Atum was bored, and angry from waiting. He had just entered his chambers when he heard the blast of the welcome trumpet tune meant for prestigious guests. Without thinking, he ran back, as fast as he could to the balcony facing the sun gate to catch a glimpse of his assigned tormentor. In his haste, he stubbed his foot against the solid image of Anubis, an accident which made limp the rest of the way, swearing furiously under his breath.

And finally there he was. And he beheld a gigantic frame astride a massive black horse. He was an imposing figure, steering his horse in an unawed canter through the sun gate, alongside his two escorts and a caravan pulled by four horses. The sight of him and his party projected a sort of dark magnificence, which made Atum wonder if this man was some sort of human reincarnation of some feared god whose birth in the realm of men was a huge relief for the gods above.

Even though it wasn’t a very clear vision from the heights which Atum stood, he could tell that that this stranger wasn’t originally Babylonian, for he seemed a Shebite from afar. Only Shebites had panther skins. Without wasting time or thinking, Atum hurried back into his chambers and struck the medium-sized golden gong which immediately ushered his chief servant into his chambers.

“Prepare me for the guest,” he instructed, “with a touch of Babylon, please.”

His servant winced at the prince’s courtesy, even as he dipped into a bow. Such politeness from royalty to a servant could cost him his life. In the past, he had asked the prince very earnestly to address him in a manner suitable for a servant, but his pleas had only had fallen on deaf ears. Atum simply lacked the hauteur that came with being part of the Pharaoh’s household.

Atum knew in no time he would be summoned to meet his intended tutor, and subconsciously he wanted to make a good impression. Undressing himself, he stood naked in front of the huge well polished brass which served as a mirror in the corner of his bath pool room. His lightly chiseled frame and smooth cinnamon skin which had been moisturized by the rarest and finest of Egyptian and Babylonian oils almost gave him a sort of glow. His skin was beautiful to behold, and more beautiful and supple to touch. He looked at his eyes, almond-shaped and the grey of the smokes that scattered upward from the Egyptian fires; his lips which were the soft curve of a bow, his face, heart-shaped and delicate, held up by a slender neck which sloped down to narrow shoulders, a lean chest, a flat torso and leanly-muscled thighs. His eyes traveled down to his manhood, which was also a lovely sight to behold. It hung handsomely as a reminder that although Atum may have every resemblance to a beautiful goddess, that part was the prize given by the gods for him to be part of both species.

Yes. He knew he was gorgeous. He smiled to himself as he slowly immersed himself into the bath. He didn’t know why he had a tingling sensation. The arrival of this stranger should spell doom, but somehow, deep within, he felt a purpose. A much higher purpose. Perhaps it was the psychic intuition in him that made him feel this way. Taking a slow inhalation, he sank beneath the surface of his bath.

***

“Your highness, your guest awaits,” someone solemnly announced.

Hearing the words turned a knot in the prince’s stomach. Finally, the long awaited moment was here. The moment he would stand face to face with this creature who, for some odd reason, brought curiosity to him. It had been over four hours since the stranger arrived, and preparing for any meeting was a ritual for Atum. The beauty therapy, the invoking of the Egyptian and Babylonian goddesses of beauty, the incenses, the numerous application of ointments, perfumes and herbs before a simple bath – all which made even his mother wonder what would have happened had he been borne the world a female. Presently clad in white and gold silk short tunic, with a blue chiffon cape that draped to the floor and glided when he walked, he looked every inch the Pharaoh’s son.

“His name is Gallamta Uddua, commonly called Gal,” the herald continued. “He is the greatest warrior in all of Babylon. Brought as an infant to the kingdom as a captive from Sheba, and raised in the courts of the great king of Babylon. Chief conqueror and a general. His strength is a gift from their gods and he is here to serve your highness.”

The herald spoke as he walked beside Atum toward the room where his guests waited.

Gal, the prince thought to himself. He who goes forth in strength.

Growing up in the courts of pharaoh, his mother ensured he knew, wrote and spoke the language of the Babylonians fluently. Smiling to himself as he muttered the name over and over, he signaled the herald to leave his side as he descended down the richly embroidered carpeted staircase which led to the large oaken entrance, which was richly painted with the story of the great god, Amun’ra. Two large sphinxes, which faced each other, separated by the slit which was the door’s opening, reminded Atum of how much culture and heritage Egypt possessed.

His heart began to thump rapidly, and once again, the stir of energy began as the trumpeter introduced him with a tune meant only for him. Two guards bowed and pushed the large oaken door inwards.

And there he was.

Gallamta Uddua, commonly called Gal.

Because he was staring with some focus at the enormous paintings that filled the entire chamber, he stood with his back to the door, and didn’t notice immediately the prince’s entrance.

Atum was almost petrified with his beholding of the man’s behind. The strong thickly-built back with an immense muscular definition made it look like a work of art. The solid thighs and calves which were slightly bowed resembled the pillars that upheld the temple of Ra. He wore a short, white mono-strap linen tunic which didn’t hide the view of his velvety dark and scarred skin, which caught the reflection of the burning lamps on the wall. Gilt Babylonian bracelets were clasped on both arms as he stood, clearly over seven feet, with a presence that placed him as a man who was far from a mere mortal.

“A warrior with an interest in art?” said Atum, as he approached the Babylonian warlock.

Gal turned around to face him.

And Atum’s heartbeat raced faster as he stared upon a most striking face. By the gods! There was not a single hair was on his head. His face seemed frozen in a perpetual frown that made his striking handsomeness fearsome more than sensual. His cheekbones and very unusual soft eyes made him look like a child.

Beating his right hand to his chest in a manner that sent chills, he knelt on one knee and bowed before the prince. Even when bowed lowly, he still looked like a black massive rock.

Swallowing hard, Atum said, “Your tale doesn’t do justice to your appearance, Gal. You are indeed a work of art to behold. Please, rise.”

Clapping twice to summon the royal waiters to bring in dinner, he ushered Gal to a seat. Trays laden with the finest repast were ushered in maids. Both men conversed as they ate; or rather, Atum chattered and his guest listened, watching him with an almost ponderous expression on his sphinx-like face. He made Atum a bit nervous, and when he got nervous, he talked. So he talked a lot, punctuating his gabbing with flowery hand gestures and much expressiveness on his face.

No sooner were they done with their meal, than the special adviser to the Pharaoh walked inn. Badru was a short, stoutly-built and a foul-mouthed man who was detested by all of Egypt. Had it not been for his deep knowledge in the affairs of the pharaoh, which of course had been the business of his ancestors, Badru would have been a criminal, so decadent were his predilections.

The sight of him walking into the room unannounced made the bile in Atum’s throat rise.

“Forgive me for my intrusion, my prince,” Badru began with oily subservience, “but I’m here on behalf of the great Pharaoh.” Turning to Gal, he continued, “My lord bids you welcome and has asked me to see that all your needs are met. I know it has been a long travel and a soldier like you needs some sort of soothing relaxation.”

With a snap of his fingers, five Egyptian harlots, bronze-skinned and nubile, entered the room. They well-shaped and clothed in transparent silk which did nothing to hide their stark nakedness underneath, and their varnished loveliness caused an expression of disgust to fleet across Atum’s face.

“That won’t be necessary,” Gal’s deep voice thrummed through the room.

Both Badru and Atum turned to stare at him with mild astonishment. Atum’s surprise was tempered with pleasure.

“I intend to retire alone,” the war lord added.

“I’m sorry, my good friend,” Badru squeaked, his high-pitched voice grating ever more so on Atum’s nerves, “but this is a gift from the king. Surely, you do not refuse such generosity, do you?”

“I don’t,” Gal said. “I merely bequeath the pharaoh’s lovely offer to you. Do with his gift as you desire.”

Badru stood there a moment, his gimlet eyes trained on Gal, his corpulent face betraying his mental struggle to decide where to place this stranger – a potential friend or outright foe. Then he said with an arch of his head, “Your wish, my good man, is my desire. Feel free to speak to me if you need anything else.” And dipping into a small curtsy before the prince, he turned and left, with his prostitutes in tow.

In the wake of his departure however, Atum could not explain the sudden tide of rage that swept through him as he contemplated the foul creature that was Badru. How dare he? How dare that man come into his presence, unannounced, and make an offering to his guest which everyone knew did not have the pharaoh’s handprint on? He, Atum, was the king’s favorite child, but his special advisor liked to use every turn to show Atum that he too was important to the king, perhaps even more so than he, who was merely one of his many offspring.

The more his contemplations ran through his mind, the more enraged he became. And because tears were an accompaniment of his anger, he soon began to feel his eyes sting. He blinked hard, trying to force the tears back, to not let the war lord behold his weakness. And then, he rose to his feet. With his back straight, his shoulders squared and head held high, just as any prince would, he cleared his throat and said, “I will now retire for the night, Gallamta Uddua. I do hope you enjoy your first night in Egypt.”

Suddenly feeling inexplicably flustered for making such an inane comment, especially when his mind swelled with imaginations he dared not give free rein to, he looked away from the war lord’s somber gaze. But not before their eyes had locked momentarily, causing Atum to wonder whether Gal had seen into his mind, and just how much he had become aware of. Mustering a quick smile and goodnight, he turned and left the room.

Written by Joe Alex

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