3 Chains

~The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not covet," and whatever other command there may be are summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbour as yourself."~


A family of four travelled wearily for days following the breach in Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. They were a part of the handful that escaped and now for them, the future wasn't certain, but as long as they were together, they believed they would be fine.

Aria and her younger brother Eros were only children when the carrying away of her people took place. Ever since they sojourned in the strange land after the dreadful experience.

Then she was four and her brother was only two.

Before them coming to the land she had never left the four walls of Jerusalem. The strange land they sojourned in was Egypt—a prosperous land indeed filled with blood and toil.

She and her family became slaves to Pharaoh. He had twelve princes whom he set in charge of the entire provinces, each having their district to govern.

Needless to say, Egypt was a far cry from Jerusalem. She could vaguely remember the garden behind their home that she and her mother had nursed together.

Aria, ever since they got to Egypt had never known freedom, never knew what it was like to be free, to be able to move without soldiers monitoring your every move.

Ever since she was old enough—and by old enough, ever since she clocked eight she'd been going out to the plantations with her parents.

Everybody thought the Pharaoh to be ruthless, exacting impossible taxes on the people who worked from the crack of dawn to the setting of the sun every day.

The Pharaoh had a son—Prince Akhenaten. She had only seen him once—just once. She was fourteen at the time.

She had been washing her face by the bank of the Nile River when she saw the Royal Fleet, in all its finesse and glory.

Pharaoh Amenhotep stood dauntingly beside his wife as they watched on proudly as their son-the only heir of Egypt, spar with his trainer, as was the custom.

It was one of the training—swordsmanship—he needed to go through to become a good leader, to become a worthy Pharaoh.

Aria had stared entranced as she watched him spar-the sun glittering off his bronze skin.

He must have been no older than twenty years old. Even in the harsh sun, she could see that he was handsome, very handsome, although his emotionless eyes made him look deadly.

That day was the first and only time she had seen Prince Akhenaten.

She and her family arrived at Egypt when she was four, she had worked in the plantation now for fourteen years.

She was eighteen now and most girls her age were already being married off but she couldn't focus on that, she needed to help her parents in the plantation fields.

She wiped the sweat on her forehead with the back of her hand, her short dark hair getting in her dark brown eyes. She had cut her waist-long hair due to the rising attention she'd been receiving from not only her fellow kin but from the dreaded Egyptians as well.

She looked mostly like a boy—thankfully, she received less attention then.

It was evening. She, Eros—now sixteen and her parents settled home.

As was the custom of the Israelite, they all gathered for the evening prayer. They sang and clapped in the moonlight as they danced around the huge fire they made.

Ever since they arrived in Egypt fourteen years ago, they haven't been able to offer sacrifices to their God, the only true God. The God who created the heavens and the earth—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Egypt was widely known for its spiritual and religious practices. They served all sorts of gods and it was believed that the Pharaohs themselves were more or less semi-deities who acted as mediators between the gods and the people who worshipped them.

Sadly, a few of the Israelites have been snared by the practices following in their idolatry but most still held on to the God who on several occasions had delivered them from evil, which was probably why her parents still insisted on keeping the morning and the evening prayers.

The Sabbath day that was supposed to be kept holy, had been profaned. They were usually subjected to all manner of rigorous work even on the holy day—which means they had almost no free day.

It was work work work until if you're lucky, death came early.

In short, life in Egypt was miserable.

Ever since she was a little girl, she believed in God, having been told extraordinary stories about the limitless powers of the God who once delivered her people from that same land a long time ago with great signs and wonders.

Even though they—her people sinned, in that they had turned their backs on him, she still believed God cherished them, cherished her, in the ways he would always protect her from those that were stronger than her, the way he always kept her from harm.

And how he provided for them—her parents, she and her younger brother and how on several occasions, kept her from rape.

She knew one day, God would once again set them free.


The ever brutal desert sun spread it's angry rays on Aria as she worked yet another day on the plantation field. She sighed in exhaustion and fatigue. Her dark uneven hair clung to her clammy skin.

Blasts of the ceremonial trumpets cut through the tense air like an unforgiving blade.

The thin clothe she had on clung to her like a second skin. She stood up straight and looked at the Palace from afar, she could barely make it out in the distance.

There seemed to be commotion and lots of marketers, commuters were gathered.

The Palace...

The Palace was a place she never dreamed of stepping foot into-with it's high ceilings, daunting statues, bronze floors and an infinite number of guards and servants. It was where the Royal Family resided.

Even the slaves seem to have their own special clothing—aside the customary Egyptian sheath dresses made from linen.

Their men always wore a neck-length wig, a kilt wrapped around their lower body with their bare chest exposed.

Their noblewomen always wore ankle-length sheath dresses with straps or draped, which was too transparent for Aria's taste.

She looked once again at the daunting statues of one of their deities erected at the large entrance, straining her eyes. It was pretty far from where they were.

She sighed and looked up at the sky. The clouds moved lazily, almost carefree, completely oblivious to her suffering.

She closed her eyes and savoured the feel of the warm breeze on her face.

Her people were like outcasts in the land as if subjection to slavery wasn't enough, back-breaking levies were imposed on them by the Prince set over their province.

They barely had enough to live on as it was. Thoroughly exhausted, she went back home. Her parents and brother had already retired hours prior.

It was already dusk by the time she got home. She sunk into the wooden stool by the makeshift fireplace. It could get really cold at the night-freezing cold.

After short five minutes, she stood and prepared to make dinner for all four of them but unfortunately for her—the wood refused to burn.

She wiped her forehead and kept blowing on the red hot coal wood, hoping it would catch fire completely so she could make dinner.

They needed to eat early so they could go for the evening prayer, as was their custom.

Aria felt a hand land gently on her right shoulder as she was crouched over the wood that still refused to burn.

"Aria, it's fine. Let me." She heard the soothing voice of her mother say and her tense frame visibly relaxed.

She stood to face her already ageing mother-who was by far the most beautiful woman she had ever known.

Her mother's name was Sarah.

"Thanks, ma," Aria said softly to her.

"Why don't you go out for some fresh air, it's cool outside." Her mother urged.

Aria nodded and hugged her mother—the familiar lavender scent engulfing her. She and her mother had planted some together back home. It reminded her of home, reminded her of Jerusalem.

She let go and squinted around the dimly lit room illuminated by a little oil lamp. She informed her mother briefly she was going for a short walk.

"Be careful daughter and be back before the evening prayer." The gentle voice of her father cautioned.

Aria smiled at her worrisome father who was busy helping her brother skin a rabbit.

"Yes, Father." She kissed him and left their little brick house they called home-it was one of many others just like it.

The night was pretty dark and the moon had refused to give its light. Maybe it wasn't the wisest thing for her to leave home but something propelled her forward.

She headed towards her hideout—her secret haven—where she went to think and just to be alone with her thoughts.

The street was deserted and the only lights she could see were the lights coming from the other brick houses from their oil lamps.

In a few minutes, she reached her secret hideout which looked nothing more than a small shed. The clothing she'd used as roofing was tattered and had been sewn together so often Aria feared it would no longer withstand any more stitches.

Her hideout was located near the Nile River, she didn't know why she chose that location but all she knew was that something about it called to her.

She was filthy, so she decided to take a shower by the bank. It was late and dark, so she didn't have to worry much about anyone seeing her.

The bath lasted for no more than a minute and she changed into one of her old clothes she always left in the shed.

As she sat by the bank, her gaze moved upwards and she was amazed at the number of stars that looked down on her. Aria let out a sigh of relief as she saw the moon begin to cast its surreal glow on the earth.

She stared back at the river, it's solemn yet graceful movement.

Sometimes, she wished she was like the river, she wished she could go wherever she pleased without fear or bias, or judgement or ridicule.

She remembered once when she was fourteen when she had first seen the Royal Fleet. That was the closest she had ever been to the Royal Family.

She feared the Pharaoh—everyone did and going by the word that went around the market, the Prince was much worse.

Everyone feared the Royal Family. The Pharaoh Amenhotep was the only Pharaoh that hasn't been faced with rebellion and insubordination. Some of the last Pharaohs had either been assassinated, dethroned by rebellion or exiled.

But Pharaoh Amenhotep was known far and wide for his military strength, accomplishments and ambitions, so no one dared to oppose him.

His son, the Crown Prince—Prince Akhenaten, was a mystery. He never went out of the palace, people rarely saw him and rumour had it that he was very vast in the dark arts and could summon and evoke spirits at will.

Aria didn't want to believe such things happened but she knew them to contain some iota of truth.

Egyptians were known to be into all sorts of sorcery, magic and their theology about the underworld.

Every year, several rituals were carried out. Sacrifices—human sacrifices—were performed to appease their gods.

There was one story she heard about a past Pharaoh who in his crazed and spirit induced state, sacrificed his only child and daughter to the Nile goddess to appease the goddess, to rid their lands of drought.

As the story went, the Nile River had supposedly dried up. Men, women and children died by the thousands.

There was not enough place to bury their dead.

Aria closed her eyes for a moment enjoying the surreal environment.

In a flash, a vision of amber eyes invaded her mind.

She gasped loudly as she opened her eyes.

Her breathing was slightly laboured and she stood up.

She quickly scanned her surrounding.

Everything had become dead quiet. She had never had visions before.

The image of those cold amber eyes were so impressed in her mind that she couldn't get it out of her head even if she wanted to.

For some reason, those eyes seemed familiar to her, like she'd seen them before. Most of the people she knew and lived with had dark brown eyes—never amber.

Aria didn't understand the vision, but she had an eerie feeling, a dreadful feeling deep inside her stomach. She looked up at the stars as if they could answer all the questions that burdened her poor soul.

She closed her eyes and made a silent prayer to the God of heaven and something in her heart told her that he had heard her.

It would be a secret between her and God.

She turned and saw the small lights coming from the brick houses some distance away.

She should head back.

So she traced her steps back home. Her mother straightened and sent a soft smile her as Aria walked through the door, the sweet aroma of the meal invading her senses.


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