“About midnight, I will go through Egypt. Every firstborn son of pharaoh who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill and all the firstborn of the cattle as well…”
Pharaoh Thutmose II watched Moses with open disdain as he kept speaking. He wondered why he gave the man an audience in the first place.
The Lord this, the Lord that. He was sick to death of the pest and his invisible god.
Why wouldn’t he give up and go back to the hole he crawled from? Pharaoh Thutmose gritted his teeth and stubbornly refused to let his heart be troubled by the threats Moses kept spewing.
It simply couldn’t be done. What sort of a god had such power? To kill every first born son even to that of a hand maiden? He shook his head and couldn’t help a smirk. As he eased into his throne, he tried hard not to laugh; Moses had turned red in the face. Why was the man so angry?
After Moses finished speaking, Pharaoh didn’t even bat an eyelid as he watched him storm out of his throne room with Aaron, his minion of a brother, at his tail.
“Fool.” Pharaoh sneered as he stared at Moses’ retreating figure.
He was so full of hate for the man. Thutmose could see right through his pretentious claim to go worship their invisible god in the wilderness. He was certain that once the slaves were out of range, they’d try to escape. Not that the idea of them escaping bothered him, no; he just wanted to prove to Moses and his god that he too had powers of his own. He had gods, several for that matter.
‘Why didn’t they protect you from the plagues’, a tiny voice asked in his head. His heart sank at the thought. A deep frown clouded his features as the thought troubled him. Perhaps he should consider Moses’ threat.
Never! I am the Pharaoh of Egypt. I am god enough. Thutmose told himself.
He would never let them go, there was no way he would allow himself be manipulated. He shook his head vigorously, totally oblivious of the stares his strange behavior was attracting.
His kingdom wasn’t great enough. Even three days without the Hebrew workforce may cripple Egypt’s economy. He still had several massive projects, he needed the workforce. The Hebrews belonged to him! He was their god. It was because of his magnanimity that they were still alive.
His face twisted in a rather ugly scowl as he grabbed the nearest palace guard and whispered in a steely voice,
“Get me Rai.”
A slim tall woman dressed in a golden coloured sheath dress walked into Pharaohs throne room. She was a picture of quiet dignity and serenity, with deep brown eyes that gleamed with scorn and olive skin void of blemish. She held a smoking pot of hot coals in her right hand and an iron staff in the other.
Many knew her as one of the most powerful priestesses that Egypt ever had. They revered the ground she threaded, and looked upon her as the oracle of the gods themselves. She was a woman totally consumed by evil and her beauty seemed to give it all a nice wrap.
As Rai walked on, she basked in the look of awe and admiration on the people’s faces–all except Pharaoh. He was seated on his throne with a look of impatience and severe boredom. She could guess why he looked that way. Moses must have threatened again.
She had received the news of the plagues upon her return from her six months rite of intense meditation at the caves of Ma’at. When she journeyed through the once vibrant streets of Memphis in her canopied litter, the level of destruction and decay that marred the land shocked her.
The air literally stank! The fields were destroyed, save a few sprouts, no cattle dotted the plain fields and the Nile reeked like decayed corpses. She also noticed that everyone had ugly looking scabs on their bodies, including Pharaoh. She was grateful the plague hadn’t occurred when she was around, she couldn’t imagine her impeccable face scarred in any way.
As Rai stood in front of Pharaoh and his officials, she knew she had to deliver, if not, she might as well say bye-bye to her perfect head. It didn’t take much imagination to envision her dismembered body being thrown carelessly upon heaps of decomposing corpses. She gulped and discarded the troubling thought immediately, choosing to focus on the task at hand.
There was a light murmur about the throne room as she placed the burning pot on the floor. Her hand was totally unhurt by the sweltering pot, she mumbled her thanks to Ra then straightened.
“You summoned me, o great Pharaoh.” She bowed slightly at the mention of his name.
Pharaoh signaled for everyone to leave except his son and two scribes. The King’s lean figure was rigid with fury and the kohl that lined his small dark eyes added to his menacing look. Rai could almost swear the air pulsed with his rage.
“Forty two,” Pharaoh Thutmose said as he banged a bejeweled fist on his throne.
Rai looked at the king blankly, she did not understand what he meant.
“Forty two what, o wise Pharaoh?”
“Forty two magicians and sorcerers! The very best in the whole of Egypt. Do you know what I did to them?”
Rai swallowed but remained mute. She was too scared to speak.
“Answer me!” Pharaoh roared as he half rose from his throne.
“I do not know, my lord. I have been absent for the past six months.”
“Well, since you’ve been away, allow me to fill you in.”
He relaxed into his throne and fixed her with a heated stare. “I hung them all. Every single one of them. I also included their families and even their little ones were not spared. Do you understand what is at stake if you fail?”
Rai nodded. She was unable to find her voice.
“Good. Now that we understand each other, let me tell you Moses’ latest threat.”
When he started speaking, Rai felt fear’s cold grip encircle her gut, making her knees become weak. She wasn’t expecting this at all. The possibility that she might not be able to undo what Moses said made her feel a kind of terror she had never experienced before. She resisted the urge to enclose her slim finger round her slender neck… her perfect slender neck.
Rai was aware she suffered from extreme narcissism; she was literally in love with herself. Sometimes she would stand in front of the mirror for minutes on end, observing her features. She’d rub ointments on blemishes, adjust her long jet black hair a thousand and one times and pray away even the tiniest spot.
Now, the foreboding she felt concerning the situation at hand only made her weak all over; her spiritual calm was gradually crumbling. She nodded her head slowly as Pharaoh continued to rail about Moses and his god.
“…You must speak to the gods for me, perhaps they are tired of hearing my voice. Tell them to bring disgrace on Moses and his god!” The king spat at the mention of Moses’ name. A servant appeared almost immediately, wiped the spittle from the gleaming marble floor and disappeared into whatever invisible place he emerged from.
“I am sick to death of these people…these Hebrews. I would rather rid the world of them than let them go.” Pharaoh’s hand balled into a fist as he frowned heavily. His eyes were vacant, probably caught in a distant memory.
“…he grew up in this palace! They told me he was my uncle but there was a part of me that always suspected he wasn’t Egyptian….” Pharaoh stood as he continued to speak, pacing to and fro like a caged lion.
“I don’t believe this claim of his. Going to worship their god in the wilderness? Bah!” Pharaoh sat again, the lost expression still on his face.
“There has to be something else. I’m not stupid. Do I look stupid?”
Rai raised an elegant brow. Was she to answer the question? She noticed the scribes looked very disturbed, maybe they feared for their master’s sanity. His son decided to answer the question.
“No, father. You are the wisest, the bravest; you are the shining star of Egypt.”
Rai stifled a snort as she silently regarded the prince. He reminded her of a snake. He was twenty-six years old, his father’s first son, and the heir to the throne. She couldn’t explain why he didn’t strike her as the next Pharaoh. Maybe it was his look. All his features were long and scrawny; from his narrow head to his ridiculously long feet.
Rai instantly felt uncomfortable as the prince turned bulbous eyes in her direction. A leering smile spread across his thin lips as he stared at her openly. He looked like a smiling serpent.
“So, do you understand my father’s request?” He had a feminine voice, hardly that of an authoritative ruler.
“I understand. I will speak to the gods and hear what they have to say. If–”
“Don’t just speak to the gods!” The king bellowed. Rai tried not to jump at the intimidating sound, she noticed the prince still had the sardonic smile on his queer face. How she itched to curse him with an infirmity, he’d see if he would have the teeth to smile at her then.
“They must give you a satisfactory reply. Do you hear me?!” the king shouted as he pointed a long bony finger in her direction.
Now Rai was very scared, she tried to still her breathing but the fear she felt was so intense. “Yes your majesty. I would speak to them and pray they give me a satisfactory reply.” She hoped her voice didn’t sound as shaky as she felt inside.
The Pharaoh’s voice was low and full of threat when he spoke his final words. “Then better pray hard, because if the reply is not satisfactory, that beautiful head of yours would be hanging in my gallows first thing at the break of dawn. You may leave.”
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