Volume III : The Divine Emissaries
Chapter 87 – You Shall Pray to No Other Gods Than Me[3171 words]
As acting High Priest of Syah, and therefore occupied by too many affairs, Warret didn’t have time to make the arrangements for the Ducians. He just sent a few guards to take care of the manor and offered them with enough food and water, telling them to wait. After Golier returned to Syah, he had summoned Moses and advised him to stay. Not having recovered from the fright and desperation, the only thought in the young master’s head was to leave the city at any cost, as a result of which he begged the supreme mage to help them leave Syah safely.
Seeing that the Ducians had made up their minds, Golier could do nothing but order his student to send them all the way to Cape. He then asked Moses, “Are you willing to return home, if you are given the choice one day?”
Moses answered without a second thought, “Duc? Sure I will.” To him, this city, seething with hostility, was nothing like Duc. In the starving days, there hadn’t been a second that he wasn’t longing for his hometown. Returning to Duc and rebuild his home had become his foremost goal in life.
The old mage replied with a comment that he didn’t quite understand at the time, “You will be the inheritor of an important land. Wherever you go, you will experience misery and hardship. Your homeland will come out from the water in a few years. If you can get back to your home one day, please don’t forget what I did for you today.”
Getting on his knees, the young Ducian said, “Dear Master, my clansmen and I will thank you for ever. If ever there’s anything we can do for you, please tell us. We will do our best.”
Led by Warret and the City Guard, the survivors of Duc crossed the drying marsh and trekked through the desert, all the way to the border between Syah and Cape. Moses then went to Cape City and sought help from Lord Drick. He didn’t ask for too much, merely to buy a piece of land so that his clansmen could settle down. In his mind, the miners were young and strong and could live well with the fruits of their labor, while patiently waiting for a chance to go back home.
The Lord of Cape found no excuse to turn down such a small request from the son of an old friend. All the more so, he even granted Moses a manor from his own territory. This hard-earned peace, however, didn’t last for long.
As Moses and his clansmen came to Cape not long after Amon had left the city, Urhiya was still the high priest and inspector. He wrote a secret letter to the Pharaoh, leading to Rod Drick receiving soon after an order from the monarch, telling him to send the Ducians to a certain place.
As a High Priest, Urhiya already knew that Amon came from Duc, and had also read the document of Marduc’s Land. Maybe he wanted to take revenge against Amon, or he believed that there was something special about Ducian miners. Urhiya somehow persuaded the Pharaoh to take them as slaves and send them to a mine.
That was how Moses came to Mount Horeb. He and his clansmen were put under restraint as foreign prisoners of war and were made to work as miners. The High Priest sent a bodyguard to transport them to the mine, who announced the Pharaoh’s order and told the people in the mine that these slaves were detested and abandoned by the gods, that they had lost their home as a divine punishment.
Hearing Moses’s story, Amon became deeply absorbed in his thoughts. What his clansmen had encountered was not just a revenge from Urhiya, since even Rod Drick failed to protect them. There must have been some ulterior motives for the Pharaoh to give explicit orders to keep them there as slaves.
Maria had told Amon that there were things that she should have helped him with but she couldn’t. Apparently, she knew about this, but found herself unable to do anything about it. She was simply not able to defy the Pharaoh’s authority and liberate the Ducians without good reason.
The Goddess Mourrin had showed Amon in a moving picture that Duc was going to turn into a rich land and the legends and prophesy in “Marduc’s Land” indicated that there would be struggles in his homeland which would lead to untold, bloody wars. What was more, Dusti had told him that Moses possessed the title deeds of Duc. Perhaps the Pharaoh had detained the Ducians and made them work as miners because they were known as good miners, but a worse guess was that His Majesty was also coveting the new rich land, and might just intend to use the newly acquired slaves as an excuse to take part in the contention. It was possible that the supreme mages in the Academy in Thebes had also foreseen the future of the flooded land, or the Ejyptian gods had reminded their incarnation on Earth.
Finally breaking the long silence, Amon whispered, “Moses, I heard that you have the title deeds of Duc in your hands. Is it true?”
The young master became vigilant at once, “Where did you hear that?”
Amon sighed and patted his shoulder, “You don’t need to doubt me. I’m not here to pry anything from you. It was Mayor Dusti who told me this himself.”
Tears appeared in Moses’ eyes again, “I don’t have them with me now. I hid them in a secret place in Syah City. Father sent me to the State capital, but he didn’t survive the flood. What did he say to you besides that?”
“Mayor Dusti hoped that you and the other survivors could go back to Duc and rebuild our home. I want to ask you too: Are you willing to do this?”
Moses nodded firmly and grabbed the other’s arm, “Of course I do! This is my dream, our dream! Amon, you are now a chief in the Isis Shrine. Can you get us out from this place?”
Amon could only shake his head, “I am just a foreman of the watchmen of the Archive. I don’t have the power to change the Pharaoh’s mind and release you. The best I can do as an inspector, is to make your life here better in the coming days. But please keep your hopes up. After I left Duc, I have heard the new oracle from our Patron. A Divine Emissary will come to you and guide you to leave this place and return home.”
The late mayor’s son grabbed his arm harder, “Her Emissary will come here? When?”
Patting his shoulder, Amon said, “Our Patron has made a promise. Please wait with patience. The Emissary will come to you. You are our people’s leader, they all count on you. What you should do now is to live well from now on. Don’t lose your faith and your hope.”
Amon didn’t tell his clansman more about his plan. He didn’t want to bring trouble to them, for knowing too much was not good for Moses and the miners. At least he had given them some hope to hang onto. After a heavy lunch with Moses, Amon had him sent back to the other Ducians.
He stayed a few more days in Mount Horeb, pretending that he needed rest to recover from the wound, and observed that Pawara and Hardedef did keep their promise. The Ducians’ living standard had significantly improved. In Amon’s opinion, his people extracted nearly half of the parangons of the mine, consequently they deserved a better treatment.
As Hardedef had said, the inspector could do anything as long as he didn’t take these people out of this place. Amon therefore demanded to live near the miners, so that it would be more convenient for him to find a fellow Ducian to chat with when he wanted to.
The shabby mud huts were apparently not suitable for an inspector, but fortunately, Pawara found an independent house near the shacks. It was the meditation room of the mages in parangon extracting duty. Cleaned up and furnished, it became a nice place that Amon could settle down in.
In fact, Amon didn’t have many thoughts to share with the miners. He just took the place to fulfill his own plan. Having inspected the whole area, he knew that the main task of the guards in Mount Horeb was to prevent the miners from fleeing. In accordance to that, most of them patrolled only the outer area. Few guards would appear near the Ducians’ huts, which were situated deep in the central area.
Mount Horeb was not near the border of the Empire. It was in the middle of a deserted district miles from the Nile and any other town. All the guards needed to do was to stand on a high place and watch outside towards the desert plains. They didn’t even need to work hard at it, for the escaped slaves had nowhere to hide.
There were many mages and warriors in Mount Horeb, but none of them had higher achievements than Amon. The strongest mage was Pawara, the strongest warrior was Hardedef, and they were no match for him. It was not hard for the young inspector to do things without letting them know.
Moses couldn’t sleep well after that night. He kept thinking about the conversation he had had with Amon, whose words were like a ray of light over the horizon at daybreak. The life of his clansmen was improved. But was he telling him the truth? Would there be a Divine Emissary coming to them, to lead them out of this place and guide them back home? On his third sleepless night, during which anxiety came along with hope, he suddenly heard a voice inside his head, “Moses, please don’t panic. What you are hearing now are the words from the true guide.”
The scared young man couldn’t help but roll off the bed out of alarm. He looked around, but there was nothing in the room besides his own shadow. He staggered to sit up, but before he opened his mouth, he heard the voice again, “Don’t say a word. You cannot communicate with me the way I communicate with you. Just do as I tell you. Put on your clothes and walk out the room. Follow the light. I am waiting for you on the hill.”
He could feel his heart beating violently, as if it would jump out from his mouth the next second. Amon had said that there would be a messenger, was this it? He couldn’t believe it was happening so soon, but he knew that it might be the only chance for him. Then, he soundlessly stood up and got dressed, following the voice’s order. Gripping his fist and taking a deep breath, he walked out the mud hut.
There was nobody outside. Everything was quiet. There was a wisp of dim light gleaming at the corner of the alley between two huts, floating, like a firefly. When Moses tried to approach it, it sank a bit and flew along the foot of the walls. The silence made the young miner nervous. Tiptoeing after the light, he could hear his own footsteps echoing, as if some invisible entity was following him.
Not knowing what he could do if he was noticed by a guard or a priest, he kept pursuing the light, as it wandered between the huts and rocks, sometimes left, sometimes right, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. There were several times Moses could hear guards talking and walking not far from him, but in the end he didn’t encounter anyone. When he found that he had successfully sneaked out the village, he was already at the foot of the hill. Looking back down to his hut, he could see guards still chatting casually in twos and threes around the village. Then he felt reassured and started to climb the hill.
The slope was steep, there were only a few shrubs growing from the gap between the rocks, yet the light was still ahead, guiding him to reach the top of the hill through the easiest path. Moses found himself excited and focused, as though there was a force inside his body, supporting him. He climbed fast and didn’t feel tired at all.
The moon was hanging high in the night sky. There was a man in a cloak standing on the top of the hill. He was holding a branch for a walking stick, his face was hidden in the shadow of the hood. The light flew to his hand and disappeared, then he spoke to Moses. The newly arrived could see his figure, which was not far from him, but the voice seemed to come from a faraway place, “Moses, my child from Duc. Please don’t be afraid. I’ve been sent here to help you.”
Moses felt as if he was dreaming. He couldn’t believe that less than half an hour ago he was still lying on his bed. It was the same voice! He stepped forward and got on his knees, “Are you the Emissary who will help us to get out of here and go home?”
The cloaked man nodded, “Yes. Tonight I guided you here to see me. In the future, I will guide you back to Duc. You shouldn’t have any doubt about this.”
Prostrated on the ground, the miner didn’t say a word, but kept trembling, his shoulders shaking involuntarily. Beneath the cloak, Amon couldn’t help but ask in a softer voice, “What happened? Why are you crying?”
Moses was weeping, “Please pardon me, my lord. I couldn’t control myself. I cry for myself, for the miserable life that I have, and for my father…also for the town of Duc! At last I see hope coming to me. Could you tell me, from which deity comes this help?”
Amon answered, “I have promised in front of the Goddess Mourrin that one day I will guide the Ducians back to Duc and help rebuild their hometown.”
Moses’ shoulders shook even more, “I daren’t lie before Her Majesty. I have questions in my heart. Where was our Patron when my father died in the flood? Where was our Patron when my clansmen were starving in Syah? I don’t resent our Patron, but I can no longer worship Her Majesty like I once did. The world is so strange a place. Patron Mourrin is now like a foreigner to me.”
Although he was only nineteen year old, vicissitudes had shaved off the puerility from him. Misery forced him to think more for himself and about this world in which he lived in, even about the gods themselves. These were his true feelings he had been holding in for all these years.
Amon didn’t have much time to explain the whole thing to him, nor was he able to. However, he felt he must give Moses a torch of faith, so he could endure the coming hardships. He continued, “It’s gladdening to hear that you don’t resent the Patron. People often complain not having enough from the deities, but never think what they have done for the deities and for themselves. The Patron of Duc wants to guide you home, but she isn’t the only deity in this world.”
Moses raised his tear-covered face, “I hope you can give me back the faith in something, a reason that can support us to live through this misery. Will you always help us and guide us no matter what happens in the future? May I have your name?”
“My name is Allaha. When you have questions, when you are in doubt, call me in your heart. I am the light that has guided you to this place, but remember you had to climb the hill yourself. As long as you don’t give up, I will not abandon you. With or without the Patron, I will fulfill my promise and guide you home.”
Moses kissed the soil in front of Amon’s feet and said, “Your voice will be my hope, the torch in the darkness. You’ve guided my here, leaving the guards behind. Can you do the same for my clansmen?”
Amon wanted to sigh, but he managed to hold the breath and answered calmly, “I can guide you all the way here in the night, but starting from here there’ll be just desert. We are thousands of miles from Duc and have to cross over cities, states, rivers and more deserts. You and your clansmen cannot escape without being noticed and captured again.”
The young miner was disappointed, “So how can we get out of this place?”
“Don’t give up your faith. Be prepared. The day will come.”
“But what and how should we prepare ourselves?”
Amon raised the stick, “This is why I summoned you here tonight. The technique of Duc was more than just extracting the ores. It leads you to the power of two sides. Tonight, I am going to awaken this power for you, as well the faith in your heart. You need to have a strong mind.”
Amon taught Moses the power of two sides, telling him it was part of the technique of Duc. He also asked Moses to keep this secret even from his clansmen. He did this in disguise, so that his identity wouldn’t be exposed. The only problem left was whether Moses could pass the first test and become a practitioner. It was something that Amon couldn’t control.
In the following days, Amon would summon Moses to the same place every night. The former young master didn’t fail Amon. Before he left Mount Horeb, Moses had already awakened the power of two sides and passed the test. Amon then asked him to make an important vow, “You shall pray to no other gods than me. You have to put your faith in me and in your own heart. From now on, you cannot learn body arts and magic like other people do. You have to follow my guidance and only that.”
According to Amon’s conjecture, the power of two sides was a part of the secret of the gods. The deities didn’t want it to spread among commoners, and wouldn’t be happy to see anyone knowing it and practicing it. He had been to the Anunnaki Underworld and had heard prayers from the believers of the Queen of Death. That was why Amon forbade Moses to pray to any other deities, not even put faith in them, in case the deities could learn Amon’s secret through Moses’ heart.
The young miner, having awakened the power of two sides, was a firm believer of Amon now. He prostrated himself towards the cloaked man and said, “I will not pray to anyone but you, my Lord. You are my only God!”