Chapter 5: Make Way for the Princess
Stone, stone and, oh look, more stone. Rania scowls as Hasani leads her through a passage hidden from the eyes of the Zivarian citizenry. To say she was confused about what’s happening is an understatement. Zivaria had looked breathtaking from afar, but when they drew closer she could immediately see signs of war. Hasani had only briefly explained that Zivaria is embroiled in a civil war but has said nothing more on the subject. Apparently she has to hear the rest from her father. And so, to protect her from the insurgents, it was decided that they would enter the palace by way of the underground passages which are like a bunch of damned mazes.
Hasani takes yet another left, and Rania groans when she sees, surprise, even more stone. Her arms are tired from being clutched over her bare chest. For fucks sake, she just wants some clothes, and her legs! Is that really too much to ask?
Suddenly Hasani stops, and with it being so dark in the caverns, she doesn’t notice until she runs into his firm back. “Through this door lies the palace interior,” Hasani explains as he places a hand against what Rania concludes to be a wall. His hand emits a grey light that slowly engulfs each individual stone brick on the wall until it makes a door. Rania’s eyes widen as the bricks move aside, allowing in a flood of light. On the other side is a beautiful hallway comprised of gold with all manner of Egyptian accents adorning its walls.
Hasani allows her to pass through first before he follows after with the wall closing up behind them.
“Lord Hasani!” Rania jumps as an older darker-skinned mermaid suddenly swims right up to them. The mermaid looks Rania’s way and immediately bows. “Princess! Glad am I of your safe return!”
The formalities and stiffness causes Rania great discomfort as Hasani addresses the mermaid. “Ahti, I ask that you take Princess Naunet to acquire clothing while I go inform the Pharaoh of her arrival. Bring her to the throne room when you are finished.”
Ahti bows her head once more as she stands up and turns to Rania. “Please follow me your Highness.” Rania glances back at Hasani who has donned a stoic expression and turns back to Ahti.
“I can’t swim on my own,” Rania mutters bitterly as Ahti’s ear fins twitch in response to her voice.
“Apologies your Highness! If you do not mind,” Ahti replies as she lightly places a guiding hand upon Rania’s shoulder. Rania’s glances back at Hasani, but he has already begun to swim off in another direction. A frown settles over her features as she turns back to Ahti.
Ahti comes to a stop before a large pair of beautiful golden doors adorned with teal ornaments. The woman smiles as she turns back to Rania with a smile on her face.
Ahti bows. “This is your room Princess. The Pharaoh has kept it for you in anticipation of your return.” Rania has to resist the urge to roll her eyes. If the man had wanted her with him so badly he should’ve done something about it. Rania’s not the least bit moved by the sentiment because the man didn’t even bother to come see her or anything over the years.
Her thoughts are disrupted when Ahti pushes open the doors. Rania’s mouth drops open at the finery of it all. Like the rest of the palace, the walls are comprised of solid gold with intricate blue markings. Nearly every inch of the spacious room is covered in fine turquoise and white drapery.
However, Rania’s gaze is immediately drawn to the large bed sitting upon a platform against the far left of the room surrounded by four pillars. Of course there is a staircase of steps surrounding the platform that leads up to it, which makes no sense to Rania. But then it might fuck up the design I guess? She draws closer to the bed and upon placing a hand against the sheets she nearly elicits a dreamy sigh. She’s not certain what silk feels like, but she’s fairly certain that it has to feel like this. The sheets are comprised of only two colors, black and gold, while the sheer canopy is a pink color like the fins on her body. While the bed itself looks like a normal King-sized bed that she’d only see in pictures, the headboard itself is made of, surprise, a solid gold clam. The blue, gold, and white pillows look inviting. So much so that Rania almost forgets about everything else prior to laying eyes on a bed that she’d be lucky enough to see on TV.
“Princess?” Rania stiffens as she comes back to reality. She turns to look at Ahti who has moved over to an expansive wardrobe. For a minute she seems to disappear inside before reemerging with a white halter v bottom crop top and a sheer white skirt with an open front attached to a gold belt with blue stones.
Ahti places the garments in Rania’s arms before darting back into the closet. Rania looks over the garments with a skeptical look on her face. They feel nice and clearly of high quality. She could’ve gone with something simpler. At that moment, Ahti reemerges again bearing a black leather bra-type of thing and a beautiful wesekh collar that ancient Egyptian royalty used to wear. The wesekh is gold with turquoise and red jewels embedded within the metal.
Ahti is quick about getting Rania dressed in the foreign garments, and in spite of Rania’s protesting she gets the job done flawlessly. Yet another frown sits on Rania’s withered face as she compliantly sits herself in the chair at the vanity Ahti placed her in front of. Ahti proceeds to line Rania’s eyes with kohl followed by blue and gold eyeshadow that she blends together on Rania’s eyelids.
Rania hates makeup, especially when it’s on her eyes, but after going up against a determined Ahti hell bent on getting her dressed, she no longer has the will to protest. At least it’s only the eye stuff that Rania has to wear.
“Do you not care to see your appearance my Princess? You are very beautiful,” says Ahti as Rania halfheartedly turns her gaze to the mirror.
“What the hell?” She shouts loudly as she stands up and looks closer at her reflection. For whatever reason there are shining golden streaks in her hair and markings around her right eye. At no point in the time she’s been sitting here has Ahti ever put anything on her face other than her eyes, and the same applies to her hair. So what happened?
Ahti, however, is confused by Rania’s sudden outburst. “Is something amiss?”
Rania turns a minor glare on her. “Yeah! Why does my hair look like it’s been dipped in gold and why are these weird markings on my face?”
Ahti simply giggles as she replies, “Gold is the color in all the Zivarian royals’ hair.” Ahti pauses as she slips a pair of gold metal bands around each of Rania’s wrists. “And the marking around your eye means you have been blessed with the Eye of Horus. Only the honored Arafa family may bear such a mark.”
“Any chance that all of this will disappear?” Rania mutters as she lifts a curly lock that used to be purely black, but now bears the color of gold mixed in its strands.
Ahti giggles once more. “Of course not my Princess! Now then, we must go. We mustn’t keep Lord Hasani and the Pharaoh waiting!”
Oh yeah, don’t want to keep the kidnapper and the king waiting. Rania rolls her eyes as Ahti guides her along.
Ahti stops before a set of even larger golden doors with depictions of Anubis engraved in the center. Egyptian looking guards stand on either side of the doors with impressive looking spears in their hands. Ahti bows and quickly leaves Rania as the doors begin to open.
She wants to scream at Ahti to bring her ass back here, but before she can, the doors have opened. An illustrious throne room sits inside line with magnificent pillars leading up to an impressive throne atop a raised platform with a jackal statue on either side of it. A gold and red carpet leads up to the throne, and the hall is filled with a sizable numbers of people. One look at them all and Rania can somehow just tell that this is the upper class of the Zivarian citizenry. Atop the throne is a dark-skinned man wearing an impressive Egyptian nemes headdress and false beard. Gold bands adorn his wrists, an eagle wesekh sits upon his chest, and a golden belt sits around his waist attached to a white open skirt with a blue and gold tie hanging from it. The color of his tail is similar to Rania’s, but where her fins are pink and gold tipped, his are black and gold tipped. He even has the strange fin-wing things protruding from his back just like her own. And all of this evidence topped with his similarly colored eyes and place in the room, leads Rania to conclude that this has to be her father.
Hasani, who has been standing at the foot of the throne, swims over and helps Rania further into the room. As they approach, Rania can only think of the man appearing as nothing short of majestic from atop his high throne overlooking the room. Yet that raging bitterness buried deep inside serves to remind her that this is the same man that just as easily stayed out of her life. The fact that he gets to summon her out of the blue with not a single hello over the years manages to piss her off. However, in spite of this she’s not too keen on making a fool of herself in front of a large crowd of rich people. Especially if she’s the only one in the room who can’t swim properly. All eyes have been on her since the moment she entered, and whispers run amok amongst the gathered crowd.
She suddenly notices Hasani’s grip disappear, followed by the fact that she’s no longer moving. She readjusts her gaze to where she literally has to look up to the throne.
Hasani turns to face her with a flourish bow and a hand extended out towards the man atop the throne. “I humbly present Zivaria’s Pharaoh, King Aharon Nour Arafa!” Rania just barely holds back a grimace. The man even needs his name to be announced as if he’s above everyone in the room. But Rania also realizes that this is probably everyone’s way of thinking here. This whole kingdom is like an underwater replica of the Egyptian Empire, and the Pharaohs were seen as nothing short of gods.
When Rania makes no move to give any sort of response, Hasani clears his throat and turns towards the throne in the same position. Though his hand is now extended out towards her. “My Pharaoh, it is my honor to present Princess Naunet Rania Arafa, now returned home to Zivaria.” The way he says it with such reverence makes Rania’s insides churn. Sure, like every little girl she had at one point wished to be a princess, but in her world, the reality of royalty is no freedom. So that quickly put an end to that childhood dream and turned it into a flat out rejection of ever wanting anything to do with such a life. Though, reality seems to want to turn everything on its head for her which includes tossing in the very thing she never in her life had dreamed of having. A thing which she doesn’t want and now detests.
King Aharon stares at Rania with an intense eye. In all the time she’s been standing here, the man has not smiled even once. Not even a tiny hint of one. His expression is just as stone cold as his seventeen years of absence.
Finally, King Aharon deigns to speak. “Hasani, I would have you stick close to Princess Naunet’s side at all times and I bid you remain in the palace until such time as we bring matters to a swift end. You are dismissed.”
Rania’s eyes widen as she cries out, “That’s it? What the hell!” Her mouth clamps shut just as quickly. She hadn’t intended to let that out, but she couldn’t stop herself. The throne room falls silent after a brief round of gasps and the tension is thick enough to make her feel like she’s drowning. King Aharon has turned a fierce glare on her that lets her know that she’s in some real deep shit now.
“I will have words for you later,” he says in a deathly silent tone that causes a shudder to run up Rania’s spine. “Hasani!” King Aharon quietly barks.
“Yes my King,” Hasani smoothly replies as he uniformly bows to Rania before taking her arm and escorting her from the hall. As far as her own first impressions go, that one had to be her worst one yet. Speaking out against a king in front of his whole court! Way to go Rania!