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Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-27-00 20:31 ET (US)         
Row by row, the stone benches of the city's theater began to fill with spectators there to see the performance all of Rome was talking about. A story of Egypt, Queen Cleopatra, the Great Library of Alexandria and the time of the Roman Conquest, but with a twist. History might be changed. New characters would emerge. Favorite characters would return. The twist is... Ahhh, but then we would be giving away the ending, wouldn't we....

This the audience did know:

TONE: Situation comedy with serious moments (but nothing silly).
STRUCTURE: Medium (2 paragraphs) or longer episodes (posts).
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Encouraged.
VIOLENCE: Non-gratuitous (No gross violence)

The cast is now gathered behind the stage entries each waiting their turn to perform. The audience becomes quiet as their anticipation grows. Their imaginations expand to encompass the stage, viewing it as if it were reality. In their mind's eye, the time becomes that of the last Pharaoh; the stage is covered in the sands of Egypt; the pyramids are visible in the distance. The story is now at hand.

AuthorReplies:
Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 06-18-00 16:08 ET (US)     51 / 121       
And neither does Ramesses know about those wings...I do wish you'd read the story before posting...

Alexandria looek different from most Egyptian cites, less convoluted, more straight roads. They'd gotten off at the harbour and were greeted by the sight of the Pharos. Multiple stories high, decked with banners and the light reflecting from the mirror so bright, it seemed to outshine the sun.

MRed turned to the others and said:
"I need to make a short stop at the Emporium to stack up on some more herbals. I also need to check on the staff and see if they've been behaving themselves."
She turned to Jayhawk
"We're making some nice profit on that poppy-steepd wine from your estate, you sure you don't want a cut of the profits?"
"I'm sure, MRed. Just enjoy what comes your way."
The angel smiled and felt a tug on his hand. As he looked round he was caught in Incon's bright smile.
"Come on we got to get some decent clothes. Where's the bazaar?"
"What's wrong with these?" Jayhawk asked looking down at the white kilt and jewlery he was wearing.
Incon looked him up and down.
"It's...old fashioned. Come on, I'm sure I can help you."
Grabbing Jayhawk by the arm she marched off to the bazar quarter.

"You think we'll recognise him again?" Civis asked Zen.
Zen smiled an inscrutable smile.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-18-00 20:25 ET (US)     52 / 121       
"Everyone's doing something except us," exclaimed Civis Romanus. "I know," he said to Zen. "Let's do some siteseeing!"

Zen considered the proposal for a brief moment. Let's see. MRed is getting herbals and taking care of lodging. Incon is taking care of Jayhawk. That persnickity bureaucrat at the dock has been 'adjusted'. Why not!

"Seems a good idea to me," he replied. "I know the perfect place." Follow me. Civis followed Zen without a further word. While the Roman had been in Egypt literally in times past and in the future, he had never seen Alexandria at any time and was immensely curious. Zen led him down a series of streets until both arrived at a high point in the city giving them a clear view of their surroundings.

"Just how big is this city, Zen?" asked Civis.

"Maybe 900,000 souls, maybe over a million. The only city bigger we know of is Roma itself. Look to the North, Civis. There's the island of Pharos and its famous Lighthouse. Now to the south... There's the lake some call Mareotis. To the northeast is a great building housing a school of medicine and there, near it, is what you seek. There, my friend, is the Great Library itself."

"Magnificent! Absolutely magnificent!" exclaimed Civis. "But Zen, I know the supposed fate of the Library. What happens to the Lighthouse?"

"Destroyed."

"How can a structure as well constructed as that be destroyed?"

"Patience, Civis. There is much more to learn about this city beyond the Lighthouse. You will learn its fate. It's the Great Library that should be your concern for now."

Civis knew Zen's nature and as a close friend to Jayhawk, was one of the few who knew these beings did indeed have wings; but kept them hidden in a variety of ways, including the use of illusion. One characteristic of these 'angels' was their incredibly deliberate, cautious way of giving information to mortals such as Civis. In their own way and in their own good time. Civis learned this early on through his adventures with Jayhawk.

Zen turned to Civis and very pointedly said, "Do you understand now why Julius Caesar came with his legions? Why he desired that this jewel should become an ally or possession of Rome?"

"Yes, most assuredly. But there was one who stood in his way and ultimately deferred Egypt's falling under Roman sway."

"That is true, Civis. You know who that was, don't you?

"Of course, Zen. That one was Cleopatra. Shall we join the others now?"

"Certainly." They made their way back to their prearranged rendevous.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 06-18-2000).]

MRed94
Pleb
posted 06-19-00 04:08 ET (US)     53 / 121       
Just a small note.....MRed has been supplying wing conditioner for a very long time to the angels, and so knows about them, also. She keeps the secret well, tho.....

MRed was busily fixing problems, settling disputes, and restocking shelves in her wonderful Emporium. She also wrote many notes to her friends, reminding them about all of the things that had been forgotten to be picked up or dropped off, as she has been very busy with traveling to and fro for the past few months.....She continually talks to and reassures her staff, and lays out herbals for all for a small celebration commemorating her one billionth customer.......

Meanwhile....................

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 06-19-00 06:53 ET (US)     54 / 121       
Meanwhile in the Grand Bazaar.
Tusky had decided early on that shopping was not his idea of fun, certainly not in these small streets, and had taken a stroll to the Alexandria Zoo, where he was busy teasing the local hippos.

Incon was looking at Egyptian linnen and Ch'in silks, trying this dress now that. Jayhawk had given some coins to a couple of street urchins that were carrying baskets filled Incon's buys.

"Oh, look at this one? Do you think it goes with my hair? No? How about this one then?"

The angel looked on with a smile on his face. Even though he'd known his friend for years now, she never failed to amaze him when the shopping bug bit her.
"That one goes well with your eyes, I'd say," he replied.

The Londinium Governor threw Jayhawk a bright smile and happily disappeared into another of the little shops.
"Just add it to one of the baskets, " he told the shopkeeper as he handed the small man some coins.

A few hours later they were walking back towards the harbour. Incontinentia had managed to convince Jayhawk in to buying a seagreen kilt and some new kohl and jewelry for the dance. The two boys had grown to seven.
"You know, " she said, "I'm really impressed with what Alexander has done in this city. There's a hundred things I can build in Londinium."
"Alexander you say? Hold on." the angel looked around him and then bent to one of the little boys.
"I'll double your price when you guys wait here for half another."
"Yes master, " the boy nodded as Jayhwak rose again.
"Come, " he said to Incon and held out his hand.

Together they crossed the small street and took an even narrower one between two houses. Incontinentia followed through half a dozen turns and streets progressively growing more narrow. She wondered what her friend was up to now, when suddenly he stopped and opened a doorway. Down a flight of stairs he led her into what seemed a tomb.
"Where are we?" Incon whispered.
"Almost there, " he stopped and lit a brazier.

The room was small, decorated with a mixture of Greek and Egyptian painting. On a slab in the middle of the room lay a young man. Small of stature and with red-golden hair, he seemed frozen in time. He was dressed in simple robes a look of tranquility on his face that was never his when alive.
"Who..."
"Alexander, my Lady. This is the lost tomb of Alexander. As you can see it's not really lost, but not many know of its esistence. After he died he was brought to Egypt, where he was embalmed by the great mage, Hermes Trismegistos."
"He's...beautiful, " Incontinentia sighed.
"Maybe I'll bring you to him some day..." the angel murmered, "I think he'd be delighted to meet you."

Minutes went buy as the looked upon the city's namegiver, then Jayhawk doused the brazier and led Incon back into the brightlight of the streets.

MRed94
Pleb
posted 06-19-00 12:31 ET (US)     55 / 121       
MRed had emerged from her Emporium, and was now in the Grand Bazaar, also.

Her voice could be heard over some of the other noise in the bazaar:

"What? You mean to tell me that you are charging such an outrageous price for such a sorry bunch of herbs as these? I could grow better herbs in Miletus!"

The shopkeeper hung his head as her tirade continued.

"Oh, see here." she said. "Take this, and sprinkle it on your fields, and I guarantee that your next crop with be a stupendous one." She reached into her ever-present carrier, and handed him a small bag of some whitish powder.

"Now, don't let me see you with anything but the best herbals that you can grow from now on." MRed took a few bunches of the pitiful herbs, and tossing a coin at the vendor, walked away shaking her head.

"Won't these people ever learn?" she muttered. "All they ever need to do is come in and ask, they all know that I am the Master Herbalist in these parts. What I don't know about growing things isn't worth mentioning. Geeeez....."

She continued on her way, with many of the vendors looking at her in apprehension, knowing that while her manner is sometimes rough, she only wants them all to succeed, and will give them all she can to help..................

Meanwhile............

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-19-00 16:02 ET (US)     56 / 121       
Civis trailed a step or two behind the hurrying Zen. "Are we there yet?" the Roman asked.

"Are we where?" queried Zen in reply.

"The rendevous point, of course. I have no clue where it's supposed to be. I wasn't there when you all decided."

"Well Civis, just where were you?"

"Zen, for pity's sake! Eye to eye with fishes having a barge banquet... you know! Don't make me think about it, okay?! So like I said, where's the rendevous point."

Zen suddenly stopped in his tracks and turned around. "Here."

Civis nearly collided with the angel but stopped himself just in time. The Roman looked around to see what "here" was and "who" was "here". These were the sights that filled his eyes...

Ramesses
Pleb
posted 06-19-00 17:59 ET (US)     57 / 121       
" If only i had come through here years ago, I could have stopped these outrageous prices!" said Ramesses.

" Tell me about those prices, they jump so much in one day! In Thebes, that is only half the price!" said Mred.

" So, what is it like in Thebes, is it as great of a city as it used to be?" asked Ramesses.

" When was used to be?" asked Civis

" Oh... nothing... nothing at all!" remarked Nephisis.

The group continued their shopping. Yet the Egyptians seemed to watch more, and they looked as if they were in a foriegn land. Mred and Incon were still shopping when they noticed a very peculier item. 'Special kohl, lasts for a millenia' read a title.

" That looks good over there!" said Incon.

Ramesses looked at it. Then a strange voice came in his head. He didn't know it, but it was whispering something in a different tounge. Almost sounded like jibberish "Isenwieh elalgeimeir yatia shimazu kitia" Ramesses stopped.

Jayhawk noticed something was wrong. Ramesses had a strange look, but he read the mortals mind. This man was indeed immortal, but did not master the powers as well as he could. Then a voice, Imhotep's voice. But Ramesses couldn't remember. As if he was struck with fear so great, he didn't recognise anything.

" What's wrong, why have you stopped?" asked Mred.

Then Ramesses collapsed. Mred thought about the herbals, but Ramesses was as tan as an Egyptian could be. 'What had befallen Ramesses?' thought Mred.

Meanwhile, Zen was hurrying but nobody knew what for. It seemed that he was running through the streets.

"WAIT UP ZEN, WE HAVE A PROBLEM HERE!"

------------------
-Sitting here rotting of boredom and eyes that won't stay open.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-19-00 20:48 ET (US)     58 / 121       
Ramesses tossed and turned on his cot. Horrible dream, strange dream, agonizing dream... "Wake up Ramesses, this isn't reality," a nagging voice said in his mind.

It was his own voice telling him to return to reality. The young man woke up in a cold sweat. He was in his chamber near the dock. Some of the dream was still fresh in his memory. Imhotep? He's dead of poison and buried. His story is long since written and ended.

Zen? Jayhawk? Civis? Who are these people? Try as he might, Ramesses couldn't put faces with names or places with faces. (Zen's mind twist continued to work its effect) He decided he should end his afternoon nap and return to the dock to fulfill his duties to the Queen, return to his home and then with Nephisis get prepared for the Queen's Lambada Contest.

Incontinentia
Pleb
posted 06-19-00 21:48 ET (US)     59 / 121       
"So, you definitely like the purple dress?" Incon asked Jayhawk as they approached the main square they were to meet their friends in.

"Definitely," Jayhawk assured her.

"But you liked the red one too?" she pressed.

"Yes, that one was nice as well."

"Okay...well, how about the nice gold number?"

"Incon," Jayhawk sighed, "you govern a Roman province, you save the lives of elephants, you teach an advanced dance class (Tuesday and Thursday evenings), you're a successful adventurer...why on earth can't you decide what to wear to a banquet??"

"I just want to be sure what I wear goes with these new dancing sandals," she held up an attractive pair of shoes.

"Where did you get those?"

"From the basket behind me."

Jayhawk looked behind them to see yet another weary market boy lugging a heavy basket of footwear. He sighed and shook his head. "You're going to wear those poor boys out, you know."

"Not for long," she told him, brought two fingers to her lips and whistled. Tusky came trotting up. Jayhawk helped the exhausted boys load the baskets of purchases into paniers on the elephant's back, and paid them handsomely.

"By the way," Incon secured the panier straps, "thanks for showing me the tomb. I've always been a great admirer of Alexander's. But...what did you mean about bringing me to him someday??"

"You'll see...someday. Perhaps." He had a mysterious glint in his eye. Incon decided not to press the matter.

Just then, MRed approached them, muttering to herself. "Blasted poor quality...bringing the Emporium's good name down...bad growing year, my backside...wouldn't use that stock to kindle a fire..." She looked up. "Oh, hi everyone."

"Bad day in the bazaar?" Jayhawk asked.

MRed held up a sorry-looking bunch of wilted, withered herbs. "Don't get me started," she frowned.

"Look, here come Civis and Zen," Incon said. "I hope they bought something nice to wear to the big party."

**********

Unbeknownst to the travellers, their rendezvous was being observed. From a columned window high up in a brilliant marble palace, near the Great Library.

Queen Cleopatra watched the obviously foreign group accompanied by a huge elephant as they liaised, chatted, then wandered into a tavern at the far end of the square. She gazed at one of them in particular; a tall, well-built, dark-haired man wearing a seagreen kilt and gold and lapis jewellery. She couldn't seem to take her eyes off him.

She beckoned to one of her handmaidens. "Go down to the tavern in the square," she commanded. "Wear a cloak and hood to disguise yourself. Find out who the foreigners who've just arrived in the city are."

"Yes, My Queen," the handmaiden bowed low.

After a thought, Cleopatra added "And check with my Chief Dock Clerk...Ramesses, I think he's called. They've most likely arrived by boat - I want to know where they've come from."

"At once, My Queen," the maid bowed again, and exited the room head inclined, walking backwards.

Cleopatra never took her eyes from the tavern door. Perhaps they wouldn't be in there too long, and she might catch a glimpse of that fascinating man again...

Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-19-00 23:57 ET (US)     60 / 121       
"Maybe my herbal shipment might help alleviate your problems, MRed", Zen said with a smile. "It's due in tomorrow."

"Thanks for the help Zen. If it weren't for those incompetent nincompoops..."

Just a Mred finishes the sentence, a person enters the tavern. Jayhawk notices that the person is heading straight for the group.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 06-20-00 06:51 ET (US)     61 / 121       
The girl that entered was wearing a cowled cloak, which was strange, as the weather was on the warm side of balmy. The cloak covered a slender body, dressed in a fashionable linnen robe, a bracelet suggested wealth. As she passed the small group of travellers, her dark eyes briefly met Jayhawk's and then she was talking to the tavern keeper.

Jayhawk looked at Zen, who raised an eyebrow, then shook his head. The girl had moved sideays on the counter and, Civis could see her talking to the tavernkeeper. However, he could also see she was at least as much interested in observing their little group as in talking to the burly man behind the counter.

Meanwhile in the harbour.
A small group of soldiers walked up to the house of the 3rd Assistent Dock Clerk, Ramesses.
"You, open up." a harsh faced soldier shouted as he bounced on the door.
The young Egyptian opened the door.
"Y...es, masters?"
"Her Highness wishes to know if you've seen a group of strangers show up recently. One tall man, two women another two man and a Carthagenian elephant."
"I...I did. They came in a barge this morning."
"Where did they hail from. Speak up boy!"
"T...hey said they arrived from Thebes, the barge is from a Theban company..." Ramesses stammered.
"Anything suspicious?"
"N...no..."
"Right lads, back to the palace."

The soldiers made a sharp about face and marched off, leaving a bewildered Ramesses standing by the door.
"What was that, dear?" Nephitis asked.

Ramesses
Pleb
posted 06-20-00 13:27 ET (US)     62 / 121       
"That was nothing, nothing at all!" said Ramesses quickly.
"We have to go to Cleopatra, I've seen one of her maidens on the street, something is up, but I have yet to figure that out. I have a feeling that, that Roman might have to go too, but, i can't order anybody there, I must go alone." finished Ramesses.

Zen and Civis had seen the soldiers go to Ramesses, so they went to see Ramesses. When they got there, they saw Ramesses, putting on his blue gear, and his golden sword. Then, just as they entered, Ramesses was leaving.

" Where are you going?" asked Civis.

"To, to see Cleopatra, I have to speak with her." said Ramesses.

" What about?" asked Civis, Nephisis, and Zen.

" Stuff, and some about that feast, also, I have shift during the arrival of Caesar. So, I won't be able to watch you tonight. Stay out of trouble. Now, I need to go, and Nephisis, come with me!" said Ramesses.


Meanwhile, Jayhawk had been watching Ramesses ever since he had questioned them. Ramesses appears to look somewhat like Tut-Ankh-Amun, and remarkably, so does Nephisis, maybe they were age old, from a time long gone, that would explain why it seemed Ramesses had nightmere's, while speaking of Imhotep.

Just then, Incon came up.

" I think it is time I stop shopping."

" Ran out of room to put the stuff?" asked Jayhawk.
" No, I bought out all the stores, you should really notice what a denerii can buy out here!"

------------------
He who correctly criticieses me is my teacher, he who correctly praises me is my friend, he who flatters me is my enemy.
-Sun Tzu

Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-20-00 15:24 ET (US)     63 / 121       
Rameses - I'm with Civis inside the Tavern. Read the story line fully before posting, please.
Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 06-20-00 16:49 ET (US)     64 / 121       
...and Cleopatra sent out the soldiers to get this information...again. READ BEFORE YOU POST!
Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-20-00 21:55 ET (US)     65 / 121       
The discussion between the cloaked Egyptian girl and the burly tavern keeper became increasingly animated. The girl spoke in strained Egyptian trying to keep her voice down as much as possible and yet periodically glancing over to where MRed, Incon, Jayhawk, Zen and Civis were sitting.

The tavern keeper seemed to be at odds with the girl. His gruff voice could carry even if he tried to speak in a whisper. Now and then, recognizable words would be heard.
Queen, Romans, Caesar, soldiers, Pharaoh, rebels and treason were a few that made it to their ears. Suddenly, the tavern keeper erupted in unconstrained anger bellowing an Egyptian epithet. He reached across the counter and rapped the girl across her cloaked face with the back of his hand. She staggered backwards and landed on the floor.

The few Egyptians in the tavern looked up from their beer, noticed the girl had landed on the ground, and returned to their beverages. Civis, on the other hand, took immediate notice and quickly left his chair to help the girl back to her feet. As he did so, the cloak fell from the girl's face revealing kohl lined eyes, colorful makeup, an exotically pretty face and the beginning of a red welt forming on her right cheek where the tavern keeper's hand struck her.

Jayhawk instinctively went on alert. He was thinking, "Now Civis, don't be too hasty here. I know how it goes with you."

Civis eased the stunned girl into a chair even as the still fuming tavern keeper walked around the counter and headed with deliberateness in their direction. At the top of his lungs, the tavern keeper bellowed at Civis, "Away from her, Roman pig, she's my business!" Every Egyptian head in the tavern shot up and stared with renewed interest at Civis, the girl and the tavern keeper.

"Easy now," said Civis as calmly as possible. "We don't want any trouble here. I was just helping the girl." The tavern keeper sneered and replied, "In my house I decide who helps whom. Now get away from her. I'm not finished with her yet!" The tavern keeper made a move as if to go past Civis.

Civis extended an arm. "No, I think you are finished with her. Now you go back to your counter and I'll go back to my table. The girl goes with me and that's the end of it for today."

The tavern keeper's face lit up in the brightest red imaginable. Mayhem would be sure to ensue. Just then, a stopper in one of the barrels of beer behind the counter exploded outwards. Then another, and another. One barrel bung exploded outwards so violently that the stopper richocet around the small tavern's serving room causing three of the Egyptians to duck lest they be struck by the airborne plug.

The tavern keeper turned on his heels and saw his livelihood and chief profit makers pouring their liquid hearts out onto the floor. He rushed over to find something to stop the holes with. Civis firmly pulled the girl up out of the chair and quickly guided her to the door and into the street waving to the others to follow. This they did without hesitation. They knew this tavern would not be a place of welcome for awhile if ever again.

Now outside of the tavern and in the plaza, Civis turned to Jayhawk. "Don't say it. You know it won't change anything. I'll be right back."

Civis turned and walked straight back to the tavern. He entered its low, narrow doorway and disappeared from view. Moments later a loud bellow could be heard and then a CRASH!, as if something very big just destroyed a set of tables and chairs.

Civis emerged a minute later. He sported a self-satisfied grin as he walked back to the group waiting for him in the plaza. "Proud of yourself?" asked Jayhawk, shaking his head.

"Roman pig, indeed..." replied Civis. The Egyptian girl stared at the Roman with her dark brown eyes and an expression hidden beneath the cloak that covered most of her face.

Finally she spoke. "Visitors... The Queen has learned of your arrival. I am sent to find and bring you to her for a private meeting. We go a secret way. Soldiers saying they are sent by the Queen are searching for you. They are traitors sent by the Queen's brother. The tavern keeper sympathises with the traitors. Follow me, please, but we must hurry. It is not safe." Then she looked at Civis with a slight tilt to her head, eyes sparkling in the sun's rays. "You, the one called Civis, walk near me please."

Incon groaned inwardly. "What is it with him and these Egyptian girls anyway," she mumbled.

Incontinentia
Pleb
posted 06-21-00 09:41 ET (US)     66 / 121       
The young Egyptian handmaiden dared to take the Roman warrior by his hand. "This way," she said, blushing slightly, averting her eyes.

"And little lambs eat ivy," Incon muttered under her breath. MRed, hearing this, couldn't help snorting withheld laughter.

Just then, Big Tusky rejoined the group, minus his overloaded paniers. "Find the barge okay, big fella?" Incon asked him. Tusky nodded confidently. Incon patted his huge head and fed him a piece of sugar cane.

Suddenly a figure broke through the market crowd that masked their departure. It was the tavernkeeper, roaring with rage, covered in welts and bruises - and wielding a huge sword. He was headed straight for Civis.

"Civis - look out!!" Zen cried. Jayhawk tried to step between them.

Civis' honed instincts told him to whip his own weapon out and wheel about. He prepared to do battle with the obstinate, overfed man on his own turf...when suddenly a grey trunk swung between the two. Tusky bellowed an enraged trumpet, and on his mistress' command trunked the poor tavernkeeper several yards, smacking him into a stone wall. The unfortunate man fell in an unconscious heap in the gutter.

"Whew...thanks Incon," Civis replaced his sword in its trusty scabbard.

"Don't thank me, it was Tusky's idea," Incon told him, blank-faced. "After all, *you're* the one who said elephants are cuddly..."

Civis blushed several shades of pink. MRed looked as though she were going to burst out laughing. The lovely handmaiden gazed at the warrior even more affectionately.

"Quickly," the maid said, "we must make haste. Ptolemy's soldiers may even now be making their way here - news spreads quickly in the marketplace. Please, come with me." She began leading the group up a dark alley.

"Ptolee-who?" Incon asked, confused.

"I'll explain later," Jayhawk told her, and took her arm. "Tusky, you follow us."

Soldiers were beginning to filter into the far end of the main square. Big Tusky didn't need being told twice, and brought up the rear...

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-21-00 23:01 ET (US)     67 / 121       
It took at least a few steps for the pink glow on Civis' cheeks to change from a blush to the result of exertion as he and the others followed the Egyptian girl down the dark alley at nearly a dead run.

At last they slowed their pace, then stopped and listened to see if they were being followed. No sound of pursuit carried to where they stood. Civis took a moment to walk back to Big Tusky and to pat him on the trunk at the wide area below and in front of the elephant's eyes. "I owe you some sugar cane, Big Fella. Or a beer. Thanks."(Civis added 'the beer' in a whisper only Tusky could hear) Tusky nodded and made a mental note to hold Civis to his promise. Incon, always sensitive to acts of kindness to elephants, nearly shed a tear.

The Egyptian girl made a "come hither" gesture to Civis in particular and to the rest in general. She said in a loudish whisper, "Hurry, we are safe for now; but we must get to the palace quickly. Follow me." The girl walked into the group and grabbed Civis' hand once more drawing the Roman after her.

They followed the girl out of the maze of dark alleys and onto a sunlit wide pathway that ran East/West. The girl turned to the East upon entering the pathway and as the others joined her, she pointed ahead saying, "There... There is where we must go."

Before them about 100 paces away stood a magnificent structure gaily colored in bright paints: yellow, red, green, blue, and purple; with fine detail covered in gold. Incon exclaimed, "By the stars over Londinium, how beautiful it is! What is it Jayhawk?"

"The palace of Cleopatra, Incon."

"It rivals the finest structures in Rome," added Civis.

Zen and MRed had seen it before so for them it wasn't quite the sight it was for the others. Even so, they were still impressed each time they were in the vicinity of its colorful columns and remarkable stone walls with their base relief artwork and Egyptian frescoes.

They reached the steps very soon afterwards and led by the Egyptian girl, they walked past a company of curious guards posted at its entrance and into the main entry hallway. It was then she removed the cloak and revealed before them her full self dressed in the traditional garb of a key servant to the Queen of Egypt.

Others in her role were walking about the palace on various errands. These other servant girls were obviously of lesser rank than their escort by the quality of their dress and the diminished amount of jewelry they wore. However, most of these lady servants to the Queen did wear the same articles of Egyptian dress. Each lady wore a silky gown that began at the shoulder as a gauzy, nearly invisible garment and then rapidly became opaque at the wearer's hips and continued that way for the rest of its length. Sandals on their feet completed their dress. Not one servant's gown seemed colored the same as the next. As they walked to and fro in their colored gowns, the servant girls seemed to paint the hallway in an everchanging panorama of moving color.

Civis stood in awe of the scene and the Egyptian girl at his side; but it was a sharp voice behind him that brought him back to the present.

"CIVIS! Quit your blooming staring and remember what you're about!" commanded Incon.

The Roman turned pink once more. "Uh, right... yes, of course. Sorry, Incon." The Egyptian girl giggled behind one hand and with the other motioned to them to follow her down the hallway. Zen shook his head. At least one thing is the same among these humans; and it doesn't matter whether they are Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Chin or Barbarian. Jayhawk caught Zen's thought on a heavenly channel they mutually share and added his agreement as well.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 06-22-00 04:14 ET (US)     68 / 121       
The young woman that had led them turned round and said:
"I must apologise for being impolite. My name is Dione.
Please follow me to meet my Queen."

Incon stepped forward and poked an elbow between Civis' ribs as he stood and stared. Civis went "oomph" and recovered some of his scattered wits. They followed Dionne through the manifold corridors of the palace and finally arrived on a terrace, several stories above street level.

The terrace was hidden from the sun by gaily coloured cloth and sweet smelling flowers were arranged in pots between the couches and cushions. Soft music was played by three girls, wearing plain white linnen dresses. A couple of large Nubians were waving fans over someone sitting in an ornate chair.
Dionne made for the chair and bowed,
"My Lady, these are the foreign visitors."

Civis looked at the slender woman sitting in the chair and thought:
"Is this Cleopatra? She seems rather plain, her nose a little to large for her face, her mouth too wide..."
Then the Egyptian Queen looked up and smiled, her lusterous brown eyes sparkled light sunlight on water, the smile changed her face.
Civis felt as if physically hit by the change. How could he have thought her plain, she was stunning.

"Wonderful"
She clapped her hands and told a slave girl to bring refreshemnts and a light meal, then turned to her guests.
"Please.
Be seated.
Now tell me who you are and from what faraway climes you hail?"

Orion
Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 06-22-00 07:59 ET (US)     69 / 121       

Then the stage darkens for a moment.

And a guy named Orion in his glimmering black suit enters with only a single spotlight on him.
He says:
"This story looks and sounds really good but there are some who are inexperienced. Would it not be good if somebody was to compile this story and the previous stories (even those about the Caesar) that relate to this maybe even the unrelated ones in a word file. This way everyone can learn the beginning and understand more "

Then the stage darkens for a moment.
And the play goes on...

Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-22-00 13:26 ET (US)     70 / 121       
::Zen steps off stage, joins up with Orion::

Hi Orion, welcome to the "Story threads" series . The rules are simple:

  • Read the topic message carefully. You will want to follow the direction desired by the creator of the story thread. Pay particular attention to the points the author lay out (I.e. "Tone", "Structure", etc.)

  • Don't be overly silly

  • Before posting, it is a good idea to read through the entire thread at least twice to digest all the details, undercurrents, etc. - to ensure story continuity. If you have any questions, you can ask the story thread creator or one of the other prolific writers in the thread

  • Don't expect to be included right away; normally, only a well-developed character will be able to travel with the main story line throughout the thread. I'd say give it around 5-6 posts

  • If you can't think of a way to contribute to the story, it's not necessary to make a post on a frequent basis. Sit and wait and see where the story is going. Most of the authors leave "hooks" that you can "Hook in", and then develop the story a bit more in a few paragraphs. Don't forget to leave hooks for others =)

  • Beware of Incon & Tusky

That's all for now... now, get dressed and go to the backstage.

::Zen steps back on to the stage::

While the group was telling the queen where they are from, Tusky, who is outside in the Queen's courtyard, was being tended to by a stable hand.

"Hey fella, what's your name?" he asked. "My name is ...

Incontinentia
Pleb
posted 06-22-00 14:39 ET (US)     71 / 121       
(Very funny, Zen. Here, have some Durian... )

"...Skiphotep. My friends call me Skip. You're the first elephant I've ever looked after. Hm...what do you like to eat and drink?"

Big Tusky's trunk started to point towards the bails of hay, then spotted several beer kegs stacked in the corner. A mischievous glint in his eye, he pointed to those instead.

"Really?" Skip looked uncertain. "Well, if you say so...they *did* order me to take specially good care of you..." He walked over to the keg stack and started rolling one in Tusky's direction.

*****

Meanwhile, in Queen Cleopatra's chamber, the travellers had formed a receiving line. Dione led her Queen down the line and introduced each foreigner in turn.

"This, My Queen, is MRed. She is renowned for the quality of her herbs."

"Honoured to meet you, Your Majesty," MRed curtsied.

"The honour is mine," Cleopatra replied regally.

"My Queen, may I introduce the Roman warrior Civis Romanus. He was...very brave during our escape from your Esteemed Brother's regiment..."

Civis stared into the beautiful Queen's eyes until MRed nudged him sharply in the ribs. After which he managed to stammer out a suitable greeting.

"May I introduce the Honourable Zen and Jayhawk, O Queen."

Zen bowed low and spoke diplomatically of the privelege of such an audience, but Cleopatra barely heard him. She gazed at Jayhawk, somehow without making it look as though she were staring rudely. She extended her hand to him, which he took as he bowed. She nodded to Zen when he'd finished speaking.

"And finally, O Queen, may I introduce--"

Incon looked up at the Queen and prepared to bow, then got her first good look at the young woman's face. Her eyes widened. "Cleo!" she cried.

Cleopatra's eyes widened further. "Incontinentia!!" she responded.

Incon smiled delightedly. "Stone me, girl, it's been ages! I had no idea you worked at the palace! Blimey, don't you look well!! How the devil have you been??"

Everyone stared aghast at Incon's unacceptable familiarity with such a powerful figurehead. Jayhawk shook her shoulder. "Incon - you're addressing the Queen of Egypt!" he hissed.

Incon laughed at him. "No, I'm not! This is my old friend Cleo - she's a servant! And an old student of mine. When are we meeting the Queen, by the way?"

"Right now, I fear," Dione muttered, near fainting with the audacity of the governor's behaviour.

Incon stared at her, then looked at the Queen. Cleopatra shrugged and nodded. "They're telling you the truth. I am the Queen of Egypt, Incontinentia."

"Stone the flaming crows," Incon muttered as the news sank in.

"Perhaps I should explain," Cleopatra turned to the others. "You see, a few years ago I heard of the Governor of a Northern Roman Province who, it was said, could not only Lambada to rival Da-An-Set, but taught a dance class in the community hall of one of the large temples of her town..."

"Tuesday and Thursday evenings," Incon mumbled, still in shock.

"Correct. I decided to travel to your Empire, and take a course of lessons for myself. But, in order to do so safely, I had to disguise myself as a simple Egyptian serving girl and travelled to Londinium with a caravan of traders. I lived there for 6 rather enjoyable months - though the food does leave something to be desired, I must confess - and, having graduated from the dance school's advanced class, I returned home. Father passed away not long after that."

"Damn!" Incon remembered suddenly. "Your arrival to your first class should have been a dead give-away. Being carried by two royal messengers, rolled up in a carpet like that..."

"Old habit," Cleopatra confessed. She sighed. "I still remember that wonderful young Roman lieutenant who had just arrived at the Londinium garrison, who was in my class. We partnered a few times. What was his name...tall, muscular, wavy brown hair..."

Incon's brow furrowed in thought. "I think I remember him...Something-Antony, if memory serves..."

"He was *dreamy*," Cleopatra sighed again, then remembered her other guests. "How rude of me. Let me order you all some refreshment, and then we can talk. I require your assistance in some pressing matters..." She turned away and clapped her hands to call more servants.

Incon came out of her reverie and turned to her companions - four round-eyed, open-mouthed faces. "What?" she asked them.

"You're - *mates* with the Queen of Egypt?" MRed gasped.

"I didn't know that at the time!" Incon replied.

"Is there *anyone* you won't teach how to Lambada, Incon?" Jayhawk asked levelly.

"Dunno. Never turned anyone down yet," she shrugged. With that, the food arrived, and everyone seated themselves on overlarge silk cushions around a low table to partake of the meal...

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-22-00 21:20 ET (US)     72 / 121       
Thanks, Zen. Well said. And thanks for supporting the "story thread creator" too.

Also partaking of a meal was Incon's favorite, Big Tusky. Except his was mostly liquid.

"Have a bit of a thirst, don't you?" said the Egyptian caretaker. Tusky merely burped.

So it went that way for the while as Tusky refreshed himself with one part hay to three parts beer.

In Cleopatra's chamber, the conversation turned from reminiscences to local fashion (Civis perked up at this topic). It seemed Cleopatra had this idea about a little boutique that could bring some added income to the Ptolomy family treasury. Pretty things for Egyptian ladies were to be sold in the boutique or could be ordered by messenger.

MRed, sitting next to Civis and always the entreprenuer, was
intrigued by the idea. She was the one who asked this question. "What do you think you would name this boutique?"

Cleopatra's expression changed only a little as she answered, "Why, I think I'd like to call it CLEO'S SECRET. Then she turned, looking away from MRed, to pick up another item from the serving plate nearby.

Under his breath Civis muttered, "With these Egyptian fashions nothing will be a secret for long." It took only a second for MRed to grab a piece of flesh on Civis' thigh and give it an almighty pinch.

"OUuuuuch!" hissed Civis. "Stop it!"

"Behave then," retorted MRed.

Civis had no chance to answer for Cleopatra turned her head and again was looking directly at her visitors. The Queen gave no hint of having heard the exchange between Civis and MRed; but she did pause somewhat to glance at Civis' red face, causing it to redden a little more and make his blue eyes stand out very noticeably.

"It seems your Roman friend is a bit flushed. Is he not well?" asked the Queen.

"Oh, he's well, alright. Just a little too much desert sun, I think. Right Civis?" replied MRed.

"Uh... yes, I'm fine, your Majesty. Thanks for asking," replied the very nearly flustered soldier of Rome.

"That is good," Cleopatra said and then continued in a silky smooth voice. "I do want to hear about your adventure in the tavern and the plaza, Roman. Maybe I'll hear it first from Dione, then later I'll hear your version in your own words... in my antechamber." She flashed him one of her dazzling smiles.

Gulp! Civis nearly choked out his reply. "As, as... as your Majesty commands," and he bowed his head in implied obediance.

Cleopatra laughed. Yes, she thought to herself, these Romans are very pliable. I believe this Julius Caesar of Rome may be a little less prepared for Cleopatra then he thinks. Now to attend to other, more serious matters.

Cleopatra turned her attention to Incon. "My friend Incon, are you aware both my brother, Ptolomy and my sister want me dead and are even now plotting to seize my throne?"

Orion
Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 06-23-00 07:50 ET (US)     73 / 121       
(I have written many stories and I wonder if I can get on with this one. Tell me if I do anything silly such as making fun of this serious moment which I will do now.)

Before Incon could reply a loud "thump" echoed through the room and a chaos started outside. Another thump.
"My brother wouldn't dare to attack me such openly would he?" asked Cleopatra as she jumped up.
"What the...?" blurted out Incon almost at the same instant.
Civis drew his sword, "Let them come!"

They rushed to the balcony near the source of the sounds. What they saw was a scene of fun and sadness at the same time. Tusky, after too much beer, was quite happy and was hitting the walls with his feet, head and tusk. Meanwhile, Skip was holding on to his tusks for dear life while screaming and pleading with Tusky to stop. "Get me some coffee!" was another one of the his lines at the moment.

Luckily, Tusky was one of the better of his kind and he had slowed down pretty soon.
As Cleopatra and her guests looked down from the balcony at the heavily sweating care taker Cleopatra's voice boomed, "What is this? Do you not realize that we are discussing important matters? This interruption surely will not go unpunished!"
Skip's sweating doubled,"But my Queen, I just complied with my guests reque.."
"Enough! You WILL see the consequences of your actions. Your punisment shall be...

(How about this? )

[This message has been edited by Orion (edited 06-23-2000).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 06-23-00 10:43 ET (US)     74 / 121       
Nice, Orion

Jayhawk looked at Cleopatra, who's face had turned a few shades darker with anger. Civis' face was contorted with barely controlled mirth, while Incon looked embarrassed.
Zen took another sip of his fruit juice and looked inscrutable.

"My Queen, " Jayhawk said, looking somewhat down as the royal Egyptian was only a little over 5 feet tall.
Cleopatra looked up and into the angel's green-golden eyes.
"Do not be angry with your servant, Tusky can be fairly convincing when he wants his drink."
He looked at the befuddled elephant and mumbled.
"...and he can't hold his liquer half as well as he thinks."

"With your permission, my Queen."
Somewhat taken aback Cleopatra nodded. Jayhawk turned and his long legs took him down to the courtyard, where Tusky was now scratching himself against an ornamental fountain ornament. He approached his grey friend and stepped in front of the tipsy elephant.
"Tusky?" he whispered.
BT looked up his eyes getting a little clearer.
"Remember the last hangover cure we brewed for you?"

The pachyderm turned a whiter shade of grey and sneezed. Then gingerly stepped out of the fountain. Incon by now Arrived panting at Jayhawks side. She looked at Tusky, who grinned sheepishly, then turned to Jayhawk.
"What did you do to my baby!"
"I never laid a finger on him" Jayhawk answered lifting both hands in a sign of peace.
The slender governor's eyes spat fire, then she turned a way and walked over to Tusky.
"Ooh, my woozyboozyboy...did the bad man scare you? Come to mama, izzybizzybaby..."

Tusky took to steps forward and wrapped his trunk around Incontinentia. Then as she hugged him, he lifted his head and blew Jayhawk a raspberry.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-23-00 16:18 ET (US)     75 / 121       
A good first post, Orion. Welcome!
__________________________________________________

Incon did some more cooing and patting to ease the inebriated elephant's hurt feelings, while giving Jayhawk occasional 'how dare you - whatever it was you did' glares over her shoulder.

Cleopatra finally relented in her intent to punish the unfortunate caretaker. "Alright rise, you who are named 'Skip'. There will be no punishment. Our visitors have made a convincing appeal on your behalf. However, there is one task you must accomplish. Your Queen commands you to go to the Great Library and read every scroll in the building on the subject of elephants. You will come back filled with this knowledge and treat the animal properly. Is that understood?"

"Yes, My Queen."

Incon promptly remembered something. "Your Majesty!" she called up to the Queen.

"Yes, Incon."

"I have a gift for the Great Library. I almost forgot. I have scrolls about elephants and other subjects."

"What other subjects, Incon?"

"Stories... How the elephant solved a mystery; elephant dancing; my best friends, the elephants," replied Incon.

"They sound like the same subject to me," commented Cleopatra. Zen snickered and Incon shot him a withering look. Civis mentally was grateful he hadn't been the one this time. "Regardless," continued the Queen, "the Great Library welcomes all contributions of fact and other fine writings. That is its purpose. Please give your scrolls to Skip and he will see that they are presented to the Chief Librarian under my seal of authority."

"Certainly, Your Majesty." Incon was quickly led away to the room in the palace where her personal items were placed. It appeared the Queen's Guards had been busy rounding up the visitor's belongings even as they were being entertained by the Queen. Each visitor had been given a room to his or herself and one of the Queen's servant girls to assist.

Tusky was a bit dismayed as he stood there in his barely lapsed beerish stupor to see Incon suddenly led off and away into the palace. He watched her leave his spirits dropping, then turned his head to look at Jayhawk. "Everything will be fine, Big Fella. She'll be back eventually. Rest easy here," said Jayhawk.

The elephant felt slightly reassured and punctuated the day's current events with a resounding BURP! Cleopatra called down to Jayhawk. "Tell me, is that something these creatures do very often?"

Jayhawk replied with characteristic diplomacy, "Often in response to the quality of the beer, My Lady. Apparently, this beer is of the finest quality." Jayhawk's diplomacy worked properly as the Queen felt complemented and Tusky felt nothing at all. Jayhawk noted that the elephant was quite molified now and returned to Cleopatra's chamber. Incon appeared there almost immediately afterwards.

But before conversation could resume, Dione entered the chamber with pressing news. Julius Caesar and the First Legion of Rome were three days away from Alexandria.

"Hmmm," was the Queen's response. "Visitors, tonight is the Lambada contest. It is my understanding some of you will be competing. I believe you will need time to rest and prepare. Some of my servants have asked to compete and need some time as well. I must attend to business at the moment. Dione will show you to your chambers." As Cleopatra rose, the others did as well, bowing in respect to the Queen as she left the room. Then they turned to Dione who motioned to them to follow.

Civis was more to the front of the group this time and Dione slowed her pace to walk beside him. "I will be competing tonight, Civis of Rome."

"Oh? And do you have a partner?"

"I hope so," she said. Then she gave a meaningful look over her shoulder directly at Civis and stepped up her pace leading each to their room. Civis was the last to be guided to his. At the entrance, Dione motioned to him to enter. Once inside, she lowered her head and said, "I have requested the Queen's permission to be your servant girl. She has agreed if you will accept me." The dignified lowering of her head masked the expression on her face but not the hopefulness in her voice. Civis couldn't bring himself to say no, and so he didn't.

"And your partner for tonight? Who is the fortunate one?" asked Civis trying to change the subject.

"Why... you are!" she said brightly.

A bit dismayed and embarrased, Civis protested. "Ohhh, but Dione, I'm not an expert at the Lambada. You cannot win with me as a partner."

She laughed, "But you don't understand, Civis of Rome. It's not the winning but the dancing that I desire. Now that we have agreed, what may I do for you until then."

Feeling completely outmanuevered like never before on any battlefield, Civis sighed and let matters be. "Just point me in the direction of my belongings and let me rest, Dione."

"As you wish. If you need anything, I will respond when you strike the metal ring on the table with the small hammer nearby. Rest well, Civis of Rome." And she left Civis to his thoughts.

Meanwhile, the others rested and prepared for the evening as well.

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