The men that had rallied from throughout the land to Belle and Shafiq's cause at the counsel were assembled at the bottom of the walled hill of the standing stones, with Belle and Shafiq at their head upon Maysa' and Numair. Alongside their ranks were the phalange de Astarte lead by Ra'idah with Rashida at her side. Together the phalange and the army of men were most formidable. They had prepared and were now beginning their march to battle, on to the plain where the clash would take place. The Eastern inland arm of the sea was three full days march distant and the plain about half way. They planned on camping the second night in preparation to meet Aêšmi and Ha'dad and their forces the morning after in war.
Belle had turned to Shafiq as they rode and she said coyly, "Shafiq, when this is over and we are married and rule together, what do you think we might name our firstborn?" Shafiq, with almost a wink and certainly a bemused twinkle in his eye said, without any hesitation, " I am quite sure we will call our firstborn either Prince or Princess." Belle insisted and Shafiq turned a shade somber and said, "dear Belle, it is not like you to bring up a subject apart from the severe matter at hand while we march in rank. What troubles you my Princess? All I can do to protect you, will be done." Belle looked evenly at him and said, "Shafiq, it is for you I fear. The angel said that Aêšmi was a particular danger to you. She is a succubus and deadly to men. Please be very careful, my love." Shafiq was moved, as he always was at her direct and simple concern, and said, "I promise you dear Belle that I shall." They rode on, and the march continued.
* * *
Above the hordes of hell, silent and distant and invisible was the mighty malak of God, the watcher, Abdul. He saw the depraved hordes and their murderous cut throat assembly below, which had stopped for rest. The Habiru from the western sea were mortal, unlike the hordes from North and South.
Aêšmi was hungry. A tent had been set up for her. She was standing outside in her Scorpion dress over the gossamer. One of the mortal Habiru wandered close to her tent. He stopped when he saw her, for she was in her seductress form. "What is your name?" she said slyly. He replied, "Fahd," a well fitted name indeed, as his ears curled back at the tips and his eyes squinted like a cat with a bad temper on the prowl. He licked his lips and looked at her as if to devour her. She smiled and said, "are you hungry? Fahd, O handsome man that you are." The marid-succubus never told the truth. Fahd grinned a stupid grin and said, "what kind of hunger do you mean, attractive creature?" "Oh, mine of course dear man. Come into my tent for a while?" Aêšmi purred a low throaty growling purr. The fool did just as he was bid. A muffled groan and the succubus fed.
* * *
The first night camp for the army and the phalange was made. The stars were bright and the moon low in the East. A cloudless night. The slightest wind stirred. It was warm and inviting outside. Belle emerged from her tent and Shafiq was standing there. Shafiq, as he did from the time they left Sippar for the counsel, had his sword on. Kadeen had sent it to Latif for this purpose. When the angel would no longer be present, it was neccessary that the Prince protect his Princess, a task his heart fully embraced. Belle as always, had her cloak and amulet on. They stood side by side looking at the beautiful night sky and communing in spirit. Tommorrow would be the final march before battle the day after. But tonight they had time alone to share. After a while Shafiq said, "Belle, my beloved, I love you with all my heart and always have." Belle smiled and said, "beloved, all my heart is yours always. Hold my heart gently and know I love you." Shafiq simply said, "always, dearest Belle." They stood watching the glory of the night.
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