And yet the boy-king, despite his childhood among warriors and battlefield blood, did not seem to be hardened. To those who watched him closely, he had not grown into a warrior’s mind and body. Unlike his father and grandfather, who had fallen sick so quickly, Shi-shi’s body was strong and tall, half a head taller than average. And his stamina let him hunt from dawn to dusk when he chose to foray into the wilderness.
But many a priest, soldier and administrator worried that he was too distracted, too obsessed with the forbidden game, Mehen, the Enveloper, the serpent. He played the game incessantly, first with his wasting father, later with this or that general. Sometimes even his mother, Sitre, or astute women of the harim.
"What sort of name is that?" asked the rare foreigner.
But none among the scribes and administrators, craftsmen or Nubian policemen or various priesthoods would answer. Rich women and common folk sometimes speculated that it signified his devotion to Isis, that he had taken the masculine, opposite form of her name, which would make him her earthly mate and avatar of Osiris. So lofty a self-image made choosing an ‘adult’ name a less-than-urgent matter. Nor did he seem anxious to be deified, and so that name remained vacant, too.
But his demeanor was reassuring. He seemed mature well beyond his years and the Crook and Flail was well and properly sized as part of his ceremonial attire. He looked a crown prince, at least, if not king. He was satisfied with the title "Lord" as it referred to his dominion over the Two Lands, Upper and Lower Qemt. His various crowns, when he wore them, displayed both the cowled serpent and sun-gold vulture emblems.
It was also true that certain domestic crises had been averted by the young king. For example, the outrage over debt forgiveness had been handled adroitly. Nomens, merchants, especially those who ran Sennet gambling houses, even priests had protested the gesture.
"It is too soon!" the basic argument asserted. "Your grandfather and only a few years later your father did the same! Now, you free the debtors, again! It is unfair to property and slave owners!"
They said this knowing full well that they prospered when their debt traps snared the many. The people did not prosper, nor the economy in general. Certainly the king’s treasury suffered, and that was why so many monarchs freed their economies of debt.
"It is a foreign idea!" Claimed another argument. "A Hatti notion."
Foreign ideas play key roles in this dramatic look at the real power behind thrones, that which writes the stories and create history and, more important, fashion mythologies. Mythologies last, with minor modifications, for thousands of years and doom those who follow them to re-enact every vile prophecy and every fierce monster, each generation of devotees expanding and improving the narrative. Heritage? Heresy? Heroism? Don't they all have the same beginning?