**Warning: Contains major spoiler for Queen of Egypt**
This scene was the original final ending for Queen of Egypt. I ended up deleting it at the last minute before publication so that the book ended with Ankhesenamun calling for Intef after she had killed Thrax. It made for a tighter ending and brought her character back around nicely to the point where she started (the opening scene where she dreams of killing Thrax). However, I still have a soft spot for the chapter below as it does give Ankhesenamun some closure that she doesn’t get in the published ending.
I watched as guards carried Thrax’s lifeless body away. Blood dripped across the floor and his head lolled to the side. At least it was still attached to his neck. If the guards were bothered about removing a body from the queen’s chambers, they didn’t let it show, although I saw one of Ay’s men spit on Thrax’s body.
Slaves took my bed away and scrubbed the floor with natron salt to remove the blood that had pooled beneath it. They brought another bed and placed it exactly where the previous one had been. It didn’t matter that it was a different bed. I would forever think of Thrax when I lay there.
Charis and Istnofret brought buckets of warm water and small tubs of natron and perfumes. They stripped me naked and scrubbed the dry blood from my skin. I stood motionless as they tended to me. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t believe he was dead.
“I want to watch,” I said finally.
“Watch what, my lady?” Charis finished drying me with a soft towel and Istnofret began to dress me.
“I want to see them remove his head.”
They both stopped and stared at me.
“I should be there to watch.”
“My lady, you don’t want to see that. Don’t let that be your last memory of him.” Istnofret’s voice wavered, as if she was on the verge of tears.
I knew she spoke sensibly but I needed to punish myself. For what, I hardly knew. Not for killing Thrax but for falling in love with him. For choosing him as my lover when there were any number of men I could have chosen. Men who were honourable and just. Men who were wise and honest. Men who were all of the things I had told myself I would seek in a lover. Men who were nothing like Thrax.
But I had dreamed of him, long before I ever saw his face. We were destined to be together. Did that not absolve part of my responsibility if some god or other had sent him to me? My thoughts were tangled, chasing each other round and round. One moment I knew that I and I alone was responsible for Thrax’s death and the next I was sure the gods were at fault. I blamed Ay for ordering his death and Suppiluliumas for demanding his head. I blamed Intef for not finding a way to do the task himself. Not that I doubted Thrax’s guilt any more. His intention to take as many men as possible with him to the Afterlife had finally revealed just what manner of man I had fallen in love with.
Once I was dressed, Istnofret sat me in a chair and arranged a wig on my shaven scalp. I would not wear the other one again. It would always remind of the night I killed the man I loved more than life.
“My lady,” Charis said. “I sent a messenger to find out where he was taken. His head has not yet been removed. They are waiting to know whether you still want to attend.”
“I do.” I stood. “Take me to them.”
Thrax’s corpse lay in an isolated part of the gardens behind the palace. The grass beneath him was lush and emerald green. It didn’t seem right that the grass should be so verdant when Thrax lay dead upon it. Someone had closed his eyes and draped a cloth over his stomach to conceal the wound but blood had soaked through the thin linen fabric. A small cedar box sat nearby. This is how his head would be conveyed to Suppiluliumas. It didn’t seem big enough for the magnitude of the task.
The light still had the softness of early morning. Birds were singing their morning songs and the breeze bought the aroma of baking bread and oven fires. Where had the night gone? It had been fully dark when the men had come to carry his body from my chambers.
My guards waited at the edge of the clearing, but Intef stayed beside me as I approached Thrax’s body. This would be the last time I would ever see him. In a few moments, his head would be removed. I wondered who would do it. Would there be a lot of blood? Would his head come off with the first blow or would I have to stand here and watch a guard struggle to hack off the head of my dead love?
I felt like I should say something. Not to Thrax, for he was no longer here. His ka would be on its way through the Afterlife by now, making its way through the various gates, journeying towards Osiris’s Hall. Once there, he would have to give the Negative Confessions and swear that he had not sinned during his life. Then his heart would be weighed against the Feather of Truth. If his heart was heavier than the Feather, Ammut, the Devourer, would eat his heart and Thrax would exist no more. If he passed, he would continue on to the Field of Reeds. I supposed there was little chance that he would escape Ammut. I wondered whether in killing him, I had doomed my own ka.
Several guards waited, standing at a respectful distant, silent and watchful as I stared down at Thrax. When I finally looked up, one of them stepped forward. I didn’t know him, or even recognise his face. He carried a long sword.
“You might want to move back a few paces, my lady,” he said.
I didn’t speak but simply looked back down at Thrax’s body.
The man stood beside me, holding his sword in both hands. I heard him take a deep breath, readying himself. Intef’s hand found my elbow and gripped it tightly. His hand was warm against my skin and I was reminded of the moment when Thrax had placed his hand against my back. Just before I killed him.
The man lifted the sword and brought it down fast. Thrax’s head parted neatly from his body. I might have expected it would roll but it simply tipped to one side, as if Thrax had merely turned his head to look in another direction.
Blood oozed from the severed ends of his neck and seeped down into the grass. Would it stain the grass? Would I forever look at this particular spot and think of it as the place where Thrax’s head had lain?
A guard removed the lid from the box to reveal that it was half filled with natron salt. He pick up Thrax’s head by the hair and buried it in the natron. I had seen plenty of mummified bodies. Blackened by resins, desiccated by natron, shrivelled and still entirely too human. I had a pretty good idea of what Thrax’s head would look like by the time it reached the Land of the Hatti.
The man set the lid back on the box and fastened the clasps. Others moved in to remove Thrax’s body.
“Wait.” I raised a hand to forestall them.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was torn between telling Thrax I loved him one last time or spitting on his corpse. But I had said my goodbyes before I killed him. In the end, I did neither. I stared at his headless body for another few moments. Then I turned and walked away.