They shared a wine from Ptah’s vineyards. The stillness around him was stunning. Joining a waiting Ptah, Saul drew close to his love anticipating the cold of the approaching night. Ptah pulled a heavy fur over them. Snuggling closer his lips brushed Saul’s cheek causing a warm smile. Ptah whispered,
“I promised more telling of your tribe and family.” Ptah continued,
“We crossed Chanani territories to the northern borders of upper Kemet in our journey to Akkad. This was my first visit outside of the Chanani territories and I longed to know what treasures that awaited me. As part of her education, the future Protectress Meretneith was required to accompany our mother in her travels. Together they travelled often to these regions. My duties as her future consort required me to learn at our father’s side. I’d met Egyptians traders from Upper and Lower Kemet, but never travelled to their cities. I had dreamt of this moment.
“We came to the city during the rule of Seti I. Let me say that your romanticized ideas of the Egyptians are highly over rated. As we neared the city, our senses were assailed by the stench of the masses living outside the gates. In those days, the poor did not live in the cities. The wealthy prohibited mixing with the sick, old and the poverty that streamed to them from other regions. They set up permanent camps outside the gates in numbers too numerous to count. The smells of cow dung, camel, horse and human waste clung to the dusty air. This assailed my senses, almost obscuring my first visual impressions of the colourfully painted high walls that protected the Pharaoh’s city within. The great villages outside the gates endured constant assaults from thieves, animals and the desert.
“Guarded by palace warriors during daylight, the gates were opened to the world. However, living outside the gates as far as the eye could see was a city of vendors from other parts of Kemet and Sumer. Some neighbouring tribes I had never seen bartered their goods and their services. For here, as in all times the bodies of young girls and boys could be purchased for a moment of pleasure. Everywhere in the busy town center, my eyes met men and women with bodies draped in the richness of bright coloured robes trimmed in gold and silver. Occasionally exquisite Nubian male and female offspring beauties, would stride past us to disappear behind the gates guarding Pharaoh’s city. Tall as we, their striking forms were sparsely adorned in brilliant jewels and fine silks. Their slaves were either nude or wore what looked like loin clothes. It was nothing more than narrow pieces of colourful cloth wrapped between their legs. Naked children led their beasts of burdens along crowded narrow streets.
“Sand filled air carried tiny particles of smoke ash from outdoor ovens. Dwellings, though some had incredibly intricate designs painted on their walls, were built too close together. Most were two storied with tiny outdoor rooftop gardens. Women and children squatted in doorways, some pounding leather others preparing strips of meat on reed mats for drying, still others sifted dried barley for beer. A little one caught my attention. Barely missing the hooves of my horse, he looked fearless and merely stared back at me enraptured. His beautiful cupid lips formed a smile when I reach down to touch him. He was covered in white dust that had begun to crease in the baby fat folds of his neck. Reminding me of the little ones we left behind, I loved him all at once. My mother drew near to me touching my face. Reluctantly I released my gaze on the boy and dismounting walked slowly on with my family.
“These overcrowded communities so near the gates of the city carried diseases. Sometimes great illnesses came hitching rides with visitors from far places. A few of the people that we passed recognized my mother and bowed deeply. I noticed the stares of fear or awe in their eyes of those we passed. As the crowds grew denser, children scurried everywhere. Afraid that our horses would crush one under foot our parents and Meretneith dismounted and joined me. We wound our way through dust laden crowded streets for the word went out quickly that gods had come. People crowded the streets and alleyways or peered from rooftops. Arriving nearer to the city gates and homes of Seti I, the smells and aromas began to change. The crowds began to thin in number and we could smell members of our tribes as well as Hyksos. Moving closer to our mother, I asked her,
“‘Mother how is it that we can smell Hyksos as well as our tribe here. Surely they are not living in this city together?’
“‘Yes they are Ptah. But many of the scents you’re experiencing are of their offspring.’ Pulling me closer she whispered.
“‘Ptah, look around you at how these people live. These humans live far better than those we passed outside the gates. Those that dwell here are offspring of the Hyksos and our tribe. They are unaware for the most part of the ongoing war that separates our kind. They live better because they have been taught some of the principles of the Ma’at. In generations to come many will live completely within the laws of the Ma’at. They will move on to other cities taking their wisdom with them. Those offspring of our tribe will never be under the control of the Old Ones’ because they share our bloodline.’