The Killers Amongst Us:Chimera Dawn Chronicles

By: Declan Conner

Prologue





1335 B.C. Amarna, the capital of Egypt. Pharaoh Akhenaten’s bedchamber.



AKHENATEN paced ungainly around his bedchamber, listening to his high priest relay news of the rebel armies. His spindly form gave him an awkwardness of gait, but his mind was as sharp as ever. He glanced outside and looked down at his reinforcements marching toward the outer limits of the city. Clouds of dust thrown up by their sandals danced in the spears of sunlight entering the chamber. Akhenaten coughed and spluttered. He picked up a chalice, then took a long slug of the warm wine, taking away the taste of the battle that would surely follow.

“Amun approaches as we speak, your most holiness,” said his high priest. “The southern cities are lost.”

Akhenaten placed his empty chalice on his bedside table, then faced him. The priest averted his gaze, dropped to his knees, and kissed the floor at Akhenaten's feet. Outwardly, Akhenaten held his composure, but inside he fumed, the beast within seeking to emerge.

“Amun! Wasn't it enough that I spared his life when I sent him to exile that he should seek to destroy me? I should have had him cut into pieces and set his spirit in bitumen for all eternity as I did with the rest of the gods. Is there news of terms?”

“No, your most holiness. We have word from our spies that Amun is incensed that you have had his earthly consort Mut assassinated, desecrated his temples, and erased his name and image from history. He is displeased that you are a god ruling as a man, instead of providing guidance to the royal lineage. Now he seeks only revenge.”

Akhenaten scoffed at Amun’s displeasure with a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Mut was nothing more than a chimerical vulture, undeserving of her status. What of my forward army?”

“They are in disarray, fleeing in all directions. Only your temple guards remain loyal, but they are small in numbers by comparison. We can’t guarantee their continued loyalty.”

Akhenaten crossed his arms, gripping at the flesh at his waist. He looked down at the priest and his eyes narrowed. The sun’s rays penetrating the bedchamber cast his shadow over the stone floor, exaggerating his sinewy limbs and extended cranial.

“How long do I have?”

“You must make good your escape north to the waiting ship without delay, for passage to the Isle of the Sicel’s.”

“And what of my traitor queen, Nefertiti?”

“She is rumored to be in hiding with your son Tutankhaten in the south, protected by Amun's priests. She has already decreed his name be changed to dishonor your holiness, and to favor the god Amun. Henceforth he is to be known as Tutankhamun.”

“Tutankhamun! No doubt she seeks the favor of Amun so that Tutankhaten will take my place as Pharaoh. I swear by Aten, his reign will be short. Do we have a child ready for me to take my spirit for if I am ambushed, and this deformity of mine is destroyed?” he said, then glanced down his body. His spindly fingers stroked his chest.

“No, your holiness. The woman escaped. Our guards caught up with her in time to see her cut out your child from her womb, then she discarded the fetus in the Nile.”

“What of an adult conduit?”

“There are none. You were lucky to have taken over the body of the Pharaoh Amenhotep, but your change in name and appearance in doing so has angered many. Destroying his images throughout the land and replacing them with your own had left many questioning, and they now align themselves with the old gods and refuse to pay tribute.”

The chamber doors burst open. A palace guard dropped bodily to the floor.

“Your most holiness, Amun’s army is destroying the outskirts of the city as they advance. We can't hold them.”

“Gather my protection guards and have them meet me in the temple yard by the fountain. Then instruct the guardians of my crypt to have my burial chamber sealed, and to start rumors of my death.”

The guard rose to his feet, avoiding eye contact. He turned and hurried out of the chamber.

“What of me, your most holiness?” the high priest asked.

For once, the priest dared to gaze directly into Akhenaten’s eyes. He looked at the pitiful human whose loyalty he could not trust.

“Please stand. Come here and let me bless you.”

▶ Also By Declan Conner

▶ Hot Read

▶ Last Updated

▶ Recommend

Top Books