Hidden in a cleverly engineered pocket deep within a locked chest, the diary of Queen Naeemah of the Twin Fangs lays abandoned until recovered by a curious scavenger in the northern realms.
The Exiled Lands
I know not how many days it has been since I’ve seen you. My memories return in fragments when I try to recall the events of our exile. Our meticulous plan of your liberation worked as if the gods themselves watched over us.
So…why then, when I awoke, was our guard captain cutting me down from a cross, screaming for me to run? My throat was parched, my body stripped nude and sunburnt. But, somehow, I found the energy to run.
In what hell have I awoken?
I pried this ink and journal from a long-dead, half-decayed body. To worship the goddess of death is one thing. To experience the feel of a corpse beneath my fingers…I shudder to think this will not be the last time.
Where are you, sister? Will my words die with me?
My search continues.
Serpentstone, First Span
You found me! Saved me! Your face has always brought joy to my heart, but our meeting today was the first shred of hope that I could cling to in the most desolate of times.
Yet, despite our fortune, you were not alone. No, sweet sister, the pale-eyed priest that always carried the scent of blood–he was with you…
I shudder to even pen his name. Nabirye, we did so much to free you from a man who viewed you as a mere tool. I fear you play straight into the hands of another. As much as I loathe the idea, I must keep my head low and my words carefully chosen. The smallest slip…
Ah, but tis still a joyous day of our meeting. And for that, we must celebrate.
All of my love,
Serpentstone, Third Span
I’m sure you’ll agree that these days were our longest.
Or perhaps, with our newly loyal Anak whispering sweet nothings into your ear and Imhotep assuring you of our rise in power, you would not.
Queens. The word is heavy. The crowns are heavy. The Twin Fangs of Nekhen, he calls us. Even the name is heavy.
Remember the Luxor gatherings? How noble houses often called on me to attend? Many nights I went at my leisure, enjoying the company of a noble maiden. Even more nights I spent deciphering their hidden meanings, measuring their body language, and trading secrets for status.
Ruling will echo this. But here, my practiced skills are worthless. Intrigue, chivalry, and delicate conversation are dead. Replaced with vile words, crude gestures, and harsh demands.
The light in your eyes when you considered us as rulers. This is what I risked my life to see once again.
With this, our rule begins,
Serpentstone, Fourth Span
I do not remember the last time I raised my voice to you. Even now, my letters quiver in anger. In sorrow.
You named him–HIM–Grand Vizier. Without my counsel. Without so much as my opinion. Do you see what you’ve done?
No, you do not.
Your vision is clouded by the attentions of your Cimmerian. The lies of your Vizier. Your…your “faith.” You believed so deeply in the Great Serpent that you commanded a stranger to sacrifice one of her own in reverence.
My words do not reach you. What shall I do?
Serpentstone, Seventh Span
Tension builds as alliances rise and fall. The trader Imhotep has dealt with for some time, Salma, has visited us once more after nearly three spans. The news she brings speaks of clans to the north rising against our house.
More horrifying was the decision as a council to send Anak to survey our potential northern enemies. You didn’t hear it. You didn’t hear Imhotep tell Anak he must return to service his Queen. That man chooses his words with the care a minter chooses his coin. It means one of two things: either Anak’s life was at risk, or mine.
I warned him, Nabirye. I warned Imhotep that if Anak did not return from the north, I would dispatch of him. Gods, the look in his eyes at my words…it was so hard not to crumble. I know what Anak means to you. I will not allow this.
To the House of Nekhen,
Serpentstone, Eighth Span
I left small notes at your desk, on your door, at your throne. None of them have reached you. Someone is destroying them.
I am many things. Ignorant is not one of them.
I know his intentions. I see it pull at his carefully masked visage. I will not let him destroy this house.
I must keep this brief. I feel those emotionless eyes piercing through my door. He hears my whispers to you, and yours to me.
Serpentstone, Ninth Span
The loss of our Vizier has been difficult. He’s struck deals near impossible to upkeep and we find ourselves on the brink of war.
We’ve opened a tavern–The Antidote. Pale-haired Tassha runs it with a deft hand and an eye for detail that leave little to criticize. I enjoy my evenings there learning the tales of each member of our house.
Despite all, we still press on. And…Nabirye…there is no one else I would rather stand beside.
The Northern Lands
We have witnessed the slaughter of our people. Suffered hellish betrayals. We paid our entire worth to hide in a ceiling while the northerners destroyed Serpentstone.
You begged me to leave as soon as you knew. I devised a plan to evacuate those still loyal.
While you never cared for the dramatic, I left a message in hyena’s blood on our drawbridge.
House Nekhen will never award second chances.
They have made us into murderers, sister. Let us revel in their despair.