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The Thief King And Her Queen

Chapter Text

Merwet eyed the white limestone pillars and the granite floors. Her eyes flicked up towards the nobles drinking pomegranate wine and eating figs, cheese, and cakes sweetened with dates and honey. The chatter from the feast hummed down every corridor leading away from the banquet hall. Merwet stood in the shadows with her arms crossed over her chest. She evaluated the room- where she would dance, how close to the throne, the number of guards surrounding Aknadin. She had one chance, and if she failed, she'd be impaled on a pike and her soul would be damned. Things had to go just so.

They announced her to the acting Pharaoh, Aknadin, and she strolled to the center of the hall and walked into the light of the lamps and dropped to the ground. She prostrated herself against the floor and kissed the granite. It was bitter against her lips. That she bowed low to this vile false-king was unforgivable, but she only had one chance to make things right for the entire kingdom, so she swallowed her pride, played the part of the pretty slave girl, and allowed one of the other dancers to blindfold her.

They gave her a sword bound in gilded and jeweled ribbons. She'd requested a naked blade, but the priests refused. For her safety, she’d been told, but she knew it was to protect Aknadin from would-be assassins- like herself. No matter, she’d bound the ribbons herself, and a specific pull would free her blade when the time was right.

The music filled the air and the noble chatter stilled. Merwet rolled her stomach, poised like a cobra ready to strike. The black wig hiding her honeyed hair was thick and heavy and a burden on her neck, but she kept her spine straight as she started to curve her hips back into a figure eight. She shimmied, twirling the sword around her body. Merwet enjoyed the dance. The sheer control she had of her own body as she shook her shoulders and then rolled from her chest to her belly. She balanced the sword on her head, freeing her hands to move with the rest of the body. She sank to the floor again, not to humiliate herself in front of the mock-Pharaoh, but as a demonstration of her strength and agility. The sword held in place- her balance perfect as she knelt and swayed her arms like copper snakes. The translucent linen draped across her body clung to her from the sweat of her dance, but that was part of the distraction. She didn’t need to remove the blindfold to know that the guards would be staring with slack jaws as she rose back to her feet and gave another roll of her body.

She took the sword from her head and twirled it. Merwet leaned back to avoid her own swing then flipped and spun, preparing for the grand finale. She spun, spun, spun on her toes with the sword always twirling, always mesmerizing her audience. Then the music slowed, winding down as the song reached its end. Swiveling her hips, Merwet held the sword in flat palms as if presenting it to the Pharaoh. It was a gesture to honor him, but as the last notes sang through the air, Merwet stepped back, tugging at her lead ribbon and causing the jewels and gold to flutter away from the sword’s sharp edge.

She leapt into the air, blind, but that’s why she had memorized the layout before the dance. Mid air, Merwet ripped the blindfold from her face so she could aim right for Aknadin’s heart- she would not leave anything for Annubis to weigh. Everything was just so as she flew towards her mark.

However, before the sword could sink into the imposter-pharaoh’s flesh, Merwet stopped. She did not choose to stop, in fact could not have chosen to stop with all her weight and momentum hurdling towards her mark. Nonetheless she froze mid-air, breaths away from her target and unable to reach it.

“Thank you, Mahad,” Aknadin said as an oily grin spread across his face.

“My Pharaoh.” The magician bowed.

Magic, Merwet realized. Her plans, her skills, her only chance to free a kingdom, all destroyed because a single mage could freeze a person mid-air. Merwet ground her teeth. She did not fear death. She did not fear oblivion, but the fact that she had failed in her mission was unbearable. The family she'd lost, the women currently suffering as slaves because of the color of their hair, the future girls stolen from their mother’s arms for the same reason- she had gambled her soul to avenge and save them… and she had failed.

“It was a brave attempt.” Aknadin continued to grin. “Yet foolish. The gods protect the just and punish the wicked. Likewise, I have been protected,” the smile widened by the slightest margin, “and you will be impaled at dawn.” He turned to one of the priests standing near his throne. “And great thanks to our loyal sister, Isis, for warning us of this traitor’s foul murder attempt in advance.”

The woman, Isis, bowed. “I was only performing my duty to the throne, my pharaoh.”

“You I hate more than any of the others.” Merwet spat at the priestess’s feet, unable to do anything else as she hung suspended in the air. “You must know why I’m fighting, and yet you serve a slaver who is not our king!”

Shocked gasps filled the room. Everyone knew that Aknadin was only acting as regent. For the young boy’s safety, it’d been said, but Merwet suspected that the true pharaoh would never reach a safe age as long as Aknadin controlled the kingdom.

“You will grow to love the king,” Isis spoke with her head bowed and her fingers laced together. She looked up at Merwet with a strange, desperate look in her blue eyes. “This is the prophecy I give you.”

“Never.” Merwet spat again, at the priestess and at her prophecy.

“Take this blasphemous assassin away from my sight!” Aknadin shouted.

He did not like others mentioning the true pharaoh. People disappeared when they spoke too often of him, but Merwet was already damned so she screamed.

“You’re a false god! The country suffers each day you rule! If the gods valued any justice they’d send a plague to kill you-”

The guards pulled her down and punched in in the jaw. Her head jerked to the side. She tried to fight, but three soldiers restrained her and dragged her across the polished granite floor towards the dungeons.

“If she says a single word more, cut out her tongue, but keep her alive until dawn. I want the entire city to see what happens to blasphemers that would dare attack me.” Aknadin gestured for the guards to remove Merwet from the banquet.

She clenched her teeth, so hard she felt that they might crack, but she didn’t curse the guards as they dragged her. Even when they pulled her down the stairs and bruised her limbs and hips, she kept silent. She did not want to lose her tongue. She’d hold in every curse and sharp remark until the stake pierced her body, and then she’d wail out a curse on Aknadin with her last breaths. She dragged her feet, and kicked out, and made their job as difficult as she could, but she did not speak.

They threw her into a cell and left her in the dark. Merwet growled, clawing at the rough stone floor. She hated the dark. The priestesses at her temple kept her and the other honeyed-haired girls underground in small cellars so the slavers couldn’t find them. The cruelty had saved her from getting driven like cattle to another land to be some foreign king’s bed slave, but even now the darkness felt like hands choking her.

She wept bitter, bitter tears as the night stretched on. She couldn’t judge the passing of time in the dark, didn’t know how long she had until morning and her death. The tears burned her face and brought her a fever. If the gods were kind, they’d let the fever take her life before dawn, but Merwet didn’t trust in the kindness of the gods.

Torchlight cast eerie orange light against the stones. Merwet smeared the tears away from her cheeks and pushed herself to her feet, vowing to meet her death with rage and hatred instead of fear.

Instead of a guard, Merwet saw a figure in a blood-red cloak. She glared at the figure creeping through the dungeon with a torch in hand.

“What’s this? These dungeons were empty this morning.” The stranger laughed. “What could you have possibly done to get thrown in here, pretty as you are?”

Merwet couldn’t see the entire face below the hood, but the smirk on the stranger’s face irritated her. Nevertheless, she forced herself to stay composed. Merwet thought the stranger might be a way out of the palace.

“You’re not a guard or a priest, could you be a thief?”

“Not just any thief. I’m the King of Thieves. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” They bowed low, mocking Merwet. “Now, if you excuse me, I have business to attend to.”

“Prove it. Prove that you’re that thief and not some imposter. If you were the King of Thieves, you could break me out of this cell with hardly any effort, right?”

“True. I could.” His smirked grew. “But why would I? You’d slow me down, and maybe even alert the guards to my presence- you’ve been caught once tonight already.”

“The priestess saw my plans in a vision, otherwise I would not be caught,” Merwet snapped. “But look, I’ll make it worth your while.” She started plucking pins from her hair. “Free me and as soon as we’re out of the palace, I’ll give you a kiss.”

“Ho ho!” The Thief King laughed. “What a tempting prize! If I were here to steal some baubles or trinkets or even an entire bag of treasure, I wouldn’t be able to resist you. Unfortunately I’m here for something more important.”

“And what is that?” Merwet asked, pulling down the wig from her head.

“Vengeance. I want Aknadin’s throat- hello, what do we have here?” The thief stopped their speech when they noticed Merwet’s golden hair spilling down her shoulders. “Haven’t seen hair like that since I was a child.”

“You know that Kemet is the only land with golden-haired men and women because we are the children of Ra.” Merwet fluffed her hair, noticing the way the thief stared at it. “And you know that Aknadin sells the sun god’s children as slaves because he loves gold more than the sun.” She leaned against the bars, her lotus-colored gaze aimed at the thief. “You want vengeance? So do I. I’m here for pointing a sword at that swine-fucker. The only reason he still breathes is because Isis foretold my assassination attempt and Mahad had a spell ready to stop me.”

“Hmmm…” The Thief King stroked his chin. “Very well. I’ll free you. You can hold Aknadin down as I slit his throat, but I’m warning you, if you do anything to compromise my own vengeance, I’ll either leave you for the guards or kill you myself.”

“Don’t be so cocky. Isis may have already warned them that you’re here.”

“No.” The Thief King smiled again. “Her powers come from the Tauk, and none of the Millennium Items would ever betray me.”

“You sound confident. Is there something about you I should know?”

“You’re already talking too much. Quiet, or I’ll leave you in this cage after all.”

The thief produced two long wires from his sleeve and worked the lock until Merwet heard a click. The door swung backward and she was free.

“Thank you,” Merwet said.

“Where’s my kiss?” The thief asked.

“You’re not done earning it yet, not until I’m out of the palace.”

“You’re the type that cheats at sennett, aren’t you?” The thief snorted. “Better put that wig back on. If we are caught again it’s better you die with me like a thief than be sold as a slave.”

“Place it on my head,” Merwet ordered.

“I’m not your dressing servant.” The thief snorted.

“I can’t see if it’s straight or not. Help me so we can hurry up and go.”

She expected another argument, but the thief merely snorted again and situated the wig on Merwet’s head, helping her pin it back in place.

“There. You’re a dark-haired beauty once again. Can we go? I’d like to lick Aknadin’s blood from my dagger before the sun strikes the palace walls.”

“Sounds better than wine. Let’s go.” Merwet led the thief to the stairs.

Merwet watched, with great amusement, as the so-called King of Thieves knocked the guard in the back of the head.

“What’s the matter?” she whispered as they marched down the hallway. “Too soft to kill the guards?”

“I’ve killed my share,” the thief answered, “but I don’t see the point of killing someone from behind unless it’s necessary.”

“Quaint.”

“Well, I’m sorry if my quaint thief ways don’t hold up to your ruthless assassin’s standards.”

“It’s practical,” she hissed. “Each guard we kill along the way is one less to fight later.”

“Then suit yourself.” The thief handed her a dagger. “I’ve always had enough stealth not to have to fight when I don’t want to, but you can’t seem to shut up, so you'd better take this and be prepared.”

Merwet took the dagger handle. They hid behind a pillar as two more guards walked past. Merwet and the thief stepped behind them. The thief smacked their guard in the back of the head, but Merwet slit her guard’s throat. She spat on the corpse. They’d been two of the bastards that dragged her downstairs, so after killing the first, she crouched down and plunged her dagger in the second guard’s kidneys.

“Was that really necessary?” The thief raised an eyebrow.

“This is how I pay back those who hurt me.”

She held out the underside of her arm. Fingertip-shaped bruises littered the delicate skin along with scrapes and bruises from being dragged. The thief reached out, brushing his own fingers against her skin.

“I did not know. We’ll kill every we come across, then.”

“Thank you.” Merwet cleaned her blade and stood up.

They made their way through the maze of hallways. Merwet glanced out the windows, trying to discern the time and how long she’d been imprisoned. By the stars peeking above the palace walls outside, Merwet figured it was an hour or so before dawn. They needed to hurry.

“This way,” the thief whispered and dashed left.

Merwet followed, but the distinct sound of Mahad speaking echoed down the hallway. She grabbed the thief’s red cloak.

“That’s priest Mahad. He’s too strong, we should hide.” She pulled the thief into the closest room.

“I could have handled it without hiding.” The thief frowned.

“He’s too strong. I was keeping us out of trouble,” Merwet argued.

“I’m not afraid of any of the priests, and you’re supposed to be staying out of my way, remember? Not dragging me around.”

“Well excuse me for trying to save your life, you ungrateful bastar-”

“Excuse me?” A third voice, soft and meek, called out. “Who’s there?”

“Fuck. Look, you pulled us into an occupied room.” The thief groaned. “Now we have to kill them.”

They marched into the main bed chapter and gasped in union at what they saw. The bed itself was extravagant, carved from wood instead of stone and covered with embroidered drapes of fine linen. A young man sat at the foot of the bed, a collar around his throat. It was gold, and jade, and lapis lazuli, but it was a collar all the same. The gold chain connecting it to the bed did not make it less degrading.

“Pharaoh.” Merwet prostrated herself against the rug.

She knew it was the Pharaoh- the real Pharaoh. His hair sprayed from his head like a royal crown, gold, onyx, and ruby- Merwet was a child of Ra, but the Pharaoh was the embodiment of Osiris and it showed in the wild hair and deep royal violet eyes.

“Stand the fuck up.” The thief pulled Merwet to her feet. “This is no king. This is a boy that can’t stand up to his uncle.” The thief glared at the boy. “Your people starve as Aknadin gets fat. Your people cry beneath the sounds of Aknadin’s dinner banquets. Your children are sold to foreign lands and murdered so Aknadin can stay rich and powerful.” The thief marched forward. “If you’re a god, why don’t you stop him?”

“How?” The boy tugged at the chain around his throat. “Maybe I’m a god, but I was only four when my father died. I’ve been locked up in this room ever since.”

“Locked up?” Merwet frowned. It felt too much like her own childhood. “This chamber doesn’t even have a window.”

“No. It doesn’t.” The young pharaoh frowned. “I remember sunlight though.” He smiled at Merwet. “You remind me of the sun. I see it pouring from you. Could you be a child of Ra?” He glanced at the thief. “And you’re-”

“I don’t care, and it’s none of your business.” The thief growled. “You’re lucky I don’t cut your throat, but I don't want to legitimize Aknadin’s claim to the throne, so be a good boy and don’t call for the guards if you want to live.”

“Could I have some water?”

“I’m not your servant, get your own water!” The thief spoke far too loudly, but when Merwet shhhed him, he glared at her.

The Pharaoh stood up and walked to a table where a golden picture sat on an end table. He reached out, but it was clear that the table full of food, water, and wine was just out of his reach.

“Why?” Merwet asked.

“My uncle only wants me to eat and drink from his hands. He think it’ll make me grateful to him.” The Pharaoh dropped his hand. “He forgets me some days.”

“Set’s huge, floppy balls!” The thief groaned, marching to the table and shoving the pitcher into the Pharaoh’s arms along with a plate of bread and honey.

“Thank you. I thought the King of Thieves would be cruel, but you’re kinder than you want people to know.” The Pharaoh went back to his bed and sat down to eat and drink.

“First, I’m not kind, I just didn’t want to hear you crying. Second, who told you I was the Thief King?”

“I just know.” The Pharaoh smiled. “I hear the servants and guards whispering about a red-cloaked thief that steals whatever he wants and whom my uncle can never catch no matter how many guards he sends out. You’re my favorite gossip.”

“I am not gossip, and if you’re a bad pharaoh like your uncle, I’ll be your death like I’m about to be his.”

“I don’t know what makes a pharaoh good or bad, but I know slavery is wrong, so I promise if you’re successful tonight I’ll abolish it, and I will never deny anyone water because how can I be Pharaoh if I don’t have at least have the manners of a thief?”

Merwet laughed. She suspected that the little Pharaoh was being sardonic.

“Shut up, both of you.” The thief turned, red billowing out behind him. “Come on. We didn’t come here to chat. We have blood to spill.”

“Please, I know my uncle is cruel, but make his death quick.” The Pharaoh shook his head. “I don’t want him to suffer.”

“He should suffer at my hands. I’ve suffered at his.”

“So you have. I can see it in your posture. You’re hurt and angry. Both of you.” The Pharaoh stood, bowing low. “I can’t erase our sorrow, but I can pay you this small compensation- Atem.”

“Is that… your name?” Merwet asked, shocked. Names held great power, and the name of the Pharaoh could evoke the gods’ themselves. It was not something he should tell them, especially them, a thief and an assassin.

“Yes.”

“You’re a fool.” The thief walked away.

Merwet followed the thief. They didn’t hear voices at the door, nor in the hallway when the cracked the door open. They made it all the way down the hall to what should have been Aknadin’s chambers without seeing anymore guards.

“Something’s wrong,” Merwet said.

“Yes. I’m aware,” the Thief King said.

“There should be guards here, especially after I tried to kill him.”

“Yes. I’m aware,” the thief repeated, grabbing the door.

“Are you crazy? This is clearly a trap.” Merwet tugged the thief’s crimson sleeve.”

“I don’t care!” The thief growled. “I’ve come too far to give up now. Turn back if you want, but for me, this door’s the only path.”

“Fine.” Merwet balled her fists and jerked away from the thief. “Get us thrown back into prison, see if I care.”

“If you don’t like it- leave.”

“I can’t trust a thief to do this job. Foolish or not, I’m stuck with you until either Aknadin’s dead or I am.”

“Then let’s see what sort of trap is waiting for us behind this door.” The thief pushed into Aknadin’s chambers.

Chapter Text

“You.” Merwet gnashed her teeth together when she saw Priestess Isis standing in the room and waiting for them.

“Yes,” the priestess answered.

“Impossible.” The thief balled their fists at their sides. “How did you know!”

Isis touched the tauk at her throat.

“No. That can't be.” The thief shook his head from side to side. His face still hidden beneath a hood. “The Items would never betray me.”

“They haven’t, Bakura. Or should I say Thief King?”

“They told you my name?” Bakura scowled. “Why?”

“So you would trust me, and I need you to trust me. You're my only chance to save Atem's life and he's the only one that can restore Ma'at to the kingdom. We don't have much time, and what I have to say is important.” She gestured to Bakura’s dagger. “If you would, place your knife against my throat so when the soldiers interrupt us it’ll look like you're trying to kill me.”

“Gladly.” Bakura marched up to her, fisted her hair, jerked her head back, and nestled the dagger’s edge against Isis’s smooth, flawless skin. “And if I don't like what you have to say, I’ll cut you open- guards or no.”

Merwet smirked at the fear she saw in Isis’s eyes.

“I’m not your enemy, but we have a common one- Aknadin.”

“Kill her. She’s lying,” Merwet said. “She’s the one who told Aknadin about my assassination attempt. He’d already be dead if it wasn't for her.”

“Yes, you would have stabbed his heart, but Mahad would use his magic and the dark powers of the Millennium Ring to bring Aknadin back, but he’d be changed, darkened, unstoppable.”

Isis closed her eyes, tears rolled down her cheeks. “Mahad was my friend, and we loved the last Pharaoh, but the evil within the Ring was too much for Mahad and he is not the same.”

She opened her eyes, pleading with Bakura. “So you’ll have to kill Mahad before you can kill Aknadin. Please, release him from the darkness binding him. Still, alone, you too would succumb to the darkness of the Ring.” Her eyes shifted to Merwet. “Do you understand my prophecy now? You will grow to love the king.”

“You think I’m going to fall in love with the King of Thieves? How pathetic!” Merwet laughed.

“I am an acquired taste.” The thief chuckled as well.

“Bakura, listen. You think your strength is in your anger, but your real power will be your love for her. You need to fight Aknadin together.”

The door slammed opened and dozens of guards poured into the chambers, only pausing because of the knife against Isis’s throat.

“Dammit!” Bakura swore. “Your scheme worked, witch, you've stalled long enough for the guard to find us, but we've only been stopped for tonight. I. Will. Return.”

Bakura grabbed Merwet's hand and ran towards the window. The thief leapt out into the night, pulling Merwet with him. Bakura caught the ledge, they dangled for a moment.

“I’m going to drop us into the pond below!” Bakura shouted.

“Don’t! You! Dare!” Merwet screamed before they fell.

The water stung when she hit it. Darkness and bubbles surrounded her. Merwet held her breath, waiting a moment for her body to right itself so she knew which way was the surface. She felt hands grabbing her and dragging her upward until they broke out of the water and back into the air.

“Not my most graceful escape.” The thief laughed. “But we’re alive!”

“You moron! Do you have any idea how much this dress costs? These jewels? The wig?”

“Blah, blah, blah, I’ll get you new stuff later. Right now, we need to get over the palace walls and out of the city.” The thief set Merwet on the edge of the bank and pulled herself out of the water.

“Wait.” Merwet grabbed the scarlet cloak, clinging to Bakura’s wet body and exposing her chest. “You’re not a thief king.”

“I’m not a thief king. I’m the Thief King.” She grinned.

“Whatever.” Merwet rolled her eyes, but then a shock of white caught her eye and she gasped.

The water had also soaked through Bakura’s hood, causing it to slip back. Not only did it reveal Bakura’s round, grinning face with a scar running down her broad cheek, but a chunk of her bangs as well. Merwet reached out, combing through the bit of white in order to make sure it was real.

“You’re a child of Thoth,” She said. “I thought you were all dead.”

“Fuck.” Bakura jerked away and fixed her hood. She grabbed Merwet’s hand and dragged her through the gardens. “Come on. If the guards find us, we’ll both be dead.”

Merwet didn’t argue. They ran to the closest wall. Bakura leapt up, catching the edge and pulling herself up before reaching down to help Merwet. The morning sun tinted everything pink as it crested above the horizon and struck the rooftops. Once they managed to climb down to the streets below, Bakura gestured for Merwet to keep following her. They navigated the maze of streets and alleys until Bakura stopped.

“What are you doing?” Merwet hissed behind her.

“Shhhh.” Bakura pressed a finger to Merwet’s lips. “Stay here. I’ll be back in five minutes.”

Merwet slapped the thief’s hand away. “Why should I trust you?”

“Because you still owe me a kiss.” Bakura winked and vanished down the alley.

Merwet groaned and leaned against the mud-brick wall behind her. Her body ached from dancing, being dragged, and running all over the palace, and she still didn’t have Aknadin’s head. Getting back into the palace would be a nightmare. The guards would be doubled, and everyone had seen Merwet’s face during the festival banquet. A clop-clop sound made Merwet turn her head and she saw Bakura straddled atop of a horse as bread-brown as Bakura was. The thief extended her hand.

“Come on.”

Merwet didn’t see any better option than to go with the thief, so she grabbed Bakura’s hand and allowed herself to be pulled up. She wasn’t used to riding bareback, and found herself holding onto Bakura’s waist a little tighter than she meant to.

“Relax, you’re making it hard for me to steer.”

Merwet didn’t expect it to be easy to get out of the city, but Bakura took a side gate and the guards let them through without so much as a question. They rode as fast as they could press a single horse with two riders, and didn’t stop until they needed to water her. Merwet sat on a rock near the river bank, waiting for the morning sun to dry her clothes as she thought about what she should do next.

“It’s been a long night,” Merwet muttered, furious with herself for failing and getting into her current situation.

“Really? This is kinda normal for me. Compared to the tombs, the palace is actually easier to break into.” Bakura teased the tall grasses with her fingers, her other hand pressed against the horse’s side.

Her red cloak dipped into the river, like blood that pooled around her body and couldn’t wash away. Merwet stared at her for a moment, now that she could get a better view, but she couldn’t see much beneath the red cloak and flax hood. Except that Bakura was short. Much shorter than what a thief king should be. Merwet smiled at herself, wondering if she should bring that to his majesty’s attention.

“It won’t be easy next time. After two assassination attempts in one night, Aknadin will be prepared.” Merwet turned away, deciding Bakura wasn’t worth the time to rile up.

“Don’t worry. I already have an idea of how I can lure Mahad out of the palace in order to fight him.”

“Mahad? You’re not seriously listening to that priestess, are you?”

“She knew my name.” Bakura closed her eyes and sighed. “I haven’t heard it since I was a child. If the spirits wanted her to know it, then…” Bakura shook her head, laughing instead of finishing her last sentence. “Don’t worry. I won’t expect you to fall in love with me any time soon. If you want, I can drop you off at the next village.”

“I can’t.” Merwet dug her nails into her palms. “I have to find a way back into the castle.”

“It’s too soon. You need to lay low until things calm down.” Bakura led the horse away from the river after she’d drank her fill.

“I don’t have anywhere else to go.” Merwet crossed her arms over her chest.

“Go home.” Bakura shrugged. “I’ll kill Aknadin, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

“Ha! You! You didn’t even want to kill the guards.”

Bakura spang towards the rock, half climbing it so she could grab Merwet by the throat. “A guard is one thing. He’s just a man with a wife and kids doing his job, but when it comes to Aknadin, don’t you ever doubt the hatred I have for that filth. I will kill him. I will kill him.”

Merwet punched Bakura in the gut. The thief stumbled backward, falling on her ass into the mud. Merwet jumped on top of her, holding the sides of the red robe and snarling in her face.

“Do not grab my throat.”

“Fine. Get off of me.” Bakura bucked up, and Merwet splashed into the muddy water.

“What is with you ruining my dress!”

“What do you think would have happened had you killed Aknadin? It’d be covered in blood!”

“I killed guards, and there wasn’t any blood on it.”

“No one gives a fuck about your dress!” Bakura flung her arms up in the air. “Come back to my hideout and I can give you half a dozen dresses worn by literal queens if you want. Fuck, you’re annoying!”

“Fine!” Merwet screamed, pushing herself to her feet and trying to scoop as much mud off of herself as she could. “Take me to your filthy thief’s den and give me those damn dresses. I deserve them for putting up with you.” With a growl, Merwet stripped out of the dress, tossed it on the dry side of the bank, and marched into the river to bathe her body.

“Do you have to do that now? There’s an oasis closer to where I stay.”

“Yes! I have to do it now!” Merwet snapped. She realized she was going to have to remove her wig in order to properly bathe. “You better stand guard while I clean up! I’m not ending up a slave because you pushed me in the mud!” Merwit tossed the wig at Bakura, who caught it on reflex. “Clean that up while you’re at it.”

“Fucking gods, who do you think you are? The gods-damned Pharaoh only asked for a drink of water. It’s been a never ending list with you.” Bakura used the tall grass to scrub as much mud out of the wig as she could manage; however, she mocked Merwet the entire time. “Free me from prison. Kill the guards. Don’t kill Mahad, let’s hide in this room. Don’t listen to the priestess. Don’t save our asses from the guards by dropping us in the water.” She rose her pitch to sound more like a reserved noblewoman. “Oh no! My precious little princess dress! I need that to distract men before I murder them.”

“Go fuck yourself, Bakura!” Merwet shouted before dipping her head beneath the water.

The current was cool as it swirled around her body, puckering her skin and sending shivers down to the pit of her stomach. Merwet popped up for air, flinging her hair back. She felt much better slicked with chilled river water instead of thick river silt.

“Um, assassin-”

“Don’t talk to me. I’m sick of your mouth. In fact keep quiet until you give me my dresses and I can go-”

“Crocodile.” Bakura pointed in Merwet’s direction.

“What?”

“Crocodile!”

“What are you blathering about?” Merwet turned around, but didn’t see anything.

Bakura threw down the wig and jumped into the water. She swam to Merwet, scooped her up, and rushed back to the bank, shouting all the while.

“Crocodile! I said Crocodile! Did you hit your head? What the fuck do you think it means when you’re in a fucking river and someone screams crocodile at you! It means there’s a Sobek-damned crocodile in the river!”

“Where?” Merwet looked back towards the river the moment Bakura set her down onto her feet.

“Gods, really? Can’t you see?” Bakura grabbed a stone and tossed it into the river. As it plunked beneath the surface- a jaw opened and snapped.

Merwet jerked on reflex. She hadn’t seen it, but it had been far too close to her. Merwet felt her face flush with a mixture of fury and embarrassment. She bit the inside of her cheek and crossed her arms over her chest. She held her breath for a moment, composing herself enough not to scream all her internal anger out at Bakura.

“You… saved me.”

“Yeah, again. You’re welcome.”

“I, yeah, thank you.”

“Eh, it’s no big deal. She was probably easier to see from the bank than actually in the water.” Bakura grinned, scratching the back of her head. “I fucked up your wig again. It’s somewhere in the mud.”

“Of course.”

“Don’t worry. We’re not going to see any guards where we’re going.”

“What about your hood?” Merwet snorted. “You’re still hiding your hair.”

“Fine.” Bakura pulled her hood away.

Bakura’s silver-white hair only fell down shoulder length, and it framed her face in a wild mess of uneven ends that looked self-cut at random. Merwet realized her eyes were bright silver, just a touch darker than her hair, both looked like moonlight.

“You really are a child of Thoth,” Merwet whispered.

“Yes, you’re the sun,” Bakura shrugged, “and I’m the moon.”

“Then it’s no secret why you want Aknadin dead.”

“True, my entire village was razed to the ground, but we weren’t like the others. He didn’t simply kill my people. He…” Bakura shut her eyes, held her breath, he body tensed with rage- a rage that Merwet understood above all other emotions. “He, personally, along with two other mages, melted them down with gold and created the Millennium Items.”

“Gods,” Merwet whispered. “That was the night Pharaoh Aknamkanon died. It couldn’t have been an accident.”

“Of course not. The Pharaoh dies under mysterious circumstances, and then Aknadin happens to appear with seven magical Items ‘to protect Egypt until the young Pharaoh is ready.’ He’s only keeping Atem alive to keep the people from revolting, but it won’t work forever. We both saw him, he’s all but a man already, and soon it’ll be time for Aknadin to arrange an accident for the boy. Atem, along with the rest of Kemet, is doomed unless we manage to kill that bastard.”

“Look.” Merwet dug her toes into the sand. “I still don’t trust that priestess, but… I could help you kill Aknadin. Perhaps we’ll be more successful together. I’m efficient with every weapon from Greece to Nubia. I know poisons as well as medicines, and I hate Aknadin as much as you.”

“Okay. Let’s go then.” Bakura jumped onto her horse.

“Okay? Just like that? You’re just going to trust me?”

“Are you getting on the horse or what?” Bakura asked.

“Is it because you believe in the priestess’s prophesy?” Merwet narrowed her eyes.

“Haha, oh right. You’re going to be the force that tempers my heart away from hatred and protects me from the evil of the Ring? No, I think the priestess meant well, but misinterpreted whatever vision she saw. That doesn’t change the fact that I’ve seen you cut a throat and I know you’re telling the truth when you say you know your way around a spear as well as a sword, and that’s good enough for me. So come on, partner. The sun’s getting hot and I want to bathe in the oasis- where there aren't crocodiles, and I can relax.”

Bakura shrugged out of her cloak, folding it behind her like a saddle blanket so that Merwet had something to sit on while naked. She mounted the horse and they rode out into the desert. Without the cloak, Bakura only wore a shenti, and Merwet’s eyes traced the shape of Bakura's muscles. Short she may have been, but Bakura had the body of a brawler, and Merwet wondered which one of them would win if the two of them fought. Perhaps Bakura would spar with her so they could find out.

It took three hours of riding before they reached a stretch of verdant green defying the pale yellow of the desert sand. Merwet caught the glittering surface of water through a line of fig trees, and yearned for the chance to cool her baking skin. They stopped and allowed the horse to graze. Bakura took her cloak and shenti and washed them in the water, spreading them out on stones to dry as she bathed.

“You haven’t told me your name.” Bakura scrubbed dried mud off of her brown shoulders.

“Hmph, should I tell a thief my name?” Merwet teased as she strolled deeper into the water.

“You know mine.”

“Yes, and that puts me at an advantage.”

“Fine, I’ll call you Kebi.”

“My name’s Merwet,” she said.

“That’s pretty.” Bakura smiled and spoke in a quiet voice, and Merwet felt somehow disarmed by the thief’s expression and tone.

“So’s Bakura.” Merwet shrugged.

“Heh, thanks.” The thief’s smile grew a little, and it made Merwet feel giddy.

“Hey, Bakura?” Merwet asked as she crept closer to the thief.

“Yeah?” Bakura asked, distracted as she rinsed the last of the mud from her skin.

Merwet answered by pushing a great splash of water that fanned out and smacked Bakura in the face. She laughed, splashing her a second and third time. Bakura raised up her arms to shield her eyes, shrieking in surprise as the water hit her. Merwet stopped a moment, holding her stomach in laughter at Bakura’s perturbed scowl.

“Remember you started this war, so don’t expect-” Bakura wiped the water away from her face, “-me to show you any mercy.”

They both grinned at each other, and then at the same time smacked the water, sending waves of glittery droplets at each other’s faces.

Chapter Text

Bakura laughed and shrieked as they continued to splash one another. When she grew breathless, and her arms were tired, and she was going to throw herself at the assassin's mercy, Merwet lunged at Bakura, driving them both into the water.

Before Bakura could push up for air, Merwet sealed their lips together. They broke the surface of the water at the same time, a white lotus and a blue lotus. Merwet wrapped her arms around Bakura's neck, refusing to break the kiss.

Bakura held Merwet's waist. Then she pulled her closer so that their bodies pressed flush together. She rose up onto her toes, leaned in, and put the entirety of herself into the single, lingering moment of the kiss. She only pulled away to pant for air.

“So, Thief King, was that the sort of kiss that you wanted when you agreed to free me?”

Instead of answering, Bakura tried to lean up for another, but Merwet laughed and swam out of reach.

“You haven't earned more than the one. Let's see these dresses you've promised, and if I like them, I might kiss you again to thank you.”

Bakura groaned and sank into the water up to her chin.

“Pouting is unbecoming of a king!” Merwet shouted from the other end of the pool.

“I'm not pouting!” Bakura insisted, but she was quite flustered.

As the king of thieves, Bakura knew luxuries that most people only heard stories about. She had plenty of gold, jewels, wine, perfume, and other such niceties, but touch? Touch was a luxury that could kill her. White hair meant death in Aknadin’s Kemet, and any number of starving people would sell Bakura's life for a single loaf of bread. Thus, Bakura always hid behind wigs and hoods, and never took a lover to bed, although plenty of women found her attractive.

But Merwet was a child of Ra. Her people suffered perhaps a worse fate- slavery instead of death. She was one of the few people in all of Egypt that Bakura thought might be trustworthy.

And the kiss had set fire to Bakura, a spark in a field of dry wheat. She licked her lips, longing for another moment to press against Merwet's body, and then swam to the shore, knowing that it wasn't going to happen unless Merwet had another whim.

Bakura stretched her limbs out wide in every direction and allowed the sun to dry her body. She dozed in the sunlight for a few minutes until she felt Merwet lay beside her.

“I'm descended from Ra, but I never got to see the sun. They hid me like shame beneath the ground of their temple. I knew it was so the guards couldn't find me, but I still hated them for it. How is living underground different than slavery?”

“I can't imagine,” Bakura said. She’d had her share of hardships, but she'd always been free. “Hungry?”

“I suppose.” Merwet sighed.

“Stay there. Enjoy the sun.”

Bakura pushed up and grabbed her shenti, using it like a basket to gather figs. She sat back down besides Merwet and twisted the stem off of a ripe fig, shoving it whole into Merwet’s mouth. Merwet made a protesting sound when the food was crammed into her mouth, and Bakura laughed as she shoved a second one into her own mouth.

“Why death?” Merwet sat up so she could swallow her food. “Surely white haired girls would make for pretty bed slaves just like golden haired ones. Well, maybe not you. You’re a scrappy dog, but others surely.”

“Yes, definately not me.” Bakura flashed a dark grin at Merwet. “I would show a nobel how to fuck his women and they’d be intimidated. I’d end up dead before my third day. Why not others? Because even our tamest, sweetest girls are dangerous.”

“Dangerous?” Merwet snorted. “I don’t know what’s more boastful. The fact that you claim that you could bed an entire harem when you kiss like a virgin, or the fact that you think you’re dangerous.”

“You’re such an ill-tempered sow.” Bakura ground her teeth and shoved another fig into Merwet’s mouth to keep her from retorting. She hopped up and waded back into the pool to distance herself from Merwet. “We’re the children of Thoth, Lord of Secrets, Knowledge, and Magic.”

Bakura spread out her arms wide, calling her ka into existence. A huge, white creature appeared behind her, gleaming in the sunlight. The serpent tail at the end of the ka coiled around Bakura’s waist in greeting, and she smiled at her companion, the part of her soul that she could bring to life and keep her company even as an orphaned child.

“This is Diabound.”

“I thought only the bearers of the Millennium Items could summon their souls?”

“The only reason the Millennium Items have that power is because they were created out of the flesh and souls of my people. That’s why Aknadin needed children of Thoth for his spell. That’s why Aknadin fears any man, woman, or even child with white hair. That’s why we’re killed instead of enslaved.” Bakura pulled Diabound back into herself. “A lineage from any god allows a person to become a magi, but the children of Thoth don’t need to study magic to learn it. We’re born knowing, and that makes us dangerous.”

“You still kiss like a virgin.” Merwet smirked, biting into another fig.

“Eat your damn breakfast and let’s go.” Bakura grabbed her red cloak and wrapped it back over her shoulders.

She grabbed several figs and hid them in pockets sewn into her cloak and wrapped the shenti around her waist. She told herself she wasn’t sulking as she leaned against a tree and picked at a fig while she waited on Merwet. The assassin laughed, and kept glancing over her shoulder, flashing seductive smiles and sleepy-eyed looks over at Bakura as if to rub in the fact that she knew Bakura wanted her. Bakura turned away and ate too many figs so she could have something to gnaw at.

“I suppose we can go now.” Merwet stood and made a show of stretching out her lithe body before wandering close to the horse.

“We’re going to ride through the village. Do not scream when you see the ghosts. I honestly don’t know how they’re react to a stranger, but you should be fine if you stay on the horse.” Bakura mounted, thought a moment, sighed, and put her robe back down as a saddle blanket before helping Merwet up onto the back of the horse.

“What?” Merwet laughed. “You expect me to believe there are ghosts where you live?”

“Whatever spell Aknadin used took my people’s ib, ba, ka, and ren. Now there’s only shuet left- shadows. They scream. They want justice, but the gods don’t listen.” Bakura glanced behind her. “I listen.”

They didn’t talk during the ride, which suited Bakura. The wind felt good against her freshly washed skin and she forgot to be angry at Merwet by the time they slowed down to ride through the village. Bakura usually introduced her horses gradually to the village so they could get accustomed to the spirits without fear, but for now she’d just hope her current stolen pony didn’t scare easily, otherwise they’d have to walk.

The ghosts rose from the ground like wisps of smoke. They were vaguely human-shaped, but wrong, melted. The horse trotted backwards, nostrils flaring, but Bakura whispered into her ear, and stroked her mane, and kept her calm enough to realize that the ghosts weren’t going to hurt her. They watched a moment in silence, and Bakura urged her horse forward as quick as she could because the silence never lasted.

A single wail pierced the afternoon air, and then almost one hundred other wails joined in. Bakura’s horse bolted. Merwet wrapped her arms around Bakura’s torso as they stampeded forward. Bakura held onto the horse’s mane. She didn’t try to slow her down until they put some distance from the shrieks of pain that had spooked her in the first place.

“Whoa. Whoa. Calm down. Calm down girl.” Bakura rubbed her horse’s neck. “S’ok, s’ok. They won’t hurt you. We’re away now.”

The horse eased to a trot, still eager to move forward, but no longer panicked. It was only a ten minute ride to Bakura’s home where she placed the new horse in the stables with her other two. Merwet whistled when she saw the two storied house.

“Perhaps you are a king. This is like a tiny palace.”

“Every last brick of granite or golden design you see has been stolen from a pharaoh. If the gods are going to go deaf to the cries of my people, then I will go blind to their laws and take what I want; gold, horses, vengeance. Whatever I want.”

“How did you build it?”

“Diabound. Kul Elna was once a city of tomb builders. We used our ka to lift the heavy stones and design traps that no thief- besides me, of course- could ever surpass. We used our art and magic to makes the tombs beautiful and weave spells into the architecture so that the pharaohs would always be safe in the afterlife… they did not keep us safe, however.”

Bakura marched into the building, lighting flax-oil lamps as she moved. When they reached Bakura’s treasure room, she kicked a chest over. Jewelry tumbled onto the granite floor. Next she kicked over a chest full of sheer-linen dresses, and finally she dumped out a basket full of wigs.

“Pick what you’d like. I don’t care. There’s wine, and bread, and cheese if you’re hungry. Take the horse when you want to leave. I’m going to sleep.” Bakura walked towards the stars that lead to her sleeping chamber.

“Let’s play a game,” Merwet said.

“I don’t think it’s safe to play a game with you. I have met cobras kinder than you.”

“Is the Thief King afraid? I thought you yourself were dangerous, and yet you worry that it might not be safe to play an innocent little game with me?”

There was a cooing, taunting quality to Merwet’s voice that made Bakura’s blood boil in her veins. She clenched her fists. “What sort of game?”

“Dress me in your stolen jewels, thief, and wherever you place a piece of jewelry… you may kiss.”

“Why?” Bakura turned to face Merwet. She narrowed her eyes at the honey-haired house guest. “Why would you want to play a game like that?”

“Because.” Merwet smiled. “I think it would be fun.”

“Maybe I don’t want to play games with my heart.”

“I’m not asking you to play with your heart, only your mouth.” Merwet raised an eyebrow. “Unless the two are somehow connected for you?”

Bakura gave an angry snort. She snatched a gold bangle from the ground and slid it just below Merwet’s left shoulder. Bakura pressed her lips below the gold and then spat onto the floor.

“You taste like venom.” She glared at Merwet.

“I didn’t say you kissed badly.” Merwet traced Bakura’s thick lips with the edge of her thumb. “Quite the opposite, in fact, but I could still tell it was your first time.”

“Who would I kiss in the desert?” Bakura pulled away from Merwet’s touch and stared at the floor. She eyed all the rings, and bracelets, and pendants scattered over the red granite. She told herself she didn’t want to play, but her mind was already matching the colors of semi precious gems to the tone of Merwet’s skin.

“I didn’t say it was bad.” Merwet chuckled. “I was only suggesting that perhaps you shouldn’t brag about being able to take on an entire harem before you’ve had a single lover.”

“I’m very greedy.” Bakura grinned. “And if I found myself in a harem, then I reckon I’d have more than enough experience with lovers by dawn.”

She pinched her toes around a ring and kicked it up into the air, catching it in her palm. Bakura slid the ring onto the thumb that had traced her lips, and then sucked the very tip of it. Merwet watched with a stoic expression, revealing neither joy, nor boredom, nor satisfaction, nor displeasure, nor even intrigue. Bakura adopted the same air of indifference as she found a matching bangle to slip up Merwet’s other arm. She kissed above the gold, carefully, allowing her lips to linger. If Merwet wanted a game of it, then Bakura figured she might as well have some fun.

So she immersed herself into the game. She found jewels to drape across Merwet’s hair and kissed the nape of her neck, and she placed multiple rings on her fingers so she could kiss Merwet’s knuckles. With a pendant, Bakura won the right to kiss down Merwet’s chest and in between her breasts. The more she played, the more she forgot her irritation; instead, she enjoyed the chance to explore Merwet’s body.

Bakura knelt down to the ground and connected a gold chain around Merwet’s ankle. She forgot the game as her lips kneaded around Merwet’s anklebone. Bakura closed her eyes, sighing as she worked her way up Merwet’s calf without additional jewelry. It wasn’t until Bakura was flicking her tongue against the delicate skin behind Merwet’s knee that she remembered they were playing a game, and that she was breaking the rules.

Her eyes popped open, and she looked up at Merwet. Merwet stared at Bakura, and the intensity of her blue-lotus colored eyes made Bakura feel like crocodiles were swimming in her belly. Bakura reached blindly for another piece of jewelry. She didn’t want to break eye contact with Merwet, just like any other predator, it was dangerous to look away. She grabbed a handful of bracelets and took her time placing them as she kissed the pulse points of Merwet’s wrists.

Through it all, Merwet stood like a golden idol, still, calm, observing Bakura but never responding. Of course she didn’t react. She was playing a game, unlike Bakura who, at this point just wished she could pull some sort of noise or look from Merwet that wasn’t neutral. Yet not even lavishing delicate kisses on Merwet’s wrists could move her, so Bakura thought perhaps she should quit. Before she gave in, a flash caught her eye. It was a belly chain fastened with golden, translucent resin transported from some far off land. The color was warm and beautiful, and suited Merwet too well not to give to her.

Bakura pulled the chain up from the floor and coiled it around Merwet’s waist. The jewels dangled down, and Bakura couldn’t help kissing Merwet’s hips, following the curve of the jewels downward.

Merwet sucked in a sharp breath, her fingers fisted Bakura’s white hair and pulled. The sound of her breath, the feel of her hands tugging at Bakura’s hair, made Bakura tremble inside. She looked up again, but this time, Merwet’s eyes were closed. She opened them, and snorted, and released Bakura’s hair as if none of it had ever happened. But Bakura suspected that maybe Merwet had been enjoying the game after all, and was simply adept at acting indifferent. To test her theory, Bakura went towards the other hip, kissing down against and adding a lick close to Merwet’s pelvis.

Ahh!” Merwet grabbed Bakura’s hair again.

Bakura grinned, always studying Merwet’s face. She was making a point of not to look at Bakura any more, but Bakura felt the slight tremble of Merwet’s body. Emboldened, Bakura kissed right at the center arch of Merwet’s hood.

Damn you,” Merwet hissed.

Shoving Bakura onto her back, Merwet straddled Bakura’s torso. They exchanged another look. Bakura couldn’t help her chest from heaving in anticipation. Merwet raised up, and lowered herself on top of Bakura’s face.

An audible sigh sifted from Bakura's mouth as she leaned upward. She worked her mouth against Merwet's outer lips, kissing them, sucking them, flicking her tongue between them. Merwet squirmed above her. The more Bakura licked, the louder Merwet's breathing grew, until her exhales were soft moans.

Bakura used her fingers to part Merwet's flesh so she could grace Merwet with broader, more intentional licks. Her cunt was like wet stones on the back of the Nile, and Bakura slipped her hand down her shenti so she could rub herself as she flicked her tongue against Merwet's clit. Merwet raked her fingers through Bakura's hair again. She gripped the white stands like reins, and rode Bakura's face with far more poise than she'd ridden the horse.

Bakura's thighs tensed as she stroked herself harder and swirled her tongue in precise circles. Merwet lost control of her breathing, her moans echoed off the walls as she pressed her body closer and encouraged Bakura to go back to fluttering her tongue instead of licking.

Ngh! Ah! Ahh! Nnnggghhh!”

Bakura sucked at the last second. Merwet's wordless cries made Bakura buck as she touched herself, and hiss as her body trembled as they both came. Above her, Merwet gasped for breath as she slid away.

But Bakura was far from done. She'd only had a taste and she wanted more. She jumped to her feet, shed the crimson robe from her shoulders, scooped Merwet into her arms, and carried her upstairs. Bakura's bed was a high stack of rugs and cushions. She settled Merwet into a comfortable position and then slid on top of her, pressing their cunts together and rolling her hips down and forward.

Ah-ah-ah!” Merwet huffed as she pressed her pelvis upward to meet Bakura's every thrust.

Bakura bent down and kissed along the pendant resting on Merwet’s chest. She realized she didn’t have to follow the rules to the game anymore and wandered over to Merwet’s breast. She sucked until the silt-colored nipple was hard, and Merwet’s fingers were back in Bakura’s hair. Merwet’s hands untangled from her hair and she raked her nails down Bakura’s back. Bakura gripped Merwet’s shoulders and ground their bodies harder together. Merwet grabbed Bakura’s ass and pushed her to go faster.

Bakura arched her back, her thrusts grew shallow, and she whimpered as she came a second time. All the strength left her, so she rolled to the side and reached down to tease around Merwet’s clit with her middle finger. Merwet thrashed, and hitched her hips high. Bakura stopped teasing and massaged Merwet’s swollen clit until Merwet held her breath and moaned. Bakura gave her fingers a quick suck, savoring Merwet’s taste and deciding she wanted more of it. She shimmied down until she was between Merwet’s legs, and stuck her tongue into Merwet’s entrance.

“Again?” Merwet asked while gasping for breath.

“Should I stop?” Bakura popped her head back up.

“No.” Merwet grabbed the back of Bakura’s head and shoved her back between Merwet’s legs. “I like you better when you- ah- can’t talk- oh yes!

Bakura paused a moment to laugh before she plunged her tongue back into Merwet. Then she used the entire length of her tongue and dragged it up to Merwet’s clitoris. Merwet squealed and wrapped her thighs around Bakura’s head. Bakura sucked Merwet’s lips again, and kissed wherever she could reach. She waited until Merwet was all but growling until she returned to broad, long licks. Merwet squeezed her thighs and bucked against the tip of Bakura’s tongue.

“Fuck!” Merwet cursed before all the tension in her body failed.

Bakura grinned, and wiped her chin against her wrist. She crawled up the bed and then glanced over at Merwet. She’d wanted to say something facetious, but forgot all her thoughts when she saw the other woman. Merwet’s hair scattered across her pillow, gleaming and golden in the sunlight filtering through the windows. The gold and gems decorating her body only glimmered half as brightly as her hair. Her lips were plump, and her chest rose in a gentle rhythm. Her eyelashes fluttered, and Bakura realized she was asleep. Bakura smiled and brushed a stray hair out of Merwet’s face.

“I really could fall in love with you- if you slept every hour of the day.”

Chapter Text

Bakura reached her arms over her head and stretched. Her mouth hung open in a wide, lazy yawn, her toes curling against the sheets. She turned to her side, but she was alone. She was used to waking up alone, but still, there was something disappointing in it.

Bakura got up and stumbled downstairs to get some beer. She stopped when she saw Merwet sitting near the cooking fire with cheese and almonds. She wore a sheer linen dress from Bakura’s collection, and the jewels and gold still covering her body looked even more beautiful next to the sheer fabric. There was something about the mere hint of nipple poking from beneath the expensive cloth of Merwet’s dress that stirred the passion in Bakura’s belly all over again and much more strongly than when they’d both been naked in the oasis.

“I cleaned out a chest for my stuff and placed the dresses I chose inside along with a few other jewels, and necessities, and a wig.” Merwet said after taking a bite of food.

“Did you just move into my house while I was asleep?” Bakura raised an eyebrow.

“Well, if I’m going to help you kill Aknadin, then I’m not going to sleep in the stable with the horses.”

Bakura hummed in acknowledgment, grabbing a jar of beer from a shelf and bread from a storage basket. She sat next to Merwet and stole a piece of cheese to pop into her mouth.

“Go get your own.” Merwet frowned as she watched Bakura eat.

“It’s more fun to steal.” Bakura winked, sipping on her beer.

“It’s a good thing my hatred for Aknadin supersedes my distaste for you or I’d be on horseback and miles away by now.”

“Distaste you say? You haven’t really tasted me yet. Your taste, however, is quite to my tastes.”

“Word play doesn’t make you clever,” Merwet muttered, but Bakura suspected she was more flustered than she let on.

Bakura was starting to understand that about Merwet. She liked to hide, her whole life she was trained that hiding was the only way to be safe and the concept seemed to have seeped straight into her ib. However, Merwet also liked to be chased. Kissing Bakura and then pushing her away at the oasis, coming up with the stupid jewel game to get what she wanted without having to ask for it. Merwet liked hiding, but she wanted someone to pull her out of the shadows, to rescue her.

“Why are you smiling?” Merwet asked with a suspicious glare on her face.

“I was just thinking about how good I am at finding hidden treasures and stealing them.”

“Could you be any more vain?”

“I don’t know, but I’m willing to try.” Bakura grinned.

“This partnership is going to be a disaster.”

“Really? I think it’s going to be as fun as a festival.”

“I’m assuming that was an ironic statement.”

“Me? Be ironic? Never!”

“I already told you that wordplay doesn’t make you clever.” Merwet snorted.

“What about foreplay?” Bakura gave her a lidded stare.

“Not clever, no.”

Bakura rolled her eyes. “You’ve never had fun a day in your life, have you?”

“I’ve spent my life focused on vengeance, so you tell me.” Merwet’s eyes hardened at her words. “Speaking of, do you actually have a plan, or are you trusting in the Priestess’ nonsense destiny to guide you when fate decides it’s time?”

“Now which one of us is being sarcastic?” Bakura asked. “But as a matter of fact, I know exactly what to do.”

“And?” Merwet crossed her arms over her chest.

“Okay, let me know what you think of this plan.” Bakura grinned, slamming down the last of her beer before setting the jar down. “I’m going to… steal shit from the Pharaoh’s tombs.”

“If this is a joke, it’s not funny.” Merwet’s face dropped into an irritated frown.

“We have to kill Mahad first, right? Well, he’s in charge of the protection and maintenance of all the tombs. Now normally I stick to smaller, older tombs. The ones that won’t be checked as often. It’s an affront to Mahad, but it’s nothing to go into a rampage about.” Bakura smiled to herself, popping a chunk of bread into her mouth. “But since I want to get his attention, all I have to do is go after increasingly bigger, more popular, and important Pharaohs. I’ll get him riled up first, and then when I have Mahad’s attention, I’ll go after Aknamkanon himself.”

“What will that accomplish?” Merwet shook her head.

“When Mahad realizes I’ve fucked with the sacred resting place of his closest friend, he won’t be able to sit back and wait for the guards to find me- he’ll get personally involved.” Bakura shrugged, eating more bread. “He’ll set up a trap to catch me, and that’s when I’ll kill him.”

“Using yourself as bait like that is risky.”

“Life is risky, what of it? It’ll work.”

“I suppose I admire your confidence if nothing else.” Merwet stood up. “So which tomb do we rob first?”

We? Oh no. Assassins are for killing- leave the robbing to the thieves.”

“But I agreed to help you.”

“You’ll help me fight my way into the palace when the time is right. Time ain’t right yet.”

“I refuse to sit and wait while you do all the work. I’m going with you.”

“You’re a liability!” Bakura stood up, angry that she had to look up to catch Merwet’s eyes. “I have to worry about traps, guards, and you, if you come with me.”

“I can handle myself.”

“Not if you set off the wrong trap and kill us both.”

“I can handle myself, Thief King. Don’t worry about me.”

“Fine, I can tell you won’t stop arguing, but don’t expect me to save your life if you set off a trap.” Bakura walked away. “We’ll leave at dusk!”

***

Merwet didn’t know what to do to fill the last hours before dusk. She made herself up with kohl and rouge, rummaged through Bakura’s perfume collection, explored the house, brushed the horses, and paced until her mood grew foul, but there was still at least an hour until they left. She finally found Bakura sitting in the sand and meditating.

“What are you doing?”

“Training with Diabound.”

“It looks like you’re napping.”

“No.” Bakura grinned before opening her eyes. “Without a sparring partner, the best place to train is in my mind.”

“Sounds like something a madman would say.”

“You’ve seen Diabound. Are my hallucinations contagious? Or are you yourself my dream girl?” Bakura winked. “I’d like to think I’d dream up something much nicer than you, so I’m going to assume you’re real.”

“Whatever. I’m bored. Entertain me.”

“Why should I?”

“Because I demand it, that’s why.”

“Last I checked, I was the King of Thieves, not the servant of a bratty assassin.”

“Fine. Do something to get rid of this wretched boredom, and I’ll let you kiss me again.”

“Are we still playing this game?” Bakura scowled.

“What? You’re not entitled to anything just because I slept with you once. I simply felt sorry for you.”

“No, you had a whim. Pity isn’t in your nature.”

“True.” Merwet smiled. “Now I have a whim to be entertained.”

“We can play sennett,” Bakura said. “But I won’t kiss you afterwards. I’m tired of being bitten by the snake living in your ib.”

“Playing coy won’t make me want you.” Merwet laughed. “You might as well enjoy what I offer.”

“Maybe you’re used to people throwing themselves at you because you’re beautiful, but I’m not desperate for your affection. Once Aknadin is dead, there’ll be time for frivolous things. Right now, I’m content with your fighting skills.”

“Giving up so soon? I thought you wanted another taste?” Merwet felt insulted, angry. How dare Bakura shrug off her offer when she clearly wanted Merwet.

“If you want a kiss, then ask me for a kiss.” Bakura toyed with the pendant hanging between Merwet’s breasts. “Don’t barter.”

“It’s not bartering.” Merwet pulled away. “It’s more like a game. It’s more fun this way.”

“I like games- like sennett. Let’s play sennett since your majesty was so bored.”

Merwet followed Bakura back to the house, fuming at how insulting Bakura was. Ask Bakura for a kiss? Bakura should be on her hands and knees begging to be kissed, not waiting for Merwet to ask. She wasn’t going to ask- how ridiculous! Offering a trade was more than fair. Merwet was so out of humor, that she couldn’t focus and lost two games to Bakura before they rode off with all three horses to one of the greater tombs.

Merwet wanted vengeance. Vengeance for Bakura winning both games of sennett, and vengeance for Bakura’s haughty attitude. Bakura thought of themself as a king, well, Merwet decided she was going to make a king beg.

Bakura found a secret entrance at the back of the tomb, avoiding the tomb guardians altogether. Inside was dark, too dark, it reminded Merwet of being underground and made her feel like a child hiding from guards all over again.

“Is there a torch?” She asked.

“Sorry.” A light appeared in Bakura’s hand, a glowing sphere that looked like she held a star. “I forget that other people can’t see in the dark.”

“You can?” Merwet asked.

“Of course. Thoth knows every dark place. Khonsu was jealous of this, and tried to gamble for the knowledge.” She gestured to the sphere in her hand. “But Thoth won a piece of Khonsu’s power instead.”

“Yes, but don’t forget.” Merwet stood a little straighter, reminding Bakura that she was taller. “Thoth serves Ra.”

“Watch that tile, it’s a trap.”

“Obviously,” Merwet said as she stepped around the tile.

“Just thought I’d warn you, sunshine.”

They walked until they reached the main burial chamber. Bakura whistled at the amount of riches piled around the sarcophagus. Bakura lit several torches, and the room filled up with orange and yellow light.

“Well, time to wreck the place.” Bakura chuckled.

“So soon? We just got here, surely we can have some fun first.”

“Trashing a tomb is grand fun, trust me.”

“I was thinking of a different sort of fun.” Merwet lowered the hood away from Bakura’s shadowed face. Her white hair looked like fire in the torch light.

Merwet pushed Bakura against the sarcophagus and teased her lips along Bakura’s jawline, and Bakura tilted her face to give Merwet a better angle. She slipped both hands between the slit in Bakura’s robe and thumbed Bakura’s nipples until they were hard. Bakura arched into Merwet’s touch. Merwet dragged her fingers down Bakura’s stomach and along her hips.

“Is there a trick to this?” Bakura panted as Merwet traced just below the waistline of Bakura’s shenti.

“No trick. I want to touch you.”

Specifically, she wanted to touch Bakura until her little thief King was begging to come, until she was near-sobbing for it. Then, and only then, would Merwet decide if she’d indulge the request or not. Perhaps she’d give Bakura what she wanted if she begged well enough, but perhaps Merwet would pull away to teach the defiant thief a lesson.

“Touch me wherever you like.” Bakura lifted herself up to sit on top of the sarcophagus. She spread her legs wide, planting her feet against the golden coffin and giving Merwet a nice view.

Instead of slipping her hands between Bakura’s legs, Merwet slid the robe off of Bakura’s shoulders and continued to knead her breasts. Bakura puffed out her chest, tossed her head back, and allowed Merwet to work her body like it was clay. Her legs wrapped around Merwet’s waist and pulled their bodies closer. Merwet smirked, grazing her nails down Bakura’s ribs, but she kept her hands above Bakura’s shenti.

Bakura leaned forward and stole a single kiss. Merwet indulged the thief. She told herself it would make Bakura more eager, but when Bakura grabbed the back of Merwet’s head and drew her in for a second kiss, it was Merwet that found herself wanting more. It was the way Bakura didn’t hold back. The thief flung herself completely into each kiss. It was raw, and genuine, and Merwet became swept up in the moment of it.

She dug her fingers into Bakura’s shenti as they kissed. Tugging the indigo-dyed cloth off of Bakura’s body, Merwet dropped the shenti onto the ground and climbed up onto the sarcophagus with Bakura. She lay the thief down, until their bodies were stacked with the painted image of the resting pharaoh. She kissed and sucked Bakura’s lips swollen, and pinched her nipples until she whimpered. Bakura ran her hands beneath the linen of Merwet’s dress and up and down her outer thighs.

“Take your second taste,” Merwet hissed against Bakura’s throat even as she kissed it. “I’m not asking- I’m telling you to.”

“Are you?” Bakura chuckled. “I don’t think I mind when you order me around like this.” She pushed Merwet up and dragged her off of the sarcophagus in order to change their positions. “Climb up on your hands and knees.”

“I’m the one telling you what to do, remember?” Merwet raised an eyebrow.

“Yes, I’m following your orders.” Bakura bowed before adding, “My queen.”

“Ha!” Merwet threw her head back and laughed. “Queen of what? Thieves?”

“You haven’t stolen a damn thing yet.” Bakura pinched Merwet’s nipple. “Are you going to get into position? You’re the one that wanted this to be fun, remember?”

“Fine.” Merwet sighed before crawling up onto the sarcophagus again.

She situated herself on her hands and knees, staring at the wall carvings illuminated by wavy torchlight. She felt Bakura flip up the back of her dress. A shiver ran across Merwet’s skin as Bakura’s lips traces along the curve of her backside. She curled her fingers around the side of the golden sarcophagus with impatience. Before Merwet could complain, she felt a warm jolt stab through her.

Ahh!” Merwet called out. She glanced over her shoulder as Bakura returned to kissing her backside. “That’s not what I had in mind.”

“But it sounds like you liked it.” Bakura smirked, giving Merwet’s asshole another lick.

Merwet called out again. Bakura was swirling her tongue now, and Merwet moaned. Each lick was fire and chills both at once fighting in her stomach. Bakura rolled her tongue up, then flicked it quickly, before giving another long, slow lick. With her tongue poking at Merwet’s asshole, she slipped a finger into her other hole, easing in and out until Merwet was all but singing in pleasure. Bakura added another finger, keeping both deep and pressing against Merwet’s nerves.

“Bakura!” Merwet screamed.

Bakura only responded by smacking Merwet’s ass with her free hand and then flicking her tongue faster. Each lick was driving Merwet wild, and Bakura’s fingers had Merwet clenching her thighs and shuddering as the pleasure climbed to a concentrated point. The deeper Bakura pushed, the more Merwet trembled. Merwet clung to the edge of the sarcophagus until her fingers were sore, but couldn’t relax her grip… because….

“B-Bakura… Bakura… Bakura!” Merwet held her breath, came, and crashed onto her belly, unable to hold herself upright for even a second longer.

“Mmmmm.” Bakura sucked on her fingers. “Delicious.”

Merwet sat up and turned around to face Bakura. She stared at the thief. Bakura matched Merwet’s gaze, a grin on her face. Merwet slipped back down to the ground and netted her fingers into Bakura’s hair. She swung them around and shoved Bakura against the sarcophagus. With one hand still tangled in Bakura’s hair, Merwet reached between her legs, smirking.

“By the way you feel, you enjoyed that almost as much as I did.”

“Of course,” Bakura agreed. “I got to defile a fat old Pharaoh’s eternal rest and worship a sun god both at once.”

Merwet’s chest felt tight and she realized she was holding her breath again (this time for an altogether different reason). She exhaled, fingers still exploring between Bakura’s legs, slow up and down caresses that promised greater and greater pleasure the longer she kept moving.

The sun. Merwet was of the sun, and was always proud of it, but had to hid herself her entire life. Now here she was, without a wig, without disguise, and Bakura had a way of looking at her as if she were more than her hair.

Merwet lifted the thief into the air and set her down onto the sarcophagus. She pushed two fingers into Bakura’s warm body and started to twist her wrist with each slow, deep thrust of her hand. Bakura’s lids lowered; her lips parted as she panted through her mouth. Merwet smoothed her other palm down Bakura’s brown, scared back, resting at her hip and bracing her so she could push into her more deeply. Bakura leaned forward so she could rest her forehead onto Merwet’s shoulder.

“A little more, a little more,” she pleaded.

Merwet felt that Bakura was close. Her walls squeezed around Merwet’s fingers. Merwet forgot about games as the thief came close to undone. She pressed her lips against the crown of Bakura’s head, and then meandered kisses down the side of her face until she reached Bakura’s ear.

“Am I going to make you come?”

Bakura whimpered in reply, nodding her head. Merwet smiled, kissing Bakura’s jaw and then speeding up her thrusts until Bakura’s every exhale was a quiet moan.

“Oh gods,” Bakura finally whispered, clinging to the straps of Merwet’s dress as she trembled in orgasm.

Merwet climbed back onto the sarcophagus and pulled Bakura onto her lap. She rubbed just below Bakura’s hood, making her squeal and squirm. Merwet laughed, and eased up her touch against Bakura’s climax-swollen clit. Bakura fumbled her hand beneath Merwet’s dress until she found Merwet’s clitoris as well. They slipped their fingers back and forth, both of them slick from arousal.

Merwet kissed one side of Bakura’s neck, then the other. Bakura’s left hand kneaded Merwet’s breast through the linen. Their fingers moved a little faster, pressed a little harder. They hitched into each other’s touches, both exhaling soft cries, both wanting more. The little hitches of Bakura’s hips became fierce bucks, and Merwet felt her entire body warm and throb with desire as she continued to touch her thief.

Then Bakura grabbed both of Merwet’s shoulders, rocked against Merwet’s fingers, and screamed. She gasped for breath afterward, but reached for Merwet’s clit again and didn’t relax until after Merwet called her name. They laid back against the Pharaoh’s image carved into the coffin below them.

“Think the Pharaoh would mind if we took a nap on top of him?” Bakura laughed against Merwet’s chest as she rested draped on top of Merwet’s body.

“I think our souls are going to be damned for this.”

“Lie during your negative confessions. I’m sure everybody does or no one would ever become a star or see the Fields.”

“I’m sure you’re right.” Merwet realized she was petting Bakura’s hair as they lay together. She stopped, dropping her hand and feeling bashful about the action for some reason.

“All right, let’s get up.” Bakura kissed between Merwet’s breasts right above the pendant she wore before flipping to her feet. “The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can relax.”

She tied the shenti back around her waist, and slipped back into her robe. Merwet yawned, and rolled off of the sarcophagus with much less enthusiasm than Bakura. The Thief King handed Merwet a sack and she nodded her head, knowing what to do. They each gathered a bag of treasure, jewels, and perfume, and sandals, and hunting sticks, and jars of kohl and rouge. Anything that was expensive and small enough to carry.

Merwet saw a bolt of deep violet cloth. She ran her hands along the cloth, dyed such a dark, true color that it was only ever meant to be worn on royal skin, and she wanted it.

“Gods, you’re going to make me carry that, aren’t you?” Bakura snorted, picking up the bolt and setting it near the exit with the rest of their loot.

“Wigs are cumbersome. I thought something with a hood like you wear might suit me better.”

“It does compliment your eyes.” Bakura winked before turning away and knocking over several items. “I’m usually drunk and in a rage when I do this, but you’ve managed to drive out some of those angry demons with your divine touch. I’ll just have to make do for the sake of sending Mahad a message.”

Merwet mulled Bakura’s words in her mind. Rage, more intimate than any lover, tightened every muscle in her jaw and shoulders most days of her life. But Bakura was right, at the moment she was relaxed, a little sleepy. Their tryst had fixed nothing, Merwet could never forgive Aknadin for what he’d done to her people, but for the moment she observed her hatred like one observed a sleeping beast, it was still huge and threatening, but quiet and still- at least for the time being. It frightened Merwet. No lover had ever managed to calm her before. Why should Bakura?

As if to protest her own calm, Merwet found a cluster of wine jars and started throwing them at the walls, aiming the for the images of the Pharaoh. The Pharaohs were supposed to watch over them with Osiris, but where were they? Where were they? They’d been abandoned by the gods and pharaohs and left for Aknadin to ravage, and Merwet was screaming and smashing everything she could reach.

The world bled into a red, red rage the more she thought of it. Merwet lost herself to it, her previous calm not even a memory as she tore through the burial chamber and destroyed everything she touched. She didn’t think, just cursed and smashed things, against the walls, against the floor, with her fists. She remembered watching them steal her mother, her three sisters, they killed her father. She watched him choke to death on his own blood with a spear in his ribs. Merwet had only been five, but she’d grabbed a knife and managed to stab one of the soldier's calves. She would have fought herself dead, before she allowed them to steal her family, but her mother screamed at her older brother to grab Merwet and run, and he’d done just that. Even after three arrows pierced into his back, he refused to die until after he’d delivered Merwet safely to the temple that had locked her underground to protect her.

She screamed, and screamed, was she shouting her memories out loud? Merwet wasn’t sure. She just remembered screaming something as her fists continued to punch an Osiris statue standing in the corner of the burial room. Then she was being held and sang to. She was being held and whispered to. She was being held and petted and she didn’t understand what was going on until, by slow stages, the red started to recede and Merwet remembered Bakura.

I will feed you bread and I will give you beer, I will cook the bread with dates, to make you sweet, my dear.” Bakura sang, rocking their bodies side to side.

Merwet blinked. They were sitting on the floor, surrounded by broken things. Staring down, Merwet noticed her hands were ribboned with cuts and bleeding onto the fine linen of her dress.

“Why didn’t the gods stop it? Where’s Ma’at? Where’s Horus? Is Isfet the only god left?”

“Horus is collared like a pet,” Bakura said. “We’re the Scales now.”

“I prayed. I prayed and prayed to Isis every day. Bring my family back. Let them escape. Let them find me. Let the soldiers die of plague so I can go outside and play. She never answered a single damn prayer, so I started to pray to Set and Sekhmet. More than pray, I learned how to kill the guards myself.”

“A good and fine thing.” Bakura stroked Merwet’s hair.

“How can you be so peaceful when your entire village is dead?”

“I’m not at peace, never at peace. I prayed too, you know, I prayed to every god whose name I could remember the night of the fire. I begged Thoth to save his children, his own children. All it would take was rain to put out the fires, or Thoth himself to stop the spell, but I think the gods are cowards. Aknadin’s Shadow Magic was too strong for them so they hid and left us all for dead… or worse. And that’s why I rob tombs, and live how I want, and promise to kill Aknadin myself. Let the gods cower and hide, Merwet. We’ll show them that we’re stronger than they ever were.”

“That’s what I was trying to do last night.” Merwet leaned back into Bakura’s chest, sighing. It was reassuring, having someone to fight beside after years of fighting on her own.

“Come on. I need to wrap your hands until I can get you home and treat them properly.” Bakura fetched plain linen from an overturned basket and used her dagger to shred the fabric into strips.

Merwet allowed herself to be treated. She felt hollow after her fit. She’d poured her anger out over every broken treasure in the room and now there was nothing left inside her. But Bakura’s touch was gentle against her wrists and palms. She kissed the bandages after wrapping up Merwet’s hands.

Something struggled in the cavity of Merwet’s chest as Bakura tended to her. Something fought and screamed, wanting to fill the numbness with something silvery and beautiful like moonlight, but Merwet held it back. Whatever it was wouldn’t help her get vengeance for her family, so Merwet didn’t want to feel it.

They left, and loaded two of the horses each with a sack of treasure. They shared the third horse.

“We need to make sure the guards see us riding off, otherwise it’ll take too long for them to realize they’ve been robbed,” Bakura said.

“That’s risky.” Merwet shook her head.

“If something happens, I can use Diabound, but guards are often fools and it doesn’t take much to escape them.”

They intentionally rode around the tomb and to the front where the guards could see them. The Thief King wore the well known scarlet robe and hood that declared who she was. Bakura laughed. The sound echoed into the desert and started the guards at their posts.

“You fools!” Bakura shouted between peals of laughter. “I’ve robbed your king right from under your watchful eyes! I wonder how the old king will rest? Now that I’ve done to him what the king regent has done to my people!”

With that, they rode off with the guards shouting behind them.

Chapter Text

The guards mounted their horses and chased them. Bakura laughed as they lead the guards on a impossible chase. They lost them in a ravine between two cliffs and then headed back home with the rising sun guiding them.

“I always bathe after I rob a tomb. Both to relax, and to wash the death dust off of my body,” Bakura said.

“Shouldn’t we hide the treasure first?” Merwet asked.

“Those idiot guards won’t find us, and even if an unfortunate patrol stumbles onto the Oasis, Diabound will make sure they never report back to Aknadin.”

“Suit yourself then.” Merwet shrugged as if she didn’t care, but honestly, she was sore from her rampage, and the thought of soaking in a cool pool of water sounded delightful. “I’ve managed to ruin yet another dress.”

“Yes, you can’t blame me for that one.”

“No. It was my own fault. I’ve done it before, but usually when I come to I’m surrounded by dead soldiers instead of broken pottery.”

“Makes sense. Sekhmet was also a daughter of Ra.” Bakura slowed the horse as the sand gave way to tall grass and fig trees.

Bakura stayed to rub down and care for the horses, but Merwet slipped out of her dress and jewels and waded out to the deeper end of the Oasis. She found a sand bar beneath the water and leaned against the far bank, resting and recovering from her rampage. Merwet heard the soft splashing and figured Bakura was in the water, but she was surprised when she felt calloused hands massaging her shoulders.

“I’m fine,” Merwet said.

“Your muscles are tense.”

“I like them that way. I’m always ready for battle.”

“Being tight is not good for battle. Just sit and let me work.”

“You’re a huge bother,” Merwet muttered.

“Yes, being massaged must be a terrible inconvenience.”

Merwet sighed despite herself. She felt a soft, bright current flow into her muscles and spread throughout her body. Her eyes fluttered open, and she realized there was a soft shimmer to her skin.

“What… are you doing?”

“Using heka to heal you,” Bakura said, as if it should be obvious. “I’ll focus on your hands next.”

“Why? Why are you doing this? I cut my hands, let me deal with them.”

“We’re partners and we’re lovers, would it hurt to care for each other in between?”

“It’ll be easier when we part ways if we don’t get too attached.”

“Of course,” Bakura said in a flat voice. She swam to the other side of Merwet, taking her hands.

“Did you hear what I said?”

“Yeah, I’m not deaf, but you’re not going to be able to fight with cut hands. Healing you is beneficial to our arrangement.”

“Fine.” Merwet looked away. She didn’t want to see Bakura’s silver eyes just then, or the way her breasts peeked above the surface of the water and begged to be kissed.

Bakura finished massaging Merwet’s hands and then swam off somewhere behind Merwet. Merwet looked down at her hands. She unwound the linen on her left hand first and stared at the smooth, whole skin of her palm. There weren’t even scars from where the deeper cuts sat, only skin. She undid her other hand as well and tossed the bandages onto the bank. Merwet closed her eyes and dozed until she felt Bakura’s hand shake her shoulder.

“Oi, oi, we should head back now. The horses are rested and I want something better than figs for breakfast.”

Merwet realized her hands were wrinkled from soaking in the water for too long. She wrinkled her nose at the texture of her skin, and swam back to the shore with Bakura. They dressed and rode through the haunted village once again. Both Merwet and the new horse knew what to expect this time, and they managed to rush through the town before the wailing could scare the horses too much.

When they returned to Bakura’s house, Merwet tossed her ruined dress into the fire and found a new one to wear. Bakura removed her robe, but kept the shenti around her waist. She roasted leeks and garlic and served them with smoked fish and beer. Merwet’s stomach growled when she smelled the food, and she ate every scrap before searching the pantry herself and finding some honey cakes to eat for dessert.

“Want to play another game?”

“Yes,” Merwet agreed, and they played three games, Mewet won all three.

“I think I’m too tired.” Bakura shrugged. “Heka takes ba.”

“You just don’t want to admit I won all three times.”

“And I won both of our last games, what of it? We haven’t played nearly enough to see who’s truly better.”

“Overall, I’m ahead.”

“Sure, Queeny. Whatever you say. I’m going to take a nap.”

“What am I supposed to do while you’re asleep?”

“Sort the treasure? Go through the old scrolls I’ve stolen? Bake some bread? Go fuck yourself? I don’t care what you do. You’re not my problem,” Bakura snapped before going upstairs.

“Fine.” Merwet marched upstairs after her.

“Why are you following me?”

“You told me to pleasure myself. The bed is the best place, is it not?”

“You… can’t be serious. You know that’s not what I meant.”

“Well I’m not baking bread like some farmer’s wife. I’d much rather fuck myself.”

“Okay. Why not? Have fun.” Bakura plopped into the rugs and cushions and curled up to face away from Merwet’s half of the bed.

Merwet dropped her dress to the ground and threw most of her jewels to the ground as if she didn’t care for them. She kept a few pieces, however, the waist belt, the anklet, and the pendant that Bakura always kissed around. She found a comfortable spot on the bed and squeezed her own breasts. Merwet squirmed, intentionally bumping into Bakura’s backside with her knees. She moaned as she smoothed her hand over her stomach and teased her own lips.

Despite the squirming, and the sighing, Bakura didn’t move. Merwet spread her legs wider, making sure her foot brushed against Bakura’s back calf, and teased her own entrance. She gasped when she pushed in, far louder than necessary, and moaned as she started slipping her finger in and out of her body. She noticed Bakura’s breath hitch, and Merwet grinned.

“Are you going to lay there and pretend like this doesn’t turn you on?” Merwet laughed.

“Of course it turns me on.” Bakura glared over her shoulder, but turned away from Merwet as soon as she could.

“And?” Merwet asked.

“And what?”

“Doesn’t it make you want to touch me?”

Bakura snorted. “No more than usual.”

“Are you saying you want to touch me all the time?” Merwet smiled.

“You already know that.”

“You can, if you want. I don’t mind when you touch me.”

Bakura turned onto her other side so she could watch Merwet finger herself. Merwet waited another moment, making a show of herself for the thief, but when Bakura didn’t touch her she spoke up again.

“Unless you’d rather watch.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“You were nice and healed my cuts. I thought I should be nice in return.”

“Still bartering?”

“It’s a thank you, not a payment!”

Bakura sighed. “Well, if it’s a thank you, I suppose I can accept it.”

She teased her fingertips down Merwet’s arm and to her hand. Then she reached lower and Merwet’s breath hitched in earnest as Bakura circled around her entrance. Bakura pulled Merwet’s hand away, and Merwet grunted in protest. Bakura didn’t comment as she rolled on top of Merwet. She held Merwet’s face and looked into her eyes.

“What are you doing?” Merwet frowned.

“Enjoying this.” Bakura closed her eyes as she leaned down and kissed Merwet.

Merwet hitched up into the kiss. She tried to deepen it, but her thief pulled back. She kissed Merwet again, pulling back again when Merwet dabbed her tongue across Bakura's lips.

“Bakura,” she growled.

“I'm a snake charmer.” Bakura winked.

“What's that supposed to mean?” Merwet scowled.

“It means I'm going to charm that viper coiled where your heart should be.”

“Sounds like a good way to be bitten.”

“Is it? Then I should drink some antidote.” Bakura pulled another deliberate, gentle kiss from Merwet's lips.

***

Until the oasis, Bakura had never thought about Merwet leaving. Bakura felt naive. Of course Merwet would leave the moment Aknadin was dead. The only reason they were partners was for joined vengeance.

So she was going to enjoy Merwet while she had her to enjoy. She’d been so eager the first two times, so greedy for touch, so starved for experience, that she’d flung herself into each act, operating on sheer instinct instead of thought.

Not this time.

Bakura kissed down Merwet’s throat. She circled her thumb along Merwet’s tit, toying with the nipple, tracing the general curve of her breast from side to side and then top to bottom. She kept her lips soft, dabbing her tongue here and there, but never biting, never sucking.

This time she was going to explore Merwet entirely.

She reached the hollow of Merwet’s throat, flicking her tongue against the skin. She moved along Merwet’s left collarbone, and her thumb meandered to her other breast. Merwet bucked against Bakura. She gasped, but refused to change her pace. Her lips traveled along Merwet’s shoulder and peppered the skin with delicate kisses. She gave an intentional roll of her hips, pulling a low moan from Merwet’s mouth. Merwet’s nails pierced the skin of Bakura’s back, but the sting only made Bakura gasp in delight. With a second roll of her hips, Bakura scooped herself up a little higher so she could steal a quick kiss from Merwet’s lips.

“Hurry up, damn you.” Merwet grit her teeth after speaking.

“I want to remember this,” Bakura whispered between lavishing kisses across Merwet’s shoulders again and guiding her hips in another calculated circle. “Even when I’m wrinkled and half blind, I want to remember the night I made love to a daughter of Ra.”

“I don’t need flattery.” Merwet raked her nails down Bakura’s back as she bucked their bodies together again. “I don’t need poetry! You damn thief! Make me come!”

“I need…” Bakura gulped for air. The scratching, the bucking, were both driving her wild and she did want to grind hard and quick against Merwet, but not yet, not yet, she wasn’t done kissing her quite yet. “I need to kiss you more.”

Bakura lighted her lips against Merwet’s. Merwet bit Bakura’s bottom lip, so Bakura pinched Merwet’s nipple in retaliation. Merwet kept bucking up, biting Bakura’s throat now and leaving faint pomegranate colored blemishes on Bakura’s brown skin. Bakura’s thoughts became a sandstorm. She teased her bottom lip against Merwet’s, and allowed Merwet’s fierce hitches to carry them both to the edge of orgasim. When Merwet clawed at Bakura’s back again, Bakura fisted Merwet’s golden hair and cried out as she came. She rocked her hips in time with Merwet, waiting until Merwet held her breath in orgasm and then settling back into the mattress of rugs and cushions.

Bakura slipped down and kissed Merwet’s breasts. Merwet sighed and nudged up into Bakura’s kisses. She was as intentional as before, kissing crescents below Merwet’s nipples, toying her fingers around Merwet’s navel, and using her knees to spread Merwet’s copper thighs wide despite the fact that Bakura had no intention of pleasuring her again- just yet. She did, however, drop her kisses down Merwet’s flat stomach and below her jeweled belly chain.

“Bakura,” Merwet sighed.

“Did you want to sleep?” Bakura asked.

“I have a feeling you don’t.”

“I told you.” Bakura grinned. “I’m enjoying this.”

“Well, I never started anything I’m not willing to finish.” Merwet stroked her fingers through Bakura’s hair. “So kiss wherever you’d like. I won’t even make you decorate me with jewels this time.”

“You’re too generous.” Bakura glided her tongue where Merwet's thigh met her body, and Merwet moaned.

The thief’s fingers swept across Merwets skin, quick, light passes that made Merwet tremble at first. Then she started to hitch into Bakura’s touches, into Bakura’s kisses. Bakura worked her way towards Merwet’s cunt, but before she could taste the honey between Merwet’s legs, she found herself flipped onto the mattress. A smirking, lotus-eyed Merwet stared down at her.

“You’ve been tormenting me for quite awhile. I think it’s time I pay you back.”

“I- ahhh!” Bakura couldn’t finished the sentence. Merwet tugged at her nipple with her thumb and pointer finger and then bent down to suck at her breast.

Bakura sucked in quick, desperate breaths. It didn't take long before her entire body burned with want. She squirmed below Merwet, wanting more, wanting more, she hadn't realized how much she'd been teasing Merwet until the same was done to her.

“Please,” Bakura heard herself stutter.

“Did the King of Thieves just ask me please?” Merwet smiled as if she'd won another game of senet. “What would you have me do, my king?” Merwet chuckled and then kissed up Bakura's thigh, pushing the shenti up to Bakura's waist so it didn't get in her way.

“T-touch me,” Bakura begged.

“Hmm… touch you,” Merwet echoed and stroked right above the area Bakura wanted touched.

She swallowed. She knew better than to ask again. Merwet enjoyed watching Bakura squirm too much to give Bakura what she wanted. Bakura squeezed the muscles between her legs. She could climax that way, without needing to touch herself, and she clenched a little more tightly as Merwet continued to tease her.

Bakura's breathing sped up, so did her heartbeat. She squeezed, and squeezed, and squeezed until she started to tremble.

“Don't you dare come until I want you to.” Merwet gave Bakura's cunt a playful, erotic slap that only made Bakura want to come even more.

“Then touch me!” Bakura demanded.

“But Bakura,” Merwet sang in a sweet, sweet voice. “I realized that I haven't tasted you yet.”

With that she bent down and pressed her lips against Bakura's clitoris.

“Oh gods!” Bakura screamed, eyes opening wide and mouth forming an O of surprise. Merwet dragged her tongue up the slit of Bakura's cunt and it felt like the way the Nile must have felt when the sunlight kissed the river's surface and made it glitter. “Oh gods! Oh gods! Merwet! Oh Merwet! Blessed gods!”

Bakura grabbed the bunched indigo fabric around her waist. She spread her legs a little wider as Merwet's tongue moved in lazy circles. Bakura's eyes slammed shut, her mouth hung wide as she gasped for air and whimpered in ecstasy.

Merwet licked three times fast and then ended with a broad, deliberate upturn of her tongue. She repeated the pattern. Again. Again. Again. Quick-quick-quick… and a long, pleasurable drag upward. Quick-quick-quick… and a intentionally slow lick all the way to the top. Quick-quick-quick-and-

“I'm coming! I'm coming! I'm coming! I'm coming! Oh gods I'm coming! Merwet don't stop!”

***

Merwet's heart quickened as Bakura screamed. Bakura settled down, her breath ragged as she recovered. Merwet lifted her head.

“Would you like me to do that again?” Merwet face flushed as she asked the question.

“Yes.” Bakura's eyes fluttered open and she licked her lips. “But come here first.”

Merwet crawled up until she was eye level with the thief. She started into Bakura's silver eyes, wondering what Bakura wanted. Bakura lifted her hands up, cupped Merwet's face, and pulled her closer for a kiss.

Merwet's froze and her cheeks burned. Her eyes closed and she leaned into the kiss. When they broke apart, Merwet felt a little dizzy, and she blinked at Bakura a few times, watching her face.

“We could switch,” Bakura offered.

“Tempting.” Merwet bit her bottom lip. “But I have a better idea.”

She spun around so she could ease down on Bakura’s face again, just as she had the first time they were together. However, since she was facing Bakura’s feet this time, Merwet was able to bend down and flick her tongue against Bakura’s clit even as she rode the thief’s mouth. Merwet moaned against Bakura’s cunt. Every dab of Bakura’s tongue had Merwet writhing and secretly begging for more.

She swayed her hips as if dancing to the music of Bakura’s muffled breaths. Merwet tried to focus on her tongue and lips, but the more Bakura kissed her, sucked her, licked her, the more Merwet needed more. When Bakura snuck two fingers into Merwet’s cunt she gripped the linen below them and moaned. After that, Merwet couldn’t concentrate on anything but her own pleasure. She rose up on hands and knees, shifting herself against Bakura’s tongue and calling out with each exhale. She burned like the sun inside, and shuddered, and after a few last backwards thrusts of her body to Bakura’s mouth, Merwet choked on a scream as her orgasm made each nerve ring out like the chime of a bell.

Then it was her turn to finish Bakura once again, and she lapped at Bakura like someone stranded in the desert laps at their waterskin. Bakura muttered Merwet’s name as if it were the only word she could remember. Each time she said it, Merwet rewarded her with a circling swoop of her tongue. They continued their call and response game, Bakura shouting, and Merwet licking, until Bakura was bucking up, thighs shaking, and nails digging into Merwet’s calves.

After they were sated, Merwet curled up beside Bakura. Her fingers found their way into her hair again. She couldn’t seem to sate her need to feel the cool, white down around her fingers.

“Going to let me take my nap now?” Bakura teased.

“I suppose, but only because I’m ready for one as well.”

“Got it. In the future, I should wear you out first before I even try to get some sleep. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“And when we wake up, you can make me something for supper,” Merwet teased.

Bakura gave a dry snort. “Tomorrow we’ll have to sort the treasure and then fence some of it for food and supplies. My pantries weren’t really stocked for a guest.”

“Yeah, and I’ll be here for awhile yet.” Merwet winked. “So you better stock them well.”

“Only the best for my queen.” Bakura laughed. “Maybe I’ll take my time luring in Mahad. Then I can keep you to myself for a few extra weeks.”

“That’s not the worst plan I’ve ever heard, especially coming from you.” Merwet smiled to herself at the idea, but then her face fell. “I don’t think Atem has more than a season, though.”

“You’re right.” Bakura sighed. “Aknadin will kill him before the next festival, I’m sure. He’s getting too old to be a pawn.”

“I guess we have a season then,” Merwet said to no one in particular. She said it to the ceiling.

“Yeah, we’ll wait a week for the tomb-guards to regain some confidence and then hit the next tomb on my list.”

Chapter Text

“Which one of these rings looks better on my finger, Bakura? I can't decide.”

“Whichever.” Bakura shrugged.

“That's not a real answer.”

“My real answer is we're supposed to be sorting this to make it easier to fence, and all you've done is try things on.”

“Well, it was my first time robbing a tomb. I want a momento.”

“I'm your momento.” Bakura jokingly shot Merwet with an imaginary bow. “What about that fabric you took? I thought you wanted a hood.”

“I forgot all about that.” Merwet snatched a piece of treasure from a pre-sorted pile. “A cloak needs a pin, and this golden scarab will be perfect.” She stowed the pin with her things and then sat beside Bakura, resting her head on the thief’s shoulder. “Are we almost done? I want to go to the market.”

We would be done if you were doing anything to help, but since you have only wasted time we aren't done yet.”

“You’re so boring.”

“None of that. The market is a full day’s adventure, so I don’t have time to entertain you until tonight.”

“Fine.” Merwet leaned forwards and started to separate the jewels from the household items from the other valuables. She was quick, and it only took fifteen minutes before everything was ready to be bagged individually.

“We could have left an hour ago had you helped to begin with.”

“I wasn’t bored an hour ago.” Merwet stretched. “I’d better put on a wig, I suppose. I’ve grown used to wearing my hair down around you. Will you help me with my kohl?”

“Yes.”

Bakura bagged everything and loaded the horse while Merwet fussed with her hair, and met her upstairs. She grabbed a jar of kohl and lined Merwet’s eyes and then her own as Merwet added rouge and lip stain to her face. The last thing Bakura did was hide the mess of white beneath their flax-cloth hood.

“It’s such a shame. That we have to hide like this.” Merwet clenched her jaw. “But I suppose that will change soon.”

“I don’t mind the hood,” Bakura said, “But the wigs are hot and itchy.”

“Yes. They. Are.” Merwet snorted, bitter.

They took all three horses again, one for each of them and one for their treasure. The late morning sun already burned, and Bakura couldn’t imagine how miserable Merwet was beneath her wig, but she didn’t complain about it. When they reached the city, Bakura travelled to the east, to the slums on the outer edge, and led their horses to a specific shack.

“Wait here,” Bakura said.

“Oh no I will not,” Merwet argued. “It’s hot out here.”

“But it’s dangerous in there, and Pa-neck won’t trust a stranger- he’ll also slobber all over you.”

“Jealous? Afraid I might like him better?”

“Pa-neck is too ugly for me to be jealous of.” Bakura wrapped the cloak a little closer to to her chest, and pulled her hood down lower.

Despite the warnings, Merwet followed Bakura into the building anyway. Bakura narrowed her eyes, but it had been done and Merwet would learn on her own her mistake. The room was dark, lit only by a single flax lamp in the corner. The outside may look like a shack, but pleated tapestries hung from the walls and the scent of expensive myrrh incense clung thickly into the air. Bakura saw Pa-neck slink up behind Merwet, but decided to keep quiet.

“What’s this, Thief King? Did you bring me a slave?” He wrapped his arms around Merwet’s waist with one arm and gave her ass a squeeze with his free hand.

She spun around and slapped him, and then shoved him away from her. Bakura laughed.

“She’s my queen. Keep your hands off her or I’ll turn your finger bones into a necklace for her to wear.”

“Your queen?” Pa-neck laughed. “Have you gone and gotten married? Will you populate a kingdom of thieves now?”

“Yes, I think we’ll make beautiful sons together. We’ll have no less than eight- maybe a few daughters, too.” Bakura grinned. Merwet shot Bakura a glare, but didn’t say anything out loud.

“Well, if she doesn’t bear enough children for you and you ever want to sell her-”

“You fucking swine! I’ll cut the tongue out of your mouth if you say one more word.” Merwet pulled a knife hidden in her wig and slipped it below Pa-neck’s jaw.

“Oi, Oi! Call her off!” Pa-neck’s eyes were wide when they shot in Bakura’s direction, pleading for help.

Bakura only laughed. “If I could control her, I never would have married her! You'd better hurry up and weigh this gold I brought and pay me before you really get her mad.”

“Alright… alright.” He glowered until Merwet removed the knife.

Rubbing his throat and beard, Pa-neck took the sacks over to a set of scales that Bakura, and measured out the treasure. On the other end of of the scale, Pa-neck placed debans- which Bakura knew were weighted heavier than they should be- and determined the worth of each sack of loot. Then, Pa-neck measured grain of the same weight, handing the heavy sack to Bakura.

“I was far too generous,” Pa-neck grumbled. “But what can I say? I have a bleeding heart and you’re going to have a family to take care of soon.”

“Pa-neck, you’re lucky I don’t gut you for always cheating me. Luckily for you, I’m King of Thieves, and don’t mind stealing more treasure when it suits me. I’ll take this for now and come back the next time I feel like shopping.”

Pa-neck grinned. He was too busy fucking Merwet with his eyes to really pay attention to Bakura’s words. How quick the little snake was to forget about Merwet’s knife, but Bakura knew he’d never learn, so she left the shack with the grain. Merwet marched behind her.

“Why are you letting him rip you off like that? Let’s go back in there and kill him.”

“Oh Queenie, I haven’t met an honest fence ever in my life. Killing him won’t do any good, another piece of shit will just take his place.Pa-neck knows how much he can skim from me without getting punched in the face. He learned that after getting punched in the face several times.”

“I’m not your queen.” Merwet mounted her house. “Nor your wife. I should stab you along with that other fat swine.”

“Well I couldn’t exactly tell him you were just hanging around in order to kill the Pharaoh Regent with me. He’d sell us out for a bottle of wine and a goblet to drink it in and we’d be arrested by the Midjay before we bought our first loaf of bread.”

Merwet didn’t argue further, so Bakura rode to the stables and rented a hand cart so they could carry the grain to market. Merwet sulked the entire walk, so Bakura bought her a fan painted with blue lotus flowers and a honey cake to cheer her up. The fan, more than anything, seemed to do the trick. The moving air cooled her face and put her in a better mood and they were able to do proper shopping without the awkward silence between them.

Bakura bought cucumbers, leeks, garlic, onions, lentils, and yams. She also bought dried, salted fish and cured meat. She never complained when the vendors called her sir. In fact, she grinned at it, and winked at the women when they blushed at her.

Merwet wanted fruit, cheese, almond and lavender oil, and bathing oils. She also stocked up on medicinal herbs, though Bakura knew some were for poison instead of medicine. They bought lunch from a stall, roasted goose crusted over with coriander, and after they’d both gathered all the supplies they needed for the week, they went back to the stables and readied their horses for the long ride home.

“Why do they scream?” Merwet asked when they passed by the charred remains of Kul Elna.

“They’re still burning.” Bakura gripped her horse's mane so hard that she felt her nails pierce her palms even through the coarse hair. “They feel the gold the rest of their soul is trapped in. They want the Items returned to the Tablet they came from, and as soon as Aknadin is dead, I’m going to gather up all seven and take them home.”

“Will the spirits rest then?”

“I don’t know,” Bakura confessed. “There’s a shrine below ground where the tablet rests. On the walls is a inscription. It says whoever returns the Items can open the Forbidden Door to the other side and get one wish granted… I’m going to wish for them to all becomes stars, even the bad ones. They’ve suffered enough for any sins they committed in life. I think they all deserve the Duat now.”

“I’ll help you,” Merwet said, although her voice was quiet and hard to hear over the screaming behind them. “Even after Aknadin dies, I won’t end our partnership until we’ve managed to put your village to rest.”

“Merwet.” Bakura couldn’t help staring.

Even in the failing light, even with a wig hiding her golden hair and making her look like any other beautiful woman, Bakura could still tell she was of Ra. Gold looked brighter against her skin, her eyes burned like the last of the sunlight dying on the horizon, nothing could steal the divinity away from Merwet- it was too ingrained into who she was.

“Don’t think I’m getting sentimental.” Merwet smiled. The expression was tired and bitter, but beautiful because it was Merwet’s face making the expression. “It’s selfish of me really, to help you. I couldn’t save my own family, so I’m helping yours- to atone from my earlier failures.”

“We were children.”

“You say that, but you know deep down inside you think you failed them as much as I think I failed my family.”

“Yes.” Bakura snorted. “It’s true.”

“I knew it was. We’re too much alike for you to feel otherwise.”

After the horses were groomed, watered, and fed, and their market spoils were properly stored, Bakura fixed them a quick dinner of bread, cheese, and grapes, and waved a bottle of pomegranate wine at Merwet.

“Want to eat dinner on the roof? I’m in the mood to get a little drunk and watch the stars.”

“That… sounds good.” Merwet no longer wore her wig, and her hair gleamed in the lamp-light as she stared away from Bakura.

Bakura handed their food to Merwet and gathered a few light blankets before showing her the way to the roof. They sat on top of one blanket, and wrapped themselves up in the others. The temperature dropped as soon as the sun disappeared, and the stars glittered like a thousand torches in the distance.

“I can never get over it- how beautiful the sky is.” Merwet said after they ate. She sighed, staring up at the stars like it was her first time seeing them.

Bakura’s heart fluttered in her chest as she watched Merwet watching the stars. She took a generous gulp of wine before passing it on to Merwet. Merwet smiled as she reached for the jar. Their fingers brushed as she took the wine, and Bakura’s face began to burn.

“Mmmm.” Merwet moaned as she drank. “Pomegranate is my favorite. I bought a fresh one at the market. If you peel it tomorrow, we can have it for breakfast.”

“You don’t want the juice to stain your fingers so you’re trying to sweet talk me into doing it for you.” Bakura took the jar back for her own drink.

“You know.” Merwet chuckled. “You’re the only one that’s ever figured me out? Everyone else always jumped when I asked them to do something.”

“That’s why you’re spoiled.” Bakura winked. “All those weak lovers and admirers were no good for you.”

“Oh? Suggesting you're better?”

“Of course I’m better.” Bakura grinned as she took her third drink. “That’s why I’m a king and they were peasants.”

“Shut up and pass the wine, my king.” Merwet laughed.

Bakura gave her the wine and she closed her eyes as she took a long drink. They passed the jar back and forth until it was gone and Bakura felt warm and cozy in both the blanket and her own thoughts. She nudged behind Merwet and wrapped her arms and legs around Merwet’s body so she could rest her forehead against Merwet’s back. Bakura sucked in a deep breath, enjoyed the mixed smells of perfume and the blanket that they had shared the night before.

“What are you doing?” Merwet asked.

“Enjoying this,” Bakura answered.

She nuzzled her face against the blanket at Merwet’s back and rested her cheek against it. She didn’t expect Merwet’s hand to reach down and hold Bakura’s hands clasped around her waist, but smiled when she felt Merwet’s warm palm against her skin. Merwet relaxed in her embrace, and Bakura sighed. The temptation to kiss Merwet grew too strong, and she peeled the blanket away so she could brush her lips against Merwet’s shoulders.

“It’s cold without the blanket,” Merwet said, but Bakura suspected that wasn’t why she was shivering.

Bakura took her own blanket and threw it over her head in order to wrap it around Merwet’s shoulders. Hidden in her own personal tent, Bakura continued to kiss up Merwet’s spine through the linen of her dress. Merwet leaned back, and Bakura brushed Merwet’s hair out of the way so she could caress her lips against the nape of Merwet’s neck.

I could love you

Bakura didn’t speak the words, merely mouthed them against Merwet’s copper skin. Nevertheless, she showed Merwet how much she meant the words by the way her lips ghosted over Merwet’s skin. She pulled her hands away from Merwet’s waist so she could dance her fingers up and down Merwet’s arms. Her fingers itched to slip beneath Merwet’s dress and run across her thighs and then between them, but Bakura resisted and continued to tease Merwet with her lips. Merwet still shivered despite the blanket being around her shoulders and Bakura sweating beneath it.

Something snapped in Merwet. She, shoved the blanket aside, twisted around, and pulled Bakura down until they both lay on their sides. She held Bakura’s face and kissed her with her tongue. Bakura sighed through her nose. She teased Merwet’s nipple through the fabric of her dress. Merwet returned the gesture, rolling Bakura’s bare breast in her hand before twisting her dark brown nipple. Bakura whimpered, breaking their kiss as she writhed. Her struggling spurred Merwet. She teased Bakura’s stomach, lower… lower… lower… to the edge of Bakura’s shenit.

“Please, Queenie,” Bakura begged. “Please Kebi.”

Merwet dipped her hand behind Bakura's shenti, and Bakura squealed when Merwet's nimble fingers circled around her clitoris. Bakura ran her hand up and down Merwet's outer thigh, leaning heavily against Merwet and panting against her shoulder. Bakura squirmed, pushing towards Merwet’s fingers. Bakura braced against Merwet’s hips in order to grind into Merwet’s touch, and when Merwet nipped at Bakura’s skin, the thief shouted, ass clenching and legs shuddering. The thief arched and came. Breath rasped in her chest, but Bakura’s hand yanked Merwet's clothing up above her legs so she could knead the outer petals of Merwet’s cunt. Even as Bakura caressed her, Merwet continued to stroke Bakura. She slipped her fingers into Bakura’s cunt to wet them and then ran them back up and down, teasing between Bakura’s entrance to her clitoris. Bakura hooked her top leg over Merwet, greedy for Merwet’s touch. Her own fingers found their way into Merwet’s entrance and she thrust one, two, then three into Merwet’s body and hummed in satisfaction at the sultry cries she coaxed from Merwet as she fucked her. They hitched into their own pleasure as they touched the other and both moaned as they moved.

“Are you close?” Merwet whispered, her voice thick with desire.

Bakura gave her a grunt, too focused on touching and being touched to speak.

“Then come when I do.” Merwet nipped Bakura’s earlobe and won another grunt from the thief.

Bakura squeezed her inner muscles, making Merwet’s touch more intense. She listened to Merwet’s moans and noted how fast she hitched in order to gage how close she was. When Merwet began to hike up, and her moans became soft, fast cries, Bakura tightened her own muscles further, pushed faster against Merwet’s touch, and allowed the thought of Merwet coming to drive herself to the edge so she could come at the same moment. Merwet giggled, nuzzling against Bakura’s collarbone as their heartbeats and breathing slowed.

“I can’t believe you managed that.”

“I love accepting challenges.” Bakura sucked her fingers clean. “I also love how you taste, like honey.”

Merwet laughed again, hiding her face against Bakura’s breast. There was only starlight and a single flax oil lamp, but Bakura could tell she was flushed and giddy. She teased her fingers against Merwet’s lips.

“Don’t believe me? Taste for yourself.”

Merwet looked up at Bakura, her gaze a blue-violet sunrise. She parted her lips and dabbed her tongue across Bakura’s fingertips before sucking her fingers. She used her tongue to part Bakura's fingers like they were legs and fluttered her tongue between them. It was too erotic not to want to feel that tongue against her clit. Bakura pushed Merwet against the blanket and kissed her. A moment later, Bakura pushed the robe off of her shoulders, and spun herself so she could hover just over Merwet’s mouth.

Bakura lowered herself down, gasping when Merwet’s tongue whipped out and flicked her orgasm-swollen clitoris. Bending down, she sucked Merwet’s clit, smacking her lips and smothering Merwet’s cunt in sloppy kisses that made her moan between Bakura’s legs.

She kissed and kissed until the muscles in Merwet’s thighs grew tight and she knew Merwet wanted to come. Then Bakura rolled in tongue in wide, flat licks of her tongue. She started slow and gradually sped up until she was fluttering her tongue just on the tip and making Merwet scream.

Bakura licked her lips, and wiped her face, and helped Merwet to a sitting position. She grabbed Merwet’s hands and situated herself so she could impale herself on two of Merwet’s fingers. Bakura straddled Merwet’s lap and bounced up and down, riding Merwet’s fingers and wrapping her arms around Merwet’s shoulders. Bakura lost control of all her thoughts as she rocked her hips. Merwet pushed in deeper each time Bakura sank down. Bakura rocked their hips quicker, moaning as they climbed close to ecstasy.

A light burst above them, like Bakura had summoned the moon in her pleasure, but Bakura couldn’t focus on it. Even hearing Merwet gasp in wonder, Bakura continued rock and call out until her orgasm stormed through her entire body. Only then did she open her eyes and search for the source of the light. Bakura started when she saw Diabound.

“Oooops.” She chuckled, feeling sheepish. “Didn’t mean to summon him. I must have gotten really carried away.”

“Was it that good?” Merwet lidded her eyes as she stared at Bakura.

“Well…” Bakura gestured at her ka. “This has never happened before, so…”

“Don’t send him away,” Merwet said. “Let me look at him for a moment.”

“I guess it can’t hurt anything.” Bakura shrugged.

“Come here.” Merwet pulled Bakura into her arms and lay down against their blankets. “He looks like moonlight.”

“Yeah,” Bakura agreed.

“Years from now, if you ever died, I think I’d be able to tell,” Merwet said in a quiet voice.

“How do you figure?” Bakura asked.

“Your soul would make a brighter star than the others. It would be too fiery to belong with any of the others, and even as an old woman, I would remember you.”

Chapter Text

Merwet woke up to the sun warming her face. She moaned, pulling the fresh, clean air into her lungs. The air almost smelled sweet, above ground. Merwet always felt stifled underground as a child, continuously drowning in the dim light and stale air. But not now, not here, the sun was in her face, and the air was in her lungs, and arms were around her chest. Merwet blinked and looked down at Bakura resting on top of her. The thief’s hair was a mess of white and hid most of Bakura’s face.

Merwet reached down and teased Bakura’s locks. She smiled when Bakura squeezed a little harder in her sleep and muttered something inaudible. Merwet stayed still in order to let Bakura rest. They’d stayed up late talking, with Diabound and the stars glowing above them, and Merwet realized she didn’t really want to move. The morning sky was bright and pale, but just as beautiful as the night sky had been, and Bakura’s weight felt good against Merwet’s chest. She lay there, petting Bakura’s hair, for another fifteen minutes before Bakura inhaled, then yawned, and raised her eyes as she gave her surroundings a sleepy once-over.

“Morning.” Merwet kissed the crown of Bakura’s head.

“Mmmnn,” Bakura groaned. She pushed herself up and shivered. Bakura wrapped her robe around her shoulders and stumbled to the hatch back into the house.

“Where are you going?” Merwet asked.

“Get your pomegranate.”

“Bakura.” Merwet felt her cheeks warm from more than the rising sunlight. “Wake up first.”

“M’awake,” Bakura muttered as she climbed down the ladder.

Merwet rose as well, dropping the blankets into the room before climbing down herself. She rinsed off with jarred water in a basin and found Bakura downstairs de-seeding one of the fat pomegranates from yesterday’s market trip.

“Thank you,” Merwet heard herself saying. It was not a word in her usual vocabulary.

“I mean, I’m going to eat it too.” Bakura grinned. “So don’t think you’re getting it all to yourself.”

“I suppose I could share,” Merwet made herself sound put out, but she wanted to kiss Bakura- morning breath and everything. She wanted to so much that she knelt down beside Bakura and did it.

Bakura grinned. “What was that for?”

“I don’t know. I felt like it.” Merwet shrugged and fetched beer to go with their pomegranate.

“Let's go to the oasis after breakfast. It's going to be too hot for me to meditate today, and I can show you the shrine in the village in the way home.”

“Alright.”

When Bakura finished, they ate the seeds and drank beer and gathered up some jars to fill with water while they were at the oasis. Merwet wrapped herself in a basic shenti, longer than Bakura's and cream colored. She didn't want to risk one of her good dresses just to swim. They rode two horses out, and when they reached their destination, they made sure to fill the jars first so they wouldn't have to do it later.

“Do you want to race?” Bakura asked.

“Sounds fun.” Merwet untied her shenti and let it fall to the grass below. “To the end and back?”

“Yes. Whenever you say go.”

“Okay… go.”

They rushed into the water. Merwet shrieked at the cold, but there was no time to adjust. She held her breath and dove deeper, kicking as hard as she could. They reached the far bank, spun around, and rushed back to the shore. Bakura pulled ahead, and Merwet pushed herself to move faster, but Bakura slapped the wet sand half a second before Merwet managed to.

“Ha!” Bakura cheered, shaking water from her hair. “You might even beat me next time.”

“It is certain that I’ll beat you next time.” Merwet splashed Bakura.

“Didn’t you learn last time?” Bakura splashed back.

They pushed water back and forth at each other, until Merwet tired of it and ended the water fight by tackling Bakura into the water and kissing her again. When they broke the surface of the water, Merwet held her stomach in laughter.

“What?” Bakura snapped.

“You still kiss like it’s your first time!”

“I don’t even know why I love you!” Bakura shouted. The thief gasped at their own statement, and Merwet’s jaw dropped. A hint of color managed to break through Bakura’s dark complexion. “I meant I love kissing you. I said it wrong.”

Before Merwet could reply, Bakura jumped back into the water and swam away. Merwet sighed and watched her go. It was better that she had, because Merwet had denials and sharp jokes resting on her tongue to try and avoid what she’d just heard. Nevertheless, as Merwet watched Bakura swim, she absentmindedly reached up and brushed her fingers over her lips.

They swam for an hour, avoiding each other, but Merwet hated the quiet, and she hated feeling lonely even more. She bit her lip, frowning as she thought of an excuse to pester Bakura. A wicked thought came into her head and she glided through the water to where Bakura swam lazy laps back and forth between two boulders, and pinned her against the closest one.

“Bakura,” Merwet hummed her name like a spell.

“What?” Bakura looked away, cheeks flushing.

“Have you washed yourself?”

“Yeah.”

“Ah, that’s good, but did you wash well?” Merwet teased.

“Um, sure?”

“And did you wash everywhere?”

“Do these weird questions have a point?”

Merwet slipped her hands between Bakura’s legs. Bakura groaned and grabbed Merwet’s shoulders. Merwet lifted Bakura out of the water and bent her over the boulder beside them. Flecks of water made Bakura’s dark brown ass glitter in Ra’s light, and Merwet gave her rump a playful slap that made Bakura call out in anticipation. Merwet spread Bakura’s ass cheeks and leaned forward, giving her asshole a sensuous lick.

“Yes-yes-yes-please Merwet,” Bakura begged right from the start, and the sound of it sent a jolt through Merwet’s body.

She gave Bakura’s asshole another lick, and then another. Each time Bakura called out and hitched back, eager as ever. Merwet stretched her tongue out as far as she could and licked firmly. Bakura sounded delirious in her pleasure, and Merwet realized she could have demanded anything from Bakura at that moment and she would have obeyed without hesitation. That was how mesmerized Bakura was with the soft kisses and licks Merwet gave her. Merwet smiled, dipping her tongue into Bakura’s asshole.

She circled, circled, and circled her tongue, and Bakura groaned like the pleasure might kill her. Merwet slapped her ass again, flicking her tongue for a moment and enjoying the way Bakura’s whines grew fierce and high-pitched. She started pressing back faster, desperate for Merwet to lick her.

She waited until Bakura clawed at the stone below her and ground against the boulder in desperation before she flipped her. When Merwet slipped two fingers into Bakura’s cunt, she found it wet and ready for her. She pressed in as far as she could, using a third finger to press into Bakura’s asshole- still wet from Merwet’s tongue. Bakura’s cries were wordless. Her eyes were smashed shut, and she grit her teeth.

“Do you like this?” Merwet asked.

“Yes!”

“Do you love this?” She grinned and bit her lower lip as she asked.

“Yes!” Bakura screamed without hesitation. If she registered that Merwet was referring to Bakura’s earlier slip-up, then she was too far gone to be embarrassed about it.

Merwet sped up her ministrations. She pumped until the muscles in her arm ached, but she didn’t slow down because Bakura was wailing, and clenching, and bucking into Merwet’s touch, moments away from orgasim. Merwet watched the way Bakura’s stomach rose and fell with each hitch of her hips, and the way her nipples stood erect. Bakura screamed, thighs squeezing tightly as she came.

She gasped for breath. Merwet listened to the sound, erotic, but also a little too raspy, and Merwet realized that Bakura’s breath always sounded strained after she came. She decided she’d mix some herbs that night to help Bakura’s breathing. She didn’t have time to think of it further. Bakura lunged at Merwet, kissing down her throat and across her breast.

Watching Bakura unraveling excited Merwet more than she cared to admit, and when Bakura set Merwet against the boulder and pushed her fingers inside Merwet, she called out and hooked her left leg over Bakura’s shoulder in order to give her more room to thrust. Bakura turned towards Merwet’s up-hiked leg and kissed her ankle, moving to the heel of her foot and then back to the ticklish part of Merwet’s back ankle where the tendon flexed. Merwet moaned, her toes curled, and she shivered in prelude to the inevitable rush of pleasure Bakura’s touch would give her.

Bakura nipped at Merwet’s calf. Each nibble made Merwet gasp. Bakura curved her fingers up, striking pure nerves within Merwet’s body, and the gasps transformed into Bakura’s name. Merwet chanted it like a spell, Bakura, Bakura, Bakura. Diabound appeared in the sky again. Bakura started when the huge white shape filled the space above them.

“Don’t stop!” Merwet pleaded when Bakura’s hand froze mid-thrust. “Bakura! I’m close! Fuck me!”

Bakura looked flustered and irritated at her ka, but she shook her thoughts away and doubled her efforts of slamming her fingers against Merwet’s nerves and making her entire body burn with desire until she couldn’t take it anymore. Merwet moaned, she moaned, she moaned as her toes curled. When she opened her eyes again, Diabound was gone and so was Bakura.

Merwet gave herself another half minute to recover, rinsed off in the oasis, and then swam to shore to search for Bakura. She found her laying on her back and drying herself in the sunshine.

“Hey,” Merwet said.

“Hey.”

“You okay?”

“Psh, why wouldn't I be?”

“I think it's cute that you get so excited that you summon Diabound. I won't tease you for it if that's what you're worried about.”

“I don't care if you tease me. If that bothered me I would have shoved your ass off a horse and rode away the first day we met.”

“Then what is bothering you?” Merwet lay beside Bakura to dry as well.

“Doesn’t matter.” Bakura crossed her arms over her chest. “Won’t be a problem once you leave.”

“True…” Merwet felt her throat tighten. “But remember, I promised to stay a little longer after Aknadin dies to help make sure your village finds rest.”

“You don’t have to.” Bakura snorted and turned away. “Kul Elna will take care of itself. We’ve always been an independent people.”

“No, I don’t have to.” Merwet sat up, resting her hand on Bakura’s battle-scarred shoulder. “But I want to.”

Bakura glanced over her shoulder. Her eyes searched Merwet for a moment before she sighed and sat up.

“Well, I guess I could put up with you for a little longer. You give an amazing handjob, after all.”

And Merwet’s heart fluttered every time Bakura kissed her- especially because Bakura kissed her every time like it was their first time and she couldn’t wait to kiss her again- but Merwet didn’t say it out loud. Instead, they wrapped themselves up in their shentis and mounted their horses.

They left the horses far enough from the village that they wouldn’t run when the screaming started. Bakura didn’t say anything, so Merwet stayed quiet as well, not wanting to anger the already tormented spirits. She’d seen them a few times at this point, but it never stopped bothering her, the way they looked like melted people. Their screams stabbed her ears, piercing, mournful, but more than anything filled with unadulterated fury.

It was the same way Merwet’s thoughts screamed at her every time she thought of her life- what had happened, and what would happen if the guards ever caught her. Bakura stopped in front of a cellar door. It didn’t look impressive, like any other dug out pit to store beer and onions away from the hot sun.

“It’s here.”

“Will the light from the hatch be enough or should we light a torch?”

“The torches are already lit,” Bakura said in a dreamlike voice as she opened the door and started down the stairs.

Merwet frowned, bad enough they stood in a haunted place, but Bakura’s ominous words didn’t help settle the heavy granite feeling in Merwet’s belly. Sweat broke out on the nape of her neck, and she craved the oasis and figs and laying in the sunshine and being anywhere but in front of that cellar door.

Holding her breath, Merwet descended into the darkness. She told herself that her foreboding was because of her childhood. She hated the dark and she hated being underground, but while memories from her childhood did prick the back of her mind, that wasn’t the real reason for her dread. She simply felt dread.

As she reached the end of the stairs, she gasped. Torches lined the walls, revealing hieroglyphs and pictures of a battle. From what Merwet could see, the battle was between a child of Osiris and a child of Thoth. What worried her, was that the child of Thoth wore a red cloak. There was also a monster behind the red cloaked figure. In the end, both the thief and Pharaoh lay dead in the sand, the Ring and Puzzle floating above their corpses and glowing.

“Bakura? Have you ever looked at this? Bakura?” Merwet looked around, but couldn’t see Bakura.

She jogged through the room, and stopped when she reached the end. A shrine sat there. A huge stone tablet shaped like a sarcophagus lay in the center of a raise platform. Bakura stood on top, staring at the holes carved into the stone. Each indent was shaped like a different Item.

“Bakura?”

“It’s my destiny. To return the Items to this Tablet. To open the Door of Darkness and free the Dark Lord.”

“Bakura? What are you talking about? I thought you wanted to help your village? What Dark Lord? Apep?”

Bakura laughed; it rang throughout the room. “Apep? He’s weak, like the other gods. Did you know that before the Ogdoad an even older god ruled over the darkness? Then the world was created, pushing everything back, but the Dark Lord wants what’s his. He wants everything, and will return it to the darkness that predates existence.”

“Bakura, I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t like this place.” Merwet stared at Bakura. She turned and glanced at Merwet over her shoulder. Merwet stepped back. She didn’t recognize her thief. Bakura’s features were sharper, and no light glimmered in her eyes. She turned and marched towards Merwet. “It doesn’t matter what you like. This is what will be, and if you get in my way, I’ll destroy you with the others.”

“Bakura, listen to yourself.” Merwet cupped the Thief’s face. “You’re not yourself. Come on. Let’s go.”

“Let go,” Bakura snarled.

“No,” Merwet hissed, kissing Bakura on the mouth. She lifted the Thief up and carried her towards the exit.

“Set me down, now.” There was a threat in Bakura’s voice, although none in her words, but Merwet didn’t care. Even like this, she didn’t think Bakura would really hurt her.

“They stole my family!” Merwet screamed. “They killed my family! I was alone! And I swore, I fucking swore to the gods, that I would never love anyone again until Aknadin was dead. Then I trained, my entire life, every breath was taken to end Aknadin’s breath. I treated people like pegs in a mehen board. I treated lovers like campfires- taking their warmth for a night and then leaving them cold the next morning as I walked away.”

The stairs were a struggle with Bakura’s weight, but Merwet grit her teeth and forced her legs to climb one step at a time until they were back in the sunlight. She stumbled, and they both dropped to the ground. Merwet paid no mind to the scrapes on her knees. She across Bakura’s body and held her face so their eyes met.

“Bakura, don’t leave me like they did.” Merwet kissed Bakura’s cheeks, up her cheekbone, across her temple, in the center of her forehead. She refused to stop and kissed down the bridge of Bakura’s nose, the corners of her mouth, and along her jawline. “Don’t leave me like they did. Please come back. You’re the only thing I don’t want to walk away from.”

“Merwet?” Bakura wrinkled her brow. “Why are you kissing me in the dirt and shouting?”

“Are you yourself again?” Merwet combed her fingers through Bakura’s hair. Her heart bucked like an untrained pony.

“Who else would I be if not me?”

“Do you not remember anything?” Merwet asked, helping Bakura sit up.

“I… we looked at the Tablet. Did you read the inscription on the wall in front of it? It said-”

“Don’t you have any idea what else is on the walls?”

“The… other walls?” Bakura blinked, disoriented. She pressed her fingers against her temples as if her head hurt. “I… yeah, sure I’ve looked at them. They’re… art or something, right?”

“Bakura!” Merwet screamed. The spirits were all gathered around them, watching. Merwet’s scream aggravated them and made them wail louder than before, but she shouted over them. She needed Bakura to hear her. “It shows you fighting Atem in battle! It shows you both dying and your souls being trapped in two of the Items!”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m going to put the Items back into the Tablet and-”

“Open the Door to Darkness? That’s what releases the Dark Lord!”

“What are you talking about?” Bakura pushed Merwet away, standing up and dusting herself off. “You just misinterpreted what you saw, Merwet. I have to-”

“You have to stay away from that shrine!” Merwet grabbed Bakura’s hand and dragged the Thief back to their horses. Bakura fell. Merwet sank back into the sand, holding her.

“My head hurts.” Bakura grabbed her head again.

“It’s that damn Tablet. It’s cursed, Bakura. You have to stay away from it!”

“I can’t.” Bakura grit her teeth. “I don’t care if it’s cursed. Curse me! If it helps my family rest-”

“Shhhh.” Merwet pressed her forehead against Bakura’s. “We have to kill Aknadin first, right? We’ll save your family. I promise. Let’s get you home for now.”

“I… I don’t feel well, Merwet,” Bakura confessed, clinging to her.

“I know. Don’t worry. We’re going home.”

She helped Bakura to her feet, arms still sore from carrying her. They stumbled together until they reached the horses. Merwet tied the two equines together so she could ride with Bakura as her horse carried their water. They made it home by sunset. Merwet lay Bakura down on their bed and went back downstairs to care for the horses and store the water. She roasted leeks, onions, and garlic in the fire and heated up smoked fish for their dinner, bringing the mats of food upstairs so Bakura could rest as she ate.

“I didn’t know you could cook.” Bakura woke up, staring at the food.

“I don’t like to.” Merwet shrugged. “But I’m not helpless when I’m by myself.”

“Did I get heat stroke or something? I remember taking you to Kul Elna, but I don’t really remember much else until I realized I was lying in bed.” Bakura scratched the back of her head.

“You… don’t even remember after we left the shrine? You seemed okay then.”

Bakura groaned, grabbing her head. “It hurts when I try to think about it.”

“Bakura.” Merwet pulled Bakura’s hands down so she could hold them. “Can you remember any time you’ve ever been down there?”

“Of course, I used to go down there all the time as a child. That’s when I read the inscription near the Tablet.”

“What’s on the walls, Bakura?”

“I told you.” Bakura frowned. “An inscription-”

“Any other wall!”

“Merwet.” Bakura winced. “My head hurts.”

“I know. It’s the damn shrine.”

“The Items-”

“Bakura, who’s the Dark Lord?”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“You said you were going to summon the Dark Lord. There’s carvings on the wall showing you and Atem killing each other in battle, a battle you fight with a monster.”

“No, there can’t be anything like that. I would remember-”

“But you don’t remember! You don’t remember anything from this afternoon, and if you think about it, you’ll realize that you can’t remember anything except that one inscription! Whatever creature is connected to that place is wiping your memory!”

“That… can’t be.” Bakura shook her head. Kul Elna is my home, the spirits would never-”

“They can’t help it, Bakura! None of you can! Whatever Shadow Magic Aknadin used…” Merwet’s face crumbled when she realized the truth.

Aknadin must have let Bakura survive on purpose. He kept her as a vessel to be corrupted by the Dark Lord. That was how he was going to kill Atem. He was going to pit Bakura and Atem against each other and let them both die. Then Atem could die a hero, fighting the darkness, and Egypt would have no choice but to elevate Aknadin from Pharaoh regent- to Pharaoh. Merwet balled her hands into fists, standing up.

“Bakura. I have to go.”

“Go?” Bakura’s face paled.

“I can’t explain, but- I have to go right now.” Merwet ran to the stables, grabbed the first horse, and took off into the night.

Chapter Text

Bakura ignored the way her eyes burned. She ignored the sting in her throat. She forced herself to eat the food Merwet had cooked, both portions since Merwet had given no indication that she’d be back. Bakura needed her strength. She had another tomb to rob. She was going to wait a full week to give the guards time to grow complacent again, but who cared about the guards? If they got in Bakura’s way- she’d kill them. Their lives didn’t matter. Nothing mattered… except vengeance, except her village.

Bakura wasn’t sure what exactly she did to make Merwet’s complexion pale and her hands shake. She had no idea what she did to make Merwet abandon her before they killed Aknadin, but she decided it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except her vengeance.

She took the stronger of the two remaining horses. The one less likely to tire after a long day of riding in the daylight, and set off for the next tomb she wanted to rob. She kept her pace easy for the horse, walked when she needed to, and left the creature to rest at a public well while Bakura walked the last three miles on her own. Someone might steal the horse, but she didn’t care. She could steal another one. She could steal ten more horses. She was the fucking Thief King and she was about to spit in the face of all the gods by ransacking one of their precious Pharaoh’s tombs.

There were guards, but she used Diabound to hide in the shadows and slip past them. There were traps, but Bakura was cunning and she figured each one out. In the end, she stood in the treasure room, staring at the sarcophagus. One tear managed to sneak down her cheek as she remembered making love to Merwet on top of a similar sarcophagus.

Apparently she wasn't half the snake charmer she thought she was. She had gotten bitten after all and the poison made her heart ache. Bakura snapped out of her thoughts and shoved jewels and gold into the sack she’d brought.

“I don’t need you.” Bakura stormed around. What she didn’t shove into the bag, she pushed onto the floor. “You were stubborn, and high maintenance, and demanding, and…” and fun to play games with, and fun to kiss, and fun to talk to beneath the starlight, “-you’re not even half as good at sennett as you think you are!”

Bakura’s voice echoed off of the walls, mixed with the sound of cracking relics tossed onto the floor, but no amount of noise could hide the fact that she was alone.

“So what!” Bakura screamed into the empty tomb. “So what if the shrine was cursed? You didn’t have to leave!”

Bakura dropped the bag, balling her hands into fists and then punching vases and perfume bottles off of their tables. By the end of it all, Bakura was tired, sweating, bleeding at the knuckles, and still upset. She dropped down on her ass. Her hand reached out and she pet the mummified cat sitting next to the Pharaoh’s coffin. Bakura knew it was ridiculous, to pet a dead cat, but she did it anyway, and cackled into the empty tomb as she did so. Once she settled down, Bakura sighed, picked herself up, took her useless bag of treasure, and slunk out of the tomb.

The guards would have never guessed her mood. By the time they saw her, she was screaming, and cheering, and bragging about being the greatest thief Kemmet ever knew. She led them on a wild goose chase through the desert, using Diabound to cheat since her horse was miles away. Once she evaded them, she backtracked to the well.

She was surprised to see the horse drinking from the bucket of water she’d left for him. The first genuine smile Bakura made that night settled over her face as she watched her horse drink. She patted the horse down, nuzzled against the equine's neck, and made sure he’d drank his fill before mounting him and heading back towards home.

***

Merwet rode like a fool. She was lucky she didn’t maim the horse, but she needed answers, and she needed them before the sun rose. She stabled her horse near the gate she and Bakura had escaped through their first night together. A golden ring was more than enough to pay for the care of the horse. Merwet rubbed the naked skin of her pointer finger as she marched through town. Bakura had placed that ring on her finger, and kissed her with a reverence Merwet had never seen before in a lover. She felt the absence of the gold more than she should have, but she’d left without grabbing anything for trading.

The palace rose into view, higher and higher the closer she got. Merwet hid in the shadows of the closest buildings, watching the number of guards that passed in front of the palace walls. They were doubled, inconvenient, but not impossible to get into the castle. She was sure Aknadin would be too heavily guarded. Otherwise she’d end it all now- but her priority at the moment wasn’t Aknadin… it was that damn priestess.

Merwet saw a chance and she took it. She sprinted to the wall and jumped up. Her grip at the top almost slipped, and Merwet scrambled upward as quickly as she could before the noise of her shoes scraping against the stone was noticed by the guards. She dropped down into the gardens and hid behind an olive tree to catch her breath and regain her bearings. She wasn’t sure how Bakura climbed up the wall, as short as she was.

The buzz of locusts filled the garden air. Merwet checked around the trunk of the tree, but didn’t see any guards, except near the entrances. Nevertheless, Merwet crept low, sticking to trees and taller grasses as she neared the pond that she and Bakura had fallen into during their last escape. Grape vines crawled up the castle wall, watered by the pond. Merwet grabbed the branches and prayed to no god in particular as she hoisted herself up to the second story window where Isis slept.

A hand reached out before Merwet made it to the window ledge. She blinked for a moment and took it. Isis helped pulled Merwet into her chambers.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” said the priestess.

“Then you know what I saw in the shrine room?”

“Yes.”

“Well?” Merwet clenched her hands into fists. “How do I stop that prophecy from happening?”

“The more you love Bakura, the less-”

“Oh don't give me that crocodile shit about love. I need a real spell. Real magic that will protect Bakura from whatever curse is down there. I need you to tell me how to avoid all this.”

“There is no avoiding it. Ever since the day I inherited the powers of the Necklace, I have done everything I could to avoid as many tragedies as possible.”

Isis dropped to her knees. Her hands braced the floor below her. Her hair spilled over her shoulders in a black rush, but her eyes were wide and focused on something only she could see.

“But it’s impossible to avoid them all. Every future, every possible outcome, everything is suffering. This was the best I could do. It is fate that Zorc Necrophades be called into this world. It is fate that the sole survivor of Kul Elna fight the Pharaoh.”

She blinked, as if settling back into her own body. Her gaze flicked up and stayed on Merwet.

“Your destiny was to die before any of this happened. You were meant to kill Aknadin and in return be murdered by the guards before Mahad brought the regent back from death. I stopped your plans so that Aknadin would not die, and you’d be dragged to the dungeons instead. I saved your life so you’d meet Bakura.” She shook her head to clear it. “Bakura will get the Ring. This, too, is fate. You’re the deban that decides which way the scale tilts. Succumb to your fear of losing a loved one and Bakura’s soul will be lost, to the darkness. Fight your fears and express your love, and Bakura might break the curse and fight with the light by the battle’s end.”

“This is horse shit! I don’t believe you.” Merwet grabbed for Isis to drag her up to her feet and threaten her until she gave a better answer.

Instead of her dress, Merwet grabbed the Millennium Necklace around Isis’ throat. The moment her palm touched the gold, the world flashed into fire and smoke. She felt a terror that wasn’t her own but was familiar to her. It was the terror of watching one’s family be destroyed, and being helpless to change it.

She choked on the smoke in the air, tasted ash on her tongue. Royal soldiers wounded men, women, and children, dragging them screaming and fighting to the cellar doors and down the stairs. Merwet noted how they wounded each victim, but kept them alive. She followed the last victims down the cellar stairs. The taste of bile stung the back of her tongue. Below, beneath the ground, in the dark pit only lit by fire, villager after villager was forced into a cauldron of molten gold. They were lowered in, not thrown, feet first.

The screams… the smell… Merwet struggled to look away, but she couldn’t move. Her mind spun, everything darkened, and when she came back to her senses, she realized she was laying on a rug with Isis cradling her head.

“Where…?”

“Do you understand the power of the Millennium Necklace now? What you saw, what you experienced was a part of what Bakura experienced as a child.”

Merwet rolled away from Isis and struggled to her feet, but she couldn't get the fire out of her mind's eye.

“Is there nothing better you can do for Bakura than this? Is there no talisman or spell I can use to protect her?”

“Pendants guard against illness. Spells protect crops. The Items were created with Shadow Alchemy and the prophecy you saw in Kul Elna is the plan of a god older and darker than Apep. What would you have me do?”

“Set’s fucking balls, I can't believe I wasted my time on you.” Merwet turned to leave.

“Wait-”

“What now? Are you going to torture me with more visions? Irritate me with vague predictions? Give me another lecture on love?”

“I have a gift for you.”

“I don’t trust your gifts.”

“It’s something very rare and expensive. You won’t be able to resist it.” Isis smiled as she walked towards a small table. She picked up a small, bronze box engraved with the image of lotus flowers and held it out to Merwet.

“What is it?” Merwet frowned. “Is there a scorpion in there?”

“It’s a music box. You twist this and it plays a song.”

“Why are you giving it to me?”

“Bakura will like it.”

“Of course.” Merwet snorted. “Because if I bribe her with gifts, the power of love will save her from a dark god.”

“I suppose I could keep it.” Isis pulled the box closer to her body.

“I’m keeping it for myself.” Merwet snatched the box away from the priestess and stole a gossamer scarf to use as a sling so she could tied the box around her while climbing walls and evading guards. “I should get some sort of compensation for wasting my time with you. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to ride North and take a ship to Greece. I think I’ll avoid the prophecy altogether and spend my nights drinking wine with olive colored men.”

“The approaching darkness will swallow Kemmet whole and then spread to every country in the world. You can’t escape your destiny, Merwet.”

“You said my destiny was to die. I choose to die drunk in Greece rather than be in love in Egypt.”

Merwet swung her legs out the window and climbed- climbed- down rather than jumping recklessly into the pond like a certain thief had. She slipped through the garden again, back over the wall, and through the town until she reached the stable. Once she had her horse, she left the city, but she did not ride North. She rode home, despite all her anger at fate and the gods, she rode home. Not to the temple that harbored her for years. That was never home. She rode to Bakura, and the spirits in Kul Elna screamed, but they did not attack her.

But when she entered the house, Bakura was not there.

***

The water chilled her, but Bakura didn’t mind. She welcomed the slight numb feeling against her skin as she swam from one side of the oasis to the other. She’d bathed the tomb-dust from her body, and eaten her fill of figs, and now she was clearing her mind.

The wise thing to do would be to wait a week, maybe even two or three, and allow the guards to settle into a predictable routine after her second robbery, but Bakura didn’t want to be wise. She wanted to be rash. She’d give her horse enough time to rest and go directly for the tomb of Akhenamkhanen. Rob it in the bold, bold daylight, steal not only his treasure, but his corpse as well. By the time news of her last robbery reached the palace, Bakura would burst into the throne room with the old Pharaoh in tow and challenge the entire court.

Bakura grinned. That would get Mahad’s attention. He could have no greater failure as the head of security for the tombs than to have a Pharaoh dragged before him. She’d kill him then and there, but even if the combined power of the court was too much for Diabound, then Bakura was still confident that she could escape and fight Mahad alone. Then, once the magician was out of the way- Aknadin’s head would decorate the palace floor.

She reached the shore and waded out of the water. Stretching out in the sunlight, Bakura fell asleep with a grin on her face because she felt that she was finally close to the justice she’d sought after since fire consumed her village.

After waking, Bakura hid her treasure and jumped onto her horse. She rode into the Valley of the Kings and found Akhenamkhanen’s tomb. The traps in the tomb thrilled her, each a challenge, each a game for her to win. This wasn’t a minor noble or long forgotten king, Akhenamkhanen had been loved by his people, all his people, and the tomb builders of Kul Elna had taken care in the construction of his tomb, which had begun long before his death.

Bakura remembered. She remembered her father showing plans drafted on sheets of papyrus. She’d only been a toddler, but Bakura remembered all the dead ends, false chambers, and unnecessary paths designed to discourage would be thieves from disrupting Akhenamkhanen’s rest.

But Akhenamkhanen was murdered, her father murdered, her village murdered, and the other children of Thoth- murdered. Now Bakura was the thief, and if her family couldn’t rest in peace, then she didn’t care if the pharaohs rested or suffered.

Before lay a narrow path. A pit lay on each side of the path, and the walkway itself was the width of a single sandal. With one foot instead of the other, Bakura walked. She heard a whizzing sound and ducked to avoid an arrow. She had to jump to dodge the second, and cartwheel to miss the four arrows that fired in succession after that. She caught her breath once she reached the other side, and continued down the corridor to the next challenge.

The next challenge was a maze littered with weighted tiles that sprung traps, but Bakura remembered this, too. She’d even had her father draw her her own version of the maze so she could navigate it with stones she’d used like game pieces. Solving the maze in real life, as her own game piece, brought back a sense of nostalgia, and Bakura laughed as she raced through the maze without triggering a single trap.

The last obstacle was her favorite, however. It was an entire gauntlet of trip wires, swinging pendulum ax blades, traps that sprayed fire into the air, and a puzzle at the end separating the treasure room from the rest of the tomb. Bakura ran through the traps, exhilarated each time she nearly missed her death. She forgot all about Merwet as the game of getting to the other side consumed her. The puzzle was the tricky part. She’d never solved the toy model her father made as a prototype, but she was grown now and, after over half an hour of struggling, finally arranged all the clay tiles correctly to open the door.

Bakura gasped at the treasure inside. Aknadin may have killed his brother, enslaved his son, and stole his throne, but he’d made sure that Akhenamkhanen reached the after life surrounded by the most glorious riches known to Egypt. Bakura filled a sack until it was overflowing, and draped extra treasure over her body before prying open the sarcophagus and strapping the mummy to her back as well.

She was too burdened to go back the way she came, so Bakura summoned Diabound and used his ability to slip past the walls. She found her horse and left. There was no need to announce her heist to the guards, Aknadin would know which tomb she had robbed when he saw his brother’s remains at the end of Bakura’s leash.

***

Merwet paced from one end of the room to the other. The fire was cold. Bakura had been gone as long as Merwet had, but the thief still wasn’t back, and Merwet realized it was her fault that Bakura had left. She’d walked out on Bakura. She’d abandoned her and left her alone, still disoriented from whatever curse took hold of her in the shrine.

She’d been too hasty, too focused on answers. In her anger, Merwet had hurt the very person she’d wanted to protect. She clenched both her fist and her jaw and tried to imagine where Bakura would have gone. Perhaps she rode to a village to find a tavern and drink beer and wine until she was drunk, but Merwet doubted it. She had both beer and wine in the cellar. Perhaps to rob a tomb? It was foolish and far too early, but that’s exactly the sort of thing Bakura would do if she felt abandoned. She might be at the oasis at that very moment. Merwet thought about searching for her there, but feared she’d miss her if Bakura was on her way back.

The best thing to do was stay there. Merwet hated it. She hated waiting and felt useless, but she needed to be there when Bakura came home- to show that she hadn’t abandoned her.

There was one other option, an option that froze the blood in Merwet’s veins. Bakura could be there, back in the shrine. She hadn’t seen a horse as she rode through, but she’d also ridden through as quickly as her horse could pace in order to avoid the screaming and tormented, melted spirits.

Merwet dropped to the floor and sat against the nearest wall for support. Merwet stared at the floor as she hugged her knees to her chest. She realized, to her dismay she realized, that she couldn’t bear the thought of Bakura getting hurt. In a trap, by a guard, bitten by a snake- no, not even bitten by a snake. Merwet could not bear the thought of Bakura getting hurt.

But above all her other fears, Merwet prayed, she prayed to the gods she’d forsakened, that Bakura was anywhere else but that cursed cellar near that damned Tablet.

Chapter Text

“What is the meaning of this!” Aknadin screamed as he rose from his throne.

His face was the color of wine. The veins in his throat bulged from anger. Bakura laughed, and her echo shimmied off the granite pillars and walls.

“This is your reckoning, Aknadin!” Bakura cheered once her laughter died away. “You wear the remains of my dead family.” She dropped the corpse onto the floor, planting her foot right over his empty chest cavity. “So I decided to carry around your dead family!”

“Dead… Family…”

“That’s right!” Bakura tore the hood away from her hair. Gold chains clinked as they hit the floor, and everyone in the royal court gasped in shock at the mess of white hair framing Bakura’s face. “I’m the sole survivor of that village.”

“Guards!” Aknadin screamed again, but his face was no longer red- it was pale with fear. “Kill the thief!”

“How rude! Is this how you treat your guests?” Bakura laughed again, and used Diabound to knock the guards to the ground.

“Is that my father?” a small voice asked from the side.

Bakura looked and saw Atem hiding behind a pillar. His eyes were huge as the full moon, and he, too, was pale, but from being locked up for so many years and not fear. Bakura frowned. He shouldn’t be there, and the fact that he was meant something was off. Bakura became suddenly sure that she evaded Mahad’s trap only to fall into one much more complicated- and more dangerous. Bakura, however, was not one to back down once she got started.

“Oh? Did you let your pet out of his room, Aknadin?” Bakura asked, feigning indifference. “I’m surprised. Sorry you had to see this, kid, but it needed to be done.”

“Pharaoh!” Aknadin bowed when he saw Atem. “This is the Thief King! The one who’s been ransacking the tombs of your ancestors! And yes, that is your beloved father. See how the Thief King has no heart to weigh? He’s evil!”

“It’s true, I have no heart.” Bakura snarled, furious with Aknadin’s kowtowing. “Ammit cannot eat what grief and rage consumed years ago! Come, Aknadin! If you’re offended, then fight me! We’ll let the gods use our ka to decide who should have justice!”

She was so focused on Aknadin, so desperate to fight him, that she didn’t see Atem run across the throne room. She didn’t sense him as he neared her until she felt his hand shoving her to the ground.

“Get away from my father!” Atem dropped to his knees and cradled the linen-wrapped corpse in his arms. “How could you? How could you? I didn’t want to believe them, when they said you were evil. I was sure you were kind the night we met. I gave you my ren, but Mahad was right. You are evil. You’re vile!”

“Atem.” Bakura pushed herself up to her knees.

Unease gripped Bakura’s chest. Why was Atem even out of his room? Aknadin was only ever using the boy, and this could not be an exception. He somehow knew Bakura was going to show up. Did he see it through the Eye? Or was it Isis?

“Don’t ever utter my name again!” Atem shrieked, clutching his father closer to his chest as tears poured down his delicate cheekbones. “I can’t forgive you for this! Gods damn you! Osiris damn you! Slifer! Come to me, so I can give my father justice!”

The moment Atem shouted the name Osiris, his puzzle glowed with harsh, golden light. A long red, ribbon of energy surrounded Atem. It darkened, transforming from a light to crimson scales that gleamed like fresh-spilled blood.

“Holy shit!” Bakura jumped to her feet.

The kid had actually managed to call forth the Sky Dragon Slifer, the physical avatar of the god Osiris. Diabound’s tail coiled around Bakura a moment before the energy from the red serpent’s blast could disintegrate her. The room trembled, vases shattered from the backlash of the attack and the servants fled screaming.

“The legends are true.” Kazim took a step forward, eyes locked on the red dragon. “It has been foretold that before Kemet's darkest time, a chosen Pharaoh will summon the gods to fight a great evil. Atem is the chosen Pharaoh of prophecy.”

“Then fight Aknadin!” Bakura growled. “He’s the great evil you should all fear!”

“I have protected this land! Especially from the villainy of white-haired demons like this rogue! See? Their powers are too great. Even now this thief fights against the gods themselves. The children of Thoth are a danger to the land. This thief particularly.”

“Fuck you! You killed Akhenamkhanen!” Bakura charged Diabound with all the energy she had.

“You mean your filthy village of thieves murdered him!” Aknadin shouted the lie right in front of Osiris and it infuriated Bakura that the god didn’t blast Aknadin right then and there for it, but the creature was only an avatar of Osiris’ power, controlled by Atem. It had no will of its own.

“They were builders! They were innocents! You melted them!”

“I brought justice to the Pharaoh’s murdered soul!”

“No, that’s what I’m trying to do by killing you!”

“Enough!” Atem roared, and the room shook as Osiris screeched with him. “Karim, use the Scales on the thief. Let’s see if she’s lying or telling the truth.”

“Pharaoh.” Karim bowed his head and held the scales up into the air.

He gasped as the scales grew wild in his hold. They swung, and the base jerked left to right until Karim lost his grip and the golden relic shot to the other end of the room. The scales scraped against the floor and clanged against the wall.

“What… what does that mean?” Atem asked.

“I don’t know, Pharaoh.” Karim bowed lower. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

“Isis?” Atem turned to the priestess. “Can you see anything with your Necklace?”

“A battle!” Isis sobbed into the skirt of her dress. “A battle between the gods of light and the darkness! A battle that might destroy the world!”

“Then it’s true.” Atem’s jaw hardened and his eyes narrowed at Bakura. “You are evil.”

“What even is evil? Is it stealing?” Bakura narrowed her eyes at Aknadin. “Or is is manipulating a child?”

“Only the darkest heart would defile the dead!” Atem waived his hand to show that the debate was over. “If we’re to battle, then let us battle!”

Slifer shot another blast at Bakura and Diabound blocked. Blast after blast struck Bakura’s ka, until she could taste blood in her mouth.

“I’m not fighting a brat in his first season of manhood!” Bakura grit her teeth, pivoting towards Mahad even as Diabound counterattacked. “But you! Know this! Ninety nine villagers died, and I demand a soul for a soul! Stop me if you can! Akhenamkhanen’s wife’s tomb is next.”

“Bakura, don’t you dare touch my mother!” Atem attacked with Slifer.

“Sorry, little king!” Bakura spat blood onto the floor. She felt like each blast was tearing her to shreds and she knew she had to either fight back for real- or escape. “The gods don’t spare mothers in this cruel world. If you’re going to be Pharaoh, you’d better learn that now.”

With that, Bakura jumped into Diabound’s arms and disappeared through the walls.

***

Merwet had fallen asleep leaning against the wall despite the itchy tear trails drying on her cheeks. She awoke to the sound of a horse riding up to the house. Merwet dashed to the stable, willing it to be Bakura, and it was. Merwet had to catch her thief in her arms and Bakura toppled from the horse’s back.

“Bakura! What did you do? Shit!” Merwet carried her upstairs and to their bed.

She felt for a heartbeat. It was strong, but Bakura’s breath rasped in her throat and a trail of dried blood stained her chin. Merwet washed Bakrua’s face and left linen anointed with lavender on her forehead before going and tending to the horse.

Back inside, Merwet made a tea of various herbs and set it to cool as she checked Bakura’s body for broken bones or signs of greater injury. Bakura seemed fine, battered and weak but not dying. That didn’t stop Merwet from fussing over her all that day, and throughout the night. Merwet herself didn’t sleep again until sunrise when her lids drooped over her eyes without permission and she past out against Bakura’s shoulder.

She woke up with a start when she felt a hand rest against her cheek. “Bakura?”

“You came back,” Bakura whispered, her eyes filled with awe.

“Of course I came back.” Merwet pushed herself to sitting so she could grab Bakura and crush the thief to her chest. “Of course I came back. I was scared shitless when you weren’t here. Where did you go?”

“I robbed a couple of tombs.” Bakura shrugged.

“Two at once? Bakura, why?”

“Why?” Bakura snorted, her voice sounded tight. “Who cares, that’s why! You disappeared but I still had Aknadin to deal with!”

“Bakura…” Merwet swallowed. She felt sick. “Bakura, what did you do? Did you manage to kill Mahad?”

“No, but I definitely got his attention.” Bakura grinned, but it crashed on her face and became a frown. “Perhaps I was too harsh. I dragged Akhenamkhanen into the throne room. I didn’t expect Atem to see-”

“He saw?” Merwet’s mouth dropped. The heavy feeling in her gut dropped lower into her intestines. She didn’t think it could be a coincidence, that the fated king was freed in time to see Bakura’s atrocity.

“Yes, and he summoned Osiris’ battle avatar.” She shrugged again. “That’s how I got so roughed up. I fought back a little, but… it’s not Atem I want dead. I wasn’t about to assassinate the true heir to the throne so Aknadin could keep it.”

“That’s exactly what he wants.” Merwet slammed her fist against the mattress. “This is a game to him! You and Atem are pieces he’s pitting against each other.”

“That was obvious.” Bakura snorted. “I’m not stupid. There was no other reason for Atem to be there except to fight me. What I want to know is what sort of game Isis is playing. Only she could have told him when I'd arrive.”

That’s what I ran off to find out!” Merwet grabbed Bakura’s shoulders. “You should have waited for me to come back! I couldn’t have helped you. We could have-”

“I didn’t know you were coming back!”

“Why wouldn’t I have came back?” Merwet shouted.

Bakura’s face twisted, anger perhaps, or hurt. “You kept talking about how you were going to leave afterward. Fuck, I don’t know? It made me think you just gave up altogether.”

“No, I-” Merwet growled, angry at herself this time. “I was worried and I didn’t want to waste time explaining. I was trying to find out more information so we could plan what to do. Not just jump into Aknadin’s fucking game like you did.”

“You still could have said something.” Bakura sighed and pursed her lips. “Why did you go to see Isis of all people? I thought you didn’t trust her prophecies.”

“I… don’t…” Merwet dropped her head. “Maybe I do. I saw… I touched the Necklace and then I was there. In Kul Elna. I watched them lower everyone into the molten gold through your eyes, your memories, I suppose.”

“You… saw?”

Fresh tears burned Merwet’s face. Blind, she embraced Bakura again. “I’m sorry you saw it! I’m sorry you had to watch!”

“I don’t care,” Bakura snapped, too quickly. “I’m glad I saw it. My hatred stays as hot as that cauldron of gold because I saw.”

“I’m not letting that monster have you. I refuse.”

“Who? Aknadin? I can kill him easy enough.”

“No. Zorc Necrophades.”

Who?”

“The dark god that you’re going to summon into the world.” Merwet bit her lip after she spoke.

It dawned on her then, that she did believe Isis. The vision of Kul Elna had convinced her. And that meant there was only one way to save Bakura, and Merwet was going to do it. Merwet pushed Bakura into the mattress, hovering over her and kissing her. Bakura’s eyes closed and she moaned into the kiss. She giggled as Merwet brushed her throat with lighter kisses.

“Merwet? What are you doing?”

“Giving in,” Merwet whispered as she slipped Bakura’s robe off of her shoulders.

“I’m not complaining.” Bakura continued to laugh even as she arched upward when Merwet settled on top of her. “But I’m not sure I’ve forgiven you yet for taking off without warning.”

“I promise I’m never leaving you again.” Merwet kissed Bakura’s lips again.

Bakura snorted and turned away. “At least until Aknadin’s dead, right?”

“Bakura.” Merwet braced two fingers against Bakura’s cheek and pushed until Bakura faced her. “I’m never leaving you again. Ever.”

“I...don’t…” Bakura’s eyes shimmered like moonlight reflecting in the rippling surface of the Nile.

“This is hard for me, but I… I care about you.” It was the best she could do. It'd been too long since she said the other word in earnest and her voice felt like tarnish in her throat. “I want to stay with you.” An overwhelming rush of sincerity swept through Merwet. She pressed her lips against Bakura's forehead and whispered against her skin, “I want to protect you.”

“That sounds… heroic of you.” Bakura chuckled, but Merwet could feel the heat of Bakura's flushed face.

“No, it's selfish.” Merwet gave a rueful laugh. “I've never been so selfish as I am right now. More than anything I hate the thought of losing anyone I love.”

“Me too.” Bakura sniffed as tears flooded over her cheeks. “I'm selfish, too.”

“Then let's be selfish together.” Merwet used the hem of her dress to dry Bakura's tears before holding her face and kissing her like the monster had already been summoned, the battle already lost, and fate already sealed.

Bakura tangled her fingers in Merwet’s hair. Merwet pulled Bakura up, shifting so she could cradle Bakura into her lap. Her hands grabbed at Bakura, shoulders first, then down her arms, over to her breasts, and then up her thighs. It was like Merwet needed to make sure Bakura was actually in her arms, and only handling her with rough squeezes and grabs could prove she wasn’t an illusion.

Bakura grunted between kisses and pulled at Merwets hair to urge her to keep grabbing. Their tongues grew sloppy. They pulled away to wipe their mouths before pressing together for more, and Merwet needed more. Her hands reached higher until she was between Bakura legs and she had Bakura mewling. She kept massaging, her touch light and quick and nimble against Bakura’s clitoris. It only took a few minutes to finish her thief off.

After Bakura shuddered and relaxed, they ended up twisted in a knot, grinding against each other and holding tight to each other as they moved. Merwet fought out of her dress and tore the shenti away from Bakura. She didn’t want cloth between them, only the warmth and sweat from their bodies as they wrestled, kissing each other’s shoulders and breasts, and pressing together until they screamed, and relaxed, and kissed until they were ready to rock against each other again with the same ferocity as before.

Bakura scrambled on top. She straddled Merwet and grabbed her breasts as she rolled the weight of her hips down against Merwet’s cunt. Merwet watched with lidded eyes, gasping with each swivel of Bakura’s hips. The thief’s hair was plastered to her forehead and her cheeks and her body shined with sweat. The glisten of sweat on her baked-brown body gleamed brighter when Diabound finally appeared above her.

“I was wondering when he’d show up.” Merwet smiled at the huge white beast floating above them.

“Dammit.” Bakura grit her teeth, her hips stopping. “I was trying to keep him away-”

“Bakura.” Merwet grabbed her hips. “Don’t hide him. I want all of you.” She bucked up. “And I love how brightly you glow when we’re together.”

“It’s easy for the moon to glow.” Bakura returned to her slow, deep rotations of her hips. “When he’s reflecting the light of the sun.”

Merwet hummed. She appreciated the romantic statement, but at the moment her thoughts were a little fuzzy from Bakura’s weight pressing oh so nicely against Merwet’s body. With her hands still on Bakura’s hips, she encouraged Bakura to move faster and then faster still until they panted and bucked against each other. Merwet held her breath when she came a third time, and not long after Bakura roared in ecstasy, hunched over, and then dropped down beside Merwet. Merwet grabbed Bakura and pulled the thief to her chest. Bakura laughed and nuzzled against Merwet’s collarbone.

“Merwet?”

“Yes?”

“Are you… really going to stay?”

“Bakura.” Merwet tightened her hold. “When I returned and you weren’t here… well, you’re such a bother. I can’t afford to let you out of my sight. I have no choice but to stay.”

“It’s been so long,” Bakura confessed against Merwet’s skin. “Since I’ve had anyone close to me.”

“You were right. You really are a snake charmer.”

“I know. When I was three, I fell into a viper’s pit. My father found me curled asleep with the snakes encircled around me. I think it’s because Diabound is affiliated with serpents.”

Merwet’s whole body shook with laughter.

“What?” Bakura flushed.

“You mean this whole time you were making snake charmer jokes you were referring to an actually story and not saying it solely for the sake of riling me up?”

“Hey, I’m versatile.” Bakura winked. “I can be serious and rile you up at the same time.”

“Indeed.” Merwet released Bakura and sat up. “Are you hungry?”

“I feel like I could eat my weight in pork.”

“Barbaric.” Merwet wrinkled her nose. “How about beer and bread?”

“You don’t sound like I have options, so I suppose the Thief King is getting bread for breakfast.”

“I’ll be sure to curtsey as I serve it to you.”

Chapter Text

“Drink this.” Merwet shoved a cup at Bakura.

She grabbed it and sniffed it. Her face twisted into a scowl, but still she took a sip. Sticking out her tongue, Bakura’s eyes screwed shut.

“It’s bitter.”

“Drink it anyway, it’s good for you.”

“Then what’s bad for me, and does it taste better than this grass-water?”

“That tea will help your breathing.”

“I’m fine. Don’t shove your gross medicine at me.”

“You are not fine, Bakura. You gasp every time we make love. How will you kill Aknadin if you’re wheezing?”

“With gusto, that’s how.”

“Drink the damn tea.”

Bakura rolled her eyes, but held her breath and chugged everything in the cup. Then Merwet filled it a second time.

“Oh don’t you dare!”

“Drink. It.”

“I am the fucking Thief King. I don’t take orders from anyone.” Bakura took a drink from her second cup’s worth of tea.

“Except your queen.” Merwet laughed, poking Bakura’s shoulder.

Her grin lit up her face. “Yeah, I suppose even a king answers to his queen now and then.”

“If he knows what’s good for him he will.” Merwet crossed her arms over her chest. Her smile dropped. “So… when do we leave?”

“It’s been a week,” Bakura said as she sipped. “Let’s give Mahad one more night to prepare whatever trap he has in mind for me, and we’ll go and spring it tomorrow evening.”

“I should be excited, but…”

“Look, Merwet, when the time comes… how about you place the Items in the Tablet and not me?”

“I know they’re your people, Bakura.”

“Yeah, but if I’m cursed to summon a dark god because of it- well, you’re part of Kul Elna too, now. It’ll be good enough if you do it. I think my people will still find their rest that way.”

“It will be my honor.” Merwet pressed their noses together for a moment.

“Anyway, what should we do tonight? If it’s our last without worrying about fate crushing us in a great battle, we should do something fun.”

“Hmmmm, I think I have an idea.” Merwet smiled.

“What? What’s up with that smile?” Bakura returned it with her own grin.

That.” Merwet blew Bakura a kiss. “Is going to be a surprise, but you’ll like it. I promise.”

“I do like when I like things.” Bakura shoved her empty cup back at Merwet and sighed in relief when it wasn’t filled again. “Want to play a game of Senet?”

“We could.” Merwet licked her lips. “But I thought it might be fun if we went to the oasis today.”

“Oh?” Bakura lidded her eyes in a sultry gaze. “Did you have something specific in mind to do there?”

“Yes.” Merwet leaned closer, almost pressing their lips together and holding Bakura’s hips. “I thought we could drop our clothes to the sand-”

“I like this plan so far. What shall we do after we get naked?”

“Mmmm… after that we… spar.”

“Wait, if that’s an innuendo I missed it.”

“No innuendo. I want to fight you.”

“We fight all the time.”

“Verbally.” Merwet smirked. “But I want to fight you with a knife in my hand.”

“Is this a kink?”

“No! I want to see how good you really are. If we’re about to fight Mahad, it’ll help if I know exactly how well you can fight.”

“Fine, fine, but if I lose it’s because I’m distracted by your beauty.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time I won a fight that way.” Merwet winked.

Outside, the weather was perfect for a fight. Dark clouds churned above them and the wind blew their cloaks into the air. Merwet admired the way the scarlet and deep purple fabric of their robes twisted together in the wind. The air around them smelled of the approaching storm, and the scent grew stronger as they approached the oasis.

The usually blue and glittering water was dark and gray and choppy. The usual fennec foxes and shrews they sometimes saw foraging in the shade of the fig trees were all hidden. And the swallows cursed Set for the weather in squawks and screeches.

Merwet’s skin prickled as she took off her robe. They stored their clothes in a saddle bag so they didn’t blow away in the wind. Merwet faced Bakura. They held two daggers each as they circled each other, trying to guess who’d move first. Bakura, of course, she was ambitious and didn’t want to strategize as much as she wanted to leap into the battle and figure things out as she went along.

She was fast, a little storm herself, and Merwet respected that. Merwet found herself dodging more that she liked, and sweat rolled down their bodies after only a few minutes. Merwet didn’t hold back, if Bakura miscalculated she would bleed, and by the way Bakrua roared, and swung, and lunged into each attack before darting away again, Merwet suspected she felt the same way.

Merwet dropped to a crouch, Bakura's blade arching over Merwet’s head. She stabbed at Bakura’s calf, but Bakura jumped out of the way. They both growled and lunged for each other at the same time. Their blades scraped together and locked. Merwet kicked Bakura in the stomach and she flew back, ass hitting the tall grass. She flipped up to her feet and dashed towards Merwet.

Merwet waited to the last moment and then turned her body sideways so that Bakura missed, her momentum carrying her away from Merwet and leaving her back exposed for an attack. Merwet took her opportunity, but Bakura pivoted, and faced her head on. They both panted, but Bakura’s breath had the faint wheezing quality that orgasm induced in her, but if she struggled with her breath she didn’t show it. Bakura never asked for a break or slowed down, instead her slashes quickened, and the knives in Merwet’s hands felt heavy from all the times she had to raise her hands to block.

The fight continued a few more minutes. They parried, feinted, and danced in a way that Merwet had never danced before, but in the end, Bakura managed to sweep her foot behind Merwet’s ankle and knock Merwet onto her back. Bakura dropped and landed on top of Merwet, legs framing Merwet’s body and right arm raised in the air to strike.

Their chests heaved from exertion as they stayed still and stared at each other. Bakura dropped her knives and pinned Merwet’s wrists above her head. Their kisses were soft, but Bakura was eager as ever and she kissed like she fought, a never ending volley of precise strikes at her target. Merwet bucked up, and Bakura answered with a dip of her own hips.

Merwet had wanted to save love making for that evening, but each time their bodies pressed together, fire sizzled between her legs and Merwet knew they wouldn’t stop.

“I won.” Bakura’s grin broke their kiss.

“You did,” Merwet agreed. “Are you going to reap the spoils of battle now?”

“Of course.” Bakura bit up and down Merwet’s throat.

Merwet moaned when Bakura sucked at her skin. She knew she’d be marked from it later, but couldn’t bring herself to tell Bakura to stop when it felt so right. Thunder rumbled above them. Merwet’s eyes fluttered open and she watched how bright Diabound glowed in contrast to the dark sky. Her nails scored down Bakura’s back; she needed to mark Bakura in return.

“Well?” Bakura asked, straightening and circling her hips up and down. “Satisfied with my fighting skills?”

“You’re amazing.” Merwet managed before her eyes slammed shut and she hiked her hips against Bakura. “I’m coming!”

Bakura gasped, and sped up her pace as Merwet held her breath. Bakura grabbed Merwet’s breasts, toying with her climax-hardened nipples and pinching them. Merwet squirmed, distracting Bakura by reaching around her arms and using the pad of her thumb to circle around Bakura’s clitoris. Bakura gasped again, and shuddered beneath Merwet’s touch.

“I love watching you.” Merwet smiled as Bakura bucked against Merwet’s thumb.

Diabound flew around them in lazy circles. Bakura bowed as the tension left her body. She leaned forward and brushed their lips together. Merwet wanted to indulge her. She wanted to indulge her until lightning and rain forced them to rush back home, but she didn’t want Bakura too sated before that evening. Merwet’s surprised would be more fun for Bakura if Bakura was still wanting, so Merwet scooted out from beneath Bakura and laughed as she sprinted to the water.

Bakura chased her, stealing kisses each time she caught her. Merwet always returned the kisses, but swam away the moment they broke apart to catch their breath.

“You’re going to make me wait until tonight, aren’t you?” Bakura sighed after Merwet swam away yet again.

“You know me too well.” Merwet splashed Bakura.

“Alright. I concede. I may be better with daggers, but I know this is a fight I’d lose. Let’s wash and get back home.”

They bathed, and allowed the stormy wind to dry them en lieu of the sun. When they returned home, they cared for their horses and Bakura cooked lunch. Merwet forced more tea down Bakura’s throat as they played senet. Bakura asked for her surprise no less than a dozen times, but Merwet only smiled and told her soon each time.

She waited until night fell. She’d wanted to go to the roof, but the clouds finally broke and poured rain onto the parched desert. Merwet settled for lighting several flax oil lamps and lighting myrrh to create the appropriate mood. She pulled out the music box Isis had given her and set it on the ground.

“I don’t remember us stealing that from a tomb?” Bakura stared at the box.

“No, this was a gift from Isis.”

“Why did Isis give you a box?”

“It’s a music box. She gave it to me so I could seduce you.”

“What?” Bakura asked.

“Let me show you.” Merwet wound up the box and music began to play.

“That’s pretty.” A soft smile crept over Bakura’s face.

“Bakura, you are impetuous and greedy.” Merwet tied a blindfold around her eyes and grabbed her sword, pointing it where Bakura sat. “But as long as the music plays you can only watch. No touching until it stops.”

***

The blindfold and sword confused Bakura until Merwet began to move. She rolled her stomach like a snake with the sword balanced on top of her head and Bakura became entranced with the movements. Her chest tightened in excitement and her loins hitched in anticipation as she watched Merwet glide her hips back and around. She’d seen women dance, but gods, not like this. She’d never seen anything like this before and felt herself get wet at the sight of it.

Lightning lit up the room and Merwet’s hair and sword flashed gold in the bright seconds of light before fading to the color of reflected candlelight. She spun with the sword, sometimes attacking and sometimes writhing in dance. Bakura bit her lips, wondering how long the music box played. She was torn between her desire to tackle Merwet to the rugs and cushions beside them, and her desire to watch Merwet move like that forever.

She shimmied, her skirt shaking and the jewels on her body glittering. Merwet dropped to her knees, rolling her stomach and balancing the sword on her head. Her fingers curled as she flourished her wrists like ripples in a flooded river. Merwet dragged her fingers up her body before grabbing the sword and raising up in order to swerve her hips from side to side.

Merwet was still spinning and cutting the air with her sword when the music stopped. Bakura lept to her feet, dodging the sword and scooping Merwet up into her arms.

“So impatient.” Merwet laughed. “I could dance more if you want.”

“Every night,” Bakura purred, “But not right now. You’ve made me wait long enough.”

“I have.” Merwet reached up to remove the blindfold.

“Leave it. It looks good on you.” Bakura set her down and took her sword. “But this we can set aside.”

“What? You don’t want to fight me again?”

“No. I want to kiss you.” Bakura bent down and licked the sweat from Merwet’s collarbone.

Merwet gasped as Bakura pinched her nipple through the linen of her dress. Bakura took her time undress Merwet, teasing the fabric off a bit at a time as she kissed each new section of revealed skin. Merwet writhed again, but in a completely different way than when she danced. Her control was gone and she was desperate as she arched into each kiss.

“Who’s eager now?” Bakura chuckled as she tugged the dress down Merwet’s hips and away from her legs.

“Making you wait all day wasn’t easy.”

“No, and it won’t be easy for me now as I make you wait.”

“Bakura, don’t tease. I want you.” Merwet scowled her painted lips, but Bakura only grinned.

“Sorry, love.” Bakura slipped the sandals off of Merwet’s feet and kissed along the blade of each foot. “But it’s custom to give the dancer a small gift if you enjoy the show, right? And I very much enjoyed the performance.”

She kissed Merwet feet a few more times, and then began to knead the arch of Merwet’s right foot with her fingers. She made little circles, moving down to Merwet’s heels and then back up towards the toes.

Ah,” Merwet sighed. “Oh Bakura… that feels wonderful.”

“Thought you might like it.” Bakura grinned as she continued to massage Merwet’s foot.

Once she’d pampered Merwet’s right foot and ankle she switched to her left foot. She began with kissing again, kissing as reverently as she had that first day as she’d placed anklets around Merwet’s ankles and rings on her toes, some of which Merwet still wore. Then she circled her fingers again and made Merwet’s toes curl in ecstasy.

“Ah, gods, Bakura. Kiss me between my legs.”

“Here?” Bakura asked, kissing Merwet’s left calf. “Or here?” She kissed the right calf. “Or did you mean here?” She kissed just below Merwet’s knee.

Merwet fisted the cushions beside her and whimpered each time Bakura kissed her skin. When Bakura finally reached the center, Merwet jerked up to meet Bakura’s mouth. Bakura teased her by circling the tip of her tongue around Merwet’s clitoris. Then she traced Merwet’s lips, and kissed her thighs, moving further and further away from the center.

Outside was dark, but their bedchamber was bright as day with Diabound’s light shining off of the walls. They forgot about the rain and lightning as they lost themselves in their own storm. Bakura placed broad kisses directly between Merwet’s inner lips. Her toes curled again and she grabbed Bakura’s hair to hold her in place before the thief could move away again.

Bakura laughed, licked her lips, and gently sucked Merwet’s clit. Bakura pulled back enough to suck her pointer and middle finger before pressing them into Merwet’s body. Her fingers thrusted in and out as her tongue fluttered against Merwet’s wet flesh. Merwet rolled her hips upward. Again and again she circled up, squeezing her thighs and the muscles between in order to heighten the pleasure of Bakura’s touch. Merwet quickened her rhythm. Faster, faster, faster, and higher each time. Her grip on Bakura’s hair was merciless, and she only pulled harder as a low moan escaped from her mouth and she came.

Bakura grinned, wiped her mouth, and fell backwards. Leaning against a plump cushion, Bakura spread her own legs and used the two fingers still gleaming with Merwet’s lubrication to plunge into her own cunt and start to pleasure herself.

“Ahhh,” Bakura sighed. Her left hand pulled up her shenti a little higher and she rubbed her clit with her extra hand even as she fucked herself.

Merwet shoved the blindfold away and watched, eyes bright like spring coriander blooms in the lamp light. She rushed over to a shelf full of herbs and extracts and pulled a small bottle from her collection. Merwet annointed her fingers with oil from the bottle and the scent of lavender filled the room. Bakura watched, her own eyes lidded and hazy with self-pleasure.

Merwet slipped an oiled finger into Bakura’s asshole, and then added a second one. Bakura moaned low in her throat. Her body clenched and shuddered as the fire burning her nerves grew hotter, less controllable. She rubbed herself faster, knowing she should savor the moment, but feeling too good to slow down. Bakura hovered on the verge of orgasm. She felt herself tighten around her fingers as shudders of pleasure seized her. No matter how many times she shivered and held her breath, on the brink of glorious release, her body always eased up just a moment too soon. She was rubbing herself hard, her swollen clitoris ached with want and her entire cunt was drenched. Merwet pushed in a little deeper, and at the same time squeezed her ass, Bakura feeling herself climb higher than before.

Her head pounded, her ears rang, her breath struggled in her chest. Bakura’s face felt consumed by fire, as she gave out a final, rough cry and pumped her hips up and down as the pleasure lingered, lingered, lingered, then her orgasm passed and she dropped her ass back onto the cushions. Merwet kissed up Bakura’s stomach, stopping to lap at each nipple before reaching Bakura’s lips.

“I love you,” she whispered. Bakura’s face was already scorched, but she felt as if she flushed at the words.

“I’ve never been grateful to the gods before, but I’m going to have to start praying to Ra,” Bakura said.

“Why is that?” Merwet smiled.

“Because he gave me you.”

Chapter Text

The wind tugged at Bakura’s hood and cloak. The rain had stopped well before morning, but the wind refused to ebb. The tomb wasn’t as grand as Akhenamkhanen’s, but it was kept well maintained and had a pond full of lotuses in the front. Bakura couldn’t help the smile. The former Pharaoh had obviously loved her, and Bakura was sorry for what she was about to do. But she wouldn’t turn back. She crept down the side of the cliff in which she and Merwet stood to get a closer look at the entrance.

“No guards. I don’t like it,” Merwet whispered in Bakura’s ear.

“Of course no guards. It’s a trap, after all. He wants to lure me inside.”

“Then how are we going to lure him outside instead?” Merwet asked.

“We’re not. We’re going to snap at the bait like a proper fish would.”

“I’m not a fish, and I don’t like the thought of being caught in a fisherman’s net.”

“Don’t worry. Nets can’t hold Diabound.” Bakura glanced at Merwet. “You can wait out here if you want.”

“No. We do this together.”

Bakura nodded and dashed for the entrance. As soon as she and Merwet ran into the torch-lined hallway, an explosion knocked them to the ground. Broken chunks of tomb and rubble crashed down behind them, sealing them inside.

“Fuck,” Bakura swore, ears ringing from the noise.

“How will Diabound get us out of this?” Merwet glared in the direction of the cave-in. The nearest torches had blown out, but Bakura could still see her outline from torches further down the hall.

“He can pass through rocks and stone. This is no problem for us.”

“Mmmm, Bakura, have I ever told you told you that your strength, cunning, and resourcefulness makes me want to bend you over and treat you until you're singing out my name?”

“No, but once we finish here, please tell me all about it.”

“Oh, I intend to.”

Bakura grinned as she continued down the hall. They reached a chamber where the path divided into three branches. Bakura took the center path and Merwet followed without questioning or protesting her. They continued through the labyrinth of hallways and false chambers. Most of the traps were in the form of puzzles, which Bakura loved, and between her and Merwet they had no problem solving each one and continuing towards the center of the tomb.

They reached a huge, round chamber. A narrow stone walkway bordered a pit that Bakura suspected ended with a spiked floor to ensure any careless thieves that fell- died. In the center of the pit for a island of stone, and in the center of the pillar, Mahad waited.

“You won’t find what you’re looking for.” Mahad’s voice echoed through the chamber. “We’ve already transferred her to a safe place. This tomb is now yours.”

“Ah, that’s where you’re wrong, magician.” Bakura rested a hand on her hip. “On both accounts. I have no intention of this being my final resting place, and I’ve found exactly what I sought after- you.”

“Me? I’m flattered.”

“Oh, you should be. You have the honor of being slain by the Great Thief King himself!”

“Bakura, move,” Merwet backed up into the hallway.

Bakura stepped onto the ledge. Mahad didn’t wait for them to attack first, he summoned his ka, a great magus like himself. The creature pointed a staff at Bakura and shot a blast at her heart. Bakura didn’t flinch. She summoned Diabound and the great, white beast blocked the wizard’s attack.

As the two ka fought, Merwet sprinted down the hall. She dug her weight against the stone floor before launching herself across the pit. She caught the ledge, slamming into the stone pillar, but Merwet grit her teeth and pulled herself up.

Merwet unclasped her robe and allowed it to fall to the ground before pulling her sword from its scabbard. Mahad shot fire towards her, but she spun out of the way. As Diabound and the Magus of Illusion clashed, Merwet continued to dodge blasts. She danced right and then left, but every time she closed the gap between them, Mahad would shoot a long cone of fire from his hand, and Merwet would be forced to jump back to avoid the flames.

“Diabound!” Bakura screamed as she jumped into the center of the pit.

Diabound used his tail as a bridge, so Bakura could run to the stone pillar in the center of the room. She still controlled her ka as he fought the magician, and with both she and Merwet closing in, Mahad was forced to block attacks with his staff between fire blasts. With a sweeping kick, Merwet managed to knock Mahad onto the ground, but he flipped back up before Bakura could stab him with one of her daggers. A bright light flashed, and both women covered their eyes. At the same time, the magician’s ka struck Diabound and slammed him against the wall.

Merwet gnashed her teeth and cried in rage, slamming Mahad in a tackle though she was half blind. The force of them crashing against the stones sent his Millennium Ring skidding across the floor. It reached the edge, two of the tines dangling into the void below, but then came to a rest before toppling down in the dark. Mahad clutched his chest and gasped for breath. His ka vanished, as if unsummoned.

“Last words or prayers?” Merwet dug the point of her sword into Mahad’s chest.

“Thank you,” he wheezed, still struggling to breath.

“For killing you?” Merwet raised an eyebrow.

“Yes… the Ring… it was too dark. I couldn’t…” Mahad closed his eyes. “I failed my last king. I let the power of the Ring consume me. Even now…” his eyes rolled upward and he tilted his head back so he could see the Ring behind him. “It’s so close. I want it back… the power…” Mahad groaned, slamming his eyes shut. “Don’t wear it. It’s too strong. Tell Isis I’m sorry.”

“Make it quick,” Bakura said, staring at the Ring instead of the mage.

Merwet plunged the sword into Mahad’s chest. He gagged, blood poured from his mouth as Merwet twisted the blade. He choked and sputtered and drowned in blood, but after a moment the life faded from his eyes.

“Thank you.” Mahad’s ka appeared again, only brighter, stronger. He wore gold armor, and his white cape fluttered behind him with a breeze that didn’t exist in the world of the living. “You released me from the powers of the Ring.”

“Is this what an ankh looks like? Has your ba and ka merged?” Bakura asked, blinking at the light streaming from Mahad’s spirit form.

“Yes. I’m whole, but I cannot rest. The guilt from my deeds is too great and I would not pass my weighing, so instead I’m going to find Atem, and be the guardian for him in death that I never was in life.”

The spirit vanished, leaving the tomb darker and colder than before. Merwet hugged herself, her sword on the ground next to Mahad’s corpse. Bakura walked to the Ring, crouching down and picking up the Item. She ran her fingers along the gold, feeling how smooth, how cold.

“It should not be this cold,” Bakura whispered in the tomb-shadows. “The fire was hot… they died in scorching agony.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “The gold should not be cold.”

“Bakura.” Merwet wove her fingers through Bakura’s hair. “Mahad’s gone, and that means Aknadin’s next. You’ll have your vengeance, I swear it.”

“We.” Bakura opened her eyes and stared at Merwet. “We’ll have our vengeance.”

“Yes.” Merwet nodded. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Alright.” Bakura nodded, slipping on the Ring to keep it safe.

“Bakura don’t!” Merwet screamed

But it was too late.

***

She changed again, like in the cellar. Merwet couldn’t quite describe it, not even to herself. The smirk was wrong, amused and sinister instead of cocky. Her eyes were wrong as well, like she was leering at nothing in particular. She snorted.

“Why not? This is a relic of my village, and who better to wield it than the last survivor of Kul Elna?”

“Bakura… I love you,” Merwet said.

She said it like a spell. Like it could break the curse dulling the moonlight in her lover’s eyes. Isis made it seem like that’s all Merwet had to do, right? Openly love Bakura.

But nothing changed.

Bakura scoffed. “Stop fooling around. We have a royal court to decimate.”

“You mean Aknadin, right?” Merwet grit her teeth. “We’re just going to kill Aknadin.”

“He’ll die when I carve the Eye out of his skull, but they’re all guilty, so they should all pay.” Bakura chuckled, licking her lips. “And I’m going to enjoy bringing justice to each and every one one of them.” She held out her hand for Merwet to take.

Merwet didn’t hesitate. Even with Bakura changed, she somehow knew Bakura wouldn't hurt her. She slipped her cloak back onto her shoulders and grabbed Bakura’s hand and they were rushed off by a fierce wind. It wasn’t until she stood in the desert sand, blinking away sunlight, that Merwet realized that Bakura had used Diabound to whisk them through the tomb walls to save time.

“Don’t doddle. I’ll leave you behind if you can’t keep up.” Bakura jumped onto her horse and rode towards the capital.

Merwet climbed onto her own horse and chased after Bakura. “You’re going too fast! It’s bad for the horse!”

“She’ll make it or die on the way!” Bakura shouted back, digging her heel into the horse's side to force the mare to gallop faster through the sands.

The sun struck the dunes. The entire desert floor gleamed with harsh, white, reflected light and made the horizon look wet and shimmering. Merwet squinted, but by the time they caught sight of the city walls, shadows danced in Merwet’s sight from the light blindness.

A figure stood in their path. The rigid way she stood made her look like a statue worshipping the goddess of her namesake, but it was the living flesh version of the priestess. Bakura stopped in time to avoid trampling her, staring down with a smirk as she offered a sack to the Thief King.

“What’s this? A present for me?”

“No,” Isis said. “A bribe. The Necklace, Scales, and Key in exchange for the lives of the priests that forfeited them.”

“Hmmm… but no Puzzle?”

“No, neither Aknadin, Seto, nor Atem would relinquish their Items.”

“Well, I was looking forward to slaughtering the entire lot; however… I suppose I’m in a good mood. I accept your bribe.” Bakura reached down and snatched the bag from Isis’ hold. “Now run along, away from the city if you know what’s good for you.”

“Not so fast!” Merwet jumped down, sprinting towards Isis and clutching at her dress. “How dare you! How dare you! You said I could save her! You lied! Look at her! The demon’s controlling her from that fucking Ring!”

“Yes. There was no way to avoid it,” Isis said.

“Then why did you have me put my heart on a scale for her!”

“For a single moment that hasn't happened yet where Bakura is given a choice between the demon’s will and her own.” Isis sighed, resting her hands on Merwet’s shoulders. “And now I can only pray that it’s enough.”

“How dare you…” Merwet sobbed.

“I’m sorry. It was the best I could do.”

“Get the fuck out of my sight!” Merwet screamed in her face, spittle flecking onto Isis’s cheek. “Before I kill you myself!”

“The deal for your life was only made by me.” Bakura laughed. “So you'd better do as she says. Hurry, Merwet.” Bakura nudged her horse forward and took off down the street again.

Merwet ran to her own horse, knowing that Bakura would leave her behind otherwise. She didn’t look at the priestess as she rode towards the castle; instead, she kept her eyes locked of the flowing crimson cloak ahead of her. Bakura showed no reservation as she rode through town and straight into the castle. The guards jumped out of her way, afraid of being trampled by Bakura’s horse.

She didn’t dismount until she reached the throne room, leaping from the moving horse and landing in a crouch. The horse skidded across the granite floor, but managed to keep her balance and move out of the way to recover from the hard ride.

“Look what I have, Pharaoh!” Bakura screamed, reaching into her sack and pulling out the three Items within.

“What have you done to my priests!” Atem jumped to his feet.

“Who knows? Maybe I was nice- or maybe I gave them the justice they deserved.” Bakura licked up the stand of the Scales dangling in her grip. “Mmmm, tastes just like the blood and ash of my massacred village.”

“You’re a fiend!” Atem screamed at her.

“It’s the Ring!” Merwet shouted back. “She’s not herself.”

“Not myself?” Bakura snapped as she stuffed the three extra Items into their sack once again and slinging it over her shoulder. “No, I’m much, much stronger now. Strong enough to get true justice for my people, and use the Items to reshape the world.”

“He means destroy the world!” Aknadin pointed an accusing finger at Bakura. “Pharaoh, we have no choice but to execute these criminals immediately.”

“Don’t listen to Aknadin!” Merwet pulled her sword. “He’s been orchestrating this from the beginning! He wants you to fight, Atem. He wants you to sacrifice yourself to save the world, which will leave the throne open for him to take!”

“She lies!” Aknadin clenched his fist. “I’ve protected you since you were a child. I’d risk my own life to save yours.”

Bakura threw her head back and laughed. “Risk your life to save his, eh? Let’s test that, shall we?”

She summoned Diabound and the ka attacked the young Pharaoh, but it was Seto who protected Atem and not Aknadin. The priest used Duos to block the blast; however, Bakura didn’t mind. She turned and rushed out of the throne room, cackling as she ran. Merwet chased her while Aknadin, Seto, and Atem followed them.

Outside, Bakura ran to the stables, picking a random horse to replace their exhausted two. Merwet had no time to find her own. She jumped on Bakura’s horse’s back and held onto Bakura’s robe. The thief didn’t complain, only charged out of the stables before the others could catch up. Merwet thought they lost the pharaoh and his priests as they wove through the city, but as soon as they left the bustle of the crowded market she realized all three stuck to their trail.

The moment they reached the open desert, Atem summoned Slifer. The red god twisted in the air, a great serpent consuming the sky. All Merwet could do was hang on as their horse raced forward while Diabound and Slifer crashed together above them. Blasts from both ka caused nearby dunes to explode, showering sand down into their hair. Merwet shut her eyes and pressed her face into Bakura’s cloak to keep herself from going blind from the sand.

Merwet opened her eyes again just as Duos swooped in for a physical attack. She parried with her sword, but couldn’t counter a flying ka while astride a horse. Duos sunk down for another attack. Merwet blocked a second time, her arm tingling from the impact of the ka’s blade. She knew she was at a disadvantage in this fight, and wouldn’t be able to hold off the ka forever.

“Bakura!”

Bakura didn’t answer, but a blast from Diabound knocked Duos away from the horse. He crashed into the air and disappeared. Behind them Seto shouted in pain, but didn’t slow down as they finished the last stretch of their race. Merwet held her breath when she realized where Bakura was leading everyone.

To Kul Elna.

The noise of hoofbeats against the packed dirt road pounded through Merwet’s veins and made her stomach churn. The broken, burnt fragments of huts and homes peeked up from the horizon, and another hill later, they rushed downhill to meet the doomed village.

Bakura tugged at the horse’s mane, urging the mare to go faster and broaden the gap between them and the chasing priests. At the same time, Diabound tackled Slifer into a sandbank, wrestling with the dragon god instead of blasting him. Bakura stopped the horse, Merwet wasn’t ready and she dropped her sword as she was thrown. The sun-blazed sand felt like a razor’s edge as she crashed and rolled into the town. Merwet coughed sand from her mouth, wincing at the abrasions on her knees and elbows.

“Quit ruining… my dresses, Bakura.” Merwet muttered, by couldn't find any humor in her own joke.

Merwet pushed herself to her feet, standing beside Bakura. She didn’t want to fight Atem, but she wasn’t going to allow Bakura to get hurt either. She wanted Bakura to promise her a dozen more dresses after they killed Aknadin, but the version of Bakura that wore the Ring ignored Merwet altogether and kept her gaze focused on Atem and the two priests.

Bakura waited for the men to properly cross the threshold of the town. They slowed down, their horses bucked as the images of melted spirits materialized all around Bakura. In the distance, Slifer disappeared, the sight of a town full of ghosts must have broken Atem’s concentration. They young Pharaoh slipped off of his horse, violet eyes wide and mouth hung ajar. He turned his head, taking in the blackened, charred remains as well as the twisted smoky shapes of the suffering ghosts.

“Where… where are we? What is this place?” Atem swallowed. “Why are we here?”

“This was the village Aknadin sacrificed to create the Items.” Merwet ground her teeth so hard that she felt like they would crack.

Atem spun behind around to face Aknadin. “Uncle? Is this true?”

“Lies, Great Pharaoh.” Aknadin smirked.

“Are they lies? Pharaoh, open your eyes to what’s right in front of you!” Bakura held out her arms, the spirits swirled around her. “I’d like to say ‘Welcome to Kul Elna,’ but right now… It’s a ghost town- Heh heh heh!” Bakura laughed, and the spirits shrieked.

Chapter Text

All four horses bolted at the first sound of the wailing spirits. No one moved after them. They started at each other, a scowl on Bakura's lips, and matching scowls on Aknadin and Seto's faces.

“Why?” Atem asked as he watched the spirits float around Bakura. “Is what you say about this place… true?”

“Yes.” Merwet clenched her hands into fists. “The same night your father died, Aknadin destroyed this town and slaughtered everyone.” Merwet's face softened as her gaze shifted towards Bakura. “Everyone except one child, who was forced to watch their entire world burn to ash.”

“Burn and melt.” Bakura's grit her teeth. “Burn and cast into a cauldron of gold, their souls desecrated so the royal court could wield the dark powers of the Items- dark powers that are my birthright.”

“Aknadin?” A tear rolled down Atem’s cheek.

“Lies.”

“I don’t think so.” Atem shook his head. “You’ve never been kind to me except days before the Thief King attacked. You set us up for this battle. Here, Thief King.” Atem ripped the Puzzle from his neck and held it with both hands, holding it out for Bakura to claim. “Take it.”

“Atem,” Priest Set stepped closer to Atem. “You can’t give up the Puzzle to a thief.”

“Yes I can, and you will too.” Atem glanced at the other Priest. “I order you to.”

“This is a mistake.”

“It’s mine to make,” Atem insisted.

“Very well.” Priest Set grit his teeth and spun the Rod so that the handle pointed at Bakura.

“Ha!” Bakura scoffed at the Items. “Are you so afraid to die that you’re giving up?”

“I’m not afraid to die.” Atem shook his head, “but I remember the way I felt when you dragged my father into the palace. That’s how you feel, isn’t it? When you see us wear these.”

Bakura swayed on her feet. Merwet noticed the dullness polluting her eyes cleared up a little. She touched Bakura’s shoulder, hoping to further break the spell of the Ring.

“They’re yours,” Merwet whispered. “You did it, and we’ll make sure the spirits of your family find rest.”

She wasn’t sure how they were going to get the Eye, but that didn’t matter at the moment. What mattered was that Bakura’s mask of hatred wavered on her face as she stumbled forward and claimed the two Items. She set her bag on the ground and placed the other two Items into the sack with the same reverence someone places a loved one into their sarcophagus. She stood there frozen, staring at the gold. Merwet could see the struggle between the thief she loved and the demon in the Ring as Bakura stood frozen in place. Aknadin’s jaw dropped, and he shouted in protest.

“Pharaoh, I’m afraid I must advise against your decision. These Items are sacred and cannot be entrusted to a th-”

“Silence, Aknadin.” Atem’s voice grew harsh. “If you have a shred of honor left in you, you’ll follow us back to the palace so that we can hold a trial.”

“Trial?” Aknadin screamed.

“Yes, for the massacre of this village, for the murder of my father, and for selling the people of my kingdom into slavery. Seto, arrest him.”

Aknadin held his shaking stomach as the laughter rolled out of him. “I spent years trying to break you, trying to tame you into a figurehead I could rule through, but it looks like you've grown into the Pharaoh despite all my best efforts.”

“If you resist arrest, I’ll use force.” Priest Set took measured step towards Aknadin.

“Boy, even with the Rod you couldn’t contain me, and now that you’ve given up your power…” the Millennium Eye flashed, and a wave energy knocked everyone to the ground. Aknadin walked closer to Atem. “Clever, clever nephew. You’re so much smarter than your father was. You were supposed to sacrifice yourself in battle, leaving no one but me to rule over the land as I pleased, but this way is better. I understand now- why only rule Egypt? With the power of all seven Items, I can become a dark god and rule the world.”

Atem grit his teeth as he forced himself up. He pointed his scimitar at Aknadin. “I’ll take your head and then the Eye. This ends right now.”

A bark of laughter erupted from Aknadin’s mouth. Another shockwave shook the ground, knocking them back to the sand even as they struggled to their feet.

“And now that I plan on taking what I want, I have no reason to keep any of you alive.”

He raised his hand, holding out the palm to use magic to end Atem’s life. Atem stared at Aknadin, refusing to turn away or flinch even at his death. But as the Eye glowed and energy gathered between Aknadin’s fingertips, Priest Set slammed both of his hands against the ground and gave a great shout.

“Obelisk! Progenitor of my bloodline! Give me your power! Help me protect Pharaoh Atem!”

With the invocation of both the god’s and pharaoh’s name, the sand quaked and split open. Beams of light shot into the air and from the gash rose a mountainous shape. Obelisk loomed above them, dark and menacing, and Priest Set stood between Akandin and Atem, as tall and fierce as the god in his own way. His blue eyes pierced through the dust scattered into the air by Obelisk’s summoning and his stare dared Aknadin to attack Atem while he stood in the way.

“Slifer!” Atem shouted, and the red dragon that represented Osiris appeared, coiling around Obelisk’s shoulders and waiting for orders.

Aknadin growled. Instead of attacking Atem, he lunged for Merwet, grabbing her hair and yanking her to his chest. A dagger dug into her neck and she felt a slight burn as the edge brushed her skin deeply enough to draw trickles of blood that dribbled down her throat.

She’d been too distracted by the gods to protect herself from an old fool, and Merwet loathed herself for it, could not forgive herself for letting her guard down. Aknadin could cut her throat for all she cared. It was the fate she deserved for being a fool.

***

Everything. Was. Rage. Bakura couldn’t think. Or feel. Something kept whispering. Suggesting. Some part of her screamed not to listen. Yet everything the whisper wanted- Bakura wanted. Power. To never see a loved hurt again. Only sheer, ultimate power could grant that wish. Only the Items could grant that wish. And they belong to Kul Elna. Birthright. The others deserved to bleed.

Everyone deserved to bleed.

Oblivion.

Pain could not exist if the void swallowed everything.

That seemed right.

Didn’t it?

Cold blackness to finally put out the fires of the past forever.

And if the foolish little Pharaoh conceded, and gave up the Puzzle? Fine. It served Bakura’s goals. That wouldn’t stop her from slaying him with the others.

Do. Not. Spare. Him.

I gave the child water. I never wanted to hurt him- only Aknadin.

They. All. Deserve. To. Die.

He gave me his name. He knew Merwet was a child of Ra and I was a Child of Thoth, but he didn’t call the guards. He never asked us to spare his uncle, only to be swift in his execution.

Dead. Dead. Dead. Your family. Dead. Your village. Dead. Everyone. Dead.

The nephew of a viper would also be a viper. Once Atem tasted the power of ruling he would become corrupt- like Aknadin. Power always corrupt leaders. It was human nature. Only the void could purify the human condition and end everyone’s toil.

He gave me the Puzzle and the Rod! He saw the injustice and forfeited his own power for the sake of justice!

Aknadin grabbed Merwet. Red threads trickled down her throat as he slid a dagger below her jaw.

“Merwet.” Bakura’s lips parted. She felt encased in stone, unable to move.

Aknadin is my foe. He’s always been my foe. And Merwet’s foe. We’re supposed to kill him together. Avenge our families together.

She’s weak.

No.

She. Never. Cared.

No! She’s my queen!

No. It. Was. Always. A Game. To. Her.

“I know you love this woman. Give me the sack or the sand drinks her blood,” Aknadin threatened and gestured to Atem. “And if either of you interfere, I’ll kill her.”

“Aknadin, let her go!” Atem ordered.

“Who cares?” Priest Set snorted. “Kill them both.”

Yes.

“Seto! No!” Atem screamed. “Hold your attacks.”

Do. It. Kill. Them.

“Bakura…” Merwet smiled at the thief.

The sack grew too heavy in Bakura’s hold.

“Bakura- I love you! I love you! Remember that!”

An. Act. A Dancer Performing. Kill. Them.

“It’s okay, Bakura.” Merwet’s words sent fresh ribbons of blood unfurling on top of drying patterns already coloring her skin.

Kill. Her.

“Kill me,” Merwet said. “Don’t give this jackel a damn thing! Kill us both! Now’s your chance to get our vengeance! Do it! Now!”

“No!” Bakura slung the bag down to Aknadin’s feet. “Have the cursed things and let her go!”

No! Your! Birthright!

My queen! My love!

YOUR

VENGEANCE!

It doesn’t fucking matter if she’s not with me to claim it!

“The Ring as well.” Aknadin’s face peeled back in a disgusting smile. He knew he’d won.

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO

NO--

“Here!” Bakura ripped the gold chain from her neck and dangled it for Aknadin to grab.

you could have been a god, but now you’ll die screaming like the rest

The essence was distant now. Bakura felt more like herself without the Ring against her chest. Aknadin gestured to the sack on the ground, and Bakura toss the Ring onto the bag.

“There. Now let her go.”

Aknadin laughed. “I don’t think I will.”

Before he could drag the dagger’s edge across Merwet’s throat, Bakura grabbed her own dagger and hurled it. The blade plunged into Aknadin’s living eye. Blood sprayed down Aknadin’s face and onto the sand below. He wailed in blind agony, dropping his own knife in order to grab the handle sticking out from his skull.

“I’m blind! I’m blind! Help me!”

No one helped the old priest. Bakura grabbed Merwet out of his arms and held her in her own instead. Bakura kissed Merwet’s face as burning tears washed down the thief's cheeks.

“Bakura,” Merwet gasped, wiping the tears from the thief’s cheeks and kissing her mouth. “Fucking fool, you should have killed us and ended him.”

“I never listen to you.”

“No, you just do whatever you want and ruin all my dresses.” Merwet kissed her again.

“You know by now I can get you more. A dress is nothing- you’re the treasure.”

Manic laughter interrupted their reunion. They turned to Aknadin, still clutching the dagger handle with blood gurgling down his face and into his beard, but he laughed as if mad with joy.

“Thank you!” He cheered towards Bakura. “Only through this blindness have my eyes truly been opened! With the Eye I can see more than I ever could with mortal Eyes! The true god has spoken to me and I’m going to be His Shadow Priest!”

Aknadin clutched the bag of Items and dashed for the cellar.

“Stop him!” Merwet ripped herself from Bakura’s arms and chased after Aknadin.

Another shockwave drove them to the dirt below. Bakura growled, shoving herself to her feet and following Merwet down into the cellar. Something about the room made her stomach quake, but that thought of Aknadin down there drove her into a panic. That place was not for him! He killed everyone! He wasn’t allowed to place the Items in the Tablet!

But by the time the four of them reached the shrine, Aknadin was already shoving Items into their slots. Bakura charged at him. She slammed into a wall of air that shimmered when she crashed into it, and she flew back onto her ass as if she’d ran into solid granite.

“Fools!” Aknadin cackled. The knife still stuck out of his face and blood also leaked out of his mouth. He was dying but he didn’t care. In fact, he looked overjoyed. “There’s no stopping the resurrection of Zorc Necrophades! This is my destiny!”

Bakura’s stomach curdled at the familiar rhetoric as she pushed herself to her feet again. Merwet had been right. Something dark had used Bakura, tried to make Bakura its pawn, and the only reason she hadn’t succumbed to it was because she couldn’t let Merwet go. Bakura laced her fingers with Merwet’s. She didn’t know what was about to happen, but she wanted to be standing next to Merwet when it happened.

“Aknadin, you don’t have to do this!” Atem begged. “Your crimes deserve death, but don’t forfeit your soul!”

“He can’t hear you.” Bakura shook her head. “There’s a darkness inside him, and he doesn’t have a reason to fight it.”

“One more Item!” Aknadin cackled, reaching up for the Eye lodged into his skull.

Bakura and Merwet pounded against the wall protecting Aknadin from their attacks. Merwet struck with her sword, but couldn't penetrate the shimmering air. Bakura used heka, but it was as useless as their fists.

“Atem, don’t watch.” Priest Set blocked Atem’s view as Aknadin twisted the Eye from his own face.

“Thank you, Seto.” Atem placed a gentle hand on Set’s shoulder and stepped beside the priest so his vision was no longer obscured. “But I’m no longer a child needing a shield. After this battle, I’m going to have to rule, and I need to be able to handle anything I’m faced with when that time comes.”

Blood bubbled from the socket and dribbled onto the other side of his face. His eye socket was a gaping pit and so was his open mouth as he laughed into the air. The dagger protruding from the other eye completed the grotesque image and chilled Bakura’s blood even though she’d grown up with melted spirits all her life.

“Come! Zorc! Be reborn!” Aknadin slammed the Eye into its slot and the entire chamber shook.

“This place is going to cave.” Priest Set grabbed Atem’s hand and dragged him out into the town.

Bakura and Merwet turned and fled as well. Outside, Obelisk and Slifer still hovered in the air. Bakura summoned Diabound to join them. Bakura glanced over her shoulder, staring at the Pharaoh as the ground above the cellar caved in, burying the shrine and Aknadin with it. Atem watched the scene. His dark purple gaze fixed on the collapse entrance as they waited for something to happen.

Bakura dropped to one knee, lowering her head. “I won’t apologize. Not for a damn thing. But-”

“But I will.” Atem knelt in front of Bakura, settling both palms on top of Bakura’s hand resting on her knee. “I’m sorry for the tragedy you endured by my uncle’s hand. Please fight with me. Help me bring justice to my father, to Kul Elna, and to all of Kemmet.”

“That’s exactly what I had in mind.” Bakura shot him a crooked grin.

“I’ll fight as well, if I have permission to invoke the gods in your name.” Merwet bowed her head.

“You know my name. Use it.” Atem and Bakura both stood, watching Merwet.

She didn’t press her hands to the ground. Obelisk was a god of the earth, but Ra belonged to the sky, so Merwet held her hands palm up, towards the remaining sunlight.

“Ra! Give me your powers and I’ll protect Pharaoh Atem with my life!”

Golden light burst from the lowering sun. A fragment of fire split off from the giant disk and rushed towards them. The dragon cried as it flew over their heads before circling around and joining the others. Bakura gasped at the god’s beauty, and at Merwet’s beauty for being able to wield the sun itself.

At the same time Ra joined their ranks, dark mist boiled up from the ground. The smoke took shape into something larger than Obelisk, and darker. Near the creatures feet, the stones cracked and shattered and a robed figure rose from the Earth. He wore a mask without eye sockets and his hair flowed like blood behind his back.

“Uncle?” Atem asked, his expression unsure.

I am no longer your priest. No longer a servant of Osiris. I’ve been reborn! A Shadow Priest for the god Zorc Necrophades.

“Well, I hope you two enjoyed your rebirth because we’re sending you right fucking back into the ground.” Bakura reached out her arms again, the spirits of Kul Elna encircling them like a barrier.

Aknadin lifted into the air until he floated level with Zorc’s red eyes. They reminded Bakura of the way her village smoldered after the fires died out and before the sun rose. Red searing in a backdrop of black, that had been the houses, and that was this monster now. Her jaw clenched and her nails dug into her palms. Zorc had tried to use her, manipulate her like a piece on a sennet board, and she was going to destroy him for that.

Diabound was first to charge. Aknadin placed a shield in front of himself and Zorc, but a blast from Diabound’s tail shattered it and the Shadow Priest crashed into the remains of a crumbling hut.

Zorc lashed out at Bakura directly. A huge serpent-like appendance rushed towards her. Bakura and Merwet rolled in opposite directions to dodge the attack. Bakura glared, digging her fingers into the sand.

“Did that piece of crocodile shit just try to bite me with his dragon dick?”

“Shut-up and fight it!” Priest Set kept his eyes on the target and attacked with Obelisk.

The gods swarmed around Zorc while Diabound punched Aknadin back into the rubble of the last hut. Each time the Shadow Priest floated into the air, Diabound slammed him back into the earth. While Diabound distracted Aknadin, Bakura marched towards him.

Zorc swiped at the others with his tail. Merwet dodged, but Priest Set stood his ground to shield Atem. It was unnecessary, however, the spirits of Kul Elna concentrated in front of Seto, blocking the attack.

“The spirits of Kul Elna are in this fight as well,” Bakura said, speaking to Aknadin more than the others. “They’ve waited twelve years for justice, and today they’ll have it.”

Aknadin turned towards Bakura, but he wasn’t as quick as the King of Thieves. She latched onto the scarlet hair and pulled his head back.

“It doesn’t matter.” He laughed through the faceless mask he wore. “The sun’s setting, and the moment night falls- you’re all dead.”

“Perhaps, but you won’t be alive to see it.” Her dagger glided across his throat before he had time to flinch and his blood sprayed out in a broad fan shape.

Bakura didn’t let go until all the struggle left Aknadin’s body, but even after his blood grew cold on her hands, her cheeks remained scalding. It was over, but Bakura felt nothing from it. No guilt, no regret, but no satisfaction either. She let the corpse drop from her grasp, sight blurry with tears. She kicked the body, and kicked it, and kicked it, and screamed, feeling utterly hollow inside. She felt Merwet’s arms wrap around her, embracing her and shaking her both at once.

“We’re still fighting, Bakura! We need Diabound!”

Diabound still hovered above them, waiting for Bakura to pull herself together enough to fight with him. Bakura shoved her grief aside, down into the pit of her stomach. They’d desecrate the body later. They’d ensure its truth death later. They’d cry later. With a quick swipe to her face, Bakura raced to where Atem and Priest Set continued to fight Zorc. Diabound rushed into the battle, blasting, punching, lashing out with his tail. They used the distraction to hide behind the remains of a hut.

“He’s getting stronger!” Priest Set shouted over a roar from Slifer.

“It’s the darkness,” Bakura explained. “As soon as the light of Ra vanishes he’ll be at his most powerful.”

“Pharaoh,” Priest Set glanced at Atem. “There’s no way we can beat him if his power increases with nightfall.”

“Perhaps not at night.” Atem nodded. “But if darkness makes Zorc stronger- the dawn will weaken him.” He looked at each one of them in turn. “Which means we have no choice but to hold until dawn and then take our chance to destroy him.”

“We won’t last.” Merwet shook her head. “There’s no way we have enough ba to fight a demon this powerful until morning.”

“Are you forgetting something?” Bakura smiled. She caressed Merwet’s throat, healing the small slice below her jaw. “Zorc isn’t the only one whose power increases at night, and look, a full moon's rising even as the sun sets.”

The spirits around them began glowing, each filled with moonlight. They were beautiful despite their melted shapes.

“We have more than one child of Thoth in this battle, and if there’s one thing I know how to do- it’s survive.” Bakura walked out from behind the building, making sure Zorc saw her. “Come and get me, you pig-fucking whore!”

Chapter Text

Zorc swung with his tail, intentionally missing Bakura and smashing the building that shielded the others. The impact flung them back as debris crashed on top of them. Merwet growled and climbed over rumble to get back to her feet. Seto did the same and then grabbed Atem’s wrist and helped him to his feet.

“Hey!” Bakura screamed as she chucked rocks at the enormous demon. “I said come and get me! Are those ugly horns stuffed into your ears? Over here!”

Zorc ignored Bakura. He dropped to all fours and stampeded through the gods clustered around him. They scattered at the impact and Zorc brought his front claw down on top of the young Pharaoh. Diabound swooped in and caught Zorc’s hand, serpent tail biting at Zorc’s wrist as they wrestled. Atem ran out of range of the crossfire just as Diabound and Zorc both used their energy to shoot opposing blasts. Diabound was knocked back, but Slifer coiled around Zorc’s neck, biting and scratching as the god attempted to strangle the demon.

Ra spewed fire at Zorc’s exposed stomach, and Obelisk punched the demon’s jaw. The others focused on the battle, using their wills to restrain the demon, conserving their energy for the coming dawn.

“Atem! Behind you!” Priest Set called out.

Bakura stole a quick glance behind her and saw Seto grappling with Aknadin. The light of the full moon and the glow of their ka lit up the rust-colored stain running down Aknadin’s robes from bleeding out. The gash in his throat opened and closed like a hungry mouth as he wrestled Priest Set, but no fresh blood poured from the gap.

“I killed him!” Bakura screamed.

She grabbed her dagger and tackled the Shadow Priest into the sand, stabbing, stabbing, stabbing. Aknadin’s body resisted the blade, it punched through, but it felt like Bakura was cutting through the dead hide of a bull, and the wounds didn’t bleed. He was dead, but he knocked her away and reached out for the Pharaoh a second time.

Bakura growled and Diabound appeared. He lifted Aknadin high into the air, their shapes silhouetted in front of the round, glowing moon. Diabound dropped the priest and they heard the snap of his neck as he hit the ground. A grim smirk twisted Bakura’s features. Not even the dead should be able to move if their spines were cracked.

A blast from Zorc destroyed another building, and a rock struck the side of Bakura’s head. She dropped the the ground, everything quiet and black. Her eyes popped open as soon as they shut- at least it felt like it, but when she managed to sit, she saw the others covered in dust with sweat cutting muddy trails down their faces. Bakura glanced at the stars and figured she’d been out for more than an hour by how far the stars had shifted.

But the moment she tried to re-summon Diabound, her head spun. Bakura groaned and held the egg shaped welt on the side of her head, trying to heal herself but struggling to summon even a small amount of heka. She turned towards the others, searching for something to focus on to help clear her head. What she saw was Merwet, sword in hand, charging at Zorc as if she, too, was a god, and she was in that moment. She lept in the air, and slashed into the tough, black flesh of Zorc’s body, and then rolled out of the way when he countered.

The attacks she couldn’t dodge, the spirits of Kul Elna blocked. They stayed wrapped around Merwet like armor. Meanwhile, Slifer, Ra, and Obelisk all shot distracting blasts at Zorc, making it hard for him to focus his attacks on Merwet. She hacked at the serpent-like phallus, making Zorc scream and kick out. The kick connected and Merwet rolled along the sand.

Bakura crawled towards her, raw, animal instinct spurring her on. She cradled Merwet’s head in her lap, healing the scrapes and abrasions littering Merwet’s body.

“You’re awake.” Merwet exhaled in relief when she saw Bakura.

“You know I have a thick skull.” Bakura teased as she tried to heal herself again. It was difficult, but she managed this time and the fog lifted from her thoughts.

She summoned Diabound and headbutted Zorc, knocking him onto his back.

“Great job!” Atem cheered.

He and Seto and took advantage of Zorc’s fall to attack themselves; however, Zorc rolled out of the way and his counterattack caught Slifer. The avatar of Osiris dropped to the ground, and Atem called out in pain as he clutched at his chest. The young pharaoh grit his teeth and sucked in a deep breath in order to recover from the attack. Slifer rose into the air once again, and their battle dance continued. They managed to pace themselves as the night dragged on, but as midnight approached, Zorc reached his peak while they were fatigued from hours of fighting. They regrouped behind another decimated hut to catch their breaths.

“Five hours,” Atem used the back of his forearm to smear the sweat off of his forehead as they passed around one of their few waterskins. The action didn’t suit a Pharaoh. It was too human, too fatigued. “Can you each manage?”

“Failure or death.” Priest Set clenched his jaw.

“Is he always like this?” Bakura gave the priest a side glance as she frowned.

“We’d better move.” Merwet gulped from the waterskin and put it away. “He’ll destroy this hut like the others and there aren’t many left to use for cover.”

“Perhaps one of us could sneak behind him?” Atem suggested. “And attack from behind while the others distract him.”

“If it's sneaking you want done, leave it to the King of Thieves.” Bakura bowed and then dashed along piles of rubble that used to be the last signs of her village. She stuck to the shadows out of instinct, although she suspected that, like herself, Zorc had no trouble seeing through the dark.

To distract the monster, Bakura sent Diabound hurtling into the dark god. Zorc slammed Diabound to the ground. Bakura smirked. Perfect. The ka disappeared into the sand, as if defeated, and she kept him hidden as she circled around the town and behind the dark god. In front of Zorc, the other three gods danced and swirled in spirals and loops in the air. Zorc shot at them, but the blasts missed.

Bakura found an outcropping of boulders in which to hide behind. She studied the fight for a moment, praying to find a weakness, but didn’t see anything to give her an advantage. She waited until Zorc tried to attack Atem directly and then sprung her trap. Diabound emerged from the sand and used a light-based attack to hit Zorc in the back of the head. The demon howled in pain and rubbed the area. He turned to search for Diabound. Diabound was too quick, however, and disappeared into the sand before Zorc could refocus.

Slifer slapped Zorc’s face, taunting him for taking his eyes off the gods. He chased after the gods like a cat hunting locusts, pouncing and clawing and unaware of Diabound appearing for a second attack. They used this strategy for a few more hours, and Bakura thought they might be able to weather out the night by distraction tactics alone.

Then a shadow caught her eye. A Shadow. A tall one with flowing robes and a head hanging from a sickening angle. Bakura’s mouth dropped in shock for a second, then she realized he was after Atem and she sprinted across the ruined town in order to stop what was about to happen.

“Protect Atem!” Bakura shouted as she ran.

A blast caught her. The spirits shielded her, but they were fatigued as well and a portion of the blast reached Bakura, knocking her to the ground. Priest Set stabbed Aknadin’s side with a sword, and had he been human it would have stopped him, but Aknadin was twice dead and the sword only stuck in his side as he brought a dagger up and punched it into Atem’s back.

The Pharaoh choked on a half of a breath, and fell onto his hands and knees. Priest Set keened in anger. He punched Akandin, cracking his mask with the force of the blow. Set slammed Aknadin into the ground, slamming his knuckles into the masked face until they split and bled. Merwet used a dagger to cut the skirt away from her dress and tore the linen into strips.

“Set! Tie Aknadin! Bakura! I’ll cover you!”

Bakura was already running and dodging attacks to reach them. Ra blew fire into Zorc’s face to blind him and give Bakura enough time to reach Atem. She cradled the Pharaoh in her arms, holding the knife wound with her palm.

“It missed his kidney. I can cure him.”

“Don’t touch him!” Set snarled as he finished the last knot binding Aknadin.

“I’m healing him!” Bakura bore her teeth in her own snarl.

The wound was deep, and Bakura was exhausted. Diabound flickered out of existence as Bakura had to pull the last of her heka in order to bring the color back to Atem’s cheeks and strengthen the breath in his lungs.

“You saved my life,” Atem said when he opened his royal purple eyes.

“You better live, you little bitch. Someone has to restore Ma’at when this is all over.” Bakura helped Atem to his feet. She called Diabound back, but dropped to her knees instead. Bakura grit her teeth, loathing how spent she was, “I… can’t…”

“Find a place to rest. We only have a few more hours and this battle is ours!” Atem stood like the king he would become, strong and resolute. Slifer returned and helped Ra blast attacks at Zorc.

“I can’t summon Diabound, but I can still fight.” Bakura grabbed both of her daggers. “Merwet, bring Ra to me. I want to mount a god.”

“You’ve already mounted me.” Merwet smirked despite the exhaustion, sweat, and dirt covering her face. “But I suppose I'll indulge you and let you have some fun.”

Ra swooped back and low to the ground. Bakura leapt onto the dragon’s back and they flew back into the sky. First they passed Aknadin, at Merwet’s command, Ra drowning the corpse in flames, charring the remains to ash. Bakura nodded in Merwet’s direction. It was fitting to watch Aknadin’s corpse burn, but she couldn’t indulge in the thought until the battle was over. Fearless, the two dove for Zorc’s eyes. Ra spewed fire until the last second when Bakura lashed out with her daggers, leaving slashes in the black skin of Zorc’s face.

They fought that way until the darkness paled and the moon sunk to the horizon. The Light-Bringer was delivering dawn, slipping back into the Ogdoad as Ra’s chariot prepared to emerge. Ra’s fire started to grow brighter and brighter with each attack while Zorc’s attacks felt thin.

The glow of the spirits also faded as the moon sank closer to the edge of the earth. They still protected the others as best they could, but they were thin like smoke, fading from the physical world. And Zorc knew they were weak, and knew he was weakening as well. His attacks grew desperate, ferocious. He slammed the gods into the ground time and time again with the last of his power. Bakura was flung from Ra, rolling into the sand and scraping her skin, but she didn’t care- the sky was orange now, and the first glimmer of the sundisk twinkled on the horizon.

Wailing, Zorc went for a desperate lunge at Atem. His claws flashed blood-red in the rising sun as they bore down on Atem like four spears. Merwet grabbed the Pharaoh, shielding him with her own body and the claws raked down her back. She screamed. She dropped.

Bakura’s heart pushed against her throat. She was already running towards them again, but it was too late to save Merwet. She grabbed her love, forcing the last of her energy into a healing spell, but she couldn’t fully stop the bleeding.

“Merwet! Merwet!” Atem called out, shaking her while Bakura held her.

“No. No. No. No. No!” Bakura wailed.

Merwet was dying in Bakura’s arms. She wailed, drawing up the last dregs of heka from the depths of her being to increase the power of her spell, but it wasn’t enough. There was only one thing Bakura could think to do. She thwined her ba and ka together like thread- then shredded them apart to convert her life essence into extra heka. Bakura felt herself faded as her own life drained out of her body and into Merwet’s, but that was alright. She didn’t need to make it to the end of the battle; she only needed enough energy for this one last healing.

Even pulling from her own essence, she could only close the wound. Four long stripes of scar tissue continued to trail down Merwet’s back and down her ass. But at least Merwet breathed. Bakura exhaled in relief. At least Merwet breathed. Bakura held onto her. She couldn't stand, could hardly keep her own lids up over her eyes. She wanted to sleep, but knew falling asleep would mean never waking up again, so Bakura held Merwet's unconscious body in her arms and fought to live.

Zorc snapped his jaws at the Pharaoh, wild and panicked and frantic to hurt him no matter how many shields, magic or human, he had to destroy. Bakura couldn’t move, swooning even as she sat. The thief held her breath as she watched. Seto grabbed Atem, but it was the spirit of Mahad that managed to appear in time to cram his staff between Zorc’s jaw, stopping the attack. The demon jerked back, growling as Obelisk counter attacked.

“Pharaoh,” Mahad spoke. He floated above the young Pharaoh, gold bracers flashed in the rising sun as his white robes ruffled in the breeze.

“Mahad.” Atem clutched at Mahad’s robes.

“Atem, we need to fight!” Set yelled as he continued to hold Zorc at Bay with only Obelisk.

“I'm sorry.” Atem hung his head. “It's my fault you're dead. Had I arrested Aknadin right away instead of trying to forgive him-”

“You have your father's heart, never apologize for that.” Mahad shook his head.

“Atem!” Priest Set shook Atem’s shoulders even as Atem clutched to the dead maget.

“It’s time to end this battle, Pharaoh.”

“How?”

“You're the descendant of Osiris and Isis. You can call upon the gods of Egypt- all of them.”

“I-I can’t! I’m not strong enough to call them all!!” Atem clenched his teeth, the long night and battle-stress etching lines and shadows around his eyes.

“One day, you will be. Until then, use my strength as well.” Mahad held up his staff. Lightning flowed down from the clear sky and surrounded him and Atem. “Now Pharaoh, hurry.”

“Seto.” Atem lowered Seto’s hands from his shoulders. “I’m taking control of Obelisk.”

“He’s yours!” Seto stood beside Atem, prepared to shield him as well if it came to it.

“Do you know the words?” Mahad asked.

“I do.” Atem marched forward, lightning still crackling around him. He glared at Zorc. Slifer wrapped around the demon’s throat again, and Zorc struggled against the noose. “Zorc I won’t let you hurt anymore of my friends! I won’t let them sacrifice themselves to protect me! I am Pharaoh Atem, Son of Akhenamkhanen, from the bloodline of Isis and Osiris, and I summon the entire Tribunal to come and bring Judgement on you!”

It was a miracle, but Bakura’s vision blurred and she couldn’t focus. It was a miracle, but Bakura could care less- she only wanted to feel Merwet in her arms as she fought to keep a spark of her ba and ka burning and survive the battle herself. All around them tiers and tiers of gods appeared. The great ones like Anubis and Set, the lesser known near-forgotten ones, even Bakura’s Patron god Thoth stood beside a huge scale with Ma’at beside him.

Chains materialized in the air, golden, bright, and glittering in the dawnlight. They wrapped around Zorc’s wrists, his ankles, his tail, and his phallus, holding him. Anubis marched forward, A tall, stout, dark man with the features of a jackal. He sneered at Zorc and punched his claws into demon’s chest. With a crack like thunder, the Jackal snapped Zorce’s ribs around and tore open Zorc’s chest. He reached inside with a taloned hand, and pulled out a chain formed with links of blood and sinew.

“This demon has no heart of his own.” Anubis tugged at the chain and pulled it further out. The twisted sinew dripped blood onto the sand, stretched further and further as Anubis had to walk back to make room. A heart appeared, bound in twisted nerves and still beating although it was the color of rust instead of fresh blood. Anubis continued to pulled and a second heart appeared, followed by a third, each one was tangled in the chain, trapped. The god stopped and coiled the sinew chain and captured hearts between his palm and elbow in several loops like one coils up a long hank of rope.

Bakura’s throat tightened. She felt herself clinging harder to life as she watched heart after heart be pulled from Zorc’s chest. She didn’t need to count. She knew how many. It’d be ninety-nine hearts altogether. Anubis dropped the collection on the scale and it sank to the ground with the weight. The demon roared in protest, thrashing against his own bindings, but he couldn’t move and the other gods didn’t respond to him.

“Your judgment,” Anubis snarled, glaring at Zorc.

Behind Zorc, another beast crept up to him. Sleeker, a little smaller, but her teeth and claws were sharper than the edge of an obsidian razor. The chimera- crocodile, lion, hippopotamus all blended together- pounced onto Zorc and tore a chunk out of the back of his neck. Blood rained down to the sands below, soot-colored drops that hissed when they struck the ground and evaporated in the sunlight.

Atem and Set stood together and watched. Bakura knelt in the dirt with Merwet in her arms, and watched as well as Ammit ripped another chunk of meat from Zorc’s shoulders. Zorc shrieked, clawing to get away from the goddess, but chained in place. He couldn't move, just as Bakura couldn’t move when she watched everyone boil down into the gold. Now it was the demon trapped by gold and screaming as he died. Ammit jumped over Zorc, facing him with her crocodile stare. She clawed open the demon's stomach and gray intestines spilled out. They smacked against the ground, shrinking and withering. Zorc’s guts deteriorated into a pile of maggots that disappeared into the sands. Ammit used the open wound to chomp her way through the demon bite by savage bite. She ripped apart the soft flesh first, then crunched then bones in her jaws, and licked soot-colored blood from her muzzle before scarfing the last chunk of the demon’s face down her throat.

As Zorc was consumed, the chains connecting the hearts vanished. A few of the hearts were rotten, falling off of the scales and being consumed by the same sand-like maggots that disposed of Zorc offal. Each time a rotted heart vanished, Ammit lunged towards a shrieking villager and snapped them up in her jaws, swallowing them in a single gulp.

The other hearts grew bright red. They gleamed in the sunlight, the same color as Bakura’s scarlet cloak. These hearts beat in a rhythm, like drums during a festival. The scale started to lift back into the air until it lined up with the ostrich feather on the other side. The remaining spirits shimmered. Their spirits reformed into human shapes, and then into proper spirits instead of melted ghosts. The Tribunal disappeared, leaving only a pair of doors that rose into the heavens. Osiris stood on one side, his Atef rising high above his head. Isis on the other, jade and lapis lazuli gleaming from her gown. They opened the doors and gestured for the spirits to walk through to the Fields.

A sob escaped Bakura. She felt her soul tugging her- if she stopped fighting she knew she’d fall to the ground and her akh would walk through with the others and they’d be a village once again. A woman knelt in front of Bakura. White hair fell long past her shoulders, and she wore the same, wide, gap-toothed grin that Bakura often wore. Bakura knew, in that moment, that it’d be okay to give in- to finally rest and go with her.

“Mom…”

“Not yet, Bakura.” Bakura’s mother cupped her cheek.

Bakura felt energy pour into her as the damage she’d done to herself to heal Merwet. Air rushed into Bakura’s lungs, so quick and sudden that it shocked Bakura. Not only was her spirit restored, but Bakura couldn’t ever remember taking in a breath so easily. As Bakura breathed, amazed at the feeling of it, Merwet groaned in her arms and opened her eyes.

“Bakura? What happened?”

“It’s over,” Bakura whispered, holding Merwet tighter in her arms. “We won.”

“Oh,” Merwet gasped when she saw the spirit kneeling beside them. She pushed herself up to a sitting position, and Bakura’s mother wrapped her arms around both of them.

“Take care of each other.” She kissed each on the cheek and then stood.

“Don’t!” Bakura begged. “Please, don’t leave.”

“I was so worried about you that night. How would my little one survive on her own?” She smiled. “But look how strong you are now. I will not worry for you anymore.”

“Mom.” Bakura rubbed her eyes with the crimson sleeve of her cloak.

When she looked up again, Bakura saw her father walking towards them. He kissed the crown of Bakura’s head, as he did when Bakura was little, and did the same to Merwet before taking her mother’s hand and leading her towards the door. Hand in hand, her parents walked into the other world together.

“Mom! Dad!” Bakura called after them, and now it was Merwet holding her instead of the other way around. She shushed Bakura, and combed Bakura’s hair, and before Bakura could chase after them, the doors were closed and they were only in a ruined town in the middle of the desert.

The silence… the silence was strange. Bakura didn’t know what to do with it. At first there was only the sound of her sobbing, but then she heard Merwet’s voice.

“It’s okay, Bakura,” Merwet whispered against her hair. “They’re fine now. It’s okay now.”

“I know. I know.” Bakura leaned against Merwet’s shoulder, weeping all the tears she’d held in for the last twelve years.

And in the end, it didn’t even matter that Aknadin was dead so much as her family was at peace. Bakura dried her eyes, and allowed Merwet to hold her. They sat for another minute together, and then Bakura heard footsteps as they Pharaoh marched up to them.

“I owe you both my life.” Atem offered his hand to help them to his feet.

“If you want to repay that debt, then repair all the damage Aknadin did.”

“Yes.” Atem gave them a single nod, his face grave. “I could use some help. Would you become my next priests?”

“Pharaoh, that is the Thief King!” Priest Set scowled. “You can't seriously be considering letting him live in the palace!”

“Don't worry your pretty blue eyes, priest. Why would a king want to demote himself to a mere servant like you?” Bakura laughed. “Besides, there's one more thing I have to steal from the palace.”

“Is there?” Atem raised an eyebrow. “And what's that?”

“The invoices of every slave Aknadin sold abroad. I plan on buying back any slaves I can.”

“Bakura.” Merwet gasped pressing her hands over her mouth.

“And the ones you can't buy back?” Seto asked.

“I steal, of course.”

“I'll give the invoices to you willingly,” Atem said. “Please come through the front door as a guest when you collect them and not through the window as a thief.”

“There's hardly any challenge to that, but I suppose.” Bakura snorted. She turned towards Merwet and bent down to one knee. She held both of Merwet's hands and looked up into her lotus-colored eyes. “My love, even when I almost lost myself to darkness you never left my side. Through everything you kept your promise and helped me free my family, now let me help you free yours.”

“Bakura,” Merwet repeated the thief’s name, dropping to her knees, grabbing Bakura's face, and kissing her Thief King until neither one of them could breathe.

Chapter Text

They saw riders in the distance as they recovered from battle and drank the last of their water. The specks grew until Bakura recognized the white robes and gold accessories of the royal priests.

“Th-they’re alive?” Atem jumped to his feet when he recognized Isis with Shada and Karim riding behind her. They rode at a mild trot, towing the horses that had run off before the battle behind them. Atem spun towards Bakura. “I thought you killed them?”

“I killed Mahad,” Bakura said in a level tone that showed that she wasn’t exactly proud of the act, but neither was she remorseful of it. “Isis forfeited the other Items, so I let them live.”

“I’m so glad they’re alive.” Tears gleamed in Atem’s eyes, but he managed to blink them away before any fell.

They waited for the others to arrive. All three priests dismounted and passed out fresh water skins and satchels filled with bread, cheese, dates, and wine. Atem set down the rations, throwing his arms around each priest in greeting. They tolerated the embraces, but bowed afterward to show their respect.

Bakura, however, had no such love for them and was starving after their war against Zorc. She plopped down into the sand and tore into her loaf of bread as if it were a holiday feast. Merwet glanced at Isis, snorted, and sat in front of Bakura, nibbling on a date.

“Things went well,” Isis said, sensing Merwet’s irritation.

“You could see the future, and that was the best you could do?” Merwet scowled.

“Yes. I know it was hard, and we’ve all lost people we loved, but look at how many of us are still alive? And with Atem as pharaoh, Kemet will finally be able to recover from the horrors of the last several years.”

“Forget all that, tell us something fun about the future.” Bakura popped the last of the bread into her mouth and washed it down with a generous amount of wine. “Will people remember the legends of the Thief King even after I’m walking in the Fields with the rest of my village?”

“The adventures of the Thief King and Queen will indeed be remembered throughout history, often argued about, but always remembered. However, your stories will pale in comparison to your daughter’s.”

Wine sprayed from Bakura’s mouth as she exploded with laughter. Bakura held her belly, shouting, “Our daughter! That’s a good one. It doesn’t take a seer to guess that there’s no way either one of us will ever get pregnant.”

“Not traditionally, at least,” Isis agreed.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Merwet narrowed her eyes.

Isis shook her head. “Neither one of you would believe me even if I explained it.”

“Well, if you’re done playing fortune teller to these rogues, the sun’s growing hot, and we should return to the palace and announce Atem’s ascension to the throne.” Set crossed his arms over his chest.

“Don’t you want to know what lies ahead for you, Set?” Isis smiled. “I no longer have the Necklace, but I remember a marriage in your future.”

“Save your soothsayings for these fools. The future is whatever I make it.” The priest mounted his horse and waited with a frown on his face for the others to follow his example.

“I will have the the sales records ready by tomorrow morning,” Atem said to Bakura. “Please bring as many of our people home as you can. Here.” Atem lead the horse Bakura had stolen before their battle over to them. “Please keep her. We’ll feed and care for the two you left at the castle and return them to you tomorrow before you leave.”

“You really need to stop offering me gifts, Pharaoh.” Bakura stood up and took the rope tied around the horse despite her complaints. “You’re going to ruin my reputation.”

“I’d rather you be known as a hero instead of a thief,” Atem said. “You gave me water when I was thirsty, fought my uncle, and saved my life more than once in last night’s battle.”

“He desecrated your father’s tomb, murdered our brother-priest, and from what Isis told us, allowed the demon to possess him and nearly destroyed the world himself.” Karim scowled at Bakura.

“You bet your sweet ass I did all that.” Bakura winked at the disapproving priest.

“You’re not even remorseful!” Shada grit his teeth. “You should be begging the Pharaoh for forgiveness!”

“I asked them to kill Mahad,” Isis said. Everyone turned to look at her with dropped open mouths.

“You should be arrested,” Seto sneered.

“Isis… why?” Karim asked. “He was one of us.”

“He helped us win.” Atem said, though he looked grave. “His ka watches over me, even now. Had he had the Ring instead of Bakura- we would have all died, wouldn’t have we?”

Isis nodded, tears slipped down her cheeks but she didn’t openly sob. “It was the best I could do.”

“It’s not as easy as in the stories, is it?” Atem rested his hand against the muzzle of Isis’s horse.

“No, my Pharaoh.”

“I’ll have the other mages collect his body. We’ll lay him to rest in a special chamber in my own tomb.” Atem mounted his own horse. “Let’s go home, everyone.”

Bakura watched them go, the horses’ reins still tight in her grip. When their horses shrank in the distance, she looked around what was left of her village and sighed.

“It’s quiet… so quiet.”

“Bakura.” Merwet held her shoulders.

“Heh.” Bakura stared at the sand beneath her horse’s hooves. “I have some apologizing to do to you, don’t I?”

“Yes.” Merwet smirked. “Later though. Let’s go home for now.”

Bakura lifted Merwet onto the house and mounted behind her. They rode home, stabled the horse, and went straight to Bakura’s bed. It wasn’t until they were in the room together that Merwet’s composure cracked. A high pitched, distressed noise broke from her throat as she clutched Bakura and clung to her.

“I thought I lost you.”

“Me?” Bakura grazed her fingers over one of the scars slashing over Merwet’s shoulder and striping her back. “Even my mother’s spirit couldn’t fully heal me after Zorc’s attack. I was sure you were going to die in my arms.”

“Idiot, dying isn’t half as bad as losing your soul. Why’d you put on the Ring?”

“It was mine,” Bakura said.

“Don’t be so impulsive next time.”

“I like being impulsive.” Bakura grabbed Merwet’s face and kissed her.

That brought a smile to Merwet’s lips, but she pulled away and rested her forehead onto Bakura’s shoulder. “Isis had me convinced that if I let my guard down around you- you’d be saved. But when I told you I loved you-”

“Merwet, you’re the only reason I took off the Ring.”

“Stupid, I told you to kill me and take out Aknadin as well. You never listen.”

“No, I never do.” Bakura kissed the crown of Merwet’s head and pulled her down to bed.

Exhausted from battle, they held each other and fell asleep twisted in a lover’s knot of limbs. Bakura woke with a spray of gold tickling her face and laughed as she spat out a strand that had clung to her lips while she slept.

“Bakura…” Merwet murmured, burying her face deeper against Bakura’s breasts.

“Gods, we slept straight through to morning. We need to pack if we’re leaving Kemet.”

“I need to bathe.” Merwet yawned, in no hurry to actually wake up.

Bakura looked at her. Dried blood and and dirt still clung to her body, and her dress was tattered. Once again, the severity of their battle struck Bakura, and she pulled Merwet closer to her chest.

“Merwet, I would have never forgiven myself had-”

“I’ll forgive you for ruining my dress if you make breakfast.” Merwet looked up.

“But I have to pack,” Bakura argued.

“And I have to find another dress.”

“I don’t see why. You should just flaunt what the gods have given you.” Bakura combed her fingers through Merwet’s hair. “I’m glad you don’t have to wear wigs anymore.”

“That’s true…” Merwet’s lips parted as the realization hit her. “We don’t have to hide our hair anymore.”

“It’s hard to process… that he’s actually dead now. That my people are freed. That-” Bakura flushed, cutting off her words with a muffled grunt.

“Say it.” Merwet grinned.

“That I’m not alone anymore.” Bakura sat up, kissing the bridge of Merwet’s nose. “I love you, Ra-child.”

“Enough to make me breakfast?” Merwet’s grin grew wider.

“I suppose, but pack while you pick out a new dress.” Bakura kissed her one last time before going downstairs.

The thief prepared all the fruit left in the pantry and grilled the leeks and onions with smoked fish. They wouldn’t return for quite a long time, so Bakura made sure she used up everything that would spoil and packed the extra food for their lunch to eat as they traveled. Merwet appeared, wiped down and in a simple flax-linen dress.

“I will change into something more to my tastes after the bath,” she explained when she saw Bakura’s questioning look.

“We’ll go on our way to the palace.” Bakura nodded, wanting a bath herself.

“We’re going to be very late.” Merwet snickered. “Because the moment I’m clean I’m going to ravish you.”

“The King of Egypt can wait to suit the whims of the Queen of Thieves.” Bakura winked. “How much did you pack?”

“Three chests.”

“That’s too much. I’m not carrying all that.”

“You won’t. The horse will.”

“You’re going to slow us down.”

“We’re going to travel the world, Bakura. Taking thirty more minutes to the pier will hardly matter in our journey.”

“You’re so difficult.” Bakura grumbled even as she went to fetch all Merwet’s belongings so they could bring everything.

Bakura brought all their remaining horses, planning to sell them before they sailed across the sea and to the foreign lands where she hoped to find at least some of Merwet’s family. Once she secured a small cart to one of the horses for their chests, they mounted the other horses and rode to the oasis. Bakura washed the cloak and shenti and bathed as the clothing dried in the sun. She’d brought several scented oils and chose a mix of orange and clove to rub into her skin once she finished washing herself.

She stood waist-high in the water and admired the way the oil gleamed in the light and how droplets beaded against her skin from it. Bakura felt a hand grab her ankle beneath the water and screamed out of reflex despite knowing it was Merwet. Breaking the surface, Merwet smoothed strands of wet, golden hair out of her face as she laughed at Bakura.

“For a King of Thieves, it was quite simple to sneak up on you.”

Bakura didn’t bother with words. She tackled Merwet into the water and kissed her just as they’d kissed that first time. They didn’t stand for air until it was absolute necessity to do so. Merwet shoved Bakura up onto the bank, knocking over Bakura’s bottle of bathing oil. It floated off to the side, but Bakura ignored it as Merwet grab her breasts and began rolling them in small circles. Bakura grinned and spread her legs wide. She placed her hands on top of Merwet’s, helping Merwet massage her chest.

Merwet used two of her fingers to pinch the flesh around Bakura’s nipple, making the bud poke up. She leaned down and lapped at the flesh with her tongue. Bakura gave a soft sigh, squirming a little as she waited for Merwet to direct her attention to between her legs, but Merwet was in no hurry. She moved over to Bakura’s other breast, kissing all around the areola before sucking Bakura’s other nipple. Her kisses wandered to Bakura’s sternum and her fingers slide down to Bakura’s hips.

“Merwet, Merwet, oh my treasured Merwet,” Bakura repeated her name over and over again, as if the sweet way she moaned it might convince Merwet to show mercy and finally place her lips between Bakura’s legs.

Merwet was not merciful, however, and she dropped her kisses down to Bakura’s belly only to pop back up and flick at Bakura’s nipples again. Bakura slid two of her own fingers over her clit, silently challenging Merwet to stop her from getting herself off. Merwet called Bakura’s bluff, kissing down her arm and teasing Bakura’s fingers with her tongue, so close to where Bakura wanted to be licked. Bakura clenched her teeth as Merwet moved down to her thighs.

Merwet chuckled against Bakura’s thigh, moving back up and kissing Bakura’s fingers again. Then, finally, blessedly, she dabbed her tongue between Bakura’s legs, licking up and catching Bakura’s fingertips before withdrawing. Bakura gasped and spread her lips apart, showing off her cunt for Merwet to enjoy. Merwet hummed before dragging her tongue all the way up Bakura’s slit, circling around her clitoris before giving it a quick suck.

Ahhh…” Bakura exhaled, hitching up against Merwets sucking lips.

Merwet’s tongue felt like heka, drawing love spells against Bakura’s warm, slick flesh. And it no longer bothered Bakura when Diabound appeared above them. Even in the bright sunlight, the glow from Diabound added a subtle, silvery tint to the gold of Merwet’s hair that was beautiful to look at as Bakura twined her fingers through the silken locks in order to hold her right where she was at.

Bakura kept squeezing her thighs as her pleasure mounted. She dug her heels into the bank and tried to relax the vice-grip her thighs had on Merwet in order to give Merwet room to lick, but after a few more swivels of Merwet’s tongue, Bakura had her thighs wrapped around Merwet’s face again.

“I’m going to come!” She screamed as Merwet fluttered her tongue against Bakura’s clit. A wave of shivering heat warmed Bakura’s entire body and she screamed again. “I’m going to come!”

Bakura’s breath caught in her throat as she crunched upward, riding out the yes yes yes of her orgasm. Her feet dropped, thighs relaxed. She panted hard for breath and wiped sweat from her brow.

“You don’t wheeze anymore.” Merwet licked her lips before swiping her wrist over her mouth.

“Thank the heavens. That means you can’t pour anymore of your weird concoctions down my throat.”

“Quit complaining-” Merwet crawled into Bakura’s lap and fisted her white hair “-and make me scream your name.”

Bakura smirked and dotted kisses along Merwet’s collarbone. Her fingers brushed down Merwet’s pelvis and along her labia, exploring along the rim of Merwet’s entrance. She looked up at Merwet’s thistle-colored eyes.

“You’re wet.”

“That’s because I like to stare at your body.” Merwet plucked a kissed from Bakura’s lips. “And touch it.” She kissed the thief once again. “And taste it.”

“Yeah?” Bakura slipped her middle finger up Merwet’s cunt and rubbed back and forth at the ridge of nerves inside of her. “What about this? Will this also make you wet?”

Merwet huffed air from her mouth. Her eyes dropped into a sleepy, half-lidded stare as she rode Bakura’s finger. “That, my thief, will make me come.”

“Then let’s make you come.” Bakura’s lips peeled back into a playful grin as she maneuvered a second finger into Merwet.

She kept her fingers sheathed into Merwet’s warmth, pushing up but only backing away for enough leverage to thrust upward again. Merwet bit her bottom lip. Her eyes slid shut and she rolled her hips in broad circles. Bakura added a third finger, spreading Merwet slightly as she plunged into her. Merwet held onto Bakura’s shoulders and arched against her. Bakura used her thumb to tease Merwet’s clit. She kissed Merwet’s breasts, sucking the lavender-laced almond oil she’d bathed with from her skin.

“Bakura!” Merwet screamed, her cunt clenching around Bakura’s fingers.

“Say it again,” Bakura whispered between tender presses of her lips against Merwet’s body.

“Bakura! Fuck!” Her nails sank into Bakura’s shoulders as she rode out a long and quivering orgasm.

Bakura pulled the fingers from Merwets body and stuffed them into her own mouth, licking and moaning at how good Merwet tasted. She lay Merwet down on her stomach, fetching the bottle of orange oil.

“Are they ugly?” Merwet asked.

Bakura traced the long slashes of scar starting at the tip of Merwet’s shoulder and traveling down her ass in four lines. “No, love. Actually, I think they’re sexy.”

“You would.” Merwet snorted.

“Don’t you think scars are sexy?” Bakura brushed her scarred cheek against Merwet’s shoulder blade.

“Hmmm… I suppose yours do add to your dashing, mischievous charm.”

“See then? I know what I’m talking about.”

Bakura kissed down Merwet’s shoulder, across her back, and down to her ass. She did it for each line before uncorking the oil and drizzling it over Merwet’s copper body.

“Not that one, Bakura. I was using lavender.”

“I already poured this.”

“So? Wipe it off and get the right one.”

“That’s on the other side of the lake!”

“What of it? Fetch it.”

“Blood drenched Sekhmet. You’re so high maintenance.” Bakura scooped the oil off of Merwet’s back and smeared out onto her own chest and arms. She swam across the lake and returned with the proper bottle of oil. The glass was sun-warmed so she poured it directly onto Merwet’s skin without having to heat it in her hands.

“Don’t worry.” Merwet sighed as Bakura massaged the oil into her body. ”I’ll reward you for being such an attentive king to me.”

“Not if I get to you first.” Bakura smacked Merwet’s ass. “Flip over.”

Merwet rolled onto her back as Bakura drenched her fingers with more oil. She coated Merwet’s asshole with lavender oil as she sucked at Merwet’s labium.

“It was your turn.” Merwet giggled, but it turned into a moan when Bakura’s tongue glided up and down from clit to entrance.

“Who said we were taking turns?” Bakura paused to speak, but then dropped her mouth back onto Merwet’s clit and pushed into Merwet’s ass with her first finger.

Merwet sighed as Bakura pleasured her. When Bakura added a second finger, Merwet raked her fingers through the wet sand beneath her. Bakura continued to lap along Merwet’s slit. Occasionally she’d toy with Merwet’s clit, but she kept slipping downward to her entrance, drawing whimpers from Merwet’s mouth.

Bakura wanted to prolong Merwet’s pleasure, make her squirm and beg for release, but Bakura couldn’t stand the wait herself. She sealed her lips around Merwet’s clit and moaned as she sucked.

“Fuck! Bakura, fuck!” Merwet fisted the sand. The water lapped at their calves as the sun burned Bakura’s shoulders.

Bakura worked her fingers faster and matched her pace with the flicks of her tongue. White strands kept falling into Bakura face. She shoved her bangs back with an angry swipe of her free hand before plunging her tongue into Merwet’s cunt. She slipped in and out of her hole a few times and then swerved her licks back to Merwet’s clit. She found that sweet spot between her clit and hood and ran her tongue up and down until Merwet was swearing at the sun that had created her.

Once Merwet’s body gave out and she lay in the cusp of elements where earth and water met, Bakura pulled back and dipped back into the cool water to quench the heat building on her back and shoulders. She gave Merwet a moment to recover, brushing her lips across the delicate skin of Merwet’s pelvis and enjoying the way Merwet twitched against her kisses. Bakura crawled up to Merwet’s throat, kissing it while stroking her hair.

“I love you,” Bakura whispered against her pulse point.

“Love you, too.” Merwet wrapped her arms around Bakura and squeezed. “You’re the moon that lit up the night when it was dark.”

Bakura gazed down at her, smiling. “And you’re the sun that brought daylight into my ib.”

Their lips brushed together, as faint as the wind through the fig tree leaves. By slow degrees their kisses deepened until their bodies rocked against each other. After several minutes, Merwet bucked up, wanting more again. Bakura turned around so that she faced Merwet’s feet and swung her a leg over Merwet’s torso. She backed up, settling down.

Ah!” Bakura gasped once Merwet’s mouth touched her.

She rocked back and forth a moment, gliding her body over Merwet’s tongue, and then lowered herself down so she could return the favor. Bakura gasped again, her mouth hovering over Merwet as she moaned, and moaned, and moaned. Bakura attempted another few licks, but her thighs were trembling and her cheeks were hot, and she couldn’t stop calling out each time Merwet licked just right around her clit. Bakura rose up, shifting her hips and riding against Merwet’s tongue. Bakura balanced herself by resting her palms against her thighs. Looking down, she had a good view of her own body, breasts bouncing with each roll of her stomach, thighs framing Merwet’s face. Below her, Merwet’s body stretched out long, knees raised and her ankles disappearing into the water. Bakura hummed at the sight, allowing the image to lull her closer to orgasm.

The pleasure swelled in her stomach, her body quaked with each lick she felt. Bakura leaned down again, bracing herself against the sandy bank and hitching against Merwet’s mouth until she was screaming. She called out in three long, loud, cries and then relaxed. Sated, Bakura kissed Merwet’s stomach until she reached her hood and flicked beneath it with her tongue.

“Yes.” Merwet slid her hands across Bakura’s round ass. She gave Bakura a pinch, but the thief’s protest was muffled from her mouth being pressed against Merwet’s cunt. Merwet slipped two fingers into Bakura and eased in and out.

Bakura slowed her licks but did not stop as she hitched back into Merwet’s fingers. She sucked gently against Merwet’s clit, and then kissed down to her entrance and back up again. Bakura ran her bottom lip over Merwet’s clitoris and felt a shudder in Merwet’s thighs so she repeated the light stimulation until Merwet had to pull her fingers away from Bakura. Instead, Merwet held Bakura’s thighs as she bucked up against Bakura’s lips. Bakura used the broad center of her tongue to stroke Merwet’s clit.

“Bakura! Bakura! Bakura! There! Yes! Bakura yes!” Merwet’s nails dug into Bakura’s skin as her thighs and belly tensed and shivered in an orgasm the stretched on for a full minute before Merwet hitched in few final times and dropped her ass back down into the wet sand, muttering a final time, “Bakura…”

“Have I exhausted you?” Bakura grinned as she wiped her face and shifted so that she could look at Merwet.

“Just need… to catch my breath.” Merwet gazed at Bakura with lidded eyes. Her hair clung to her temples and cheeks and scattered across the sand.

“So you’re saying I steal your breath away?” Bakura traced down the curve of Merwet’s breast.

Merwet reached up, brushing her fingertips up Bakura’s arm. Bakura’s grin softened and she decorated Merwet’s collarbone with a necklace of delicate kisses. Their fingers laced and they stared into each other’s eyes until both were dizzy with love. Merwet bit her lower lip, hiding the mischievous smirk that Bakura caught anyway.

Quick as an assassin should be, Merwet sprung up and shoved Bakura into the water. They wrestled, but only as an excuse to grip and tug at each other. Bakura reclaimed her position on top, but Merwet hiked up her hips, throwing the thief off balance and pinning Bakura into the sand. Heated by their playful struggle, Merwet bit Bakura’s throat.

Hmmmm.” Bakura arched into the bite, so Merwet succeeded it with another. When faint, pomegranate colored welts dotted Bakura’s throat, Merwet pulled back straddled one of Bakura’s thighs. She held Bakura’s free leg, leaning her forehead against Bakura’s raised calf as she started to frot against her.

“Oh sunlight!” Bakura called to the heavens. “My sweet jar of honey! My Nile-Queen! My gilded treasure box that holds my heart!”

“Bakura,” Merwet sighed as she grinded against Bakura’s body. “Your mouth’s so sweet when you’re being fucked.”

Bakura bucked up to meet Merwet’s circling body. Heat and tightness welling up inside her. She sucked air into her lungs and squeezed her muscles thinking good good good good as Merwet rubbed against her.

“Oh sunlight!” Bakura called again as her orgasm began.

“That’s it, Bakura,” Merwet whispered, kissing her silt-colored calf. “Come for me, moonlight.”

Diabound disappeared from the sky, but Bakura’s body shimmered as she subconsciously pooled her heka to her heart center. The initial rise of climax crested to a broad wave of pleasure and she grabbed Merwet’s outer thigh for leverage as she bucked higher.

“Gods.” Merwet’s face twisted, ecstatic. “Gods, gods, gods, Bakura, I’m coming with you.” Merwet’s grinding grew hard and quick as she put as much pressure against them as possible.

They both seized up as their pleasure hit a zenith and then they lay in each other’s arms, gasping for breath as their hearts pounded. Merwet reached up, combing the tangles out of her hair and pulling a face.

“There’s sand in my hair.”

“I’ll wash it for you.” Bakura chuckled. “I have sand everywhere. I need another bath… after a nap.”

“It’s going to be nightfall by the time we get to the palace,” Merwet complained as she tucked her chin against Bakura’s shoulder and fell asleep.

Chapter Text

It was nightfall by the time they reached the palace. Isis was there to greet them at the stables as servants tended to their horses. She held a flax-oil lamp in her hands and wore a amused look on her face.

“I informed the Pharaoh this morning that you’d be delayed. We have a room ready for you, and supper. Pharaoh Atem would be delighted if you spent the night and then continued on your journey in the morning.”

“How much did your necklace show you of our delay?” Merwet narrowed her eyes.

“Enough to know you’d be quite late.” The priestess winked at Merwet.

Bakura snorted laughter, and Merwet raised an eyebrow. “You know, I’m developing a grudging respect for you.”

“I’m honored.” Isis smiled.

“I still haven’t forgiven you for all the trouble you put me through.” Merwet huffed as she marched towards the castle.

“You’re going to have your hands full with her.” Isis shook her head, and she and Bakura walked behind Merwet.

“I happen to love when my hands are full of Merwet.” Bakura curved her hands, drawing the imaginary outline of Merwet’s body.

Isis led them to one of the best chambers in the palace. Tapestries depicting blue lotus flowers and cranes draped down the walls. The window was open so that the night air could circulate throughout the room. Thin wisps of incense smoke floated around the bed and scented the room with myrrh and cinnamon. Servants stood near a table, pouring two glasses of wine and preparing two plates of fruit, cheese, and roasted meat. Merwet dismissed the servants and sat down, going straight for the wine and fruit.

“If you need of anything, ask the servants and they’ll provide.” Isis gave a polite bow as she left the room.

“I love being a thief, but the hero treatment definitely has its perks.” Bakura licked her lips as she speared a chunk of meat with her dagger and tore into it like a jackal in a feeding frenzy.

“It’s bloody.” Merwet made a face and slid her plate over towards Bakura.

“You don’t want it?”

“I don’t care if it is the gift of a king. It’s not touching my lips.” Merwet scowled as she fixed a new plate of cheese, almonds, figs, and honey cake.

Bakura only grinned and pulled the plate even closer. She finished off both and two jars of wine before plopping down on the bed and holding her puffed-out stomach. She stared at the swell of her brown tummy rising up between her red cloak.

“Hey Merwet, Isis was probably just fucking with us, right? About the baby?”

“I can’t imagine how it could happen unless Thoth gives you a magical cock like the one he created for Osiris when Horus was conceived.”

“Well that would be fun.” Bakura rolled onto her side, propping herself onto her elbow so she could look at Merwet as they spoke. “Especially if it was detachable.”

“You’d lose it.”

“I would not lose my magical, detachable penis.” Bakura’s mouth dropped as if she was insulted by the mere thought.

“You absolutely would. You’d get drunk, lose it in a game of sennett, and we’d find it a month later at the market being resold with other used junk and have to buy it back for you.”

“Eh, I’ll just wash it off and it’ll be good as new.” Bakura shrugged.

“Careful that a fish doesn’t eat it as you wash it in the river.”

“If a fish ate my cock I would catch him and eat him and then I’d have my penis back.”

“I’m sure you would.” Merwet laughed. She nudged herself closer to Bakura, pressing her face close to Bakura’s chest and slipping her hands beneath Bakura’s robe in order to stroke her back. After a few minutes of close, quiet embracing, Merwet asked in a small voice. “Bakura?”

“Yes, my queen?”

“Do you think we’ll actually find them?”

“Oh love.” Bakura kissed the crown of Merwet’s head. “I don’t know, but I will spend my whole life searching if that’s what it takes.”

Merwet nodded against Bakura’s chest and they fell asleep wrapped in each other’s arms. In the morning they were bathed by servants, and anointed with oils and perfume. Merwet was dressed in a long dress with a single shoulder strap while Bakura was given a shenti of sheer fine cloth connected with a belt of gold, turquoise, and lapis lazuli. They were both adorned with a ransom’s worth of jewelry and decorated with kohl and rouge before finally being led to the throne room where Atem and the rest of his priests already sat for breakfast.

“Good morning!” Atem greeted, standing up to be polite.

“Pharaoh.” Set scowled. “You’re king now. You stand for no one. Let these peasants bow before you.”

“Who are you calling a peasant?” Bakura crossed her arms over her chest. “If anything you should bow before me, The Thief King.”

“How dare you.” Set reached for his hip, scowling when his hand hit cloth instead of the Rod he once wielded. Before he could think of another way to challenge Bakura, Isis rested a hand on his shoulder.

“Set, why don’t you introduce our heroes to your recently betrothed?”

“Betrothed?” Bakura laughed. “Already? Isis mentioned a marriage, but that was rather quick.”

“It’s politically arranged.” Set muttered between clenched teeth and arms crossed over his chest, although Bakura noted the flame-kissed hue burning his cheeks.

“Although our marriage is for our countries, I’ll always try my best to be a loyal and loving wife to you.” A woman sitting beside Set bowed her head as she spoke.

“You’ll do fine, Kisara,” Set muttered, more flustered than before.

“Isis picked the perfect match.” Atem grinned. “I believe my cousin is already falling in love.”

This made both of the betrotheds blush and look away from each other. Kisara’s hair was twisted in a bun above her head with lotus blossoms tucked into the white locks. Unlike Bakura who was the color of dates, Kisara was the white as the moon from the tips of her fingers to the tip of her nose. Bakura stared at her as she sat down at the table.

“I thought all the children of Khonsu were slain.”

“I thought the same of the children of Thoth.”

Bakura glared at Set. “Priest, you treat this woman well or I will impale you.”

“I will treat her however I please!” Set slammed the flat of his hand against the table. He started at the way his statement sounded out loud and clenched his hand into a fist. “Which will be with all the honor and respect the wife of a royal priest deserves.”

“Her ka is a dragon.” Atem beamed, showing that he was still a little too inexperienced to fully rule a country in the way his eyes gleamed in excitement at the mention of a dragon. “But Kisara can only summon her when sleeping, so Set is going to help train her to control her powers.”

“I will work very hard.” Kisara smiled. “I look forward to the day that I can summon my ka at will and become your bodyguard, my Pharaoh.”

“You’ll do great,” Atem encouraged before picking up a glass of wine and suggesting a toast.

They ate, discussed the future of Kemet, and then there were dancers and trained animals and skits for entertainment. Atem begged the Thief King to give more details for all the stories he used to hear from the guards back when he was a prisoner in his own palace. Bakura laughed and exaggerated every single story she told, but Atem’s face glowed with delight each time she told one more impossible than the last. Once the celebration was over, servants brought out two chests and set them before Bakura and Merwet. Isis stood, gesturing to the chests and explaining their purpose.

“The first chest is the thief’s boon granted by our Pharaoh. All the invoices of every slave sold to foreign lands. It also includes document with Atem’s own seal giving you divine authority to reclaim everyone wrongfully sold during Aknadin’s regency. If anyone resists, let them know that they are the enemy of both our country and our gods, including the living Horus himself, Atem. The second chest is a gift to Merwet for shielding the Pharaoh with her own body. It is full of exotic spices, stones, and incense. There is more than enough treasure in here to fund your quest and help you find your family. It is the prayer of everyone that you are successful in your mission and bring home many of Kemet’s children.”

“We will,” Bakura swore, her usual joviality replaced with a hard, grave expression.

“I have been advised-” Atem shot Set a bitter look. “That it would be unsafe for me to escort you to the harbor; however I’ve arranged an escort to guide you.”

“Thank you, Pharaoh.” Merwet bowed. “For everything.”

“No, thank you. Without you two Kemet would still be in the grip of my uncle, and your quest is going to help begin the long, difficult path to our kingdom’s redemption.”

***

“Can you smell it?” Merwet grinned at Bakura when a distinct twang hit her nostrils. They’d been traveling for weeks through the hot lands of Kemet, but the breeze hitting their faces was pleasant feeling with a hint of salt in its scent. “Is that the sea?”

“I think you’re right.” Bakura nodded.

The harbor cities dotted the coast and allowed trade of precious items such as wood, iron, and lapis lazuli that weren’t native to Egypt. No slave ships docked in the harbor and none ever would again and this pleased Merwet, although the bitterness of the past still clung to her soul like an aftertaste. Her memories were muted, however, as the dizzying sight of blue peaked into view and took her breath away.

“It’s beautiful.”

“It’s endless.” Bakura looked at the horizon in wonder. “Like the desert with drops of water instead of grains of sand.”

They loaded their things onto a ship headed for the kingdom of Kheta. Their guard helped load their trunks before disappearing back into the city on their way home to the capitol. Bakura and Merwet spent the day on the deck, mesmerized by the view and getting used to the way the ship swayed as it sailed northeast.

After sunset, Bakura bumped Merwet with her hip. “Why don’t we settle into our cabin?”

“Oh? Did you want to unpack?” Merwet smiled, cupping her thief's face and admiring the glow of the rising moon lighting on Bakura’s hair.

“Yeah, I want to unpack your body right outta that dress.” Bakura tugged at Merwet’s dress to demonstrate her intentions.

“Then let’s go.” Merwet grabbed Bakura by the belt and dragged her thief below deck and to their private cabin.

She pushed Bakura down onto the mattress. The straw was fresh and clean, they’d paid a lot of money to make sure of it, but it was still lumpy and crude compared to the royal bed they’d shared the night before. Merwet suffered the inconvenience of it, distracting herself by crawling on top of Bakura and pinning her wrists above her head.

“Well, I can’t very well undress you in this position, now can I?” Bakura grinned, her nose scrunching from the expression.

“Then I’ll undress you instead.” Merwet pressed her lips against Bakura’s throat, dragging them along Bakura’s skin.

“Oh Merwet,” Bakura sighed, pressing her head back into the mattress and arching to give Merwet a better angle at her throat.

“My king.” Merwet trailed her kisses down Bakura’s throat and along the delicate curve over her collarbone. After bordering the necklaces around Bakura’s neck with kisses, Merwet meandered down to Bakura’s bare breasts, speaking between gentle brushes of her lips. “I love you… I love you… I love you…”

“Oh my sunlight.” Bakura’s fingers danced through Merwet’s hair. “I’m so happy. Hmph.” She snorted, her face strained with a collage of emotions. “Is it strange? That I thought I’d never say that? I never, never imagined happiness. The grim satisfaction of vengeance? Yes, but never joy.”

Merwet nodded. They didn’t need more words at that moment. They each understood, and their mouths were better used kissing so that was what they did. Slow, languid kisses, thick as the air before a storm. With her arms no longer pinned, Bakura was free to tease the strap of Merwet’s dress off of her shoulder. She caressed the blade of her palm along Merwet’s breast, cupping it and running the pad of her thumb back and forth across Merwet’s dark nipple.

Merwet cooed at the touch. She unclasped Bakura’s belt and dropped it to the floor, peeling away the sheer linen so she could caress Bakura’s naked hips. Bakura ran her hands up the skirt of Merwet’s dress, circling her fingers and massaging Merwet’s legs. When she reached the top of Merwet’s thighs she pulled her hands out of Merwet’s dress and undid her belt, dropping it beside the first one. Merwet bunched the fabric in her hands, pulling it up over her head and tossing it beside them. Bakura crunched her body up high enough to decorate Merwet’s belly with tickling kisses, working her way up to her sternum.

Merwet wove their fingers together, and pressed Bakura back into the mattress. She sucked against Bakura’s bottom lip and used her knee to spread Bakura’s brown legs. Once Bakura was wide open for her, Merwet situated herself on top of Bakura’s pelvis. Bakura wrapped one of her legs around Merwet’s body and slung the other one out to the side to give Merwet room to move.

“Oh yes, love.” Bakura grabbed Merwet’s ass, squeezing and pressing up so that their bodies rubbed together.

Their lips met and their tongues swirled in their mouths. They gently hitched against each other, both shuddering in pleasure. Their lips separated as they gasped and moaned. Bakura pulled her hands away from Merwet’s hold so she could dig her fingers into Merwet’s golden hair. Merwet held Bakura’s cheeks. Their breaths were hot puffs against each other’s faces and their eyes were unfocused as their stared into each other’s faces.

“M-Merwet,” Bakura closed her eyes first, biting her bottom lip as her body tensed.

Merwet braced her hands on either side of Bakura, using the extra leverage to press deeper against Bakura and drag her body more quickly back and forth.

Ah! Ah! Ah! Ahhh!” Bakura gasped with each upward thrust of Merwet’s hips. “M-Mer-wet!”

Bakura held her breath, gripping harder with her hands as her body shivered and relaxed. The leg around Merwet’s waist slid down to the side and she arched her hips up, putting more pressure against Merwet’s cunt as they continued to slide together.

Mmmmm Bakura,” Merwet purred as she picked up her pace.

The shadows danced around the cabin as their ship rocked from the sea, but they were too engulfed with the rocking of their bodies to pay any mind to the light and dark waltzing around them. Bakura reached up, fingers gliding down Merwet’s breasts and circling around her areolas. Her left hand found Merwet’s ass again, and she kneaded Merwet’s rump until Merwet stuttered Bakura’s name with each breath.

“Bakura- Bakura- Bakura- oooh!” Merwet’s thrusts reached their zenith as she came, winding down slowly and leaning forward to kiss Bakura.

Bakura pressed her palm against Merwet’s chest, feeling the way her heart raced like a chariot through the desert. Merwet held Bakura’s face again, controlling the easy, carefree pace of their kisses. Bakura sighed through her nose; her left hand massaged Merwet’s ass while her right stayed pressed to her ib.

“I love you,” Merwet whispered between brushes of their lips.

“I love you too, my queen.”

“I know.” Merwet’s lips spread wide in a smile as she caressed Bakura’s cheeks. “And I’m so glad.”

Bakura pulled Merwet down to her chest, brushing her fingers across Merwet’s back as Merwet used Bakura’s chest as a pillow. The rocking of the ship lulled them into a deep sleep while still in each other’s arms. However a crash jolted them back to consciousness a few hours later.

“What in Set’s asshole was that?” Bakura shifted from beneath Merwet, grabbing her daggers.

“Something crashed into our ship.”

“Well, we need this ship. Let’s go kill whatever interrupted my sleep.” Bakura pulled her crimson robe from one of their chests and wrapped a shenti around her waist as Merwet gathered her khopesh and slipped back into her dress.

The sound of battle echoed down the hall well before they reached the deck. The moment the cold, night, sea air hit them, so did a monstrous cackle. Bakura surveyed the fight- it was all but over with their crew either dead or being bound and led across a boarding plank to an even larger ship. The grating kekekekekeke rang into the night again as she fought the ship’s captain. Bakura flinched.

Shit.”

“Is that one of Sekhmet's?” Merwet whispered into Bakura’s ear.

“Yes.” Bakura gritted her teeth.

“Shit,” Merwet repeated Bakura’s curse. “Use Diabound?”

“I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t if I were you,” A soft voice spoke behind them.

Bakura felt a thin point touch the nape of her neck, and saw Merwet tense beside her. Bakura grit her teeth.

“How the hell did you sneak up on me?”

“Who knows?” The voice laughed, it was a sweet voice, and Bakura wanted to punch the mouth connected to it. “This dart is poisoned by the way, so I wouldn’t suggest trying something daring. If my hand slips, even a little, you’ll die so quick, you’ll hardly realize you’re suffering.”

“You don’t want to do this,” Merwet said in a soothing, friendly voice. “We have a seal from the Pharaoh himself. We’re more valuable as allies than enemies.”

“Sounds like you’re more valuable as hostages, so I’d rather not kill you. Please continue to stay still. Kauket!”

The daughter of Sekhmet kicked the captain back. He slammed against the mast, and Sekhmet pressed her sword into his throat, laughing at the way the blood gushed from him. Her skin was dark, like oiled teak wood exported from foreign lands. It was so dark that the captain’s blood seemed to disappear as it splattered on her arms.

“Kauket!”

She shouted back in a language Bakura didn’t understand and cleaned her sword on the captain’s coat before walking to them.

The stranger behind Bakura replied in the same language, then added, “Pharaoh? That’s your emperor, correct? We can ransom them for more than what’s on this ship.”

“Just kill them. We can ransom their hearts back.” Kauket licked a splash of blood off of the back of her hand, like a cat grooming.

“That sounds too messy,” the other attacker said with an air of distaste.

“Ladies, ladies.” Bakura grinned. “Are you thieves of the sea? You’re in luck, I happen to be the greatest of all thieves. Perhaps we can work something out?”

“We just want gold, thank you,” The voice spoke behind her again.

“I have gold.”

Kauket laughed. “No. You don’t. We have your gold.”

“You can’t keep a poisoned blade to her neck forever.” Merwet grit her teeth and clenched her fists. “And the moment you lower it- you’re dead.”

“That’s unfortunate.” The voice behind Bakura sighed. “I suppose I’ll have to use my second poison then.”

Bakura shouted as she felt a sting in the small of her back. Fire spread through her veins immediately and she felt her knees hit the wooden plank.

“Bakura!” Merwet shouted, dropping to the deck herself to catch Bakura as she fell.

“Don’t worry,” the voice said. “That poison is slow.”

“And painful.” Kauket chuckled. “Isn’t that right, Ryou?”

“It doesn't have to be. There’s an antidote. Perhaps we’ll give it to her-” she turned to Merwet, “If we decide we want to keep you both alive. Until then, whatever you had planned, be it escape or revenge, you should forget about it, unless you want her to die.”

Bakura growled both in pain and rage. She looked up, eyes bleary, but she was finally able to see her attacker. At first she mistook her for another daughter of Khonsu- she was white all over and her hair was a wild shag falling down her back, but then Bakura saw the tails- nine of them- and the dark, dark eyes. Not blue eyes, like Kisara’s, but brown, almost black.

“What… are you?” Bakura frowned, wondering if the poison was causing her to hallucinate.

“Me?” She smiled as if they were old friends, and by all the gods Bakura wanted to stab her. “I’m your captor. Come on, Kauket, tell the crew to get them below deck with the others.”

“Bakura, what should I do?” Merwet whispered in her hair.

Bakura felt the grim smirk twist her features. She didn’t give a single fuck about an antidote, only that Merwet escaped from the two demons in front of them. “Summon Ra, burn both ships, and kill these two assholes.”

END PART 1