It was the hardest puzzle the Prince had ever attempted. Harder even than trying to play senet against Shimon. Shimon was great at games, if only he was not so old.
"Come on! You fit there a second ago!" He found himself yelling at the puzzle, it was not the first time of course. Mana had felt the need to tease him about it every time he did it.
"I do not think this puzzle likes you very much." Mana said laughing openly, while Mahad tried to hide his laugh with a cough.
"I do not know why not. I am trying to fix it, it should be grateful."
"I do not think it works that way." Mahad told him, looking down at the strange puzzle. "Has the Pharaoh told you what it is yet?"
"No, he said that is my prize for completing, and that and I get to keep it."
"Cool!" Mana exclaimed picking up one of the pieces.
"You only like it because it is shiny." The Prince teased.
"So?" Atem laughed and continued working on the puzzle. "Oh, did they tell you what the earthquake was from?"
"I already told you what it was from." Atem told her pretending to be mad. They heard footsteps outside of the room and the Pharaoh appeared in the doorway.
"Not done with it I see." Mana hid behind Mahad, though it did not help hide her all that much as Mahad was bowing. Atem stood.
"Father! Look I am almost halfway done with it." the Prince showed him the completed part.
"Why do you always sound so surprised when I walk into the room?" He picked up the puzzle and examined it. The Prince was silent contemplating his answer.
"I do not know." The Pharaoh laughed and gave him back the puzzle. "It has been nearly a month and I am only halfway done." Atem pouted
"Do not be so hard on your self, my son. You have gotten farther than anyone expected."
"It is really hard."
"I know it is, Atem. I am very proud of you for getting this far." Atem's eyes lit up. It was not the first time his father had told him he was proud of him,but he loved hearing it anyway. "Although that is not what I came here to tell you."
"What then do you need to tell me father?"
"I need you to come with me. I want you to meet the newest member of our court."
"Really!" He was excited, his father usually didn't allow him to the ceremonies that the Priests were appointed in. The Pharaoh nodded.
"I believe you are old enough now, with your birthday soon and all. I think nine summers is old enough to learn how to run a kingdom, what about you?" He asked already knowing the Prince's answer.
"Yes! Actually to tell you the truth Father, I thought eight was old enough." The Pharaoh smiled.
"Clean up your mess quickly and we can go, but you must hurry. I spent too much time chatting with you." The Prince ran over and tried to clean up the pieces of the puzzle quickly.
"My Prince, If you would like I could easily clean it up for you, so you do not need to worry about breaking it in your haste." Mahad told him before he could do too much damage to the puzzle he had worked on for nearly a month.
"Really, thanks Mahad!" Atem said and quickly followed his father out. Mahad began to pick up the puzzle pieces, being gentle with the pieces that were connected to another piece.
"Mahad, is the Prince going to get really busy and not have time for us?" Mana asked him when the pieces were safe in the small golden box the Prince always kept them in.
"Of course not. What would make you think that Mana?"
"He is going to be learning how to be a Pharaoh now. That is going to take time away from us."
"Mana, he is the Prince of Egypt, there are times when he will be busy and will not be with us. He will always make time for us though."
"How do you know that?"
"I have known the Prince for four summers now. He has made it very clear that he believes it is the height of dishonor to abandon a friend, in any way. He is very strict when it comes to friendship."
"Are you sure?" Mahad nodded.
"Nothing could ever separate us, we are far to close."
Atem walked into the throne room though the side door. He practically strutted, a few of the court members hid their laughter. Shimon was the only one who didn't he openly laughed when the Prince walked by. It wasn't a mocking laugh, they thought he looked cute really.
"Hello Shimon." The Prince said standing next to the vizier. Shimon was the Prince's favorite of his father's court members. The Prince saw him as sort of a grandfatherly figure, the closest he had ever had really.
"Good day, young Prince." Shimon answered cheerfully. Shimon was like that sometimes, no matter what happened he almost always stayed in a good mood.
"Atem, I do not believe that you have met Karim yet." The Pharaoh said drawing the Prince's attention to someone he had not yet met.
"No I have not. It is a pleasure." He said to the young man who bowed.
"He replaced Nadi when he retired, this is his son." The Prince was confused. It was very rare for a sacred guardian to retire, they usually stayed till the day they die. He was going to ask his father about this but the Pharaoh seemed to know what he was thinking.
"Nadi became ill and was unable to perform his duties any longer."
"Oh, I am sorry your father is ill." He told the young man. The Priest smiled at him.
"He is alright, he just has trouble standing and walking. His age is finally starting to catch up with him."
"Oh, he was pretty old." Karim laughed and Atem was pretty sure he was going to like this guy. He had a nice laugh, which usually means he used it a lot.
"Well now that the introduction is complete let us continue." The Pharaoh said to the guards who moved to let the newest member of the court in.
"On behalf of King Aknamkanon. Let us welcome the new guardian of the Millennium Rod, Master Seto! Though raised by presents he has risen to excellence. Passing his tests with the highest score we have ever seen!" Shimon introduced the man who Atem noticed was carrying a strange staff, maybe he was a magician. They carried staffs around with them.
"Welcome to my sacred court." The Prince heard his father say, he felt a bit skeptical. There was something about this man that he didn't really like. He seemed to practically radiate pride and arrogance.
"Many thanks for this great honor my King. I will serve thee well. From this day forth I am your humble servant." He said with a small smirk that could easily be mistaken for a small smile. The Prince seemed to be the only one to notice it.
"As the youngest royal guardian you will sit at the right hand of my son, the future King." The Pharaoh looked at his son, who gave him a look that only he could interpret as annoyance. Well maybe Mahad was able to also, but he was sure that he was the only one in the room who would understand it.
"Thank you your Highness." Seto said bowing lower. Shimon said something to Aknadin, but the Prince ignored him. He was trying to figure out this Seto character. It was pretty obvious he wasn't a magician, he really didn't act like it. So then what was the staff for, and why did he still have that smirk on his face. For a moment the Prince felt Aknadin's eyes on him, but he ignored him.
Seto stood and joined the other Priests. Atem watched him carefully, he walked as he walked, with obvious pride. It was as though he knew he deserved honor and wanted everyone else to know it. He sighed, he wasn't sure he wanted someone with so much pride in any position of power, especially this much power.
"Father, I am not sure that I trust him." He expressed his worries with his father.
"The Millennium Rod has chosen him, and that is enough for me." The Pharaoh responded, the Prince looked back at the staff that Seto was holding, that must have been the Millennium Rod.
"What is the Millennium Rod, Father?"
"I will tell you, in due time."
"I thought I was old enough to know these things now." The Prince put his hands on his hips and stomped his foot lightly to show his annoyance. His father raised an eyebrow at him.
"Maybe I was wrong if you are still pouting like a child. Anyway I will tell you, it has to do with your puzzle. We agreed that knowledge of these things would be your reward for completing it." The Prince looked down to the floor.
"I am sorry father. I did not mean to act childish." The Pharaoh nodded.
"That is alright my son, you will grow out of it soon. You may leave now, you no longer need to remain here." The Prince nodded and gave his father a short bow before walking out and heading back to Mahad's room. His thoughts were full of questions about Seto and the Millennium Rod. He found Mahad teaching Mana magic that the Prince did not recognize. It was probably something easy that Mahad never used. He felt a sharp pang of jealousy when he stood in the doorway that surprised him. He had never felt jealous of Mahad before.
"Prince, you are back!" Mana said running up to him and hugging him.
"You act like you thought I was dieing." Atem attempted a laugh, but it sounded very fake.
"She has been worried that you would be too busy to spend time with her. I tried to tell her she was wrong, but she did not believe me." The Prince looked upset.
"I am offended Mana, I really am."
"Sorry Prince." She quickly picked up his mood. "Are you alright?" He sighed.
"I am more confused now than I was before I went in there." He said and sat down on Mahad's bed.
"What is going on?" Mana asked.
"Have either of you ever heard of a Millennium Rod?" The Prince asked, if anyone knew it would be Mahad.
"No, I do not believe I have." Mahad said sitting down next to the Prince. "What is it?"
"I do not know, that is the problem." He sighed and picked up the golden box that he was sure Mahad put the puzzle in. "I have to finish this puzzle. The sooner I finish it, the sooner Father will explain everything to me."
"It has to do with the puzzle?" Mana asked confused.
"Apparently." The Prince began working on the puzzle again. The knowledge that he was lacking wasn't the only reason he wanted to complete the puzzle quickly. He felt as though he had to complete it, as though it was calling to him. He didn't know why but he needed to finish it. It was like it was a part of him, and every piece he put together was fixing a part of himself that he hadn't even realized was broken. Though Mahad had warned him that it may not be wise to get to close to the puzzle he couldn't help but doing just that. It was a part of him now.
A/N) I hate Seto.