Intef turned to change his side and felt sweat trickle down his back. The heat roused him from his slumber. The first thing he noticed was the darkness. His chamber was never completely dark. He touched his bed. The sheets were of silk and the pillow was made of dove-feathers.
This wasn’t his bed.
Then he remembered. He was now King. He was the Pharaoh of Egypt, and he was sleeping in the King’s chamber. His father Pharaoh Akhnaten was no more. He had died thirty days ago, and the period of mourning had ended just yesterday when his embalmed body was finally taken to his pyramid for burial.
For some odd reason, his memories were choppy. It must be the heat, he thought, and swung his legs down the bed. His leather slippers were right where he had expected to find them.
Intef slipped his feet into the slippers and called the servants. His temper was now rising.
Where were they? And why were the curtains drawn close?
He tried recalling the layout of the King’s bed-chamber. It wasn’t easy, because he had never slept in there, never before last night.
“Where were those lamp-sconces?” he murmured, trying to focus on what he remembered of the Pharaoh’s chamber.
The pictures began forming. He saw himself in the royal chamber a week before his father’s death. Sekah-seshat, his sister was there too. The sky had already darkened outside but the Pharaoh’s chamber was lit bright with a dozen sconces, each of them holding a dozen oil-lamps. Two of these wall-sconces were right near the headboard of the Pharaoh’s bed.
Intef turned left. Moving against the edge of the bed, his outstretched hand touched the wall. He moved his hand up along the wall. There it was. Now he needed a flint-lighter.
Where could he find one?
He tried focusing on his memories again. Perhaps they would help him locate the lighter. In his imagination, the Pharaoh’s chamber lit up again. Sekah was asking the Pharaoh her father, for a boon. She didn’t want to marry Intef, her brother – as she was destined to. Sekah was her father’s favorite, and when the Pharaoh had smiled at her, Intef’s heart had sunk. He knew that Sekah was in love with Khamose, their cousin, and Pharaoh’s smile had confirmed that she now had his blessings for her marriage with him. His sister always got her way with their father.
Intef shook his head. Those memories won’t help him. Right now, he must focus on finding the lighter.
Where in the name of Osiris were the servants? He bellowed again. There was no answer. Something isn’t right, he thought as his voice echoed through the place.
He ran his fingers around the edge of the sconce once again, and his fingers hit something. The lighter. A wave of relief washed over him. He hated the darkness. It had been dark when he had stolen into this very chamber that night and poisoned the jug of water that stood on his father’s bedside table. The explosive mix of anger, jealousy, hatred, and fear had driven him to kill his father, the King, the Pharaoh of Egypt.
He released the clasp of the flint lighter and put it to the wick of a lamp. An unearthly yellow glow filled the chamber. Intef heaved a sigh of relief, and set about lighting the other oil-lamps.
Tomorrow he’d punish those servants. Hanging them alongside Khamose will be a good idea.
“But Khamose will die only after he has seen Sekah get married to me, the new Pharaoh of Egypt!” he chuckled.
The lamps burned casting a steady glow. They didn’t flicker at all. There was not even the slightest breeze in the chamber.
He pulled a sheet from the bed and wiped his face and neck. “let me draw the curtains myself,” he whispered wiping off the sweat that had accumulated on his brow, and turned to face the windows.
There were no windows.
He stood facing a wall that was painted in blue, yellow, and gold; a wall that told the story of Pharaoh Akhnaten’s rule. Blood drained from his face and he felt a chill run down his spine. Very slowly, pivoted on his spot, he turned again.
His father’s tomb, hewn out of a single block of marble and inlaid with gold and precious jewels, and within which his embalmed body lay, stood proudly in the center of the room. He stood inside the King’s burial chamber which was sealed shut after the ceremony had ended and he had left the pyramid.
Note: This story was written for Weekly Challenge at iSmithWords.com. This specific challenge was “Literary Lion. King.” The challenge required us to write a story in 400 words or less. This story has exceeded the word-limit, and so it doesn’t fulfill the requirements. I tried my best to squeeze it down to 400, but couldn’t.
However, since I had taken this challenge as an assignment for Blogging101, I think I’ve managed one of the two things that I had set about accomplishing – I’ve finished my assignment 🙂