“How can you live with yourself after what you did?”, she cried. “Not only did you start the war I have been working so hard to prevent all these years, but you also caused the death of the one person we both loved!”

“I had to do what was necessary to end this quarrel between the clans once and for all,” she justified as mockery crept into her tone.

“Do you even hear yourself right now? Have you any idea what you’ve done?” she took a step closer until their faces were only a breath apart.

“This was only the beginning, sister. This war, that you started, is going to cost a lot more than the people who died in today’s battle…and it’s all going to be because of you.”

24 hours earlier

The sun’s rays slowly oozed from behind the hill through the palm trees as Kiya stood there in the midst of the desert waiting for her sister’s return. Dallying in regret over the past, it was difficult for her to believe that her sister can still be trusted.

The heat stood distinct in the air and she had not yet returned from the quest that she was ordered to undertake. It had been two days and no rider was sent with news saying that she had been successful with her mission.

However, with endearing sweetness and manner, she was grabbed from behind with strong and steady arms wrapping around her waist.

“What’s on your mind?” he softly spoke in her ear. Doubts and worries slowly drifted out of her thoughts. She let out a vanquished and weary sigh. The murmurs of soft winds in the rustle of tree leaves were keeping them company.

“Talk to me,” he said tenderly as he turned her around to face him.

“I think we might’ve done the wrong thing, Neferu. We were too rash to decide to get married so soon, knowing that Nefertiri still had feelings for you,” she murmured. “I can feel she’s going to get herself into trouble. You know how she gets when she’s emotional,” she uttered with worry.

He cupped her delicate face into his hands, placed a kiss on her forehead and assured her that Nefertiri is old enough now to make her own decisions and that she has nothing to worry about.

“We’re family now,” he said with a smile. Though dimmed by the cold touch of unjust suspicion, she let go of her worry and leaned in for a passionate kiss.

15 hours earlier

“We set up camp here! Inform the others,” she called out. She rode forward on her carriage, pulled by a horse, and accompanied by two of her soldiers.

“Yes, my queen,” one of the soldiers answered and rode back to the army that followed.

They were setting camp, preparing for a war that she was hoping would never take place. The Amarar tribe was the only tribe resisting her queenship among all tribes under her rule.

“My queen,” the commander interrupted her thoughts, “Should we carry out the defense plan now?” Kiya hesitated.

A part of her still believed her sister could make them agree on her terms for a peace treaty. She wanted it to be true. But right now was not the time or place to cling to hope. They had to prepare for the worst. They had to prepare for battle.

“May I remind you, my queen, that your duties lie with the tribes and that we stand beside you no matter what. Our sacrifice will not be in vain. We will respect whatever decision you’re about to make,” he stood up straight and waited for her to respond.

Knowing that he was right, Kiya gave her ear to the demon of dark glory and answered with a simple nod. Impervious to the lessons of experience with her sister Nefertiri, she already knew they were coming, and not in peace. Either way her fate was cruel.

6 hours earlier

The morning mist came broadening over the sand, covering the plane desert, like the fear that had suddenly crept into the bones of each soldier standing.

Although she had already felt it coming, she still couldn’t believe what she saw; the approach of the biggest army of all the tribes, the Amarar army. The sight caused deep shame and rankling remorse to rush through her like ice cold water running down her spine. The queen betrayed by her own flesh and blood.

“Neferu!” she called out. He was right behind her the whole time and as soon as she said his name, he grabbed her hand. They both frowned perplexedly at the number of soldiers approaching from behind the hill before them – an immense army that dwarfed theirs.

“Kiya, look at me. This fight is so much bigger than the quarrel between you and Nefertiri. Your father had been preventing this war for years and now is your chance to finally put this hate to an end. Show them who’s their true queen, and what will happen to those who won’t follow Queen Kiya,” he squeezed her shoulders even harder as he said these encouraging words.

“Besides…I know about your back-up plan.” He whispered. Neferu always had the eye of an eagle.

“Wait…how did you…?” she stuttered, shocked that he had found out about the one thing she wasn’t proud of.

“I’ve known you for a long time now. Don’t you think I know what spins around in that beautiful little head of yours? Your plan is dangerous and we might end up all dead, but don’t forget that by carrying it out you will earn their respect. You will finally be feared; something your father was unable to achieve in his kind years of ruling. But look where being kind has gotten us. Kiya, don’t hesitate for a second. Shoot straight, my queen. And don’t worry about me. I’ll always find my way back to you.”

As he said those last words, he let go of her, grabbed his sword, and let out a roar of bravery that triggered a rising storm of battle cries.

Kiya turned around to face the enemy marching towards her like little insects about to be crushed, “Okay little sister, so this is your humiliating paltriness of what you call revenge. I’ll show you what real revenge looks like.”

She grabbed her bow, which was carved with her royal symbol: the Feather of Goddess Maat. She waited for the signal. Her army marched down to their glory with divine honor, into the very welcoming arms of death.

However, the battle had proven to be a bitter dissolution. Her own men were killed one by one; there was no glint of hope anywhere. The naked fact of death was staring right through her. Her eyes traced Neferu’s every move, never letting him out of her sight. The commander’s silence was a clear statement that her army was losing, and the antagonizing sight of dead corpses was proof.

“My Queen, I think it’s time.” the commander confessed.

The pull of body and soul was strong. Deep down, she knew it was the only way to win this war. She took an arrow out of the quiver and wrapped a piece of cloth around the tip of it. Slowly, she then placed the arrow on the string of the bow and set the arrow on fire. In moments of swift and momentous decisions, Kiya breathed in deeply whilst pulling the string closer to her face, ready to aim.

The wild whirl of shameless regret and passionate sorrow caused her to take one last good look at Neferu, who at the same time, had turned around with flesh wounds over his face, covered in blood, as he looked at his wife with a smile on his face. They knew what they wanted to say to each other in this very moment, but they couldn’t.

Although there were tears in her eyes, she felt at ease, so she aimed at the sky for the arrow to fly as high and far as possible. Thoughts came in thronging haste as she let go of the string in a swift back motion. The arrow landed in a puddle, which the soldiers thought was water. But all the men, soaking wet, quickly realized that it was a flammable substance. The whole battlefield was spread with it before they had arrived.

The gloom of the ambitious fire was everywhere to be seen; it spread so fast, and like a big wave, it took every body with it. The moment marked an epoch, and the smoke of burning flesh rose up into the air. The sky was turning to the dark shades of death, and their screams of agony and pain will haunt her for the rest of her life. She had finally made a statement of evil to her enemy.

“Congratulations, my Queen. You have won the war,” the commander said, with too much pride in his tone.

Kiya turned around in disgust and slapped the commander right across his face. She couldn’t utter a word, but the anger in her eyes said it all.

Suddenly, Nefertiri emerged from the trees behind her, not a hint of shame or regret on her face. She strode forth with impervious steps and with a spectacular display of wrath, she spoke these words: ‘You don’t look shocked, sister. Have you finally seen what I’m capable of? It’s not only you that has a loyal army behind her. The fact that they still want to rebel against you shows how weak of a queen you actually are!’

Moods of malicious reaction and vindictive recoil sprang from her mouth like a snake injecting its venom. Full of exulting pride, she snapped: ‘How do you feel? Knowing that you killed him? It’s fitting, now that neither of us can have him…and I’m not the one who has to live with it!’.

Kiya took one step closer to her sister and fought every urge in her aching body not to strangle the life out of her.

“How can you live with yourself after what you did?” she cried. “Not only did you start the war I have been working so hard to prevent all these years, but you also caused the death of the one person we both loved,” every word uttered was a complete blur to Kiya. The only memory left to her of this day was the feeling of blinding anger.

“If it’s a war that you want, it’s a war you’ll get. Let the games begin, because unlike you, I have nothing to lose now, and for once in my life, I will not play by the rules, as our father had taught us. Today I’ve only shown you a glimpse of what I‘m capable of. Let the betrayal that you have committed against your queen today be the seal that breaks us apart forever. You are no longer my flesh and blood,” she never once hesitated with her words.

As Nefertiri walked away with a devilish smirk on her face, it was clear that the spell of a dream full of death was upon them.