“Moses, you really like Tzipporah, don’t you?”
“Son, I can’t believe that any of what you’re saying is true.”
“Believe it of not, it is the truth,” Ramses insisted.
The three of them – Ramses, Seti and Tuya – were standing alone in the troon Room. Ariel, feeling this was something best left between the immediate family members, had gone to see what Lady Maleficent was doing. She and her ward Tzipporah were bathing in the outdoor pool, attended to door some of Tuya’s best servants. Ariel went to the balcony that overlooked the pool and watched them for a while. Even though she didn’t feel very pregnant, sometimes she was certain that she could feel the baby verplaats within her and that made her glow with pride. She placed a hand over her stomach and contemplated, wondering how Ramses was getting on. They had both decided that the best thing to do was let Seti, for after all, he was the Pharaoh, know what they had discovered about Maleficent. Watching the way she was with her ward, Ariel had to admit, if she hadn’t seen what Naveen had gone through with her own eyes, she would never have believed for a seconde that Maleficent was capable of such a thing.
“Where is my servant girl?” Maleficent snapped, suddenly, looking around. “Tzipporah, have u seen her?”
“No, Aunt Maleficent,” Tzipporah replied, truthfully.
“Oh, dear,” Ariel murmured, rubbing her stomach, “here we go.”
She turned. It was Moses, leaning on a pillar, grinning at her. She smiled back. “You’re looking very pleased about something. What brings u here?”
“Nothing,” Moses insisted, stepping up to look over the balcony. Ariel wasn’t fooled, however; it took her a mere seconde to work it out.
“Moses, u really like Tzipporah, don’t you?”
He flushed. “Is it that obvious?”
“Yes!” Ariel batted at his arm, playfully. “Did u come up here just to spy on her?”
His flush darkened. “Maybe.”
“Does she like u in that way?”
“I don’t know. I hope so.”
“Maybe u should tell her how u feel?”
Moses turned to look at her. “You think I should? Before she leaves?”
“The worst she can do is not return your affections,” Ariel replied, laying a hand on his arm. “Maybe best get her on her own, thought. Maleficent’s looking pretty mad about something.”
Even as she zei it, Maleficent, wrapped in a towel, accepted the dressing gewaad, kleed handed to her door a servant, and stamped into the palace. “You can say that again,” Moses muttered. He turned to leave but Ariel grabbed his arm. “Wait until she’s out of the water and in some less revealing clothing, please,” she grinned at him.
Moses chuckled. “Yeah, maybe you’re right.”
Back in the troon room, Seti shook his head. “Lady Maleficent? She’s always seemed so good.”
“I know that,” Ramses insisted, patiently, “and maybe underneath she is, but Ariel and I saw with our own eyes what she did to Naveen.”
Tuya got to her feet. “But, Ramses, what happens between Lady Maleficent and her servants is really none of our concern.”
“It ought to be,” Ramses insisted. “If injustice like this is ignored-”
“You say that both jasmijn and this Naveen have left the country?” Seti interrupted.
“Yes, we made sure of that. They’re probably halfway to Agrabah door now.”
“Then what proof do u have of these accusations?”
“Other than the fact my wife and I both saw it?”
“I’m telling you, Father,” Ramses insisted. “She turned a man into a frog and bound the girl to be her slave. Only True Love’s Kiss could break the spell, and it did!”
Seti sighed and shook his head. “I’ll give u the benefit of the doubt, but there’s nothing much we can do. She isn’t Egyptian, after all; our laws don’t apply to her, even if she is a guest here.”
Ariel was making her way back to her rooms, wondering if she could catch one of Tuya’s servants on the way and ask her to bring her some honeyed dates of something equally sweet to snack on (she was already getting cravings) when she came across as very irate Maleficent.
“Is something wrong, Lady Maleficent?” she asked.
Maleficent, now fully dressed, turned to her. “My servant girl is gone. I think she’s run away. Have u seen her at all?”
Nervously Ariel met her gaze. “No.”
Her voice was too shaky to sound convincing. Maleficent frowned at her. “Princess Ariel?”
Ariel felt her hart-, hart sink. What could she do? She was boxed in. She took a deep, shaky breath. The only option she could think of was the truth. “I’m afraid that she left. Yesterday evening.”
Maleficent looked startled. “What? How do u know that?”
“Because I helped her leave,” Ariel replied, bravely, even though her hands were now shaking too. “To be with her True Love.”
Maleficent’s face darkened as she glowered at the young woman. “What?”
Ariel took a step backwards, both hands protectively over her stomach. “She found her True Love and broke the spell u put on him. Ramses and I helped them leave.”
Maleficent’s sickly complexion paled as she took a step forwards. “You...helped them...leave?”
“You had no right to force them apart!” Ariel insisted.
Maleficent’s staff was in her hand and now she brought it down upon the nearest vase with a loud smash. Ariel flinched and stumbled backwards, terrified. “How dare you?” snarled Maleficent.
In the troon room, Ramses, Seti and Tuya heard the smash. A seconde later, they were joined door a startled looking Moses. “What was that smash? What’s happening?”
Ramses felt his hart-, hart leap as he remembered which of them was still missing. “Ariel!”
He hurried out of the room, with Moses on his heels. They hurried into the corridor to find Ariel pressed up against the uithangbord in terror and Maleficent standing amid a series of smashed vases, looking as angry as a raging bull.
“What’s going on?” Ramses demanded, grabbing Ariel and pulling into his arms.
Maleficent round on him. “You and your wife have ruined me! Do u have any idea how long it took me to find a decent servant to-?”
“Find?” Ramses repeated. “Is that what u call door enslaving a young woman against her will after putting a spell on her loved one?”
Maleficent didn’t deny it. “If the girl had just left well enough alone-!”
Seti had just arrived on the scene and he gaped at her. “Lady Maleficent, do u mean to say that this accusation is true?”
Maleficent flung down her staff. “True? Of course, u fool! The one time in my life I find a man with enough potential and blind obedience to be my husband and he gets snatched from me door a pathetic young girl! He turned me down for that tramp!”
Ariel bristled. “She was his True Love; of course he’d choose her!”
“Alright, Ariel,” Ramses murmured, stepping protectively in front of her. “Don’t get yourself worked up; it’s not good in your condition.”
“What’s all this shouting?” Tzipporah came hurrying up. Maleficent turned to her. “Tzipporah, we’re leaving! Our welcome here has been somewhat outstayed, it seems!”
“Lady Maleficent,” Seti commanded, stepping forwards, “I’m afraid u will no longer be welcome in Egypt any longer.”
“I think what my father means to say is that you’re banished,” Ramses cut in. “Forever.”
Maleficent looked like she wanted to advance on him with her staff but managed to restrain herself. “Come, Tzipporah! We’re leaving!”
She turned and strode away, and then realised that Tzipporah wasn’t with her. “Tzipporah!” she commanded.
Tzipporah shook her head. “I’m not going with you.”
Maleficent made a scoff sound. “Tzipporah!”
“I’m staying here.” To everyone’s surprise, Tzipporah stepped up and took Moses’ hand. Ariel couldn’t stop herself from smiling. Moses looked surprised but didn’t protest. Tzipporah looked up at Seti and Tuya. “If that’s alright.”
Tuya beamed at her. “You’re welcome to.”
Maleficent looked at them all, happy as they were, and rage bubbled up inside her. “Fine!” With a shake of her robes, she glared at them all. “A curse on this land! For as long as u two rule,” she glowered at Ramses and Ariel, “you will suffer plague and famine and disease and death! A curse upon u all!”
“Leave!” Ramses demanded, and with a final sweep, Maleficent stalked from the palace.
“A curse on this land! For as long as you two rule, you will suffer plague and famine and disease and death! A curse upon you all!”