Chapter 9. Taming the Lions

 

Ramses recovered quickly from his toothache under Maya’s meticulous care.

“This is the last dose of medicine. As long as you don’t eat tiger nut sweets frequently, your toothache won’t recur.” Maya spoke as she carefully applied a medicinal paste to his cheek.

“I know, stop nagging!” He replied impatiently.

“You think I’m nagging? Then, don’t look for me when you have a toothache again!” She applied the paste with more force and was satisfied to see his painful expression.

“You insolent woman!” He grabbed her hand.

She blushed and was about to retort when she noticed a palace attendant hurried in and said worriedly, “Second Prince! One of the lions sent from Lower Egypt wouldn’t eat for unknown reasons. It seems to be sick!”

“Sick?” Ramses stood up, draped a cape over his shoulders, and walked out. “Maya, you come with me.”

The lions were kept in an enclosed space near the palace. They came not only from Lower Egypt but many also travelled thousands of miles from Libya. Each lion was placed individually in a large wooden cage. Whenever someone approached them, they would roar ferociously.

However, when Ramses and Warrior appeared, the lions’ roars were subdued. It seemed that they were a little afraid of Ramses.

However, the lions did not care for Maya at all. They growled and glared ferociously to frighten her.

These lions clearly fear the strong but bully the weak… Maya glared back and said angrily, “Which lion is sick? They all look healthy to me!”

Ramses resisted an urge to laugh, pointed at a listless lion and said, “Must be this one.”

Maya walked to the lion and kept speaking to it as she approached. Her method worked and the lion stopped its intimidation and allowed her to come nearer.

Maya quickly found out why it was unwell. She deftly took out a bronze knife from her leather pouch and instructed the attendant to bring some lilies.

“What’s wrong with it?” Ramses asked curiously.

“There is an unusual growth on its right leg which needs to be removed immediately. Lilies have numbing properties, so it will be less painful.” After she spoke, she skillfully tore the lilies brought by the attendant and grind them into a paste.

The lion lay on the floor docilely, allowing her to apply the anesthetic.

“Will this really work?” Ramses seemed doubtful.

“If you don’t trust me, get someone else.” She shot him a glance. “By the way, why are you still here? Stay away, don’t distract me here.”

“What? How dare you say that I’m distracting you?” Ramses was triggered by what she said. However, after some consideration, he swallowed his indignity and stepped aside furiously. This brazen woman is growing out of hand!

Soon, Maya completed the surgery and bandaged the wound carefully. She patted the lion’s head with a smile and whispered, “Good girl. Don’t worry, you will be well soon.”

The lioness licked her hand docilely. Maya was surprised that the other lions, which were growling at her menacingly before this, all purred as if thanking her.

“What’s going on?” she asked and was puzzled.

“I think they are thanking you for saving their friend.” Ramses walked in and inspected the lioness’ wound.

“Oh, I understand!” She smiled excitedly. “Ramses, see, this is the only lioness. They must be thanking me for curing their dream lover. That’s why they are so nice to me!” 

Ramses smirked, “Only an idiot like you would think this way.”

“Since you brought an idiot to help you, doesn’t that mean that you’re an idiot too?” She retorted quickly this time. But soon, she would discover that a quick retort comes with a great cost.

Strangely, Ramses was not angry. Instead, he smiled even wider, “By the way, since the lions are nice to you, you should come and help me to train them.”

“What?”

“What are you hesitating about? This is a prince’s order!”

In the subsequent days, Maya had no choice but to accept this task. If not for her important mission to find that item, she would have just quit. But now, she had stayed in the temple for quite some time, but the thing that she was looking for was nowhere to be found.

After a few days, she was finally able to get along with the lions. It was all thanks to the lioness with which she built a good rapport. Only a lion with black spots on its left ear seemed always in low spirits and always ignored her. During this period, Prince Teran came to visit her a few times and brought her delicious food and drinks. Maya quite enjoyed his visits.

After some time, Maya gradually grew closer to the lions. She adopted some methods of rearing and training lions which turned out to be quite effective. Meanwhile, Ramses threw this tremendous task to her. He hardly ever came here. During this time, to celebrate the recovery of Ramses’ sight, many kingdoms came to Memphis to present tribute, so Pharaoh Seti I also held a large banquet. 

On the day of the banquet, Maya had just finished enjoying an Egyptian style bath and massage when a group of maids rushed into her room carrying many things. They said that they had come to dress her up.

“Miss Maya, the Second Prince said that you must attend the banquet.” The eldest of the maids looked at her and said,

“What? I’m not going!” She exclaimed.

“Not going? This is the Second Prince’s order!” The maid disregarded her struggle and called out to the other maid, “Get to work!”

After struggling for some time, Maya finally saw her appearance.

Her lips were stained red with a mixture of Henna flowers and lettuce seed oil grown in the Nile Delta. Her eyes were lined with kohl and the outer edges lightly dusted with green malachite powder. Her cheeks blushed with a layer of pink ocher powder. Her hair was adorned with a golden hair ornament with a gleaming lotus formed from turquoise and malachite stones. Her shiny black hair was also scented with the recently popular scent of labdanum from Greece and Crete.

She had never seen herself so beautiful before.

After changing into a long white dress, she was led by the maids into the banquet hall.

Upon entering the opulent banquet hall, she saw Ramses reclining on a leopard skin. His smooth black hair gleamed under the light. His eyes lined with dark green eyeliner, which made them darker and more mysterious. No matter the occasion, Ramses was always eye-catching like the sun.

Ramses was also looking at her. His gaze was hard to read.

“Maya, you’re here. Do take a seat,” The Pharaoh indicated to her to sit at one side.

Maya shot a glance at Ramses and saw that his expression seemed to be saying, “Quick, sit here!” Although she disliked his attitude, she still couldn’t stop her legs from moving to go to him.

Just as she took a step, she suddenly heard another familiar voice, “Maya, come sit here.”

She turned around and saw Prince Teran. He was smiling and pointing to the seat beside him. Furthermore, many people were looking in his direction.

Although she wanted to sit beside Ramses, if she rejected Prince Teran before so many people, he would be embarrassed. She remembered how he had treated her well, so after a moment of hesitation, she turned around and walked to Prince Teran.

The banquet was lively and the guests from different kingdoms had their own styles of dress. The Nubian representative wore a loincloth cut from leopard skin over a pleated skirt. He wore colorful feathers around his head and adorned himself with earrings and large bangles. The Cretan ambassador had uneven locks of black hair and wore a loincloth with hanging ornaments.  The ambassadors from Lebanon had smooth faces and sharp noses… Asher clapped his hands. A dozen of beautiful and alluring Persian dancers began dancing to a lively music. Their graceful dance brought excitement to the banquet’s atmosphere. They shook their hips and danced brazenly before the Pharaoh and the guests while tantalizing the men.

Maya saw a beautiful young woman dancing before Ramses and suddenly felt an unexplainable annoyance.

“Maya, you should try this. This sweet is an Egyptian specialty. It is made with milk, tiger nuts, balsam, and honey. It is very sweet.” Teran offered her a plate of the sweets.

As Maya reached out to take one, Teran’s hand slipped and caused the whole plate to fall underneath the table. Both of them bent down and accidentally knocked into each other.

“Maya, are you alright?” Teran touched her forehead with concern.

“I’m alright. My head is hard. I am more concerned about you.” She touched her forehead and laughed. Teran also laughed with her.

“Then come and try this.” Teran moved closer to her. “Don’t drop this one.”

At this moment, Maya did not notice Ramses’ expression. He was looking at her and Teran sullenly. Since the beginning, he kept controlling himself from losing his temper, but now, the anger circling his mind suddenly ignited like fuel and his gaze darkened.

At this moment, a dancer came over to him and helped him to pour wine. She stuck her voluptuous figure to him and rubbed against him gently to arouse his interest.

“Go away!” Ramses said coldly and pushed her away. His gaze remained focused on Maya and Teran. The dancer would not give up. She stuck more firmly at him and cooed flirtatiously to get Ramses’ attention. Sadly, she had chosen the wrong time. At this moment, Ramses was not only not interested in her, his expression was full of hatred. As he watched Maya and Teran leaning close to each other, he felt something snapped in his mind! 

He raised his hand and slapped the annoying dancer and sent her falling to the floor without mercy.

“Slap!” Everyone heard it and the banquet hall suddenly became silent. All eyes turned to him.

He stood up, smiled coldly and threw his wine cup to the floor. Under everyone’s gaze, he strode towards Maya and Teran.

“I’m unwell, so I will leave first.” His voice was not loud but it could be heard clearly. Although it seemed to be directed to Prince Teran, his eyes were focused on Maya.

Maya was a little confused and looked up at him. She didn’t understand why he was leaving suddenly. But no matter how dense she was, she could see that Ramses’ expression clearly said, “I am unhappy and it’s all your fault.”

Other than not sitting beside him, what else did I do that made him unhappy? I don’t understand. I didn’t even speak to him just now.

 

Notes

N/A

DISCUSSION

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

You might also like