Print Friendly, PDF & Email

(Karnak, Egypt, 1458 BC)

Total bliss, it’s the only word that comes close to describing how Hatshepsut felt as she woke up late the next morning. Rolling over, expecting to see his form lying next to her, she found herself alone in her own bed. Rising up on her elbows, Hatty looked all around thinking, I don’t remember coming back here…how’d he? Then, spying a piece of papyrus carefully folded, lying on the pillow next to hers, she quickly rolled, grabbed it, and read,

“My Hatshepsut,

I must attend to an urgent matter.

I will return,



Immense relief flooded her heart, as she realized, It did happen, it wasn’t a dream. Still, she thought, why don’t I remember coming back here? Feeling her belly, she knew they had definitely made love – a love to surpass all loves. Falling back onto her bed, she felt deliciously like a young girl, free of any responsibilities, able to indulge in her fantasies and whims at will.

How impudent

But, she thought, how impudent, loving and leaving me like this. A proper Pharaoh should demand more consideration than a mere note. What could be more urgent than me? she mused. Yet, as annoying as it should be, the only thing that mattered about the note was the part that promised, “l will return.”

One of her servants, dressed simply, came in and stood a respectful distance from her bed. After a while of thinking and, most of all, feeling, Hatshepsut queried, “When did I return to my chambers?”

Looking confused, the young woman said, “Mistress, I don’t understand.”

Slightly bothered, Hatty said, “What time did I return from my evening walk?”

Eyes darting around, lowering her head, the servant girl answered, “I’m sorry, Great Pharaoh, I don’t understand, I did not see you return.”

“That’s not possible!” Hatshepsut replied sternly, now genuinely annoyed. Swinging her legs over and down, she sat upright, commanding, “Bring me the others!”

All lined up in a row

A short while later, with her servants lined up in a row, she asked again, “When did I return from my walk last evening?” Looking down, the women all remained silent, none knowing how to answer.

Finally, a senior attendant, looking up, said, “Gracious and kind Pharaoh, we do not understand how we have displeased you. We were all here during the night, ready to serve you at a moment’s notice, but none of us saw you return. Please accept our apologies for whatever wrong we have done, we live only to serve you.”

Sensing the sincerity in her voice and seeing the agreement of the others, Hatshepsut said curtly, “I will eat. Bring my meal here, and send for the one called Brenzel, let her to come at once.” At that, the women scurried away to their duties, glad to be out of sight.

His faux wife

(Rome, 1693)

Pietro stood up, dumbfounded at the madness of his sire. Was not his faux wife the nexus of all their present problems? Emotions ran across his features, like a swift current over a rocky stream. Why won’t you let me in? Why not confide in me, haven’t I proven myself enough? he thought, as he felt his heart breaking, unable to bridge his master’s chasm between reason and folly.

Matteo said, “We will leave as soon as my carriage is ready.” Then standing, he said, “Send a messenger quickly to announce my coming.”

“Yes, Sire, as you wish” Pietro said.

Then, as if to stick a knife in his heart, Prince Imperialli said curtly, “I will dress myself. Hurry, make ready for my departure.”

A much needed break

Towards late afternoon, Tim arrived at Fiammetta’s apartments, bearing small gifts for the children and a long lingering hug and kiss for his wife. It had been days since he’d been able to get away from his duties, with the economies across Europe faltering and a flurry of letters from Her Majesty.

The boys hugged and thanked him properly. After they left, Fiammetta sat together with him and little Nico, who, having tired of toddling around the room, grasping at anything to hold him up, had almost fallen asleep in her arms now. His chubby fingers, grabbing her blouse, pulled it down. Tim smiled at his young son, moving his own chair near.

“He’s just like you,” Fia said, as she arranged his blanket and gently removed his small hand from her blouse “determined to get whatever he wants. He’ll grow up to be a fine man, a man of business, I think.”

Tim answered with a proud smile. Thinking back to conversations they’d had, Fia knew that service to the church was out of the question for any of their children; not an option at all.

Looking at Tim’s eyes, Fia remarked, “You look weary, my love, will you stay the evening?” her inflection conveying her desire.

“Yes, my love, in fact I can stay through the day tomorrow, also.”

Smiling, Fia whispered seductively, “He’ll be asleep soon.”

A pained look

Just then, Maria entered and stood just inside the door, waiting with a pained looked on her face. Fia, not wanting to be disturbed, but unable to ignore her, sighed and asked, “What is it Maria?”

When it was clear her mistress was not rising to speak with her, Maria said, “There is someone here to call upon you, Fia.”

Looking at Nico, almost asleep, then at Tim who was looking at her questioningly, Fia answered, “How can that be?”

Giving up, Maria said in exasperation, “It’s the Prince, m’lady, Matteo Imperialli is here at the door demanding to see you. I tried to tell him you are indisposed, but he won’t hear of it.”

Tim, as he was wont to do in unpleasant situations, quieted, blood running hot. Difficult situations tended to focus his thoughts rather than increase his panic. My assassin, Lot, he thought, typically ruthless and efficient, has evidently not completed his task. That’s odd, it’s unlike him to leave judgments lingering, Something is amiss. Fiammetta, obviously nervous, acted like someone with something to hide, despite his immense trust in her. What has that rat done now? I damn the day that I came up with this ruse, Tim thought, while imagining choking the life out of that sorry misuse of a man with his bare hands.

A foolish man

Realizing that Fiammetta was looking at him, eyes wide and stressed, Tim said, “Give Nico to me, I’ll hold him. Go tend to this nuisance, Fiammetta, then report.”

Not knowing what else to do or say, she handed their son to his father, promising not to be long. “Please don’t be angry, Tim,” she said, “I don’t know why that foolish man is here any more than you do.” Leaving, she said as she passed Maria, “I’ll see him in the drawing room.”

Fia, going to her room to prepare, thought to herself, This charade has got to stop. Something has to be done!

(Karnak, Egypt, 1458 BC)

Why not just tell me where he’s gone himself? Why are my servants lying to me, are they trying in their simple way to protect me? She wondered as she finished a semi-sweet pastry. Everything was making no sense, least of all 3. Smoldering, Hatshepsut got up and asked, “Is Brenzel here yet?”

“No, Great Pharaoh.”

Putting her hand over her mouth, she realized, I gave myself to the man who would suggest I give up my kingdom! Then, as a pit in her stomach grew, she thought, Thutmose has refused to see me, waiting with his armies on the border! By all the gods, she thought, is 3 my nephew’s agent meant to smooth his way to my throne?!

Mind whirling, putting two and two together, plus another five, eight and thirteen, Hatty felt sick as Brenzel appeared in the doorway. Seeing her friend smiling, Pharaoh calmed slightly.

Something’s up

Something’s up, Brenzel knew as she saw the way her friend looked at her. Walking over, she hugged Hatty tightly, saying, “What’s the matter, Hatty?” The small woman held her tightly, too, like a frightened child. Brenzel felt a wave of emotion in her friend so strong, she gasped. “What’s happened, Dear?”

After a few moments, Hatty managed to say, “What do you think about my new Vizier, 3?”

“Well, I don’t know, I haven’t met him yet.”

Hatty, looking at her friend, said, “I mean, what do you feel about him spiritually, you know…the Hathor thing you do.”

Bren, looking away for a moment, said, “Well…he’s good, I know that much.”

Then, Brenzel’s eyes wide, she exclaimed, “Oh…my…God,…you…” then trailed off, eventually whispering, “slept with him.”

Hatty nodded,cheeks flushing, heart pounding.

“Where is he now?”

Stepping back Hatty said, “He’s not here. He was gone when I woke up, but he left this note,” Hatty showed it to Bren.

“What…Why?” Brenzel wondered out loud, feeling as confused as her friend after reading it.

“I don’t know, perhaps he didn’t like me?” she said with raised eyebrows and open palm. “Maybe I disappointed him? I don’t know… he just left! Brenzel, he left me! No one ever leaves ME.”

The cad!

“The cad!” Brenzel said half to herself. “You can’t do that to a woman,” Bren commented, remembering some her own failed relationships.

“I just feel like I want to murder someone, Brenzel. I’m confused and angry. I’m attacked by all sorts of thoughts in my mind, all of them evil. Trouble is, I think I love him…desperately. I’ve never fallen for someone this deeply before. People told me about how love could be, but I never believed them. They way he held me, Bren, the ways that he moved, I came fully alive in his arms! It was”…she searched her heart and mind…”worship.” Then, starting to sob, Hatty cried, “Why does love have to hurt so much?”

Looking at Hatty, Bren realized it was true: True love does sometimes hurt…really bad. Thinking about things, she said, “You are not wrong to love him, Hatty. I know it’s hard to do, but trust…3. God says he will come back. I feel strongly this is going to work out for both of you.”

For you, my love

That evening, Arinna was led deep into the prison, four guards escorting her. The whole place reeked of decay. Coming to a door, they stopped and waited. Soon, another man came, spoke to one of them, as they all turned and stood at attention.

Presently, royal guardsmen came down the steps, flanked by a half dozen touch bearers, lighting up the whole large space. Then, Pharaoh descended gingerly and walked towards her.

Looking up at Arinna, standing tall and proud in her royal attire, Hatshepsut motioned for the door to be opened. The torch bearers went inside and placed the torches in wall mounts so that the whole inside of the large cell was illuminated.

A small box was brought and given to Hatshepsut.

Finally, she opened it, revealing a small bottle, the same one that Arinna had left empty on her table, after news of Senenmut’s death.

So it’s to be poison

“So, it’s to be poison,” Arinna said disinterestedly.

Hesitating oddly, Hatshepsut said, “Yes.” Egypt’s Pharaoh, looking at her sternly, said, “I wasn’t quite sure if it was you until now.”

Arinna merely sneered.

Speaking to a soldier, she instructed him to take the small vile into the chamber, placing it exactly where Arinna had left it. In fact, Arinna noticed that the whole cell was an exact recreation of her quarters at the Royal Harem.

Hatshepsut said to Arinna, “You know I loved him.”

Though the Pharaoh’s honesty pained her slightly, the Hittite princess said nothing.

With that, Hatty watched as the door closed – Arinna staring back at her through the small, barred opening.

Arrina knew that if it was the same poison, which it may not be, it would be a quick death. Sitting down at the table, bottle in front of her, an odd sense of deja vu descended upon her, as if intervening events hadn’t taken place at all, like it was the first time she’d purposed to die. No matter, she was tired of the game. Reaching, lifting the bottle to her lips, she up ended it. Then again! Nothing poured out! Upending it on the table, she saw that the bottle of poison was empty.

You witch!

“You witch!” Arinna roared furiously from inside. “I am royalty! By every convention I should die a dignified death, not wasting away in a prison cell!” The Hittite princess stood, throwing the bottle against the wall by the bed with all her might. Then, coming quickly to the small barred window in the door, she screamed, “I curse you, Hatshepsut! By all the gods of the Hittite underworld, let them strike your memory from this world, may your kingdom be forgotten, let your very name be erased from existence! I’m glad I killed him! Do you hear me! I’m glad you’re alone!”

As she screamed obscenities, beneath her bed two yellow eyes opened and a long reptilian body slowly uncoiled, moving, disturbed by the loud sounds.

Hatsheput stood motionless, waiting patiently. Suddenly, the cursing turned to screams of utter terror.

Lingering for a moment more before she left, remembering her Senenmut, Hatshepsut said, out loud, “For you, my love,”