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A Warrior of the Sun

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Sometime during 1558 BCE:
Day 1:

Ack! My hand hurts even now as I write on this sheet of papyrus. It has been a most long and hectic day. With the enemy closing in, and more soldiers getting wounded, I’m afraid of what’s to become of us, the ones who can still carry out the will of the Pharaoh.

It all started with those cursed Hyksos! Every time we clash with our foes I see one of my friends fall in battle, their spirits unable to return to their bodies, and all because of those scum-nosed, rotten brained foreigners! We wage war against their kings--we must drive them out of Egypt! The general is pushing the soldiers hard, so hard, but I can see why. Victory must be ours if Egypt is to survive.

The gods are evidently with us. Re has been ascending and appearing in rebirth everyday to demonstrate how victory is done. Horus spreads his wings to frighten our opponents, and Montu leads us to victory! Thoth cools our heated and plagued spirits with the moon, and Isis watches over our women, safe at home.

Home...

Was it really only 4 years ago that I worked as a farmer, growing and keeping watch over my crops, and fighting weeds that would slay the plants I worked so hard to keep?

Now, I am fighting against an enemy that would slay everything I hold dear.

Day 2:

The training was brutal today.

First off, I had to have my head shaven. My hair has been growing back, and the officers in charge instructed to have it cut off. Unfortunately, the person cutting accidentally cut into my scalp, so now my head is swathed with bandages, and there is a long jagged scar running down the back of my head. How embarrassing! Will I ever be able to grow hair in that area again?


Second, during a run around the camp, a soldier fell to his knees, plagued by fatigue and thirst, and nearly tripped the soldier in front of him. You should have seen the thing! His eyes were nearly closed with drowsiness, and he was so scrawny his ribs jabbed sharply out of his sides. I felt extremely tired as well, but this man...I felt so sorry for him. Well, an officer came over to check out the situation, and ordered the man to be beaten for being so lazy! Can you believe such a verdict?! What an outrage! I tried to be supportive of the man, but the officer snapped at me and told me to back off unless I wanted to take the man’s punishment for him. The man looked at me pleadingly, begging, but at the mention of punishment I stopped.

What did I want? I wanted to help the man whom was being taken away to endure pain and torture, and I wanted to help him achieve a better outlook on all of this, but I didn’t want to take his pain for him.

I stepped back and lowered my eyes to the ground. I hung my head. I am ashamed that I had courage enough to step up and take a stand, yet was so cowardly that I stepped down to avoid immediate pain. What would my father think of me? What would my Pharaoh think of me? What would my comrades think of me?

Day 3:

The man who was beaten yesterday came up to me today. He didn’t look so good. His back was whipped raw, and there were bandages wound around his head, scarlet with blood. He had a black eye, and had lost several teeth. His nose was slightly bent. The sight of him made me sick to my stomach, despite my 4 years of military experience.

Immediately I invited him over to my tent, and gave him some bread to eat. He ate ravenously, and as I watched in wonder, he seemed to have lost his sad mood. Finally, the man finished, and to my surprise, smiled at me. I contemplated this for a moment, and after a moment of silence, said, “Greetings.”

The man laughed. “Ha! Shouldn’t you have said so the moment I came in? It’s far past that point now.” He smiled at me once more, and I marveled at his cheerfulness.

“Sir-”

“You may call me Ammon.”

“Yes. Ammon. I am Bes. Are you feeling...alright? You do not look well.”

“Yes, well. I’ll get over it. I need to learn from my mistakes, shouldn’t I?”

I fell to the ground, bowing, tears gathering at the corners of my eyes. “Dear Ammon! Please forgive me for being cowardly yesterday! I am truly ashamed of my actions! If there is any way-”

The strange man put his hand on my shoulder in a fatherly way. “No. There is no reason to be ashamed,” he said sternly. His cheerfulness had been replaced by solemnity. “You stood up to your superior in order to protect a frail man, and even if you failed, it was still a noble thing to do. “

I looked up in surprise at his words.

“I hadn’t nourished myself correctly, and I paid the price for it. That is what the gods intended it to be. My purpose here, in your humble presence, is to thank you for what you did yesterday. It gave me hope, knowing that there was still someone out there who cared for me.” Ammon looked down at the ground. “That we will still have a chance to win this war.”

I was silent.

Ammon looked up, then said, “Oh, it won’t matter to me at any rate. I’ll probably be with Osiris when it ends.” He chuckled. “My time is near.”

At this I cried out, “How come? Are you not afraid of what’s going to happen when you-”

“I am afraid, Bes. I am afraid of what my judgement will be, of what’s going to happen to my family, but I know that what will happen is what is meant to be. My body is getting weaker and weaker every day, and I am no longer young. It’s time for me to move on to a new life.”

How could I say anything? This man...Ammon...he obviously did not fear death and its dangers. I had heard stories of great treasures and wealth in the Underworld, but how would we ever know for certain? There was also the threat of being turned into a demon and having our hearts eaten by a terrible monster if we had done great evil during our lives. Thinking of how many innocent men I had killed in the years I’d been fighting...

I shudder to think of what my verdict might be.
Day 4:

Today, many government officials and police came to visit the army. It was a crazy! Before they came, we were all training when someone spotted a dust cloud in the distance, headed our way. Everyone was all “Oh gods! What is that?!” because the dust cloud was certainly too small to mean the enemy was coming, but too large for any one man. Nevertheless, the overseer of my division, the archers, ordered us to draw our bows and arrows. And there we were, standing on a mound of sand; bows drawn, arrows notched, and aimed at the dust cloud, when a man on a horse came riding up shouting, “Wait! Stop! Hold on!”

The overseer told us to lower our weapons and consulted the strange man. He reported that he was messenger, meaning to tell us that the Pharaoh has sent his 6 “most-trusted officials” to personally inspect our army. Which explained the still-far-away-but-closing-in dust cloud. At that, we archers couldn’t help but notice how pale the overseer had gotten, and how sweat beaded on his upper lip. It was a terrifying site, seeing the overseer, a tough man, become so afraid at that. He saluted to the messenger, then ran off like a jackal towards the general’s tent to report this news.

Then we were standing there, alone, with the messenger, on a mound of sand, watching the army’s possible “destroyer” gain ground toward us.

Later, the government officials and policemen arrived. They were a funny-looking group; those fancy noblemen in fancy suits. They bowed a formal greeting to the captains and us, whom had gathered in the center of the camp, and said, “We will now begin the inspection.” There was a loud murmur as soldiers looked at each other then back at the “inspectors”. What were they going to do?

It was HORRIBLE. They told us to assume our normal activities, then walked around, watching us. That had a negative effect on my mind, as I hated to be looked at while lifting weights and wrestling, but I knew it was necessary to keeping our army intact. I trained harder, and faster, and prayed to Sekhmet that the others were doing the same.

I was watched the entire time as I practiced my archery skills (something that I am very proud of), ran rounds around the camp, sparred using my short sword, and polished my armor. Even as I ate, I could feel their eyes on me.

It was pure agony.

Finally, the sun was beginning to set, and the “inspection team” took their leave. Before they left though, they stood before us, ready to give their opinions on the army. We waited fearfully, afraid of the worst.

But one of them smiled! And told us that they were pleased with our efforts as a soldier, as a warrior; as the defenders of Egypt. Each official, each policemen, told us their opinions each and stated their beliefs that we could defeat the foreigners and drive them out of Egypt. When they finished, they left as they came, leaving the entire army flabbergasted and overjoyed at the same time.



Why am I the only one who has a sinking feeling?

Day 5:

Today, the officers and captains took the archer division of the army to patrol the area. Unfortunately, that meant me as well. We donned on our armor over our linen kilts, and formed into our marching formation. By the time we had stepped out of camp, Re had just passed over the horizon, and the wind blew sand in our eyes. My legs were soar from yesterday’s run, and my short sword banged heavily against my left thigh. My quiver of arrows rode stiffly upon my back, and the top of my bow banged painfully against my head as I walked over the sand, stumbling on small mounds and hidden rocks.

As I walked, I thought about my family in Thebes; my wife Ametis, my son Horuk, my daughter Harynn. I wondered about my farm; how my cows were doing, what my horses were eating, and so on. I imagined myself back home, carrying basket after basket of good harvest, and waiting for the Nile to flood so that I could start planting my seeds again. Even as the officers called out a break, and the men around me fell to their rumps, I still couldn’t get memories out of my head. It was only when the food was passed around that I snapped out of my trance.

I looked at the small, stale loaf of bread in my hands, and craved for the freshness of fruit and juicy meat. The army simply couldn’t have brought them along; they would’ve spoiled before long, and would attract who-knows-what out here, in the Red Land. Water was handed down to each soldier, and before I knew it, we were patrolling the area again.

We must’ve walked arounds around our camping area when we saw smoke in the distance. The scent of it, swept by the wind, reached us moments later; it smelled of spices and something indescribable. The soldier next to me gave a low guttural growl. To the entire patrol, the scene meant only one thing: the foreigners were truly here, coming toward us. The overseer of my division barked out an order, and we rushed back to camp with the news of our plight. A messenger was swiftly sent off to the Pharaoh, and the captains ordered all of the soldiers to pack up our supplies. We are to set foot out into the vast desert lands to escape the foreigners before they meet and destroy us.

I am writing this hurriedly, and cannot be long. All that is needed to pack is my tent.
Day 6:

After hours of walking, we, the army of the Sun, have finally settled down after our escape from the enemy.

All around us is sand, sand, and more sand. While the heat is as hot as usual, there’s a new atmosphere around our camp. It’s...I can’t put my finger on it. Usually, the mood is bright and seemingly teeming with power but...the new mood...It’s a mix between fatigue and fear, when you want to run but you’re too tired to lift a finger. Is there a word for it? If there is, I do not know.

All I know is that the soldiers are to continue their daily routines. At first, we were all astounded, with the enemy so close by, but the captains said that it was essential for the general and lieutenant commander to have the time to create a new strategy with the Pharaoh in order to turn our surprise into their demise. At this, they gave a salute and headed off toward the tent where the general worked. All day, while we trained, we could see messengers riding on horseback to and fro between the palace and our humble camp. In fact, I almost tripped over someone’s chariot as I was watching one messenger ride his horse back towards the palace with a box seated on his lap.

By midday, we were all exhausted from the training, and wanted to eat our midday meal. Bread and water were passed around. Those supplies are as plentiful as the sand around us! I swear, even if there’s one bit of meat out here, I’ll find it.

And apparently, the man next to me thought so too, because he started complaining loudly about, oh, “How meat would save his life” and oh, “How if there’s one bit of meat out here he’ll find it” and so on. Being that most of the officers were at the general’s tent, there really wasn’t anyone around that could tell him to shush it.

Except me.

As I leaned toward the man to “shush him”, I realized that he looked vaguely familiar to me. That nose...the gaps between his teeth...those scars...I blinked, then realized that it was Ammon! Oh, that stupid fellow! Was he trying to get himself in trouble again? Though no one else was complaining about the racket he was making...

“Oi, Ammon! Ammon!” I whispered urgently in his direction. “What are you doing?!

“Ah?” Ammon turned to look at me. “Oh! BES! How are you doing, old pal?” He said this a little too loudly, making everyone look at us, and making me cringe.

“Fine, fine.” I waved my hand in a shooing motion trying to indicate that everything was okay. It worked, to my relief, as the soldiers turned away. I leaned inward towards Ammon and spoke again.

“Don’t be complaining about the food so much. Everyone has to go through the same thing. Even the general.” I looked around. “It can’t be helped; the meat would just spoil on its way here. We’re too far from any city in Egypt.”

Ammon contemplated that fact, and said, in finality, “Yes, but I still want meat.”

I gave myself a face-palm. How am I to answer him?!



It is very dark now, and the men have gone from their training posts back to their tents. I am the only one out here, and I write this by candlelight. I will need to be quick, as it is not a soldier’s duty to write things--I would be transferred back to Memphis as a scribe if caught. And that single thought makes me shudder as if there were no more warmth in the world.

It is very cold, and very windy, and the sand gets in my eyes and smothers the pigment that I write on this sheet of papyrus. I miss the Nile. I miss Thebes. I miss my farm, and my family. I wonder when the war will be over, and whether or not I will live to see it finish.



May Re be with me until the very end.





Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

SecretNonConformist said...
Jan. 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm

So good! You did a great job holding my attention and showing, instead of telling. I already am excited for the next part if there is one :)

Keep writing!

 
SilverDreamer replied...
Jan. 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm
There's not really a next part, but it's a series of journals by imaginary people who lived in Ancient times. It's a school assignement; this one, which takes place in Egypt during the wars between the Egyptians and the Hyksos, is the second one. The first takes place in Mesopotamia, of whom the character is an artisan; an exceller of an art. Check my gallery if you want to see it, and thanks for commenting!
 
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