Volume II : The First Sin
Chapter 39 – The Lost Lamb
The town of Som had a population of over one thousand. It was gigantic compared to the sporadic villages around it. But for Amon, it was just a small town compared to Duc. Nevertheless, he enjoyed the blue sky and wooden houses here. Most people here wore cotton and even linen clothes. Observing the richly-grown croplands, the flocks of sheep, chicken and other livestocks, Amon could tell that this town’s inhabitants lived a much better life than the Ducians had.
However, the wooden houses here were apparently less sturdy than the stone ones in Duc. Does that mean that they are less rich than the Ducians? Amon was even surprised when he walked by the shrine in the town 一 It was built from wood as well, with only two storeys! It was a poor shed compared to the shrines of Duc built out of lazurite and marble.
He mumbled, “Why did they build a shrine out of wood? Just as they do with their houses… Don’t they worry about them burning down in a fire?”
Inanna explained to him in a low voice, “The stones had to be carried from distant mountains. They cost a lot. Here people use wood, which is cheaper and easy to get… Besides, the shrine is built with cedar wood. That’s a difference.”
“Which kingdom are we in? Which god is worshipped in the shrine?”
“We are in Bablon now. It’s the Enlil Shrine.”
“I heard that the Bablonians worship Marduc. It’s the Hittites and Assyrians who worship Enlil as their major god. Why is there an Enlil Shrine in this town?”
Inanna shrugged, “Perhaps the gods’ realms are not exactly the same with the territories of the kingdoms on earth. Despite being in the same kingdom, the states to the east of the river build shrines dedicated to Marduc, while the ones to the west of the river only build shrines for Enlil. Even though, in the Enlil shrine, there are places for Marduc and other gods for people to worship… After all, they are in the same family. According to the folklore, Enlil is Marduc’s uncle, isn’t he?”
Amon nodded, “Oh, I understand now.”
While Amon stopped asking, Inanna started to ask him questions, “Amon, aren’t you curious about all this?”
Amon gave her a confused glance, “Why should I be curious? Enlil’s Marduc’s uncle, isn’t he? As far as I know, the Ejyptians worship Horus as their major god, but the major shrine in Lower Ejypt is the Isis Shrine of Memfis. And in that shrine there are also places for Horus and some other gods.”
Inanna blinked, “I mean the fact that people build shrines for different gods on different sides of the river. Aren’t you curious about how this situation came into being? Is it possible that there’s a deal between the deities? Don’t you want to know more about this?”
Curiosity of deities? Crazy’Ole and Bair had lost their lives for that, with so many people caught up in it and a lot even died. Amon himself was one of the ones involved, drawn into a rough and dangerous journey full of the unknown. He didn’t want to stay on this hazardous topic, he smiled bitterly and replied, “What is the point of being curious about this? I’m just a humble mortal. I know neither Marduc nor Enlil. Nowhere can I get closer to the answer to any of these questions… Inanna, you know this place better than I do. Where can we buy some clothes here? Let’s go there first.”
Inanna led Amon to a clothes shop in a small alley. As they walked in, a young lad looking like around sixteen or seventeen years old came to them, “My dear mister and lady! Please take a look at our clothes as you like! What we have here are the best clothes in town. Made-to-measure, ready-made, materials. Everything you can think of!”
Buying clothes was simple for Amon, he pointed to himself, “I want some clothes that fit me.”
The lad took a look at him, and found that he was apparently not a nobleman. So he took out a nicely-made light cotton gown with conspicuous good-looking red stripes but no other patterns or decorations. He smiled and recommended it to Amon, “Why don’t you try on this caftan? It’s light and thin, comfortable to wear in the hot weather. And it only costs thirty copper coins. I assure you, you can’t find a gown as nice as this for as low anywhere else!”
Amon found the fabric not solid enough. He pointed to a thin yet densely-woven flax gown and asked, “How much is this? I want two of this, along with two pairs of pants made of the same fabric.”
The lad was a bit disappointed, “Light gown and pants made from local flax! Ten copper coins by set. Twenty copper coins for two sets. Don’t you want to buy something more?”
Amon shook his head, “That’s enough for me… Inanna, what clothes do you like? Please pick some.”
Inanna pointed at a long dress hanging on the wall, “This one looks great. I like it. Wouldn’t it be too expensive?”
The lad began to focus on Inanna, and couldn’t move his eyes from her face since. Entranced, he managed to react to the question with some difficulty, “My dear lady, you certainly have excellent taste! This is the best one we can offer beside those for noble lords. It is just a little bit more costly than the other ones, merely sixty copper coins!”
After saying this, he reluctantly threw a glimpse at Amon.
Amon didn’t care what the lad thought of him. He took out a silver coin and handed it to the lad, “So that’s all. I’m buying them. Do you have a room for us to change? Let her change first.”
The lad startled, then nodded repeatedly,
“Of course! Of course! That small door beside the counter! That’s the changing room!” Then he grabbed the silver coin from Amon and gave him twenty copper coins as change.
Amon was also stunned when Inanna came out wearing the new clothes. The clothes fit her well. Fine, thin white cotton, printed on with deep blue stripes, nicely shaping out her perfect slim and attractive body curve. The lad was completely frozen except for his chest rising and him emitting a slight panting noise. Inanna turned around and asked flirtatiously, “Do I look good, Amon?”
Amon nodded, “Very good. You look beautiful already, and even more so with this dress.”
The lad started to give compliments too, “My dear lady, you look fantastic! May I know your name?”
Inanna gave him a sweet glimpse over her shoulder, “My name is Inanna. Since I’ve bought so costly a dress from you, do you mind give me a pair of shoes as a gift?”
A costly dress? Really? Amon had not much concept about this. Clothes that cost money were costly, surely. But it didn’t matter that much. Eighty copper coins for two sets of clothes and a long dress, that was even cheaper than a bottle of the cheapest wine in Duc.
The lad could hardly hold himself in one piece seeing that glimpse of Inanna’s. With a simper, he took out a pair of cloth shoes with thick linen insole, “Of course! My dear beautiful lady, you are welcome here all the time! We have the best offers in town just for you!”
Inanna smiled at him again but didn’t thank him for his compliments. Instead, she pointed at Amon and said, “I’m not asking for shoes for me. He paid you the money. You should give him a pair of shoes. These ones are too small.”
“Ah —”, the lad gave out a disappointing sigh. But since Inanna was still smiling at him, he took out another pair of shoes and handed them to Inanna along with the first pair, “Oh, I can offer a pair more. The first pair would be my personal gift for you, my dear beautiful lady!”
Inanna smiled covering her mouth, “You are giving out two pairs of shoes for me. Aren’t you afraid that your boss will beat you to death when he finds out?”
The lad suddenly got excited, raising his chest,
“That’s not a question! My father owns this shop!… I own this shop! My dear lady, you can come here any time you like, any time! You can take advantages here…”
The poor lad wasn’t aware of what he was saying anymore. Judging from the excitement on his face, he might be more aware of who wanted to take advantage of whom.
The two changed into the new clothes and went back out onto the street. Amon found that they were receiving even more attention than before. Most passengers couldn’t take their eyes off of Inanna — her face, her chest, her body. A normal girl would have felt very uncomfortable with it, but Inanna ignored it completely, talking and walking like nothing was happening.
The clothing problem solved, Amon proceeded on to the next one, “Where can we buy a lamb? Let’s go buy one.”
“Certainly not in the street. There’s a market at the other side of town.”
It was a common law in the continent that slaves couldn’t wear colored clothes and commoners couldn’t wear clothes with decorative patterns. Inanna said that she was a bondmaid, a shepherding slave, but she was fine wearing a colored dress. However, Amon didn’t notice this, since there were hardly any slave women in Duc.
Most of the inhabitants of Duc were miners. Only the mayor and Shog had servants for housework, which were hired laborers with similar status to the miners and wore similar clothes. Amon just found the dress to be very good-looking and that Inanna was much more beautiful with it. He couldn’t help but look at her from time to time.
Inanna caused a big commotion when the two arrived at the market. Amon wasn’t uncomfortable in the slightest with all the eyes on him. He could watch back at Icho Maria’s eyes in Duc and accept being called a deity in the caveman’s tribe. Even back in Duc, he had become the focal point of stories several times. So being stared at by some townees wouldn’t scare him.
What alerted his mind was a hint of danger. He had a vague feeling that something was wrong, but he couldn’t figure out what exactly was wrong.
Almost every stall owner came over to them gallantly, then left a knowing glance towards Amon’s flax gown and straw sandals, as if saying that this young man was far from being match to the lady walking with him.
They searched around the market thoroughly, but couldn’t find a white lamb with black spots as Inanna had mentioned. Dissatisfaction was revealed from her eyes. It seemed that she was about to sob again. Amon tried to console her, “Perhaps we can buy another lamb? What you’ve lost is a lamb. I can buy you a bigger one, with a nicer coat.”
Inanna shook her head and pouted, “No, I am looking for that exact one I described. There’s a farm with a lot of sheep walking this way down out of town. Can we find a shepherd there and buy a lamb from him?”
Amon nodded, “All right. Let’s go find one there.”
What Amon hadn’t realized was that they had already become the center of gossip after their little parade around the town. Everyone was talking about a young man in a flax gown and straw sandals showing up in town accompanied by a gorgeous girl, who was wearing broken leather clothes when they walked into town. The young man led the girl to old Joe’s tailor shop and bought her an expensive, shining new dress, while just buying himself two sets of flax clothes. And this niggard even asked little Joe for two pairs of shoes as giveaways.
News like this was explosive in a boring small town. The popular guess was that the young man must have beguiled the girl to run away with him and Som was just one of the stops during their meandering escape. They must have come from a faraway place since the lad spoke with a Hittite accent.
Amon went out of town with Inanna, and soon they saw herds of sheep grazing grass casually. Inanna suddenly pointed somewhere with surprise, “Look! That’s my lamb!”
Amon turned around startled, “Inanna, why are you pointing at me?”
Inanna patted his shoulder, “Look at that!”
Amon turned back and saw several lambs with blacked spots in a herd. Inanna had already trotted into the herd. She went down then held up a lamb, crying in surprise, “This is it! This is the lamb that I’d lost!”
“Don’t speak nonsense, miss. That’s my sheep!” an unhappy voice rose from afar. A stalwart old man walked towards them, shouting, with a long-poled lash.
Amon hurried over to Inanna and whispered to her, “How can this lamb be the one you’ve lost? A lamb is not a bird. It can’t cover such a long distance and come all the way here. You must be mistaken.”
The old man took a glance at Amon, then spoke to Inanna, “This lamb belongs to my lord. Every morning I drive them to the grasslands, then get them back to cote before the night falls. Every day I count them carefully with my hands. I am very sure that this lamb is not yours.”
But Inanna didn’t want to let the lamb go. Holding it tightly, she sobbed again and cried to Amon, “But this is the lamb I’ve lost! I know it! Help me, Amon!”
The shepherd became angry, “My beautiful young lady! You have to be reasonable! I’ve been herding this lamb since it was born!”
The argument seemed to be developing into a fight. Hadn’t Inanna been such a delicate young woman, the old man would have already beaten her with his lash.
Amon had to step in between them, trying to mediate, “Perhaps this lamb looks like her lost one. She has been looking for her lamb all day. She might be a bit anxious. Well, let’s solve the problem this way. I want to buy this lamb. How much does it cost?”
Before the old shepherd could react, Inanna stood up and dragged Amon’s clothes, “This is my lamb! Why are you buying it from him! He stole my lamb!”
The shepherd finally burst into a fury, he pointed his whip to Amon’s nose, “Foreigners! Are you here to rob my lamb? Beware my lash!”
Inanna hid behind Amon’s back and cried, “We are not robbers! You are a thief! You stole my lamb!”
Amon didn’t care much about the lash, he opened his arms and said, “Please don’t be angry, uncle. She lost a lamb that looks exactly like this one, so she thought it was her lamb… I promised her to find it back. I can buy your lamb.”
The shepherd humphed and cracked his whip, “Not selling! This lamb belongs to my lord.”
“I can pay you more. Your lord won’t be angry but happy with you for making a good sell.”
The shepherd looked at him in disdain, showed him two fingers and said, “All right then. Two silver coins. Or you two get out of here immediately!” It seemed that he disliked these two foreigners so much that he gave out an incredibly high price for it to drive away the couple as quickly as possible. This was not something hard to understand, since the girl claimed him to be a thief and the boy defended her boasting about buying the lamb at high price.
Right after the words fell from the old shepherd’s lips, Amon took out two silver coins and handed it to him, quick and neat. The shepherd was shocked. Eyes widened, he even forgot to take the coins. Amon dragged his hands forward and put the coins onto his palm, “Two silvers coins. Take them carefully. By the way, can you give me a rope so I can lead it with me?”
Things outside the mountains are indeed cheap! Amon was ready to pay a large sum when the shepherd had only asked for just two silver coins. The shepherd stared at Amon as if he was some kind of monster. The lamb was not fully grown yet. Two silver coins could buy five lambs like that. It was a windfall fortune for a shepherd like him.
He stared for a good while at Amon before he realized that the lamb was no longer his. Pulling himself out from shock, he just yanked his lash off the pole and handed it to Amon,
“Take this to tie the lamb. There’s no rope here.”
He then came next to Amon and whispered, “You’re generous, young man. But why don’t you get yourself a better suit?… This girl is gorgeous, but you probably can’t afford one like her.”
Amon just thanked him, tied the lamb with the lash and led it off of the farm. When they could barely see the farm, Inanna hugged Amon’s arm and blew her breath at his ear, “Amon, do you find me unreasonable? To tell you the truth, the lamb does belong to me. I can swear, it is the exact one.”
Amon showed her a bitter smile, “Maybe it is yours, maybe it is not. But you don’t have proof. It was in someone else’s herd. Unless someone can prove that this lamb has run out from your herd to his herd, you can’t just take it with you… The place you lost this lamb was so far from here that it could hardly run all the way over to here. There are spotted white sheeps in most herds. Maybe it is just a mistake. ”
“Every lamb has its unique marks. Of course a shepherd recognizes her lamb. But anyway, I have to thank you for buying it for me… But, why are you buying it with that much money?”
“You are very strong. Why are you scared of that old man? He was asking for too much and playing you like a fool. He’s not even your match!”
“I was there to buy a lamb, not to rob one. Had you be able to prove that it belongs to you, I could have taken it by force for you. But sadly I have no proof. To be clear, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe you.”
Inanna lowered her head, “But now I owe too much to you. How should I pay you back?”
Amon smiled, “You’ve already paid me back. You gave me delicious pancakes, and led me to this town.”
“But you bought the lamb for too much money. Had I not behaved like that, you wouldn’t have had to spend that much money.”
Amon shrugged, “No, no. That’s not much money.”
Inanna took the lash from Amon and led the lamb. The two passed by the market and went back to the center of the town. Amon just wanted to see more people, experience more and know more about this world. He didn’t mind roaming in the town. But he found that this time people were staring at them with a funny look, some even started to point and gossip behind them. When he turned around to look at them, they tried to avoid his eyes.
Although Amon had never being to another town before, he was not stupid. Casting out stealthily a Detection Eyes, he immediately got what people were talking about. While finding the whole thing funny, he began to realize that Inanna was definitely not an ordinary slave shepherdess as she claimed to be. Up to this moment he had seen quite a few women in this town and none of them could compare to her beauty — not even close.
Inanna suddenly stopped when they passed by a tavern, and asked, “Amon, are you tired? If you are, why don’t we go have a drink?”
Hearing his, one thing came into Amon’s mind without warning. Mayor Dusti had once mentioned that the cheapest wine in the outside world cost only one copper coin per goblet, which he always wanted to confirm. So he replied, “Wouldn’t that waste your time? Or I can walk you back first. The night is falling soon.”
Inanna asked back, “So you want to walk me back home?”
“You have to go a long way after the night falls. I have to go with you. After all I’m not in a rush to get anywhere on time. The town’s right here.”
Inanna smiled, “Thank you! Since we have to walk for long way at night, a drink won’t change anything. Let’s rest for a bit before we set out for our long walk.”
Alcohol was one of the few luxuries that didn’t completely belong to the noble class. Many commoners would enjoy a couple of mugs in the tavern after the hard work. That was one of the happiest hours in their lives. During wartime, some kingdoms would ban the commoners from drinking alcohol, because it would be a significant waste of manpower, time and food in a time of scarcity.
One of the most amazing things about alcohol was that it helped people speak out things that they didn’t dare to say and do things that they didn’t dare to do when they were sober, which also made the tavern one of the most chaotic and dangerous places in a town.
As soon as Amon and Inanna walked into the tavern, they were submerged in a sea of loud mixed noises, which attenuated quickly right after the people in the tavern saw them came in. Obviously most of the discussions here were about the two foreigners who showed up today.
Amon found a table and sat down. The shopkeeper of the tavern sent his two waiters away and came to them, “My dear guests from afar, what can I do for you? We have the best wine and beer in the region.”
Amon talked straight, “Do you sell the cheapest wine you have at one copper coin per goblet?”
The shopkeeper was startled, but soon he smiled and replied, “Yes! One copper coin for a goblet! Do you need a goblet?” Behind the warm voice, a trace of disdain flashed in his eyes. He had already heard the couple’s story earlier this day. This young man was generous towards his girl, but would save every coin when coming to himself. Now he had confirmed the rumor himself.
But a goblet was clearly not enough for Amon. He waved and said, “Give me one jug.”
So the shopkeeper told his boys to bring the couple a jug of the cheapest wine and two goblets. Inanna spontaneously took the jug and poured a goblet of wine for Amon. She didn’t sit down but stood beside Amon, holding the jug.
Woman seldom went to the tavern to drink, the few who frequented were almost prostitutes. The brothel was another one of the most chaotic and dangerous places in a town. Now a great beauty had come into the town and followed Amon into the tavern. Almost everyone in the room was looking at her, hoping to see her drink as much alcohol as possible, but she chose not to.
Before Amon could ask Inanna to sit with him, the shopkeeper asked, “Why don’t you sit down, young lady? Is someone forbidding you to?”
Inanna gave him a sweet smile and explained, “No, I’m a slave. I cannot sit down and drink… Amon, enjoy the wine. I’m here to pour the wine for you.”
This explained a lot of things! The whispers in the room got louder in no time, as if a horde of flies had broken into the tavern. So this beauty was actually a slave girl that this young man brought with him. He chose to wear cheap clothes while dressing her like a queen, breaking the laws to buy her a colored dress and showing her off to everyone!
Nobody would bother them if Amon had been a nobleman, no matter whatever he chose to dress for the slave girl he loved.
However, Amon only wore a flax gown and a pair of straw sandals. And he was drinking the cheapest wine in a public tavern, with a gorgeous slave girl in colored dress waiting upon him. It was almost a crime for the others in the room.