The Boy King
Akenaten, near modern day Luxor, Egypt.
Armada Period 18th Dynasty
The young boy awoke suddenly, his dream still running around his head. He had dreamed that he had seen his father again.
He rushed off his bed, letting his sheet fall to the bottom of the slanted bed, pooling on the floor. Running down the palace halls, he passed many people who stopped and bowed low to him. He didn't pay attention. He had to tell Smenkhkare about his dream. Only his brother would understand what it meant. Smenkhkare was smart and knew almost everything. He had heard village people tell him that Smenkhkare had a direct communications to Aten himself!
" Smenkhkare!! Smenkhkare!!" He called, ignoring the sad looks of the onlookers. He finally made it to the Pharaoh's suite of rooms. However, he stopped in the doorway at the sight of the room.. It was empty of Smenkhkare's things. No longer were there several jeweled stools or alabaster vases with flowers that grew near the Nile. There wasn't even a bed. It was this that finally brought the memories back to the young boy.
His brother was dead.
"Come, Tutankhaten. It is time to prepare you for today's ceremony," a voice said as a calming hand met his shoulder. The young boy didn't want to be prepared. He didn't want to go though with the ceremony. Coronation meant that the last Pharaoh was dead. Coronation meant that he would never see Smenkhkare on this side of life. He could only hope that Osirus looked kindly upon his brother and that the two would see each other in the afterlife.
He allowed the older man to lead him back to his suite of rooms, although the boy noticed none of the stately decorations. Most of it was new. After all, his room in the other palace had been furnished royally but not as this. He was the child of a second wife. He wasn't born to be Pharaoh, but due to a horrible twist of fate he was going to be one.
And neither Smenkhkare nor Akahaten could help him now. They were in the care of the Lord of the dead.
The young prince stood in the middle of a large room in the Pharaoh's palace. Servants rushed around him. They were preparing him for the ceremony later in the day that would name the small child a Pharaoh of the Egyptians and a figurehead of the Gods. One servant wrapped a piece of white cloth around the prince's waist while another placed a jeweled neckband around his neck. Others prepared make-up and polished the stones on his jewelry and headpiece.
However the prince's mind was not focused on the servants around him. 'Everything around him was happening so fast - so fast that his mind wasn't able to absorb it all... but his mind wasn't trying to. It was reflecting on the happenings of the past few days, and what would shortly be his future.
His brother, Pharaoh Smenkhkare, had died the day before quite suddenly. No one knew what exactly had caused this young and supposedly healthy man to be ill. Smenkhkare had never been one to be sick, as long as Tutankhaten remembered. Of course he would have the normal every day sicknesses but never serious.
Had Smenkhkare been here to watch, he would have not liked his younger brother focusing on the death. After all that just meant another beginning as he believed. Smenkhkare always looked for the lighter side of things, even death. He would have commented on how beautiful the light of the sun was. He would kid his brother around about wearing so much jewelry. He would speak with Ay on topics of business and explain them to his brother. If Smenkhkare were here, things would be better.
Ay, the vizier had been witness to the young leader's death and would be present today as the next pharaoh was crowned. Tutankhaten was the younger brother, the youngest son of Pharaoh Akhenaten and his second wife, Princess Kiya. He was not expected to be Pharaoh since Smenkhkare was there. However, as many of his older siblings had died due to illness it made him the only logical successor to his brother, even if he was only nine years old.
Tutankhaten had been raised the same as his much older brother, Smenkhkare. He had lived with his father while his sisters lived in a separate palace with the Queen and the Pharaoh's concubines. He could remember visiting his father in his throne room when he was younger, sitting on floor beside his chair as men would walk up and present their problems. His father had always been a good father, and doted on the two boys and his six daughters. He used to tell stories of his own father to them at night, before they were sent off with their nursemaids to their rooms. Smenkhkare was much older but still remained to hear the stories. Tutankhaten had trained by tutors until recently. When he was barely five, his father died, and Smenkhkare had been made Pharaoh. Smenkhkare had continued the practice of telling stories before bedtime of the various stars and having his younger brother sit near him in the throne room as the people came to see their Pharaoh.
Sometimes people thought that he was his brother's son and people often referred to the prince as the Pharaoh's son even after his father's death. Smenkhkare had always found that hilarious and even started to tease his younger brother about it. He could call him son and 'child of mine' in jest, but often people took it at face value.
His brother had been kind to him. He had taught him how to hunt in the marshes, how to write the neatest hieroglyphics and many other things that most Pharaohs would not do for their brothers. Indeed, he had acted as if he was the father of the prince as he joked he was. But no longer would the older Prince be around to guide the younger into adulthood. Only Ay was there for that.
He was no longer simply a boy who had lost his father and brother in a matter of years, but a god to the people of the land. He was the Pharaoh, now that his brother had died. His mother, Kiya was not there to help him prepare for the day as his grandmother Tiya had been there for his own father, another unexpected Pharaoh. Smenkhkare had been expected to be pharaoh for many more years. Smenkhkare was supposed to have a son to take over when he became old and died at the old age of 100. Smenkhkare had prepared for this position for many years and had worked as his father's co-regent for the few years before he mysteriously died. Not even Aunt Titi was there to help him learn, as she had died when he was very young. He had many older sisters, but they could not tell him anything. They were preparing for the seventy day mourning period followed by the burial in the Valley of the Pharaohs (or so his father had called it) and the funeral feast. Perhaps the lord of the dead, Osiris would be kind and send his father back to help him rule. He closed his eyes to try to fight back the tears that threatened to be exposed. Pharaohs did not cry, even when they lost their guiding force.
If the servants noticed, they made no comment. They led their young leader to a mirror and he gazed upon a whole new person. They had cut off the braid of hair that he had grown off the left side of his head like most young boys. The servants replaced that with a wig that was coiled in the latest fashion. The wig was cut in the back and angled to be longer by his cheeks. A women-servant had put some kohl around his eyes and another had added various makeups to the rest of his face, enhancing the caramel color of his skin. It felt slightly weird at first, since he had never had an occasion to wear the make-up but he had seen his brother wear it many times so he assumed it got more familiar as time went on. They didn't cake it on, but the feel of the brushes felt strange against his skin. He stood very still, in hopes that his make-up would be perfect. If his brother had left him this duty, he was going to do it perfectly. His brother deserved that, and it started with perfect make-up. He followed the seldom spoken directions of the two women until it was all on and he looked more the regal Pharaoh then the sad little boy.
Yet more servants came and took care of the robes now on his body. In a case near him lay a set of ceremonial jewelry and on a stand stood the Pharaoh's crown, now gleaming with a newly polished shine. He was the highest figure in the government. He was a divine figure. And he didn't understand why.
When the servants stepped back to appraise their work, Ay came to stand before him. He placed a reassuring hand on the boy's shoulder. Ay had been in Tutankhaten's life for as long as he could remember and he remembered his father's stories of the same man when he was a child. Ay's belief in him helped him a little. If Ay, who had served three pharaohs before him, thought he could do this, he could. He would honor his brother's memory.
"Come, Tutankhaten, it is time." Tutankhaten simply nodded and followed the Vizier though the halls of Akhenaten's palace to where a chariot stood waiting to take him through out the city proclaiming him Pharaoh. This would also be how they would announce the death of the old Pharaoh.
He found his sister and best friend, Ankhesenpaaten, standing in the chariot already, made up, as she should be as Queen of the Nile. She was to be his head wife, although he really couldn't see him having more. After all, girls were silly. Why would he want to be around more? Smenkhkare had always laughed at him when he said he would never marry for girls were odd. He took a deep breath and stepped beside his sister. His brother was right. He was going to get married. It was simply required of him to rightfully acquire his brother's throne, and he would not disappoint his brother.
Ay boarded another chariot that stood behind Tutankhaten's own and the procession though the city began. Ay had been his father's advisor and would be the regent for Tutankhaten until he was old enough to rule. He had been trained to work in the royal government but Tutankhaten had never expected to be taking this trip with Ay to become the ruler of the great land.
He turned to see Ankhesenpaaten trembling a little. He smiled and squeezed her hand in reassurance. He did not like to see his older sister to be so frightened. He loved her and he felt suddenly the need to protect his dear Ankha. She smiled back at him, understanding the gesture. "It is not I who should be reassured, dear brother, but you," the ten-year-old said in a regal tone she had been trained to use from an early age. "You are the Pharaoh while I am only your queen."
"Don't worry Ankha. We shall make our brother proud." The young girl smiled at her baby brother and looked at the street ahead. She smiled at the people lining the streets to honor both her brothers.
She decided not to tell Tutankhaten what the women in her room at Akhenaten's harem had been talking about. Rumors had been started that Ay was planning to use their new rule as a way to get back the old ways of their grandfather. They hadn't expected a ten-year-old to understand, but she was raised to be a queen since her older sister's death and she understood that rumors had some basis in truth. She knew something was going in that direction when Ay, her devoted grandfather had referred to her as Ankhesenamun. He had changed it to honor Amun and not the Aten, her father's god.
To be honest, Ankha was not sure what to think. Things had been so different lately. When her mother had been alive, she had been quite small. She remembered some things. She remembered her parent's happy faces. She could remember her mother worshipping Aten and thanking it for a sixth daughter, even if it meant her husband's other wife's child would inherit the throne. Even then, Nefertiti loved and cherished her sixth child. Ankha was the fifth daughter of the Pharaoh and his beautiful queen. She could remember her other half-brother, as he stood tall on the day he was made co-regent with their father. Papa had been so proud of his first-born
Kiya, her brothers' mother, had died giving birth to Tutankhaten and Nefertiti had raised him as her own son. Smenkhkare had been nearly fully-grown, born to Kiya when she was first brought as Papa's second and beloved wife. She had been only sixteen then, nearly 30 when her second born was born. That had been the last for her and she had handed her baby boy to Nefertiti to raise as she drew her last breath. Ankha could remember that as well.
Papa had always praised her good memory when he was alive. She had been young then. He had told her the Aten blessed her and that was why she was not taken with her older four sisters and her mother when the plague hit. Ankha and her younger sister as well as the two sons of Kiya had survived. Her father had been sad for a long time, but that day Akhenaten had stood tall as he announced that he was making his eldest son co-ruler, to train him to be Pharaoh. Then shortly afterward Papa had died mysteriously and yesterday had been the death of her half-brother.
When her older sister, wife to Smenkhkare (so to insure the throne) had died, she hadn't been very old. They had started to train her then to marry her oldest brother but Smenkhkare had died before they had. She was now going to be the wife of her youngest brother. Sometimes she didn't understand why she had to marry her brothers. After all, her mother had been the "Great Wife" and yet had only been the child of the advisor to the pharaoh. Her father had been the youngest son of their grandfather, only to be forced into his own rule by his older brother's death after a long illness. They had ruled together for a while, her father and grandfather, before Amenhotep's death long before her birth.
And now history was repeating itself, only this time with Tutankhaten and herself. She took one more look at her brother, who clearly was trying to be the strong one. He stood tall and straight not allowing this fear to effect the presence he showed to those who lined the pathway. Some of the people cheered for the new pharaoh, while others cried out in mourning at the loss of yet another leader. People lined the streets the entire way to the local temple.
They arrived at the temple and stopped the chariots at the end of the steps. Ay stepped out first and walked over to the chariot that Tutankhaten and Anhka were standing in. He opened the door and they got out and followed him up the stairs to the top level area in front of the temple. They stopped and turned to face the people who had gathered in the area at the foot of the stairs. The two children looked at each other, feeling nervous about the events that were going to follow.
Ay stood slightly forward of them, bringing the attention of the crowd to him. A man dressed as Horus stood beside Ay, representing the pharaoh's god in the coronation ceremony. Ay began the ceremony by announcing the passage from Smenkhkare and Horus continued by announcing he had chosen Tutankhaten to be his next physical incantation.
Tut stood taller, trying to install confidence within himself. His stomach was full of butterflies as Horus continued his monologue. He was becoming a pharaoh today, ruler of many people and places. Would he be able to do a good job? He could feel his sister's hand once again squeeze his but this time it wasn't as reassuring as before.
He was the physical incantation of a god now. People would now worship him and expect in return for protection and a good ruler who would be just. Was that him? Could he live up to the expectations of the people and the gods he represented. Would he fail Aten? After all, his name meant the living image of Aten.
Ay walked behind Tutankhaten and held up the crown that represented the many lands he would rule over above his head.
"I presented the pharaoh, Kanekhttutmes Nebkheperure Renpkhaushetepneteru Nebkheperua, son of Ra and Aten, Tutankhaten." He lowered the crown onto Tutankhaten's head and moved around to stand before them in a position showing respect, one stair below where they stood. "The Great Lady, heir of the throne, daughter of Ra and Aten, Ankhesenpaaten, wife of Tutankhaten.."
The two of them stepped forward and took a hold of the scepters that had Tutankhaten's image on the top and Tutankhaten took a hold of the crosier and flail and the walked backwards to the jeweled seats that awaited them. They were now the Pharaoh and the Great Lady, incantations of the gods.
Suddenly the feeling of dread was lifting from him and he thought he saw his brother and father in the crowd smiling at him reassuringly. He would do well, they were saying. They knew. They would be remembered though him.
He would be remembered.
A/n: If you would like to see my notes, please email me (my address is on the profile page). I would also like to say thanks to Jackie, my creative thinking class and others who beta'd for me over the year it has taken to write this.