Volume II : The First Sin
Chapter 60 – Spiritual Magic[3178 words]
It was not only one or two thoughts that were projected into his mind, but thousands of them. It had a huge impact on his mind and spirit. At first he couldn’t even tell what they were. The numerous thoughts immediately flooded his own thoughts, resonating, provoking desires in his mind. He felt like he was once again the young boy in the mountains, driving a boat in the torrential flood and intense rainfall. He struggled to remember who he was and what he was thinking, trying hard not to get lost in the flood of thoughts.
It was a painful struggle. Amon remembered Crazy’Ole’s words again. He was even more helpless than when he was seeking Bair.
Fortunately, before he could resist no more, they crossed another interface. Neti turned to Inanna and said, “Goddess Mourrin, please leave your necklace.” The lazurite necklace disappeared from her neck.
Entering the third gate of the Underworld, Amon found that the thoughts that swarmed into his mind changed. They were no longer the prayers for life and death, but more concrete desires and demands.
A son prayed to the Queen of the Underworld, wishing for his wealthy father to die sooner so that he could inherit the family properties. A woman prayed to the Queen of Underworld, wishing for her rival in love to enter the Underworld as soon as possible, so that the man she loved could marry her. Some prayed to her for the health and longevity of their relatives. Priests prayed to her wishing for the recovery of their patients .
With so many desires flashing through his mind, Amon had to learn to let them pass. He dared not look into any of them, but did his best to push them aside at the first shallow touch. He couldn’t help but wonder if these were what the deity heard all day. It should be. But would that goddess really listen to every desire carefully? He doubted not. He began to understand why Inanna had told him she wasn’t aware of him when he almost had one finger cut off. There was simply too much information.
They soon crossed the fourth gate. Neti turned to Inanna again and said, “Goddess Mourrin, please leave your earrings.” So the shiny earrings disappeared too.
The thoughts changed once again. This time they were various curses, insults and feelings of hatred. It made Amon feel even worse. The numerous negative thoughts joined together and rushing into his mind. It was like numerous streams joined together to form a huge current, pounding into his dam of sanity.
Would the gods be cursed? Of course. When people lost their loved ones, they scolded the Queen of Death for her ruthlessness. When evil people did bad things and lived a good life, people hated the Queen of Death for her injustice. Interestingly, the negative thoughts were much purer and yet weaker than those in the previous areas. Probably because most people fear the deity of death, not everyone dared to curse her.
They soon passed the following gate. This time Amon was suddenly stunned. If he hadn’t been walking in void, he would have fallen to the ground. What flooded into his mind this time was no longer thoughts, but memories. Sounds, images, smells, touches, flavors, all of his senses were busy experiencing too much.
They were the memories of dying people. The moment they embraced death, their lifetime experiences that came to their minds. Things they had done. Things they wished they had done. Things they wished they hadn’t done. Things they wished others had done for them… Everyone had their own story. Bitter or sweet, remorseful or contented. It was like he was thrown into a series of worlds, playing all kinds of roles.
Theoretically, it was a wonderful chance for Amon to augment his experiences without spending years travelling across the continent. But he knew that his head would explode if he dared immerse himself even a tiny bit into any of these memories. All he could do was keep his mind as clear and empty as possible. He just gave up defending his self-consciousness and let these memories flow through.
Neti turned to Inanna again and said, “Goddess Mourrin, please leave your bracelets.” The bracelets disappeared.
Amon was experiencing the most painful suffering he had ever had. He could see and hear and smell and taste and touch everything, but he had to force himself not to. He didn’t know how long this lasted before he suddenly felt everything end. The thoughts and memories vanished. He felt as relaxed as if he had just come back to life from death. Then he heard Neti’s voice, “Goddess Mourrin, please leave your brooch.”
The goddess lost her last accessory. They were already at the other side of the sixth gate.
Amon felt like he was back in the space behind the first gate. There was nothing besides Neti and Inanna. He could clearly feel his soul. But Amon somehow caught a slight difference between here and the space behind the first gate. A difference that he failed to understand. It seemed that it was beyond the limit of his perception.
They kept on walking ahead. The concept of space and time seemed to come back. He could feel a force repelling him from advancing. He had to focus in order to follow the others. The radiant figure of Inanna was his only guide.
Using the Detection Eyes, the space was no longer endless. There was a pressing force in the atmosphere, rejecting him, isolating him from everything. This was the Underworld, the Great Land of No Return. Amon couldn’t help recalling an old question, “Does death mean a man disappears from the world, or the world disappears from him?”
When he thought of this question, a sense of horror came from nowhere and invaded his soul. It was like a force that tried to manipulate his spirit and control his body. He tried to focus and keep his mind clear, but his soul couldn’t find the right place to stay.
Then he heard Neti’s voice again, “Goddess Mourrin, we are in front of the last gate of the Underworld. The Queen of Kur is waiting for you. Please leave your robe.”
It was the only thing Inanna had on her body now. As his voice faded, the robe disappeared. The goddess became completely naked, like a newborn infant. Amon finally found something to focus on. He used this chance to get rid of the destructive sense of horror that occupied his mind. Her perfect body was in intense contrast with the gloomy environment. Happiness, lust, contentment. Whatever they were, it was better than the desperation.
But then a question arose again. Is it real? Or am I just seeing my dream? If it is a dream, why isn’t she Icho?
The moment he had this thought, the naked body of Inanna changed into that of Maria. Amon had never seen her naked. When he met her, she was only a young girl. But he could somehow recall the feeling of hugging her tightly. Was it real?
Probably not. Inanna was stunningly beautiful. But it was not the type of beauty that Amon desired. It was not the kind of beauty he had dreamed about at night. Inanna would certainly be mad if she knew what Amon had in mind at the moment. But as she had said, she could only sense the emotions and feelings in his mind, not his ideas.
Amon was still admiring Inanna’s body when a voice arose in his mind, “Bad boy, I know what you are thinking. But it’s not the time. Remember, don’t say anything when you see my sister. She won’t speak to you either.”
Then the goddess shouted to her front, “Neti! If you dare turn around, I will make sure that you will never be able to see anything again.”
It’s unfair! Unfair! That must be the idea in Neti’s mind. The boy sees everything but I can’t even turn my head.
Suddenly, there was light. They came back to the real world. Amon found that he was still in the cave. It was a huge hall with rock walls, but decorated with all kinds of gems and jewelry.
On the ceiling there were numerous parangons sparkling, like a starry night sky. A luxuriant chair was put on a high altar. A woman was lying on it. In her hand was a splendid staff. On her head was a glittering tiara. She looked at Inanna with a half-smile. Her long brown hair fell to the ground through the arms of the chair.
Amon surprisingly found that he knew this woman. There was also a sculpture of her in the shrine in Arcade. Her face and body were as perfect as Inanna’s, with a taller, thinner nose. Her eyes were more profound and formidable. She must be the Queen of Kur, Inanna’s older sister.
“My dear sister, I’m so pleased to see you like this. Why do you come to my realm?” The Goddess of Death didn’t stand up when she saw her sister. She looked aggressively at her naked body with a hint of taunting in her eyes. Inanna’s body was totally exposed in the strong light of the hall. Her slender, firm waist, her long legs and even her pubic hair could be seen clearly by her older sister.
But Inanna didn’t feel embarrassed. She squared her shoulders and replied, “Kella, my sister, Queen of the Underworld, I bring here a boy. He is one of the Ducians that survived the disaster. He is here to see his dead clansmen. As Patron of Duc and its people, I am qualified to make this request.”
Kella sneered, “A boy? I don’t believe it. Let me see… Oh, he is indeed a boy… Mourrin, you can make this request.” Although she was talking about “let me see”, she didn’t have a look at him at all. Amon, as a mortal, was completely ignored.
The Queen of Kur waved her hand. Amon suddenly disappeared from the hall where the two deities were. He found himself arriving at another place. It was completely void, like the space behind the first gate. He couldn’t even feel his own existence.
He performed the Detection Eyes, and sensed a cloud of shadows afar. They took the shape of various people. Amon notice his father at once . He rushed to him, arms open, trying to give him a hug.
But he touched nothing. His father’s soul was so close to him yet so far at the same time. It was like something intangible. He shouted, “Father! It’s me! Amon! I’m here to see you!”
But he got no response. His father couldn’t hear his voice.
Desperate, Amon performed a message magic. He sent his words directly into his father’s spirit. Amon’s father suddenly woken up. He turned to his son, tears coursing down his cheeks, “My son! Is it you? You are back? Where am I? What happened?”
Didn’t he know that he is dead? Or had his spirit been frozen ever since his death? Amon cried, “Dad, we are in the Underworld! I came here to see you again!…” His tears covered his face. There were too many words in his mind. But he didn’t know where to start.
Amon’s father was shocked. He raised his head and muttered, “Yes, I am dead… The flood, running from the highland… Amon, my son, I only want you to remember one thing: Never be like me now!”
Amon pretended to hug him and answered, “Dad, I finally see you again… I will always remember everything you say.”
Looking at his son, Amon’s father smiled with relief. Amon looked at him too. He found that his father’s face was turning younger. He changed into what he looked like in his prime, but then suddenly scattered and disappeared in Amon’s embrace. His tears fell through Amon’s body and went to nowhere.
Amon could do nothing but cry. It was indeed the last time he would see his father. He knew that he could never see him again. But he somehow felt that his father was truly relieved. His soul finally escaped the Underworld’s control.
Amon kneeled down in the void and wept. Was he contented to see his father one last time, or had this meeting just left him with more regret? He didn’t want to think anymore. His heart was hollow. Suddenly, a man stood out from the shadows and came to him, “Is it you, Amon? You are not dead and yet you come to the Underworld!”
Amon was astonished. His father couldn’t sense anything until he woke him up with a message magic. How could this spirit come talk to him? He raised his head and found that it was Dusti, the mayor.
Mayor Dusti saw the shock on his face. He explained, “I don’t know why I can see you. I suddenly heard your voice and was awakened. Then I realized where I am. Perhaps it’s because I was a mage. I know how to take care of my soul and mind.”
Amon stood up and asked, “Dear Mayor, did you know that you are dead?”
Sadness appeared on Dusti’s face, “At the last moment, my mind was filled with too many desires and regrets. They were like chains and shackles, beclouding my spirit. Thank you for coming here and awakening my soul. My boy, I have two unfulfilled wishes, which not only concern me but also you and all the people in Duc. I won’t be relieved before I tell them to you.”
“Please tell me.”
“My son Moses was attending a school in Syah City. His servants and companions are Ducians too. Right before the disaster came, I sent a large group of people to Syah City to pay the tribute of the season and gave some money to my son in passing. They should have survived the disaster. I don’t know how my son is doing now. If you can get out of this place, please find him and help him. He has the title deeds of Duc in his hand. Please help them return to Duc and rebuild our home. If the land is not inhabitable anymore, then just find another place. At least there are still Ducians living in the world.”
His wish was the same as Inanna’s. Thanks to him, Amon knew who the surviving Ducians were. After meeting his father for the last time, how could Amon refuse the wish from a father who loved his son? He nodded, “Please don’t worry. I have pledged to the Patron that I will bring the Ducians back home. I will find Moses and guide him to his homeland. After the flood, Duc will have the best land.”
Dusti smiled with relief and nodded, “My second wish is about this place itself. After you woke me up, I realized that this place is a special space made to imprison the souls of the dead. It must be some kind of magic that targets people’s spirits. I don’t know what the lord of this place wants by keeping so many souls here, but I clearly know that this place is not where the souls of the dead should be… I saw my whole life in the last moment, and I understand everything that has been bothering me. Thank you, Amon.”
Dusti’s spirit vanished as well. But Amon didn’t move. He stood straight. There was a strange thing happening to him. He had somehow seen Dusti’s entire life in the span of a single second. It was the longest second he had ever experienced. He was no longer sure of the concept of time. When he realized it, Dusti was already gone. It was like a dream. He witnessed everything, but he seemed to have remembered nothing.
The shadows came closer. He recognized more and more of them, including Shog and Maqi. Amon suddenly realized that he had just acquired an ability. He could sense their emotions without even touching their souls. Wasn’t this the ability that only a deity could have? Amon somehow felt that he didn’t actually acquire it. It was something he already had, awakened by the previous stimulation.
Amon didn’t choose Shog and Maqi. He passed by them and walked to another person. It was Aunt Pulla, the woman who had sewed all of his clothes ever since he was a baby…
The souls couldn’t lie. There was no need to either. They just exposed their thoughts and wishes to him. More and more souls spoke with him and vanished. After some time, Amon suddenly heard an angry shout, “Who is the boy you brought here with you? He just set so many spirits free from my realm! I cannot tolerate this kind of behavior any longer! He has to be kept here and punished!”
All of the shadows disappeared. Amon was again left in the void. Then he heard Inanna’s voice, “That must be the law of the spiritual magic. He didn’t mean it.”
“Anyway, I’ve lost too many spirits! As compensation, I am allowed to keep him as my slave. This is my realm.”
Inanna became enraged too, “I am his Patron. I have to bring him back!”
Her sister sneered again, “One man in, one man out. As an Anunnaki, you know the rules here. You must exchange him with another living man. But for you, my dear sister, I have an extra condition. You must exchange him with a man that you once loved… Neti, show my sister the way out.”
After her speech, Amon could hear nothing more from Inanna. What he heard was a song sung by the Queen of Kur, a song that he was somehow familiar with —
“…Why is everyone you loved suffering from your betrayal?
When can your no-longer-young lovers stop crying for you?
Oh~the poor shepherd,
Piling before you the delicious desserts
Offering you his best lambs slaughtered
Whips are fallen on his back,
Turning to a wolf is what he gets,
Pampered bird weeps with a broken wing
Reared lion roams, old wounds still bleeding…”
Kella’s voice faded. Amon was in the void again. He realized that he had run into the worst scenario that he could have imagined — he was trapped in the Underworld. Inanna failed to get him out.
Kella asked Inanna to exchange him with a man that she once loved. Would she do that? Amon had already known that he wasn’t the only surviving Ducian. Inanna might well choose another person to do what she wanted. It seemed that he was not worth Inanna’s rescue.
Inanna had told him about this possibility and said that he could wait for her to save him or try to escape by himself. But he bet he only had one choice now.
But he was only a fifth-level sorcerer. How could he manage to escape from the Underworld by himself?
[List of Characters]
Kella : The Anunnaki Goddess of Death, Queen of Kur. Inanna’s older sister.
Pulla : Amon’s neighbor.
Moses : Mayor Dusti’s son.
Icho : Icho Maria, the Adoratrice of Isis.