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Authors: P. J. Hoover

Tut

BOOK: Tut
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For Christine M.,

who shared the entire journey,

and for Katie M.,

who remains Tut's first and most unyielding fan

 

CONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Dedication

  1. Where I Crash the Wrong Party

  2. Where I Talk to the Gods

  3. Where I Go on the Worst Field Trip Ever

  4. Where I Make a Monument Explode

  5. Where Homework Is Like a Virus

  6. Where I Nearly Mummify an Intruder

  7. Where I Play Trivial Pursuit with the Gods

  8. Where the Shabtis Draw Blood

  9. Where I'm Stalked by the Pizza Guy

10. Where I Fight Snakes

11. Where I Pay a Visit to Death

12. Where I Summon Swarms of Insects

13. Where I Curse the School

14. Where I Enter the Realm of the Dead

15. Where I Am Isis's Guinea Pig

16. Where I Burn Down the Museum

17. Where I Take the Subway Stop to the Underworld

18. Where I Make a Date for Later

19. Where I Discover the Future of the World

20. Where I Steal the Holy Scepter of Set

21. Where Fireballs and Natron Explode

22. Where I Flood the City

23. Where I Climb the Five Hundred Steps of Doom

24. Where I End My Immortal Life

25. Where Gil Turns Up the Heat

26. Where I Dream About Bugs

27. Where I'm Immortally in Eighth Grade

Acknowledgments

A Note from the Author

Glossary

Fun Extras

Also by P. J. Hoover

About the Author

Copyright

 

1

WHERE I CRASH THE WRONG PARTY

EGYPT—THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO

My enemy taunted me from the end of the dark tunnel. I knew it as soon as I heard the chanting. A small voice in my head told me not to go down the tunnel. Told me that I would die if I did. But I ignored the voice. I was the pharaoh, after all. The great Tutankhamun. I battled Nubians and wrestled crocodiles with my bare hands in the Nile River.

Okay, the part about the crocodiles wasn't true, but the Nubians thing totally was. I could do this. I'd been searching for the Cult of Set for over a year now. And I'd finally found them.

Why? Because Set was the Egyptian god of chaos and storms and all things dark and terrible. His priests carried out their master's godly bidding, filling the world with Set's chaos. They'd stopped the flow of water into the crop fields. They'd vandalized tombs in the Valley of the Kings. They'd even tried to have me poisoned on five different occasions. Thank the gods for my food tasters. But this was my kingdom, and I had to protect it. If that meant rooting out dissenters, then so be it. I stepped inside.

At the end of the tunnel was a giant wooden door. Light shone from under its base. I froze when I heard voices amid the chanting and held my breath as I peered through an exposed knothole.

Three priests surrounded an altar. One wore a jackal mask, complete with spiky ears and razor teeth. One wore a mask like an ibis, which was this bird I always saw out in the Nile, with a long beak that had been sharpened into a spike. And one wore a mask like the god Set.

Set looked like some sort of monster pieced together from every ferocious animal in Egypt, with fangs the size of throwing knives and claws that could skewer kabobs. Anything that involved long hooks or knives or people with masks freaked me out—which pretty much summed up every ceremony ever held in Egypt, but that wasn't what made the world shrink around me.

On the fourth side of the altar stood my uncle Horemheb.

I'd recognize him anywhere, with his skinny little arms and long stringy beard. I think he kept it so long because his head was as bald as a beetle's behind. He'd been my most trusted advisor since my dad had died and I'd become pharaoh five years ago, yet here he was, clearly part of the most dangerous cult in Egypt.

“Mother of Horus,” I whispered.

Laid out on the altar were all sorts of sharp, pointy things. The priests and Horemheb took turns picking up objects and chanting, all the while swinging incense around until smoke filled the air. Their words sounded like a bunch of nonsense, until Horemheb raised both hands above his head and started praying. What he prayed for chilled my blood.

“Deliver me my throne,” Horemheb said.

His throne? It was my throne. He acted like he was trying to take over. But I'd been doing everything he asked. I'd been bringing the gods back to Egypt after my father had royally messed up the entire religious balance of Egypt. I'd been signing the decrees he asked me to sign. I'd even agreed to the whole moving of the capital city back to Thebes, though it was going to be a complete pain in my backside.

“Grant me my rightful place, Great Set,” Horemheb prayed. “I am the true heir.”

The priests repeated every word he said, including the stuff about him being true heir. But Horemheb wasn't the true heir. He was only my father's brother. I was Akhenaton's son. The heir. The rightful pharaoh.

“I have done your bidding, ridding Egypt of the heretic,” Horemheb said.

The heretic? Horemheb had to be talking about my father, seeing as how most of Egypt viewed him as a heretic once he declared his favorite god the only true god. But it sounded a lot like Horemheb was saying he'd killed my father.

“Grant me permission to rid Egypt of his son, too,” Horemheb said.

It was like someone had punched me in the stomach. Horemheb
had
killed my father, and he was going to try to kill me next.

I'd trusted him. Listened to his advice. Taken his guidance. And he'd done nothing but betray me and my family. My death was next on his to-do list. I clenched my fists. There was no way in all the realm of Anubis that I was going to let that happen. I'd have Horemheb killed instead. Do away with the entire Cult of Set. The only thing to do was to go back and get the palace guard. Bring them here and have Horemheb arrested and charged with treason.

Except then the incense coming through the cracks got super thick. My nose twitched, and I sneezed.

Within seconds, the door flew open, and the priest with the ibis mask grabbed my arms and yanked me into the room.

“The boy king,” Horemheb said. “Set has delivered him to us just as we prayed for.”

“Guards!” I yelled. They'd be here any second.

“The young king's presence here is a message from great Set himself,” the priest wearing the Set mask said.

It was no message from a god. It was just me being in the completely wrong place at the completely wrong time. And where were my guards? Now was a horrible time for them to start giving me privacy.

“Your moment has come, Great Lord,” the jackal-headed priest said to Horemheb.

Great lord? I was the great lord, not Horemheb.

“Guards!” I yelled again. I got a sick feeling as control of the situation slipped through my fingers like sand. The guards should have been here by now.

Horemheb laughed a deep, terrible laugh that made my scalp prickle. “Your guards won't come, Boy King. I'm afraid your time has run out.”

I tried to run, but the three priests grabbed me and hauled me over to the altar.

“How dare you?” I fixed a death look on Horemheb. He would pay for this. I could list at least fifty divine decrees he was breaking. Not only would he be imprisoned, he'd be executed.

“I dare because I must,” Horemheb said. “I've bided my time. Watched while you ran the country into ruin just like your father. Tried to reason with you and your childish ways. But I can watch no more. Egypt must be saved from your heresy.”

Horemheb believed every word he was saying. I had to make him see the truth.

“I'm not a heretic,” I said. “I like all the gods. Even Set.”

That part was a lie. I hated Set. He'd betrayed his brother Osiris just like Horemheb had betrayed my father and was betraying me now.

“I went along with your suggestions,” I said. “I had my father's name removed from all the monuments. I restored the temples.” I struggled against the priest who held me, but he gripped me so hard that I thought his fingers might poke through my skin.

“It's not enough! All trace of the heretic must be removed from Egypt, including his son,” Horemheb said. “Set's will must be done.”

Around me, the priests started chanting. Horemheb grabbed a long knife off the altar and took a step toward me. I elbowed the jackal-headed priest, hard enough that I knocked him to the ground. I shoved the ibis-headed priest into my uncle. This whole mess couldn't be happening—except it was.

I ran.

Behind the altar was an archway leading to a tunnel. I took off down it. I didn't care where it went. All I knew was I had to get away from Horemheb before he killed me. Otherwise justice would never be served.

“Guards!” I screamed. Where were they? “Guards!”

“You can't fight the will of Set!” Horemheb yelled from behind me.

I kept running, panting as I wound through one stone passageway after another. Finally the maze of tunnels ended and I was out in the desert. The sun beat down from above, making me visible to anyone. Except there was no one around. I looked around to get my bearings. I was out in the middle of the Valley of the Kings, and just ahead was the entrance to my tomb. I ran for it.

With what I knew now, Horemheb couldn't let me live another day. I dashed into my tomb. The entrance had been left open since it was under construction, and Osiris must have been on my side because the first thing I saw once my eyes adjusted to the dim light was a shiny gold sword hanging on the wall.

Wait. It was my favorite hunting sword. Why was it already in my tomb? I used this thing every week. This was a “to be added after my death” kind of object.

“Very good, Tutankhamun. You picked the perfect place to die,” Horemheb said from behind me.

I grabbed the sword and faced him, putting on my best pharaoh look in an attempt to intimidate him. But who was I kidding? Horemheb was a psychotic, Set-worshipping murderer.

“You're upset I killed your family, aren't you?” he said.

“My family? You killed my family?”

“Each and every one,” Horemheb said. “Your father. Your mother. And your brother.”

His words hardly registered past my hatred. “You traitor. How could you?” Horemheb had ruined my entire world.

He stepped closer, and light from the torches glinted off his thick gold bracelets. “Because your father was a heretic. If not for him angering the gods, my son Sadiki would be alive now.”

“Sadiki died from the plague,” I said. I used to play with him all the time, back when my dad was pharaoh. The plague had passed me over, but Horemheb's son wasn't so lucky. If he hadn't died, he'd have been fourteen just like me.

“My son died because of your father's crimes against the gods,” Horemheb said. “And crimes against the gods are punishable by death.”

“You'll be executed for treason.” I still couldn't believe this was really happening. I'd been so blind. For the last five years, Horemheb had fed me lies. He'd pretended to help me while plotting my death. The whole thing was like a nightmare.

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