IT HAD BEEN A WEEK since the pharaoh’s chariot accident. Tut was well enough to sit up and take broth and sip a glass of wine that contained powdered eggshells, which the physician believed would help heal the shell of Tut’s head.
But for the most part Tut slept, his every toss and turn watched by Tuya and the queen. The two women took turns attending him. Ankhesenpaaten had decided that they would be the ones to nurse him back to health.
Ankhe dabbed his forehead with a cool cloth, then bent down to tenderly kiss him. He had spoken a few words to her earlier, but she knew he wasn’t safe yet.
The wounds would heal eventually, but his infections could worsen. She had seen this happen many times with the sick.
She kissed him again and then whispered, “I forgive you.” She believed that she did. Tut had been unfaithful but for the good of Egypt and only as a last resort. Most important, it had been her idea.
The queen stood up and smoothed her dress, leaving Tut to sleep.
Now Tut lay alone in the darkness, breathing softly. She had left the white cloth on his forehead, but otherwise his skull was uncovered. Was he healing? the queen wondered.
It was well past dark as she made her way back to her side of the palace. She was drowsy after a long day caring for the ailing pharaoh.
Suddenly, a sound echoed down the hallway. “Who’s there?” she asked. “I heard someone.”
There was no answer, so the queen continued to her room.
A moment after she passed, a bulky figure stepped out from behind one of several stone statues that decorated the hall. Quickly, quietly, the man went into Tut’s room and hurried toward the pharaoh’s bed.
In his hand, a two-foot-long club. In his heart, murder.