Year 26, third month of the Season of Waters, day 7, the god mounted to his horizon, the king went aloft to heaven and united with the sun, the limb of the god being merged in him who made him; whilst the Residence was hushed, hearts were in mourning, the Great Gates were closed, the courtiers crouched head on lap, and the nobles grieved.
The king was dead. The Holy, Eternal, Lord of Shemu and Temehu the Twin Lands, Wearer of the Double Crown, Gift of the River Yor-Hapi; worshipped in life as Har-Sem-Taui the Unifier and now in death to be worshipped as Us-Yri the Beautiful.
With reverence awesome to behold the king was taken by the shaven-headed priests and laid in the prepared chamber in the temple, the home of the gods whose company he would soon join. Amid deep-chanted prayers and incantations the body of the king was opened and the perishable organs removed-save only the heart-and placed in special funerary jars. The cavity left in the king’s body was filled with spices and preservatives, sewn shut again stitch by sacred stitch; and then the body was carefully covered with natron, white and crystalline, for forty days and forty nights.
When this waiting time was accomplished, the priests began to wrap the body with strips of cloth impregnated with aromatic resins. Day and night they worked in the orange light of the scented torches; day and night, hour by hour, each careful turn of cloth taking long slow minutes to accomplish as each was followed by a pause for the solemn chanting of prayers. Into the cloth they bound also jewels, amulets, and finger-sized scrolls of sacred words. On the sixty-ninth day they placed the enshrouded body of the king into three nested coffins, one of cypress and two of gold; all of them carved and shaped into the likeness of the king.
The priests marched in solemn file under the cloudless blue sky, abode of the gods; their golden robes resplendent in the sun. Lesser priests bearing ornamental fans, peacock feathers, and palm branches followed them. The nested coffins of the king, cypress outermost, were borne by a phalanx of slaves. In turn, more slaves burdened with statues of the king and his gods followed these. Behind these slaves came in full panoply the king’s successor and his family, and at the last was the remainder of the priests. The whole array from beginning to end was flanked by choirs praising the king and intoning prayers to speed him on his journey through the underworld.
Fully two and a half miles long, the procession wound down from the Royal City and made its way slowly and solemnly into the desert until it reached the cliff top entrance to the king’s tomb. Here in solid rock he would sleep for eternity.
The entrance to the tomb was covered by a low temple building and here the procession halted. From this point only the slaves bearing the coffins, and the highest of the priests, would accompany the king on his final journey; for only a few could be permitted to know the hidden way into the tomb from the temple above it, or the secret within the tomb itself-the secret that would protect the person of the king from the depredations of tomb-robbers and looters. The priests led the slaves into the small temple, and through the hidden door that led to a stairway cut downwards into the living rock. They passed by rooms filled with chests of gold and treasure, rich articles from the king’s household, and an entire river-barge that had been the king’s favourite, reassembled here piece by piece. The slaves keened in mourning, and well they should: they would afterwards be slain to prevent them from revealing the secrets of the tomb’s construction.
The way was not easy, nor was it meant to be; and it was nigh on an hour before the coffins were placed in the stone sarcophagus in the deep burial chamber. And when all was arranged in the tomb, the massive stone lid was lowered onto the sarcophagus. As it descended, the highest of all the priests intoned a final invocation in the ancient language of that dreaming and sun-baked land, a prayer inscribed and bright-painted on the foot of the sarcophagus itself. "Perey yestiref, yey ansu wesir-tu..."
Go now, O Mighty King, on thy final journey. And if in time to come thy tomb be despoiled, or thy eternal body desecrated, then shalt thou arise to set all things to rights. And when the full moon shines upon thy desecration, then shalt thou take thy revenge on they that despoiled thee, and seek thy eternal rest. And Horus shalt be with thee.
"...Heru yuweh-t mehetek." The stone lid clanged into place, and all was silent. The silence lasted for a long, long time, and the king slept peaceful beneath the shifting sands.