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"You are a child of both Egypt and Greece. You are proof they don’t hate each other."
―Bayek to Khemu[src]

Khemu (c. 56 BCE–49 BCE) was the Egyptian son of Bayek, the Medjay of Siwa, and his wife Aya. During his life, he enjoyed an idyllic childhood with his parents. His father mentored him in the ways of the Medjay and in vital skills such as hunting.

In 49 BCE, Khemu was taken hostage by the Order of the Ancients as a means of forcing his father to unlock the Siwa Vault under the Temple of Amun for them. When the two resisted, the boy was slain by Flavius Metellus, one among the Order, who redirected Bayek's knife into his son's heart.

Khemu's demise became the pivotal event that led to the foundation of the Assassin Brotherhood. His grief-stricken parents mercilessly hunted down each and every last member of the Order they knew from 49 BCE to 47 BCE, a vengeful journey that became embroiled in the wider political conflicts of the waning Ptolemaic dynasty and would culminate in the rise of the Hidden Ones, the first generation of Assassins.

Biography

Conception

In c. 56 BCE, Khemu was conceived by the Medjay of Siwa, Bayek, and his partner, Aya while the two were hiding from an assassin in Bayek's old desert training grounds. This assassin, Bion, sought to extinguish the last remnants of the Medjay bloodline on behalf of Raia, a member of the Order of the Ancients. After killing Bayek's father, Sabu, Bion discovered that Aya was pregnant and so targeted her and Bayek next. The lovers managed to eliminate their would-be murderer, however, and Khemu was born months later.[1]

Owing to their love and duty to Egypt, his parents named him Khemu after the Egyptian word for their nation, Kemet.[2] Because of the half-Greek heritage of his mother, Khemu was seen by his father as a child of both Egypt and Greece, a living proof that the two peoples could coexist in love and harmony.[3]

Childhood

Growing up in the remote oasis town of Siwa, Khemu enjoyed a peaceful life with his loving parents. His father devoted much of his time and attention to rearing him, instilling in him the values of the Medjay with the expectation that he would one day inherit the mantle as Bayek did from his own father.[2][4]

Stars of the gods

On many nights, his father took him to the circle of stones on the outskirts of Siwa. There, Bayek taught Khemu the constellations of the Egyptian deities and the ideals they each symbolized. Because his grandfather had once said that these stars reveal not just the gods' place in the world but that of every individual as well, the ecstatic boy declared that he would someday visit every Stone Circle along with the Great Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza. These words were forever etched into Bayek's mind, and he vowed to fulfill this dream of Khemu after his death.[2]

From night to night beneath the stars, Khemu would share many personal thoughts, feelings, and questions about life with his father while Bayek would invoke a god thematically related to his quandaries or the lesson at hand.[2] Bayek shared the stories of Horus and Osiris,[5][6] extolling the Pharaoh as a Medjay would for being the "[the former] in life and [the latter] in death". He claimed to his son that a true Pharaoh was ruler not just of Egypt, but "the whole world".[5]

Through Amun, he taught Khemu that though Egyptian society had declined in the name of greed over honor, the Medjay shall always endure to restore justice to Egypt.[7] Through the Divine Lion, he praised his progress in combat training while reminding him the duty of the Medjay as warriors who fight only when it was right to do so.[8] He echoed these themes once more via the constellation of the Scales, which he explained measures truth and justice, the two crowning principles of the Medjay.[9]

Once, Khemu heard a priest at the temple schools proclaim that the Greeks were destroying Egypt, and he became concerned about the ethnic strife between Egyptians and Greeks. In light of this, Bayek showed him the stars of the Great Twins and assured him that he was proof that the two peoples could love one another and that every individual regardless of heritage had the capacity for good or evil.[3]

When Khemu's friend Kenon told him that "what is best in life" was to conquer one's enemies and revel in their women's suffering, he relayed the question back to his father. Pointing to the constellation of Apis, Bayek instead taught him that the answer was to protect the poor and vulnerable, seek truth and justice, live a life of honor, and to be a loving son to his mother.[7]

First crush

Khemu developed an early crush on a female friend, an affection intense enough that it pained him to feel it.[10] Whether out of disinterest or shyness, the girl's behavior toward him eventually shifted, and she began to avoid him.[11] Inexperienced with love,[10] Khemu confided in his father about her despite initially denying that he liked her.[10][11] On one occasion while gazing at the stars of the Goat Fish, Bayek suggested that the girl's sudden aloofness may actually be a sign of reciprocation,[11] but otherwise, he felt unqualified to explain the mysteries of love to his son, instead directing him to Hathor.[12] He expressed that no gods, not even Serqet, can protect humans from the agony that love may bring.[10]

Because of these romantic feelings, Khemu conveyed his hope for marriage someday, along with a great many children. When his father remarked that at his age, he had no need to be impatient about such matters, he asserted that it was not that he was in a rush, but that he felt he "already knew". Bayek thereupon guided him to the constellation of Taweret, the goddess of fertility and childbirth,[13] but in spite of Khemu's intuition, he would prove wrong about his future.[4]

The fateful afternoon

The False Oracle 04

Bayek teaching Khemu to shoot

In 49 BCE, on the day that a a ceremony was to be held in Siwa in honor of the visiting Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII, Khemu was out among the hills of Siwa being drilled in archery by his father. Bayek had just playfully messed up Khemu's last shot when Khemu's friend Chenzira appeared to tell him about a hyena cave he had discovered. Though Khemu was initially eager to join Chenzira in checking it out, he changed his mind upon hearing that there were as many sixteen hyenas in the cave. While Chenzira was teasing Khemu for being too scared for adventures, Bayek interrupted them with a different idea: he would take them on a real hunt. The Oracle of Amun, after all, had requested an ibex pelt for the ceremony that evening.[4]

The False Oracle 06

Bayek and Khemu hunting the ibex

Chenzira accompanied the two only as far as the oasis where they found the ibex pack they were targeting; Bayek dismissed the boy by reminding him that his mother was expecting him back home. With Chenzira returning home alone, Bayek resumed his hunt, demonstrating to Khemu his skill by killing the ibex pack leader with one clean shot to its heart.[4]

Jump

As father and son hurried back to their village with the ibex pelt in hand, Khemu, remembering Chenzira's earlier remark, admitted he feared he was too much of a coward to ever succeed Bayek as a true Medjay. It was then that Bayek decided that they should take a detour, stopping at Halma Point along the way. This was where decades ago, his own father, Sabu, had helped him overcome his fears as a child. There, standing above a precipice overlooking the great oasis of Siwa, Bayek gave the same simple instruction to Khemu that his father did before him: "jump". All that was required was to take a Leap of Faith, and Khemu would forever conquer his fears.[4]

The False Oracle 08

Khemu failing to perform the Leap of Faith

Much to Bayek's dismay, Khemu failed several times to jump, and before the boy could right this disappointment, the two were met by the screams of Chenzira. Khemu's friend had been taken hostage by the Order of the Ancients, and their soldiers had forced him to lead them to the Medjay. Recognizing the danger, Bayek commanded Khemu to hurry back to his mother while he confronted the soldiers.[4]

Origins Quest04TheFalseOracle Part01

Khemu and Bayek among the Order

Death

Khemu did not make it safely home, and by nightfall, he had been seized by five agents of the Order of the Ancients and taken to the entrance of the Precusor vault beneath the Temple of Amun. He was joined shortly after by his father who had been overwhelmed by the soldiers. Mistakenly believing that Bayek, as a Medjay, had the knowledge to open the vault, the Order interrogated him for answers before being interrupted by the arrival of Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII.[14]

Defying his usual meekness, Khemu took advantage of the confusion to steal a knife from one of the Order and free his father. This was to little avail, as their captors returned scarcely a second later desperate to unlock the vault before the Pharaoh learned of their operation. One among them, Flavius Metellus, became so agitated that he turned his knife to Khemu, threatening to gouge out his heart. This drove Bayek into a panicked frenzy, and he lashed out suddenly with the stolen knife he had been keeping behind his back. Amidst the fray, Flavius redirected Bayek's knife into his own son's heart, and the boy succumbed to his wound almost immediately to the everlasting guilt of his father.[4]

Legacy

ACO Khemu's Tomb

Khemu's tomb in the Mountain of the Dead

Despite his short life, Khemu's death triggered a series of events which would result in the founding of the Hidden Ones, a secretive cabal which later evolved into the Assassin Brotherhood.[14]

Following Khemu's murder, both Bayek and Aya embarked on a quest for vengeance against the Order of the Ancients. By 47 BCE, most of the Order's members in Egypt had been assassinated, with only Lucius Septimius and Flavius Metellus, Khemu's murderer, remaining. While Aya went after Septimius, Bayek pursued Flavius to Cyrene. Bayek confronted the Roman Consul in the Temple of Zeus in Cyrene and, despite Flavius taking advantage of an ancient relic of the gods, killed him. In the void, Khemu asked his father to let go of him before he rubbed the feather against Flavius, putting him to peace and satisfying Bayek's quest for vengeance.[14]

The eagle skull necklace worn by Khemu, and later by his father, would later serve as the "template" from which the Assassin insignia was derived.[14]

Personality and characteristics

"But I get scared. I try to be brave, but sometimes it's hard."
―Khemu to Bayek, 49 BCE[src]
Unlike his family, Khemu was timid and fearful of danger, often lacking the bravery to join his friend, Chenzira, in his latest risky adventures such as observing hyenas from afar. Frequently teased by Chenzira, he was well aware of this quality and internalized the self-image of a coward to the extent that he doubted his ability to live up to his father's legacy as a Medjay. Nonetheless, he bore within himself an earnest determination to overcome his fears and learn to be courageous; when he failed to perform the Leap of Faith to his father's disappointment, he still insisted that he would be able to do it.[4]

A good-natured and dutiful child, Khemu eagerly listened to his father's frequent lessons on the values and purpose to being a Medjay. To him, Bayek was an obvious idol, and he admired his convictions in justice, honor, and fighting to protect Egypt and the poor. He was dreamy, innocent, and idealistic, always excitedly looking for the day he would inherit Bayek's mantle and become a strong hero, as was the expectation.[4]

The shy boy also had a touch of a romantic side, and his budding feelings for a female friend led him to be inquisitive as to the nature of love despite his young age.[10][11][12] This penchant for curiosity extended to other matters of life as well, providing his father an ever abundant stream of questions to address as the next lesson. While outwardly skittish,[4] Khemu had a fairly mature mind for his age, for he frequently ruminated on profound subjects such as the ethnic tensions between Egyptians and Greeks, the gap between the rich and the poor, and the meaning of death.[3][7][15]

Gallery

Appearances

References