Day 3 : Cleopatra and Octavian

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Cleopatra

Upon the signal Cleopatra retreated from the naval  battle to her mausoleum where she was to meet Antony. She did not know he was told she had killed herself. He stabbed himself in the stomach to join her in death and then found out the truth. He was rushed through the streets of Alexandria fighting for his life just to look at her one last time….

Cleopatra held Marc Antony in her arms, feeling his breath become lethargic as the shadow of Anubis grew larger, she knew their time together was running out. “My Queen” Antony said weakly. “Plead for clemency, make an alliance, do whatever he says, please.” he begged. “Hush now, my love” she cooed, caressing his face. “Don’t concern yourself with any of that now, you are on your way to Elysium where you go to make a home for us.” kissing his lips gently, she laid a hand on his chest. “Close your eyes, my King, sleep… I will join you soon.” she prayed.

Outside, the mausoleum doors were being pounded by battering rams. Octavian had marched into Alexandria and had come personally for his spoils of war. He would not have her alive she promised herself.The last time they met was in Macedonia where she went to arrange safe passage for her children, forgiveness for Marc and the surrender of Alexandria if he would spare their lives and let them live out their days in Rome or wherever he chose. Octavian heard her terms and countered.

“Your children will be sent away but kept safe, sent to a school in Athens to receive the best education but you must relinquish the use of the name Caesarion and any rights he may have to the Roman empire. Also, they will marry according to my needs and wishes, for the advancement of Rome. Next you will cast Antony aside. He will be allowed back into Rome and reinstated as a senator though he will hold no higher seat. His original lands and holdings will also be returned to him and he must go back to Octavia. Lastly, you and I will marry. You were supposed to be with me, and not that loathsome fool.”

Cleopatra stared him right in the eyes, snorted and let out a cackling laugh that echoed through the room. “You think me some kind of prize, or possession? That I would agree to this is pure lunacy. Do you not remember the fate of the last boy king who tried to own me? “ she challenged. “I would never be with the likes of you, not even by force, I would rather die first!” she declared. “Then you will.” he said simply. Cleopatra began laughing again “ So you would go to war for being denied entrance to my golden delta?” she smirked.

Octavian’s face flushed a deep crimson. He was angry now, not the outcome she was looking for. “You have always looked down on me, a boy begging for your attention but you never saw the ambitious man inside of me. We could rule the world together and yet you refuse me. I am an intelligent, young and  viral man. I command legions of men ready to die for me, I could lay Rome at your feet and have the power to command the people to accept you as one of their own. Our children would have rights to Rule both empires, so again, I ask you, why do you refuse me? “

She knew he would never concede to any of her terms and would slaughter her family in an instant. There was no other recourse than to go to war, an agreement to this marriage would not be a guarantee, no matter what he claimed, she knew his heart. “Do you want to know why?” she said, seductively. “Indulge me” me he said curiously. “You are not Caesar, dear boy you are hardly a man yet! I knew you as a sickly runt, hanging off the robes of your now father, constantly groveling for affection and time he did not have to give you. I’ve even wiped the snot from your face when you cried because the other boys were better than you during combat drills. I watched you use your position and power to beat them instead of improving your skills, and I always watched you relish in their punishments for having upset you. Octavian if you didn’t get something you wanted, you cried and forced them to give it to you in the name of your father. You’ve never earned anything in your life, even the seat you hold now is because of Caesar. His supporters  still live on in the senate and believe that you might be able to carry on his legacy, again not by your hands.

What are you on now, your second or third wife? I am to discard my true and rightful husband to be just another one counted amongst your wives, and when you have no need of me, have used my body, taken my land and my power, will I too be discarded? No. My answer remains no and will forever be a no.”

Cleopatra storms off, not even giving Octavian a chance to say anything else. She boarded her ship, immediately setting sail for Alexandria. War would be on her doorstep at any moment and she had to prepare. She would separate her children, sending them off to different lands across her empire until this was over with orders on what to do next should she be killed. Feeling the hand of death at her back, she knew that she would not survive. She had let her heart lead her to decisions she shouldn’t have made and now there was no turning back. “I regret nothing” she prayed to the Goddess Isis. “My only wish is to die as I have lived, a Queen. I will not hand over Egypt to anyone.” she vowed.

Holding the now lifeless Marc Antony, Cleopatra said her final goodbyes and wished him well on his journey, again reminded him that she would see him soon. Kissing his lips for the last time, she got up to prepare for Octavian. Her maids quickly covering him, one final act of respect. She changed her bloody dress and wore a gown fit to receive any dignitary. Trembling she applied the Khol to her eyes, the mausoleum still holding up during the assault but it wouldn’t be much longer before the doors were breached. The rouge to her cheek was the last thing and then she sat on her throne, waiting. It wasn’t long until the doors were smashed to pieces. Octavian entered, flanked by his guards unsure of what awaited him. He saw the covered corpse on the floor, Cleopatra on her throne and knew immediately that he had won.

Now it was his turn to shame her , he began “Ah, Cleopatra, the Queen!” he jested, clapping loudly as he approached her. “You should have taken my offer” he reminded her. Silent and statuesque, she stared at him, unbothered. “I am here to collect my spoils” he said, licking his lips. “I will take you back to Rome,  parade you naked through the streets for all to see the grand slut of Egypt. You will be executed and burned, unable to enter into your afterlife, you will be nothing. Your maids will be given to the soldiers immediately. They will be raped,  repeatedly.Those that survive will be enslaved, also paraded naked through the street. Your children will be dragged behind your cage and brought to the arena where they will be torn to pieces by wild animals during the games held in my honor. I will erase you from history, you will cease to exist.” he hissed.

Unwavering in her resolve she answered “You will do no such thing. I will surrender all of Egypt to you in exchange for the lives of my children and a private execution.” Smirking he replies “Now why would I do that? I am here. My ships are ready to attack and my army will decimate your city, I have no need to bargain with you.”“Do you forget I am still a Ptolemy?” she questioned. “The people of Alexandria will rise at the disrespect shown to their queen. They will fight every last soldier you have. Do you think your men can survive an Egyptian summer under all that armor? If you agree, I will surrender all to you, peacefully. You will be welcomed as ruler and the people will obey you. No one else needs to die. Your men are tired and want to go home.”

He hated the fact that she was right. Though he could attack he was on unfamiliar territory and not properly equipped for a revolt or a long siege on the city. She was defeated and yet he had to agree to her terms. The people of Rome supported him but there were a few still who publicly supported Caesarion’s claim. His successful conquest of Egypt would no doubt force those senators to be silent, Rome would finally have a sole ruler,so, he agreed to her terms. She requested a day to draw up the treaty of surrender and to see her children one last time. He acquiesced on the condition that she remain in the mausoleum the entire time. Her maids, children and advisors would be the only ones to come and go. There would be Roman soldiers posted outside all doors to ensure that all went according to plan. She also agreed to this, so he left, to return the day after tomorrow. Cleopatra had no intention of honoring her side of this bargain, instead she used the time to keep her family safe. Her advisors were instructed to carry out her plans. She was to see her children one last time and they would quickly be carried off to the locations secured for them, unbeknownst to her in case she was tortured. She bade her maids to bring her cosmetics, perfumes, ointments and the dress she wanted to be buried in.

In the morning, she bathed, dressed, perfumed her hair and body. Her maid’s applied her make up through tears and pleas to leave the mausoleum and escape. Smiling sadly, she said “My children are safe and my lover is dead. There is no hope left for me, he will never stop hunting me until I am dead. I choose this of my own accord. I thank you both for your years of loyal service, now help me to my throne and then you must leave, I will not let him have you! “

They helped her up, arranged her dress and placed the Uraeus crown on her head. Please bring my tortoise shell comb, she requested. This was her favorite adornment. Simple but her most treasured possession. It was the first thing Marc Antony had gifted her. She kept it safe in box so that it would never be harmed. Once she held the box in her hands she urged her maids to leave, hearing the trumpets announcing Octavian’s return. “My lady, we will not leave you!” they cried. “Fools!” she screamed at them. “He will not take me alive, I will be dead before he walks through that door, leave!” she commanded. They would not listen. “We will remain here and watch over you. Once you are gone, we will depart this place, my Queen. Do not worry for us.” they said.

The fear began to rise in her throat like bile but there was no time to reconsider. She opened the box and lift the comb. The top was carved with two swans, eternal partners. and had two long teeth to hold her hair. Under the pillow that held the comb was a small vial. She opened it and dipped each tooth comb into the contents. Taking a deep breath she pierced the top of her left breast. The  poison was fast, she immediately felt her mind blur so she quickly pierced her right breast. In moments, she was gone. Her maids propped her up and placed the comb in her hair, out of sight. They used a hidden dagger to cut their palms and quickly rubbed the ointment on the wound. They died at the feet of their Queen as Octavian entered.

In his rage he started throwing her things around screaming and cursing at her dead body. “I will find them! I will destroy this city!” he said to her cold corpse. Kicking her trunks and baskets of food meant for the afterlife,  he jumped back, frightened. “Snakes!” he roared. Two black asps slithered out amongst the fruit towards the door, no one dared touch them, they were notorious for their lethal venom. “This is how she did it!” he yelled, turning to the guards. “You let things in here without checking them? What else happened here? I will have you executed for this !” he promised them, leaving her and her maids in the mausoleum. “Seal it off!” he commanded.

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