As the victim was a mage and the murder had occurred at a sensitive time in Thebes, the most likely suspect became Hardedef.
The Pharaoh was furious. If Hardedef was really the one who did it, it would be akin to mocking the laws of Ejypt! After investigating Hardedef’s background and history, it was revealed that he was indeed someone who dared to do anything. The Pharaoh sent an envoy to Cape to find out two things. Firstly, whether Hardedef really said that Pharaoh’s order was nonsense, and secondly, whether he had sent someone to kill the priest.
Hardedef met the pharaoh’s envoy in the barracks. After hearing the envoy’s intentions, he pulled out his sword and cut down the table in front of him. Rod Drick was also present at that time, and he hurried forward to dissuade Hardedef as he was worried that Hardedef would harm the envoy on impulse. Pushing away Rod Drick, Hardedef said, “Don’t worry, I just want to make things clear.”
The envoy was supposed to question Hardedef, but Hardedef became the one doing the questioning instead. He asked the envoy to answer his questions honestly and to explain the matter in detail.
After that, Hardedef replied coldly: “I did say that the Pharaoh’s order was nonsense in front of the Pharaoh’s messenger. I was a soldier, and even if I didn’t agree with the order, I would carry it out nevertheless. You can tell the military department my answer. As for the priest’s death, it has nothing to do with me. There isn’t a need for me to kill him in this manner. If I wanted to kill him I would duel him. I would kill him with my own hands. You can tell that to Pharaoh. “
The Pharaoh’s envoy left Cape, but before he left, he accepted a heavy bribe from Rod Drick to make some small changes to Hardedef’s statement. Hardedef had used the word nonsense, but he was referring to the messenger who had speculated on Pharaoh’s intentions and not referring to the Pharaoh’s orders. As for the murder, nothing can be said without sufficient evidence.
Several key members of the Egyptian army, such as Vadin and Ankh, were also very unhappy with how the Pharaoh had dealt with Hardedef. Hardedef’s family also made some protests, and in the end the punishment given to Hardedef was not that heavy.
The death of the priest was not necessarily related to the impeachment of Hardedef. While he was still alive, he had large amounts of gambling debts. It was difficult to determiner the murderer. As Hardedef did treat the Pharaoh’s messenger unreasonably and used inappropriate words in his speech, he was demoted one rank and ordered to reflect on his actions. The Head of the An-Ra legion was also temporarily assumed by Rod Drick.
After the war, Hardedef was promoted by three ranks for his achievements. After the demotion, he still had a promotion of two ranks. The only thing was that he was not able to obtain the position of Head of legion. On the other hand, it was tough for Rod Drick. After Urhiya’s death, the governor also served as the head priest of Cape. He had just stepped down from the post of Head of Seth legion, and now he had to take on the burden of being the Head of An-Ra legion. It might seem as though he held great power, but if anything went wrong, he had to answer for it.
The Empire’s official verdict on Hardedef was “a demotion of one rank and to await further summons”, while emphasizing that the decision was “due to his contributions in war, the punishment was reduced”. An additional sentence was also added in the official document: “For failing to meet Supreme General Amon’s expectations, he should apologize sincerely to the Supreme General and reflect on his mistakes.”
The implication was obvious. Hardedef’s punishment had been reduced on account of Amon. Although it was not appropriate to hand down a heavy punishment to those who had made great contributions in war, it did not mean that they could do whatever they wanted because of their merits, and Amon himself should take heed of this.
Since Hardedef had to apologize to Supreme General Amon, he did not bother reporting to the military bureau after returning to Memphis and followed Idu directly to Amon’s territory. After hearing what happened, Amon shook his head and sighed, and asked Hardedef, “Why did you answer Pharaoh’s messenger like that? Anyway, there were no magical records at the time. If you insist on denying it, nobody can do anything to you. Besides, now that the impeacher is dead, the others will not continue to pursue the issue publicly.”
Hardedef said firmly: “If I have said something, then I have said something. If the Pharaoh asked me personally, I would answer in the same way. If the order wasn’t nonsense, why did the Pharaoh take back the order and appoint you as the Commander-in-chief? The war has just ended and they are already thinking of ways to deal with us. And yet, when they needed someone to deal with the situation, they would think of you!”
Amon frowned. “But why did you wave your sword in front of the Pharaoh’s envoy and cut down the table? If it weren’t for Rod Drick’s mediation, the envoy would most likely increase your list of crimes after returning and cause more trouble for you. Did you fail to control the anger and impulse in your heart and lose your calm again?”
Hardedef replied earnestly: “I was really angry at that time and I could feel a restless power arising from the anger, but it no longer lost control. Like a strength that is part of me, I am now able to use it freely. What I did with my sword was simply to express my attitude towards the matter. Although I was angry, my heart was sober and calm. I knew what to do and how I should answer the questions.”
Amon stared at Hardedef for a long time, then suddenly smiled: “After you recovered from your serious injuries, the changes have been great. Keeping your mind calm within the restless power is a great achievement! It seems that you are the one who doesn’t want the position of Head of legion, so you took the opportunity to get away, even if it cost you a rank.”
Hardedef laughed. “Yes, I must thank you for your constant guidance. I finally got rid of the shackles of the body and mind, and I have never felt so relaxed like I do now. The restless power can no longer control me, instead it has been integrated into my body and mind. “
Amon stood up and said to Idu: “The three of us used to be the top three commanders of the An-Ra Legion. Since all of us are gathered here today, let’s have a good drink at night and celebrate Hardedef advancing to a supreme warrior!”
Idu also laughed. “It turned out that the Supreme General had already noticed it. I didn’t say it on purpose.”
On the contrary, Hardedef was a little embarrassed: “This puny achievement cannot be compared with Supreme General Amon and High Priest Idu. Where is Metatro? If he is here, then I would like to have a competition of drinking with him.”
Amon replied: “Unfortunately, I sent him on an errand a few days ago. If General Hardedef is willing to stay here for a longer period of time, you would be able to wait until he comes back.”
That night, the three of them had a great time drinking. Hardedef felt that the hall was too small, so Amon instructed his servants to set up a large tent and a feast in the open space. Then he invited the rest of his guards to join them in eating and drinking. Everyone at the scene was very enthusiastic, and it was as if they had returned to the time when they were still fighting the war.
Hardedef was drunk and was helped back to rest. After the feast, Idu called Amon alone into the small hall and handed him an ornate copper box. “Supreme General, this is the book that you requested. Only a supreme mage can open the box without destroying the contents, and that is why I came personally to open it for you. “
Amon was a little embarrassed and said: “I have brought trouble upon the High Priest. I didn’t expect this book to be so special. When I was in the Archive, I only knew that it was locked in a cabinet. To think that there were other mechanics lying inside the cabinet.”
Idu smiled. “It is only because Supreme General Amon is the one asking for these books. Otherwise, they would never have left the Shrine of Isis. Originally, if you want to see it, you have to go to the archives personally to read it there. I told the Adoratrice about your request and Her Highness asked me if I wanted to come here to relax for a while. I said yes, so she sent me here with the book. Once you are done reading, I have to bring it back personally.”
Amon was slightly surprised. “What kind of book is this?”
Idu was stunned. “You are the one who gave the code, did you not know what the book is about?”
“I traveled a lot and heard a lot of rumors. I only knew that there was such a code, but I didn’t know the contents of the book.”
Idu glanced at him. “Where did you get to know so many weird rumors? Forget it, I don’t want to ask anymore, you can read it now! To be honest, I haven’t even read this book myself. According to the catalogue in the Archive, the book contains information regarding ancient myths and legends, which may involve the private matters of the gods. Therefore, it is difficult to distinguish between truth and falsehoods. Such myths which may be disrespectful to the gods should have been destroyed, but this book has been passed down since the ancient times, so it was preserved. I checked the records, and the last time someone borrowed it was more than 200 years ago!”
Amon asked with a strange expression: “So, this box hasn’t been opened for at least two hundred years?”
Idu also looked a little weird as he looked at the box. “According to the records of the Archive, this should be the case. As to whether anyone has opened it during this time, I’m not sure about that. It has not always been under my charge…with that said, even I am curious about the contents now. After you finish reading it, I will take a look as well. “
Both of them were proficient in supreme information magic. Although the box was indeed sealed, the traces of the seal were obviously decades old and not centuries old, indicating that someone had opened it without registration. Who was the one who opened it? It was most likely Bair, but neither of them mentioned it.
Idu opened the copper box in front of Amon, exposing a roll of pale-yellow sheepskin, and he left to take his rest after that. Amon brought the document back to his bedroom and started reading it under the moonlight without using a lamp. With his excellent eyesight, he could see it clearly.
This document was written hundreds of years ago, and although it was slightly incomplete, it was still very well preserved. Surprisingly, it turned out to be written in the common script instead of hieroglyphs. The handwriting was a little messy but neatly arranged. The contents resembled ancient legends recorded by a bard in the style of poems.
The first long poem told the story of the goddess Isis and the god An-Ra. In this long poem, Isis was claimed to be the earliest woman in the world who mastered language, while An-Ra was the ancient god who ruled over heaven and earth as well as the earliest Ejyptian god of the sun, symbolizing the rise of life and hope.
One day, Isis made a snake out of sand and placed it at a place where An-Ra passed by every day, and the snake bit the god. An-Ra was poisoned by the snake and suffered great pain. Isis came to him and chanted: “God from the sky, have you been bitten by a poisonous snake? Language contains the power of wisdom, and this power can overcome pain. Please tell me your true name and the hidden language so that you can be healed. “
An-Ra replied: “I am the ruler of heaven and earth, the creator of the gods, and everything that you can see within the horizon is part of my divine realm. I am called An at night, Ra during the day, Hepri in the morning, and Atum at dusk. “
Isis said: “This is not your true name, please tell me the hidden truth, and all this pain will disappear.”
So An-Ra told her his true name and the hidden language. Isis gained his magical power and became more powerful than An-Ra. She became the guardian goddess of Memphis and the entire Lower Ejypt, while the ancient god An-Ra drew back to the clouds at the origin of the Nile River.
This long poem made Amon blink his eyes in bewilderment. A story told by a bard hundreds of years ago is not easy to understand in many places, such as “language”, “true name”, “hidden language”. These terms probably had other meanings, or it could be that the bard himself was unable to understand them and came up with such words using his own imagination.
In this poem, it was clearly mentioned that Isis was once a mortal and not a god. According to Amon’s understanding, Isis most likely managed to master a certain secret way of practising to make herself strong and powerful, which was the “language”. Next, she has obtained the secret to become a god from An-Ra, which was the “hidden language”. As for “true name”, it could also be referring to something else.
How did Isis manage to gain the power of An-Ra? Was it just the imagination of a bard, or an exaggerated telling of a folk legend? But Amon clearly remembered that Schrodinger had said that she wanted to find someone who could release her from her seal without stealing her divine power and enslaving her. It seemed that the story was not just pure fiction!
Amon shook his head and ignored the doubts in his heart for the time being. He then proceeded to read the next long poem. The contents of this poem was somewhat contradictory to the previous one, possibly due to different versions of the same legend circulating among the people. This story was about the “clan” of the Ennead.
An-Ra was the oldest god of creation among the Ennead, born from the first lotus at the origin of the Nile River. An-Ra spit out the wind god “Shu” and the water god “Tefnut” from his mouth, Shu and Tefnut gave birth to the god of the earth “Geb” and the god of the sky “Nut”, while Geb and Nut gave birth to four other gods: “Osiris”, “Isis”, “Nephthys” and “Seth”.
The poem did not mention the name of Horus, the current king of gods in Ejypt. Amon was already aware that the relationship between the gods was not the same as the kinship between mortals, but it was the only way that people could make sense of it. In this poem, Isis was separated from An-Ra by several generations, and her divine power did not come from An-Ra either.
Looking at these two poems, one could make a speculation that Isis first gained her power from Nut and Geb, then used this power and other means to defeat An-Ra and obtain his secrets and power, thus becoming a supreme queen of the gods. After An-Ra stepped back into retirement, Horus, the son of Isis, became the king of gods who ruled over Ejypt, at the top of the Ennead.
Amon started reading the third long poem. The story in the poem was about the battle of the ancient gods. It turned out that there had once been conflict within the Ennead. Some details in the third poem also had discrepancies and contradictions with the previous two poems. The characters in the story did not seem like gods, and it seemed as though the story was talking about a struggle for dominance in the court, similar to what was currently happening on the continent.
It was said that Osiris had become the most powerful god and was known as the king of gods. He symbolized fertility and controlled the life and death of all living things. He also established the Ejyptian Empire and was addressed as the Pharaoh of Ejypt. His brother Seth was originally the protector of the royal powers, but he murdered Osiris with a scheme and became the king of Upper and Lower Ejypt himself.
Seth put Osiris’s body in a coffin and threw it into the Nile River. Osiris’s wife, Isis, went through countless hardships to retrieve her husband’s body and eventually succeeded. However, Seth discovered what she did and cut Osiris’s body into many pieces before throwing them into different parts of Ejypt. Once again, Isis found and retrieved each piece of the body. In the end, only one piece of flesh was not recovered. It was said that this piece had been eaten by the fish in the Nile River.
While Isis was beside Osiris’s body, she conceived magically and gave birth to Horus. Isis brought up Horus and taught him strength. Eventually, Horus was able to defeat Seth with the help of the remaining gods and regained the throne, becoming the new king of gods and the eternal god king of Ejypt.
The story did not end here. After that, Isis retrieved Osiris’s fragmented body from the swamps and deserts with the help of Nephthys, and Osiris was resurrected from the dead. The papyrus was a little damaged at this part, and it seemed to be saying that the soul of Osiris reappeared. Seeing that Horus had become the king of the gods, he returned to the Underworld to become the god of the dead.
After reading the third long poem, Amon gazed out the window and was lost in thoughts. The content of the poems was naturally exaggerated and enhanced by the poet’s imagination, but there were still several things which could be confirmed, and the stories were not mere myths.
The Ejyptians did not eat fish and they also did not fish in the Nile River. It was said that bodies of the fish in the Nile River contained Osiris’s flesh. This sacred river led to the Underworld, and Osiris was the guardian god of the Nile River. The annual flooding of the Nile River and the flourishing and decay of plants and trees symbolized the cycle of life and death as well as Osiris’s resurrection from death.
The poem mentioned that Osiris’s body was cut into many parts by Seth, and one of the pieces was eaten by the fish in the Nile River, and this was apparently the reason why Ejyptians did not eat or catch fish. The other piece of concrete evidence for this was the rib of Osiris which had fallen into the hands of Amon. It had been a sacred object which Bair had stolen from the Shrine of Isis.
Looking at all the signs and evidence, Osiris most likely gave up his original body and became a god of the Underworld instead of returning to the mortal world. Did Osiris have a new body, or did he continue existing in a spiritual form? There was no way for Amon to find out.
The Pharaohs of Ejypt were said to be the representation of Horus when they were alive, and the representation of Osiris after they died. Therefore, all of them built magnificent mausoleums for themselves and their corpses were specially treated to be preserved for a long time, hoping that they would be resurrected just like Osiris.
Amon sighed, and lowered his head to read the last poem, the contents of which mentioned the story of the Ejyptian god of cats, Bastet. It was then that Amon finally understood why Schrodinger wanted him to read this book. The secret of how she came to lose her powers and got sealed could most likely be found in this ancient legend.