Buried in the Desert

“Ah ha! I win again!” Shouts the ecstatic young boy as he leaps and declares victory! “I am invincible! Nobody can beat me at Senet!”

“What can I say? My baby brother is brilliant!” Shrugs the older brother.

“Who are you calling baby, Kamose? I’m seven years old, and I just annihilated you at Senet! Does that make you an infant?” The boy smiles smuggly.

A messenger arrives on horseback and is escorted to the young Ahmose and his brother. “Your lordship, a messenger has stated he has an urgent message concerning Moses in the Land of Cush.”

The boy’s beaming smile quickly turns to a look of frustration. “Moses always beats me at Senet.” The boy says as his joy deflates.

Kamose is eager awaiting the messenger’s pass through security. He thinks of how his group of advisers were setting up a sabotage to the supply line of Moses’ troops as they advanced on Cush in hopes that the field operations in Cush would fail and Moses would be defeated. This would immediately elevate Kamose to the leader of the Egyptian army and provide him with the justification to request an invasion of Cush with the full support of his Pharaoh brother, Seqenenre Tao, who was helping advise the conspiracy against Moses in Cush.

Kamose turns to his younger brother and says with a huge grin, “I don’t think you have to worry about that anymore, Ahmose.”

As he stands eagerly awaiting the good news, Kamose suddenly begins to worry… Moses is known for his innovative military maneuvering and finding success even in the most difficult circumstances. He remembers back to the time Moses was thought lost in battle, only to return after 40 days in the wilderness practically unscathed and with the head of the Amori military leader in hand. He had personally witnessed Moses command massive arrays against the Cushites before, using field tactics that no other military leader in Egypt had ever planned. What if Moses was still alive? What if Moses defeated the Cushites?

“Do you think something bad happened to Moses?” Ahmose asks his older brother with worry.

Looking down at this brother and placing his hand on his shoulder, Kamose lies, “Let’s hope not, brother.”

#

“You think Moses is a traitor?” Ahhotep asks dismissively.

“He married the Cushite princess!” Kamose yells! “What could be more treasonous than marrying the daughter of our sworn enemy?” Kamose is fuming!

“My poor child,” Tetisheri begins as she walks over to Ahmose on the other side of the room. “Perhaps his political skills have come of age,” she pauses… “unlike your own.” Tetisheri pats Ahmose on the shoulders as she smiles and both of them chuckle at Kamose.

Ahhotep speaks up. “It’s a very politically astute maneuver if you’d open your eyes to the possibility. Rather than roll on with a long, drawn out, and costly war between our people and the people of Cush, Moses sacrificed himself for a generation of peace between our two nations. Perhaps even more.” She smiles slightly, “maybe there’s even a true love connection for the young Moses. I’ve heard the Cushite princess is the most beautiful woman in all their land.”

“You’ve always been partial to him and his people, mother.”

Tetrisheri interjects, “And you should be too! His people have served Pharaoh after pharaoh for many generations. They have brought tremendous wealth into our land, tamed the Nile and given us fertile lands beyond those of any other nation.”

Ahhotep speaks up as the elderly Tetrisheri pauses to catch her breath, “And let us never forget the great famine of seven years their fathers helped us overcome and countless insurrections and plots against our families.” She turns to the seven-year-old Ahmose. “You, my son, must always remember that Moses and his people are our allies.”

“Yes, mother.” Ahmose obediently responds.

Kamose steps between Ahmose and his mother, “But don’t let those past fairytales rule your thinking, brother. Just as you slit the throat of a once loyal dog who bites you, so too must you put Moses down when he betrays you.”

“IF!” Tetrisheri raises her voice. “And don’t let the deranged conspiracy theories of your brother’s deluded advisers persuade you with their mockery of intellectual reason, my boy.” Tetrisheri pulls Ahmose close towards her and away from Kamose. “These fools will tell you of prophesy when they really mean propaganda. They are the sons of the same men who failed our families and our nation generations ago. The sons of the same men who the fathers of Moses saved us from their ill conceived policies.”

Kamose remains silent for a heartbeat, “These are stories HIS scribes wrote! Not our scribes!” Kamose is becoming increasingly agitated. “Don’t believe everything you read, brother. It’s written as lies and half truths by those who want to manipulate you, just as Moses is trying to manipulate our kingdom today. Next rise of the great Ra and you know what, he’ll want to be Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt, reigning in Cush with his Cushite princess. He’ll make us slaves just like his people have become to the Hyksos. We’ll all be his slaves!”

Tetrisheri turns sharply to Kamose and spits in his face. “Don’t you ever try to pollute the mind of your younger brother, or I will make sure you never sit atop our kingdom’s throne. Your idiot advisers might have convinced you of some great conspiracy brought about by the fathers of Moses and some droppings of Hesat prophecies, but the truth is that they saved our kingdom, our people, and our land!”

Kamose wipes his grandmother’s spit from his face and stares deeply into her eyes with wicked intentions. She smiles and then laughs.

“I see everything you plot against me, boy. I’ve seen men mightier than you come and go many times over. You think in steps. I think in generations. I’m always thinking ahead of you.” Tetrisheri puffs her breath and continues… “I may have this old body, but my mind is too advanced for you, Kamose. Just like your brother is with Senet. One day, I will let you have your course. Until then, you should study more and listen to your corrupt advisers less. Do you want a true prophecy?” She pauses to wait for Kamose to nod…

Kamose nods, accepting the wisdom of his grandmother.

“Your anger will be the death of you,” she says sharply.

There’s a call into the room from a messenger. Ahhotep signals to the guards to allow the messenger entry. He enters and announces that Seqenenre has been defeated and captured by Moses during a disguised raid on a Hyksos outpost city.

“Seqenenre and Moses fought hand to hand, and Moses bested him. Once he removed the mask of Tao, Moses forbade the execution of the Pharaoh.” The messenger announces.

Ahhotep dismisses the messenger and orders the guards to leave the room and take up position on the outside perimeter of the room. She turns to Kamose, “That answers the question of Moses’ loyalty. Does it not? The real question is how loyal is Seqenenre to our family when he provokes the Hyksos in their own land!”

Enraged, Kamose shouts, “Their own land? That is the land of our fathers! Land the Hyksos and the fathers of Moses stole from us!”

Ahhotep speaks up yet again, “Land rightfully granted to the fathers of Moses by Amenemhat!” She turns to Ahmose. “Let this be a valuable lesson in loyalty, my son.”

“Today it’s clear he serves only the Hyksos, the masters of his people.” Kamose grumbles. “Why would he bring our troops into Hyksos land to protect the Hyksos people?”

The young Ahmose interjects with befuddlement, “You just said the land doesn’t belong to the Hyksos, Kamose.”

Tetrisheri laughed boisterously! “Out smarted by a seven year old again!”

Ahhotep speaks up again, “It’s clear Moses is far more politically astute than your idiot blood brother and father, Ahmose. He had every justification to kill Tao, and he chose not to. Moses understands the tremendous value in forgiving those who know not how incredibly stupid they are.”

“She’d sell her own husband for bushel of wheat.” Kamose says in disgust as he turns to Yuf, Ahhotep’s adviser, who has been standing silently the entire time.

“At least the wheat would have greater wisdom than my husband.” Ahhotep snaps back.

Yuf stands perfectly still, almost like a statue as Kamose attempts to rouse a response from him with eye gestures.

There’s an awkward silence as each person in the room contemplates their strategy given the latest revelation they just received. With her internal spy network, Ahhotep knows that Kamose and Seqenenre were plotting together to sabotage the military campaign into Cush lead by Moses, but she didn’t know about the disguised attacks that were taking place. She decides not to press her son on the topic until she finds out why there’s a gap in her intelligence gathering.

Young Ahmose breaks the silence, “Who is going to negotiate the retrieval of Seqenenre?”

#

Moses kicks Seqenenre’s foot to wake him.

“Apepi is here to speak with you.”

Apepi enters the holding cell with Moses and Sequenere. The three men sit in their own corner of the cell.

“Tao, how did we get to this?” Apepi asks.

“It was the hippos,” Seqenenre laughs.

Moses looks at Seqenenre with a puzzled look who responds, “I’ll tell you later,” Sequenenre says to Moses with a wink.

Apepi looks again to Seqenenre and says, “Moses has negotiated to escort you back to Thebes. This is the great Apepi’s gift to the people of Upper Egypt. A gift from the great king of the Hyksos. I’m sure your spies have already conveyed your capture and Moses’ benevolent hand upon your throat to your family. Personally, I would have killed you first and then wept at your stupidity after.”

Apepi looks again to Moses and says, “I know this must be a difficult position for you, Moses. I want no quarrel with the people of Upper Egypt. Think of this as a personal gift from me to you for the kind service of your people in my land.”

Moses chuckles, “Gifts are given freely, lord Apepi.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Apepi growls in anger. “What good would it do for me to kill the Pharaoh of Upper Egypt? And why would you speak such a thing?”

“No such words were uttered by my lips, lord Apepi. The spit from your speech is the venom of an asp. A gift from you is like a heap of refuse from Hesat. Don’t speak to me as if your gift is nothing more than an attempt to enslave me as you have my people in our own land.” Moses retorts.

Seqenenre laughs loudly, “My brother, Moses! May Ra shine upon you for all eternity!” He laughs loudly once again as Apepi shakes his head and leaves the holding cell.

“I should lock you both in there.” Apepi grumbles.

Moses responds, “Your words hold not a key, lord Apepi. Safe returns to Avaris.”

“Oh, Moses. I’m truly sorry I could not allow Aaron the time needed to attend your wedding to that Cushite.” Apepi says with a smug smile as he begins to walk away. “I’ll give my regards to your dear brother.”

“A threat like that without a backbone to hold it upright is like breathing underwater, lord Apepi. Tell Aaron I’m grateful to have such a wonderful brother.” Moses says sitting in the cell with Seqenenre.

There’s silence for a moment while waiting for Apepi to be out of ear distance.

“The hippos?” Moses asks with a chuckle.

Seqenenre starts laughing and can barely get the story out to Moses who joins him in laughter over such an absurd story. “I swear by my god Ra, Moses, I will be known through out all time as the hippo king!”

The two laugh uncontrollably for nearly a degree on the sundial before they exit the holding cell, Moses following after Seqenenre.

#

As Moses is preparing his mule and a mule for Seqenenre, three men even larger than the mules approach. Two stand back while the third approaches Moses and stands arms akimbo next to the mule.

“I wouldn’t stand there, neighbor.” Moses says to the imposing man.

“We are the friends of Khamudi. Lord Apepi sent us to accompany you and Pharaoh back to Thebes and ensure his safe arrival.” The man says in a booming voice.

“Is that so?” Moses chuckles as Seqenenre walks over to stand next to Moses. “I’m sure we’ll be able to manage the return trip on our own. You can thank Apepi for the generous offer.”

“Lord Apepi said you might not be willing to accept our assistance, but Lord Apepi also said we must accompany you no matter.”

Moses snaps his fingers and makes a clicking sound at the same time. The mule suddenly sidekicks the enormous man who falls to the ground gasping for air with two cracked ribs protruding through his side. The mule trots over to Moses, and Seqenenre mounts the mule with Moses’ aide.

The other two hulking men stand over their companion as they watch Moses mount his mule.

“I told him it wasn’t a good idea to stand there.” Moses smiles and shrugs his shoulders. “You two can hold up the rear.”

Seqenenre rides off to the head of the army already underway at Miriam’s direction as Moses meets up with the rear guard to inform them they are responsible to monitoring the men sent by Apepi.

After a quick sprint, Moses meets up with Seqenenre and Miriam at the head of the mule contingent in the center of the army. Moses rides up to the head and provides instructions for the commanders at the head of the army, and then Moses returns to Seqenenre and Miriam in the center position with the rest of the soldiers riding mules in the crowd of thousands of Egypt’s finest warriors.

Miriam tosses Seqenenre a head dressing and instructs him to wear the disguise. “I’m certain Apepi didn’t send those men, brother,” Miriam says to Moses.

“It was Apepi trying to send me a message, Miriam. There is nothing to worry about.” Moses smiles. “Still, Seqenenre, you should wear the disguise. My sister is often more right than wrong.”

“Moses, you should join my cause, if for no other reason than to free your brother.” Seqenenre says as he puts on the disguise with difficulty while still maintaining balance on his mule.

“Raiding villages and towns of peaceful people is not a cause that calls me, brother,” Moses responds sarcastically.

“Moses, your fathers provided so much for my fathers, but what has come of your people? You have interbred with the Hyksos invaders, and your people have become slaves to them. My cause is not to attack your people but to free you from your oppressive masters.” Seqenenre almost sounds genuine in his pleading.

Moses and Miriam chuckle, “Miriam, I can almost believe what our Egyptian brother is saying.” Moses jests.

“Moses, you and I together can free your people from oppression. You have the military mind, and I have the money needed to remove the Hyksos by force. And I know your intelligence operations have deep root into the Hyksos operations. We can do this together. If you want me to beg in the face of Tetrisheri, I’ll do so on two bended knees.”

“Seqenenre, thank you for the compliment about our intelligence operations. If you truly believed even your own words, you would then also know that we knew of your plan to cut off our supplies in the Nubian campaign and Kamose’s plan to poison Ahhotep.”

Seqenenre has a genuinely surprised look on his face at the news of his son’s attempt to murder his own mother.

“He didn’t know that, Moses,” Miriam says to Moses before he can continue.

“I didn’t know that, Moses. I would not take my own son for conspirator against his own family. I know he and my mother do not see eye to eye, but murder his own mother…” Seqenenre pauses and looks down. “I should have seen this.”

Moses and Miriam allow Seqenenre a moment to contemplate the news they just provided him. The army continues its gradual pace towards the first outpost that it needs to reach before the sun is too high and makes continuing impossible.

#

A guard at the stronghold greets Moses, Seqenenre, and Miriam with some fresh water. “Greetings Moses.” The guard says as he hands the jug to Moses. Moses looks down at the jug, smiles, and then nods to the guard before handing him back the jug.

The guard takes a drink from the jug and Miriam flips over her timer glass. The three stand with increasing tension as the guard continues to hold the jug while Miriam flips the timer glass a half dozen times until Moses is satisfied there is no poison in the jug.

Moses nods at the guard who hands him the jug. “It’s my honor to serve you, Moses. Thank you for your trust,” the guard says.

“That you for your service, brother.” Moses acknowledges the faithfulness of the guard. “How is your brother, Japheth?” Moses motions to Miriam and Seqenenre to proceed ahead into the private cooling room carved into the rock.

As Moses is catching up with the guard, Seqenenre and Miriam refresh with the water in the cooling room.

“I have men close to Aaron. If you and Moses were to support and lead a campaign against the Hyksos, I could ensure the safety of Aaron.” Seqenenre attempts to make his case with Miriam.

“Aaron is doing just fine. We have no concerns for him,” Miriam replies.

“Miriam, when my mother adopted Moses, it was to honor the generations of service your people provided to Egypt. To honor the knowledge and technology your people have shared with us and allowed us to grow and develop our nation into a greater and most powerful nation. Perhaps my raids were not the best plan. Perhaps my own son has plotted against me. Perhaps my days as Pharaoh are numbered. I acknowledge Moses is the better general. I acknowledge you are the better intelligence operative.” He pauses to read Miriam’s response. There is none.

“The Hyksos are like a pestilence on your people and our land. They have taken what my fathers gave to your fathers and subjected your people to immeasurable cruelties. They have taken your metals, stopped your education of your children, confiscated your weapons, and stolen your land only to then force you to build monuments to their own government. They worship that wicked bull, and if you and Moses do not join me, think of what will come of your people.”

Moses enters the cooling room. “Our people have overcome worse, Seqenenre.”

“Moses…” Seqenenre starts and then pauses. “Who will remember the name Moses?” Seqenenre laughs. “You won’t even be a footnote in the records, Moses. Your people’s destiny will be swept into a cave and buried in the desert like the land of Babel.”

Moses smirks, “I don’t need to be famous, Seqenenre. I am not Pharaoh. Nor do I ever wish that curse upon me.”

“Moses, my brother, your people will become nothing! You will be no different than the people we find buried in our land from generations ago. Do the Hyksos even acknowledge the canal of Jacob? Who pays tribute? Your people? Or the Hyksos?”

Moses and Miriam are silent.

“Your people allowed the Hyksos to invade from within. You allowed one generation of Hyksos in and by the end of the next generation, you became slaves! And now, Apepi has his eyes set on Upper Egypt. And he’s nurturing the next generation for even bloodier conquests. Moses, this enemy is the most dangerous the land of Egypt has ever faced. We must join together.”

#

The army is making their way through a valley wide enough for standard formation and protected from the rising sun. Just beyond the valley will be the next stronghold where they can take their daily rest before the final leg to Thebes. Two scouts are leading the head of the army, keeping a sharp eye out for anything out of the ordinary.

Flaring his nostrils, the first scout says to the other, “Was that you, Elon?”

“Surely, I thought it was you! I smelled it a few steps back and believed for certain you had too many quail eggs,” Elon responds as the two continue along.

The smell continues to worsen as the scouts and army march on. “I can’t make out what it is, Elon. Is it a giant mount of Hesat?”

Stumbling from the odor, Elon coughs out, “It’s definitely Apis. Apis has died and been resurrected.”

The two scouts laugh as they look back and see the troops behind them starting to get wind of the smell they’ve been discussing for a long pace.

“Was that you, Elon?” One of the head soldiers shouts.

Elon and the other scout laugh as they proceed forward, tripping over each other as they react to the ever increasing odor that’s beginning to overcome all their senses.

“I told you you shouldn’t have eaten all those quail eggs,” the second scout pushes Elon as they continue to laugh and stumble.

The odor is so foul, several troops begin to stumble as they march forward. Moses notices the rumblings of “Apis” in the troops ahead and begins to trot his mule towards the front line. He smells a whiff of the foul odor!

“A mound of Apis, indeed!” Moses thinks to himself.

The odor is so strong he tilts his head back and covers his nose and mouth with his sleeve. As he tilts his head back he sees a flash of light from the top of the ridge opposite the rising sun. He immediately yells out, “Fall back!” He turns his mule around as quickly as possible and whistles to the mule Seqenenre is riding.

“Fall back!” Moses yells!

Just as Seqenenre’s mule starts to circle back, a massive explosion rips through the valley, tearing soldiers apart and throwing bodies and parts of bodies all over the valley! Seqenenre is thrown from his mule, and chaos ensues!

The valley is filled with dirt, dust, and debris. The back ranks have fallen back to safety and suddenly dozens of the troops begin turning on their fellow soldiers, easily picking them off in the confusion. The two friends of Khamudi begin making their way towards the center of the chaos in hopes of finding Seqenenre.

Seqenenre feels a hand on his shoulder and awakens. He’s dragged along the ground and thrown into a spot between a pile of body parts. He attempts to stand, but he’s unable to maintain his balance and stumbles back to the ground. He feels a sharp dagger slice his neck and reaches to cover his wound. He feels a kick to his ribs that forces him to drop his hand to the ground. One of the friends of Khamudi grabs him by his shoulders and sits Seqenenre on his knees.

Reaching behind his back, the other friend of Khamudi reveals a bronze battle axe to Seqenenre. “I was instructed to make sure you can see this axe, Seqenenre. Can you see it?”

Seqenenre nods his head in acknowledgement. He remembers back to when he had the axe commissioned for his wife, Ahhotep, He remembers the joy she expressed when he acknowledged her and thanked her for her support of his military campaigns into Nubia and Cush.

“The owner of this axe paid for my services, Seqenenre. She told me to make sure you knew.” The friend of Khamudi says as he then takes his swing. The axe becomes stuck in Seqenenre’s forehead and the hulking man struggles to remove it. He kicks Seqenenre’s lifeless body away from the axe and a large chunk of his skull remains stuck to the head of the axe. “A souvenir,” he smiles to his fellow friend of Khamudi.

Seqenenre drops to the ground, his brain visible from the massive axe wound to his forehead. The two friends of Khamudi walk back through the fighting still taking place in the back ranks.

#

Moses awakens to a tapping on his foot. He can tell he’s pinned between a couple of dead soldiers and his mule. He can barely breathe with the crushing weight of his mule on top of him, but a rock is supporting just enough of the weight of the mule to prevent him from suffocating. He feels the tapping on his foot again and can hear a muffled voice calling his name. He closes his eyes and goes unconscious again.

“Moses!”

Moses slowly opens his eyes and blinks for a moment.

“Moses! You are alive!” Miriam cries as she holds his weak body in her arms. Somehow, Moses has not a single scratch on his body. He’s covered in dirt but no wounds other than his throbbing head.

“Sister, where is Seqenenre?” Moses coughs out the only question he can think of.

“It’s not good, brother.“

Moses attempts to lift himself up but doesn’t have the strength. He collapses back into Miriam’s arms and begins to weep. Just as Moses begins to cry a violent storm begins to pour down rain in the valley and Moses weeps ever stronger at the loss of his Egyptian brother.

Once the rain storm clears, Miriam and Moses walk to the location where Seqenenre’s body lies half buried in the ground. Moses again weeps at the sight of his fallen Egyptian brother. He digs out Seqenenre and lifts his lifeless corpse and carries him over his shoulder as the three of them continue to make their way to the final stronghold before Thebes.

When they arrive at the stronghold, Moses and Miriam perform mummification rites for Seqenenre as best as they can with the limited materials they have available at the site. Moses again weeps for his fallen Egyptian brother.

Loyalty

Moses seemingly glides along the path atop his mule while his second lieutenant’s mule bounces uneasily as they make their way through the narrow valley. One third of his troops in front of them, one third behind, and the remaining third split atop the ridges to ensure safe passage below and provide lookout.

“Moses, what’s your plan?” His lieutenant asks.

“This should be an easy victory, my friend. These Zephon raiders have become more brazen this season. It means they are growing in number. We’ll deal with these raiders and then ask Apepi to pair with Seqenenre to eliminate the threat for the coming generations.” Moses replies.

With a slight chuckle, his lieutenant responds, “No, Moses. I mean, what’s your plan with Tharbis? You marry the most beautiful woman in all of Cush and bring peace for all the lands? Is that the plan?”

Moses solemnly stares at his lieutenant, “You don’t like that plan?”

There’s an awkward pause as the lieutenant cannot determine if Moses is joking or not. The sound of the mule hooves and troops steps are deafening. Then Moses lets out an enormous laugh that echos through the canyon!

“My plan, my friend, is to go off and enjoy the rest of my life in peace and harmony. Let the Egyptians do their thing. Let the Hyksos do their thing. Let the Cushites do their thing. And let our people do ours. We’re at a crossroads of monumental peace between all our people. That’s my plan.” Moses gleamingly smiles towards the heavens.

A commotion begins to stir among the troops ahead of the men. A small cloud of dust is seen off in the distance by the troops on the ridge, and they signal down to Moses. A messenger is coming on horseback.

#

Moses has ascended the ridge with his lieutenant, and they are watching the small dust cloud far off in the distance. They notice a dark cloud of ash beginning to rise even further off in the distance beyond the next range of hills where the messenger is riding from. Followed by a second and third cloud of ash. All three are shortly snuffed out.

“Bring out the merechayin,” Moses commands.

His lieutenant ushers over a group of men carrying a large wooden crate that they set before Moses. Four of them open the lid of the crate and gently place the lid upside down on the ground and level it. They remove the poles they were using to carry the crate to set them into each of the corners of the lid. Another four remove the merechayin from the crate while the original four lift a rounded out wood structure from the crate and fit it to the four poles attached to the upside down lid. The merechayin is placed on top of the rounded out wood structure.

Moses is holding his wrist while the assembly is taking place. “Either my heart is beating slower, or your team is getting faster. Great job, men!” He smiles and the entire team is filled with great appreciation.

Moses stands atop the wooden platform, and the men slide it along the dirt as he gives commands to adjust the platform while looking through the merechayin. He steps down from the platform and motions to his lieutenant, “Five and eight.”

The lieutenant stands atop the wooden platform and performs the same commands as Moses. “Yes, Moses.”

While Moses and his lieutenant have been looking through the merechayin, the eight men who assembled the apparatus have also setup a sun dial to measure the time and a scribe writes down five and eight on a scroll of papyrus.

“Send the Darom ahead with clear instructions to stand down under all circumstances,” Moses commands. “And half Maarav to follow my lead.”

“Yes, sir.” The lieutenant answers. “And the rest?”

“Flank.” Moses commands.

#

Moses arrives with the half Maarav contingent at the camp setup by the Darom contingent who has setup a stronghold on the ridge overlooking a small city that’s under siege. The horseback rider, Meaachad, has met up with Moses along the path and briefed him on the siege taking place that’s been underway for 4 days. The walls are expected to be breached at sunrise.

Moses sits down with Miriam in a goat-skin tent that’s beaming with light inside as Meaachad draws on the ground the map of the town and the siege ramps being built against its walls. Meaachad reminds them of the number of troops at each post as well as the second contingent their spies have determined are on the far side of the hill just north of the town. Moses looks on with skepticism as Meaachad continues to explain the details the spies had relayed to him before he left to seek help.

“You say, these men are wearing Amalekite garb?” Miriam asks.

“Yes, my lord.” Meaachad responds confidently. “I have seen them with my own eyes.”

“These siege patterns are not the patterns of Amalek,” Moses asserts.

Miriam asks Meaachad to leave the tent. “Moses,” she begins, waiting for Meaachad to be ushered away from the tent. “These are our siege plans.”

“I know, sister. I would not expect this from Amalek. We have been at peace with them for generations. If they were in need, Amalek would come to Apepi as he has in the past and ask for grain and substance.” He turns to Miriam as the two look at each other in deep contemplation. “Do you think the conspirators are making their move?”

“There have been no signals, and they are much too cunning for something simple like this.” She responds.

“There is a third party?” Moses asks.

“There is always a third party, brother. And a fourth and so on.”

“So, we just sacrifice this city?” Moses says in anger.

“The flanks won’t reach their positions until the following day. The walls will be breached tomorrow.”

“I won’t let this happen!” Moses clenches his fists in anger.

“It is too early to intervene.” Miriam warns. “And we don’t know the numbers on the other side of the hill.”

“We can take those men too!” Moses shouts.

“At what cost, brother?” Miriam understands Moses’ anguish. “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Our losses will be catastrophic to defend this town without the flanks. You know that. Has your dreams of your Cushitic bride clouded your vision?”

“That is uncalled for, sister. She has nothing to do with this.” Moses snaps back. “And for the record, she will never cloud my judgement or make me soft in my dealings on the battlefield.”

“She merely softens your heart?” Miriam says sarcastically.

Moses smiles his overwhelmingly handsome smile, which disgusts Miriam. “That’s a poetic way to put it, sister!”

#

The morning of the siege breach arises. The roosters of the town are crowing, unaware of the pending doom about to befall the people of the city. The raiders begin their fires at four points around the city and pile on timber to grow the flames.

As Moses’s contingent on the mountain watch, he reasserts that they are to stand down no matter what and must watch on to see the brutality of their enemy. Some of the men in the ranks are visibly upset and are uttering against Moses. Suddenly, one of them breaks ranks and begins running down the hill towards the city.

“Stop him!” Moses shouts.

“He is too fast! Not even a messenger can catch him. He is too light of feet.” One of the soldiers says.

Moses turns to one of the archers. “Shoot him down!”

The archer and the surrounding men stand in disbelief at Moses’ command. “I cannot, sir. He is too fast.”

Just as he finishes speaking, a young soldier grabs his bow and an arrow, steadily takes aim and shoots down the soldier running down the hill. He turns to Moses and stares him in the eyes without saying a word. Then he turns to the archer and throws his bow back into his arms. The men look on, stunned as the young soldier walks away.

Moses looks back down the hill at the fallen solider who is still alive but has an arrow threw his right heel and can no longer run. He turns back to the soldier walking away, “Either your aim is incredible or you are a terrible shot and got lucky!” He shouts.

Not turning around, he replies, “I have terrible aim. I was aiming for his left heel.”

Moses looks back down the hill at the soldier grasping his right heel as he snaps the arrow and removes it from his leg. The soldier picks up a pile of dirt from the ground and pours it over his head and weeps.

Turning back to see the young soldier return to his rank, Moses asks, “What’s your name?”

“Sir, Caleb, Sir!”

Moses hears the soldier next to the archer utter, “A dog.” The two chuckle as Moses looks at them sternly.

“Yes, loyal. Faithful. Honorable.” Moses says to them.

“Obedient.” The archer says as Moses begins to walk away.

Moses pauses and turns back to the archer. He growls, “If you ever disobey me in front of these men again, I’ll hack your head off myself and roll it down this hill.”

#

The gates of the city are burning. A handful of archers and their assistants position themselves atop internal watch towers and await for the breach. The raiders stand just out of shot of the archers, as they begin to hoot and chant. The sounds can be heard atop the mountain by Moses’ men as they begin to grow increasingly enraged.

“Channel that anger, my brothers!” Moses shouts! “Feel that rage grow inside you just as the flames are growing against the gates of our beloved city below! Pull that anger inside you and prepare for battle. We will unleash our wrath upon these men when the moment is right. They will reap what they sow when our time is right!”

The contingent from beyond the other side of the far hill begins to march towards the city. It’s massive! More than ten times what Meaachad had estimated. Miriam stands next to Caleb, who was promoted to Moses’ assistant in the morning. She looks at Moses as the two silently confirm they made the right decision to not intervene against the siege.

The men of Moses watch as the massive fleet descends upon the city. Moses walks over to the soldier shot through the heel by Caleb and pulls him up against him, relieving the soldier who was helping prop him up so he could watch the siege unfold.

“I am sorry, Moses.” He says with tears streaming down his face.

“Your heart was in the right place, Jaleel.” Moses pulls the soldier in tightly. “I’m sorry I failed you as a leader. That you did not have enough faith in me to understand my plan. I promise you, these men will receive revenge two fold.”

The city gates crumble under the fire. The raiders begin to hail down arrows upon the towers containing the archers as they send men through the gates. The massive contingent from beyond the far hill begin running towards the city as quickly as possible as the defenses of the city walls topple. Crying, yelling, and wailing is heard atop the mountain where Moses’ men watch on boiling over with rage.

Moses is sitting in the tent with Miriam and Caleb, discussing the patterns of the siege and the raiders that they have witnessed so far. Moses orders Caleb to separate the soldiers according to genealogy in each of their ranks.

“Miriam, I have a suspicion that there is dissension against us.” Moses says softly.

“The folly Caleb handled earlier was an omen?” Miriam smiles.

Moses ponders deeply and runs through the events in his mind and the reactions of the soldiers. “Miriam, where did Caleb come from?”

“He’s the son of Yefuneh. From Judah.” She replies with a puzzled look on her face. “You suspect Caleb?”

“No, sister. And also no,” Moses replies. “How did Caleb end up in this contingent? According to my reckoning, he should be with the Shamalla.”

“Brother, I’m not sure you should be having these mental problems at such a young age,” Miriam chuckles. “Is there some sort of trouble?”

“No, sister. And also no,” Moses replies. “My mind is as clear as the evening sky. Despite this day of tragedy, Our Creator is smiling down upon us this evening. I’m going down in the day break with our brothers in arms. I want you to stay here with the foreign soldiers. If our prophecy is correct…” Moses pauses and looks to Miriam’s soul through her eyes.

Miriam nods.

#

There’s a sudden flash of light against the tent. Then another, coming from the different direction. The flashes repeat three times.

Miriam is holding a large bronze mirror as she comes running to Moses. “The flanks are ready, brother!” She yells, almost in song.

“You heard our sister, my brothers!” Moses raises his arms. “May no mercy be felled upon any of our adversaries this day. Not one prisoner shall be taken, my brothers. Not one!” Moses rallies his men and sends them down the mountain.

Six men remain with Miriam at the top of the mountain along with Caleb. Moses turns to them and says, “May we pray that we not need you on the battlefield today, soldiers. But if it is called for you to join, Miriam will do as accordingly to plan.”

Moses mounts his mule and heads down the hill as Caleb and Miriam take distant positions from the six foreign soldiers who watch the flanks begin to close in on the smoldering, sacked city. Moses’ contingent from atop the hill converge like a wave on the city.

The raiders, drunken from their spoil from the invasion, are easily overcome by the flanks and Moses’ men. Meaachad signals to Moses that the leader of the raiders is attempting an escape through one of the breaches in the wall. Moses quickly rides his mule with a handful of horse mounted soldiers in the direction of the breach. They take up position against the enemy and single out the leader.

The leader stands defiantly in front of Moses wearing his armor helmet and mask.

“Remove your mask, so I may see you face to face before I kill you!” Moses commands.

The leader says nothing and raises his sword to challenge Moses. The soldiers laugh. An archer raises his bow against the leader. Moses holds out his hand to stand down as he dismounts his mule.

Smiling, Moses unsheathes his sword. “You’re not from Amalek.” Moses says as he takes up an attack position against the leader.

The leader nods.

Moses begins a sequence of sword moves, attacking the leader. All of which are defended by his opponent with ease! Moses’ soldiers look on in amazement as they’ve never seen anyone defend themselves so well and for so long against Moses.

Moses can sense the leader is a greater combatant than he initially thought. He’s well trained. Perhaps even better trained than he, Moses thinks to himself. Moses continues with another onslaught of maneuvering and attacks, each defended against easily by the leader. Then the leader makes an attack against Moses! It’s furious and treacherous, nearly getting the best of Moses were it not for a rock that causes the leader to stumble and miss Moses with what would have been a fatal stab to the heart.

The soldiers look on in amazement and prepare to attack the leader if he bests Moses. Moses has a vision of when he was younger and in military training and sparing against others in the royal guard. He begins anew against the leader with different tactics. A flurry of moves and the leader is slashed on his arm opposite his sword.

Moses switches his sword to his other hand and begins another onslaught of moves against the leader. The soldiers of Moses look on in amazement as he maneuvers even more skillfully with sword in opposite hand than with his normal hand. He artfully slices wounds in the leader’s body, slowly and painfully weakening him until the leader collapses on to his knees and falls to his left side.

Moses slashed the leader’s arm holding his sword and he drops his sword. With the leader completely defenseless, Moses kicks the sword away and tosses his own sword away. He sits down behind the defeated leader and removes his helmet and mask.

The soldiers gasp!

Moses begins to weep as he holds the leader’s weak body in his arms, “Seqenenre, why did you do this, my brother?”

The Royal Wedding

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

No greater vows had ever been spoken before this day. Some say no greater vows will ever be spoken. Vows so great, this writing dare not contain them! The vows just witnessed by hundreds from all walks of life are so powerful, so moving; of such divine inspiration, that as Moses completes his vows a single tear drops from his left eye! As he gazes upon the face of his soon to be wife, tears stream down her face as she has never heard such beautiful words, nay… poetry, nay… music, in her entire life as princess.

But it’s Moses’ single tear that moves her to break down sobbing. This rugged man, a true man’s man, endowed as much in spirit as physical prowess and mental acuity, has shown her why she fell in love with him in the first place. Not only has she chosen the most handsome, courageous man she has ever known, he’s a poetic master and genuine gentleman. She has chosen wisely! She gathers her composure as she looks longingly into his magnetic eyes; His own strength being so powerful that he elevates her in spirit to begin her vows.

“Moses,” she begins, “from the first time I saw you, I knew this was true love.” Moses smiles, and her heart briefly stops. A smile that inspires all who gaze upon it to enjoy their own lives that much more. A smile that lifts up all who gaze upon it to a higher plane of existence. A smile that she remembers from that fateful day she first gazed upon her now to be husband.

She continues, “I believe it was shortly after our special forces had made their way through your surrounding defense line. While you had directed your men and orchestrated a masterful siege insurgency of this beautiful city, we thought for sure that our special forces had the upper hand against you. It was our two finest remaining special forces against one, with no immediate escape available to you.”

She looks down and wipes the tears from her eyes before continuing. “I have never seen such beautiful sword wielding in my entire life. Watching our two finest warriors attempt an assault on you was like watching my young nephew swing his club wildly in training. It was as if, for a moment, all of time stood still except you. You carved through our two finest warriors like a banquet feast. The way you danced effortlessly around both of our soon fallen…”

She pauses to catch her breath. “Much like the breath was taken from my cousins that day, I am left breathless just looking upon you. As I watched you from on high, atop this fortress wall, your sword and armor glistening with the blood of my fallen cousins, I knew this was a special moment. I had never seen anything of such beauty.”

She looks over at each of the men standing with Moses in the bridegroom’s party. “I knew at that moment as I stared down at you and Nun, who arrived just as you finished off the last of our special forces…” She looks back to Moses, “I knew that I must give myself to you. I knew that I must become your wife. For what would be my life, if it is not to be honored for eternity as your wife? I turned to my father and asked him to please call off the next wave of soldiers so that our peoples can make peace and you and I may join ourselves together as one, witnessed by both our great nations.”

While seemingly impossible, Moses smiles an even bigger, more radiant smile than ever before. It is said that some where blinded for this brief moment and the glean was seen throughout the whole land of Cush. The princess continues, “I know that at times I have not always seen eye to eye with your brother and sister.” She turns to face Moses’ sister standing behind her as her bridesmaid, “But I promise to always love and support you and your family.”

Turning to all the witnesses, “I promise on my father’s name that you will always be the lord of my heart and the guardian of my soul. Just as I admired you from my tower on high, my heart is solely devoted to you and only you for all eternity!”

Cheering erupts from the princess’ side of the wedding witnesses. The priest completes the ceremony, and Moses and his princess walk down the aisle to cheers from both sides and mandrake flowers being thrown at them from every direction.

#

The reception is a boisterous, jovial event. A wedding reception unlike any seen before! Moses and Tharbis make their way from family to family, receiving praise for their matrimony and thanking their family members who attended from all the lands, near and far. Moses’ relatives trekked from lands so far, they were not even on maps of the day.

Moses embraces his uncle Izhar who is enthusiastic to introduce him to his newborn son, Nepheg. Holding Nepheg in his arms, Izhar hands him over the Moses. “Say hello to your cousin, Moses.”

“He is to become a handsome young man, my dear uncle.” Moses smiles as he embraces his newborn cousin. “Where is Korah?”

Izhar calls to Korah who comes running over to Moses and reaches as high as he can to give Moses a big hug around his waist. “Cousin, Moses, when I grow up, I want to be just like you and conquer the great nations and lead our people and marry a beautiful princes.”

“Now, Korah, let the new bridegroom have his space and allow him to continue on to meeting with other families,” Izhar says as he pulls Korah away from Moses.

Moses gently hands Nepheg back to Izhar and kneels down to eye level with young Korah. He holds Korah’s head in his hands as if Korah is his own son. Speaking to him, he says lovingly yet firmly, “My dear cousin, I am thankful that you look up to me, and I admire your enthusiasm. But you must promise me that you will follow after your father. Learn all the ways of his many successful businesses. My life is not the life for you. Promise me that you will follow after your father and not chose my path.”

Korah looks down, dejected.

Moses gently lifts his cousins chin, “Korah, I love you dearly. I love your father dearly. Promise me you will follow after your father.”

Korah smiles, “I love you too, Moses. I promise I’ll be the most successful businessman you’ll ever know.”

“Of that, I have no doubt, young man!” Moses says as he stands back up to face Izhar.

“Thank you, nephew. Thank you very much for helping set him straight.” Izhar says to Moses with a big smile.

“We are family for all generations, each with our lot. Shalom!” Moses cheers!

As if everyone attending had focused entirely on the words of Moses and the music had stopped so that everyone could hear, “Shalom!” shouted the party!

Onward to Hebron, then Shedur, then Zuar, Gideoni, Deuel, Enam, and the rest of the tribes and their descendants. Moses and Tharbis make their way through Tharbis’ family as well. The joy of each family is felt with every embrace.

Moses embraces his father who kisses him. “I wish she had sent a representative to see this day, father.” Moses says quietly in his father’s ear.

“Don’t be a child, Moses,” Amram says to Moses as he embraces him with all the love of a just and righteous father. “You know that is not possible. Enjoy this blessed day and pay no heed to what troubles your mind.” He steps back from Moses and gives him a stern look. “I saw you speaking with the piece of shih’et son of Jachin. I dare not mention his name, lest I am shih’et myself.”

“Yes, father, I was speaking with…” Moses starts.

“Don’t say it, son. Don’t mention the son of Jachin!”

Moses smiles and places his hands on both of Amram’s shoulders, “I love you father. I will honor your wishes, but you must allow me to honor Jachin and his sons.”

Amram nods and sends Moses off to visit with the rest of the attendees of his wedding. It is as if all the nations of earth have gathered for this occasion. The festivities continue through the night and to dawn. A celebration of unity unlike any seen before.

#

As the sun begins to rise, Moses and an exhausted Tharbis stand at the top of the same tower where she had fallen deeply in love with Moses. They look longingly into each others’ eyes and are about to kiss just as there’s a commotion.

“Moses! Moses!” a messenger shouts from the base of the tower.

“What is it, young man?”

“Moses, you are needed immediately. We have received unnerving word from home! Please come immediately!”

Moses kisses Tharbis and holds her face with his palms, “My beautiful bride, I assure you that I will return in one degree of a sundial.”

Moses makes his way down the tower steps and sees a great commotion with his top advisers waiting for him. “What is this commotion?” Moses demands.

“Sir, several upper towns have been seized by a growing band of marauders and two messengers have confirmed marauders speaking Qis is next, within the new moon.”

Moses pauses for a moment as all his advisers hinge on his words… “Let Tzav send word to Seqenenre that I am returning from Cush. Call half the commanders to service immediately. The other half shall remain here to assist my wife and her family with whatever tasks her nation requires.”

The advisers head off, each knowing what they are to do. Moses holds back young Nun. “You are not to come with me, Nun.”

“These thieves are going after our homes!” Nun exclaims defiantly.

“And who are these thieves, my young friend? I know them well, but do you?” Moses replies. “Stay here with your wife and tend to my bride and the Cushite people. Setup the networks we have discussed. I will send you a messenger upon completion of my mission, Tsephon. This is not an adventure you can take part in, and you cannot convince me otherwise. I need your brains and your youthful energy here.”

The veins along Nun’s jaw bulge as he clenches his jaw, “I understand,” he growls.

“You are my most trusted adviser, Nun.” Moses smiles and lightly smacks Nun’s face, “As beloved to me as Aaron or Mariam.”

Moses returns to the tower to face Tharbis. His face turned down, Moses approaches his new bride who embraces him with all her love. She watches as Moses’ troops are assembling outside her fortress.

“I am truly sorry for the timing. I will return, my dear,” Moses says with tears welling in his eyes.

Tharbis hands Moses a gold ring matching a bracelet she is wearing. “I believe your God is calling you for your glorious destiny, my love. You will forever have my support and all of my love. My heart will be with you everywhere you journey.”

“This is a simple mission, my dear Tharbis. I will wipe out these marauders and return within a phase of the moon.” He hands her a rolled papyrus. “I have written you a poem that you mustn’t read until I have left your land. I am also leaving behind my most trusted adviser, Nun, along with half my men to help you and your nation rebuild.”

With those words, Moses kisses Tharbis and they embrace. “You must go, Moses,” Tharbis says as she pulls back from his loving embrace. He begins to walk away, holding her hand until his arm is outstretched still. As their fingertips slip passed each other the heavy sound of tens of thousands of soldiers marching begins to shake the walls of the tower.