He was born on the shores of the Kimituru, the river that was the lifeblood of Amratia and Kerma, the only son of a fisherman. His mother bore other children but disease and the harsh life along the river had taken them. He never met his siblings. He was the last to be born, and the only to survive.
Like his father, he had bronze skin, dark hair, and dark eyes.
He was raised to be a fisherman but knew he wanted to be something else – something more. One day, while working waist-deep in the silt and water with his father to repair the fish traps made of reeds that grew along the length of the vast river, the young boy’s light was blocked by a vast shadow. He looked up to see what could be massive enough to block the light of Ra and was amazed to see it was a boat. The boy had seen boats before, of course, but nothing close to the size of the reed and wood behemoth that drifted down the river that day.
It was long, longer than even the largest house the boy knew of, that of the Priest Rachim and his family. It had graceful curves and the wooden hull was painted in brilliant blues and yellows. Atop the deck stood several dark servants, most likely Kerman from their ebon skin, some with poles in hand, some with hands on bronze sickle swords. The prow was decorated with a figurehead in the shape of a falcon – an homage to the God Horus. Astern a large man with bulging muscles that gleamed of sweat held the tiller.
In the center of the vessel was a long covered area. It was sheathed in silk curtains blowing in the wind. Behind the curtains the boy could see a man, a woman, and several children lounging on pillows. They were garbed in beautiful jewelry and clothing. They wore makeup on their faces and perfectly constructed wigs sat next to them, royal headgear for their smoothly shaven scalps.
“Father, look!” The boy shouted. Several of the armed guards turned towards him with a scowl.
“Ammon, foolish boy, kneel!” His father replied.
Ammon turned to see his father kneeling in the river, his forehead almost touching the brown water. Ammon dropped to his knees as well but was unable to lower his head as the water came to his chin. Instead he closed his eyes.
“Who is that, father?” He whispered.
“That is the Pharaoh,” his father replied through clenched teeth, “now be quiet until he passes.”
For days after all the boy could talk about was the amazing boat and the beautiful people within.
“Someday,” he told his parents at dinner, “I want to be on a boat like that.”
“That cannot happen, my son.” his father replied curtly.
“You are Ammon, the son of a fisherman. You were born to be a fisherman. That barge was for the Royal Family, the Pharaoh, who is the son of Gods. We can never be like them, for we are but men.”
Two years later, during one of the spring floods of the Kimituru, Ammon’s parents were washed away. The young man was able to climb aboard their reed boat but failed to save his family. He rode the raging river to its delta and spent several days in mourning on the outskirts of a strange city. Nobody seemed to notice the young man, alone.
Eventually hunger drew the boy out of his boat. He used the lessons his father had taught him to catch some fish and fry them. After eating he decided it was time to find out where he was.
After living for several months on the streets of the port city he was taken in by a kindly priest of Thoth. The priest apprenticed the boy, Ammon, and gave him a new name to reflect his new life. He became Adon. Ammon meant “the unseen” in the Amratian language. Adon had no meaning – it was a new word to reflect a new life.
At last Adon had a measure of what he had dreamt of. The priests of Thoth lived in relative luxury; dressed in fine clothing and beautiful jewelry. They dedicated their lives to learning and recording history. It was both a blessing and a curse for the boy: he learned to read and write all the known languages, he learned much of the history of the known world – his mind was like a sponge. He tackled knew knowledge with a ferocity that stunned the priests. Thoth was the God of Wisdom who taught the people writing and extolled the virtues of knowledge. The priests saw the boy as a blessing from Thoth – a child destined for greatness within their ranks.
And to greatness he aspired. Adon the young man never lost the desire of the young boy. The priests expected him to become a High Priest of their order. But for Adon that would not be enough. A High Priest of Thoth would spend much of his time in dusty rooms, reading dusty scrolls, and be at the call of Pharaoh. Adon wanted to be seen by others. He wanted others to be in awe of his position, not just his knowledge.
When he learned from traders that King Ubaru of Urnamu was seeking a Vizier to act as his counsel and to tutor the Crown Prince, the young man begged his superiors to let him seek the position. At first they refused and tried to convince him to stay, promising that he would some day serve Thoth as High Priest. But Adon was adamant. In the end the priests relented, even writing a letter that extolled his knowledge and abilities, before sending him to Nun-Ki.
In the beginning the job of Vizier was everything the young man wanted. He carried a gleaming scepter of office that identified to all that he was the voice of the King. His robes of office were made of purple silk trimmed with actual gold lace. Every morning servants would massage olive oil into his skin, keeping it soft and shiny in the desert heat. He kept his head shorn smooth, wore dark eye liner, and dyed his lips – in the style of the Pharaohs. When supplicants arrived at the palace they saw Adon the Vizier before the King would receive them.
Tending to the education of a spoiled brat and being servant to the King soon dampened the joy of his position. Once again Adon found himself wanting more. He wanted the world to remember his name. Nobody would know of Ammon, the son of a fisherman. But someday, he thought, apprentices in the temples of Thoth would read of Adon – who rose to greatness.