Apprentice: The Tale of Meren

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Apprentice: The Tale of Meren

Postby Rivaan » Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:57 pm

*nervous* Ok guys. Well I decided to get started with this. I am actually re-reading Warlock again since it's been 5 years, so please excuse any discrepencies on my part. I will try to keep things accurate to the previous books.

On to the legal stuff.

The characters used in my fan fiction are the property of Wilbur Smith. They were originally created by him and as he has used them, so will I. This is a work of fiction and any similarities with persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This work cannot be used for monetary gains by anyone, unless Wilbur Smith himself wants to use an idea from it. Then he can email or PM me :wink:

Your comments and suggestions will be appreciated ^_^ So without further ado..


APPRENTICE - The Tale of Meren
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"You miss them." Anyone would be able to tell, by the expression worn on his face, but it was especially easy for the warlock. "We have not gone far. You can still go back, Meren." He already knew what reply awaited him.
"What is there for me, Taita? Nefer is happy. He deserves to be. I have yet to find happiness once more after it was taken from me." Sighing, Meren's thoughts turned to his lost love - the princess Merykara. Everything turned out for the good of Egypt, but what he was thinking now could be assumed treason. "I would give anything to be able to go back and change the course of history. She meant even more to me than this very E-" Taita's finger on his lips, played as an interruption.
"Hush, boy! If you say careless things like that.. who knows who may be listening?" Meren looked around, before his expression changed.
"So, old friend. Where to next?"
"We will stay in this inn for now. But we must leave early for there is much to learn and we won't get anywhere by dawdling. Have an early night tonight."
"I plan to." With a nod from each, they agreed upon their next course of action and Taita retired to his bed.
________________________________________________________________________

As the sun's glint began to show over the horizon, the rudimentary rays of red light ran streaks through the lightening blue skies. Taita awoke with ease and made his way to Meren's room to rouse him from his sleep. As he approached, he saw the door slightly ajar and positioned himself to see through the crack. Upon eying the empty bed, it's covers strewn roughly over it, Taita burst in to face the problem of his missing protégé. He stepped over to the bed and placed his palm onto the surface to feel for warmth. There was still some heat there, indicating to him that Meren had left not too long ago. As he stood from his bent position, though, he felt a hand grasp onto his shoulder and hold onto him firmly, before a gruff voice carried to his ears. "Finally, I have found you, warlock." He spun on his heels to see Meren flashing his cheeky grin at him before speaking in his usual voice. "Do you not knock, Taita?" Ignoring the young man's question, the aging physician tightly took hold of his wrist and scolded him.
"Don't you ever do that again, you ruffian! Honestly, you shall be the death of this old man." Meren's expression changed to one of hurt feelings.
"Don't say that, Taita. I am sorry for my joke." After appeasing Taita a little later at breakfast with some of his fruit, they both stepped into the morning coolness and took the horses Pharoah had placed for them outside the building. Two fine stallions, one black and one a deep shade of cedar wood, that stood majestically in wait for their new masters, already familiar with the pair from meeting them several times before.

"Hi hah!" They rode out at a fast pace, with Meren leading by a fraction on the tanned horse, heading north from Thebes, a long shadow casting along the ground as they travelled under Taita's direction. The young rider was eager to show up the first Egyptian to ever ride a horse, as they raced towards their destination, with rocks of the primary colors passing from in front to behind them in a matter of moments. Gebel Nagara awaited them.
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Postby Nefer » Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:09 am

You're planning more, I hope?! It's really good! Great descriptions - I actually jumped a little when Meren grabs Taita! (It could be due to the fact that I'm up really early - but we'll put it down to your writing skills!)
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Postby Matbow » Tue Apr 18, 2006 2:53 pm

Yep, good stuff! More!
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Postby Rivaan » Tue Apr 18, 2006 4:38 pm

Thanks for the comments! I edited a bit of the first post to add a little more detail to two parts that I felt were lacking some.

I will do the next part either today or tomorrow.
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Postby Meren Lover » Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:25 am

I just joined the forums and i dunno if i'll do a story or not, but i jst wanted to say that i've read a few of Wilbur Smith's books and i luv them and i really like ur story especially becuase it has Meren in it, lol, please keep going. :wink:
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Postby Rivaan » Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:18 am

I am glad people like my work. I hope you like the second chapter too ^_^


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The Horus familiar was swept with thoughts of his dearly departed mistress as he returned yet again to his place of solace after the death of his lady Lostris. He remembered her as she was when the flower of her red moon had opened for the first time; young, with smooth skin, ripe amply sized breasts - each with a rosy bud on the end, her natural hair in a plaited rope over her shoulder.
"Bir Umm Masara.."
Taita's thoughts turned back to the present and he looked at Meren. "What did you say?"
"Bir Umm Masara. It's close by, isn't it? Nefer told me of his hunt for his godbird, and how it had ended so abruptly on that mountain."
"Yes. It is over the hills in that direction." He shifted Meren's gaze towards a rise in the lands, before his finger moved to another area closer to them. "And this is our destination. For now."
Once they had reached the bottom of the cliff that stood tall above Gebel Nagara, they dismounted from their horses and drank from their waterskins. An hour passed as they sat and spoke of old times, and of plans for the future. Feeling refreshed, Meren rose to his feet, letting Taita rest. "I shall set up our home in this place for us." As he was saying this, he spied a far distant object. A black speck across the desert, with a trail of dust and sand rising slowly into the air behind it. "We have company." Taita stood and shaded his face, from the light and heat of the sun, to better allow him to distinguish the far figure.
"It comes this way. Meren, prepare yourself."
"I already have." He waved the bow to show the old man, before nocking an arrow as the figure came closer into view.
"A Bedouin.." Taita murmered. "He is bringing something with him."
At last the visitor reached them and slowed down the beast upon which he rode. He had a crooked nose and thick hair down to his shoulders, while a beard decorated his face. His features were shaped into a smile as he greeted them. "You have returned, oh great healer. My son was correct when he told me he saw an old man upon a horse, riding as fast as the winds blew strong. I knew he could only mean one. I forgive you for not recognizing me. I was brought to you here as a young man suffering from the disease of the yellow flowers. You had saved me with... No not with this man. It was a boy."
"That boy is now Pharoah." At Meren's interruption, the man could only look at them as the truth of the matter dawned upon him.
"Is this true?"
"It is" Taita took over, to speak to the man once more. "What brings you here?"
"I bring a long overdue thank you for your help with my ailment earlier in life. Please accept these many bags of dhurra millet cakes as well as these jars of wine."
"Thank you. These will serve us well." The food passed from the bearded man into the possesion of the two journeyers, and Meren stored it towards the back of their temporary abode.
________________________________________________________________________

The night air was cold and Taita slept peacefully by the fire as his young companion sat alone with his thoughts. Upon the old man's orders, he was to sit still, not moving, and not allowing a single stray thought to enter his mind. For the most part this was accomplishable, but into the small hours of the night Meren's solitude was disturbed. Taita turned in his sleep and murmered unintelligible remarks to himself. As his dream went on these outbursts got significantly more troublesome as he was now raising his voice. Meren tried to ignore it, until he noticed the beads of perspiration on his mentor's face. Reluctantly he called out. "Taita. Taita!" The old warlock began to weep uncontrolably in his sleep until he muttered something Meren was able to pick up; Lostris.

"Taita. My dear beloved Taita, I miss you so." In her ripe teenage beauty, the fourteen year old queen-to-be looked down on her slave with a loving smile, the tears in her eyes. Taita's own face matched hers as the salty liquid streamed down his cheeks. His chest was pounding with a love that never died in all the years his life had offered him. Every beat it drummed sounded her name, proving his heart beat for no other. She went on "I have been watching over you always but it is too much for me, this distance. In my life I loved Tanus, but my love for you never faltered. Tanus and I, we have both been waiting. There's not too long now, my darling. You shall be by my side once more, in all your whole form, and you will finally take me as your woman. The time draws near but I ask you to fulfill just one more duty for me in your current life. You must ensure my family will survive once I have selfishly called for you." She smiled her familiar, trusting, naive smile at him. "I know you will find a way, Taita. You have never failed to disappoint me in life or in death. Please complete this final task, and then come to me."

The next morning seemed like all others would be. Taita had sent his young companion into the desert with the orders to bring back a meaty one. As surely as he agreed, Meren had brought back a freshly slain gazelle, the arrow still protruding out from its chest. As it's steaks were being simmered on the flame, Meren was unable to keep his curiosity at bay. "What was it about? Last night, your dream. You mentioned the former Queen Lostris." The silence that followed was deadly and Meren felt as if he had possibly overstepped his boundaries with the man, before he received a reply.
"She appeared to me again, like she had done the night before we left Thebes. She told me I had another task to fulfill."
"I see... And why did you have me sit the whole night without a thought or movement or sleep?"
"That is for your own self-awareness. You shall be doing that every night, so you had better get used to it, you lazy scoundrel!"
"What!? Every night? I think that's.." He would have continued but he knew it was pointless to argue with him. "Then I had better get some sleep now to prepare for tonight." Meren lay onto a gazelle skin, unaware that he would only be getting four hours of sleep, despite his efforts. Only Taita knew the importance of what was to come, in time.
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Postby Nefer » Wed Apr 19, 2006 12:00 pm

This story is getting good! :D

& glad to see you join, Meren Lover! Thanks for giving Meren support (writers always need reviews :))
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Postby Bee » Thu Apr 20, 2006 2:55 pm

Hey Meren!

This is an amazing story. I've only read the first part, but I'm already intrigued! Keep it up!
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Postby Rivaan » Thu Apr 20, 2006 8:25 pm

Thanks Bee! I'm glad you and everyone else enjoys it. It really does spur me to do more, when I would have normally given up. But to know people like reading it and want to see it continue is just what I need to push my imagination to create more.

Ok a little warning.. This third chapter is gruesome and may be a little unnerving or offending to some. If this may be the case please don't read it. I will summarise shortly, and without detail, what happened in this chapter when I put up the fourth chapter, at the start of that post. If you do read it, it may be best not to be eating at the time, or not to have just eaten, lol. Well.. Enjoy!

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They moved about without much hesitation as a young child was brought forward toward the altar of the temple of Seth in Abydos. The boy was led before a small crowd of priests who chanted incantations to the god of chaos and darkness. Hesitant to move at first, the boy's purpose had already been explained to him before the ceremony, yet he had not completely accepted his fate as he walked to the area at the center of the group's attention. On his laying down atop the alter, a single man, new to adulthood, stepped up through the gathering and produced a long, dark hilted dagger with a handle encrusted with jewels, and raised it high. "O Seth, son of the earth and sky, brother of life and death, husband to the fertile land of the Nile. Accept our offering unto you. This child shall be sent to you as you had sent your own brother." At these words the boy shuddered and turned his head to face the knifeman.
"I hope you will gain the favor of Seth, brother." He could barely make out his older brother's face in the dim lights of the torches that hung on the walls.
"I am sure I will, with this sacrifice. Thank you for accepting." He smiled, as his young sibling prepared himself for death. He knew his brother could not change what was to take place whether he chose to accept or refuse. "Not yet.. Before you die, we will dice you into many pieces. You shall be my Osiris and I shall be your Seth. Are you not happy?"
"I- I am happy." The boy's voice quivered with fear as he looked up to the ceiling, his vision blurring as tears began to form and build up in the corners of his eyes, before falling down the sides of his face. The young priest put the knife to the boy's neck.
"Bless my cuts, mighty Seth." With this, he slit the boy's throat. As the blood sprayed out of him, his life-force rapidly depleting, the man made some more slashes, cutting off his fingers, before chopping his wrists and elbows and shoulders. With his arms separated, he worked from the child's toes, to his ankles and knees, and then to his hips, systematically segmenting his body at the joints and ignoring his young sibling's flinches. The flesh cut so easily with the sharpened blade. The boy's eyes shot open at every rough incision, however with the cut in his throat, he was unable to scream, but instead bit off his own tongue between his clenched teeth, the blood in his mouth slowly drowning him. Next was the stomach. A wide, deep slice separated it from his chest, his lowest ribs visible from his chest while his viscera began pouring out of the gaping hole of his lower abdomen, before the final act of decapitation was performed. The head rolled off the altar, and was caught by the young man before being placed beside the body. The priest's face was drawn into a smile as his brother's suffering was ended, but moreso at the finishing of the dismembering ritual, and at what now came with it. He could not help but feel excited at the honor that had been placed upon him, by taking the role of Seth, and all he needed to do was sacrifice that which had been a burden to him in all it's years of existence. He turned to his peers and lifted the knife once more in the air, this time covered in fresh blood. "And with this I, Kamenwati, shall accept the task placed before me, of leading your followers to do your bidding oh great Seth!"
"Bak-her! Bak-her!" The cries started with one and were taken up by the others. "Bak-her!"What would have been considered unnacceptable to most was revered as a sacred act in parts of the Lower Kingdom; a land where the god Seth was the chief deity in the Egyptian pantheon. The cheers went on for some time in the dark temple.
________________________________________________________________________

"Nefer.." Upon hearing his name called so sweetly, the Pharoah looked to his new bride's face and smiled. He walked up to her standing figure and kissed her neck, ready for another night of passion. His hands reached around her body and lay on her buttocks before he squeezed them in his palms. She yelped in delight, but had to stop him. "Nefer, not now. I went to see the royal physician Taita had trained and left with us." Nefer didn't plan on stopping as he knew she liked it, until he had heard her words. He looked at her inquisitively.
"And?" She smiled and placed his hand on her belly, before nodding to him. His eyes went wide with surprise. "You mean..?" Again she nodded and smiled warmly at him.
"I am carrying your heir in my womb." The words hadn't quite sunk into the shocked Nefer's mind before she added "You are to be a sire!" When he heard this, he grinned widely before embracing his equally jubilant wife.
"I love you so much Mintaka!"
"I know you do, Nefer. You are everything to me and this child is the proof of our feelings." She kissed him gently on the lips and closed her teary eyes as he returned the kiss, before they slept in each others' arms that night.
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In your replies, please let me know what you think of this chapter, and of Kamenwati also! Thank you ^_^

Oh and a little trivia. Kamenwati means "dark rebel" in Ancient Egyptian. It would have been a nickname as opposed to a name, so it isn't the priest's real name.
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Postby i_heart_nefie » Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:14 am

i love your story meren, it's very very good! I'm so excited to see what happens with this!!! And how cute is it that Mintakas having a baby!
"I would very much like to come hunting with you please...." - Little Mem
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Postby Nefer » Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:07 pm

Gracious me... That was really good!

And as for Kamenwati - yeah. Nasty piece of work, eh? I suppose that's the effect you're going for, so that's all good :) I kinda got the feeling little bro' had no idea what his older bro' thought of him.
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Postby Rivaan » Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:35 pm

Yep yep! :D I want Kamenwati to be someone people will hate. And little bro had no idea. He went along with being a sacrifice out of love for him.

I like to research about what I am writing before I put it in my story, just like WS. I did extensive research on Seth before the third chapter. I aim to add an air of authenticity to my fanfic.
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Postby Meren Lover » Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:44 am

Wow, awesome. Your really good at this, lol. Please keep going and i am so happy u mentioned Mintaka and Nefer, to me they are a vital part to any story, lol.
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Postby Bee » Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:10 pm

That was amazing Meren. Mind you skimmed through the gruesome part (too much for me). I'm looking forward to the next chapter. I also like that you're doing research and trying to be accurate! Keep it up!
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Postby Kate4Tanus » Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:55 am

I really love your story Meren! It is so sweet with Mintaka and Nefer! I love them so! Continue soon! I am really excited to read yours! It is so great and descriptive!
'You were ever more than a tutor to me,' Memnon answered softly. 'You where the father I never knew.'
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Postby Rivaan » Mon Apr 24, 2006 8:53 am

Thank you so much for your comments everyone! :D

In case you didn't read the last chapter, we saw Kamenwati, a dark priest of Seth, sacrificing his little brother in the same fashion Seth disposed of Osiris, by cutting him into little pieces. I was quite graphic with my account of this, although what followed it was a tender moment between two sweethearts.

I was stumped about what to do next, but I finally decided to just do something as you guys were waiting for me to continue. Please forgive me if you don't find this chapter as eventful as the others. I am using it to lead on to the next chapter's events (a hint at the next chapter is in the last spoken line of this chapter).

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Every day was the same; hunt in the day, meditate at night, and sleep whenever possible. Their horses were stronger than before, since the pair rode them out every day to exercise them as they gathered their own meat. Meren felt he was in miserable times with his lack of sleep, but spurred himself on when he thought of Merykara watching over him. He couldn't disappoint her, and thus allowed Taita to instruct him in whatever way he deemed necessary, although he mostly watched the healer and assisted in whatever way he could, when the local inhabitants came to them with problems of illness. Their dwelling stayed the same throughout the months and Meren adjusted to his new lifestyle in time.

"This girl is very pale. A lack of blood?" Meren looked at the unconscious body laying before him after announcing this. She was only thirteen years old and the suspicions were growing in his mind. He turned to Taita. "You don't suppose she loses her blood through the monthly cleanses of the female body, do you?" Taita smiled at him.
"That's exactly what I think, Meren. And what do you suggest we do for her?"
"Easy." He made his way to the old man's equipment layed out on the floor by the wall and pulled out a few leaves and powders. "These."
"Good." Taita reached into his wooden chest and felt around with his fingers as he questioned his learned assitant. "You know what proportions to mix them at, don't you?"
"I do, Taita." Meren put some red powder, along with some narrow orange leaves, and water into a stone bowl before crushing them together with a pestle. The rhythmic churnings were almost hypnotic as the stone surface of the tool in his hand clashed with the mortar containing the mix. Once a thick paste was formed, he added heated water to it and a pungent odour wafted into his nostrils. "Oh.." Meren started to feel dizzy and shuffled back, closer to the opening of their home to take in some fresh air. Taita called to him.
"That's the sign. Now give that to the girl."
Once Meren had recovered, he came back into the center of the room and picked up the bowl. "Hurry up, you old man."
"I am looking for it. Just get the bowl ready at her lips."
Meren smiled when he received the command. "No."
Taita looked at him, surprised. "No? Stop fooling around boy." Meren walked to their food store and took out a millet cake from a sack before coming back to the girl. Taita was puzzled. "What are you doing?"
"Taita, you saw what that smell just did to me. We can't possible give that to her."
"It's how I have always done it. Do you suggest we change the methods that have worked since before you were born?" At the challenge, Meren took a knife and spread the thin paste over the cake in his hand, before coating the top with a layer of cream. He woke the girl from her sleep by rubbing her shoulder. Taita had found what he was searching for and held it to his lips.
"Hey.. wake up.. Here." As she sat up, she took the food from Meren and began to eat it. At first her face grimaced, but the creamy after-taste wiped out the initial bitterness of the mixture. "It will help you if you eat this." She nodded and continued, before finishing and asking for more. He gave her more of the cakes until the pink paste in the bowl was finished. All the while, Taita was whispering to himself while holding his periapt to his mouth, creating a spell to increase the potency of the medicine the girl was ingesting. When it was done, he sat with his back to the wall, looking at the object in his hand. Holding it, he felt closer to his departed mistress than at any other time. He eyed what was inside the periapt; while she was on the embalming table, he had managed to snip a lock of beautiful hair from the head of his dear Lostris which he now treasured above all other belongings. Through his devotion to her, Taita had been able to achieve powerful effects with his already magnificent abilities, as well as familiarisation with the gods themselves. Meren finished up with the girl and sent her back to her family, as she was already regaining her energy. He then made his way to where Taita sat, and prepared himself for his nightly sitting. They were silent for many minutes before Taita spoke up.
"Tomorrow we leave.. Get a good sleep." He had shocked Meren with this change in routine, but it was welcome none the less.
"Will we return?"
"Not in my plans."
"Where are we going?"
"It is approaching the time of the royal birth. We shall be present to witness it and to help deliver the child into this world." Meren was silent as he thought about seeing his dear friend once more, before laying down and finally drifting off to sleep.
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Postby Kate4Tanus » Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:36 am

I love it! You are such a good writer Meren! I am really interested in your story! Keep up the great work!
'You were ever more than a tutor to me,' Memnon answered softly. 'You where the father I never knew.'
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Postby i_heart_nefie » Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:54 am

i love it too. taita seems really strict with meren huh
"I would very much like to come hunting with you please...." - Little Mem
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Postby Kate4Tanus » Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:56 am

Meren is like his little kid! hee hee I love it!
'You were ever more than a tutor to me,' Memnon answered softly. 'You where the father I never knew.'
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Postby Rivaan » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:17 am

Lol. Taita has to be strict with Meren for what he has seen for Meren's future. Thanks for your appreciation, girls. Because of you all, I have now done 5 chapters in 8 days, LOL!

Well.. Here it is! Chapter 5. I had fun writing this chapter, as I was able to show that Meren was as potent as the best physicians of Egypt (barring Taita). I hope you guys enjoy it like you have enjoyed the others!

Oh.. Please don't read it if you are offended easily. With that aside.. It's time to give birth! Lol!

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The screams echoed down the halls of the palace. Nefer was holding his wife's hand throughout her ordeal and was constantly shouting orders at the Divine Midwife. He appeared to be in more control of the situation than the assigned woman. He raised Mintaka's head close to his own. "This is what we have been waiting for, my darling. Push with all your might! Let the child come out of the home it has made for itself inside you. I am here and I won't leave your side!"

Mintaka was in agony. Every push she made was met with the feeling that her opening was blocked, as if by a cork, stopping her from acheiving her goal. She tried gripping the sheets beneath her in her free hand, while holding Nefer's palm tightly with the other. The Pharoah could see the sweat drenching her beautiful features as she pushed with all her strength. At that moment, Taita burst past the guards at the door. They had recognized him instantly and allowed him through. Meren followed close behind, holding the chest of equipment belonging to the magus. The boney fingers of the old man shot into the pouch in his belt and he immediately brought out his charm; the periapt of Lostris. Meren set out the tools and ingredients and stood beside the midwife, before Nefer turned to him smiling. "Meren.. It's been a while. Come here, by my side. There is no need for you to stand there." Upon hearing his request, Meren replied.
"I have missed you Nefer. A lot! But we will have to catch up later. I am afraid I cannot stand with you for this momentous occasion." Seeing the puzzled expression on the face of his dear companion, he went on. "After all, who else is going to deliver to you this child?" Concerned at what he had just heard, Nefer turned to Taita who nodded and closed his eyes as he continued to chant to himself. "Trust me, Nefer. I have been under Taita's tutelage all this time and have learned much already."
"Alright my brother of the Red Road. I put my trust in you. Please bring my child into this world." At this instruction, Meren mixed some Red Shepenn and administered a minute amount, to ease some of the queen's pain. Her wailing was soothed and she continued to push just as hard, but not as loudly.
"Ok, your majesty. I think you are ready. You have to push when I tell you, Mintaka!" He spread her legs a little more to hopefully widen her birth passage. It worked, as his view into her womb increased. "Ok push as hard as you can now. Taita, please work your power with this." She gave a strong push, to deliver her child from it's place inside her body.
"I.." She continued with her push once more. "..will do this for you, my beloved-!" After another push, the midwife, who was beside Meren, was now shouting with excitement.
"I can see the head! The head is out! Push again your majesty!"
It took three more pushes before the baby had finally exited from Mintaka's body. Meren held onto it as the snake-like cord was cut, by the ecstatic woman next to him, to separate the child from it's mother. He then cleaned the infant and placed it into the Pharoah's awaiting arms.. Nefer looked down, the pride evident in his eyes as the tears began to well in them. Meren finally made the announcement to the awaiting witnesses of the royal event. "It is a healthy boy!" Joyous cries went up, before the crowd left the room to exclaim the news to the rest of Egypt. Upon hearing their departure, Taita opened his eyes and stepped towards the exhausted Mintaka, while Nefer gave her the child. She was pale and the tears had already been streaking down her cheeks for more than an hour now, yet her beauty was undiminished. When the warlock saw the baby, he let out a gasp of awe. This was indeed a sign from the gods, of the child's future characteristics. After a minute of silence, the party waited to hear his words, at which point the old man looked to the father and spoke.
"Nefer.. you must call this child Tanus."
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Rivaan
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