Akhenaten stood in front of the window listening to the dull rumble of the machines at work. Even though they were many days ride away he could hear them – everyone could hear them. He knew of the lies he had helped spread as a young man to help convince the people that this was the god’s at work. And any who dare look upon the gods as they worked would be destroyed by them and spend eternity in the gruesome underworld of the evil dead.
As a boy he remembered hearing this noise and questioning the priests at his schooling as to what the noise was and being told not to speak of this subject. He also remembered the time when, for some reason, he knew what they were and what they were doing but could not explain how he knew. The pharaoh moved away from the window, slowly walked past his wife still sleeping unaware that her husband was up. Slowly he walked out of the doorway to their bedroom and down the hall into the central area of the palace. Crossing the central hall, where the two guards at the far end stood to attention and bowed their heads – the pharaoh walked past without acknowledging them.
Deep down, he wanted to say, “Morning lads, how are you doing this fine morning?” As much as he wanted to, he could not, for this was not the done thing for a pharaoh to do. And word would soon get back to the families, as it always did and to be honest things were difficult enough without creating more problems for himself.
At the end of his journey lay the main palace kitchen, which was a mass of hustle and bustle with servants flying all over the place under the orders of a trustee; a servant with slightly higher status than the rest and given slightly better living quarters, food and wine. The families had long known that all you needed to do to get someone to go against their own people was to offer them a better standard of living than the rest. This process works very well and limits the need for military in many areas – keeping costs to the bare minimum, which essentially, was the aim of the game. They knew by doing this that the trustee would even kill one of his own family members if ordered to – as long as their benefits were maintained. This is sad, but very true.
Just before the kitchen entrance there was a little short cut that would take the pharaoh out of sight of the kitchen staff and the trustee, and would lead him to a small-secluded area. This could be found just outside to where one of his dearest friends worked very long hours – which hurt the pharaoh deeply.
Many times he had tried to get his friend to leave and even provided the means to do so – horses, money, and even he himself would ensure safe passage through Egypt – but, nonetheless, his attempts failed and his friend would not go without him. As he greeted Tiy with a smile, she stopped what she was doing and ran into his arms – though not before looking around quickly.
Tiy held her dearest friend, the pharaoh, close, showing the love she felt for him. She shared his mother’s name, and he confided in her as though she were the mother the pharaoh missed so deeply. Even though he knew in his heart that she had gone to a far better place and that the empty bag of bones she occupied was not her anymore.
“What is wrong, Akhen?”
“Just the usual, my dear friend – the relentless sorrow I feel for what I have done.”
Replied the very saddened pharaoh.
“But this you know you cannot change. We have spoken of this many times, and what is done is done.” Said Tiy.
“But it could be changed, Tiy, You know this – if the stone could be located”
“But it cannot be located at this time. And deep down you know it is not just about the stone, you know this, you just will not accept this. But you will remember one day as you did when you were a child. Yes it has its importance, but within you there is something of far greater importance that tells you something else you will not accept. It tells you that all that is happening must happen and, no matter how you feel, you must let this be. No good can come from this sorrow you carry and the suffering it will bring.”
The pharaoh broke their embrace so that he could look into the eyes of his dear friend who would say things to him that no one else would dare.
He did not speak, just looked.
Tiy spoke only the truth, no matter what was asked of her. She worked alone and lived alone, as many of the servants did. Akhen didn’t realise Tiy was part of a family, one he had no knowledge of yet and she wasn’t as alone as he had first thought.
Those who worked at the palace were never allowed to leave; never to see or return to their families and, in return for this, their life-styles were slightly better. They were prevented from leaving so that the small secrets within the palace remained secret. Even the sentries who stood guard all around the palace, were never allowed too leave it. The palace guard too, were confined within the walls of the palace – again, this wasn’t exactly true
“Would you like tea, Akhen?” inquired Tiy.
“Yes, thank you,” Replied the very despondent pharaoh.
Just over a minute later Tiy bought the pharaoh a cup of green tea sweetened with some nectar. The pharaoh did not like sugar and much preferred the nectar.
“You better take that and go – and don’t be seen with the cup as they will wonder why you are carrying your own tea. And please remember Akhen. It is enough to realise our mistakes once and live the burden of them once. To perpetuate this achieves no more and actually achieves far less as the burden becomes perpetual. ” Said a concerned Tiy.
“Thank you, my friend. I do not know what I would do without you.” Said the pharaoh who moved towards her and gently kissed her on the cheek.
Tiy waved goodbye and Akhen left, hiding the cup under his gown.
That was the last but one time the pharaoh would see his friend because, unbeknown to them, they had been seen, and the pharaoh’s whole world was about to be turned upside down.
As Akhen entered the bedroom again with the now nearly empty cup, he noticed that his wife was still not awake and still sleeping peacefully. Akhen walked over to the window again and was greeted by the dull hum of the machines once more.
How had they achieved such a thing – how could they have possibly kept this quiet, he thought to himself? Forgetting in an instant all that Tiy had just said to him. But such is the burden of a powerful mind. Through fear, that is how, and that fear had now been spread like a disease across the world – well, at least to certain parts of it which had posed a threat. As he stood there, with the sun on his face, he drifted off into another batch of memories and these memories disturbed him more than any others.
The day in particular he was remembering had started the same as any other schooling day. The priests turned up in the palace as they always did and Akhen and his twin brother, Tutmose’s, sat waiting patiently for them.
The priests entered the room and greeted the two brothers, who in turn greeted them. Both Akhen and his brother got their tutoring books out but Akhen was told to shut his, as two more priests walked through the door.
He was then told to put the books away as he was to follow the two priests to another part of the palace. There he was told that he was to accompany the two priests on a journey that would last for about six days. Akhen had never left the protection of the palace in his entire life; such was the life of an Egyptian prince. He wanted to question where he was going, but knew better than to question a priest.
The ruling family never left except for funerals and, apart from that, they were prisoners in the palace. As they were swamped in all that their minds could desire, they never found this a problem. All that which Akhen needed for his trip was already packed – the two priests had been doing this for sometime whilst the boys waited patiently to be tutored.
The two priests led Akhen to a part of the palace he had never been to – and even though the two boys had explored most of the palace, Akhen had never seen this part. They had gone through a door Akhen didn’t even know existed and had entered a lit passage, which at first frightened the young boy and he leapt back to run through the still open doorway – only to be stopped by one of the priests.
“What is wrong Akhen?” exclaimed the priest who had stopped him.
“What is that upon the wall that light shines from?” questioned Akhen with his voice trembling with fear.
“Why, that is a lantern powered by electricity.” Answered the priest.
“Why have I never seen such a thing?” exclaimed the boy.
“But you have spoken about this before, Akhen, do you not remember?”
“Well… yes… maybe… I am not sure.” Stammered the young prince.
“You will see all manner of things on this trip that may, at first, frighten you, but please do not be alarmed – nothing will harm you.” said the priest confidently.
This seemed to put Akhen’s mind at ease, even though he moved past the first light very attentively, making sure he was on the other side of the passageway from it. Again the indoctrination came fully into to play as he just accepted without question what the priest said to him. Such was the power it had over his young mind.
They started to walk at steady speed down the passage and, as they did, Akhenaten could not take his eyes off the lanterns – still, he had not even asked where they were going, simply following the first priest with the other bringing up the rear. They walked for what seemed quite a while but were he to be honest, Akhen could not tell how long as his time had been taken up solely looking at the lanterns. That now mystified him more than frightened him.
They came to the end of the passage and walked into an open area -again lit with the same lanterns though these ones seemed brighter in some way. They walked towards an area that was on the left from the end of the passageway – towards what looked like a gate – very similar to what he had seen in the palace gardens. A place that Akhen loved to be and one he had so much fun in, even though his brother would not play at what he called ‘childish games and behaviour’. It seemed Tutmose’s had been inflicted with adulthood at a far too early age and refused to play with his brother. The two boys were very different. Almost, it could be said, the antithesis of each other.
This was a strange-looking gate Akhen said to himself as he studied it. One of the priests took hold of it and, as he slid one side open the other did the same. The first priest entered and beckoned Akhen through the gate and onto a different type of floor – the boy prince did as he was asked to do. The second priest shut the gate as the first priest turned and looking down towards Akhen he said.
“Please do not be alarmed my prince. We are about to go downwards, but it will only be for a short time.”
Akhen was alarmed, but the nervous excitement was increasing in him, so he accepted the priest’s words. The second priest pushed an area on the wall and there was a small jolt when the floor started to move slowly down. Akhen lurched slightly towards the lift wall but steadied himself unaided. At first Akhen found it quite un-settling, but he soon became accustomed to the feeling he had never experienced before.
They descended for a while before they began to slow down, eventually coming to a soft halt. The second priest opened the gates and all three walked out into an even larger, lit area. On the far side, towards the left from where they were now standing stood a group of men and the three of them – the young prince and the two priests accompanying him – started to walk towards them.
The group of men greeted the priests and Akhenaten with a lowering of their heads. The first priest inquired whether everything was in place and if they were ready to proceed. The group gestured nearly all at the same time without lifting their heads up suggesting they could proceed.
The second priest said they were ready and the men turned without looking at any one and welcomed the three onto the train with perfect protocol. Again the first priest turned and spoke to Akhen.
“This platform moves upon wheels and is pulled by horses so, again, please do not be alarmed.”
Akhen gestured that he was fine.
“I realise you have never travelled before, so I understand that you are nervous. The tunnel is lit by the same lanterns, so even though it looks somewhat dark in the tunnel, you will be able to see – are you ready to go?”
Akhen again gestured he was. The platform started to move and soon they were travelling quite fast. Lantern after lantern flew past.
The time seemed to pass quite quickly and, as there was a lot of noise and it was quite dusty, Akhen spent his time eyes shut just thinking. His mind was racing. The two main questions he was so desperate to ask were – where were they going and why was he being taken there? But also there were many others. Did his mother and father know where his being taken? Then he dismissed this saying to himself they must do – so little did he really know. And another that puzzled him was why him and not his brother? His brother was the first-born – a fact Tutmose’s had never let Akhen forget. So why not take him instead of himself? But he knew not to question. And resided himself to the fact sooner or later he would find out.
Before long they were stopping to have water, to relieve themselves if they needed too, which Akhen didn’t and the horses were changed. That was what the first priest had informed Akhen was happening as they started to slow. Akhen got the essence of what the priest was saying as it was very noisy and he couldn’t quite hear him properly. The priest told him this even though he had not inquired. But it did seem they were quite happy to explain everything that was occurring to him, without the need of him asking them.
This went on for pretty much all day and the one thing that Akhen had noticed was that the priests did not seem to have brought his bag of clothes – which to Akhen seemed odd. However, with all the excitement and new things to wonder at, this just did not seem important anymore.
They finally arrived at their destination and four beautiful servant girls wearing very little indeed, yet still very respectable in the right places, greeted them. This 13-year boy prince could not take his eyes from them. Almost in an instance he was spellbound by there beauty. Not just by one of them, but all of them.
The servant girls helped the priests and Akhen off the train and on to the platform then gestured that the three should follow them. As requested the two priests and Akhen did exactly that.
To the right of them was a very ornate pair of doors made from a substance Akhen had never seen before. They were shown through the doors, which led into a hallway – which was quite a large one with seating areas, and had other doors leading off and all manner of things including, but not least, a beautiful fountain made, again, from a substance Akhen had never seen. This substance had water spewing from every angle of it and it made a beautiful sound.
The first priest beckoned Akhen to sit down as the second brought Akhen a glass of wine. He offered it to the boy prince, saying.
“You must be thirsty after all that dusty travelling. Drink this before you bathe, my prince.”
“I would much prefer a glass of cold water please.” Asked Akhen of the priest.
“I will make sure you have fresh cold water in your living quarters. For now drink this, it will also help to relax you after your long days travelling.”
Akhen took the glass of wine from the priest and studied for a moment before bring the glass up to his lips. Akhen had drunk a small amount of wine before, but only when his mother and father were not about. But drinking this wine wasn’t what puzzled Akhen; it was the container it was in that puzzled the boy. It seemed to be made of the same substance as the doors and the fountain. This substance puzzled him. Smooth to the touch and cold. Akhen sipped some of the wine and squinted a little as he swallowed it. Then he spoke to the priest, who had given him the wine saying,
“After I bathe what clothes will I change into?”
“Why do you ask?” enquired the first priest.
“The clothes we were supposed to bring for me to wear have been left behind, so what will I dress in and who will dress me?” answered Akhen.
As he finished saying the words the four servant girls walked in and lined up in front of Akhen, smiling.
“Pay no concern to your clothes. There are plenty here for you and, regarding who will dress you, please choose one, two, or all four of these servant girls.” said the priest.
Akhen studied the girls again, and now they looked even more beautiful in the dim, shadowy light of the seating area. Wearing even less but still, in some way, respectable, they were certainly causing reactions in the young prince that he had never experienced before – or at least not on this level.
“I am unsure.” Akhen murmured as his eyes were drawn to each of the girls in turn. “I cannot make up my mind.” He said as he took another sip of the wine from the glass he was holding.
“Take them all!” said the second priest, and ushered the girls to collect the young prince and take him through to the bathing area.
“Once you have finished bathing, the girls will dress and care for you and show you your sleeping quarters. We will collect you in the morning – are you ok with this Akhen?” the second priest inquired.
Akhen just smiled and placed his hand in the hand of the first girl reaching out to him and the other girls, smiling, gathered around him and led him to the bathing area. Still trying to drink his wine, until the first priest took it form him saying,
“There will be plenty more wine inside my prince. Allow me to take this one from you so you don’t spill it.”
Akhen just handed the glass over without another thought regarding it. To be honest he only had eyes for one thing at this moment in time and it certainly wasn’t a glass of wine. Without hesitation he was led away meek as a lamb. And smiling the biggest grin he could muster.
Akhen had been dressed many times in his life – and not only by his mother who, had actually demanded to do just that, when Akhen was just a babe in arms. Akhen had never been in the company of such beautiful servant girls nor had he ever taken one of their hands. Normally, Akhen was very outspoken about all manner of things and was quite good at demanding, insulting and degrading anyone who dare to cross him – a privilege he was taught from a very early age that he was entitled to do, because of whom he was. A trait that is taught to you from a very young age, if you were of Akhen’s status, but not just limited to the ruling elite and aristocracy. This indoctrination was delivered right throw the ranks of families and even to those who were not quite on the ladder yet, or even near it. Along with a servant could never look you in the eyes, let alone take you by the hand.
On this occasion though Akhen was stunned into silence. Though inside he was bursting to question all that was happening and all he had seen, he knew not to. And just knew he had to let things pan out whatever way they were going to go – he felt safe in the priest’s hands, he always had done, and that was all that mattered.
The bathing area was through the door the girls had appeared from and was only a short walk from where they had been sitting. They followed the corridor to the end and then turned left and entered a dimly lit, spacious room. There was one big ornate bath – that could easily fit 6 people in – situated in the centre of the room, which was steaming from the hot water, it contained.
The rest of the room was filled with hundreds of candles hanging from the ceiling upon chandeliers, upon ornate wall brackets and shelves. The room was filled with gold and marble decorative displays, statues and motifs. The bath itself was made of marble and was beautifully finished – but the room could have been empty a far as Akhen was concerned. As all the beauty he could wish for was to the front and to the side of him. And everything was just a blur compared to this.
Akhen was under the spell of this beauty and it’s very coercive power, as the girls tempted him into their house. He was now completely spellbound, if he wasn’t before when he first met them.
As they stopped adjacent to the bath, the leading servant girl gently spoke with her head slightly lowered in respect.
“My prince, May we take your robes if it pleases you?”
Akhen gestured that this would be ok by nodding his head slightly, and two of the servant girls started to undress him whilst the other two behind him started to undress themselves – Akhen was totally oblivious to this fact until he turned round.
As Akhen’s robes softly hit the floor the servant girl gently spoke again.
“If it pleases my prince, may you turn around?”
This time Akhen didn’t even gesture and complied with what he was being asked to do without hesitation. He was met with a most arousing sight and his body did not fail to react.
Akhen felt a little embarrassment – for this boy of 13 had never in his short life been in a situation like this – and started to blush a little. As he turned to face the beautiful sight behind him, another gentle voice spoke.
“Do your eyes please you, my prince?” enquired the now naked servant girl.
Akhen could not speak but just grinned from ear to ear. This 13-year-old boy was on cloud nine as excitement raged through his veins.
Again the servant girl spoke.
“If it pleases my prince, may you step into the bath?”
Akhen again complied and stepped into the warm water, followed by the now naked four beautiful servant girls – and this was only the start.
Continue reading Chapter Three