This story has been helping me get back into the habit of writing.
There will be some dark themes and moments. I will give as much notice/warning as I can. I will make them "skipable" to avoid anyones triggers.
I realize as I write this story I have/will be taking tremendous liberties with Ancient Eguptian culture. I hope that I am not offending anyone out there. If you know any fun facts feel free to share! I love discovering new things.
On Watt Pad/Twitter (@ElizeyWrites)
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
When Rhapdosis did dream, it was always of a beach. The first thing that she noticed in her dream would be the warmth that she felt. She loved the imagined feeling of the bright mid-morning sun gently caressing her face. Then, she would feel the lazy breeze that swam through her wild curls; normally bound in the real world, they were free to dance with the wind in her dreams. Next, she slowly opened her eyes. A beautifully blue sky protected her while the crystal-clear cerulean water lapped at her toes.
This place was the home she never knew. This place was the land she dreamed of returning to.
She dug her hands into the silky sand and threw her head back allowing the sun more access to her skin. She smiled in anticipation of what was coming next.
“There’s my little fish.”
The figures were always blurred. Her memories of that time were formed from a brain so young. She didn’t remember what her mother looked like.
“Our little fish” a deeper voice responded.
She didn’t remember what her father looked like.
Then the clouds rolled in.
Rhapdosis shot up in her stiff pallet breathing heavily. She placed her hand over her rapidly beating heart. Once she was able to regain control of its’ wild beating, she let her eyes focus on the room. The small window in the clay wall allowed her to see that the sun was just beginning to peak out of the horizon. It would be time to awaken soon. Rhapdosis stretched as her bones cracked preparing for a day in her Master’s home. She slowly slid out of bed to avoid waking up the other girls in the room. Rhapdosis was well past her puberty years. Whereas most masters would have either mated her with another slave at this point (or a more sadistic Master might do it himself) for more slaves, The General was not that kind of man.
Rhapdosis has belonged to him for almost two decades. He was one of the men who led the invasion in her homeland. Her people were known for their dark skin, light eyes, and warrior spirit. The rebellion led by her kinsmen was put down with much difficulty. There were large losses by the rarely defeated Egyptian Army. According to the general, her people’s rebellion changed the way that the Pharaoh ruled the smaller tribes and definitely how they engaged with them in war. It was the highest respect a man like The General would ever give to “traitors”.
Rhapdosis was barely beyond her toddler years when she was taken in by The General. While The General never discussed the War with her, he let her know that he promised to keep her safe. Over the years Rhapdosis was able to piece enough of her origins together. She forced herself to believe that the bits and pieces of her heritage would be enough to feel a connection to her people. She knew her father was of some importance in her tribe. Many of the Egyptian war leaders wanted to destroy his whole family line to discourage further rebellion. Over the years, their visits to the General's estate made Rhapdosis available for their vile comments about her people's fate and what they could do to her now that she was in the capitol with them.
The General never forced himself on her, nor would he allow anyone else to. Despite multiple requests from honored, wealthy guests, The General never let anyone touch her. Her innocence was to be given to someone The General deemed worthy. As a confused young girl, she begged The General to be the one to do it himself. Slave girls’ quarters were filled with horrifying tales of what men did to women. Especially slave women who did not receive the respect of an Egyptian citizen. Rhapdosis knew The General would not hurt her. She would never forget the out right shock on his face when she finally gained the courage to ask him in his study. It would have been comical had she not used all the courage her 13-year-old body had to simply ask. After his initial shock, The General laughed.
“Child, I am honored by your request. However, an old man like me has no business with you.” He said through a wide smile. His grey beard stretched almost to his ears when he smiled.
“Tell that to Master Karapet” she mumbled, referring to the notorious elderly leech. The man was known to purchase young girls for nights. Rhapdosis herself, had been commanded to take the long way to market to avoid passing his home. The Masters were not known to ask for things. Once The General had refused Karapet’s offer for Rhapdosis, he was angry. He could not steal her since she belonged to another however, if he had captured her, there would be very little she could do. The General might have had respect for her but in the eyes of the Egyptians she was just a slave. A foreign slave. Slaves were forbidden from harming Egyptian citizens. If Karapet had Rhapdosis she could be killed for fighting back.
“One day child, you will be given to someone who is worth that gift. Someone who could protect you.”
“You mean sold to.” Rhapdosis ground out.
“Do not forget your place, child.” The General snapped, his dark eyes cut over to her, “You are a slave because your people were traitors. You are here because of my kindness. You have that mouth because of my weakness. I am doing you a favor by ensuring that you have a future. Without me, you would be dead. I am going to get you the best life a slave can have. I owe that much.”
Rhapdosis was unsure if that last sentence was spoken to her as his voice dropped suddenly. She allowed the subject to drop. He was right. Many Masters would have chopped off a finger or simply beat her into submission long ago, regardless of age or sex. The General always did have a soft spot for her. She had received her fare share of whippings. Her mouth often got her into trouble.
Rhapdosis however never stopped dreaming of her freedom. Slaves being granted freedom rarely happened. Escape was almost impossible and swiftly punished. Rebellion was long ago rooted out. The last slave uprising was before even the General rose to power and it was still whispered about. The Pharaoh ordered every slave in any household that produced even one rebellious slave executed. Their bodies lined the main street until they had been nothing but bone.
Shaking herself out of her thoughts she tip-toed through the bodies of the young girls on the floor and out of the door. Heading to the kitchens to start the day, Rhapdosis passed the boys’ room and peaked her head in. Jordan, an Egyptian slave was awake and staring out of the window lost in thought. She watched him from the door quietly. Jordan was handsome. He had wavy black hair loosely confined to a small ponytail at the base of his neck. A muscular back formed from years of outdoor labour trailed down to long and powerful legs. In another lifetime, Rhapdosis always believed that they would live together, have beautiful babies. She knew the punishment for any slave to lay with a female slave without permission was death. So, she kept her distance.
“Good Morning,” She whispered loud enough for him to hear but hopefully not loud enough to wake the other sleeping boys.
He turned around slowly revealing well toned muscle tapering down to a slim waist. His linen skirt hung low on his hips.
Rhapdosis forced her eyes to remain above his neck.
“Ice” He whispered the name that Egyptians preferred to call her, eyes softening at her appearance. He slowly made his way over. “Morning.” A lazy smile slid across his lips.
His hand reached out to tuck away a curl that had escaped the tight braid her hair was confined to. She leaned into the touch for a fraction of a second before stepping away. They were both brought in young. Rhapdosis, a foreign slave stolen from her homeland and Jordan, sold to the General to cover his parents mounting debts. It was no surprise they found comfort in each other.
“Don’t do that.” She said frowning. She ignored the small flutter in her chest that was always present around him. “I won’t allow anything to happen to you before you’re free.”
Because Jordan was an Egyptian citizen, he had the right to earn his freedom. His family had been saving up once their debt was paid. Jordan had skills as a blacksmith, his father’s trade, so he was able to earn money with the permission of The General. His 20th name day was approaching and so was earning his freedom.
“I will buy you when I am free. We will be free together. We can live together. No one will ever punish us again.” He said stepping closer to her, removing the space between them.
Rhapdosis’ eyes fell to a familiar scar on his cheek. The one he received from a vicious beating by one of the General’s enforcers who caught them kissing in their younger years. Rhapdosis herself still carried a scar across her back from the lashing that was put to her.
“That won’t happen, and you know it.” She frowned. She long ago stopped believing in fairy tales. “You’re a citizen. Your family won’t allow it. I’m just a foreign slave.”
She put her hand up stopping the argument that was surely coming from him.
“I have accepted my life. There is still hope for yours.”
She turned swiftly from him finding comfort in the complete hopelessness of her situation instead of dealing with the terrifying feeling of hope. At 16 the idea would have roused her. After two decades as a slave, she accepted that hope was a useless emotion.
Rhapdosis made her way down to the open courtyard and met with Hapethset, the head of the house. He was The General’s oldest slave. Both Hapetset and the General raised on the estate together. After a few glasses of wine, Hapetset was known to tell drunken stories of he and The General's younger days. The tales were full of scandal that was hard to reconcile with the stoic "old man" that The General had become. Now, Hapetset ran his house for him. Every morning they each went to The General’s chamber to wake him up and prepare for the day. This morning ws no different as Hapethset was already in the courtyard inspecting for an invisible flaw.
“Sir,” she said in greeting with a sligh bow. While ornery, he was always respectful. Disrespect was the quickest way to get on his bad side.
Hapethset returned the greeting with a slight bow of his head and turned sharply. Following his footsteps, they made their way to their Master’s suite.
It was unusually quiet in The General’s suite. The man himself was an early riser and it was rare that he needed to be roused to start the day. The General’s wife was at the Palace. She was a well respected lady in the Queen’s court so she would not be there. Her snoring was often the first thing that Rhapdosis would hear from the hall.
“General?” Rhapdosis called as she slid the door open allowing Hapethset entry first.
“General?” Hapetset, echoed her call as they made their way further into his chambers.
The first thing that she noticed was that he was still in bed, a rareity. As they got closer, Rhapdosis felt her heart rate speed up. He wasn’t moving.
“General?” She said again her voice coming out shakily. She stopped moving. Hapetset, in contrast continued his approach.
She watched as he gingerly put fingers to his neck and held a hand above his mouth.
He wasn’t breathing.
She looked at The General. While he always seemed old to her, his presence was that of vitality. Now, he looked small, grey, and ancient. The wrinkles more pronounced. His skin was ashen. Rhapdosis never really had to process death like this. Up close and personal. She never thought about The General dying. What was going to happen to them? What was going to happen to her?
“Rhapdosis” Hapetset’s deep weary voice broke the silence. “Send word to the palace. The General is dead.”
Here it is. I may have a second chapter up by the end of the week as a tease! But, my goal is to have Wednesday be my update day. I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Please leave comments/reviews.