“To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again.”
– The inscriptions of ancient Egypt.
Pale and helpless…
Tiye was without remorse, looking at Thutmose’s body that lay before her. Her face was emotionless, her stare icy-cold just as Thutmose’s body had become.
This is the consequence that you face when you are arrogant enough to challenge my power, she hissed silently towards Thutmose. Tiye felt victorious over the times when Thutmose had shown power over her.
Thutmose was arrogant enough to impregnate a servant and to attempt to promote a slave to be Queen. It made Tiye content that her son could no longer jeopardize the Egypt she spent years building.
“My Queen.” the servant’s voice brought her back to reality. She saw the servant bow and continue: “Shouldn’t we prepare the crown prince’s body for mummifying?”
Mummify… She paused. Her gaze locked on Thutmose. It is a privilege to preserve the bodies of royalty for the afterlife. She replied drily, “Don’t bother. Burn him and everything he owns. Great Egypt shall never know a rebellious prince like Thutmose ever existed.” The only memories of Thutmose worth remembering were of him before he was sent to Lower Egypt, when he was still obedient and naive.
Her apathy shocked all of the servants that stood before her; not only was Thutmose the crown prince, he was also to be the next pharaoh. He had earned the right to be mummified, for his body to spend eternity in the royal tombs, headed for the afterlife. But no one dared to speak out against the Queen’s order, knowing full-well they would probably encounter the same fate as Thutmose if they dared to cross her.
Tiye turned to the guards and demanded “What of that servant?”.
The guards bowed and replied, “We have not found her yet. The Captain has instructed all guards to search the entire city looking for the servant’s whereabouts.”
Tiye looked at the guards with indifference. Since Thutmose was no longer a threat to her, she cared little about when the servant was caught or how. She turned towards the doorway to leave, knowing one thing for certain. That servant would surely end up like Thutmose, burned to dust. No servant throughout history had ever been Queen of Egypt, and none ever would.
* * * * *
That was her new name now. An identity she had chosen to be reborn into.
Nefertiti sat in the cave, and looked at the man in front of her and announced, “My name is Nefertiti.”
She had hidden in the cave trying to avoid capture by the royal guard. She couldn’t believe she had committed such a brutal crime – murdering the crown prince, Thutmose. She was now on top of the Queen’s death list.
She sat quietly, confused and still. Who was this brave stranger and what was it he was offering to her? Not only had he tried to convince her not to give up living, he offered to make her decisions for her as well, and now he wanted to provide her with a new life and protection she dared not to dream. Was this all a dream?.
She knew that since the Queen was after her, her death would come soon. Eventually the crime she had committed would be revealed, and this man would probably wish he had never proposed such an idiotic thing. The truth was, she did not care who wanted to take over her life. She knew there wasn’t much of it left anyway. She had lost everything that was important to her, and the future was destined to become something she didn’t want to count on.
Still, there was a part of her that was willing to put herself into his hands, feeling comforted with the knowledge that there was something that still belonged to her other than death. She wanted to tell him her true name, but realized that the name she had forsaken came with all of the memories she was desperate to forget. So she opted for a new name instead, its meaning something that her mother often repeated before her death – Beauty may not always come like a gift, but a disaster that no one has any control of.
Those words were something she questioned when she was young, but now that she lived them, she fully understood their meaning. After all of the things that had happened to her, she started to believe that she was a beautiful woman, and possessed the beauty that attracted disaster to others.
Nefertiti – the beautiful one has come.
She smiled bitterly and thought that if this man were ever smart enough, he would understand that she represented nothing but pure trouble for him.
Although she should not dream to live like a commoner again, she wanted to feel like she belonged. Part of her still wanted to carry out Thutmose’s wish; for her to live her life like she never did before, to be fulfilled. And knowing that someone was willing to provide shelter for her somehow soothed her broken heart.
She appraised the stranger, noticing how brightly his eyes shone even in the dark. It was in those eyes that she saw something that reminded her of Thutmose, and her missed opportunity to love him – an absolute confidence.
She bit down on her lower lip, wondering why she was comparing a total stranger with the crown prince of Egypt. But in spite of herself, she just couldn’t help it. There were too many similarities that she couldn’t explain. His kind eyes, the confidence he carried, and even the way he talked. She couldn’t help but wonder if her guilt had made her think that everyone reminded her of Thutmose. But she kept these thoughts to herself. It was then she noticed the stranger smile, and heard him speak with a velvet tone, “Your name…It suits you.” Obviously, he too agreed that she was a beautiful woman.
This is what was so confusing to her. She never saw ‘beautiful’ as a compliment, and so she warned: “Beauty may not be a good thing, but rather bring about continuous disaster that no one can control.”
“That might be true,” he agreed with a grin, “but that’s for me to decide.”
His resolution took her by surprise. As much as she shouldn’t involve this stranger with the troubles that she had already created, she couldn’t deny that a part of her was still looking for a shelter to rest and hide. She grunted silently. As soon as he gets to know me better, he will regret everything he has promised me now.
Suddenly a noise from outside the cave silenced the conversation between them. Nefertiti’s body tensed as she listened to the approaching footsteps outside the cave.
“Captain,” she heard one of the guards call out, “there’s a cave over here. Maybe we should check inside.” The guard’s voice was loud and clear, and sounded like he was only steps away from the entrance.
Blood rushed under her skin. Nefertiti instantly felt the tension spread across her body. What should I do now? She had no plan for what was coming next. Although she had already prepared for her own death, she didn’t want death to be the kind stranger’s fate as well. Bewildered, she looked at the man and thought. She had already done enough damage to those she loved, and she couldn’t add the blood of a stranger to her conscience as well.
She began to panic and was unsure what to do next. The man seemed to sense her tension, and without speaking, he stood up and walked towards the entrance of the cave.
What is he doing?
His sudden action took Nefertiti by surprise; her eyes widened and followed him as he stepped away from her. She was horrified and speechless, and couldn’t help speculating. Does he finally agree that I am nothing but trouble, or perhaps he is out for himself after all and willing to trade me to the Queen in exchange for a higher rank, just like Jared?
She was nervous. Her senses were tingling now. She felt a shortness of breath, unconsciously afraid to breathe, worrying about what was going to happen next. She was in so much shock that she couldn’t even stop the man from whatever he was planning to do. Her fingers clenched tightly to the rock beneath her, and with every step he took toward the entrance, more and more tension rose to the surface. She dared not imagine what was going to happen next.
The man stepped out the cave, meeting the guards who were just about to enter. He squinted, the sudden light shining into his eyes, but stood his ground at the entryway as if to block the way.
His unexpected appearance seemed to dumfound the guards. None of them had ever imagined they would see him in a place like this.
“My prince?” The guard bowed.
Nefertiti’s mind went blank. She was stunned to hear that name called out, a name she never expected to hear again. Prince? A Chill rushed down her spine as a million questions crossed her mind. Over and over again, in her mind, the same question went unanswered. Is he the prince of Egypt?
She never thought it could be possible, that another prince existed. But what were the odds that Amun would present her with another, especially since she had cruelly murdered the last? Then came the sudden realization. Nefertiti covered her mouth. If he was indeed the prince of Egypt, then the dead brother whom he mourned and mentioned earlier must be – Thutmose!
Nefertiti had difficulty remaining calm as all of the emotions she had cast aside rushed upon her like a tidal wave. Why? She couldn’t help but wonder. Why would fate keep pulling me back to this destiny, a destiny that I long to escape? Why would this stranger be so willing to provide me a shelter when I am in fact the murderer of his brother?
At that moment, answers no longer mattered. Her fate was already in the hands of the God of Death.
Amenhotep IV used his body and blocked the entrance of the cave, making an obvious statement that no one was allowed to pass. Despite not expecting to see him there, the guards bowed in his presence without making a sound.
“What happened?” He glanced at the guards and asked with a solemn tone.
Jared, the captain of the royal guards, straightened his posture and replied, “We are searching for a servant who escaped from the palace.” In fact, he had been searching for Nefayiati for quite some time, mostly with the intention of helping her escape Thebes, rather than capture her and help the Queen put her to death. Jared used his position, the newly crowned captain of the royal guards, to control where the guards would search – all places he knew Nefayiati would never set foot. It had been some time since her escape, and he solemnly wished she had already put a lot of distance between herself and Thebes, to a place where the Queen would never find her…
“Why so many guards to find one servant?” Amenhotep’s voice interrupted Jared’s thoughts, and he saw the prince’s eyes narrow as he glanced at all the guards one more time.
Jared bowed, “It was the Queen’s order.”
Of course, Amenhotep hissed silently, what a conniving mother I have. Though it struck him as odd that Tiye would send all of the royal guards to search for one lonely servant, he was not surprised to hear the decision came from his mother. However, he was curious. “ What crime has she been accused of committing?”
Jared’s mouth tightened and he remained silent. As much as he should have reported the fact to the prince, he didn’t think Nefayiati should take the blame for murdering the crown prince – something she was coerced to do in exchange for her freedom.
It might just be another crazy decision Tiye had made letting her anger decide for her, Amenhotep thought. She never needed a reason to kill anyone before, why should now be any different. Amenhotep never agreed with the manner in which Tiye conducted her affairs, nor was he ever in a position to criticize her. He looked sharply at Jared and stated with an incontestable tone, “I have not seen the servant you are searching for, nor do I wish to be disturbed. Away with you all.” He commanded.
“Yes, my Prince.” Jared nodded and led all of the guards away from the cave down another false trail towards the direction of the temple, a place he knew Nefayiati would not be.
Amenhotep remained at the doorway until all of the guards had disappeared from sight. He then slowly turned his body back towards the cave and looked thoughtfully at Nefertiti. The light was dim in the cave, and his eyes had not yet adjusted to the darkness, but it was not difficult to sense the shocked expression on her face in reaction to what had just occurred.
It pleased him that Nefertiti obviously had no idea who he really was. Amenhotep curled his lips into a smile. He never thought it was possible, since everyone in Egypt knew about him. Although he did spend most of his time in the temple, he had been to a number of royal functions as well. The fact that he was unknown to her should have offended his pride, but instead it pleased him, just as her presence did. Amenhotep’s smile widened and he introduced himself for the first time. “Amenhotep IV,” he said, as he leaned against the wall, still smiling. “That’s my name.”
Nefertiti was still in shock and unable to speak. Her words seemed to be stuck in her throat and she simply couldn’t bring them to her mouth to speak them.
Amenhotep noticed she was having trouble speaking, so he continued. “So you must be the servant the guards are looking for?”
Nefertiti didn’t know how to react. She was confused by the kindness towards her, and unsure of his true intentions, especially since he knew she was the one the Queen was after. He could try to deceive her and decide to personally hand her over to the Queen.
It took Nefertiti a while before she finally found her voice again. “I’ve warned you, I am someone you will not want to be responsible for.”
Amenhotep didn’t seem to agree. Nefertiti watched him throw a quick glance outside then return his gaze to her with a smile. “I think,” he teased, “I am the only one who can be responsible for you right now.”
His over-confident tone brought her back to attention. She looked up at him, and noticed how the sunlight had illuminated the features of his face. She realized then how very different he was from his brother Thutmose. Amenhotep possessed a slimness about him that his brother didn’t have. His nose was slightly pointed, but in a good way, and his lips were fuller than Thutmose’s. He also possessed a degree of tenderness and softness that Thutmose did not have.
Though they were completely different people, they both possessed a strong level of confidence in their voice. Before Nefertiti was able to appraise him any further, Amenhotep said, “Let’s go.”
“Where are we going?” she asked, wondering if he would take her to the palace.
He furrowed his brow. Amused by her suspicion, he said, “I don’t think you’re planning to stay here forever, are you?” He walked toward her, grabbed her gently by the hand, pulled her up to her feet and said, “I have a more suitable place for you than a cave.” Before she could resist, he had already pulled her directly out of the cave, and into the light.
Nefertiti squinted. She had been in the cave far too long. It took time to adjust to the sudden light. She had no idea where he was taking her, but she felt safe with him and so she decided to give herself to him. After all she no longer believed she was capable of managing her own life, so what was the harm in letting him try? No matter where fate was guiding her next, there was one thing she knew for certain – she trusted him. Whether it was the tenderness in his voice or the magical energy he possessed, she simply couldn’t help but trust him whole-heartedly and without any hesitation.
Moreover, she thought, whatever future Amun had planned for her, she would walk that path till the day she died.
* * * * *
Amenhotep IV didn’t let go of her hand until they reached a chamber inside the temple. Nefertiti was surprised. Not only did he not bring her back to the palace to face punishment for the crime she committed, but he also managed to smuggle her inside the temple without anyone noticing.
The chamber inside the temple was different from the chambers in the palace. There were no servants, no guards stood on duty, nor did it contain fancy decoration. Instead, it contained plain and simple furniture that Nefertiti found comfort in.
Once inside the chamber, he released his grasp on her hand, and continued to lead her towards a bedroom. He led her inside and brought her across the room until they both faced an undecorated wall. Nefertiti looked at him in confusion until he wiggled a vase that sat in the corner. The wall began to move and a doorway revealed itself before her eyes.
The doorway led to a secret chamber connected to the bedroom. It was slightly bigger than the house she and her mother lived, and it was decorated with a stone bed, a table and an oil lamp. There was a small opening on the top of the wall where sunlight scarcely shined through.
“You will be safe in this chamber.” he reassured her. “No one is allowed here without my permission. Servants will leave food for you in the hall outside every day. Don’t worry. No one will report you to the Queen. Gossiping is a sin in the temple, and I am certain that nobody here wants to be confronted by Osiris after their death.” He chuckled, as it was now a sin that played in his favor. “And this secret chamber,” he looked back at Nefertiti with a smile, “cannot be opened by anyone but me, for I am the only one that knows how. Secret chambers were often built so that the high priest was able to conceal their wealth. It’s not meant for any living things, but you may find comfort here from time to time. But don’t ever feel threatened here in the chamber. I guarantee that you are safe here, and that no one will find you.”
She furrowed her brows in confusion. Why would he go to a cave if he had a place like this to hide?
Amenhotep seemed to sense her questions. He snickered. “As I said, this chamber was created to hide the treasures of the high priest and was not meant for any living things.” He continued, “Sound travels. These walls do not provide me with enough peace and quiet, and so the cave became my private sanctuary for times when I didn’t want to be disturbed or found.”
Nefertiti bit down on her lower lip. She didn’t like the fact that he was able to answer questions she had not yet asked.
He seemed to take pleasure in her discomfort. He curled his lips into a smile and stared intently into her eyes. Entertained by her tenacity, he declared, “I would probably never have met you if I didn’t go to the cave.”
Why does he make it sounds like a good thing? She grunted silently, “You have no idea what you are getting yourself into.”
“Trust me. I think I have a very good idea. Besides,” he continued in a smug tone, “Since I am the only one who can protect you, doesn’t it look like it’s meant to be? Remember, you ran into me.”
“If I were meant to run into you,” she continued, “I am sure Amun was not in your favor.”
Her blunt observation turned his smile into laughter. “Quite the contrary,” he retorted. “My life had been dull until you showed up.”
She pursed her lips and refused to comment. His pleasant laughter made it difficult to debate against him.
Amenhotep realized how addictive it might be to stare at her beautiful face to await an answer, so he decided to put away his thoughts for now and said, “you can stay here as long as you want. I will come back to visit you sometimes.” He believed if he didn’t leave soon enough, he might never be able to, considering how pleasant and satisfying it was to have her around. “You will be safe here,” he confirmed. “There is no place for the Queen’s guards here.”
Nefertiti looked up at him, knowing full well she had nowhere to go. If he had not provided shelter for her, the guards would likely have caught her by now. Though she was grateful overall, she was disappointed to hear that he was not going to stay with her in the chamber. She asked him with hesitation, “Are you not staying with me?”
Instead of answering her question, he smirked, asking her one of his own. “Would you like me to?”
That, she thought, was not a question she knew how to answer, nor did she know that she was given the choice. She had no right to decide whether he stayed or left. She was still a servant, and that meant she had to obey his command. She thought he had brought her here to serve him. She didn’t know he was honoring his promise to provide her shelter and a place to hide without expecting anything in return.
Her bewilderment brought a smile to Amenhotep’s face. He understood that she must have a lot on her mind and he was pleased that whether he stayed or left was one of her concerns. “No,” he smiled, “this is where I stayed when I was learning to become the high priest. Since the crown prince is now deceased, I will have to move back to the Palace and learn how to be…” he paused momentarily and chose his words carefully, “to take over his duties.”
Duties? She distressed, does he mean being the next pharaoh?
Nefertiti remained silent. She didn’t know whether she should confess the crime she committed to him, but she was aware of the guilt she felt whenever she looked at him.
Amenhotep’s velvet voice brought her back to reality. “You,” he noticed, “are very different.”
She looked at him perplexed, Thutmose had made the exact same comment to her once before.
Amenhotep began to realize how addictive her personality was becoming. Her uniqueness drew him closer to her, and he desired very much to know her better. Most people praised or feared him because of his royal title, but she showed neither of these emotions, not to mention the fact that she was being pursued by royal guards. If anyone should be afraid of him, it was her. “There’s no fear in your eyes.”
Fear? Other than death, which she was prepared to accept, she didn’t see anything she should be fearful about. So she looked into Amenhotep’s eyes and asked, “Should I be afraid of you?”
“Me?” Her question brought a chuckle to his throat. Even though she should have every reason to be afraid of him, he was glad it was actually a question, and not a statement. He continued to laugh, “Probably not.”
He was glad that he had found her. He didn’t understand why, not yet, but he couldn’t recall having felt this happy in a very long time. “You have a talent of being able to make people act natural, without pretenses. It would be such a waste of time trying to pretend. You would see right through it.” Listening to himself speak, he knew that was exactly how she made him feel.
“That’s not a good thing, is it?” She trailed off. “The palace is not a place for people to show their true colors. I had to learn to pretend in order to survive.”
“Yes, indeed,” he agreed with a grin. “But since you are no longer living in the palace you do not need to pretend in order to survive, I suggest that you to reveal your true self to me. I am sure I am strong enough to handle the truth.”
Startled, she had never seen anyone express themselves so genuinely as he had, nor did she believe that opening up to him now was a good idea at all. She sighed, “…You really don’t know the kind of disaster you have brought upon yourself.”
Yes, disaster. He grinned, noticing how she kept referring to herself with that term. She had no idea how miserable his life had been, that is, until she walked into it… He lowered his head, and extended his lips into a beautiful smile and stated, “that is a risk I am willing to take.” He knew exactly what he got himself into, and he was willing to risk everything for whatever future lay ahead with a woman who had the power to brighten his life. He smiled; his instinct never lied.
Oh, she groaned, how can he be so confident? She was not only a disaster, the murderer of his brother; she had also put him in the most loathsome position of all. Though he might not say it, she had seen it clearly in his eyes. How could he act like nothing mattered at all? “You know nothing about my past,” she grunted.
“I don’t need to.” His voice was more than certain.
“Why not?” She was puzzled.
“Because that’s all in the past. You can forget everything from that life. I have promised to make your decisions for you, and the only thing I am concerned about is your life from this point forward.”
Nefertiti was speechless. Not only had she not shared her past with him, she didn’t reveal her true name either. Instead he chose to trust her unconditionally.
“What if,” She heard the trepidation in her own voice, “I lied to you?”
“Then,” he grinned, “you must have had a very good reason for it.” His tone was pleasant, as if he was not bothered at all if what she said might actually be true. “You are not the first one to lie in Egypt, nor will you be the last. It doesn’t matter whom you lied to, as long as you are truthful to yourself. So if you have already decided and believed lying to me is best for you, then don’t waste your time trying to second guess what if, or whether it was the right decision to make in the first place.” He smiled. “No one can live life without making mistakes. We learn as we live, so we should live our lives moving forward, not backward.”
She recalled that Thutmose had said something similar before his death, but Amenhotep’s words seemed to contain a deeper meaning that she couldn’t quite comprehend. Is that how royalty is raised and trained, she couldn’t help wondering, what if people didn’t learn from their mistakes and continued making the wrong decisions throughout life, how do they look to the future without worrying about the past?
This thought lingered in her mind. She was quiet, deep in thought. Is that what I am doing? Living in the past?
“What if,” it took a while before she was finally able to voice her question, “I regret the mistakes that I have made?”
He returned her question with a smile, “You have the future to correct them and make up for what you believe you did wrong.”
“What if it’s too late?” She thought of Thutmose when she said that, feeling remorse for what she had done to him.
His smile widened “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”
Such a simple statement. It made her feel ashamed. Of all the people she had killed or hurt, she didn’t have the power to bring them back to life or to correct things, to make them the way they were before…
“For those who choose to live in the past, they try to return things to the way they existed, as if nothing had ever happened.” He seemed to understand what she was thinking. He explained, “for those who live for the future, they work towards something better, regardless of the mess they made. Since I have chosen to let go of your past, I suggest you might well do the same.”
Nefertiti’s eyes widened as she looked up at him. There was something about him that she simply couldn’t describe. How did he know? she wondered, and how do I do that?
“No one will be around today,” he continued before she was able to respond. “You should rest now, you must be exhausted from trying to elude the guards all day. Do not worry about anyone coming here to look for you. The royal guards are not allowed to enter my chambers without permission. I will do my best to return and visit you soon.” He threw her a soft, genuine smile and hastily left the chamber without saying goodbye.
Addictive, he smiled, that was the word he found best suited her personality. Regardless, she was indeed a beautiful woman. There was something about her that continuously drew him closer to her and made it harder to withdraw. He didn’t know what had happened between her and Tiye, and his instinct had told him that he needed to protect her at all costs.
Before he figured out what it was that his instinct had tried to tell him, he’d better head back to the palace – before Tiye raised any suspicion about his absence. One thing he knew for certain: Tiye would never find out that she still exists…
* * * * *
Is this my fate?
Nefertiti sat alone in the chamber. She was restless, and although she was exhausted, she simply couldn’t sleep. She had been concerned about escaping the Queen; as a result she never had time to digest what had happened over the past few months. As her peaceful surroundings had started to settle in, she realized that all of the buried emotions she had hidden deep inside had decided to come to the surface and they began to stir in her mind. She no longer knew what to do any more.
Should she allow Amenhotep to take care of her? She did after all murder his brother Thutmose. Did she have the right to look towards the future when her past was nothing but one big disaster?
Despicable me… she said to herself, feeling no shame, nothing except a numbness throughout her entire body. Amun was punishing her by sending her to another prince of Egypt after she had cruelly murdered one already. She understood that although ‘the Palace’ was something she was able to escape from, she didn’t have a future worth looking forward to.
Her fate was in the hands of Amun. She had absolutely nothing, nothing left at all…
* * * * *
“Where did you go?”
Amenhotep was not surprised to see Tiye sitting in the great room when he returned to his chamber in the Palace. He paused momentarily, thinking of his answer to her question, but decided to ignore her and continued to walk towards his chamber. Of course, he grunted, Tiye had been watching his every move since Thutmose died.
He knew that Tiye’s questions weren’t as a mother who cared about her son, but rather, directed as a ruler who worried that things might be beyond her control. The negative energy that surrounds her says it all, he thought. Tiye often forgot he was groomed to be the high priest of Egypt. He sensed things beyond words were able to describe.
He never agreed with the decisions she made on behalf of Egypt. Luckily, he spent most of his time in the temple, so he wouldn’t have to deal with her much, not to mention the fact that he actually enjoyed learning how to be the high priest. He was taught to use his instincts and his sixth-sense in order to examine how energy flowed, the way every high priest was trained, in order to communicate with the Gods and to receive the divine message from the Universe.
He never believed Tiye was fit to be a ruler, and he never believed he was one either. Nobody fit that position better than Thutmose. He couldn’t do what Thutmose was capable of doing. He knew he could never force anyone to do anything against their will, nor could he enforce laws upon anyone – something rulers had to do. He was trained to be the spiritual leader of the people, something he enjoyed very much, not the Pharaoh of Egypt.
Thutmose’s death changed everything. He was now forced to live in the palace and was supposed to take over where Thutmose had left off, a position he could never see himself fitting into, nor was he able to manage it alone…
“I asked,” Tiye was angry that her son had ignored her question. She raised her voice and repeated, “where did you go?”
“Out.” Amenhotep responded without emotion.
Tiye frowned at his response. Amenhotep was always the odd and quiet one among her children. She never knew how to read him or what to do with him. He also had a talent of knowing what people were thinking, which was why she was afraid of him at times, but that was a quality that would make him perfect for the high priest position.
Although he was not the perfect candidate to become the next Pharaoh, and he didn’t want the job, things had changed. He was now the only son she had left and the only one who could step up to the throne. “You should stay in the Palace!” she said. “Since you are going to be the next Pharaoh, your safety should be monitored at all times.”
It was a funny thing for her to say, he thought sarcastically, considering she had sent all of the royals guards out to look for a servant, a servant now under his care. His safety was definitely the least of Tiye’s concerns. He remained silent, and turning towards the table, he poured himself a goblet of wine and sat by the window.
The Palace, he looked out the window and thought. He never belonged here, and never would…
“You should meet with all the nobles and viziers in the great hall,” Tiye reminded him. “They will be of great assistance to you when you become Pharaoh.”
“You know I am not good with people.” He took a sip of wine and spoke lightly.
“Then you should spend more time with your royal wife – Kiya,” she suggested. “I would like you to have an heir before you are crowned Pharaoh.” Tiye knew that once Kiya had conceived a royal son before the crowning ceremony, her title as Queen would be secured. “Kiya will be serving you every night until she has conceived.”
Kiya, Amenhotep remembered, the first daughter of Ay, was supposed to be the royal wife of Thutmose, and she had become his royal wife the day Thutmose was killed. They never met each other before the day that they were announced to be husband and wife. He often wondered if she found peace in such an arrangement.
Then again, he thought, knowing full well that Tiye was simply looking for a puppet to present the illusion of an ideal country, he understood why Tiye had tried so hard to make Kiya the next Queen. But he didn’t comment, knowing whatever he said wouldn’t make any difference whatsoever.
Although Amenhotep didn’t argue with his mother, his silence drove Tiye crazy. Unlike Thutmose, who always spoke his mind, Amenhotep kept everything inside, which made her feel like she was talking to the wall most of the time.
“I’ve taken care of everything for you,” she declared. “You should focus on learning how to be a Pharaoh and produce me the prince I am asking of you. You should be glad for the future that lies ahead of you.”
“I am doing whatever you want, am I not?” He replied.
Yes, he is doing everything I command, she admitted. But somehow, the way he was going about it made her uneasy. It felt as if he was a crouching tiger, quietly waiting for his time to attack. But she quickly dismissed these thoughts and said, “you should stay in the palace, and prepare to be the king.”
King? He thought. How ironic. He scoffed. “I don’t belong here.”
“It is not a choice.” Tiye was not pleased with his comment. “This is your destiny, so whether you feel that you belong or not, you must learn to cope with it.”
“I am coping with it,” he grumbled, “I just need some time and space before I am crowned to a title I can never escape.”
Tiye didn’t like the comments he made, but she did expect that reaction from him. Amenhotep had been raised to be the high priest, and was never comfortable around people. “You have a year to adjust yourself,” she said. “Till then, behave and take care of your responsibilities.” As she finished her sentence, she started walking toward the doorway and out of sight. She did not expect much out of him, she was merely there to ensure everything was still under control. As she had already seen, there was nothing in his chamber to distract his attention. Different from Thutmose, Amenhotep’s recluse personality would definitely not cause her any trouble as long as she kept it that way.
As soon as Tiye left the room, Amenhotep returned his gaze out the window and was deep in thought. He saw a country that was completely controlled by Tiye, a country where no one was allowed to have a mind of their own… he was certain that this was an Egypt he never wanted to belong to.
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