By Paul Atreides
Many have written about my life since the discovery of my death chambers in the valley of my fathers. Much may have been written and theories abound; some have come closer than others. But none is truth. A usurper, a thief of crowns, conspired against me!
In our days of glory vast numbers of spells written by priests as funerary texts could be found in many forms, and in many places; in pictographs and hieroglyphics; etched into walls, and stone and marble tablets; inked onto cloth and papyrus. These were meant as a guide for the departed to assist them on their way through the Duat, the underworld, and into the afterlife. Collected together, RW NW PRT M HRW, The Book of Coming Forth By Day, it has become known as The Book of the Dead.
As one enters the after-world Anubis leads them to Osiris to whom one must recite the Negative Confession. The heart is then weighed against the White Feather of Truth. Passing this test of a life lived with honor, becoming maa-kheru—true of voice—one is allowed to pass into the grace of the afterlife.
Fear rose as bile into my throat, and I lamented, “How will you do this? My heart has been so damaged, how can…. ”
Osiris raised a palm in peace. “It shall be done.”
Being judged worthy, I shall share now a path within the afterlife no living person has ever known. For our book, The Book of Kings, remains hidden from prying eyes.
Osiris presented me to the king of all gods, Amun-Ra. He greeted me with a deep bow, and bequeathed to me a new scepter. “You now possess an instrument of great power, mightier than any you wielded in life.”
Carved of ivory and gilded with gold, Amun Ra revealed a quill hidden within the shaft.
He lead me to a chamber deep within our Valley. There, he pointed to a massive book made with sheaves of papyrus laid out upon a beautiful dais carved of black onyx, and polished to reflect the light of the torches. “Here you will record the truth of your life. Those who follow this path ever after will know that, though the living and lesser gods may be fooled, Amun-Ra will not.”
“What of the one who betrayed me, who betrayed our people?”
“Write,” he commanded. “For it is here your story shall be told. It is here you shall be vindicated. It is here his lies shall be revealed, denying him entry beyond this chamber.”
I wished my truth to be known, stepped to the altar, and eagerly dipped the quill into the jar of dark liquid; an ink made of charcoal and soot. Read now the betrayal of a nation.
“My father turned his back on gods our people had worshipped for centuries. He claimed there could be only one true god and killed the priests of the old gods. Then in an effort to solidify that belief with his subjects, he had the temerity to name me for this new god of his, Aten. With the might of his power, in three years time, my father built a new city for his throne from which to rule. It sent the accomplishment and pride of his nation into ruin.
“From the instant the original tribe rose up on the continent of Africa, for as long as there have been leaders and rulers, there have been uprisings, coups, and conspiracies. Kings, queens, dictators, and caesars throughout the ages have known this, prepared for this. Many ruled with cruelty, their iron fists wielding horrific weaponry of punishment to maintain the stranglehold of their power. Others looked to assuage the fear of their countrymen, and appeased them by showering them with gifts and promises they could not keep.
“I was only a boy when the miter, mantle, and crook and flail of rule shrouded my being. Aspiring to improve the lives of my people and return them to glory, I sought a mixture of principles with which to reign. With a return to the comfort of the old gods, I changed my name to assure my people. We left the stricken city of poverty and strife that my father built, returned to the place of my birth, and a new peace and prosperity began. Yet, war still found me.
“Though generals served well, lest I be thought a coward, I could not send them into fray after fray in my name. At the urging of my most trusted advisor, Ay, he who had served in that same capacity for my father and his father before him, I was forced to take on the cloak and blue crown of battle. I led my armies to defend our land. He saw this and took advantage of it.
“The role of warrior lay heavy upon my shoulders. My soldiers fought hard and brave, as did I. Chariots raced, arrows soared, spears and daggers pierced and plunged into flesh. It was reported a wheel of my chariot struck a rock in the sands of the desert where we fought and, my body thrown under, a crushing blow landed. But it was murder. Regicide.
“Landing in the soft earth, I pushed myself upright to my knees, my back to our enemy. The soldier saw me and knew me. I could see this in his eyes, recognized the cruel smile of intent on his face, and watched in horror as he drove his horse directly at me with greater speed. My body leapt toward safety, yet the entirety of my left side was crushed. The knee cracked, the hip broke, ribs splintered and drove deep into my lungs. My heart was so damaged it could not be sent with me to the afterlife.
“My widowed sister-wife, without even the comfort of our two children, for they had never drawn a single breath at birth, was forced to endure marriage to the head conspirator after he declared the throne for himself. So hurried and intent was he to wipe clean my very existence, and seize what was mine, the rites of passage to join my forebears were blundered.
“The anointing oils used to prepare my body, not given proper time to dry, mixed with the small amount of air, ignited the linen wrappings, and charred me inside the coffin. Instead of finishing my rightful complex of final chambers, he claimed them for himself. He substituted Nefertiti’s death mask for my own and me placed in the smaller ante-chamber intended for him, filling it with used, less royal accoutrements.”
So is my truth recorded.
So shall Ay know that Amun-Ra cannot be fooled.
It is an irony so much had been done to erase my existence from memory. So egregious were the sins of my father, and that of my usurper, their symbols have been left off the Wall of Rulers. As a result, my own could not be recorded there. Yet, I have become the most famous of all. More so than even Ramses or Cleopatra, for I am recognized by a single syllable, or by image alone—false though it may be.
I am Tut Ankh Amon, boy king, Pharoah of Egypt.