Stairway to Eternity (Chapter VI – Part I)
Meanwhile all was not well in the river kingdom of Egypt. Only days after Pharoah and the crown prince had left the realm, religious leaders had launched a verbal attack against the royal family’s ‘blasphemy’. From village to village they went, preaching the official version of the theology of the sun-god Ra. The simple villagers were told that the story of the white pyramid was blasphemy as it did not exist. They would be proved right as Snefru and Cheops would never return from such a long journey. The sun-god would see to that, Ra would not tolerate a search for his night-time home.
The high priest of Egypt was a man named Kagemni, guardian of Ra. This man had great ambitions. He wished to take over complete rule of Egypt, as a priest king, from the Mediterranean coast to the southern borders of Nubia. With Kagemni in a secondary position were two men, Mereruka and Harkhuf. They both apparently showed loyalty to Kagemni and followed his line, preaching in the temples of Ra against the ‘blasphemy’ of the royal family.
Nefertene was thus in extreme danger; not only her freedom but her life itself, and that of her unborn child were now under threat.
Not all the troops and royal guards had left Egypt. There were still many fighting men in different garrisons along the land of Egypt and still nearly three hundred royal guards at the place of Memphis. It was Kagemni’s fervent desire to win over these men and turn them into a major army which would be used to annihilate Snefru’s tired forces on his return to Egypt. It was not proving any easy task for the clergy to turn the population against their Pharoah. Snefru was extremely popular, he was well loved by his people but as the weeks and months progressed and neither Snefru nor Cheops had returned, a feeling of loss ran through the people, opening them to new allegiances and making them forget Snefru’s benign rule.
The royal palace was attracted by forces loyal to Kagemni and although the three hundred guards put up a brave defense of their Lady regent Nefertene, the palace duly fell and she was taken prisoner. In an elaborate ceremony Kagemni was crowned as the new Pharoah Priest of Egypt in the presence of all the nation’s aristocracy, many of them blood relations of Snefru. They were too frightened to show any opposition to this new reality. Kagemni, in turn named Mereruka and Harkhuf as his deputies and warned everyone that he, guardian of Ra’s purity, would accept no oppositions; any mention of Snefro or Cheops would lead to death.
Terror was not rife down the length of Egypt. Torture and summary executions were the order of the day, no one was safe. A decision had to be made on what to do with Nefertene, who was now heavy with child. Kagemni wanted to murder both her and her unborn child to rid the land of the heirs of Snefru, but Harkhuf, a man of intelligence and sensitivity had other ideas. He would convince Kagemni to spare the girl’s life and bring up Nefertene’s child (if it was a boy) in the real religion, thereby continuing the royal line, but subordinated to the clergy, and the purity of the religion of the sun god. Kagemni would rule until his death and after that the new Pharoah of the royal lineage would ascend the throne at Memphis.
If on the other hand, the child was a girl then both mother and daughter would be put to death. Nefertene was put under the care of Harkhuf until the day of the birth of the royal child.