Volume III : The Divine Emissaries
Chapter 83 – Duc’s Past[3340 words]
As for Leiskkhut, he felt somewhat relieved besides the shock. He had worried that the identity of being a sorcerer might bring trouble to Amon, but Metatro’s noble identity indicated that what he’d been worrying about was unlikely to happen. According to Metatro, Amon was also one of the heroes that had helped save Princess Sissila, and he was working with Prince Benut in the operation. With such high-ranking contacts, nobody would care that he was a sorcerer as long as he didn’t speak it out.
And he was still quite young! He might not be aware of it, but he was on the way to becoming a legend.
Metatro had also learnt a lot about Amon from Sihathor and Leiskkhut. What Amon had experienced was just amazing. But in Metatro’s heart, Amon was like a god. So he wouldn’t really be surprised at whatever Amon achieved. Now that he knew exactly where Amon was, he recommended himself to Sihathor as a bodyguard for his journey back to Memfis, this way, he could meet Amon there. Sihathor acceded to the proposal without any deliberation.
Sihathor was actually flattered since Metatro was a noble. Not every common merchant could hire a nobleman as his bodyguard. When they arrived at Memfis, Metatro started to look for a tavern. But Sihathor certainly wouldn’t let this young noble warrior go easily. He brought the noble warrior to his own residence with enthusiasm.
The story was over, and the two arrived at Sihathor’s house. The merchant welcomed them at the front room. Seeing Amon coming, he greeted, “Lord Amon! What a surprise! I’ve been waiting for you all this time!”
Amon stopped him, “Please don’t call me a lord, I’m not a noble. Nothing has changed between us. I’ve already told you, please just call me Amon.”
“You are a chief guard now. A chief guard in the Shrine is even more noble than a nobleman! … I was thinking of inviting you to dinner, since it’s been three months since the last time you came to my home and Lord Metatro is in Memfis now. But he insisted on telling you the news himself. We must have a good drink today.”
Amon found himself with no excuses to refuse so he went to dinner with Sihathor and Metatro. At the dinner table, Sihathor grumbled again about Amon’s status. He looked at his goblet and murmured, “You should have already been a real lord, Amon. As far as I know, you are the first commoner promoted to be a chief guard. I hear that the Adoratrice thinks very highly of you. Why don’t you try to apply for nobility?”
Amon responded with a smile, “I was already well rewarded for my services so being promoted to a chief guard is already an honor. How could I ask for more? Besides, it’s against tradition and the law.”
“I’ve already said it’s a stupid law. No matter how rich a commoner is, he can’t buy himself a noble title.”
A noble title of the Empire could only be obtained by two means. One was through heritage, the other was by holy bestowal. The latter, however, was quite difficult to achieve. One had to make enough contributions to the Empire so that, with the recommendation of a high noble like the governor of a sepat, the Pharaoh would grant him a noble title. The exploits that deserved a noble title were usually people who had distinguished service in the wars or achievements that benefited many and were praised by all. Amon had just thrown a javelin in case of a failed assassination attempt, which was part of his duty. What he did was far from something that was worthy of a noble title.
However, once he became a supreme warrior, things would be different. It was not hard for a supreme warrior to have a noble title in Ejypt, even a foreign one. The problem was that the chance of a commoner becoming a supreme warrior was very slim. Sihathor was actually complaining more for himself. He was the patriarch of a very wealthy family, but his wealth couldn’t gain him a noble title. He once claimed that he would pay a noble title with half of his wealth, but there wasn’t a chance.
Amon and Metatro listened to Sihathor’s grousing all the way till late in the night. Only when the merchant was dead drunk did they finally have the chance to change the topic.
Metatro had already reached the fifth level. He sighed, “It might be difficult for ordinary people to face doubt and temptation in the path of practice. But I’ve thought a lot after Mirieh’s death. It’s like I was given a chance to see the world in a completely new way. I passed the tests quickly. I don’t know how to express my gratitude, Amon. You are truly the light in the dark who guides my faith!”
Amon sighed as well, “That faith comes from your own heart. I didn’t make you do anything. One thing led to another, things just happened. But I have to admit that you did a great job not making any big promises to Princess Sissila when she offered you the chance to get back your ancestors’ noble title. Once you managed to do it, the Devil’s Temptation would be easy for you. Of course I’m not saying that Princess Sissila is the devil, nor is your ancestors’ noble title… You should understand what I mean… Now that you are a fifth-level practitioner, tell me: Have you ever stopped practicing?”
Metatro chortled, “Oh, my lord, you know who I am. Yes, I first looked hard for a chance to practice magic because I wanted to restore my ancestors’ glory. But as soon as I started to practice your teachings, I realized that what I was really after was the adventure itself. The only period I dropped practicing was the days I spent with you after leaving the capital. Now it has become part of my life.”
Amon nodded thoughtfully, “The practice not only brings you power, it also brings you a new life. It is more than a habit; it’s like breathing. Being able to turn it into instinct is perhaps the most important thing in practice. Metatro, as a peer in this adventure, I hope you can remember these words.”
Metatro settled down in Memfis. Amon gave him an identification paper under the alias Allaha and a task: to buy a residence in the city. . This was something he couldn’t confide to his maidservants. Fortunately though, Metatro had arrived.
Money was not a problem for Amon. He could buy the place he liked the most. It was a big, quiet villa next to the western wall of the city. Metatro had bought it from a disgraced noble family. It had a front yard, a courtyard, and a small garden in the rear. The ample front yard even had a fountain. There was a small temple serving as a place of worship and a private meditation room. The original owner of the villa should have been a mage.
Now, it was Amon’s villa. Metatro handled the daily affairs, hiring a couple servants, gatekeepers and grooms. They were told that the owner, master Allaha, was always busy and shouldn’t be bothered.
The watchmen soon learned of Amon’s new residence. The news didn’t cause a sensation. A warrior of Amon’s status would have already bought his own house in the city.
Amon brought Schrodinger into the villa as well. Metatro knew this cat and thus told the servants to give great respect to it, for it was the master’s cat. Schrodinger, however, found the place boring. It preferred to hang around with the other idle cats in the shrine. Amon still had to wait for it to jump out of his way.
In order to attract the cat, Amon asked the servants to change the enshrined deity in the temple to Goddess Bastet and put some good wine and good food every day. He found that the cat would pay regular visits to the temple and enjoy the food and wine. It seemed quite satisfied.
Amon found that he was enjoying this simple lifestyle. The only reason that Maria promoted him to be an honored warrior openly, was to protect him from any possible danger. The Shrine didn’t actually need him. Maria had also told him that whenever he needed to go home, she could just assign him to a mission in the area.
Amon had told Metatro to meet up at Lynk’s tribe, but Metatro was already in Memfis and there were still several months left. So Amon didn’t need to prearrange anything now. He plunged himself freely into magic and body arts practice. Not long after, he encountered the first major failure since he had begun his practice. He tried to process the string he had obtained from the monster snake in the Euphrate River into a magic artifact, but a careless blunder ruined the whole thing and he could only watch as the string broke into pieces.
But he was cheered up by an unexpected discovery, which resulted from Schrodinger’s guidance once again.
One day, while he was not on duty, Amon went to his villa. He found the cat in the small temple, drinking wine on the table in front of the statue of Bastet.
Amon smiled. He just stood and watched quietly. Schrodinger seemed to know Amon approached without looking back. Having fully enjoyed the offerings, it jumped off the table and beckoned with its paw, then ran into the garden.
When Amon walked out of the temple, Schrodinger was already gone. There were two lines of hieroglyphs left on the ground. Wait, these weren’t hieroglyphs, but common wedge writings! It was the first time Amon saw the cat write in the secular language. An ordinary person might be clueless to what were written, but Amon understood it immediately. It was the code number of two certain files in the Archive!
It seemed that the cat was in a good mood. It gave Amon a cue, telling him to find two files in the Archive. But what did it want him to read? Amon was curious.
Even though he was a foreman of the watchmen, he was not allowed to read the documents at his leisure. What he could do though, was to arrange for himself to patrol the right room, so that he could read the files when he was alone. He soon found the first file. It was stored in a high-level book-storing room, locked in the bottom drawer of a cabinet protected by supreme detection magic. With his limited knowledge of supreme detection magic, Amon somehow managed to sneak the file out from the cabinet without tripping the alarm.
What he found in the file really surprised him. The file’s name was [Marduc’s Land]. It was a legend about the town of Duc that Maria had once mentioned. Amon had been looking for it, in vain, for half a year. Who knew how much time he was going to waste before finding it, if not for Schrodinger’s indication. The cat knew well about his preoccupations.
Before he read the file, Amon had absolutely no idea that the name of the remote town where he was born was so closely related to the major god of the kingdom of Bablon. Duc was named after the Great Marduc. It was the location where His Majesty distinguished himself for the first time in the battle between the Anunnaki gods.
The battle happened long long ago. In the legends of the Anunnaki gods, the first gods were God Abzu and the Goddess Tiamat. They gave birth to the God Lahmu and Goddess Lahamu. Lahmu and Lahamu gave birth to Anu, whom the Anunnaki family was named after. In the legends, Anu was said to be the supreme god, the ruler of the sky, king of the gods, whose dominion started from an ancient battle.
Anu had two sons, Enlil and Ea. Ea was called the God of Wisdom in the legends. He had a son called Marduc. Enlil had two offspring, which were Nanna the Goddess of the Moon and Utu the God of the Sun. Nanna gave birth to Mourrin, the Goddess of the Bright Morning and Evening Star. Some believed that they were the incarnation of those stars, while others believed that they lived in those stars.
Mourrin had told Amon herself that the relations between the deities were not exactly like what commoners thought them to be. Nonetheless, their relationships were still recorded the same way in the file as in the folklore.
The legends said that the first gods had conflicts when they tried to divide the continent and create their realms. Ea killed Abzu in a sneak attack. Tiamat, in her rage, created nine monsters: Bashmu the Venomous Snake, Mushmahhur the Seven-headed Serpent, Mushhushu the Scaly Eagle-Snake, Uridimmu the Three-headed Dog, Nahmu the Sea Storm, Ugallu the Mad Lion, Girtablullu the Scorpion-Man, Kulullur the Fish-Man and Kusarikku the Bull-Man. She also gave her son and new husband Kingu the [Tablet of Destinies] and told him to seek revenge with the nine creatures.
The gods were divided into two factions. One was led by Tiamat, fighting under the command of Kingu. The other was led by Enlil, fighting under the command of Marduc. The battle of the gods took place in the center of the continent. Numerous gods fell and Marduc won the battle at last. He killed Tiamat and Kingu and seized the Tablet of Destinies. The battlefield, where the fallen gods were buried, was called Marduc’s Land.
After the battle, conflicts appeared again. Enlil, as the head of the gods, should have had the Tablet of Destinies. But Marduc handed it directly to Anu. Therefore Enlil failed to be the ruler of the sky. Anu and Ea, tired of the war, had no intention to contend with the others gods anymore. They chose to leave the world and live in the Heavens.
A second battle took place between Enlil and Marduc. The result of this battle was that each of them took a half of the continent as their realm. The other deities, who had all picked a side, attached their realms to the according realm. The sizes of these realms were proportional to their contributions in the battles.
The fallen gods didn’t vanish into nothing. Their blood congealed and became the Pyrosprites. Their muscles scattered and became the Terroculus. Their breathe condensed to form the Ventussaltes, their sweat dropped and became the Aquaticores, their bones broke and became ordinary parangons. The rarest were the Gods’ Tears. They contained the gods’ anger, sorrow, remorse and love. Duc was not the only place were the parangons could be found, but it certainly had the highest yield due to this battle of the gods.
When the two almighty gods partitioned the continent, Marduc’s Land was put under Enlil’s rule, at the edge of his realm. But Enlil didn’t like Marduc’s name in his realm, so he only kept the last part of the name — Duc. The local shrine didn’t mention the origin of the town’s name at all. The story was recorded though, and secretly kept in a faraway kingdom.
Marduc’s Land used to be a rich land, which was why the battle had taken place there. But the battle had totally ruined it. It was barely arable since then. The gods detested and rejected this land. They drove Tiamat and Kingu’s supporters to this land. As a punishment, these people were not allowed to leave this place until they collected all the parangons and handed them to the Anunnaki gods as compensation.
But legends were just that, legends. The truth was more elusive. Amon was born and raised in Duc so he knew that Mourrin was the patron of Duc. But he had no idea why that was so.The file didn’t mention it at all. But there were two other things in the file that drew Amon’s attention.
The first one was that the Ducians were cursed by the gods to be miners and do heavy work age after age. The technique of Duc was also taught by the gods. It was a technique invented by the gods, mixing magic and body arts. It awakened two powers at the same time, but the receiver would never go any further. The gods taught the Ducians the technique so that they could extract parangons alone, age after age, until there was no more parangons or they had received the gods’ forgiveness.
This was why Maria had told Amon that as a Ducian, it wouldn’t be difficult for him to pass the second awakening. As the Adoratrice of Isis, she wouldn’t take the Anunnaki legends seriously. But the technique of Duc really existed. They were the only people who extracted the paragons alone, without help from mages.
The second one was more like a prophecy. It said that when Marduc’s Land became rich again, the God of Gods would appear. The land would witness a new battle between the gods. No one was certain about its authenticity but there were rumors saying that in the major Enlil Shrine in Hittite and Assyr, there was an oracle of Enlil, who declared that His Majesty would make the land rich again and would finally become the God of Gods.
Amon gasped when he read the legend and the prophecy written in the file. It should have been a record from long ago. He was not sure about the veracity of the information inside, but he knew that Duc was a special place. It was not the time for him to intervene in the affairs of the gods, but he was sure that Duc would become a rich land in the foreseeable future. However, if he decided to guide his clansmen back to their home, it would be a thorny path soaked with sweat and blood.
Then another thought came to his mind. Crazy’Ole asked him to find out the secret of the gods. Had Crazy’Ole ever been inspired by this legend? Crazy’Ole had travelled across the continent to seek the way to ascend to the ninth level. Perhaps he also knew about this legend.
Amon turned to the last page and he found two small signets, which looked similar to the token Crazy’Ole had given him.
The token used to belong to Bair. Was it Bair who had left these signets on it? Was it because Bair wanted others to read this file? Amon subconsciously tried to take out the token before recalling that he had left it behind in his residence.
It was not difficult to find the first file. The second file, however, was much more difficult. It was locked in a cabinet together with many other important files. The key to the cabinet was in the hands of a senior priest. The cabinet and the lock was sealed with magic. Amon couldn’t open it without leaving any traces. He had to wait for an opportunity.
Before he had found one though, he was informed that the Adoratrice was going to see him. It was, once again, Gabriel who passed him the message. The Adoratrice summoned him to a study room where she dealt with daily affairs. It was spacious, like a hall. The Adoratrice still granted him a seat, which was far from herself. Amon prostrated on a blanket and then sat down.
Maria sat behind a desk. It was a private meeting. There was no other people in the room. The distance was not a problem for Amon. He could clearly see her face, her eyes, even every single one of her eyelashes.
Amon had expected that she would first praise him for his deeds at Hapisidis, which was according to etiquette and normal procedures. But she didn’t. She looked at him and simply asked, “Amon, how are you? Are you happy?”
[List of Deities]
The Anunnaki Gods
- Abzu : Father of Lahmu and Lahamu.
- Tiamat : Mother of Lahmu and Lahamu.
- Lahmu : Father of Anu.
- Lahamu : Mother of Anu.
- Anu : Lahmu and Lahamu’s son, father of Enlil and Ea.
- Enlil : Anu’s son, Ea’s brother.
- Ea : Anu’s son, Enlil’s brother.
- Marduc : Ea’s son.
- Nanna : Enlil’s daughter, the Goddess of the Moon.
- Utu : Enlil’s son, the Goddess of the Sun.
- Mourrin : Nanna’s daughter, the Goddess of the Bright Morning and Evening Star.
[List of Characters]
Monsters created by Tiamat
- Bashmu : The Venomous Snake.
- Mushmahhur : The Seven-headed Serpent.
- Mushhushu : The Scaly Eagle-Snake.
- Uridimmu : The Three-headed Dog.
- Nahmu : The Sea Storm.
- Ugallu : The Mad Lion.
- Girtablullu : The Scorpion-Man.
- Kulullur : The Fish-Man.
- Kusarikku : The Bull-Man.