Five years went by and the kingdom prospered: harvest was plentiful, the Nile provided a lot of fish and other wildlife, and domestic and foreign relations were strong. While there were a few rough patches with border disputes and a few invasions, the kingdom always got through them. The townspeople thanked the gods and their Pharaoh and Queen daily, grateful for their leadership. Another treat that they had was the chance to see the royal couple or one or both of the children who were growing up at the palace.
Five year old Heba lived up to his name: he loved games and played them when he could. Since he was so young, he was not ready to be trained to inherit the throne so he and Tima could play all day. But there was one person he loved to play with above all and that was his father. What made playing games with Atem so fun was that Atem never held back and, therefore, always won; Tima often told him to let Heba win a few times but Atem refused, wanting to teach their son to be strong in the face of defeat and to teach him that losses would help him appreciate his eventual win. Tima could accept that, especially since Heba never cried when he lost, only pouted. The two of them did not know that Atem did not hold back for a third reason: to teach Heba to be strong since the child, while had his brave moments, was shy and innocent, a complete opposite to his best friend Mesu.
Mesu was so energetic that he was nicknamed the wild child. Watched and cared for by Tikali, he was constantly running around the palace, playing with Heba in the garden, exploring hidden passages, and playing tricks on Heba and the servants. In fact, playing tricks was his specialty because of how small and fast he was; he even played a few tricks on Tikali out of love, even though he knew that doing so would get him a fierce scolding. Though a little annoyed with the tricks he played on her, Tikali still loved her son deeply, clear by letting his black hair grow down to the middle of his back (Seth always wanted to cut it short but Mesu hated the idea of his hair shorter). But there was one person whom he never played tricks on and that was Seth. It was clear that Mesu was very devoted to Seth, always wanting to be by his side so he could learn from him and hopefully grow up to be just like his father.
One day, everyone gathered into the throne room for practice Ka battles. Mesu and Heba were especially excited because this was the first time they would witness one and it added to the excitement that the two practicing the last Ka battle were their fathers. Heba was looking forward to seeing a Ka battle and Mesu just wanted to see how amazing his father was. As they were waiting, Mesu leaned towards Heba and whispered, "Hey, Heba…I bet a silver coin that my father is going to win this round."
Heba giggled and whispered back, "No. You still owe me a silver coin for the last bet we made."
Mesu was about to argue that he would pay Heba back once he had a silver coin when Tikali looked at them. "That's enough, you two."
Tima smiled but agreed. "You know your fathers don't like it when you two bet."
Heba nodded but Mokuba gave Tikali an innocent look with his grayish-blue eyes, making Tikali chuckle. Heba then asked, "Will you battle, Mommy?"
Tima looked down at her own DiaDhank, which she got after Heba was born. "I wish but, unlike Daddy, I can only control one Ka. Besides, Daddy is more fun to watch."
Heba tilted his head, a little curious since he was too young to understand that it was Tima's faith that kept her from using any other Ka other than Seraphita, evident by her DiaDhank only having one wing. Tima smiled and stroked her son's hair the Ka battle began. Atem smirked as his DiaDhank glowed. "Are you ready, Seth?"
Seth smirked as his own DiaDhank glowed. Even though this was just a practice run, they were going to go all out for a few reasons: enemies do not hold back, they were rivals as well as comrades and friends, and Atem was undefeated against Seth. Determined to win, Seth brought his best out: "As always, my Pharaoh, prepare yourself! Appear to me, White Dragon!"
Seconds later, the White Dragon appeared from the slab behind the High Priest, making Mesu jump to his feet with excitement. "Yes! Father's best is here!"
Atem smirked, knowing that this was Seth's best Ka. However, there was a flaw in Seth's actions and it was one that the High Priest had yet to learn: hubris. Not wanting to give it away, Atem silently called for his Ka of choice and out of Atem's slab came…a small, brown, furry creature with green claws and large purple eyes squeaking "Kuri!" There was silence for a moment until Mesu started to laugh. Heba blushed, thinking that his father made a mistake since it was very obvious that this hairball was going to be destroyed by the White Dragon. The two wives, however, chuckled; this was a common move for Atem for it was the best Ka to teach lessons with. Blinded by hubris, Seth scoffed. "You choose a weakling against my mighty dragon?"
Atem smirked, knowing that this would be a lesson that would take a while to fully learn. "He's not as weak as you think."
Mesu continued to laugh, forgetting that he was basically laughing at the Pharaoh. Worried, Heba looked at Tima. "Mom?"
Tima smiled and stroked her son's hair. "Just watch, sweetie."
Still blinded and forgetting the old trick, Seth smirked and ordered the White Dragon to attack the slab itself, destroying it to pieces. Unfortunately, the Ka appeared on all the pieces, causing it to multiple and attach themselves to the White Dragon, grounding it and making it cry out in outrage. Thinking of the perfect line to say to Seth to remind him about this lesson, Atem smirked and asked, "Are you ever not going to fall for that?"
Seth growled in humiliation, leaving the children in shock: the littlest Ka brought down the mightiest of dragons. Thinking that something must have gone wrong, Mesu pointed to the Kas as they started to fade and looked at Tikali. "Mother, can the Pharaoh really do that?"
Tikali chuckled and hugged Mesu from behind. "Apparently he just did."
Heba was in shock at how the battle was and how Atem brought down one of the strongest Kas in existence. "Wow! I never knew Daddy could do that!"
Tima smiled and kissed Heba's temple. "That's because he knows that every Ka, no matter how weak it might seem, can have a hidden power if used properly that can lead to victory."
Heba smiled and looked as the small Kas started to disappear. Curiosity growing, he stepped forward and reached for one. Sensing something, Mahad watched the prince as one of the Kas noticed and went to Heba. Giggling at how cute it was, Heba touched its fur and started to laugh as the Ka nuzzled his cheek. Everyone was so surprised that someone as young as Heba could touch and have a connection with a Ka. Moving to Atem, Mahad stated, "My Pharaoh…I believe the Prince has inherited your power."
Just as surprised as everyone, Atem nodded as Heba looked up, blinking with confused innocence. "What?"
Going forward as the last little Ka disappeared, Atem said, "You touched that Ka." Seeing Heba blink again, Atem explained, "It takes a lot of power to do that."
Heba tilted his head and made a questioning squeak; being five, he barely understood magic. Seeing this, Mahad stepped up to the Pharaoh and bowed. "My Pharaoh, with your permission, I would like to take Heba under my wing. I believe I can help him develop his power."
Atem smiled and agreed. Heba smiled as well since Mahad was his favorite priest of the Royal Court. With the practice battles done, the royal family went to the dining room to enjoy lunch. However, as soon as Tima smelled the food, she quickly ran out of the room. Worried, Atem and Heba followed and soon found her throwing up over a ledge. Heba wanted to hug her but Atem held him back, not wanting to risk him catching the illness, especially since he remembered that Tima had not been feeling 100% for the past few days. Once she was done being sick, Tima stood up and wiped her mouth. Seeing her family, she smiled softly. "I'm okay now."
Atem insisted, "We should still take you to the medicine woman to make sure everything is all right."
Tima wanted to protest but she knew she had to agree in front of Heba. "All right, let's go now."
Putting one arm around Tima and holding Heba's hand with his other, Atem led his family to the medicine woman's room. Once there, Tima suggested she go in alone, making Heba whine. Smiling, she went down and kissed her son's forehead. "Don't worry, sweetie. I'll be all right."
As she went in, Heba hugged Atem's legs, making the Pharaoh smile. "Your mother's a tough woman, Heba." Heba looked up, still worried, so Atem picked him. "Listen, the medicine woman always takes a long time. What do you say we go play Senet while we wait?"
Heba immediately brightened up and nodded eagerly at the mention of his favorite board game. Seeing that the young child was feeling better, Atem took him to his room to play.
About an hour later, Heba was pouting his usual pout at losing. Atem chuckled and ruffled his son's hair. "You'll defeat me one day."
Heba smiled at the idea of defeating Atem. They were about to play another game when there was a knock at the door and Tima stuck her head in. "Am I interrupting?"
Heba immediately ran to Tima and hugged her, glad that she looked better. Standing up, Atem asked, "How are you feeling?"
Hugging Heba close, Tima gave a knowing smile to Atem. "Well…it turns out I'm not sick…my body is just doing what comes naturally." Seeing Atem's confused face, Tima took Heba's hand and went to Atem to kiss him. "Remember the last time I was sick for a few days at the mere sight of food? Well…it's happening again."
Realizing what that meant, Atem smiled and hugged Tima. Heba tilted his head, completely confused. "Mommy not sick?"
His parents looked down at Heba and smiled. Taking Heba's hand, Tima led him to his bed so she could sit down and look him in the eyes. "Mommy is all right…better than all right, in fact; something special is happening." Seeing she had his attention, Tima said, "You're going to be a big brother because Mommy is going to have a baby."
Heba was surprised and excited at the idea of being a big brother and having someone else to play with. However, he was still very confused, evident by him asking, "Where is the baby?"
Atem sat next to Tima and touched her stomach. "Growing inside here." Seeing Heba get even more confused, the Pharaoh chuckled and stated, "Don't worry, you'll understand as time goes on."
Heba pouted, hating that answer since Atem always seemed to say it when there was a big answer involved. Seeing her son's pout, Tima could not help but giggle and hug her son. "Just know that you're going to be a big brother to your new brother or sister."
Hugging Tima back, Heba nodded and then pulled back to ask, "When will the baby come?"
Atem chuckled and ruffled Heba's hair. "Heba, these things take time."
Seeing that Heba was about to ask his favorite question ("why?"), Tima told him, "It takes time for a baby to grow as it is the way God intended."
Heba blinked at that, especially since he knew that Tima and Atemu had different faiths. But he was still happy at the idea of being a big brother. "I'll be the best big brother! Can I teach the baby my games?"
Tima smiled and kissed her son's temple. "Of course. When the baby is here and a bit older, you can teach him or her all the games you know." As Heba cheered, the Queen looked at the Pharaoh. "We need to tell the palace the good news."
Hearing that, Heba raised his hand in excitement. "Me tell!"
Atem and Tima chuckled and agreed. They were so happy that Heba was able to take the news so easily; they worried that he would be like most little kids and be upset and/or jealous about the idea of a new child being on the way. As Tima held their son close to let him wonder about her pregnancy, Atem called forth servants and told them to have everyone gather in the throne room.
Minutes later, everyone was in the throne room, eagerly awaiting the news. Standing between his parents' thrones, Heba was almost bouncing, eager to tell everyone, which made Tima very happy. When he saw that everyone was there, Atem opened with, "Friends and comrades, my family and I have big news."
As soon as Atem stopped speaking, Heba excitedly yelled, "I'm going to be a big brother!"
Tima chuckled with delight and nodded as she stroked her son's hair. "Heba speaks the truth: Atem and I are having another baby."
The Royal Court smiled their congratulations, except Aknadin who was not pleased but nodded to avoid having his true feelings revealed. Their friends were very happy for her but Tikali seemed a little jealous. She hoped that no one would notice but Mesu did, evident by him tugging her arm. "Mommy, you okay?"
Tikali looked down at him and smiled softly while stroking her son's head. "Yes. Yes, I'm okay."
Mesu was a little suspicious but accepted Tikali's answer. Deep down, she truly was happy for Tima, especially since she herself had Mesu, her loveable wild child. But there was something that had been bothering her for a while and it was Seth. The thought of it made her peek at Seth, who noticed and gave her a small smile. She smiled back but she knew that, for a while, Seth was not as passionate as before. She was understanding because he was busy, especially with being the High Priest and helping her with Mesu, and he was still romantic to her. But she wanted him to be passionate as well, especially since she knew that he did not have a mistress since he ignored every woman who looked at him; the only exceptions were Isis, Kiko, and Tima because he worked with and for them. Determining to get Seth to talk about it tonight, Tiki saw that Mesu looked a little confused. Tima noticed as well and asked, "What's on your mind, little one?"
Mesu looked up at Tikali, wondering if he should ask. Once he got the nod, he took a step forward. "Where's the baby?"
Still confused himself, Heba pointed to Tima's stomach. "Daddy says the baby is growing in there."
Mesu had a really confused look on his face, a look that Heba shared. Giggling at how cute the boys were, Tikali hugged Mesu from behind. "When you are older, you will understand."
Mesu and Heba pouted at that answer, making everyone chuckle.
Four months later, Tima was resting on her side in the bedroom. While it was still in the middle of the day, her pregnancy was tiring her out; thankfully, she did not have much to do that day and Heba was at his magic lessons with Mahad so she knew that she could take her time. As she rested, she heard the door opening and, assuming it was Atem, asked, "Meeting done early?" There was no answer but she felt someone climb into bed, which made her smile as she now knew who it was. "Come to visit Mommy?"
Having been dropped off by Mahad, Heba giggled and put his head on Tima's shoulder. He then reached down and touched her five month pregnant stomach. "Mommy's tummy is big!"
Tima smiled and put her arm around her son. "Yes, the baby is in there."
Heba looked at the stomach and asked innocently, "Mommy…how will the baby come out?"
Tima blushed a little; while she was expecting Heba to ask, she did not expect it so soon. Taking a moment to think of a good answer, she sat up and hugged him close. "Well, Heba, when the baby is ready to come out, Mommy has to push the baby out." Seeing Heba about to ask more, Tima continued, "I will push the baby out because the baby needs to be outside to see Mommy, Daddy, and his or her brave, sweet, loveable big brother."
While that was not a full answer, Heba accepted it because he was very excited about meeting his little sibling. He was about to ask something else when Tima gasped and smiled. "You want to feel something good?"
Curious, Heba nodded so Tima took his little hand and put it on the center of her stomach. The child wanted to ask what they were doing when he felt a little kick, making the child freeze with wide eyes. Tima giggled with delight at Heba's reaction as Atem came into the room. Seeing them, he chuckled. "So this is where you two are."
Tima nodded as Heba turned around, showing the excitement in his eyes. "Daddy! Daddy! You won't believe what just happened!" As Atem took a few steps forward, Heba stood up on the bed and started to bounce with excitement. "The baby! The baby! I felt the baby!"
He would have continued to bounce but he missed his step and almost fell off the bed. Tima sat up to try and get him but Atem was close enough to catch their son. "Careful there, Heba.
Heba breathed a sigh of relief that he did not fall. As Atem sat next to Tima, Heba giggled. "I felt the baby!"
Atem smiled and touched Tima's stomach, feeling a kick a minute later. He smiled and kissed his wife, ignoring Heba's whines of disgust. "Our baby is very lively today."
Tima smiled, which widened when Heba proclaimed, "I can't wait for baby brother!"
Chuckling, Tima asked, "What if it's a girl?"
Heba shook his head. "Want brother!"
His parents chuckled; while it was adorable that he wanted a brother so badly, they knew that he would be loving to a sister as well. As Heba moved to get some space, Tima asked, "How did the meeting go?"
Atem nodded. "Very productive. We discussed where the new dam will be and, after lunch, I'm going to go out there to inspect the site."
Heba looked up. "Can I go too?"
Atem chuckled and nodded. "Sure. I could use some company since I told the Royal Court to take the rest of the day off." Seeing Tima's look on puzzlement, the Pharaoh chuckled. "Tikali and Kiko asked me to do so for Seth's sake and I agreed; he's been under a lot of stress lately and some relaxation could help." Hearing that, Tima agreed.
Unfortunately, Seth was not relaxing: he was in the scroll room, studying for tomorrow's meeting. After finishing with three scrolls, he started to put them away but paused after one. He was feeling frustrated; the problem was he was not frustrated with anyone in particular but just frustrated. He knew that it was mostly because he was busy with his duties as the High Priest and helping Tikali raise Mesu but there was something else. Just as Tikali noticed, he knew that he was not as passionate with her as he wanted to be. He wanted nothing more than to do more with her but his fear of her becoming pregnant kept him at bay. Sighing, he lowered his head as he remembered the day Tikali gave birth to Mesu and whispered, "I can't lose her…"
Taking a moment, he accidentally left his mind open, which led him to hear a few seconds later, You've kept that to yourself for too long, Seth. Seth looked up and saw Itami fly up to him, landing on his shoulder with a hard look. Don't think I haven't notice; you've shut yourself up and that is why you're frustrated. Seeing that Seth was about to tell her to go away, she stated, No, we are talking about it now. After all, you're hurting yourself and hurting Tikali as well.
Seth looked up at Itami, not wanting to hear that because it confirmed something he did not want to hear: Tikali was hurt by him holding back. Still, this was a private matter so he decided to change the subject: "Was there something you wanted to discuss with me?"
Itami's eyes glistened, both knowing what he was doing and what he was about to see. Only that Tikali wants to see you in the bedroom right now.
Seth liked the idea of Tikali wanting him in the bedroom but he hated to leave a job half done as he started to finish putting away the scrolls. "I will do that once I'm done--ow!"
Not wanting to hear that, Itami dug her talons into his shoulder. No, she wants to see you now.
Seth glared at her but decided to not fight so he put the scrolls on the table, knowing that a servant would eventually find and put them away. Once that was done, he headed for his and Tikali's bedchambers. When he entered the room, he first saw that it was empty. Thinking that Tikali was hiding, he started to enter the room when he heard Tikali's voice coming from the balcony: "Close the door, please."
Seth looked at the door and could not help but ask, "What if Mesu comes?"
Tikali answered, "He's at his lessons. Besides, I told the servants to keep him occupied until I tell them otherwise."
Thinking that that was an interesting request, he started to close the door when Tikali came in from the balcony. Hearing her, he turned around and got a big surprise: Tikali was dressed like a belly dancer, consisting of a red top covered with gold designs and a red skirt with gold and red designs in front. Seeing her like that, all Seth could say was, "Wow…"
Tikali smiled a sultry smile as she walked over, swaying her hips. "You like it? Kiko and Itami helped me pick it out." Seeing that he finally realized that Itami had left his shoulder before he even got into the room, she giggled and took his hand. "Come…you need to relax."
Seth was still staring at the outfit his wife was wearing as she led him to a chair and gently sat him down. After she removed his hat and ran her fingers through his hair, she pulled back and started to perform a dance for him. Seth could not believe how graceful and beautiful she looked; what got his attention even more was that she appeared to be dancing outside of her comfort zone. Seeing the look in his eyes, Tikali smiled; she did feel odd that she was doing this dance but knew that this suggestion from Kiko would break down the walls of frustration that were between the two of them and ignite the flames of passion, something both of them desperately needed. After a few minutes, Tikali turned around to start a new part of the dance, which was the opening that Seth was looking for…
About an hour later, the couple was laying under their sheets, sweaty and exhausted but happy. Seth took a moment to catch his breath and then laid on his side to smile at Tikali, who was laying on her stomach. She looked up and smiled back at him. "Seth…that…was amazing…"
Continuing to smile, Seth reached over and started to rub her back. "You were amazing, my love…"
Tikali laid on her side to get comfortable and look at Seth. Taking his hand, she scooted closer to him and kissed his finger. "Seth…I am so glad that you were finally able to relax and not be afraid anymore."
Seth nodded. For the first time in a long time, he was able to be passionate and even open up about his fear, prompting her to say that there was no need to be afraid because of their promise to be together for all of eternity. "You were right: I shouldn't have been afraid in the first place…our promise is too strong."
Tikali nodded and kissed him deeply. Seth smiled in the kiss and continued to smile as he laid on his back and let her rest her head on his chest. As they spent time together in that position, Seth thought of something: he did noticed that Tikali seemed a little jealous of the fact that Tima was going to have a second child. With his fear out of his mind for good, he asked, "Do you want another child?"
Tikali thought for a while before looking up at him, deciding to be completely honest with him. "To be honest…yes, I would like another child…but I would like to leave that up to God." Seeing Seth's surprised look, she smiled and sat up to fully look at her. "While it is true that I do get jealous of the Queen from time to time, that does not mean that I am not grateful for all the things I already have. I have a wonderful husband…and an energetic wild child to love and call my own."Seth smiled and held her close. The two of them rested for the rest of the afternoon until Atem and Heba came back. That was when everyone noticed how much better Seth appeared to be and were happy for him, believing that things would only get better from here on in and they could not be more right.