1279 BCE, The Nile at Philae
Darkness had just fallen when the Dark Apep rounded the curve in the river and fixed its course on the stone landing of the Island of Philae. The ranks of the Obion Guard relaxed their stroke, feathering their oars as one. Menascare, the most trusted friend and arch mage of the Pharaoh elect, strode from the raised command point at the rear of the craft and stood with him in the prow, looking at the lights of torches which ringed the fringes of the temple island.
“A welcome, Hem?” asked Menascare, using the newly significant royal form of address.
“No,” said the Pharaoh elect, “they could not know of our arrival. We travel in darkness for a reason . . .”
“Then why their lights?”
“I think we join them at a fortuitous time.”
“A ritual in progress?”
The younger man put the wooden block on which he had been scribbling into the pocket of his cape and leaned over the prow of the boat, thrusting his face towards his target. “Won’t that be interesting!” he said with a cruel smile. “What a shock we will deliver! Maybe we will catch them out?”
Menascare considered his words, carefully. “But we have no evidence against them,” he said. ” The whole of the land speaks of the excellence of their work and the discipline of their methods . . . ” He leaned as close as he dared to the young ruler. “Surely we should not judge what we do not know?”
“Perhaps,” answered his royal companion. “but my father had his suspicions, as did my namesake grandfather. Rameses the not-forgottten.” He pulled himself upright and patted Menascare on the shoulders.
“But that is why you are here, old friend . . . to find out the truth”
“The truth, Hem, can be an elusive thing . . . and I would not begin by suspecting the rites of Isis, and the celebrated High Priestess and her brother”
“Is not the renowned Menascare the most revered hunter of truth of all those along the great river?” It was a sly response, but it illustrated the young man’s flickeringly deadly intelligence.
Menascare thought of the twist of fate that had befallen the royal house. Initially groomed for Kingship as the eldest son of Seti, Nebchasetnebet had died in a tragic accident at sixteen years. The family had swiftly elevated the younger brother to the position of Regent – a role for which he seemed admirably suited. Now, with the imminent death of Seti, he was on his way to Thebes to take the twin crowns and assume absolute power.
The Dark Apep on which they were travelling was the fastest boat on the Nile, and was propelled by the Obion Guard, a hand picked cadre of royal defenders who would, unhesitatingly, put their lives at risk to defend their King. They were agile, strong and fearsome, though the world along the great river knew little about their existence. “Yet . . . ” whispered Menascare, speaking the last of his thoughts out loud. “Yet . . .”
The black boat approached the stone pier. Four of the Obion oarsmen brought it to a perfect landing, and soon, the ropes held it fast. Rameses II stepped onto the island, throwing to Menascare the wooden tablet on which he had been scribbling before their arrival. Caught off guard, Menascare dropped it, but stooped to pick it up. He would forget all about the unfinished piece, but the fragment would remain among his records and later be found by scholars searching for clues to the motivations of the man who would become ‘King of Kings’.
Ozymandias the Unchosen
It was not always like this.
There was not always a sleek-boat,
driving relentlessly along the great river,
in search of the white rats of the Sun.
Soon, I will be taken from here, made less by my duties.
Made king where once there was the brother.
Oh fate, how strange thy serpentine turns and twists,
But he is truly gone.
Now laughter in the darkness
Where stealth failed, now follows the vulture.
Horizons mourn for I shall not; but beware soft world,
Of he who was not chosen, your gentle time is gone . . .
Brave father, bold and faithful, now dying far from here.
No fault to you, no scarab walks your lies.
I will honour you before all others, as you did, lately, me
And though unchosen I will absorb your hate,
That what you feared shall pass to me.
And, riding my head, we shall hunt down
All the last traces of the Erased.
And fool who thinks it other, like women, washing waters,
who ebb and flow around what should be target of archers’s bows.
Brave island of Isis, now ahead in lanterns’ lights. Let them beware
For if, as sand-talk lies on the wind, they hold harbour for such flights of mind
As those who, leaving, spoke, be true.
Then swift swords of Obion will prevail, and those that there survive
Will walk a different path,
When Great River’s banks again swell,
And fill with abundance
My coffers, gold and green will bloom
To protect noble Egypt, soon to be made mighty, again.
Weak white fool, let his despite live like lemon’s spit on the tongue
That each sad reflection on the riser over horizons come to nothing.
What matters lives and breathes,
Who rules carries a sword,
They that plough know nought of power
What does not live and breathe is a dream.
Who lives and breathes and dreams is a fool
Let those who live plough or take the sword
One man alone steers a boat, the rest empower
Swish, swish, the water from the oars.
No slaves here, the Obion are chosen,
Cousins to the blade, the whip, the Royal order.
The river is mine, at least that part which dares to hold me.
Mighty river, that I might fill thy length, as I do other women,
But so dares the arrogance of youth!
Yet time will not blunt me.
Now do I go to receive the fire . . .
And so, the scene is set for the initial confrontation in “The River of the Sun” the Silent Eye’s April 2015 annual workshop. For more details click here.
The workshop explores the nature of living a magical life within the hard reality of a world dominated by power and materiality. Using the setting of ancient Egypt and the aftermath of Akhenaten’s doomed reign, a living story is told of two great forces which collide. The one, inspired by the vision of the long dead heretic seeks to embody what is known of his teachings, hidden within the worship of Isis. The other is the man known as the Eye of the Cobra, a deputy of the new Pharaoh, Rameses, who is left on the island of Philae to spy on the suspect High Priestess and her brother.
Into this maelstrom flows the life of a young man, Amkhren, whose long-held desire has been to serve for the priesthood. But his life will turn out to be very different from what he had envisaged.
Dates: Weekend of 24-26 April, 2015. Location: The lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.
Don’t miss it! Demand will be high and there are limited places.
For further details or to reserve your place: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Silent Eye, a Modern Mystery School