Akhen opened his eyes with a start and stared at the ceiling for a moment, confused and bewildered as his mind registered he was not in the dream anymore. As the seconds passed, the stark realisation of reality struck him as the dream state diminished and he heard the rumble of the machines in the distance once more. How many times had he wished that he would not wake again and that he would be released from this torture, this torment that now was his life? How many times had he sought sanctuary from this torment through any method he could find, to escape the reality of not only what he had done, but the fact he could not go back and change it? How many times had he sought privacy – something he could never have – to be able to scream and shout “what right have you to keep me hear against my will?” Akhen didn’t even know who or what he was talking to. There was no name he could call, no place that he could go, and nothing he could point a finger at and say “Why?” There was nothing but this relentless torture. An indescribable pain inside of him tore at his very essence.
He had spoken to his dearest friend, Tiy, on so many occasions and, although he could not comprehend what she spoke of, he knew that she was telling him what he needed to hear. He knew her words affected him, and in a way he knew that they did this even more than the words Iktus had infected his mind with all those years ago.
Tiy spoke of – as she described it – the is or the mother of all and how much she loved us all and, no matter what we do, she will offer us unconditional benevolent love and amnesty; that she cared with compassion and a loving that was priceless; that no earthly material aspect of richness could compare with her in the slightest; that no gold, power or control could come near the feeling of this love and all we go through is to find this love within ourselves; to love others and ourselves as we are loved; to care as we are cared for and to forget as she will forget. This is what helped Tiy through her pain. Helped her to remain in an existence of persecution and service at the behest of those who thought they were better than her. Never did she say it was the truth. It was just her perspective – a simple idea. But these words certainly had a direct effect on Akhen. Whether they be true or not, to Tiy, they were her truth. Although it could be said that her beliefs were as stagnant as the priests, at least with Tiy’s version no one was being controlled to maintain positions that if things were different, would be far from needed.
Not two years had passed since these words were spoken, and Akhen had listened and things had changed and the pain had begun – and this was from someone he had ordered to be put to death. Tiy’s words resounded in his mind like a puzzle that was impossible to complete, even though it looked so simple at first glance. Over and over – “it is not what you were, it is what you are now; it is not what you have done, it is what you do now; but to realise this you must first live the pains of recognition and, once realised, let them go, for this is baggage you do not need to carry around with you anymore. The agony will only last as long as you want it to, for the only one who can stop it is you.”
Relentlessly these words would circulate in his mind, driving him to the point of distraction. He questioned his own sanity and then questioned the sanity of all those around him who maintained that things stay the same; that the pain and the misery continue daily; the poverty and endless needless suffering. Was he insane, or were they? Could he measure his own sanity against the sanity of the society he had helped create – surely he could, couldn’t he? Night after night these questions, and others, haunted him, and even in his dreams he had no peace. There was only questioning, questioning and more questioning – relentlessly questioning.
Should he leave, should he stay – what would become of his sons? He knew his wife would be ok as long as she complied with the family’s wishes, but what would become of his sons? He wanted to scream out loud – “STOP! Please, please stop. I cannot take anymore”.
More of Tiy’s words echoed loudly.
“Akhen, always remember that all things are meant to be – for if they were not, they would not be.”
As much as he accepted this in his heart, his mind said different. His mind taunted him “To accept this means that you have no control” and the thoughts of this plagued him. In reality he had no control anyway; he was nothing more than a mascot, a front man for the families; a corporate logo; the chairman of their commercial construct that people called the world. This was only the beginning of the sequence, as always, and Akhen was now to be plagued by more punishing thoughts.
Akhen turned his head slightly, with tears in his eyes – without raising it from the pillow – to see his beautiful wife laid beside him fast asleep. There was no denying the fact that Nefertiti was as beautiful as a flower in bloom and Akhen felt she loved him – just not for the right reasons.
Akhen felt Nefertiti loved him for the position he held and the life that came with that position; the riches’, the status, and of course the wealth. And in these last few years she, too, had played her part in trying to keep him under control. He knew in his heart this was the case, but he still loved her – or was he confusing love with lust?
He had realised only a short time ago that, as beautiful as she was on the outside, it was not the case inside and her mind was tarnished with coercion. Tiy had warned him of this, which was what had nearly caused her demise. He had watched his sons, fall under the spell cast by the words of their mother and, at the tender ages of eight, they were already showing the signs of this infliction. For that is what it was – an infliction, an illness of the mind, and this saddened Akhen and added to his sorrow, which was itself increased by Nefertiti’s pursuit of this cause aided by the priests.
But Tiy told Akhen something else he always remembered. She spoke of Tutankhamen and said. “Gaze into your son’s eyes and you will see that no matter what he is being taught, he knows – he has a knowing – for he is a whyst child, a far sighted child, not through visions but through knowing – memories. You were once like this and you will remember in time, because you can never not be this – only your own mind prevents you from remembering this through the coercion you have suffered.”
As Akhen lay with his head on the pillow, now back to staring at the ceiling with this all racing through his mind, he wondered what time it was. The elixir he had been given by Isbane had knocked him out, but no sleep could quell his tiredness. Akhen felt nothing but tiredness on all accounts. He could not find motivation in anything, not even in his son’s, his wonderful son’s. He was a broken man and this only compounded his sorrow – for, as much as he tried, it just wasn’t there. He had noticed, though, that he had days of reprieve where, without trying, everything was ok. And he had enjoyment in his life such as spending hours in the palace gardens enjoying the songs of the birds and their playful antics on display for all to see – but missed by so many, they being thought of as insignificant.
On days like this he knew in his heart that all was going to be ok in the end, he just did not know how long that would be and, because of this, his longing to be released from the prison he found himself living in could not be satisfied quickly enough. He knew in his heart that, when he shut his eyes and breathed his last breath for the last time, he would know nothing but bliss. He knew this. He felt it, just as on the days of reprieve he lived it. Alas, those days were far too infrequent and lasted for too short a time – but at least they came and Akhen was thankful for them, as he knew – as Tiy had once said – “all things pass in the end.”
Akhen felt warmth inside him; a glow from within – like an internal sun shining that always made him smile – this was Tiy’s words coming alive in him and quelling the painful woes. Even though his mind still tried to rage with all its daily torments, his, now, was a feeling of peace – a peace from within. As the warmth overcame him, he started to feel his eyelids become heavy and this troubled man, known as the king of all Egypt, gently drifted back off to sleep. There was only one problem for poor Akhen, even in his dreams, the torment never ended.
The sun was still blazing through the skylights scattered across the ceiling and it was warming up. Akhen stood listening to all that Iktus was saying. He was confused, bewildered and, at the same time, excited in a strange way. He remembered back to earlier that day and the events of the past evening and a smile slowly appeared on his face. Iktus could see this and could tell that all he was doing was not in vain. This pleased the priest. It pleased him immensely.
They stood silent for a moment. Both Akhen and Iktus were smiling. Akhen looked up and saw the priest was happy. They exchanged a glance for a moment, and Iktus realised the boy was ready for the next stage – so he continued….
“You are a born controller, Akhen. You were born into the controlling aspect – and simple words made this so and created this. This is why history was written this way – to allow this aspect to be apparent. Your ancestors wrote it. They wrote it this way – deliberately.”
Iktus paused to ensure he had captured the boy’s full attention.
“As I have just discussed with you, history is really his-story or this-story. They are simply stories containing the words that someone writes, so others rely upon these words. The gods were created by these stories and also the most useful part – the fear of these man-made gods. This is simply about control, Akhen, and what you have experienced with the girls last evening and this morning was control. So, would you prefer to be controlled or to be a controller?”
“A controller.” answered Akhen immediately, smiling as he did – and this answer the boy prince gave made Iktus’s smile even broader.
Iktus slipped off into a daydream for a minute.
Iktus knew now that all that he was doing was working, and the boy was beginning to accept the coercion he was applying. He had often told the grand master that sex was the key to bringing this adolescent to their way of thinking – lust and desire being the driving forces. Then, through this, the application of control could be applied – even though in reality the ones thinking they are controllers are actually the ones most controlled. Once the power overcoat is tried on it is very hard to take it off – Iktus knew this better than most. He once had the opportunity to try on the power overcoat and was very reluctant to take it off.
He had been an acting master of the temple for a short time, until another was chosen from the ranks of the priests to fill the position permanently. When the master of a particular sect of the temple died, this process was used to ensure that the business of the temple would continue. Many times this had happened and many times the next master chosen was the acting master, given this role to see how they coped with it. The trouble was that Iktus had gotten a little too big for his boots and had tried to force his opinion upon those whom opinion could not be forced. He had assumed the role rather too fast and, what with the privileges that went with the role, he became addicted to the power and control very quickly. Many of the elder priests spoke of their concern about this at the upper house meetings.
Yes, they were looking for those with ambition, but they should still know their place within the ranks and maintain this. The command structure was cast in stone, everyone had a place and should know their place, and no one should try to force opinions upon those of higher rank. This was the order of things, and this order had to be maintained without question.
Iktus was not interested in the order of things. He was ambitious and inpatient and wanted everything yesterday. He had no time for waiting, or delay, and the more he got the more he wanted. He was, for a time, a temporary member of the club and enjoyed the social life, respect and the privileges and, boy oh boy, were there privileges!
As an acting master he was allowed access to all that a master would have access to – to places the ordinary priests did not even know existed, where wine, women and song were the order of the day, and where any amount of depravity was catered for.
The clubs were of beautiful design, covered in marble and gold and containing the essence of all wonder of luxurious aromas. The most beautiful servant girls who would service their every need – no matter how depraved that need was, served the masters. None of these girls were older than twenty and, when they did reach twenty, they were disposed of. The servant girls were naked all of the time and, at anytime – no matter what was asked of them – they would stop what they were doing and perform whatever act was asked of them.
There where areas of the clubs that contained private rooms, which were designed with all number of different themes to them – even including a room where private dissection of an inferior could be performed whilst they were still alive. There were rooms containing torture equipment, bondage equipment, and the elixir’s room, stacked on shelves from the floor to the ceiling. Truth be known, there was not a depraved act that was not catered for in some way or another – and this also included children. The children were taken from the streets and most would die at the hands of the masters and those who didn’t, were locked in cells under the clubs – kept there for the next sessions where they would surely die.
No one spoke of the clubs outside of them – no one dared, for the punishment for doing so was swift and fast – and also the fact was relied upon that no one would actually believe them.
Iktus had fast become accustomed to this way of life. “Who wouldn’t?” he thought to himself. Surely this was the wish and desire of everyone – surely everyone wanted to rise in status, to have all their desires laid on a plate for them? It was soon to end, however. The worries of the upper house members were mounting and so it was decided that Iktus was not suitable to be a master, and that the duties he was performing as acting master were to be removed. Another candidate had been chosen and, on the day this was announced, Iktus was a very angry and disappointed man – a man who was determined to get back all that he had lost, and this boy whom he held by the shoulders was going to help whether he wanted to or not.
Iktus snapped out his daydream and started to question Akhen again.
“My prince, do you remember the sound you have heard all your life and questioned us of in your schooling?”
“Yes, of course I do.” Akhen said flippantly though not meaning to be so – but of course he did. How could he not remember? This was something he heard every day of his life.
“Have you wondered why you have not heard this noise during your stay here?” Iktus said.
This question he was being asked was just one of hundreds he wanted to ask and of course, he wondered, but he had made a decision not to question as Iktus had said to him “all would be revealed.”
Another reason was that, although Akhen knew what family he was from, he knew as a child you do not anger the priests – so, in respect of this, he decided to allow answers to be given and not ask for them.
“Yes, I have wondered.” Replied Akhen, curiously.
Iktus could see that the boy prince was far more settled now. He did not see as much confusion in him and could see that there was already an element of acceptance in him. This was good, Iktus thought to himself. This was very good.
“And what were you told generated this sound, my prince? What has everyone been told about this noise?”
“We were told it is the gods at work. This is what everyone believes. This is what has been told to us by you – the priests.”
Akhen answered with a small amount of uncertainty.
“Do you still believe this, Akhen – do you still believe it is the gods?”
Akhen thought for a moment and considered all that was happening, what had been said and what was he to believe now? It was obvious, now, that he had been lied to from an early age, but he still wasn’t sure that they were lies. Did he believe this priest or the others who had told him different? More to the point – who was lying?
What Iktus had said made sense, especially the part about his father, and the words kept nagging at him like an itch he could not scratch, repeating themselves over and over in his mind – the words, the words. He could see the obvious – that all commands had to be delivered this way, otherwise how else would it be done? That was the only way to communicate; even if a picture or symbol was drawn it was words that explained what it was, or what it meant. But Akhen could also see how powerful words were and understood what Iktus had explained to him.
Words gave you the power, and the power, in return, gave you the words to enforce that power through control. So it was all about the words. It was the intentions behind the words that made the difference – the context, the delivery of the words, either made them powerful or benign depending on the intent. Akhen was getting it; so only one answer could be given.
“No, I do not.” Akhen said, confidently. “But if it is not the gods, then what is it?”
This had been what Iktus was hoping for. The boy prince was accepting his words, accepting he had been lied to. Iktus knew all he had to do now was to show the boy a truth and the coercion would be broken and the boy would accept what he was saying.
He knew that this boy was now putty in his hands. Iktus removed his hands from Akhen’s shoulders and turned to face the doors directly in front of them. Akhen did the same after being beckoned to do so by the priest.
As the pair stood gazing at the doors, Iktus spoke.
“Behind these doors, my prince, are things you will not believe are real, but I can assure you that all you are about to see is very real. You have asked of me what makes the noise and I will show you. I will show you what the gods really are.”