The Ancient Scrolls

The actual marriage ceremony wouldn’t take place for weeks but we were all expected to move into the palace. We were each given our own apartment, complete with all the opulence expected of royalty. Though I found it pleasing, I found no comfort within those walls.

As part of the royal family, we were expected to participate in all palace ceremonies. Each of us was an attendant of the various goddesses. Meratahten was an attendant for the goddess Ma’at. Khepri was an attendant for the goddess Sekhmet. I was an attendant of Hathor and Beketaten was an attendant of Isis. She was also Prince Thutmose’s sister. This alone could mean she would become the chief wife.

Once we were all settled in, we returned to our duties in the temples. Typically, an attendant would only enter another temple during celebrations. However, because of my father and grandfather’s positions, I could venture into any temple without question.

After I’d finished with my duties one afternoon, I decided to visit my grandfather at the temple of Thoth. As the chief scribe, there was always something that needed to be written down for posterity.

The scribes were running from one side of the temple to the other when I entered. Only a few days before, an unknown chamber had been discovered beneath the temple.

As a way to preserve the texts, all scrolls were kept in underground chambers, sealed in large, clay jars. In their attempt to create a new room, the workers stumbled upon a sealed room filled with ancient jars.

My grandfather said that the writing on the outside of the jars told him that these texts had been sealed away during the reign of Menkaure, some thousand years before. For my grandfather, it was like finding a tunnel to another world.

He’d already decided that whatever was left in those jars, needed to be rewritten and preserved for the good of the empire. It would be a huge undertaking.

As I entered his office, I noticed six of those ancient jars sitting along the wall. My father was present for the opening, as he needed to ask the gods for permission in doing so. A small ceremony was held and the jars were blessed.

I was told to leave the room until the jars were opened. Legend had it that ancient jars were held tight with the breath of Set and could hide the children of Geb. Only those who had been taught the incantations could be present during the opening.

Once the jars were opened, I was ushered back inside. Each of the jars held between twenty and fifty scrolls. Only the most talented scribes were asked to help with the transcriptions. It was then that my grandfather offered me a job. I was to go through each scroll and sort them out as to which god they were dedicated.

As he discussed his plans with me, a messenger ran in to announce that the king and his entourage had come to observe the event.

The Pharaoh entered the temple, followed by both Prince Thutmose and Prince Amenhotep. He promptly made his way to the statue of the god to pay homage. My father took his place by the king and made an offering in his name.

Afterward, the group made their way to my grandfather’s chamber. As they began to speak, I could see them both looking in my direction. Though I tried to keep my composure, a wild heat crossed my cheeks.

“Nefertiti,” my grandfather beckoned, “come forth before Pharaoh.” I did as I was told without question. I kept my eyes down and stood next to my grandfather. I folded my hands in front of me, in an attempt to keep them from shaking.

I could feel the king’s eyes boring through me. “So, I understand you would like to assist your grandfather in his rewriting of the ancient scrolls.” The booming of his voice caused my hands to shake even harder.

“Yes, Sire,” I replied in a whisper. I managed to muster enough confidence to finally look up. The king had a funny smile across his lips.

“Tell me, my son,” he asked Prince Thutmose, “how would you feel knowing that one of your royal wives was helping to transcribe these scrolls?”

Prince Thutmose stared at me, his face still as stone. I wanted to stand my ground but dropped my gaze in respect.

“To be honest, Father,” the prince began, “I quite like the idea that one of my wives is so highly intelligent.” My eyes shot up and looked the prince in the face. The smile that crossed his lips melted my heart.

“So be it,” declared Pharaoh. “Queen Nefertiti, assist my chief scribe with this undertaking. It is in our nation’s best interest to know all that those who came before us, knew.”

“But what of her duties?” my father erupted. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not pleased with this turn of events. “As an attendant of Hathor, it is her duty to see to the goddess’s needs.”

“And that’s what she’ll be doing,” my grandfather snapped. “As part of her duties with me, she’ll need to find all the scrolls dedicated to Hathor. Once we have those all in order, it will be her job to transcribe them to fresh papyrus. What better way to serve her goddess than to keep her story alive?”

I could see the anger welling up in my father’s eyes. The Pharaoh raised up his hand and announced, “As a wife of the future king, her duties to the empire outweigh her duties to the temple.”

For the first time in my life, I watched my father drop his eyes and back away. He knew if he argued his case too much, the Pharaoh could replace him with a more compliant priest.

The king and my grandfather spoke a bit longer, this time with me still at Grandfather’s side. My father remained at the Pharaoh’s side but refused to look my way. I felt the anger rising in his soul. However, I also knew that for the first time, my father had no control over my life.

***~***~***~

**This chapter was originally published in my Medium publication, Lair of the Immortals. I have full rights to this story**
Image by Souza_DF from Pixabay

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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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