ANKHESENPAATEN STAGGERED into the throne room holding her bulging belly in both hands. She was six months into her second pregnancy.
Each morning she had said a quiet prayer to Amun that this time he would let the baby live. Those prayers had been answered so far, but now something was happening, something new that had her terrified.
“Tut,” she whispered from the doorway. “Tut, please.”
Tut’s advisers stood in a semicircle before his throne, midway through their morning discussion about an upcoming invasion of Nubia. The pharaoh wore just a royal kilt and a decorative collar, for it was summer in Thebes, and at midmorning the temperature was already stifling. When Tut had decided to move the capital back to Thebes, he had not anticipated such extremes of weather.
At the sound of Ankhesenpaaten’s voice his head turned toward the doorway. Then he walked quickly to his queen, not caring that his advisers might disapprove.
“What is it, Ankhe?” he asked. After he had returned from war, the two of them had become closer than ever.
“Tut, I can’t feel anything.”
Tut glanced back at his advisers, who were trying—and failing—to somehow pretend that they weren’t smug about the conversation.
“I’m sure the baby is just sleeping,” Tut said in a low voice.
Ankhesenpaaten shook her head. “It’s been a whole day. Usually he moves inside me all the time. Here,” she said, taking Tut’s hand and placing it against the curve of her abdomen. “Feel that?”
Tut nodded. “That’s his foot,” she told him. “He normally kicks all the time, but that foot hasn’t moved today.”
She suddenly gasped in pain and crumpled to the floor. The advisers rushed to the pharaoh and his queen.
“Guard!” Aye yelled. “Send for the royal physician.”