Ripples

Peeling Back Layers

Two weeks came and went and the two most important men in the palace were experiencing opposite emotions. Atem was happier than he had ever expected with his bride-to-be. He had a lot of fun teaching Tima Heretic and was impressed at how fast she was picking up the language. With the knowledge that she was planning their wedding, the Pharaoh approached his meetings with an even more open mind, something he wished Seth did since the High Priest had been acting odd as of late.

Seth was very distracted; even Itami noticed. Ever since Tikali cleaned his shoulder wound that his phoenix gave him, the High Priest had been acting distant, as if he had a lot on his mind. His phoenix tried to get him to open up but he was determined to keep his thoughts to himself. But he knew that that was a losing battle since he kept snapping at Tikali. Every time he lost it, he would always apologize but never explain his feelings, seeing no point since she knew about his feelings towards Kisara. To his surprise, she stayed by him and did not ask for a new master. He at times wished that she would since she reminded him too much of Kisara, clear by what happened one morning.

That morning, Tikali was up before the sun, preparing Seth's breakfast. Yawning, she rubbed her eye and shook her head, trying to wake up. The night before, she stayed up later than usual; she did not plan to but, when she went to clean Seth's robes, the jar of asphodel detergent was empty. She could not find any more and she did not want to go to bed without completing this chore since she was worried that Seth would become angry with her when she did not arrive the next morning with clean clothes. After looking and unable to find more asphodel, she came close to giving up when she noticed a jar that was not there before. Taking a whiff of the soapwort scent, she liked what she discovered so she used it. She just hoped that Seth would like the change.

Once the breakfast was finished, she gathered up the dishes on the tray and started to head to Seth's room. At the door, she took a deep breath and knocked. When she heard the gruff "enter," she put on a smile and came in. "Good morning, my Lord Priest. I have your breakfast."

When he did not respond, she looked at him and could not help but blush. Seth was sitting up in bed with the sheets around his hips. His hair was falling in his eyes and he was shirtless. To Tikali, he looked like a gorgeous god; he was so gorgeous that she temporarily forgot that she was in the presence of a high priest. Seeing her just standing there, Seth sneered, "My breakfast?"

Tikali blinked in surprise and lowered her head a little, embarrassed with a deeper blush. She would not believe that she was caught staring at him like a fool. "Forgive me…"

As she set the tray in front of him, Itami flew over to get her fruit cup and to glare at her guardian. Can you work on not being so snarly?

Seth ignored the phoenix and started to eat his breakfast. While she was right about him being gruff with her, he did not think that it was wrong at the moment; after all, she was standing there when she was supposed to be serving him his breakfast. Peeking up at her from his breakfast, he saw the look of innocence that was in her eyes and froze. That look…it caused his heartbeat to speed up and he also felt a warm feeling spreading from his chest. Mentally shaking it off, he focused his attention to his breakfast. "My laundry?"

Tikali looked up a little, blushing again: she forgot to pick up his clothes. Bowing her head and apologizing, she raced out to get Seth's priestly robes. Seth watched her and shook his head. "She's not acting like herself…I don't get her at all."

Itami looked up from her fruit. Maybe, if you talked to her more, you would get to know more about her.

Seth scoffed at the idea. Taking a sip of wine, he explained, "She's my servant, not my friend. You know that."

Itami's eyes seemed to narrow at Seth. Tima was the Pharaoh's servant. I rest my case.

Seth knew that he could not argue that fact. Not only that but Kisara was a servant and…he immediately shook his head, not wanting to revisit that painful chapter in his life. Itami noticed his movements and tilted her head. Are you all right?

Before Seth could answer, Tikali came in with Seth's priestly robes. "Forgive me for being forgetful; it won't happen again."

Seth nodded in silence as he finished his meal and moved to sit on the edge of the bed, unaware of the blush growing on Tikali's face. Since she helped him with his shoulder, she could not get the image of him shirtless out of her head and seeing him like this only added to her fantasies. She knew that she was starting to crush on him and saw no harm in doing so; after all, he was extremely handsome and she believed that they would never go beyond servant and master. While Tima was able to do that, Tiki told herself that that only happened because Atem was the Pharaoh and, therefore, could do whatever he wanted. Seth looked up, noticed her stares, and said numbly, "Leave the robes."

Tiki blinked out of her trance and nodded, setting the robes on the bed. She knew that, when he said that, he wanted her to wait outside the door while he dressed. Once he was alone, he started to dress. Her back to him, Itami pointed out, You could have been a little nicer to her. I mean, she puts up with so much from you; it's a wonder why she hasn't asked for a new master.

Seth did not answer but he knew that his phoenix was right to wonder; he wondered at times as well. He either talked numbly to her or snapped at her, yet she continued to bend over backwards to serve him, giving him breakfast in bed and washing his clothes every night. But his thoughts were interrupted when he got a whiff of the soapwort that Tikali used. He immediately froze and paled: it was too familiar to him for a certain someone used the same scent to clean his clothes when she was alive. "Kisara…"

Itami looked up in confusion. Kisara? Why did you…?

Seth did not let her finish her question: he was up on his feet and opened the door, startling Tikali. "Lord Priest!"

Seth wasted no time. "This oil you used on my clothes…where did you find it?"

Tikali was confused and a little spooked by the look on his face. But she still answered honestly. "The jar of asphodel was empty…and what I used was just…there…I thought you would like it."

Seth stared back at her in surprise. Could she have really picked that oil at random? It seemed like a coincidence but it still bothered him that it was the same oil that Kisara always used. Sensing that something was wrong, Tikali gently asked, "I'm sorry…did I do something wrong?"

Seth sighed and rubbed his temples, trying to calm down both his emotions about Kisara and the feeling of guilt at once again scaring Tikali. "Just…don't ever use it again…"

Tikali bowed her head, showing how sorry she was. "Yes, sir…"

Feeling the guilt overcome him, he turned and shut the door. Itami shook her head, not looking up from her fruit cup. What did you do now? When Seth did not answer, the darkness phoenix looked up and saw him leaning against the door. Seth? Are you all right?

Seth did not answer and touched his chest. He felt sad, remembering the loss of Kisara, but he also felt a conflicting warmth towards Tikali. It was confusing to him…

---

Later that day, Tikali was heading towards the scroll room to deliver Seth his lunch of chicken, onions, and wine. She was a little concerned about how he acted when he smelled the soapwort on his clothes; she did not think that a simple change would make him react in that way. Still, she was determined to find more asphodel that night to accommodate his requests to not have her use soapwort again.

Approaching the scroll room, she knocked on the door and, upon hearing Seth granting entrance, balanced the tray on one hand so that she could open the door. But she froze when she entered: Atem was there, talking to Seth. Seth nodded as the Pharaoh looked up and smiled at Tikali. "Just the woman I want to see. Tikali, may I speak to you in the hall?"

Tikali immediately thought she was in trouble but she still nodded, knowing that she still needed to obey the leader of the country. Setting the tray in front of Seth, she stepped out into the hall and said without thinking, "I'm sorry but I didn't know that that oil would make Seth so upset."

Atem raised his eyebrow at her statement. "What are you talking about?"

Tikali blushed a bright red, guessing that Atem did not know about Seth's reaction to the soapwort. "You're not here to talk to me about being reassigned, my Pharaoh?"

Atem shook his head. "Of course not…well, not permanently. I was talking to Seth about letting me borrow you for a few suns."

Tikali bowed her head, very embarrassed with what she blurted out. "Forgive me, my Pharaoh. I jumped to conclusions."

Atem shook his head in forgiveness and then explained, "Since you and Tima are from the same country, I would like your help with helping Tima and Kiko with planning our wedding. I want our wedding to show what it truly represents, the marriage between two cultures. Also…I heard a rumor that you can sew." Seeing her nod in confirming, he continued, "Then I will leave you in charge of making the dress that my darling will wear. I will leave it in your capable hands. Will you accept this task that I have given you?" Seeing her nod with a bright smile, Atem smiled back. "Very well. I would like you to be with Tima during the meetings and then you can return to Seth."

Once Atem left to go check on the building of a new shrine, Tikali smiled and did a little twirl in excitement. She was moving up in the ranks in servitude but she would still get to be around Seth. Remembering Seth, she came into the scroll room. "How is your lunch, Lord Priest?"

Chewing on an onion, Seth nodded without looking up. "Good."

Tikali smiled softly and then jumped when she heard a female voice say, And I thank you; if you hadn't given him the lunch, he would have skipped it for sure.

Not seeing that she was spooked by the voice, Seth hissed, "My work is more important than food; you know that, Itami."

Tikali looked at Seth in surprise. "Lord Priest? Did you…hear…?"

His eyes never leaving the page he was studying, Seth nodded. "Of course. Itami is always bugging me about eating." He then froze as he put the pieces together and looked up at the Hebrew servant. "You heard my phoenix?"

Tikali looked at Itami, whose eyes sparkled with glee. "I…heard a voice…thanking me for bringing you your lunch."

Seth glared at Itami. "So you did." He then hissed mentally, What is the meaning to breaking the barrier with her? She's just a servant.

Itami's eyes seemed to narrow into a glare. I've opened up to other servants before.

Once again, Seth started to think about Kisara and looked away, trying to get his emotions under control. Seeing this, Tikali stepped forward, growing concerned. "My Lord Priest? Are you all right?"

Feeling her arm move on its own, she reached out and touched his hand, getting his attention. He looked up and saw the concern in her eyes. Kisara had the same look of concern when she was worried about him…but she only came to his mind after a minute of looking into the brunette's eyes; he was too focused on how blue her eyes were. But, when Kisara came to mind, he pulled his hand back and focused on the scroll to get his feelings under control. "Thank you, Tikali. That will be all."

Still concerned but knowing that she needed to obey him more than worry, the Hebrew bowed and left the room. Itami looked at Seth and flew over to the table. What is wrong with you? She was only worried about you.

Seth did not answer his phoenix. Though he was still feeling bad, he decided to ignore the feeling since he believed that nothing could really be done about it.

---

A week later, Seth was indeed feeling better. Tikali still reminded him a lot of Kisara but she was often working on Tima's dress or helping the crowned princess plan the upcoming wedding so Seth only saw her when she delivered him his meals and laundry. She apologized often for not being at his beck and call like she thought she was supposed to be but he paid it no mind since he knew that the wedding was a large affair to plan and he was secretly grateful because not seeing her as much kept his hurt feelings about Kisara at bay. But, that day, he found himself feeling an unexpected feeling towards his personal servant.

On their way to the scroll room after a short meeting, Seth and Itami passed a yard where the palace kept their animals and saw Kiko and Tikali milking the cows. Normally, he would have paid them no mind but he paused when he heard singing. It took seconds to see that it was Tikali who was singing to calm the cow down since she was a new face to the animal. Because the song was in her native tongue, he did not understand what she was saying but it had an upbeat, happy tone to it. However, her face showed conflicting feelings: she was smiling but her eyes were sad and longing, as if wishing that she would see someone she could not anymore. Itami looked at Tikali and tilted her head. It's a beautiful song…but I wonder why she looks sad. When she saw Seth nod in agreement, the phoenix gestured towards the yard. Why don't you go ask her?

Seth scoffed and smirked in amusement. "Surely, you jest. Why should I care what a servant is feeling?"

His mood, however, changed when Itami dug her talons into his shoulder, especially since it was the same shoulder that she injured some weeks before. After glaring at her, he took a step forward, catching Kiko's look. "Oh, hey, Seth! Fancy seeing you here."

Stopping her singing, Tikali looked up as Seth asked, "Tikali…what song was that?"

Tikali blushed a little, not sure if Seth would understand what she was feeling. Kiko sighed softly; she knew all about the song because the Cetria caught the Hebrew singing it one morning in the kitchen and learned that it was a song that Tikali's mother sang at least once a day, asking for patience towards others who did not believe the same as the singer. Seeing the priest getting impatient when Tikali hesitated, Kiko interjected with, "Let's just say that you're not the only one with wounds towards lost loved ones."

Still in the dark about what happened to Tikali's family, Seth found himself assuming that Kiko was talking about a man that Tikali had feelings for and, to his astonishment, found himself getting jealous. Sensing Seth's confusion, Itami looked at her guardian. Seth? Are you all right? What's wrong?

Seth did not answer his phoenix; however, he did ask Tikali, "Who was he?" Seeing hers and Kiko's confused look, Seth attempted to explain his question. "You know…the man you sing of."

Tikali blushed a little. "Lord Priest, there is no man; the song was one that Mother used to sing for patience with others."

Seth blushed deeply, feeling like a fool that he assumed, let alone felt jealous about the assumed male. Looking at her guardian, Itami figured it out and her eyes sparkled with pride. Why, Seth…are you jealous?

Seth quickly pushed the phoenix off and stormed into the palace. Itami was surprised at how Seth was acting and started to go after him. The two servants stared with confusion. Kiko finally broke the ice with, "What in the name of the planet happened?"

Tikali shook her head. "I have no idea…"

She stood up to go after the priest but Kiko shook her head. "I wouldn't worry about it too much. If there are means to worry, Itami will let us know." Seeing the Hebrew sit back down and continue to milk, Kiko went back to work herself and brought up the subject, "How's the dress coming along?"

Tikali smiled. "I think Tima will like it a lot; I decided to make a dress that emulates both cultures. But I want it to be a surprise; I haven't shown the future Queen anything, no matter how much she begs."

Kiko laughed as she and Tikali went back to milking. Tikali started her song up again and heard Kiko singing a song of her own. The Hebrew felt instantly better, hearing the two songs both clash and balance against each other.

---

Now far away from prying eyes since he closed his mind to Itami to keep from being found, Seth growled loudly and punched the wall. He did not understand what was wrong with him. How and why was he jealous of an assumed relationship that Tikali had? She was nothing more than a servant to him and yet she was not: she was always there to make him feel better with anything she could do to help, going above and beyond what was expected of her. Sure, he snapped at her a lot but she stuck with him and only showed concern when he snapped at her. She reminded him so much of Kisara and yet, she did not. "Damn it, what is wrong with me?"

There is nothing wrong…

Startled by the sudden voice that was not Itami, Seth looked around to find the source and found no one. Thinking that his mind was now playing tricks on him, he sighed in annoyance. "Great, now I'm hearing things…"

Calming himself, he started to head to the scroll room, opening his mind to allow Itami to find him. As he walked, he sensed that someone was following him but he confirmed visually that there was no one. Getting both annoyed and a little spooked, he started to grip the Sennen Rod a little tighter, trying to calm his racing mind. After a minute of walking, he felt something touch his shoulder. Thinking that he now caught the stalker, he quickly turned around. The first thing he saw was a pair of bright blue eyes, blue eyes he knew all too well. His own eyes widening in shock, he took a step back, which caused him to slip on his cape, lose his balance, and hit his head against the wall. Groaning in pain, he looked up as his sight started to fade in pain. There was the female figure standing in front of her. No matter how impossible it was, there was no denying who she was. "Kisara…?" With that, he blacked out.

A minute later, he opened his eyes to find himself standing, surrounded by darkness. At first confused, he then remembered that he slipped and hit his head. "Am I…dead?"

A familiar voice chuckled in front of him. Before he could demand that the owner of the voice come forward, a bright light suddenly appeared before him, temporarily blinding him. He cried out in pain and covered his eyes to protect them. That's when the voice spoke up again. "Seth…it's me."

Peeking between his fingers as the light dimmed to a comfortable level, Seth paled at the sight. Standing before him was a young woman with long white hair, pale skin, and beautiful blue eyes. She was dressed in a long-sleeve servant outfit with servant slippers. There was no denying who she was. "Kisara…"

Kisara smiled up at Seth. "Hello, Seth." She then gasped softly as Seth quickly pulled her into a hug. Smiling again, she hugged him gently before pulling back to look at him. While studying his look of longing, she reached up and caressed his cheek. Closing his eyes, Seth sighed and touched her hand. But his eyes were opened when she said, "Oh Seth…I see you have still not moved on…"

Knowing that she was right but not wanting to admit it, Seth feigned ignorance. "What do you mean?"

"Seth…I am so touched that you still love me…but I've also been watching you. I see that you are confused."

Seth opened his mouth to deny it but found that he could not lie to her. "Yes…I don't know why. I just…never felt this way before."

Kisara tilted her head a little. "Is it because of Tikali?"

Seth's eyes widened: had she really been watching him that closely? Kisara chuckled at the look on his face. "As I said, I've been watching you, particularly when Ms. Kiko appointed Tikali as your personal servant. She has taken great care of you…and you take great care to push her away. I want to know why."

Seth looked away, a little embarrassed that his deceased lover was talking to him about the woman whom was making Seth very confused. Still, he could not lie to the pale woman. "I don't know, Kisara." Looking at her, he continued, "But, every time I see her…she keeps reminding me of you…I just…"

Kisara put her finger on his lips, hushing him, and smiled softly. "I think I know why now. You feel guilty…because you like her, yet you won't let me go."

Seth immediately shook his head. "No! It's not that! …It can't be."

Kisara smiled sadly at his denials. "Oh, Seth…I know you too well. You don't have to feel guilty…I want you to be happy." Before Seth would deny it any further, she put his finger on his lips again. "She is a gift…don't waste her."

Seth lowered his head, coming to some grips with what he was being told. No matter how much Kisara's words made sense to him, he refused to openly admit it. When Kisara made him look at her, he said, "Kisara…I…I love you…"

Kisara smiled and hugged Seth again. "I know, Seth. I love you too…but that doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice your own happiness." Pulling back to look at him, she said flat out, "Seth…believe it or not…you are falling in love again."

Seth immediately shook his head. "No…I can't betray you…I refuse to!"

Kisara smiled and shook her head. "You're not betraying anyone. I am always here with you, in your heart, and I shall protect you. But I want you to move on and be with someone who will truly cherish you."

As she said that, she started to glow as the world started to grow darker. Seth looked around for a brief second to figure out what was going on. Looking back at Kisara, he saw that she had floated away from him, starting to disappear. He reached for her, calling out her name. But she did not come back to him; she continued to disappear but left him with, "I will always be with you…always in your heart…"

Seth reached for her again and realized that he was back in the real world. He was sitting up in his bed, his hat off and his head bandaged. He felt something feathery next to him and saw Itami laying there. Feeling him stir, she looked up and chirped with relief. Thank the gods! You're all right.

Touching the bump on his head, he groaned. "How long have I been out?"

Itami stood up and moved to be in his view. A while. She then decided to take a chance. You were talking in your sleep. Seemed like you were having a conversation with…well, with her.

Seth looked away. He did not want to talk about the supposed dream that he had: why else would the woman he loved tell him that she wanted him to move on and be with Tikali? The idea was out of the question since his heart belonged to the albino woman. That is, he believed that his heart belonged to hers. Wanting to think about something else, he asked, "How did I get here?"

I sensed your fall. Once I knew where you were, I went to the nearest person I could find. She then chuckled. She single-handedly tried to drag you to your bedroom. But, when I came back with a guard and he took you here, she bandaged your head.

Seth glared a little, touching his throbbing head. "Itami, no riddles. Who is this woman you speak of?"

Itami did not answer nor did she have to: Tikali came in with a bowl of cold water. She brightened up when she saw that he was sitting. "Lord Priest, you're all right! Oh, I was so worried when Itami told me that you passed out."

She went to his side to check on his bandages but he turned his head to not look at her: her presence reminded him of the "dream" he had with Kisara. Itami pecked his hand. Hey, she's trying to help you! Show a little gratitude for the girl who get you to your bed on her own!

Seth froze for a second: she was the girl Itami was talking about? Feeling her hands starting to unwrap his bandages, he grabbed one hand and looked at him. "You tried to drag me here?"

Tikali blushed a little but still nodded. "Yes, Lord Priest…I was so worried about you. If something had happened to you…I don't know what I would have done." She then blushed deeper and continued her work. "That is…my Lord Priest."

Seth looked away, feeling very odd. He was touched that she was so concerned for his well-being, especially since he noted that she seemed to be worried for another reason besides the fact that he was the High Priest. Feeling her fingers in his hair as she checked on the bump, he felt his heart beat faster. But he kept thinking about Kisara and lowered his head. Tikali and Itami asked him if he was all right but their words fell on deaf ears as he thought to himself, 'I can't do this…I can't betray her…'

---

Three days later, Seth was clear-headed enough to return to his High Priest duties. But he was not feeling any better emotionally since Tikali stayed by his side, even neglecting her work on the wedding with Tima and Kiko, and attended to his every need. He appreciated the help she gave him but he still felt very odd. He could feel his heart becoming affected by everything she was doing and he continued to ignore the feelings, still adamant that his meeting with Kisara was nothing but a dream. Because he refused to admit what he was feeling, he decided to have a talk with Kiko.

Along the way, he heard singing and peeked into the room to see who it was. Tikali was in the room, sewing a design into Tima's wedding and singing to herself. She was both focused and content with what she was doing. Again, Seth did not understand her native language but sensed the feeling of hope behind the words. Feeling his heart squeeze, he looked away, wanting to get away from the temptation. Watching from his shoulder, Itami shook her head. Why are you always keeping her out? She could be good for you.

Seth ignored her as he went looking for Kiko. Finding her in the gardens, he went up to her and demanded, "Give me a new servant."

Kiko looked up at him with a blank look on her face. "What was that?"

Seth glared down at her. "You heard me. I don't want Tikali as my personal servant; I want someone else, anyone else."

Giving a flower bush some water with his powers, Nayru looked up at the confrontation, curious about Kiko's reaction. The Cetria simply said, "…No."

Seth could not believe his ears: a servant just said no to his demand? "What did you say?"

Kiko stood up and looked Seth square in the eyes. "I am not giving you a new servant: Tikali stays."

Seth grabbed Kiko's dress, forgetting himself. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't throw you into the dungeons for talking back to someone of the Royal Court."

Itami tried to get Seth to let the Cetria go but he did not listen until he heard Nayru tell him and Kiko, Kiko, just tell him.

Seth looked at Nayru and then back at Kiko. "Tell me what?"

Kiko sighed. "I got a message from the planet about Tikali just before I assigned her to you. It said…that you would need her in your life."

Seth loosened his grip enough to let Kiko go. After adjusting her dress, she looked up at the priest. "Forgive me for denying your request…but you know that the planet never lies."

Seth did not respond as he turned to leave. His feet ended up sending him back to look into Tikali, who was still sewing and singing. Seth stood at the door, looking in on her and thinking about what Kiko said. Itami's eyes sparkled. Looks like Kiko knew what she was doing.

Seth nodded and murmured, "Maybe it wasn't a dream…"

Itami looked at Seth in confusion. What wasn't a dream? Turning his back to the door, Seth told Itami through mental speech about meeting Kisara when he was knocked out and what she told him. As soon as he stopped explaining, the darkness phoenix started to peck his head. You idiot! She told you that she wants you to move on and be happy with Tikali and you brush it off?!

Seth pinched Itami's beak to stop her pecking and glared at her. Of course. Why else would the love of my life tell me to forget about her?

Itami seemed to roll her eyes as she took her beak back. You really are an idiot. First of all, she didn't tell you to forget about her; she merely said that she wants you to be happy with Tikali. Not only that, she told you that she's always in your heart, right? Off Seth's nod, Itami added, Here's more proof that it wasn't a dream: in a dream, a lost loved one would have told you to ignore all current chances at happiness, not grab them.

Seth paused, realizing that she was right. Scratching her chest, he turned on his heel to knock on the door when he heard a yelp from within. He ran in to find the wedding dress on the floor and Tikali gone, which was an impossible feat since the door was the only way in or out of the room and Seth was standing in front of it the whole time. Itami squawked in surprise. Where is she?!

Seth shook his head and ran out to alert the court.

---

Moments later, the Royal Couple, Court, and Kiko were in the throne room. As soon as he heard that Tikali had been kidnapped, Atem had the guards seal all the exits, including the hidden ones. Most of the Court, Aknadin especially, did not understand why they were taking such extreme measures for a servant and voiced their wonders. Atem accepted their confusion since he knew that they did not know Tikali the way Tima and Seth did. But Tima had a theory: "I think the kidnappers were after me." Off everyone's surprised looks, Tima further explained, "I think Tikali was taken…because the kidnapper mistook her for me."

Now the Court understood, especially when Mahad's Sennen Ring reacted to nearby magic. Now they had reason to worry: magicians were always difficult to deal with and, if the original target was Tima, Tikali was likely in a lot of trouble once the kidnappers learned their mistake. Karim asked Mahad, "Can you pinpoint where they are?"

Mahad knew that it would be difficult: the magic he sensed was high class and the ability to come and go without being sensed would make finding the magic wielder difficult. He was about to answer when he saw the look on Seth's face and paused. The High Priest appeared to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown; Mahad had not seen his comrade look like that since Kisara died. Taking a deep breath, Mahad nodded. "I believe I can. The fact that the Sennen Ring reacted shows that he left a trace of his magic behind. It will difficult but I believe I can find him."

Seth sighed in relief, catching Aknadin's attention. Why was the High Priest worried so about a common slave? His suspicions deepened when Seth looked like he was ready to hit Mahad when the magician revealed that it would take a day or two to make a proper trace. Seth growled, "That’s not good enough…"

Mahad shook his head apologetically. "That is the best I can do…I'm sorry."

Seth gripped his Sennen Rod as Atem noted the lack of concern on Aknadin's face. "Aknadin, speak your mind."

Aknadin looked at the Pharaoh and then at Seth, who looked back at the older man with hard eyes. The eldest Priest stated, "With all due respect, my Pharaoh, she is one servant; why are we reacting in this manner?"

Seth growled and was about to yell at Aknadin when Tima stood up, obviously upset by what Aknadin said. "How dare you? We have a right to worry about her because she was kidnapped because of me.

Atem agreed. "When the kidnappers find out their mistake, they will harm Tikali, possibly kill her, and then come back for the crowned princess. We need to find them before anything bad happens."

Not liking the idea of something happening to Tikali, Seth stormed out with Itami following. The Court knew that they needed to find the servant girl but they still did not understand why Seth was adamant to find her. Atem looked at the door where Seth left through and started to wonder.

---

Later that night, when the moon was high, Seth and Itami snuck out of his room. Temporarily casting aside his priestly attire and Sennen Rod, he looked like a commoner with his brown hair in his eyes and wearing a traveler's tunic and shendyt, sandals, and a cloak. He managed to make it to the stables where he was preparing his horse to travel when he heard a familiar voice. "Where are you off to?"

Seth sighed and paused his work, not turning around to look at Atem. "Forgive me, my Pharaoh, but I cannot wait a few days while Mahad tries to find her. I am going to out there and find her myself."

Atem crossed his arms. "Where will you start?"

Itami chirped. I can search the skies and try and get a lock on her. Finding her will be easier than Mahad trying to find the magician.

Seth nodded and continued to prep his horse. He knew that Itami would have difficulty but he still had faith. But he paused again when Atem asked, "How far are you willing to go for her?"

Seth took a moment to consider his answer. The revelation of the planet's words from Kiko, Itami's words on what Kisara said, and having Tikali gone made him come to terms with his feelings. He looked behind him and stated, "I will do anything for her. She is special to me. It took me a while to admit it…but I need her with me."

Seth half-expected Atem to stop him because he was a priest and the Pharaoh's right hand man. Instead, to his surprise, Atem smiled and moved out of the way. "Then you should get going." Seeing Seth's confused look, the Pharaoh explained, "You supported me with my decision to be with a servant…allow me to extend you that same curtsey."

Seth gave a rare smile as he finished and got on his horse. "Thank you, my Pharaoh." With that, he took off into the night with Itami flying overhead. 'Hang on, Tikali…I will find you.'
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