My Journey

From mind to paper and back again.

Deceit Before the Gods

on January 4, 2009

His eyes flicker from side to side, and the hairs on the back of Pharaoh’s arms stand rigid amongst the goose bumps. A prickling sensation traverses his spine and a glistening of sweat appears on his brow. In the temple the smoke from the incense is so thick that the High Priest isn’t able to see the images. They are meant only for the Pharaoh who can see them as clearly as his own image in the Nile. He can see a felucca travelling down his Nile, carrying only two people. He can also see me, Osiris, Lord of the Underworld, sat in my throne on the other bank while Anubis stands waiting for him. The sun will continue on its daily journey across the sky and the business of Egypt will continue, just as it has everyday previously, for Pharaoh is the ‘divine on earth’ and only he knows his fate. If Pharaoh doesn’t follow the laws of Ma’at, chaos and confusion will descend on Egypt. Not even the high priest is able to predict the future to such an extent. It is a blessing from the Gods. With the guidance of Amun-Re, Pharaoh’s last day has begun.

The high walls of the palace shimmered into view as Pharaoh’s chariot speeds through the streets of Thebes. As he comes to a halt he jumps off the chariot and hands the reigns to a stable boy before striding up to his apartments for a bath. He finishes drying his body before lying down on the massage table. His taut muscles begin to relax as the Master of the Royal Scents covers his body in olive oil, softening the skin and muscles. A servant helps Pharaoh into a fine linen kilt before adorning his body with gold amulets and precious jewels. He is the ruler of all Egypt and as such needs to show the people that the treasury is in abundance with gold. After collecting the crook and flail, another servant places a wig and the dual crown of Egypt on his head. Pharaoh makes his way to the throne room flanked by Magi, the warriors sworn to protect the ruler of Egypt at all costs, followed by an assembly of nobility.

As the sun travels to its pinnacle, Pharaoh listens and judges on the cases put before him by his people. Pharaoh is the nation’s Judge, Jury and Executioner. This morning has been different though. As Pharaoh has ruled on the cases placed before him, his gaze criticises everyone in the room discreetly, picking out all the flaws and weaknesses of each person without them knowing. Commoners and close friends alike are all under scrutiny. Who will it be? How? Scarcely minutes pass between each decision or decree as people are shepherded in front of Pharaoh in seated his golden throne, barely giving the Royal Scribe time to make his notes.

Having passed through the morning without incident, Pharaoh is able to take a meal of sweet meats, bread and wine with his principal wife in the Royal Chambers. As they sit on the balcony over-looking the Palace Gardens, Pharaoh catches a glimpse of his eldest son sitting under an Acacia tree; he is studying a papyrus in his preparation to become Pharaoh himself one day. Aware of his father’s eyes on him, the boy looks up and waves nonchalantly. He is blissfully unaware that everything he knows is about to change and that soon he will be pulled away from his studies to deal with things much older than his own age.

The brush of his wife’s tender hand against the smoothness of his own polished skin brings Pharaoh away from his thoughts, back to the current time. The sun is at its zenith, high in the sky.

‘Will you attend the finish of my tomb with me, dear wife?’ There is a sadness in Pharaoh’s voice and eyes that his wife has never heard before and doesn’t know which way to take.

‘Of course Sire, is it to your satisfaction so far?’

‘Yes, the overseer has been very good.’

As the Royal Couple travel on Pharaoh’s chariot through the streets of Thebes, the ordinary people flock to see them. The journey takes them through the market place to the banks of the River Nile, the life source of Egypt. A felucca is waiting to carry them across to the other side, where they continue their passage to the Valley of the Kings, the resting place of Pharaoh’s ancestors.

‘As much as you love her, you mustn’t say anything.’ The voice of Amun-Re is soft in Pharaoh’s mind; Pharaoh nodded his head slightly acknowledging the warning that came across in his head and they continue. The god is referring to Pharaoh’s doting wife whom he has loved since he was a mere boy, still playing at his mother’s feet.

The Magi surround them as the party move through the tunnels of Pharaoh’s final resting place into the burial chambers. Even so, Pharaoh is still looking for someone to suspect. Could it be him? Her? I hate not knowing who and when, it’s worse than knowing.

‘I can’t tell you any more about the future without running the risk of changing it.’ Amun-Re replied in Pharaohs thoughts.

‘The tomb is outstanding Overseer, your men can be proud.’ Pharaoh says as the overseer and principle artist prostrate themselves at his feet.

The High Priest is now ready to perform the sacrificial ceremony to invoke the protection of the gods for Pharaoh when his body is finally laid to rest in the very chamber the group stood in.

As the High Priest comes to the end of his ceremony, the torches, carried by servants waver and go out in unison. Pharaoh looks up at the ceiling and notes how bright the painted stars shine above, before realising that the stars he can see are those of the night sky above him. As the image prophesised, he is stood on a felucca on the Nile; the only other person on the boat is the Ferryman. He doesn’t need to speak the destination. Both men know. Pharaoh wonders what had happened, the only people in the tomb with weapons were the Magi and they would never break their vows. It’s still a mystery.

Anubis stands, as always, on the bank of the Nile waiting to greet the recently deceased Pharaoh. The god leads him through the hall of judgement where Pharaoh’s earthly sins are read out. He has tried to live his life according to the laws of Ma’at and he is confident that when his heart is weighed against the feather of Ma’at’s headdress, the feather will prove to be heavier. Of course, as Lord of the Underworld, I already know that his confidence is well placed and just have to wait for Thoth to record the outcome of the judgement on his papyrus. Ammut will be left hungry this time, no heart or soul to devour. My wife and sister are standing behind me ready to welcome the Pharaoh to the Underworld.

‘Your soul has been judged and proven worthy. You have followed the laws of Ma’at to the best of your ability whilst living and as such, we welcome you to take your place amongst your ancestors in everlasting afterlife.’

‘Thank you. My Lord, may I ask a question?’

‘Of course.’ It isn’t normal for me to be asked questions at the gate; in fact, mortals are normally that intrigued that they rarely even speak.

‘How did it happen? I’ve been watching all day, looking for someone suspicious, yet seen nobody and saw nothing. I remember the sacrifice and then being in the felucca on my way here.’

‘To put your Ka at ease I will show you.’

I have changed the scenery for the Pharaoh and below us we can see the events of the day unfold. The royal party have entered into the burial chamber from the secret tunnels, surrounded by the Magi. The artist and overseer prostrate themselves as Pharaoh thanks them.

‘It was well timed that my tomb was finished today.’ There is a chuckle in the voice of Pharaoh’s ghost.

‘It was all part of the divine plan. We couldn’t leave your body without a resting place.’ I glance up at the ceiling above us. ‘The artwork is lovely.’

The bull’s throat has been cut and its life’s blood spilt on the altar by the High Priest leaving the chamber in silence.

‘My wife is the only person near me.’

‘Nefertiti has been by your side always. A loyal woman, she thinks only of the happiness of your eldest son.’ I reply to him. Pharaoh needs to watch the scene unfold to understand the full depth of the tragedy that is his death.

‘I know of no one more devoted a mother than her.’ Pharaoh turns back and watches the performance below.

Nefertiti has taken a step closer to her husband, in the guise of being a loving wife. We can see clearly that she is holding something shiny and sharp, the silver catching briefly in the torches.

‘Nefertiti?’ Pharaoh turns to me as below, his wife plunges the dagger between his shoulder blades, piercing the heart. The pain was so severe that Pharaoh falls unconscious before his eyes close for the last time. As he falls there is a gut wrenching scream which causes the Pharaoh to spiral around from me, back to the scene below. Nefertiti dropped to her knees below in a frenzied hysteria. Despite being so close the Magi see nothing and are unable to find anyone in the tomb that shouldn’t be. The only person near his body is Pharaoh’s beloved wife. His body is collected immediately by ten bearers and they carry him to the embalmers with the High Priest in tow. He will read the incantations over the body during the mummification process. The Royal Scribe is busy writing proclamations to send to the palace to make Pharaoh’s family aware. He records the events exactly as he saw them. Seventy days and nights of mourning will begin today to mark the passing of Pharaoh.

The Pharaoh’s oldest boy is still in the garden and the servant has arrived with the proclamation, I have changed the scene so Pharaoh’s ghost can watch the reaction he has to the news of his father’s death.

‘You have a partial answer to your earlier question. This will complete the puzzle in your mind and set your Ka at ease.’ I tell the ghost.

‘Sir!’ A breathless servant is running through the plants of the gardens. ‘Sir!‘ He repeats as he nearly bounds into the young prince sat under the same Acacia tree.

‘What is it?’ Asks a calm prince. ‘What has happened?’

‘Sir it’s your father, the Pharaoh. He has,’ the servant trails off, he has to pause before he can continue with his news. ‘He has been killed sir, your father, the Pharaoh is dead.’

‘My father is dead?’ No emotion filters through the prince’s voice as he speaks.

‘Yes sir.’

‘Then I am now Pharaoh, my mother has served me well.’ The ghost’s eyes open wide at the last statement from his oldest son. He looks at me. ‘A proclamation must be sent out across the land telling the people of the dreadful events of the day. My father, the great Amenhotep the third is dead.’ The servant bows.

‘Would you like to see your mother sir? She was rather distraught after those dreadful events and may still need your comfort.’

‘Yes, please ask her to attend my chambers. Thank you.’ The last is a dismissal as the new Pharaoh moves towards his chambers.

‘They were in league to kill me? My wife and son?’ The ghost of Pharaoh seems upset after watching the last set of images.

‘I’m sorry Amenhotep.’ My condolences are genuine as he will be there amongst the other gods and Pharaohs when both his wife and son are judge in the afterlife and found not to have lived their lives according to the laws of Ma’at. I let the image of the Palace Gardens waver out of site.

Amenhotep doesn’t know as I do that his son, Akenaten and his new wife, Nefertiti will become two of the biggest failures that the eighteenth dynasty will ever see. They will set about moving the capital city of Thebes away from the Nile and further into the desert lands. They will also try to start a new cult of worship dedicated to Aten, the sun god, proclaiming that anyone in the lands who still follows the old ways – our ways, is a heretic and will not enter the afterlife. They will cause such an uprising that when they do die, their people will erase all traces of their names, damming them in life and in death. Their hearts will be heavier than the feather of Ma’at’s headdress forcing their souls to spend an eternity in oblivion, devoured by Ammut. All this will be due to today’s activities, had the pair not been so greedy they wouldn’t have committed the sin of murder to satisfy their own desires in the eyes of the gods.

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