Triumph in Egypt
My father was wont to prophesy, when deep in his cups, as to the questionable and consistently bleak future I
and others would encounter. Though he lacked a general accuracy in his predictions and was quick to insult those of high station when performing an augury at their behest,
he nonetheless was a man of great stature in our community, standing nearly six feet tall, when he could stand at all. Eventually, however, the dire and painful
prognostications he unceasingly imparted to our satin-robed betters, usually involving a forecast of painful rectal conditions and unintentional public nudity, brought his career
as haruspex to a sudden and apparently unforeseen (by him, at least) terminus with his stoning outside our home as a false, and incredibly annoying, prophet. Never did I
dream, when as a young child playing hide-the-rat and monkey-monkey-who's-got-the-monkey in the dusty streets of our small hamlet, that this weighty and noble mantle would be passed to me. Yet it was, thanks be to
the mentoring of my cetacean brothers, the dolphins who rescued me from a nebulous and briny death, and endued me with the awesome powers I would wield for millennia.
So it was that eleven years later a derelict and storm-driven ship crewed by Egyptian mimes, who were ill-prepared for walking against actual wind, inadvertently discovered my forced solitude among the dolphins and
returned me to civilization, depositing me on the banks of the Nile, in the royal city of Thebes. Here it was I began to realize my great destiny.
pon entering the city, my tattered garb of palm fronds as well as my sun darkened skin and fishy reek proclaimed me a man of untethered and natural wisdom whereupon I was immediately ushered into the glabrous
presence of the great pharaoh.
"I see from your coarse garb and otherwise fetid aura that you are prophet, a man gifted with foreknowledge
and insight," remarked the pharaoh, surveying me with a keen and bilious eye. "I have need of such most desperately, and if your powers prevail, you will not find me niggardly in rewarding your deeds."
"Great king, I am yours to command. I only pray that my reward will have nothing to do with fish, as I have had
naught but that to eat for lo these eleven years. But tell me now what perturbs Your Greatness and I shall set all aright."
"It is this, odiferous wanderer of many seas: our royal tombs have become an open bazaar for every thief in Egypt. The Valley of the Kings is but a marketplace for them to plunder at will. No measure we have taken,
however extreme, stays their hands," replied the aquiline ruler mournfully. "We cannot enter the afterlife as beggars. Even this terrible warning, carved on the very rock of the tomb itself, turns them not away: As for
anybody who shall enter this tomb in his impurity: I shall ring his neck as a bird's. Nothing! They enter as if it were a welcome mat. My father's tomb is but newly sealed and I fear it too will suffer ransacking and
defilement! So restless have my slumbers become and so formidable my presentiment that my queen bemoans my manhood, which has become like a broken and soggy reed, and fears an heir will not be forthcoming from my disquieted yet regal loins."
"Put your spleen at ease, O King. Your troubles are not so difficult. But I will
require the aid of twenty of your servants to put an end to this treachery most foul," I answered. In a trice, the king had rung his golden bell and I was given a
compliment of twenty eunuchs, ordered to follow my instructions to the letter.
"Each of you will scour the streets of Thebes and gather in every stray and
hungry dog, small or great, of dubious lineage that can be found. Thereupon you will bring them to the tomb of the Pharaoh's sire. Meet me there at sunset," I counseled, with great fervor and turgidity.
As the sun slowly began its descent into the Nile delta, I made my way to the cliff wall in which reposed the sleeping god-king. Shortly the twenty eunuchs arrived, each with several snarling
mongrels and half-breeds roped together.
"Unseal the tomb and place these dogs of questionable pedigree inside," I commanded. This done, we headed back to Thebes to await the outcome.
When the dawn came, the Pharaoh himself accompanied me to the tomb of his father to see whether I had been victorious. As we alighted from his golden chariot we encountered a grim and disturbing sight. The bodies of
several men, obviously of low birth and still bearing the tools of their thievery, littered the ground outside the open
sepulcher. All had been viciously torn limb from limb, yet each still wore on his countenance an expression of the utmost terror and consternation. The tomb, though open, was unplundered. The dogs were nowhere to be seen.
"Marvelous! You have saved my father's treasure, gentle wanderer. I name you Ak-iry-on, he who restores the king's tumescence. You shall leave here laden with gold and all manner of finery. But how shall I continue to
thwart these theives that would bespoil our tombs?"
"It is a simple thing, Great One. Each day instruct your eunuchs to collect all the stray mongrel dogs of Thebes
and place them in the tomb. Ere long, all the tomb robbers will fear to enter this valley and disturb your magnificent ancestors' repose. And in years to come, even across the vast ocean of time whose distant shore is
beyond our ken, people will blanch and tremble when they speak of The Curs of the Pharaohs!"
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