After 1353 BC Egypt. Kairos 65: Kiya, Queen Forgotten
Kiya ground her grain with a stone pestle in a stone mortar, which was in truth no more than a big stone with an indentation. She added a touch of water so the grain would not dry out and blow away. She ground away, to make the coarse flour that she would bake into the coarse bread they ate every day. While she worked, she let her eyes wander up to the clouds, and her thoughts wandered down odd trails.
It seemed to Kiya that for the average folks, after more than three thousand years of history, they had not progressed much out of the stone age. She had pots to keep water and food stuffs, a kind of plow and an ox to pull it, a copper pot and a copper pan for cooking on an open flame, but not much more. The brick oven was good, and the irrigation ditches that fed her little field, but they were the only indication that she was not living in the stone age, or in the early copper age at best. Bronze was big in the world, but she only had a couple of trinkets.
“Where is your mind?” old Mutemwiya asked, interrupting Kiya’s dream state. Pylhia and Beket looked up from their chores to listen. Mutemwiya sat at the loom, where she sat every day. Pylhia had her bread in the oven and waited for the bell in her head to go off. She was presently chewing on a piece of straw and thinking of nothing in particular. Beket, that is, Beketamun was frowning, sewing another patch on her seven-year-old son’s clothes.
Kiya turned her head and shouted at her daughter. “Nefer. Watch out for Sobek.” Nefer had wandered down to the water to play in the mud.
“I will, mother,” she shouted back. “Nana Bestet is watching me.”
Kiya turned her head a little further and saw the big, black cat sitting there, facing the girl, soaking up the sun. “All right,” Kiya said, and went back to her grinding. Phlhia went back to chewing. Beket went back to frowning and trying to thread the needle. They figured they were not going to hear any good stories. Mutemwiya, though, was not so easily put off.
“When you came here, you saved me from the end of my days,” Mutemwiya mused. “You restored my life from the hands of Anubis, and you have been better to me than if you were my own daughter. And your little Neferure, with all her troubles and ailments, is the best granddaughter there ever was. But sometimes I worry. You sit and dream of things that are gone, and things that never were. This is not good.”
“Muti,” Kaya called her and smiled, shyly, as she looked down at her grain. ‘I am happy that things have worked out. You know Nefer does not have any other grandparents, and I know she loves you very much, too.”
“Tell us about your family,” Pylhia said, sounding very much like a child, not a grown woman of twenty years.
“Tell us,” Beket insisted. Kiya knew the woman was frustrated with her son, and her husband was not the best sort of man. He drank too much and worked too little. She was twenty-three and already unhappy.
Kiya was just twenty-two but she had a sickly nine-year-old of her own to contend with. She glanced back at Neferure, and watched her hobble up to pet Nana Bestet. She could be rough, but the cat seemed infinitely patient with her.
“I suppose it does not matter now,” Kiya said. “Most of the principle players are dead.” Kiya paused and looked at her friends, and her adopted mother, before she looked down, like she did not want to meet them in the eye. “You know how I came here eight years ago, a fourteen-year-old girl with a baby in my arms. You also know for three or four years, the whole country was up in arms, looking for Akhenaten’s missing royal wife, Kiya. I am sure you know, that was me.”
Beket waved to Iset as she came around the back of the house, looking for everyone. Beket patted the ground beside herself, and Iset sat while Pylhia hushed her. All eyes stared at Kiya, who took a deep breath.
“My mother was a Mitanni princess. They say she was the most beautiful woman of her day, outshining even the Great Nefertiti.”
“Looking at you, I can believe that,” Iset said, as she got comfortable and Pylhia and Beket hushed her again.
“I was born in the house of Amenhotep III. My mother was his wife, but he was a very old man. He died when I was one and a half. And I can say with certainty that he was not my father, though I do not know who my father may have been.”
“That makes you Akhenaten’s sister,” Mutemwiya thought out loud. Eyes popped wide open.
“In name only. But Amenhotep IV adopted me in Thebes, before the madness began and before he changed his name to Akhenaten, and before Nefertiti began to give him daughters. Meritaten, the eldest daughter, was two years younger than me, and hated me with an unending jealousy. Yet somehow, when I was young, I remained special to Akhenaten, not as family, mind you, Nefertiti would not have that, but as a kind of personal playmate for the king. You see, he married my mother after Amenhotep III died, because she was a political token of peace between the Two Lands and the Mitanni. But Nefertiti had her put away so she would never become a rival for the title of ‘Great Wife’.”
Kiya looked back at Nefer again to be sure she was far enough away where she could not hear. “Akhenaten married me, and I became his Second Royal Wife. I think I was six or seven. That was back when the madness began. Nefertiti, the wicked sorceress, got cursed by the gods. It got complicated, but let’s just say she could only have girls, and Akhenaten became desperate for a son. An heir was necessary for him to complete the transformation…which…you don’t need to know about. What matters is he decided to impregnate every woman in the house, and that included his own sisters. Then he had me tied to the bed, since I was supposedly his wife, at age thirteen, and he raped me over and over. One of the sisters had a son. I had Neferure, and…and I ran.”
Kiya quietly cried but would not let anyone come over to comfort her. She looked back again toward Nefer. She wiped her eyes and continued.
“Things happened. I ran. I… I came here, and wonderful mother Mutemwiya took me in, and you all protected me, and you are my best friends, and I am so happy here.” Kiya got up and cried on Mutemwiya’s shoulder as the old woman hushed her and patted her back, saying everything would be fine.
“Mama,” Nefer called.
“Yes Sweet,” Kiya said, as she whipped on a smile and turned to face her daughter.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes baby,” Kiya said. “I’m just glad to be home.”
Lockhart and Lincoln came through the time gate and stopped on the other side. Katie and Artie had to squeeze to the left to get through. Alexis and Boston had to do the same thing on the right. Decker and Elder Stow were lucky by the time they came through. Lockhart and Lincoln had moved forward some, to stand out at the front of the crowd. The view before them seemed odd, but not odd when they thought about it. Any person watching would see eight people on horseback coming out of what had to be an invisible hole in the middle of the air. That view did not change when a whole army watched.
Men had spears, chariots, and unhitched horses. They had tents and sat around campfires. Many came stumbling up to join the crowd that stared, wide-eyed. They babbled, incoherent, held their spears in sweaty hand, and shuffled backwards in the face of Lockhart and Lincoln. It looked to the travelers like an army camp, and plenty of the men saw the travelers appear out of nowhere. The men looked like they wanted to be brave soldiers but looked terribly frightened at the same time.
“Who is the head man here?” Lockhart asked, plenty loud. “Who is the man in charge?” He felt sure the head man had already been fetched.
“I am Horemheb,” the young man jogged up to face them. “I am the driver of the royal chariot and the Pharaoh’s voice with foreigners. Who are you, and why have you come into the Two Lands, uninvited?”
“We are travelers, from Avalon, and we have come to the Nile in search of one named…”
“Kiya,” Lincoln said.
“Kiya,” Lockhart repeated.
Horemheb stared, no doubt his meanest stare, one intended to extract the truth from lesser men.
Katie looked across the river to the city built in the middle of nowhere. It looked like land where the desert encroached on the river. Not a good place for a city. She saw a step pyramid in the distance and thought about it. She looked at the head man and wondered if this might be the Horemheb who was or who would become the Pharaoh of all Egypt, back when.
Lincoln spoke. “She is or was the Second Royal Wife of Akhenaten. We are not sure exactly what year we arrived.”
Horemheb broke his stare, laughed and spat. “You’re too late. Kiya vanished nine years ago and none have been able to find her, though all of the Two Lands have searched for her. I wasted three years of my life searching for her in every place she may have gone.”
“Downriver,” Boston directed her voice only to Lockhart’s ears, which elves could do. She had secretly slipped the amulet out for a look, tried not to draw attention to herself, and before she spoke, she put it back beneath her shirt where it would hang, hidden between her breasts.
“Saqqara,” Katie pointed at the city, like she just figured it out. “We are not far from Memphis, though the court is in Amarna, rather, Akhetaten, I imagine, unless they have already moved it back to Thebes.”
“Don’t mind us,” Lockhart said. “Go back to what you were doing. We will just visit some friends in Memphis and move on.”
Horemheb clearly had to think about that.
Artie caught on to where they were. “Is my sister here?” she asked, nice and loud.
“I am sure she is around somewhere,” Katie assured her.
Horemheb looked curious. “Kiya had no sister.”
Katie spoke to Horemheb. “Her sister is Sekhmet.” Katie debated whether or not to add, “the goddess”, but she did not have to. Sekhmet came in a swirl of sand, and she appeared as the lion, who roared at Horemheb. Artie shrieked, but applauded when Sekhmet became a woman again and jumped up behind her on the horse. She made herself heard by Horemheb. A goddess could do that.
“This is my sister, and this is my adopted mom, and that is my adopted dad, and these are my friends, so back off.”
“You are welcome to accompany us in our search for Kiya,” Alexis said. She thought it would be polite. Horemheb shook his head and hands, and stood there watching until they rode out of sight.
And, before I forget: