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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:
Orion
Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 06-23-00 16:38 ET (US)     76 / 121       
As skip headed to the great library with the scrolls, muttering all the egyptian words he knew under his breath, he overheard the talk about the nights lambada competition.
"I must compete" he said to himself. He had taken some course in lambada and his parents had both been great dancers until they died 3 years ago when he was 13. "I might not be the best, but if I dance well I might please the Queen and then maybe she will let me accompany those fine people." As an afterthought he added to himself, "I guess the one named Incon was very angry at me but I like her and Tusky and Jayhawk seems like a very good person."

He spent an entire two hours with his eyes on the scrolls and his mind trying to find a way into the party. A candle lit up in his mind. He could come as the guest of one of the Queens guests!!!

He picked up a mask on his way to the Palace. When Tusky saw him he stirred happily. "Hey, Tusky!" skipped called merrily, "You are one of Queen's guests aren't you? How about a dance with me."

Tusky first uttered the closest thing to a laugh at Skip's crude mask of an elephant done by a clever trader to make profit of the days events. Then he stood up (still a bit wobbily) and took Skip's hand in his trunk. With his hand up in the air Skip did a little twirl and bowed. "Yes," he confirmed himself, "I think we will make a nice pair tonight."

(Oh yes. Drunk and dancing elephants !!!

------------------
"Let there be light!" said God and there was light.
"Let there be blood!" said man and there was a sea.

Ramesses
Pleb
posted 06-23-00 20:56 ET (US)     77 / 121       
As Civis went out, there was a changing of the guard. They were just about to go to their seperate rooms.Then, a figure in blue walked towards them. Cleopatra had the look of, 'what now' on her face. A the figure came closer, Incon remembered it was Ramesses, apparently, he had some very big rank. And they figured since he was thier friend, their position with Cleopatra would double, as now they had somebody else in power to help them.

Ramesses bowed low, then met gazes with the queen.
" My queen, terrible news, your brother, he is three days out, I just visited his camp.He plans to march on the city the second Caesar sets foot in our land, then kill the leader of Roma as well!"

"You shall be commended young man, you are Ramesses are you not?" asked Cleopatra.

" Yes my queen, this is the security chief."

" Arise commander, there is work to be done, in tow days time you shall attack my brother's camp. See to it personally!" said Cleopatra.
" And till then?" asked Ramesses.

" Go downstairs find yourself a partner."

Just then Nephisis came strolling down the hall.
" NEPHISIS, how long has it been?" asked Cleopatra.

"You two know each other, wait, Nephisis, did you take that class too?" asked Ramesses.

"But of course!" said Nephisis.

" IS THERE ANYBODY HERE THAT HASN'T, OR AM I THE ONLY ONE?" asked Mred.

As Ramesses walked down the hall with Nephisis, he saw Civis. Civis looked at the man, surprisingly well armed. Civis looked at him, and then Civis told Ramesses to stop. Ramesses stopped. Waited for Civis to see who he was, then he would walk again.

" Who are you, and what are you doing here?" asked Civis, sword ready at his side.

" It's me Ramesses, and I am going downstairs, party starts in only two hours. By the way, put that sword back, I am now a general commander, after doing some field work, I am the Egyptian bodyguard of your Caesar."

hope that was good, please tell me it is, I tried to read everything, any problems let me know

------------------
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

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-24-00 21:46 ET (US)     78 / 121       
Ramesses: Appreciate your effort. It was closer to the spirit of the story than before. I think you will be even more successful if you stay with the event at hand and not move the plot forward for awhile. When I first started doing these stories that is how I broke in. I would do character work and leave the main plot to the main story writers. Keep trying. Your characters of Ramesses and Nephisis bring good value to the story as additions to color, depth and characterization.

___________________________________________________________

Civis removed his hand from his sword not wanting to further alarm the young Egyptian officer before him. "Ramesses, well met. I thought I heard a noise in the hallway and checked to see if it was one of my companions. If you will excuse me I will return to my chamber and continue my preparations for tonight."

"Will you be competing in the Lambada Contest, then?" asked Ramesses.

"Yes."

"Nephisis and I will also be competing."

Civis looked the young man over. So this is what Ramesses will become after he is transported in time from danger in the Egypt of Tut-Ankh-Amun. It is good that Zen's spell continues to work and he doesn't recognize me or my companions. This youngster has done well for himself. But we already knew this after encountering him in the Imhotep affair. Civis responded in kind. "I am sure you will do well," he said, and then bowed, turned and walked back into his chamber.

Dione waited for him there with his ceremonial clothes from among his things. These items of clothing are what he wore in place of ceremonial armor when military apparel is not the order of the moment. However, he heeded Ramesses warning and under his toga he wore his short sword strapped to his waist. It will cause some discomfort during the contest, but certain other discomforts were far worse.

The visitors gathered in the hallway at the appointed time and waited for Dione to guide them to the Banquet Room. Curious, they looked at each other's clothing selection for the evening...

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 06-24-2000).]

MRed94
Pleb
posted 06-25-00 01:21 ET (US)     79 / 121       
MRed, in her robes of shimmering emerald green crepe over an undershift of a very warm chestnut, and her necklace of topaz and emeralds, was a very pleasing sight.

She had done something new to her hair, fixed it in numerous small braids, falling almost to her waist.....It was dressed with tiny strands of some sort of sparkling crystals, which made it look as if she had captured tiny stars and fixed them to her hair.......

Her smile was almost as bright as her costume, and her warm brown eyes sparkled with the same brilliance. Her dancing eyes were fixed on a man standing off to the side of the hall way, and the other women turned to look at him.

They saw a husky guard, tall, with hair and eyes almost the color of burnished mahogany. He was also dressed in the green and brown of her costume, and he was looking at her with the same intensity.

Incon nudged MRed, and said, "Where ever did you find him?"

MRed shook her head, and said with a grin, "I didn't find him, he found me......." And she would say no more.

She held out her hand, and he came to her at once. They locked hands and drifted out the door without a further word.

Incon said to Jayhawk, "I thought she didn't take the classes???!"

Jayhawk just shrugged his shoulders and didn't say anything.

The others, meanwhile............

Incontinentia
Pleb
posted 06-25-00 07:00 ET (US)     80 / 121       
...met in the main reception hall, awaiting permission to enter. "MRed looks dazzling," Incon commented. The lads nodded in appreciation as MRed and her partner entered the Banquet Hall ahead of them.

Skip slinked furtively into the reception hall past the guards, and located Incontinentia. Approaching cautiously, he tapped the governor on the shoulder. She turned around and gave him a smile.

"Oh, hello - it's you!" she greeted him warmly. "Thanks for taking such good care of Tusky."

"I merely came to give my apologies, good lady," he muttered quietly, "for allowing your elephant to drink so much beer."

Incon laughed and slapped Skip on the back. "Don't worry! I've been looking after elephants for years. When it comes to strong drink, they'll try every trick in the book. I don't blame you for today's shenanigans for a minute. How is Tusky, by the way?"

"You can see for yourself, my lady. He followed me here." Skip gestured behind him to the huge elephant padding into the hall. On seeing his mistress, he let out a small burp of joy and trotted over to her.

"Who's my boozywoozy boy, then?" Incon cooed, stroking his trunk. Tusky grinned happily. She turned to Skip and withdrew something from her gown. "Here - this is a little gift for taking good care of my pachyderm." With that she pinned a badge to his tunic, which read 'I Helped Save a Carthaginian Elephant!' "That comes with a year's membership to the RSPCE too, you know," she told him.

"I - I am honoured, my lady!" Skip beamed with pride.

Just then, trumpets blew a fanfare announcing the arrival of the banquet's guests. The crowd moved forward to enter the Banquet Hall. Cleopatra sat atop the dais on her throne, nodding to her guests of honour. Everything was in place for a thoroughly stonking evening - food, wine, beer, a kicking band, and more servants than you could shake a sleepy crocodile at.

Jayhawk nudged Incon's elbow. "We're going in. You and I are 10th in the Lambada competition entry. I'll watch out for our cue, you keep an eye on the Queen."

"Why?" Incon asked as they all entered the hall, followed by the happy Skip and the ever alcohol-alert Tusky.

"Zen's heard that Ptolemy's spies are at this party," Jayhawk told her. "It could be a kidnapping attempt, we're not sure. Just stay close to your old student."

Incon nodded her understanding, and made her way towards the dais, calling Tusky to follow her. Zen and Jayhawk chose strategic points at the shoarma and poppy wine tables, respectively. Civis and Dione strolled over to the salad table. Nephesis crept up to them as the band started playing the first Lambada of the evening.

"Ramesses has sent me with a message, Roman!" she told him. "He's at the front gate, keeping an eye on things. He told me to tell you that some very mysterious figures have just come in by the servants' entrance to the Palace - he's worried about this."

"Go and tell him not to worry any longer," Civis told her confidently, and gazed in Zen's direction, trying to get his attention over the chatting and music...

Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-25-00 11:18 ET (US)     81 / 121       
Just as Zen was enjoying himself in the banquet hall, a man approached him.

"My lord, your shipment of herbs have arrived."

"Great!"

"With it is also a message that you are urgentnly needed in the orients."

Zen thanked the man for the message, tipped him, and sent him off to the barge with instructions to have all the fresh herbs delivered to Mred's Emporium.

He goes into an obscure area in the hall, and brings out a small red gem from his pockets. He rubs it. An image of Titanicus appears before him. Sleeping. Zen tries to wake him up.

"Titanicus?"

No use. Maybe it needs to be a little louder.

"TITANICUS?"

Titanicus wakes up. "Oh it's you... can't you see I'm asleep?"

Zen apologizes, and tells Titanicus his current situation. "Can you teleport me right away?"

The sleepy Titanicus nodded... he starts chanting some magical spell, and teleported Zen...

... straight into a waste pit in the China capitol.

Zen makes a note to himself. Never have Titanicus teleport when he's half awake.

Meanwhile, back in Egypt...

Hey folks, have fun at the Lambada Competition. I'm traveling to Kansas City, MO for work, and won't be back July 1st. I'll check in periodically

Rameses - You might want to read my message to Orion introducing him to the story threads...

Khufu
Pleb
posted 06-26-00 12:06 ET (US)     82 / 121       
Back at the palace, the party was in full swing. Jugglers performed, dancers danced and water carriers came in at close intervals to dispense beer. Tusky fortunately failed to notice that the festive beer pitchers were inlaid with Numidian ivory. The gaily painted hieroglyphs on the walls matched perfectly the merry chatter below. Troubles, if they had any value, were all but forgotten.

It was a well-known fact that Tusky's hearing was exceptionally sensitive for an elephant. "Who's my favorite pachyderm then?" cooed Incon, but Tusky spun his head round so brusquely that he received an almighty slap on the face from his trunk. "Tusky, you great oaf! Can't you watch where you're going?" But Tusky was plodding purposefully towards the great uncurtained window, which looked out over a rocky hillside sloping down to the coast. Had the revellers heard what Tusky did, it would have been this:

"Six, no, six and a half cubits to the parapet.....what's the clearance on that ledge?"

"Three feet."

"OK, let's write that down......Now then, the temporary harbour can go in that inlet. The depth there is fourteen feet, twelve spans, four cubits and three hands, so -AH! Hercules, what in Jove's name is that?"

"An elephant! Get out, get out!"

Tusky trumpeted at them. Incon and Jayhawk came to the window. "Who's there?" she said. In reply, something wooden clattered on the rocks. Two figures, clutching dim lanterns, were scrambling away over the rocks. Civis came forward and clambered over the window ledge. He ran after them, but it was a pitch black night and he soon lost himself as well as them.

"Ptolemy!" spat Ramesses when they told him what had happened. "He must be behind this."

"Or perhaps the Romans," suggested Jayhawk. "They've never taken their eyes off the riches of Egypt."

"We must go and tell the queen," said Civis, who had come back. Strange kidnapping attempt - only two people, and they didn't look like soldiers. I wonder what they were up to."

The group moved away to the audience end of the hall. "Why Egyptian fights Egyptian I do not know," muttered Incon.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-26-00 22:23 ET (US)     83 / 121       
Welcome Khufu. A very good first post.
Zen: Hope you have a great trip. Thanks for letting us know you will be away. We'll look forward to your tales about the Chin. But do get out of that Chin waste pit. You'll have to be at your best when you meet the Emperor. Old noodles hanging from your halo won't do it, sir.

_________________________________________________________

Civis ignored Jayhawk's remark about Romans. He and Jayhawk had traveled to this place from a future time when Rome controlled Egypt and history already knew the fate of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Marc Antony. He was there to save the Great Library, not Egypt; or at least learn who was truly responsible for the Great Library's destruction.

He had finally found his way back to the banquet room by listening for the musicians. He brushed himself off before he re-entered the room. It was then that he overheard Jayhawk's comment. Well, the angel was right in a way. But did he have to be right just at this moment? Civis was annoyed. The sword under his toga was chafing his leg and the discomfort was getting worse. The run hadn't helped, either.

He could see Ramesses whispering in Cleopatra's ear and could see the Queen's expression change from calm to controlled irritation. I guess she knows about the attempt then.

Ramesses walked backwards away from his Queen facing her with body bowed in respect. With strong determination he walked through the doors of the Banquet Room and spoke to the Captain of the Guards. The Captain ran down the hallway, only to return moments later with another contingent of guards. These he placed at all points around the Banquet Room, including all of the balconys. The guard was doubled in protection of the queen.

Cleopatra made a motion with her hand. An official stepped forward. "Her Majesty, Cleopatra, Queen of the Two Kingdoms of the Nile, declares the competition shall begin. There shall be three phases: First, general dance. All who wish may demonstrate their skill. Second, those selected to continue by the judges shall perform as a group. There will be 10 couples selected. Third, the finalists, three couples only, shall perform. The winner shall dance before Caesar. The other two shall perform if the winner cannot." The official turned and bowed to the Queen. "My Queen, by your command."

Cleopatra looked at her guests, then turned to her musicians and waved her hand. The infectious rhythm of the Lambada began to fill the Room, as did the dancers. Dione suddenly appeared at Civis' side, bright eyed, smiling beautifully and smelling of the finest scents to be found in this land of palaces and pyramids. She had changed from her handmaiden's clothes into an elegant gown made of an irridescent silky material that reflected every color of the rainbow. (The Queen herself had provided the gown and the scent) Translucent where it could be and opaque where it should be, the dress flattered her figure and emphasized the young woman's exotic beauty. Application of traditional kohl and colored paints lended mystery to her dark eyes and face.

In Civis' mind he thought: Ohhh, Apolita... You know you can trust me, but you should be aware. There are beautiful creatures in all of these lands. Then he added this thought: And they all remind me of you.

He took Dione by the hand and led her to the dance floor. Then he let the music and her beauty carry him through the first part of the contest. The others were on the floor as well.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 06-27-00 09:39 ET (US)     84 / 121       
Skip and Tusky were making interesting figures on the marble floor. Nephesis had dragged Ramesses back from his self appointed guard duty and on to that selfsame floor.

Cleopatra sat back in her ornately carved and gilded chair and sipped some wine. Couples were moving around quite nicely, the Roman managed to cut quite a decent figure next to Dionne, but...now where was her Brittanian friend and that tall divine looking creature?

Out of Cleopatra's sight, Incon had dragged Jayhawk behind a column and was taking care of a few minor details. She carefully eyed his kohl and malachite make-up, spit-polished some of the jewelry, deplored once more the fact that she hadn't managed to get her friend to were anything more colourful than his customary a white kilt. At least this one was of the finest linnen. She gave him one more look and then took his hand.
"Come one let's show these upstarts what a lambada should look like."

Her dress flowed around them like water as the two of them moved onto the dance floor. They slipped into the old familiar patterns of the dance, moving like one and loosing themselves to the music.

Ramesses
Pleb
posted 06-27-00 11:20 ET (US)     85 / 121       
here goes

As Ramesses and Nephisis were dancing, Ramesses looked irritated. Ramesses must of had his mind on something else, as he had stepped on Nephisis's feet three times now. She looked into his eyes, they seemed to stare endlessly, as if in another world.

"What's wrong Ramesses?" asked Nephisis.

" Oh, nothing, it's just, why is all this trouble tonight?" said Ramesses, blinking for the first time in thirty minutes.

" Don't worry i am sure it will work out." said Nephisis, and they continued to dance.

------------------
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

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-27-00 16:16 ET (US)     86 / 121       
Ramesses! Absolutely perfect! Some character developement mixed with good dialogue and character interchange. You stayed within the ongoing activity and paced your character's movements excellently. Stay with this writing tempo. It fits in very nicely.

________________________________________________________

Although Nephisis' toes noticed the trespass, none of the judges saw Ramesses missing the floor and finding his wife's feet instead. Still, the young Egyptian security chief remained lost in his thoughts despite the reassurances offered by Nephisis.

She continued. "You know, the Roman isn't so bad a person. Don't you remember him?"

"Remember who, Nephisis."

"The Roman, the one who is called Civis. Don't you remember him?"

"Civis?"

"What is wrong with you tonight, Ramesses? Yes, Civis. He is the one who argued for your welfare before Tut-Ankh-Amun and was one of those who helped us escape from Aye, Imhotep and the general when we were children. Titanicus transported us to this time. Don't you remember anything?" Nephisis had no spell cast upon her to cloud her memory or powers of recognition.

Zen's spell on Ramesses, however, finally began to crack under the flood of information poured into Ramesses' memory by Nephisis. Because Zen wasn't there, the spell could not be reinforced and soon became very brittle indeed. At last it shattered and the memories of his youth flooded back into Ramesses' unshackled mind.

"Nephisis... I remember. You are so very right." Then he remembered the encounter in the hallway and how coldly he had treated Civis. "I owe the Roman an apology."

Nephisis interrupted this comment immediately. "No, Ramesses. I think you should leave matters alone." Nephisis glanced across the crowded floor and as a matter of good fortune caught Civis' eye. The Roman smiled. Nephisis returned his smile in kind. "No, Ramesses. I think all is well. It may even be they want you to remain aloof for good reason. Play the role, but carefully. Do you know that it was Civis who chased the intruders away from the banquet area?"

"No, I did not. I was only told they were pursued and had escaped, but not who pursued them. Something more as well, Nephisis. These were not the intruders who entered through the servant's door. These were some others, and we are not even sure they truly intended to harm the Queen. That is why I have doubled the guard." Nephisis lapsed into silence as she considered the implications. Then the set of musical pieces stopped and so did the first phase of the contest.

Ten couples were about to be selected, and not in order of the judges rankings (this was done, the official explained, to give no hint of which couple was most favored by the judges). First, however, a special award.

The Queen rose from her throne and all in the Banquet Room bowed in respect. Cleopatra descended to the floor and approached the caretaker and Big Tusky. "We bestow a special honor on our caretaker, Skip, and his talented partner. We cannot select them for the honor of dancing before Caesar, but there is reward indeed for them. To have mastered the art of dancing with elephants is to reveal special talent that must be recognized. Our current Royal Caretaker will retire to his farmland in one moon's time. I am pleased to name Skip to his position upon our current Royal Caretaker's retirement."

"I am honored," said Skip, who had fallen to one knee in respect and gratitude. "I shall serve you to the best of my ability."

Cleopatra turned to Big Tusky. "You are indeed a multi-talented creature, companion of Incon. I have ordered for you a barrel of the Palace's best brew... One barrel only, now... This is your reward from a grateful Queen of Egypt. Incon, may it be so?" Incon nodded. One barrel would only mildly muddle the pachyderm's mind and certainly not bring on any disturbing escapades. Tusky saw Incon's nod and nodded his head as well, ears flapping. "That is good," said Cleopatra. "Now, please announce the participants in phase two of the competition."

MRed and her beau were announced first followed by three Egyptian couples. Then Civis and Dionne were announced, much to Civis' surprise. Their announcement was followed by Incontinentia's and Jayhawk's names. Three more Egyptian couples were announced. The tenth and last couple were now to be announced. The names of this final couple were announced amidst groans from couples who failed to be selected. The tenth couple was Nephisis and Ramesses.

Khufu
Pleb
posted 06-28-00 09:22 ET (US)     87 / 121       
Time for a bit of that situation comedy you mentioned.

The dance began. In orderly rows the dancers made their rhythmical movements, whose meanings were handed down from some of the oldest rituals on earth. With regular steps each pair traced a cross on the dance floor. Tenuous conversation was maintained in whispers.

"The Queen looks agitated," said Civis to Dionne.

"Not as agitated as you," said Nephisis to Ramesses.

"What?" said Dionne.

"I said, the Queen looks-"

"No, what Ramesses said."

"I don't know. Hang on, he's moved away again. Wait."

"I tried to talk to Civis earier, but he didn't seem to notice," said Jayhawk to Incon. "Well, he's got a lot on his mind at the moment. Havent you, Civis?"

"Why is Civis staring at me?," said Ramesses to Nephisis.

Civis got close to Ramesses again. "What did you say?"

"I said, haven't you, Civis?"

"No, what Ramesses said."

"Why were you staring at me?"

"No, what you said before that."

"I said, you've got a lot on your mind at the moment."

"No!No! What Ramesses said."

"Oh, right."

"Rameses, what did you say before?"

"I've forgotten."

***********

"Civis, you missed a step," whispered Dionne.

"Sorry, I wasn't concentrating." He was more irritated than ever. The hilt of the sword chafed against his leg every time he stepped back. Al this time, and he was still no nearer the solution.

Incon had forgotten all about the intruders. She was her usual cheerful self....well, except when annoyed, anyway. These external troubles didn't seem to affect her, Jayhawk thought.

A quick patter alog the ground broke the uniformity of the dance steps. A messenger holding a lamp had come in. He whispered something to an attendant,who whispered something to a vizier, who whispered something to the Queen. The dancers continued, unaware that a poor papyrus maker, a disinherited nobleman, had been found murdered outside the Great Library. He was clutching a bundle of papyrus reeds tarred with pitch, and had had fallen off a ladder propped against the library wall.

I thought it would be wrong to interrupt the dance again. I'm not trying to end the story. In my mind, he's not the culprit. But what was he trying to do, and who was he?

[This message has been edited by Khufu (edited 06-28-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-28-00 23:08 ET (US)     88 / 121       
The final song of the set began and the ten paired dancers adjusted to the strains of a new melody overlaid on the now familiar rhythm of the Lambada.

"Now or never, Jayhawk," whispered Incontinentia into her partners ear. "I suppose you're right," he replied. It was then the Mistress of the Dance poured a major amount of skill and, oh yes, a little daring into her steps. Jayhawk kept pace, though startled once more by the incomparable Incon and the depths of her mastery of this addictive dance. He made a fine show of leading, enough of a show so that the audience was properly fooled; but without a doubt, it was Incon who set the standard.

The Egyptian couples were dismayed. They knew they had little chance to outdance Incon and her partner, the tall slender foreigner. Nonetheless, to their credit they gave it their all.

Civis's annoyance grew with the growth of the raw spot on his thigh. Big mistake, he thought. Yet he struggled on until at long last the strains of the melody faded away and the musical set came to its conclusion. Phase 3 would begin after a modest break.

The stampede to the beer cart was instantaneous. Nothing like the Lambada in the heat of the Egyptian desert to build one's thirst into a veritable crescendo of overpowering need. Anything that could hold beer was filled.

Civis took the opportunity to do what he knew he must. He walked over to the nearest Egyptian guard. He reached under his toga and delicately as well as discretely removed his sword and scabbard, pulling it out and from under the cloth. He handed it to the startled guard with specific instructions. He wanted it back in one piece just as soon as the contest was over. The guard didn't know what to say, so said nothing and shook his head up and down to signal his agreement.

"Thank you," said Civis.

Dionne had obtained two goblets of brew, one for herself and one for Civis. She had known the rush would occur and had wasted no time in getting to the barrels. That was why she was free to witness the removal of the sword while she stood there hands filled with goblets of brew. "Tsk, tsk, Civis of Rome. Why didn't you tell me you were wearing that thing. All this while I kept wondering what that knobby thing was that kept bumping my hip."

"Sorry, Dionne. I thought I might need it tonight," the Roman replied.

"Why, because of me?" she asked as a twinkling star awoke in each of the young woman's eyes to tease the Roman yet again.

"No, of course not. Quit being so silly. To protect Cleopatra, if necessary."

"You think that she is in danger tonight, don't you," she said, becoming more serious than usual.

"I just don't know. I heard Ramesses say something about intruders in the servant's entrance. I'm just being careful."

"Here, Civis. You need some refreshment." She handed him his goblet. "And yes, I'm glad for her Majesty's sake that you are being careful. I know of no one else who would make me feel safer than you." Civis turned beet red as usual, making his blue eyes stand out like two puddles in a red clay pit. Then Dionne did what every young woman of every nation or culture will do when she has thoroughly embarrassed her targeted male. She giggled.

___________________________________________________

"Announcing the last phase of the contest. These are the final contestants for the honor of dancing before her Majesty, Queen Cleopatra and Julius Caesar of Rome..."

MRed and her companion...................................
Incontinentia of Londinium and Jayhawk, her companion....
Dionne, Handmaiden to the Queen and her companion, Civis.

The crowd groaned once more... But to their surprise the official had not concluded.

"By special permission of her Majesty, to ensure two couples of equal skill are given a fair chance to compete, one additional couple will be permitted to dance in the last phase.....................................................

Invited to this final phase are:..........................

Nephisis and her husband, Ramesses.

The audience went all abuzz with excitement. An all-Egyptian couple would compete! How wonderful! The Queen is indeed considerate!

The official motioned for silence. "Will these couples please take the floor." The four couples did as they were told. "Take your companion's hands," the official directed. This the four couples did. Then the official turned to the musicians and signaled for the third and final set of melodies to begin.

MRed94
Pleb
posted 06-29-00 00:38 ET (US)     89 / 121       
MRed looked at her companion, Josephedes, and smiled, and then lost herself in the dance.

Incon, merrily dancing beside her, looked at Jayhawk, and said, "WOW! I had no idea that MRed could dance like this.....Where ever did she learn this????"

Jayhawk just smiled, not wanting to give away MRed's secrets......

Incontinentia
Pleb
posted 06-29-00 08:06 ET (US)     90 / 121       
(Sorry folks, I've got to take off for awhile. I'll come back when I can. Dang, just when I was started to enjoy being in a story again...) - Incontinentia
Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 06-29-00 13:33 ET (US)     91 / 121       
Suddenly trumpets roared and guards sprang to attention. Th ebig doors to the hall were slammed open and a hand full of Roman Preatorians entered followed by a grey haired roman, with an aquiline beak of a nose.
"Caesar" Civis mumbled.
"The Emperor, " Incon whispered.

Cleopatra stood and curtsied to the sparse Roman.
"My lord Caius Julius Caesar. Welcome to this fest."
Julius approached her, pushed the guards aside and answered
"Cleopatra, my Queen, I hope I do not disturb the festivities?"
"Not at all my lord. Please be seated?"

She clapped her hands and servants ran up with a chari and a goblet of poppy-steeped wine. Julius took his seat at the young Egyptian Queen's side and nodded to the crowd.
"Do continue, " he said in passable Greek.

Cleopatra clapped her hands again and the band struck up a lively tune. It's seductive rythms recalling the dancers to the floor. The couples moved again, forgetting fatigue and letting the tones of the music guide them. All couples were dancing well, but the gods Da'An Seth and his consort La'Am ba-Dah seemed to have taken over Londinium's governor and her partner. Their moves seemed to flow flawlessly from one to the next and an unearthly light floated around the couple.

The last notes of the music faded away as the couples slowly gounded to a halt. Cleopatra stood and turned towards Julius Caesar.
"My lord you have seen the brightest dancers of the land. may I give you the honour of naming the best among them?"
Julius stood too and looked at the dancers.
"All of you were magnificent, but without a doubt the most splendid couple were..."

The doors slammed open again as a harried looking Egyptian guardsman rushed in.
"My Queen...your brother!"


Khufu
Pleb
posted 06-29-00 16:11 ET (US)     92 / 121       
What had

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What had, a few moments earlier, been a hall of peace and merriment, was now a chamber crammed with frightened voices, as people pushed and shoved to leave. It was all Civis could do to find the guard and retrieve his sword. As the party melted away, the Queen left through the royal entrance, and passed through several doors flanked by guards until she reached the inner council chamber, where her advisors had already convened.

"Where is Ptolemy now?" She did not like to think of him as her brother.

"Twenty miles away, o queen. He must be with his troops, for we saw his personal standard."

"I trust the defences are manned and ready?"

"As they ever could be, o queen, and the army is gathering."

"Very well. We shall resist him and his pack of hyenas. What about that dead man? You said there was something curious about him."

"Ah, yes, indeed. You see,we knew he was a papyrus-maker from the knife at his belt. But then, when they examined him, they found an amulet round his neck. It said, 'Pweneset owns me.' "

"Who's that?"

"He was a wealthy and influential man under your father's rule o queen, and I remember him. The Chief Priest of Ra, the same as the present one, charged him with plotting with the Romans - I don't renember what - and he was stripped of rank and estate."

"So this was his revenge?"

"We cannot say. It was so long ago, and anyway, why burn down the Library just to get revenge? It doesn't make sense."

The captain of the guard entered. "O queen, the army is ready."

"I come," said the queen simply. The party left the room; on their way out, Ramesses came asked the captain if he was needed on the field. "No, your men are to man the walls."

Although Ramesses didn't like being sidelined, this gave him a chance to think. Why had Ptolemy chosen to attack now? The city was well protected. In fact, was he going toattack? Suddenly, he realised that the only proof of the proximity of Ptolemy's army was that the guard had seen some people in the night carrying his standard. And what could they have to do with some strange servants and two intruders creeping around outside? There was a lot on his mind, and it was this which made him do something unusual. He went to find the foreigners.

What do you think? There is a lot unanswered here, as Ramesses observes, and I hope someone can tie it up neatly and skilfully.

Ramesses
Pleb
posted 06-29-00 17:01 ET (US)     93 / 121       
As Ramesses rushed down the halls, he found Cleopatra. He ran after her, then told her to wait. She stopped, and gave a very mean glance at Ramesses.

"My queen, maybe that army, could have been a hundred men waiving your brothers standered. Why would he attack, it is suicidal. I think, I should do my job now, leave this to me, my queen, go back to Caesar, keep him entertained, I'm certain that if Ptolemy did attack, which I don't think he will, his target would be both you and Caesar. Your palace is the safest place." said Ramesses.

Ramesses forgot about the others, and ran towards the gates. He didn't pay any attention to Cleopatra, who was thinking of what Ramesses had said. She observed as he drew his sword and ran. Leaving the compitition to the others, Nephisis wouldn't be too happy about this. Meanwhile, the dancers took a well-deserved break.

hope that was great, good posts Khufu.

------------------
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

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 06-29-00 21:46 ET (US)     94 / 121       
Back in the Banquet Hall, Caius Julius Caesar quietly observed the commotion and wondered aloud to himself. "Seems this evening has gone awry..." Then he noticed the medium heighth man in the toga standing in the middle of the dance floor with a Roman sword in his hand and an Egyptian girl by his side. "You, Roman, come here."

Civis walked directly to Caesar and saluted him in the Roman military fashion. "Ahhhh... a military man, I see," observed Caesar. "Your name, Roman."

"Civis Romanus, Caesar."

"Romanus? Civis? Seems I know you, don't I. A cohort commander? With me in Gaul?"

Civis became somewhat nervous. "Uh... No Caesar. My cousin possibly." NOOOO! thought Civis; no time conundrums! Not now! He is speaking of my geat grandfather. "My family is very large and there are many cousins. Civis is a traditional name we bear."

"Oh, I see." But Caesar still looked at Civis curiously. "Well, Civis... whichever one you are. I think there may be a battle tonight. Aren't you missing something? Armor maybe?"

"Yes, Caesar. I will be but a moment." He turned to Dionne. "Quickly, please, show me the way back." Both turned and Dionne hurried alongside Civis guiding him back to the Roman's guest chambers. Very soon he returned, equipped for battle, led by Dionne who had changed back into her more simple handmaiden's dress.

In Civis' absence, Caesar made the acquaintence of Incon, Jayhawk and MRed. This very much at ease Roman general praised Incon and Jayhawk's dancing. "I was just about to name you two the winners when we were greatly interrupted." Then he paused looking out over the balcony. "I wonder how she's doing right now. Things seem quiet."

Just then the doors to the Banquet Room opened and the Queen entered. "Well, Caius Julius Caesar, it seems we were given a false alarm. It seems the torches inside the city were nothing more than a gaggle of market ladies annoyed at something and conducting a protest. A few of them had cut pieces out of a blanket to put on sticks. The pattern of the blanket looked like Ptolemy's standard. I can assure you the Egyptian guards who raised this false alarm will be punished."

Even as Cleopatra concluded this explanation she noticed that Caesar had formed an odd expression on his face and seemed to be looking at something quite distant. She followed his line of sight as it drew her view out of the palace, off of the balcony and towards the moonlit horizon. Completely absorbed, Caesar turned and walked towards the balcony, Cleopatra following and the others as well, but at a slight distance from the first two.

"Hmmmmm, Queen Cleopatra. I don't think those lights are Roman," observed Caesar. My legion is encamped between the interior and outer walls as you directed. Those thousands of lights are outside of the city."

"It is Ptolemy," said Cleopatra, teeth clenching. "Sound the alarm!" she cried.

"May I be of some service, Queen Cleopatra?" said Caesar with a self-assured smile.

"No, this is an Egyptian affair. It would be best if Romans were not involved."

"As you wish," acceded Caesar. "But I will withdraw my legion into the city, if you will permit, so that they will not be involved in the battle. This is your wish, I presume?"

Cleopatra looked at the Roman with suspicion, then she decided there was no other alternative. "That is my wish." She turned to a nearby Egyptian commander even as Caesar turned to one of his own commanders. They both issued the commands necessary to withdraw the Legion into the city. The Egyptian commander was charged with observing the movements with his soldiers to ensure no untoward activity occurred on the part of the Romans.

Civis looked at Jayhawk and the others. It went almost without saying. Now was the time to go to the Great Library and see about its fate.

Ramesses
Pleb
posted 06-29-00 23:36 ET (US)     95 / 121       
"Nephisis, I have to go again." said Ramesses.

" Won't you ever quit that job, you know we have enough money to make it for another thousand years, and..."

" Keep your mouth shut, somebody might hear you, now, just take time to cool off okay Nephisis?" said Ramesses.

As Ramesses left the room, he looked towards Caesar. Ramesses gave a Roman salute to Caesar. Then, he left, under his breath, Ramesses wished Caesar to go away, but there was nothing that he could do. Then, he marched towards his post, and marched down the hall with his trusted bodyguard. As he left, he saw a group walk towards the library, as they walked Ramesses,said hi, then marched towards his post, and tiring exhausting work.

I've noticed most of my smaller posts are better, so here is another one.

------------------
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

Khufu
Pleb
posted 06-30-00 09:18 ET (US)     96 / 121       
Time for a set piece...

Despite the commotion within and without the city, the Great Library maintained a sphinx-like silence. It was not a public library, but they were allowed through on account of their connections. Inside, after crossing the great marble foyer lined with columns, the little group stood in a vast hall. In the centre was a pool of water in a lead-lined basalt container. In relief around it were countless Persian kings and satraps. It was a souvenir from the days when Egypt was under the Persian yoke.

The near half of the room was square, the other end forming three-quarters of a circle. The light, cream stucco of the domed ceiling was sety off by the brilluant black night, visible through its glazed windows. The room was lined with tall bookcases, at least nine feet high, with row upon row of books. Large books, small books, ancient books held together with leather strips and new books. Books as far as the eye could see. It was the largest single collection of literature in the world.

As Incon searched - in vain - to find any fiction titles on elephants, the others made their way across the masssivehall to the end. As they drew closer, the curtain at the end doorway parted and the Librarian entered.

"And who might you be?" asked the little old sage. His large head appeared to be swollen with countless ages of academic learning.

"Er, well, we are agents of the Queen who have, who have been sent to....watch over the, er, Library," blurted Civis. "Watch over the Library?" asked the Librarian. "Who would want to harm a library? Well, you had better come with me."

They folled him through a corridor to a series of dusty and untidy offices filled with letters, files and gifts from wealthy donors. A large gold lion from Seleucus I squatted on top of the filing cabinet. An ivory model sailing ship fronm Rhodes, inlaid with gold, adorned the window-sill. A thick-set man, not so old as the Librarian, came in from the other end. "I've just been to get the new key, sir."

"What new key?"

"The replacement for the side door key, the one I broke."

"Oh.....oh, fine. Gentleman, this is Pantocrates, my deputy. I'm a little busy; could you show the gentlemen to my office?"

Pantocrates did so, after which he left the room. Presently there was a kniock at the door. Puzzled, Civis opened it, to find Incon standing there.

"I found something," she said. "I sat down on a stool and felt something hard. It was in the cushion." She showed Civis a large brass door key, quite intact.

[This message has been edited by Khufu (edited 06-30-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-01-00 13:39 ET (US)     97 / 121       
Civis looked at the object in Incon's hand. "Is that the key to your heart?"

"Now don't you get wise with me, Civis Romanus! You know very well that..." Then Incon hesitated and looked down at the crudely-fashioned, cold brass metal key in her hand. "Ohhhhhh! You WILL pay for that! Are you trying to imply something?! Well, wise-guy, I've a good mind to take this key and stick it in your ear!" Incon raged on uncontrollably making quite clear what she thought of the Roman and what she would do to him.

Civis' blue eyes twinkled as they sometimes will when what he says in teasing is certainly not what he means. Finally he couldn't control himself any longer and filled the room with guffaws. Purple-faced, Incon stopped her raging and looked at Civis with an expression filled with evil intent and a little bit of curiosity. Little lines began to form in the corners of her eyes, formed there by pink cheek muscles beginning to war with the tension of anger. Finally she saw the humor in the situation and joined in adding her own laughter to that of Civis'. "Alright for you, wise guy," she said.

Both began to wipe small tears from their eyes brought on by the laughter, but even with Incon now joining in, Civis knew his little tease had a price. Incon continued, "You know there will be a payback, Civis." He knew, but he just couldn't pass up the opportunity and so had gone right ahead regardless.

Jayhawk didn't miss the humor in the situation and was quite daring in his own right; but when it came to Incon, disgression was his usual 'modus operandi'. He freely allowed the Civis's of the world to be daring when it came to the Chairman of the RSPCE. He was content, thank you, to stand back and quietly watch the mayhem that would ensue.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 07-01-2000).]

Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 07-01-00 17:31 ET (US)     98 / 121       
In a quiet, hidden corner of the banquet hall, a breeze begins to pick up, moving the silk curtains in the room in an elegant fashion. A tingly sound can be heard, as little particles of light start to materialize out of thin air. The light gets brighter, and the breeze gets stronger...

Omphf!

Zen drops out of the origin of the light... and falls a few feet onto the cold, hard & polished marble floor.

"Better master teleportation spells... Titanicus's spells still need quite a bit of work..." He thought to himself...

He looks around. The hall is deserted. Zen wonders where everybody is... "Something must've happened... better head down to the Great Library." He says to himself.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-03-00 20:45 ET (US)     99 / 121       
The High Priest motioned to his circle of priests of the Temple. "The time is right for us to put our plan into action. The Tunnel is ready for use by Pharaoh Ptolemy. Even now he brings his army before the gates of the city. That false ruler, Cleopatra, will be gone before the evening is over and the rightful King of Egypt will sit on the everlasting throne! Go! Do those things you are expected to do. But have a care. Let no one see you enter the Great Library together or there may be suspicions raised."

The priests bowed before their master and left the temple in groups of two or less. Zen was making his way by the temple heading in the direction of the Great Library. As fast as he was walking, pairs of priests were walking even faster.

"Hmmmm. Must be something going on. It's not often I see priests going somewhere in such a hurry," he said to himself. "Think I'll just follow them so long as they seem to be headed in the same direction I'm going." This he did.

Caesar's Legion continued its withdrawal to the city center, passing through the carved gates of the inner wall. Cleopatra's military advisor observed the Romans marching in perfect step. Admirable discipline, he thought. I wonder if the Egyptian Army is a match? I hope we won't have to find out, he concluded. Anyway, I mostly hope the Queen is making the right decision. These are not Egyptians and we are allowing them to enter the heart of the city. Such a risk, such a risk. He continued to worry but as yet could find no reason to be greatly alarmed. Caesar's Legion was doing exactly what Cleopatra directed, granted it was Caesar himself who gave the orders to his commanders.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-05-00 22:42 ET (US)     100 / 121       
Hi Zen! Welcome back. Hope you had a good trip. I'm slowing this down to give the others a chance to join back in, especially Incon who is on the road again it appears.

__________________________________________________________


Zen followed one particular pair of priests to a side door of the Great Library. Before they could notice him he quickly found a broad pillar to hide behind and then watched what the priests did.

One of the priests produced a shiny new brass key. The other priest looked about to confirm that they were alone. They were, so he thought. He nudged the other priest and motioned to him to proceed. The priest with the brass key inserted it into the lock on the side door and turned the key.

A mechanical sound as if metal were scraping metal echoed faintly up the side street. The other priest pushed on the side door which protested with a faint metallic whine. Then the two priests disappeared through the door as they entered an unknown room in the Great Library.

___________________________________________________________

A battering ram slammed its bronze goathead into the gates of the outer wall. The Egyptians ignored the stones and arrows raining down on them even as one or the other of their number fell. Each time an Egyptian fell another took his place. The battering ram continued its relentless pounding on the city's gates making wood splinter and the gate strain against its wooden bar in response.

Meanwhile, another contingent of Egyptians cleared away the last vestiges of a false covering in the sand outside of the city. By the hundreds they streamed into the dimly lit tunnel confident that priests of the Temple waited at the tunnel's end. The priests would help them enter the city center, their commanders told them, through its most famous structure, the Great Library.

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