As for the accomplices, Governor Djehutihotep asked again: “Supreme General, the edict gives out two options: removal of their title or an amount of fine. What is your opinion?”
Amon replied: “I have no opinion on that. They make their own choice.”
Governor Djehutihotep said: “Much thanks to the Supreme General for letting them off lightly! As for the nobles who tried to lodge a complaint against you, Pharaoh mentioned that they should compensate you with a sum of money. How much do you think is enough?”
Amon smiled. “I have no intention to extort money from anyone. As for the exact amount, I will leave it to Governor Djehutihotep to decide. These few days have been hard on you! The compensation money will be divided into three. One for me, one for General Hardedef and the last for General Ankh. They can consider it as my gratitude and Pharaoh’s kindness.”
Since the Pharaoh did not offer them any real rewards other than praising them, Amon decided to give them something.
Governor Djehutihotep sighed in relief. “This matter is finally over. The Hapisidis begins the day after tomorrow, we made it in time.”
Gabriel, who had been listening at the side, said: “The Adoratrice has given the order that, once this matter is resolved, everyone involved should proceed to the meeting hall in the shrine in the afternoon. She wants to know the outcome personally.”
Amon just stood up and it seemed as if he had something to say, but after hearing Gabriel’s words, he gave a signal to Hardedef before following everyone to the shrine.
At the same meeting hall where the nobles had caused a din, the Adoratrice inquired about the Pharaoh’s edict and how Governor Djehutihotep handled the matter. Nodding her head in satisfaction, she gave a few words of consolation to Amon and praised the governor for his hard work.
Lastly, she said to Amon: “It’s against everyone’s will to see such scandalous events befall our Supreme General during his rare visit. Please put these matters behind you. The Hapisidis is in two days. It‘s the second time you participate in the ceremony. Two years ago, you were an honored guardian of the Shrine. This time, you are the Supreme General. How does it feel?”
Amon bowed and replied: “If I have made any achievement on this land, I owe it all to the guidance of Your Highness as well as to Lord Gabriel. I have a request, and I pray Your Highness accepts it.”
“Your request shall be heard.”
Amon: “I wish I can participate the same way as I did for the first time, dress as an honored guardian, carry the spear which I once carried and stand guard where I once stood. I would like to guard the Adoratrice, as well as to serve Memphis once more.”
Everyone was surprised at his words. Instead of attending the ceremony as the Supreme General, he preferred participating as a honored guardian, a watchman, as he used to be. This should be considered as a great favor to the Shrine of Isis and Memphis.
Before anyone could say a word, Maria smiled and replied: “Your modesty is appreciated. I accept your request. ”
Everyone regained their composure and started expressing their admiration to Amon. He smiled and said: “Your Highness, actually I still have one more thing that I wanted to bring up at the governor’s office, but since everyone is here, I shall say it now. I was informed that a noble wishes to bring charges against the commoner Sabaf.”
Governor Djehutihotep was briefly stunned, and he asked: “Supreme General, isn’t this matter resolved already?”
Amon replied: “The matter regarding Sabaf’s attempted assassination on me is resolved. This is a different issue. I am not the one charging him, General Hardedef is. The charges have been written down in detail. Governor Djehutihotep, you should take a look before you say anything. Shall we continue the discussion here, or shall we move to the governor’s office?”
Maria frowned. “What does General Hardedef want to charge Sabaf with? Let me see the charges first.”
Hardedef took out a document and presented it to the Adoratrice through Gabriel’s hands. As she read the document, Maria’s frown deepened. She said with a solemn expression: “The rest of you take a look at this as well.”
Everyone looked through the document. Some looked ghastly, some felt relieved. The document described in detail how Sabaf had, after the death of Mahu, sent ruffians to cause trouble at the farm and stage an act to frame Old Mahu of an assassination attempt. After that, he seized the farm while his accomplice Ledaros seized Mahu’s wife. In the end, Old Mahu died in prison while Mahu’s wife committed suicide.
Mahu was once Hardedef’s subordinate, and today, he was going to seek redress for the injustice Mahu’s family had suffered!
What had started as a trivial brawl in the brothel was turned into a big issue by Amon, and many people thought that it was all because of a woman. Later on, things did not seem to be as they looked, and the smarter ones thought that Amon was taking the opportunity to put Vizier Anhotep in check. Now, they finally knew, the reason Amon did not let Sabaf off was because of this injustice suffered by his subordinate who had given his life in the battlefield.
Maria sighed softly and said: “General Hardedef, your investigation is detailed and the facts are clear. What happened to Mahu’s family was tragic and pitiful, but it would be difficult to overturn the case according to the laws.”
Maria was right. This was because the most crucial evidence was missing. Back then, it was Ledaros who planned the whole matter. He was the one who bought the farm from Mahu’s wife, and he was also the one who forced Mahu’s wife to submit to him. However, Ledaros was now dead, and so was Mahu’s wife.
As for the framed charges on Old Mahu, he had indeed entered Sabaf’s territory with a mob while armed. He had also encountered Sabaf and Ledaros’s carriage and in the confusion, someone had injured Sabaf’s horse. Unless they could determine who was the one who had planned the whole act, find the person who stabbed the horse and make him confess, there was no grounds to overturn the case.
Unfortunately, this was the piece of evidence which Hardedef was unable to obtain. Among the group of ruffians, most of them had already escaped. Besides, Ledaros was the mastermind, and he was already dead. Old Mahu did not have the intention to assassinate Sabaf, just as Sabaf himself did not have the intention to assassinate Amon, but before the facts and evidence, the verdict could only be guilty.
Amon was well aware of that, and that was why he presented the case only now. He bowed and said: “Your Highness, you are right. However, it is not the result that I’m trying to achieve. All I want is an open investigation on this matter to be conducted. According to the law, when a noble charges a commoner, the department of justice must accept the charges and conduct an open investigation as well as an open trial which can be attended by the public.”
His aim was not to overturn the case, but to publicize the whole affair. By doing so, not only would he completely ruin Sabaf, he could also show the public why he had chosen to stir up so much trouble in Memphis.
Maria asked in curiosity: “Supreme General, both you and General Hardedef have been staying in your territory all this while, so how did you get to know about what happened? Also, when was the investigation at the farm carried out?”
Amon replied honestly: “It was the day after Hardedef injured Sabaf. Everyone thought that I had gone on an outing with that girl from the brothel, but actually, she was the sister of Mahu. Mahu gave his life for the empire, but his family was destroyed in such a tragic manner while his only surviving family member had fallen to such a fate. How could I stand by and do nothing? The three of us went to the farm for the sake of investigating this matter.”
Amon was not a fool, so he obviously did not mention Misphi’s assassination of Ledaros and only stated her identity. Governor Djehutihotep said with a miserable expression: “Supreme General, Sabaf had both his legs broken and was sent to the An-Ra legion to serve his sentence according to your wishes. Besides, her Highness also said that the case cannot be overturned. In just two days, the ceremony will be held. Would it be possible to look over the matter?”
Amon stood up and looked around: “It seems that you have not forgotten that Hapisidis will be held in two days. Then I would like to ask this: what does Hapisidis mean to you?”
Everyone was reluctant to answer and they all looked towards the Adoratrice. Maria looked at Amon with a stunned expression for an instant, then slowly answered: “Hapisidis is meant to bestow the blessing of Isis upon everyone. It can heal wounds and illness, ease pain and fatigue. It gives strength to the weak, faith to the confused, and courage to the desperate.
It’s not just a ceremony. Isis is not turning a blind eye to her believers. She sees both evil and good. In her eyes the honest will find affection, the selfless will find peace. Thus the inner peace will come along with the harvest of the land. It is both a bestowal and a judgment, and that is the true meaning of Hapisidis.
The Supreme General’s reminder has come at the right time. If we let Hapisidis become the reason that justice is delayed, then it loses its meaning. Governor Djehutihotep, please start with the case today according to the laws! If the matter cannot be resolved by the end of tomorrow, we will continue after Hapisidis. Please put up the notice as Supreme General Amon said.”
So it was decided. The charges brought forward by Hardedef against Sabaf were accepted and notices were put up to inform the public, who were allowed to attend the trial. The whole process naturally needed time as the people involved were numerous, one or two days were definitely insufficient. As such, the results would only be out after Hapisidis.
The notices were put up and the contents of the charges were publicized. However, things did not proceed as they should, because Sabaf committed suicide during the night on the same day. His death was hardly a surprise, Amon already expected it.
How Sabaf died was not important. It was evident that he wouldn’t end up well once Hardedef brought forward the charges. This affair was done the moment the Adoratrice gave that order.
After everyone left the meeting hall, the Adoratrice made Amon stay back as she wanted to talk to him in private.
After Hapisidis, Amon would have to return to his territory, and neither of them knew when they would get the opportunity to see each other again. As Maria sat there, she looked at Amon, there seemed to be thousands of words in her eyes. Amon looked at her as well, and this continued for a long time. Outside the window, the sky darkened. Finally, Amon asked softly: “Didn’t you have something to ask me? I can tell that you have something on your mind, just say it.”
The first thing she said shocked Amon. “The girl who performed for you that night, she is the one who murdered Ledaros, am I right?”
Amon sighed. “There is nothing I can hide from you. Yes, she is the culprit who murdered Ledaros, you aren’t going to pursue the matter, are you? There’s no evidence, after all.”
Maria replied: “If I wanted to pursue the matter, I wouldn’t have mentioned it when there is nobody around us. Amon, the girl’s nickname is Belle of Memphis, she must be really beautiful, right?”
For the first time, Amon stuttered slightly in front of Maria. “This… about this, she is very beautiful, I cannot deny that. But… I think that what’s truly beautiful to me is in the holy light of blessing from Isis.”
There was a hint of a smile and a sliver of pity in Maria’s eyes, and she said with lowered eyes: “You must treat her well. I feel sorry for her when I hear her sad story, and I admire what she did. Don’t you find her special? Maybe she was meant to be sent to your side.”
Amon smiled. “Thinking about all these many things that have happened because of this encounter, I would say that it was serendipity.”
Maria could sense something weird with Amon’s expression, so she raised her head and asked: “Why do you look at me this way? You are smiling in such a strange manner! Did I say something wrong? Now that everyone knows what you have done for her, you cannot just leave her alone after all these, right? Shouldn’t you take good care of her, Supreme General Amon?”
Amon continued smiling. “Since Your Highness says so, of course I should treat her well. I will restore her freedom and make all the necessary arrangements.”
Maria frowned. “This is what you should do, so why are you still smiling like that?”
Amon finally laughed. “This girl’s name is Misphi and she is a fourth-level warrior. If Gabriel sees her, she would definitely like her as well since it is difficult for a woman to have such achievement. You are one of the people that I admire the most and there is nothing I can hide from your eyes, but there is one very obvious thing you failed to notice.”
Maria asked curiously: “What is it? I do not understand.”
Amon replied: “You are wise enough to infer that she was the one who murdered Ledaros. However, you fail to notice that General Hardedef is very fond of her. It was so obvious, but you managed to miss that! I will let Misphi decide. And if she is willing, I will help them be together.”
Maria was slightly embarrassed. “Oh, so that’s how it is. Hardedef was the one who carried out the investigation, and he was also the one who brought forward the charges. Whenever he mentioned her, his expression was indeed … I should have noticed it, but I failed to. You are very considerate of your subordinates and people, but you should be more considerate of yourself as well.”
Amon stopped smiling. “I will. Please take good care of yourself as well.”
The next day, Amon sent Hardedef to the brothel to buy back Misphi’s freedom.
Unexpectedly, someone else was faster than Amon. When Hardedef arrived, there were three other parties at the brothel trying to free Misphi. One was sent by Djehutihotep, another was sent by Ankh, and the last one was the merchant Sihathor himself.
Dylan was taken aback by these people, as originally it was fine whoever came to free Misphi. But now, if he agreed to one party, he would risk offending the other two parties, so he was put in a difficult position. When Hardedef arrived, Sihathor was in the midst of arguing with the other two. He insisted that the girl go with him. He could pay anything for that.
Hardedef was surprised by the scene, but he immediately understood their intentions, so he went forward and asked: “Sihathor, are you trying to return a favor to Supreme General Amon?”
“Hardedef, my dear friend!” the merchant replied: “Yes, I would like to set the girl free and accompany her to the Supreme General myself.”
Hardedef turned towards the other two people and said: “Go back and ask Governor Djehutihotep and Lord Ankh: do they intend to send Misphi to the Supreme General? If that’s the case, consider it done. Convey my thanks to both lords, the Supreme General has sent me to take care of this.”
After hearing that, the two messengers went back since there was nothing to argue about anymore. Sihathor grabbed Hardedef and asked: “The Supreme General might have sent you to free Misphi, but look, I’m already here! Please give me this chance to please him. I will pay for the redemption and you can use my carriage to send Misphi to the Supreme General.”
Hardedef smiled. “You don’t have to bother with the carriage, Misphi is already at the Supreme General’s residence, I just came here to notify the brothel officially. As for the money…”
Dylan stepped in at this moment and hurriedly said: “The lady whom you lords mentioned does not owe us any money.”
Hardedef stared at him and said: “You said that yourself. Don’t accuse me of abusing the Supreme General’s authority later on!”
Dylan nodded repeatedly. “Of course. She has earned quite a lot for us in the last six months, which, according to my lord, if the Supreme General came to buy her out, should be considered her tips, and thus belongs to her.”
In the end, Hardedef did not spend a single coin. Sihathor refused to return empty-handed, so he said to Hardedef: “Please allow me to escort you back. Where is your carriage? I can be your driver.”
“I came here by foot.”
“That’s great! You can sit in my carriage for the return trip!”