By Jane Richards
[Illustrated by AJStarkey]
This story is dedicated to my Aunt Yvonne
The warm, brown mud oozed from between her toes as she sat on the steps of the lotus pond. Tepi had purposely chosen a secluded spot, here, in the royal compound, away from the hustle and bustle which always went on at the palace.
Her sandals had been carelessly dumped beside her as she sat, chin cupped in hands, in deep thought. Mother and Father were away on official business, but this time her brother, Nekhi, had been allowed to go with them. Tepi had been left behind in the care of the Great Royal Nurse, who headed the huge staff in charge of taking care of the royal children.
"I'm NOT a child anymore", she grumped to herself. "Just because Nekhi is Crown Prince", she sighed. "After all, I'm the Crown Princess, why couldn't I go, too?"
Tepi had been taught from a very early age that she would, one day be 'The Lady of The Two Lands", and the wife of Pharoah. Now, at 12 years old, she also knew that great battles were being fought between her family and the 'foreigners' who ruled up north in the Nile Delta.
Here in the City of Amon, with its beautiful temples, palaces belonging to the nobles, its busy Nile port bringing in trade from many different lands, and the military fort, teeming with troops training for battle, it was peaceful, as yet. Inside the royal palace it was quiet, at least where Tepi sat. She knew that up in the northern part of the land of Kem [the Black Land, Egypt], fierce fighting was taking place. The beloved 'Two Lands' had been divided for many years with two capitals, one here in the City of Amon [Thebes], ruled by her family. The other in Avaris on the Nile Delta, was ruled by Apophis. Since that name was associated with the word 'snake', she always had wondered whether this was an insulting name given to this foreign King, or was actually his real name.
To make matters worse today for Tepi, she really didn't like the Great Royal Nurse, who had a daughter about Tepi's age,- Nefer was a cousin,-and Nurse was always trying to push Nefer into the little private world that Nekhi and Tepi had formed from early babyhood.
Her thoughts were abruptly broken by a shrill, raspy call-"Tepi, where ARE you?" Tepi's ears began to register a loud clamor beginning in the main court yard entrance. Hurriedly she rinsed her muddy feet, donned the sandals, and ducked out of her hiding place, back into the busy world around her.