Stairway to Eternity (Chapter VII – Part II)
The royal father and son, Harmhad, the three fishermen and the interpreter scout from Tidikett, who had also come along, met in the royal tent to prepare the next move. They had come to the end of their journey, no man had ever gone any further. Nothing was visible from this beach though; maybe they should climb up, into the mountains of Tamaran, and hope to catch a glimpse of what they sought. They decided they would stay on the beach for a few days, regain their strength, and hope to be able to see the vision. If not, they would start the trek into the interior of Tamaran and up into its mountains.
The wind had changed that night and now blew from the south-west; it became noticeably cooler, the men sleeping on the beach or in tents or on the anchored ships pulled more animals skins over their bodies to keep them warm. The first weak light of morning came; Ra had woken and was about to appear in the eat. The camp slept. Only the sentries were awake when suddenly one of them, facting the ships to the west saw this sight.
A huge white pyramid seemed to float, hanging in the sky. The sentry rushed to the royal tent; Pharoah and Cheops were woken, explanations given and they rushed out of the tent to see the holy sight. The sentry pointed west up in the heavens. Yes, there it was. What a perfect sight, it seemed suspended in the heavens. Snefru and his son, and by now, all the Egyptians were struck silent. It was all true, the story Snefru’s grandfather had heard from the Libyan chieftain was true. Imhotep had been right, there was a stairway to eternity; the stairway that led to Ra, and the stars.
Now Ra appeared, shining brightly from the east although around the apparition it was still slightly dark and some stars were still visible in the firmament. Snefru was a man of great courage and impulse; he felt overjoyed but humbled by this sight. This was why they had come, but for Snefru it wasn’t enough, he needed to get closer to this white pyramid. He was after all Pharoah, king of the worshippers of Ra. Temples stood all over his kingdom, dedicated to Ra. Surely his god would protect him if he tried to sail neater to the white pyramid?
He asked for volunteers. He would take just three ships, the other two would stay at Tamaran. The royal guards of Memphis asked to go, so did Harmhad but Pharoah didn’t need so many men. He would take only one hundred fighting men. Harmhad would stay in Tamaran in charge od the remaining party and of the two ships. If after two weeks Pharoah had not returned then Harmhad would return to Tarfaya and then to Egypt. The three fishermen were taken along together with the scout from Tidikett and the women, on the ‘royal yacht’. Although Snefru was getting older he still felt a strong urge to partake in sexual activity with these young women. If he died they would come with him to the new life.
And so it was that in early March of the year 2600 B.C. the three ships with their brave crews sailed away from the island of Tamaran, even further west. No man had ever gone further and if they had, they had never come back. There, ahead of them was the white pyramid. The winds blew strongly from the south – east, and the three ships were pushed north and west into the open ocean. They had never been in such seas; the men spent all their time bailing water from their ships. The sails were lowered and stowed, the men took to the oars to control their vessels. Great grey clouds came, heavy with rain, and the great white pyramid disappeared. Now the position; This must be the end. How were they to return to Tamaran? They had lost sight of it in the driving rain. Night came and the storm continued. Men were lost overboard. Neither Snefru or his men had witnessed such a storm. Their only hope was for the storm to abate so they could safely return to Tamaran (if they could find it) or sail east to the coast of Libya/Africa.
As if the god Ra had heard their pleas, as morning came the wind died down, the clouds became whiter; it seemed the terrible storm was over but the three ships, roped together, were in an unknown part of this tremendous sea, out of sight of any land.
Cheops ordered sails to be raised and the oarsmen to take their places; the clouds were growing lighter and the wind dropped, but the sea was still filled with breaking waves. The bows dropped into the through between the waves and both sail and oars were worked hard.
The clouds vanished, leaving a bright blue sky. However, on the horizon to their south there were still traces of sullen, black cloud, where the storm was still active.
The three fishermen had seen this phenomenon before and explained to Snefru that the island could be hidden behind the clouds; sometimes Tamaran was raid to be covered in cloud while out at sea the sky was clear. A shout startles the men, coming from one of the ships carrying the royal guards! Fingers point, arms are raised, men fall to their knees, for there in the sky for all to see, the white pyramid appears again above the mass pf cloud. It is huge, perfectly shaped, petrifying so high. It seems even more awe-inspiring and powerful than what they had seen from the sandbank at Tamaran.
“Head for the white god!” shouted Snefru to his crews. The oarsmen doubled their strokes; the stails strained, the men tried but Cheops insisted that they should heed the pace-drummer, and row without taking motive of anything else. As the hours ran, the clouds beneath the pyramid became darker. Suddenly Taborno yelled “an island! It is an island! Pull harder, we are nearly there”.
Snefru ran to the bows. Eyes narrowed, he strained to see through the spray. Sure enough, it was an island. This must be the great that grips the great white pyramid! The island must be truly sacred, for on it stands the stairway to eternity.
“Row harder, Guards of Memphis, we are nearly there” shouted Snefru. The island drew nearer, the pyramid suddenly disappeared above the clouds and a noise filled the ears of the courageous Egyptians. Now surf could be seen; great cliffs, rugged rocks and the sea battling against both forming what seemed a boiling cauldron of white foam. Above it all there was the infernal noise of angry water crashing against rock.
Part III of Chapter VII to follow in our next edition.