The sun was high overhead, mercilessly searing the golden sands with its seething radiance, as I, head vizier to the Pharaoh Ramesses the Great, sat upon a camel trudging behind a column of soldiers. Though many of the armed soldiers were conscripted against their will, the flanking guards of my own kept my paranoid mind complacent. I realize though, that there is no need for paranoia after the successful agreement upon the Hittite peace treaty.
The Hittite people have been a comparable adversary, but I am truly glad to see them now as our comparable ally.
Ramesses' shaded litter moved up next to me until we were side by side, and he spoke, "what are your thoughts?"
I thought for a moment as for why he would ask, then his expressionless yet powerful eyes met mine, and I spoke, hesitating only slightly, "I was just reiterating the fact in my mind that we may sleep soundly tonight, now that the Hittite have agreed on a peaceful solution. Would I be right in saying that a conflict between the two nations would either never end or end with none remaining?"
"Yes, you are correct in the simplest terms, but the situation would be more complex than that in reality," his gaze left mine and seemed to observe something beyond the horizon's mirage, "the Hittites are not our only opponent, you remember the ships that arrived from the north? Their technology and worldly knowledge rivals ours, perhaps surpasses. Such prowess does not come from people who are meek nor few in number."
"Do you think we should reinforce our connections with the Hittites?"
"Our intervention would be unnecessary, as it will come naturally, now that this treaty is in effect, the people will begin trade, opening trade routes, and the new commerce alone will be enough to forge an allegiance between our nations."
"I suppose that will allow us to focus on continuing our military strength?"
"That too, will develop with the new commerce, my generals will need stronger infantry and organization to combat the crime which ensues prosperous development."
"Then this will be a time of peace, a just reward for your efficient rule," he smirked at my complement, and his litter slowed to move back behind my camel. I have never really understood my title of vizier, because I have rarely given advice to the Pharoah, instead, he seems to test his ideas on me apparently, using me as the voice of the people. Yes. I suppose I do serve as advisor in that respect.
I squinted at the sun and raised my hand, another four fingers and we should be seeing the first outlying homes of our capitol, Pi-Ramesses.
Indeed, the first structures which came into view amid the mirages wer the solidly erect obelisks, then the guardhouses, then finally the homes and tents of slaves, the poor, and new merchants. Many people came out to give a hero's welcome, or to throw stones at the bound captives. Though they were our own absconders, they would be despised by all for attempting to betray the mighty Ramesses. I think a severe ruling is in order for them - too many seem to think the all mighty judgement has become lenient. Still, some seem to respect justice, seeing some civilians point at the Ma'at badge pinned to my cloak and murmuring about its significance to those ill informed.
We passed close to one of the obelisks and I could make out the inscriptions. "Laws of the Ma'at" it read, and a list of rules and regulations flowed down each side. I found myself smiling in humour, having recognized the phrasing much different than that of the Pharoah's temple's. Again, I found myself laughing to myself, as I recalled the peace treaty; from my understanding of arcadian cunoform, the Hittites wrote that we came begging for peace, this was funny because our copy states the reverse.
Nearing the city centre, the buildings grew in size and magnificence, though there were still some tents set up in the alleys to house merchants and vagabonds alike. One of the main roads intersected the one we were marching, and I noticed two groups of people, one on either side of the road, and both facing one man in the centre. I slowed my camel to watch, for the man in the centre, a prophet from a near temple, was about to make holy judgement. He finally faced one side and that side cheered as two people from the other side, clad in torn clothing, were dragged away by guards. The prophet had weighed the evidence given by either side and had seemed to have come to a favoured conclusion by the lack of jeers.
My next stop was at the main judicial court of Pi-Ramesses, where I would be assisting the Pharoah in making judgements tomorrow. Currently, there was a relatively smaller mass of people congregating around, by the podium I could see a couple standing before a scribe, a priest, and a pair of elderly members of the local Kenbet – a wedding, although the Kenbet are probably waiting for the next court case. I rank higher than the Kenbet, because they work on the local level in groups whereas I can rule anywhere in the land, and can be questioned only by the Pharoah himself
I slept easy that night, unafraid of waking amid the shouts, fires, and clatter of war, which had been all too probable last week before the settlement. I had accompanied the Pharoah because of our experience in settling disputes fairly, a commonality we share is the idea of compromise and peaceful resolutions, but the Pharoah had brought his army, just in case the Hittites were plotting for an unfair advantage.
The following day, the royal court was open, and the accused stood at one side, bound and surrounded by the bringers of justice, the guards of the god's wrath. The pharaoh had declined my invitation to make holy judgement, preferring to spend time with his wives, so I was the one who sat atop the throne, about to channel the gods punishment to those who sin against them.
A crowd of onlookers had grown around the precinct, obviously eager to see the reprimand dealt to treasonous cowards. For good show, I made a note to the guards to ensure the traitors were last.
"Who is first to be judged?" I asked from my pedestal.
A scraggly man was thrown out from the gaggle of accused, and a well dressed foreign man stepped from the orderly accusers, between the two men stood a large and intimidating guard.
"This man," the guard spoke indicating the lavish man, "accuses this one," the scraggly peasant, "of theft."
"Evidence," I asked.