By Jane Richards
The light that they had seen came, not from the large flashlights carried by the men in the camp, but from flaming torches carried by men dressed in strange robes. A small man, robed in white and red approached them. He had a bald head, wore a large golden collar that resembled a huge vulture, and bands of gold around his upper arms. In his right hand he carried a tall staff with another vulture on top.
"What is going on?" Seth asked himself as he grabbed his brothers' arm and stood stock still.
"Prince Sethi, Prince Ramose, we are so lucky to have found you. If it were not for the most ancient of our priests, who still remembered this sacred inner temple room, we would have lost you forever, I fear."
The two brothers looked at each other, then back to this strange man. What had he called them? ......Prince? They both glanced around them, confused, not knowing what to do or say.
Finally, to break the silence, Seth managed to clear his throat, nod and smile. "We are pleased that you found us. It seems my brother and I were somewhat lost," and thought to himself, "Whatever this is we'd better play along until we find out just what's happening." He nudged Ramey and gave him his 'you'd better let me do the talking' look, which Ramey was very glad to do at that moment.
The man continued to address the boys with a small bow and a smile. "Come, Highnesses. Your party is ready to leave for the palace. I'm sure that there will be a large celebration for your 'coming of age' rite today. You certainly would not want to miss it!"
"Uh, oh no, I would not wish to miss that." returned Seth as they moved out of the room. With the brightness now illuminating the room Seth noticed the dagger he had been holding when he fell. It was on the floor at his feet and he swiftly picked it up and put the object in his pocket with his flashlight.
The men with the torches led them out of the temple room, down hallways, around corners and suddenly out into the bright sun light. There, a large group of people were waiting.
Seth could see that they had exited a small doorway into a large courtyard surrounded by huge pillars made of bunches of reeds. The temple appeared to be made of mud-brick and reeds with a roof of the same reed material. "I'll have to get a closer look at this when I have a chance," he thought to himself, then realized that this was weird. The whole thing was like something you see on TV or in the movies, but here they were, his brother and himself, experiencing some type of dream, .......or something!
They were bundled into a box with seats and poles on each side. At the end of each pole was a man. The men picked up the poles, carrying the whole thing with the boys inside.
"It's a carrying chair," whispered Seth to his brother as they were conveyed down the slope along a foot path. "We must be dreaming, but if we are, we're both having the same dream!
"Whatever this is, I'm sure it isn't a dream," murmured Ramey. "I pinched myself and it hurt!"
"There has to be a logical explanation," asserted Seth, "I just haven't figured out what it is." After several minutes of silence he looked up at his brother with a thoughtful frown on his face. "You don't suppose that we came through some time warp or something, do you? You know, like the ones in the science fiction movies."
This conversation came to an abrupt end as the party neared a large group of buildings. It looked like a city in the distance. There were mud-brick buildings, streets and a broad avenue leading to a walled complex in the center.
" This must be the palace that the strange man mentioned," realized Seth to himself. "I wonder if this is ancient Egypt. Or, are we somewhere else?" To his brother he said, "Well it looks like we might find out something pretty soon. We must be almost to where we're going."
"Where ever that is," whispered Ramey.
"Keep you ears open, Ramey. One way or another we're gonna have to find out," countered Seth, as the group entered the large gates leading to the palace.
Inside the boys could see a large group of buildings. There were small ones grouped around what seemed like the main one in the center. Around the outside were gardens with palm trees and pools filled with lilies, and benches on which to sit.
The man with the staff and bald head had gotten out of a carrying chair ahead of them. As he approached Seth and Ramey alit from their chair and walked to meet him.
"Highnesses,' he addressed them, "Your rooms are awaiting you, I am sure. The servants are here to escort you. I know you will not be familiar with this palace. I don't believe you have been here since you were very young. I remember you came with your Father, the King, years ago."
Seth quickly took up the conversation. "Uh, no we wouldn't remember, but it is a very nice palace. Since we were so young, could you tell us a little about it?"
"Of course, Prince Sethi. This was one of the oldest palaces of Upper Egypt, where your Father was born and spent his childhood. That was before the unification, of course. Before the capital was moved from here to the sacred city of On, in the north. The Temple of Nekhbet, which we just came from, was the place where he celebrated his 'coming of age'. That was why he wished you to celebrate it here too, in the ancient capital of Nekhen. He wanted to honor the great vulture goddess Nekhbet,[ she who belongs to Nekhen], since she is the symbol of Upper Egypt. When you become King, one day, you will wear the crown bearing her symbol, as well as the serpent goddess of Buto [Wadjet] of Lower Egypt."
"Thank you, Sir" returned Seth. "I always appreciate my lessons"
The man gave Seth a strange look. "You have always addressed me as Imhotep before. Is there something amiss today, Highness?"
Quickly Seth smiled and shook his head. "Oh no, Imhotep. It must have been the experience in the temple. It just seemed odd to be lost."
This answer seemed to satisfy the man and the boys were then escorted to their rooms by a group of servants. There they found airy rooms, open areas at the top of the walls between columns. The walls were brightly painted with scenes of hunting, of the Nile River, and animals of all descriptions.
"Gee," commented Ramey as he looked around. "This is great, Seth." The boys had been left to themselves for the moment as the servants hurried to unpack their belongings and prepare their quarters. It seemed that each boy had a different group of rooms. The quarters were both sided on one side by the Nile, with steps leading down to the water. Large groups of papyrus reeds surrounded the area. On the other side of the rooms were gardens with pools of white water lilies. The boys noticed right away that the rooms were very cool and airy. The breeze came into the rooms from the river as well as the openings at the tops of the walls. It was very comfortable after the hot sun outside.
"It may be great," answered his brother, "But it's not home. As bad as I want to learn about ancient Egypt, this wasn't the way I had in mind." He cupped his chin in his hands as he sat on one of the cushions scattered around the room. Ramey had seated himself on a cross-legged stool. They both looked out onto the river and tried to figure out what they were going to do.
Something registered in Seths' mind. He looked at Ramey. "I just realized something, Ramey. Actually two things. First, we're dressed just like everyone else here. Have been ever since they found us, in fact. And second, we can understand them, and visa versa. If this is ancient Egypt, how is it that we can understand their language? Man, this is some kind of mystery!" he sighed as he went back to gazing across the river. Their quiet thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a loud commotion out in the hallway. The boys both jumped up and went to investigate. As they went out into the hall another thought alarmed Seth. The dagger that had been in his jeans' pocket! He automatically looked down, and there it was. Now is was securely attached to his waist with a thick gold chain.