Egypt 1324 BC. Tutankhamen was dead. Nineteen, barely come of age. His hastily constructed tomb in the Valley of the Kings was about to be sealed.
Tutankhamen’s Vizier looked down upon the ornate funerary mask placed over the dead Pharaoh’s head. It was stunningly beautiful. Gold lapis lazuli, carnelian, quartz, obsidian, turquoise and crystal forged into a tantalizingly magnificent work of art. The eyes of the vulture and cobra at the brow of the mask glinted in the light of the flaming torches, the snake’s head frozen in strike position. The former advisor studied the bejeweled reptile’s head, poised to defend the king from attack. Too late, he thought sardonically.
Standing in quiet contemplation, Ay appraised every detail on the mask. It seemed a pity such magnificent workmanship would never be seen; destined to be buried and forgotten, lost in the annals of time just like its wearer.
Something caught Ay’s eye. He stepped forward and reached into the coffin to retrieve an object from next to the mummy’s right arm. Dark, thickly lacquered and tied papyrus covered the contents of a small bundle. Ay secreted it into a hidden pocket in his robes. A thin smile played upon his lips as he turned his gaze to the surrounding chamber.
The slave-driver and his slaves all had their heads bowed, blinkers restricting their sight. They cowered near the walls, careful to avoid contact with the freshly painted frescos depicting scenes from Amduat, the ‘Book of the Dead’. They awaited the signal in fearful silence.
A satisfied sigh emanated from the former Vizier as he scanned the brightly coloured frieze and came to rest on the life-size depiction of himself. On his head was the tall, blue headdress worn by all Pharaohs. His smile widened and his eyes spoke the words of satisfaction his lips did not voice, my time has come at last...