can play at this game.
A smile curled Rukia's painted lips. "Then you are mistaken, my King. My interests do lie in serving my King… especially in marriage."
Byakuya's hand shot out a second time, and Rukia was unprepared this time. The Pharaoh pushed his new wife down and she landed on the soft bed. Rukia hurriedly tried to sit up but Byakuya swiftly climbed on top of her, trapping her with his body.
Rukia's heart was hammering fast in her chest, she was very frightened, there was also something else racing in her body, but she did not know what it was. She had never been in such an intimate position with a man before, with the man she hated. She shouldn't have talked back, was he going to punish her? What was he going to do to her now? Was he going to-
"Serve me… in marriage?" The Pharaoh's voice was low and as the last syllable growled in his throat, Rukia felt something in her body vibrate along with it. What was that? "Do not speak such dangerous words, lest your body fails to keep up with it."
Byakuya leaned closer to Rukia and she shut her eyes, her hands trembling as they gripped the front of his robes. She could push him away but that would mean a death sentence, and she would do no good to her province dead. The Pharaoh would have a good reason to attack then, and she had to protect her people. It was all up to her now. Rukia tried to stem her fear, to be strong, but the tears still leapt into her eyes. Please, please…
"Do not lie to me."
Rukia's eyes shot open. Byakuya had leaned in to whisper into her ear. Rukia felt his warm breath fan her ear and shivered.
"You come here, with ill intentions to me and the country," Byakuya spoke, his lips close to Rukia's. Rukia could almost feel his lips brushing over hers like a feather. "You, your father, and the Incaz government have all taken the vow of faith to your King and gods. But those are nothing but poison words spoken from unworthy lips." Rukia's eyes were wide as they looked up into Byakuya's, a single tear falling from her left eye.
Byakuya continued, "I do not blame the Incaz people, they are innocents only blinded by your father's words. But in Egypt, only Incaz remains blind."
Rukia absorbed the words, trying to calm her breathing and not cry openly in front of the Pharaoh, as she remained pinned underneath him.
"And you. You are unfit… to be any man's wife."
Rukia's eyes widened, anger and embarrassment welling inside her. "W-Who says that?"
"I, your husband." With these final words, Byakuya straightened up from Rukia, and she struggled clumsily to sit up. When she did, she kept her head down to hide her tears, too prideful to wipe them away in front of the Pharaoh. She was not going to let him have the satisfaction that he had indeed affected her.
And then, the strangest thing happened.
Rukia felt something warm touch her cheek and looked up terrified, just in time to see Byakuya's hand on her face as his thumb brushed away her tear. She stared up at him with wide eyes, but his face was cold and expressionless.
Without another word, the Pharaoh turned and began to walk to the door.
"W-Where are you going?" Rukia looked up and hurriedly amended. "My King?"
"To my personal chambers. This room reeks of prepared seduction… and betrayal."
Rukia stared at her hands, they were still trembling. She had been sitting on the bed for an hour now, but she was still shaken after her encounter with the Pharaoh. She was also feeling the homesickness, and she longed to be back in Incaz with the familiarity of the surrounding and the people she loved.
She had thought that this marriage to the Pharaoh would be easy, she would be able to save Incaz in the meantime and also try to manipulate him.
But the Pharaoh wasn't what she had expected him to be. He was strong and very intelligent, and able to see through her. He spoke with little words, but with very strong effect. And… he did not seem very cruel, despite the things she had heard about him from her father. He could easily have violated her just now, but he had let her off with just a warning. In fact, he seemed almost… kind…
I do not blame the Incaz people, they are innocents only blinded by your father's words…
Rukia had always looked up to her father, she had always thought him the most admirable and benevolent man. She had not met many leaders other than her father, as he had prohibited her from political meetings.
Now after meeting the Pharaoh, another leader, this time of the entire country, the sneaky voice at the back of her head spoke of the awe she felt at the way the man conducted himself, the aura of his appearance and manner, the precision of his words. He did not appear… very bad. At all.
And then… there was…
Rukia unconsciously touched her cheek, at the spot where he had wiped off her tear. His hand was warm, even as his eyes were cold. Why…
Stop it! Rukia shook her head. You are here to keep this marriage going, so that the central army does not have a reason to attack Incaz! You are here to make sure everything goes fine, as Father prepares his own army to attack the capital and overthrow the cruel dictator!
This room reeks of prepared seduction… and betrayal.
Yes, he already saw her as the enemy.
There was no reason why she shouldn't be.
Trying to banish the image of the Pharaoh's haunting grey eyes and the bitter yearning for her homeland, Rukia slowly curled up on the bed and tried to sleep.
Byakuya entered his chambers after his nighttime walk. He had baffled the servants when they had seen him walking down the palace hallway on his wedding night, alone. They had been very curious, but as usual they did not dare ask questions.
W-Where are you going?
W-Who says that?
Byakuya hadn't known that Inebo had a daughter, until she was offered in marriage as a peace token. He also hadn't known that she would be so… wild, or that her beauty was equal to her blind courage.
Or that she was rather different to her father.
Byakuya had been watching Rukia closely from the minute he stepped into their wedding chamber, knowing that she would probably be a sent spy from Incaz. She had been very uncomfortable and insecure, but was brave enough to hold her own against him.
Brave enough to not cry under his threat... and then failing beautifully.
Her violet eyes had been like those rare jewels, only to be enhanced by her tears. That Byakuya had… almost found it hard to look away. It was a natural unconscious reaction when he had reached out to wipe away her tear, something that had surprised Byakuya himself… and was now troubling him on his nighttime walk.
I did not want to see her crying.
Byakuya closed his chamber doors and walked to his comfortable silk bed. He changed into his sleeping robes and laid down alone on his wedding night, looking up at the expensive ceiling overhead as he waited for sleep to overwhelm him. Rukia was Inebo's daughter, and should be treated carefully as such.
Byakuya just had to be careful around her… and himself while at it.
And there you have it, I hope you enjoyed the story. :) It was a nice thing for me to write something different and on spontaneous drive.
This fic is based purely on fiction, and not on any real facts in ancient Egypt. Memphis was a capital of the old Egypt, but Incaz is just a province I created. I have just liked the ring of it. XD As an added titibit, did you know that in ancient Egypt, husband and wife call each other 'brother or 'sister' even though they are not blood-related and are love partners? Totally fitting for our ByaRuki. XD
Well, I hope you will review this fic for me and tell me what you think about it. Any form of opinion is welcomed. Your feedback will be what decides if I continue this story as a three/four-shot or leave it as a oneshot. :)