Chapter 13: Shukura
Rania tries her best to stifle what would’ve been a loud yawn. She already has Shukura staring holes down her back. Clearly, the woman has no care for the fact that Rania is the princess, or she wouldn’t be pushing her as much as she had been. At least, according to Rania’s way of thinking.
She and Shukura have spent the last hour standing around in an ornate training hall beneath the palace. Apparently it’s the safest place in Zivaria to use her powers. Powers that refused to come forth once again when she wills it.
She’s spent the whole hour throwing her arms out at the target and trying to get something to come out. Yet no matter what she does, nothing comes out.
And it doesn’t necessarily help having Shukura constantly in her ear with the repetitive reminder to have patience. It’s consistently patience this or focus that, and Rania’s not the person to have either of these things. Frustration is quickly setting in as she takes to glaring holes into the target.
If only it would just burst into flames or, or…something! Then I could leave! Her brow twitches as the metal shield shines, as though it’s taunting her.
Now she finds herself regretting having gone to the bazaar in the first place. If she hadn’t of gone then she wouldn’t have awakened some freaky power. Then she wouldn’t be where she is now. Not that lazing about her room all day doing nothing is any better.
Fact of the matter is that whatever patience she may have had left has officially exited the building.
It’s just a matter of how long it will take Shukura to figure that out. Obviously at this point, it’s a little bit clear that Rania is simply messing around to relieve her frustration. A method that isn’t really working.
Meanwhile, Hasani stands off to the side with an alert posture about him. Ever the vigilant warrior, that one. Rania sighs—once again trying to will something to happen to the target.
Yet it remains. Unscathed and clean—taunting her and chipping away at her sanity.
Oh how she wishes that Shukura would put her out of her misery.
Obviously, the power surge she had in the markets was a one-time deal. Why try to push something that won’t ever happen again?
After another ten minutes of wishing for something to happen coupled with Shukura’s intense staring, Rania finally throws her hands up in the air and growls.
“I’ve had it! Nothing is happening—nor will anything happen! Can I go now?” She rounds on Shukura—gaze burning and fists clenched.
But Shukura is unflinching and unfazed. Her arms are crossed over her chest in a clear expression of determination.
Rania knows the woman’s answer without her even having to say a word.
The obvious answer being a solid no.
A brief surge of anger ripples through her body. She has to clamp down her teeth and shove her tongue to the roof of her mouth to prevent the guttural scream that wants to rip itself from her esophagus.
And just like that, that surge of energy expels itself from her body outward. No clear target results in everything around being subjected to its onslaught.
The power surge takes Hasani and Shukura by surprise—their immediate reactions being to form a last minute defense against the impact.
A defense that is easily shattered not even a second of the barriers being erected.
Shukura tries to fight back against the force that threatens to throw her against a wall.
Hasani tries to reform his barrier, doing his best to keep in his current position to avoid flying into the rack of sharp weapons behind him.
“Princess, enough!” shouts Shukura amidst the turbulence of the endless power surge.
But Rania’s eyes have gone completely white—a vacant expression on her face. Furrowed brows are the indication of her last felt emotion—anger.
Hasani looks over to Shukura. “At this rate, she’s going to exhaust herself!” he yells.
Yet there’s little they can do. Neither can get close to her. They weren’t expecting her to release such energy and it’s all they can do to protect themselves from it.
The doors to the chamber fly open with a bang barely heard amongst the chaos. Pharaoh Aharon stands in the doors—gaze steeled and form rigid. He seems to exhibit only a little difficulty in standing against the power of his daughter.
Rania doesn’t notice. Her mind has gone blank and a light feeling overtakes her as though her body is no longer her own.
Slowly, she can feel her mind growing fainter and fainter. She’s unable to discern if it’s exhaustion or something else entirely taking control of her.
Pharaoh Aharon closes the gap between them as fast as possible. His nemes headdress goes flying—quickly landing further away with a heavy impact of metal on marble.
His long hair dances about in tendrils of black and gold as he approaches.
Once he’s finally standing before Rania with gritted teeth, he places both hands on either side of her face.
“La tazal, zahrat albahr alsaghira,” he murmurs soothingly in the ancient Zivarian tongue. He firmly presses his hands into the sides of her face and into her hair—letting her take notice of his presence.
His own eyes go completely white and he begins to emit an aura much like her own. One that serves to quell the chaos and ease her back into control of her body.
Exhaustion floods her body as the white fades to reveal her grey irises once more. She stares into the irises of her father’s for only a moment before they disappear behind her eyelids.
Pharaoh Aharon is ready when her full weight falls into him. A scowl pulls at his lips as he cradles Rania closer to his chest.
A servant tentatively enters the chamber to collect the headdress and takes it away for cleaning.
The pharaoh turns to Shukura and Hasani when they draw near with stiff bows.
“Forgive me, Your Highness. I had not expected her power to be so great, especially when summoned by such strong emotions,” Shukura mutters solemnly—keeping her gaze to the floor.
Hasani remains silent. There’s not much he can say. He should’ve noticed Rania’s frustration much sooner—or rather, he should not have disregarded it as he did.
Pharaoh Aharon takes a quick glance around the room. Everything has been scattered and a few swords have lodged themselves into the wall and floor a few feet away.
Even the great tapestries have been shredded and torn from their places against the walls.
He releases a tired sigh. “That will be all for today,” he says and begins to swim away with Rania.
Hasani quickly stands up and rushes forward. “I can take her to her chambers, Your—”
“No need. I will see to Naunet. For now, I would have you see to another matter.”
Hasani nods his head in understanding after being relayed his orders. He leaves the room.
Shukura remains prostrated even as Pharaoh Aharon leaves the room.
In all the time that he swims along, Rania doesn’t move an inch. All of her dead weight leans into him giving indication to the fact that she’s entered a deep state of unconsciousness. But her weight does not bother him. Nor does he think it ever will as he gazes down upon a childlike face revealed only in slumber.
The face of a little girl whose laughter once filled these halls so long ago. Halls that have since grown silent with her absence.
But ever so faintly, does he hear it once again. Lovely memories of joy and laughter forever entombed within these ancient halls.
“So what are we gonna do? We boggled things up good this time!” cries a bedraggled thing of a man. His tail moves about in agitation as he proceeds with his panicked tirade.
At the head of this gathered crowd is a single merman—his hair is the color of the darkest trench in the sea.
His face is concealed by a simple white mask with intricate carvings of ancient characters.
He seems to be the only calm person in this room full of imbeciles.
“Calm yourselves!” At his command, the room falls silent. He doesn’t even need to speak loudly to garner their attention. “This is but a minor setback—one that we should look upon as a gift.”
One woman swims forward—her eyebrows raised. “A gift? How the hell is that girl’s terrifying strength a gift, Amun?”
The merman—Amun—smirks. “Simple. We now know the full extent of the princess’s power.”
A hushed murmur runs through the crowd for a split second.
Amun continues, “Now we can better prepare ourselves for the next course of action.”
“And what’s that?” shouts some other person amidst the sea of people.
Amun can’t really tell. There’s too many names—too many faces to be bothered to remember them all.
“The Divining is fast approaching. Naturally, the Pharaoh will choose such an event to formally introduce the princess to the kingdom.”
Slowly, a few smarter individuals begin to catch on.
But still—he has to spell it out for the more simple-minded individuals.
“During the ceremony, a golden opportunity shall present itself. All will be too focused on the Pharaoh to even notice the absence of a few guards,” he drawls whilst languishing upon a dilapidated platform of dying coral.
Amun holds out an open palm and smirks as he clamps it into a tight fist. “The moment everyone looks away from the princess is the moment we shall snatch her.”
However, some still seem unsure of the plan.
“And what if she uses her power against us again?”
Amun scoffs. “She has no control. Are you truly afraid of some naïve little princess who’s too foolish to understand the full extent of her own situation?”
The person who posed the question shrinks away.
How disappointing. There are hardly any in this room capable of doing what needs to be done despite the hot air they expel when claiming to be willing.
No, there’s only one person who’s competent enough to carry out his orders.
At his call, a woman swims forward. Her stature is one of power and her gaze is sharp as a blade. Half of her head has been shaved to reveal a wicked tattoo overtaking the entirety of that side of her head.
“My Lord,” she murmurs with a knowing smile.
Of course she knows what he’ll ask of her. She’s the only one to be able to grasp the entirety of the plan he’s just laid out. It’s already been made clear as to what role she’ll play in all of this.
“I expect a flawless execution of your part of the plan.”
Kemat nods her head before blending back in with the mass of bodies surrounding him.
Some disgruntled individuals are less than happy about the assignment, but never would Amun trust such idiots to be able to handle such a delicate assignment.
Only Kemat is capable of slipping in and slipping out with the princess safely within her grasp.
If they can just get their hands on her then the entirety of Zivaria will resign themselves to his demands.
A wicked grin overtakes his face—managing to unnerve those that bear witness to it.
Soon the whole of Zivaria will be within his grasp, and only then will he be able to correct the results of the Celestial Wars.
The Aqueous Alliance had all that power—power that could gain them the whole ocean. And what did they do? They turned their backs on it in favor of whatever hellish peace they’ve managed to grasp at.
Not only that, but the people themselves suffer under the rule of these so-called royals.
They spout nonsense of promises that things will get better. If anything, everything is becoming worse.
Amun’s gaze flickers over the rapidly dispersing crowd so preoccupied in their own conversations.
Nothing more than simple people who had lead simple lives. Lives that could no longer be maintained as the royal and noble factions put even more pressure on the lesser factions.
The only ones who seem to gain anything nowadays amongst the lower factions is the damned merchants. Always in it for the coin; their loyalties lying with the crown most of the time.
Not that they’re foolish enough to stand against the crown without proper support. Support that Amun had proffered a few times too many.
Yet not a one was swayed to his side. They fear the crown more than him and fear the outcome of a supposedly “inevitable” failure of this coup.
He releases a sigh—standing up and swimming away from the increasingly stifling chamber.
A series of darkened corridors fill his vision, but it does not bother him.
He swims aimlessly—immersed within his thoughts; going over every detail of each plan for the days ahead.
He never expected to be so hard-pressed to stand his ground against the crown.
Common people make poor soldiers and are naught but babes in the face of the Pharaoh’s elite guard.
He abruptly stops.
There’s an ominous sound of swirling water before him when a black mass takes shape.
He relaxes as a smile settles over his lips.
He can’t lose sight of the end goal. And to achieve that goal, he need only get his hands on Princess Naunet.