With the rest of the village still sleeping this early morning, young TenamonTi headed off to the far Eastern side of the Nile searching for the perfect fishing spot. He also took with him his dowsing rod in hopes he could get lucky and find a strain of ore or gems desperately needed for his Village. He heard of a great sand storm that swept through the desert the night before and was hoping the gods would be at rest. His grandfather Ancano had told him that after a storm such of this, the gods rested and let the earth breathe and therefore this would be the perfect time to find that one precious gem and catch his many fish.
TenamonTi ventured further down the side of the Nile than he had ever gone before. His heart was pounding and racing with excitement as he caught a glimpse of something white laying at the edge of the water. Could it be limestone, soda, a huge quartz, or maybe the perfect diamond? These questions crossed his mind as he drew closer. The morning sun was rising and his eyes focused intently on the object as he sprinted down the bank. Once he got close he gasped for air has made out the shape of a woman laying on the bank half in and out of the river. It was her long blond shining hair that had caught his eye. She was limp, wet, and not in good health. He rolled her over and brushed the sand from her face and could see that she was barely alive. He looked around the area quickly to see if there were others hurt or any other danger. He saw nothing or no one and so he quickly grabbed her and carried her in his arms all the way back to The Village.
By the time he walked into the compound with the woman in his arms, the rest of the village began to emerge and busy themselves with morning chores. His mother was the first to seem him as she was returning from the camel and sheep pen. She immediately motioned him to bring her into the compound and place her on a bed of straw and fine linen. His mother Murtha was an elder in the Village who was highly respected and knowledgeable in all things. Grandmother, and the other village women also ran into the compound and began tending to the mystery woman’s needs. TenamonTi tried to watch and get a better look at her face but was shooed away by the village women. “Ten!” that’s what his best friend Taipan called him, as he shouted from across the carrot and cabbage bed, “Who is she, where did you find her, what happened to her?” Ten couldn’t answer but only shrugged his shoulders as he walked into the blacksmithing shop to busy himself. He could barely hear his friends many questions due to recalling a vision of the woman’s face. Though tattered, beaten, and in the worst possible shape-he had found her simply beautiful.
Over the next few days, Ten stayed in the Village despite Taipan’s many urgings to go on a safari, or beetle hunt, or to practice their acrobats. Ten waited silently and patiently for his mother to tell him how the young woman was doing. Finally mother emerged from the tent, patted Ten on the shoulder, and put him at ease, “She is going to be just fine, she is awake and talking. Apparently the young woman lost her mother and father in the storm last night and she ended up on the edge of the Nile. Her mother’s family is in horticulture and viticulture, they grow plants and make a drink they call wine. Her father in something she calls pyrotechnics and makes some thing they call fireworks. They were traveling east to Kush when the big storm hit. They were going to provide donations to the Universities and had made plans to settle in the area. She is very worried about her parents and not sure if they are alive or made it to Kusy. She would like to meet you and thank you for saving her life.”
At these words, Ten became nervous and yet eager to meet her. As he stepped into the tent he saw her deep blue eyes for the first time. She was sitting up and sipping some bee balm tea. Her smile was warm and radiant and Ten could barely utter the words “How are you? What is your name?” She replied with “Im doing very well, thanks to you, and my name is Tangabang”. With hearing her name Ten gave her a puzzled look and tried to hold back a chuckle. Tangabang laughed out loud herslef and said, “I know its funny name. Its meaning is for the tangy taste of wine and the bang noise from a firecracker. Please, just call me Tang” With that they both laughed and Ten was at ease with her.
Over the next few days, Ten and Tang were inseparable. They walked to the spot where TenamonTi first found her in hopes for clues about her parents. Ten promised her when the travel time was right, he would take her to Kush to look for her parents. They went fishing one morning and Ten he ended up catching the most fish ever as Tang played in the grass creating art sculptors. That same afternoon as they walked into the desert area where she last saw her parents, Ten found a larve vein of iron that the village could mine. Tang was a warm welcome to the village. She worked hard and helped in all the village chores. She could grow flax, comb it and weaved it into linen and canvas. She had some papyrus seeds and she taught the village women how to grow it, dry it, and weave it into a basket. She even showed the village men how to take beetles and make paint. The Village loved her and so did TenamonTi. His heart sank the day they prepared for their journey to Kush. He was eager to visit the University of Architecture and learn Obelisk Construction and find some Masters of Acrobat, but sad that he may loose the woman he had come to love.
Arriving in Kush near dusk, they noticed a large crowd of people gathering east of the chariot stop. There was a group of students demonstrating a game called Thoths Puzzle, and further down the road was a larger crowd of people chanting “Light It – Light It!” As soon as Tang heard the chant she grabbed Ten and pulled him by the shoulder strap straight through the crowd. At her delight there was her father in the center of the crowd ready to ignite one of his famous firecrackers and her mother by his side. With that she ran to them and hugged them both tightly and yelled at her father --- “Go ahead father! Light It!” TenamonTi was overcome with both happiness and sadness. He stood in amongst the crowd and was in awe of the firework display and he watched as Tang laughed and danced. She was very happy to see her parents again, but sad they he may have to let her go. After her father finished his show for the people of Kush, Tang pulled Ten over to introduce him to her mother and father, “This is TenamonTi, he found me by the Nile and saved me father.” Her father, a very short man with a heavy beard, peered up and stared into Ten’s eyes. He took a few steps around the young man, scratched his beard and said, “Very well, you will join us tonight for a feast. We will be staying with the Demi-Pharoh. We will drink wine and smoke herbs and talk about your payment for bringing my daughter safely back to me. I own many mines of ore and gems, seeds, wine, rope, canvas, wood, whatever your village needs – we will discuss.” Tenamon’s eyes widened as he heard of the many resources his village could use.
At the feast there was much dancing and celebration. Tang’s parents were being welcomed into Kush and were obviously a wealthy and prominent family. Ten drank wine and smoked herb from a hookah for the first time in his life. A new feeling came over him that he had never felt before. He felt a bit lightheaded, more at ease with his surroundings, and very relaxed. He laughed loudly and was in good spirits. He looked and saw Tang as she ran across the room toward him. He watched her intently and she moved in close and bent down to sit by him. He watched as her hair flowed around her waist, and he caught the smell of lavender on her skin. He loved this woman not only for her beauty, but for her free spirit and how he felt as a man being around her. He became very focused on her and without hesitation blurted out “I love you and I want to marry you”. Tang turned her head sharply and looked into his eyes. Ten just realized what he said and was looking for something in her eyes, in her face, or hear her voice say that she loved him too. But before Tang could have a chance to respond, a young village man named Clintonio and Tang’s father were standing over them and they both had just heard Ten’s outbursts. Ten and Tang looked up at them as Tangs father said, “Whoever wants my daughter’s hand in marriage must pass several tests.” Clintonio immediately responded, “I will take those tests sir.” TenamonTi wasted no time in jumping up and staring this Clintonio person straight in his eyes and saying, “I too will take the tests as well.” Ten had no idea what he was getting himself into, but he was not going to loose the most precious gem he had ever found to any other man.
Tangs father explained, “I challenge you to demonstrate Egypt’s unity and its perfection in the Seven Disciplines. Each of the university has a test. Pass them all and build monuments to each Discipline, and you will convince me you are a worthy citizen of Egypt and worthy of my daughter’s hand in marriage. You must complete The Test of Architecture, Art and Music, Worship, Thought, Body, Leadership, and Harmony. Most citizens take a year to finish this test, but the the first one to complete them all may marry my daughter. Tang’s mother spoke softly looking at both Ten and Clintonio and just as intent as the father she stated, “And that’s if Tang will have you.” Both men turned to look at Tang for a sign of approval or of love, but Tang just turned, lowered her head, and left the feast.
Ten was troubled and wondered many questions: Should he stay away from the Village for so long? Should he return to the Village with the resources Tangs father offered. The knowledge he learn by staying in Kush and attending the universities would be helpful to his village as well. Who is this Clintonio? Would Ten be able to pass the tests of the Disciplines? Would he sacrifice his village and become a citizen of Egypt? Did Tang love him? Would he do it for himself? His Village? For the good of Egypt? Or simply for the chance to spend the rest of his life with the golden-haired beauty that he loved so deeply? Would he do all of these things not even knowing if Tang loved him in return. If only Tang could give him a sign that she loved him too. . . .