The Pharaoh’s coincidental death made it a forbidden topic. It became a mystery. In the aftertime, legends and folklore would say that he was murdered over a power struggle, or that he died because he had angered the gods.
These three major events happened on the same day. The entire Ejyptian Empire was shrouded in darkness. From the nobles and officials to the commoners, the Egyptians all spent their days in anxiety and panic. The situation in Memphis was no different. When the Adoratrice announced the news, one could hear the heavy and nervous breathing in the main hall. People came up with various possibilities in their minds, but they could only keep it to themselves.
After a long time, Amon was the one who broke the silence, and he asked: “Did the messenger from the capital mention anything about the new Pharaoh?”
Maria replied: “The Pharaoh’s thirteenth son will succeed him, and the new Pharaoh has renamed himself as Merneptah. The new Pharaoh has given a decree, all officials and their subordinates including slaves shall stay in their respective territories and may not leave without permission. They are also to soothe and calm the people, and await further instructions.”
It was not surprising for the new Pharaoh to order the officials to calm the mass. When such a major event occurred, only an oracle would be able to stop the people from panicking. Telling them to stay put in their territories was also a wise move. However, the name which Ramses III gave himself had another meaning to it. His throne name was “the soul of Ra, guarded by Seth”.
The new Pharaoh’s throne name mentioned the oldest god in the Ennead, An-Ra, as well as Seth, who was said to be the uncle of Horus. In the ancient Ejyptian legends, when Osiris established the Ejyptian Empire, his brother Seth was the guardian of royal authority. Although it was understandable for his name to mention these two gods, it was strange that he made no mention of Horus.
Amon stopped talking, and he thought of many things. Could something have happened to Horus? In the ancient records from the Shrine of Isis which he read recently, there were two poems which talked about the stories of Isis and An-Ra as well as Horus and Seth.
The legends say that Isis relied on her wits and used tricks to subdue the ancient father of gods, An-Ra, gaining his power and status. In another story, the king of gods was Osiris, the husband of Isis, who was also the first Pharaoh who established the Empire of Ejypt. His brother, Seth, had killed him and seized the throne. Later on, Horus managed to defeat Seth with the help of Isis and became the king of gods.
That is to say, there had been conflicts between the gods of Ennead, and while some gods have retired, the vast Ejyptian Empire had become the divine realm of Horus. The most populous and fertile place in Lower Ejypt, Memphis, was the divine realm of Isis, while the Underworld where the souls went to was the divine realm of Osiris. The rest of the gods were either their subordinates or dependent upon them.
If anything happened to Horus, whether it be death or injury, those who were once the losing party among the Ennead could very well make a comeback. As for divine realms, Amon did not understand much about them, but he could deduce many important information from Mourrin’s words.
When she saved Amon from Enkidu in the battlefield, she had said: “Khenmet and the mountains on either side are the boundary of the Ennead’s divine realm, I am unable to enter. I have been very careful, hopefully I have not alerted them to my presence.”
Later on, when Horus appeared in the sky in the form of a huge cloud eagle, Mourrin said resentfully: “Because I appeared in the war…Horus used that as an excuse to perform a miracle and attempt to change the outcome of the war between humans using his divine power. However, I only appeared to protect you, and I did not trespass into their divine realm. By doing this, although Horus did not violate the gods’ agreement, it is a despicable move, and it also exposes his weakness and fear!”
It seems that between the gods, there was an agreement of some sort, and similarly, there were also agreements between different clans of gods. When these agreements were violated, conflicts would rise as a result. Although Enkidu died in the end, he had managed to destroy the cloud eagle. This act had most likely given rise to a new conflict.
By doing so, Enkidu had announced to the world that Horus was not as strong as everyone thought. And since Horus’ appearance had invoked Mourrin’s anger, it meant that wars not only existed between humans, but also between the gods.
Amon speculated that there was a possibility that the Anunnaki gods had attacked the divine realm of the Ennead, causing death or great injury to Horus. The appearance of the Red Sea and the broken wing of Horus’s statues across Ejypt could have been connected to this matter. As a result, the gods who were part of the losing party in the conflict within the Ennead could have regained the position of king of gods. The new Pharaoh’s name was a hint.
Ramsess II’s death was most likely related to the same issue as well. As for how he had died, there was no way for Amon to find out. He had died so suddenly, and this was not a good thing for Amon, since it could very well mean that everything that he had recently accomplished in Memphis was for naught. To a large extent, what Amon had done in Memphis was for Ramses II, but now that there was a new Pharaoh, it meant nothing.
If it really did happen as Amon guessed, and a conflict had broken out within the Ennead, it was not necessarily beneficial to Amon. In the title which Ramses II bestowed upon him, the first section was “Beloved of Horus”. The soldiers and people all thought that Horus had been summoned by Amon, and this was why he had been awarded with such a prestigious title. At the end, there was “chosen by An-Ra”, and this was due to the fact that Amon had been the Head of An-Ra legion at that time.
Amon had sent Metatro and Lynk back to his territory to instruct Moses to proceed towards the Duc Plains using a warrant in his name. However, with such an unexpected situation at this moment, if they had not left earlier, they wouldn’t have been able to leave by now. Even if they had already set off, they still wouldn’t be able to pass through the checkpoints of the various cities and borders along the way, unless they did not travel on the main roads.
Amon put his bet on Metatro and Lynk. Receiving his order, they should understand the situation and aid Moses and his people to make detours whenever necessary.
Amon did not send anyone to chase after Moses. If Moses and his people managed to escape, so be it. Metatro and Lynk should be able to guide them past any obstacle. If they were stopped halfway by someone else, the result would be a return trip to Amon’s territories. As the warrant Amon gave them was issued before Ramses II had passed away, it would not be considered his fault if he did not manage to catch up with Moses.
However, Amon himself had to obey the new Pharaoh’s order to return to his own territory immediately and to wait for further instructions. As the Supreme General during such a sensitive time, taking any other actions would raise suspicion. Thus, he immediately set off for the return trip with Hardedef and Misphi. Before leaving, he managed to bid Maria goodbye in the shrine.
Amon had many worries in his heart, but he could not say them out. He saw that Maria’s eyes were filled with worry as well. As the Adoratrice of Isis, if something had really happened within the Ennead, she would be affected too, in a way that no mortal would know. All this while, Amon had kept too many secrets buried within his heart, but now, he was unable to bear it anymore. Before leaving, he sent Hardedef to deliver a secret letter to Gabriel and to tell her to make sure to pass it to the Adoratrice personally.
In the letter, he mentioned what he had learnt about divine realms, the relationships between the gods as well as various speculations he made. He also reminded Maria to look up the records, specifically the one which he had Idu deliver to him. With Maria’s intelligence, she should be able to make her own deductions and prepare accordingly. This was the best he could do for her right now, the rest was up to her.
The death of Ramses II naturally meant that a state funeral was to be carried out. On the other hand, due to the succession of the new Pharaoh, amnesties would be granted and celebrations would be held all over the Empire. It was hard to say whether it was a time of happiness or sadness or both.
On the first day that Amon returned to his territory, the first thing that came was not an order from the new Pharaoh but a visit from the chief manager of the Horeb mine, Pawara. Amon asked in surprise: “Lord Pawara, didn’t you receive the latest orders fromThebes? Why did you leave Mount Horeb at this moment?”
Pawara pleaded with a bitter expression: “Supreme General, it is exactly because of the new Pharaoh’s orders that I am here right now. I need to borrow some men from you urgently!”
Amon frowned. “The new Pharaoh told you to borrow some men? What kind of men?”
Pawara explained: “The Pharaoh didn’t say it in the order, but I have no choice. On the first day that His Majesty succeeded the throne, he sent a messenger to Mount Horeb with an order to register every parangon available according to the year of extraction and send them to the capital. Next, all the skilled craftsmen were to be transferred to Hilmore for the task of building a shrine for An-Ra, where a new capital was to be built eventually surrounding the shrine.
Ever since you took away the Duc miners, Mount Horeb’s production of parangons fell by nearly forty percent. There is also a large amount of cores waiting for the parangon to be extracted. However, the mages are completely insufficient to complete the task. Now that the Pharaoh has transferred away large numbers of craftsmen and on top of that, he is urging me to deliver parangons according to the original rate of production before you took the Duc miners, there is really no way I can accomplish that! That is why I would like to borrow those slaves to help out with the production.”
Amon shook his head. “These people are my clansmen. I brought them out from Mount Horeb with great difficulty, how can I send them back there again? I know that you are in a very difficult situation, but there is nothing I can do about it.”
Pawara continued: “I’m not asking you to send them back to Mount Horeb, I just need you to give the approval for them to help out. I can send my men to deliver the cores here and transport the parangons back after they are extracted. They are your slaves, so I don’t expect you to help me for free. According to the old rules of Duc Town, for every ten parangons extracted, one of them will be your commission fee.”
This condition was tempting, but Amon frowned even harder. “Didn’t the Pharaoh take away large numbers of craftsmen? Even if my people can extract the parangons for you, you shouldn’t have enough manpower to mine the cores.”
Pawara shook his head and said: “The craftsmen which the Pharaoh transferred away are all ordinary miners, most of the craftsmen in charge of mining the cores are still in Mount Horeb. If I ask the city for additional manpower, mining the cores would be manageable. It’s just that the last step of extracting the parangons is too difficult without the expertise of the Duc miners. Therefore, the best way to solve the problem is still to get help from you.”
Amon smiled bitterly and replied: “You are late. The previous Pharaoh once granted me a piece of land located at where the Duc Town used to be, but the area is currently an uninhabited wilderness after the flood subsided, so I have to build a settlement from scratch. I sent my people to that area some time ago, and they should have arrived by now. According to the latest edict, they have to stay put in that location and are prohibited from leaving. Even if they can come back, it would still be too late by the time they reach here. But since Lord Pawara has come all the way here to ask for my help, I can’t let you go back empty-handed. I will write a letter to the Shrine of Isis informing of your situation and ask them to send a group of mages to help you with the extraction of parangons.”
Pawara left the room disappointedly. Regardless of whether Amon’s words were true, he had no power to order the Supreme General. The only consolation was that Amon had agreed to ask for help from the Shrine of Isis on his behalf. After sending away Pawara, Amon felt that things did not seem to be right, and he fell into deep thoughts.
The two most important locations in Ejypt for producing parangons were Hilmore, located in Upper Ejypt, and Mount Horeb, located in Lower Ejypt. Hilmore was not as remote and barren as Mount Horeb, and it was situated approximately ninety miles north of Thebes, at the meeting point of a tributary and the upper stretches of the Nile River. Although there were many hills nearby, there was a large piece of land which could be cultivated along the river, and that was why the new Pharaoh wanted to build a shrine and the new capital at that location.
By making such a move, it also meant changes to the traditions. It was very likely that An-Ra would replace Horus in his current status in Ejypt. If the Pharaoh gave the order to all the cities to build a shrine to worship An-Ra, then Amon’s suspicions would be confirmed. Whoever was going to be the chief deity in the Ennead had nothing to do with Amon. He only worried about two things. The first thing was how Maria’s status was going to change as a result of the change in chief deity as well as what would happen to her. The second thing was the fate of his clansmen, the Ducians.
According to the traditions of Ejypt, every Pharaoh which succeeded the throne had to build a mausoleum for himself at the time of succession. This was a major project, but now Merneptah was going to build the new capital and the new shrine for An-Ra at the same time. Not only would this expend an enormous amount of money, it would also require craftsmen from all over the Empire. And who were the best craftsmen on the continent? The Ducians!
If Merneptah gave the order to summon them, even if they had already arrived at the Ducian Plains, Amon still had to recall them. It wouldn’t be as simple as dealing with Pawara. Moses and his people were slaves of the Supreme General Amon, so they were considered his private property. This meant that the Pharaoh could not seize them as he pleased, but he could still employ them for any tasks as needed.
For a slave, it was like borrowing an object and returning it afterwards. If the Ducians were “borrowed” by the Pharaoh to build An-Ra’s shrine or the new capital, when would they be able to return? Years? Decades? Especially for tasks like building a mausoleum, the best craftsmen usually were unable to return. If that was the case, it would be logical for the Pharaoh to compensate Amon with another batch of new slaves. But that wouldn’t be what Amon wanted. How was he going to retrieve his clansmen if that really happened?
Amon immediately summoned Hardedef and instructed him on numerous matters. Then he gave the last wind shuttle he had as well as a spatial artifact to Hardedef and ordered him to look for Metatro and Lynk right away. With an apologetic tone, he said: “My dear captain, these few days you have probably been the happiest person in the entire Ejypt. Even though many major things happened, they all had nothing to do with you, and it would have been sufficient to be with Misphi. I’m sorry that I have to interrupt your happiness for a short while, but this is very urgent. Take care not to let anyone find out that you are leaving, and come back as soon as you can.”
Hardedef hurriedly bowed and said: “God Amon, why are you saying such things to me? Your will is my command, and I will set off after I say goodbye to Misphi.”
The new order stated that all officials may not leave their territory without permission, so Hardedef had to keep his departure a secret. Amon had given him a wind shuttle because although he was a supreme warrior, he had practised the power of two sides, so he was able to operate the shuttle as well.
Amon was extremely wealthy right now, but precious artifacts were not that easy to obtain. As of now, he only had three spatial artifacts: the rib, the Ventussalte Crazy’Ole gave him, and the bracelet which Lynk made into a spatial artifact. Lynk had gifted the bracelet to Amon, and as he was talented in crafting, Amon passed all the knowledge he gained from Crazy’Ole about crafting to Lynk.
Now that an unexpected situation had occurred, Amon sent Hardedef to tell Metatro to give the Ventussalte to Moses so that he could embed it in the iron stick and carry necessary supplies. He was also giving the spatial bracelet to Metatro and Lynk for their usage.
Amon originally had a crystal shuttle and two wind shuttles, of which he had given the crystal shuttle and one wind shuttle to Metatro earlier. After giving the last wind shuttle to Hardedef, he had no more flying artifacts. But he had already achieved the eighth-level, so he was now capable of using flying magic instantly.
The Shadow-soul Chasing Lamp, Spying Mirror, the two scorpion-shell armors which Lynk had repaired and two serpent-scale armors had already been given to Metatro, this showed how important the matter was to Amon.
After Hardedef set off, Amon also started to pack his things. The large bundle of special parangons given by Mourrin definitely had to be kept well, and the most precious items he still had included a God’s Tear, Gilgamesh’s bow, Humbaba’s four fangs and one string, the whip given by Enlil while disguised as a shepherd and so on.
Some time ago, before Amon had embarked on a scouting mission at the Duc Plains, Maria had given him a Terroculus with a message recorded inside. Amon had already achieved eighth-level, but strangely, he still could not see the message inside. He placed all these items in Osiris’ rib and carried it with him. There were also many other things in the rib, which included various staffs and weapons.