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   Chapter 0 Prologue

The Curse of Kalaan By Linda Saint Jalmes Characters: 3093

Updated: 2018-05-18 10:11

Tell el-Amarna, Egypt — November 7th, 1828

The waters of the Nile sparkled under the sun's caress and shimmered like mercury dappled languidly by gentle bluish gray waves. This wide liquid ribbon flowed from south to north through the regions of Lower, Middle and Upper Egypt and, in the summer, during the annual flood season, she generously fertilized her banks with a rich black silt which the people called "kemet." The contrast between the sumptuously rich plant life on the riverbanks, sprung from this nourishing source, and the desert plains in the background never ceased to astonish visitors.

The green landscape that cradled the Nile in its arms was full of lush grasses, papyrus, eucalyptus, weeping willows, palm trees, and date trees, as well as lotus and reeds. And when the eyes finally broke away from the bewitching green to look beyond this belt quivering with life, high sand dunes and dark rocky peaks, covered in beige sand reflecting the sun's glare came into view.

Any smiles were dulled, and then completely erased, by the barren scene that managed to freeze the blood of mortals despite the high temperatures. Its message was silent, terrifying and macabre: "From this point on, all life ends." In places like this heaven and hell fought for their share of the world and man was nothing more than an insignificant pawn — at best a spectator, at worst a victim.

In ancient times along one of these waterfronts, on the eastern bank of the Nile, boats belonging to Akhenaten, the tenth pharaoh of the eighteenth

dynasty, and his royal spouse, the great Nefertiti would dock.

It is also in this place that he who would come to be baptized the 'heretic pharaoh' built his new capital, completely dedicated to the cult of the sun god Aten1 and gave it the name of Akhetaten or "Horizon of Aten." Akhetaten was a spectacular city, with magnificent architecture, in red bricks and talatats2; and within four years it had a population of over twenty thousand. The city was, without a doubt, worthy of the cult of Aten, easily meeting the expectations of its ruler.

Three thousand one hundred and eighty eight years later, in 1828, with the passing of time and changing ideals, after having been deserted at the end of Akenaten's reign, the capital was no more than a pile of ruins swept by the burning desert winds, and watched over by its boundary steles. Nothing remains of the great pharaoh, or of the original name, not even a hint of the beginning of a story3.

Now on the banks there are other boats, more modest than Akhenaten's, however just as well designed for the visitors they transport: two maasch4 —the Isis and the Horus— and a small felucca5.TheIsis and the felucca belonged to Jean-Fran?ois Champollion's Franco-Tuscan expedition, which had just arrived at the site, while the Horus belonged to Kalaan Phoebus, Count of Croz, a French nobleman and Egyptologist, who had been in Egypt for the past eight months.

In this mythical place called Tell el-Armana, an unexpected encounter would permanently change these two men's destinies.

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