The heretic – a short story

The heretic is dead. That enemy of Akhetaten, the so called son of the Sun is no more. Whilst there was no wild cheering as such, his death wasn’t greeted in Thebes with universal mounting either. 

 The last two decades hadn’t been kind to the city noted by the poets as ‘Hundred Gated Thebes’. Once the sparkling jewel of the two lands and beyond,it’s hallowed streets once filled with the sounds of festivals now filled with the cries of starving children. It’s once great shrines now overgrown with weeds.

Merit was walking the hot dusty Theban streets, a man on a mission.

His mission was to find the hallowed statue of Amun Ra. Venerated for centuries in the great sanctuary of Karnak, once paraded to popular acclaim in his golden barque shrine, he was hidden to escape Akhenaten’s destructive purges.

He had learned his arcane trade in secret.It had been 5 years since this tall youth was shaven and begin his clandestine ministry to those still secretly devoted to the old gods. His temples were the cramped basements of the private homes where even the Aten couldn’t see.

Since the Heretic’s death, the shift away from the Aten had begun tentatively, but there was still doubt in the air. Would the boy king and those advising him make good on their promises and restore the old gods? Would they break away once and for all from Akhetaten?

As he entered through the towering portals of the temple, he wept. The sanctuary had been defiled. Any images of Amun that were once brightly painted were now scratched out. His name, be it on the walls or on the sky piercing obelisks, was obliterated. Even the name of the Heretic’s father wasn’t spared; no longer was he ‘Amenhotep beloved of Amun, Lord of Thebes’.

He was searching for hours and hours, raising paving slab after paving slab. Then he found it. The bright sunlight reflected off his gilded skin. Though a leg had snapped off during its hasty removal, the statue largely survived. In his hand, he held a small stela that portrayed the bizarre elongated features of the Heretic worshipping the Aten. This was the man who’s zealotry led to nearly two decades of oppression, who destroyed image after image. He would have to be careful, sacrilege against a god, even a flawed heretic like him carried a strong penalty.

Merit picked up a rock and pounded the image over and over again, until his image was indistinguishable. He recited a curse

‘May you not live forever, you who ruled without the divine order of ma-at. May your heart be devoured by the monster Ammut, Neferkheperure Akhenaten.’

But he wasn’t alone in the temple…

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