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 To Cairo We Go; Yo Ho, Yo Ho! [Tag: Benoub]

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PostSubject: To Cairo We Go; Yo Ho, Yo Ho! [Tag: Benoub]   Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:19 am

The salty air of Port Okena was new and refreshing. In her days spent perusing the many shops and attractions the Port had, she’d seen and learned all kinds of new things. Each new sea-faring vessel got a wide-eyed stare of awe from the girl who’d been raised in seclusion; each new creature of the sea got an equally wide-eyed stare of awe. It hadn’t taken Sybil long to learn the best place to try all of these new and delicious looking fish. The place was called a sushi bar. It wasn’t exactly cheap, but Sybil had more than enough money from her most recent job to afford to pay the shop a visit at least once a day during her visit thus far.

Due to her new loyalty to the shop and her avid curiosity, the proprietor had invited Sybil to the back in order to show her all the different fish. It was improbable that her jaw could have dropped any lower at the sight of so many delicacies being prepared for the customers in the front of the shop. She’d managed to at least refrain from drooling outright, thank goodness.

Just thinking about all that fish had Sybil’s stomach grumbling, despite having just eaten dinner an hour previously. Frowning some, she pushed her faux hunger back down inside of herself and returned her attention to the vessel in front of her.

It had docked a few days ago, and from what she could tell, all it had contained was rugs, golden statues, and spices… so really, nothing of interest… until she’d spied a statue in particular. Huge and onyx, it had begged for attention quite avidly. The fact that it was feline had only gotten Sybil’s attention quicker. Her breath had caught in her throat when she’d seen it for the first time as a feeling had washed over her. Familiarity isn’t the right word, but it’s the first that comes to mind. Because of that statue, Sybil had made sure to check back on the boat every day.

The word Cairo had been used prominently around the vessel. Staring at the swishy words on the side of the boat, she wondered if that’s what was written there. With the sun still lurking beneath the horizon, the golden words did not shine like they did during the day, but she’d memorized the look of them anyways. A loud commotion from the deck of the boat caught Sybil’s attention and she turned her gaze to the men heading down the wooden plank. They were laughing, swearing, and seemed to be having an all-around good time. Sybil’s head tilted some as she watched a large majority of the men she’d seen on and around the vessel now heading down the docks towards a nearby tavern.

Curiosity gnawed at Sybil, and she strained her ears for any signs of movement up on the deck of the ship. Her fingers twitched with anticipation. She’d already made up her mind, but she wanted to be certain that there was nobody around to witness her prowling. Looking both ways, she finally decided the area was clear enough, and she hopped down from her perch atop a pile of crates. Quiet as a mouse, she padded towards the wooden plank connecting the dock to the deck.

A few of the boards in the middle creaked, causing her to slow and eventually stop in fright. Her nose and ears informed her that no one was approaching, so she hurried to the top and slipped onto the flat boards of the deck. She took a cursory glance at her new surroundings, letting her nose take in just as much as her eyes. If there was anyone on the ship, they were not here on this level. A light flared to life on her left and she ducked down into the shadows near the side rail. The hairs on the back of Sybil’s neck rose, but she noticed that the light was shining out from behind the windowpane of a shut door. Relaxing slightly, she moved, one wary footstep at a time, towards the dark entrance to the staircase leading into the belly of the ship…

~*~

It had been nearly a fortnight and Sybil was more than ready to get off of this boat. Hunger, thirst, and being stuck in cramped quarters had defeated the werepanther after the first four days. Mice were fun to chase and all, but they were hardly food enough for a large cat like herself; especially when she was trying to be quiet about it. The crew had been startled at the appearance of a young girl in the middle of the Atlantic, but after a few hours, and the very good translating skills of the Captain’s son, she had been allowed to not only stay on board, but stay out of the brig.

Passage wasn’t free, of course, and she was more than happy to pull her share of the weight with chores around the boat. When she wasn’t cleaning or eating, she spent most of her time with the Captain’s son, Mahmoud. He was an older gentleman, probably in his mid-40’s, and had the permanent scent of an odd tobacco (which she soon learned came from the hookah he and the other crew members enjoyed often) in his graying beard. His accent was thick when he spoke her, but they managed well enough. Whenever they hit snags in the language barrier, they relied upon drawing to get their message through, due to Sybil’s lack of literacy… something else Mahmoud attempted to start on basics with.

Just over a week was not nearly enough time to learn not one language, let alone three. Thanks to Mahmoud’s patience, and Sybil’s lust for learning, she could at least introduce herself, ask for directions, and had a few other basic phrases under her belt. With a sense of pride and an eager smile, she waved farewell to the crew and promised to keep an eye out for them when she decided to head back across the pond. Turning towards the dock, she half-skipped down the wooden plank towards the bustling crowds of Cairo.

The atmosphere here in Cairo was completely different from anything she’d ever experienced in her young life. People hustled here and bustled there with jars big enough to fit Sybil in them on their heads, backs, or even in pairs balanced on thin sticks across their shoulders. How they maintained their balance caused her to wonder if perhaps they had a bit (or a lot!) of feline blood in them, but she smelled very little of her own kind. The air was filled with other, more distracting smells, though, and the theory was quickly shoved aside as she tried to pinpoint which scent made her mouth moisten the most. There were breads to smell… and meats, new fruits and vegetables… and over it all, the ever-present scent of the hookah.

A cacophonous roar from the street ahead of Sybil caught her attention from the stalls surrounding her and her hunger was forgotten immediately. Mahmoud had exchanged some of the money she’d earned in Librium for a form of currency that would work here should she have the need to buy anything. He had also made sure she had enough food to survive for a few days. It had become quite apparent on the trip that although she was not a large thing, she could tuck away more than her share of food. This came as no surprise to her, what with the beast inside, but she played it off as being a growing girl, just like her mother had taught her to do. That answer had satiated Mahmoud and the rest of the crew well enough, thankfully.

As she finally picked her way towards the front of the crowd, she was somewhat taken aback to find the street empty in the middle. Odd… Staring across at the rows upon rows of people facing her side of the street, she finally noticed that they were not staring straight across at her. Their heads were, in fact, facing down the street. Turning to follow their eyes, Sybil finally saw the reason the middle of the street was empty. On its way towards them was… something. It looked like a tent, but it had no walls, and it was being carried atop the backs of quite a few men.

Doe brown brows knit together as she attempted to comprehend what exactly was going on. The fingers of her left hand clutched tightly to the bow slung over that shoulder, while the thumb slowly rubbed circles against the polished ebon wood as it was ought to do when she was nervous or contemplative. Surely, this must be some man of great power, to have people willing to carry him while hordes more cheered his mere presence.

Something going on in the crowd across from Sybil stole her attention away from the procession getting ever closer. Emerald orbs disappeared behind her eyelids as she blinked, taking in the scene that was unfolding. A woman screamed somewhere in the crowd. Sybil could see her hand grasping towards something. But what?

There! A boy, who couldn’t be more than the age of four, was standing in the middle of the street now. The smile on his face was one of success, and he waved the flag he was holding even higher as he turned to face the oncoming procession. His smile faltered and he seemed to realize that perhaps his mother had been right to keep him within the crowd. Sybil watched his eyes widen in horror and the flag fall from his tiny fingers. Clearly, his mother had no way of getting to him, judging by the flailing hand barely visible through the throng of people.

Without even thinking, Sybil lunged forward. She reached the boy just before the men carrying the singular figure reached him. Wrapping her free arm around him, she pushed off of the balls of her feet, shoving them both towards the crowd and away from the hard feet of the tent-bearers. A strong scent hit her nose at the same time as some of the pale dust kicked up from under them, sending her into a coughing spree. She felt the boy wriggle free of her grasp and heard a female voice screeching foreign words that sounded thankful.

Sybil lifted one hand as if to say ‘no problem’, but it quickly moved to cover her mouth. What was that stench? Sucking in a deep breath didn’t seem to help, so Sybil pushed herself up onto her feet. Arms reached down, grabbing hers in order to help her. She was up dizzyingly quick and had to shake her head to clear the light-headedness that had overcome her. With the air somewhat clearer up here, she finally took a moment to gather a deep breath and check to see what had happened with the boy and his mother.
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PostSubject: Re: To Cairo We Go; Yo Ho, Yo Ho! [Tag: Benoub]   Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:23 pm

Dawn had painted the distant pyramids in golden brilliance. Benoub had watched the sun rise, stranger now to the balm of sleep, and smiled as it set fire to the sands and awoke the people of Cairo. This. This was his city, his domain. He did not turn as the doors to his chamber opened, nor made any effort to perceive the white robed priests that shuffled in to attend him. Benoub simply opened his arms, letting his own simple garment fall away from his unmarred flesh.

He held no concept of modesty, no heartbeat to quicken under the deft hands of his servants. There was no need to blink as golden paint furled out from the corners of his eyes, no need to shiver as oils and perfumes were lathered into his flesh. It was not that he did not feel the tease of sensation, it was only that his undeath did not necessitate a response.

"Pharaoh," Priest Ahtep said, bowing, "The procession is nearly ready."

"Glorious," Benoub answered, reaching down to catch the chin of his most trusted adviser. Lifting it so that he looked upon Benoub's young and decorated face, the pharaoh only offered him a comforting grin, serene, rewarding. "You may look upon me, Ahtep, you have done well this day. Let your household flourish with my blessing."

Ahtep smiled, tears glistening at the edge of his eyes, threatening to spill over. He turned his head before that, shamed to be so emotional in the presence of a God. "Pharaoh, you are too kind."

Benoub laughed, holding his arms out as the rest of the priests dressed him in brilliant hued satin, painting the symbols of the gods upon his arms, the cartouche of his house on the backs of his hands. They were nearly ready.

Stepping away from his attendants, Benoub strode along the long hallways of his palace. In every junction, another body bent to show him the respect his birthright afforded him. It was only in the throne room that he was met with one that rose after bowing, a bronze skinned and broad shouldered man. His face was set in lines and scars, defined by his injuries...his ability to survive.

"Ah," Benoub greeted, smiling, "Masheed, what news of Zulu?"

"Pharaoh," The soldier said, crossing one arm over his chest and kneeling, "The Zulu prove as fierce as always. Pharaoh Apep of the Southern city claims we violate his sacred land by crossing over it."

Benoub's face clouded a moment, "Violate? The Zulu claim swaths of our homeland every year and my brother dares to call me a violation to his sacred land? Did you press on?"

"We did, Pharaoh. I bring the heads of thirty Zulu warriors."

"And of your troops?"

Masheed was silent for a moment, "Many were lost, my lord."

Benoub sighed, laying a hand on the soldier's shoulder and passing by him. "I will see to supplementing your troops then, Masheed. Be ready as soon as you can. I intend to claim some of our land back for the glory of the gods...we cannot very well do that with such a damanged force."

"Yes, Pharaoh."

"I trust you've learned about our foes a bit better. See that we are better prepared next time."

"As you say, Pharaoh."

Benoub passed out of the throne room, down the massive entrance hall flanked with statues of the gods. To each, Benoub bowed, paid his respect, before exiting the palace and taking a seat on the throne on the back of his slaves.

Not a one of them had a heartbeat. Listless, strong, and committed, they were also beautifully preserved. Few could tell them apart from ordinary humans, save for their listless stare and lack of vital breathing. Benoub could not know this, but a smell had begun to arise from one that had not been adequately bathed in perfume. Unaware of this minor discrepancy, Benoub took a seat upon the throne.


The cheers of his subjects rose around him, an exultation of his glory that rivaled the cheers his father had once recieved. They waved their flags, kissed the ground he passed over, and praised his name with such fervor, it swelled the dead heart in the Pharaoh's chest. Each would die for their lord if asked. Not that he ever would...and even if he did, he would ensure they would continue...even in death, to protect their homeland.

It was his heightened position that afforded him view of the girl who saved the child, but the procession continued by her, the Pharaoh's gaze lingering on her lithe body, the skin of a foreigner. Well, the gods had brought visitors to his city...perhaps from the remnants of North America even.

Part of him wanted to stop the parade, seek her out and ask her of the outside world. His body yearned to taste the exotic culture of a world unlike his own. To walk among other scholars, to bring his divinity to those who knew so little of him.

But...he was whisked from her, sadly putting that curiosity to rest inside him. He was a God now...his father had told him in such a time he would need to set aside such idle fantasies.

No matter how fervently they burned in his chest.
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PostSubject: Re: To Cairo We Go; Yo Ho, Yo Ho! [Tag: Benoub]   Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:00 am

Just as Sybil’s eyes finished adjusting to the whirl of dust that had swept up and around during her scramble for the boy, a shadow fell across her. The immediate area had lulled in the cheers, and she knew dozens of eyes were upon her, but that didn’t stop the shiver that raced up her spine. Emerald orbs washed over the multitude of faces surrounding her, pulling her towards the sidelines again, further away from the mobile throne, but they finally came to rest on the man being carried on the backs of others. One hand lifted up, shielding her eyes from the sun that shone through and she managed to get a good, hard look at the man, even as he seemed to be looking her up and down.

His gaze hadn’t been predatory in any way, but seemed to mimic her own curiosity. Her feet shuffled forward half a step in order to follow the man, but the stench hit her nose again and she reeled backwards. She shot a glare at one of the slaves near the back that her nose assured her he was the source. Three hands reached out to grasp her arms, steadying her. By the time she looked back up to the man above, his attention was no longer on her and his tent was much further up the street.

Sighing quietly, Sybil finally returned her attention to the spectators around her. They were all talking rapidly, their accents thick and their words foreign to her. A slight pang of fear registered within the werepanther, but she let out a steadying breath and held both hands up to ask for the mercy of silence. Picking out the mother and the boy, she took the few steps reaching them required and offered a friendly smile. Her mind raced, thinking back to the lessons Mahmoud had given her on the language – Arabic, he’d called it.

“My.. name is Sybil,” she began slowly. They seemed to understand immediately that she was not fluent and remained silent as she opened her mouth to continue. “Are .. Are you healthy?” Her attention had flickered down to the boy, who, other than being slightly filthier than before, looked uninjured. He nodded enthusiastically, but remaining fastened to his mother’s leg. Good. He’d learned his lesson.

The mother offered one hand towards Sybil, and she allowed the woman to grasp one of her own. “Thank you,” she said. Her accent was thick, but she’d slowed her speech so that Sybil understood her words with ease.

Tense shoulders drooped as soon as a twinge of pain tickled the back of her neck. How long had she been standing in anticipation of their reaction to her slurred and broken interpretation of their language? Rolling her shoulders to loosen the muscles there, she nodded a polite smile to the woman. Pleasantries were not her thing, and that man’s curiosity had piqued her own.

“Who…” The language barrier rose up, blocking Sybil’s path of communication to the woman. Biting down on her lip, she fumbled over possible ways to ask the three-word question. An idea hit her, and she nearly slapped her forehead at how obvious the answer had been. “Who?” she asked, one arm reaching out so that her index finger pointed at the tent that was still making its way away from them.

Whoever it was, he seemed to be a matter of great pride to all of those still loitering, some mostly just to get a look at the newcomer. Sybil paid them no mind, instead focusing on the woman whom she was attempting to converse with. “Pharaoh!” the woman exclaimed, her face lighting up. The little boy finally decided it was safe enough to detach from his woman’s leg and he bounced on his toes some, waving the flag in Sybil’s face to see as he repeated his mom’s word over and over.

“Pharaoh…” Sybil murmured, trying the word out on her tongue. Amidst the sea of words Mahmoud had attempted to teach her, this one seemed almost too simple. “Thank you.” Smiling, Sybil finally released the woman’s hand and nodded, turning away. She missed the confused look on the woman’s face as she pulled away and started heading down the middle of the street in the direction the tent had been carried.

The tug at the back of her jacket was unmistakable, however, and she spun to face whoever was behind her. Her eyes were forced downward, focusing on the form of the boy. Again, he thrust his flag into Sybil’s face, this time as a gift, it seemed. She took it gingerly and offered a smile in return, but her green orbs quickly sought out his mother. Perhaps he hadn’t learned his lesson. The woman was there, though, smiling after her boy even as he scampered back to her side. Raising the flag up, Sybil waved it at the pair in farewell and returned to her walk.

Following the mobile tent wasn’t hard. Although most of the spectators had dispersed to go about their normal business, the scent of decaying flesh was easy to follow. The city of Cairo, Sybil learned, was quite enormous. Surely, it had to rival Librium in size. Its smells were spicy and decadent, each scent begging her to pause in her journey to follow it towards some new and interesting delight.

Stubbornness ruled the day, though, and she managed to stay on track until she finally reached an obstacle. The building was incredible. It wasn’t nearly so tall as the skyscrapers that Librium boasted, but it was clear that more time and effort had been put into its construction. A long, low whistle escaped parted lips as she took it all in.

Finally convinced she’d laid her eyes on every bit she could see from her spot on the street, she took a few steps forward. There was a gateway to pass through before she could get to the palace, and the two men standing to either side of it seemed to grow wary as she approached. She could smell their anticipation and the slight fear they bore towards her. She’d seen men like this in Librium, but there they always carried guns rather than spears like these fellows.

She doubted these weapons, as ornate as they were, would do any less damage than the guns of Librium. The beast inside of her purred at the challenge – two on one – but the girl, with her logic, refused to accept. As an outsider, she knew she would stand out. Better to keep on the guards’ good side. Perhaps they would just let her in so that she could find that man and hopefully satiate both his curiosity, and her own.

“Pharaoh?” she tried, holding up the flag and giving it a small wave as she offered a smile.
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