Amon-Uptra stood before the Nile staring into the water as it flowed past. Behind him towered the Great Temple of Abu Simbel. He could feel the eyes of the statues of Ramses on his back, stone though they were. Ramses claimed they allowed him to see into the hearts of all those who approached the Temple. He would judge those who approached even before he set eyes on them and the triad deities of Amon-Ra, Ptah and Ra-Harakhte would punish or bless the visitor as he requested. Amon-Uptra had no reason to doubt the earthly avatar of the Gods.
He fitfully shook some dust from his robes. Even after a year he was not used to the garb of a High Priest, a title that he had willingly accepted, even though he knew already of his fate. It had been twenty-four years since the visitors had last departed. Vanishing without a trace. He had never seen them, but remembered the joy of his parents upon their arrival. Every year since then Ramses turned to his High Priest and commanded him to call for their return. If the visitors did not answer the call the High Priest had failed in his duties, the punishment for failure was death. Amon-Uptra’s predecessors were of noble breed and learned men, but none had discovered how to call the visitors.
It was nearing the hour. Soon he would turn to the temple and before the eyes of his Pharaoh and the Gods he would attempt to beg the visitors to return – and he would fail. No man living knew anything of the visitors except Ramses – the only man he could not ask. The Great Library had revealed nothing, as well he knew it wouldn’t. He had spent the entire year searching every source for something that could help him, to no avail. He had made a record of his search so that his successor might have more luck somewhere else. He did not believe that they would.
He stared into the water for another minute, a small tear slowly falling to the banks of the river beneath his feet. He had heard of lands to the west where there were nothing but trees and green pastures for as far as the eye could see, where rain was plentiful and sometimes floated to the ground as ice. He would have liked to have seen that one day.
A shadow cast overhead awoke him from his thoughts. He wiped his eyes for a minute and turned. The four statues of Ramses stared balefully at him. He gathered his staff from the ground and slowly began to walk towards them.