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Hello! Here I am, tired but willing, to post part 11 of Egypt. :D

Two parts left - plus one epilogue to the epilogue, just because [ profile] verangel likes hot Egyptian sex. Giggle. I'm not posting it immediately, but I will write it for her.

I have just eaten a big bowl of beef stew. Yes, I think you can safely assume Autumn is here. So we went from Spring to Autumn without a Summer in between. Curses. I did want a bit of sun. Not heat, necessarily, but sun. Put the central heating back on today, because even I was freezing! Shows ya.

So, without further ado...

Thank you, [ profile] ladysunrope for beta! ;D

Part 11

"You had decided to kill Seth. So you had someone hire the killers, and your brother entered the inn with them. You came through a side door, for no other reason than you wished to witness the death, and while the others held him down, struggling so much that the gown tore, your brother slit your husband's throat."

"When he had finished, your brother stripped off the gown he was wearing - the blue one - and Silos disposed of it. Yes, we found it in the privy, with the robes you wore over it, and the hem torn," Lij declared, staring at the man.

He turned his attention, once more, to Tawaret. "Then he washed the blood off his body, and left the inn by the same back door, dressed in a man's tunic, whilst you went to tell the forewarned Silos to clear up the mess. Two tall women both wearing the same gown, both covered with desert robes. Then there was only one. No-one noticed the exchange. Why should they?"

Lij paused for a moment, before continuing. "But it is surprising what people see, when you point things out to them."

"A girl from the inn was brought here, earlier, in secret. She recognised you, Ptolemy, as the young man who had come to tell her not to take Silos food at the jail."

The man looked at the floor. He had made a gesture as if to say something, but he knew there was no point in it. What the god said was true.

"She also recollected - quite unprompted - seeing you leave the inn on the day of Seth's murder. Now this was interesting, because before this we had no notion that you were involved in it. And, she told us she had seen you empty a jar of pickled figs, which Silos kept next to his bed, into the privy. She was annoyed for she had a fancy for them, herself. It was fortunate she did not eat them, was it not? Silos was being poisoned by someone who knew his tastes well. Ackon."

"When I knew, from enquiries here, that your name was Ptolemy, and that Ackon owned the inn, and that you liked to wear women's clothing, it all fitted together, like a puzzle. You are Ackon's lover, and Tawaret's brother. It did not take much persuasion to involve you in encompassing the murder of an innocent man."

Dom followed Lij’s thinking with admiration. There was not much that escaped Lij's attention, and he was a master at revealing the truth from tiny clues. But how had he divined these things?

"Silos was told to mention the attar of roses because you, Tawaret, disliked it, and never wore that perfume. But what you obviously did not realise, for Ptolemy seldom wore his gowns outside this house, was that he was very fond of the scent whilst dressed as a woman. There is a bottle of it, I understand, in his room."

There was a pause, during which Lij examined all the people sitting or kneeling before him. "It is a shame that one woman's obsession should result in so many deaths - for all who were involved in these deaths shall die."

"Ackon," Lij said, his voice as toneless as a cracked brass gong, "you will die for hiring the killers, and for arranging the poisoning of Silos. Do not even begin to find an excuse, for those hired killers have told us everything. Silos knew too much, and your wish was not so much to protect Tawaret, but to protect Ptolemy, your lover. It seems you had no compunction in killing off members of your own family in pursuit of this aim, for you are Seth's cousin, after all.”

Ackon said nothing. There was nothing left to say. His wife sat beside him, weeping silently into her hands. She had imperceptibly moved away from him as Lij spoke.

Lij rubbed his chin. It was seen that he was thinking. "I do not believe that either the ladies Merope or Nuit were involved in these murders" he declared. "In fact, Aapet, here, our good epistates, had discovered that Tawaret used Merope, all unwitting, as an alibi for her dealings with Ackon and the others involved."

"She told her sister that she was sneaking off to meet a lover, when they were both supposed to be attending guild meetings. Tawaret has, in fact, not attended the last three."

Dom closed his mouth, which had fallen open. All this investigation had been going on whilst he was unaware of much of it, until last night.

"Gyasi had been brought here to vouch for the fact that one of the four gowns ordered by Seth was made to Ptolemy's measurements." The man nodded, honoured beyond measure to have his name spoken by the mouth of his god. "But I think that is unnecessary, now. Tawaret, Ackon, Ptolemy and the three hired killers will all die. Mawe the stable owner will receive forty lashes. Take them, Kerasonb."

Kerasonb went quickly down on one knee, and, together with Lij and Dom's personal guards, removed the guilty from the chamber, ignoring the soon to be victims stumbling steps. Lij gestured for Menkh to follow behind as witness.

Dom drew Lij's attention to the weeping Nuit, and the young Silos standing behind her, his hand on his aunt's shoulder.

"I know, my love," Lij said in a whisper. "You speak, now, for I am weary. Whatever you will say, I will agree to, as it is always with us."

"Nuit," Dom said, his voice kind. "You may keep the business, and the house, and all your husband's possessions." This did not seem to interest the woman, and Dom had to ask a question that had been sitting in his mind since the proceedings began.

"Why did you allow your husband to have Ptolemy? Did it not hurt you?"

The woman sighed. "I loved my husband, and he loved me, despite what you may think, Great One. He had other...tastes...I could not satisfy. Hence I permitted Ptolemy to live here with us. More fool me! It seems his sister's influence has cost me my husband, in the end."

Lij was talking in a low voice to Ramose, but he still kept half an ear on what Dom was saying. "Silos - my Spouse and I have decided that you may keep the inn, you and your mother, if that is what you desire. Or you may sell it, and move away. The choice is yours."

Silos knelt. "Thank you, Great One."

"And Merope - Tawaret's house is yours if you wish to keep it."

She shook her head. "No, Great One. I will go to Cleothera, at the inn, and we shall decide there what we shall next do. Likely she will need my support, for I certainly need hers. My sister's house is too full of misery. I desire it to be sold, and the money given to the poor."

Lij broke off again from what he was saying to Ramose. "Very commendable, Lady Merope. But take a word of advice from me - do not again uphold anyone in a lie, however innocuous that lie might seem. It can lead to death, as you see."

White faced, and trembling, she bowed low, and re-took her seat.

Then Dom gestured to the steward and the room was cleared, leaving only himself, Lij, Ramose, Aapet and Panshi.

Ramose was looking so pale, Lij stood and made him sit in his chair, regardless of protests. "Panshi, bring him some wine - some good wine," he ordered, and Panshi rushed off to do his Lord's bidding.

"I know now is perhaps not the best time to give you this - but it may be that it could come at no better time. It all depends on what kind of man you are."

He smiled at Aapet, who handed him a document, which Lij presented to Ramose - but the man could not read it for the tears clouding his eyes.

"Shall I read it to you?" Lij asked, as Panshi hurried up and pressed a goblet of wine to Ramose's white lips, and he drank before nodding his assent.

To my beloved Ramose, from your Seth. I am lodging this with the archon, against my death, for I am many years older than you, and like, therefore, to go into the Underworld a long time before you.

I do not wish to go into the next life without you knowing that it is only because of you that my life has been bearable during the years since we first met. I tell you the truth, as my heart will be weighed against the feather of Ma'at, that there has never been anyone else that has taken even the smallest portion of my heart - only you.

I have to leave, for honour's sake, half the business to Tawaret, should she live beyond me. But if she does not - for which of us knows the mind of the gods? - all I have is yours to do with as you will. Remember the poor and needy, and live a full and honourable life, for my sake, for I would, above all that you be happy. Find someone else to love as you have loved me, faithfully and truly, and bring to him the joy that you have brought me.

You will live in my heart forever - its only keeper.

Seth of Macedon.

As Lij read, his voice filled with emotion, Dom looked at him, and thought, Seth and Ramose loved as we love! and was satisfied.

So, it seemed, was Ramose. Lij pressed the papyrus into the man's hand, and he kissed it, and tucked it into his tunic, next to his heart. Then he knelt in front of Dom and Lij. "Thank you, Great Ones, for the justice you have meted out against those who conspired against my Seth. You must believe me - I had no notion that she felt..."

"Get up, man, get up and finish your wine! We stand on no ceremony when we are alone with friends," Lij said, then stopped as Menkh came back into the room, and nodded at them. The executions had been carried out.

"And you all are our friends, and we desire nothing from you, except your good opinion, do we, Dom?"

Dom smiled at his love. "Indeed, we do desire that."

Aapet found his voice at last. "I will not kneel," he said, as Lij took off his crown, and handed it to Panshi, who carried the bag tied about his waist. "I will not, though my heart tells me to do so. I have never seen such a masterly summation, Lord. How did you come to your conclusions?"

Dom laughed as he went to the tray brought in by the steward, and poured Lij out some juice. "He will tell you, Aapet - 'here a little, there a little, and you find out the truth'. But he has a powerful mind, and bends it to his will."

Ramose found his voice at last, and would have stood, except Menkh came up behind him, and pressed on his shoulders to prevent him.

Lij nodded at his cousin, approvingly. "The servants in a house - how often have I said it? - however large or small, know more about its occupants than you would think. Why did Tawaret start wearing those plain dresses? I found out from her maid that she had started wearing them the first time she sent for Ramose after Seth's death. The maid told me, upon enquiry, that Tawaret had worn just such a tunic when she first came to this house, all those years ago. She was hoping, I think, that Ramose might remember the young girl she was then, and fall in love with her."

Ramose managed a bleak bark of laughter. "I'd sooner fall in love with a cobra, as with her. I never liked her, never! I had no notion she felt otherwise for me."

Lij patted him on the arm. "Why should you think of her? You had eyes only for Seth. I must tell you, now, that our justice is swift. He has been avenged."

Ramose stared at Menkh, who spoke in a level tone, not untinged with sympathy. "They are dead, sir, as the gods ordained. You will sleep easier, now."

"Thank you, my Lord," he said, knowing Menkh was of importance, but not recognising him.

"This is my cousin, the Lord Menkh, our vizier, and advisor for many years. Ramose, as you will have gathered, Menkh, was the beloved of Seth."

Menkh nodded an acknowledgement, and asked where Nat and Nakht were.

"Out sailing," Dom grinned, lightening the mood. "We shall have fish for tea!"

"Fish? Aapet said, surprised. "But will you not now dine in state?"

"Do you have a wife, Aapet, and a good cook? For we would all eat in your home, if it be big enough to hold us." Dom said, stripping off his finery as Lij was doing, and dressing once more in his merchant's tunic.

"You will find, as have we, over the years," Dom continued, changing his gold-brushed sandals for those of plain leather, "that many people will have seen the gods walk through the streets, and come into this house, but no-one will see them leave. People see what they expect to see. Follow us, and learn!"

There were people kneeling in the dust outside the house as the group left the building. A man kneeling beside the gate, recognised Aapet, and tugged at the hem of his tunic, totally ignoring Lij, who stood at his side.

"Epistates, are the gods still within?" he asked, and all eyes eagerly turned towards him.

"Alas, no," Aapet replied, solemnly, suppressing a grin. "The gods have left this place. They have important work to do elsewhere in the city. Perhaps they are gone to the archon's home."

Disappointed, the people began to drift off, some to visit the archon's estates, in the hopes of another glimpse of their rulers, and some went home to begin preparing their evening meal.

"I am glad to be out of there," Panshi confided as he walked beside Lij down the street, Dom following behind with the others. "It was not a happy house, in the end."

Then he glanced sideways at Lij, realising that his position was unique. He was a friend of the gods, and could talk to them as ordinary men talk to each other. "What is the Great House like, my Lord?"

"Lij," Lij reminded him. "You promised me - Lij. Well, it is a huge place of course, more than a thousand rooms, if you can imagine it. I do not think I have been inside half of them. It is a happy home for us, filled with the laughter of our children, and their children, and our friends. And the gardens are very pretty, too, with fish in the pools, and birds. All our family have gone to the Summer Palace at Phatkept, now, for it is cooler there. Except Menkh, of course, who was overseeing business whilst we were absent."

He called to his cousin. "Menkh, whom have you left in charge. Did you do as I suggested?"

"I did, Lij. Knafra is more than capable of holding the reins until we return. He even chose, without prompting, to adopt man's clothing for that period, so that he be taken seriously."

"Nat has had some fine gowns made for him. He will not long stay in a kilt after seeing them, I'll be bound," Dom said over his spouse's shoulder.

They had entered the centre of town, now, and Aapet asked to be excused so that he could apprise his wife of the exalted guests expected for the evening meal.

"Do not tell her who we are," Lij said, shaking his head. "Let her welcome us, comfortably, as friends. We will all come, if there is room."

Aapet assured him that the house was spacious enough to accommodate a much larger party than theirs, and hurried away to ready things. Panshi was ordered to bring them at the usual meal-time, and went happily with Dom and Lij and Menkh to the inn.

They met with Nat and Nakht outside. Ramose, exhausted by the day's happenings, had retired to his rooms above the workshops, so the men felt free to discuss the business openly.

There seemed to be a lot more activity on the dock than was usual for the time of day, but they scarcely noticed it, having so much to discuss.

Nat had grabbed a passing lad, and paid him very generously to take the fish to Aapet's house. He was just re-entering the discussion, when he spotted a familiar face.

"Lij," he said, not sure of himself, "is that not your Phoenician friend I see on the prow of the ship being towed into the dock?"

They all turned at the same time to see the great Phoenician trireme being pulled sideways into the docking area by dozens of men on ropes. It was such an unusual thing to occur that they gave little thought to the fact that every other ship had been cleared out of the area.

As the ship drew level with the dock and was roped off, a man hailed them and ran down the gangplank as soon as it was in place, flinging himself at Lij's feet, weeping.

"I have brought him, Great One, as you commanded, but I have failed you...failed you!" Ninus said in agonized tones, not raising his head from where he had placed it on Lij's foot.

Lij drew up the man, and embraced him, smiling. But then he saw the captain's face, and all desire to smile left him.

"What is it, Ninus?" Dom asked, concerned for his love. "Whom have you brought?"

The man could not speak, but gestured to another man - a tall, blond-haired, well-built man, walking slowly down the gangplank, carrying someone swathed in blankets in his arms.

Both Dom and Lij rushed forward to greet the walker, instantly recognising him, even after all the years since they had last seen him, because of the tattoos upon his face, marking him out as the king's man.

Cassawn, too, was weeping. "We have come, Ard-ri," he said to Dom, inclining his head in respect. "He wished above all things to see you both before he died, but he has not opened his eyes for two days, now. He is dying, lord, the physicians say. But we did try."

With trembling fingers Dom drew aside the blanket. There, lying in Cassawn's arms was Dom's brother, Cormac Mac Airt, King of Erin, and he had upon his face the aspect of a man about to take his final journey.

"No!" moaned Dom, smoothing his brother's white cheek, over and over, and kissing his brow. "No!"

Lij stood like a stone, hardly believing what he saw. There had been so much joy in organising the surprise he had promised his Dom. The one thing he had not been able to speak about as yet - the gift of his brother - and it had turned out to be a gift of the most bitter fruit.

Somewhere, in the background of a mind in turmoil, he heard the dark god, Anubis, laughing.

Date: 2009-09-06 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We have company coming and I can't read this now. I can't wait to digest it all...and thank you dearest Ru for the possible HOT epilogue to these gorgeous men. do know I love all that gorgeous egyptian loving. *sighs*
hugs you tons...will comment probably tomorrow. xoxoxoxoxo v

Date: 2009-09-06 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, it was a most satisfying conclusion to the mystery. Justice was done, and poor Ramose will have to learn to live on without Seth. It seemed things were going well, but what a shock it was when Dom's brother was brought ashore near death. It's going to be a long wait for the next chapter.

Date: 2009-09-13 10:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Poor Cormac! Bless him,and poor Dom n Lij, too. It's all go, eh?

Never mind. It all comes out in the wash - eventually. That's one thing, at least, you can rely on. A happy ending! ;D xxx

Date: 2009-09-06 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm so pleased that Lij dispatched justice so swiftly after wisely solving the crime and everyone's part in it.

But Cormac? In Egypt - near death? Oh, poor Dom. That is a cruel reunion indeed. Why is Anubis so pleased? Is this his payment for letting Lij live when Dom pulled him back from the brink of death so long ago? Oh, this will be a long week. You like those evil cliffhangers, don't you? :D

Date: 2009-09-13 10:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Anubis knows the end from the beginning. It is payment, but you'll see. Poor Lij has to be the hero again. Not that I'm averse to that - he makes a good hero.

I do like plenty of action, and cliff-hangers, yes, indeedy!! :D xxx Evol me.

Date: 2009-09-07 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What a masterful way you have of telling this part of the tale. I loved how Lij unfolded the mystery of the death and who-done-it! The letter from Seth was heartbreaking, but such a good thing for Ramose to have as a remembrance.

Oh, I do hope that Dom's brother can somehow be healed! Screw Anubis. I want Lij to be able to heal him, somehow. So sad. :(

And..goodness, I think I've caught up! Now, I can hardly wait for the next chapter.

Date: 2009-09-13 10:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Screw Anubis! I loved that! LIj is given a task - but can he do it? Ha! You know me.

Ramose is such a dear man. I have hopes of him and Panshi. Why nt? They'd be lovely together!

Next part up as soon as LSR sends it. :D xxx

Date: 2009-09-07 11:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So we went from Spring to Autumn without a Summer in between. Curses. I did want a bit of sun. Not heat, necessarily, but sun. Put the central heating back on today, because even I was freezing! Shows ya.

Absolutely! Just heavy clouds, cold and the wind is picking up now and I have a boat to start sign writing tomorrow. Very difficult in a gale on water!

Date: 2009-09-13 10:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This week has been lovely, hasn't it? The sun is beautiful today. Want more - is greedy! :D xxx

Date: 2009-09-08 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I read this and was concentrating so hard on the twists and turns you gave us. They were fantastic! But what was better was seeing Lij in my mind worming his way through the cracks and crevaces of deceipt and getting more intense and deeper (while poor Dom was on the pot or whatever available to be miserable in in that way). I wanted to see Tawaret squirm. I would love to know they suffered but I think that death by Lij would not mean sufferage because he is not a killer like this person. It is justice only and not cruel justice. It would be quick and far more merciful than poor Seth was given. But it is death. I could feel the relief in this knowledge (although after Inca I had this tiny fear of someone slipping away).
I wasn't shocked in the persons involved but HOW they were involved. You told a masterful story and surprised us all.
The letter from Seth was beautiful. I was so moved all through this with the deep conviction in Lij's heart to help Ramose and Seth recover their love in this death. It closed all questions for Ramose so he could continue on and know how Seth felt and how true to him he was. This is what Lij wanted. He didn't want their love spoiled in any way and wanted their path to always have a clear direction because of their true love for each other. It is an ageless love, soulful and transending. Just like Lij and Dom.

The ending was so sad for me. It die occur to me you might have Cormac coming to be with them on that ship. But, they was it ended, I hope Cormac has an ounce of strength or Anubis gives mercy for a connection. Lij and Dom have been so faithful.
hugs you so close. xoxoxoxoxo v

Date: 2009-09-13 10:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just like Lij and Dom, yes. They recognise that kind of love when it exists in others And Anubis is only the servant of Osiris, as you'll see. Not long to wait, now. Next part up as soon as LSR has done it. bless, she's so busy these days. Hugs you, too. ;D xxx

Date: 2009-09-09 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks very much, a most satisfactory conclusion to the *whodunnit* :-)

Sad about poor Cormac and sad for Dom. Will he pull through?

It's taken me a while to read it with being back at school... It takes up too much time, going to work!

Love and huggles

Date: 2009-09-10 01:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, you know how I am about happy endings! ;D But glad you enjoyed it. Hope you enjoy your weekend, too. Hugs xxx

Date: 2009-09-10 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh yes, *happy endings* are your speciality :-) I am reassured, thank you! And thanks re the weekend, I'm really looking forward to it!

Hugs back XXX

Date: 2009-09-13 10:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Darn the work! I hope you're having a lovely weekend with the girls. I'm sure you are. Hugs ;D xxx

Date: 2009-09-13 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We're having a super time, thanks! *Dracula* was fantastic! And although the weather was overcast and chilly for most of the day today, Jacqui and Yvonne both enjoyed the YWP :-)

Hugs back

Date: 2009-09-09 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I do love the way that you tell a story. This was wonderful, and I hope that there will be more.

Date: 2009-09-10 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I enjoyed writing it, a lot! Only two parts to go :D xxx

Date: 2009-09-13 10:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! Well, there will always be more - as I live and breathe - but Egypt might have to wait. Next is India. Different, but I'm enjoying it! ;D xxxx

Date: 2009-10-04 08:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love Dom's pride and admiration for Lij's cunning and the way he marvels at how much he loves Lij. How clever Lij is! And justice is done. O.o I had forgotten Lij's surprise. How sad, that it has turned out this way! XXOO

Date: 2009-10-04 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Poor lads - still, it all works out, as you must know. So, very few tears, really! xxxx


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