[Short story]: The Son of Immortals (excerpt)

First Papyrus

I am the King of the kings, I am the son of the falcon-headed Horus, I am the beginning, I am the end, I am the one who will live forever, I am the personification of the King of Gods, Amun-Re, I am the greatest warrior who defeated the armies of thousands, who put the barbarian princes of Kush and Wawat[1] on their knees, forcing them to accept the law of Kemet’s gods. I am the one who is raising the biggest temple in honour of my divine father in the sacred city of Abdju.[2]  I am the ruler of ancient Niwt-Imn[3], the house of Amun-Re. I have hundreds of names, but only three of them can be pronounced by mortals. I am Nimaatre Smenkhare Meriamun, the live god of the land of Kemet[4].

The golden boat of Re has finished its way in the waters of the sky’s Nile and submerged into the darkness of Nun. I found myself wandering around the tombs of deceased kings who have already met Osiris in the Afterlife. I try to remember what I’m doing here in the middle of the night, but fails. The night is dark and quiet, Khonsu’s crown is shining brightly and lighting my path by its cold silver light.

My thoughts are interrupted by quiet voices. They sound from one of the tombs. Coming closer, I can see the dim light of torches, the voices sound louder. There is no doubt; I’ve met the tomb’s robbers.

Disgusting thieves, sons of dishonoured Seth, doomed to be punished in the Afterlife; their ba[5] will be eaten by Apophis, the gigantic serpent, and will be condemned to eternal death. They are who dare to steal from the kings, deserve nothing, but miserable death without a burial.

There are three of them on a doorstep of the underground tomb, ready to enter, to disturb the king’s eternal peace, ready to touch and grab, and smash everything, taking gold and jewellery and all other of the king’s belongings, throwing a mummy out of its golden coffin in their disgraceful passion for profit.

I’m going to call my guards to arrest the robbers. Instead, my mouth produces a weird, heart-stopping scream. This scream can belong neither to a man, nor to an animal. What is wrong with me? I can’t recognise my own voice.

One of the robbers turns around. His face becomes pale like linen, his eyes stares at me in horror; he drops his torch and runs, leaving his peers and screaming like a lunatic. His friend shouts at him, but noticing me just petrifies.

‘The king….The spirit of the king,’ he mumbles in shock.

‘How dare you, the son of a jackal, to touch the royal tomb?’ I shouts full of anger, trying to grab his shoulder, but my hand goes through his body and catches the air.

I see the thief falling down, his eyes are wide opened. I lean over him, trying to have a closer look. He doesn’t breathe anymore…He is dead!

I have no chance to stop the last one as he disappears in the darkness, following his friend.

I sit down on the ground in front of the tomb, examining my hands and wondering what has happened to the robbers, where my guards are, and what, for all gods’ sake, I’m doing here at night.

Struggling to follow the flow of my own thoughts, I start to read a writing on the tomb, guessing whom it may belong to.

It is a traditional plate with a name of a pharaoh on the door’s seal.

Oh Thoth, the Adviser of the kings, give me all your divine wisdom and knowledge! The king’s name on the plate is…. Userkaf Smenhkare Meriamun, the name of my brother.

And straight away, I see the face of Userkaf in front of me. He is the exact copy of me. Even our mother, the Great King’s Wife, queen Nefriru couldn’t recognize us. We are the same height, the same short black hair, the same big black eyes, the same straight long nose which we have inherited from our great father.

We were born together, but still I was the first who came out of the queen’s blessed belly. I was the one and the only heir to the throne. My brother, Userkaf, was brought up to become Chief Priest of Amun-Re, but he always desired more…Always jealous, always despising me, always wanted to be the first.

He’s been waiting, waiting for the whole life, for twenty five long years, when finally his time has come.

I remembers his face, but it’s blurry…it’s under the water. I feel the cold water fills my ears and mouth, I can’t breathe, I try to break free, but my brother’s hand is squeezing my throat tighter and tighter. I try to push him, to call for help, but my efforts are getting weaker and weaker. I’ m not a good swimmer. I’ve never been.

The grimaced face of my brother, like an agonizing blurry reflection of myself…and then…here I am. I am dead.

I’m crying, I’m cursing Userkaf who, like shameful Seth, killed his own brother to usurp his power.

Oh immortal gods, I call on you! Let me take my revenge, let me free the throne of Isis from the usurper, let me be judged by Osiris in the Underworld, let me travel together with Amun-Re in his golden boat in the skies and let the name of my brother to be forgotten forever.

Second Papyrus

This is very late in the evening. The light of oil lamps and torches is fading, and the whole palace is going to fall asleep. Only heavy steps of night’s guards in the corridors and the quiet murmur of  fountains in gardens break the silence of chambers.

I don’t remember how I appeared here. I think I just wish to come back home to my palace in Niwt-Imn, to see my wife, young and beautiful Mutnefert and our son, my only heir, Senenmut. I wish everything that has happened to me was a dream, a bad nightmare sent to me by demons of the night. I wish to wake up. I wish….to be alive.

Unnoticed, I enter my chambers and…oh Seth, pull my eyes out as I can’t bear to see my beloved wife in the arms of my brother, the murderer Userkaf.

Using our similarity, he took my throne, my name and now…he’s lying in my bed with my wife! She has been fooled as all others; she believed that it was Userkaf who drowned in a river, not me. It was an accident, the will of Hapy, the river god who took Userkaf to his underwater palace. That was a lie she’s been told.

My Mutnefert, my great queen, my little sister, my only love. I always loved her. I’ve been in love with her since I was ten, and she was only eight, but our brother desired her as well.

When our mother, the Great King’s Wife, died, our divine father took Mutnefert as his new Great Wife. The crown of Kemet should have been secured within the family, but he was too ill and too weak. As soon as he joined Osiris in the Underworld, I and Mutnefert got married.  Userkaf, the crafty son of dark demons, couldn’t control his passion, though. He tried to seduce our sister a few times, but she loved me, she has always been my most loyal wife.

I see her now, kissing him, embracing him, petting him, groaning in passion, giving him pleasure she used to give to me.

Oh Atum, the creator of the world and all people, who arose from the waters of the chaos, give me a body, and I will claim everything back from my brother. I will take my revenge! 

Third Papyrus

  I’m only ten, but I can read and write fluently. I’m short, but strong quick and agile. My father always took me hunting lions and panthers. I’ve even caught one for my own little zoo. My father told me that I was born to be a warrior, I was born to be a king, but I’m preparing for the life of a scribe.

The almighty gods have sealed my voice inside my throat, so I never could speak. I never could tell the truth. I never could tell that my uncle, nasty and crafty Userkaf, drowned my father and took his name and his crown.

I’m only a boy now. My life is under threat. I’m scared to death. Why, oh almighty gods? Why have you given me this body?

I’m sitting now at the reception chamber amongst three other pharaoh’s scribes and writing everything that is said at the king’s presence.

‘…And you are informing me about that only now, Great Vizier…’

The king is sitting on his golden throne. His head is crowned with a high fancy headdress. Tiny golden bees, colourful butterflies, and lotus’ flowers made from lapis lazuli with agates and emeralds move with each head’s movement. Long golden earrings shine in his ears; heavy wide bracelets are on his wrists and ankles. A golden balm is on his lips; he smells of lotus and rose’s oils, he is wearing my long robe and richly decorated sandals. He doesn’t hesitate to take everything from me.

Ineni, the Great Vizier and the major of Niwt-Imn, is on his knees. He is leaning lower and lower until his forehead touches the floor. Ineni is fat, old, and coward. His bald round head is shining of sweat. He is afraid to make his lord angry, but he believes in rumours.

‘I didn’t want to bother my king with the information that hasn’t been proved yet. I just wanted to wait to be sure that…’

‘To wait? To wait for what? When the prince of Kush and his allies will summon a new army? When their barbarian soldiers will stay at the city’s gates?’

The pharaoh is furious.

Ineni crawls on his fat belly, coming closer to the king, kissing his toes with gold covered nails.

The ruler only grimaces. The smell of sweat irritates His Majesty even more than the bad news from the boarders.

‘Do the prince and his chieftains remember that their sons were brought in Kemet by my father during his last campaign and have been living here since? Does he remember that his oldest daughter is one of my wives?’

‘It is something else, my lord, you should know,’ the vizier whispers barely audible, looking behind his back at me and other scribes.

‘What is it? Speak!’

Userkaf is impatient as usual.

‘I’ve heard that the rumours were spreading out in the city, Your Majesty. People keep talking…’ Ineni stammers.

‘What? Speak! Your king orders you.’

He presses his sceptre to the vizier’s head and raises his chin, looking into his eyes, looking for the answers.

‘My sources reported me, oh ruler of two worlds, that some of the high priests are involved as well. I’ve been informed that the kushite’s prince has offered a deal to the priest of Sobek, the governor of the South who believes that…that you, our divine Nimaatre Smenkhare Meriamun who shall live forever, have been killed by your own brother, the Great priest of Amun-Re.’

The pharaoh only laughs, but I see his face is getting paler.

‘Tell the priest of Sobek, honourable Hapuseneb, that his suspicions are absolutely baseless, and that I would like to talk to him regarding all these nasty rumours he dares to spread out about me. As for Beja, my kushite’s father-in-law, I think I need to remind him to whom he should be grateful for allowing him on the kushite’s throne.’

He smiles, and I feel a chill running down my backbone.

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[1] Kush and Wawat—countries situated on the south-east of Egypt. Kush- ancient Nubia.

[2] Abdju—an Egyptian name for Abydos

[3] Niwt-Imn—an Egyptian name for Thebes

[4] Kemet— an ancient name for Egypt

[5] Ba—in Egyptian mythology—a soul of a deceased

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