By Jane Richards
Horses pranced as the royal party traveled along the road to Abydos. Both Tepi and Nekhi had been allowed to ride their own mounts. Many of the ladies in the group were in covered carriers borne by servants. They either did not wish to ride horses or didn't know how to ride. Horses had only been introduced into Egypt at the beginning of the Hyksos rule in the north. Before this time only small burro-type animals and camels had been used. Most royalty had been borne in carriers by servants.
Nekhi turned and looked back at the procession which followed. It was a long twisting line of carriers, camels heavily laden with all the necessities needed by so many people and many horses. The military groups had joined them at Dendera to act as guards.
"Tepi,I think half the palace is on this journey," he mused, as he adeptly handled his high spirited mount."I certainly hope we have no trouble with the Hyksos. All these people would be hard to defend."
"I wouldn't think anything would happen as close as we are to Abydos. We're still miles south of where the last battle was fought," she answered, remembering the battle they had chanced upon while returning Nekhi from his imprisonment in that awful tomb. She still got goosebumps when thinking about it.
This was the longest and slowest part of the journey. It would take several weeks to get to Abydos with such a long train of people and belongings. There was little to while away the time. Frequent stops were required to rest the animals as well as avoid the hottest part of the day.
At one stop outside a small village the military leader sent scouts out to keep watch in case of a surprise attack. Both Nekhi and Tepi took advantage of this stop to get out their games and play Hounds and Jackels on the game board they had brought in Tepis'belongings.
"You always win,"sighed Tepi, as she slumped against a date palm. It was so hot. "I'm certainly glad someone found this cool spot for us."
"I only win because father and I play it all the time," he soothed. "Besides, it's taught to those who will be in battle someday. The game teaches how to make certain military moves and think of strategies."
"Well I just play because it's fun," Tepi grumped."Anyway it takes my mind off this heat. I wish we had a cool garden with a lotus pool to sit around. I could cool off my feet. These sandals are hot!"
They had traveled several miles west of the river at this time and would be going back toward it in a few days. Everyone missed the cool breezes that blew from the north up the river. The tents were unfolded and put up as Re in his Atet boat moved down to the west. He would soon be resting in the other world awaiting his emergence to the east in the morning.
Tepi made ready for rest, laying on a soft mound of mats piled on a wooden couch. The top was carved as an animal head, while the foot was its' tail. She knew that Nekhi was in another tent next to hers and the guards were posted all around the area. She felt very safe and secure here.
Early the next morning they were on the road. Abydos would be reached by midday with any luck at all.
There it was on the horizon. Tepi could see the flags flying on the tall pylons decorating the temple walls. As they neared they could hear the chanting of the priests, the tinkling of the sistrum and the clang of the cymbals. It was a welcome for the royal party.
Nekhi was relieved that everything had gone smoothly on the journey. He had admittedly been worried, as had his father and mother. Messengers had kept them updated on what the scouts had discovered. The news hadn't been good. Camps had been discovered where the enemy had been, and gone. It had seemed that a small party was following the kings' group, but at a safe distance. Nekhi was also aware that there were other palace plots. Some had been discovered and stopped before being carried out but not all could be ferreted out, they realized realistically.
As the large party entered Abydos they were welcomed, and all were led to comfortable quarters. After a rest the King and Queen were escorted by the priests to the innermost parts of the Temple of Osiris. Here, with the High Priest, they would perform the secret rituals required of the Heb-Sed Jubilee.
Nekhi and Tepi had been allowed to be included in the royal procession into the outer parts of the Temple. Tepi had worn an entirely white gown of long, pleated linen. She had also been given a sistrum to shake as they walked down the long, dim aisles of tall columns inscribed with the sacred pictures, called heiroglyphs and thought to be the sacred writings of the gods.
"This temple is as old as Egypt," thought Tepi to herself. She adjusted the white head band placed around her ceremonial wig. Attached to the band at the rear were ribbons which hung to her neckline. She had chosen to wear her favorite neck- wear, the winged falcon. The body of the bird, a symbol of the god Horus, was designed as a sacred scarab beetle. Its' body etched into red carnelian stone. The wings of the Horus-falcon were out spread and inlayed with blue lapis lazuli,gold, and precious stones. The necklace had been a gift from her mother, Queen Tetisheri, on her twelfth birthday and was one of her most loved posessions.
Nekhi had experienced his first celebration by having his head shaved. One long piece of braided hair remained on the right side of his head. This was to show that he was now the official Crown Prince. He would wear his hair like this until he became king. He also shed the small earrings he had worn since birth. These ear decorations had been given him at birth by a priestess of Hat-Hor at the moment he had been given his seven names by the gods and goddesses.
After another celebration feast the party retired to their quarters for the night. Tomorrow they would be beginning the return to their capital.
Sometime during the night Tepi had a terrible nightmare. She just couldn't seem to awake. It seemed as if she was bound with something. Her arms and legs were unable to move! Why couldn't she wake up?