Sarkur the Stonemaker lay beneath Egypt’s stars, looking deep into the sky as though reading the story of his own life.
As a young child, his mother would walk him to the cliff-edge, where the stars were brightest, and point out the patterns in the sky. For each, she would tell him the tales handed down by the people of the land, tales of humour, adventure and what he would later know as wisdom. Then there were secret tales, too – tales of her own with which she would embellish the traditional stories, providing a newer narrative on the popular exploits of the Gods, as though seen from a different and hidden perspective. “Always look for the other side, Sarkur” she had said to him, putting him to bed and stroking his forehead while sleep claimed his young body. “Every tale has two faces… the wise man makes a friend of the second and doubles his world.”
He had never forgotten that moment–nor the warmth and humility of the woman who raised him. Now, as he stared up at the masterwork of Nut’s glory, he wondered, once again, why this remote tower could be of such importance to the young Rameses?
Mareuka and his team were sleeping far below, in the moon-shadow of the stone finger. Within the last few hours, fired up by the foreman’s example, they had done the work of a full day, toiling with a fury that belied their tiredness after the earlier march from the great river.
Now they slept.
The narrow, central spiral stairway that connected the ground with the sky-platform was, by now, a hated place–a nightmare of twisting, up which they had to haul themselves and much of their materials. No-one had elected to join Sarkur when he announced he wanted to sleep high under the stars.
Nestled in his solitary tiredness, he smiled at that… he hadn’t wanted anyone with him, anyway, but, unusually for someone of his authority, felt he should ask…