Seti nodded. "Tell me, Horembeb, in all honesty: if he were of noble blood and you could adopt him, do you think that your Baqet, beyond the love you have for him, would be a worthy successor to the throne of the pharaohs?"
"Yes, I really think so. And then, I could raise him to that role, if it were possible. Yes, and I do not say so only because I love him."
"I believe you, you've always been honest with yourself and with others. So Horembeb, my friend... maybe I can do something for you and for the throne of Egypt."
"You, Seti? What are you thinking about?"
"I have long observed your Baqet. Not only has he the same age as my Ramses, but also the same build, the same hair... only their eyes are different."
"What would you say if... if Baqet returned to court with you, but with the name of Ramses, Seti's son?"
"Seti, old fool! How can you think such a thing is possible? The court's servants have seen Baqet grow up since he was a child."
"The servants... you can easily change them all. And the others? Do they know him so well? Your vizier, high priest, officials..."
"Some yes, but those are only a few. Baqet never wanted to appear at my side in ceremonies and rituals."
"So it would be enough to change the officials who know him, perhaps giving them good positions, more important positions, but far away from the court. After that, Baqet could return to court with you. I would accompany him as well, and for everyone he would be my son Ramses, and you could adopt him as your heir."
"And your family? Your real Ramses?"
"For a long time I have been thinking to shut him away somewhere, perhaps as a priest in a temple of Amon, just to stop him embarrassing me. I could make him change his name, if you accept my suggestion..."
Horembeb looked at him intently, in deep thought. "Maybe... maybe you're less crazy than I thought, my good Seti. Would you really do this for me?"
"For you, but even more for our land, if you judge that Baqet would be your worthy successor. And then, also for me - I'd be the father of the future pharaoh..."
"You'd rather die first!" Horembeb said laughing, knowing his friend was really alien to taking any personal profit from his position. That's why he had elevated him to the rank of general.
"Even if I died first, my tomb would be that of the father of the pharaoh." Seti said with a smile.
"You have almost convinced me, Seti. Leave me some time to think about it."
"Why? You amaze me! You've always been a man of quick decisions. Are you are getting older now? Quick and fair decisions, that's what is the most important."
Horembeb nodded, then said: "Well, yes, I thought about it enough. Let's do it!"
First Seti sent his son to the temple of Isis under the name of Baqet, making a large donation to the high priest to keep an eye on his son and not ever allow him to leave the temple precincts.
Meanwhile Horembeb summoned Baqet. "My boy, do you really love me?"
"You know that, Horembeb," the young man replied serenely.
"Do you love me enough to give up on me, at least for two or three years?"
"For two, three years? But then what?"
"Then you would come back and live with me."
"You are asking a lot of me, but if this is good for you and if you need me to do so, I will. Besides, how could I oppose to your decisions? The only thing you can never order me is to cease loving you. You can order to me everything else and I will obey you, always."
"Are you sure?"
"So here is my second order: you have to marry and have children... And you must not stop until you have at least two sons."
The boy looked surprised: "Sorry Horembeb, but I don't understand."
The pharaoh smiled. "But will you?"
"If you order me, I will."
"Good, I did not expect less from you. Third: I will soon return to the palace, but you'll stay here for these two or three years. Before you get back to me, you'll change your name. You will be called Ramses, Seti's son."
"You mean that General Seti will adopt me?"
"No, you will be his real son Ramses. You have to take his place. Ramses will take your name and will be locked up in a temple, to become a priest."
"I don't understand, but if you so decided..."
"And in three years, maybe a little earlier, I will adopt Ramses as my son and heir, and Ramses will be my successor, the new pharaoh of Egypt after me."
"But didn't you say that he'll be locked up in a temple?"
"Oh, my gazelle, can't you understand? You will be the Ramses I'll adopt, you and nobody else."
"I, Horembeb? I, the future king of the Two Lands? Why are you pulling my leg?"
"No, my beloved, I'm not kidding at all. I will adopt and prepare you, and you will be the best pharaoh that our lands ever had. You are smart, ready, good, strong, fair and honest. The only thing you are lacking is a noble birth, and Seti will give it to you, saying you're his son. He has already agreed; indeed, it is he who suggested it to me. You, my gazelle, will be the pharaoh who will do the work that our Tut and I myself could not accomplish. And you'll do it, because of the love you had for Tut and the love you have for me."
"But the court... everybody knows me."
"When you'll come back, none of those who knew you will be at court any more. That's why I need a couple of years, and for this we need to be separated for a while. For everyone you will be Ramses, son of Seti, general of the kingdom and man of ancient nobility. Seti will instruct you properly, he is a great man and an excellent soldier. Seti will be the father you never had."
"But what about Seti's wife and Ramses' brothers?"
"They will see you leave from here, when the day will come, as Baqet... and they will never see you as Ramses. Therefore they will never say anything. So do you agree, my gazelle?"
"I am awed by all of this, my Horembeb... but if you so choose, who am I to say no?"
"You are my beloved. If you would tell me no... I would try to understand, for the love I have for you, for the love you have for me."
"I will do as you have decided, Horembeb. And with your help, I hope not to disappoint you, and to be able to do what you expect of me."
So Horembeb left Baqet with Seti and returned to the capital. He immediately busied himself to gradually reorganize the court, assigning tasks more honourable and better paid to the officials who knew Baqet, sending them away from the capital, and giving them servants and slaves from the palace and replacing them with servants and slaves who had never seen Baqet.
It was a long and slow but accurate work. Chike, who became the head scribe of the court, and whom Horembeb knew he could trust completely, held the threads of all the changes. Luck helped Horembeb, because the hardest bone, the high priest of Amon, died. Horembeb chose in his place a high priest of a temple in the south, Ptahemhat-Ty, who had never been in court before.
In the eighth year of the reign of Horembeb everything was ready. Seti and Baqet departed from the delta and arrived at court as general Seti with his eldest son Ramses. The latter had with him his young wife and his eldest son to whom he had given the name Seti, as his "grandfather". They stopped at court for more than a month. Then the general Seti returned to his garrison, while young Ramses and his family stayed at court.
"Horembeb, my beloved, I'm finally back in your arms!" the young man sighed when they were alone.
"I love you... Ramses!" the strong man said and kissed him.
"It seems strange to me, to hear you say the name of another, to tell me you love me," the young man smiled.
"We must get used to not ever pronounce the other name, my gazelle."
"Yes, call me that when we are alone and I'm in your arms."
"What does it matter what I call you, when I give you my love? Would the lion not be a lion, if you gave it any other name?"
"You're right... I'm a fool."
"No, you're the most lovable boy that I could hold in my arms." the handsome man said, starting to take off the clothes of his beloved.
"I am no longer a boy. I'm a man now."
"But you will remain my boy forever."
"Yes, and you my man!" Ramses said. He bent down to suckle a nipple, while his hands went down to take possession of the hard member that he longed to feel inside himself again.
Horembeb pushed him onto the bed and laid himself on him. Ramses encircled his beautiful and strong body with arms and legs.
"Did you miss me?" Ramses said.
"You have not found a replacement, while I was gone?"
"No, what are you saying?"
"A pharaoh, besides his first wife, often has other wives and concubines," Ramses said jokingly.
"Do you want me to get a harem of pretty boys?" Horembeb asked, looking lovingly into his eyes.
"No. A pharaoh does it in order to have many children. No boy can give you a son, not even me..."
"But you've already given me a grandson."
"I wish he were really yours."
"All I want is you to be mine."
"Yes, I'm all yours. Take me..." Ramses sighed happily.
"Certainly, my gazelle, certainly..." Horembeb whispered, preparing to make his beautiful young lover happy.
And finally their bodies were united again, making love for a long time with renewed passion.
In the tenth year of his reign, pharaoh Horembeb Meryamon (Joy of Horus, beloved of Amon), whose royal name was Djeserkheperure Setepenre (Saints are the manifestations of Ra, the chosen of Ra), officially adopted and named as his successor Ramses, who was then twenty-nine. And the noble Ramses prepared himself to become a worthy heir to Horembeb.
The two lovers in fact resumed to live together, as the wife of Ramses lived with the king's wife in the royal harem.
After their long separation, their love became stronger then ever, even though their state duties often kept them separated. As heir of the Pharaoh, Ramses was appointed head of the army, a role that until then Horembeb had kept. So sometimes he had to go to war instead of Horembeb.
Ramses was brave and just, an able leader, and was respected and loved by his soldiers.
Horembeb reigned for twenty-six years, and died at the age of sixty-four. He was buried in a magnificent tomb, and his soul could rejoin that of his Tut. Ramses, the first pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty, succeeded him when he was forty-five years of age. But he reigned for only three years and the throne passed to his son, Seti I, who was then twenty years old.
This is the story of Horembeb, the peasant boy who, after having been raped by a soldier, became the last pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty. In fact, nothing is known about his origin. Sembeb's childhood years therefore are a figment of our imagination, but based on historical evidence, in particular concerning the life of peasants and the organization of the army, including their habit, or their "right", to abuse peasants, male of female, for their sexual gratification.
In writing this story all historical data were observed as best as possible. Since the dates and the ages of the characters in this story are varying, depending on different scholars, we have made choices that allowed us to make the narrative flow in the most natural way.
Facts, that all historians agree upon with certainty, were reported as is. When something is just the result of speculation, sometimes we have accepted one assumption, sometimes another. Finally, everything on which the official history is silent, we have filled in with our fantasy.
Regarding the death of Tutankhamon: x-rays of his mummy revealed that there is a fracture in the skull and a small piece of bone inside it. There is also another small fracture in his cheekbone. For this reason, some authors assert that the young pharaoh was killed by a blow on the head with a club.
We believe it is very unlikely that one of the courtiers could have committed murder by striking the pharaoh with a mace - it would have been much easier and safer to poison or stab him. Therefore, our hypothesis that the young man got those fractures falling from a high place seems to us, if anything, more likely.
Posterity, as Horembeb predicted in our story, blamed him of murdering the beautiful young pharaoh Tutankhamen. The fact, that he ordered to delete the name of Tutankhamen from every monument, reinforced this idea.
Our explanation of why Horembeb had all traces of the name of Tutankhamen removed is equally valid. Anyway, neither the researchers' nor our theory is supported by historical data. According to some historians Horembeb had the names of his three predecessors removed out of hatred for those who, in fact, had helped him rise to power. We think he did it rather for a searing remorse. Honestly, our theory seems more convincing to us.
Moreover, if Horembeb had killed Tutankhamen to accede to the throne, he would not have accepted that Aye took that place, and wait for his death. He already had enough power in his hands, with the army completely on his side, to take the throne as soon as he killed the young Tutankhamen.
It may be strange and almost absurd to us that, in order to guarantee Tutankhamen a place in the afterlife, Horembeb agreed to kill him, like our story is suggesting, despite their profound love. But in ancient Egypt, unlike in our times, the afterlife was supreme, and not our mortal life. That is why Aye, Horembeb, and even Tut himself preferred a violent death of the young pharaoh. It is no coincidence that he was the most serene with this solution: to grant his afterlife and, eventually find back his lover Horembeb.
The fact that Akhenaton and Smenkhkare were lovers is claimed by several scholars, but there is absolutely no evidence that Tutankhamen, Horembeb, and Ramses were lovers too. The only clue is that, apart from Ramses, neither of them has left any children, either male or female, except for the two baby mummies buried with Tutankhamen.
Finally, pharaoh Ramses I was almost certainly the true son of general Seti. Replacing Baqet with the real Ramses is just a figment of our imagination.
A controversial point, that we only have treated in passing in this story, is the place and manner of burial of Tutankhamen. His tomb is not a royal one, because it is too small for a man of his status in those days. Also the cartouches in his tomb were written over other names, and the name of Tutankhamen replaced the original names inscribed on various objects that were placed in the tomb of the young pharaoh. This suggests that the burial was made in great haste and secrecy. Why? There is no clear explanation, just a jumble of assumptions. Therefore the hypothesis laid out in this story is as valid as any other: the fear that the priests of Amon could incite people to violate the tomb of the deceased pharaoh, like they did to his father's mummy.
One last note about the spelling of names: in the literature about ancient Egypt, the names of historical figures are transcribed in a thousand different ways. We chose one, not necessarily better than any other, but we believe that the names are recognizable. Finally, the appellation "pharaoh" was probably not used at that time, but simply the title of "king" or "sovereign." We used it only because it is the most familiar to readers.
This story may be partly historical and partly imagination, so be it. Anyway, we hope your liked it.