Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Psamtik's Mother--The Sorcerer Gaumata

The work done for the day, Matwa went to Psamtik, the pharaoh-to-be’s quarters. The wretch’s mother had called him. Psamtik was asleep in his mother’s arms. He slept naked and his mother looked fondly at his skinny, angular body. His shiny shaved head showed off many bumps and irregularities. He had had an erection in his sleep and she stroked it down gently. Matwa stood a while and finally cleared his throat, causing Psamtik to stir and grit his teeth, making an awful grinding sound. The woman looked up and smiled proudly as she slipped out of the bed.

“Matwa, how are the arrangements for his ascension progressing? I feel that the priesthood is not very enthusiastic about my son’s coronation, and I want to know that the army will be loyal.” She paced silently. “At least we have you, Matwa. I’m sure you can control the other priests.”
Matwa nodded, “Yes Your Grace, I will do my best. Every thing is going as planned.”

{WARNING} Contains scenes of extreme violence that may be offensive to some readers. Fire—dreams of Fire—visions of Fire. Where do they come from? Aryazate doesn’t know why, but he fears the power secretly growing in him. Am I a demon, or a sorcerer? Kavada, the blacksmith, seems to be the only one he can trust, but even he doesn’t know the extent of Aryazate’s secrets. What would he say if he found out that the beautiful maiden Aryazate, is really a young man forced by circumstances to conceal this truth, which day by day becomes more evident? Just when he thinks Kavada is ready to hear the truth, Aryazate’s worst nightmares become reality. The Head-Mage Monushir accuses him of sorcery and has him imprisoned. What will this trial reveal? Is the truth so horrible that Aryazate will welcome torture and death by fire—by the same fire that haunts his dreams?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Pharaoh's Useless Brains--The Sorcerer Gaumata

The priests moved the body of the Pharaoh to the royal embalmers. They had been prepared for this momentous event for a long time. Richly decorated canopic jars stood ready to receive the royal internal organs. The heart, being the seat of intelligence, would remain in the body. A large stone sarcophagus was set up in the room. This was not to be the final resting place, but the container that would hold the body while it cured and dried before mummification. It was full of natron over one layer of pure salt.

The priests were in attendance as the embalmers prepared the royal body and they began chanting the spells that were necessary for this stage. Taking a needle-thin, sharp knife, the senior embalmer made a deft jab at the navel of the body. He cut upwards, carefully avoiding the membrane separating the internal organs and the muscle. He made three more cuts until he could expose the cavity. Then taking another knife, he carefully pierced the membrane, and without ever injuring an organ, he began to cut away each one, then handed the organ over to an assistant who stood close by, holding an almost flat reed basket. Two men were holding the basket now as he skillfully cut the intestines out and began to scoop them into a large reed cone and then transferred the shimmering mass into their waiting basket. 

When this was done, the priests could see the Pharaoh’s backbone through his collapsed abdomen. One assistant held the mouth of the Pharaoh open as the master made several expert cuts that freed the esophagus and lungs. The lungs were removed by carefully cutting through the upper part of the abdomen and pulling them through the small incision. The cavity was washed now with palm wine and pounded spices. The assistant wiped the blood often from both the body and from the master’s hands and arms. The brain was removed through the nose using a long, hooked instrument. The master embalmer removed it expertly, although it was usually a messy procedure. It was placed in the reed basket with the rags, because it was not considered to be of any value to the Pharaoh in the afterworld.

Finally, the body was lifted carefully and placed in the sarcophagus. The abdominal cavity was filled with pure bruised myrrh, cassia, and other aromatic substances and then sewed up. The mouth was also filled with the mixture of materials, but it was skillfully pushed into place so that it bore a calm expression. Natron was poured over the body now, so that it could dry out in preparation for mummification. It was late in the night when they finally finished and the exhausted men set out for their quarters.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Psamtik the Scarecrow--The Sorcerer Gaumata

Psamtik sat on the minor throne he had occupied before the death of his father, the Pharaoh. His scrawny shoulders shook with indignation as the priests explained to him for the tenth time that he had to wait for the ceremony before he could ascend the pharaoh’s throne. His face was thin and his nose hawkish. His eyes bulged from their sockets and his lips were so thin that his steward had to paint them to make them more visible.

Matwa watched Ankhare as he looked at the young man in disgust. Matwa could see that Psamtik’s claw-like hand was clutching the arm of his throne and he watched as a blue vein pulsed in the skinny neck under a gold neckband. One time Ankhare had told Matwa that he would never have such a poor specimen even clean pots for his troops, but this scarecrow who seemed to be certain that he was already a god, would be the Pharaoh. Matwa felt a sharp twinge of doubt and he looked away. He was going to have to accept it, but his mind continued to doubt. Could they, the priests, transform this weakling into a god? Didn’t they need better material to work with?

“It is now time, Prince Psamtik,” Matwa began, “for you to come to the room where your father, god of the underworld now...”

“No, no, no!” Psamtik interrupted, “I want to lie down now for my nap! I always do! Just because the old Pharaoh died does not mean that I have to change my schedule.” Psamtik’s eyes were red and his thin lips set in determination.

Matwa looked helplessly at Ankhare, as if for help, but the general was studying the ground and blushing furiously in shame. Kawaba, Psamtik’s mother, stood up and took the young man’s hand without further arguments and began to lead him from the room. He stood quite tall, as almost all of the Pharaoh’s children did, but as he left, they saw his backbone clearly. His shoulder blades protruded like the tucked in wings of a pelican.

Matwa knew what Kawaba was doing. He’d actually seen the disgusting thing before, since Psamtik was unashamed. Kawaba would lie down on the bed after settling her son in. She would lift her sash and when he opened his mouth wide to take in most of her sagging breast, she always winced. He would suck vigorously, although she was as dry as a mummy’s tit in late summer. He always did this when he felt insecure. Matwa groaned as he imagined the young pharaoh-to-be with his eyes shut—those eyes that looked like balls with a thin membrane stretched over them— while he made loud sucking noises. He looked away in disgust and began to study the cracks in the stone floor.