Handling the Scrolls

The next morning, I made my way to my grandfather’s workshops. I was excited to get started as this was an amazing opportunity to further my education. I threw a little food into my satchel and made my way out the door. The guards had been instructed to make sure I arrived at the workshops, so I had an armed escort on my morning walk.

My grandfather had instructed the workmen to move all storage jars to one of the writing rooms after they’d been blessed. There were several shelves lining the walls and a large writing table in the middle of the room. This would become my personal workspace.

I was instructed to go through each jar and separate the scrolls by the marks on the wax seals. As I opened the first jar, I was in awe at just how intact they all were. However, I still used the utmost care in removing them. Though most separated easily, there were a few that had fused together. I had to make sure to keep them in pristine condition, especially the seals.

Once I’d gotten them all out and separated, I began the process of grouping them into the various gods for which they’d been written. Most had the seal of either Amun or Isis upon them. A few were dedicated to Hathor, or her earlier incarnation, Bat. There were only two or three dedicated to Thoth, but there was one by itself. It was dedicated to a god of which I had no knowledge. A large disc, with what appeared to be arms extending downward. I set that one on the writing table until I could have Grandfather take a look.

I went through the other jars that had been brought over and went through the same process. At the end of the day, I’d gone through the first six jars that had been blessed and found that each one had a single scroll with the odd inscription.

I placed each grouping into one of the empty jars. I scribed the seal’s dedication onto a piece of papyrus and secured it to the top of the jar so my grandfather could choose which jar he wanted to start with for the transcription process. However, the six scrolls with the strange dedication still lay on the table. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but something told me that they shouldn’t be seen by anybody else, including my grandfather.

I gently placed the scrolls in my satchel, then made my way out of the scribes’ complex. I emerged into a setting sun, finding my escorts still in their places, waiting to walk me back to the palace. It was intended to make me feel safe, but at that moment, I felt as though I were being led to my demise.

Once inside my quarters, I was left on my own. I quickly pulled the scrolls out of the satchel and placed them in the reed chest where I kept my clothes. I didn’t want them to get crushed, but I didn’t want them to be found either.

I rearranged the items in the chest to create a void between layers of clothing. Unless someone was digging through my things, you’d never know there was anything hidden within. However, I knew I’d have to find a safer place before long.

As one of the chosen queens, I had to be present at the palace’s evening meal. Unlike the quiet, family dinners I’d known since childhood, evening meals in the palace were always a grand celebration.

The Great Pharaoh, Amenhotep III, would take his place at the high seat at the center of the table. On either side of him sat his sons. The younger son, Prince Amenhotep IV, on his left and the heir to the throne, Prince Thutmose, to his right.

Queen Tiye, Great Royal Wife and mother of the future king, took her place at Prince Thutmose’s side. Then, it was time for myself and the other chosen queens to take our places. As both a wife and a sister, Beketaten took pride of place at her mother’s side. And because they’d become such good friends and allies, Meratahten sat beside her. That left Khepri and me to sit on the side of Prince Amenhotep IV.

Because of my father and grandfather’s titles, I was placed beside the prince. At first, I felt I’d been cast out, but before long, I grew to enjoy my place at dinner as the prince proved to be a rather interesting young man.

Most everyone’s attention always lay with the Pharaoh or the future king. As such, nobody seemed to notice that the young prince was quite the conversationalist. I enjoyed our talks as the evening meals wore on. I felt bad for Khepri who didn’t seem to fit in with anyone, so I tried to include her as often as I could.

Once the night’s festivities came to an end, we were all dismissed back to our quarters. I bid good-night to Prince Amenhotep, then took my place at Prince Thutmose’s side. It was customary for each of us to bow before him, then the Pharaoh and Chief Queen. As I left the great hall, I almost ran for my quarters.

As I entered the room, I felt an odd energy all around. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt it. It was almost as if the gods themselves had entered my room.

I went to the reed chest and opened it slowly. Though nothing seemed different from before, I thought I could hear those scrolls calling to me. Beckoning me to open them, to read the words from a world long gone. But I knew it wasn’t time.

I took them out only to look at the seals. I wanted to study each part of that symbol to see if anything made any sense.

Though they all looked alike, I did notice one little discrepancy. There seemed to be a random number of arms. One had 7 arms, one had 9 arms, another had 14 arms, the next had 17, the one after that had 18, and the last had 19 arms.

I also noticed the hands on each arm were placed in different positions. On the seal with 14 arms, the first hand showed one finger, the second showed four fingers, the third hand was straight out and flat, the fourth showed two fingers, and the fifth was a balled fist.

The next six hands hung down, as though in a relaxed position. The twelfth hand showed two fingers, the thirteenth was straight and flat, and the fourteenth hand showed four fingers. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it had a message.

As I looked each one over, it dawned on me that the fingers represented numbers. “Of course,” I whispered to myself, hoping no one was outside listening in. The first and second hands, I concluded, represented the number 14. The same number of arms on this seal. I also figured that the fourth and fifth hands represented the number 20. But it was the hand in between that had me baffled.

I looked at the other seals and noticed that the hands on them were also showing different numbers of fingers. The seal with 19 arms showed the first hand showing one finger, the second showed five fingers, and the third showed four fingers. After that, the fifth hand was straight and flat, with the sixth and seventh showing the sign of twenty. That’s when it hit me. This was the nineteenth scroll of twenty. But what did the numbers at the end mean?

The first scroll showed the last three hands showing two fingers, the flat hand, then four fingers. The last three hands on this one showed one finger, a flat hand, then three fingers. “That’s it!” I exclaimed, a little louder than I’d intended. The scroll in my hand was the nineteenth in a series of twenty dedications. This particular scroll was the first of three. It was then I realized that there were going to be a lot more scrolls to find.

***~***~***

**This chapter was originally published on my Medium publication, Lair of the Immortals. I have full rights to this work**
Image provided by Wikimedia Commons

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Christine has been writing online for nearly 30 years. She's been published both online and in print in a wide array of genres. She is the owner and main writer for The Multi-Verse.

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