I searched the chamber for Amunhotep
the Younger. He was standing away from the sarcophagus and the canopic
jars that would carry Tuthmosis organs to the Afterlife. He was taller
than I was, handsome despite his light curling hair, and I wondered if
we could expect great things from him when it was his brother who had
always been meant to reign. He shifted toward a statue of the goddess
Mut and I remembered that Tuthmosis had been a cat-lover in his life.
With him would go his beloved Ta-Miw, wrapped inside her own miniature
sarcophagus of gold. I touched my mothers arm gently and she turned.
Did they kill her? I whispered,
and she followed my eyes to the little coffin beside the prince.
My mother shook her head, and as
the priests took up the sistrums she replied, They said she stopped eating
once the crown prince died.
The High Priest began chanting the
Song to the Soul, a lament to Osiris and
the jackal god, Anubis. Then he snapped shut the Book of the Dead and announced,
The blessing of the organs.
Queen Tiye stepped forward. She knelt
in the dirt, kissing each of the canopic jars in turn. Then Pharaoh did
the same, and I saw him turn sharply, searching for his younger son. Come,
But his youngest son didnt move.
Come! he shouted. His voice was
magnified a hundred times in the chamber.
No one breathed. I looked at my father
and he shook his head sternly.
Why should I bow to him in obeisance,
Amunhotep asked. He would have handed Egypt over to the Amun priests
like every king that came before him!
I gasped, and for a moment I thought
the Elder would move across the burial chamber and kill him. But Amunhotep
was his only surviving son, the only legitimate heir to Egypts throne,
and like every seventeen year-old crown prince in our history, the people
would expect to see him enthroned as co-ruler with his father. The Elder
would be Pharaoh of Lower Egypt and Thebes, and Amunhotep co-regent of
Upper Egypt from Memphis. If this son also died, the Elders line would
be finished. The queen walked swiftly to where her youngest son stood.
You will bless your brothers organs, she commanded.
Because he is a Prince of Egypt!
And so am I!
Queen Tiyes eyes narrowed. Your
brother served this kingdom by joining Egypts army. He was a High Priest
of Amun, dedicated to the gods.
Amunhotep laughed sharply. So you
loved him better because he could butcher what he blessed? He moved quickly,
stooping rashly before Pharaoh. I will become a warrior like my brother,
he swore. The hem of his white cloak trailed in the dirt and the viziers
shook their heads. Together, you and I can raise Aten above Amun, he
promised. We can rule the way your father once envisioned.
Pharaoh rose and held onto his walking
stick as if it could support his ebbing life. It was a mistake to raise
you in Memphis, he whispered. You should have been raised with your
brother. Here. In Thebes.
swiftly and his shoulders straightened. You only have me, father. He
offered his hand to the old man who had conquered a dozen lands. Take
it. I may not be a warrior,but I will build a kingdom that will stand for
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