Volume II : The First Sin
Chapter 58 – Amon’s Plea[3193 words]
Amon was speechless for a good while. Many thoughts came to his mind. At last he nodded, “Of course I do. It is my homeland. But I am the only survivor of the flood. Where is the meaning in doing that?”
Inanna held his arm tighter, “Of course there’s meaning. It’s Duc, my realm. If you can build a kingdom there, you will be the king and our offsprings will rule it forever. I will be the major goddess of the kingdom… You are not the only survivor. There are other Ducians still alive. They are living far away from their homeland too. You shall lead them back to their homeland and rebuild your home.”
Amon was more than surprised, “There are others? Who? Are my father and Mayor Dusti still alive too?”
“Everyone who was in the town during the flood was killed, including your father and the mayor of Duc. But there was a group of people who were not in town much like you. They are now trapped in foreign lands, becoming slaves and having lost their freedom. If you want to bring them back to your homeland and build a new home, I will tell you how to find them and what to do after… I have a pact with Enlil. As long as you don’t defy him, he cannot hurt you in any way or stop you from coming back to your homeland. This is what I, as your patron, can do.”
“Defy Enlil? How can I dare to do that?” Of course he didn’t have the power to defy a god, at least not at the moment. But Crazy’Ole had asked him to solve the secret of the gods and encouraged him to even try to become one. If he could succeed — this was not something Inanna should know.
“So you don’t need to worry about it. What you need to do is bring them back and build your lovely kingdom. The gods won’t get themselves involved directly. You need to do everything. But I can give you guidance and help if necessary.”
“Can you tell me where they are now? I need to find them.”
Inanna shook her head, “No, I can’t, for it’s useless to tell you that now. I will tell you where they are only if I am convinced that you have the ability and willpower to do it… I heard that you keep a good relationship with the cavemen in the westside mountains. You’ve been living with them for quite a long time. Perhaps you can do the same thing as the princess of Bablon did. You can first guide them to move out from the deep mountains and build villages in the newly formed land. Once you have set a firm foot there, you can train them and get them armed, so they can protect themselves and your homeland from other intruders.”
“Would they like to move out?”
Inanna giggled again, “You are smart most of the time, but it’s nice to hear your cute, silly questions sometimes. Who would choose to stay in the forests rather than live in a fertile land? They will only thank you for your guidance and help!”
“But the giants are already there. Won’t there be conflicts?”
Inanna explained it to him with patience, “There are hundreds of miles of rich land. The land that these small tribes can actually occupy is just like a flower in the grassland. You can almost pick wherever you like. There are too many choices. There’s no need to fight for one place.”
“Nobody will notice the cavemen who walked out of their wilderness and came to the plain. It is the best time for them to settle there. That’s why the princess of Bablon wants the highlanders to get there as early as possible. I can even tell you that the last surviving Ducians still possess the title deed of the land of Duc, which will be the best piece of land.”
Amon continued to ask questions, “You said that the landform there is still changing slowly. How much time does it need to become a real great land?”
“At least three years.”
“How much time does it take for the land of Duc to become inhabitable again?”
Amon nodded, “So the cavemen have two years to build their new home. They live a really hard life in the mountains. I should help them find a better place to live. Thank you for your advice. In one year, I will tell them to move out and settle in the land of Duc.”
Inanna seemed quite happy, “That’ll be nice. I’ll wait for your good news. Don’t forget to tell them to build a shrine for the Patron of Duc!”
“I will tell them why they can settle there. I believe they will do the right thing. But I also believe that the tribute paid to deities should be from the ones who are wholeheartedly willing to do so. No one should be forced to pay tribute to a deity.”
Inanna turned her face to Amon with a very peculiar glance, “Why are you saying this to me?”
Amon answered honestly, “It is what I have in mind at the moment. You just told me that as a deity you can tell if I’m lying, so I should be totally honest with you… I figured this out after I met Gilgamesh. He was talking about Humbaba, and it inspired me.”
Inanna looked deeply at him, as if she wanted to see through to his mind. After a while, she smiled, “You are cute indeed, my little Amon. I really should thank you for trying to save me after mistaking the princess of Bablon for me. I will tell you where the other surviving Ducians are later. Now, you can ask one favor from me. I will do it for you as long as I am able to.”
Amon turned to her and asked seriously,
“Really. I am your patron.”
“I want to ask you about the secret of the gods. Can a mortal become a god? If the answer is yes, how?”
Inanna dropped her arm and stepped back, “Oh dear! Amon! You are too aggressive! Gilgamesh once asked me the same question. He didn’t get an answer from me. It’s wrong!”
Amon didn’t know if she meant “it’s wrong that a mortal can become a god” or “it’s wrong to ask a question like that”. After all, he wasn’t expecting an answer from her. So he continued,
“Then I change my plea. I heard that people will go to another world after they die. I want to see my father and the other Ducians who died in the flood, even just their souls.”
Amon had just asked the two questions that he cared about the most. The secret of the gods was what he had promised to solve even at the cost of his life. And to see his father one more time was his deepest aspiration. As a boy who had been forced to leave his hometown, which was then destroyed in a disaster, the biggest pity and sadness in his life was that he had failed to meet his father in the last moment. If anyone could fulfil this wish, it must be Goddess Mourrin, his patron.
Inanna paled. Her smile disappeared from her face. She stared at him silently, without saying a word.
Amon stepped back and got on his knees again, “My dear goddess, the Patron of Duc and its people. Could you grant me this favor?”
Inanna suddenly stood straight, then slowly floated up into the air. The foot of her long robe fell to the ground and covered her naked feet. She started to speak with a different tone, which was the tone of a majestic deity, “Not all mortals go to the Underworld when they die. The Underworld itself is not like what mortals believe it is. I do know where the souls of most of the Ducians are. But I suggest you to change your plea. It is not somewhere you can be. You probably won’t be able to come back.”
Amon insisted, “Can you grant me this favor?”
Inanna nodded unemotionally, “Yes, I can.”
Amon muttered, “There are many things I don’t know if I can do. For example, you ask me to bring the surviving Ducians back home. I can only try to do my best. Now what I want the most is to see my father again. Please tell me, my dear Patron, is it possible that I can come back?”
“Yes, it is possible. But if you want me to bring you back, it will be another plea.”
“I dare not ask for another plea. But if you really are the Patron of Duc and its people, please let me see the soul of my father and other Ducians one last time.”
“If you can bring me back to this world, I will do everything I can to restore Duc and even make it a new kingdom. I will persuade my clansmen to rebuild your shrine and pay tribute to you wholeheartedly. You will be our patron forever.”
Inanna kept silent for a long time, thinking, hesitating. Amon kept on his knees and waited for the answer from his patron. At last, the goddess gave out a sigh and replied, “The Underworld is actually in our world. I will lead you there. But I am not sure if those who you want to meet the most are in it… I will also try my best to bring you back here. If you are trapped, you’d better do you best to escape.”
Amon kissed the soil in front of her feet and said,
“Thank you, my goddess! When are we going?”
“I need some time to get myself prepared. I will be here waiting for you in three days. Come here again in three days’ time.”
Amon raised his head and found the goddess gone.
Night fell. Metatro was packing in the inn. He was full of excitement. There wasn’t much to be packed. He was just scrubbing his weapons and armors again and again. The more he looked at these shiny equipment, the more excited he got. He was about to set out to the capital with the princess in the morning. He still remembered what he felt when he left the city the last time. He had had absolutely no idea that he could return so soon with a noble title!
A voice suddenly rose from behind his back, “This armor is a magic item. It cleans itself. You don’t need to rub it so hard.”
Metatro would’ve definitely pulled out his sword if it was someone else’s voice. He jumped up with surprise and said, “My lord! You are back!”
Amon pointed at the chair, “Let’s sit down. There’s something I forgot to tell you. Besides, I heard some news today which I think you need to know.”
Metatro waited upon him to sit down, then got himself seated and asked, “What is the thing you forgot to tell me?”
“The coach and the two horses don’t belong to me. They belong to a merchant in Uruk called Leiskkhut. I need to give them back to him.”
“You can just take them. I can buy you two warhorses in town. They are much better.”
Amon shook his head, “I can’t. You may leave them in the inn when you leave. Pay the innkeeper enough money to take care of them. I will take them back later if I can come back.”
“That’s not a problem. What else do you want me to know?”
Amon’s face straightened, “This is much more important. You must be very careful. I know that the princess has asked you about your relationship with the cavemen in the westside mountains. She may assign you a mission, like the one she gave to Ussir.”
Then he came close to him and the two whispered for a long time.
Metatro paled in shock. He nodded and nodded again. Amon patted his shoulder and said, “This is just my conjecture. If she really asks you to do that, I don’t think you have a good reason to refuse. But you have to remember that this is something big that involves deities. Don’t promise too much and swear for something you will later regret.”
Metatro finally took a deep breath and patted his chest, “Thank you, my lord! I think I know what to do if it really happens.” Then he smiled and whispered to Amon, “Even if she asks Lynk to build a shrine, he will only put your statue in it. Remember, you are his only god.”
Amon gave him a punch, “Don’t make fun of him. Divinity is not something to be messed around with.”
Metatro made a funny face, “Surely I understand. Don’t worry.”
“Good. One year later, we will meet in Lynk’s tribe. Whether she asks you to do this or not, I will guide them to the new land and help them build their new home there. Three years after, I will bring the rest of the Ducians back home. The new land is large. It can contain hundreds of thousands of people. But very few people was aware of its existence. Don’t tell anybody. Don’t let anybody know that you know of it.”
Metatro nodded seriously, “I will keep your words in mind, my lord. I will do what you asked me to do.”
Three days passed. Amon came to the highland again. Awaiting him there was Inanna, or more precisely, the Goddess Mourrin. Today she dressed up as a deity.
She was still wearing the golden robe, but it was glistening under the sunshine, as if it were made of thousands of sharp narrow blades. On her head was a golden crown, with golden flowers as decoration. In her hand was a long, thin staff which looked like a section of ivy, with green leaves on it. Around her neck was a necklace made of lazurite, which was the speciality of Duc. On her ears were a pair of shining earrings. On her white forearms were a pair of golden bracelets. On her chest was a deep blue brooch pinned to the large collar of the robe.
This was what her statue looked like in her shrine in Duc. But the statue itself was made of lazurite as well and certainly didn’t have the fascinating expression that she was now wearing on her face. Amon greeted her and said, “My dear goddess. Thank you for granting me this favor. I am ready to follow you into the Underworld.”
The goddess saw Amon coming. She slightly shook her head, “Please don’t thank me. I do this for you, because you are the only one who has ever tried to save me… I don’t know if I can bring you back from the Underworld with me. If you are lost in the Underworld, do remember: don’t eat or drink anything you obtain there. Not even a mouthful of water. Take good care of your soul and your mind. They are your only hope to get out of there… If we can meet again under the sunshine, please call me Inanna. I like this name.”
Inanna told Amon to get up and follow her, and not to ask any questions. They went straight towards the deeper part of the Syah Plateau, towards the source of the Euphrate River. The mountains became steeper and steeper. The path became harder and harder. She could well have flown through the mountains with Amon together. But she didn’t do that. She just ran through the mountains. Amon had to run after her. It was like a special test.
Amon was perhaps one of the top experts among the mages when it came to running in the mountains. A supreme mage would just choose to fly and many sixth level mages would try to make an flying artifact or just buy one. Amon didn’t know how to fly. He traveled all the way from Duc to the Euphrate River on foot. However, he found that whatever his speed was, Inanna was always a few steps ahead of him. But it seemed that he could never catch up with her.
There was no stop, no rest. Not even a word between the two. They ran from noon to night, then walked from night to dawn. They ran again in the day, and walked again in the night… A normal warrior or mage might have already stopped out of tiredness, or slipped and fell off the cliff. Amon didn’t even have time to eat. He had to summon water from time to time to drink. But he didn’t fall behind his goddess.
When the sun was about to rise again, the goddess spoke for the first time, “It’s a dangerous path, Amon. I’m surprised that you can follow me all this way. But there are still three days and three nights. You can give up any time you like. I promise you to lead you to the Underworld, but it’s up to you to follow me. If you cannot take it anymore, I won’t say a bad word to you. If you meet any crisis, like falling off the cliff, I will save your life and that will be my favor.”
It seemed clear that the goddess didn’t want to bring him to the Underworld. She made the promise but also set a test like this to make thing difficult. If Amon failed to follow her into the Underworld, it would be his own fault. Her speed was what Amon could make with full strength. But to keep running at this speed was an incredible tribulation for him.
Amon leaned on his staff and replied, “I understand. I will do my best. I will not give up.”
The goddess never spoke anything after. The two walked and ran ceaselessly. No pause, no break. The speed was the same, but the road became more and more hazardous. Amon felt he was squeezing out every bit of his energy.
Three days passed. They arrived at a barren highland. There was no more green colors in sight. Rough rocks and snow could be seen everywhere. The wind was biting cold, even the flying birds would be frozen into ice.
They went across the land and went down into a long, narrow gorge. The wind became moister. The deeper they went, the narrower the space was and the dimmer it got. The gloomy atmosphere made Amon feel really bad. Even with a flame in front of his chest, he still felt like he had to shiver.
They went down and down. The sky became a faraway line. Finally, the cliffs on both sides came together ahead of them, forming a huge high cave. The goddess eventually stopped and turned around, “What should I say, Amon? You are finally here. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad. In front of you is the entrance to the Underworld. Are you ready?”